Archive for the ‘piolo pascual’ Tag

89th Oscar Foreign Language Film: What Should the Philippines Submit?   6 comments

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It’s the time of the year! By September, the Film Academy of the Philippines will submit one movie to the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences (AMPAS) that will be our bid to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 89th Academy Awards. This will be our 28th participating year and we are yet to receive a nomination.

To qualify as an eligible submission, the Academy’s rule states that “The motion picture must be first released in the country submitting it no earlier than October 1, 2015, and no later than September 30, 2016, and be first publicly exhibited for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for the profit of the producer and exhibitor.

Currently nine countries have already announced their submissions with our likely winner, Germany’s Toni Erdmann, in the longlist already. So which film will be our best bet to advance forward? I’ve divided them in three different categories.

DISCLAIMER: It has to be cleared that this ISN’T the final shortlist from the Film Academy of the Philippines yet, and are just mere speculations and recommendations.

FRONTRUNNERS:

anino sa likod ng kahapon

ANINO SA LIKOD NG BUWAN
Director: Jun Lana
Screenplay: Jun Lana
Cast: LJ Reyes, Luis Alandy, Anthony Falcon
Philippine Release Date: July 20, 2016

Amidst conflict between the military and communists, three people are confronted with a difficult dilemma.

Jun Lana, no stranger from Oscar representative (he directed our 2012 submission Bwakaw), is in contention yet again for his latest effort which is a one-long two-hour take staged just like a play with only three characters interacting all throughout the movie. The film also has participated alongside many different international festivals both in Asia and Europe (though none in the Big 4 major film festivals). That said, the film is unanimously considered as one of the best from 2015 among local critics.

felix manalo

FELIX MANALO
Director: Joel Lamangan
Screenplay: Bienvenido Santiago
Cast: Dennis Trillo, Bela Padilla, Gabby Concepcion
Philippine Release Date: October 7, 2015

Felix Ysagun Manalo is a sprawling historical epic that traces the origin of Iglesia Ni Cristo (The Church of Christ) which is established in the Philippines from its humble beginnings in 1914 through the present day.

Definitely one of the most divisive films of last year, Felix Manalo is epic in its landscape detailing one of the most important personalities among Iglesia ni Cristo’s history. This almost three-hour movie boasts so much of its lavish production design and staging, that it would tick all boxes in an “baity Oscar film” checklist. But beyond the grandeur is a straightforward storytelling, and one that was considered as “weak” and “safe” by most critics. That said, never underestimate the taste of the FAP to include this in the shortlist, as they’re one easily swayed by buzz regardless if those were organic or fabricated.

hele sa hiwagang hapis

HELE SA HIWAGANG HAPIS
Director: Lav Diaz
Screenplay: Lav Diaz
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Piolo Pascual, Susan Africa
Philippine Release Date: March 26, 2016

In the midst of revolution, a young poet and the man that ruined his life travel through the jungle in search of safety. At the same time, a grieving widow encounters mystical beings on a mountain while searching for the body of her beloved revolutionary.

Winner of the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year (with jury president Meryl Streep awarding them), there’s no doubt that this is one of the two most-buzzed films we have in world cinema for this year. Imagine if we submitted this and have Oscar winner Meryl Streep and Oscar nominee Clive Owen campaign this right? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves as that’s a bit of a reaching. The thing with Hele is that we have already attempted to submit a Diaz film back in 2014 via Norte which is half the running time of this one and arguably his most universal effort thus far, and yet the Academy didn’t give in to it.

honor thy father

HONOR THY FATHER
Director: Erik Matti
Screenplay: Erik Matti, Michiko Yamamoto
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Meryll Soriano, Tirso Cruz III
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2015

A family is caught in a financial ruin after being involved in a ponzi scheme.

With an Erik Matti film in contention yet again, it reminds me of probably the biggest miss we had not submitting On the Job back in 2013. What made that more infuriating was the committee’s response that they don’t want to submit a film that shows a negative image of the Philippines. Yeah, right. Anyway, Matti is back again this time with the MMFF entry Honor Thy Father which made its premiere a year ago at the Toronto International Film Festival. Honor‘s best shot is that I can see the film appealing to the Western crowd with its theme and execution. That said, the film feels bit of an after thought by now, but with every controversy that the film has encountered, it just ended up soaring higher. Maybe, FAP atones to Erik Matti this time around?

ignacio de loyola

IGNACIO DE LOYOLA
Director: Paolo Dy, Cathy Azanza
Screenplay: Paolo Dy
Cast: Andreas Munoz, Javier Godino, Julio Perillan
Philippine Release Date: July 27, 2016

In 16th Century Spain, a soldier born of nobility gives his life of luxury to become a pilgrim devoted to God and his people.

Watch out Felix Manalo, there’s another religious biography in contention. Kidding aside, I can already imagine the FAP members creaming themselves over this one. For one, the casting of a foreign star in lead role will make them think it can add extra buzz to our own entry (this isn’t an Oscar rule after all. Lots of foreign actors starred in films from other countries which ended up as submissions. Case in point: French star Emmanuelle Riva in Austria’s Amour, Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal in Chilean film No, and even our own Angeli Bayani in Sinagpore’s Ilo-ilo). Plus, the religious theme somehow gives it more importance and a “good image” per se in representing the country (which apparently is an unwritten rule; see: On the Job again in 2013).

ma'rosa

MA’ROSA
Director: Brillante Mendoza
Screenplay: Troy Espiritu
Cast: Jaclyn Jose, Andi Eigenmann, Julio Diaz, Felix Roco, Jomari Angeles
Philippine Release Date: July 6, 2016

A poor family scrambles to find the money to pay off the corrupt policemen that have arrested the parents for dealing drugs.

Sure it was one of the least buzzed entries at Cannes main competition this year, until the great Jaclyn Jose earned the coveted Best Actress win and the rest, as they say, is history. Ma’Rosa is currently participating now at Toronto International Film Festival and I think it has the most buzz for any Filipino film competing for this year when it comes to foreign exposure. And at this stage, after all his trips to Cannes and Berlin and Venice and TIFF, isn’t Brillante Mendoza overdue for a Filipino Oscar submission? I lobbied that Taklub was our best shot last year, but they can make up for it with Ma’Rosa this year.

pamilya ordinario

PAMILYA ORDINARYO
Director: Eduardo Roy Jr.
Screenplay: Eduardo Roy Jr.
Cast: Ronwaldo Martin, Hasmine Killip, Sue Prado, Moira Lang
Philippine Release Date: August 31, 2016

Jane and Aries are teenage parents. They make a living out of stealing on the streets… until fate hits back at them.

After sweeping major awards at the recently concluded Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival including wins for Best Picture, Best Director for Eduardo Roy Jr., and Best Actress for newcomer Hasmine Killip, this runaway favorite is getting an instant cinema release in time for the Oscar cutoff. Add the fact that it’s also heading to Venice under the “Venice Days” sidebar (think of it as their answer to Cannes’ Directors Fortnight section), and it’s on the right track. This also has the makings to appeal to an international audience,

POTENTIAL SHORTLIST MENTIONS:

tier 2

Don’t be surprised to see any of these films in this group make it in the final shortlist.

DUKOT
Director: Paul Soriano
Screenplay: Froilan Medina
Cast: Enrique Gil, Ricky Davao, Christopher de Leon, Shaina Magdayao
Philippine Release Date: July 13, 2016

With Paul Soriano helming it (one of the producers of our 2013 Oscar submission “Transit“), this suspense drama about an abducted son also brags of an ensemble composed of some of the biggest names in the country both newbies and veterans.

ANG HAPIS AT HIMAGSIK NI HERMANO PULI
Director: Gil Portes
Screenplay: Enrique Ramos
Cast: Aljur Abrenica, Louise delos Reyes, Enzo Pineda, Menggie Cobarrubias
Philippine Release Date: September 21, 2016

In the tradition of our love for hero films — some of which are deserved (last year’s Heneral Luna), some of which are good (Supremo), and some which are just flat out terrible (El Presidente), let’s say hello to Hermano Puli.

MAGTANGGOL
Director: Sigfreid Barros-Sanchez
Screenplay: Henrie Enaje, Henry dela Cruz, Sigfreid Barros Sanchez
Cast: Dina Bonnevie, Ejay Falcon, Joonee Gamboa, Tom Rodriguez
Philippine Release Date: June 8, 2016

Only because of its serious topical theme (with them even doing special screening this National Heroes Day), I can see this political themed film making a (not so) surprise appearance in the shortlist. Think of how Kamkam by Joel Lamangan made it to the Top 4 in 2014.

A SECOND CHANCE
Director: Cathy Garcia-Molina
Screenplay: Henrie Enaje, Henry dela Cruz, Sigreid Barros Sanchez
Cast: Carmi Raymundo, Vanesssa Valdez, Cathy Garcia-Molina
Philippine Release Date: November 25, 2015

We have that one slot, almost always reserved to those box office hits that tackle more serious topics than the usual. Not to say that they aren’t deserving since most of them actually are, but they  happen to end up in the shortlist. Examples include 2008’s Caregiver, or 2010’s Sa’yo Lamang, maybe even last year’s That Thing Called Tadhana can somewhat be considered.

TANDEM
Director: King Palisoc
Screenplay: Zig Marasigan
Cast: JM de Guzman, Nico Antonio, Rochelle Pangilinan
Philippine Release Date: February 17, 2016

As for starters, the producers of this film were also the producers of our previous submission Heneral Luna, so if anything, they;d sure be willing to campaign. This film got good to great reviews with solid performances from the leads, but if you compare it to other entries, it’s a tad low-key (in terms of buzz and not of film quality). And if it’s already low-key here, can you imagine how it would fare to the foreign market?

WALANG FOREVER
Director: Dan Villegas
Screenplay: Paul Sta. Ana
Cast: Jennylyn Mercado, Jericho Rosales, Lorna Tolentino
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2015

For an MMFF film, this one got solid reviews and even swept the Gabi ng Parangal of last year. This is also from the Dan Villegas and Jennylyn Mercado team-up, which reminds us that English Only Please, was part of the short-list that year.

ELIGIBILITY ISSUES:

tier 3

So these movies have appeared in different indie film festivals but haven’t fulfilled the seven-day commercial distribution yet. This does not mean that these movies are bad obviously they’re not because there have been buzz for some of them to be submitted. Well, they still have the whole month of September to book a screening if they plan to be considered eligible. Or they can wait for next year instead. For what it’s worth, some films who made it in the shortlist the previous years aren’t from the same year where they participated in festivals. As for examples, the 2008 Cinemalaya film Boses only got a commercial screening in 2012, and thus was included in the shortlist for the 2012 Oscars. Same goes for Ian Lorenos’ Alagwa which gave Jericho Rosales his Urian in 2012 but was in the 2014 shortlist.

FINAL VERDICT:

For this year, I think we can trim it down to three films which would all be decent submissions by any means. For starters, there’s the John Lloyd starrer Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis with its Berlin victory, but is simply hindered by the 8-hr running time. Not that Lav Diaz needs Oscars anyway to validate his impressive work; it’s just that sometimes the Academy just doesn’t fit into a certain director’s style. Then there’s the other John Lloyd starrer Honor Thy Father, which I can see a scenario with it connecting to a foreign audience, if they’re gonna push it hard and run aggressive with it. That’s a big if, by the way. In the end, maybe Jaclyn Jose’s Cannes win can also be Brillante Mendoza’s first RP submission to the Academy. It’s doing its assignment by participating in TIFF and its Cannes win, but us submitting a Mendoza film for once won’t do us any harm, regardless of the end result if it gets in or not.

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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.

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REVIEW: OTJ (On the Job)   1 comment

on the job

Fresh from their successful run at the Directors’ Fortnight section of this year’s Cannes Film Festival last May, Erik Matti’s crime thriller finally find its way into Philippine theaters, as Star Cinema and Reality Entertainment release OTJ (On the Job) which stars Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson, Joel Torre, and Joey Marquez among others.

Inspired by true events, the film gives an extensive depiction of how some jailed members were being released from prison every now and then as they’re assigned with the task of killing people under orders from the wealthy and influential.  In the film, the specific gunmen happens to be Tatang (Joel Torre) and his protege Daniel (Gerald Anderson) who is being groomed to be his replacement once he retires. Tatang takes and trains Daniel under his wing as they do their assignments. On the flipside, there’s NBI official Francis Coronel, Jr. (Piolo Pascual) who was tasked to take over these said cases, as well as police office Acosta (Joey Marquez).  Once their paths crossed provides conflict in the film.

There’s a lot of great things to say about this, but If there’s a clear standout in it, no doubt it is Erik Matti. His slick direction is the main core which holds the film together and gives it the necessary oomph. I like how he weaves these scenes and events seamlessly which makes for an intense and thrilling ride. The rest of the technical achievements were on point as well, with Richard Somes’ production design and Francis Buhay III’s cinematography portraying Manila in a very artistic and sensible manner, that of a series of tasteful photographs that’s well done.

The story and pacing smoothly complimented each other. I like how the intensity just builds up right from the get go during the first scene up until the last one. The chase and fight scenes were tastefully pulled off. It’s also great to see characters that were fleshed out especially that of the three main characters. We get to know them more instead of simply just following what they do. This is one of the things I like about the film in terms of characterization, we get a glimpse of their individual lives as opposed to just going right at the center of the conflict.

This film pretty much shows what an ensemble really is. There are really no small roles here, as everyone’s given something to do and they all did their parts well. Gerald Anderson’s greatest acting achievement prior to this is a television stint as mentally challenged Budoy, but this character suits him like a glove and challenges his acting chops for the better. It’s nothing new to claim that Joel Torre is a great actor, but this will probably end up as one of his most memorable turns in his discography. Piolo Pascual is the good guy of course, so this isn’t much of a stretch for him, but it’s great to see that he wasn’t phoning it in. But, I like how Erik Matti brings out the best in Joey Marquez. He already gave us a glimpse of it in last year’s Tiktik, but this was more prevalent in here. Special props to Vivian Velez’ kick ass role.

Given everything that’s actually happening in the country right now, one can somehow juxtapose this with the events in the film too. This will probably make the experience more insightful for others in terms of understanding the events or the aftermath of it. Films that make a statement is a hit or miss for me, but I like that this one doesn’t spoonfeed it to the audience.

I would have loved to see the version that was shown at Cannes since I’ve learned that it was slightly different from what was shown here. Nevertheless, On the Job is such a breath of fresh air in terms of current Philippine cinema effectively combining style and substance in a savvy manner. I might as well say it’s one (if not the) movie event of the year.

Rating: 5/5

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5 Underrated Star Cinema Movies   5 comments

Now celebrating its 20th year as the country’s premiere film outfit, Star Cinema has been delivering a lot of the most memorable movies  during the past two decades. The latter half of its 20-year production, though, mostly has been more on coming up with box office hits, as it now fills up all ten of the ten highest grossing films in the country. With that said, here are five reminders that every now and then, Star Cinema is still able to deliver quality potential films instead of the usual moneymaking ventures.

Dreamboy

05. DREAMBOY (2005)

DIRECTOR: Gilber Perez
CAST: Piolo Pascual, Bea Alonzo
PLOT: Hopeless romatic Cyd (Bea Alonzo) met three versions of the same man (Piolo Pascual), until she was in for a rude awakening.
WHY IS IT UNDERRATED: It was 2005, and television is slowly taking over the cinema as the basis of celebrity popularity. With artista search happening left and right, the people weren’t particularly interested with the approach that the film did. It was brave for Star Cinema to pull off something like this during the peak of cutesy loveteams (and Piolo-Bea is an experiment pairing to say the least), and while it was not seen as total success during its time, I appreciate the risk they did with it.

My Amnesia Girl

04. MY AMNESIA GIRL (2010)

DIRECTOR: Cathy Garcia-Molina
CAST: John Lloyd Cruz, Toni Gonzaga
PLOT: When Apollo (John Lloyd Cruz) thinks that the answer to his great love is ex-girlfriend Irene (Toni Gonzaga), he finds her back only to find out she is now suffering from amnesia (or so we think).
WHY IS IT UNDERRATED: Sure it was the biggest hit of 2010, and John Lloyd and Toni were robbed of Box Office King and Queen titles during that year, but let’s take some few steps back and reminisce that during the release of the first trailer, everyone already dismissed it as a 50 First Dates rip-off. And boy they were wrong. While box office receipts were always mentioned, the out of the box  approach of the film (especially during the first 40 minutes of the film) is a fresh take on Star Cinema love story standards.

Forever and a Day

03. FOREVER AND A DAY (2011)

DIRECTOR: Cathy Garcia-Molina
CAST: Sam Milby, KC Concepcion
PLOT: Strangers Eugene (Sam Milby) and Raffy (KC Concepcion) met in the lovely place of Bukidnon for different reasons. He wants a break from work; she wants to prove something to herself. Once they start to get to know each other, true secrets were revealed about Raffy.
WHY IS IT UNDERRATED: By this time, Cathy Garcia Molina is already the perennial box office director that she is now, and everyone expects that she will deliver the same combination that makes all of her previous hits box office success. While this is the mere exception from the group, it’s an exception that gives her room to try other approach when handling stories, and one that’s rare to see in mainstream filmmaking.

Nasaan Ka Man

02. NASAAN KA MAN (2005)

DIRECTOR: Cholo Laurel
CAST: Claudine Barretto, Jericho Rosales, Dietehr Ocampo
PLOT: Set in the haunted and mystical city of Baguio, it tells the story of three adopted children (Rosales, Barretto, and Ocampo) who grew up under two spinster sisters (Hilda Koronel, Gloria Diaz). Life has been pretty good to all of them until Pandora’s box of their family secrets were unveiled.
WHY IS IT UNDERRATED: UP graduate Cholo Laurel’s first foray into mainstream directing seemed to be a double edged sword. On one hand, this was a great debut for someone of his caliber. To be given this chance was definitely overwhelming for him. After all, its powerful storytelling (written by Ricky Lee himself), together with his direction, is a combination that made this one of the best films that year. It sucks that this did not perform too much commercially, as it was a good risk that should have paid off.

RPG Metanoia

01. RPG METANOIA (2010)

DIRECTOR: Luis Suarez
CAST: Zaijan Jaranilla, Vhong Navarro, Aga Muhlach, Eugene Domingo
PLOT: When a virus from online games started to affect society, it will be up to this generation of computer game-loving kids to save the day.
WHY IS IT UNDERRATED: Animated film fans in the country are definitely many, and this is actually more than qualified to be the first local animated 3D film we have ever produced. That alone would have made this an “event” not to miss. Add the fact that it was a part of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival, and Star Cinema behind it, and I’m still not sure why it just didn’t reach its audience. Their loss, I guess, since it’s one of 2010’s best films.

Now entering their 20th year of producing and distributing local films, I hope that Star Cinema will still give focus to quality filmmaking even only every now and then. They used to do this more often, and it’s quite saddening how it has fallen way way below now. But with Erik Matti’s On the Job as one of their features this year, there’s still hope I guess.

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

2012: The Year in Lead Actors   1 comment

2012 lead actors

Hey everyone! We’re still continuing the yearend lists over here at Tit for Tat. Aside from that, we’re also doing the recap of the movie performances in local cinema the past year. The past two days, we gave the focus to the supporting actresses and supporting actors. It’s time to move now to the leading categories. For this day, we’d give the spotlight to the men and tackle the Best Actor category. Like what I said, these are possible choices from all the award giving bodies this year from mainstream to indie and those that can cross-over in between. Let’s begin!

LEADERS OF THE PACK

Probably the strongest contender in this category for this year is acting legend Eddie Garcia as he adds another memorable turn for his role as the old gay man living with his dog in Bwakaw. His competition this year might skew to much younger actors though as there have been lots of good awards-bait performances this year such as the likes of Dingdong Dantes‘ MMFF winning performance in One More Try, Coco Martin‘s indie comeback as the father who found the remains of his daughter in Santa Nina, Jericho Rosales as the single parent whose son gone missing in Alagwa, and JM de Guzman as the mussel diver in the title role Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino.

MIDDLE TIER

As for the other lead roles in contention, award giving bodies might also throw a bone to Arnold Reyes as the loyal driver who was caught in the middle in his Congressman employer in the Tribeca hit Graeland, awards staple John Lloyd Cruz might get some nominations as well for his performance opposite Bea Alonzo in The Mistress or for his movie with Angel Locsin, Unofficially Yours.  Scene stealing Archie Alemania should hear his name be read especially at the Comedy Best Actor of the Golden Screen Awards for his role in Cinema One Original entry Slumber Party. And in a surprising turn of events, we’d have a battle of two heroes this year in the Best Actor category: Alfred Vargas as Andres Bonifacio in Richard Somes’ Supremo and ER Ejercito as Emilio Aguinaldo in the MMFF entry El Presidente.

Cinemalaya movies also produced a lot of worthy Best Actor turns such as the winning performance of Kristoffer King in Oros, Pen Medina in Kamera Obskura, Dominic Roco‘s Gibson in Ang Nawawala, and Thai actor playing lone soldier Ananda Everingham in Kalayaan. Casting issues (from Cinemalaya) aside, Allan Paule‘s fantastic turn in Emerson Reyes’s MNL 143 can possibly reap nominations as well.

THE REST OF THE RACE

Other lead actor contenders that might are still in the race are Dennis Trillo in the title role of Ang Katiwala, Cinema One Originals Best Actor winner Alex Medina in Palitan, newbie actor Gerry Adeva as the title role in Mamay Umeng, Allen Dizon in Joel Lamangan’s drama Migrante, and the most intelligent and uptight of the three gay friends Markki Stroem in Slumber Party. Among mainstream movies, one can also consider Derek Ramsey in A Secret Affair, Aga Muhlach in Of All The Things, Piolo Pascual in Every Breath U Take, Enchong Dee in The Strangers, and Vice Ganda in either This Guy’s in Love With U Mare or Sisterakas.

That’s it. Last part of the acting spotlight tomorrow with everybody’s favorite category: Best Actress!

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

REVIEW: 24/7 in Love   4 comments

247 in Love

24/7 in Love is every Kapamilya’s dream come true. It combines a lot of their favorite Star Magic artists which makes it a dream come true for these teen and network driven audience that seems to be the film’s target. Just when you thought that Cinco is already crowded when it fits five stories in a film, then you’d be surprised to find out that this one incorporated seven stores in it.

The main story involves Jane (Kathryn Bernardo) who wants to meet her biggest crush who happens to be singing heartthrob Billy Fernandez (Daniel Padilla). In order to do that, she must enter a video contest that begs the question “What will you do if the world ends on December 21?” The approach Jane used in it is to interview random people to ask for their answers, and that served as the common link to the other six categories. Not the laziest methinks, but not the most creative as well.

The first interviewee happens to be forty year old virgin Virginia (Pokwang), and knowing that the world is about to end, the only thing she wants to do is end the drought as well. Coming from a heartbreak from long time boyfriend, her friend set her up on a male prostitute hiring site which led her to meet Charles (Sam Milby). Apparently, it was Charles first time in the business as he’s only doing it for fast cash. Among all the stories, this seems to be the most loyal to the recurring theme of what will you do til the world end. Pokwang and Sam Milby has this fun chemistry that it’s not weird to watch at all.

The second story involved Barbara (Maja Salvador) who’s head over heels over his playboy bachelor boss Ken (Diether Ocampo). There’s not a lot that happened in this part, though it’s always a joy to see Maja Salvador on screen. She’s just so natural and comfortable to watch. Diether Ocampo, on the other hand, has already proven himself before, but it seems that not being on the screen for quite some time can make your acting look dull especially when you’re paired with an energetic actress like Maja.

Next story is about a gay and a girl bestfriend between Isabella (Bea Alonzo) and Butch (Zanjoe Marudo). As Isabella realizes that she’s starting to like her bestfriend who happens to have the same preference with boys as her. This one is a case of friendship and where one draws the line in pursuing the next step. While watching this episode, I’m just really amazed with how beautiful Bea Alonzo is. I have already mentioned it before in my The Mistress review, but she really just radiates the screen. Zanjoe Marudo was convincing at most times, and their chemistry works. I just find the story too long especially since after it’s two predecessors were fast and resolved quickly.

The fourth story involves heartbroken Verna (Angelica Panganiban) who mends a broken heart in Vietnam, and there she meets Pinoy bartender Elvis (John Lloyd Cruz). It was a fast encounter; too fast that things ended real fast as well. With that said, this is my favorite among the series, and probably one that can stand as a lone film. There’s too much that one can explore here, and this gives a tight and mature portrayal that stands out among these bubblegum love stories. Angelica and John Lloyd clicked naturally, and both were good in their individual scenes.

Piolo Pascual headlines the next part as Pipoy, which is reminiscent of the famous Gerald Anderson character Budoy. He and his constant buddy Jomar (Zaijan Jaranilla) are the closest of them all, and that involves him doing all the tricks for Jomar’s crush Ayee (Xyriel Manabat) to like him. When a confused Ayee thought that it was Pipoy who was doing the movies to her, Pipoy and Jomar’s friendship was put to a test. This is one of the fun episodes in the series, as it showcases how Zaijan and Xyriel are the best child actors of their generation and has cemented their status to join the club of the best child stars ever. Piolo, despite not being totally relegated to supporting status, was good as well. This is probably the episode that will leave you with a smile when it ends.

The last one is about childhood sweethearts Patty (Kim Chiu) and Alvin (Gerald Anderson). After graduating from high school, Patty left to pursue his dreams leaving Alvin behind. Now as an intern in an ad agency, she gets the task of finding the local town hero who happens to be Alvin. The material they worked on was one of the weaker ones in the series, but it was fun seeing over the top Maricar Reyes as the boss from hell, and the Kimerald team together. However, it seems as if the whole episode was just focused on exploiting Gerald Anderson’s body by making him run in slow mo with only his undies on, or have him take his shirt off.

The whole movie closes by going back to the first story which involves a song number and a not so surprising appearance by all the previous couples in the venue with Kathniel taking the spotlight in this one. I’m not surprised but I’m stunned that every time either Daniel Padilla or Kathryn Bernardo appears on screen, the whole cinema goes crazy.

All in all, the movie was uneven at best, and that’s because of the too many stories which were unbalanced. With that said, it was definitely entertaining with some premises worth of being uncovered better. I find it more of a Valentines Day than a Love Actually.

Grade: 3/5

Best Actors of the New Generation   3 comments

The concept of who is the best for a particular field is a very subjective one. Each taste differs from another one. The current lead acting winners at the Gawad Urian last week gave me a thought that we are slowly shifting to younger actors to handle lead roles in both mainstream and independent films. With that, I came up with a list of the best young actors of the current generation. The main and single criteria that I used here is that the actors need to be under the age of 35 and below. Their filmographies, performances, and other relevant factors were considered as well. However, like what I mentioned, each opinion is subjective, so I’m sharing this with you and you can agree with me or take it with a grain of salt.

First, here are names that were close but failed to make the cut: Wendell Ramos, Vhong Navarro, Ketchup Eusebio, and Paulo Avelino.

So now, let’s begin with the actual countdown:

16. ZANJOE MARUDO
Age:
29
Notable Performances:
Altar, Sa’yo Lamang, Wedding Tayo Wedding Hindi

Zanjoe Marudo is probably one of the underrated contemporary actors we have. While he is usually relegated to supporting roles and leading man roles, he simply makes the best out of what’s given to him. It also does not hurt that he’s one of the actors that works well in the comedy genre while not totally being ignorant in dramatic roles. As a matter of fact, he has starred in straight comedies (Kimmy Dora), straight dramas (Sa’yo Lamang), straight thrillers (Altar), as well as rom-coms (You Got Me), and horror-comedy (Cinco episode: Puso). It seems that his handler aims for a pretty much versatile résumé.

15. JOEM BASCON
Age:
25
Notable Performances:
Noy, Ka Oryang, Batanes

Started out in the business as part of the teenage show Let’s Go, Joem Bascon was first launched as simply a Piolo Pascual look a-like. Years later, he emerged as one of the go to young character actors with his hunky looks and strong features as add-ons to his undeniable talent. He also went on to win a Supporting Actor Urian in 2010 for his performance as a wheelchaired drug dealer in the politically themed movie Noy. While Joem’s current projects is the ABSCBN drama Walang Hanggan, he still takes indie movie roles every now and then such as his recent turn in Ka Oryang.

14. SAM MILBY
Age: 
28
Notable Performances: 
Third World Happy, Forever and a Day, My Big Love

Sam Milby, who was once a housemate in the country’s biggest reality show, turned out to be one of the best actors of his generation. Whether it’s his work as the lovable chubby guy Macky in My Big Love or an academe member in Babe I Love You, Sam has this certain movie star charisma that is difficult to resist. Beyond that though is the depth in his recent performances that require more emotional tugs such as the son who experiences a life changing realization in Third World Happy or his serious competitive businessman in Forever and a Day, It is very easy to predict that there’s still a long way ahead waiting for Milby’s star to shine even brighter.

13. JIRO MANIO
Age:
 20
Notable Performances: Magnifico, La Vida Rosa, Foster Child

At a very young age, Jiro Manio has already given some of the finest performances in recent Philippine cinema. His turn as the lovable child Magnifico won raves not only here in the country but in other parts of the world as well. Before that, he used to sweep Child Acting categories for his performances in other movies such as Bagong Buwan, Mila, and La Vida Rosa. While his succeeding movies ranged from excellent (Foster Child), to good (Tanging Ina) to bad (Bahay Kubo) to unfathomable (Manay Po series), his capabilities as an actor will never ever be denied.

12. JASON ABALOS
Age:
27
Notable Performances: Endo, Thelma, Adela

For his age, Jason Abalos seems to exude this level of confidence and maturity of men older than him. That was most evident in his Urian winning performance “Endo” when partnered with more mature actress Ina Feleo. He also got a chance to be paired with the country’s top young actress Judy Ann Santos in a TV anthology. While Jason is very much active in his television career (he never runs out of series whether it’s in daytime or primetime), it will be better to see Jason Abalos do movies and take the center stage once again.

11. MARVIN AGUSTIN
Age:
 33
Notable Performances: Tanging Yaman, Kutob, Patikul

Marvin Agustin was once a member of the elite club of loveteams in Philippine entertainment in the late 90s. His early works were usually pairings with loveteam Jolina Magdangal. However, the decade 2000 showed the best of Marvin Agustin when he started to move on to projects that tend to result to critical and commercial acclaim such as “Tanging Yaman” and “Trip”. And even before Dingdong Dantes showed the psychopath role in Segunda Mano last year, Marvin already did the same performance in Jose Javier Reyes’ Kutob in 2005. While he veered away from leading man materials in films, Marvin still stars in notable ones such as his nominated performance in last year’s indie film “Patikul.”

10. YUL SERVO
Age:
 
33
Notable Performances: Batang Westside, Laman, Naglalayag

While he was never introduced as a matinee or teenage idol, Yul Servo has made a name for himself via Lav Diaz’s Batang Westside in 2001. This 33 year old Moreno chinito actor has then made his mark in the industry when he starred in Maryo J delos Reyes’s Laman in 2002 and Albert Martinez’s Rosario last year. He also played the leading man of the one and only Superstar Nora Aunor in Naglalayag which gave him lots of nominations during that year’s awards season. Servo has acted and starred with the likes of Joel Torre, Nora Aunor, Jaclyn Jose, Albert Martinez, and Elizabeth Oropesa in his decade long career, and if that’s not impressive, then I don’t know what is.

09. DENNIS TRILLO
Age:
 
31
Notable Performances: Aishite Imasu, Blue Moon, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Dennis Trillo gave one of the most memorable breakthrough performances in Philippine movie history when he starred as a cross-dressing man to whom a high Japanese officer fell in love with in the middle of war. This performance gave Trillo two Star Awards, a Luna, and a FAMAS. His next performances such as the gradpa’s son in Blue Moon, the syndicate leader in Mano Po 6, and the gym instructor torn between a mother and her daughter in Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow merited awards consideration as well.

08. PAOLO CONTIS
Age:
28
Notable Performances: Pagsasamang Kay Ganda: Noon at Ngayon, Banal, Listonero

One of the most successful Ang TV alumnus, Paolo Contis managed to smoothly translate his career from sidekicks and ensemble members to actual stars and lead actors of the films he starred in. While he currently works as a co-host of GMA’s Manny Manny Prizes, his film performances such as the gay son in Noon at Ngayon and his Star Awards Best Actor winning performance in Banal were some of the reasons why Contis is ahead to some of his contemporaries in terms of achievements.

07. BARON GEISLER
Age: 
30
Notable Performances: Jologs, Jay, Manila Kingpin: Asiong Salonga Story

                                                                                                        Baron Geisler’s personal issues usually meddle with people’s perception of him as a celebrity but never when it comes to his works. As an actor, Geisler is one of the most versatile out there. As for starters, he played Vilma Santos’ goody two shoes in Anak that gave him several awards nominations. Next, he made an impact as the gay survivor who was almost killed in the ensemble driven film Jologs. While most of his succeeding performances were villainous turns in Nandito Ako Nagmamahal Sa’yo, Baler, and Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story, his most compelling performance to date was when he play the title role of the gay report Jay in 2009.

06. CARLO AQUINO
Age: 
26
Notable Performances: Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa, Minsan May Isang Puso, Sa Aking Pagkakagising sa Kamulatan

Carlo Aquino shared the screen with veterans such as Vilma Santos, Albert Martinez, Ricky Davao, and Jaclyn Jose. It’s difficult to make level yourself up with them but Carlo does it with so much ease that he even gets nominations and trophies even at a young age. When he got older, he suffered some career lie low due to the awkward transition of every celebrity child star to adulthood. However, that did not stop him from giving bravura performances one after the other may it be in leading roles such as Sa Aking Pagkagising sa Kamulatan in 2005 and Torotot in 2008 or supporting turns such as Baler and Tanging Ina franchise.

05. PIOLO PASCUAL
Age:
35
Notable Performances: Dekada ’70, Milan, Manila

Probably the most famous eligible bachelor in the local entertainment industry, Piolo Pascual is by no means just a guy with good looks. Time and again, he has already proven that he is an all around guy that made waves whether it is in recording, television, and now, producing industry as well. But of course, when we mention Piolo Pascual the actor, his effective and intense performances in his films such as his FAMAS winning stint in Milan, Star Awards winning performances in Don’t Give Up On Us and Paano Kita Iibigin are some of what folks will remember. Awards aficionados though will always remember how Piolo Pascual was the last person who achieved grandslam status by winning all major supporting actor awards from the MMFF, PMPC, FAP, FAMAS, and Urian for his turn as son Jules Bartolome in Star Cinema’s Dekada 70.

04. JERICHO ROSALES
Age:
32
Notable Performances: Tanging Yaman, Santa Santita, Pacquiao: The Movie

From one Hunk to another, Jericho Rosales has really come a long way from his Mr. Pogi days. This former fish vendor achieved so many from being a primetime royalty to a member of The Hunks to recording artist and to an award winning actor. While most criticisms re: Echo always root from his English accent, no one can deny his approach to move roles given to him. His supporting performances in Tanging Yaman, Bagong Buwan, Noon at Ngayon up to his lead ones such as Baler, Pacquiao: the Movie, and Santa Santita are living proofs of his effectiveness as one of the best actors of his generation.

03. COCO MARTIN
Age:
30
Notable Performances: Serbis, Kinatay, Noy

Dubbed as the Prince of Philippine Indie Movies, Coco martin must feel a lot of pressure in his shoulders to be named as such. However, that cool and effortless demeanor he exudes when he portrays his roles is a big testament on why he is achieving success both in mainstream and independent industry. That characteristic is most prevalent in his performances wherein he was a masseur (Masahista), a conflicted young husband (Kinatay), and a desperate reporter (Noy). Lately, Coco is busy fulfilling his television star status, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one waiting for his next big screen output.

02. SID LUCERO
Age:
31
Notable Performances: Selda, Independecia, Muli

Given that he is the son of one of the country’s best actors, it is easy to figure out that 31 year old actor Sid Lucero will really do well in this field. But while we are expecting good stuff from him, we’re still surprised to find out that not only did he bring the good stuff, he even brought the great stuff in his performances. With Sid, what you see is not necessarily what you get. Behind his machismo overload demeanor comes a vulnerable and effective portrayal of different types of people such as his performances in the movies Selda, Donsol, and Muli. Sid is also one of the only six actors (and the youngest at that) to receive multiple Best Actor awards at the Gawad Urian Awards. Yes, you can close your mouth now.

01. JOHN LLOYD CRUZ
Age:
28
Notable Performances: One More Chance, In My Life, My Amnesia Girl

Finally, the one I consider as the best actor, in my opinion, of his generation, John Lloyd Cruz is one of the best risk takers among his contemporaries. He started out showing potential already when he won Best Actor at the 2000 Star Awards for TV beating the likes of Eddie Garcia and Richard Gomez. His movie star status started out doing love teams one after the other, but it wasn’t until his performance of Popoy in 2006 cult classic One More Chance that relegated him into the most charismatic actor in recent years. Whether it’s with Bea Alonzo, Sarah Geronimo, Toni Gonzaga, and Angel Locsin, all of John Lloyd’s movies never fail to hit stride with the watchers. Oh, and he is always at the top of his acting game. Have I mentioned the big slap he gave Vilma Santos after shouting at her face? That’s some pretty big balls out there, and John Lloyd always I’m sure is the country’s best among his peers.

There you have it. Who do you think was left out? Did you agree with my John Lloyd pick? Are you looking for Rainier Castillo? Pipe them in at the Comments section. 🙂