Archive for the ‘paulo avelino’ Tag

Top Local Movies of 2013   3 comments

Last year, I opened my list by saying that 2012 was an enjoyable year in local cinema. Turns out, I was speaking way too soon because 2013 turned out to be an even better one. To say it is great is probably a hyperbole, but at the same time, I say it with much conviction (and even an understatement). The medium of cinema has never been more exciting and adventurous in the past few years than what the 2013 batch has offered. That goes without saying that it didn’t have its share of misfires and mess, but then again, this year is too strong to focus on that. Three titles you wouldn’t see on the list, however, are Lav Diaz’ Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan, Alvin Yapan’s Mga Anino ng Kahapon, and Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita, because I was foolish enough to miss them during their run. With that said, here are my 15 picks for the best in 2013 local cinema:

15. Tuhog

15. TUHOG (Veronica Velasco)

Maindie is one of those terms that sounded so forced you don’t want to hear it ever again, but this Veronica Velasco film of three intertwined stories connected by an unfortunate incident gives it a free pass to be used just this time. Each of the three sub-stories provided interesting characters and back stories that any of them could have been further fleshed out to a whole film. But then again, maybe that’s one of the film’s asset? The movie also boasts of a fitting soundtrack to its story, and the end result is one of 2013’s most fresh mainstream or in this case, maindie, offerings.

14 Otso

14. OTSO (Elwood Perez)

Otso is director Elwood Perez’ first film in ten years, and in this case, it is really worth the wait. I think that doesn’t apply on waiting for Elwood’s comeback only, but for the film as well. Otso started in scenes that were still in multicolor, but it just sets up for an even better film once it turns black and white. I don’t think I’ve necessarily picked up everything that the film wants to show, but it’s part of its appeal. It lures you to its world where the crazy and the wicked happens, and you’re simply hooked.

13. Babagwa

13. BABAGWA (Jason Paul Laxamana)

One of the two Audience choice winners at last year’s Cinemalaya, it’s easy to see why a lot fell in love with this film. Its humor is one that appeals to everyone. But digging deeper, I think it speaks a lot to the curious and inquisitive nature of ourselves. In here, we see two people fleshing out two different personas of each, and we, as the audience, are the witness to all of it. It’s such an engaging scenario that by the time the slow reveal at the end happens, you probably have an idea of what’s about to happen yet you still want to see it happen. It also boasts of an inspired screenplay and one that speaks of the current times.

12. Boy Golden

12. BOY GOLDEN SHOOT TO KILL: The Arturo Porcuna Story (Chito Rono)

I’ve been quite dismissive of this MMFF entry just because it’s Jorge Estregan with a leading lady almost half his age yet again, but I guess surprises do come when you least expect it. Not only does this film serve as a perfect throwback to the yesteryears of enjoyable action flicks, we’re also served with its topnotch technical achievements. The twists and turns of thew characters here, plus that out of nowhere scenes that provided the camp makes it a good reminder that every now and then, never judge a movie by its horribly made poster.

11. Kabisera

11. KABISERA (Alfonso Torre III)

Yes I’m not here for that Breaking Bad comparisons simply because they are two different films that happened to have some similarities. it happens, but I don’t see any “copying” between these two. In Borgy Torre’s directorial debut, Kabisera shows us how one family man’s dreams happen and its good and bad repercussions not only to him but to the people around him. Anchored with a commanding performance by Joel Torre (one of his two this year) and a really great supporting ensemble, Kabisera is really thrilling as it can get.

10. Quick Change

10. QUICK CHANGE (Eduardo Roy Jr.)

Eduardo Roy Jr.’s follow up has a dark humorous tone in it that is simply irresistible. Just like how the characters in the film get totally pumped over having those “shots” that lead character Dorina provides to them, we are really drawn and addicted to what happens. It gives us a peak into this world which not many of us are particularly adept about, and it does a great job in doing so. That of course, and lead actor Mimi Juareza’s haunting turn in it.

09. Bukas Na Lang Sapagkat Gabi Na

09. BUKAS NA LANG SAPAGKAT GABI NA (Jet Leyco)

One of the common themes I noticed among the Cinema One Originals entries this year is that the films are more experimental in nature. Jet Leyco’s Bukas Na Lang Sapagkat Gabi Na provides a mysterious atmosphere that makes you more interested as the film goes on. It is weird and eerie and that’s what make it work. The film, in its own nature, has a great grasp of what it wants to show in a really inspired manner (the handheld camera effect, black and white parts, gunshot sounds), and it  makes the whole viewing more enjoyable. It’s one film I think I’ll enjoy more in repeat viewings.

08. Purok 7

08. PUROK 7 (Carlo Obispo)

A portrait of an optimistic girl living in small rural town was vividly depicted in Carlo Obispo’s debut feature Purok 7. As we follow the story of 14 year old Diana and her younger brother, we were given an escape, thanks to the eye catching scenery of the country side. But more than that, we witnessed and felt the agony of two kids who have long wanted to be a part of something and be a part of a family. The simplicity of it all is what makes this whole thing fresh, endearing, and leaves a lasting impression.

07. Transit

07. TRANSIT (Hannah Espia)

As the overall winner of last year’s Cinemalaya New Breed category, Hannah Espia’s debut effort Transit is an achievement on so many levels. Not only does its display of technical achievements noteworthy, but its storytelling was also seamlessly interwoven. It’s not everyday that we see this kind of potential on a first time full feature, but for this particular effort, Espia manages to hit the right buttons. And as a bonus, it even ended up as the country’s Oscar Foreign Language Film submission.

06. Blue Bustamante

06. BLUE BUSTAMANTE  (Miko Lovelo)

OFW movies have been done to death already during the past decade, but first time director Miko Livelo puts a new spin on it in his Cinema One Originals entry Blue Bustamante. The expected dramatic scenes were instead replaced with an earned sentimentality that just wins you over. As main protagonist George, Joem Bascon was such a delight to watch as he finds a replacement work in Japan that will not only bring in the money but an even closer bond to his son and family who are miles apart. It’s definitely one of the most fun times I had at the movies for 2013.

05. Debosyon

05. DEBOSYON (Alvin Yapan)

Hypnotizing right from the start, this tale of one’s faith and acceptance  – may it be because of love or commitment or just one’s mere existence – is one that lingers even after the credits roll.  The film, which also is aided by minimal dialogues but really magnificent visuals, takes its viewers to some breathless imagery. The movie rested solely on its two lead’s but they did more than what they were asked for. Plus, the last 20 minutes of this film is still one of the bests I’ve see for this year.

04. Iskalawags

04. ISKALAWAGS (Keith Deligero)

Like OFW films, coming of age films have been done to death now, but Keith Deligero’s refreshing approach in the Cinema One entry Iskalwags puts a more inspired approach to it. It’s not hard to fall for the film as it certainly evokes an environment that is light and not totally sentimental. It sparks a certain touch of youth and playfulness that is rarely captured this well on screen. The voice over also adds a more interesting spin, and it features an ensemble whose innocence translates in a totally natural manner.

03. On the Job

03. ON THE JOB (Erik Matti)

Probably one of the most buzzed films of the year, this picture depicts a setting of a dirty and very complex government; one which needed more than just a person who has an optimistic view to eradicate it and start anew.  It is through this core notion where these characters live and breathe, as Erik Matti gives us a more than satisfying crime action thriller that is gripping and at at the same time, really, really timely. It’s one of the rare movie experiences that makes you even sadder as you come out of the theaters because of how easy one can reflect and connect it to what’s really going on.

02. Sana Dati

02. SANA DATI (Jerrold Tarog)

The cinema has given us lots of love stories. Most of them with happy endings, while some were flat out tragedies.  In Jerrold Tarog’s closing effort to his camera trilogy, he uses the notion of whether to stay stagnant or to let go as a path to understand how love really works. In the case of Lovi Poe’s Andrea, it’s a hard task, especially when you’re ready to move on yet a reminder of the past shows up hours before you’re ready to take the jump. Sana Dati is one of the best stories about love I’ve seen in a long time. And there’s no other way to end the film that with Up Dharma Down’s Indak.

01. Badil

01. BADIL (Chito Rono)

At one point, it doesn’t even seem that this would make it at the Sineng Pambansa festival last August. But thankfully, it did. Chito Rono’s entry which focuses in a small Samar town on the eve of election day is as arresting as one can get. Like On the Job, it’s a depiction of what’s wrong in a society, but this one is less technically polished but of the same, if not even more, intensity. It’s a film that has a lot of long continuous shots, probably making the whole experience more captivating. It also has a good ensemble with a very intense Jhong Hilario leading the ship.  Badil was an entry in the All Master’s Edition of the Sineng Pambansa, and with his controlled and almost restrained direction, Rono definitely lives up to the challenge.

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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9th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 3   6 comments

Okay guys, here’s part three of the my coverage of the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. For those who missed the previous ones, Part 1 consists of Gil Portes’ Liars, Mikhail Red’s Rekorder,  Carlo Obispo’s Purok 7, and Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra.  Part 2 has Adolf Alix’s Porno, Alvin Yapan’s Debosyon, and Leo Abaya’s Instant Mommy. Here’s four movies from this year’s batch:

SANA DATI
Director: Jerrold Tarog
Cast: Lovi Poe, Paulo Avelino, Benjamin Alves, TJ Trinidad
Competition: Director’s Showcase

The film is a love story about a woman whose wedding is thrown away when a mysterious person arrives and reminds her of the man she really loves.

As the conclusion to his Camera Trilogy, director Jerrold Tarog intimately showcases how love can make a person strong yet vulnerable, how some instances push us to move forward despite wanting to be stagnant, and ultimately teaches us to let go. I’m captivated with how the story unfolds – one does not need a personal experience to feel Andrea’s (Lovi Poe) jitters on her wedding day, but you can clearly identify what she’s going through. It’s difficult to move to another stage of your life when you still attach yourself to the previous one and it’s even more difficult to unlatch yourself from it because you do not know where and how to begin. When Dennis (Paulo Avelino) enters the picture and made his presence be known to her, it makes her confront the lingering feelings that she still has. Probably my favourite scene is when Andrea was on the rails and just closed her eyes and probably gives her the peace of mind she wanted even just for a few moments. Aside from the strong writing and directing, the film benefits from having a great ensemble of actors. Lovi Poe is definitely one of the best actresses of her generation and this is just another addition to her list of memorable performances. Paulo Avelino resembles the “mysterious” person effectively – his curiosity leads you to think what his intentions really are. Both Benjamin Alves and TJ Trinidad were effective too, as well as the whole ensemble of actors who played as family members and friends in the movie. Tarog mentioned that he tried to pitch the movie several times since he conceptualized it seven years ago, and that this was the only time when he felt it was ready. And he surely knows what he is doing. Oh, and plus points for the Up Dharma Down song in the end.

Rating: 5/5

THE DIPLOMAT HOTEL
Director: Christopher Ad Castillo
Cast: Gretchen Barretto, Art Acuna, Mon Confiado, Nico Antonio
Competition: New Breed

Victoria Lansang (Gretchen Barretto) is a popular news reporter who has been requested to mediate a hostage crisis. And in front of a national television audience, something horribly goes wrong.

I really do not know what to make of The Diplomat Hotel. I must admit that it’s one of the more exciting films I have for this year, since the hotel itself is a popular horror destination which is known for its ghosts and other spiritual sightings. I acknowledge that the film wants to go on a different direction – it’s more of a psychological thriller and the ghosts that you probably expect to see are not literal ghosts but the ones people have within. I guess that made the film flat for me. When you have a prominent ghost location, it sets the mood for something that will build up the tension and fear; instead, all those fears came from the characters themselves and it leaves no attachment to the viewers. I can’t pinpoint what is wrong with the film (since I don’t think that WRONG is even the correct word to use for this), but I feel that it was a missed opportunity to highlight something better. The characters weren’t fleshed out interestingly, and as they scare themselves to death already, you won’t care a bit. If anything though, you can see that they tried – the Baguio shots were crisp, the “tour” inside the hotel was also good, and the ensemble is living up for their roles. Mon Confiado’s physically transformed look and Art Acuna were always dependable. As for Gretchen Barretto, you know she’s clearly trying and while certain deliveries still caught me off guard and resulted to some laughs, I see the effort. I guess that’s how I’ll sum the movie: the end result was bleh, but I acknowledge the effort.

Rating: 1.5/5

QUICK CHANGE
Director: Eduardo Roy Jr.
Cast: Mimi Juarenza, Jun-Jun Quintana, Miggs Cuaderno, Francine Garcia
Competition: New Breed

Life of Dorina, a middle-aged transsexual looking for his niche amidst the complexities of the world he is in. This is a story of suffering, acceptance, and hope.

Quick Change is one of the lesser known entries in this year’s filmfest: it does not have big stars in its cast, it does not have the most audience friendly story; however, it’s also one of this year’s biggest surprises. The film follows the life of Dorina, as he offers cheaper collagen injections to transsexuals and young women who want to have bigger breasts or more noticeable cheekbones. He’s particularly known in their community because of that business. Alongside his young nephew whom he calls Kuya, this is how Dorina lives his daily life. Oh, and he has a boyfriend who’s cheating on him with another transsexual. I like how Dorina’s personal predicament is ironic with what he’s doing for a living. Think of how Dr. Gregory House is someone who cures for a living but can’t cure his own. It’s also an interesting look on how this whole business works: who are the usual customers, what are their motives in doing so, and what are its implications to all of them. There is a scene in the near end where we see someone who looks like a frozen mannequin already due to countless injections but then goes on saying “Iturok niyo lang ng iturok, kahit ano. Basta gusto ko ang feeling ng karayom sa mukha ko” and that leads you to an idea that somewhere along the way, it will catch up to all of them. Dorina is a well written complex character supported with a fearless award worthy performance by Mimi Juarenza. It is safe (no pun intended) to say that it is this year’s “little film that could.”

Rating: 4/5

NUWEBE
Director: Joseph Israel Laban
Cast: Barbara Miguel, Jake Cuenca, Nadine Samonte, Anita Linda
Competition: New Breed

Inspired by the actual story of one of the youngest mothers in Philippine history, the film charts the story of Krista, who at the tender age of nine got pregnant from the sexual abuse of her own father.

Nuwebe benefits from having a really interesting premise and something that can speak volumes about an issue in our country considering that it was inspired from an actual story. With that said, it’s really hard to identify your place as a viewer while watching the film. I think the biggest problem of the movie is its writing. It was a big letdown from the film’s intriguing story. The dialogue was cringe worthy, and I know that I’m supposed to feel for Krista, but she left me confused and apathetic. She’s spewing lines to her mother like “Ano ako? tanga?” and “Ayoko ipalaglag ang anak ko.”, and while I give the director the benefit of the doubt that the “real” Krista did say that, it’s just too awkward to be believable. Her character was portrayed as an intelligent person in her class (as she’s the only one reciting – about the sperm and pollens of all topics), yet she admits to her mother that she did not know it was a bad thing that she and her father made a baby. By the near end, I just ended up not caring for any of the characters, Krista included. The premise has really some potential, but I don’t think it was smoothly fleshed out to totally work.

Rating: 1.5/5

Eleven down, four left to review. Last batch consisting of Hannah Espia’s Transit, Jason Paul Laxamana’s Babagwa, Emmanuel Palo’s David F, and Ces Evangelista’s Amor Y Muerte will be posted on Saturday morning.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

9th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 2   9 comments

Hi everyone! The 9th Cinemalaya Film Festival is still on going so in case you still want to watch this year’s entries, you can do yourself a favor by going to CCP, Greenbelt 3, Trinoma, or Alabang Town Center. So far, there’s some really good stuff from what I have seen. Anyway, I will now share with you the second batch of my reviews. Yesterday, I already tackled Gil Portes’ Liars, Mikhail Red’s Rekorder, Carlo Obispo’s Purok 7, and Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra which you can access here. Now I’ll add three more reviews in the list:

PORNO
Director:Adolf Alix
Cast: Angel Aquino, Carlo Aquino, Yul Servo, Rosanna Roces
Competition: Director’s Showcase

An assassin, a porn dubber, and a transgender. Three souls, on explicit illusion: to find the ultimate joy in their lives. A safe haven, where passion and love means enlightenment and the soul is the ultimate arbiter of the truth.

Coming off from Kalayaan from last year’s Cinemalaya, it’s somewhat of a hard task to see what Porno will bring to the table. The trailer doesn’t give a clue on what this is about, though the title does give one. There’s actually a lot to like about Porno. For one, Alix’s style has continues to evolve over the years, and this one is yet a new addition on the list. Then you also have the riveting performances of the cast with everyone delivering an array of performances from Angel Aquino’s physically transformed role, up to Carlo Aquino’s bold one and the sensual chemistry of Yul Servo and Rosanna Roces. Alix’s production design is also a stand out here, particularly the one in the earlier motel scenes. The heart shaped mirror with the shining curtains and the blue lights set the mood in the beginning of the film. I like how it’s contemplative that the porn in the film goes far deeper than the erotica of the human body, especially in Angel Aquino’s storyline, but this is probably a case of me acknowledging the film’s merits than loving it.

Rating: 3.5/5

INSTANT MOMMY
Director: Leo Abaya
Cast: Eugene Domingo, Yuki Matsuzaki, Luis Alandy, Rico J. Puno
Competition: New Breed

In order to solve a personal predicament, Bechayda (Eugene Domingo), a wardrobe assistant in TV commercials pretends to be pregnant.

Instant Mommy has a really good story in it. Bechayda’s predicament when she pretended to be pregnant was a highlight in this film. However, in order to get to the good story, you’d have to go through weaker ones first. That’s what pulls the film from achieving what it actually intends to do. It suffers from a lot of tonal inconsistencies and you’d get confused with where they want to bring the story. While there are certainly humorous scenes in the film (with the birth giving scene a top highlight), the uneven writing makes it difficult to identify where the film wants to stick. At times, it’s a glimpse of what happens in advertising agency, then it shifts to Bechay’s problem, then it shifts to loyalty issues between her and her Japanese boyfriend. I’m also probably nitpicking here, but there are very visible goofs within the film (with the taxi direction standing out a lot). If anything, watch out for Eugene Domingo who gives a very humanizing performance here that perfectly balances comedy and drama, but even she can’t save this one.

Rating: 2/5

DEBOSYON
Director: Alvin Yapan
Cast: Paulo Avelino, Mara Lopez, Ramona Raneses, Roy Dominguiano
Competition: New Breed

Mando (Paulo Avelino), a Bikolano devotee of Ina, Virgie ng Penafrancia, injures himself in the middle of the forest. A mysterious woman, Saleng (Mara Lopez), found and nursed him back to death. They soon fell in love. But when Mando invites her to come with her to the plains, Saleng refuses. She holds a secret that will devastate Mando’s love for her.

If there’s one word that I’d describe the film, it’s hypnotizing. I like how straight forward the film is: we just follow the film and watch Mando at the beginning with what he’s doing, until he meets Saleng and how he was smitten by her, and what the implications of this to both him and her were. The movie rests solely on the shoulders of Paulo Avelino and Mara Lopez, but they sure did one hell of a job in doing so. So far, Avelino is 2/2 when it comes to his performances from Yapan’s direction, and I’m looking forward to more collaborations. Mara Lopez is an inspired casting choice as she was perfectly suited for Saleng’s character. The movie also boasts of really impressive technical achievements with the captivating cinematography and visual effects. I always have a penchant for directors who include big crowd scenes (such as the Nazareno feast in Brillante Mendoza’s Tirador), and Alvin Yapan does the same feat here in the near end with the Ina, Virgie ng Penafrancia. Supported by the haunting musical score of Teresa Barrozo, the juxtaposition of the feast and the final scene is one that speaks volumes about the faith and acceptance we have of a certain thing – may it be love or commitment or just one’s mere existence. It’s definitely one of the best so far from this year’s batch.

Rating: 4.5/5

There you have it! I am to release the third batch on Friday. And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

REVIEW: Menor de Edad, Seduction, A Moment in Time, The Bride and the Lover, Bromance, Juana C. The Movie   5 comments

Hi everyone! I have been terribly busy the last few weeks, but I’ll try my best to catch up on local cinema for this year. So instead of doing full reviews for each, I’ll try to tackle them in small dosages. Most of these I’ve seen during their release but doesn’t have the time to write a full review, some I caught up on, and some via other sources *wink*. Anyway, here are six more films from 2013’s collection:

MENOR DE EDAD

Director: Joel Lamangan
Cast: Meg Imperial, Ara Mina, Wendell Ramos, Jaycee Parker, Chynna Ortaleza

2013’s kick off local movie is Joel Lamangan’s socio-political drama Menor de Edad which aims to provide an honest and raw look of the slum life by focusing on a story of juvenile teenagers living in the squatters area. While the intention was there, viewers might get lost as Lamangan goes back and forth to documentary approach and the melodramatic aspects of the film. Scenes were mostly contrived and there were too many plots running that it’s hard for anything to stand out; in the end, all seemed half baked versions of what they really wanted to achieve. The cast was okay, though I can’t help but see them relying on scenery chewing approach of acting which made the over the top story… more over the top.

RATING: 1.5/5


SEDUCTION

Director: Peque Gallaga
Cast: Richard Gutierrez, Solenn Heusaff, Sarah Labhati, Jay Manalo, Al Tantay

Fatal Attraction meets Unfaithful is the theme of Peque Gallaga’s 2013 drama which centers the character of fireman Ram in a choice between two babes: Trina, the one he likes, and Sophia, the one he’s concerned about. It also did not help that Trina is reserved while Sophia can be the answer to his family’s financial obligations. I appreciate the fact that this could have been a good character study of the main characters (particularly Ram and to a certain extent, Sophia), but it wasn’t as interesting as what I expected it to be. I saw some of the classic Peque Gallaga shots in terms of the angles and framing in his shots which maintained interest to say the least, but his actors let him down. It seemed as if it was a battle of “Who can act the worst?” among the three lead stars. It’s a case of seeing the film go one step forward, then two steps behind, and by the time the movie ended, we’re there at the same place where it started.

RATING: 2/5

A MOMENT IN TIME

Director: Emmanuel Palo
Cast: Coco Martin, Julia Montes, Gabby Concepcion, Cherie Gil, Zsazsa Padilla

Star Cinema’s Valentine’s offering this year is composed of one of 2012’s television’s favorite couples: Coco Martin and Julia Montes via A Moment in Time. This story of “strangers getting to know each other though bounded by fate before they even met each other” is a hit or miss for me. For one, Coco Martin and Julia Montes really has a chemistry that was visible in the movie, but on the other hand, I don’t think I already have recovered from their age differences. More than that though, once the back stories of both their characters were revealed (which happened during the earlier part of the film), it’s pretty predictable already. Sure Coco Martin made the whole audience kilig, I still don’t think he has found the suitable mainstream project for him. Plus points though since Amsterdam was really good to look at, and for Cherie Gil’s straight faced delivery of the line “Mukha ba akong kontrabida sa isang pelikula?

RATING: 2/5

THE BRIDE AND THE LOVER

Director: Joel Lamangan
Cast: Paulo Avelino, Lovi Poe, Jennylyn Mercado, Joem Bascon, Hayden Kho

In the never ending tradition of “two women fighting over one man” films that still shows no signs of stopping (everyone… sigh) comes another from the vault. This time, about  best friends who both took the characters of the bride and the lover. That’s also probably the most this movie can offer in terms of standing out among all these kerida films, and while that’s not saying too much, I appreciate that they even tried doing it. The movie is, indeed, entertaining with its shift to comedic and dramatic tones though it also gets tiring by the time we’ve reached the latter part of the film. There were also too many unnecessary characters (the best friend/bodyguard storyline is one that can be eliminated already), but the climax part is enjoyable and almost made up for the rest of the clunks. Jennylyn Mercado stood out the most in this trio, and I hope she gets movie roles because she really has the chops to be even better.

RATING: 2.5/5

BROMANCE: MY BROTHER’S ROMANCE

Director: Wenn Deramas
Cast: Zanjoe Marudo, Cristine Reyes, Arlene Muhlach, Nikki Valdez, Joey Paras, Lassie

If there’s one thing that I like about Bromance is the fact that Wenn Deramas was mostly in a clean slate in this: no Vice Ganda, no Tanging Ina jokes, no DJ Durano to be seen. This gives a fresh new energy that makes most of the film work. Zanjoe Marudo still continues to challenge himself as an actor, and his last few movie projects continue to shape him as an all around actor. I like how committed he was in it, and it shows in his performance. Cristine Reyes also seems to have a knack at comedy, and I think this type of role suits her better than let’s say El Presidente. The cameos in the film were a lot, but most worked for me (especially the one who played the doctor). This movie made me laugh more than what I expected, so if this is what we can expect from the next few Deramas outings, then he might have mastered the type of comedy for his audience after all? But then again, it’s hard to speak that early. 

RATING: 3/5

JUANA C. THE MOVIE

Director: Jade Castro
Cast: Mae Paner, John James Uy, Jelson Bay, Angelina Kanapi, Annicka Dolonius, Mads Nicolas

From the same group that gave us Zombadings,  Juana C. is a political satire that gives us a funny and honest glimpse of the wicked world of politics. It’s pretty obvious that the movie has a lot to offer, and while some of the subplots didn’t work for me, the main message of the film stood out in the end. It’s a pretty enjoyable ride that sometimes tend to go overboard, but manages to stay still and in the end, ultimately reached its destination. Juana Changge (Mae Paner) is an engaging lead character that serves as the glue that holds all of them together, but the whole ensemble is top notch, giving you endless riots and bundles of laughter. You can see the commitment that the people gave this film, so it’s easy to forgive the noticeable flaws in it.

RATING: 3/5

Whew that’s a handful. There are still some films left to be seen from the first half of the year before we go overboard with the Cine Filipino and Cinemalaya contenders this month and the next, so it’s good to finally put this out already. 🙂

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

12 Best Local Shows of 2012   7 comments

Local television in 2012 have been filled with star studded primetime dramas, variety specials, and more interesting shows to watch to. With every personality trying to get a TV gig nowadays, it’s safe to say that TV is indeed one of the most powerful form of message delivery these days. For 2012, these are the shows that took top honors:

Showbiz Inside Report

Photo courtesy of lambingan.net

12. SHOWBIZ INSIDE REPORT (ABSCBN 2)
Hosts: Ogie Diaz, Carmina Villaroel, Janice de Belen, Joey Marquez | Saturdays, 3:00-4:00 PM

This Saturday showbiz oriented program of ABSCBN is different from the usual fare of tsismis related shows nowadays. It does not need guests on its studio just to discuss something. Each host usually does canned and a long interview that tackles beyond the usual promoting questions that personalities are usually asked. It also does not hurt that the four hosts have charming rapport with one another and that the audience can be a part of the discussion via Facebook and Twitter.

Luv U

Photo courtesy of: wikipedia.org

11. LUV U (ABSCBN 2)
Cast: Miles Ocampo, Kiray Celis, Igi Boy Flores, Marco Gumabao | Sundays, 3:15-4:00 PM

Usually the time slot for teen dramas, the usual 4PM Saturday barkadahan show has shifted to the Sunday 3PM slot, and there’s no better show to represent it than ABSCB’s Luv U. Unlike previous shows, it does not go beyond the usual teens acting as mature dramas that past youth oriented programs tried to depict. This one is very tongue in cheek, light, and fun, and that’s where the show’s strength lies.

MMK

Photo courtesy of: vintersections.com

10. MAALAALA MO KAYA (ABSCBN 2)
Host: Charo Santos-Concio | Saturdays, 8:00-9:30 PM

The only one who made the list for the second consecutive year, the longest running drama anthology in Asia is still far and away one of the best showcases not only of acting performances but some of the most interesting stories as well. This year alone we saw the award winning Kamao with a boxer Coco Martin, Edgar Allan Guzman as a gay student wanting to be a seaman in Bangkakng Papel, and my personal favorite, the Angel Aquino-Jane Oineza starrer Manika about a young girl’s cursed beauty.

Himala Ngayon

Photo courtesy of: whotalking.com

09. HIMALA NGAYON (ABSCBN 2)
Premiered: December 9, 2012

Premiering as a special documentary on Sunday’s Best, this documentary by Sari Dalena and Keith Sicat about the behind the scenes details of what is arguably the best film in local cinema, Ishmael Bernal’s Himala was premiered to local viewers nationwide. It is just fitting that this was the year they showed it after the restoration of the film in its 30th anniversary. Watching this documentary was such a blast and I’m not sure it’s not just the cinpehiles and the Noranians who enjoyed this.

Pinoy Adventures

Photo courtesy of: pinoyexchange.com

08. PINOY ADVENTURES (GMA 7)
Host: Richard Gutierrez | Saturdays, 6:00-6:45 PM | May 13, 2012 – September 29, 2012

Despite the show being canceled now, it was still a blast to see Richard Gutierrez travel all around the country to find the most engaging activities and learn more about the cultures of different provinces in the Philippines. From Palawan to Bukidnon and from Surigao del Norte to Bicol, we witnessed interesting things that’s why it’s sad that it only lasted for a season.

Dolphy Alay Tawa

Photo courtesy of: mallofasia-arena.com

07. DOLPHY ALAY TAWA: A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO THE KING OF PHILIPPINE COMEDY

When the Comedy King passed last July, it is given that the whole showbiz industry regardless of network, genre, and age will mourn as we all lost an icon. One good thing that came out of it was this joint benefit concert that featured talents from the three biggest stations in the country. Simultaneously broadcasted over at ABSCBN, TV5, and GMA, history was definitely made this time around.

Storyline

Photo courtesy of: kapamilyalogy.blogspot.com

06. STORYLINE (ABSCBN 2)
Host: technically, nobody | Fridays, 11:00 PM

Now nearing its fifth year on air and with almost 300 episode under its belt, Storyline has maintained its quality given the range of the theme of its episodes. Headlined by the tandem of Patricia Evangelista and Paolo Villaluna, this weekly documentary shows gives much of the thinking and realizing part to its audience rather than spoon feeding them about it. We need more of this in local television, but I’m also thankful that we have at least there’s one that already exists.

Inside the Cinema

Photo courtesy of: laaunorsuperstar.blogspot.com

05. INSIDE THE CINEMA (Cinema One)
Host: Boy Abunda | Every first Tuesday of the month, 7PM

This informative movie talk show is probably the closest one that we’ll have in terms of tackling the different experiences of important people in the film industry with their past efforts. Think of  Brillante Mendoza discussing the moment before he was announced to be the Cannes Best Director or Amy Austria discussing her disappointment with her Bubbles film, this discusses moments in movie making that are too good to be true. And for this year alone, Boy Abunda got the likes of Cesar Montano, Gina Alajar, and Nora Aunor to discuss what’s inside the cinema.

Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho

Photo courtesy of: mypinoy.tv

04. KAPUSO MO, JESSICA SOHO (GMA 7)
Host: Jessica Soho | Sundays, 7:30-9:00 PM

Just this year alone, this magazine shows has picked up awards from the PMPC Star Awards for Television, PMAP Makatao Awards for Media Excellence, USTv Student Choice Awards, Gawad Tanglaw Awards, and even the 6th Hildegarde Awards for Women in Media & Communication. Need I say more? Jessica Soho’s covered topics range from really anything and everything under the sun, and that’s what makes the show fresh when you watch it every single week.

Zoren-Carmina

Photo courtesy of: happyhappystar.wordpress.com

03. ZOREN-CARMINA: ALWAYS FOREVER, A WEDDING LIKE NO OTHER
Premiered: November 24, 2012

Probably the celebrity wedding of the year, there’s no better way to be a part of it than by watching how this fairy tale unfolds right before our eyes. And by the time that the couple has exchanged their I Do’s already, there’s literally not a single dry eye in the room.

Walang Hanggan

Photo courtesy of: abs-cbn.com

02. WALANG HANGGAN (ABSCBN 2)
Cast: Coco Martin, Julia Montes, Paulo Avelino, Richard Gomez, Dawn Zulueta | January 16-October 26, 2012

Probably the year’s biggest primetime drama, this ABSCBN soap opera that included three generations of actors in it from veterans like Susan Roces and Helen Gamboa to the likes of Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta up to the next in line such as Coco Martin and Julia Montes, Walang Hanngan has been both a critical and commercial success during its ten-month run. The show has been the most widely watched and has left a lot of pop culture references in it. It will definitely go down as one of the most prominent TV dramas in soap opera history.

Be Careful with My Heart

Photo courtesy of: wikipedia.org

01. BE CAREFUL WITH MY HEART (ABSCBN 2)
Cast: Jodi Sta. Maria, Richard Yap | Mondays-Fridays, 11:15 AM – 12:00 NN

And probably the biggest surprise in local television this year is Be Careful with My Heart. Thinking about it, this is the little show that could. And it actually did! But given more time to think, there is no surprise why this certainly hooked to all demographics. This simple tale of an optimistic young lass who aims to be a flight stewardess yet ends up as a household maid captured the hearts of the whole country with its natural and positive approach. This show proves that a program does not need a major villain for people to watch it. And it does not need a young loveteam for it to actually work. And with that, I say kapit bisig!

That’s it! What are your favorite shows in local boob tube? Pipe them in the Comments section! 🙂

And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

REVIEW: Shake, Rattle, and Roll: The Invasion   5 comments

Shake Rattle and Roll

Last year, it was said that the Shake, Rattle, and Roll franchise will finally be put to an end. After all, it is on its thirteenth installment last year. However, with the surprising turn of events (okay, not really surprising), a 14th one was in the works, and is now part of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. This year though, only one director was behind the three movies, horror master Chito Rono. My review will be divided into the three different episodes.

Episode 1: PAMANA

When a horror comics writer died, he left an inheritance to his two nephews and two nieces. He also left them each of his four original comics writings. With that, the writer also left a challenge to them. He left them five million each, but each time one dies, the dead person’s money will be separated into the remaining ones. With these horror comics characters going larger than life, and them being stuck in their uncle’s dead house, it ensues horror to these people.

I feel this episode is the perfect throwback to the old Shake, Rattle, and Roll movies. For one, it stars the three leads of the three episodes of the first installment of this series. Second, I like how they connected it with an old horror concept: the power of comics. There’s really something that’s comfortable to watch here that makes the whole episode enjoyable. The ensemble was commendable too, with Janice de Belen, Herbert Bautista, and Arlene Muhlach all perfect choices in their roles. I like how it also ended which made it even scarier.

Grade: 3/5

Episode 2: LOST COMMAND

When a simple military operation in the jungle turns into chaos as unknown entities start to meddle with them, it’s now up to platoon leader Martin Barrientos (Dennis Trillo) to act upon the remaining men in his team to survive. This one is based on current zombie craze such as The Walking Dead and the never ending zombie invasions. With that said, I like how director Rono presented this concept in a more interesting manner. It wasn’t simply zombies that appeared everywhere.

There was also a nice dramatic play with the connection of the children to their fathers with the characters of Ella Cruz and Makisig Morales. The cinematography and visuals were pretty slick, and wasn’t difficult to the eyes. Sum it up with a memorable ending, and this is  a good episode altogether.

Grade: 3.5/5

Episode 3: UNWANTED

During December 21, a mall suddenly exploded and people inside it are fighting not only their way out, but fighting for their lives as well. The leader of the pack involves couple Hank (Vhong Mavarro) and pregnant Kate (Lovi Poe). In between, they’re with random mall goers who survived as well though a strange monster keeps on eating these people alive.

I actually liked how this one played with two possible fears: the end of the world assumption and being trapped inside a wrecked shopping mall. Thus, I think that the movie started out good. However, the all out CGI monsters and the appearance and disappearance of all these other characters who weren’t even engaging to watch were a big NO. When we reach the end, it was all CGI now and lost all the potential it had in the beginning. I’d say Vhong Navarro was a charismatic lead, and he was definitely able to carry this episode in his shoulders.

Grade: 2/5

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

El Presidente
One More Try
Si Agimat, si Enteng, at si Ako
Sisterakas
Sosy Problems
The Strangers
Thy Womb

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Entertainers of the Year 2012   12 comments

Hey everyone! It’s two days before Christmas, and just eight days before 2012 comes to a halt. With that said, there’s no perfect time than this week to publish year end lists. Just two days ago, I unveiled my picks of the local movie posters of the year. Now this one is a concept that was inspired from Entertainment Weekly’s annual list of Entertainer of the Year. This is usually comprised of anybody in the entertainment industry that made an impact during the past year. Whether it’s from film, TV, fashion, radio and even to anything related to pop culture, as long as I think you made 2012 a memorable one, then you’re in. This is the first time I posted an article about this, though I made a list last year and had Anne Curtis as 2011 Entertainer of the Year.

After careful consideration, here are Tit for Tat’s Entertainers of the Year for 2012:

12. janine tugonon

11. paulo avelino

10. dolphy

09. john lloyd -bea

08. iza calzado

07. jodi sta maria

06. kikay barkada

05. carmina-zoren

04. art acuna

03. janice de belen

02. jessica sanchez

01. nora aunor

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl