30 DAYS OF NIGHT (David Slade, 2007)

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You’re a certified Batang 90’s if you still remember that infamous Three Days of Darkness hoax that seemed like a clever collaborative marketing ploy for supermarkets, candlemakers, and Eveready. This was way before Google and Facebook fact-checks so if Noli de Castro reports on TV Patrol that we needed to cover up/tint our windows and never go out of our homes for the said deadly days, we had to believe and follow him, right?

After the massive panic-buying and constant praying (and the urge not to look out while Jesus supposedly walked the earth), it didn’t happen. One would think that people would be less gullible now in this information age, but not much has changed.

What did this have to do with the movie? Nothing really. It was just a more interesting story to tell.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

CHILDREN OF THE RIVER (Maricel Cabrera-Cariaga, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Feeling ko sobrang paborito ng writer/director nito ang Call Me By Your Name kaya gumawa siya ng sariling coming-of-age movie tapos siyempre pangalan ng bida eh Elias. Pero baka di pa obvious kaya pinalitan ang nickname niya na… wait for it, Elia!! (Sana intentional ang double meaning niya na slang for libog, no?) At syempre may bisikleta scene anuba.

Sayang kasi maayos naman ang kuwento ng pagkakaibigan pero it needed a much better storyteller (okay diretsahan na, ang chaka ng direction). May instances na di ko alam kung nakainom na ng dalawang bote ng Red Horse ang cameraman. Tapos marami pang eksena na mas malinaw ang background na bougainvilla kesa sa character na nagsasalita. At ano itong excessive fascination sa fog machine? Hala siya.

Sayang kasi magaling ang mga bata. Bagay na bagay kay Noel Comia, Jr. (na minahal ko bilang si Kiko Boksingero) ang nagdadalagang si Elia. May cute moments sila ni Juancho Trivino na parang sa Maximo Oliveros lang. Ang authentic pa na meron siyang pimples sa noo tapos nag-crack usually ang boses niya.

Pati si Junyka Santarin (na magaling sa Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma) napaka-natural din umarte bilang resident fag hag and supportive bff. Ang ganda ng chemistry nila lalo na kapag nagkukulitan.

Eh kaso naging sobrang political sa dulo. Lumabas ang real meaning ng TV Patrol acting dun sa breakdown scene ng mga na-biyuda. Tapos yung eulogy ni Jay Manalo biglang naging SONA with matching palakpakan sa dulo. Nakakaiyak ata dapat ang eksena pero natawa na lang ako nung bigla niya sinabi ang bulutong-tubig.

Call meh by your name nga.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

BWAYA (Francis Pasion, 2014)

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Jeffrey Jeturian’s Tuhog was a brilliant take on how media tend to exploit real-life tragedies. Francis Pasion’s Bwaya felt just like that.

It bordered on being a cheap sensationalism piece in Rated K and a typical dramatization in Maalaala Mo Kaya.

As expected, it was full of TV Patrol acting at the expense of the usually dependable Angeli Bayani. Such a shame.

I was a tad disappointed because Pasion did this much better in his previous work Jay (a personal favorite). If there’s one thing I loved it was the gorgeous cinematography with all the aerial shots of the Agusan marshlands. Who knew the trouble that lurked there?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 6, 2014.)

HINTAYAN NG LANGIT (Dan Villegas, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Hintayan ng Langit:

1. Imagine your poor, unfortunate soul in the hereafter rooming with your ex slash TOTGA (The One That Got Away, anubuzz tita!!) and dealing with your unresolved issues. Isn’t that the ultimate definition of purgatory? (Although, if you realized that you still loved your TOTGA long after your heart literally stopped beating, shouldn’t that be the equivalent of eternal hell?)

Manolo (Eddie Garcia) quickly learned this when he started sharing a room with ex-jowa Lisang (Gina Pareño) in said waiting area (also called The Middle) that looked like the final stop before reaching The Good Place (the actual one, not The Bad Place pretending to be The Good Place). Both of them obviously carried a lot of emotional baggage (I was surprised these got through customs in the arrivals area that had an actual x-ray machine). In some weird way, this film actually felt like a sequel of Exes Baggage set fifty years later in the afterlife. 

2. Sobrang daming hugot sa purgatoryo. Pero mas tagos talaga sa puso kapag oldies ang nagbabato ng hugot lines, no? Ramdam mo na walang halong kababawan. Kasi kung namatay ka na’t lahat kakahintay sa ex mo, di pa ba matatawag na true love yun?

3. It was heartbreaking to rewatch one of the final (great) performances of Manoy Eddie, especially since 2018 was another banner year for him with equally commendable turns in ML and Rainbow’s Sunset. I would always remember him as my favorite villain in Fernando Poe, Jr. films where they would play a game of verbal volleyball during that climactic (endless) final showdown. He had this annoyingly iconic way of delivering insults just by elongating most of his syllables that would rival Noli de Castro’s Teeeeveeee Patrol. (Lisang to Manolo: “Ulol! Hindi ka naman si FPJ ano?”)

In this film, he kept teasing her the Manoy way with lines like, “Hay nakooooohh! Ulyanin na si Lisaaaaaang. Pangalan ko lang hindi na matanda-aaaan! Ulyanin na ngaaaahh, malabo pa ang mataaaaaahhh!!” (Surely you read that in his voice. He was that effective, right?)

There was an overwhelming feeling of sadness listening to Manolo/Manoy sharing his regrets on not having the opportunity to properly bid farewell to his family. Nakakaiyak lalo hay. (It also made me wonder how many of our departed loved ones still carried that guilt over their unfinished business.)

4. I loved Gina’s performance here as well the moment she screamed “Mga pukengkay!!” to the noisy kids in the hallway (who morbidly died in a tragic field trip, fyi). It was reminiscent of her hilarious turn as Judy Ann Santos’ mother slash longganisa magnate in Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo. During that bar scene where she was discussing something about local politics, I half-expected her to say “politicians” the Belita way. It was also amusing to see her go toe-to-toe with Manoy and basically play cat and mouse in full juvenile mode (“Excuse me di kita type bleh!!” HAHAHA!). Kinilig din ako dun sa “Am I easy to forget?” ha.

She had two amazing scenes in this film. The first that brought me to tears was when she delivered the line “Dahil ayokong sabihin mo na hindi na naman kita hinintay”. (Waaah!) The other one was when she called her husband Nestor in heaven and said, “Alam mo ba kung bakit sigurado akong mahal kita? Dahil araw-araw kitang pinili”, which was actually bittersweet given the eventual ending.

Also, tawang-tawa ako sa pagkasabi niya ng Zest-O as Syes-to.

5. There were a lot of details in this interpretation of the afterlife that I really liked, from the support group that provided counselling for the recently departed that were in denial, the surge of souls arriving that were killed due to tokhang, that the vow of marriage might have its limits (‘Till death do us part, diba?), and the portal that could connect the living and the dead.

My favorite one from the admirable production design was that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sign in the elevator that stated the maximum capacity of 10 souls and weight of 210 grams. It reminded so much of Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s 21 Grams (the second film in his Death Trilogy) that included the line: “They say we all lose 21 grams at the exact moment of our death.” Yup, there was an actual scientific study done that determined the probable weight of one’s soul. (At least kahit sa kaluluwa man lang magaan ako.)

6. Politicians woman: “What really matters is the void we leave behind.” 

Lisang: “Pero hindi ba mas mahalaga na makita mong masaya yung mga naiwan mo?”

Points to ponder.

7. Nung nawala ang kalasingan ni Lisang sa pagtawag ni Esther na asawa ni Manolo, nasagot ang tanong sa kung ano ang best cure for a hangover. Obviously, jelly. As in jealousy.

8. If there was one thing that I learned when Manolo arrived late at the pier thus forever altering their lives, it was the importance of punctuality. I would never, ever be late to anything ever again. (Hopefully.)

9. That final shot. Goosebumps!! (Pero napaisip din ako gaano kadaming multo ang nakasakay sa eroplano. Goosebumps ulit.)

Rating: ★★★★☆