MOVIE REVIEW: URBAN LEGEND (Jamie Blanks, 1998)

Eto na ba ang weirdest stories na kayang maisip ng mga Amerikano? Walang-wala yan sa imagination nating mga Pinoy.

Maliban sa ahas lover ni Alice Dixson sa Robinson’s Galleria (na take note, twin ni billionaire heiress Robina Gokongwei), aliw na aliw ako nung lumabas ang kuwento na gawa sa pusa ang siopao. Sinabi pa sa akin ng pinsan ko na tingnan ko daw yung mark sa siopao kasi yun ang magsasabi kung ano ang laman niya (kapag yellow dot asado, red dot for bola-bola, at pink dot for sio-meow). Matagal din ako hindi kumain sa Hen Lin nun.

Syempre natakot din ako sa sinabi ng lola ko na wag ako lalabas kapag tanghali (tirik ang araw) kasi meron manunupot (meaning taong naglalagay ng mga bata sa supot). Yung dugo daw ng mga bata ang ginagamit pampatibay ng mga tulay tapos pinupugot ang ulo nila at isinasama sa semento. Kaya kapag dumadaan kami nun sa tulay ng Tanauan sa Batangas, napapaisip ako ilang matitigas na ulong bata na ang nakahalo dun. Buti na lang lagi ako natutulog kapag tanghali.

Pero ang pinaka-orkot moment talaga eh yung tungkol sa White Lady ng Balete Drive. Yung bigla na lang sumasakay sa likuran ng kotse kapag napadaan ka dun ng hatinggabi. Tapos nagka-movie pa na si Zsa Zsa Padilla yung white lady na biglang naging naaagnas na bangkay habang nagsasayaw. Isang buwan ata akong hindi nag-banyo ng gabi dahil sa hinayupak na pelikulang yun. Dapat siningil ko ang Seiko Films para sa UTI bill ko. Huling balita napadpad sa Concha Cruz Drive sa Parañaque yung white lady. Hindi ko rin alam bakit naisipan pa niyang pumunta sa South. Baka gustong mag-malling sa Alabang Town Center.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: MADRASTA (Olivia Lamasan, 1996)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Madrasta:

1. Bakit obsessed ang Hollywood sa pag-plagiarize ng films ni Claudine Barretto? Masyadong glaring ang similarities ng Got 2 Believe at 27 Dresses. Lalong hindi ako maniniwala na coincidence lang ang mga eksena na parehong-pareho sa Stepmom at Madrasta (kasama na yung confrontation scene ng dalawang nanay sa restaurant at yung ending na pagsali ng madrasta sa family picture). Akala n’yo tayo lang ang walang originality lagi ha. O ayan may masusumbat na din tayo sa Hollywood. Sana ang susunod na gayahin nila ay Kailangan Kita, where we’ll see a braless country girl played by Jennifer Lawrence fall in love with New York celebrity chef Chris Evans.

2. Isa siguro ito sa mga pelikula na kaya kong sumulat ng 1,000-word essay of random thoughts na walang kahirap-hirap. Memorable pa siya kasi bahay ng friend ko nung high school ang ginamit na location dito. Muntik na nga ako magka-film debut nung sinabihan niya kami na naghahanap ng extras for a party scene ni Ate Clau. Ang tagal ko pa namili ng best Giordano outfit ko tapos biglang na-pack up. Ayun siya na lang ang nakasama nung sumunod na shooting day (wearing her best Giordano outfit). Pero feel na feel ko pa rin na kasama ako sa pelikula by association.

3. If you’ll watch this through woke lenses in 2020, lalabas talaga na sobrang problematic niya. Marami kasing aspects ang film dealing with the class divide (“Pinakikisamahan ko na ang mga anak mo. Pati ba naman mga katulong kelangan ko pa pakibagayan?”) to the patriarchal system na hindi na acceptable ngayon. Although it did speak to an audience that lived through that period. Yung mga nakaporma ng Umbro jerseys or yung mga 90’s titos and titas na nagulantang ang pagkatao nang makita si Mariel (Megastar Sharon Cuneta) na nakaupo sa kubeta.

4. Peak Tita Shawie talaga ito. Deserved ang Grand Slam kasi ibang-iba ang atake kumpara sa mga blockbuster 80’s melodramas niya. Yung tahimik lang umiyak pero ramdam na ramdam yung sakit na kahit anong gawin niya, hindi siya talaga magiging parte ng pamilya ng asawa niya. Na kahit nagreklamo siya na lagi siyang nag-take ng backseat para sa mga bata, ang sinagot lang sa kanya ay, “I cannot give importance to my happiness at the expense of my children”. Saklap! Nasabihan pa na hindi masarap ang gawa niyang baked mac huhu.

Best scene niya dito yung almost wordless na pag-iyak niya sa deathbed ng kanyang favorite lolo set to the haunting Moonlight Sonata. Parang binuksang gripo ang mga mata niya pero very restrained ang acting. Halos hindi na rin ako makahinga kakaiyak nung umabot na sa sweet and touching na pa-ilong nila.

5. Nagustuhan ko yung twist na hindi madrasta ang maldita for a change. Effective talaga si Ate Clau basta pasaway ang roles niya (see also: Anak, Dahil Mahal na Mahal Kita). Kahit yung jumper outfits niya parang nagsusumigaw na super bitch. Tawang-tawa ako nung ibinibida siya ni Mariel sa kapatid nito by saying, “Mukhang suplada lang si Rachel pero kapag nakilala mo… ano… (two second pause)… ok naman.” Hahahaha!

Si Ms. Vangieeeee Labalan naman sobrang atribida as the household mayordoma. Walang bukambibig kundi ang kanyang idol na si Ma’m Sandra (Zsa Zsa Padilla). Feeling ko kung ganun din ang ugali niya sa akin, di rin siya magtatagal ng isang linggo. Either that or lagi ko papatunugin yung bell na pantawag sa kanya (very 90’s burgis film nga diba).

6. Speaking of social classes, ang galing nung juxtaposition ng lunch scenes ng dalawang pamilya. Yung kina Mariel talagang magkakatabi sila in a compact dining area tapos ang ingay mag-kwentuhan. Tapos nung kina Edward (Christopher de Leon) na, nasa may garden at naka-long table tapos very refined at tahimik lang. Yung mom lang niya (Madam Tita Muñoz) ang nag-lead ng entire conversation (at mukhang siya rin ang totoong may-ari ng bell).

Naalala ko nung pinanood ko ito sa sinehan sobrang lakas ng tawanan na more lamon ang brother ni Mariel (Cris Villanueva). Tapos biglang sigaw naman nung nahulog ang crab ng isang sister niya (Eula Valdez) na pinulot bigla at inilagay niya sa kandungan. Very relatable talaga sila.

Although ang funniest scene ni Eula for me still was yung pinabili siya ng McCormick Black Pepper tapos ang binili niya cornick kasi akala niya kelangan ng chichirya sa fancy birthday party ni Ate Clau. Bwahahaha!!

7. One of the few local films that first used live sound kaya minsan di mo marinig ang sinasabi ng characters kasi mas malakas pa ang mga palaka sa background.

8. Points to ponder:

“Meron ba namang nagmahal na hindi nasaktan? Kaya ka nasasaktan kasi nagmamahal ka. Pero mas masakit kung naghihintay ka ng kapalit. Yun bang iniisip mo kung ano ang dapat mong matanggap sa halip na isipin mo kung hanggang saan ang kaya mong ibigay. Kasi tayo eh mahilig tayong tumingin sa katabi kapag tayo ay nasasaktan na. Yun bang iniisip nating sila ang may kasalanan. Bakit? Wala din ba tayong mga pagkakamali?”

Rating: ★★★★★

MOVIE REVIEW: THE LOVE AFFAIR (Nuel Naval, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Love Affair:

1. Let’s get this out of the way. If you’re a woman who feels a sense of redemption and triumph in seeing a mistress put in her proper place (refer to No Other Woman, The Mistress, The Legal Wife, and countless viral videos of wives confronting and ultimately bitchslapping their husbands’ kulasisi), then nothing should stop you from seeing this movie. Definitely no judgments here. Kabit movies have always been a good source of entertainment for us Pinoys.

2. Speaking of kabit movies, there were so many similarities between this and Maryo J. delos Reyes’ A Love Story. It involved a doctor meeting a future lover through an accident, multiple flashbacks, water sports, and confrontation scenes that all it needed was an out of the country location. But then again, all kabit movies usually follow the same formula so I shouldn’t have expected anything new.

3. I was completely distracted by the poor production values. All those out of focus shots, bad lighting, and horrendous dubbing were unusual for a Star Cinema glossy movie.

4. I know that people lose their bearings and cool when placed in stressful situations but I was still shocked by the words coming out of these professionals’ mouths. For a doctor and lawyer, their liberal use of the words suso, or libog, or Shit, or Fuck just sounded really off. Maybe the dialogue was indeed sprinkled with these vulgar words for shock value. Either that or I was just being a complete prude.

5. Bea Alonzo to ex-boyfriend Tom Rodriguez: “I know this is your house, but I need you to leave. Kelangan ko ng buong araw para makapag-impake ng gamit ko.”

Nasaan ang pride, girl?

6. I feared a lot for the characters’ health and wellness. Lagi na lang umuulan and almost all of them got soaked because they just loved making drama under the pouring rain. Have they never heard of pneumonia?

7. I had a great time watching Bea’s cuts and bruises appear, disappear and re-appear in several scenes. If you would look closely in one of the stairs scenes, Bea’s shirt was actually stained on the back with the same color as her arm bruises. No wonder they keep disappearing.

8. If you’re a lawyer applying for a job in a prestigious firm, won’t you even try to cover the cut on your forehead and try not to look like a walking liability? I can recommend a good concealer dear.

9. This movie gave a whole new meaning to serendipity. Bea and Richard Gomez just kept bumping into each other in the weirdest places and situations. The fact that they didn’t end up together only supported the theory of #WalangForever.

10. In one scene, Richard offered a ride to Bea:

“You wanna borrow my car?”
“No, I’ll just use Grab.”

And with that, GrabTaxi just one-upped Uber.

11. I loved the best friend/conscience played by Ina Feleo. She was judgmental with reason and that scene where she slapped Bea silly was justified. I could only wish for more friends just like her.

12. Whatever happened to Ana Capri? She played the stereotypical pokpok role here but she’s still one of the best pokpoks in Philippine Cinema. Please give her more projects that will put her great acting skills to good use (e.g. Pila Balde, Live Show, Sa Paraiso ni Efren).

13. Walang ibang kinakain ang pamilya nina Richard at Dawn kundi ice cream at kape? Like really. For real. In real life.

14. Can someone explain the following:

a. Why does Richard have a neck pimple in all past and present scenes? When will he pop that damn thing?

b. What happened to the lips of Evangeline Pascual? Call a doctor, stat!

c. Is there any effect if a defibrillator is used on top of tubes or an actual hospital gown?

d. Can anyone identify the man wearing a blue shirt in the elevator scene and explain why he suddenly disappeared in the next scene?

e. Why is every day Valentine’s Day in this movie?

15. I did not fancy that daddy swimwear of Richard. He went swimming with shades on his head, a white shirt and shorts, and a watch. Cringe.

16. And there was this sex sa batuhan scene that made me really uncomfortable just thinking of all the scratches that will get inflicted on Bea’s supple back. And don’t get me started on all the lumot.

17. Bea typed “Vincent Ramos neurosurgeon wife” in Google and all the pictures of Dawn suddenly showed up. Wow, how popular was Richard’s character?

18. As expected, there was a confrontation scene between Dawn and Bea wherein two intelligent, classy professionals forgot their breeding and good manners and tried to outwit and outbitch each other. These two great actresses deserved much better. Besides, nothing could ever beat the classic Maricel-Zsa Zsa scene in Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin:

“Wag mo kong ma-Terry Terry. Sagutin mo ang tanong ko ‘Are you FACKING my husband??!'”

19. “Pagod na pagod na ko ginagago ng mga taong mahal ko.” Naku, deserved mo yan girl.

20. Was I the only one wishing for John Lloyd Cruz or Zanjoe Marudo to suddenly show up in the end and deliver the typical Star Cinema (really) happy ending? Cue Alamid’s Your Love.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 13, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: MY CANDIDATE (Quark Henares, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on My Candidate:

1. This would have made an effective Perception vs. Reality meme, a political rom-com that perceived itself to be incredibly hilarious but in reality barely mustered any laughs from its duped audience. Its strained humor was corny to say the least and lost all the welcome whimsy that director Quark Henares effortlessly displayed in Keka. If it got one thing right, it was that the local elections (and all the surrounding hoopla, cringe-worthy campaign ads and all) were a joke.

2. Shaina Magdayao played Billie Pono, a life coach slash communications expert slash public relations adviser that I would never hire if ever I went crazy and decided to run for public office. Think of her as a hip, younger, less-fashionable Olivia Pope meets a clueless Sandra Bullock in Our Brand Is Crisis.

Her idea of feminism was wearing a peek-a-boo black bra under a sheer top while teaching other women how to be prim and proper and land a decent job (sorry, I forgot to mention that this feminist also helped a horndog celebrity prepare his speech after cheating with a married woman, then promptly lied about it when she said “Trabaho ko na palabasin ang tunay na pagkatao ng kliyente ko”). She also had the audacity to call out other women that dressed like pampams to work. She never once dressed professionally (she’s hip remember?) while working for Congressman Sonny Suarez (Derek Ramsay), but would be the first to discuss the importance of styling to look respectable and gain people’s trust.

3. The list didn’t end there, though. Said Congressman was running for a Senate seat so Billie invited him in a noisy public bar to have a private discussion, got him wasted until he sang Teeth’s Laklak on stage, prepped his staff through a hiphop explosion technique and by rapping Legit Misfitz’s Jabongga…wait, shouldn’t she be a coach on The Voice instead?

4. The role of Billie could have been saved by a genuine comedian, but Shaina just wasn’t the best person for it. I adored her in Four Sisters and a Wedding where everything just felt more natural.

On a different note, I noticed that she had really nice hands, the type that never did laundry her whole life. Also, I immediately knew I was going straight to hell because the very first thing that popped in my head when she appeared onscreen was the thought of her killer kepslock.

5. Some of the lines here almost triggered my epileptic seizures:

• Congressman grieving his father’s death: “Siguro naman gets ng mga tao bakit malungkot ako.” (I guess, but di ko gets why you used gets.)

• Congressman on initially meeting Billie: “Babae ka pala? Akala ko ba Billy?” (2016 na po Congressman.)

Of course, that prompted Billie to dish out the age-old explanation: “Ang tatay ko kasi matagal na gusto magkaanak ng lalaki blah blah blah…”

• Congressman’s staff on his ex: “Para siyang tulo na ngumangatngat sa ano mo.” (What?! No matter how much I disliked my ex, the worst I would call the person would be a heartburn. Disclaimer: I don’t hate any of my exes. I love them all. In a friendly ex way, of course.)

• Opponent Congressman Vera Sanchez (Iza Calzado who brought so much class on such a thankless role) on poaching Billie: “I’m hiring you because you effectively turned his campaign around” and then a minute later said “Now is the best time to switch kasi bumababa na ang numbers niya”. (Huh? If his numbers were dropping, didn’t that make Billie a failure?)

6. Congressman Suarez had three people in his campaign staff and all of them were crazy (including an incredibly annoying and screechy chief of staff played by Nico Antonio; Tolayts, what happened?). He didn’t seem to belong in any political party. He gave out boxes of Century Tuna as relief goods. His favorite song was Mambobola (ooh, ZsaZsing fan!). I bet the audience was really rooting for him to win.

7. Thank God for Ricci Chan channeling Bretman Rock. I laughed out loud every time he showed up. Ditto for Ketchup Eusebio as the filthy roommate with a gigantic member (obviously inspired by Rhys Ifans’ Spike in Notting Hill).

8. Wait, weren’t there twelve slots in the Senate race? Why were these two battling it out like it was the Presidential post? Rappler even had a debate with just the two of them and Ces Drilon had a special election count covering the tight race for the number 12 slot per region. I actually wished there was a tie so they could have settled it with a coin toss. Now that would have been as funny as Derek with a handful of hair.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: EVERYTHING ABOUT HER (Joyce Bernal, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Everything About Her:

1. From the opening scene alone, the movie clearly established that this was The Devil Wears Louboutins with THE Vilma Santos playing a bitchy career-driven boss from hell (or as one character called her “Impakta ang potah”). She wore fabulous outfits (her gorgeous red ensemble screamed Ate Vi during her Eskinol days, “You too can be an Eskinol girl like me!”), had her own set of Emily and Nigel, and even a variation of the “That’s all” catchphrase (“Ang bagaaaaal!!”).

2. In this movie though, Miranda Priestly had multiple myeloma and instead of getting an executive assistant, she needed a personal nurse (Angel Locsin). It reminded me so much of the superior M. Mother’s Maiden Name (with the wonderful Zsa Zsa Padilla).

3. The first half of the movie was a delight with director Joyce Bernal deftly handling the comedic scenes and the two leads displaying great comic timing. Ate Vi’s character was named Vivian Rabaya and I actually thought they would start calling her Ate Viv. Angel, on the other hand, was named Jaica Domingo (“She calls me tonta for short”). Whether it was Ate Vi throwing insults left and right or Angel dangling from the side of a cab, there were moments of pure joy that really made me laugh out loud.

My favorite throwaway joke:

Ate Vi: “Kumain ka na?”
Angel: “Opo.”
Ate Vi: “Mukha nga.”

4. When Xian Lim’s character was introduced, I slowly started to lose interest not only because Xian lacked the acting chops (his tears were falling but his eyes remained dead) to go toe-to-toe with these amazing actresses, but also because the movie forced an unnecessary love story (which we all know would have the requisite Star Cinema happy ending).

I remembered how good Luis Manzano was in In My Life. He should have been cast here instead.

5. Where could I buy a similar low-hanging chandelier? Yes, I’m gonna swing from it. Waley.

6. Wala talagang kupas si Ate Vi. When her character learned that she had cancer, she held back her tears pretending to be strong and smiled while saying “Cancer lang ‘to.” In another scene, you could actually feel her longing to embrace her son and the bittersweet feeling when he finally did while she was in severe pain. That bathroom scene was reminiscent of her performance in The Dolzura Cortez Story.

7. Speaking of her filmography, I loved the (unintentional?) homage to Pahiram ng Isang Umaga. The lines she said while wishing for more time were really powerful (“Baka kelangan ko ng cancer, kelangan ko ng deadline. Pero sana wag masyadong mabilis, kelangan ko pa ng konting panahon. Konti lang.”) And that quiet scene where Vangie Labalan placed a blanket on her shoulder really broke my heart.

8. Jaica’s a smart nurse. How could she not know that an original Birkin or Balenciaga should never be utilized for anything vomit-related?

9. Did they use the same vacant lot where Popoy and Basha were supposed to build their dream house? Ooh, this would really drive Popoy to alcoholism.

10. In one scene, Angel made a Darna reference that was so meta it made my head hurt. So let’s see, Ate Vi played Darna and she was previously married to Edu Manzano who played Captain Barbell. They had Luis Manzano who played Flash Bomba and he’s currently together (are they still?) with Angel Locsin, another Darna. Talk about a family of superheroes. #mindblown

Rating: ★★★☆☆