SA GABING NANAHIMIK ANG MGA KULIGLIG (Iar Lionel Arondaing, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sa Gabing Nanahimik ang mga Kuliglig:

1. It was probably during the scene where Hector (Ricky Davao) was wailing over the corpse of his wife Dolores (Mercedes Cabral) that I realized I had watched something similar to this before. It looked very much like the same red herring thrown around in another murder-mystery set in a swampland.

My suspicion was further confirmed when self-confessed killer Magda (Angel Aquino) had that fantastical dream sequence where she ended up seeing a floating dead body that actually turned out to be her. Yes, I was definitely watching a version of Sam Raimi’s The Gift, except that the supernatural element was replaced by a religious theme. Nyek!

2. I shouldn’t even be complaining that the movie chose to head into that direction because I initially thought I was watching Senakulo: The Movie and it would really be Easter Sunday 2018 by the time it completed the twelve stations of the cross (thankfully, it abandoned that concept while I was close to nodding off right around the fourth station).

How could I forget these Bible stories when I would often volunteer to lead the prayer of the rosary done before and after breaks every October (rosary month!) in Zobel? My favorite part was the Sorrowful Mysteries because I got to play different characters and I always made sure that I gave each one a distinct voice. My rosary-praying career ended though when I read the line “Crucify him!” as “Cruci-fee him!” and one classmate laughed so loud and mocked me in front of the whole class that I felt very much like Mary Magdalene.

3. Those were some really odd framing choices. I wasn’t a big fan of seeing the characters occupying a quarter of the screen and talking in one corner. Nothing really wrong with that, it was just too AHRT(!!) for my basic sensibilities.

4. I really liked how this tackled the Seal of Confession and that priests were not allowed to disclose any information divulged to them vis a vis the separation of the Church and State. So basically a murderer could confess his crime to a priest and receive absolution for his sin, but the best that the priest could do was suggest that the killer turn himself over to the police. Did I understand that correctly? Why didn’t that sit well with my heart and brain?

5. How could Dolores be married to Hector for twenty years when Mercedes didn’t even look a day over thirty? Did she get pregnant at the ripe old age of ten?

6. Gorgeous (gorgeous!) cinematography. More reasons to visit Cuyo Island in Palawan.

7. I felt a bit disappointed when the focus shifted to Dolores’ son Lester (Jess Mendoza), who had to deliver cringe-worthy lines while giving the corpse of his mother a sponge bath (“Ang mukhang ito ang una kong nasilayan…”, “Ang mga brasong ito ang yumakap sa akin…”). I swore to myself that if he were to make punas every body part and deliver a Juan Miguel Severo-like poem for each, I would surely walk out (especially if he would reach the “Sa pepeng ito ako lumabas…”).

8. Sitting through this ordeal should serve as my penance for the entire year, yes?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

PATINTERO: ANG ALAMAT NI MENG PATALO (Mihk Vergara, 2015)

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My notes on Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo:

1. “Sa patintero, mananalo raw ang pinakamabilis tumakbo. Pero ang totoo, mananalo ang pinakamatatag ang puso.”

I was immediately transported back to the early 90’s pre-videogame, pre-Facebook era when kids like my reed-thin old self played real games (and by real, I meant sweaty running in the dirt until my Tide-white school polo shirt had turned the color of my favorite Serg’s chocolates).

Lunch was my favorite time of the day with every minute spent on the patintero grounds of Zobel. I hated losing because it meant crawling under this long line of legs of classmates that would be jeering and using the forbidden (and humiliating) “S” word known to a young boy: SUPOT.

2. The nostalgia factor alone was enough to make me like this movie. My heart could not contain its excitement when the basic rules of the game were discussed: doble balik, no touchback, no double team. Even seeing the old two-peso decagon coin brought back a lot of good memories.

3. Given such an interesting premise, I wish the movie stuck to being a film made for children, instead of catering to the children at heart. Similar to the excellent RPG: Metanoia, it could have been a great way to show the kids today how things were prior to DOTA.

I was actually surprised with the G rating given the comic violence and profanity (mostly from the kid actors). The animated sequences were great (a heightened depiction of the game’s action) but did we really have to see the kids punching and hitting each other in reality?

My inner prude even groaned a bit in the scenes where our underdog heroine raised her middle finger to her hecklers, uttered the word “Pakshet!”, and rallied her team by saying “Talunin na natin ang mga gagong yan”. (Please don’t say, “Well, that’s reality” because it will just make me even sadder.)

4. Were the animated fight sequences inspired by Kung Fu Hustle? I actually expected the Auntie played by Suzette Ranillo to show up with hair rollers since she already had the cigarette down pat.

5. I was really bothered when they started the game with missing players. Any patintero fanatic would know that you couldn’t play with uneven teams. I mean that was usually how I got to play: out of lack of choice during a schoolyard pick or it would be a default.

6. My favorite dialogue in the movie:

Kid 1: “Candy?”
Kid 2: (shakes head) “Nag-quit na ako.”

My second favorite:

Bully: “Bakit hindi perfect ang ginawa mong assignment namin?”
Geek: “Sino naman maniniwala na makaka-perfect kayo?”

7. The movie needed a stronger narrative (especially with the free fishballs and sudden character changes in the end), but all was forgiven with that Maselang Bahaghari move that made me tear up a bit. Now that was definitely a heart heart moment.

Rating: ★★★☆☆