Archive for the ‘ang paglalakbay ng mga bituin sa gabing madilim’ Tag

Top Local Movies of 2012   8 comments

2012 in cinema is probably one of the most enjoyable in a while. I liked a lot of the movies that I’ve seen this year, (though maybe I really avoided the bad ones? LOL), and a lot of these films would have topped any other weaker years. On top of that, we’ve also seen a lot of impeccable performances from these films. Mind you, while I have seen 60+ local films this year, there’s a lot left still to be seen. Despite that, I feel that 2012 is one of the better years in recent Filipino cinema, and here are 12 reasons why:

Unofficially Yours

12: UNOFFICIALLY YOURS

Arguably, the best output from commercial filmmaking this year is this Cathy Garcia Molina’s relationship story between two people that sprouted from a one night stand. Molina has really mastered how to make supposedly conventional studio produced films more engaging and interesting. Also, watch out for John Lloyd Cruz and Angel Locsin’s palpable chemistry here.

MNL 143

11. MNL 143

I’m a sucker of travel/road movies. With that said, Emerson Reyes’s first feature length film is a poignant love story of a man (Allan Paule) who’s looking for the woman of his life is something that’s easier to relate to; not the search per se, but the longing and the optimism for it to finally arrive is a familiar feeling that can resonate well to its viewers.

Requieme

10. REquieme!

Loy Arcenas’ consecutive Cinemalaya entry is a dark comedy that focuses on Swanie, a barangay captain who involves herself as a relative of a suspect in an international murder case. With a witty screenplay and Shamaine Buencamino’s effective portrayal as Swanie and breakthrough talent Anthony Falcon, the movie is definitely one of 2012’s brightest spots.

Pascalina

09. PASCALINA

This Cinema One Originals winner which was also Pam Miras’s feature debut about one’s self discovery about her monsters within is one of the surprise entries in my list. Not because it is bad, but because I liked and appreciated it better days after seeing it. Oh, and if Maria Veronica Santiago’s performance in the title role won’t charm you enough, then I don’t know what will.

Ang Nawawala

08. ANG NAWAWALA

Another first feature effort this year, this time by Marie Jamora, Ang Nawawala is bound to be a cult classic. Yes, it probably caters to a younger crowd, to those in the middle status, or to those who are into local music scene, but one universal thing that I sure can relate to is how it connects you back to yourself. Plus points for the eye candy production design and the compilation soundtrack.

Bwakaw

07. BWAKAW

The Philippines’ submission to the Oscar Foreign Language Film category this year (and its best submission in years, I must say) is this little gem by Jun Lana about an old gay man living alone with only his dog named Bwakaw, and how he tries to make the most out of his remaining days. It’s just one of the most heartfelt films of the year that makes you laugh and cry while watching. Also, Eddie Garcia’s performance is to watch for here.

Thy Womb

06. THY WOMB

Brillante Mendoza’s Venice entry this year is also the comeback vehicle of one of the Philippines’ greatest actresses to date, the Superstar Nora Aunor. I guess my favorite aspect of the film is how it showcased to us this little gem of a place called Tawi-Tawi, and how the film introduced us to its culture. That, and of course La Aunor’s towering performance in it.

Ang Paglalakbay ng Mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim

05. ANG PAGLALAKBAY NG MGA BITUIN SA GABING MADILIM

My favorite from the whole Cinema One Originals bunch this year is Arnel Mardoquio’s feature about the escape of three Muslim rebels, together with a ten year old child in the midst of the Bangsa Moro issues in Mindanao. But unlike any previous Mindanao related war-themed films, this one stands out because it’s  does not lecture you. And within this silence is where the actual emotions linger.

Give Up Tomorrow

04. GIVE UP TOMORROW

This Filipino/Spanish/American production directed by Michael Collins on what was labeled as the trial of the century in the Philippines (the involvement of  Paco Larrañaga to the disappearance of the Chiong sisters) is one film that probably triggered the most emotions while watching. The film for the most part was half maddening and half heartbreaking. But it probably contains one of my most favorite quotes of the year when Paco said “If you want to give up, give up tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, then give up tomorrow.

Aparisyon

03. APARISYON

Vincent Sandoval’s Cinemalaya entry about the secluded lives of nuns in a monastery in 1972. The film’s strength lies in its capability to build an atmosphere that was intense and arresting that once the movie hits it middle part, you just feel as if you’re a part of it. If you’re into the technical aspect, this movie also boasts of a complete top notch production values: neat production design,  applicable costumes, captivating cinematography, polished editing, and haunting score.

Graceland

02. GRACELAND

Ron Morales’s Tribeca entry about a loyal driver caught in the middle of his congressman employer’s paying of sins is as intense as one can get. Fifteen minutes in, there’s already a shooting scene. And the rest of the movie was packed with emotional punches, as it dwells with questions about one’s choices in life. Is this the correct choice? What happens when it’s not? Where do we go next? Also, Arnold Reyes’s terrific performance as the driver is a must see.

Kalayaan

01. KALAYAAN

And my top pick for local cinema this year is Adolf Alix’s Kalayaan. On the outside, it’s about a soldier solely stationed in the Kalayaan islands and a run on his daily activities, until two additional soldiers were sent there with him. The first hour of the film solely shows on the day to day routine of Julian. Rarely any dialogue was spoken in it, but the message was effectively sent. Once the credits rolled, you feel that you’ve known enough yet it will also prompt you to ask some more. Definitely my favorite film of the year!

Well that’s it! What are your favorite local movies of the year? In case you are wondering, the reason why there’s no top international picks yet is because I’m still catching up on a lot of the Oscar movies til the next two months. So I guess, you can expect my list by March.

And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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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

Cinema One Originals Film Festival 2012 Review: Part 2   5 comments

Hi everyone! Before I start with the second of my four part Cinema One coverage, we’d go to a quick update of what has happened since. LOL. First, I managed to see a screening of Arnel Mardoquio’s Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim, and boy was it worth it. Anyway, more of that later. Also, the winners for the festival were already revealed with Pascalina getting Best Picture, Alex Medina and Mara Lopez (both from Palitanreceiving Best Actor and Best Actress respectively, and Catnip‘s Kevin Dayrit winning Best Director.

If you haven’t seen the first part, here’s the link which includes reviews of Dwein Baltazar’s Mamay Umeng, Adolf Alix Jr.’s Mater Dolorosa, Emmanuel dela Cruz’s Slumber Party, and Khavn dela Cruz’s EDSA XXX.

Now, off to the reviews: Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Madilim na Gabi
ANG PAGLALAKBAY NG MGA BITUIN SA GABING MADILIM
Director: Arnel Mardoquio
Starring: Fe GingGing Hyde, Irish Karl Monsanto, Roger Gonzalez, Gloria Pearl Dy
Competition: Cinema One Currents

The movie follows the escape of three Muslim rebels, together with a ten year old kid who’s seeking revenge for his parents, in the midst of the Bangsa Moro issues in Mindanao.

To sum this one up,  this film really beautiful. More than the postcard worthy cinematography and the wonderful music all throughout, what captivates me about the film is its simplicity. We get to follow these four people, see their plight, and join their journey. There’s a deeper sense of understanding that this film brings without lecturing its viewers. The movie might be one of the longer ones in the festival, but you’ll never feel bore while watching. The film also boasts of exceptional performances especially from Fe GingGing Hyde and Gloria Pearl Dy who I’ll be rooting for in the coming awards season. Definitely one of the festival’s bests.

Grade: 4.5/5

Pascalina

PASCALINA
Director: Pam Miras
Starring: Mara Veronica Santos, PeeWee O’Hara, Cara Eriguel. Alex Medina
Competition: Cinema One Currents

Pascalina (Santos) discovers that she has the blood of an aswang running into her veins. We now follow how she dealt with it and how this changes her life.

Pascalina is a wonderful character study of someone who’s battling her monster within literally and figuratively. This film has the fortune of having an interesting premise that was sustained all throughout. Once Pascalina entered in the scene, you get to be more interested with her and that follows all throughout the movie. I felt that Mara Veronica Santos gave the title role justice, and she was consistent all throughout. Small roles like those of PeeWee O’Hara (who I think was seated beside me during the screening) as the aunt, and Ian Galliguez as the boss were also worthy. The camera used was hit or miss, though. On one hand, it adds to the effect of the “unraveling aswang” while on the other, it can really be distracting.

Grade: 3.5/5

Catnip

CATNIP
Director: Kevin Dayrit
Starring: Lauren Young, Maxene Magalona, Rommel Luna
Competition: Cinema One Currents

A closer look at the friendship between introvert Liv (Young) who has family issues and Cieca (Magalona) who lives a life that is perfect from the outside but empty on the inside.

For what it’s worth, the whole movie and its premise is interesting. There were a lot of approaches that were unique and some funny bits in it. However, for a film this short (I think it runs 70-75 minutes tops, credits included), the sudden rush of the third act caught everyone off guard and not in a good way. Many times while watching, I can’t prevent myself from thinking that the film is more style, less substance, and while there were some good things in it, there’s a lot left to be desired here. That, or it targets a specific audience that I don’t belong to. Still though, Lauren Young was fantastic in it, and probably her best performance yet (aside from her quick enjoyable stint as Mama Mary in Erik Matti’s Vesuvius).

Grade: 2.5/5

So seven down, six more to go. I’ll continue my Cinema One Originals coverage tomorrow with Gym Lumbera’s Anak Araw, Aureus Solito’s Baybayin, and Christina Linaban’s Aberya.

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl