Archive for the ‘manila kingpin’ Tag

10 Best MMFF Movies of the Last 10 Years   Leave a comment

Last week, the Metro Manila Development Authority headed by Francis Tolentino has announced the entries for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. And as expected, MMFF staples such as Vice Ganda, Robin Padilla, Vic Sotto, Kris Aquino, and Aiai delas Alas all have entries this year.

Once the festival home of films such as Himala, Burlesk Queen, Karnal, Itanong Mo Sa Buwan, Magic Temple, and Dekada ’70, there has been a paradigm shift in terms of the criteria on how films are chosen the past decade. Commercial appeal has been the primary agenda now and box office as a main factor on which entries will make it.

And while this has elicited a lot of criticisms, particularly the idea of prioritizing box office over “quality” films, the MMFF has still treated us with some notable films quality films over the years. This coming year, entries from Gil Portes, Antoinette Jadaone, Jose Javier Reyes, and Dan Villegas have been chosen while those of Erik Matti’s and Jeffrey Jeturian were in the waitlist categories.

Before I reveal my picks of the ten best MMFF films of the last ten years (New Wave section excluded), here are five that came close from being included:

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“Ulam” from Shake, Rattle, and Roll XV (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2014) – Ulam made good use of every minute we’ve seen on screen to show the horrors and tension of a marital relationship.

“Katas ng Saudi” (director: Jose Javier Reyes, 2007) – Probably the most memorable OFW movies in local cinema depict those of a mother leaving their children behind. Here’s from a father’s perspective of coming home and realizing it isn’t what he expected.

“Pagpag” (director: Frasco Mortiz, 2013) – It’s horror by the numbers, but it tackles such a Filipino ritual one can’t help but to give in to its scares.

“Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story” (director: Daryl dela Cruz, 2011) – It got its reputation as the one that started the action comeback, but its behind the scenes director mishap got in the way for  the film to move from being good to being great.

“One More Try” (director: Ruel Bayani, 2012) – Rip-off or not, the film brags of solid performances from its four leads, particularly that of its lead actress Angel Locsin.

And as for the top 10:

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10. “Parola” from Shake, Rattle, and Roll 13 (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2011) – Parola is the perfect throwback to the early heydays of the Shake, Rattle, and Roll franchise, only with better production and technical achievements. Its scares mixes that of the old and the new, giving the type of scares that the audience will definitely bite.

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09. “English Only Please” (director: Dan Villegas, 2014) – It’s easy to dismiss English Only Please from the get go, it’s not from the manufactured Star Cinema factory of kilig, not does it star a tandem that has a solid following. But it has proven that it doesn’t need any of those. It gives the same kilig and “feels” without the need to fall trap to the usual rom-com clichés.

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08. “Blue Moon (director: Joel Lamangan, 2005) – During the last few years when Regal Films was still obsessed with this big star-studded ensembles in family dramas comes Lamangan directing a Palanca-winning screenplay about three generation of family members with the patriarch searching for his one true love. The film is mostly fluff hiding in between the big war backdrop, but its attempt is earnest one can’t help but fall in love with it.

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07. “Lihim ng San Joaquin (director: Richard Somes, 2005) – When Shake, Rattle, and Roll made a comeback in the mid-Aughts, a lot expected to feel the throwback of the early 90s horror franchise. Instead, we got that ridiculous “Poso” episode and an uneven “Aquarium” one. Then comes “Lihim ng San Joaquin”, about a young , newlywed couple transferring to a rural town. This one will keep you on the edge of your seat with its silence.

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06. “Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles (director: Erik Matti, 2014) – Sure, the MMFF has been a commercial venue for the whole family to enjoy, but with Kubot, the follow up to 2012’s Tiktik, Erik Matti proved that a sequel isn’t an alibi to come up with a lackluster addition to a franchise (which most MMFF franchises are guilty of doing). While it doesn’t necessarily have to beat its predecessor, it doesn’t have to be a downgrade as well.

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05. “Boy Golden: Shoot to Kill (director: Chito Rono, 2013) – The best thing about Boy Golden is that it doesn’t want to prove anything. It doesn’t take itself seriously and just wants to have fun. And boy was it a fun movie-watching experience mixing camp and action we haven’t seen in a long time.

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04. “Punerarya” from Shake, Rattle and Roll 12 (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2010) – Hands down, this is one of the best episodes ever in the whole SRR franchise. Jerrold Tarog’s first output stars Carla Abellana as a private tutor to two kids from the neighbor’s funeral parlor. And as secrets were slowly revealed, the tension just escalates further. This one doesn’t get old and is a must watch.

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03. “RPG Metanoia” (director: Luis Suarez, 2010) – Not for lack of trying, the MMFF has welcomed local animation in the festival. Twice, even (the first one was 2008’s “Dayo sa Mundo ng Elemento”). RPG can brag about being the first Pinoy 3D animated film, but more than that achievement, its dedication in tackling a theme highlighting the rich Philippine culture is admirable.

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02. “Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo” (director: Jose Javier Reyes, 2006) – On the outside, Kasal’s biggest achievement is how it managed to be a crowd-pleasing film, yet one that critics will positively respond as well. Digging deeper, it’s really not difficult to fall in love with this film. It touches the topic of a traditional Pinoy family whose value for marriage and relationship is as valuable to the whole family, maybe even more so, than to the actual couple. Obviously, the great ensemble elevated the already strong material further.

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01. “Thy Womb (director: Brillante Mendoza, 2012) – It’s silly when you think about it, that the best film of the festival of the last decade, was just a replacement choice of that year. Shot in the farthest village of Tawi-Tawi, “Thy Womb” wasn’t just the story of a midwife attempt to provide her husband a child, but it also opened us to a culture we aren’t particularly familiar with. I believe this is one of the films that will go down as the best in the history of the festival. Plus, it gave us Nora Aunor’s comeback performance.

So as much as we rant and complain about the MMFF every year, chances are there are one or two entries that will really be worth of our money. This year has the potential to deliver as well.

You can tweet me if you want to talk about this list: @nikowl

85th Oscar Foreign Language Film: What Should the Philippines Submit?   8 comments

Earlier this week, the Film Academy of the Philippines released the final shortlist that includes the titles of the seven films that they were considering to be the submission of the country to get that elusive Oscar nod in the foreign language category. It has been years now since the FAP has been choosing and the options have ranged from excellent (2003’s Crying Ladies) to good (2009’s Ploning) to plain bad (2010’s Ded na si Lolo).

Being a self confessed Oscarologist myself, the thing about these submissions is that one must not focus on what the best movie is about. After all, taste is very subjective. I’m not saying we should just submit what the highest grossing movie is. The Academy still cares for a good script, a polished direction, and effective technical aspects; nevertheless, there are themes that gives AMPAS instant hard on. For one, anything about the War makes your movie go noticed. To be specific, anything about the Holocaust or Nazis gives you instant nomination and wins such as those of Germany’s Nowhere in Arica (2002) and Austria’s The Counterfeiters (2006). But then again, we can’t tackle that. AMPAS also likes character driven films that are thought provoking such as 2004’s “The Sea Inside”, 2009’s “The Secret In Their Eyes”, and current champ “A Separation”.

Anyway, here are the seven films that made the shortlist, and what I think their Oscar chances are if the FAP chooses to submit the said film.


BUSONG

Director: Auraeus Solito
Stars: Alessandra de Rossi, Clifford Bañagale, Dax Alejandro

A participant of the 7th Cinemalaya last year, Busong (Palawan) has already made waves in the international film festival circuit whether as participant or exhibit film. The movie has very good technical aspects (particularly the cinematography, make up, and score) and has improved significantly from Solito’s last effort hat ended up as the country’s Oscar submission (2005’s The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros). My biggest worry though is that the film’s unique theme can go both ways in terms of Academy’s reception. Nevertheless, if this ends up as the country’s submission, it will be in the middle of the pack, meaning it’s not necessarily the best the country has ever submitted but far from being the worst.

CAPTIVE

Director: Brillante Mendoza
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Joel Torre, Maria Isabel Lopez

It has always made me wonder why were past Brillante Mendoza efforts always snubbed by the FAP in their Oscar selection committee, and the closest answer that I figured out was that maybe because they weren’t show locally for a week that is a requirement for any country for their movie to be considered. I’ve always thought that choosing one Mendoza film is an easy route for, at least, some buzz and promotion since they have the festival backing that leads for easy international buzz throughout festival season. Now, Mendoza, gets his first shot for Oscar gold, and I won’t be surprised if the FAP leans toward this Berlin entry this year. The only downside I see is that reviews were mixed for this particular film, and that will probably its Oscar chances to nab that nom.

 MANILA KINGPIN: THE ASIONG SALONGA STORY

Director: Daryl dela Cruz
Stars: ER Ejercito, Carla Abellana, John Regala

The producers of the film are very vocal about their desire to bring this film to the Cannes, and while that did not materialize, I think they’ll be eye-ing this possibility more. After all, they can boast about the black and white treatment of the film, and it being the symbol of action film resurgence. However, while the movie can brag about the suiting art direction, captivating cinematography, and musical score, the material does not fall under one of the two regular themes that this category loves to see. It’s too lightweight in terms of character development, and I don’t see this appealing to the Academy’s taste at all.


A MOTHER’S STORY

Director: John Lazatin
Stars: Pokwang, Xyriel Manabat, Rayver Cruz

I find A Mother’s Story a surprising choice in the shortlist not because it is a bad film, but it’s not a great film as well. I even forgot that it’s eligible for contention, and that says a lot. While Pokwang nailed her performance as a suffering mother, the rest weren’t able to live up to the material. Also, we already tried submitting a story about an OFW mother who suffers the consequences of being abroad in a better and more received film Anak in 2000, and that did not lead us to a nomination. Point is, this is more suitable for a Lifetime TV movie of the week than a a country’s Oscar submission.


ANG SAYAW NG DALAWANG KALIWANG PAA

Director: Alvin Yapan
Stars: Paulo Avelino, Rocco Nacino, Jean Garcia

This one is my personal option to be submitted, since among the six movies I saw (haven’t seen Captive yet), this is my favorite. However, biases aside, I think what might work for the movie’s favor is that it mixes different forms of art including both literature and dance in it. An art covered in another art featured in another art might be something that will get the attention of AMPAS. The movie also features outstanding technical aspects specifically the sound and editing, and boasts of a strong screenplay and good direction.  If only my vote counts, I’d probably suggest this to be the country’s submission this year. Here’s wishing the FAP follows.


SEGUNDA MANO

Director: Joyce Bernal
Stars: Kris Aquino, Dingdong Dantes, Angelica Panganiban

I wonder who the Kris Aquino fanboy is among the FAP voters, as her movies always find its way to the shortlist. Just when you thought Dalaw was the worst movie to ever be considered, then comes Segunda Mano. I really don’t see anything significant, noteworthy, and award-worthy in Segunda Mano, and not even Dingdong Dantes improved acting or Bangs Garcia’s funny support can save this one. So I’ll advise the FAP to skip this one.


THE WITNESS

Director: Muhammad Yusuf
Stars: Gwen Zamora, Pierre Gruno, Agung Saga

I really don’t see why this is even eligible. I get it that GMA Films is half the producer, but everything else (aside from actress Zamora) is Indonesian production. Truth be told, this is more of an Indonesian production than a local one. Also, this has no buzz, no appeal, and no critical support for it to be chosen.

All in all, I’d be pleased if Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa ends up to be the country’s submission, and I’m fine with a Busong or Captive choice. The four others will contest Ded na si Lolo as the worst submission in years.