Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Yasujiro Ozu's "The End of Summer" - The Final Masterpiece

Like a child taken to a toy store, I earnestly waited for my copy of Japanese master film maker, Yasujiro Ozu's "The End of Summer". When I finally had the disc in my player, I was as attentive as an eager student.

Ozu has a very distinctive style that mostly deals with the theme of marriage and intra-generational relationships. The film is no different. It observes the extended Kohayagawa family, who run a small sake brewery in post-war Japan, but who are contemplating merging their business with a larger company. Meanwhile, the family is arranging a marriage for Noriko who's in love with a teaching assistant from Sapporo. And the widowed daughter-in-law Akiko seems content with not having a husband. In fact, she keeps ducking from a date set up by everyone. Finally, the patriarch (Manbei) takes up a mistress with whom he believes he has a daughter.

The performances are as exquisite as its photography, although I was bothered by the "pasted smile" observed in Akiko's affect. I was particularly taking notes on Ozu's use of ellipses, in which many major events are left out, leaving the frame on walls or inanimate objects. In this film, it's the scenes involving mischievous Manbei's heart attacks which were never shown on screen. In typical Ozu fashion, he elides moments that Hollywood and Pinoy films use to stir an emotional reaction from the audience, thus eschewing melodrama.

His films employ the concept of mono no aware, an awareness of the impermanence of things. Just when the siblings believe that their father has fully recovered, Manbei suffers a fatal attack. The crematorium emits the fumes, while crows litter around the river bed. I was anticipating the "tatami shots" which were particularly obvious at the interior scenes. When the camera pans on the characters' faces from the vantage point down the height of the mat, they give the illusion that the viewer is directly facing the character - thus the "pasted smiles" feel eerily "mocking" the audience.

The End of Summer's Japanese title which literally translates to "The Fall of the Kohayagawa Family" is an appropriate valedictory piece for the director who succumbed to cancer shortly after this was shown.

"Tokyo Story" is largely regarded as Ozu's best work, while "The End of Summer" is mostly regarded as inferior. I disagree, but it's just me.

Manbei denies he has a mistress. (He doesn't. He is a widower, after all.)

Yasujiro Ozu: Tourists who visit his grave honor him by leaving alcoholic drinks by his grave. He was a known alcohol lover.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mamarazzi - When Laughter is But A Dismissive Flatus

Prior to a hysterectomy (an operation that removes a diseased uterus) due to a tumor, Violeta Langit (Eugene Domingo) wants to bear a child. But being a hopeless virgin, finding the willing sperm donor becomes an impossible task. Her best friend, barangay captain Mandy (John Lapus) – who’s as gay as every Liza Minelli impersonator – consents to sleep with her. But the deal proved too ghastly to consummate. So, Mandy offers his boytoy forward – the eternally cash-strapped Carlo (played by delectable Diether Ocampo) for the baby-making job. But Carlo instead flies off with a chunk of Violy’s fortunes.

Sixteen years later, Violy is enjoying a thriving business as an encoffineer a la Yojiro Takita’s “Departure – she prepares deceased people for burial by making them look “beautiful”. Violy is now mother to triplets: Peachy and Strawberry (both played by Andi Eigenmann) and Dingdong (played by AJ Perez). Trouble appears when the children insist on knowing their father's identity! And much like fabricated fantasies, Carlo miraculously returns for his belated apologies, and to correct his past grievances.

As a matter of spicing up the broth, we have side stories about the impossibly effete Mandy fathering a child Greg (Aaron Villaflor) from one night of drunken indiscretion (with Sheree); Andi Eigenmann doing an “Agua Bendita” with the hammy Carl Guevarra; the handsome and belligerent AJ Perez carrying a torch for Carla Abellana (as the aspiring actress Mimi).

"Mamarazzi" is a busy film with too much irrelevant narrative strains, and characters – like Greg and Oscar’s (Aaron Villaflor and Xian Lim) closeted, budding love affair. But then what do we expect from a Joel Lamangan comedy?

Director Lamangan can’t muster anything but tawdry, tasteless caricatures to delineate gay characters outside of his political dramas, and though he may think of them as homage to the 3rd kind, Lamangan actually does a disservice to the pink community by painting them less human; depicting them as oddball characters. Mere laughing stock! In Lamangan comedies, gay people are reduced to eccentric oddities of society. For someone who’s actually gay like Lamangan, this underscores the extent of his directorial insight – a vision as hollow as a fortune teller’s “bolang kristal”.

Eugene Domingo makes the most of her scenes, but something in the script feels tired. She has always been a reliable comic actress, and her verbal tussle with John Lapus is on perfect show in “Mamarazzi”. We weren't pleased with Lapus in “Here Comes the Bride” but he does a lot better here where he isn’t tasked to portray a straight horny geriatric (which was excruciating to watch). When Lapus and Domingo share the screen, they lighten up the otherwise banal scenes, conjured from the resplendent imagination of (hold your breath) Ricky Lee!

Some punch lines were too tacky, even from Ms. Domingo’s gargantuan talent: Gusto mo ng kadugo, tawagan ko si Rosa Rosal! - or - Puro punebre ang cassette ko sa bahay. – or Habang may patay, may pag-asa.” Even her Nora Aunor impersonation (when she finds a returning Diether) were gratingly gag-inducing.

When Diether asks John Lapus for money, the latter replies,Ano bang tingin mo sa akin, dyowa or ATM? Diether shots back with, Di ba pwedeng pagsabayin? Humirit pa.

When Diether excuses himself for the toilet in mid-foreplay, the latter quips, Nakakaihi talaga ang beauty ko.

While conversing with Lapus at a restaurant, she places her order to a waiter, Ako coffee, s’ya mouthwash! You see, some of these gags are too hackneyed to be appreciated.

Finally, something has to be said about Carl Guevarra’s horrible performance here. Though it’s doubtful anyone would complain about his screen presence, his vocal delivery belies any promise of an acting future. It isn’t too expensive to enroll him at a speech and elocution class, is it? He needs to modulate his voice and summon an assertive delivery, as he comes off like a 9 year old girl! He was supposed to play the part of a brainy paramour to Andi Eigenmann’s encyclopedic countenance. He was made to spout scientific names of stuff, like roses - down to their taxonomic nomenclature, but he couldn’t even mouth the words coherently. It was painful to watch him. Joel Lamangan, being a seasoned director, was supposed to remedy such explicit inadequacy, but he didn’t. Was he blind? Deaf? Or just plain dense?

Mamarazzi” educates us on how talented comediennes gradually succumb to mediocrity.

Andi Eigenmann and Carla Abellana

Aaron Villaflor and Xian Lim as the young gay lovers.

Elocute and modulate, Carl!

Carl Guevarra - Better seen than heard!

JC Tiuseco - the perfect kanto boy

And what's with that Globe G-Cash commercial, Ms. Domingo: Shame on you for peddling a TV commercial within a movie! I just spit on artists who abuse the privilege of gracing the silver screen by peddling TV commercials in a movie where people pay hard earned money! Cheap huh!

Mahiya naman kayo! Or are local actors too kapal mukha to understand that the cinema is not a venue to endorse products? Do your own peddling on your television shows where people don't pay anything! Not in a movie where people fork out their hard earned P150 - 180 for a relaxing time at the movies!

Here is a comment from a certain "Zare" on the Hating Kapatid review at Clickthecity.com: (July 21, 2010)

"Sarah Geronimo, the ultimate pawnshop camwhore! i still remember how funny it was when it was done well in Wayne's World... Doesn't work here though. It is horrible. What a cheap way to mock movie audiences. Didnt also like the part where they came dangerously close to making fun of the pain of a poor bereaved family at a funeral. It had intention, but to me it was tasteless..."


Who farted?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dampi - Peculiar Hybrid of Gay Concoction & Religious Yarn

The Pink Film Phenomenon is continuously asserting its influence in the obstinate release of indie films. Fact is, the economics behind such phenomenon has somehow dictated the amaranthine releases from fly-on-the-wall producers and pedestrian artists. It's within Field of Dream's domain: build it, and they will come. In short, field any movie with homosexual flavor and the ever burgeoning community of the 3rd sex will fork out money to patronize it.

This trend is evident even in girlie-eroticas where nymphets used to hug the spotlight: we'd see starlets shower repeatedly within a movie; shed all articles of clothing from their dresser to their bed; gets molested, etc. Every darn excuse to disrobe. But these days, it's not the fairer sex, but the muscled variety who gets ogled at. Quick reference to this is that gay flick "Lagpas" where 90% of the film's male characters get their 10-minute bathing scene (we shall feature "Lagpas" here in the next few days).

We didn't realize "Dampi" was another pink film since we didn't read about it until we saw its poster at the cinema foyer. In fact, even the posters would suggest none of that. So we watched! And what do you know...

A cute pubescent boy stands by the hill, with his eyes closed. A white shawl is hoisted over his head, allowing the breeze to blow into undulating rhythm. This is Soltero, or Teryo (child actor Alec Romano), a soft-spoken teenager whose head is up in the clouds. He lives his days tripping off on Virgin Mary mirages - at least that's what the story implies. His father (Simon Ibarra) is hard on him, disgusted with his "paglalandi" which isn't evident anywhere in the story.

Then Robert and Sandy (Carlos Morales and Kirby de Jesus respectively) breeze into the picture. They're a couple of charlatans who move from one place to the next, tricking people into believing that Sandy's Virgin Mary statue is crying blood. Reluctant Sandy, upon his lover's persuasive prodding, would pretend to be blind, then re-enact a miracle at a pertinent time! Despite Sandy's occasional objections, Robert would threaten him with, "Kaya mong mabuhay na 'di ako natitikman?" Indeed we see them make love in scenes bristling with the passion of a fly - all facial maneuvering. Nope, the most that you see from Mr. Carlin Craig Woodruff (Mr. Morales to you) is the actor in his black briefs.

When Sandy meets Teryo, the scheme falls into its proper place. May himala! And people start trooping by the hillside, standing around like they were beamed into stolid statues. Unfortunately, greed's ugly head soon catches up with Robert and Teryo's father, and all their hushed intimations soon fall on the ears of Teryo's only friend Rina (Kristel Fulgar). A series of murder soon follows, and Sandy is awash with guilt so he runs away! This gives Robert the free rein to exert his influence on the affection-hungry 14 year old Teroy! Is our hero really seeing blessed apparitions? In a brisk 1 hour and 10 minutes, the movie will answer such ponderous query. We warn you it isn't quantum physics.

Child star Alec Romano cuts a dapper protagonist. He bears a calm presence that doesn't refute how comfortable he is on cam. He reminds me of a younger Rayver Cruz without the lapdog expression. I was picking my head where I could have seen him until I remembered that coming-of-age dramedy "Vhagetz". Further readings subsequently place him as a GMA talent ("Batang X", "Paano Ba Ang Mangarap") which I have no idea of, since I find GMA teleseryes prosaic, vapid.

The narrative is a curious hybrid of seemingly bright ideas that shines the spotlight on gay men: Teroy is gay, Robert and Sandy are a gay couple, a flashback on Sandy's past has gay uncles giving blowjobs to anonymous neighbors. It is such a gay gay world after all! To be honest about it, the first quarter of the movie showed a lot of promise. It had an interesting premise about an abused child who buries his head in the characters that populate the dramatic novels that he reads. Cinematography is more than adequate, what with Romy Vitug doing camera. To my mind, Director Nico Jacinto has a chance of redeeming himself in future projects since he conjures scenes that don't smack of a novice's awkwardness. Maybe it's Mr. Vitug's influence? But he will probably do well with a good story and a decent scriptwriter. Probably.

At the other end of the spectrum is the obvious intention to satisfy some demographics. So here's the perv's quota:

- nipple watch: Viva Hot Babe Zara Lopez shows 1 of the twins
- male genitals: 3 (unless I blinked and missed) - an outdoor bathing scene (unknown male), a BJ scene (unknown male), another guy urinating (unknown male). None of the scenes was necessary to move the plot.

The scanty sex scenes were few, and divested of emotions. As I mentioned earlier, they had the passion of a fly! ;->

Jaycee Parker cameos as the mysterious "white lady" clouding Sotero's sanity - who turned out to be his mother, while Matet de Leon had a "special participation" billing, though I wasn't too sure where she figured in the movie. The avenging Virgin Mary perhaps? (The credits didn't run a character list.) And for the record, shame on you, people, for depicting the virgin mother as an avenging soul - in a movie that showed penis! Surely, some topics are sacred and need to be restricted from the filthy hands of opportunistic film producers! Di na kayo kinilabutan.

Carlos Morales is Robert.

Alec Romano

Carlos Morales

Kirby de Jesus in another gay role: Virgin Mary gives Sandy glaucoma?

Zara Lopez: framed to kill

Jaycee Parker - Mother or Virgin Mother? Or is it just an itch on the scalp?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bianca Manalo and Connie Reyes Shine in MMK's Endearing "Cross-Stitch

Sometimes the realm of love isn't exclusive between two people, making it a more complicated matter than it's supposed to be. It can entail stretching your affectionate blanket to the people you're both surrounded with - the immediate family!

In the recent episode of "Maalaala Mo Kaya" titled "Cross-Stitch", Rey and Mildred (Rayver Cruz and beauty queen Bianca Manalo) are a young couple in love. Though their relationship seems to run smoothly, Rey's Tiya Armelita (Connie Reyes) provides a substantial bump in the road. Simply put, the aunt doesn't like Mildred and she has no qualms showing her dislike. To the surly spinster who reared Rey as a child, Mildred is "hindi mabuting babae". As Mildred tries doubly hard to please her, it becomes clear she will never be good enough for the irritable aunt. This eventually leads to Mildred breaking up with Rey. But two years into the future, Rey and Mildred find each other again. Though they still have feelings for each other, Tiya Armelita is still in the picture. In fact, her resolve against Mildred is as resolute as ever! How do they summon a happy ever after? Or won't they?

Though the first half of the story treads into comic grounds (the church scene, the noodle-sucking scene, the perfume-at-the-market scene, the kitchen tutorials), the latter half soon finds the couple directly confronting their dilemma - and failing miserably!

Bianca Manalo portrays Mildred with an easy and graceful countenance, thus her regal bearing adequately subjugating whatever bad mannerisms that newcomers are commonly afflicted. In such instances, such inherently "queenly" poise can render an actress bland or flat (see: Gloria Diaz in "Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa"; Charlene Gonzales in "Ikaw Ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko", "Dyesebel"). The MMK episode can boast of some powerful moments here: When Tiya Armelita confronts her for letting Rey sleep in her place during a storm (without saying much, she limns emotions of embarrassment and self pity - and without resorting to histrionics); When Rey and Mildred go out for the first time after a 2 year break-up, then Rey takes her palm and writes "I love you" (and we see Bianca in her quiet brilliance as tears just flow).

Of course, Bianca is a novice. This would be her first take on a full-bodied character (she's basically a walk-on character in "Magkaribal") and she does well. The scene where she eventually invites Tiya Carmelita to her wedding seems a bit cruddy, but can you imagine what she would be capable to do on her 5th lead role?

Now, let me move on to the fabulous Connie Reyes. It is really hard to say any more than how brilliant this actress is! After all, isn't she among the first to star in a top rating drama anthology ("Connie Reyes On Camera") on television? Connie Reyes humanized the caricaturish Tiya Carmelita so much so that we sincerely understood her character.

MMK mines stories of ordinary people like they are resplendent treasures. And we do salute Ms. Charo Santos-Concio for celebrating the lives of the Filipinos in beautifully told stories.

Connie Reyes

Post Script:

Congratulations to Miss Venus Raj for placing 5th at the recent Miss Universe Beauty Pageant in Vegas. It was a bit of an embarrassment hearing her with a silly reply that bordered on stupidity, considering she's a Journalism graduate "with honors". I had an inkling she was in trouble when she started with a "You, know, sir" followed by a gay beauty contest boxed reply: "Thank you very much for that question!" I actually thought hers was the easiest among the questions asked that night (regulation of internet use among minors, costume and the freedom of choice, death penalty). In fact, isn't that a tired routine question asked in pageants? Every seasoned pageant veteran must know the answer to that!

Let's hire an interpreter next time. I used to be so resistant with this idea in the past, but hey, reality is, English isn't our native tongue, and when beauty pageants require beauty queens to be able to express themselves, present a scholastic discourse, and expound on a topic, they should be able to do so in their dialect - be it Tagalog or Visayan or Tausug. Hiring an interpreter would also bide them those precious few seconds to fork out and exhume a legible, unflustering reply before opening their mouth!

Donald Trump, according to a tweet by Dyan Castillejo, even said: "She looks like she was born into royalty!" Major royal blunder, that is. And if I do express disappointment over this fiasco, it's not because we disrespect her. But maybe we believed so much of what she was capable of doing. I am sure she felt the same. She wanted that crown more than we do. Isn't that thought comforting?

Overnight, a part of me was grieving for missed opportunities. The Universe crown was practically hers. Even U.S. talk shows said so. Until she opened her mouth! But milk has been spilled, and the fact is, she finished 5th among 83 beautiful, talented girls all over the globe. She clobbered 78 other girls, including Ms. USA! Atta girl! On that perspective, this victory is nothing to scoff at. Not quite what we had in mind, but not a bad deal at all.

Let's all wait for another 11 years for a top 5 finish, ok? Maybe by then we'll have a "major, major" victory.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mahilig - Sex, Drugs and Lousy Cinema

Just when you thought we're safe from the influx of those B-movie girlie erotica that used to thrive in 2nd rate cinemas in the late 80's and 90's, we were surprised to find director Mike Angelo Salvador's (posters use a shorter name: Nico Salvador) "Mahilig" at a major cinema!

The movie is made up of 2 incongruent stories weaved into one. The first is that of Thea Alvarez's ("Libido") character who's the sex nymphet who couldn't shake drugs off her system, thus when her hard working, albeit sex-starved husband (Mon Lacsamana) finds out that old habits indeed die hard, he leaves her. This sends Thea deeper into the quagmire of her addiction. The second narrative strain is that of Carlo Aquino's character; an impressionable high school student who comes from an ordinary, but loving family. His father's a good natured postman (Dante Rivero) while mother (Daria Ramirez) is a typical homemaker. Enter Nico (Onemig Bondoc) who would lure saintly Nico to the realm of vices: from smoking, to alcohol, then drugs. The latter would eventually tie down these 2 disparate stories together.

There really isn't much to critique in Salvador's work as there's not a hint of brilliance on show here. Much of the performance is obsequious to what is required from the character sketches on view. And it is a little bewildering how this film is able to get the services of actors like Carlo Aquino, Dante Rivero and Daria Ramirez. You can probably surmise "desperation" - or a good payday, but then again, it can be how the story was pitched prior to production: "It's a cautionary tale about how drugs can consume a person (Thea Alvarez) and destroy families (Carlo Aquino)." Looks good on paper, doesn't it?

An adequate film making skill is needed for this! But whatever little talent is shown here turns into nothing but vacuous craftsmanship. Even the intentions are suspect at best. In fact, the first scenes involving Thea Alvarez (with her protruding belly, she would take a full-frontal 3 minute shower) would already clue you in! I somehow felt I was in the wrong theater! I pinched myself; maybe I was in some dingy Quiapo cinema watching reruns of films starring Aya Medel, Sabrina M, Vida Verde or Lala Montelibano. Alvarez's confrontation with Mon Lacsamana happens right after they had a sweaty roll in the hay! How convenient, right?

What's almost ridiculous to bear is the resolute cameos of Gen. Rodolfo Caisip and Asec Rommel Garcia (PDEA deputy director and Dangerous Drugs Board honcho, respectively). It's one thing to advocate anti-drug sentiments, but when you're endorsing it within a salacious softcore film, any assumptions of good intent is lost!

Thea Alvarez and Mon Lacsamana

Desperation becomes Carlo Aquino.

Mon Lacsamana disrobes away from his singing group "D Pardz".

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In Your Eyes – Of Cinematic Jokes and Bad Chemistry

Let’s forget for a second that Mac C. Alejandre hasn’t really made a decent film in his entire directorial career (and I refuse to even discuss anything from anyone who considers Bong Revilla’s “Ang Panday” a superior work), and that Claudine Barretto has established herself as that quintessential face of the itinerant Filipina (“Milan”, “Dubai”).

In Alejandre’s “In Your Eyes”, Barretto is Ciara, a physical therapist who braves the urban jungles of California to support her younger sister Julia (Anne Curtis). They lost their mother when Julia was born, and Ciara has since devoted her waking hours to fill the maternal void. “Hating Kapatid”, anyone? This is exactly Juday and Sarah passing the torch to Claudine and Anne, but instead of Libyan OFW’s coming home, they uproot themselves to Los Angeles! Filling the vast suitcase to inveigle a narrative is the eternally pouting Richard Gutierrez! Very original, right?

Gutierrez plays Storm, a name ambivalent enough to dash a bit of an edge to Gutierrez’s drying-paint countenance. He meets Julia in a bar and before he knew what hit him, they set out for an American adventure. He couldn’t live without Julia (was she that explosive in bed, a one night stand would inspire illegal migration?) But life in the Land of Green Bucks can be so cruel even to greek Gods like Gutierrez.

While Julia endures school and work, Storm is left grieving for his social injustice. The heavens would cave in if he reduces himself to “process films” at work. He envisions himself as some Annie Leibovitz, snapping portraits of the rich and famous while sipping Chardonnay. He is a photographer and it is beyond him to print photographs where he is employed illegally “in a photo shop”! He is insulted by such menial work – sitting in an AC room in front of a processing machine. He felt debased and degraded, and utterly humiliated! His refusal eventually lead to his superior calling him a “Filipino Rat”, and that about takes the cake. With his manly beauty and abounding charm, he throws the towel, an act that, to Mr. Gutierrez, would illustrate repugnance – or outrage! He walks out of his heavy-manual-labor job. And we sympathize with him. Poor boy!

While Storm is licking his wounds, where is Julia to lick them for him? Oh wait, the long agonizing Ate Ciara is there to walk the fire! Did I mention that Storm and Ciara (yup, Ciara – not Julia) actually got married so that Storm could get his green card? If you didn't get that from the trailers, you must live in a satellite space ship stationed at the next constellation.

And we know where all this is leading.

Claudine Barretto demotes herself from the masterful and epic strokes of the Star Cinema narratives on migration to something like an ill conceived, overly sappy melodrama, and what’s more, she looks matronly beside Richard Gutierrez. Her face is all puffed up, like they forgot to deflate her after giving birth. What’s worse is that she keeps wearing garments a size smaller than her girth, you see her bursting at the seams. You would find Ms. Barretto desperately catching up with Anne's and Richard's physical attributes: wearing heels while taking a stroll down the beach or while shopping. Tsk tsk tsk. To be relatively young and looking like you've been zapped into your mid-40's! And you wonder why she suddenly bolted from ABS CBN when she learned she'd be paired against her lovely, statuesque sister Gretchen Barretto for what would become "Magkaribal".

Such humanity... such vanity to take offense from comparisons with your own blood sister!

There was this scene where she had to walk down a stair and we see her flopping and bouncing away; a little too heavy on her stride. And in several scenes, we’d see her hair pasted flat to her scalp, further accentuating her “busog” look! In short, her romantic pairing with Richard feels nothing less than a fairy tale from writer Keiko Aquino’s prolific mind! You’d think Viva and GMA would have realized half way through shooting that Claudine got paired with the wrong twin! In fact, this would have been a perfect vehicle, not for Richard, but for Raymond Gutierrez!

Anne Curtis does better, the obedient actress that she is. But this isn't her moment in the sun! She meanders with raw talent; something that needs fine-tuning and intensity. An intensity not exactly showcased by kilometric verbal tussle, loud arguments, or a bucket full of tears. Anne is young, and she will get there one day.

Now, Richard Gutierrez is a conundrum to us. Sometime in the last 2 years, we actually thought that he was growing as a performer. Apparently not! In several scenes where he was saying, “I love you” to either Claudine or Anne, we were struck with his several degrees of banality. His expressions were vapid, and his emotions prosaic. I could probably elicit gravitas from an inanimate object more than from Richard Gutierrez!

In its running time of 120 minutes or so, we were never moved one bit! And this, by far, is 2010’s most protracted – and sappiest - melodrama! Yet with all of its ludicrous emotionality, there is not a single tear from me! That can’t be good! Heck, I even shed a tear from the shameless “Hating Kapatid”!

This too has some of the dumbest characters on silver screen. We have a doctor (Joel Torre) who heads a Rehab Center. Whenever he has a personal problem, this idiot would seek the counsel of his employee (Claudine) who must be 20 years his junior! Even when he discusses a case regarding his patient (about an athlete), he would consult with the Physical Therapist in order to decide on the disposition of the patient! Claudine would show him the xray of the patient, and instead of checking out the xray plates himself for an objective professional insight, he would ask the PT instead! The doctor is asking the PT what to do with the patient! Now you wonder why the people of “Desperate Housewives” think of Filipino doctors as a joke!

This also has one of the silliest endings, which I'd let you "discover". Despite being a potboiler filled with several narrative skips (7 years later, 8 months later, another 8 months later, 2 years later), you would notice that everyone looks exactly the same! Same hair cut! Same girth! Same manner of dressing! As though time stood still! I had to pinch myself. I almost forgot that this is a film by director Mac C. Alejandre!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Inquirer on Hating Kapatid: "To have to endure 'product placements' is too onerous an extra burden!"

We were tickled pink, fuchsia and lavender to have read this review from the Inquirer, so for those who actually believe that Edward, Bella and Jacob should be chugging down a bottle of Coca Cola while fighting for each one's affections; or the next Spiderman should be blatantly endorsing Skyflakes while swinging from webslings; that Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li and Jason Statham should shamelessly pawn their Rolexes at a Cebuana Lhuillier shop while exterminating the baddies from Vilena; and Julia Roberts should be shoving her pantypads down our cinematic throats while watching "Eat Pray Love": go get a brain!

Only in the Philippines is this brazenly shameless practice deemed a non-issue by some misguided souls!

Here is PDI's article which came out Saturday, August 15, 2010:

Distractions detract from Judy Ann-Sarah starrer

by PDI Editor Nestor U. Torre

"THE STELLAR pairing of Judy Ann Santos and Sarah Geronimo in Wenn Deramas’ family comedy, “Hating Kapatid,” has aroused special interest, because it could have seen the “passing of the torch” from one movie queen (Judy Ann) to another (Sarah).

Alas, it didn’t happen. The promising production turned out to be hobbled by a number of problems and limitations that ended up making it a failed cinematic enterprise.

That was a real pity, because the movie’s theme, sibling relationships, is of particular interest to Filipino viewers, who often grow up in homes where the oldest child assumes “third parent” responsibilities in helping to rear and even financially support his or her younger siblings.


True enough, the film’s plot had older sister, Judy Ann, taking care of Sarah when their parents opted to work abroad to make money for their family. The girls’ grandmother (Gina PareƱo) watched over them, but Judy Ann assumed most of the “maternal” responsibilities in taking care of her little sibling.

So far, so acceptable. But, all too soon, the movie’s progress was muddled by the production’s distractingly frenetic attempts to generate extra “comedy” by ramping up its slapstick and kenkoy elements.

Otherwise a proficient and focused performer, Judy Ann was made to rattle off her lines in a giddy way, like a younger clone of Nida Blanca or Maricel Soriano.


Sarah was less of a caution in this regard, but she also had to contend with a number of slapstick moments and scenes that tweaked and distended her performance in an unnaturally hyper way, ostensibly to elicit extra loud whoops of laughter.

Trouble was, (Sarah's) attempts were so self-consciously broad and heavy that viewers’ real desire to laugh was dampened instead of encouraged.

An even bigger turn-off was the movie’s long list of “product placements” to generate extra income from advertisers. All sorts of products were shown being used by the stars on-camera, thus distracting viewers in a major way from the storytelling at hand.

These days, viewers already have to pay a lot for a movie ticket, so to have to endure “product placements” on top of that to add to a production’s income, in cash or kind, is too onerous an extra burden for moviegoers to bear!

What about the “passing of the torch” factor? It too was derailed, because neither Judy Ann nor Sarah survived the production’s limitations well enough to make such a symbolic act or gesture possible—or plausible.

We know that Judy Ann has come up with a number of worthy portrayals in the course of her long career, so she has nothing to prove. The big test was for Sarah to strut her thespic stuff—and she simply failed to deliver.

Sarah is a good singer and “obedient” performer who dutifully does what she’s told—and that’s her problem. Real star performers do more than comply with the director’s instructions, they make their performances their own by imbuing them with personality, sensitivity, charisma and insight.

These are what Sarah fails to provide, and what she should focus on in acquiring, if she wants to become an affecting performer and genuine screen luminary.

All else is dutifully going through the motions—and you don’t get awards for that."

P.S. That it is "Breaking Box Office Records Nationwide" is nothing but a spurious drivel. On it's 2nd Friday screening in an SM Davao Cinema - on a Friday afternoon, there were just 3 people watching in the whole cinema! Break which record? These SHAMELESS PUBLICITY MACHINERY! Makes your skin crawl...

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Expendables - Mischievous Fun and Explosive Slam-Bang Action

Testosterone overdrive

Chivalry is alive in Sylvester Stallone’s world!

In “The Expendables”, a group of mercenaries take on a despotic, avaricious government to save a feisty girl (Giselle Itie). Stallone takes Jason Statham, Jet Li and his gang to the (mythical) South American island of Vilena to take on its army of hundreds, and we tag along for the ride in this testosterone fueled adventure.

At the heart of this once-in-a-lifetime ensemble of bigger-than-life action heroes, is their humorous, self-deprecating banters. Jet Li’s height becomes a running gag: At one point, Couture refers to their team as “four and a half”, then calls Li “Happy Feet”. The diminutive actor laughs it off with a rare grin, as he is further abused with a question, “What are you, a size 3?” Li isn’t the sole recipient of these tirades: Couture’s ears are called “flower ears” which he attributes to his young days of professional wrestling. (Do they pull ears off until they’re shaped as such?) Anyway, their explanation was attributed to blood clots that would retract the cartilage, which the pinna - that funnel shaped external ear - is made of.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cameo isn’t spared from these funny moments! When Stallone greets the California governor (after a grand entrance inside a church), Ah-nuld quips, “Did you get sick? You lost weight!” which Stallone replies with a curt, “The ones I lost, you found ‘em!” Schwarzenegger then begs off from a possible collaboration saying he’s too busy with more important things. “What’s up with him?Bruce Willis asks Stallone. “He wants to be President!” When Eric Roberts, who gallantly plays Movie Bad Guy to all these “heroes” finds Dolph Lundgren, he remarks, “I’m not comfortable seeing giants with guns!” Lundgren is of course 6 foot 5 inches tall! Mickey Rourke, who plays the group’s resident philosopher tattooist, calls Jason Statham’s bald head as “Beautifully shaped. It would look good with (tattoo of) cobwebs around them.” Statham is unconventionally toothsome, and I didn’t realize how handsome he is when he beams. Statham seems humbled by his iconic company, but acquits himself more than adequately. Truth is, he must have smiled enough in this movie than all his movies combined – and I am not complaining!

Make no mistake! “The Expendables” delivers slam bang action with raw and old fashioned fisticuffs and explosive gun fighting. It makes you realize how much more realistic 80’s action movies were than present-day CGI-fueled actioner!

When the film opens with the mercenary group taking on those greedy Somali pirates, you somehow wish that John Rambo succeeded overthrowing Myanmar’s dictator rule! As well as blow to smithereens a dwarf’s rule from this country’s not too distant past!

That Jean Claude Van Damme decides to pass it up is really his loss. It would have been a singular moment back in the A-list spotlight. What, is he happy with his “Universal Soldier: Regeneration”? Or the Thailand movie, “The Eagle’s Path”?

Looks like a sequel is a good possibility. I can’t wait!

Hit me with your daggers, Jason.

Statham appears next in "The Mechanic" with Ben Foster, and as a gnome in "Gnomeo and Juliet"!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Step Up 3D - "Almost" Thoroughly Entertaining Dance Flick

They must have invested so much on physically strenuous rehearsals that their brains got displaced on the way to filming these dance films! Dance flicks have actually given up on giving their audience original stories. If you're in it expecting a narrative you aren't familiar with, go pack your bags and head to Burundi!

Having said that, we expected nothing from its story. We were in it for its dance sequences! And we weren't disappointed! Otherwise, we'd have to refer to the recently shown "StreetDance 3D" which had a similar theme (a dance posse without a rehearsal studio - and the fast-approaching championship is hovering down their rickety necks!). Rick Malambri as Luke leads the pack of street dancers. With a little inspiration provided by Natalie (Sharni Vinson), the crew ("The House of Pirates") is taking on their fiercest competition. Until they learn of their dig's foreclosure! What becomes of the team?

The moves are just spectacular, the execution of each sequence fluid, you couldn't help but gasp with awe. The scene where a pipe (miraculously) bursts in the middle of the dance floor was nothing short of breath-taking - and frolicky fun! This is a razzle dazzle of terpsichorean extravaganza! But wait, one of my favorite little moments was when Moose and Natalie (Adam G. Sevani and Alyson Stoner) does a cute Broadway'ish "I Won't Dance" on the streets of New York! That was pure delight!

If you love your musicals and dance flicks, you would be tickled pink to find Glee's Harry Shum, Jr. and "So You Think You Can Dance's" Legacy (Jonathan Perez) on several dance sequences!

As for Rick Malambri, this model-turned-dancer-turned-actor is simply a delicious sight to behold! With his towering height, I never thought very tall guys could move so gracefully "like a swan" with nary a hint of femininity! He just makes me blush!

P.S. Rick was also in "So You Think You Can Dance" (2010), although he was cut early! It just shows that entering the final 10 (like Legacy did) doesn't necessarily guarantee a lead part in a major movie! Getting eliminated early on might! Ask Mr. Malambri!

Rick Malambri and Sharni Vinson

Malambri literally stands out from the crowd! Those long sexy legs could dance up a storm even beside B-Boy legend Legacy (Jonathan Perez, of "So You Think You Can Dance").

Rick Malambri strikes a poster boy pose as a model!

Rick Malambri

Harry Shum Jr.'s world is full of glee!

Harry Shum Jr. plays Cable, a johnny-come-lately character in Step Up 3D, which is really a non-character, but at least we get to see him dance!