Tag Archives: Filipino Film

Review: That Thing Called Tadhana (2015)

That Thing Called TadhanaGoin’ into the theater, I already expected that I’d love it no matter what since it’s starred by JM de Guzman whom I considered a superb performer and being partnered with the feisty Angelica Panganiban – my impression was solidly cemented for good.

A Thing Called Tadhana isn’t your usual pa-tweetums romantic pinoy flick. It’s sooooo far from it. Directed by Antoinette Jadaone, the whole thing was like a local adaptation of Before Sunrise – but definitely has its own charm. Mace (Panganiban) and Anthony (de Guzman) met at an airport in Rome. Both broken-hearted, they decided to take on a road trip in the northern part of the Philippines – a whirlwind trip that went deeper than their new found friendship as they delved into searching where do really broken hearts go?

I just totally loved how their relationship developed throughout their journey. The dialogues weren’t overly dramatic but very memorable. They’re not the usual “one-liners” that border on being contrived. It’s the lines that you’d actually remember the most after watching this film. I especially loved this one  – “Hindi Na Kita Mahal, Makakaalis Ka Na! Yung eight years naming, tinapos niya in seven words!” – I thought it was genius through and through!”

I also loved the fact that it focuses more on dialogues than visuals although it feels like you’re also travelling with them as they went to Baguio, then Sagada (I totally got nostalgic on their way there because Sagada’s one of my favorite places on earth!!!!) – I’m happy that these places were highlighted in the story without out-staging the actors. The only thing I would consider to be an issue about it is the excessive use of profanity which I felt was lazy on the part of the screenwriter. Other than this, it is golden.

JM de Guzman and Angelica Panganiban just had this undeniable chemistry that made the film relatable more than its glaring mass appeal. It’s so refreshing to watch a Filipino film that does not resort to visual grandeur which often does not work in their favor. I loved the film’s simplicity, its funny antics and its touch of nostalgia that everyone could easily relate to. Jadaone created a pierce here that will probably propel her into the mainstream cinema film making. Congratulations!

Director: Antoniette Jadaone
Cast: Angelica Panganiban, JM de Guzman

Rating: 6/10

Review: Ang Lalake Sa Parola [The Man in the Lighthouse] (2007)

Director: Joselito Altarejos
Starring: Harry Laurel, Justine De Leon, Jennifer Lee, Crispin Pineda, Allan Paule, Sheree, Richard Quan, Dexter Doria

Ang Lalake Sa ParolaAng Lalake sa Parola have big, big potentials. Director Joselito Altarejos could’ve maneuvered this film into a different direction to come up with a masterpiece. “… Parola” chronicles the journey of Mateo (Harry Laurel), a lighthouse caretaker from a rural area and Jerome (Justine De Leon), a gay man from the city who seduces the naive Mateo to enter into a homoerotic relationship with him.

 The plot seems very simple yet complicated. It’s a metaphorical rendition of how homosexuality encompasses the lives of men even from the remotest of area. The myth about fairies was a great parallelism to the focal point of the story. That may be the word. The film is full of parallelism that it failed to deliver an actual storyline which in the end resulted to a confusing finale.

 ‘Probably the best thing about this film is the lead actor; Harry Laurel performed incredibly well considering that this was his first feature film. His subtle attack on each scene was very believable and you’ll actually root for him! His slight accent gives flavor to the naivety of Mateo’s character. His almost awkward and sometimes deer in the headlights expression was rather charming because it fits his character so well. Justine on the other hand played it a bit too forced in my opinion. I know that he was supposed to play it discreetly upon arriving in the small town but overtime, that whole persona evaporated. He became rather clingy and too needy which I thought his character does not really asked for.

The film overall was okay. It may have a weak structure and may have used too much symbolism to make it look like an intelligent film but those are tolerable.  The intent was there which makes it easy to understand the statement it was trying to convey – yup, it is a good film.

Rating: 6/10

Review: Barber’s Tales [Mga Kwentong Barbero] (2013)

Director: Jun Lana
Cast: Eugene Domingo, Eddie Garcia, Iza Calzado, Daniel Fernando, Nora Aunor, Noni Buencamino, Sue Prado

Barber's TalesSet in a rural area during the downfall of the Marcos regime, Jun Lana’s Barber’s Tales centered more on women empowerment which somehow mirrored the era’s political upheaval and its end result during that time [where then widowed Corazon Aquino became the first woman president of the Republic Of The Philippines]

Newly widowed Malou played by Eugene Domingo suddenly finds herself manning the town’s only barbershop which has been passed for generation from her husband’s family.

Unable to attract customers [yes, because she’s A woman], Malou forged a friendship with a prostitute named Rosa and the latter urges her “colleagues” to get their male clients to patronize Malou’s barbershop or risked being found out.  With this development, Malou was able to slowly step up and take center-stage and assert herself into the town’s male dominated territory where rumors spread faster than anyone could imagine. This gig also led Malou into a dangerous territory where she’s got to choose one side in order to keep her legacy.

The film is not hard to like at all. The humor inserted every now and then keeps on swaying me thinking if I should take the theme very seriously or not. There’s some sort of magical realism feel into it that somehow negates its more serious impact. The juxtaposition of Eugene Domingo’s character here and her portrayal at Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank simply goes to show how immersed Domingo is when it comes to tackling her roles. Here, we feel so much from her anguish. There’s even emotion when she looks at Iza Calzado (who played the mayor’s wife) dead in the eye. Eugene clearly knows how to choose projects that will highlight her movie appeal and her Whoopi Goldberg-like acting style (this is just in my opinion though – there really is some semblance if you think about it).

The very latter part of the film has quite a dramatic flair that Jun Lana could’ve done without although in hindsight, it feels like there’s just a pressing need for him to leave all loose ends tied. I didn’t like it but it didn’t discourage me to appraise the feature as a whole because it is what it is. The inviting visuals were good during the first half but it was inconsistent for the rest of the film. The music rendered by Mr. Ryan Cayabyab may have been too forced when it was used but it definitely magnified each scene.

Overall, Barber’s Tales made a magnificent job in luring the audience off their couches and head off to the cinema. It is after all starred by Eugene Domingo and although the technical side of it somehow didn’t live up to its potential, it’s still a film that any Filipino viewers would be proud to showcase overseas.

Rating: 8/10

Barber’s Tales premiered at the 2013 Tokyo International Film Festival where Eugene Domingo bagged the Best Actress Award. It had its Philippines wide release in August of 2014

Review: Norte, The End Of History – Lav Diaz (2013)

Director: Lav Diaz
Cast: Side Lucero, Angeli Bayani, Archie Alemania, Angelina Kanapi, Soliman Cruz, Mae Paner, Hazel Orencio

NorteThis was the Philippine entry to this year’s Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film category. Despite not getting shortlisted, I still believe that this was the best choice for said category. Initially, I would’ve thought that the Barber’s Tales would have a bigger impact but watching one after the other – Norte clearly outshoned the Eugene Domingo-lead film in every aspect.

Set in the Northern region of the Philippines, the film introduced us to Joaquin (Archie Alemania) whose existence is mainly strengthened by his loving wife Eliza (Angeli Bayani). But even love could easily be tested by poverty. When Joaquin’s money-lender gets murdered, pointing fingers led him into prison that transformed his belief altogether into another persona. His wife however struggles to provide for their children as the years of his incarceration goes by.

Meanwhile, the real perpetrator Fabian (Sid Lucero) spiraled down into madness as guilt eats him up even if he thinks he’s already doing penance in his own way.

I was almost certain that I won’t be able to finish this film midway into it but it kept me glued up to the final frame for some reason. The story was compact yet the sequences were a bit longer than I would’ve liked. Archie Alemania’s indelible portrayal was a picture of hopelessness that it breaks you to the core. Sullen and cringe-worthy, Sid Lucero gave me the creeps but I was also rendered breathless by his sudden shift from normal into shifty nature as Fabian. Angeli Bayani’s performance fits the role perfectly and it was a given that she’d do well.

Director Lav Diaz’s vision may have been too ambitious for stretching this film well over four hours but his story-telling  acumen of this prose of a film is what made Norte a tolerable watch [running-time wise – you should be ready to seat your ass out]. The story was gripping, yes. It gave me that feeling when I was watching The Tree Of Life where I’d just like to bolt out of my seat but kept watching because I cannot resist having a glimpse into the next scene. Norte delivers a semblance of the Philippine society that’s still very much happening until now – what with all the politics, the power-abuse and even the inequality was so transparent that I may very well see this film in real life by merely watching the 7 o’clock news.

Rating: 9/10

 Norte was first released via Cannes Film Festival in 2013 with a Philippine wide release September of 2014.

Review: Catch Me, I’m In Love (2011)

via wikipedia

via wikipedia

I was channel surfing this morning and ABS-CBN Channel 2 was showing Catch Me… I’m In Love. I’m actually not aware of this film until today since I’m not a big fan of its lead actors. This 2011 romantic film stars Gerald Anderson and Sarah Geronimo working together for the first time. Sarah plays Roan, a hopeless romantic who assigned to accompany the Presidential son played by Anderson on an Immersion trip. The trip led both in learning more about each other and soon enough, love ensues despite their differences.

Sarah Geronimo reminds me so much of Regine Velasquez. She has this very charismatic attack on each role given to her and has this great comedic timing. She’s indeed very funny and just as effective as her role in A Very Special Love and You Change My Life. The biggest revelation for me though, is Gerald Anderson. Wow! I never thought that Gerald could act this well! I always thought of him as that teenage boy playing the love interest of Kim Chui since the first Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition. Boy was I so wrong about it! I love his portrayal of a nonchalant, happy-go-lucky presidential son. In this film, he somehow reminded me of the young Chris O’ Donnell in Mad Love and Scent of a Woman. In my opinion, Gerald was the torchbearer of this film!

Sam Pinto here was a great distraction since she could not act here to save her life! Still, I would give her the benefit of the doubt because I think this was her first film and I just thought all throughout her few scenes that she is so damn pretty!
Overall, the story development was cheesy enough that you would actually melt with it and I find myself grinning from ear to ear! It was engrossing and very pocketbook-ish. Yes, it was a really feel good film and I don’t mind watching it again.
Rating: 8/10
Director: Mae Cruz
Casts: Sarah Geronimo, Gerald Anderson, Christopher De Leon, Dawn Zulueta, Joey Marquez, Arlene Muhlach, Sam Pinto
Distributed by: Star Cinema

Review: Zombadings: Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington (2011)

zombadings-poster-400-x-551

It’s just last week that I was finally able to catch one of the most talked-about films of 2011 entitled Zombadings: Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington. Reason being is that I’m not really big on local films recently because they became too commercialized over the years. I’m glad that some films still offer something new or something fresh like this one. I even wrote a blog about this film that was shown during the Cinemalaya Film Festival last year and thought that the trailer was pretty funny but I didn’t really get the chance to watch its entirety.

The film is about a young boy named Remington who loves pokig fun on gay men (transvestite in general) until he insulted an old transvestite who put a curse on him stating that he’ll turn gay once he grow up. Without realizing it, on his 21st birthday – Remington knew something changed because he suddenly could speak gay-lingo without realizing it and was turning gay in the midst of gay men being hunted by a serial killer in their town.
I guess what I liked most about the film is its concept. It’s very original and very fresh as it uses Filipino gay lingo which are pretty funny. I also loved that they used subtitles for the gay lingos that made the film more relatable and funnier. I think that’s the main thing about the film. It’s not a gay film, it’s actually a movie for everyone. Of course there is the usual stereotyping of gay people such as wearing tacky clothing, working in beauty parlors, being effeminate and all. It was funny in that context but after that, you’d somehow wish that they didn’t show it in a general manner.
On a more positive note, Mart Escudero who played the lead role Remington was definitely the star of the film. The guy can really act and he played it beautifully while being supported by a very strong cast! Somehow, though, the film got lost in the end when the Zombadings (gay zombies) appeared. I guess it’s alright since altogether, the film delivered some good laughs, fresh ideas, great acting and just something new to the  Filipino film industry. Kudos to the creator of this film and everyone involved in it.
Rating: 8.5/10
Director: Jade Castro
Starring: Martin Escudero, Lauren Young, Kerbie Zamora, Janice de Belen, John Regala, Angelina Kanapi, Leandro Baldemor, Daniel Fernando with the special participation of Roderick Paulate and Eugene Domingo

Review: Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang (2012)

via wikipedia

via wikipedia

Corazon Ang Unang Aswang is about a couple namely Corazon and Daniel who has been trying desperately to have a child for a very long time and are settled in the quiet place of Magdalena. Corazon finally was able to bore a child but became berserk when the child died upon its birth. It is from there that Corazon turned into a monstrous Aswang that terrorized the village.

The film was set in 1946 and is nowhere near the usual scary Aswang film as a regular viewer may perceive upon reading its title. It is somewhat a story that tackles the Filipino myth about “Aswang.” To begin with, there is no mention of Aswang over the whole duration of the film. Superstitions has it that Aswang eats human and animal flesh and in this film, Corazon did all of these.

I thought Erich Gonzales who played Corazon did a fantastic job as a barrio lass being ridiculed by the village people for her inability to bear a child. It was too cliché a scene but she really does look the part! Her innocent charm paired with the very charismatic Derek Ramsay who played Daniel, his loving husband may probably be the main factor that saved the film from its rather draggy feel about it.

Another commendable performance are from Mon Confiado and Mark Gil who delivered the goods as usual but Jeffrey Quizon who somehow played Daniel’s bestfriend and narrated the film in some parts gave the best performance. I will give him an A+ for believability. I thought Tetchie Agbayani’s character was unnecessary if not to build up the parallelism of what happened to her in the past and what will happen to Corazon. The characterization was a total giveaway and just predictable.

I was actually eyeing some loopholes because there seemed to be many but I cannot put my fingers on them because the film’s vibe is sucking me in that I could predict what “will / may” happen next. Clearly, Corazon acquired no superpowers but if she feeds on a dead human flesh – won’t she die or atleast get poisoned and eventually die? I guess I’m being condescending about that fact or maybe, she really did acquire some supernatural attributes that was not mentioned in the film. Also, the shots of Corazon being her evil self are reminiscent of the “monsters” in other Asian horror films such as The Ring and The Grudge. It was all good though as it intensify each scene even more.

On a more positive note, I thought the film’s cinematography is genius! I love how each frame were captured in a very consistent way and kudos to the accompanying score for it gave the maximum feel of the most important scenes – I particularly love the scene when Corazon went to the hill to pray for two weeks. It was just creepy!

Overall, there isn’t much to munch on the film’s plot as it narrowly gives the audience a dramatization of the supposed first “Aswang,” a monster created by the town’s people that eventually evolved to be part of the Filipino folklore. The good thing though is that it was a subtle employment of our still existing folklore that younger viewers may or may not appreciate at all. I am hoping it is the former.

Rating: 6/10

Director: Richard Somes

Main Cast: Erich Gonzales, Derek Ramsay, Mark Gil, Jeffrey Quizon, Mon Confiado, Tetchie Agbayani

Distributor: Skylights Films /Star Cinema

Special Screening at Shangrila Cineplex 4 on March 14, 2012 Officiated by the Ericholics

This film review was first posted at Pinoy Exchange. Read all my film reviews at Pinoy Exchange Official PEx Movie Reviews.

Review: Mamarazzi (2010)

SM Megamall Cinema 12
P160 with D
Director: Joel Lamangan
Starring: Eugene Domingo, John Lapus, Diether Ocampo, AJ Perez, Andi Aigenmann, Carla Abellana, Xian Lim, Arron Villaflor, Carl Guevarra, JC Tiuseco, Lucho Ayala, Sam Bumatay
via wikipedia

via wikipedia

I wasn’t so keen to watch this film in the cinema but I figured that It would be a great pass time since it was top billed by Eugene Domingo. I was expecting to laugh from start to finish and I just did. The comedy isn’t fresh at all but Eugene’s take on acting is beyond amazing. She’s a really,really funny and intelligent woman. It’s not a smart film but it’s a “fun” one. The only “annoying” or “anti-climactic” scene in the film was the dance sequence in the ice-skating rink. WTF was that?? It’s so out of nowhere– it’s like audience were given 10 minutes break from the film to do what they want to do (pee, buy snacks, nap if you could). It was way off –so random, corny and uncomfortable.

John Lapus gave a very good support as well as Diether Ocampo and Carla Abellana. AJ Perez, Andi Eigenmann and Arron Villaflor are just eye candies in the film and they did that role –well, okay.
If you’re looking for a good laugh, then you should catch this one. For good direction– go catch Salt / Inception — I think they’re still showing.
I’d give it a 7.5/10 ratings.

Review: Kimmy Dora – Kambal Sa Kiyeme (2009)

 

via wikipedia

via wikipedia

 

On DVDDirector: Bb. Joyce Bernal

Starring: Eugene Domingo, Dingdong Dantes, Zanjoe Marudo, Miriam Quiambao, Baron Geisler, Ariel Ureta

Combine Bb. Joyce Bernal and Eugene Domingo and you’ll get the whacky film Kimmy Dora, a starring role for Eugene where she has to play twins! Yes, peeps–she played the dominatrix Kimmy and her uber sensitive twin sister Dora (who looks like Dora the explorer in a retarded kind of way)– LOL With a star-studded casting, you’d laugh at almost every scene. The storyline is not very deep and quite exaggerated at some point but you’ll enjoy every bit of Eugene’s punchlines…I’d like to praise the acting of Miss Universe 1st Runner Up Mirriam Quiambao–who acted as the punching bag assistant of Kimmy Dong Hae…Over-all, It’s not much of a story and I won’t tell the story cuz it’s such a simple one so just try to watch it if you wanted to have a good laugh and see some of the biggest stars in TV and Music!

Ratings: 8/10