Archive for the ‘loy arcenas’ 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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8th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 3   8 comments

Hi everyone! How’s your weekend? In case you have no idea how to spend today and tomorrow, I’ll suggest you head over at the CCP (or even Glorietta and Trinoma) to catch the movies of Cinemalaya 2012 for this year. They’re worth the admission price that you”ll pay. In line with that, this part will cover the next four movie reviews of films from this year’s edition.

As a guide, here is the first part of my review covering Mga Mumunting Lihim, Kamera Obskura, Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, and Kalayaan. The second part is this one and covers The Animals, Bwakaw, Mga Dayo, and Ang Nawawala.

OROS
Director: Paul Sta. Ana
Starring: Kristoffer King, Kristoffer Martin, Tanya Gomez
Competition: New Breed

This one gives viewers a look on the business of buying claimed bodies and holding wakes in order to gain more money via different means of gambling specifically sakla and tongits.

Oros gives a pretty accurate and specific portrayal of the topic that it covered, though I can’t help but notice that it tends to go overboard with its poverty porn treatment. For what its worth though, there’s a lot of discovery that one learns while watching the film. Ending is pretty much a give away though; thus, it lessened the actual impact that it was hoping to achieve. Kristoffer King gave a very competent leading performance, while Kristoffer Martin was a surprise as King’s younger brother. I’m not a fan of the shaky camera, but the movie is still serviceable with some commendable highlights in it.

Rating: 3 / 5

REquieme!
Director: Loy Arcenas
Starring: Shamaine Centenera Buencamino, Rez Cortez, Anthony Falcon
Competition: New Breed

REquieme tells somewhat related stories involving a funeral: the first one deals with a barangay captain (Centenera) who wants to bring home the body of a claimed distant relative who is a suspect in the killing of a famous world designer. The second one is about Joanna (Tolentino) who gives a neighbor, who served as his father figure, a deserving funeral. In between this, there’s also a story of a body that can’t seem to find its way home.

This one comes off as a surprise for me, as I certainly loved every minute of it. While the hilarious moments are indeed tummy aching, I find it more as an inspired avenue to tackle, highlight and realize Filipino characteristics especially those that involves connecting one’s name to fame. Anchored by the great Shamaine Centenera Buencamino (who’s 2 for 2 now in terms of giving memorable Cinemalaya performances after last year’s Nino), and a breakout performance by Anthony Falcon (who steals every scene he’s in), REquieme is one of those movies in this batch that definitely stood out.

Rating: 4.5 /5

SANTA NIÑA
Director: Emmanuel Palo
Starring: Coco Martin, Alessandra de Rossi, Anita Linda, Irma Adlawan
Competition: New Breed

When Paulino (Martin) discovered that the remains of his two year old daughter Marikit did not even decay a bit, this led to the questions of one’s faith and unraveling of secrets that were kept too long already.

It is difficult to tackle themes of faith in Filipino movies especially since there’s this one movie called Himala that set the bar too high for others to follow suit. However, Santa Nina does a good job in covering the said theme while adding layers of family drama and secrets of the past in the mix. The shots and technical aspects were very commendable; I specifically like the palette that they used in the movie. Coco Martin was serviceable in his job, though signs of too much television drama appear every now and then. His chemistry with Alessandra de Rossi is very natural though. Anita Linda and Irma Adlawan both have vital roles that managed to stand on their own during some parts of the movie.I felt that the movie was some minutes longer, and it could have ended on a different manner, but this one possesses good merits in it for me not to appreciate the film as a whole.

Rating: 4/ 5

POSAS
Director: Lawrence Fajardo
Starring: Nico Antonio, Art Acuña, Bangs Garcia, Jake Macapagal
Competition: New Breed

A day in the life of a thief as we get to see a blow by blow account of what happens once he gets under the fingers of police authority.

I feel this one has a been-there-done-that feeling, as the first film that comes to mind was Brillante Mendoza’s Kinatay. Both movies follow one momentous day in the life of the main character when he gets under a circumstance that he doesn’t want to be into, and he faces the consequences of the said situation. Having said that, this one (like Oros) gives a specific and detailed portrayal of the topic that it wants to cover. The saving grace of the film was Acuña’s terrific acting as the head police officer, and John Lapuz’s storyline as another victim, but it lacks the impact that will make the movie memorable enough once the credits roll.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

12 down, 3 more left. Last batch contains the last three movies left in the festival (Aparisyon, Diablo, and Ang Katiwala). Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @nikowl