Archive for the ‘brillante mendoza’ 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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12 Best Local Shows of 2012   7 comments

Local television in 2012 have been filled with star studded primetime dramas, variety specials, and more interesting shows to watch to. With every personality trying to get a TV gig nowadays, it’s safe to say that TV is indeed one of the most powerful form of message delivery these days. For 2012, these are the shows that took top honors:

Showbiz Inside Report

Photo courtesy of lambingan.net

12. SHOWBIZ INSIDE REPORT (ABSCBN 2)
Hosts: Ogie Diaz, Carmina Villaroel, Janice de Belen, Joey Marquez | Saturdays, 3:00-4:00 PM

This Saturday showbiz oriented program of ABSCBN is different from the usual fare of tsismis related shows nowadays. It does not need guests on its studio just to discuss something. Each host usually does canned and a long interview that tackles beyond the usual promoting questions that personalities are usually asked. It also does not hurt that the four hosts have charming rapport with one another and that the audience can be a part of the discussion via Facebook and Twitter.

Luv U

Photo courtesy of: wikipedia.org

11. LUV U (ABSCBN 2)
Cast: Miles Ocampo, Kiray Celis, Igi Boy Flores, Marco Gumabao | Sundays, 3:15-4:00 PM

Usually the time slot for teen dramas, the usual 4PM Saturday barkadahan show has shifted to the Sunday 3PM slot, and there’s no better show to represent it than ABSCB’s Luv U. Unlike previous shows, it does not go beyond the usual teens acting as mature dramas that past youth oriented programs tried to depict. This one is very tongue in cheek, light, and fun, and that’s where the show’s strength lies.

MMK

Photo courtesy of: vintersections.com

10. MAALAALA MO KAYA (ABSCBN 2)
Host: Charo Santos-Concio | Saturdays, 8:00-9:30 PM

The only one who made the list for the second consecutive year, the longest running drama anthology in Asia is still far and away one of the best showcases not only of acting performances but some of the most interesting stories as well. This year alone we saw the award winning Kamao with a boxer Coco Martin, Edgar Allan Guzman as a gay student wanting to be a seaman in Bangkakng Papel, and my personal favorite, the Angel Aquino-Jane Oineza starrer Manika about a young girl’s cursed beauty.

Himala Ngayon

Photo courtesy of: whotalking.com

09. HIMALA NGAYON (ABSCBN 2)
Premiered: December 9, 2012

Premiering as a special documentary on Sunday’s Best, this documentary by Sari Dalena and Keith Sicat about the behind the scenes details of what is arguably the best film in local cinema, Ishmael Bernal’s Himala was premiered to local viewers nationwide. It is just fitting that this was the year they showed it after the restoration of the film in its 30th anniversary. Watching this documentary was such a blast and I’m not sure it’s not just the cinpehiles and the Noranians who enjoyed this.

Pinoy Adventures

Photo courtesy of: pinoyexchange.com

08. PINOY ADVENTURES (GMA 7)
Host: Richard Gutierrez | Saturdays, 6:00-6:45 PM | May 13, 2012 – September 29, 2012

Despite the show being canceled now, it was still a blast to see Richard Gutierrez travel all around the country to find the most engaging activities and learn more about the cultures of different provinces in the Philippines. From Palawan to Bukidnon and from Surigao del Norte to Bicol, we witnessed interesting things that’s why it’s sad that it only lasted for a season.

Dolphy Alay Tawa

Photo courtesy of: mallofasia-arena.com

07. DOLPHY ALAY TAWA: A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO THE KING OF PHILIPPINE COMEDY

When the Comedy King passed last July, it is given that the whole showbiz industry regardless of network, genre, and age will mourn as we all lost an icon. One good thing that came out of it was this joint benefit concert that featured talents from the three biggest stations in the country. Simultaneously broadcasted over at ABSCBN, TV5, and GMA, history was definitely made this time around.

Storyline

Photo courtesy of: kapamilyalogy.blogspot.com

06. STORYLINE (ABSCBN 2)
Host: technically, nobody | Fridays, 11:00 PM

Now nearing its fifth year on air and with almost 300 episode under its belt, Storyline has maintained its quality given the range of the theme of its episodes. Headlined by the tandem of Patricia Evangelista and Paolo Villaluna, this weekly documentary shows gives much of the thinking and realizing part to its audience rather than spoon feeding them about it. We need more of this in local television, but I’m also thankful that we have at least there’s one that already exists.

Inside the Cinema

Photo courtesy of: laaunorsuperstar.blogspot.com

05. INSIDE THE CINEMA (Cinema One)
Host: Boy Abunda | Every first Tuesday of the month, 7PM

This informative movie talk show is probably the closest one that we’ll have in terms of tackling the different experiences of important people in the film industry with their past efforts. Think of  Brillante Mendoza discussing the moment before he was announced to be the Cannes Best Director or Amy Austria discussing her disappointment with her Bubbles film, this discusses moments in movie making that are too good to be true. And for this year alone, Boy Abunda got the likes of Cesar Montano, Gina Alajar, and Nora Aunor to discuss what’s inside the cinema.

Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho

Photo courtesy of: mypinoy.tv

04. KAPUSO MO, JESSICA SOHO (GMA 7)
Host: Jessica Soho | Sundays, 7:30-9:00 PM

Just this year alone, this magazine shows has picked up awards from the PMPC Star Awards for Television, PMAP Makatao Awards for Media Excellence, USTv Student Choice Awards, Gawad Tanglaw Awards, and even the 6th Hildegarde Awards for Women in Media & Communication. Need I say more? Jessica Soho’s covered topics range from really anything and everything under the sun, and that’s what makes the show fresh when you watch it every single week.

Zoren-Carmina

Photo courtesy of: happyhappystar.wordpress.com

03. ZOREN-CARMINA: ALWAYS FOREVER, A WEDDING LIKE NO OTHER
Premiered: November 24, 2012

Probably the celebrity wedding of the year, there’s no better way to be a part of it than by watching how this fairy tale unfolds right before our eyes. And by the time that the couple has exchanged their I Do’s already, there’s literally not a single dry eye in the room.

Walang Hanggan

Photo courtesy of: abs-cbn.com

02. WALANG HANGGAN (ABSCBN 2)
Cast: Coco Martin, Julia Montes, Paulo Avelino, Richard Gomez, Dawn Zulueta | January 16-October 26, 2012

Probably the year’s biggest primetime drama, this ABSCBN soap opera that included three generations of actors in it from veterans like Susan Roces and Helen Gamboa to the likes of Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta up to the next in line such as Coco Martin and Julia Montes, Walang Hanngan has been both a critical and commercial success during its ten-month run. The show has been the most widely watched and has left a lot of pop culture references in it. It will definitely go down as one of the most prominent TV dramas in soap opera history.

Be Careful with My Heart

Photo courtesy of: wikipedia.org

01. BE CAREFUL WITH MY HEART (ABSCBN 2)
Cast: Jodi Sta. Maria, Richard Yap | Mondays-Fridays, 11:15 AM – 12:00 NN

And probably the biggest surprise in local television this year is Be Careful with My Heart. Thinking about it, this is the little show that could. And it actually did! But given more time to think, there is no surprise why this certainly hooked to all demographics. This simple tale of an optimistic young lass who aims to be a flight stewardess yet ends up as a household maid captured the hearts of the whole country with its natural and positive approach. This show proves that a program does not need a major villain for people to watch it. And it does not need a young loveteam for it to actually work. And with that, I say kapit bisig!

That’s it! What are your favorite shows in local boob tube? Pipe them in the Comments section! 🙂

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

REVIEW: Thy Womb   6 comments

Thy Womb

The Metro Manila Film Festival kicks off today, and there’s no better way than to start the reviews by writing one for arguably the most quality film of the bunch. Brillante Mendoza’s Venice entry Thy Womb was in the shortlist months before but actually did not make the final list. However, as fate would have it, one movie backed out paving the way for its inclusion in the final eight.

Thy Womb takes us all the way to Tawi Tawi in Mindanao. There, we meet Shaleha (Aunor) a Badjao midwife who ironically can’t provide her own offspring to her husband Bangas-an (Roco). This led the couple to explore endless options in order for Shaleha to give what she knows her husband wanted from the start.

With such an interesting premise, director Mendoza grabbed every possible chance in order to let the story speak for itself. Most of the time, we are following Shaleha and Bangas-an’s daily routines. It is with this straightforwardness that the story let the audience be a part not only of their culture, but with the life of the couple. I’ve always like how the breathtaking Tawi Tawi was depicted; in its own, it can be considered as a character in the film. Think of Manhattan in Manhattan or New York in Sex and the City series (lousy comparison, but I do hope you get the point), where in the location itself has a lot of stories to share to its viewers. And Mendoza introduces Tawi Tawi to us by giving us bits and pieces of their colorful traditions and culture.

I think the biggest con that the movie had was during the near end of the movie, when a turning point was revealed. I don’t feel that it was established well enough to elicit the intended impact that the writer aimed. While it is, indeed, a game changer, it felt a bit premature given the lack of actual build up. With that said, I like the insertion of small ironies here and there regarding the couple’s life experiences.

Time and again, it is a common fact that Nora Aunor is one of the best talents that ever graced Philippine cinema. And Thy Womb is another testament of that. I’d even dare say that at times, she elevates the material with her performance. Her poignant turn as Shaleha  is probably one of my favorites for the year. La Aunor’s stare can paint a thousand emotions without even battling a single word. Bembol Roco was an apt counterpart to Aunor’s Shaleha. Roco is the yin to Aunor’s yang. Both Lovi Poe and Mercedes Cabral have shorter screentimes and weren’t given that much to do, but their presence were definitely felt.

Thy Womb, above anything else, is a journey. A raw and poignant journey that leads its viewers not only to the bluest of the seas and the farthest of the islands, but to the lives of Shaleha and Bangas-an. And it is a journey that is definitely worth seeing.

Grade: 4/5

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

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

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

REVIEW: Captive   1 comment

Cannes Best Director Brillante Mendoza’s first shot at the Berlin Film Festival involves a familiar territory that he has long been covering. In “Captive”, we get a closer look and a blow by blow update of a national issue that once hogged all the spotlight here in the Philippines. The only difference is that it has Isabelle Huppert here.

Inspired by the events during the 2001 Dos Palmas kidnapping of tourists, we get to see the struggle they have to endure when they get dragged in the fight between Muslims and the government in order for them to give in to what the Muslims wanted. The hostages ranged from cliche casting to effective ones with Isabelle Huppert leading the pack as the French missionary assisting old woman Soledad.

Mendoza effectively makes the viewers feel as if they were there with them combining  vivid portrayal of what the hostages experienced during that year long captivity and commendable technical aspects particularly Odyssey Flores’ cinematography and Teresa Barrozo’s score. With that said, one can’t help but think that there are times when you see style over substance as the treatment left something more to be desired. I see symbolism everywhere (giving birth scene, animals in the forest, two Muslims playing spiders, the colorful eagle) and some parts were just overdone. One can also recognize the similar Mendoza trademark that he used in his previous films, so if you’re someone who’s familiar with his filmography, there’s sort of a “been there, done that” approach with his treatment. Supposed to be pivotal scenes were also scattered that it’s hard to digest every thing so when you see one, it does not leave that much mark to the readers.

Huppert’s role, like the rest of the cast, was very physical, and I applaud how she was so “game” with everything that was required of her to do. While there are times when her character was relegated to do the typical histrionic touch when attacking the Muslims, I find her at her best when she was interviewed for a semi-documentary where she just gave her all when asked about the hostage experience. The local cast were good as well but there’s no real highlight for the rest of them that makes one a standout.

All in all, while it’s hard to nitpick about Mendoza’s visual output, it sadly didn’t leave the same amount of impact that the director intended his viewers to feel once the credits rolled.

Grade: 3 / 5