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39th Gawad Urian Winner Predictions   Leave a comment

The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP) are bound to reward their picks among the best of 2015 local cinema with the 39th Gawad Urian Awards this Tuesday, June 21. But who are poised to take home those huge silver trophies? It’s a strange year in predicting, but here’s where I’ll bet my money on.

best picture

BEST PICTURE
“Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
“ARI: My Life with a King”
“Bambanti”
“Da Dog Show”
“Heneral Luna”
“Honor Thy Father”
“Imbisibol”
“Taklub”

Unlike previous years when there’s one clear frontrunner to win the top award (2003’s Magnifico, 2005’s Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, 2009’s Kinatay, and 2013’s Norte), this year, the race is a bit up in the air. As for starters, there’s the now iconic pop culture effect of Heneral Luna, which dominated critically and commercially. Then there’s also Taklub, which was Brillante Mendoza’s comeback to Cannes (albeit in the Un Certain Regard competition) since 2009. Anino sa Likod ng Buwan and Imbisibol both live up to the name of their previous stage adaptations. And Honor Thy Father got pretty much the same enthusiasm that Matti’s (also Best Picture nominated) On the Job received. The three other films nominated are much low-key in nature, but I can also foresee a case of the Manunuri going with the cultural importance of the arts in “Ari.” I guess I’ll go with Jun Lana’s “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan“, as I find its one shot narrative up right the Manunuri’s alley. Besides, Lana is someone I see who’s finally breaking through with the Urian considering they also went gaga with Barber’s Tales last year (despite ending with a 0-11 shutout).

PREDICTION: “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan
ALTERNATE: “Heneral Luna

best director

BEST DIRECTOR:
Carlo Enciso Catu, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Mario Cornejo, “Apocalypse Child”
Zig Madamba Dulay, “Bambanti”
Lawrence Fajardo, “Imbisibol”
Ralston Jover, “Da Dog Show”
Jun Lana, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
Erik Matti, “Honor Thy Father”
Brilliante Mendoza, “Taklub”
Kidlat Tahimik, “Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment”
Jerrold Tarog, “Heneral Luna”

I have this previous theory (which I shared last year) that when someone is up for the Best Director award yet the film isn’t nominated for Best Picture, that totally eliminates the director’s chances to win at all. After all, no director has won in this category without the corresponding film being nominated for the top award too. That said, if there’s one filmmaker who can defy that statistic, it’s Kidlat Tahimik. After all, the narrative is there already. I’m sure the Urian won’t shy rewarding him especially now that the opportunity is there. Then again, I noted two years ago that in a field of 12 Best Director nominees, the only ones with no Urian are Erik Matti and Hannah Espia and while I predicted the former, it’s the latter who won. Thus, I’ll reserve my alternate this time for Matti to nab his first Urian here.

PREDICTION: Kidlat Tahimik, “Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment”
ALTERNATE:
Erik Matti, “Honor Thy Father”

best actor

BEST ACTOR
Luis Alandy, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
John Arcilla, “Heneral Luna”
John Lloyd Cruz, “Honor Thy Father”
John Lloyd Cruz, “A Second Chance”
Ricky Davao, “Dayang Asu”
Anthony Falcon, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
Francisco Guinto, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Sid Lucero, “Apocalypse Child”
Junjun Quintana, “Water Lemon”
Jericho Rosales, “Walang Forever”
Dennis Trillo, “Felix Manalo”
Lou Veloso, “Da Dog Show”

While it’s a strong year for lead actors with everyone getting in meaty roles here and there, this is one category where the Manunuri channels their inner Oprah and hands out nominations like Santa Claus. From this bunch, chances are we won’t see a repeat winner so that leaves out Ricky Davao, Sid Lucero, Junjun Quintana, Jericho Rosales, and Lou Veloso already. In the event that it will be though, bank on John Arcilla’s prominent pornstache to win this. That said, the double nominations signify strong support for our perennial frontrunner John Lloyd Cruz to finally receive his first Urian. Only once in the history of Urian did an actor compete against herself that lost (FYI it’s Nora Aunor x2 (both ‘Merika and Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit) losing to Vilma Santos in Sister Stella L.). So unless Manunuri trolls out in the end, it’s John Lloyd’s to lose.

PREDICTION: John Lloyd Cruz, “Honor Thy Father”
ALTERNATE:
John Arcilla, “Heneral Luna”

best actress

BEST ACTRESS:
Nora Aunor, “Taklub”
Angeli Bayani, “Iisa”
Mercedes Cabral, “Da Dog Show”
Alessandra de Rossi, “Bambanti”
Anicka Dolonius, “Apocalypse Child”
Jennylyn Mercado, “Walang Forever”
Ces Quesada, “Imbisibol”
LJ Reyes, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”

Last year, it was easy to dismiss Nora Aunor’s chances simply because she’s already winning the Natatanging Gawad Urian and if there’s one thing that Urian loves, it’s to spread the wealth. This year however is a more difficult one to predict. That said, Taklub is minor Aunor, and I don’t think this is the performance that will tie her with rival Vilma Santos for the 8th Best Actress win. Both Angeli Bayani and Alessandra de Rossi won Urian the past few years, so I don’t see the Manunuri rushing to give them second wins (they have no problem giving out nominations but a win is a different talk). Quesada, Dolonius and Cabral are all borderline supporting characters in terms of screentime or story, though Ces Quesada, a veteran with no Urian win yet can easily overcome this narrative as compared to the two others. Jennylyn Mercado, a previous Urian nominee for Blue Moon back in 2005, is nominated for #WalangForever, seems more of a statement on the Manunuri’s part that they also acknowledge romance/commercial format stories. I mean if Angelica Panganiban couldn’t win with Tadhana last year, I doubt they’re touching this. That leaves me with LJ Reyes, and while in any other year, I wouldn’t have made this prediction, maybe the “boldness” of the role would be enough for her to take home the trophy.

PREDICTION: LJ Reyes, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
ALTERNATE:
Ces Quesada, “Imbisibol”

best supp actor

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
RK Bagatsing, “Apocalypse Child”
Bernardo Bernardo, “Imbisibol”
Tirso Cruz III, “Honor Thy Father”
JM De Guzman, “Imbisibol”
Julio Diaz, “Taklub”
Alion Ibanez, “Da Dog Show”
Micko Laurente, “Bambanti”
Lou Veloso, “Taklub”

Opposite of the Oscars where they reward the older vets in Supporting, the Urian likes them young and fresh with up and coming actors winning here going as far as 1986 champ Aga Muhlach up to last year’s Martin del Rosario. The only one who fits the bill is 4x nominee JM de Guzman for Imbisibol. But then, I think this is one year where they can skip that as I think it’s a battle of the three vets: 1980 Best Actor Bernardo Bernardo, 1992 Best Supporting Actor Tirso Cruz III, and still Urian-less Julio Diaz. I have a hunch they’re going with Tirso’s over the top religious zealot in here to give him his overdue second career Urian.

PREDICTION: Tirso Cruz III, “Honor Thy Father”
ALTERNATE:
Julio Diaz, “Taklub”

best supp actress

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Liza Dino, “Toto”
Mylene Dizon, “Heneral Luna”
Rio Locsin, “Iisa”
Anna Abad Santos, “Apocalypse Child”
Tessie Tomas, “Water Lemon”
Cecil Yumol, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Gwen Zamora “Apocalypse Child”

I can’t remember the last time they rewarded a supporting performance from a full comedy movie, so I feel that Liza Dino’s nominations is the reward itself already. Same goes for Urian winner Mylene Dizon. I personally prefer Ana Abad Santos over Gwen Zamora in Apocalypse Child, but a part of me thinks that it’s a film they showered with acting nominations but will give no wins (which in Urian history isn’t always a bad thing. There’s a long list of films that reap 4-5 acting nominations that will lose all of its acting bids. Case in point, last year’s Best Picture Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon, or Barber’s Tales.). I’ll call this a race between two underrated veterans: Rio Locsin vs. Tessie Tomas, and I’ll give the edge to the latter just because she have more Urian losses, so maybe the Manunuri might make up for it.

PREDICTION: Tessie Tomas, “Water Lemon”
ALTERNATE:
Rio Locsin, “Iisa”

Now as for the rest of the nominations:

SCREENPLAY:
Prediction:
Herlyn Gail Alegre  and John Paul Bedia, “Imbisibol
Alternate:
Michicko Yamamoto, Honor Thy Father

PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Prediction: Harley Alcasid, “Bukod Kang Pinagpala
Alternate: Ben Payumo, “Water Lemon

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Prediction: Ber Cruz, “Honor Thy Father
Alternate: Pong Ignacio, “Heneral Luna

MUSIC:
Prediction: Jerrold Tarog, “Heneral Luna
Alternate: Diwa de Leon, “Taklub

EDITING:
Prediction: Lawrence Ang, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan
Alternate: Kats Serraon, “Da Dog Show

SOUND:
Prediction: Mikko Quizon, “Heneral Luna
Alternate: Mikko Quizon, “Honor Thy Father

The 39th Gawad Urian Awards will be shown live on Cinema One this June 21 at 8PM.

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9th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 1   8 comments

Hi everyone! It’s Cinemalaya time of the year again. It’s the time when we get to see some of the most exciting and most promising independent films produced by directors both veterans and new ones. This year’s crop of films are really interesting as they varies from different genres and with more big stars having their first Cinemalaya entries (coughVilmaSantoscough). Over the next few days, I’ll be posting my reviews of this year’s entries, and weigh in my thoughts about the ninth batch of indie films. Let’s get the ball rollin’ shall we? 🙂

LIARS
Director: Gil Portes
Cast: Alessandra de Rossi, Jan Harley Hicana, John Michael Bonapos, Arnold Reyes
Competition: Director’s Showcase

The film tells the story of journalist Eloisa (Alessandra de Rossi) whose expose’ of the truth results in life-changing consequences to a baseball team of poor boys. It is inspired by a true story.

It is interesting to note that the director claims that the movie is a fictional take just based from a true to life story that happened in 1991. While the whole film gives you a lifetime TV movie of the week feels, this is a familiar territory that combines two concepts that Gil Portes excels at: children and inspirational story. The tandem of writer Senedy Que and director Gil Portes already did it before in Mga Munting Tinig, and they successfully did it again with Liars. The story, as told from a series of flashbacks, recounts the step by step process of the fictional Smokey Mountain team, though what’s special with this is that the two main characters (played by Jan Harley Hicana and John Michael Bonapos) were given ample attention in the story and they certainly delivered. Alessandra de Rossi was dependable as always, and the ensemble consisting of Arnold Reyes, Cris Villanueva, and Sue Prado were all given moments to work on. The movie is not something that hasn’t been told before, but it goes on point with the message that it wants to deliver successfully.

Rating: 3/5

REKORDER
Director: Mikhail Red
Cast: Ronnie Quizon, Mike Lloren, BuboyVillar, Earl Ignacio
Competition: New Breed

The film tells the story of a former 1980’s film cameraman who now currently works as a movie pirate operating in present day Manila. He routinely smuggles a digital camcorder into movie theatres in order to illegally record films. One night, he records something else… and the footage goes viral.

The premise of this film is one that simply strikes me as interesting when I first read the synopsis. But I guess that ended up as its strongest downfall, as it did not live up to what I was expecting to see. Helmed by Raymond Red’s son, Mikhail Red, there seems to be a lacking in terms of storytelling. The perceived impact of what Maven (Ronnie Quizon) has captured did not totally live up to the build-up of the film’s intensity. With that said, the style of the direction is commendable here, and if anything, Maven was written and portrayed as a complex and intriguing character that really holds your attention. I like the film’s opening and ending shots, and for some reason, some of the earlier parts with the police reminded me of Lawrence Fajardo’s Posas from last year. Quizon was awkward but that’s what made his performance engaging and convincing, and his portrayal gave justice on how his character was written. If only the viral video was more engaging, it would have been an overall better film.

Rating: 3/5

PUROK 7
Director: Carlo Obispo
Cast: Krystle Valentino, Miggs Cuaderno, Arnold Reyes, Julian Trono
Competition: New Breed

The film follows Diana (Krystle Valentino) and her younger brother as they strive to relieve their longing for a family.

Pronounced as Purok Siyete (or its English translation “Zone 7”), the movie depicts and creates an atmosphere of its own – something that gives you a clear description of how it feels like for Diana and her brother. The concepts of waiting and longing to be a part of a family were on full display effectively, thanks to the endearing performances of both Krystle Valentino and Miggs Cuaderno. I admit that this is one of the few great surprises I have seen so far, and most of it is credited to director and writer Carlo Obispo. Diana’s character is one that is probably more known in movies: the optimistic barrio lass who despite the trials and being the breadwinner of her and her brother do not lose an inch of hope that someday, they too will finally get what they long have wanted. What makes this one different though is that Diana was more humanized; she’s very much transparent that it’s easy for the audience to smile, laugh, and feel for her. I also like how this one ended when it puts the whole story on a full circle. And yes, let me reiterate that you have to pencil in Krystle Valentino bas she showcased one of the best performances of the year by far.

Rating: 4/5

EKSTRA (The Bit Player)
Director: Jeffrey Jeturian
Cast: Vilma Santos, Tart Carlos, Marlon Rivera, Vincent de Jesus
Competition: Director’s Showcase

A socio-realist drama-comedy film, it follows a seemingly usual day in the life of Loida Malabanan (Vilma Santos), as she embarks on yet another shooting day of a soap opera as an extra.

Probably the most buzzed about film in this year’s batch, Ekstra will surely go on to be one of the more prominent and memorable films this year. On one hand, it gives us a glimpse of how it feels like to be an extra – how they’re treated in TV production, what they do in between takes, how they get the roles that they do among others. It’s this kind of “backstage peek” that makes the audience get really interested in. And Ekstra showed that comprehensively in a funny and humorous manner. On the other, if you’re not into that kind of thing, then this one is not for you. It’s too overstuffed that it just went on and on and on. There are parts that can still be trimmed down from it, and it just felt too long. The truth is despite the normal people enjoying the glimpse of what it’s like in a soap opera set, it does cater more to those people who are really a part of it with inside jokes thrown endlessly left and right. With that said, this is a Vilma Santos vehicle, and Santos certainly delivered. More than the witty one-liners or the endless lines, one thing that I’ve always like about her is her great physical acting, and she does that lot in here. She really commands the screen, and it’s nice to see her show it again. I guess my favorite is the one near end of the film when the camera just stares at her – that’s when her emotions are on full display, stripped of the environment where she was just the day before. This somehow reminded me of Ang Babae sa Septic Tank¸ and while both contained impeccable lead performances, it just tends to go beyond the line of too much over the top every now and then. If anything, I enjoyed Antoniette Jadaone’s solo feature Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay as a better vehicle to see a day in the life of a bit player.

Rating: 3/5

Expect the second batch to come during the next few days. And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

2012: The Year in Lead Actresses   7 comments

2012 lead actresses

Hey there everyone! And Happy New Year once again from Tit for Tat! 😀

There’s no better way to kick off 2013 with a blog post that covers a topic awards prognosticators love the most: BEST ACTRESS. The past few days, I have been covering acting performances in local cinema, and we’ve already tackled supporting actressessupporting actors and lead actors. To complete the list, here’s my coverage of lead actress.

LEADERS OF THE PACK

There’s no better person more fitting to begin this coverage with the one and only Superstar herself Nora Aunor. After years of absence in local filmmaking scene, she is back with Brillante Mendoza’s Thy Womb as midwife Shaleha who wants to grant her husband’s wish of having a child. Aside from La Aunor, Gina Alajar‘s role as the matriarch in Adolf Alix’s Mater Dolorosa gives her a huge possibility to have an awards comeback as well. A pair of Kapamilya actresses can find themselves contending at different award giving bodies: Angel Locsin will definitely be nominated either for her role as the sultry Princess in Unofficially Yours though my bet is she’ll get nods  for her role as a mother who will do anything for her son in the MMFF entry One More Try. Bea Alonzo‘s most mature performance to date as the title role in Olivia Lamasan’s The Mistress can reap some nods as well. As for the fifth spot, a consecutive visit at award giving bodies is plausible for veteran actress Shamaine Buencamino, this time, for her comedic turn in Loy Arcenas’s Requieme.

MIDDLE TIER

Aside from the five names above, other noteworthy lead actress performances the past year were from Jodi Sta. Maria as the newest member of Adoracion Convent in Aparisyon, Pokwang as another mother who sacrificied as an OFW in the US in A Mother’s Story, and French actress Isabelle Huppert having the most vital role in Brillante Mendoza’s Berlin entry Captive. Vilma Santos can get in based on name status alone for her movie last year, The Healing, while Lauren Young as the psycho best friend of Maxene Magalona in Catnip can break through the awards circuit too. Other performances that gained buzz this year were Cinemalaya Best Actress winner Ama Quiambao in Diablo, Erich Gonzales who is in search of her sister in Manila in Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi, Veronica Santiago who plays the charming  title role in Pascalina, LJ Reyes who resorted to being the town prostitute in Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, and Judy Ann Santos as the owner of the diary in Mga Mumunting Lihim.

THE REST OF THE RACE

As for the rest of the race, there’s also Anne Curtis, not as the other woman, in A Secret Affair, the pair of Fe GingGing Hyde and Glorypearl Dy trying to escape in Ang Paglalakbay ng Mga Bituin ng Gabing Madilim, Mylene Dizon as the other nun in Aparisyon, and Cinema One Originals Best Actress Mara Lopez in Palitan. There’s also the performances of Erich Gonzales as the unang aswang in Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang, Angelica Panganiban as the naive Majoy in Every Breath U Take,  and real life sisters Assunta and Alessandra de Rossi in Baybayin. Lastly, Angel Aquino can also see herself nominated either for her performance as the torn mother in Amorosa: The Revenge or as the reporter who everybody thought was dead in Biktima.

That’s it. Who are your bets this year? Are you excited for the coming award giving bodies? I sure am! 🙂

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

2012: The Year in Supporting Actresses   3 comments

supp actress

2012 has given us a wide array of supporting actress performances from dramas to comedies, from musicals and even horror films both in indie and mainstream movies. This category also contains some of the finest names in television, films, and even the stage. Here’s a sample masterlist of who can get nominated from the award giving bodies next season.

Take note that when I say award giving bodies, it’s as varied as the mainstream hard on of the PMPC Star Awards for Movies up to the indie love of the Manunuri and sometimes the in between such as the Golden Screen Awards.

LEADERS OF THE PACK

I wouldn’t be surprised if veteran actress Anita Linda will pick up a lot of supporting actress trophies for her performance as the foul mouthed Alzheimer’s healed grandmother of Coco Martin in Santa Nina. If not that, then she might gain notices for albeit a similar role in Olivia Lamasan’s The Mistress. Speaking of The Mistress, comeback veteran actress Hilda Koronel can find herself back again in  awards territory as the original life spewing one of the famous movie lines of the year via “Layuan mo ang asawa ko. Tagalog ‘yan para maintinfihan mo.” Janice de Belen had a fabulous year giving memorable performances in all of her movie appearances this 2012. While I can see her getting nominated for the horror films she did, her biggest chance is still Joey Reyes’s Cinemalaya entry Mga Mumunting Lihim portraying the role of Olive, the one in the quartet of friends who wasn’t able to finish college and gets a boyfriend twice younger than her age. Janice’s co-star Agot Isidro can also reap nominations as the self centered judgmental friend Sandy also from the same movie. To round off the top five, I’d put Angelica Panganiban‘s name here as workaholic Jacqueline who’s trying to be the perfect wife in One More Try. While I can see cases wherein Panganiban will be moved to Lead, I guess they might throw her a bone here in order to avoid internal competition from Angel Locsin. Not that it’s a fraud or something because I felt she was actually a supporting actress in this one.

MIDDLE TIER

If award giving bodies failed to like any of the women above, then you can always count Nora Aunor’s performance as Emilio Aguinaldo’s second wife in El Presidente though lack of screentime will probably hurt her. Lovi Poe suffers the same fate as Thy Womb co-star Aunor from appearing in the final moments of the film especially since local award giving bodies love scenery chewing scenes that screams acting from its audience. Both Fides Cuyugan Asensio and Raquel Villavicencio can also be in the running this year as the more superior nuns of Adoration Clositer in Vincent Sandoval’s Aparisyon. Young actress Alessandra de Rossi also got a boatload of performances this year and she can get nominated as Coco Martin’s past love in Santa Nina or the cop daughter in the family ensemble Mater Dolorosa. A lot of mothers can also get a nomination or two this year such as those of Eugene Domingo as an annoyed mother who found out that her son fathered a teenage daughter in the musical I Do Bidoo Bidoo, Cherry Pie Picache‘s mother who keeps a secret in Lawrence Fajardo’s The Strangers, Rosanna Roces as the mistress of Philip Salvador who is dependent to Gina Alajar in Mater Dolorosa, and Dawn Zulueta as a strict mother who’s distant from her son in Ang Nawawala. Since there’s an abundance of mistress themed movies, one can also expect a nod for Andi Eigenmann‘s role as the third party in A Secret Affair.

THE REST OF THE PACK

And as for the others, possible supporting actress turns that can receive mentions this year include Kim Chiu‘s transformation as Vilma Santos’ half daughter in The Healing, Mercedes Cabral as Nora Aunor’s friend in Thy Womb, Gina Pareno as the voice of reason to daughter Angel Locsin in One More Try, Annicka Dolonius as Gibson’s apple of the eye in Ang Nawawala, and Angel Aquino as one of the victims in Brillante Mendoza’s Berlin entry Captive. Further supporting mentions that might grab attention at next year’s award giving bodies are Cinema One Originals winner Ria Garcia in Melodrama Negra, Daria Ramirez as Pokwang’s mother who took care of her grandchildren in the absence of her daughter who went abroad for a living in A Mother’s Story, Toni Gonzaga who is caught in between Vice Ganda and Luis Manzano’s antics in This Guy’s in Love with U, Mare, Angelina Kanapi as Dennis Trillo’s cousin in Ang Katiwala, and Cherie Gil in the comedy ensemble Madaling Araw, Mahabang Gabi. 

That’s it! That’s just 25 names, but it gives award giving bodies a lot of options to choose from in next year’s awards derby. Tomorrow, spotlight for the supporting actors of the year will be given.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

8th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 3   8 comments

Hi everyone! How’s your weekend? In case you have no idea how to spend today and tomorrow, I’ll suggest you head over at the CCP (or even Glorietta and Trinoma) to catch the movies of Cinemalaya 2012 for this year. They’re worth the admission price that you”ll pay. In line with that, this part will cover the next four movie reviews of films from this year’s edition.

As a guide, here is the first part of my review covering Mga Mumunting Lihim, Kamera Obskura, Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, and Kalayaan. The second part is this one and covers The Animals, Bwakaw, Mga Dayo, and Ang Nawawala.

OROS
Director: Paul Sta. Ana
Starring: Kristoffer King, Kristoffer Martin, Tanya Gomez
Competition: New Breed

This one gives viewers a look on the business of buying claimed bodies and holding wakes in order to gain more money via different means of gambling specifically sakla and tongits.

Oros gives a pretty accurate and specific portrayal of the topic that it covered, though I can’t help but notice that it tends to go overboard with its poverty porn treatment. For what its worth though, there’s a lot of discovery that one learns while watching the film. Ending is pretty much a give away though; thus, it lessened the actual impact that it was hoping to achieve. Kristoffer King gave a very competent leading performance, while Kristoffer Martin was a surprise as King’s younger brother. I’m not a fan of the shaky camera, but the movie is still serviceable with some commendable highlights in it.

Rating: 3 / 5

REquieme!
Director: Loy Arcenas
Starring: Shamaine Centenera Buencamino, Rez Cortez, Anthony Falcon
Competition: New Breed

REquieme tells somewhat related stories involving a funeral: the first one deals with a barangay captain (Centenera) who wants to bring home the body of a claimed distant relative who is a suspect in the killing of a famous world designer. The second one is about Joanna (Tolentino) who gives a neighbor, who served as his father figure, a deserving funeral. In between this, there’s also a story of a body that can’t seem to find its way home.

This one comes off as a surprise for me, as I certainly loved every minute of it. While the hilarious moments are indeed tummy aching, I find it more as an inspired avenue to tackle, highlight and realize Filipino characteristics especially those that involves connecting one’s name to fame. Anchored by the great Shamaine Centenera Buencamino (who’s 2 for 2 now in terms of giving memorable Cinemalaya performances after last year’s Nino), and a breakout performance by Anthony Falcon (who steals every scene he’s in), REquieme is one of those movies in this batch that definitely stood out.

Rating: 4.5 /5

SANTA NIÑA
Director: Emmanuel Palo
Starring: Coco Martin, Alessandra de Rossi, Anita Linda, Irma Adlawan
Competition: New Breed

When Paulino (Martin) discovered that the remains of his two year old daughter Marikit did not even decay a bit, this led to the questions of one’s faith and unraveling of secrets that were kept too long already.

It is difficult to tackle themes of faith in Filipino movies especially since there’s this one movie called Himala that set the bar too high for others to follow suit. However, Santa Nina does a good job in covering the said theme while adding layers of family drama and secrets of the past in the mix. The shots and technical aspects were very commendable; I specifically like the palette that they used in the movie. Coco Martin was serviceable in his job, though signs of too much television drama appear every now and then. His chemistry with Alessandra de Rossi is very natural though. Anita Linda and Irma Adlawan both have vital roles that managed to stand on their own during some parts of the movie.I felt that the movie was some minutes longer, and it could have ended on a different manner, but this one possesses good merits in it for me not to appreciate the film as a whole.

Rating: 4/ 5

POSAS
Director: Lawrence Fajardo
Starring: Nico Antonio, Art Acuña, Bangs Garcia, Jake Macapagal
Competition: New Breed

A day in the life of a thief as we get to see a blow by blow account of what happens once he gets under the fingers of police authority.

I feel this one has a been-there-done-that feeling, as the first film that comes to mind was Brillante Mendoza’s Kinatay. Both movies follow one momentous day in the life of the main character when he gets under a circumstance that he doesn’t want to be into, and he faces the consequences of the said situation. Having said that, this one (like Oros) gives a specific and detailed portrayal of the topic that it wants to cover. The saving grace of the film was Acuña’s terrific acting as the head police officer, and John Lapuz’s storyline as another victim, but it lacks the impact that will make the movie memorable enough once the credits roll.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

12 down, 3 more left. Last batch contains the last three movies left in the festival (Aparisyon, Diablo, and Ang Katiwala). Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @nikowl