Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Hating Kapatid" Lays Eggs in Davao

"Breaking Box Office Records? How Can That Be? It's Gathering Flies in Davao City!"

My friend Iyaya called me from Davao City. She and her office mates were sent by her company to close a deal (she works in a multinational company based in Makati). I have been telling her the graphic peddling of commercial products in "Hating Kapatid" and I have in fact been egging her on to watch. She rang to tell me that she went to see the 4:40 PM screening of "Hating Kapatid" July 30, 2010 Friday (SM Davao Cinema 2)! She reports: "It's mura here, a ticket costs P90! It was so relaxing because I hated crowds and there were just the 2 of us there, and another guy at the back.Three people for one whole theater! Mike refused to watch it coz he's heard how bad it is so went to watch 'Salt' instead which started an hour earlier!"

Straight from the horse's mouth! Breaking box office records? Baka breaking EGGS! Bwahaha! This news is really easy to verify as the details are very specific - and SM, through Mr. Ric Camaligan (SM Cinema's C.O.O.), usually issues statistics of movies shown in their cinemas nationwide!

3 people on a Friday? Breaking box office record? Let's call it KARMA!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Halik sa Tubig - Of Cluttered Mess, Naughty Men and Spaced Out Goddeses

Kiro Baldemor, Orlando Sol and Marco Morales : Naughty triumvirate!

In Alejandro “Bong” Ramos’ “Halik sa Tubig” (Kiss in the Water), they start with an introduction about those “kwentong bayan” – which, let me tell you up front, are all hogwash. This particular small town lore is about a mythical earth goddess named Mercedita, a powerful wandering earth-bound diwata who watches over the brokenhearted of Binangonan, Rizal (she is territorial – LOL). In this story, we follow Ilo (Paolo Paraiso) who’s pining for the childhood sweetheart who left. Ten years into his search, he finds her married – and ill!

Ilo works as a caretaker of a fishpen, locally called “batilyo”; a job he shares with 3 other guys: Kain (Marco Morales), Pitong (Kiro Baldemor), and Andong (Orlando Sol). One fateful day, he finds a lady washed up amidst floating lilies. Her name – Mercedita. Is she or isn’t she?

Althea Vega is Mercedita

Director Ramos finally shows in his tacky story telling the limits of his capacity as a filmmaker. Good visuals don’t suffice. In fact, even color grading here is experimental at best. Some scenes they OD’ed with color saturation; someone was left unattended playing with his picassa or photo shop – or whatever it is that adjusts cinema colors. Paolo, in one of his rare lead roles (Deo Fajardo Jr.'s "Casa" and Adolf Alix Jr.'s "Imoral"), appears disheveled and uninteresting. He mopes all throughout the film; his character never left the single dimension that he’s in!

It’s actually the triumvirate – Morales, Sol and Baldemor – that’s given the spotlight as they get themselves into different fracas that would highlight their sexual stamina. Orlando Sol registers strongly on screen (and he gets to show his butt up close too) and Marco Morales does what he usually does in films: swears, gets high, shows his ass, and fornicates. Just a couple of years since he started, the strain of his lifestyle is prematurely starting to show. Kiro on the other hand does… damn, what did he do there? Jeff Luna makes a horizontal cameo too.

Ramos’ latest movie is a cluttered mess. At no point did we ever believe on the mythology at hand. Casting Althea Vega ("Walang Kawala", "Big Night") as Mercedita may be contributory to this. There was nothing in her bearing that suggested royalty or mysticism. In fact, if they muted the sound or spliced a few scenes out, I would surmise she's the ecdysiast from the beerhouse down the corner, then got herself accidentally entangled in a sea of water lilies. After all, which goddess in their moments of lucidity would swiftly strip down on top of a hill just to enjoy the fresh ocean breeze? Which goddess would succumb to smoking weeds after a few prods from drunken men? Which goddess carries gravity-friendly size 40 boobs? I rest my case!

There were moments of pure hilarity too. Such as when Mercedita gets raped and we see her curling her toes. She sure loved the misdeed. When the voice over relates the comeuppance of the three guys, the prose went from ponderous to comedic: “… hanggang mabalot ito sa kalibugan ng dagat!” and “at di nila mapigilan ang magparaos”. Ngi! Then as if to save the best for last, the avenging goddess - with Mercedita hanging on a nipa wall - casts a spell upon the baddies: a spell that had them fondling and cavorting with each other. It's a ridiculously meretricious menage a trios. Everytime Ramos loses narrative steam, he turns to tawdry and ill-conceived ménage a trois to redeem his dwindling think board. (See “Araro”.) Brilliant!

To resurrect Paolo’s fastly nondescript character from cinematic limbo, he is given an off-the-wall scene with a ghost for closure! How utterly silly!

Fresh faced Orlando Sol registers strongly on screen. He is part of the overhauled singing group "Masculados".

Orlando and his sequined briefs.


Please read our featured post on Cinema Bravo and why Web Criticism isn't always about good and reliable writing:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nine Times the Musical Magic

As Penelope Cruz sashays into her song "Guido", I was already in awe of the spectacle before me. Such is the power of Rob Marshall's "Nine" that hours after watching this musical, I was still humming songs from it!

Guido Contini (Daniel Day Lewis) is a brilliant but self-centered director who is pressured to start his next movie. And just like his previous works, the process requires him to "suffer" - and so he is! His muse (Nicole Kidman) is demanding for a script that doesn't exist. His mistress (Penelope Cruz) follows him around like a lovesick puppy. His dead mother (Sophia Loren) whispers encouraging words everywhere he goes. Vogue columnist Stepahnie (Kate Hudson) is seducing him for scoops. And his grieving wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard) is slowly losing patience and gradually letting him go. His only confidant is his wardrobe consultant Lilli (Judi Dench) who encourages him to make use of the talent he has, i.e. telling stories that move people. But Guido is drawing a blank! And time it seems is running out on him!

I love musicals, and I can only imagine the visceral pleasures of watching this play on Broadway! So far I am content with the movie - for now! It was such a joy watching Penelope Cruz. She will be the one to beat during the Oscar derby for the Best Supporting Actress! Whaddaya know! She won! My other favorite numbers were Marion's "My Husband Makes Movies" - sung so effortlessly! And of course, Nicole Kidman's "Unusual Way" (which Barbra Streisand lovingly interprets elsewhere).

Sophia Loren is adorable, and so is the young actor who played the child Guido - Giuseppe Spitaleri! What a cute kid!

Lastly, this should be a fitting homage to director Anthony Minghella (one of my favorite directors of all time - who directed "The English Patient") who co-wrote the script with Michael Tolin. (Story goes, Minghella handed his script to Marshall just before he went to the hospital - where he eventually expired!)

This musical is a dark tale of the parsimonious world of film-making; a tale of narcissism! For those who love their musicals frothy and fluffy, try elsewhere! This one's strictly for the thinking adults!

Penelope Cruz keeps surprising us. She opens the musical numbers with an sensuous rope-hugging number, "Guido". She purrs, "I am lusting for more. Should I settle for less? I ask you, what's a good thing for, if not for taking it to excess? One limitation I dearly regret; There's only one of me I've ever met."

Talking about a "real movie star", Nicole is luminous as Guido's main star Claudia. She coos, "In a very unusual way, one time I needed you. In a very unusual way, you were my friend. Maybe it lasted a day. Maybe it lasted an hour. But somehow it will never end."

Jeff Luna Plows The Barren Field in "Araro"

I refuse to be director Alejandro Bong Ramos' trumpet-blower. He doesn't get points from me for admitting the obvious - that all he intends to deliver are "skin flicks" which he still outdated calls "bold" as though we're still in the 80's. These days, we appropriately call them sex exploitation movies which has gotten synonymous with "indie movies" or "gay movies". These terms jubilantly interchange.

In "Araro" (Plow), a farming couple Andoy (Paolo Rivero) and Elena (hopelessly homely Lorraine Lopez) comes home to find a stranger resting inside their shanty. Steve (Jeff Luna) shakes their seemingly harmonious marital existence. Though initially suspicious of the new kid in town, they soon invite him to stay over after Andoy injures himself while farming his rice fields. "Dumito ka muna at tumulong; babayaran kita," offers Andoy, despite his wife's objections. Something in the soft spoken young man intrigues the couple. His presence will eventually rock the boat, what with Steve seductively taking skinny dips by the river. But just when you thought he would run away with Elena, we suddenly find him locking lips with Andoy! How convenient, right?

Well, this ends into a menage a trois that's too unseductive to watch, it was like reading a by-the-number tutorial on sexual orgy sans the requisite passion. Fine, they can then live happily ever after. But then there's that silly subplot about Steve's past (spoilers ahead: he escapes a defensive murder drama from the city) which is bound to catch up with our strapping hunk of a man!

The narrative is rather derivative we don't even have to look far for reference. Jeff Luna's recent release, the straight-to-video "Darang" also tells of an almost similar tale. But this film teeters into legitimacy - but not quite. First, camera work is sparklingly crystal, much like Ramos' other work, "Butas". He has the eye for such visuals which is sad as he has basically surrendered into being a skin flick director. A local palayan (rice field) has never looked this scenic and lovely in the green plains of Laur, Nueva Ecija. Some scenes were just too pretty they looked like gentle brush strokes. Another plus point is the way the narrative is moved by dialogue-free scenes. This is not a "talkative" movie, and it actually works for the story. It has successfully done away with too complicated "explanations" by being "silent". Paolo Rivero carries the performance grade here. His naturally calm presence reeks of an underlying pathos that when he cries for fear of being abandoned, his uhog drips and his heart breaks into tiny little pieces.

Jeff Luna, this season's it-man oozes with enough testosterone charm, it sometimes suffices that he just stands without opening his mouth. When he does, all possibilities of lewd fantasizing drop down exponentially. Much like his earlier movies, - "Libido", "Darang", "Chub Chaser", his straight-to-video sex flicks ("Summer Boys", a walk-on in "Here Comes the Bride", etc.) - he speaks with a doze-inviting, emotionally-hollow monotone, delivering his lines like he was reading from the page of a script. His face is a blank, which only changes when he closes his eyes to depict the emotions of a self-pleasuring gentleman - which he seems to do in every movie he does! Yet, even his masturbation scenes are hardly believable. Someone has to teach Jeff how to deliver emotions on screen fast! Half a dozen movies after and you're still a ham, Jeff? What gives? Otherwise, what becomes of his strong presence but being reduced to a mere phallic symbol! As for the only lady in the film, Lorraine Lopez, you somehow wonder what the makers see in her! Her mere presence is a mystery - and we refuse to further talk about her!

The director is fond of shots that inspire a voyeur; his camera floats on ceiling walls, doors ajar, holes in the wall. He isn't quite over "Butas". And it is obvious that he loves to highlight his actors in their several states of undress, Jeff Luna especially (check out his swimming scenes as he floats and flips over river waters, you'd notice a mushroom - LOL).

A lot of the arrogant indie film directors should learn Visuals 101 from Mr. Ramos. Chances are, it's really a matter of economics and how Mr. Ramos can afford to use a high definition video camera, while the others are content with their visual mediocrity. As for his ambition to wallow in skin flick heavens, what a waste! An admission of his story-telling limitation.

Isn't that sad?

Jeff Luna's testosterone charm and emotionally-hollow monotones.


Please read our featured post on Cinema Bravo and why Web Criticism isn't always about good and reliable writing:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Land of the Shame-On-You Critics - Amen! And The Mystery of Their Existence!

Film criticism doesn't live here! Not in this blog! So when an anonymous critter actually remarked, and I quote, "The terms 'Kapal ng mukha mo' and 'shame on you' are not appropriate words to use by an educated critic," it inspired me to seek out the real ones who actually get paid to write them. They obviously aren't me who love shoes more than I love movies (although the latter comes close). And the aforementioned remark descends into something close to being just a lazy mind who believes in his/her own musings! In fact, his statement is a spurious drivel!

So this post is dedicated to that spurious statement that speaks about critics and their inability to say, "Ang kapal ng mukha mo!" They cannot! They say instead, Shame on you!"

Source: The California Literary Review by William Bibbiani
Movie: The Last Airbender

"For those who don’t know (shame on you, incidentally), The Last Airbender – renamed from “Avatar: The Last Airbender” because of that other movie you might have heard of – tells the story of a fantasy world modeled after Asia and divided into four nations: The Earth Kingdom (China), The Fire Nation (Japan), The Water Tribes (Inuits) and The Air Nomads (Tibet)."

Source: The Flickfilosopher (And, honey, count those phrases!)
Movie: Santa Claus The Movie

" Santa Claus, the Movie was written by David and Leslie Newman and directed by Jeannot Szwarc. Shame on you. Shame on you for thinking we needed to experience the nightmare of Santa dieting after that "bowl full of jelly" crack from Clement Moore. Shame on you for allowing to be uttered such lines as "It gives me a real feeling of elf-confidence." Shame on you for naming elves such things as Goober, Boog, and Honka. Shame on the cast. Shame on the people who did the on-set catering. Shame on them whomever thought we needed both a widescreen and a pan-and-scan version of the DVD."

Source: The Hub Pages
Movie: Sam Raimi's horror classic, The Evil Dead

"In the UK, The Evil Dead was considered the first film to be classified as a video nasty by Mary Whitehouse, an almost vigilante film and TV auditor who would actually make things better for the horror films that she eventually got banned, because a lot of the movies went underground and became more sought after through word of mouth and people who have already seen the films would recommend them to their friends and so on, thus making films of this nature cult classics and become films to talk about many years after. If you haven't seen the Original Evil Dead film, then shame on you, go and get a copy!"

Source: the influential, by Thomas Leupp
Movie: Spike Jonze's Where The Wild Things Are

"As Max frolics about his imaginary world with his crew of overgrown H.R. Pufnstuf rejects, each of whom is meant to symbolize an emotion of some kind, it becomes increasingly apparent that there’s no real point to the proceedings. Which is why there’s no resolution to Where the Wild Things Are, either. And shame on you for expecting one. If you want a neat and tidy resolution, go see Couples Retreat or some other “mainstream” release, philistine. This is Spike Jonze’s playground, and if you dare subject him to rules or limits of any kind, he may just pick up his genius ball and go home."

Source: Culture Catch, by Brandon Judell ("You Can Never Have Too Much Butter.")
Movie: Oscar-nominated and one of my favorites from last year, Julie and Julia

"Whoever placed the blame for American obesity on McDonald's and its fast-food peers, shame on you! Julie & Julia, one of the year's most delectable films, proves Julia Child was the real culprit: Julia and her obsessive, inviolable love for the culinary delights of France and especially its B-U-T-T-E-R."

Source: PaddyC's Movie Reviews
Movie: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (with Ironman's Robert Downey Jr. and Batman's Val Kilmer)

"The verdict: Savvy, slick street-wise comedy actioner with a good sense of humour, this is pretty good fun.

The rating: 6/10

For some reason, I filed 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' in the 'maybe' category when it was released, and so never quite caught up with it. However, more recently I've seen Robert Downey Jr. in the brilliant 'A Scanner Darkly' and the thoroughly great 'Zodiac' - and he's to star as the hero in the upcoming 'Iron Man', I figured it'd be remiss of me to let the movie that relaunched his glittering post-rehab career pass me by.

Also of interest is the comparitive lack of success that Val Kilmer has enjoyed since this - critically acclaimed and financially successful - movie was released.. I mean, have you seen him in anything recently? What's that? You mean you didn't see him in 'Ten Commandments: The Musical'? Shame on you reader, shame on you."

Source: Frame By Frame - 2010 Movie Reviews by Dr. Rus
Movie: Godspeed

"...but at times Godspeed drops in some inappropriate moments that just don’t fit with the overall flow. As a result, the scriptwriters seem to be searching for some sort of redemption of their own. While it’s easy to forgive an independent film for poor acting, I have a low tolerance for an independent film that feels the need to trash up language and a scene or two, just for the sake of tossing in a string of 'f-bombs' or unneeded sex scenes. As a result I say 'shame' on the writers of Godspeed for the inclusion of the out-of-place “f-bombs” and the whole bedroom 'sexual assault' scene."

Source:, by Jeremiah Kipp
Movie: an obscure film that I LOVE called "On-Line", one of the first films to directly tackle relationships arising from naughty chatrooms

"Our culture is spending too much time online (shame on you, readers!) So making a movie about being an Internet surfer looking for love in all the wrong places feels redundant - why would you want to watch a movie about searching for sex and love and, oh yeah, human connection via the Almighty Computer?"

Finally, here's from the didactic group of critics:

Source:, by Rachel Greenspan
Movie: Revolutionary Road (with Leonardo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet)

I'm not even gonna post the piece for this one. The title of the article will do perfectly!


Shame on You, Suburbia, for Smothering Another Couple of Outlaws: Restlessness and Resignation in Revolutionary Road

Now, if the statement posted by Mr. Anonymous is valid, these aforementioned critics should join the long queue of the unemployed, shouldn't they? Good thing - because, at the end of the day, I love dropping bombs that are so appropriate they leave singes off my keyboard. Now, Dock! I am throwing those well deserved bombs again: Ang kapal naman ng mukha! Shame on you, Sarah Geronimo!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Shame on You, Sarah Geronimo! - The Blatant Peddling of Products in an Already Very Commercial Film!

You sometimes forget that there's actually a story behind Wenn Deramas' "Hating Kapatid" because of all the blatant peddling of products within the movie! Trust Viva Films and its bosses to shamelessly thrust these commercial products down our throats just to earn the extra million for their teetering film production outfit! Kaya, kinapalan na nila ang mukha by using the medium of film as an avenue to sell products!

We, on the other hand, shell out our hard earned money (and allowance) to escape the reality of product placements happening in commercial television (go watch ABS-CBN's "Showtime" and you would almost forget that you're watching the show after a hefty 15-minute long commercial gap). But Viva Films and the likes of Sharon Cuneta, KC Concepcion and even their corresponding directors really all come from the same shameless root of brazen, impudent population. They have this mentality that such is an acceptable practice! Not to me!

Remember how hard sell Sharon Cuneta was, shoving down her McDonald's Chicken in "Crying Ladies"? One generation later, KC Concepcion does the same with Garnier and Palmolive for her "When I Met You". Like mother, like daughter, right? So when Viva Films finds a gold mine in Sarah Geronimo (they even toyed with the idea of remaking "Dear Heart" with Sarah Geronimo on screen until the Megastar vehemently spoke of her displeasure), who better to carry the torch of their peddling practices than the coyly angelic Ms. Geronimo, right?


Here are the products that this sad excuse of a movie shoved down the paying audience's throats, complete with endorsement one-liners: Cebuana Lhuillier, Globe Tattoo, Belo Essentials, Charmee (line: "araw araw ko 'tong ginagamit"), Video City and Xtreme Magic Sing (highlighted by a song-and-dance number - a hilariously choreographed piece where Sarah was tossed on air like a beached whale from one shelf to the next); Jollibee Chicken Barbecue (line: "ang sarap talaga nito"), Selecta Fortified Milk (line: "Ako ba'y bine-baby mo pa rin"), Magnolia Tuti Fruity, Unica clothing line, and a lot more. She must have forgotten her shampoo and that constipation pill she's endorsing in the next few days?

It is a tad insulting that the less talented Geronimo is given this avenue to peddle this much products in lieu of her (in)capacity to transform into Judy Anne Santos' younger sister Cecil. The obviously pregnant Santos comes up with a curiously winning performance as the enduring older sister Rica who took care of Cecil for more than 20 years when their parents (Tonton Gutierrez and Cherry Pie Picache) decided to work in Libya!

The film making skills in this work is another point of discussion. Much of the editing and dubbing are sloppy, you would hear the lines come out 3 seconds later than the movement of the mouth! Moreover, a scene would suddenly shift to a different color grading with over saturated colors and unfocused camera work. This plods through out the film! Would they excuse these gaffes from their use of a digital medium? Probably. And it is obvious how careless they are with its technical aspects. Yup, "pirated copy" quality from a mainstream movie!

And if you haven't noticed, how many times do you "introduce" an actor. Vice Ganda is once again introduced here so it would seem that Mr. Ganda is eternally introduced in every single movie that he appears in. Wasn't he in the political drama, "Noy"? Wasn't he in Vilma Santos' "In My Life" eons ago? Or do the people behind this movie live in Neptune or in the fringes of the constellation? Such carelessness reflects the mind frame of these nincompoops!

On the plus side, Judy Anne Santos shows how the years of experience have taught her! Despite an excessively prissy older sister act, she comes up with a sympathetic characterization that's absolutely endearing! As for JC de Vera, ohmygosh! I forget myself when he is on screen. He smolders with charm and machismo. De Vera is the improved and updated, kayumanggi version of dour and banal Richard Gutierrez! Luis Manzano on the other hand is a pleasant surprise. Though I am not fond of Mr. Manzano, he coasted through his scenes with comic charm and easy chemistry with the tweetums queen of commerce Ms. Geronimo!

Looking back, I didn't care much when Sarah supported Manny Villar during the last presidential campaign. After all, it's easy to forgo personal principles when money is involved. Then they label it "freedom of choice". But, for pete's sake, one commercial endorsement after the next in a film - not a television show - that we paid to watch?

Avarice is such an inordinate pursuit of wealth. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that greed is "a sin against God, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things." I'm just reminding the prayerful soul in Ms. Geronimo, lest she chokes on her Jollibee Chicken Barbecue. In Dante's purgatory, such greedy people were bound and laid face down on the ground til eternity. And here's a movie they shamelessly peppered with commercials!

Kapal naman ng mukha. Shame on you, Sarah Geronimo!

The peddler and the young superstar.

Gorgeous JC and affable Judy Anne.

More movies please.


"Breaking Box Office Records? How Can That Be? It's Gathering Flies in Davao City!"

My friend Iyaya called me from Davao City. She and her office mates were sent by her company to close a deal (she works in a multinational company based in Makati). I have been telling her the graphic peddling of commercial products in "Hating Kapatid" and I have in fact been egging her on to watch. She rang to tell me that she went to see the 4:40 PM screening of "Hating Kapatid" July 30, 2010 Friday (SM Davao Cinema 2)! She reports: "It's mura here, a ticket costs P90! It was so relaxing because I hated crowds and there were just the 2 of us there, and another guy at the back.Three people for one whole theater! Mike refused to watch it coz he's heard how bad it is so went to watch "Salt" instead which started an hour earlier!"

Straight from the horse's mouth! Breaking box office records? Baka breaking EGGS! Bwahaha! This news is really easy to verify as the details are very specific - and SM, through Mr. Ric Camaligan (SM Cinema's C.O.O.), usually issues statistics of movies shown in their cinemas nationwide!

3 people on a Friday? Breaking box office record? Let's call it KARMA!