Hi everyone! I have been terribly busy the last few weeks, but I’ll try my best to catch up on local cinema for this year. So instead of doing full reviews for each, I’ll try to tackle them in small dosages. Most of these I’ve seen during their release but doesn’t have the time to write a full review, some I caught up on, and some via other sources *wink*. Anyway, here are six more films from 2013’s collection:
MENOR DE EDAD
Director: Joel Lamangan
Cast: Meg Imperial, Ara Mina, Wendell Ramos, Jaycee Parker, Chynna Ortaleza
2013’s kick off local movie is Joel Lamangan’s socio-political drama Menor de Edad which aims to provide an honest and raw look of the slum life by focusing on a story of juvenile teenagers living in the squatters area. While the intention was there, viewers might get lost as Lamangan goes back and forth to documentary approach and the melodramatic aspects of the film. Scenes were mostly contrived and there were too many plots running that it’s hard for anything to stand out; in the end, all seemed half baked versions of what they really wanted to achieve. The cast was okay, though I can’t help but see them relying on scenery chewing approach of acting which made the over the top story… more over the top.
Director: Peque Gallaga
Cast: Richard Gutierrez, Solenn Heusaff, Sarah Labhati, Jay Manalo, Al Tantay
Fatal Attraction meets Unfaithful is the theme of Peque Gallaga’s 2013 drama which centers the character of fireman Ram in a choice between two babes: Trina, the one he likes, and Sophia, the one he’s concerned about. It also did not help that Trina is reserved while Sophia can be the answer to his family’s financial obligations. I appreciate the fact that this could have been a good character study of the main characters (particularly Ram and to a certain extent, Sophia), but it wasn’t as interesting as what I expected it to be. I saw some of the classic Peque Gallaga shots in terms of the angles and framing in his shots which maintained interest to say the least, but his actors let him down. It seemed as if it was a battle of “Who can act the worst?” among the three lead stars. It’s a case of seeing the film go one step forward, then two steps behind, and by the time the movie ended, we’re there at the same place where it started.
A MOMENT IN TIME
Director: Emmanuel Palo
Cast: Coco Martin, Julia Montes, Gabby Concepcion, Cherie Gil, Zsazsa Padilla
Star Cinema’s Valentine’s offering this year is composed of one of 2012’s television’s favorite couples: Coco Martin and Julia Montes via A Moment in Time. This story of “strangers getting to know each other though bounded by fate before they even met each other” is a hit or miss for me. For one, Coco Martin and Julia Montes really has a chemistry that was visible in the movie, but on the other hand, I don’t think I already have recovered from their age differences. More than that though, once the back stories of both their characters were revealed (which happened during the earlier part of the film), it’s pretty predictable already. Sure Coco Martin made the whole audience kilig, I still don’t think he has found the suitable mainstream project for him. Plus points though since Amsterdam was really good to look at, and for Cherie Gil’s straight faced delivery of the line “Mukha ba akong kontrabida sa isang pelikula?“
THE BRIDE AND THE LOVER
Director: Joel Lamangan
Cast: Paulo Avelino, Lovi Poe, Jennylyn Mercado, Joem Bascon, Hayden Kho
In the never ending tradition of “two women fighting over one man” films that still shows no signs of stopping (everyone… sigh) comes another from the vault. This time, about best friends who both took the characters of the bride and the lover. That’s also probably the most this movie can offer in terms of standing out among all these kerida films, and while that’s not saying too much, I appreciate that they even tried doing it. The movie is, indeed, entertaining with its shift to comedic and dramatic tones though it also gets tiring by the time we’ve reached the latter part of the film. There were also too many unnecessary characters (the best friend/bodyguard storyline is one that can be eliminated already), but the climax part is enjoyable and almost made up for the rest of the clunks. Jennylyn Mercado stood out the most in this trio, and I hope she gets movie roles because she really has the chops to be even better.
BROMANCE: MY BROTHER’S ROMANCE
Director: Wenn Deramas
Cast: Zanjoe Marudo, Cristine Reyes, Arlene Muhlach, Nikki Valdez, Joey Paras, Lassie
If there’s one thing that I like about Bromance is the fact that Wenn Deramas was mostly in a clean slate in this: no Vice Ganda, no Tanging Ina jokes, no DJ Durano to be seen. This gives a fresh new energy that makes most of the film work. Zanjoe Marudo still continues to challenge himself as an actor, and his last few movie projects continue to shape him as an all around actor. I like how committed he was in it, and it shows in his performance. Cristine Reyes also seems to have a knack at comedy, and I think this type of role suits her better than let’s say El Presidente. The cameos in the film were a lot, but most worked for me (especially the one who played the doctor). This movie made me laugh more than what I expected, so if this is what we can expect from the next few Deramas outings, then he might have mastered the type of comedy for his audience after all? But then again, it’s hard to speak that early.
JUANA C. THE MOVIE
Director: Jade Castro
Cast: Mae Paner, John James Uy, Jelson Bay, Angelina Kanapi, Annicka Dolonius, Mads Nicolas
From the same group that gave us Zombadings, Juana C. is a political satire that gives us a funny and honest glimpse of the wicked world of politics. It’s pretty obvious that the movie has a lot to offer, and while some of the subplots didn’t work for me, the main message of the film stood out in the end. It’s a pretty enjoyable ride that sometimes tend to go overboard, but manages to stay still and in the end, ultimately reached its destination. Juana Changge (Mae Paner) is an engaging lead character that serves as the glue that holds all of them together, but the whole ensemble is top notch, giving you endless riots and bundles of laughter. You can see the commitment that the people gave this film, so it’s easy to forgive the noticeable flaws in it.
Whew that’s a handful. There are still some films left to be seen from the first half of the year before we go overboard with the Cine Filipino and Cinemalaya contenders this month and the next, so it’s good to finally put this out already. 🙂
As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl
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.
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
Here’s the second part of my Cinemalaya reviews. Don’t forget to come over at the CCP to catch the movies for yourself. The first part covered Mga Mumunting Lihim, Kamera Obskura, Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, and Kalayaan. You can check them out here. Now, here are four other movies that I’ll review:
Director: Gino M. Santos
Starring: Albie Casino, Patrick Sugui, Dawn Balagot
Competition: New Breed
A day in the life of three upper class teenage students who attend a party that will forever change their life. Jake (Casino) is the host of the biggest party before high school ends, Trina (Balagot) is his klepto girlfriend, while Alex (Sugui) is his brother who is applying to a high school fraternity.
As for starters, I love how the treatment focused on the three characters themselves. Movies about a certain generation has been done many times before, but I specifically notice the energy that the film displays in the characters, scenes, and dialogue in the movie. The aforementioned energy is what makes the movie interesting. I also liked how it’s as raw as one can get, and while some scenes can be very predictable, it depicts the truth that lies beyond the characters from puking in toilets, nipslips, and blabbing drivers of rich kids. The parting shot of the film is probably my favorite; it was expected yet it still stays with you and stays true to what the title and the story of the film suggests. Also, Albie Casino, Patrick Sugui, and Dawn Baalgot are revelations in the film and contributed a large part with the depiction of their characters. While it is very easy to accuse that Santos is all style no substance with this one; however, I particularly liked various things about the movie which showed his potentials as a filmmaker.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Director: Jun Lana
Starring: Eddie Garcia, Rez Cortez, Soxy Topacio, Beverly Salviejo, Gardo Versoza
Competition: Directors Showcase
Rene (Garcia) is an old gay man living alone. His only companion is his dog Bwakaw. He has been waiting for a long time, anticipating his death until he finds both a surprise and a new reason to live.
I’m not a fan of previous Lana works, but I dare say this is his best film to date. I’m a big sucker for films dealing with a person’s loneliness, and I think that the film’s strongest suit lies beyond the writing of the character of Rene. Rene is alone and longing; he is anticipating for his death yet he seems to start a new life when he finds his first love. He does not believe in God, but he leaves his will to a priest. It is with this strong characterization that makes Rene a human being, and that was translated well from the screen to the audience. Somehow, I think that the movie is too long, though it balances comedy and drama perfectly that one won’t really get bothered by the long running time. Eddie Garcia showed no sign of aging when it comes to his performance, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins awards for it. The surprise though is the very good supporting cast from Rez Cortez to Soxie Topacio to my favorite Joey Paras; it shows that while it’s an Eddie Garcia vehicle, the movie can still accommodate the greatness of the rest of the cast. Both funny and touching, I find this as one of the more enjoyable entries of this year’s filmfest.
Rating: 4 / 5
Director: Julius Cena
Starring: Sue Prado, Janela Buhain, Olga Natividad
Competition: New Breed
Set during America’s favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, Mga Dayo features three different stories of women all dealing with their green card. The first one is a hotel cleaner who petitioned her 88 year old Mom to come liver with her in Guam because her mother wants to see America. The second one enters a fixed marriage with a friend just so she won’t be sent back to the Philippines. The third one is a journalist writer who is currently dealing with a broken heart.
For a movie that contains three different stories (not interrelated with each other, aside from the common theme that they all have issues with their green card), it’s not easy to totally be invested with which is which. However, it is pretty surprising that the movie ended quickly, and the revelation scenes of their fate did not leave that much of an impact as what was expected. There were really moments that will get you, opening the way for you to understand but once you start to do so, it suddenly ends. The saving grace of the film are Prado’s and Natividad’s performances, but overall, this leaves you a feeling that there’s still something that can be further covered, but it did not do so.
Grade: 2.5 / 5
Director: Marie Jamora
Starring: Dominic Roco, Felix Roco, Dawn Zulueta, Buboy Garovillo
Competition: New Breed
Ang Nawawala tells the story of Gibson Bonifacio (Roco) who stopped speaking when he was young, and now that he’s back in the country for good, he deals with his broken family, and having his first attempt at love.
Let me start by saying that this is my favorite in the New Breed category films. This film does not require you to be critical of the technical aspects or the script or the acting, but more of tugging your heart with the emotional investment that you’ll feel for the characters in the film. The music served as a critical and necessary addition in exposing and understanding Gibson and the situation that he has been into. This is in no way a pioneer or even groundbreaking in terms of tackling the theme of family and love, but it leaves enough impact once the lights appear at the end of the film. I also like the portrayal of the family with Buboy Garovillo as the passive yet understanding and Dawn Zulueta as the aloof and strict mother. Annicka Dolonius gives a great breakthrough performance, but it was Dominic Roco who holds the whole cast altogether. He is heartbreaking, optimistic, and shy all rolled into one, and Roco exuded all of it in the movie. Once you leave the theaters, you can’t help but smile and get carried with Marie Jamora’s charming effort. Definitely a must see.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
There you have it. Next up: another batch of four Cinemalaya movies. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @nikowl