#WalangForever: Movie Review

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Our entire family went to see this movie together. Excited kami dahil it won Best Picture sa 2015 Metro Manila Film Festival. I went into the theater with high hopes and high expectations. That was why it was so painful to see the second half of this movie unravel.

We were so affected that we had to talk about it in depth. So, for the first time ever, I will release a review in podcast format.

I’m joined by my younger sister, Janna, and her best friend, Diane. Both ladies love movies like I do. Maybe not as much, but passionate din sila about this particular one.

Do you agree with the things we said? Ikaw? Ano ang suggestions mo on how to fix this movie? I’d love to hear what you think.

You can post a comment below to let me know.

Keep watching movies!


Ant-Man: (Spoiler-Free) Movie Review

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My reviews for the last few Marvel movies got to quite a few Marvel fanboys and fangirls in my tiny little world. They didn’t like the fact that I didn’t rave about the “cool”-ness of Guardians of the Galaxy. They couldn’t comprehend why Avengers: Age of Ultron failed to blow my puny mortal mind. Add my affection for Batman and it was perfectly understandable why I got a few worried looks. Have I turned DC?

The answer is, “No.” If you have any doubts about that, click here to see my review of Man of Steel.

The reason why I didn’t fall in love with the past Marvel movies is because they just weren’t as good as the other ones. In my video review of Age of Ultron, I mentioned that I was starting to fear for the franchise. I said that if they were going to continue on the path of fanboy pleasing, there’s a big possibility that they will alienate the common moviegoer. With all the rage about the Easter eggs and cameos, the fluid storytelling and character building that I liked about the earlier films were starting to slip. It was as if the individual movies were just blown up and expensive mega-trailers. Instead of building a self-contained story, they were focused on building hype for the next one.

This is exactly why I found Ant Man so refreshing.

Ang Buod:

This is a spoiler-free review so, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you can click below to watch the official trailer.

Ang Maganda

This is a great standalone film. You don’t need to be a hardcore Marvel fan to enjoy this movie. If you want to introduce the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a friend, this is a good movie to do that. Hindi katulad ng Age of Ultron or Captain America: Winter Soldier, hindi kailangan na kilala mo na ang mga characters para maging invested ka sa kanila. There were Easter eggs and winks from the production team, but missing out on them won’t take anything away from the viewing experience.

Ant Man has its own defined genre. I appreciate Marvel’s decision to include a distinct feel to their movies. Winter Soldier was a spy film. The Guardians of the Galaxy was a space comedy. Ant Man is, above anything else, a heist film. You knew it right off the bat. Yes, there were calls to the MCU, but there was enough meat in the story to keep the viewers happy.

The entire cast stepped up. I was a little worried about Paul Rudd. In a world filled with relatively young and hunky leading men, he seemed a little too old to star in a Marvel movie. I know, I know, Robert Downey Jr. is older, but his personality (on- and off-screen) made up for it. I remember Paul Rudd as the clueless Paris from Romeo + Juliet, (insert films). He’s always been that good Hollywood guy who played roles that any other good Hollywood guy can play. He never really stood out for me. But within the first hour, he grew on me. I was convinced that he is the perfect guy for this role. It was clear from the get go that Ant Man wasn’t supposed to be overly charismatic and charming. Ant Man was designed to go unnoticed. It wasn’t the superhero side that we were supposed to care about. Paul Rudd portrayed the character’s flawed humanity really well. He was a good guy who did bad things and I was more than happy to stand behind him on his quest for redemption. He wasn’t just Ant Man. He was also Scott Lang. I found myself rooting for him because he was both.

Michael Douglas is the man. I know he’s old and (except for the first few minutes of the movie) the people behind this movie didn’t try to mask that fact, but he still rocked it as the original Dr. Hank Pym.

I wasn’t so sure about Evangeline Lilly playing Hope, but halfway through the movie, I was sold.

Oh, and can I just point out how hilarious Michael Pena was? Every time he walked onscreen, I caught myself grinning in anticipation for the next crazy thing he’ll say.

I also liked the way they treated Scott and Hope’s romantic arc. It wasn’t too cheesy and orchestrated. There was some chemistry throughout, but the reveal was perfect. After all, that’s usually how it happens in real life (or so I heard).

Ang Pangit

I can’t really think of anything right now. Yes, the entire science of shrinking into a tinier version of yourself is ridiculous, but the way the movie laughed at itself saved the day.

Ang Paghuhusga

This is how comic book movies should be. Forget Ang Lee’s Hulk. Forget Man of Steel. Comic books (or graphic novels for that matter) reveal deep philosophical themes and questions about man and humanity without openly pointing it out. You don’t have to be dark and brooding to be intellectual. It’s the things that the audience realize by themselves in the quiet and subtle moments of the movie which are the hardest to forget. Give us some credit. Let us think for ourselves.


Watch it. Love it. Hug your child and/or father after.

The Age of Adaline: Movie Review

We know she can star in a controversial TV series. We know she can play a decent supporting actress in a Ben Affleck movie. We know she can get married, have a baby, and still look as beautiful and thin as ever. But, can Blake Lively carry an entire movie on her shoulders?

Here’s what I think.

Furious 7: Movie Review

Yup. This is the seventh movie in this franchise and it looks like they’re going to be making more. By this time, malinaw na dapat sa iyo if you’re the type of person who enjoys this type of movie or not. Dahil if you’re not, then you shouldn’t see it. Ganun lang ka-simple. Now, if you’re willing to suspend all disbelief, common sense, and all the physics lessons you’ve had in your life, there is a fair chance that you will enjoy this movie.

Just look at this trailer.

Does this look like a movie that will stimulate your higher intelligence? Hindi naman di ba? At least, you’re not buying into something that promises a big pay off. Honest sila and I respect that.

Ang Kuwento:

The whole gang is back. Well, not the whole gang really because Gisele (Gal Gadot) and Han (Sung Kang) are no longer around. Pero the core group of Dominic (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and Mia (Jordana Brewster) are still here. Plus and minus other members of the team like Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson). It was also fun to see The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, reprise his role as Hobbs. Now, just looking at that list of names, madali nang ma-overwhelm with the number of characters in this movie. Idagdag pa si Jason Statham (as Deckard Shaw) as the main villain and a new government guy, Kurt Russel (as Mr. Nobody) and you really have a full house. Pero di naman mahirap to keep track of everyone kasi all you need to know is whether they’re good or not. Wala namang masyadong complicated at multi-layered na characters for this movie. Each person’s motivation is laid out for all to see and that, in itself, is a good thing that some of the more pretentious movies fail to do.

The trailer explains the entire movie plus a spoiler or two kaya di na ako magdadagdag pa.

Ang Maganda:

It’s nice to see the gang back together. I won’t lie. I bought into the whole “family” theme of this franchise since the first movie kaya I like seeing everyone back together.

The way that they handled Paul Walker’s untimely death and how they gave him a proper send off in the movie was also well done. In most movies na may emotional na ending, when the lights in the cinema turn on, it’s the girls who are wiping their eyes. Pero when I saw this with my dad and sister, I looked around to see the girls consoling the guys in the crowd. A few were trying to wipe away their tears really fast para di mahalata pero huli pa rin kasi pula ang mga mata paglabas. Nakakatuwa lang. And knowing that the reason for that is how much everyone behind the movie really loved Paul as a person made it as honest and real as possible. That’s why everyone felt it.

Just when you think they’ve run out of ridiculous ideas for stunts, they haven’t. Ano pa bang di nila nagagawa sa franchise na ito. They’ve had stunts in and on trains, stunts with tanks, trucks, and planes, but they managed to add more action and more excuses for explosions in this movie. It was still fun. It was still suspenseful. It was still impossible. Which brings me to my next point.

Ang Pangit:

They are right on the verge of being too ridiculous. Isang bulate na lang ang pipirma, at sosobra na. Every time they release a new trailer, I ask myself if this is the one that will finally turn me off. The plane scene in the last movie pushed me to my limit. And dahil may press na about the making of an 8th film, I’m scared about that again.

The gratuitous bikini shots. I’m putting this here knowing that some guys actually go to the film expecting this type of shot. I know you expect them to have this. Pero I still think the film can do without it. Masaya ako na nabawasan na, pero di naman kasi nakakadagdag sa plot ng movie ito. So, bakit pa.

Ang Paghuhusga:

I think I have to find a big, burly guy to be friends with para lang safe. After all, I won’t know for sure when I’d need someone to catch me when I fly off or fall off a building. If you saw Dominic catching Letty in the last movie and Hobbs using his body as cushion between Elena (played by Elsa Pataky) and a car in this movie, you know what I mean. Forget how their rock hard muscles hitting my ribs at a high velocity can, by itself, break the bones and crush my internal organs. That would be an epic way to go.

You can have a great time with this movie. Pero keep in mind that this movie aims to entertain. Wag masyadong mataas ang expectations at di ka mabibigo.


Watch it, but know that none of this happens in real life.

PK: Movie Review

Ate Mitch, this one’s for you.

There are movies that entertain you. There are movies that encourage you to think. There are movies that inspire you to do good things. There are movies that change your life. This movie is all of those and more.

Ang Kuwento:

PK (played by Aamir Khan) is an alien who was sent on a secret mission to Earth to see what its inhabitants are like. He lands in a remote place in India and is immediately faced with a very harsh reality about mankind-that we are complex, imperfect, and (most times) imperfect individuals.

Anushka Sharma plays Jaggu, a TV journalist who takes an interest in PK and his ways. She was fascinated with PK’s perspective on things, especially religion, the existence of God, and how those two things affect people. Kaya, she joins him in his quest to get back home.

Oh, and before I forget. This is a Bollywood film kaya asahan ninyo ang spontaneous singing and choreographed dancing sa pelikula.

Ang Paghuhusga:

I’m going to go straight to this part simply because I can’t say anything bad about this movie.

This is a very unique and fresh take on examining humanity. Seeing who we can be and our propensity for putting our selves before anything or anyone else through PK’s eyes, is something everyone has to experience. For example, PK had issues with people lying. Hindi dahil he found lies hurtful, pero ni hindi niya ma-detect kung niloloko na siya. Bago ang pagsisinungaling at panloloko kay PK dahil sa kanilang planeta, they could read each other’s minds. The concept of lying for personal gain was foreign to him. This part of the concept reminded me of another movie that I loved, The Invention of Lying. Pero this movie takes it to a whole new level because they used religion as the biggest discussion point.

It’s bold and unrepentant about bringing difficult questions up to the surface. It wasn’t scared of offending these big religions and the organizations that back them up. That’s part of the reason why I don’t recommend this movie to everyone. O, bago mo ikagalit, let me explain. Here are the people who shouldn’t watch this movie:

1. Mga hyper-religious at balat-sibuyas na tao. I don’t recommend this movie to everyone dahil alam ko na may mga tao na hindi kayang mag-move past sa feeling ng pagiging offended. I know because I used to be like that. Kaya kung sa tingin mo ay madali kang maasar when someone questions your faith or makes fun of it, wag mo na lang panoorin ito. Malamang maiinis ka lang. You will be so upset na ni hindi mo na susubukang maintindihan ang rest ng pelikula, much less ang puntong gusto nitong ipahayag. Wag mo na lang i-stress ang sarili mo.

2. People who are wrestling with genuine doubts about their faith and are not willing to lose it completely. This movie may just be the straw that will break the camel’s back. So, if you’re one of those people or if you know someone like that and you want them to keep your faith, sa susunod niyo na panoorin ito. This won’t help you with your struggle. Madadagdagan ang mga tanong mo at maaaring ika-frustrate mo yan. Now, if check ka sa first part ng description at hindi sa pangalawa, that’s a totally different story.

3. Mga taong hobby ang pagtawanan ang mga religions and the religious. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the movie, pero it will be in a much meaner and less “human” way. And, much like the people who belong to the first category whom you hate so much and find extremely funny, you will also miss the point of the movie.

This movie is for people who are ready to look at faith and religion as two separate things. This movie is for people who are not happy with how things are in this world and are ready to lobby for change. It’s not anti-religion. It’s anti-religious and -religiulous oppression. At the end of the movie, hindi nasagot ang tanong na kung may Diyos ba o wala o ano ang tamang paraan ng pagsamba sa Kaniya. Instead, PK offers a different solution.

PK wasn’t lobbying for the complete dissolution of religion. Ang focus niya ay kung paano magiging mas mabuting tao at makatao ang mga tao. The point of the movie is not how ridiculous religion is. In fact, he doesn’t deny the possibility of God existing. He just encourages people to do the right thing while waiting here on earth.

This movie is high up on my list of must-see films for faith-seekers. Kasama ng Lord, Save Us From Your Followers at Religulous, isa ito sa mga pelikulang kailangan mapanood ng sinumang gustong pumasok sa full-time ministry.


Watch this at your own risk.

This movie will change your life.

The Last Five Years: Movie Review

Anna Kendrick stars in another movie musical released just roughly two months after Into The Woods. This time, there’s no CGI, no grand sets, and no ball gown. The Last Five Years only has Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan to anchor this production to, but, with the music and the unique take on a tragically all-too-common story, this movie trumps Into The Woods.

Like Into The Woods, I’ve seen a video of a stage performance of The Last Five Years before I saw the movie. I thought that the story is very real and the music is so emotional. The fact that this musical is usually performed in relatively small venues, which helps set the tone of the entire thing by how intimate things are, scared me a little. Hollywood tends to polish the material too much that it loses its simple beauty, but the things they changed in this film improved the entire experience. In my books, The Last Five Years will always be remembered as a successful stage-to-screen adaptation.

Ang Kuwento:

THE LAST 5 YEARS is a musical chronicling a love affair and marriage taking place over a five year period. Jamie Wellerstein (Jordan) is a young, talented up and coming novelist who falls in love with Cathy Hiatt (Kendrick), a struggling actress. Their story is told almost entirely through song. All of Cathy’s songs begin at the end of their marriage and move backwards in time to the beginning of their love affair, while Jamie’s songs start at the beginning of their affair and move forward to the end of their marriage. They meet in the center when Jamie proposes.


Ang Maganda:

Just reading the synopsis, alam mo na agad na hindi ito simpleng pelikula. Think of Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind and its jumpy timeline. Kung napanood mo na ang pelikulang iyon at naintindihan mo, then, you won’t have too much of a problem following the timeline of The Last Five Years. Kung nagustuhan mo ang ESoaSM, there’s a bigger chance that you would like The Last Five Years, too. The story is presented in a very creative way. The whole reversed timeline revealing new dimensions of the same story thing blew me away the first time I saw the play and the fact that they had the other person in the other’s singing parts made the disjoints sa kanilang mga personality at perspectives even more vivid. It’s creative and it’s great!

Anna Kendrick gave a very convincing performance. The first song in the movie, Still Hurting, is EVERYTHING. I knew that if she wasn’t able to make the world stop spinning for the audience for those three minutes, the movie won’t be good. Pero she did! It was painful. It was emotional. It was just… *sigh* real. I was so relieved when I got emotionally invested after seeing that because I had very high expectations. You see, I saw this video of THE Lea Salonga singing the same song during a rehearsal and she made me cry! Ang taas ng bar na na-set for me. If you don’t believe me, just watch this.


Jeremy Jordan was such a revelation. Man, that guy can sing! I never saw an episode of Smash! kahit na I heard that he showcased his singing and acting chops sa series na iyon. And now that I already heard him sing, I’m thinking of watching that series just to see him perform. He was hitting ridiculously high notes like it was nothing! Magaling rin siya to make the audience alternately love and hate his character, Jamie. That’s not an easy thing to do. I couldn’t help but learn to love him even though the movie sets him up as the bad guy right off the bat with Still Hurting.

The music was even better than the original version. The Last Five Years is normally performed with minimal musical accompaniment. Piano nga lang ang kasabay sa mga off Broadway versions nito. I was a little scared that having access with a whole plethora of musical instruments, Jason Robert Brown would go crazy and drown the message of the songs out pero he didn’t. I would go so far as to say that the addition of a full band on some songs added to the beauty and character of the songs. I’m really happy with that.

The look and feel of the movie was spot on. It was dark when it was necessary and bright when they were happy. The transitions are almost seamless and the MTV style storytelling that they employed when the characters sang were very creative. They made some really good choices like the scene where a crowd of tall and “perfect” models hid Cathy from Jeremy’s view. I also liked what they did with Jeremy’s Nobody Needs To Know. Those helped the audience better understand the lyrics of the song.

Ang Pangit:

I think some of the scenes they added were a little unnecessary. There were two that I had some trouble. The first one was when Jeremy walked around actual women when he sang their names in Shiksa Goddess. I didn’t like that part. Having a box of their pictures or not having anything at all would’ve been better (in my opinion). The other thing was Jeremy’s impromptu dance number complete with back up dancers made me shake my head.

Ang Paghuhusga:

Para sa kahit sino na nakaranas na ng relationship that went sour, makaka-relate kayo rito. Sa mga taong nakaranas na maloko ng partner na ayaw umamin, mas makaka-relate kayo. Sa mga taong nakaranas nang manloko, nawa’y makonsensya kayo rito.

This is a beautiful, emotional film. Pero if you’re not into musicals or if you want a regular Rom-Com, this is not the movie for you. This movie will force you to read the why’s and how could they’s of the characters in this movie in between the sung lines. It was designed to let the audience interact with the story and, as you would a crime scene, find out why and how the eventual death of love happened.


Watch it. Own it. Feel the pain one last time.

Tapos, move on na, teh!

Into The Woods: Movie Review

Into The Woods boasts of a star-studded cast, to say the least. They have Chris Pine (Star Trek), Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow), Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect), and, the one and only, Merryl Streep! Add theater pros, James Corden, Tracey Ullman, and the young powerhouses Lilla Crawford, and Daniel Huttlestone (Les Miserables). Then, remember that Rob Marshall directed it and that Stephen Sondheim, the same man behind the original musicale. Oh, before I forget, note that the deep pockets of Disney backed this up. With all that, this is supposed to be a perfect movie, right?

Is it perfect? Is it even good? Is it better than the original?

That depends entirely on who is watching this movie.

This was, by far, the movie that I wanted to see above all else this year. Before I saw it, people who knew how I excited I was told me to lower my expectations because they didn’t like it that much. When I finally saw it, I was surprised that I wasn’t as disappointed as I expected myself to be, pero that’s just me. I guess masyado na akong malaking fan ng original material to be upset.

Ang Buod:

“Into the Woods” is a modern twist on several beloved fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), all tied together by an original story involving a Baker and his Wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the Witch (Meryl Streep), who has put a curse on them.


Ang Maganda:

Everyone in this movie did a wonderful job. Granted na I’m over Anna Kendrick’s voice, I still think the music and the singing was great. Siyempre naman, hindi pababayaan ni Sondheim ang baby niya. Pero hindi lang ang kantahan, maging ang pag-arte ng bawat character ay mahusay. Kahit controversial ang pag-cast kay Johnny Depp as the Wolf, I, myself, think that his signature “Johnny-Depp-acting” still worked for the character. And, don’t even get me started on Meryl Streep’s performance. She’s a living legend. Yan na lang ang sasabihin ko.

It’s a visual masterpiece. Everything from the costumes to the lighting was beautiful. Dark, yes, but still beautiful. It moved away from the bright stage lights that people who saw the original work were used to, but that’s okay. I know that they did that to make the darker theme of the movie more prominent.

Ang Pangit:

This movie, like so many films that came before it, struggled with what to compromise. I say this because I saw the recorded version of the original material lots of times before and I can see where they made changes.

The original was more raw, more sinister, and more unrepentant about the topics it engaged. It was a story for adults that happened to have children’s fairy tales’ characters in it. Turning it into a Disney movie may have set expectations na hindi kailanman maaabot ng project na ito.

Ang Paghuhusga:

My bestfriend called it boring. My twin sister told me that it wasn’t worth the money. People, generally, didn’t appreciate the “twists” that happened sa second act ng pelikula. And I understand why they felt that way. Iba lang talaga ang format ng pelikula at ng full-length play. Iba lang rin talaga ang perspective ng moviegoer sa theater nerd.

Now, bago ako ma-misinterpret, I’m not saying that one art form is better than the other or that theater nerds are more illuminated than moviegoers. Ang sinasabi ko is that people who loved the original play will, most likely, appreciate this more than those who are seeing it for the first time. Sold na sa amin ito e, hindi na kailangang ipaliwanag pa. The things that had to be removed would have made it better, pero it would also make the movie even longer than it is. Kailangan lang talagang mangyari ang mga yun.

Some of the things that people had a problem with like how the music was repetitive at nag-iiba lang ng lyrics or how the “happy ending” was ruined were things that I actually loved about the original material. Yes, it was dark and some people didn’t like it. Pero, it was even darker sa original na play! This is a Disney-ized this version, remember? So, ang bottom line ay , this movie is NOT a Disney fairy tale. If you want to see another Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin, this is not the movie for you. This movie is NOT for everyone.


I’ll buy a copy and I’ll show it to my kids on their sixteenth birthday.

That Thing Called Tadhana: Movie Review

Are Pinoys ready for a movie that features only two actors? May sapat na bang attention span ang mga Noypi para sa isang pelikula kung saan ang bida ay ang mga linya at hindi ang artista?

Dear, writers, directors, and production companies… Handa na po kami. Hindi pa ba sapat na ebidensya ang higit sa P100 million na kinita ng pelikulang ito bilang ebidensya?

Ang Buod:

“That Thing Called Tadhana,” a romance-comedy in the tradition of “Before Sunrise” is what Antoinette Jadaone has created. The films asks the questions “Where do broken hearts go?” and tells the story of a woman, struggling to meet airline baggage requirements, who meets a man who comes to her aid. Both in despair out of love, they form a charming friendship that will take them to Sagada in their attempts to mend each other’s hearts. (Facebook.com/ThingCalledTadhana)

Ang Maganda:

This movie’s mainstream release was the perfect follow through to another successful and beautifully crafted Antoinette Jadaone film, English Only Please. Tama lang rin ang sequence ng events dahil, with the regular Juan and Juana in mind, mas madali nang lununin ang pelikulang ito matapos mapanood at magustuhan ang English Only Please.

The acting. It takes a lot of courage to tackle a role like this. Dahil dalawa lang ang tauhan sa pelikulang ito, it requires two perfectly-casted and emotionally-committed actors. This movie has that in spades sa katauhan nina Angelica Panganiban at JM de Guzman. Oo, they are no KathNiel or JaDine, pero that’s the point! This was never meant to be a lovey-dovey pakilig na pelikula. Had it been KimXi or some other famous love team, marami ang mawawala sa movie na ito. This was a story about ordinary people sharing a journey (both literally and figuratively). I’ve always known that Angelica Panganiban is a very talented actress. JM de Guzman is very charming and genuine. This was the perfect pairing. Mahusay ang bitaw ng mga linya. It was natural and effortless which is the hardest kind of performance to give. Sa mundo ng elevator acting, mahirap ang maging natural at iyan ang makikita ninyo rito.

The writing. The script is the main character in this movie. At kahit na may mga sandali na kinakailangan ng suspension of disbelief dahil sa “Stranger Danger” aspect ng totoong buhay, madali naman na magpatawad dahil mabilis ang takbo ng kwento. It was very obvious that this was inspired by the Before Sunrise movies, pero I wouldn’t call it plagiarism dahil masyadong maka-Pilipino ang soul ng That Thing Called Tadhana. Oo, naglipana nga ang mga #hugotlines na bahagi ng marketing ng pelikulang ito, pero hindi naman malayo sa katotohanan na masabi ito ng mga totoong tao. Heartbreak turns fools into poets, kumbaga, at kahit sinong nakakita na ng taong kaka-break lang sa syota ay magpapatotoo rito.

The direction. Like I said earlier, this movie has a very genuine, natural, fluid feel to it which is something that’s very hard to achieve. The direction has to be on point for that to happen kaya isang bonggang palakpak muli para kay Bb. Antoinette Jadaone.

The cinematography. It’s funny how the line, “Ang ganda ng cinematography.” came into play in this movie which features exactly that. Ang awkward nga naman kung sinasabi nila yan for another movie within this movie pero the movie itself doesn’t look good. Sasha Palomares has been nominated twice for Best Cinematography sa Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival for her other projects and that’s understandable dahil maganda ang pagkakapinta niya sa mga eksena ng pelikulang ito.

Ang Pangit:

There are a few things that you need to forgive sa pelikulang ito like how they even agree to travel to Baguio together. I don’t think any of the people I know are willing to do that with a perfect stranger kahit pa gaano katangos ang ilong niya o gaano ka-inviting ang puppy-dog eyes niya. They also spent the night without wearing proper cold weather clothes, under the open sky, with Mace (Angelica Panganiban) wearing strapped sandals… in SAGADA! At hindi sila namatay sa hypothermia?! That red blanket/mat and that shawl/towel they used must be a nuclear-powered heater of some sort. Pero ayos lang rin. Simpleng mga bagay lang naman yan.

Ang Paghuhusga:

This may very well be the Filipino counterpart to Before Sunrise. Hindi ako aangal diyan. It’s a good film to watch lalo na para sa mga namamait pa dahil sa kani-kanilang pumalpak na pagsubok sa pag-ibig. Pero, kailangan ko ring sabihin na hindi ito para sa lahat. In order to fully enjoy this movie, you have to be in the right mindset. Kung naghahanap ka lang ng feel good rom-com, this is not the movie you should see. Mag-English Only Please ka na lang muna. Pero para sa taong handang makinig sa talastasan ng dalawang normal na tao for an hour and a half, this is the perfect movie for you.

The Hundred-Foot Journey: Movie Review

I posted my review of Love, Rosie yesterday and one of the key points I made was the slim odds of a book-to-film adaptation succeeding. Last year’s The Giver was a travesty and Love, Rosie, though better, is not a good example as well. This movie, The Hundred-Foot Journey, is a prime example of when written word is translated beautifully into a genuine and emotionally captivating film.

Ang Buod:

In “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. Displaced from their native India, the Kadam family, led by Papa (Om Puri), settles in the quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. Filled with charm, it is both picturesque and elegant – the ideal place to settle down and open an Indian restaurant, the Maison Mumbai. That is, until the chilly chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin starred, classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), gets wind of it. Her icy protests against the new Indian restaurant a hundred feet from her own escalate to all out war between the two establishments – until Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine and for Mme. Mallory’s enchanting sous chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), combine with his mysteriously delicious talent to weave magic between their two cultures and imbue Saint-Antonin with the flavors of life that even Mme. Mallory cannot ignore. At first Mme. Mallory’s culinary rival, she eventually recognizes Hassan’s gift as a chef and takes him under her wing.

from: http://www.dreamworksstudios.com/films/the-hundred-foot-journey

Ang Maganda:

Where do I begin? There’s just too many good things to say about this movie!

The screenplay. Translating something from page to stage is no easy task. Maraming elemento ng kwento ang kailangang alisin. May nawawala rin sa bahagi ng audience dahil books force people to interact with the material more than film goers do with film. We read what the author says, but we add so much more using our imaginations. That’s why fans of books have to keep an open mind when watching film adaptations. It is one of the screenplay writer’s hardest tasks to pick and choose which scene, plot points, and story elements to include in the script. With only roughly an hour of dialogue to establish characters and move the story along, this requires more wisdom than creativity. I think in order to succeed in doing this, the writer has to understand that the characters are more important than the events. That’s what Love, Rosie failed to do. Instead of giving us well-fleshed out characters, we were shown a series of events. The Hundred-Foot Journey, on the other hand, made sure that we knew each character (which was challenging because they had way more characters who mattered in this film than Love, Rosie) well enough to care about them. Stephen Knight enabled us to see these characters as people by giving them clever dialogue instead of long monologues.

It is a visually stunning movie. Each shot was a perfectly Instagrammable moment. The use of natural light and cutaway scenes was very artful. You won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. Each scene and setting was also a core component of the story. It wasn’t just there for the sake of existing or to fill in the empty seconds of the film. They served a purpose and enhanced the storytelling.

The musical score was very emotional.  A.R. Rahman managed to create a fusion of traditional Indian music with strict classical, very French, score. There were also scenes where the Indian pentatonic scale was set against a very modern, techno, beat and it worked. There were grand swells in moments where the audience had to be swept away and there were moments of almost complete silence to create even more drama.

The actors. Of course, Dame Helen Mirren did a spectacular job. She managed to turn a character who can easily be a caricature into someone human. She was strict without turning mean. Her character changed slowly, gradually, without turning into a completely different person. Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon portrayed star-crossed lovers without turning into archetypes. Om Puri was Papa not only to the people in the film. He was so perfectly flawed that I may never know him by his name. I’ll probably just call him Papa for the rest of my life.

The direction. Lasse Hallstrom is the man who brought us equally beautiful scenes and multi-layered characters in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, and Chocolat. He is a master of storytelling without literally telling the story. He spoke through transitions. He showed each character’s complexity through small clues like a sideways smile or a tilt of the head. Even the supporting characters like Hassan’s brother, played by Amit Shah, had enough life and character breathed into him with the one-liners and tiny nuances that I cared about him. This was not easy to do.

Ang Pangit:

During the last scene, it was implied that Hassan and Marguerite did something physical in Le Saule Pleureur’s stockroom. I don’t think this was necessary. I commend them for not showing this in detail, but I still think the movie could have done without it. It is both unnecessary and unsanitary.

Ang Paghuhusga:

This is a movie worth watching. It is a beautiful story about love in its many forms. This showcases love of family, love of what you’re passionate of, love of humanity, and romantic love. At isa pang maganda rito is that this is the kind of movie you can keep watching over and over again. This brings me to my…


Make sure you own a copy of this movie!

(in Blu-ray if possible)

Love, Rosie: Movie Review

Good book-to-movie adaptations are very hard to find. There are films that turn out even better than the books. There are ones that slaughter the original material, but most of the movies are little more than good companions to the paper version. If you want to experience a really good one and you came across Love, Rosie, I’d tell you to keep looking.

Ang Buod:

Rosie (played by Lily Collins) and Alex (played by Sam Claflin) are the best of friends. Their childhood homes being right across each other only helped this uniquely intimate boy-girl friendship. Yun nga lang, puberty happened at with the added element of malisya, nagsimulang magbago ang dynamics ng kanilang pagkakaibigan. Dagdagan mo pa ng alcohol, freak accidents, an early pregnancy, at maraming bad timing, lalong naging magulo ang lahat. This movie follows their friendship-romance throughout the years.

Ang Maganda:

The movie had scenes that looked good. Even scenes with hard lighting and night scenes were beautifully lit and constructed.

Ang Pangit:

Every thing else. This is the type of movie that you just forget. The writing did not stand out. The acting did not turn the script into something more. This was just another Rom-Com sa mundo ng mga Rom-Com.

The amount of plot elements, twists and turns. Even if I didn’t know that this was based on a book before seeing it, I probably would still be able to deduce that it was dahil lang sa dami ng mga nangyari. Ang masama pa roon ay the storytelling, the screenplay, didn’t help at all.

Ang Paghuhusga:

This is a movie that is based on a book that makes you feel like you’re still reading a book. Now, I just have to emphasize that I’m not averse to books or reading. In fact, I find reading one of the best things to do in life. Pero watching a film and reading a book are two totally different experiences. Filmmakers should be fully aware of that and make adjustments accordingly.


Hintayin niyo na lang sa TV!

The Imitation Game: Movie Review

This movie had a one-liner reputation as a “gay movie,” and though it did tackle that crucial part of Alan Turing’s life, that description did not do it justice. This movie is so much more.

This is a movie about the loneliness of genius, the healing salve of friendship, and man’s drive to achieve greatness regardless of the sacrifice it requires.

Ang Kuwento:

Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. Written by Studio Canal

I dare not add anything to that summary written by Studio Canal because I want you, my dear reader, to experience this film firsthand.

Ang Maganda:

The actors. I wasn’t surprised to hear that the cast was nominated for the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Ensemble Cast. They didn’t just have the talented Benedict Cumberbatch/Sherlock (as Alan Turing). They also had the likes of Keira Knightley/Elizabeth Bennet (as Joan Clarke), Matthew Goode/Ozymandias (as Hugh Alexander), Charles Dance/Tywin Lannister (as Commander Denniston), and Mark Strong (as Stewart Menzies). Their chemistry as a cast was palpable. Truly, all of these brilliant actors gave their all to make this film as emotionally captivating as possible.

The tasteful writing. Alan Turing’s sexuality, his struggles with it, and what he had to suffer because of it, was media gold. In this day and age, writers gravitate toward this material and enjoy turning it into ticket sales. Take a look at 50 Shades of Grey. I doubt if they would consider sacrificing the controversial scenes to make way for character development. The screenplay writer, Graham Moore, did not indulge the unlearned audience’s tasteless interest in sex scenes. By expressing Alan’s homosexuality as a part of his character instead of its very definition, it was easier for the audience to focus on his work, his plight, and the cruelty of what he went through.

The cinematography and art direction. The colors used in this film were perfect and everything from what they wore to the props they used just added to the experience. Yes, I still would have been interested in this film if they opted to go for gray/black tones which was an easy choice for such a dramatic movie, but they were bold enough to use warmer tones like orange or red to draw the audience in. This also gave the colder tones on some of the last scenes more impact.

Ang Pangit:

I really can’t think of anything right now. It was just a really beautiful film.

Ang Paghuhusga:

This movie made me cry. They did a great job in turning Alan Turing into a three-dimensional character. A story like this could easily be turned into another “gay movie” that catered to Sherlock-Watson shippers, but they chose to turn it into a story of humanity and man’s varying definitions of it.


This is truly Oscar-worthy!

Annie: Movie Review

Dear Hollywood, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Please be very careful when you work with the classics. There are times when they work out, but this is definitely NOT one of those.

“It’s a hard-knock life for us.

It’s a hard-knock life for us!

‘Stead of treated, we get tricked

‘Stead of great films, we get sh..

scripts (really bad ones)”

It’s The Hard-Knock Life

(Movie-lover Edition)

I was actually looking forward to seeing this film. I thought that with the creative backing of talented people like Will Smith and Jay-Z (producers) and Sia (musical arranger), this would be a great contemporary take on the stage classic. What we got instead was an accidental parody of the original material.

Obvious ba na disappointed ako?

Ang Kuwento:

Academy Award® nominee A (Beasts of the Southern Wild) stars as Annie, a young, happy foster kid who’s also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they’d be back for her someday, it’s been a hard knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). But everything’s about to change when the hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) – advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Rose Byrne) and his shrewd and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) – makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. Stacks believes he’s her guardian angel, but Annie’s self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it’s the other way around.

Written by Sony Pictures Entertainment

Ang Maganda:

I guess I could say that the music was okay. It didn’t blow my mind, but I’m actually glad that they churned out pretty good updated versions of some of the songs. Hindi lahat, ha. I still think that Cameron Diaz has no business singing/shrieking in a musical film. Pero I enjoyed the updated version of It’s The Hard-knock Life.

Ang Pangit:

Tomorrow was such an iconic song and it also played a very important part in the story. I know they want to update it, but in doing the whole hip-hop arrangement, the song lost its power. I remember crying to the 1982 film’s scene where Annie sang Tomorrow. In this movie, wala lang. It was just another musical number.

Sandy was turned into a living prop. Sandy is just a really big part of the story and a very valuable companion to Annie. This version didn’t show just how smart Sandy is.

The nonsensical and uncharacteristic video montages which featured such random things as face-painting, candy-snatching, and Jamie Foxx pouring a giant fishbowl filled with gum balls on his head. Come on! Hindi ako entirely against video montages, okay? I just think that a semblance of realism is essential.

The story was not well written. The characters were not fully developed. They gave more time and importance to scenes that looked good instead of establishing the characters’ stories. Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) wasn’t as effective as Daddy Warbucks when it comes to showing how love can melt ice cold hearts. Simula palang mukha naman ay halata nang naaaliw siya kay Annie. Wala masyadong growth at change throughout the story.

Ang Paghuhusga:

I remember hearing somewhere that the Smiths produced this film mainly to give their kids a good time. Kung ganoon nga, then they probably achieved their goal. If you have kids over, mga pamangkin, kapitbahay, atbp. at gusto mo silang maupo for an hour and a half habang humihinga ka, this will do. Pero if you’re looking for the same emotional connection that you had with the older versions, you won’t find it here.


Hintayin niyo na lang sa TV!

The Amazing Praybeyt Benjamin: Movie Review

Let it be known that this is the first movie I saw in the theater for 2015. Yup. When you’re stranded in Naga where there are only 3 movies playing, it was this or Feng Shui 2 and this was the lesser evil. So, how was it?

It was exactly how I expected it to be.

Hindi ako disappointed dahil hindi naman ako umasa. I was there to enjoy a few good laughs with great company kaya for its purpose, it served me well.

Ang Buod:
Praybeyt Benjamin (played by Vice Ganda) is back. This time, isa na siyang Colonel. Kaya lang dahil sa poor life choices, he finds himself stuck under the strict command of Gen. Wilson Chua (played by Richard “Ser Chief” Yap). Benjie’s new commander has a son, Bimby (No explanation necessary), who is the key to “saving” the Philippines from a terrorist group led by @janjaran_jan (played by Tom Rodriguez). Alex Gonzaga played Bimby’s yaya and provided the audience with some laugh out loud moments.

Ang Maganda:
There’s only one thing I found good about this movie. That is, that it was self-aware. Alam nila at aminado sila na cash grab ang pelikulang ito at hindi nila planong bumago ng buhay o maglantad ng matinding moral lesson.

Ang Pangit:
It’s just another generic MMFF comedy. Hindi malinis ang paglalahad ng kwento na hindi naman nakagugulat considering na wala naman talagang laman yung kwento. It was a movie composed of a number of gags na pinaghiwa-hiwalay sa isang barely cohesive na kwento. May mga cameo ng big stars. May over the top na CGI. At higit sa lahat, may nagsusumigaw at ni hindi sumubok magpasimpleng product placement.

Ang Paghuhusga:
Hindi nito babaguhin ang buhay mo. Madali mong makakalimutan ang mga punch line. Kung hindi ka handang isaisantabi ang konsepto mo ng realidad at makabuluhang entertainment, ni huwag mo na subukang pumila para rito. Save your money for something else. Go see English Only Please. Hintayin niyo nalang na ipalabas sa free TV ang pelikulang ito.

English Only Please: Movie Review

Yep. The time has come for the Filipino audience to witness a clean and compelling romantic comedy. Just when Hollywood seems to have forgotten the formula for a good rom-com, Pinoy movie makers step in to fill the gap. Thank you, Antoinette Jadaone and Dan Villegas for giving us this gem of a film and making me believe, once again, that there is hope for this country’s film scene. Salamat ng buong puso.

I saw this movie with my family and all of us enjoyed the movie. Kahit pa the movie included themes like motmot, chikinini, etc. as plot devices, it wasn’t as uncomfortable because we all knew that they were there to add to the story. That’s the difference between this and Beauty in a Bottle. Watching this brought me back to the days of Ang Tanging Ina, Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo, and other very funny and very Filipino movies. Walang CGI monsters, walang bigating celebrity cameos, walang out-of-this-world plot, walang palabok, purong puso lang.

Ang Buod:

Jennylyn Mercado stars as Tere Madlansacay, a Filipino-English tutor who is filled with pure zest for life. Her positive outlook on life and openness contrasts with the reserved and fiercely private Julian Parker (played by Derek Ramsay). Julian is a Filipino-American who comes to the Philippines with one goal. That is, to know enough Filipino to unload a hate-driven speech to his Filipina ex-girlfriend. As they work on Julian’s Filipino (not just the language, but his identity as well), they find a common theme in both of their love lives. They are both tanga when it comes to pag-ibig and embark on a journey to fix their conditions.

Ang Maganda:

1. Derek Ramsay gave a very genuine performance as Julian. I can’t imagine anyone else playing this role. I understand why he got the Best Actor award from the MMFF Committee. It was a role that could easily turn actors into personality-deprived robots, but he managed to let us see glimpses of the real Julian behind the heartbroken facade that he puts up. This increases gradually and we see him smiling more, with an upturned corner of the mouth at first and, eventually, with his eyes.

2. The direction was solid. Each scene was a storytelling opportunity. Little things such as a glimpse or a look away is played out purposefully and the audience drank all that in. All the actors gave a very good performance and the director is to thank for that. It takes a keen eye and a gentle hand to pull that kind of performance out of an actor. It was a well-deserved win for Mr. Dan Villegas.

3. Jennylyn Mercado was just plain perfection. She wasn’t just able to give justice to the comedic moments of the movie. She also gave a very toned down and realistic portrayal of the emotionally charged scenes. Walang major, climactic, dramatic moment ang pelikulang ito. When they went to Tere’s family home, I thought magkakaroon ng malaking confrontation. Napa-“Here we go…” ako sa sarili ko dahil that type of scene have a tendency to be overly cheesy. Pero her portrayal of the pain was just enough. Saktong level lang ng sama ng loob. At kahit pa kadalasan ay asar ako sa mga tangang characters, both in real life and in movies, I can’t help but still feel for Tere. That’s not easy to pull off, ha.

4. Cai Cortez was as funny as always. Siya na talaga ang Pambansang Bestfriend ng Pilipinas. She was in Ang Turkey Man Ay Pabo Rin and Starting Over Again as the lead character’s bestfriend and in both movies, pinatawa niya rin ako ng husto. I hope that she gets her own movie soon. I’m working on a screenplay that I’m writing specifically with her as my muse called “More To Love”. Malay natin. (A girl can dream)

5. The screenplay was both simple and intricate and it was just right. I loved how little things like the line, “Traffic sa EDSA,” was planted earlier and on separate occasions. I loved how simple and discreet the dialogue was. Walang sampalan, walang barilan, walang madramang sumbatan. Ganyan naman talaga sa totoong buhay, di ba? I forgive the final scene dahil this is still a rom-com at kulang ito kung walang ganoong eksena. At ayos lang rin dahil by the time you get there, sold ka na dahil sa naunang mahigit isang oras ng character development. Usually, sa Rom-Coms, my sister and I roll our eyes at those type of scenes, pero in this one, we didn’t care. We just wanted things to work out for Tere and Julian. The writer is to thank for that.

Ang Pangit:

I can’t really think of anything right now. Really. It was that good.

Ang Paghuhusga:

It was fluid. It was so funny that the entire theater erupts into loud laughter whenever may punch line. In fact, sobrang lakas nga ang tawa ng ibang tao na hindi na halos marinig yung mga sumunod na linya dahil di pa sila tapos tumawa.

English Only Please is sure to give you a good time kahit pa bitter ka sa pag-ibig. It will make you laugh kahit pa conservative ka. It will make you proud na habang nagluluwa ng isa pang Divergent o 50 Shades of Grey ang Hollywood ay nagpapakitang gilas ang mga bago, mas fresh, at mas batang movie makers ng ating bansa.

It makes me sad to know that this movie is not showing in all theaters around the country dahil mas profitable ang magpalabas ng ibang MMFF entry. Pero if may pagkakataon ka, go and see this film. The people behind this deserve to know that you support their work.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Movie Review

It was a struggle to see this film as a standalone project and not be influenced by how good the other Marvel films are. Pero I tried my best and I think I managed to do that pretty well. Yun nga lang, there’s something about this movie’s soundtrack. I mean, who hears Hooked On A Feeling and doesn’t feel as giddy as a little girl with a giant red balloon. Ang di maapektuhan, di tao.

Marvel took quite a risk by making this movie. Unlike their previous comic book-based movies which featured relatively known characters like Iron Man and Captain America, most people didn’t know the Guardians of the Galaxy. I knew nothing about these characters. When Vin Diesel posted a teaser for his involvement in this project, I was so uninterested that I didn’t even look it up. Pero when I saw the trailer, I got interested. It obviously had a different tone than the Marvel movies we were used to. It was light and funny and I wanted to see how Marvel can pull that off.

Ang Buod:

[…] An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt) find himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan (played by Lee Pace), a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits–Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), the deadly and enigmatic Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana), and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer (played by our very own, Dave “Batista” Bautista). But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand–with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

taken from the official website at: http://marvel.com/guardians

italicized parts added by the author

Ang Maganda:

1. The soundtrack. When I found out that this movie’s soundtrack was the only film soundtrack without an original song to land the top spot in the US Billboard 200, I wasn’t surprised. Paano ba naman, it had the best of the best. I also liked how the songs were used in the film.

2.  The humor. Just when I find myself getting bored enough to think on the movie, they hit me with a funny one-liner from Rocket or a well-placed, “I am Groot,” from Groot. It was fast. It was witty. It wasn’t all stupid slapstick nonsense or dumb fart jokes that 8 year-olds could giggle about. I loved it.

3. The action. Yey for that three-way fight scene between Rocket & Groot, Gamora, and Quill.

4. The actors. Zoe Saldana was as fierce as ever. After all, playing an alien warrior isn’t new to her. Pero who knew Chris Pratt can become a superhero? He was the fat, douche-y guy from 10 years! I didn’t know that he had it in him and I was pleasantly surprised. Bradley Cooper was also perfect as the voice of Rocket.

5. GROOT! Yup. I’m one of those people willing to watch the next movie just to see Groot again. The character was just so lovable and having Vin Diesel to lend him his voice was a great choice. I couldn’t help hearing The Iron Giant, though. Pero that’s okay as he is also a giant thing with an even bigger heart.

Ang Pangit:

I didn’t care about the villain. All I could remember was “the Accuser” and that was because he had one scene in the film in which he said, “I accuse you.” Lumingon ako sa kapatid ko when that happened and I said, “Ah. Kaya naman pala ‘the Accuser’.” If they gave him more than two or three lines of voice over dialogue to explain his cause, I would’ve cared more about him. Pero I didn’t. I felt more attached to the random Nova pilot who got blown up.

If there’s anything Marvel should have learned from their previous movies, it’s that a great movie requires a great villain as much as a great hero. Just look at Loki or the Winter Soldier, di ba? O, remember The Mandarin from Iron Man 3 and how much we all hated what they did with that character? See what I mean?

Ang Paghuhusga:

This movie was set up to have a sequel at simula palang ay alam mo na. At kahit pa gusto ko rin naman na makanood ng isa pang pelikula featuring Groot and that wise-cracking raccoon, I still prefer a movie that can stand alone without an entire franchise to lean on. They were banking on the Avengers: Age of Ultron references that were scattered inside the movie. I can imagine the Marvel superfans squealing with delight sa bawat Easter egg that they see. Pero for someone who isn’t a Marvel fan, it may not be as enjoyable. It’s still a good time, though, kaya I recommend that you still see this movie.

Gone Girl: Movie Review (Spoiler-Free)

I know. I know. It’s been months since this movie played in theaters, but the real world has caught up with me and my time was better spent elsewhere. But, since I’m very passionate about movies, I’m not going to let it stop me. So, here’s another really late post about a real work of art that everyone should see at least once in their life. If you don’t know anything about this gem, just watch the trailer below.

Ang Buod:

This movie looks like a stereotypical thriller/whodunnit, but it’s so much more. After all, what do you expect from the same man who gave us Fight Club, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and Panic Room.

It tells the story of Nick Dunne (played by Ben Affleck) who is unhappy with his marriage. On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick goes home to find his wife, Amy (played by Rosamund Pike), gone and the living room trashed. It’s 149 minutes of psychological thrills in which we sift through well-placed clues to try to figure out what really happened and who the real villain is.

Ang Maganda:

1. Rosamund Pike.

I didn’t know how talented this lady was until I saw this movie. I knew her as Jane from the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice kaya yun ang image sa utak ko when her name comes up. If you’re not a Jane Austen fan, Rosamund Pike’s character was a very shy and sweet young woman-hindi makabasag-pinggan ba. I think that improved my entire experience sa pelikulang ito dahil I already believed that dimension of her character. That’s also why I was so impressed sa contrast ng ibang facets ng kaniyang persona na dahan-dahang pinapasilip sa pelikula. She deserves recognition for her performance in this movie.

2. Ben Affleck was cast perfectly for this role.

I’m not a big Ben Affleck fan. I’m not even a Ben Affleck fan at all. Pero I get why David Fincher chose him to play this role. He has a very douche-y look kaya you don’t really know if you can trust him. Maybe it IS the chin. I don’t know. Pero I loved how they incorporated that into the movie. I couldn’t think of anyone else better to play this role.

3. The storytelling was well thought out.

This is one of those movies that required your full attention dahil the audience only knows exactly what the movie lets you see. It’s not one of those movies na alam mo na kung ano ang nangyayari kaya sumisigaw ka na sa screen in a hopeless attempt to help the obviously oblivious lead characters. At even though you figure out who’s who, you still don’t know how everything’s going to turn out kaya it keeps you hooked.

Ang Pangit:

I’m one of those people who worship the ground David Fincher walks on kaya it follows na I don’t find everything about this movie perfect. I think the movie could’ve ended a few scenes earlier than when it did. I think the last 10-15 minutes of the movie could be contained in three simple scenes and it would’ve made a bigger impact sa audience because we would be imagining what could happen. Alam mo naman ang mga tao, there’s nothing more scary than our imagined truths.

Ang Paghuhusga:

I know the movie’s long and some people may find the pacing slow pero if you can, take time to watch this movie. It’s an experience that anyone should have the chance to go through. Wag ka ring magbabasa about it o magpapakwento. This is a better movie for fresh minds. I did what I could to veer away from any information about this movie before I actually saw it and I’m giving myself a pat on the back for that brilliant idea.

I am hoping that in the future, sana buhay pa ako to see it, someone can turn Gone Girl into a mini-series. I think it would be better as that dahil mas maraming oras to explore the universe and to dig deeper into the characters. 147 minutes is long pero it’s not long enough for that.

Whiplash: Movie Review

I was planning to shoot a video review for this movie, but I seem to have lost my camera in all the holiday craziness. I couldn’t put off writing a review any later because the year’s ending and I’m preparing to post my list of top movies for the year. So, I guess we’re stuck with a written review. Here we go!

The movie starts with a single stroke role that gradually speeds up. Anyone who learned how to play the drums knows that as one of the first drills that you study. It may sound easy, but it’s not. Doing a proper roll takes hours upon hours of practice. Right at that moment, I knew that this is not going to be just any movie.

Ang Buod:

Whiplash tells the story of an ambitious and driven aspiring jazz drummer, Andrew Neiman (played by Miles Teller), and his strict to the point of madness conductor, Terence Fletcher (played by the equally scary J.K. Simmons). Andrew, who is but a freshman at the Conservatory has one dream. That is to be one of the greats like Buddy Rich and Bob Ellis. He knows that in order to be the best, the best thing that could happen to him is to be mentored by Terence Fletcher. So, when he finds Andrew practicing and asks him to be the alternate drummer for his band, Andrew drops everything and goes to great lengths to be the very best that he could be. The only problem was, he doesn’t know just how far Fletcher is willing to go to get him to the point of perfection.

Ang Maganda:

1. Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.

Imagine your worst professor, teacher, or boss. Now, make him/her twice as scary. That’s probably 10% of how traumatizing a mentor J.K. Simmons was in this movie. But, no matter how much you fear him or hate his character, J.K. Simmons manages to make you understand the motivations of his character. You never fully hate him. That is very hard to do.

Miles Teller was a revelation in this movie. In all his movies that I’ve seen so far, he always played a stereotypical frat boy, party crazed, douchebag. I caught a glimpse of how he can make a flawed character grown on you in The Spectacular Now, but I didn’t know he could make me care this much about character. I felt Andrew’s pain, both physical and emotional. I was in his shoes for most of the movie (except for the moments when I was in Terence’s shoes).

2. The writing was very sharp.

Do you know someone who spews out full quotes randomly? I’m NOT that person. I can only remember a handful and if and when I do, that means that the quote is a life-changing one. This movie was filled with those. J.K. Simmons had this line in which he said that:

“There is no two words in the English language more harmful than, ‘Good job.’ I push people beyond what’s expected of them. I believe that’s an absolute necessity.”

I love that quote because I give my students, proteges, and protegees a speech of the same nature. Mine’s way longer, but I’m considering just using this quote to save class time.

The characters in this movie didn’t have monologues or voice overs. The lines were few, but, man, did they count!

3. The imagery in the movie were unforgettable.

It’s a beautiful, well-shot, well-lighted film. That scene with the tray of ice will stay in my mind for the rest of my life.

Damien Chazelle wrote and directed the film and he caught my attention. I found out that he, too, was a drummer and I think that helped him help the audience see and feel Andrew’s struggles. I am looking forward to more from this man.

4. The scoring was on point.

Music isn’t there to just keep the audience occupied. It makes the audience feel these things in their chest called feelings.

Ang Pangit:

Nothing, really. I do have to warn you that this may not be an easy film to watch. If you want a movie about music that makes you feel warm and fuzzy and generally, happy, then go and watch Raise Your Voice. This movie is exponentially darker, and can be a tad bit slower than normal, but it is better in so many ways.

Ang Paghuhusga:

This isn’t a movie that you can watch out of the corner of your eye in a tiny window in your desktop while you’re working on something else. This is the kind of movie that yells at you to close all your other tabs and windows, hit the full screen button, lean in, devote 106 minutes to watch it, and the rest of the day/week/month to get over it.

If you ask me what this year’s best movie is, the answer’s easy. Whiplash will always be in my list of movies that rocked my world. Drummer or not, teacher or not, film buff or not, anyone who went through challenges in life can relate to this film. The fact that I am a drummer and a teacher who loves movies and who is in a constant struggle to find my corner of the sky made this movie mean even more for me. But, even if you’re not, I bet it will rock your world, too.


Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo: Movie Review

Kung isa ka sa mga piling taong sumusubaybay ng aking mumunting boses dito sa malaking mundo ng Internet, alam mo kung gaano katindi ang aking pagkabigo sa mga nakaraang Metro Manila Film Festivals. Bakit? You can read my post from last year here. Pero in one statement, it’s because most of the films that are included in the festival are run-of-the-mill cash grabs that rely on big names and CGI to draw people in. I would’ve boycotted this year’s festival, too, if it weren’t for two very different, but equally interesting movies. One of these two is Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo. Why? Just watch the trailer.

This film is a long overdue retelling of the trials, triumphs, and tragic demise of Andres Bonifacio. The movie dares to challenge the watered down and rather one-sided version of history that we get from our grade school textbooks. It is a very risky project on the side of the producers because historical films tend to be ridiculously expensive and famously unsuccessful in the box office. I’m pretty sure that’s why the movie, which was loaded with a lot of promise and burdened with an enormous responsibility, failed on some key points. Pero bago yan, pag-usapan muna natin kung ano ang maganda sa pelikulang ito. After all, I still think this movie needs to be seen.

Ang Maganda:

1. The RoVin love team was such a joy to watch. I’m a 90’s baby kaya hindi kakaiba sa aking mga mata ang kakaibang chemistry nila Robin Padilla (who played the titular role as Andres Bonifacio) at Vina Morales (who played Bonifacio’s wife, Gregoria de Jesus). After decades since their last team up, bumabaha parin ng fireworks at chemistry onscreen. Even my father confessed na kinilig daw siya sa ligawan ng dalawa.

2. Vina Morales showed just how great of an actress she can be. Hindi masyadong marami ang mga eksena na naroon siya, pero she made them count. (Feel free to post a comment if I’m wrong) I remember Vina playing Oriang sa isang GMA Telesine special when I was young. It was a different take sa kwento ng mag-asawa dahil it showed her struggles as a wife who had to share her husband with the revolution. She broke my tiny 7-year old heart then and she broke it uli today. To all aspiring, young actresses out there, take notes. You don’t have to look perfect when you cry. You just have to be real.

3. It was a bold move to make this movie. For that alone, the people behind this project deserve a standing ovation. In a world of generic comedies that dumb viewers down, this is a much needed contrast. Salamat sa mga nagtiwala, nagpagod, at nangahas na gawin itong pelikulang ito. Bonifacio’s story deserves to be known and repaying his heroism with a more contemporary version of the same is a noble act of gratitude. I truly wish that the Filipino people honor your efforts by getting your money back (and maybe even more to fund another and, hopefully, even better film).

4. The masses will finally have access to this sliver of history. My twin sister and I were already in college when we found out the truth about Bonifacio’s death. I remember our very grave and emotion-packed discussion about the injustice that he and his family suffered. I remember a simmering rage that came with the knowledge that very few people knew about it. Sigurado ako na lahat ng nag-KAS as GE sa UP ay alam ang kwentong ito, pero sadyang maliit ang bilang kung ikukumpara sa lahat. At kahit pa sabihing hindi perpekto ang pelikulang ito, this is the best way for every Filipino to know that truth.  How else can you get the common Juan to sit and sift through history kung hindi mo ilalahad sa paraang maiintindihan at bibigyan nila ng pansin?

5. The shots were superb. Pang-Hollywood ang framing at camera work ng pelikulang ito. It really shows the talent of the director, Enzo Williams, and the people behind the scenes. That first shot of Padre Burgos (Isko Moreno) told me right away that this will be a visual spectacle. The way that they used colors and tones to establish the mood of the scenes were mixed well. You can hit pause at any point of the movie and see how well the shot was taken. I appreciate that a lot because I know that it takes an incredible amount of artistry and attention to detail to achieve that quality. Oras na para makatikim naman ng something more than a three-piece, steady cam installation ang mga Pilipino.

Pero gaya nga ng sinabi ko, hindi perpekto ang pelikulang ito.

Ang Pangit:

1. The lack of character depth. In my perspective, characters make or break the film. I’m not just talking about the actors and how they play their parts. Ang ibig sabihin ko ay ang laman at puso ng bawat tauhan sa pelikula. The audience has to feel something for them. Whether the viewer hates a character (like Dolores Umbridge), loves a character (like Timothy Green), or couldn’t figure out how they feel about them (like Ruby Sparks), the audience has to feel something about them. Dito, I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the characters. Even my younger sister voiced out the same thing when she said, “Wala akong pakialam kahit mamatay yung mga kasama ni Bonifacio.” His brother died with him pero did I care? Nope? Did I even know that he was his brother? No. What happened to the main characters was a tragedy beyond compare, pero hindi na-milk yung moment for all it’s worth. Sayang.

2. The gratuitous inclusion of certain people (ehem… Daniel Padilla). Well, medyo conflicted naman ako dito. It was not necessary for the story (as I would have preferred a solid biography of Andres Bonifacio), pero it was necessary for this film to even break even. Hindi naman nangingimi ang mga tao behind this na sabihing Daniel Padilla was there to get the younger generation in the theaters. I understand that and I am willing to forgive this. At least, in this movie, the big name star’s appearance was the gimmick and not the entirety of the film. In this time of very slim pickings, malaking bagay na yan.

3. The pacing was slow.

4. The writing. This is one thing na nakikita kong nag-de-depreciate na sa film industry not just here, but everywhere in the world. The screenplay is not fluid, not cohesive, and not powerful enough. This is a period drama, pero hindi consistent ang language sa pelikula. You can’t help but compare it to the great Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Jose Rizal in which masinsin ang pagkakasulat at maging ang intonasyon at bali ng pagbitaw sa mga linya ay nabigyan ng pansin. If you’re looking for that, you may be disappointed. Unang mga eksena at linya palang ng Bonifacio, alam mo na that you’re watching a Robin Padilla action hero flick.

I don’t know who dropped the ball. Hindi ba nila nabuo ang script before they started shooting kaya nagkaganoon? Did they accidentally make the movie much longer kaya kinailangang putulin ang ibang eksena? Did they prioritize the aesthetically-pleasing scenes over the story-building ones? I don’t know.

There was one cutaway scene in which the people in the future were looking into the far beyond. Walang reason. Walang narration. Walang point. Tapos balik na uli sa nakaraan. Ano yun?

Walang malinaw na clues sa kung bakit nangyayari ang mga nangyayari. Bakit nasa museum nalang sila bigla? Natripan lang ba ni Joaquin na umupo sa isang desk sa museum at doon biglang mag-drawing? Kung gawin ko ba yun sa totoong buhay e hindi ako palalayasin ng guard o bantay (played by Eddie Garcia)? Normal ba ang pagsabat-sabat nalang bigla sa usapan ng may usapan? Bakit yung mga bata ang pinapagalitan ni manong? Anong ginagawa nila Bonifacio sa Wawa? Anong pakels ko sa love life ng kapatid ni Andres?

Maybe I should make a video on How To Fix Bonifacio. Hmm…

Ang Paghuhusga:

This is no Jose Rizal. This is no Braveheart. This movie is a valiant effort to produce an epic-sized, historical, dramatic film on a rather limited budget. Watch it with an open mind and a forgiving spirit. Try to remember that this was made by a handful of people who believed in what they were making. Walang higanteng production company na nagpondo rito. Wala ring matinding makinarya upang punuin ang bansa ng mga mall show at billboards. This is a film that will rely on you to get people into theaters to see a part of history that has not been told on the big screen yet. Kung para na lamang sa mensahe at kasaysayan na ipahahayag nito e sulit naman na ang manood. At kung kikita ito at magiging testamento na gusto ng Pilipino ng something more tuwing MMFF, edi mabuti! Dahil kung mayroon mang isang bagay na magkakaisa si Rizal, Bonifacio, at ako, ito ay ang buksan ang isip at palawigin ang kaalaman ng kabataang Pilipino. We wage war on the same battlefield, the minds of the young people, and against one enemy which is ignorance. Ang panonood nito ay isang mabuting unang hakbang.


PS. Special thanks to the Grajaleses (especially Ate Onah) for our tickets.

A Long Way Down: Movie Review

If I ask you to watch a movie about suicide, what’s the first image that pops in your head? Hold on to that. Is it a dark and gloomy shot of a dark room? Can you feel the mood getting dark and hopeless? Do you picture the lead character actually dying in the end? If that’s the movie you expect when you see A Long Way Down, then you will be disappointed. I, however, am glad about it.

A Long Way Down is a movie about suicide that’s not just about suicide and that is the reason why I liked it.

Ang Buod:

Four people bent on committing suicide by jumping off a tower on New Year’s Eve meet and decide to sign a contract temporarily postponing their death. I will not say anything else because I want you, my reader, to watch this movie with fresh eyes. I will, however, tell you a little bit about each character.

Pierce Brosnan plays Martin, a disgraced celebrity who seems to have lost everything that mattered to him. He was not a good person and his journey was of redemption. Toni Collette stars as Maureen. I will not reveal her motivation for quitting on life because that reveal is key to the story, but I will say that her reasons had equal parts of reasonable and cowardly. Imogen Poots’ character, Jess Chricton, was an obviously troubled young lady. The whole delayed suicide pact was her idea, though, so we have her to thank for the movie. Aaron Paul plays JJ who is an American pizza delivery guy without any idea about how his life can improve.

The movie follows the ups and downs of their personal lives as well as their one-of-a-kind friendship.

Ang Maganda:

Someone who isn’t too familiar with the tone of British comedy may not appreciate the humor of this movie, but I did. The humor wasn’t timed as perfectly as you’d expect. The punchlines and the context are not as well-filtered. But that’s how it is in real life, people. And to get people to laugh about suicide without making it sound ridiculous and thus, undermine what too many people in this world struggle with is not an easy task.

The writing was jagged in a couple of parts, but the theme of the movie made it forgivable. Anyone struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts would tell you that this is a rather accurate portrayal of recovery. There are good days and bad days and it’s messy.

The acting is also superb. Everyone did a great job, but I need to talk about Toni Collette. Maureen’s troubles are just heartbreaking and her character and all her baggage are not easy to handle. How did Toni managed to make the character lovable and believable? I don’t know. It was truly a remarkable performance.

Ang Pangit:

Like I said earlier, the writing’s a little jagged. Because of this, I understand how people would see this movie as silly or nonsensical at times. I haven’t had the chance to read the book this movie is based on, but I can imagine how much better it is. Siyempre, the book doesn’t have to be shortened to an hour and a half. It didn’t need to tell the story in scenes or pictures. Pero this is still a very reasonable personification of the idea.

Ang Paghuhusga:

If you know someone struggling with thoughts about suicide or if you, yourself, are in that dark place right now, this may be a good movie to see. It’s not because it will tell you what to do or change your mind about it. It’s not because it will make you feel better. It’s because it will show you how there’s one more day after this and that there may be a chance that it’s a little better than the day before.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1: Movie Review

A title this long should be paired with a movie that packs a huge punch, right? Was the movie good? Yes. Did it knock my socks off? No. Was splitting one book’s worth of story into two bloated movies a good idea? No. Did I put on my pa-cute smile to get my dad to spend 200 pesos so we could watch it in the theater? Yes. Was that the best way to watch it free? Yup!

Ang Buod:

This movie follows Katniss’ hero-ine journey. This time, she is thrown in the middle of a revolution in which she, unwittingly and unwillingly, started. She may not be in a Capitol-constructed arena, but it was still very much a version of the Hunger Games. Mas political, less literal, pero just as (if not more) dangerous than the previous ones.

District 13, which the Capitol made everyone believe is gone, revealed itself as the big mastermind behind Katniss’ rescue in the last Hunger Games. Led by their very smart and calculating leader, President Coin (Julianne Moore), and with the help of a still reluctant Katniss, they engage in a propaganda battle against the Capitol. Everyone has their own motivation behind the ripening revolution pero Katniss’ was simple. She wanted Peeta back.

Ang Maganda:

The entire look of the movie was great. Seeing Effie in her best effort at making gray look fashionable was something I was waiting to see and I wasn’t disappointed. The shots made me care. They helped me be in the moment. The music also helped the audience get in the right mood.

Ang Pangit:

Katniss’ struggle for survival changed dahil now she has the lives and futures of so many people in her hands. She doesn’t have Peeta with her and with him being the physical embodiment of her humanity, she struggles to keep herself together while making very big decisions. This part was clearer and more poignant in the books and it was understandably so. The books were written in Katniss’ point of view kaya bawat thought that crosses her head is literally spelled out for the audience. The movie doesn’t have this luxury and in this part, medyo lumaylay.

Don’t kill me, JLaw fans, I still think she is a remarkable actress. Pero this movie made it clear for me that she wasn’t the best actress for the role. I already had my doubts during the first two movies, but she managed to sway me because she was that good. This time, it wasn’t enough. The reason why I gravitated towards Katniss’ character (I did dress up as her on our family’s Christmas costume party last year) was because we shared similar personality traits. Katniss had this mystery and darkness about her. And though Jennifer Lawrence was able to show that, there wasn’t enough depth or layers to it. I said this when the first Hunger Games came out, but I didn’t post it in my review. I think this is the best time to say it here. Saoirse Ronan would’ve made a better Katniss. If you don’t believe me, go see The Lovely Bones and Hanna. Her height’s perfect, too. Kung siya yung na-cast, di sana masyadong mukhang baby boy si Josh Hutcherson. Pero, wala na tayong magagawa.

The shaky cam’s back in this movie and it’s totally pointless at times. I’m glad we didn’t bring my mom along nung nanood kami. Malamang mahihilo siya.

I would say that the pacing was slow and that the story didn’t have enough meat pero I already anticipated that. Ano ba naman ang ilalagay nila sa movie na ito when the source material itself didn’t have enough action to fill one book? Kaya lang, I knew I had to see it for the next one to make sense.

Ang Paghuhusga:

What can I say about this movie?

It’s like that tube of facial wash in the boxed set ng shampoo-conditioner-shower gel combo na uso pag pasko. Hindi siya kailangan, hindi naman siya free, hindi mo naman siya ginagamit pero to get the entire package, you have to pay for it.

10 TV Shows That Rocked My World in 2016

I have a confession to make.

This year wasn’t the best year for movies (at least for me). Kakaunti ang mga pelikulang napanood ko sa sine at kahit sa bahay. Life got in the way.

Pero, kahit wala akong time to sit through a two-hour movie, I still made time to watch some TV shows.

2015 was a great year for TV. I agree that we are in the Golden Age of Television right now. There’s better writing, well-developed characters, beautiful stories. Kaya this year, and, hopefully, just this year, all I’ll write about as the year ends are the Top 10 TV Shows That Rocked My World in 2016.

Here they are:

Continue reading 10 TV Shows That Rocked My World in 2016

Pili na!