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Tit for Tat Local Film Awards 2014   Leave a comment

I really thought I’d be skipping this year, but better late than never! For the third year in my blog (see here 2012 and 2013 winners) From MMFF entries to Cinemalaya ones, and from Lav Diaz to Andoy Ranay (probably the only time you’ll see them in the same sentence), I’ve finally come up with a list of my own awards choices. This year, barbers, violators, janitors, and coffin makers are on the forefront as we search for tadhana and sparks. After eight months and lots of waiting in between, I present my picks for the best of local cinema in 2014.

best ensemble

gold LORNA
silver BARBER’S TALES

bronzeMARIQUINA

best first feature

gold VIOLATOR
silver DAGITAB

bronzeCHILDREN’S SHOW

visual effects

gold KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
silver SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL 15
bronze FENG SHUI 2

sound editing and mixing

gold VIOLATOR
silver KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze THE JANITOR

original song

gold “BAHALA NA” (Tak Back and You’re Dead)
silver “KAKAIBABE” (Diary ng Panget)
bronze “SIGLE LANG NANG SIGE” (Hari ng Tondo)

original score

gold MARIQUINA
silver LORNA
bronze DAGITAB

hairstyling and makeup

gold THE GIFTED
silver KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL 15

editing

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver #Y
bronze VIOLATOR

costume

gold LORNA
silver THE GIFTED
bronze KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2

cinematography

gold MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON
silver DAGITAB
bronze  VIOLATOR

prod design

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver  KUBOT: THER ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze ESPRIT DE CORPS

best breakthrough actress

gold NADINE LUSTRE (Diary ng Panget)
silver KARENINA HANIEL (Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon)
bronze COLEEN GARCIA (#Y)

best breakthrough actor

gold  SANDINO MARTIN (Esprit de Corps)
silver MATT DACLAN (Soap Opera)
bronze  RAFA SIGUION-REYNA (Hari ng Tondo)

best screenplay

gold  GIANCARLO ABRAHAN (Dagitab)
silver ANTOINETTE JADAONE (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze SIGRID ANDREA BERNARDO (Lorna)

best supp actor

gold ANDY BAIS (Violator)
silver MIGGS CUADERNO (Children’s Show)
bronze MARTIN DEL ROSARIO (Dagitab)

best supp actress

gold SYLVIA SANCHEZ (The Trial)
silver MARIA ISABEL LOPEZ (Lorna)
bronze GLADYS REYES (Barber’s Tales)

best actor

gold ALLEN DIZON (Magkakabaung)
silver ARNOLD REYES (Kasal)
bronze  JOHN LLOYD CRUZ (The Trial)

best actress

gold EUGENE DOMINGO (Barber’s Tales)
silver ANGELICA PANGANIBAN (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze  SHAMAINE BUENCAMINO (Lorna)

best directing

gold JUN LANA (Barber’s Tales)
silver ANTOINETTE JADAONE (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze LAV DIAZ (Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon)

best picture

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver THAT THING CALLED TADHANA
bronze  MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON

That was it! As a recap, here are the winners for the 2014 Tit for Tat Local Film Awards:

PICTURE: Barber’s Tales
DIRECTOR: Jun Lana, Barber’s Tales
LEAD ACTOR: Allen Dizon, Magkakabaung
LEAD ACTRESS: Eugene Domingo, Barber’s Tales
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Andy Bais, Violator
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Sylvia Sanchez, The Trial
SCREENPLAY: Giancarlo Abrahan, Dagitab
MALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Sandino Martin, Esprit de Corps
FEMALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Nadine Lustre, Diary ng Panget
ART DIRECTION: Barber’s Tales
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon
COSTUME DESIGN: Lorna
EDITING: Barber’s Tales
HAIRSTYLING AND MAKE UP: The Gifted
ORIGINAL SCORE: Mariquina
ORIGINAL SONG: Bahala Na (Talk Back and You’re Dead)
SOUND: Violator
VISUAL EFFECTS:
Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles 2
FIRST FEATURE: Eduardo Dayao, Violator
ENSEMBLE: Lorna

See you again next year! What are your favorites from 2014?

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter and let’s talk about it more: @nikowl

10th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 4   7 comments

You’re still reading Tit for Tat’s Cinemalaya X coverage, and we’re now on the fourth of our short review capsules. As a reminder, you can check the my three previous posts with  Part 1 covering Real Florido’s “1st Ko si 3rd“, Giancarlo Abrahan’s “Dagitab“, and Milo Sogueco’s “Mariquina”, Part 2 Francis Pasion’s “Bwaya“, Gino M. Santos’ “#Y“, and GB Sampedro’s “S6parados”, and Part 3 which has Ida Anita del Mundo’s “K’na the Dreamweaver“, Joselito Altarejos’ “Kasal“, and Louie Ignacio’s “Asintado.” Now let’s add three more films in the list.

Hustisya

HUSTISYA
Director: Joel Lamangan
Cast: Nora Aunor, Rocco Nacino, Sunshine Dizon, Rosanna Roces
Competition: Directors Showcase

Biring (Nora Aunor) has worked for a long time now as Vivian’s (Rosanna Roces) right-hand assistant. The former usually takes care of delivering messages and money that they earn from their human trafficking business. But after an incident in which Vivian frames up Biring, they’re all by themselves at that point.

Hustisya starts strong in which we follow a day in the life of Biring as she does her usual businesses. She switches and delivers money to church officials, politicians, other businessman, and in the middle of it, throws money in the air on top of the Manila City Hall Clock Tower. But it is the supposed game-changing incident of frame up when the film just rolled downhill. At this point, it’s now a parade of the usual Lamangan schtick which probably is his vision of a political statement. He doesn’t dip so much into these so called issues but instead, stays content with just enumerating them. And that’s what he has been doing for the past few years with his foray into such. I don’t doubt that Lamangan can pull off these political statement films (I’m a big fan of 2001’s Hubog as for starters), but Hustisya falls into this lazy OMG-important angle which was the same template as in Dukot… and Sigwa… and Patikul… and Lihis… and even Burgos. The thing that makes Hustisya further down the drain is that there’s a scene in the near end where Biring is walking and hallucinating into a random Manila alley seeing all these “things wrong with out society” and by that time, the last thing we needed is another in your face reminder of such. Nora Aunor is always dependable though, and she knows how to make fun of this role. You can see her totally committed but has a grasp of when to make things light as the situation calls for such. It doesn’t hold a candle to any of the previous Lamangan/Aunor collaborations, and it’s probably her weakest since her 2012 comeback. That said, the less said about the film overall, the better.

2/5

The Janitor

THE JANITOR
Director: Michael Tuviera
Cast: Dennis Trillo, Richard Gomez, Ricky Davao, Derek Ramsay
Competition: Directors Showcase

The Janitor is based from the infamous 2008 RCBC bank robbery that happened in Cabuyao, Laguna which claimed the lives of 10 victims. In the film, Crisanto (Dennis Trillo) was a suspended policeman tasked to be a hitman and eliminate the people responsible for the said bank incident.

For the most part, The Janitor is really entertaining as its approach to the retelling of the incident is straight to the point. But then again, straight to the point can be too straight to the point that it now borders on formulaic. And that’s how the first 3/4 of the film ended up. The format goes something like “torture the lookout”, “let him speak another name”, “hitman goes for that name.” Lather, rinse, repeat. It is undeniably entertaining but can easily get tiring. In between, we witness Crisanto’s domestic problems with his pregnant wife, his non-believer father, and his disabled mother. Once again, lather, rinse, repeat. The film tried to pull off a shift in its storytelling by the last act, and while it indeed changed the monotonous approach of the film, it wasn’t really successful as well in achieving the same impact. There were clearly some notice-able goofs between the film’s concept of day and night with two scenes suddenly changing time frame in a snap, and  that can be really bothering. Other than that, Dennis Trillo is a hoot in this role and made me remember how versatile he is as an actor. It’s probably his best Cinemalaya effort yet among his three films in this festival’s history (2009’s Astig and 2012’s Ang Katiwala). I would have love to see more of his interaction with Derek Ramsay, as I felt their moments were too abrupt given how much they play off each other’s strengths. While one can’t help but wish that the film’s approach wasn’t totally by the numbers, it’s hard to deny that the film itself is really entertaining, and the potential for thrilling action films to come back is really present.

3/5

Children's Show

CHILDREN’S SHOW
Director: Derick Cabrido
Cast: Buboy Villar, Miggs Cuaderno, Gloria Sevilla, Allen Dizon, Nathan Lopez
Competition: New Breed

Inspired by true events, the film focused on brothers Jun (Buboy Villar) and Al (Miggs Cuaderno) who in between pedicab driving earn money by participating in an underground wrestling for teenagers ran by a syndicate. The film focused on how they both try to survive with their grandmother a midst the harsh realities of their poverty stricken life.

As early as the breakthrough of independent film by the mid-aughts, poverty porn is one of those recurring themes. And I know that most of you are gonna go like “WHY. POVERTY.PORN. AGAIN. UGH”, but Children’s Show isn’t really all that. If anything, it flips the usual schtick and injects with it something optimistic and new. The film itself tends to overdo the drama with the situations these brothers are dealing, but it doesn’t forget to counter the despair with the comedic elements (both intentional and otherwise). The movie gives a feel of “the little movie that could”, and it indeed does. The way the film goes back and forth to hopeful and depressing is mostly smooth, and its intensity really crosses the brink and just a little bit beyond. There’s a certain amount of rawness with the two lead actors’ deliveries that make it more affecting than expected, and it just pulls you in. The rest of the ensemble is great as well, and the cinematography is top notch here. I really like the color palette used in the film specifically the underground boxing place and the whole squatters area which reeked of dirty and gritty (and reminded me of Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty music video (I know it’s terrible and I’m sorry but I can’t help insert this. Lol)). If anything, I’m a bit half baked on the slow mo too polished fight scenes. On one hand, it’s really a cool moment for the film, but on the other, I really don’t think its needed anymore. Six days in the fest, and I’m really waiting for a surprise from this year’s batch that’s devoid the hype, and this is certainly one of those.

3.5/5

Last three films (finally whew!) to be posted on Saturday morning before malls open so you’d have a complete guide on what to watch and what to skip if you’re running low on time and/or budget. 😉

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

10th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 1   6 comments

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

1st ko si 3rd

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

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

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

3.5/5

Dagitab

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

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

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

4.5/5

Mariquina

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

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

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

4/5

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