Archive for the ‘mylene dizon’ Tag

39th Gawad Urian Winner Predictions   Leave a comment

The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP) are bound to reward their picks among the best of 2015 local cinema with the 39th Gawad Urian Awards this Tuesday, June 21. But who are poised to take home those huge silver trophies? It’s a strange year in predicting, but here’s where I’ll bet my money on.

best picture

BEST PICTURE
“Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
“ARI: My Life with a King”
“Bambanti”
“Da Dog Show”
“Heneral Luna”
“Honor Thy Father”
“Imbisibol”
“Taklub”

Unlike previous years when there’s one clear frontrunner to win the top award (2003’s Magnifico, 2005’s Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, 2009’s Kinatay, and 2013’s Norte), this year, the race is a bit up in the air. As for starters, there’s the now iconic pop culture effect of Heneral Luna, which dominated critically and commercially. Then there’s also Taklub, which was Brillante Mendoza’s comeback to Cannes (albeit in the Un Certain Regard competition) since 2009. Anino sa Likod ng Buwan and Imbisibol both live up to the name of their previous stage adaptations. And Honor Thy Father got pretty much the same enthusiasm that Matti’s (also Best Picture nominated) On the Job received. The three other films nominated are much low-key in nature, but I can also foresee a case of the Manunuri going with the cultural importance of the arts in “Ari.” I guess I’ll go with Jun Lana’s “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan“, as I find its one shot narrative up right the Manunuri’s alley. Besides, Lana is someone I see who’s finally breaking through with the Urian considering they also went gaga with Barber’s Tales last year (despite ending with a 0-11 shutout).

PREDICTION: “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan
ALTERNATE: “Heneral Luna

best director

BEST DIRECTOR:
Carlo Enciso Catu, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Mario Cornejo, “Apocalypse Child”
Zig Madamba Dulay, “Bambanti”
Lawrence Fajardo, “Imbisibol”
Ralston Jover, “Da Dog Show”
Jun Lana, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
Erik Matti, “Honor Thy Father”
Brilliante Mendoza, “Taklub”
Kidlat Tahimik, “Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment”
Jerrold Tarog, “Heneral Luna”

I have this previous theory (which I shared last year) that when someone is up for the Best Director award yet the film isn’t nominated for Best Picture, that totally eliminates the director’s chances to win at all. After all, no director has won in this category without the corresponding film being nominated for the top award too. That said, if there’s one filmmaker who can defy that statistic, it’s Kidlat Tahimik. After all, the narrative is there already. I’m sure the Urian won’t shy rewarding him especially now that the opportunity is there. Then again, I noted two years ago that in a field of 12 Best Director nominees, the only ones with no Urian are Erik Matti and Hannah Espia and while I predicted the former, it’s the latter who won. Thus, I’ll reserve my alternate this time for Matti to nab his first Urian here.

PREDICTION: Kidlat Tahimik, “Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment”
ALTERNATE:
Erik Matti, “Honor Thy Father”

best actor

BEST ACTOR
Luis Alandy, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
John Arcilla, “Heneral Luna”
John Lloyd Cruz, “Honor Thy Father”
John Lloyd Cruz, “A Second Chance”
Ricky Davao, “Dayang Asu”
Anthony Falcon, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
Francisco Guinto, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Sid Lucero, “Apocalypse Child”
Junjun Quintana, “Water Lemon”
Jericho Rosales, “Walang Forever”
Dennis Trillo, “Felix Manalo”
Lou Veloso, “Da Dog Show”

While it’s a strong year for lead actors with everyone getting in meaty roles here and there, this is one category where the Manunuri channels their inner Oprah and hands out nominations like Santa Claus. From this bunch, chances are we won’t see a repeat winner so that leaves out Ricky Davao, Sid Lucero, Junjun Quintana, Jericho Rosales, and Lou Veloso already. In the event that it will be though, bank on John Arcilla’s prominent pornstache to win this. That said, the double nominations signify strong support for our perennial frontrunner John Lloyd Cruz to finally receive his first Urian. Only once in the history of Urian did an actor compete against herself that lost (FYI it’s Nora Aunor x2 (both ‘Merika and Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit) losing to Vilma Santos in Sister Stella L.). So unless Manunuri trolls out in the end, it’s John Lloyd’s to lose.

PREDICTION: John Lloyd Cruz, “Honor Thy Father”
ALTERNATE:
John Arcilla, “Heneral Luna”

best actress

BEST ACTRESS:
Nora Aunor, “Taklub”
Angeli Bayani, “Iisa”
Mercedes Cabral, “Da Dog Show”
Alessandra de Rossi, “Bambanti”
Anicka Dolonius, “Apocalypse Child”
Jennylyn Mercado, “Walang Forever”
Ces Quesada, “Imbisibol”
LJ Reyes, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”

Last year, it was easy to dismiss Nora Aunor’s chances simply because she’s already winning the Natatanging Gawad Urian and if there’s one thing that Urian loves, it’s to spread the wealth. This year however is a more difficult one to predict. That said, Taklub is minor Aunor, and I don’t think this is the performance that will tie her with rival Vilma Santos for the 8th Best Actress win. Both Angeli Bayani and Alessandra de Rossi won Urian the past few years, so I don’t see the Manunuri rushing to give them second wins (they have no problem giving out nominations but a win is a different talk). Quesada, Dolonius and Cabral are all borderline supporting characters in terms of screentime or story, though Ces Quesada, a veteran with no Urian win yet can easily overcome this narrative as compared to the two others. Jennylyn Mercado, a previous Urian nominee for Blue Moon back in 2005, is nominated for #WalangForever, seems more of a statement on the Manunuri’s part that they also acknowledge romance/commercial format stories. I mean if Angelica Panganiban couldn’t win with Tadhana last year, I doubt they’re touching this. That leaves me with LJ Reyes, and while in any other year, I wouldn’t have made this prediction, maybe the “boldness” of the role would be enough for her to take home the trophy.

PREDICTION: LJ Reyes, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
ALTERNATE:
Ces Quesada, “Imbisibol”

best supp actor

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
RK Bagatsing, “Apocalypse Child”
Bernardo Bernardo, “Imbisibol”
Tirso Cruz III, “Honor Thy Father”
JM De Guzman, “Imbisibol”
Julio Diaz, “Taklub”
Alion Ibanez, “Da Dog Show”
Micko Laurente, “Bambanti”
Lou Veloso, “Taklub”

Opposite of the Oscars where they reward the older vets in Supporting, the Urian likes them young and fresh with up and coming actors winning here going as far as 1986 champ Aga Muhlach up to last year’s Martin del Rosario. The only one who fits the bill is 4x nominee JM de Guzman for Imbisibol. But then, I think this is one year where they can skip that as I think it’s a battle of the three vets: 1980 Best Actor Bernardo Bernardo, 1992 Best Supporting Actor Tirso Cruz III, and still Urian-less Julio Diaz. I have a hunch they’re going with Tirso’s over the top religious zealot in here to give him his overdue second career Urian.

PREDICTION: Tirso Cruz III, “Honor Thy Father”
ALTERNATE:
Julio Diaz, “Taklub”

best supp actress

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Liza Dino, “Toto”
Mylene Dizon, “Heneral Luna”
Rio Locsin, “Iisa”
Anna Abad Santos, “Apocalypse Child”
Tessie Tomas, “Water Lemon”
Cecil Yumol, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Gwen Zamora “Apocalypse Child”

I can’t remember the last time they rewarded a supporting performance from a full comedy movie, so I feel that Liza Dino’s nominations is the reward itself already. Same goes for Urian winner Mylene Dizon. I personally prefer Ana Abad Santos over Gwen Zamora in Apocalypse Child, but a part of me thinks that it’s a film they showered with acting nominations but will give no wins (which in Urian history isn’t always a bad thing. There’s a long list of films that reap 4-5 acting nominations that will lose all of its acting bids. Case in point, last year’s Best Picture Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon, or Barber’s Tales.). I’ll call this a race between two underrated veterans: Rio Locsin vs. Tessie Tomas, and I’ll give the edge to the latter just because she have more Urian losses, so maybe the Manunuri might make up for it.

PREDICTION: Tessie Tomas, “Water Lemon”
ALTERNATE:
Rio Locsin, “Iisa”

Now as for the rest of the nominations:

SCREENPLAY:
Prediction:
Herlyn Gail Alegre  and John Paul Bedia, “Imbisibol
Alternate:
Michicko Yamamoto, Honor Thy Father

PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Prediction: Harley Alcasid, “Bukod Kang Pinagpala
Alternate: Ben Payumo, “Water Lemon

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Prediction: Ber Cruz, “Honor Thy Father
Alternate: Pong Ignacio, “Heneral Luna

MUSIC:
Prediction: Jerrold Tarog, “Heneral Luna
Alternate: Diwa de Leon, “Taklub

EDITING:
Prediction: Lawrence Ang, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan
Alternate: Kats Serraon, “Da Dog Show

SOUND:
Prediction: Mikko Quizon, “Heneral Luna
Alternate: Mikko Quizon, “Honor Thy Father

The 39th Gawad Urian Awards will be shown live on Cinema One this June 21 at 8PM.

Advertisements

Philippines’ 88th Oscar Submission: Heneral Luna   Leave a comment

11541975_1632374606977269_5171522840825921614_nIt was only a few hours ago when the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) announced via its director Leo Martinez that Jerrold Tarog’s film “Heneral Luna is the Philippine submission for the 88th Academy Awards. It’s first time for director Tarog whose film tells the tale of underrated Filipino hero Antonio Luna in his quest to lead the country against the Spanish colonizers during Emilio Aguinaldo’s regime.

As per Marinel Cruz of Inquirer, “Heneral Luna” beats out five other contenders including Brillante Mendoza’s Un Ceratin Regard entry this year “Taklub” and Carlos Siguion Reyna’s multiple Cinemalaya winner last year “Hari ng Tondo.

The journey of “Heneral Luna” is really impressive to say the least. The film opened up to decent numbers but the strong word of mouth particularly in social media paved the way for more cinemas to bring it back to more screens. As a matter of fact, its second week opening day was way higher than its initial first day grosses. It has received raves one after the other with critics praising its polished direction, great ensemble headed by John Arcilla in a career-best role and the different treatment it used as compared to the other biopics about our Filipino heroes.

Now less than two weeks after it opened, its now the Oscar submission of the country representing it in the world platform against more than 70 countries in the world. It’s also the first time the Philippines submitted a film about one of its heroes in the 27 times that we have sent a bid at the Oscars. It’s a bittersweet feeling for everyone in the film involved as well as its fans, and the announcement of it as the country’s submission was met with such enthusiasm and clamor.

But now, let’s talk about the real deal. How will it fare at the Oscar race this year? Just like how I predicted that both “Bwakaw and “Transit” aren’t going anywhere or that “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan can count a top nine inclusion at most, it’s time to analyze Heneral Luna‘s chances. When I wrote about my usual Oscar submission analysis and recommendations a month ago, I specified how this is a year when we’re lacking that ecstatic contender that can bring us at least that much-awaited Oscar attention. And now a month later, I still think stand with the same sentiment.

As for starters, this year shapes up as a stacked group of submissions by far from Oscar-friendlier countries. Portugal went with the Cannes movie “Arabian Nights Part 2″ by Miguel Gomez while Hungary is close to have that Oscar wrapped up already with its entry Laszlo Nemes’ “Son of Saul” which won the Grand Prize Jury earlier this year at Cannes. There’s also “Embrace the Serpent” from Colombia, “The Second Mother” from Brazil, and Un Certain Regard winner “Rams” from Iceland. Among Asian contenders, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s comeback film “The Assassin” leads the pack. Not only are they miles ahead from Heneral Luna in terms of festival buzz, but they all have US distributors already who will campaign the hell out of them. Maybe Heneral can still hop in a competent enough distributor (FWIW, announcement was only made a few hours ago so it’s not as if they’re already on full gear with their campaign plan).

Another thing blocking Heneral Luna‘s way is that its theme isn’t really the Academy’s cup of tea. For Oscar, it’s Holocaust or bust. I’ve read some comments how the portrayal of Americans in the movie would pick up interest among the voters, and that point is pushing it. Antonio Luna, probably as underrated as he is, doesn’t bring the same type of buzz as let’s say if it was a Jose Rizal biopic (which isn’t the film’s fault). The film’s biggest hurdle is that it needs to be seen in order to be voted. It’s really not safe to count on the “plus three” system of the executive system (those that don’t get in the popular vote) especially since it’s reserved for quirky and non-traditional films that aren’t really Academy friendly (think of Dogtooth or An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker). Heck, even Lav Diaz’ Norte last year didn’t get in the plus three system and that has the Cannes buzz surrounding it.

Heneral Luna is a great film — no doubt about that, but all its Oscar talk about it “as our shot at winning an Academy Award” or even that “we have a chance” is setting themselves up for disappointment. And let it be clear that it’s not because of its quality. It’s a well-made film that deserves to be seen by every Filipino. Period. But if we are to talk about the aspect of it being our Academy Award submission, then it’s a different story altogether. If anything, the greatest thing that comes with this announcement (aside from recognition for the team behind the movie) is that it shows that the Filipino audience is willing to show up for quality films. Forget about Oscars, it’s a long shot at best.

Talk to me about it on Twitter: @nikowl

10th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 1   6 comments

Now on its tenth year, Cinemalaya continues its tradition of showcasing the potential of Philippine cinema with its annual film festival that has been the venue for some of the most promising filmmakers and a reminder of the greatness of the veteran ones. And as it celebrate its first decade, there’s no other way to go but up as this year combines some of the biggest stars from Nora Aunor to Richard Gomez and newer ones like Mara Lopez and Martin del Rosario to name a few. Within the next few days, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the 15 films participating this year both in the New Breed and Director’s Showcase categories. Let’s begin with the first three!

1st ko si 3rd

1st KO SI 3rd
Director: Real Florido
Cast: Nova Villa, Freddie Webb, Dante Rivero, Ruby Ruiz, Lara Morena, Ken Chan
Competition: New Breed

Days after she retired from her work, Cory (Nova Villa) is still adjusting from her new lifestyle staying at home with her husband Andong (Dante Rivero). Mostly bored and irritable, her attention shifted upon realizing that Third (Fredi Webb), her first love and childhood sweetheart is back in town. The film then went back and forth in portraying their early days together and how they react to each other four decades after.

1st Ko si 3rd was the first film I’ve seen from this year’s batch, and it couldn’t have been more fitting to begin with it. The film was charming all throughout with its very natural and grounded humor in portraying a post mid-life crisis (if that type even exists) of a newly retired woman. The number 1 plays a significant theme in the movie, as it is through these one time incidents that led to where Cory is now: her first love, their supposed first date, the first man she met after, their first bonding together. For Cory, the first option really matters, and now that she had the opportunity to have a second one is where her conflict lies. The good thing however, is that in this love triangle, no party is a villain; it wasn’t merely black or white thus, we understand these harbored feelings that Cory has. Writer and director Real Florido managed to come up with characters (Cory surely reminded me of my own grandmother) and situations (revisiting your first love, how your life changes once you retire) that are relatable which made the whole film feel organic. Given that, Nova Villa was able to raise the material even higher with her performance here. Sure one would expect that she’ll nail the comedic parts effortlessly, but her performance certainly wasn’t just that. She was both funny and heartbreaking, sometimes even simultaneously. 1st ko si 3rd might have old characters in its forefront, but it’s appeal is far more beyond that. It’s bittersweet and charming, and I won’t be surprised if this crowd favorite went on to win the Box Office New Breed category.

3.5/5

Dagitab

DAGITAB (SPARKS)
Director: Giancarlo Abrahan
Cast: Eula Valdez, Nonie Buencamino, Martin del Rosario, Sandino Martin, Max Eigenmann
Competition: New Breed

UP professors Jimmy (Nonie Buencamino) and Issey (Eula Valdez) has been married for decades now, but both are aware of how dysfunctional their relationship is. Issey knows that Jimmy still can’t let go of his previous flame Lorena, who suddenly went missing many years ago. After going to a writer’s workshop in Makiling, coincidentally with her god son Gab, things have changed between Issey and him, and not long enough, has made a crack on the couple’s marriage as well.

To say this film is interesting might be an understatement. Its portrayal of what I call a “functional dysfunctional relationship” is so raw and mysterious that you’ll be captivated by it, probably the way Jimmy was captivated of Lorena’s fate. In Dagitab, the dynamics of a relationship was complexly portrayed by highlighting that some relationships probably require more of patience and acceptance and less of intelligence and romance. There is a certain poetic approach with how lines are written and thrown here, and I don’t think I have grasped them all yet after watching, but I’m smitten. As if I’m not sold yet with that, the visual aspects of the film are really stunning. There’s one scene where the characters of Eula Valdez and Martin del Rosario are just lying on the sand and you see the waves surrounding them, and it reminded me of that moment in Michel Gondry‘s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind when Joel and Clementine were just lying on the snow watching the stars. I adored the use of Side A’s “Tuloy Pa Rin Ako” in the near end of the film as a statement of how the lives of these characters were amidst what happened to all of them. The performances of Nonie Bucamino, Eula Valdez, and Martin del Rosario are not the type of acting that win awards here in the country, but I’ll surely reserve a spot for them in my personal year end list since they’ve perfected the combination of confidence and craziness required of their characters. I really think I’ll catch this another time before the festival ends, as I think it’s a film that will ignite more insights when seen repeatedly, but needless to say, this did not disappoint and it will likely end up as one of my favorite entries from this year.

4.5/5

Mariquina

MARIQUINA
Director:
 Milo Sogueco
Cast: Mylene Dizon, Ricky Davao, Dennis Padilla, Barbie Forteza, Bing Pimentel
Competition: New Breed

Upon learning that her father who she had a rocky relationship with has died, Imelda (Mylene Dizon) tried to pick the perfect shoes for his once esteemed master shoemaker dad (Ricky Davao). It is within this agenda that Imelda reminisces the ups and downs and memories of her parents during the heydays of their shoe making business back when she was still a child.

Mariquina feels a bloated MMK episode for me, and while I’m aware that using that comparison usually connotes something negative; in this particular case, I tend to disagree. After all, the film revisits the life of Imelda starting from her childhood in depicting how things have changed between her and her father. Is it melodramatic? Well one can easily accuse of it as such. But what’s far more interesting in it is how it never lets the melodrama take over by injecting humorous punches during the more dramatic scenes. It was careful and aware enough of its material to know where to control the drama. And that’s rare to happen since in the hands of another writer, they would have highlighted the drama more. I particularly liked the witty use of symbolism in here with the color of the shoes and who owns what. Those small clever details aren’t necessarily a big deal for most, but I’m fond of them. It is also commendable how director Milo Sogueco managed to make use of space — literally. There’s a continuous shot of a young Imelda bringing a pair of shoes from the third floor of their warehouse down to their basement and we just follow her go around juxtaposed with the present day where the current Imelda does the same in her fabric business. If anything, I guess the part that bogged it down a bit for me was the last act where it seemed like it just went on and on in putting the closures one after the other. Also, the acting in here is particularly strong. I’m aware that it was Judy Ann Santos who was supposed to play the title role, but her close friend Mylene Dizon was fantastic in it. I’m also happy that Ricky Davao was finally maximized again since he is one fantastic actor and while he has played supporting roles for quite some times, this is probably his best since 2001’s Minsan May Isang Puso. The teen Imelda, anchored by a good performance from Barbie Forteza who was quite a revelation since she had the longest flashback in the movie. This is the second Jerrold Tarog written film in Cinemalaya where in a pair of shoes played a meaningful part in the film. Maybe a shoe trilogy to complete it in the future perhaps? 🙂

4/5

There you have it! The reviews of the next four filmswill be posted on Tuesday morning. Do not forget that you can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

2013 Metro Manila Film Festival Review: Part 2   5 comments

Hi! here’s the second part of my Metro Manila Film Festival reviews. The first part which you can read here includes Marlon Rivera’s My Little Bossings, Frasco Mortiz’ Pagpag Siyam na Buhay, Wenn Deramas’ Girl Boy Bakla Tomboy, and Chito Rono’s Boy Golden. Here’s the other four films of this year’s batch:

Kimmy Dora

KIMMY DORA: ANG KIYEMENG PREQUEL
Director: Chris Martinez
Cast: Eugene Domingo (x2), Sam Milby, Ariel Ureta, Angel Aquino, Joel Torre

A prequel of this prominent movie twins, this shows how newly grad Kimmy GoDongHae and then theater actress Dora GoDngHae trained under their father’s wing only to later save the company itself.

The Kimmy Dora film experiments this time, as it’s under the guidance of Chris Martinez since original director Joyce Bernal was unavailable due to a commitment to another MMFF entry. On one hand, it’s an interesting move to inject something fresh about the series after that so-so second film. On another, it gives some sort of a stale feeling to the franchise already. Sure it’s nice to see a throwback references to the first movie, and all the cameos were cute. This (at least) tried to embrace a story, but while they give a clear explanation of the turn out of the events, this futuristic approach seems so left out and ahead of its time from the first two films. I was pleasantly surprised seeing Joel Torre and Angel Aquino for the nth time here (I think their pairing is one of my favorite 2013 discoveries), though they weren’t given much to do. Speaking of nothing much to do, Sam Milby was pretty much in a thankless role as well, though with all the amount of kicks and punches he gave here, he and KC Concepcion should be given an action project soon. The roles of Kimmy and Dora will definitely go down in history as Eugene Domingo’s career defining role, and I think she’s really great in it. It’s just that this time she has more inferior work to do. I like the intricate production design and costume design of the film; they’re really lavish, but then again it always brings me back to “Wait this happened before the first movie right?” Don’t get me wrong, this one still provided the laughs , and Eugene Domingo is still a hoot (I think I can watch her doing nothing for hours), but at times you question of this is still necessary. I think I like this better than that horror sequel.

Rating: 2.5/5

Pedro Calungsod

PEDRO CALUNGSOD: BATANG MARTIR
Director: Francis Villacorta
Cast: Rocco Nacino, Christian Vasquez, Ryan Eigenmann, Jestoni Alarcon, Victor Basa

Biopic on Pedro Calungsod, the second Filipino canonised by the Catholic Church. The film shows how he assisted Fr. Diego San Vitores in Marianas Islands in introducing Christianity there.

Oh boy this is as straightforward as it gets. We follow their journey back from the Jesuit house in Cavite until they reach the Marianas Islands. From then, we see Rocco Nacino’s bad wig, then Father Vitores’ leading an example of a selfless act, followed by some Chamorro natives killing one of the volunteers, then Pedro getting hallucinations seeing his father. Lather rinse repeat for about five times, and there you have your movie. This is by no means an attack on Saint Pedro Calungsod or for his contributions, but the film is so repetitive that I won’t take it against you if you zone off by the half of the film. You can see Rocco Nacino’s dedication to the role, but not even him can save it. Nor does Christian Vasquez’ one note written role. Not the fault of both actors as they were given stagnant things to do. I’m sure the intent was to show how selfless and giving Pedro was, but then again, it does not necessarily translate that it was what the movie achieved. It’s either you feel bad for yourself that you’re not as nice as him or you appreciate Father Vitores more since he did the bigger sacrifices in the movie. And it’s never a good thing if you leave the movie house thinking that the lead character, coincidentally the title of the movie, played second fiddle to the supporting character.

Rating: 1.5/5

Kaleidoscope World

KALEIDOSCOPE WORLD
Director: Eliza Cornejo
Cast: Sef Cadayona, Yassi Pressman, Mayton Eugenio, Alma Concepcion

Inspired from the music of the great late Francis Magalona, the movie shows the romance that transpired between rich girl Elsa and poor boy Lando in the midst of their hip hop dance crew contest rehearsals.

This concept of a hiphop dance film probably looked good on paper, but everything about this movie isn’t. Intent can only get you so far. I feel bad for everyone involved in it because I don’t think this is what they intend to produce, but this film is just not ready to be seen yet. Okay so where do we begin? Let’s start with the story where all the possible drama cliches are inserted in it. A love story between a rich girl and poor boy? Check. A history check that the poor boy was actually rich before but fate led them to their current state? Check. The rich girl is under the supervision of her strict aunt who does everything to contradict her niece? Check. And there are lots more as the movie progresses. Sadly, the film can’t depend on its technical accomplishments as the transition of the scenes just fades in and out. The dance numbers weren’t even shown in whole due to bad camera angles which only usually shows the upper part of the body. And the worst offender is the sound. There are literally scenes with no sound while there are some scenes where the dubbing screwed it all as you hear both the dubbed and the actual lines of the actors. It’s really painful to watch it on a technical standpoint and the less said about it, the better. The acting isn’t even commendable as well since they were all acting on a different platform. If not amateurish (which most of them were), you have Alma Concepcion whose sheer dedication should be commended, and while Sef Cadayona and Yassi Pressman share some sort of chemistry, it’s not even enough to save even a tenth of the movie. The discography of Francis Magalona is the only bright spot in this otherwise mess of a film, but I feel more sorry because it seems that it was rushed just to make it in the festival. Continuous polishing could have fixed at least the technical issues, and I think they’d even get a longer release period had it not been a part of the MMFF.

Rating: 0.5/5

10000 Hours

10,000 HOURS
Director: Joyce Bernal
Cast: Robin Padilla, Mylene Dizon, Michael de Mesa, Pen Medina, Bela Padilla

Loosely based on the life of Panfilo Lacson, then prominent senator Gabriel Alcaraz leaves the country and turns to be a fugitive when he was accused as a part of a big political pandemonium.

And to cap it off is Joyce Bernal’s entry in this year’s film fest. It’s the reason why she had to drop off Kimmy Dora ang Kiyemeng Prequel, and it’s actually a good trade. Time and again, the movie has to remind us all that it is a fictional one despite being loosely based on a politician, but I don’t get why the movie keeps on giving us winks every now and then such as a female president, some shout outs to current national issues etc only to remind us again that yes, it’s not a close adaptation. But other than that, it’s a pretty solid and well done effort. Production of the film is top notch here. Cinematography, sound, and stunts all factored in to come up with a really thrilling output. Instead of using some old fashioned tricks when it comes to pulling action scenes, Bernal decides to give it a refreshed spin, and it shows. I also like Ketchup Eusebio’s character’s throwback to the infamous Michael Fajatin viral reporting video in one of his earlier scenes. I guess if there’s another qualm about it is that of the uneven turn of events especially with the countdown clock showing every now and then. It was fairly quick in the earlier parts only to get longer as the movie enters its second half. We’re also treated to some commendable acting here especially that of Robin Padilla’s. His stature as an action star figure in the country will never get old, and I like that he showed restraint by not going all on his usual mannerisms here. Both Michael de Mesa and Pen Medina share a chemistry with Padilla that worked well in the film whether as a sidekick or an arch rival. Bela Padilla was also a surprise here, though I can’t remember if this is the first I’ve sen of her in the movies. She exudes a natural charismatic vibe that fits in the movie. I guess in the end, the film’s biggest achievement is that it proved we are still capable of coming up with solid popcorn action thrillers, probably in the veins of Taken or Prisoners, without always going back to the 60s or 70.

Rating: 3.5/5

There you have it! What are your favorites from this year’s batch? Mine’s Boy Golden and 10,000 Hours by a mile. This year, the action flicks delivered and they both deserve to be seen more.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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

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