Archive for the ‘dominic roco’ 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

2012: The Year in Lead Actors   1 comment

2012 lead actors

Hey everyone! We’re still continuing the yearend lists over here at Tit for Tat. Aside from that, we’re also doing the recap of the movie performances in local cinema the past year. The past two days, we gave the focus to the supporting actresses and supporting actors. It’s time to move now to the leading categories. For this day, we’d give the spotlight to the men and tackle the Best Actor category. Like what I said, these are possible choices from all the award giving bodies this year from mainstream to indie and those that can cross-over in between. Let’s begin!

LEADERS OF THE PACK

Probably the strongest contender in this category for this year is acting legend Eddie Garcia as he adds another memorable turn for his role as the old gay man living with his dog in Bwakaw. His competition this year might skew to much younger actors though as there have been lots of good awards-bait performances this year such as the likes of Dingdong Dantes‘ MMFF winning performance in One More Try, Coco Martin‘s indie comeback as the father who found the remains of his daughter in Santa Nina, Jericho Rosales as the single parent whose son gone missing in Alagwa, and JM de Guzman as the mussel diver in the title role Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino.

MIDDLE TIER

As for the other lead roles in contention, award giving bodies might also throw a bone to Arnold Reyes as the loyal driver who was caught in the middle in his Congressman employer in the Tribeca hit Graeland, awards staple John Lloyd Cruz might get some nominations as well for his performance opposite Bea Alonzo in The Mistress or for his movie with Angel Locsin, Unofficially Yours.  Scene stealing Archie Alemania should hear his name be read especially at the Comedy Best Actor of the Golden Screen Awards for his role in Cinema One Original entry Slumber Party. And in a surprising turn of events, we’d have a battle of two heroes this year in the Best Actor category: Alfred Vargas as Andres Bonifacio in Richard Somes’ Supremo and ER Ejercito as Emilio Aguinaldo in the MMFF entry El Presidente.

Cinemalaya movies also produced a lot of worthy Best Actor turns such as the winning performance of Kristoffer King in Oros, Pen Medina in Kamera Obskura, Dominic Roco‘s Gibson in Ang Nawawala, and Thai actor playing lone soldier Ananda Everingham in Kalayaan. Casting issues (from Cinemalaya) aside, Allan Paule‘s fantastic turn in Emerson Reyes’s MNL 143 can possibly reap nominations as well.

THE REST OF THE RACE

Other lead actor contenders that might are still in the race are Dennis Trillo in the title role of Ang Katiwala, Cinema One Originals Best Actor winner Alex Medina in Palitan, newbie actor Gerry Adeva as the title role in Mamay Umeng, Allen Dizon in Joel Lamangan’s drama Migrante, and the most intelligent and uptight of the three gay friends Markki Stroem in Slumber Party. Among mainstream movies, one can also consider Derek Ramsey in A Secret Affair, Aga Muhlach in Of All The Things, Piolo Pascual in Every Breath U Take, Enchong Dee in The Strangers, and Vice Ganda in either This Guy’s in Love With U Mare or Sisterakas.

That’s it. Last part of the acting spotlight tomorrow with everybody’s favorite category: Best Actress!

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

8th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 2   6 comments

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:

THE ANIMALS
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

BWAKAW
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

MGA DAYO
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

ANG NAWAWALA
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