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Sinag Maynila 2016   Leave a comment

Sinag

So yesterday I did a marathon of all Sinag Maynila entries. Sinag Maynila is a project close to me since I worked on it in its initial year up until the announcement/selection for this batch (before I left my previous work). I was really interested with the movies this year particularly because I already have a clue with these entries, so to see them translated in the big screen is what made me excited. Anyway, here are short thoughts on the 2016 batch.

  1. TPO (Joselito Altarejos)
    Probably the best in this bunch, Altarejos managed to capture in less than 80 minutes the pain, the process, the aftermath of domestic violence and how this goes beyond the victim and the abuser. Characters weren’t one-dimensional and the use of long shots made the situation linger. If anything, TPO shows how people cope up with this illness and how it’s reflective of our society.

    4/5

  2. Expressway (Ato Bautista)
    Everything in Expressway is flamboyant from its full opening credits to its choreographer stunts. One can make a case that it has a tendency to go style over substance for a paper thin story that’s predictable and excessive, but it was a joyride to see Alvin Anson and Aljur Abrenica navigate through it – the former to get a leading role like this, the latter to totally embrace the batshit character he’s portraying (even if in some scenes, he went full retard). Oh, and for some reason, setting the film during Christmas season somehow added to its appeal.

    3/5

  1. MRS. (Adolf Alix)
    MRS. is a character study for its lead Virignia (what a comeback for the always dependable Elizabeth Oropesa) as she deals with everything happening around her – her older sister wanting to sell the lot of her house, her loyal house helper who’s getting married, her daughter who has joined a cult, her missing child. She’s living in a house situated on a fault line thus her house has cracks and looks old which probably signifies where she is in her life right now. The film contains really powerful moments, and I acknowledge the intent more than I appreciate it. That said, Alix continues to bring out the best in his actors.

    2.5/5

  2. Dyamper (Mes de Guzman)
    What’s exciting about Dyamper is director Mes de Guzman’s humor obviously present in it. When following about the lives of these so-called “dyampers”, the movie is at its peak. The back story of Alchris Galura’s character however, while not cringe-worthy and him totally selling it, felt a bit disjointed than the “dyamper” storyline. It’s not actually bad, but I think there’s a lack of smooth transition between these two parts that’s a tad jarring.

    2.5/5

  3. Lila (Gino M. Santos)
    Philbert Dy summed it best when he said that “Lila feels like a script that Regal rejected.” For what it’s worth, the film was stylishly done and everyone involved seemed so committed with it. That said, not only is the lead character one of the more clueless leads in recent horror film memory, but probably one of the slowest readers… ever? Like if I discovered someone’s thin diary, you bet on it I’m done with it by the second hour, notes and all. Heh.

    1/5

Since the Gabi ng Parangal happens tonight, I’ll offer my personal choices on this batch’s winners. Picture and Directing obviously goes to TPO and Joselito Altarejos. Actor I give to Aljur Abrenica (give or take his really over the top scenes, but playing that annoying young character seems right up his alley). Actress is obviously Elizabeth Oropesa (no contest!). Screenplay and Editing go to TPO, Cinematography is Dyamper, Production Design is MRS, and Score goes to Expressway. Lila probably gets best outfits for Enchong Dee.

Sinag

While we’re at it, I still invite you to watch all five films from this year’s Sinag Maynila. And (heh), avail the Sinag Maynila ePLUS Festival Kit Card because trust me, it’ll save you a lot of money (I think a movie is at Php280 each if I’m not mistaken). Until next year! #SinagMaynila2016

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10th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 5   2 comments

And we’ve finally reached the end. After almost a week of being in CCP, I’ve finally managed to see all 15 films in competition this year both in the New Breed and Director’s Showcase category. As a reminder, here are the four earlier parts of my Cinemalaya coverage:  Part 1 (which has Real Florido’s “1st Ko si 3rd“, Giancarlo Abrahan’s “Dagitab“, and Milo Sogueco’s “Mariquina”), Part 2 (covering Francis Pasion’s “Bwaya“, Gino M. Santos’ “#Y“, and GB Sampedro’s “S6parados”), Part 3 (includes Ida Anita del Mundo’s “K’na the Dreamweaver“, Joselito Altarejos’ “Kasal“, and Louie Ignacio’s “Asintado”), and Part 4 (which is composed of Joel Lamangan’s “Hustisya“, Michael Tuviera’s “The Janitor“, and Derick Cabrido’s “Children’s Show“). As for the last three films of the fest…

Ronda

RONDA
Director: Nick Olanka
Cast: Aiai delas Alas, Carlos Morales, Carlo Aquino, Perla Bautista, Julian Trono
Competition: New Breed

Ronda follows a typical work night for policewoman Paloma Arroyo (Aiai delas Alas) and her partner as they catch thieves and arrest minor prostitutes while going around the metro. The only difference is that her son, Leo, has been missing for days now after telling that he’ll do a school project with one of his classmates.

The film opens with a long continuous shot of a roaming police car getting in and out of random streets maybe to further highlight what’s it like to be in Arroyo’s day work. This seemed like a really long set up for something but there really isn’t anything to look forward to. In between these, we encounter some interesting breaks such as Carlo Aquino’s thief role, Angeli Bayani’s nagging persistent reporter, and Bernardo Bernardo’s pimp to minors, but then again, they’re just that. They’re breaks in between something which wasn’t totally established. Then we’re reminded again that Arroyo still has to look for her son. And that she cares, but no establishment of such has been made for a compelling side story. In the end, when the film finally decided to move the story forward, it suddenly stopped. Whether these two stories are related nor if they’re bound to be connected in the first place, I really have no idea which leads me to believe that the film would have benefited from a balance of some sort in order to either make the first part more solid or the latter part more memorable — neither of which the film achieved to do. I get it though that one of the film’s selling points is Aiai delas Alas’ serious acting, which she really nailed here especially in the last part.  But I think her countless Maalaala Mo Kaya drama episodes have already proven that, so I wasn’t really “shattered” per se by her more serious approach here (which was really subdued). If anything, my main consolation with it were the shots of Manila’s arresting visuals at night that showed the gritty and raw side and it takes a pro to showcase such.

2/5

Hari ng Tondo

HARI NG TONDO
Director: Carlos Siguion Reyna
Cast: Robert Arevalo, Cris Villonco, Rez Cortez, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Aiza Seguerra, Ciara Sotto
Competition: Directors Showcase

When wealthy man Ricardo Villena (Robert Arevalo) was informed that he’s close to bankruptcy, he decided to go back to his roots and take his runaway bride niece Anna (Cris Villonco) and college drop out nephew Ricky (Rafa Siguion-Reyna) to Tondo to learn how to grow a pair of balls, even if it’s against his offspring’s consent.

Movies nowadays rely on the flashy visuals or twist-y storytelling in order to ensure that they’d be spared from “copycat” or “same old same old” comments. But what’s faulty in that equation is that it doesn’t really need those as long as you’re aware of the limits of your material. That’s probably the biggest asset of Carlos Siguion Reyna’s comeback film Hari ng Tondo. The film, which even borders on too staged at times, doesn’t attempt to be a deeper, more cathartic version of anything. Its approach was direct to the point, and it effectively worked. Sure there are cliches here and there, and the film can’t help itself but to be too much of a Glee episode (during its peak) at times, but these things fit the material and what you get is an earnest depiction of its situations. This is a film that can be picked and tortured to pieces, but how it prevented such is by attempting to be heartfelt and genuine. I can’t help but somehow mirror the situation of Ricardo to the overall appeal of the film. Both the lead character and Siguion-Reyna tried to take a risk by going back to an old route that might or might not work, and the end result just speaks for itself. This is a crowd pleasing film whose cheesy approach will appeal aims to both serious critics and casual movie goers. The ensemble was commendable, and the songs here were really catchy. Dare I say, that by far, the local feel good film of the year.

3.5/5

Sundalong Kanin

SUNDALONG KANIN
Director: Janice O’Hara
Cast: Marc Abaya, Enzo Pineda, Isaac Aguirre, Elijah Canlas, Akira Morishita, Angelo Martinez, Nathaniel Britt
Competition: New Breed

Set in the 40s before the Japanese conquered the country, Sundalong Kanin is about four young lads who all wanted to be a solider when they grow up. The said invasion left an impact on the thinking process of the children when they learned what a soldier really is about.

Indeed, save the best for last. My last film from this year’s competition turned out to be the surprise I’m waiting for. Every year, I wait for that one breakout hit that will just sweep me off my feet like that of last year’s Transit and Purok 7. And I should have already seen it coming that it will be a film that has children on the forefront. Sundalong Kanin is one of the lesser buzzed entries in the film fest, as it has no big stars in it nor the “cool” image some entries had. But what it has up its sleeve is a heartbreaking coming of age tale of what happens when you’re confronted by your dreams at an early stage in your life. Director Janice O’Hara’s approach of opening the film in a somewhat comedic manner before seamlessly shifting to serious made the whole transition more effective. When children are already awaken of the actual concept of the one thing they have wanted, it becomes a battle of reality versus expectation. The film is aware enough to highlight the difference between such and the conflict and impact it leaves to these children. What’s more fantastic about the movie is despite running on a limited budget, none of it looked cheap. The four children ensemble also didn’t disappoint with all of them getting their own moments. Sundalong Kanin is one of the festival’s best entries, and the good word it has received by far is really well deserved.

4.5/5

And that’s it for Cinemalaya X. Whew I finished it earlier than expected. Dagitab and Sundalong Kanin were my favorites from this year with #Y, Mariquina, and Hari ng Tondo as the other solid entries. Both Children’s Show and 1st Ko Si 3rd were good as well. The rest ranged from good but flawed to outright horrible. On Sunday, I will be posting a complete recap of this year’s films including my rankings, picks, and predictions on who’ll end up winning at the awards ceremony.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

37th Gawad Urian Winner Predictions   2 comments

The glory days of local Philippine awards night have been over, and right now, there are only two remaining interesting citation giving bodies: the Young Critics Circle and the Manunuri (and my own Titties awards of course lol). That said, the YCC already gave their citation last April while the Manunuri will be handling out their awards tomorrow. And in line with that, I’ll be going on a limb and try to predict who’ll end up with those huge silver trophies tomorrow in all 12 categories.

best pic

BEST PICTURE
Badil
Dukit
Ekstra
Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti
Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan

On the Job
Porno
Riddles of my Homecoming
Transit

With how huge Norte was last year, I think it will be an easy win for this Cannes Un Certain regard entry to receive the top prize for tomorrow’s ceremony. Besides, it’s not as if Lav Diaz has been over-rewarded here before (his films only won twice, for 2001’s Batang Westside and 2004’s Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino). To add more confidence in its side, it’s also the top nominated film for this year, and you’d notice the trend that it is indeed one of their most loved films this year. That said though, if they want to spread the wealth, I can see the other top nomination receiver, Dukit, getting the most coveted award instead.

Prediction: Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Alternate: Dukit

best directing

BEST DIRECTING
Whammy Alcazaren, “Islands
Adolf Alix Jr.. “Porno
Mes de Guzman, “Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti”
Lav Diaz, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Hannah Espia, “Transit
Peque Gallaga, Lore Reyes, “Sonata
Jeffrey Jeturian, “Ekstra
Armando Lao, “Dukit
Arnel Mardoquio, “Riddles of My Homecoming
Erik Matti, “On the Job
Chito Rono, “Badil
Alvin Yapan, “Mga Anino ng Kahapon

Choosing in a field of twelve is already a difficult task to do, though I guess I have to remove those previous winners already: Adolf Alix, Mes de Guzman, Lav Diaz, Peque Gallaga, Jeffrey Jeturian, Arnel Mardoquio, Chito Rono, and Alvin Yapan. Then you also have Urian winners Armando Lao and Whammy Alcazaren (despite in other categories). That leaves us with veteran director Erik Matti and Hannah Espia. I have a hunch that Espia has more chance in Editing for Transit (and I’m predicting her there), so I guess I’ll be going with Erik Matti. I mean he’s overdue for an Urian right? Plus, On the Job is a very flashy directorial work that I can see the Manunuri going for. If not him though, I expect a second win for Lav Diaz because really, it’s quite a shame that he has only won here only once yet.

Prediction: Erik Matti, “On the Job
Alternate: Lav Diaz, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan

best actor

BEST ACTOR
Mark Gil, “Philippino Story
Jhong Hilario, “Badil
Mimi Juareza, “Quick Change
Sid Lucero, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Alex Medina, “Babagwa
Ping Medina, “Transit
Joel Torre, “On the Job

Speaking of repeat winners, this surprisingly short line up (remember the 15 nominee group last year?) I think is between two past champs: 2001 champ for Batang Westside Joel Torre and 2010 champ for Muli, Sid Lucero. Lucero has the longer role and one that is very demanding as well that I won’t be surprised if the voters fall in love with such. That said, Torre’s 2013 is some sort of a career best comeback that let him lead not only one, but two brave performances of the last year (the other was for Borgy Torres’ Kabisera). Having that advantage would make me predict him for the win. Outside of those two though, I guess I’d go with Alex Medina as the other feasible winner. The Urian has a history of proclaiming the hot young handsome actor in this category (see Christopher de Leon in 1978, Philip Salvador in 1979, Richard Gomez in 1991, Aga Muhlach in 1995, Jason Abalos in 2007, Sid Lucero in 2010, Paulo Avelino in 2011, and Jericho Rosales last year) and Alex Medina fits that bill. But I’m still going with Joel Torre on this one.

Prediction: Joel Torre, “On the Job
Alternate: Sid Lucero, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan

best actress

BEST ACTRESS
Nora Aunor, “Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti
Angeli Bayani, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Rustica Carpio, “Ano Ang Kulay ng Mga Nakalimutang Pangarap?”
Eugene Domingo, “Instant Mommy
Cherie Gil, “Sonata
Agot Isidro, “Mga Anino ng Kahapon
Teri Malvar, “Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita
Vilma Santos, “Ekstra
Lorna Tolentino, “Burgos
Vivian Velez, “Bendor

Definitely the most talked about and interesting category of the night (I won’t even be surprised if this one is handed out after Best Picture because it’s the Philippines after all), but this one revives the Nora-Vilma rivalry in a big way. Currently though, Vilma is all time Urian champ here with 8 wins, but Nora is closely behind her with 7 wins. If Vilma wins, she’d inch farther with 9, but if Nora wins, they’d both be tied at 8. Do you think they’ll just give them a tie and call it a day? I think there’s a probable chance of that happening. After all, it will please everyone and the mileage will really be huge. And despite the two being nominated alongside with each other during the 80s and early 90s, this possibility is unprecedented yet. In the event that happens, everyone leaves happy. However, they can also do a cop out and instead reward the eight other women here. I think the biggest possible spoiler is Angeli  Bayani whose 2013 is definitely a career best for her. Making waves at almost all film festivals here, an Urian Best Actress is a nice cap off to her 2013 achievement. And that’s who I’m predicting to win here. If not her, then I expect Vilma to receive her ninth win here. Nora just had her spotlight last year, I’m sure they won’t hesitate shifting the momentum to Vilma this year.

Prediction: Angeli Bayani, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Alternate: Vilma Santos, “Ekstra

best supp actor

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Art Acuna, “Kabisera
Archie Alemania, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Carlo Aquino, “Porno
John Arcilla, “Metro Manila
Victor Basa, “Lauriana
Joey Marquez, “On the Job
Cesar Montano, “Ang Alamat ni China Doll”
Bor Ocampo, “Dukit
Junjun Quintana, “A Philippino Story
Yul Servo, “Porno

As for the supporting actors, unless Art Acuna pulls off a threepeat (which I doubt happens but I won’t be surprised if he actually does), I think it will be a battle of the two overdue Porno guys (that sounded wrong no? lol). Both Urian-less Yul Servo and Carlo Aquino are the ones I’m confident about in this category. Carlo Aquino is now on his sixth bid for a win while Yul Servo is on his fifth. You can really just toss a coin with this one, but I guess I’m going with the latter – no reasons why.

Prediction: Yul Servo, “Porno
Alternate: Carlo Aquino, “Porno

best supp actress

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Angel Aquino, “Porno
Angel Aquino, “Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita
Jasmine Curtis, “Transit
Ruby Ruiz, “Ekstra
Michelle Smith, “Angustia”
Raquel Villavicencio, “Dukit

Call it the “Johnny Delgado Rule”. When it comes to Urian, compete against yourself in one category and you’d end up winning the trophy. It was in 1980 when Johnny Delgado competed against himself for for Brutal and Kakabakaba Ka Ba? and he ended up with a Supporting Actor win for the latter. Then in 1986, Jaclyn Jose was nominated twice for Best Actress: Private Show and Takaw Tukso, also winning for the latter. Fast forward to last year in this same category where Alessandra de Rossi was nominated for both Mater Dolorosa and Santa Nina, and she finally clinched her first Urian for the former. As a matter of fact, this statistic is so strong that it only faltered once (Nora Aunor who was nominated for both Bulaklak sa City Jail and ‘Merika only to lose to a threepeat Vilma Santos win for Sister Stella L.) Why am I writing about this though? It’s because I think this rule will apply again to twice nominated Angel Aquino.  I had her both as a prediction and alternate and I’ll just wait which one sticks. Like de Rossi last year, Aquino hasn’t won an Urian yet, and I’m choosing Porno by a hair since they seem to like the overall film better and that it’s her flashier and more “physically demanding” work.

Prediction: Angel Aquino, “Porno
Alternate: Angel Aquino, “Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita

Now as for the rest of the categories…

SCREENPLAY:
Prediction:
Lav Diaz, Rody Vera,Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Alternate:
Michicko Yamamoto, Erik Matti,On the Job

PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Prediction: Adolf Alix, “Porno
Alternate: Richard Somes, “On the Job

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Prediction: Rene Manda, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Alternate: Albert Banzon, “Porno

MUSIC:
Prediction: Gauss Obenza, “Riddles of my Homecoming
Alternate: Perry Dizon, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan

EDITING:
Prediction: Benjamin Tolentino, Hannah Espia, “Transit
Alternate: Jay Halili, “On the Job

SOUND:
Prediction: Armando Lao, “Dukit
Alternate: Arnel Barbarona, “Riddles of My Homecoming

DOCUMENTARY:
Prediction:
 Jazz in Love (Baby Ruth Villarama)
Alternate: Nanay Mameng (Adjani Arumpac)

SHORT FILM
Prediction: 
Onang (JE Tiglao)
Alternate: May Dinadala (Giancarlo Abrahan)

Let’s wait how these predictions will turn out tomorrow when the Manunuri holds the 37th Gawad Urian Awards to be hosted by Piolo Pascual and Bianca Gonzalez. The special will also be shown on Cinema One multiple times this month.

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

9th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 2   9 comments

Hi everyone! The 9th Cinemalaya Film Festival is still on going so in case you still want to watch this year’s entries, you can do yourself a favor by going to CCP, Greenbelt 3, Trinoma, or Alabang Town Center. So far, there’s some really good stuff from what I have seen. Anyway, I will now share with you the second batch of my reviews. Yesterday, I already tackled Gil Portes’ Liars, Mikhail Red’s Rekorder, Carlo Obispo’s Purok 7, and Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra which you can access here. Now I’ll add three more reviews in the list:

PORNO
Director:Adolf Alix
Cast: Angel Aquino, Carlo Aquino, Yul Servo, Rosanna Roces
Competition: Director’s Showcase

An assassin, a porn dubber, and a transgender. Three souls, on explicit illusion: to find the ultimate joy in their lives. A safe haven, where passion and love means enlightenment and the soul is the ultimate arbiter of the truth.

Coming off from Kalayaan from last year’s Cinemalaya, it’s somewhat of a hard task to see what Porno will bring to the table. The trailer doesn’t give a clue on what this is about, though the title does give one. There’s actually a lot to like about Porno. For one, Alix’s style has continues to evolve over the years, and this one is yet a new addition on the list. Then you also have the riveting performances of the cast with everyone delivering an array of performances from Angel Aquino’s physically transformed role, up to Carlo Aquino’s bold one and the sensual chemistry of Yul Servo and Rosanna Roces. Alix’s production design is also a stand out here, particularly the one in the earlier motel scenes. The heart shaped mirror with the shining curtains and the blue lights set the mood in the beginning of the film. I like how it’s contemplative that the porn in the film goes far deeper than the erotica of the human body, especially in Angel Aquino’s storyline, but this is probably a case of me acknowledging the film’s merits than loving it.

Rating: 3.5/5

INSTANT MOMMY
Director: Leo Abaya
Cast: Eugene Domingo, Yuki Matsuzaki, Luis Alandy, Rico J. Puno
Competition: New Breed

In order to solve a personal predicament, Bechayda (Eugene Domingo), a wardrobe assistant in TV commercials pretends to be pregnant.

Instant Mommy has a really good story in it. Bechayda’s predicament when she pretended to be pregnant was a highlight in this film. However, in order to get to the good story, you’d have to go through weaker ones first. That’s what pulls the film from achieving what it actually intends to do. It suffers from a lot of tonal inconsistencies and you’d get confused with where they want to bring the story. While there are certainly humorous scenes in the film (with the birth giving scene a top highlight), the uneven writing makes it difficult to identify where the film wants to stick. At times, it’s a glimpse of what happens in advertising agency, then it shifts to Bechay’s problem, then it shifts to loyalty issues between her and her Japanese boyfriend. I’m also probably nitpicking here, but there are very visible goofs within the film (with the taxi direction standing out a lot). If anything, watch out for Eugene Domingo who gives a very humanizing performance here that perfectly balances comedy and drama, but even she can’t save this one.

Rating: 2/5

DEBOSYON
Director: Alvin Yapan
Cast: Paulo Avelino, Mara Lopez, Ramona Raneses, Roy Dominguiano
Competition: New Breed

Mando (Paulo Avelino), a Bikolano devotee of Ina, Virgie ng Penafrancia, injures himself in the middle of the forest. A mysterious woman, Saleng (Mara Lopez), found and nursed him back to death. They soon fell in love. But when Mando invites her to come with her to the plains, Saleng refuses. She holds a secret that will devastate Mando’s love for her.

If there’s one word that I’d describe the film, it’s hypnotizing. I like how straight forward the film is: we just follow the film and watch Mando at the beginning with what he’s doing, until he meets Saleng and how he was smitten by her, and what the implications of this to both him and her were. The movie rests solely on the shoulders of Paulo Avelino and Mara Lopez, but they sure did one hell of a job in doing so. So far, Avelino is 2/2 when it comes to his performances from Yapan’s direction, and I’m looking forward to more collaborations. Mara Lopez is an inspired casting choice as she was perfectly suited for Saleng’s character. The movie also boasts of really impressive technical achievements with the captivating cinematography and visual effects. I always have a penchant for directors who include big crowd scenes (such as the Nazareno feast in Brillante Mendoza’s Tirador), and Alvin Yapan does the same feat here in the near end with the Ina, Virgie ng Penafrancia. Supported by the haunting musical score of Teresa Barrozo, the juxtaposition of the feast and the final scene is one that speaks volumes about the faith and acceptance we have of a certain thing – may it be love or commitment or just one’s mere existence. It’s definitely one of the best so far from this year’s batch.

Rating: 4.5/5

There you have it! I am to release the third batch on Friday. And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

2012: The Year in Supporting Actors   Leave a comment

2012 supp actors

Yesterday, we kicked off the awards season here at Tit for Tat with a recap of the year in supporting actresses in local films. For this day, we’d do the counterpart and discuss the year in supporting actors. Mostly, supporting actor roles this year were veteran actors doing comeback films or newbie actors in their first films. Like the pattern yesterday, we’d divide them into three parts:

LEADERS OF THE PACK

If he’s not submitted or inserted in the far crowded Lead Actor category, Thy Womb‘s Bembol Roco can find his name among award giving bodies this year as the husband of Nora Aunor who wanted to have a child of his own. Ronaldo Valdez seems like that he will be a staple to as Bea Alonzo’s benefactor in The Mistress. Filmfest Best Supporting Actor winner Cesar Montano is also gaining notices as the standout from the ensemble of El Presidente playing the role of hero Andres Bonifacio. Relatively younger actor Zanjoe Marudo had two award worthy performances this year: as one of the soldiers in Adolf Alix’s Kalayaan, though I can see award giving bodies going for his showier performance as Tristan in the drama One More Try. Round up the top five is the comical and scene stealing performance of Joey Marquez as the passive and under da saya husband of Janice de Belen in Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles.

MIDDLE TIER

After the top five, these men’s performances can also see a nomination or two from these award giving bodies: versatile actor Art Acuña can do back to back wins at the Urian and Golden Screen for his performance as the head of police in the Cinemalaya entry Posas. Veteran actor Mark Gil can do a comeback at the awards circuit in his flashy performance as Frankie in Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi. No stranger to awards, Carlo Aquino can also pick up nominations for his turn as the younger son in Adolf Alix’s Mater Dolorosa while older brother Cogie Domingo also has buzz from the same film. The same can be said for Cinemalaya Supporting Actor winner Joross Gamboa playing as one of JM de Guzman’s friends in Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino. Kristoffer Martin, playing lazy younger brother to another Kristoffer (King, that is) who does not want to live a poverty stricken life in Oros can be a candidate as well. If voters are much in love with El Presidente, then Andres Bonifacio might not be the only hero nominated in this category. Christopher de Leon‘s Anotnio Luna can be in the running as well. Joel Torre might gain some notices too, if voters are kinder to Mariposa for his role as Primo, the butcher. Ogie Alcasid‘s one hit wonder slash understanding father to Sam Concepcion might pick up some notices as well for his performance in I Do Bidoo Bidoo. Lastly, Patrick Sugui can also get nominated especially in award giving bodies that has new actors of the year categories as the frat neophyte in Gino Santos’s The Animals.

THE REST OF THE RACE

As for the rest of the race, one can also take a look into the performances of Mon Confiado as the boss who has the hots for one of his employees’ wife in Palitan, Sef Cadayona as the hostage of three gay friends in Slumber Party, corrupt politician Menggie Cobarrubias whose family was put into a test in Graceland, and the pair of Mariposa actors Dennis Padilla as the cop who wants a promotion and Alfred Vargas as Carlos, the boyfriend of Erich Gonzales’s sister in the movie. Looking further, other performances that might be up for consideration were newcomer Nicolas Varela in Aberya, Robert Arevalo as Vilma Santos’ now healthy father in The Healing, Baron Geisler’s Spanish soldier performance in El Presidente, Sid Lucero as one of the Abu Sayyaf members in Captive, and Niño Muhlach as fairy gaymother in Slumber Party.

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 leading actors of the year will be given.

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

8th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 4   1 comment

Today marks the last day of the 8th Cinemalaya Indepedent Film Festival, and my experience has been a blast. I’m still deciding if I’ll attend the awards night later (depends if the rain decides to stop), but I’m hoping you all get to see majority of the films in Greenbelt and Trinoma cinemas this day.

Now, this contains the last part of my Cinemalaya coverage by doing a review of the three remaining films. So far, I have covered Mga Mumunting Lihim, Kamera Obskura, Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, and Kalayaan during the first batch which you can find here. The second one included The Animals, Bwakaw, Mga Dayo, and Ang Nawawala which you can read here. Yesterday, I reviewed Oros, REquieme, Santa Nina, and Posas here.

Here we go with the last batch:

DIABLO
Director: Mes de Guzman
Starring: Ama Quiambao, Carlo Aquino, Roeder Camanag, Arnold Reyes
Competition: New Breed

Nanay Lusing who lives alone in an old house deals with the different directions and fates of her five sons.

de Guzman does a very interesting job in getting the audience invested with the direction that the film wants to go to, and once it hits its stride, it gives a good portrayal of a mother who’s alone and the five different sons living five different lives. However, the main problem I had with the film was that it took a long time before it reached that point, and the slow pace affected the overall film. Nevertheless, it is filled with good performances from the always capable Carlo Aquino to character actors who played Nanay Lusing’s sons (Aquino, Arnold Reyes, Jose Escobedo, Fredie dela Cruz, and Roeder Camanag), but it was bittersweet to see Ama Quiambao get lead credits and deliver as the matriarch of the family.

Rating: 3 / 5

APARISYON
Director: Vincent Sandoval
Starring: Mylene Dizon, Jodi Sta. Maria, Fides Asensio, Raquel Villavicencio
Competition: New Breed

A life changing incident involving Sister Lourdes (Sta. Maria) and Sister Ruth (Dizon) changed the monastery headed by Sister Ruth (Asensio) with close assistant Sister Vera (Villavicencio).

The moment the movie started, it already gave you a clear atmosphere of the coldness and mystery that’s bound to happen as the film goes on. This one clearly exceeded expectations when it carefully and intricately highlighted the fear, the suspense, and the drama without bordering on boring or preachy territory. I also liked how the movie did not pretend to play safe, it was as intense and arresting as one can get. I’d specifically like to single out the cinematography, and Teresa Barrozo’s haunting score won me over. That and the fact that the four female cast all gave convincing and effective performance that it’s hard to single out who takes the cake. All in all, if this one wins awards later, call it a very deserving sweep.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

ANG KATIWALA
Director: Aloy Adlawan
Starring: Dennis Trillo, Ronnie Lazaro, Angelina Kanapi, Althea Vega
Competition: New Breed

A caretaker of a former president’s house starts to inhibit the characteristics of his new idol.

There’s way too much potential that lies about the story of Aloy Adlawan’s “Ang katiwala”, but it seems that the filmmaker has no idea to which direction he wants the movie to take, so (imagine Michelle Branch singing this part) he did a little bit of this, a little bit of that. The end result is a mix of historical lessons, action film, a comedy, and drama. Clearly, the movie showed some potential at the start but only to see it go nowhere and as a whole, it is literally just the sum of its parts. It’s good to see Dennis Trillo getting interesting projects again, and his acting is better than what his mainstream project demands him to do, but it was supporting cast Ronnie Lazaro and Angelina Kanapi who stole the scenes every time they’re on screen.

Rating: 2 / 5

That’s it! I’m done covering all ten movies in the New Breed section, and the five films in the Directors Showcase. I’m wishing all the films a good luck at the awards ceremony later, and this has been one fun Cinemalaya experience. Until next year! 🙂

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Best Actors of the New Generation   3 comments

The concept of who is the best for a particular field is a very subjective one. Each taste differs from another one. The current lead acting winners at the Gawad Urian last week gave me a thought that we are slowly shifting to younger actors to handle lead roles in both mainstream and independent films. With that, I came up with a list of the best young actors of the current generation. The main and single criteria that I used here is that the actors need to be under the age of 35 and below. Their filmographies, performances, and other relevant factors were considered as well. However, like what I mentioned, each opinion is subjective, so I’m sharing this with you and you can agree with me or take it with a grain of salt.

First, here are names that were close but failed to make the cut: Wendell Ramos, Vhong Navarro, Ketchup Eusebio, and Paulo Avelino.

So now, let’s begin with the actual countdown:

16. ZANJOE MARUDO
Age:
29
Notable Performances:
Altar, Sa’yo Lamang, Wedding Tayo Wedding Hindi

Zanjoe Marudo is probably one of the underrated contemporary actors we have. While he is usually relegated to supporting roles and leading man roles, he simply makes the best out of what’s given to him. It also does not hurt that he’s one of the actors that works well in the comedy genre while not totally being ignorant in dramatic roles. As a matter of fact, he has starred in straight comedies (Kimmy Dora), straight dramas (Sa’yo Lamang), straight thrillers (Altar), as well as rom-coms (You Got Me), and horror-comedy (Cinco episode: Puso). It seems that his handler aims for a pretty much versatile résumé.

15. JOEM BASCON
Age:
25
Notable Performances:
Noy, Ka Oryang, Batanes

Started out in the business as part of the teenage show Let’s Go, Joem Bascon was first launched as simply a Piolo Pascual look a-like. Years later, he emerged as one of the go to young character actors with his hunky looks and strong features as add-ons to his undeniable talent. He also went on to win a Supporting Actor Urian in 2010 for his performance as a wheelchaired drug dealer in the politically themed movie Noy. While Joem’s current projects is the ABSCBN drama Walang Hanggan, he still takes indie movie roles every now and then such as his recent turn in Ka Oryang.

14. SAM MILBY
Age: 
28
Notable Performances: 
Third World Happy, Forever and a Day, My Big Love

Sam Milby, who was once a housemate in the country’s biggest reality show, turned out to be one of the best actors of his generation. Whether it’s his work as the lovable chubby guy Macky in My Big Love or an academe member in Babe I Love You, Sam has this certain movie star charisma that is difficult to resist. Beyond that though is the depth in his recent performances that require more emotional tugs such as the son who experiences a life changing realization in Third World Happy or his serious competitive businessman in Forever and a Day, It is very easy to predict that there’s still a long way ahead waiting for Milby’s star to shine even brighter.

13. JIRO MANIO
Age:
 20
Notable Performances: Magnifico, La Vida Rosa, Foster Child

At a very young age, Jiro Manio has already given some of the finest performances in recent Philippine cinema. His turn as the lovable child Magnifico won raves not only here in the country but in other parts of the world as well. Before that, he used to sweep Child Acting categories for his performances in other movies such as Bagong Buwan, Mila, and La Vida Rosa. While his succeeding movies ranged from excellent (Foster Child), to good (Tanging Ina) to bad (Bahay Kubo) to unfathomable (Manay Po series), his capabilities as an actor will never ever be denied.

12. JASON ABALOS
Age:
27
Notable Performances: Endo, Thelma, Adela

For his age, Jason Abalos seems to exude this level of confidence and maturity of men older than him. That was most evident in his Urian winning performance “Endo” when partnered with more mature actress Ina Feleo. He also got a chance to be paired with the country’s top young actress Judy Ann Santos in a TV anthology. While Jason is very much active in his television career (he never runs out of series whether it’s in daytime or primetime), it will be better to see Jason Abalos do movies and take the center stage once again.

11. MARVIN AGUSTIN
Age:
 33
Notable Performances: Tanging Yaman, Kutob, Patikul

Marvin Agustin was once a member of the elite club of loveteams in Philippine entertainment in the late 90s. His early works were usually pairings with loveteam Jolina Magdangal. However, the decade 2000 showed the best of Marvin Agustin when he started to move on to projects that tend to result to critical and commercial acclaim such as “Tanging Yaman” and “Trip”. And even before Dingdong Dantes showed the psychopath role in Segunda Mano last year, Marvin already did the same performance in Jose Javier Reyes’ Kutob in 2005. While he veered away from leading man materials in films, Marvin still stars in notable ones such as his nominated performance in last year’s indie film “Patikul.”

10. YUL SERVO
Age:
 
33
Notable Performances: Batang Westside, Laman, Naglalayag

While he was never introduced as a matinee or teenage idol, Yul Servo has made a name for himself via Lav Diaz’s Batang Westside in 2001. This 33 year old Moreno chinito actor has then made his mark in the industry when he starred in Maryo J delos Reyes’s Laman in 2002 and Albert Martinez’s Rosario last year. He also played the leading man of the one and only Superstar Nora Aunor in Naglalayag which gave him lots of nominations during that year’s awards season. Servo has acted and starred with the likes of Joel Torre, Nora Aunor, Jaclyn Jose, Albert Martinez, and Elizabeth Oropesa in his decade long career, and if that’s not impressive, then I don’t know what is.

09. DENNIS TRILLO
Age:
 
31
Notable Performances: Aishite Imasu, Blue Moon, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Dennis Trillo gave one of the most memorable breakthrough performances in Philippine movie history when he starred as a cross-dressing man to whom a high Japanese officer fell in love with in the middle of war. This performance gave Trillo two Star Awards, a Luna, and a FAMAS. His next performances such as the gradpa’s son in Blue Moon, the syndicate leader in Mano Po 6, and the gym instructor torn between a mother and her daughter in Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow merited awards consideration as well.

08. PAOLO CONTIS
Age:
28
Notable Performances: Pagsasamang Kay Ganda: Noon at Ngayon, Banal, Listonero

One of the most successful Ang TV alumnus, Paolo Contis managed to smoothly translate his career from sidekicks and ensemble members to actual stars and lead actors of the films he starred in. While he currently works as a co-host of GMA’s Manny Manny Prizes, his film performances such as the gay son in Noon at Ngayon and his Star Awards Best Actor winning performance in Banal were some of the reasons why Contis is ahead to some of his contemporaries in terms of achievements.

07. BARON GEISLER
Age: 
30
Notable Performances: Jologs, Jay, Manila Kingpin: Asiong Salonga Story

                                                                                                        Baron Geisler’s personal issues usually meddle with people’s perception of him as a celebrity but never when it comes to his works. As an actor, Geisler is one of the most versatile out there. As for starters, he played Vilma Santos’ goody two shoes in Anak that gave him several awards nominations. Next, he made an impact as the gay survivor who was almost killed in the ensemble driven film Jologs. While most of his succeeding performances were villainous turns in Nandito Ako Nagmamahal Sa’yo, Baler, and Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story, his most compelling performance to date was when he play the title role of the gay report Jay in 2009.

06. CARLO AQUINO
Age: 
26
Notable Performances: Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa, Minsan May Isang Puso, Sa Aking Pagkakagising sa Kamulatan

Carlo Aquino shared the screen with veterans such as Vilma Santos, Albert Martinez, Ricky Davao, and Jaclyn Jose. It’s difficult to make level yourself up with them but Carlo does it with so much ease that he even gets nominations and trophies even at a young age. When he got older, he suffered some career lie low due to the awkward transition of every celebrity child star to adulthood. However, that did not stop him from giving bravura performances one after the other may it be in leading roles such as Sa Aking Pagkagising sa Kamulatan in 2005 and Torotot in 2008 or supporting turns such as Baler and Tanging Ina franchise.

05. PIOLO PASCUAL
Age:
35
Notable Performances: Dekada ’70, Milan, Manila

Probably the most famous eligible bachelor in the local entertainment industry, Piolo Pascual is by no means just a guy with good looks. Time and again, he has already proven that he is an all around guy that made waves whether it is in recording, television, and now, producing industry as well. But of course, when we mention Piolo Pascual the actor, his effective and intense performances in his films such as his FAMAS winning stint in Milan, Star Awards winning performances in Don’t Give Up On Us and Paano Kita Iibigin are some of what folks will remember. Awards aficionados though will always remember how Piolo Pascual was the last person who achieved grandslam status by winning all major supporting actor awards from the MMFF, PMPC, FAP, FAMAS, and Urian for his turn as son Jules Bartolome in Star Cinema’s Dekada 70.

04. JERICHO ROSALES
Age:
32
Notable Performances: Tanging Yaman, Santa Santita, Pacquiao: The Movie

From one Hunk to another, Jericho Rosales has really come a long way from his Mr. Pogi days. This former fish vendor achieved so many from being a primetime royalty to a member of The Hunks to recording artist and to an award winning actor. While most criticisms re: Echo always root from his English accent, no one can deny his approach to move roles given to him. His supporting performances in Tanging Yaman, Bagong Buwan, Noon at Ngayon up to his lead ones such as Baler, Pacquiao: the Movie, and Santa Santita are living proofs of his effectiveness as one of the best actors of his generation.

03. COCO MARTIN
Age:
30
Notable Performances: Serbis, Kinatay, Noy

Dubbed as the Prince of Philippine Indie Movies, Coco martin must feel a lot of pressure in his shoulders to be named as such. However, that cool and effortless demeanor he exudes when he portrays his roles is a big testament on why he is achieving success both in mainstream and independent industry. That characteristic is most prevalent in his performances wherein he was a masseur (Masahista), a conflicted young husband (Kinatay), and a desperate reporter (Noy). Lately, Coco is busy fulfilling his television star status, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one waiting for his next big screen output.

02. SID LUCERO
Age:
31
Notable Performances: Selda, Independecia, Muli

Given that he is the son of one of the country’s best actors, it is easy to figure out that 31 year old actor Sid Lucero will really do well in this field. But while we are expecting good stuff from him, we’re still surprised to find out that not only did he bring the good stuff, he even brought the great stuff in his performances. With Sid, what you see is not necessarily what you get. Behind his machismo overload demeanor comes a vulnerable and effective portrayal of different types of people such as his performances in the movies Selda, Donsol, and Muli. Sid is also one of the only six actors (and the youngest at that) to receive multiple Best Actor awards at the Gawad Urian Awards. Yes, you can close your mouth now.

01. JOHN LLOYD CRUZ
Age:
28
Notable Performances: One More Chance, In My Life, My Amnesia Girl

Finally, the one I consider as the best actor, in my opinion, of his generation, John Lloyd Cruz is one of the best risk takers among his contemporaries. He started out showing potential already when he won Best Actor at the 2000 Star Awards for TV beating the likes of Eddie Garcia and Richard Gomez. His movie star status started out doing love teams one after the other, but it wasn’t until his performance of Popoy in 2006 cult classic One More Chance that relegated him into the most charismatic actor in recent years. Whether it’s with Bea Alonzo, Sarah Geronimo, Toni Gonzaga, and Angel Locsin, all of John Lloyd’s movies never fail to hit stride with the watchers. Oh, and he is always at the top of his acting game. Have I mentioned the big slap he gave Vilma Santos after shouting at her face? That’s some pretty big balls out there, and John Lloyd always I’m sure is the country’s best among his peers.

There you have it. Who do you think was left out? Did you agree with my John Lloyd pick? Are you looking for Rainier Castillo? Pipe them in at the Comments section. 🙂