Archive for the ‘MMFF’ Tag

REVIEW: Sisterakas   12 comments


With the current Metro Manila Film Festival system of including mostly box office friendly films in its line up, it is no surprise that one came up with the idea of including a lot of stars with box office draws in it. And before you shout Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote or Enteng ng Ina Mo to me, I’d complete my sentence by continuing “a lot of stars with box office draws in it… without the over expensive visual effects.”

So now enters Sisterakas starring Box Office Queens Kris Aquino, Aiai Delas Alas and Box Office Phenomenal Star Vice Ganda directed by box office director Wenn V Deramas. Notice ho wmany times I used the word box office above? Do you now have a clue with where I’m heading here? Go read the rest.

Bernice (Vice Ganda) and Detty (Aiai delas Alas) are childhood friends. But such friendship was ruined when Detty’s mother found out that her husband is having an affair with Bernice’s mother. This led to the mother’s lifetime disability. Fast forward to now, and we meet  Roselle (Kris Aquino) a competitive executive of the rival fashion company that Bernice heads. When the two childhood friends unexpectedly crossed paths, and with Roselle now in the picture, chaos definitely ensues.

I’m probably one of those who appreciated Deramas’ last effort This Guy’s in Love with You, Mare! But it seems that for every one step forward, he goes three steps backward. For one, the story is just grasping at straws here. It’s typical Deramas fare staring with a childhood story of the protagonist. Then comes a lot of physical comedy and sarcastic humor in between. It will definitely end with a happy ending. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But let’s move on past that. It’s not as if its storytelling is its selling point. It’s a comedy after all (or that’s how I interpreted such), but for a comedy, I find it lacking. There were mostly comprised of overused jokes, really long jokes that the wit already expired before the punchline was said, and lots of personal jokes from the cast. A lot of it has been done by the director himself in his past movies. In short, even in the laugh department, there’s nothing new that was presented.

Both Vice Ganda and AiAi Delas Alas were just okay here. One thing for sure is that this isn’t both’s funniest performances. However, if there’s one star who rose above this, it was Kris Aquino. I think she knows how camp the movie is, and that she tripled it up with her performance. The screen really lights up whenever she’s in it. I find her really engaging in this one, and her mere existence (even as background in some scenes) was such a joy to watch. I don’t think she would ever get a role as fun as this one.

The rest of the characters were all thankless roles. From Kathniel to Xyriel Manabat to Tirso Cruzz III. I’d even say that Kris’s role was unnecessary in the movie but I wouldn’t dare wish that the role should have been altogether eliminated just for Kris’s performance. One might perceive these comments as a joke, but Kris Aquino was the saving grace of the movie, and I’d probably watch it again just to see her again.

Grade: 2/5

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
Sosy Problems
The Strangers
Thy Womb

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl


REVIEW: One More Try   15 comments

One More Try

Star Cinema’s solely produced film in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival is the heavy romance slash drama One More Try starring the quartet of Angel Locsin, Angelica Panganiban, Dingdong Dantes, and Zanjoie Marudo. This emotion packed film is from the same director who gave us the box office hit No Other Woman last year, Ruel S. Bayani.

In the movie, single mother Grace (Angel Locsin) is off to find the father of her son from a short lived fling years before. Their son (which the father, Edward (Dingdong Dantes), was not aware of) is in dire need of a bone marrow transplant in order to survive his condition.  Edward is now married to workaholic Jacqueline (Angelica Panganiban) while Grace is now with boyfriend Tristan (Zanjoe Marudo). The kid’s condition will connect these two couples, as we witness how far Grace will go for the betterment of her child.

I find the premise of the movie really interesting though at times, some scenes were too contrived to give more tension an to the four characters. It definitely is not lacking in drama; as a matter of fact, there’s a lot of effective emotional punches that appears every now and then. I like how the film was motivated enough to go back to its primary focus: the lengths that a mother can go to in order to save her child. It is within this facet where the film’s greatest strength lies.

Among the four characters, I liked how they wrote Grace the most. It’s probably because I felt that she was the most human. She was vulnerable but determined; she can be desperate but is persistent. One can question her, yet another can also see the reason behind her actions. The rest of the foursome weren’t really that bad, but I just felt that Grace has the best writing. On the other hand, characters of Carmina Villaroel as the unprofessional doctor and office mate Agot Isidro were annoying and unnecessary respectively.

The acting of the four leads in the movie was quite impressive. Dingdong Dantes is a leading man in every sense. With this and Tiktik, he managed to carve out interesting characters to play. Zanjoe Marudo was given the least to do, but he was given lots of money scenes to work on to. Angelica Panganiban for the most part was good; the only times I did not like her was with her earlier scenes with Agot Isidro where both seemed to be rehearsing for their first full English play. Carmina Villaroel was too perky to make me believe she was a convincing professional. Oh and did I say she was the most annoying character in the movie?

But the one who was the best in show in the film was Angel Locsin. While I’d say that having an interesting and well written character helped her, I still think that she helped the characterization of Grace to feel human and organic. It speaks a lot when I say that despite liking her in In the Name of Love and Unofficially Yours, I can still see patterns of her doing “OMG Actressing” in those movies. The same can’t be said with her compelling and expressive performance here. It’s somewhat regretful that she’s competing alongside the ethereal Nora Aunor (in Thy Womb), as I think Locsin also deserved trophies for this performance. Oh well; at most, I can say that it says more when your performance is now compared to La Aunor.

For the record, I’m not keen about the highly dramatic third act and the predictable ending. It’s just lazy. Giving characters closure does not always have to be happy or peaceful. But for the most part, I was hooked and contented with what I saw. Definitely one of the better movies this  filmfest.

Grade: 3.5/5

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

El Presidente
Shake, Rattle, and Roll 14: The Invasion
Si Agimat, si Enteng, at si Ako
Sosy Problems
The Strangers
Thy Womb

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
Sosy Problems
The Strangers

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Tit for Tat’s 37th Metro Manila Film Festival Personal Picks   4 comments

The 37th Metro Manila Film Festival Gabi ng Parangal already happened last night at Resorts World Manila, and I must say that despite all the hullabaloos and late controversies, this is one of the best batch of winners ever. The Manila King Pin: Untold Story of Asiong Salonga won Best Picture together with ten other awards last night. However, this post is dedicated to my own personal nominees and winners for this year’s MMFF.  So let the recognition begin:


Bugoy Carino, “Shake Rattle and Roll: Tamawo”
Xyriel Manabat, “Enteng ng Ina Mo”
Sofia Millares, “Segunda Mano”

Sofia Millares was decent enough to outshine supposed to be stepmother Kris Aquino in Segunda Mano, Xyriel Manabat was better in last year’s Tanging Ina movie, so without a doubt, my winner is…

Winner: Bugoy Carino, “Shake Rattle and Roll: Tamawo”


Baron Geisler, “Manila Kingpin: Untold Story of Asiong Salonga”
Ronnie Lazaro, “Manila Kingpin: Untold Story of Asiong Salonga”
John Regala, “Manila Kingpin: Untold Story of Asiong Salonga”
Jericho Rosales, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”
Philip Salvador, “Manila Kingpin: Untold Story of Asiong Salonga”

Jericho Rosales has his own shining moments in the film, but his overacting moments can’t save his decent ones. As for the four Asiong supporting cast, each of them has their own moments in the film, and all would have been deserving winners, but since I only get to choose one, I’d go with the flat out leader of the pack.


Winner: John Regala, “Manila Kingpin: Untold Story of Asiong Salonga”


Carla Abellana, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”
Eugene Domingo, “My Househusband Ikaw Na”
Bangs Garcia, “Segunda Mano”
Agot Isidro, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”
Lovi Poe, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”

Both Carla Abellana and Love Poe proved they have the chops to level up and stand out in an ensemble drama. Bangs Garcia is the clear standout and the only bright acting spot in her film, and Agot Isidro proves that she can play any role given to her with so much finesse and class. Still, this is an easy choice, and my pick for the win is someone who easily played a character with so much depth and provides a flawed human character without bordering on being caricature. My Supporting Actress winner is…

Winner: Eugene Domingo, “My Househusband”


Ryan Agoncillo, “My Househusband Ikaw Na”
Dingdong Dantes, “Segunda Mano”
Zanjoe Marudo, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Tamawo”

Definitely the weakest acting category this year, it’s very difficult to come up with decent nominees for this year’s batch. Dingdong Dantes gave his career best performance and showed that he is capable given a good material. Zanjoe Marudo is one of the underrated young actors we have, and he definitely led the good ensemble cast of the Tamawo episode. In the end, I still think that Best Actor, hands down, should have gone to a performance that is so natural, he really deserves the win.

Winner: Ryan Agoncillo, “My Househusband”


Kathryn Bernardo, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Parola”
Eugene Domingo, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Rain Rain Go Away”
Maricar Reyes, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Tamawo”
Judy Ann Santos, “My Househusband”
Maricel Soriano, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”

Maricar Reyes continues her streak of good performances with the Tamawo episode; however, her material isn’t meaty enough for the win. Eugene Domingo aces her role well showing her versatility in the Rain, Rain Go Away episode. Kathryn Bernardo’s performance instantly joins the  best SR&R performances ever in Parola. I’m confused with whom to give this award as both Judy Ann Santos, who flairs her comedic and dramatic skills in My Househusband, and Maricel Soriano, as the cold-hearted confused mother who was affected by a tragedy in her personal life. Both excellent performances, and by a hair I’m choosing…

Winner: Maricel Soriano, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”


Chris Martinez, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Rain Rain Go Away”
Jose Javier Reyes, “My Househusband”
Jerrold Tarog, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Parola”

Both Martinez and Reyes wrote very good screenplays of their film, but because he was able to capture the old Shake, Rattle, and Roll feel, my hands down choice for Directing is…

Winner: Jerrold Tarog, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Parola”


This batch of movies is a mixed bag, but I must be thankful that there are still movies worthy of seeing here in this year’s film fest. Here are my three choices for Best Picture:


Winner: “Manila Kingpin: Untold Story of Asiong Salonga”
2nd Place: “My House Husband”
3rd Place: “Shake, Rattle, and Roll 13”


Best Screenplay – Jose Javier Reyes (My House Husband)

Best Story – Chris Martinez and Marlon Rivera (“Rain Rain Go Away,” Shake Rattle and Roll 13)

Best Cinematography – Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story

Best Theme Song – “La Paloma” by Ely Buendia (Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story)

Best Musical Score – Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story

Best Sound Editing/Mixing – Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story

Best Editing – “Parola,” Shake Rattle and Roll 13

Best Production Design – Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story

Best Visual Effects – Ang Panday 2 

Best Make-Up – “Tamawo,” Shake Rattle and Roll 13

Of course, the MMFF will not be complete without the following:


Best Actor in a Cameo Role: Ronnie Lazaro, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Tamawo”
Best Actress in a Cameo Role: Malou Crisologo, “My House Husband”
Worst Actor in a Cameo Role: Ervic Vijandre, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Tamawo”
Worst Actress in a Cameo Role: Yayo Aguila, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”
Best Product Placement: Fundador, “Manila Kingpin”
Worst Product Placement: Magnolia Cheeze Squeeze, “Enteng ng Ina Mo”
Best Acting by a Non-living Thing: Red bag, “Segunda Mano”
Worst Acting by a Non-living Thing: Kris Aquino’s forehead, “Segunda Mano”
Best Accent: Maricar Reyes’s fluent Tagalog, “”Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Tamawo”
Worst Accent: Ara Mina’s English, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Parola”: Parola”
Most Confused Film: Segunda Mano a.k.a one of the best comedies of the year

How about you? What are your picks? 🙂


Posted December 29, 2011 by Nicol Latayan in Awards, Films

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REVIEW: Manila Kingpin: The Untold Story of Asiong Salonga   10 comments

The promotion of  this movie focused on the premise that this is the comeback of Pinoy action film. After all, when we’ve lost the likes of FPJ and Rudy Fernandez, the action film industry has also vanished. I wouldn’t count the fantasy action movies of Bong Revilla as they’re more on fantasy and special effects. With that said, this is my most anticipated movie this film festival, and I’m pretty sure that this will be the most underrated film.

In this version, George Estregan plays the coveted role of Asiong Salonga. The film covers his first days when he starts to be Tondo’s darling. Together with his friends (Yul Servo, Dennis Padilla, Ketchup Eusebio, Ping Medina, and THE Amay Bisaya), he becomes Tondo’s Robin Hood. Of course, no action film is complete without a flat our kontrabida. This side of the group is where John Regala, Joko Diaz, and Ronnie Lazaro enters. We also get a glimpse of his family life with his brother Philip Salvador (who’s ironically a cop), mother Perla Bautista and father Robert Arevalo. His own family, on the other hand, involves faithful wife Carla Abellana, and their two kids. There’s also this part when he was in jail with Jay Manalo.

It is not surprising that Asiong’s life is, indeed, colorful and interesting to say the least. However, the time frame of the movie is very inconsistent. Most of the time, it’s just scenes jumping out one after the other with no clear direction or flow of when was this or what part do they belong. That, perhaps, is my biggest problem with the film. The editing seems to jump from one scene to another with no clear transitions, and that will probably reflect to the movie’s sketchy narrative. Nevertheless, the highlights were clearly featured, and you know which parts they want to showcase the most.

Other than that, all the other things were done excellently. My favorite seems to be the cinematography. This is the first time that I’ve seen a black and white film on the big screen, and it was too awesome. The art direction is spot on, and it really gives you the 50s feeling of it. Costumes and make up were slick, and choreography of fight scenes was well executed. I have some reservations with the lead star (he’s too old to play a 25-28 year old character, and no amount of make up can conceal that), but I understand that this is his passion project, so I won’ focus on that. Between this and her other filmfest entry, I’m now a complete Carla Abellana convert. it’s a good decision to be a part of this film. Most supporting parts were underutilized, but it’s a treat to see them on the big screen.

There’s a lot left to be desired in this film, truth be told; however, one can’t help but admire that with everything against its way, it still did good. There’s a lot of things going for it: kalesa chase scene, Ketchup Eusebio in a bicycle, Mad World musical scoring, it’s all worth it. The mere fact that you get to see almost every action film character actor in the film blasting out guns left and right is a good start to revive the action film genre. For what it’s worth, it’s a very satisfying and recommended movie experience.

Now, if only we can see Tikoy Aguiluz’s version…

Grade: A-

Posted December 29, 2011 by Nicol Latayan in Films, Reviews

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REVIEW: My Househusband… Ikaw Na!   1 comment

The third big screen team up of real life couple Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo with Jose Javier Reyes is something that they already have (somehow) covered up in their past two efforts. The good thing about this is that they have already mastered and we’ll be assured that there’s quality in the production. The bad thing about this is that comparisons to the previous movie is inevitable. Plus, there’s no Bronson here.

Rodrigo (Ryan Agoncillo) is the breadwinner of their family while his wife Mia (Judy Ann Santos) works as a part time in an insurance company as she is in charge of their household and their two kids. Due to some buying out, Rod resigned as he felt he was demoted in his job. Tables turned now as Rod becomes the house husband and Mia starts to be the breadwinner of the family. He developed a friendship with infamous neighbor Aida (Eugene Domingo), which made Mia jealous at some point.

It is already a given that partners in life Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo will have amazing chemistry. It was very evident in all of their scenes together. What elevated the film though is their perfect chemistry with third wheel Eugene Domingo. Domingo’s character was written not as a cardboard character but as a piece of the puzzle. Her character was fleshed out, and that gave Domingo room for her character to be as human as possible. If anything, the same can be said to the characters of Mia and Rod; they’re human and they actually exist. The situations they live in were very real and possible, all thanks to the effective script by Jose Javier Reyes. His direction isn’t anywhere near his best, but he’s consistent in it.

Aside from the characters of Agot Isidro, Dante Rivero, and Boots Anson Roa, most of the minor characters here were clearly extras. The movie can revolve with only the three main characters in it.  There are times when you feel that you’re just watching an extended version of a TV sitcom about husbands and wives role reversals, and the set up of the situation is somewhat slow, but there isn’t anything that will turn you off in a major way.

Judy Ann Santos has mastered doing comedy and drama taking turns as what the situations ask her to do. In the movie, one can notice how she does not hog the spotlight and does not skip a beat in it. Ryan Agoncillo has came a long way now, and he has already made a mark so that he won’t be upstaged by both Domingo and Santos. His is probably one of my favorite performances during the whole festival. I also think it’s his best. Eugene Domingo could have lazily played the character of Aida in an overacted and cliched manner, but she refused to take that route; instead, she went for someone that the audience will enjoy yet feel for. Sure, there are some theatrics every now and then, but she’s so convincingly good in it. If she can win for her roles in Bahay Kubo and Tanging Ina nyo Last Na ‘To, then the award should be hers in a cakewalk.

What can I say? Direk Joey Reyes did it again. Mainstream movies rarely portray “real life” consistently, and this is one of those times when it actually did. If you want to take a break form the overrated horror films, the overacted dramas, and the fantasy films, My House Husband is the little gem that could. Definitely a must see this filmfest!

Grade: A-

Posted December 28, 2011 by Nicol Latayan in Films, Reviews

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REVIEW: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow   1 comment

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is the necessary drama movie this MMFF. Jun Lana’s  entry is a family drama that has issues that made things more complicated than what they actually are. The family is headed by now disabled TV tycoon Donald (Ronaldo Valdez) whose eldest daughter Mariel (Maricel Soriano) heads the TV company. She’s now annulled with her former husband Gary (Gabby Concepcion) who is now married to Charlotte (Carla Abellana). Mariel’s daughter Eunice (Eula Caballero) is close to Charlotte and that irks Mariel big time. Her younger brother, Jacob (Jericho Rosales), is married to Lori (Lovi Poe) who gave up her dreams of being a singer after she got married to him. Now Donald’s new family involves wife Agot Isidro and daughter Selene (Solenn Heusaff). Agot’s boy toy is Derek (Dennis Trillo) who is the apple of the eye of Selene as she wants to ditch her current squeeze, Vincent (Paulo Avelino). Sounds tiring already? Well of course it is. Then add to the drama, a tragedy that affects them all and changed all of their lives instantly.

To be fair though, despite all the complications of the various situations, the movie’s not that hard to follow. It’s very straightforward and easy to understand. Character 1 does something, character 2 gets mad about it, then character 1 gets even. And then they cry. It’s a big mix of chopsuey characters that either you’ll feel pity for them, or you’ll get tired seeing the same mistakes over and over again. The situations are somewhat contrived and predictable; it’s a screaming cryfest after all. But what makes me feel less for this movie is that despite the melodrama that you know will happen in the movie, it still topped itself by bringing a more exaggerated melodrama than one can expect. It seems that director Jun Lana is stuck in the 80s type of drama since everything that one can expect is here. A baby? Check. Death scenes? Check. Slapping confrontations? Check.

I also want to say that the tragedy instantly reminded me of Babel, as how a single incident affected many lives in the process. However, in this case, it seems as if there’s only one family who was the most affected by it. The way the characters were written leans more on the pathetic side instead of the human one. A movie character making a stupid mistake (that one saw from the beginning) does not make him/her more human, it makes the writers look lazy and uninspired.

Nevertheless, the acting in the film is still the movie’s biggest (and only) selling point. Headed by the very versatile Maricel Soriano, one can’t help but notice how she’s still acing it all these years. This is far from her best performance, but she delivers when it is needed, and she still does it in top form. Other top players include Agot Isidro, who’s one of the most versatile character actresses we have, Lovi Poe, who keeps on getting better per every new movie released, and Carla Abellana, who has to be the receiving end of Maricel’s character. Jericho Rosales and Dennis Trillo are somewhat hit or miss; Jericho overacts in some scenes while Dennis has been stagnant and has nothing new to offer. The rest are  not remarkable enough to get special mentions.

In its entirety, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is a family drama that offered nothing new. It has some of the most pathetic characters in current movie dramas, and one can’t help but feel apathetic more than sympathetic with them. It is understandable though that it’s target audience are mothers who will be all over it. In that regard, the film is successful. In case you decide to watch it, do it for the superior performance of Soriano.

Grade: B

Posted December 28, 2011 by Nicol Latayan in Films, Reviews

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