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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

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Top Local Movies of 2012   8 comments

2012 in cinema is probably one of the most enjoyable in a while. I liked a lot of the movies that I’ve seen this year, (though maybe I really avoided the bad ones? LOL), and a lot of these films would have topped any other weaker years. On top of that, we’ve also seen a lot of impeccable performances from these films. Mind you, while I have seen 60+ local films this year, there’s a lot left still to be seen. Despite that, I feel that 2012 is one of the better years in recent Filipino cinema, and here are 12 reasons why:

Unofficially Yours

12: UNOFFICIALLY YOURS

Arguably, the best output from commercial filmmaking this year is this Cathy Garcia Molina’s relationship story between two people that sprouted from a one night stand. Molina has really mastered how to make supposedly conventional studio produced films more engaging and interesting. Also, watch out for John Lloyd Cruz and Angel Locsin’s palpable chemistry here.

MNL 143

11. MNL 143

I’m a sucker of travel/road movies. With that said, Emerson Reyes’s first feature length film is a poignant love story of a man (Allan Paule) who’s looking for the woman of his life is something that’s easier to relate to; not the search per se, but the longing and the optimism for it to finally arrive is a familiar feeling that can resonate well to its viewers.

Requieme

10. REquieme!

Loy Arcenas’ consecutive Cinemalaya entry is a dark comedy that focuses on Swanie, a barangay captain who involves herself as a relative of a suspect in an international murder case. With a witty screenplay and Shamaine Buencamino’s effective portrayal as Swanie and breakthrough talent Anthony Falcon, the movie is definitely one of 2012’s brightest spots.

Pascalina

09. PASCALINA

This Cinema One Originals winner which was also Pam Miras’s feature debut about one’s self discovery about her monsters within is one of the surprise entries in my list. Not because it is bad, but because I liked and appreciated it better days after seeing it. Oh, and if Maria Veronica Santiago’s performance in the title role won’t charm you enough, then I don’t know what will.

Ang Nawawala

08. ANG NAWAWALA

Another first feature effort this year, this time by Marie Jamora, Ang Nawawala is bound to be a cult classic. Yes, it probably caters to a younger crowd, to those in the middle status, or to those who are into local music scene, but one universal thing that I sure can relate to is how it connects you back to yourself. Plus points for the eye candy production design and the compilation soundtrack.

Bwakaw

07. BWAKAW

The Philippines’ submission to the Oscar Foreign Language Film category this year (and its best submission in years, I must say) is this little gem by Jun Lana about an old gay man living alone with only his dog named Bwakaw, and how he tries to make the most out of his remaining days. It’s just one of the most heartfelt films of the year that makes you laugh and cry while watching. Also, Eddie Garcia’s performance is to watch for here.

Thy Womb

06. THY WOMB

Brillante Mendoza’s Venice entry this year is also the comeback vehicle of one of the Philippines’ greatest actresses to date, the Superstar Nora Aunor. I guess my favorite aspect of the film is how it showcased to us this little gem of a place called Tawi-Tawi, and how the film introduced us to its culture. That, and of course La Aunor’s towering performance in it.

Ang Paglalakbay ng Mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim

05. ANG PAGLALAKBAY NG MGA BITUIN SA GABING MADILIM

My favorite from the whole Cinema One Originals bunch this year is Arnel Mardoquio’s feature about the escape of three Muslim rebels, together with a ten year old child in the midst of the Bangsa Moro issues in Mindanao. But unlike any previous Mindanao related war-themed films, this one stands out because it’s  does not lecture you. And within this silence is where the actual emotions linger.

Give Up Tomorrow

04. GIVE UP TOMORROW

This Filipino/Spanish/American production directed by Michael Collins on what was labeled as the trial of the century in the Philippines (the involvement of  Paco Larrañaga to the disappearance of the Chiong sisters) is one film that probably triggered the most emotions while watching. The film for the most part was half maddening and half heartbreaking. But it probably contains one of my most favorite quotes of the year when Paco said “If you want to give up, give up tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, then give up tomorrow.

Aparisyon

03. APARISYON

Vincent Sandoval’s Cinemalaya entry about the secluded lives of nuns in a monastery in 1972. The film’s strength lies in its capability to build an atmosphere that was intense and arresting that once the movie hits it middle part, you just feel as if you’re a part of it. If you’re into the technical aspect, this movie also boasts of a complete top notch production values: neat production design,  applicable costumes, captivating cinematography, polished editing, and haunting score.

Graceland

02. GRACELAND

Ron Morales’s Tribeca entry about a loyal driver caught in the middle of his congressman employer’s paying of sins is as intense as one can get. Fifteen minutes in, there’s already a shooting scene. And the rest of the movie was packed with emotional punches, as it dwells with questions about one’s choices in life. Is this the correct choice? What happens when it’s not? Where do we go next? Also, Arnold Reyes’s terrific performance as the driver is a must see.

Kalayaan

01. KALAYAAN

And my top pick for local cinema this year is Adolf Alix’s Kalayaan. On the outside, it’s about a soldier solely stationed in the Kalayaan islands and a run on his daily activities, until two additional soldiers were sent there with him. The first hour of the film solely shows on the day to day routine of Julian. Rarely any dialogue was spoken in it, but the message was effectively sent. Once the credits rolled, you feel that you’ve known enough yet it will also prompt you to ask some more. Definitely my favorite film of the year!

Well that’s it! What are your favorite local movies of the year? In case you are wondering, the reason why there’s no top international picks yet is because I’m still catching up on a lot of the Oscar movies til the next two months. So I guess, you can expect my list by March.

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

2012: The Year in Lead Actresses   7 comments

2012 lead actresses

Hey there everyone! And Happy New Year once again from Tit for Tat! 😀

There’s no better way to kick off 2013 with a blog post that covers a topic awards prognosticators love the most: BEST ACTRESS. The past few days, I have been covering acting performances in local cinema, and we’ve already tackled supporting actressessupporting actors and lead actors. To complete the list, here’s my coverage of lead actress.

LEADERS OF THE PACK

There’s no better person more fitting to begin this coverage with the one and only Superstar herself Nora Aunor. After years of absence in local filmmaking scene, she is back with Brillante Mendoza’s Thy Womb as midwife Shaleha who wants to grant her husband’s wish of having a child. Aside from La Aunor, Gina Alajar‘s role as the matriarch in Adolf Alix’s Mater Dolorosa gives her a huge possibility to have an awards comeback as well. A pair of Kapamilya actresses can find themselves contending at different award giving bodies: Angel Locsin will definitely be nominated either for her role as the sultry Princess in Unofficially Yours though my bet is she’ll get nods  for her role as a mother who will do anything for her son in the MMFF entry One More Try. Bea Alonzo‘s most mature performance to date as the title role in Olivia Lamasan’s The Mistress can reap some nods as well. As for the fifth spot, a consecutive visit at award giving bodies is plausible for veteran actress Shamaine Buencamino, this time, for her comedic turn in Loy Arcenas’s Requieme.

MIDDLE TIER

Aside from the five names above, other noteworthy lead actress performances the past year were from Jodi Sta. Maria as the newest member of Adoracion Convent in Aparisyon, Pokwang as another mother who sacrificied as an OFW in the US in A Mother’s Story, and French actress Isabelle Huppert having the most vital role in Brillante Mendoza’s Berlin entry Captive. Vilma Santos can get in based on name status alone for her movie last year, The Healing, while Lauren Young as the psycho best friend of Maxene Magalona in Catnip can break through the awards circuit too. Other performances that gained buzz this year were Cinemalaya Best Actress winner Ama Quiambao in Diablo, Erich Gonzales who is in search of her sister in Manila in Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi, Veronica Santiago who plays the charming  title role in Pascalina, LJ Reyes who resorted to being the town prostitute in Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, and Judy Ann Santos as the owner of the diary in Mga Mumunting Lihim.

THE REST OF THE RACE

As for the rest of the race, there’s also Anne Curtis, not as the other woman, in A Secret Affair, the pair of Fe GingGing Hyde and Glorypearl Dy trying to escape in Ang Paglalakbay ng Mga Bituin ng Gabing Madilim, Mylene Dizon as the other nun in Aparisyon, and Cinema One Originals Best Actress Mara Lopez in Palitan. There’s also the performances of Erich Gonzales as the unang aswang in Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang, Angelica Panganiban as the naive Majoy in Every Breath U Take,  and real life sisters Assunta and Alessandra de Rossi in Baybayin. Lastly, Angel Aquino can also see herself nominated either for her performance as the torn mother in Amorosa: The Revenge or as the reporter who everybody thought was dead in Biktima.

That’s it. Who are your bets this year? Are you excited for the coming award giving bodies? I sure am! 🙂

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

8th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 3   8 comments

Hi everyone! How’s your weekend? In case you have no idea how to spend today and tomorrow, I’ll suggest you head over at the CCP (or even Glorietta and Trinoma) to catch the movies of Cinemalaya 2012 for this year. They’re worth the admission price that you”ll pay. In line with that, this part will cover the next four movie reviews of films from this year’s edition.

As a guide, here is the first part of my review covering Mga Mumunting Lihim, Kamera Obskura, Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, and Kalayaan. The second part is this one and covers The Animals, Bwakaw, Mga Dayo, and Ang Nawawala.

OROS
Director: Paul Sta. Ana
Starring: Kristoffer King, Kristoffer Martin, Tanya Gomez
Competition: New Breed

This one gives viewers a look on the business of buying claimed bodies and holding wakes in order to gain more money via different means of gambling specifically sakla and tongits.

Oros gives a pretty accurate and specific portrayal of the topic that it covered, though I can’t help but notice that it tends to go overboard with its poverty porn treatment. For what its worth though, there’s a lot of discovery that one learns while watching the film. Ending is pretty much a give away though; thus, it lessened the actual impact that it was hoping to achieve. Kristoffer King gave a very competent leading performance, while Kristoffer Martin was a surprise as King’s younger brother. I’m not a fan of the shaky camera, but the movie is still serviceable with some commendable highlights in it.

Rating: 3 / 5

REquieme!
Director: Loy Arcenas
Starring: Shamaine Centenera Buencamino, Rez Cortez, Anthony Falcon
Competition: New Breed

REquieme tells somewhat related stories involving a funeral: the first one deals with a barangay captain (Centenera) who wants to bring home the body of a claimed distant relative who is a suspect in the killing of a famous world designer. The second one is about Joanna (Tolentino) who gives a neighbor, who served as his father figure, a deserving funeral. In between this, there’s also a story of a body that can’t seem to find its way home.

This one comes off as a surprise for me, as I certainly loved every minute of it. While the hilarious moments are indeed tummy aching, I find it more as an inspired avenue to tackle, highlight and realize Filipino characteristics especially those that involves connecting one’s name to fame. Anchored by the great Shamaine Centenera Buencamino (who’s 2 for 2 now in terms of giving memorable Cinemalaya performances after last year’s Nino), and a breakout performance by Anthony Falcon (who steals every scene he’s in), REquieme is one of those movies in this batch that definitely stood out.

Rating: 4.5 /5

SANTA NIÑA
Director: Emmanuel Palo
Starring: Coco Martin, Alessandra de Rossi, Anita Linda, Irma Adlawan
Competition: New Breed

When Paulino (Martin) discovered that the remains of his two year old daughter Marikit did not even decay a bit, this led to the questions of one’s faith and unraveling of secrets that were kept too long already.

It is difficult to tackle themes of faith in Filipino movies especially since there’s this one movie called Himala that set the bar too high for others to follow suit. However, Santa Nina does a good job in covering the said theme while adding layers of family drama and secrets of the past in the mix. The shots and technical aspects were very commendable; I specifically like the palette that they used in the movie. Coco Martin was serviceable in his job, though signs of too much television drama appear every now and then. His chemistry with Alessandra de Rossi is very natural though. Anita Linda and Irma Adlawan both have vital roles that managed to stand on their own during some parts of the movie.I felt that the movie was some minutes longer, and it could have ended on a different manner, but this one possesses good merits in it for me not to appreciate the film as a whole.

Rating: 4/ 5

POSAS
Director: Lawrence Fajardo
Starring: Nico Antonio, Art Acuña, Bangs Garcia, Jake Macapagal
Competition: New Breed

A day in the life of a thief as we get to see a blow by blow account of what happens once he gets under the fingers of police authority.

I feel this one has a been-there-done-that feeling, as the first film that comes to mind was Brillante Mendoza’s Kinatay. Both movies follow one momentous day in the life of the main character when he gets under a circumstance that he doesn’t want to be into, and he faces the consequences of the said situation. Having said that, this one (like Oros) gives a specific and detailed portrayal of the topic that it wants to cover. The saving grace of the film was Acuña’s terrific acting as the head police officer, and John Lapuz’s storyline as another victim, but it lacks the impact that will make the movie memorable enough once the credits roll.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

12 down, 3 more left. Last batch contains the last three movies left in the festival (Aparisyon, Diablo, and Ang Katiwala). Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Weekend Update (March 18 – March 24, 2012)   Leave a comment

So here’s a recap of the different things that happened the past week:

 * The Philippines won two awards at the 6th Asian Film Awards last Monday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. Shamaine Buencamino won Supporting Actress for Nino while Eugene Domingo  won the People’s Choice for Best Actress. This is the second time that a Filipino won an acting award after Gina Pareno won in the same category for Serbis way back in 2009. Iran’s A Separation swept the awards this year winning Picture, Director and Screenplay for Asghar Farhadi, and Editing. Eugene Domingo, who was shimmering in gold, was the crowd favorite, thanks to her funny banter with Andy Lau. She also gets to present Best Supporting Actor that night. Hurray for Pinoy pride!

Photo courtesy of pep.ph

* FX’s American Horror Story officially campaigns in the Miniseries categories at the Emmys this year. Given the format of the series, this is the logical thing to do in order to earn more Emmy nods. However, their eligible material (13 episodes) is 12 times more than their possible competition this year. While I don’t think Connie Britton will defeat Julianne Moore or Nicole Kidman for the Emmy, she is now guaranteed a nomination. Jessica Lange will transfer her frontrunner status at the Miniseries Supporting Actress category with literally no one having a chance against her.

* In other Jessica Lange news, she now replaces Glenn Close in the Elizabeth Olsen starrer Therese Raquin. For the longest time, Close has been attached to the project despite some names literally coming and going. However, it’s now official that Lange will be replacing her for the role of Madame Raquin. Between this and Sally Field’s role in Lincoln, it’s safe to say that Meryl Streep is NOT hogging all the roles for 60+ aged actresses.

 * For some reality show news, Erika van Pelt finally left Idol stage, as she was eliminated at last Thursday’s results show. Sporting a new  Adam Lambert look-a-like makeover, it seems like the change of look didn’t provide her any luck. While it was Heejun Han who everybody predicted to be a goner that night, it will only take a few weeks before EVP will also be a goner. Take it as a case of foregone conclusion. Next week will probably be Heejun’s farewell unless he turns into a Sanjaya or John Stevens.

 Photo courtesy of gossip,whyfame.com

* Over at The Voice, I’ve witnessed probably the advancement of the worst vocals into the live shows in the longest time that I have been watching singing reality shows. Erin Martin’s butchering over The Garage Brothers of Tina Turner’s classic “What’s Love Got to Do With It” is a big slap to genius Jamie Lono for not making it last week. Dear Erin made it sound as if Ke$ha is a Mariah or a Celine. She’s not even singing! Between this and Chessa three weeks ago, we all know that Purrfect the Cat and not Cee-Lo, should be the one tp choose the victors for his battle rounds.

* The women of Wisteria Lane a.k.a the Desperate Housewives get one last time to cover Entertainment Weekly as a group. As the nearing series finale comes, we get to see more juicy and interesting storylines among the four Housewives. While the show was never able to regain the glory of their first season heydays, I think that they were still able to come up with decent to good seasons and the performances of the Housewives has been underrated in terms of awards consideration. For the first time, they’ll be talking about that infamous Vanity Fair cover in 2005. Very juicy, indeed!

* The Hunger Games is now in theaters, and while this hasn’t topped any box office records, it’s slowly joining the bandwagon. In fact, with a good ratings from the critics and impressive box office returns, it is safe to say that it is the new book to film sensation that will keep everyone gaga. Catching Fire, though, is premiering to theaters much later than usual on November 2013.

* Oscar winner Taylor Swift? Not gonna happen folks. While T-Swift’s efforts with another T (T-Bone Burnett, that’s who) gets critical praise, together with the whole Hunger Games soundtrack, it won’t be hearing it’s name come Oscar time, as it was the second song to be featured at the credits of the movie. Oscar contenders for Best Original Song must be played in the course of the movie, up until the first song in the credits. This is the same thing that happened to Madonna’s Golden Globe winning song “Masterpiece” for W.E. Luckily for Swift though, she can count on a Globe and Grammy nods in the Original Song categories.

* Kate Winslet wants that EGOT title right? Winslet is set to appear on her first Broadway show: a play written by two time Oscar nominee (The Hours, The Reader) playwright David Hare. There is no tentative date yet for this play, but Winslet is probably going gaga over the thought of her achieving the EGOT now. If she managed to accomplish that, she’ll be the youngest member of the club whose latest inductee is producer Scott Rudin.
 * Lastly, it’s the Golden Screen Awards tonight. This is the closest to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globes, as they separate the awards into Drama and Comedy categories. While I’m hoping for an Angel Locsin repeat win in the Best Actress: Drama category, that and Best Actor are the most difficult to predict. Martin Escudero (Zombadings), Eugene Domingo (Babae sa Septic Tank) are the frontrunners for the Comedy Lead acting while John Regala and Nonie Buencamino are the most buzzed for Supporting Actor. Nino stars Raquel Villavicencio and Shamaine Buencamino are the frontrunners for Supporting Actress while both Solenn Heusaff and Rocco Nacino might have repeat victories in the Brakthrough Acting categories.

photo courtesy of mykiru.ph

That’s it for this week’s report of Weekend Update! 😀