Monday, January 31, 2011

Rindido - Rage Against Mediocrity

Nowhere in the world is foreign employment considered as noble as Jose Rizal or Benigno Aquino who sacrificed freedom and life for the common good. The Philippines has in fact made it hip and socially palatable – “Bagong Bayani”!

But since remittances of such OFW’s have somehow kept our country afloat from economic catastrophe, we started placing labels for them.


Don't get me wrong, I have the highest respect for their sacrifices. Yet if I were the foreign worker, I wouldn’t give much thought to the affairs of the state. Truth is, if I cared enough, I would never leave my nativeland! I would not seek greener pastures elsewhere!

If I were an OFW, I would work abroad for inherently selfish reasons – not for the common good, but for myself and my family alone! My family! Not others! If that makes me a modern-day hero, then everyone around the world who works for self and family should rightfully be called a “hero”, right? After all, what does that make the Pinoys who opted to suffer through his country’s various upheavals by toiling the local soil – or burning the midnight flame – in the land where he was born? Are non-OFW’s really less of a hero for working so hard to get so little?


Director Noriel Jarito spins a tale on the anatomy of “rage” which, according to some of the production’s drumbeaters, is what “Rindido” means. Of course we have to disagree, graciously that is. “Rindido” or “rendido” is a pang-uring panlarawan (adjective) that covers the following: “litong lito”, “lawit na ang dila sa pagod”, “patang pata”. Nowhere is “rage” or “fury” in the realm of the aforementioned. If they wanted a more dramatic title, “Panibugho” would have been more appropriate; a weird-sounding title (much like how obscure "Rindido" is) one that belies depth would have been “Pangingimbulo”. But let’s leave it with “Rindido”. It's all just word play anyway.


Efren (Noriel Jarito) is a middle aged overseas foreign worker (OFW) who, one day, finds himself abruptly unemployed. From Saudi Arabia, he flies back home with just a backpack and a hand-carried brown box. The tortuous way home is littered with robbers so he turns up empty handed, and surprised. He runs across his mistress Lani (Chanel Latorre) locked in embrace with resident plumber Carlos (Vic Tiro). He drops his backpack and sends Carlos away running for dear life, but Carlos’ drinking buddies help the latter until Efren’s beaten into a pulp. Cut to: Efren and Lani in passionate lovemaking. Didn’t he catch his wife in flagrante just a few minutes ago? Now he’s pumping and pouncing away like there’s no tomorrow. No bruising or puffy cheeks expected from someone who just got mauled by three thugs!

After their fervid copulation, the big dramatic moment ensues. Lani implores, “Pag usapan natin ang nangyari kanina, Ren.” Then she weaves a hokey scenario that justifies her misdeeds. That she was coerced by Carlos at knife-point. Then she moronically adds, “Ikaw kasi, ang tagal mong nawala!” But if you listened carefully from their neighbor’s soundbites, you’d hear one saying, “Eh kahahatid ko lang nyan sa airport!Ano ba talaga, ate? Then Lani goes further (digging herself a grave): “Alam kong mali ang ginawa ko!” You were intimidated yet you admit fault? Something doesn't add up. Now you understand exactly where Efren is coming from if he suddenly runs amok, right?

Fun after getting clobbered! He found out he's been cheated - yet he ends up shagging her. Then he gets her explanations later. Get it?

Told in non-linear fashion, the premise is rather simple. Noriel Jarito who wears several hats (producer, director, script writer, cinematographer, actor) obviously wants his cake and eat it too. The result is a slapdash ouvre that meanders into a myopic character study that doesn’t even bear new insight on the plight of foreign workers, fidelity, or enviable artistry. Each character is cardboard caricature, with a weak level of insight on the inherent motivation of its people. Jarito wears a single facial expression throughout the film; he has this seemingly blunt affect that slightly changes when he closes his eyes during coitus. Let’s not even mention that middle aged Jarito isn’t your typical empathy-inspiring protagonist: Efren is balding, dark and pot bellied - and morose looking! Why he believes he’d make the rightful lead is beyond us, and that doesn’t make it right! Vanity is such a blinding nuisance, it deflects focus.

That Jarito is a real former OFW isn’t a valid excuse for him to play one on screen while the movie-going public is paying for this sad truth. The script seems to be a product of an after-thought with nothing much in between lines. Direction is banal and mostly careless as well. While Efren was on his way to his apartment, imagine one character saying, “Naku, andun pa si Diego. Ay si Carlo pala!” LOL. One friggin line that’s easily editable, but it ends up in the film anyway. In the fight scene where Efren’s victims fall down the floor, you don’t see any gushing blood. Instead they are faded dried up red stains. The only hint of emotion we saw was when Efren was holding his hostage (Lotlot Bernardo), with knife on the other hand. He tentatively says, “Wag kang malikot!” Like he was blowing away a mosquito. Realizing it was too weak a statement, he shouted the second time, “Wag kang malikot.” Which he meant this time around. Talk about conviction.

Vic Tiro plays Carlos (or was it Diego?), Banjo Romero the posture-perfect policeman, and Chanel Latorre as the bitch-in-heat Lani. Unfortunately, a lackluster script meant to highlight Efren leaves these three other characters with docile, albeit one-note performances. The film surreptitiously ends with a baffling shot of the Manila skyline hosting a fireworks display. What that was for is a mystery. An antithesis maybe? But I highly doubt that was the objective.

Balletic fight scenes

I don’t see glory (the celebratory "fireworks") in the carnage borne out of someone’s misfortune. And if this were another form of homage to the OFW, someone has to be answerable to its dank mediocrity. In my book, there is no accolade for the adulterer. That he suffers gravely from his unemployment is maybe something that he richly deserves for abandoning a wife and a child. Clocking in at just 1 hour, this film feels like a protracted flicker of an idea more than a film feature. Paying P171 to watch it is like buying that expensive ice cream (Cold Rock Ice Cream in Greenbelt, anyone?), but then you accidentally dropped it on the floor! Ooops!

Rindido” was one of the five Metro Manila Filmfest indie picks – one of the five that was never shown commercially. This then begs the question: Who were the people in-charge in screening these indies? Are they mentally challenged? Or were the choices drawn blindly by picking lots randomly from a bowl? Once again, shame on you, MMFF organizers! Now I know why these indies were never shown commercially at the MMFF.


When a moviegoer pays somewhere between P150 to P220 to watch a movie at the cinema, do we owe anything to their well-intentioned filmmakers? “No” is a resounding answer! Do they owe us good cinema? You bet they do! We paid for good cinema. And it isn’t enough that the end-product is borne out of good intentions or anybody’s blood, sweat and tears. Our payment circumvents their hardship, but not necessarily our loyal appreciation. What if we say, such product is a tribute to a long-suffering segment of society (OFWs)? Is patronage equivalent to false appreciation when there’s not much merit worth celebrating for? This is a disservice to the foreign workers - as they are depicted adulterers, unstable, killers! Do we praise a film such as this one? That would constitute infarction against the 9th commandment (Exodus 20:16) - Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Ergo, thou shall not lie! Not just to self but to others as well.

I cannot lie!

Robin Padilla-wannabe Banjo Romero is the policeman caught in a balletically, graciously choreographed fight scene with Jarito. This was gun versus knife! And having known that Efren has already killed several people, guess who died? LOL

Vic Tiro is plumber Carlos who attends to Lani's clogged pipes.

Chanel LaTorre's enviable talent of devouring a banana.

Like wearing a mask?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Season of the Witch - A Baffling Mess

If you've already watched Dominic Sena's "Season of the Witch", I am not too sure if you could smoothly digest the salient pieces that make up the tale within the film: a bubonic plague that uncharacteristically looked like gigantic wart-like excrescences instead of the lymph node-based illness (one priest had his tumor-like growth at his temple, is there a lymph node at the forehead?); a witch who was mysteriously spared from being burned at the stakes; a mysterious forest leading to a castle full of dead priests who possess a book on sorcery (priests + sorcery = logic, right?), and finally, exorcism!

In the story, 14th century warriors who abandon their legion's ghastly massacre of innocent civilians find themselves in a town gripped with fear. Before long, they had to make a deal with the town's superiors to accompany a young suspected witch (they call her "The Girl") to a monastery through a perilous forest. The priests there were gonna sort her out! But why waste their time with her when they invariably killed the others?

The story has several gaping holes that ultimately bog down the whole movie into something so carelessly woven together. Nicolas Cage, along with its cast: Ron Perlman, Claire Foy, Robert Sheehan, do their best for their characters, but when the basic premise rests on a nemesis that ultimately points to "the devil" himself, why waste time with a helpless girl who's shackled in the dungeons of a castle? Isn't the Devil supposedly mightier than any man-made chains? Couldn't she free herself out of Lucifer's vast power? Go figure!

Claire Foy

Robert Sheehan is Kay, who wanted to be knighted like his father. One of the bright few moments in this otherwise dreary flick.

Sheehan and Foy enjoy a moment outside their shoot!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Kids Are Alright - Unconventional Family Drama

I have to admit that it took me awhile trying to get myself to watch Lisa Cholodenko's "The Kids Are Alright."

Lesbian characters just don't interest me much, but the Oscar buzz behind this movie is strong, and I have to find out why. Now I know.

When Laser (Josh Hutcherson) and Joni (Mia Wasikowska, who recently played "Alice" in that Johnny Depp movie "Alice in Wonderland") decide to meet their biological father - Paul (Mark Ruffalo), the "sperm donor" to their lesbian parents Nic (Annette Benning) and Jules' (Julianne Moore) artificial insemination procedures, the weak threads in the relationship start showing. But Jules' further makes matters worse when she inadvertently sleeps with Paul, while she's supervising the landscaping of his backyard.

Family, in any form, is a sacred institution guarded by devotion, loyalty and the instinct of protecting each member from extraneous forces that threaten to harm any member. This is what's uplifting about this dramedy. That despite the imperfections within a relationship, the family will find the bind that pulls them together.

Strong performances from Julianne Moore and Annette Benning who both got Best Actress nominations from Golden Globe, while Ruffalo gets Best Supporting Actor nod from the Screen Actor's Guild. The Film also bagged the Teddy Award at the Berlin Film Fest. The bigger news is the Oscar nominations of Annette Benning (Lead Actress) and Mark Ruffalo (Supporting Actor). In the film, you wouldn't think of Benning as anything but a lesbian. Such a spot-on interpretation! And Ruffalo? He's always been a perfect "sperm donor" for me. LOL

Josh Hutcherson is Laser. Is he having a "special relationship" with buddy Clay?

OB-Gyn Nic and landscape artist Jules share an unusual video together.

Mia Wasikowska sometimes reminds you, not of "Alice", but of a younger Gwyneth Paltrow.

Paul is invited over at the family's barbecue.

The stunning Julianne Moore.

Julianne Moore's sizzling ad campaign for Bulgari. This one is the "Eccentric Charisma" campaign.

Mia Wasikowska

Mark Ruffalo's first Oscar nomination as businessman Paul - the sperm donor who unwittingly sneaks himself within the corridors of an otherwise "normal" family mechanics.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Frenzied Sex, Prescriptions Drugs & Jake Gyllenhaal Warm The Cinematic Bed in "Love and Other Drugs"

Edward Zwick"s "Love and Other Drugs" mirrors the cutthroat peddling of prescription drugs among drug reps (drug agents), and the way rival drug companies proceed with overboard tactics to win over difficult physicians' favors! But at the heart of this competitive environment is an unusual affection between serial womanizer Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) and early-onset Parkinsons patient Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) who both pretend that what they have is just exceptional sexual chemistry and none else in matters of affection.

The flick is set at the advent of the blue pill Sildenafil (Viagra) and the rise of Zoloft as an anti-depressant and effectively takes us into the world of Jamie who badly needs to succeed (he's the blacksheep in a family of over-achievers). With lots of eye-popping nudity buoying up the cinematic canvas, the story almost wavers its focus on the more pertinent issue on relationship investments which was readily dealt with at the latter part of the story. From a very flaky, albeit charming start, Jamie and Maggie's romantic chronology soon turns into "Lorenzo's Oil" territory before briskly shifting into something hopeful and inspiring. Yes, med reps in the real world can become physicians. LOL

Gyllenhaal and Hathaway boil, crackle, fizzle and conflagrate the screen with their charm and chemistry. And if the peekaboo nudities won't have you palpitating until you're blue, you better get those beta-blockers ready. Don't say we didn't warn you!

Gyllenhaal conflagrates the screen with so much nudity, my screen had singes at the fringes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Presa - Grazing the Surface

Sir Roger L’Estrange, an English writer, once wrote, “That which the world miscalls a jail, a private closet is to me. “


In Adolf Alix’s “Presa”, a group of women endure each other inside a correctional facility, each one carrying a burden in their private closets. There’s the zealous Baby (Jodi Sta. Maria) who’s nimble enough to sell anything inside the penitentiary to support her family outside. Nanay Idad (Perla Bautista) is silently grieving over the death of a woman who denied her romantic advances. Dolly (Tetchie Agbayani) refuses to utter a word, until she accidentally slips in the pool. Carmen (Daria Ramirez) is eagerly waiting for her impending release with her husband. Sylvia (Liza Lorena), the cellblock’s tough talking, abusive inmate makes slaves out of Nita (Angeli Bayani) and Rose (Ina Feleo) who diligently follow her around like paid servants. But it’s really Cion (Anita Linda) whose story gets the most screen time. Otherwise known as the Famas Award-winning veteran Esmeralda Cortez, 85 year old Cion got snagged during a buy-bust operation. She is enthusiastically waiting for a presidential pardon that his lawyer has been cooking up for the last year or so. Moreover, she’s antsy, if excited, at the prospect of shooting a film with popular actress Lian (Alessandra De Rossi), a move that might spell her rightful comeback to the Silver Screen. Meanwhile, Ampi (Rosanna Roces), Cion’s loyal fan and a former police woman, religiously attends to Cion’s needs.


This great assemblage of thespians can’t help but cook up a significant amount of excitement among lovers of local cinema. It isn’t everyday these respectable names come together for an omnibus project. This significantly underlines director Adolf Alix’s burgeoning influence in the industry.


Unfortunately, such multifarious casting comes at the cost of telling a legible story. In fact, you end up leaving the theater unsatisfied, albeit with a paltry subject for discussion among your friends. Why was Baby working so hard? Why did Dolly pretend to be a mute? Why didn’t war-freak Idad contest the supremacy of Sylvia where there should be redundancy of characters? The list is long, but they are nothing worth pontificating over because their stories were inadequately fleshed out. If this was a critique on the ability of the actors, I’d say the script writer needed a dash of inspired imagination to actually “internalize” his characters, to give them enough flesh and soul. But when you’re just grazing over the surface, all you get is the superficial matter, instead of the “salt of the earth” so to speak.


The performances are undeniably topnotch with Anita Linda’s Cion taking a big slice of the cake, simply because her story was fuller than the rest. Perla Bautista displays enviable skill in a part that has bypassed her all these years. Jodi Sta. Maria adequately fills out a character that instructs on subtlety and panache on emotive control. Rosanna Roces lights up the screen with understated charm. Roces has never looked this beautiful and svelte in years. In fact, in Alix’s “Karera” shown last December, she was uncomfortably robust. Roces can easily put the current crop of actresses to shame.


It’s actually the younger part of the ensemble I’m having trouble with: Ina Feleo is a misplaced soul as the vengeful Rose who killed her abusive employer. Though she understates her performance – with palpable unease, it’s the maudlin scenes that show her relative inexperience. While the inmates were enjoying a day at the pool, the camera pans at Feleo as she eats and drinks from their “baon”. For a maid who’s supposedly used to roughing it up, she was dainty. Her fingers graciously opening a bottled water, then carefully scooping a spoonful to eat. Absolutely something that a maid isn’t! Ina Feleo may be schooled in expressing emotions. She gets this in her silent moment where she doesn’t utter a line. You don’t always get two terrific parent actors, do you? Unfortunately, it’s the physical component of acting she’s sorely wanting. As an actor, you have to move the part, transform yourself into the gait of your character. Facial expression doesn’t suffice! After all, you are a maid who killed the employer who didn’t feed you enough. You can’t be persnickety like any fairy tale princess! Her mother, Laurice Guillen, suffered the same fate in the latter’s “Karera”. More acting workshops, perhaps?


It’s such a delight that we witness this gathering of talent on screen, but it could have been a more fulfilling experience for us if there were a single story that actually made us care. But when such snippets of stories feel nothing more like an afterthought, then you are left with something that’s essentially inconsequential. And that is sad!


Finally, I am disgusted with the organizers of the MMFF Committee – the MMDA – who proudly announced that 5 Independently-produced movies made it to the last Metro Manila Film Festival. As it turned out, these 5 titles weren’t even offered to the public for commercial screening last December! How these films became part of MMFF when they were only seen by the MMFF Screening Committee and their makers is a mystery of gargantuan proportions to me! I would call such move “deceitful” just to impart a veneer of “new birth” and “respectability” to the latest line of MMFF entries. Their spectacular “show” effectively made “jokes” out of the 5 indies (“Presa” included) who probably expected even a single day of commercial exhibition – which ended with “no day”! It was all for show! Shame on you, Atty. Francis Tolentino (MMDA Chair).


That Butch Francisco’s taste for cinema is reflected in his championing “Presa” as a Best Picture-caliber work – and Marian Rivera a Best Actress-caliber actress for a stupid role (“Super Inday and the Magic Bibe”) – is a reflection of the slow-but-sure depreciation of the quality of names winning from the next Urian Awards, a body of critics I used to hold in high regard. Now I know better!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Green Hornet - Getting the Basics Wrong

Michel Gondry made a significant film in Jim Carey's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" so I was pretty excited with what he can do for "The Green Hornet". It's an adaptation of a popular comic series that I almost have no recollection of. But it seems interesting, if this was in the caliber of "Kick-Ass".

Unfortunately, it wasn't!

I had problems with its basic premise, and a few other issues. It wasn't that Seth Rogen wouldn't make a charming Britt Reid aka The Green Hornet. It was that from the very start, the spoiled Britt, heir to his powerful father's conglomerate, used up his resources for the wrong reasons!

Making headlines out of a fictional "villain"? Self advertisement? Manipulation of stories that are to be fed to the public? These are very valid concerns that shall constitute moral basis of a protagonist and integrity of a shady crime fighter - a "super hero". And what guarantees do we have that our hero won't easily crumple under pressure with heavier issues at hand? Do we really root for a guy who pretends to champion goodness when he can't even be honest enough to admit that it's actually his sidekick Kato (Jay Chou, whose accent is so thick I had to strain several times to get the punchlines) who's doing all the work? Comedic license or not, such deceptive traits won't endear him to me.

And I am not pleased!

Britt and sidekick Kato.

Christoph Waltz as the villain Chudnofsky.

Taiwanese heartthrob Jay Chou is Kato. He was in "Curse of the Golden Flower" and "Kung Fu Dunk."

Cameron Diaz is the feisty research assistant and secretary Lenore Case.

Cameron Diaz's next project is Jake Kasdan's comedy, "Bad Teacher" where she is pitted with Jason Segel and ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake.

The Green Hornet is Christoph Waltz's first movie project in 2 years after winning Oscar's Best Supporting actor for Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds". Prior to "Inglourious...", he appeared in almost 90 films and TV series in Austria. He will be seen next with Robert Pattinson in "Water for Elephants" and I am particularly excited with the film adaptation of the Westend play-adapted-to-film, Roman Polanski's "God of Carnage" with Jodie Foster, Kate Winslett, Matt Dillon & John C. Reilley. He will also star alongside Orlando Bloom in "The Three Musketeers".

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hereafter - Clint Eastwood & Matt Damon Tackle the Afterlife

"Hereafter" is not Clint Eastwood's strongest movie in terms of narrative coherence, but that doesn't mean it is devoid of the iconic director's penchant to weave some of the most heart tugging tales in cinema. In fact, the story of twins Marcus and Jason, who survive a negligent mother, just about broke my heart to pieces.

The film has 3 stories set in 3 separate countries (US, France, UK): Matt Damon is George, a reluctant psychic who tries hard to fend off the pleadings of desperate strangers wishing to "connect" with their dear departed. One day, he meets a charming girl while taking a culinary class, but would knowledge of his "special gift" bring them together?


Meanwhile, Marie Lelay (Cecile de France, who was with Jackie Chan in "Around the World in 80 Days" and the psychological drama "A Secret") is back from a devastating holiday where she almost died from a tsunami. She drowns and dies - but is revived. Soon, "visions" from her death gradually consume her. Her high-flying broadcast job is slowly slipping away from her grasp. Finally, there's the tale of twins (my favorite part) Marcus and Jason. When Jason dies from a road accident while getting away from the neighborhood bullies, Marcus' life downspirals. He is placed in foster care while her mother is trying to rehabilitate herself. Marcus is compelled to seek closure from his brother's abrupt goodbye. But how does one seek resolutions from a dead loved one? By desperately meeting every dubious psychic in the city. One day, he comes across an American psychic's website.

As narrative exigency would have it, George finds himself in London where he meets Marie touring her book. Young Marcus, meanwhile, finds George and stalks him outside his hotel room. Later that night, Marcus gets an audience with George who begrudgingly agrees to see him.

The serendipitous meeting of these three characters felt a bit maneuvered. After all, coincidences like this only happens in movies, right? But even French film master Jean-Luc Godard ("Breathless", "Band of Outsiders") shares his thoughts on such stories. In "Alphaville", Godard says: "Sometimes, reality is too complex for oral communication, but legend embodies it in a form which enables it to spread all over the world." Tales solely based on coincidences don't usually make the most logically sumptuous stories, but sometimes, a simple leap of faith is all that's required to transcend the inadequacies of a well intentioned narrative.

Twins Frankie and George McLaren play Marcus and Jason, separated by tragedy.

George Lonegan (Matt Damon) survives death and soon gets visions from the departed.

Cecile de France is popular TV presenter Marie Lelay who survives the tsunami.

Iconic actor/director Clint Eastwood instructs one of the McLaren twins.

Matt Damon's having a ball! The sun shines brightly over Damon country!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Worst Performances of 2010

What constitutes a bad performance? That should be an easy dissertation, any time; any day.

One giveaway criteria is the presence of the blank facies, unless you're portraying the role of a catatonic schizophrenic. The wooden or statue-inspired amble, which Ciara Sotto perfected in "SpEd Hearts". The monotone delivery where you seem to be reading an essay in front of the camera. The shallow soul, where the exigency of an emotion is depicted through verbose lines and eardrum-shattering squalls, instead of a well-invested emotion (like much of the characters in "In Your Eyes"). The over-eager, under exposed actor who tries hard to stick out from his scarce screen time (not unlike several of Emir's "maids" but gloriously exemplified in brazen and insolent splendor by Melanie Dujunco). The black-and-white 2-D characterizations in actors who can't get a middle ground between emotions like disappointment, anger and hatred. The inability to assume any other persona other than what others know (much like Mo Twister, and why not, when you're already chirpy and charming, right?).

Sometimes, an exceedingly beautiful face gets in the way. Look at Sam Pinto. When you look at her, you are transfixed in time, the way she magically suspends herself in a single facial expression. She's upset? She's happy? She's occupied? Might as well wear a mask, it's a single expression! Another example is Rocky Salumbides. Check out his photo down below - now that is a face steep with expression! His photo just explodes with several degrees of emotion. Unfortunately, on a moving image, it is the same unmoving face, removed of all the muscles that create movements to convey emotion.

Another point to consider is the absolute lack of insight in a given role. Are you a testosterone-raging lothario? Then why do you speak like an 8 year old girl? Then, there's the oversimplification of a character. When a script assigns a sad persona, like someone who is dealing with extreme personal tragedies, do you mope in woe-is-me fashion for 2 full hours?

Finally, when a character annoys his audience when he is supposed to be charming, that should fall under a "worst performance" category.

We have vegetated on this list for about a week or so. It is such a displeasure to have to pay anything between P150 to 191 (a non-3D seat for the uneven "The Green Hornet" at the Galleria is a ridiculous P191) just to experience any of the aforementioned criteria. But more than anything, we do hope that they learn from these errr... star-making turns!

From 73 commercially released local flicks, this is 2010's Worst Performances: (in random order)

1. Allen Dizon ("Marino:Call of the Sea") as Benjo, a conscientious seaman who constantly worries about his wife (Ara Mina) back home. Even when he was shagging Krista Ranillo (who played a hooker) in Thailand, he was missing his melon-mammary wife.

2. Ciara Sotto ("SpEd Heart") as Rina, a special education teacher turned between her disagreeable dad and her boyfriend (Paolo Rivero). Ciara exemplifies the confused somnambulist. Danica Sotto (a co-star) could have done a lot better than the lethargic Ciara.

3. Toffee Calma ("Parisukat") opens the movie as a frisky "businessman" attacked by a gay serial killer. You do wonder why he never seem to have learned - and done away with his monotone delivery. He was one of the busiest sexy actors of the 90's appearing in one sexy flick after the next, opposite new sex nymphets.

4. Melanie Dujunco ("Emir") as Mylene, an obsequious servant at a royal household in an Emirate state. Dujunco was annoyingly fervid. She was a distraction, sticking out from the flow of an unremitting narrative. For a minor role, she unwittingly called too much attention to herself. As we said before, there are no small roles for good actors, but there's no role big enough for bad!

5. Richard Gutierrez ("In Your Eyes") as illegal immigrant Storm who fancies himself as a big time photographer instead of an unemployed free loader. If there is a criteria for blandness, go look his way. Remember what they say about shallow waters? And you wonder why he has such kaleidoscopic lines in the film.

6. Sheree as Lucy, the foul mouthed cinema prostitute in "S.R.O - Standing Room Only ." Cursing away like there's no tomorrow, spouting peremptory lines ( "Putang ina naman, Nestor. Hindi madaling magbate ha. Amoy Clorox na nga itong kamay ko," "Singkwenta lang? Nagpaputok ka pa sa labi ko. Halos nagkakasugat sugat na nga ang suso ko sa kakalapirot mo.") as though that would make her a thespian of note.

7. Mo Twister ("White House") as Ken, the loud and arrogant radio DJ and horror “housemate” who can’t pretend even for two hours how to be anybody else other than himself.

8. Victoria Haynes ("666") as the possessed teenager Donna who should be banished to la-la land.

9. Carl Guevarra ("Mamarazzi") as Andi Eigenmann's nerdy boyfriend who acts like a shrinking violet with the voice of an 8 year old school girl.

10. Gloria Romero ("Tarima") as the contemptible Lola Imang whose mean and abusive streaks don’t have rhyme or reason. Hers is an opprobrious character made to shout invectives many times over - "Hudas ka, Demonyo, Kapal ng mukha, Patay gutom, Walang hiya!" We've always loved her in anything she's been in, but with Neal Tan and a wanting script, the veteran actress is reduced to caricature.

11. Philip Salvador ("Rosario") as the powerful patriarch of a sprawling tobacco hacienda in the 1920's. Whatever happened to one of the most influential Brocka Babies? When he was younger, he was god. Times have changed though. Check out his one-note performances in the following films: As Daniel Reyes in "Baler", as KC Concepcion's dad in "For The First Time".

12. Rocky Salumbides ("Tarima") as the reclusive inmate Bryan who shines with smoldering dullness. (See above)

13. Guio Munoz (Indie Boys) as the duplicitous new actor Delfin who displayed raw naivete in his cunning persona. Huh?

14. Sam Pinto ("Petrang Kabayo") as Samantha, one of Peter's nosy relatives. In this Vice Ganda comedy, Ms. Pinto exposed herself as having the intuitive sincerity of a shoe brush. And what's with all these roles with names much like hers? Samantha in "Petrang Kabayo", Samara in "Si Agimat at Si Enteng Kabisote". She loves to be "full of herself", doesn't she? ;->

15. Rob Da Silva ("Lagpas") as bushy browed Diego who couldn’t decide if his character was a good guy, a bad guy or that gay guy who loves to take his briefs off.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Worst Films of 2010

It's been an economically difficult year for the Filipinos, but we constantly turn to the movies to somehow forget, but for a few hours, each of our strife. Movie watching used to be the Pinoy's cheapest form of entertainment, but that trend has changed. Are we even surprised a big percentage has turned to patronizing movie piracy? We do not condone this behavior. In fact, we get to watch most of these local movies in cinemas.

A movie ticket these days costs P150-180, depending on where you watch. This isn't a "cheap" hobby since money doesn't grow on trees. The money we spend on our films are borne out of hard work. Thus when we are served thoughtless, elementary flicks, we deem it a personal affront against our finances, not to mention sanity. If we're given something rotten for our money, we will rightfully declare it rotten. This is, after all, consumer rights!

We initially thought of doing away with our list of worst films and performances to start 2011 on a more positive note, but we realized this isn't fair! We have slaved over so much garbage last year that we feel we deserve to be able to list down the flicks that challenged our stamina, and absolutely wasted our time and money! From the 73 local flicks shown commercially (from January 1 to December 31, 2010), we found it easy to fill a Top 30 list. The state of the Philippine Movies is that bad! But for the sake of brevity, we have to narrow it down to a Top 10.

We would have easily included Crisaldo Pablo's "Mga Pinakamahabang One Night Stand 2" - which is "beyond awful" - but that film was basically a student project that amazingly found its way in commercial cinemas, thus our decision to exclude it from the list. Make no mistake, Crisaldo Pablo's trilogy of mediocrity could easily take the "crown" had it not been borne out of the director's conceit to field something that belongs in the hidden film archives of an exceedingly bad film school.

Here is 2010's Worst Movies: (in random order)

1. Pilantik (Argel Joseph)

An abused child turns into cross-dressing serial killer who attacks couples at the throes of orgasm. See Jao Mapa give Mon Confiado lip service.

2. Sanib 2 - 666 (Celso Ad. Castillo)

Possession and producer Honey Blanca's cleavage and high heels populate this abomination about a homecoming that goes awry. Jacklyn Jose gets badly dubbed. Didn't we advocate its lead star getting sent to Zambia? Or was it Zimbabwe?

3. D' Survivors (Adolf Alix, Jr.)

With so much eye candies populating this movie, the director forgot to tell a worthy story. There was humor somewhere, but we're supposed to excavate it from under the sands.

4. Tsardyer (Siegfried Barros Sanchez)

A myopic take on Ces Drillon's kidnapping saga, this elementary effort takes the cake on how to make music videos, errr...

See veteran actors like Neil Ryan Sese, Dimples Romana, Shamaine Centenera in the worst performances of their career. Listen to some of the most execrable songs ever played on the big screen while the bad guys accentuate "dagger looks" in their most livid glory!

5. Fidel (Mark Shandii Bacolod)

Considered as a "landmark film" by its own director, "Fidel" is lost in Bacolod's cloud of narcissism. In fact, in his 2nd flick "Ben & Sam" (shown 2 months after "Fidel" opened in theaters), he specifically used "Fidel" a representative of a superior film that champions the "troot". See Jon Hall as an arab who sodomized Lance Raymundo. See Andrea del Rosario pretend to be a concerned journalist. See Ma. Isabel Lopez cry her crocodile tears for the muted Fidel. See Snooky Serna as Snooky Serna!

6. Mahilig (Nico Salvador)

Gen. Caisip and Asec Rommel Garcia make stony anti-drug cameos in a film that weaves the stories of a drug addicted wife (Thea Alvarez she gets to shower several times, and shag her hubby Mon Lacsamana before they part ways) and an obedient son (Carlo Aquino, who gets lured into vices by Onemig Bondoc.) As we've said it before, 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!

7. SpEd Hearts (Felbert Go)

A somnabulist's delight, Ciara Sotto, who plays a Special Ed teacher, looks dazed all through out the film - whether she's arguing with her father or teaching in front of her wards. Her best scene? She turns her back from the audience as the credits start rolling. Meanwhile, Chamyto Aguedan's 6 children were shocked to find their father to be a flaming flower! No wonder the kids need "specialized education".

8. Santuaryo (Monti Parungao)

Shipwrecked on an island, albeit with a functional boat (carrying survival items like porn magazines), able bodied boys frolic in skimpy briefs in search of a treasure that turned out to be - whaddayaknow! - a nature park! Hear a smart boy asking his friend about a "blowjob" - "sinong top? sinong bottom?" Huh? See a paraplegic magically walk - for the sake of love! Wheee...

9. Pagnanasa (Fellyx Honeyfield)

Marco Morales snags Charles Delgado into his slimy web of libidinous lifestyle, but why can't he get it "up" when with him? "Lukso ng dugo" plays out ridiculously in this tale of brotherly love - in Pink Film fashion!

10. Ang Babae Sa Sementeryo (Neal Tan)

Neal Tan takes the tale of an itinerant soul and deconstructs it into this pseudo-social commentary that occurs in a cemetery being used as a prostitution den. Meanwhile, a new chief of police is investigating a series of murders around town. Then there are flickering images of ghosts, a flesh-eating child with telepathic powers, a bumbling duo of videographers and Tommy Abuel doing a Shakespeare soliloquy! I've always thought of Neal Tan as a desultory story teller, but he was never this narratively muddled!