Archive for the ‘vincent sandoval’ Tag

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

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8th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 4   1 comment

Today marks the last day of the 8th Cinemalaya Indepedent Film Festival, and my experience has been a blast. I’m still deciding if I’ll attend the awards night later (depends if the rain decides to stop), but I’m hoping you all get to see majority of the films in Greenbelt and Trinoma cinemas this day.

Now, this contains the last part of my Cinemalaya coverage by doing a review of the three remaining films. So far, I have covered Mga Mumunting Lihim, Kamera Obskura, Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, and Kalayaan during the first batch which you can find here. The second one included The Animals, Bwakaw, Mga Dayo, and Ang Nawawala which you can read here. Yesterday, I reviewed Oros, REquieme, Santa Nina, and Posas here.

Here we go with the last batch:

DIABLO
Director: Mes de Guzman
Starring: Ama Quiambao, Carlo Aquino, Roeder Camanag, Arnold Reyes
Competition: New Breed

Nanay Lusing who lives alone in an old house deals with the different directions and fates of her five sons.

de Guzman does a very interesting job in getting the audience invested with the direction that the film wants to go to, and once it hits its stride, it gives a good portrayal of a mother who’s alone and the five different sons living five different lives. However, the main problem I had with the film was that it took a long time before it reached that point, and the slow pace affected the overall film. Nevertheless, it is filled with good performances from the always capable Carlo Aquino to character actors who played Nanay Lusing’s sons (Aquino, Arnold Reyes, Jose Escobedo, Fredie dela Cruz, and Roeder Camanag), but it was bittersweet to see Ama Quiambao get lead credits and deliver as the matriarch of the family.

Rating: 3 / 5

APARISYON
Director: Vincent Sandoval
Starring: Mylene Dizon, Jodi Sta. Maria, Fides Asensio, Raquel Villavicencio
Competition: New Breed

A life changing incident involving Sister Lourdes (Sta. Maria) and Sister Ruth (Dizon) changed the monastery headed by Sister Ruth (Asensio) with close assistant Sister Vera (Villavicencio).

The moment the movie started, it already gave you a clear atmosphere of the coldness and mystery that’s bound to happen as the film goes on. This one clearly exceeded expectations when it carefully and intricately highlighted the fear, the suspense, and the drama without bordering on boring or preachy territory. I also liked how the movie did not pretend to play safe, it was as intense and arresting as one can get. I’d specifically like to single out the cinematography, and Teresa Barrozo’s haunting score won me over. That and the fact that the four female cast all gave convincing and effective performance that it’s hard to single out who takes the cake. All in all, if this one wins awards later, call it a very deserving sweep.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

ANG KATIWALA
Director: Aloy Adlawan
Starring: Dennis Trillo, Ronnie Lazaro, Angelina Kanapi, Althea Vega
Competition: New Breed

A caretaker of a former president’s house starts to inhibit the characteristics of his new idol.

There’s way too much potential that lies about the story of Aloy Adlawan’s “Ang katiwala”, but it seems that the filmmaker has no idea to which direction he wants the movie to take, so (imagine Michelle Branch singing this part) he did a little bit of this, a little bit of that. The end result is a mix of historical lessons, action film, a comedy, and drama. Clearly, the movie showed some potential at the start but only to see it go nowhere and as a whole, it is literally just the sum of its parts. It’s good to see Dennis Trillo getting interesting projects again, and his acting is better than what his mainstream project demands him to do, but it was supporting cast Ronnie Lazaro and Angelina Kanapi who stole the scenes every time they’re on screen.

Rating: 2 / 5

That’s it! I’m done covering all ten movies in the New Breed section, and the five films in the Directors Showcase. I’m wishing all the films a good luck at the awards ceremony later, and this has been one fun Cinemalaya experience. Until next year! 🙂

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @nikowl