MOVIE REVIEW: LOVE THE WAY Ü LIE (RC delos Reyes, 2020)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Ganito talaga ang klase ng pelikula na dapat pinapanood sa panahon ng pandemic. Yung magpapa-realize sa iyo na napakaikli ng buhay para sayangin sa panonood ng pelikula ni Xian Lim na walang kalatoy-latoy umarte.

Muntik ko na nga hindi tapusin ang pelikula kasi nangangalahati pa lang sobrang naiirita na ako. Si Xian paulit-ulit ang bintang na stalker si Alex Gonzaga (na psychic kaya laging naka-gypsy-gyspsyhan outfit) pero more hatak naman lagi para magpatulong. Yung jowa niya na si Kylie Versoza “died of a car accident” daw pero nabangga ng jeep. Si Alex lang dapat nakakarinig sa multo na si Kylie pero more sigaw ang ibang mga tao tuwing nagsasalita siya.

May eksenang humakbang ang secretary ni Xian sa cable wire offscreen. Tapos normal naman magsalita si Alex pero tinanong sya ni Xian “how it works exactly” at kung sinasapian ba sya ni Kylie. Ha? Hindi naman siya nagboses Sto. Niño diba? Basta nakakairita lahat parang yung umlaut lang sa title. Hindi pa bagay sina Alex at Xian kaya ang apt lang nung Honey, Nasa Langit na Ba Ako? reference with the love team of Regine Velasquez and Janno Gibbs.

Ang daming quirky sound effects at animated doodles at bubbles na mapapaisip ka kung biglang lalabas ang paborito mong K-drama actor. Pero mukhang hindi lang yun ang obvious influence. Hindi ko nga alam kung may pinaglumaang DVD ng Ghost sa Viva office na pilit nilang pinapanood sa mga creatives nila kaya iba’t ibang variations lang nito ang ginagawa nila recently (perfect itong companion piece ng Hindi Tayo Puwede, lalo na sa basurahan). May isang scene pa na garapalang ginaya (ay, homage pala) sa Notting Hill na akala ko madudulas si Xian habang umaakyat ng gate at mapapasigaw ng Filipino equivalent ng “Whoopsie daisy” na “Ay kabayo!!”.

Kung naghahanap kayo ng nakakatawa, fast forward n’yo na lang sa end credits tapos pakinggan n’yo ang nakakarimarim na duet nila ng “Sasakyan Kita” kung saan parang na-impacho kumanta si Xian. Enjoy!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: HINDI TAYO PWEDE (Joel Lamangan, 2020)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Hindi Tayo Pwede:

1. Minsan napapaisip na lang ako kung seryoso ang Viva Films kapag sinasabi nito sa start ng mga pelikula niya na “Proudly Presents”. Kasi nung natapos ko panoorin ang kababalaghan na ‘to, considering na attached ang mga pangalan ng Philippine Cinema luminaries like Direk Joel Lamangan and Sir Ricky Lee sa project, nagtaka talaga ako kung saang part sila proud.

Napakalayo nito from being a future classic tulad ng City After Dark at Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag na nakapaskil ang posters sa kwarto ni Gabby (Lovi Poe). Apparently as a frustrated director slash writer, may taste siya sa local films kaya rin kasama ang mga larawan ng The Flor Contemplacion Story at Himala. Gusto ko yung lantarang pagbubuhat ng Lamangan/Lee tandem ng sariling bangko (check n’yo na lang ang credits ng dalawang pelikula sa IMDB).

2. First scene pa lang ni Lovi lumabas na agad siya na naka-(Bench Body?) underwear kasi alam ng filmmakers kung ano ang totoong selling point ng gawa nila (eh diba nga naka-topless yung tatlong bida sa movie poster with a promised threesome?). Hindi naman nagpatalo sina Tony Labrusca (as the boyfriend Gabriel, yes Gabby din oha destiny!) at Marco Gumabao (as the lovesick ”Besh” Dennis, as in Roldan). Paiksian ng swimming shorts at palakihan ng bukol ang labanan every time merong requisite pool scene (syempre!) at beach scene (syempre!).

Ang lakas ng tawa ko nung ni-top ni Lovi si Tony dun sa sex scene nila set to their theme song Never Ever Say Goodbye by Nonoy Zuñiga. Why that song choice ba? Hindi naman sila couple in their 60’s. At diba popular funeral song na ‘to?

3. Sabagay apt din pala ang kanta kasi patay na si Gabriel dito. Yup, hindi lang nasobrahan ng Mena cream si Tony sa poster.

(Side note: Grabe makasira ng mood ang direction dito. Pano yung sex scene na sinabi ko biglang naputol bago pa umabot sa chorus kaya ako na lang ang kumanta kahit ibang eksena na.)

4. Bago ang story kung hindi mo napanood ang early 90’s film na Ghost with Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swayze. Garapalan ang reference kaya meron din Oda Mae Brown dito in the form of a manghuhula named Madam Concha (played by the Vangie Labalan). Kabog si Ateng Whoopi Goldberg!!

Ang difference lang talaga ay directly nahahawakan at nakakausap ni Gabby si Gabriel na hindi na kelangan pa sumanib kay Madam Concha. I guess wise decision na rin siya kasi ayaw ko naman ata ng love scene between Lovi and Ms. Vangieeeeee.

5. Feeling ko naubusan ng budget for the visual effects (o nakalimutan na tuluyan ng director ang premise) kasi obviously gumagalaw naman ang mga bagay na nadidikitan ni Gabriel (like yung upuan at door tassels pag-walk out niya sa cubicle ni Madam Concha). Nasayang lang yung pag-emote nung isang extra na “Ooh ang lamig naman dito malakas ba ang aircon?”.

6. Favorite line ko yung kay Phoemela Barranda as an ad agency executive: “Bakit ang cheesy ng presentation mo? Cheese ba ang produkto?” (Gahd! Nasaan ang creativity boss? Bakit hindi na lang pizza or mac and cheese or sana ginawa mo man lang cheese platter diba?)

Second favorite ko yung exchange na ito…

Gabby to Dennis’ new jowa: “Nasungkit mo ang best friend ko!”

Dennis (feeling hurt): “Ginawa mo naman akong santol.”

(Yes Marco, we objectify you as a santol. At bakit ba laging nagmamakaawa ang characters niya na mahalin siya eh sure naman ako ang daming nakapila diyan?)

7. Bakit yung laging palabas sa sinehan nila eh mga lumang movies like Ate Shawie’s Ikaw? Naguluhan tuloy ako kung set ba sa 90’s ang pelikula. Kaya ba naka-tangga cut na bikini si Lovi nung umahon sa beach? Kaso modern naman ang surroundings like yung sa Citadines? Or may time jumps ba ako na na-miss kakatawa sa upuan ko?

And speaking of cinema, sana walang gumaya kay Gabriel who lacked basic theater etiquette at nag-propose talaga sa gitna ng isang screening. Kapag merong gumawa ng stunt na ito habang nanunuod ako ng A Quiet Place 2, sinasabi ko talaga merong bride na ikakasal with a missing ring finger.

8. “Dun lang namin na-realize na nakikita at nahahawakan ko lang si Gabriel dahil sa pagmamahal ko sa kanya. At ngayon na unti-unti nawawala ang pagmamahal na yun, unti-unti na din sya nawawala.”

Buti may explanation sa dulo kasi akala ko talaga nasobrahan lang ng Tide yung white shirt ni Gabriel.

9. Ipinakita sa ending na buntis si Gabby habang nakatayo sa puntod ni Gabriel. Kay Dennis ba yun or ghost baby nila ni Gabriel? I need answers pero ayoko na magbayad for a sequel huhu!

10. According to Sir Ricky (na uulitin ko, siya ang sumulat nito kaloka!), kalahati daw ng populasyon sa Pilipinas ay hindi pa nakaka-move on. Jusko kaya pala naghihirap ang bansa natin kasi puro lovelife ang inaatupag. Kaya din siguro hindi nauubos ang hugot films tulad nito.

Sabi nga ni Gabriel, “This is exactly why I hate Tagalog movies. Ang babaduy!”. Uhm… Let’s just say na nung nagtulak ng basurahan ang maintenance pagkatapos ng screening, akala ko kokolektahin din niya ang pelikulang ‘to.

P.S. Sorry walang threesome. Masakit talaga na pinagtagpo sina Tony at Marco pero di tinadhana.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: ADAN (Roman Perez, Jr.)

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Ganitong-ganito ang mga softcore Viva movies nung early 2000’s starring Maui Taylor (who interestingly played a nanay role here) and Rica Peralejo na directed by Yam Laranas or Erik Matti. Yung kunwari may story pero obvious naman na excuse lang para mag-kamison ang mga bidang starlets at matupad ang sexual fantasies ng mga kalalakihan.

Yung matutuwa ka na 18 years old ka na kasi mapapanood mo siya sa SM Cinemas nung hindi pa sila nagpapanggap na family- and values-oriented. (Btw, I saw this in Southmall because it was shown under the guise of an R-16 film. Oh, the irony!!)

Medyo awkward panoorin ang sex and nudity scenes kasi hawig ni Rhen Escaño si Yasmien Kurdi tapos si Cindy Miranda naman parang sultrier Kathryn Bernardo.

Bilang certified chimbies, syempre ang paborito nila kainin ay sinabawang tahong. For future local lesbo films, I suggest gawing nilagang mani, mainit na monay, adobong pechay, or malagkit na kalamay para maiba naman.

For the problematic straight male crowd na gusto sumakit ang puson, go nuod lang.

(And Lolita Carbon, why?!?)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: CRY NO FEAR (Richard Somes, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Cry No Fear:

1. In my recent take on the 2008 home invasion movie The Strangers, I expressed my frustrations on the idiotic decisions made by the lead characters in protecting themselves from their tormentors (running inside the house instead of fleeing as far away from it as possible, forgetting the most basic instinct of locking doors, etc.). Very much like in any Carlo J. Caparas massacre movie though, I still felt some sympathy for the victims because they were basically living their quiet lives before these monsters started violating them and their homes.

This movie reminded me so much of The Strangers, except that I was weirdly rooting for the strangers. Why should I even care about these spoiled, privileged half-sisters Kaycee and Wendy (played by Ultimate Kakaibabe Donnalyn Bartolome and Teen Dance Princess Ella Cruz, respectively) when they themselves wanted to kill each other? They even found the time to freshen-up before escaping from their killers because, I dunno, if they were to die they might as well be looking good?

Their poor father (Lito Pimentel) was working his butt off as a washed-up actor forced to dress up as Chewbacca and yet they couldn’t even respect him enough not to gouge each other’s eyes out over breakfast (didn’t they hear him practice the exact same three lines for hours inside his room while wearing that blue girdle that my mom bought from Home TV Shopping to help burn her fats?). I actually cheered when he finally had enough of their bickering and gave each of them a well-deserved spanking (as in pinatayo nya pareho at pinalo sa pwet, like they were a bunch of six-year olds). Go Tatay!!

2. According to Wikipedia, the male gaze is the act of depicting women as sexual objects for the pleasure of male viewers. It couldn’t have been more true here where probably 30% of the screen time involved the camera slowly moving up and down Donnalyn’s kakai-legs while she was in various states of undress. In one scene that doubled as a calamine advertisement, she was talking to her boyfriend on the phone while applying lotion on her (what else?) really, really long legs (made even longer by SM Southmall Cinema’s weird aspect ratio).

The rest of the film spent several minutes ogling the girls’ nubile bodies while wearing a bikini, panties in bed, and in the climactic rain scene (where they took off their shirts because they were fearless and invincible to pneumonia) matching baby bras. Was Viva Films actually paying homage to its early 2000’s soft-core flicks with Rica Peralejo, Maui Taylor, and the Viva Hot Babes where their characters were also allergic to all types of clothing?

3. Speaking of Viva Hot Babes, the maid here named Dory was played by Sheree who spoke with a slight twang and made me initially think that she was their mother. But then all she ever did was collect their dirty laundry (imagine the number of panties she had to wash every day) and cook (it was probably my first time to see characters actually eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner like any normal family).

There was one (terrible) extended scene where she screamed her head off because she couldn’t kill a rat, but I guess she would still be considered a super yaya for rising from the dead after several stab wounds and killing one of the strangers. In one bit, she went missing and the girls had to look for her and so the movie suddenly turned into Finding Dory.

4. My favorite scene in this entire mess though was when the strangers headed straight to the kitchen, brought out a loaf of Gardenia bread, and took a quick snack break. Nakakagutom nga naman kasi manloob ng bahay.

After the snack break, one of them felt the need to play a haunting piano piece while the rest continued to raid the pantry. Newbie thieves would go straight to the master’s bedroom to look for cash and other valuables, but these experts knew the essential items and started hoarding kitchenware and canned goods (plus, a ceramic vase for good measure).

5. I felt really sad when the first to get killed in this movie was the dog Tarzan. This movie should be endorsed by PETA because when the girls were terrorized by receiving Tarzan’s severed head wrapped in plastic, their first instinct was not to call for help, but to bring it back to its grave with the rest of its body (“Ibalik natin ang ulo nyaaaa waaah!”)

Aww, how nice! (Ay wait, pinanghampas pala nila yung ulo to kill one of the strangers in the end so…)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: BLOODY CRAYONS (Topel Lee, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Bloody Crayons:

1. During the height of Scream fever in the late ’90s, Viva Films attempted to create (read: blatantly ripped-off) a Pinoy version of that popular slasher flick and came up with the terrible Sumigaw Ka…Hanggang Gusto Mo. It was directed by Eric Quizon who had the audacity to cast himself as the movie’s killer and also included the entire cast of T.G.I.S. (kids today would never know the kilig brought by the Wacks and Peachy love team), plus other GMA Artist Center artists question mark.

In one scene, the killer (probably a fan of Mara del Valle) was running after Gladys Reyes who actually tried to escape by climbing up a fireplace. She ended up getting roasted, of course (silly girl, not even Becky would go up a chimeneya to run away from Ms. Minchin).

It was the kind of So Bad, It’s Horrible type of movie that you would only want to see once in your life due to severe trauma, but couldn’t resist to mock whenever it would get shown on cable. It was also the reason why a number of my friends that I forced to watch with me ended up swearing off ever watching Pinoy films in cinemas. I hope you could forgive me, FDCP.

2. Bloody Crayons would probably be the millennial equivalent of that trashy movie, only this time produced by Star Cinema and starred a number of Star Magic starlets. Most of the previous horror films directed by Topel Lee had obvious influences from popular Asian counterparts and this one was no exception (albeit more of Hollywood movies from the opening film-within-a-film sequence used in the Scream series down to the other ones reminiscent of the Final Destination series, Identity, Cabin in the Woods, Don’t Breathe, and countless others of the same genre).

I hadn’t read the Wattpad novel that this was based on so I really wasn’t sure if the lack of originality was from the actual material or the treatment itself. (I was also confused by the separate original story credit given to its three writers when this was clearly an adaptation.)

3. The horror genre had always been the waterloo of our best local directors so I really wasn’t expecting much from this slasher flick. Unfortunately, it still lacked the fun and excitement of seeing mostly annoying characters get killed one by one. Really, all I hoped for was that the cast would be killed according to their acting prowess (naturally starting with the most bano ones), but that obviously didn’t happen with Ronnie Alonte and Elmo Magalona as two of the three remaining survivors.

I actually couldn’t decide who gave the worse performance since both of them could easily replace Aljur Abrenica as the real-life Machete. Ronnie still sounded like a talking robot jakono while Elmo acted like he was a hypnotized victim of the Budol-Budol Gang (except in one kitchen scene where he delivered his lines like he was having a seizure, complete with flailing hand movements). Seriously, mas gusto ko pa si Elmo nung nagpagulong-gulong siya sa burol with Julie Ann San Jose in Just One Summer.

4. Wait, a young wannabe director obsessed with shooting a horror movie near a body of water? Oh, Dawson Leery!!

5. I still couldn’t fathom why there had to be a sequence where the entire gang decided to go for a swim at the beach and they took their clothes off one at a time while the camera voyeuristically lingered on their young bodies (slow motion shots of topless, abs-less guys and granny bathing suit-wearing girls, really?!).

I could almost hear the director saying, “Pasensiya na kayo sa acting ni Ronnie. Eto additional three seconds ng pusod nya para di kayo masyadong lugi.” Next time please leave this type of sexploitation to the experts (yes, Seiko Films of course!).

6. Speaking of acting, I really liked the performances of Jane Oineza and Maris Racal. I wish they could be given more to do in future Star Cinema movies other than the typical best friend or sister roles.

On the other hand, could somebody please tell Yves Flores not to imitate Jake Cuenca’s “akting na akting” delivery? People laughed hysterically in the scene where he was screaming “Bro, anong nangyari sa’yo??” to a corpse with huge stab marks on its neck. Was he gunning for the PMPC Star Award for Best New Movie Actor?

7. If you’d seen a lot of horror movies (or read a lot of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike) with fake twists and red herrings (this one reminded me of The Last Act), it really wasn’t too hard to guess the identity of the killer. All it took was just a single head shot to ruin the surprise.

8. I was really interested to know more about the Bloody Crayons game since it looked fun to play during a barkada night out. Sadly, I couldn’t see any group including it in any of their parties any time soon since the rules were just too complex (relative to Truth or Dare). Who would even remember what each color stood for when all of you would be presumably drunk on Red Horse?

Also, was it just my oily skin or do crayons really not work as markers on the face? Did they use craypas instead? So this should have been Bloody Craypas?

9. Where was this movie shot? (I noticed one of the characters was carrying a Bohol bag so…) The place looked gorgeous. At least maganda ang cinematography.

10. One character’s words of wisdom to another standing on a cliff: “Mag-ingat ka ha. Pag mahulog ka dyan, baka di ka na makabalik.”

Wehhh, di nga??

11. I wasn’t sure if I laughed the loudest when the group used a rattan chair as a battering ram, or when a character was miraculously saved from a gunshot by his dog tag, or when Umagang Kay Ganda suddenly played during the final sequence.

12. BBC One recently adapted Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None into a mini-series. Better actors, better production values, better use of your time.

13. Hanggang sa horror movie may hugot pa rin ang hindi maka-move on na killer? Tengene lungs.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆