Archive for the ‘angel locsin’ Tag

10 Best MMFF Movies of the Last 10 Years   Leave a comment

Last week, the Metro Manila Development Authority headed by Francis Tolentino has announced the entries for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. And as expected, MMFF staples such as Vice Ganda, Robin Padilla, Vic Sotto, Kris Aquino, and Aiai delas Alas all have entries this year.

Once the festival home of films such as Himala, Burlesk Queen, Karnal, Itanong Mo Sa Buwan, Magic Temple, and Dekada ’70, there has been a paradigm shift in terms of the criteria on how films are chosen the past decade. Commercial appeal has been the primary agenda now and box office as a main factor on which entries will make it.

And while this has elicited a lot of criticisms, particularly the idea of prioritizing box office over “quality” films, the MMFF has still treated us with some notable films quality films over the years. This coming year, entries from Gil Portes, Antoinette Jadaone, Jose Javier Reyes, and Dan Villegas have been chosen while those of Erik Matti’s and Jeffrey Jeturian were in the waitlist categories.

Before I reveal my picks of the ten best MMFF films of the last ten years (New Wave section excluded), here are five that came close from being included:

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“Ulam” from Shake, Rattle, and Roll XV (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2014) – Ulam made good use of every minute we’ve seen on screen to show the horrors and tension of a marital relationship.

“Katas ng Saudi” (director: Jose Javier Reyes, 2007) – Probably the most memorable OFW movies in local cinema depict those of a mother leaving their children behind. Here’s from a father’s perspective of coming home and realizing it isn’t what he expected.

“Pagpag” (director: Frasco Mortiz, 2013) – It’s horror by the numbers, but it tackles such a Filipino ritual one can’t help but to give in to its scares.

“Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story” (director: Daryl dela Cruz, 2011) – It got its reputation as the one that started the action comeback, but its behind the scenes director mishap got in the way for  the film to move from being good to being great.

“One More Try” (director: Ruel Bayani, 2012) – Rip-off or not, the film brags of solid performances from its four leads, particularly that of its lead actress Angel Locsin.

And as for the top 10:

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10. “Parola” from Shake, Rattle, and Roll 13 (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2011) – Parola is the perfect throwback to the early heydays of the Shake, Rattle, and Roll franchise, only with better production and technical achievements. Its scares mixes that of the old and the new, giving the type of scares that the audience will definitely bite.

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09. “English Only Please” (director: Dan Villegas, 2014) – It’s easy to dismiss English Only Please from the get go, it’s not from the manufactured Star Cinema factory of kilig, not does it star a tandem that has a solid following. But it has proven that it doesn’t need any of those. It gives the same kilig and “feels” without the need to fall trap to the usual rom-com clichés.

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08. “Blue Moon (director: Joel Lamangan, 2005) – During the last few years when Regal Films was still obsessed with this big star-studded ensembles in family dramas comes Lamangan directing a Palanca-winning screenplay about three generation of family members with the patriarch searching for his one true love. The film is mostly fluff hiding in between the big war backdrop, but its attempt is earnest one can’t help but fall in love with it.

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07. “Lihim ng San Joaquin (director: Richard Somes, 2005) – When Shake, Rattle, and Roll made a comeback in the mid-Aughts, a lot expected to feel the throwback of the early 90s horror franchise. Instead, we got that ridiculous “Poso” episode and an uneven “Aquarium” one. Then comes “Lihim ng San Joaquin”, about a young , newlywed couple transferring to a rural town. This one will keep you on the edge of your seat with its silence.

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06. “Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles (director: Erik Matti, 2014) – Sure, the MMFF has been a commercial venue for the whole family to enjoy, but with Kubot, the follow up to 2012’s Tiktik, Erik Matti proved that a sequel isn’t an alibi to come up with a lackluster addition to a franchise (which most MMFF franchises are guilty of doing). While it doesn’t necessarily have to beat its predecessor, it doesn’t have to be a downgrade as well.

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05. “Boy Golden: Shoot to Kill (director: Chito Rono, 2013) – The best thing about Boy Golden is that it doesn’t want to prove anything. It doesn’t take itself seriously and just wants to have fun. And boy was it a fun movie-watching experience mixing camp and action we haven’t seen in a long time.

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04. “Punerarya” from Shake, Rattle and Roll 12 (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2010) – Hands down, this is one of the best episodes ever in the whole SRR franchise. Jerrold Tarog’s first output stars Carla Abellana as a private tutor to two kids from the neighbor’s funeral parlor. And as secrets were slowly revealed, the tension just escalates further. This one doesn’t get old and is a must watch.

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03. “RPG Metanoia” (director: Luis Suarez, 2010) – Not for lack of trying, the MMFF has welcomed local animation in the festival. Twice, even (the first one was 2008’s “Dayo sa Mundo ng Elemento”). RPG can brag about being the first Pinoy 3D animated film, but more than that achievement, its dedication in tackling a theme highlighting the rich Philippine culture is admirable.

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02. “Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo” (director: Jose Javier Reyes, 2006) – On the outside, Kasal’s biggest achievement is how it managed to be a crowd-pleasing film, yet one that critics will positively respond as well. Digging deeper, it’s really not difficult to fall in love with this film. It touches the topic of a traditional Pinoy family whose value for marriage and relationship is as valuable to the whole family, maybe even more so, than to the actual couple. Obviously, the great ensemble elevated the already strong material further.

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01. “Thy Womb (director: Brillante Mendoza, 2012) – It’s silly when you think about it, that the best film of the festival of the last decade, was just a replacement choice of that year. Shot in the farthest village of Tawi-Tawi, “Thy Womb” wasn’t just the story of a midwife attempt to provide her husband a child, but it also opened us to a culture we aren’t particularly familiar with. I believe this is one of the films that will go down as the best in the history of the festival. Plus, it gave us Nora Aunor’s comeback performance.

So as much as we rant and complain about the MMFF every year, chances are there are one or two entries that will really be worth of our money. This year has the potential to deliver as well.

You can tweet me if you want to talk about this list: @nikowl

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12 Kabugan Teleserye Confrontation Scenes   6 comments

two wives

Last night, another teleserye premiered over ABS-CBN’s Primetime Bida– the Philippine remake of the hit Korean drama “Two Wives.” Shown here back in 2012, this local adaptation stars Kaye Abad and Erich Gonzales fighting over Jason Abalos. And based from the previews and teasers, we will see slapping – a lot of ’em, apparently – and confrontations and “sagutans” between the two women. And if there’s one thing, these dramas are known for, it’s that we live for their over the top and melodramatic confrontations. After all, nothing snatches the interest of the TV viewing public by a showdown of two characters out-bitching each other. Thus, we revisit 12 of them in celebration of “Two Wives“‘ premiere.

01.  Rose/Emmanuelle vs. Sasha in “Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon” (2014)

In the recently concluded “Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon“, we see Rose (Bea Alonzo), now as Emmanuelle, flirting with former flame Patrick (Paulo Avelino). But this does not go well with Sasha (Maricar Reyes) when she sees him wiping the wine off Emmanuelle’s legs. And as Sasha comes to warn Emmanuelle, she trips off leading to a wet encounter.

The Kabugan Scene: Emmanuelle tries to help Sasha by offering her hand to help her rise from the pool. But when Sasha seizes the moment to grab Emmanuelle and pull her down the pool, the latter suddenly moves her hand away making the pathetic Sasha more miserable. For that we give this scene 2 full slaps!

02. Sarah vs. Mia in “Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo” (2012)

Childhood friends turned husband and wife Sarah (Shaina Magdayao) and Paul (Jake Cuenca) is a struggling couple which led the man to go to Dubai to experience the greener pastures for his family. Upon working there, he bumps onto former flame Mia (Bangs Garcia) and rekindled their relationship. When Sarah followed Paul to Dubai is the time she realized this inifidelity.

The Kabugan Scene: In one of the most pasabog scenes in this show (clip starts at the 2:20 bit), there’s a scene where Mia open the big gate to see who’s knocking as Sarah goes to Paul’s direction and gives him a big slap. And since it takes two to tango, she then went to Mia and gave her the other pair of the slap. It’s a slap so hard I’m sure Mia’s head shattered for a few seconds. It’s followed by some shouting yada yada, but I bet it’s hard for Mia to process it since she’s still recovering from that slap. I give this confrontation, 2.25 slaps!

03. Vanessa vs. Sara in “Impostora” (2007)

Possessing some Orphan Black realness even before the show started five years later, this GMA serye with face snatching, doppleganger realness told the story of conjoined twins Lara and Sara against their diabolical cousin Vanessa. Sharing not only their face, but also their love interests, it’s hard to keep up who’s who and what’s happening to everyone in here.

The Kabugan Scene: In that big wedding scene right before the ceremony starts. we see Sunshine Dizon stops the wedding of Mark Anthony Fernandez and …. Sunshine Dizon. So as these 2 Sunshines go back and forth between who the real Sara is, Iza Calzado’s character comes in and reveals that Nicolas is marrying the wrong Sara.  Nothing beats the chaos that comes from a wedding, and with that, we rank this 2.5 slaps!

04. Chantal vs. Heidi in “Temptation of Wife” (2012)

While Angeline (Marian Rivera) and Heidi (Glaiza e Castro) have been friends since their childhood, Heidi had always developed a hidden envy to Chantal that she has kept as they were growing up. This even reached a point when they shared the same man — Marcel (Dennis Trillo). But when Angeline learned about the betrayal of the two people she loved the most, an accident that led Heidi thinking Angeline is dead is the start of the latter’s payback. She comes back as Chantal Gonzales, and she’s getting the receipts of her revenge.

The Kabugan Scene: Upon thinking that Chantal is flirting with her beau, this did not go well with Heidi as she decided to attack Chantal Mortal Kombat style. Jumping from chairs, tumbling in the carpet, tying with a hanky, and using fork as a weapon, this larger than life fight seemed to exist only in video games. It’s as over the top as it is ridiculous. But then again, it ended with a reveal of a pillow baby. So at least they’re consistent with it. This fight deserved a 2.75 slap rating!

05. Amor Powers vs. Claudia Buenavista in “Pangako Sa’Yo” (2000)

Gone were the days when we get these really over the top but serious showdowns in between characters. Nowadays, people live for the snark and the quotable quotations. But not in 2000 — as we see bitter rivals Amor Powers (Eula Valdez) and Madam Claudia Buenavista (Jean Garcia) battle out not only with money, but with men and children in this two year series. There’s a reason why these two are some of the most iconic characters in Philippine drama history.

The Kabugan Scene: When Claudia suddenly dashes her way to Amor’s house to ask for her daughter, she did it just for one reason: to slap her bitchy rival. Upon being threatened and be slapped  as well, she suddenly sneaks her way out. But that’s without mentioning the stanzas of lines that they shout at each other. And the pair of slap they gave to one another (including that rare leftie slap by Claudia to Amor). This doesn’t happen to modern teleseryes anymore. And to say I miss them is an understatement. For that, I give this scene a 3 slap rating!

06. Marimar vs. Angelika in “Marimar” (2007)

Definitely one of the most memorable telenovelas in Philippine history, the Mexican version of Marimar is one that will forever be one of the most influential ones. In this GMA remake, including a star-turning performance by Marian Rivera in the lead role, Marimar’s rag to riches story is, whether it’s Marimar and Sergio’s romance, or Marimar and Angelika’s revolving fates, and the other colorful characters in the soap, is one that will never get old.

The Kabugan Scene: While weddings and preparations bring out the class in most of us, consider both Marimar and Angelika as the likely outliers. When Angelika decided to poke fun at Marimar by asking her to be the maid of honor to Angelika and Sergio’s wedding, you know that it will only lead to chaos. And chaos it is, as not only did they ruin the whole place, but they’ve also wrestled with one another ruining gowns, cakes, and involving other people in the place.  Hopefully though, this type of mess only exists in the small screen and not in real life. This scene deserves a full 3.25 slap rating!

07. Vera vs. Victoria in “Magkaribal” (2010)

While most of the stories included in this lists had characters fighting over love interests, Magkaribal skews a bit as this one is a battle of power. When orphaned Anna Abella (Gretchen Barretto) thought that her younger sister Gelai (bea Alonzo) died from a hospital fire, she then made it a promise that she will take everything away from the person she thinks is responsible for those: Vera Cruz (Angel Aquino). So after his adopted father let her study fashion in Paris, she comes back to the country to snatch the title of “Queen of Philippine Fashion” from her mortal enemy.

The Kabugan Scene: Probably the start of a really famous pun — one that has been quoted many times especially during the trailer release and the premiere of the actual episode — Victoria visits Vera and informs her that she knows of the fashion designs that the latter has plagiarized and stolen from an up and coming designer. So when Vera confronted Victoria and asked her that she accepts the challenge, Gretchen Barretto, sans moving forehead, just said “You want war? I’ll give you war. Sabihin mo lang kung saan at kelan… I’ll be there in my red stilettos.” For that interaction alone, this clearly merits a 3.5 slap rating!

08. Milet vs. Sheila in “Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real” (2014)

GMA’s offering in the “kabitan” year of telserye, “Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real” featured the Diamond Star Maricel Soriano in the leading role as Milet Real, the original wife in the series. While Milet is mostly kind, patient, and calm, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned as she finally confronts the second Mrs. Real, Sheila, played by Lovi Poe in this nerve wracking elevator scene.

The Kabugan Scene: Never mind that the elevator seemed like it was stuck or that their confrontation went over 5 minutes without picking and dropping any new passengers, there will really be those times when nothing is more powerful than words. And that’s what Milet, who played a teacher in the soap, did here. Not only did she teach Sheila some lessons (“Bago mo ibuka ang hita mo, mag-research ka muna kung may asawa”), offending her parents, and doing everything as the mistress carries the lovechild, it is safe to say that the original schooled the second one here. This confrontation is deserving of a 3.75 slap rating!

09. Celyn vs. Margaux in “Ina Kapatid Anak” (2013)

Best friends turned enemies turned sisters turned rivals (whew!) Celyn (Kim Chiu)and Margaux (Maja Salvador) have all been fighting for the same things: parents’ attention, boys, interests, it always seemed like everything is going Celyn’s way. But while it seemed like the rivalry is too good to be true, well apparently it is since it’s one of those times when truth is stranger than fiction as the former real life best friends Kim and Maja aren’t really in a friendly mood during the production of this show due to some personal issues.

The Kabugan Scene: During the after party of their double celebration debut, Margaux finally had it with Celyn getting all the attention. Si while she’s drunk, she asked her if she can talk to her in which Margaux will just reiterate how much she hated Celyn following it with a really hard slap. Celyn then answered back “Para mahimasmasan ka..” and swooped up an equally hard slap. Sure, these slaps are supposed to be tame for a TV show, but in the context of what’s happening during these times, the tension in this scene alone trumps a lot of others in this list which leads to a solid 4 slap rating!

10. Catherine vs. Scarlet in “Iisa Pa Lamang” (2008)

This conflict over conflict over conflict of interconnecting stories focuses on naive lass Catherine (Claudine Barretto) and how she has smitten Miguel (Diether Ocampo) off her fingers. Miguel’s past flame Scarlet (Angelica Panganiban) came back just to meddle with these affairs and she will do everything it takes to make Catherine’s life msierable. For what its worth, Iisa Pa Lamang will never be forgotten as it pioneered the era of bitchy retorts and the endless over the top lines that have been uttered on Philippine dramas.

The Kabugan Scene:  It’s difficult to choose for this one as kabugan seems to be the name of the game for this soap, but let’s go with this court interaction in which Scarlet demands Catherine to be taken off the room only to find out that the latter will be used as a witness against Scarlet for the grounds of adultery. This led to a confrontation on the stairs where the two women shouted labels at each other ranging from “social climber” to “adulteress” and “slut” to “home wrecker” until Catherine capped it off by shouting “Desperraaattteee housewife from hellll” before attempting to push Scarlett off the stairs. That intensity of the scene alone is enough to give this a 4.5 slap rating.

11. Lally vs. Vincent in “My Husband’s Lover” (2013)

One of the hottest soaps of last year, GMA 7’s “My Husband Lover” provided major buzz in pop culture because of its handling of a sensitive topic that’s rarely (or even a first of its kind) focus on the relationship of two gay men on its forefront. This Dennis Trillo-Tom Rodriguez-Carla Abellana triangle not only made them household names (in the case of Tom Rodriguez), but it also proved her acting prowess (in the case of Carla Abellana) and initiated a career comeback (for Dennis Trillo).

The Kabugan Scene: While all of us pretty much know who “bhe” already is, Lally (Carla Abellana) seems like she’s the last person to figure things out. So when she did, it definitely shook her world (probably much more than we expected). This confrontation between husband and wife isn’t snarky or bitchy like the others on the list, but for sheer scene intensity and a high point moment in the series, it is worthy of a 4.75 slap rating!

12. Monica vs. Nicole in “The Legal Wife” (2014)

And rounding up the list is from 2014’s most memorable and most talked about teleserye… ABS-CBN’s “The Legal Wife.” Angel Locsin’s primetime TV comeback not only defied the high expectations for her, but it even delivered some of the highest ratings in the history of its timeslot. But then again, who can blame the audience? The story of how Monica (Angel Locsin) dealt upon learning that her former best friend Nicole (Maja Salvador) is having an affair with her husband Adrian (Jericho Rosales) has been the topic of endless debates, arguments, and trending Twitter topics during its time on the air,

The Kabugan Scene: We already had a taste of the confrontation when Monica went to Nicole’s house and attacked the latter while asking the now catchphrase “Masarap ba ang asawa ko? Paano mo siya nilandi? Anong unang tinanggal mo: yung bra mo, yung panty mo? O yung konsensiya mo?”, but then it was all Monica getting angry at a sheepish Nicole. In this however, we finally see a fight. And a very realistic one. Hair grabbing, hair pulling, and extension snatching fight. Everything about this scene is realistically awkward, but no one can bat an eyelash considering how we’re all Team Monica, yet even fans can sympathize of how it felt like to be Maja Salvador during this specific scene. I’m certain this scene will be remembered years from now, and it will be the barometer used for the next confrontations to come. This, a full perfect 5 slap rating!

There you have it! Do you think Two Wives will soon join the list? What are some of your favorite kabugan teleserye confrontation that missed the list? Pipe them in the comments section below.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

100 Sexiest Women for 2013   Leave a comment

Welcome to the latter part of the year! It’s July now, and while it’s more known as the official start of the rainy season (here in the Philippines at least), it is compensated by the country’s favorite poll. July is the official “100 Sexiest Women” month by FHM, as we await on who will be unveiled as the country’s finest, as voted by the fans.

This poll which started way back in 2000 has definitely gone a long way already. In its first few years, it’s filled with Hollywood actresses dominating the list, as compared to now where they are struggling to even make the list. Among those who made the list are Oscar winners Halle Berry (topping in 2003), Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz, Hilary Swank, and Natalie Portman.

News personalities like Rhea Santos, Vicky Morales, Cheri Mercado, and Pia Guanio also had their share of moments in this annual list, and even the likes of Kris Aquino (in 2001), Sharon Cuneta (in 2002), and Ruffa Gutierrez (both in 2000 and 2002)  have been included here. Singers Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, Natalie Imbruglia and Andrea Corr  have been mainstays during the early years as well.

With the release of the 14th issue this year, 1400 spots have been gone to 300+ women who have, in one way or another, made mark as part of FHM Philippines history. Let’s first give a spotlight to sixteen impressive mainstays who frequent this list for a long time already.

THE TEN TIMER CLUB

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Six women have been in the list for a decade already. Starstruck first batch alumnae Katrina Halili, Jennylyn Mercado, and Cristine Reyes all have stayed in the chart since their debut way back in 2004. Between the three of them, they all share three #1 titles, 20 Top 10 spots, and eight covers. Pretty impressive eh? More impressive than that though are hosts Toni Gonzaga and Iya Villania who maintained in the charts as well in the same time frame as the three previous women with no FHM covers to boot. Among the prominent female group Viva Hot Babes, it is the petite Maui Taylor who had the most number of appearances with ten starting from 2002 up until this year, only skipping 2008 and 2012.

THE MIGHTY ELEVEN

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Next up are five women with something in common: all have been in the FHM Sexiest Women poll for eleven years now. Let’s start with the only FHM cover girl in the bunch, Angel Locsin. With four covers under her belt, Angel has already made her own FHM record. She’s the only ever in the history of the poll who have been in the Top 10 ever since her debut in 2004 (when she debuted at #10) up until her eleventh year this 2013 where in she was third placer. Really impressive eh? Alongside her though in this group are ABS-CBN stars Bea Alonzo, KC Concepcion, and Kristine Hermosa (none of them who graced the covers… yet) and Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez who has four Top 10 placements (with her #8 spot in 2010 as her most recent).

A DOZEN VISITS

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Now next in line are those who have been in the charts for a dozen times already. What’s more impressive about these four women is that they all achieved this feat in simultaneous years. Let’s divide them in pairs and start with two past FHM cover girls. Maureen Larrazabal is one of those who can proudly say that she’s one of the original FHM Sexiest Women gals, as she started her stint in 2000. Two covers and 11 more appearances, and she ended her reign in 2011. On the other hand, original FHM darling Diana Zubiri is still going strong in the polls with her appearance #12 in this year’s list. She might not have coveted the top spot, but she was 2003’s Philippines’ Finest just behind global champ Halle Berry. As for the other two women in the list, let’s just say that they definitely belong to FHM’s best frustrations, as both didn’t give the magazine a chance to headline them, yet that didn’t stop both Anne Curtis and Heart Evangelista to slay these charts since their debut in 2002 up until now. With fifteen women down, do you have any idea on who tops our list?

THE ULTIMATE CHAMP

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And the longest staying woman in  this list is none other than Rufa Mae Quinto. Peachy has made the list every single time since its beginning way back in 2000. With three covers under her belt, what’s shocking about this is that she wasn’t able to reach the Top 10 in all fourteen years, as her closest was #11 back in 2004. Since she showed no signs of stopping, maybe she can finally enter the coveted group in the succeeding years.

Now I know you want to know who made this year’s list, so as per tradition, here’s the top 20 in pictures (and in code names):

20-16   15-11   10-06   05-01

As for the rest of the poll, I’d let you find out that by yourself by grabbing a copy of the FHM July issue with Alodia Gosiengfiao on the  magazine cover and Roxee B (that’s Roxanne Barcelo for you, folks) on the Top 100 cover. Just to give you a clue, you’ll be seeing Jessy Mendiola, Andi Eigenmann, and Jodi Sta. Maria in the list but not the names of Sarah Geronimo, Iwa Moto, and Jasmine Curtis Smith in it.

Congrats to those who made the list this year!

And you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

REVIEW: Four Sisters and a Wedding   3 comments

Four Sisters and a Wedding

As an opening salvo to Star Cinema’s 20th anniversary celebration, they certainly opened it with a bang by coming up with a family drama that combined some of the most popular actor and actresses of this generation. Helmed by ultimate box office director Cathy Garcia Molina and starred by Toni Gonzaga, Angel Locsin, Bea Alonzo, Shaina Magdayao, and Enchong Dee, Four Sisters and a Wedding tackles family issues in both comedic and dramatic fashion.

After announcing that the youngest (and the only male) Salazar sibling, Ceejay (Enchong Dee) is getting married, his four other sisters   Teddie (Toni Gonzaga), who works in Spain, Bobbie (Bea Alonzo), working now in New York, Alex (Angel Locsin) a production assistant for indie films, and Gabbie (Shaina Magdayao) teacher and the one in charge to live with their mother, come up with a master plan to halt the said occasion.

On one hand, it’s actually refreshing to see a Star Cinema family film that is not a straight up drama (think of Tanging Yaman or Sa’yo Lamang) and not a straight up comedy as well (think of Tanging Ina or Tanging Pamilya). It lends more freedom for the director and the writer to flex where the vision of the film wants to go.  Some of these concepts were highlighted in the film such as the complex relationship of sisters Alex and Bobbie, or the competitive nature of oldest sibling Teddie juxtaposed with the complacent and content stature of youngest sister Gabbie. Then you’d have the voiceless feeling of the only thorn among the roses, Ceejay. This is where the major strength of the movie kicks in.

I’d also note that it’s refreshing to see a product placement that does not bother me the same way that usual local films do. Rebisco biscuits product placements were scattered all throughout the movie, but it’s not as forced as it was carefully inserted in films and does not scream blatant product insertion, to me at least.

With that said though, the comedic themes were less inspired, as compared to the dramatic ones. As for one, the main premise of the film is ridiculous itself, but the approach could have been much tighter, so as not to make it look lamer when compared to the themes on the paragraph above this. I also noticed lack of full characterization especially in the characters of Alex and Gabbie. While Teddie and Bobbie’s stories went full circle, the other two sisters are just going around in circles. It’s probably a case of editing issues, but I would have wanted to learn more of them too, or at least, give them the spotlight every now and then.

But of course, I know what you’re here for. You want to know who’s the best among all the actresses in this film. Okay so I’ll try to break it down for you. Toni Gonzaga is my favorite in the film. I already saw how she goes back and forth with comedy and drama still back from My Amnesia Girl, but this vehicle lets her sashay from one genre to the other instantly. She knacks you off with her comedic timing, and she knocks you as well when it comes to her more dramatic ones. I think the reason why I like her most is because I still think that the film leans more on comedy, and she’s the best in show in terms of that aspect. Bea Alonzo, on the other hand, is the reliable dramatic actress that delivers, and she benefits from playing a character that was complexly written, and she pays that off by giving it justice. Her moment during the family’s confrontation (albeit too long and overdone) is really effective and one of the film’s highlights. And I know I have already said this in my past reviews of her previous films, but hers is a face that the camera really loves. Angel Locsin might not have the most moments, but she certainly makes the best of what she has to do. It is not the type of acting that screams awards, but the way she switch emotions in seconds is a testament of how much growth she has achieved already. What I particularly like about her performance is that she’s not getting all the forefront in terms of scenes, and she usually is relegated to  reacting in most of them, but she plays the same intensity to all of them. One might consider Gonzaga’s character as bordering on cartoonish, and Alonzo’s as too TV type, but Locsin’s is the most human in my opinion. More characterization from the writers would have made her character more impactful though.

The rest of the actors were also necessary but given mostly smaller to almost thankless roles (Shaina Magdayao’s Gabbie comes to mind), but they were all serviceable. Coney Reyes was inspired casting though as the family matriarch, while Carmi Martin was a hilarious scene stealer and gets the best character entrance in the film.

All in all, the main flaw that I see in this film is that despite being half comedy and half drama, the stories they used in order to cater both are not in the same vein. We see inspired storytelling in the dramatic parts of the movie, while the comedic ones were usually rehashed and less inspired. But since they’re promoting it more as a comedy, it could have used much better material in that context. That said, it’s an enjoyable film that is saved by the cast’s chemistry and one that caters to most members of well… the family.

RATING: 3/5

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

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

REVIEW: One More Try   15 comments

One More Try

Star Cinema’s solely produced film in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival is the heavy romance slash drama One More Try starring the quartet of Angel Locsin, Angelica Panganiban, Dingdong Dantes, and Zanjoie Marudo. This emotion packed film is from the same director who gave us the box office hit No Other Woman last year, Ruel S. Bayani.

In the movie, single mother Grace (Angel Locsin) is off to find the father of her son from a short lived fling years before. Their son (which the father, Edward (Dingdong Dantes), was not aware of) is in dire need of a bone marrow transplant in order to survive his condition.  Edward is now married to workaholic Jacqueline (Angelica Panganiban) while Grace is now with boyfriend Tristan (Zanjoe Marudo). The kid’s condition will connect these two couples, as we witness how far Grace will go for the betterment of her child.

I find the premise of the movie really interesting though at times, some scenes were too contrived to give more tension an to the four characters. It definitely is not lacking in drama; as a matter of fact, there’s a lot of effective emotional punches that appears every now and then. I like how the film was motivated enough to go back to its primary focus: the lengths that a mother can go to in order to save her child. It is within this facet where the film’s greatest strength lies.

Among the four characters, I liked how they wrote Grace the most. It’s probably because I felt that she was the most human. She was vulnerable but determined; she can be desperate but is persistent. One can question her, yet another can also see the reason behind her actions. The rest of the foursome weren’t really that bad, but I just felt that Grace has the best writing. On the other hand, characters of Carmina Villaroel as the unprofessional doctor and office mate Agot Isidro were annoying and unnecessary respectively.

The acting of the four leads in the movie was quite impressive. Dingdong Dantes is a leading man in every sense. With this and Tiktik, he managed to carve out interesting characters to play. Zanjoe Marudo was given the least to do, but he was given lots of money scenes to work on to. Angelica Panganiban for the most part was good; the only times I did not like her was with her earlier scenes with Agot Isidro where both seemed to be rehearsing for their first full English play. Carmina Villaroel was too perky to make me believe she was a convincing professional. Oh and did I say she was the most annoying character in the movie?

But the one who was the best in show in the film was Angel Locsin. While I’d say that having an interesting and well written character helped her, I still think that she helped the characterization of Grace to feel human and organic. It speaks a lot when I say that despite liking her in In the Name of Love and Unofficially Yours, I can still see patterns of her doing “OMG Actressing” in those movies. The same can’t be said with her compelling and expressive performance here. It’s somewhat regretful that she’s competing alongside the ethereal Nora Aunor (in Thy Womb), as I think Locsin also deserved trophies for this performance. Oh well; at most, I can say that it says more when your performance is now compared to La Aunor.

For the record, I’m not keen about the highly dramatic third act and the predictable ending. It’s just lazy. Giving characters closure does not always have to be happy or peaceful. But for the most part, I was hooked and contented with what I saw. Definitely one of the better movies this  filmfest.

Grade: 3.5/5

Here are the reviews of the other Metro Manila Film Festival 2012 entries:

El Presidente
Shake, Rattle, and Roll 14: The Invasion
Si Agimat, si Enteng, at si Ako
Sisterakas
Sosy Problems
The Strangers
Thy Womb

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl