Saturday, January 8, 2011

Say "Taj", Say "Raj" - And 2010's Most Wince-some & Winsome Moments - Part 1

Last year, part of our New Year’s Resolution for 2010 was to write our thoughts on every Tagalog film that would come out in commercial theaters within the year. This was our testament to “Tangkilikin ang Pelikulang Pilipino”. But “praising” them is another matter. We vowed to watch them, but also vowed to speak our mind about their merits (and demerits). After all, patronage should be deserved.

For the most part, I was successful with this resolution since, heck, I watch every ”gold and garbage” anyway. But sometime mid-November, we lost steam. The thought of writing reviews for “East of Paradise” and “Ika-Sampu” made us physically sick, so we decided to steer clear from writing about Tagalog movies until the end of the year, which was too bad since there were several flicks worthy of being read by some 600 page-reads that surprisingly visit this blogsite every single day (I dunno why)! Within a week, I shall come out with 2010’s best and worst performances. But for this post, we shall concentrate on the things that made us smile and those that made us wince uncomfortably on our seats.


We love Venus Raj and the way her lips stretch literally from “ear to ear” when she smiles. There is obviously nothing plasticine with the beauty queen. She is all wrapped in sincere victory. But way before she won her crown, she was introduced to us in TV shows as “Miss Venus Raj” pronounced the way “Raj” should be pronounced – with a “dz (ra-dz) instead of the bothersome “silent j” (rah). But a few days before flying to Vegas for the Universe pageant, things changed. Raj became “Rah” – from TV Patrol monkeys all the way down to Boy Abunda, enunciating the “Raj” like they were gonna whoop out a cup of phlegm after saying “Raj”.

My reference here would be the more obvious origin – India!

India is home to the Taj Mahal and a popular actor Raj Kumar. Raj, the deceased veteran actor of some 70 films, is pronounced the way “J” should be – like “badge” and “fudge”. And try doing a silent “j” to the Taj Mahal. Pumunta kami ng “Tah-Mahal”. Pauso!


We like Ms. Joan Maglipon, head honcho of “Yes Magazine” and PEP entertainment website, because she is smart, mild mannered and respectable. She almost never resorts to mud slinging and muck wracking. However, her “Yes Magazine” has been coming out with dubious list-making. For Showbusiness’ “Most Beautiful Personalities”, who should emerge with the crown? Not the lovely Bea Alonzo, the smoldering Angel Locsin, the effervescent beauty of Maja Salvador, the angelic face of Marian Rivera – but the homely and pretty Primetime Princess, Kim Chiu!

This surprised us. Our friends chuckled. Kim is a pretty girl, and she has excessively rabid fans to boot, willing to throw acid at anyone who would stand in Ms. Chiu’s way, but “pretty” doesn’t necessarily cut “most beautiful”. No amount of success could circumvent physical beauty!

Unless their panel of “jurors” is a bunch of Glaucoma patients, I think it’s clear as the blue sky that the weepy girl-next-door Miss Chiu cannot hold a candle even to Kristine Hermosa or Cristine Reyes who should look like goddesses beside the wholesome Primetime Star. A popular TV series or a hit movie should never be a criteria for “beauty” when you’re saying “most beautiful” because, if that’s the case, why shouldn’t Vice Ganda win the plum? He has the “name” (Ganda) for it - and he is obviously the year’s break away star, isn’t he? And are you saying that Kim Chiu is more beautiful than Anne Curtis? Ah, Erwan ko sa inyo!

Kim Chiu as "most beautiful".

The less beautiful stars: Kristine Hermosa, Angel Locsin, Maja Salvador, Anne Curtis, Mariane Rivera, and the much-abused Bea Alonzo.

Within the same year, Yes also came out with their traffic-stopping “Power List” which listed Sharon Cuneta somewhere at the bottom of the Top 10 (#8, I think) while Claudine Barretto was at number 4. What gives? This was during a year when Barretto couldn’t even get a teleserye in her then-home studio. Her only claim to fame that time was a tv commercial, peddling “milk” and its food-pyramid. Thus her exodus to GMA 7! Of course, this eventually gave way to a vacuous flick, “In Your Eyes” that’s way inferior from her masterpieces in ABS-CBN.

But really now, Sharon Cuneta is a lesser star than Claudine? Do we live in an alternate universe? Some brains over at Yes need electro-convulsive therapy! Sharon Cuneta may look like a beached whale these days, eternally spouting “I lost 3 ½ pounds this week” – but this never dimmed her stature as The Megastar! And Ms. Cuneta is certainly not inferior to the spiteful and litigious Claudine Barretto, is she?

Sharon Cuneta and Claudine Barretto: At no decade is Barretto bigger than the Megastar!


Kris Aquino should carefully consider doing away with titles and concentrate instead on her craft. She obviously doesn’t deserve the “Queen of All Media” tag when she can’t even make a new noontime show fly! And what kind of star are you (really!) when a few weeks after it opens, you are unceremoniously kicked out from the show?

Then there’s another tag – the “Horror Queen”! I am prone to agreeing with the latter. After all, watching Kris Aquino in “Dalaw” was horrifying! In the film, she has this constant look of dread way before things really start happening. She “indicates” more than “internalizes”. And newbies like the fantabulous Carla Abellana (of "Shake, Rattle & Roll 12's Punerarya") could teach our "queen" a thing or two about acting! Lest we forget, didn't she own "Massacre Queen" sometime in the past?

It is thus instructive to say that Ms. Aquino should just go back to her talk shows because people love her there. In fact I am such a “fan” – I love watching her make a fool of herself on national television, implying the possibilities of any romantic liaisons with Ted Failon and Mayor Junjun Binay – and even Diether Ocampo - as they fall under her spell! Just makes your skin crawl – with giddy delight, doesn’t it?

Romantic liaisons?

The face of fear? Constant anticipation of dread.


Toni Gonzaga deserves a title – “Rom-Com Queen”! I have always enjoyed her movies (except the despicable “My Only U”). She is a fun, frothy, compelling lead that makes romantic comedies such convivial vehicles. That Robin Padilla eventually decided to do away with a Toni movie is to his disadvantage because, let’s face it, what was Mr. Padilla's last blockbuster? Must have been a decade ago, right?

In Cathy Garcia-Molina'sMy Amnesia Girl”, Toni was such an endearing presence (as events photographer Irene) and despite her scant chemistry with John Lloyd Cruz (as the runaway groom Pol), the audience rooted for the couple’s relationship to work. It was a heart-warming movie. If only they did away with about 50% of those cheesy lines that seemed fetching at first, but ultimately drowned you away into nausea! Next rom-com please!

Cute - and then the cheezy lines came flooding by!


Noli de Castro’s return to television ("TV Patrol") heralds the return of a bygone era where watching news was imperative – believable, concise. Seeing Korina Sanchez beside him was like icing on the cake. Let’s just hope Ms. Sanchez does away with her over-the-top vendettas (remember when she was after doctors? That sent waves across the whole community of physicians all over the country!) because when Korina does news, people sit up and listen. She’s one of the voices that people believe when they hear. And doesn’t she look absolutely stunning these days?

Ted Failon completes this powerhouse trio, and I am tickled pink with Failon’s relaxed, albeit playful demeanor these days. When De Castro finally mouthed his signature, “Magandang Gabi, Bayan” – I had goosebumps! I dearly miss Karen Davila from primetime news though.


Shalani Soledad finally finds a voice! I am not a fan of Willie Revillame. For me, he is just one arrogant twat who found a pot of gold at the end of the ABS CBN rainbow, then wanted to pompously move his gold elsewhere. When Revillame eventually recruited Ms. Soledad for his TV show at ABC-5, I was one of the many who would sneak away (momentarily) from my news to watch how Shalani would fare. Let me just say, it wasn’t flattering, but people forgive her mostly because we somehow knew how she was treated by an ex-boyfriend who seemed not too proud of her presence.

We recently heard Shalani’s duet with Revillame – she was surprisingly “on the note” and her vocal calisthenics blended melodiously with Revillame’s digitized hoarseness. Revillame’s “Ikaw Na Nga” suddenly becomes a serviceable ballad! Atta girl, Miss Soledad. You deserve a good looking prince!

Shalani Soledad's melodic singing.


One of the last indies shown last year was Adolf Alix’s Karera” which follows LV (or Elvie), a woman who operates an illegal betting station from Sta. Ana’s horse races. Laurice Guillen plays a mother of 3 wayward souls: Daisy (Rosanna Roces) is on the run from her gangster boss; Ace (Jay Manalo) takes measures to sabotage the performance of his horses to rig the race; and Dindo (Joem Bascon) couldn’t keep his dick off somebody else’s daughter (Mercedes Cabral).

Like most “serious” Alix flicks, the camera would laboriously follow his characters in real time, reminiscent of “Adela”. Unfortunately, the story is never compelling. You just didn't care about them, which goes to show that not all stories are worth telling. What ultimately fails the movie is the choice of the actress playing Elvie – Laurice Guillen!

There were moments of pure genius: the opening scene where Elvie attends an El Shaddai prayer rally then on her way home, she gets mugged – and possibly raped (it was too dark to be sure) – then she comes home in the morning with mud on her clothes, as she visits her son at the horse’s stable. Her face is an avalanche of expression. Unfortunately, when the scenes show her manning her betting station, she appeared “too refined” to be believable, and you’re suddenly made acutely aware that Guillen is just going through the motions because this, after all, is new territory! You just knew this part could be portrayed better by the likes of Gina Pareno or Cherry Pie Picache! A patchy, uneven performance doesn't deserve a "best of the year" citation.

We watched “Karera” at SM Megamall at its 3rd screening hour (between 4-5PM, I think) and I was its one and only audience! I could have done a strip tease there and wasted my sensuality on no one. LOL

Patchy, uneven portrayal in a film with a story that isn't worth telling.

Part 2 of 2010's Most Wince-some & Winsome Moments up next.


Anonymous said...

Sorry for the flood of comments, but I love My Only U! Thought it was the best Star Cinema movie of the last decade, next to La Vida Rosa, which is of course, a bit invalid since it's very not-Star Cinema. Patola!

Cathy P. said...

I liked "My Amnesia Girl" too. It almost made my Top 10 best. It was smart without taking the romantic flimsy away from the film. If it was a Top 12 list, it would have included "Wanted Border" and "My Amnesia Girl".

But, Richard, "La Vida Rosa" was Star Cinema. Haven't you noticed there is a conscious effort from their part to revamp their movie making consciousness this year? They employed several indie names (some of the directors from "Cinco"); they hired Veronica Velasco to meg "I Do" (which wasn't a bad flick either); they produced "RPG Metanoia" and "My Amnesia Girl", and the best move to date is to split up Kimerald in the cringe-worthy "Till My Heartaches End". I have to give them "one" clap for making a movie that doesn't conclude with riding into the sunset all chirpy and bright - or a "rain dance" for that matter.

Anonymous said...

But that's my problem with it. There's a CONSCIOUS effort. They're trying to get these digital filmmakers and failing because they stick to the same writing process and ideas. La Vida Rosa IS star cinema but since Bing Lao has creative control over the script, it came out rather differently.

I thought they had a rather tough time last year. Hindi sila kumita masyado, kahit yung Till My Heartaches End.

Also, I said My Only U, not Amnesia Girl. Hehe. I like Toni-Vhong better. :) But I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Cathy P. said...

My take is, better an iota of effort than none at all, since Star/ABS-CBN dictates a huge influence on trends in the Pinoy psyche in general.

Seriously, you loved "My Only U"? I specifically remembered "hating" it, really came out of the movie house (with some of my friends) with teeth grating. But then I also understand that appreciation for movies (and "art works" in general) is a subjective experience. People enjoy or appreciate stuff because they relate to something, a short scene or anything, within the movie.

I like Toni-Vhong too. I admire their friendship, and they have a spectacular "heart warming" chemistry on screen simply because they connect with each other. Did you see their segment last Sunday ("The Buzz") - it was fun watching them together coz they light up the screen. They are a fetching couple. It's hard to dislike them.