Monday, January 9, 2012

Worst of the Worst - 2011's Horror Roll

We've waited a whole year to collate the titles and performances that made us suffer, wince, and shiver out of frustration. These were the films that made us doubt the Filipino as a Filmmaker, and truly underlined why many Filipinos prefer brainless Hollywood fares over local commercial and independent titles. "Untamed Virgins" vs. "Transformer"? Which one would you pay P180 for? It's a no-brainer really!


If you don't agree with us, too bad. It's my own money I wasted to watch these flicks. Last time I checked, I had the inherent right to say what I wanted about the products I bought. Like that rotten tomato from the market. Otherwise, spend your money and go watch a movie. Join me in my suffering! Then make your own list!

Without further ado, here are 2011's Worst Films:

1. Panday 2 – Mac Alejandre’s action adventure-fantasy is filled with characters that don’t make sense; try a fire-breathing dragon that’s too inept to kill sword-wielding devil warriors a fourth of their size; a mythical hero with a protruding abdominal girth hidden behind a 5-inch thick belt, one who can’t protect his love ones; a Joker-wannabe nemesis who keeps getting resurrected after having been blown to smithereens from their last encounter; a schizophrenic witch who does nothing but laugh whether she’s pleased or otherwise.. Yes, it’s déjà vu. The plot – if you can call it that – is exactly similar to the last one.

2. Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow – Maricel Soriano shows the ABC’s of bad acting! Lovi Poe and Carla Abellana repeat themselves because they were so pleased with their soap opera performance in Jun Lana’s “My Neighbor’s Wife”. So they’re giving us more of the same. But this is different. Calamity and catastrophe are used as backdrop for their caterwauling. Impressed?

3. Big Boy - Shireen Seno’s masturbatory journey back into post-war Manila is littered with dreamlike sequences of random events and scatterbrain indulgence. A poor family gets their teenage child a nose job. And this is the 1950’s! The narrative alternately jumps from black-and-white to color scheme. A story easily told in 15 minutes is stretched to an almost-epic two-and-a-half hours! The best part? Some people label it “brilliant”. Go figure.

4. Sexventure. Nigerian expat Fellyx Honeyfield once again plays with his camera and comes up with easily the year’s worst movie. A 65 kilometer ride from Makati to Calamba takes a bunch of horned up girls two days to complete. After getting abducted – where they were beaten black and blue and even raped, they opted to head down to a rundown resort for a swim instead of reporting the incident at the nearest police station. And before you thought that’s how the narrative ultimately unravels, this was actually an AIDS-related vendetta involving a woman who doesn’t have HIV! Get it? The funniest bit in this sad excuse of cinema happens at the tail end of the screening. Little did I realize that “Sexventure” wasn’t actually a compound word for “sex adventure”, but an acronym that meant this: S – Severe, EX – Extremely, V – Vicious, E – Exposing, N – Nudity, R – Reproach… and so on! Does that vaguely mean anything to you? Someone needs to bump his head on the wall.

5. Pak! Pak! My Dr. Kwak! – An angel is sent down to Earth for a mission involving a quack healer. Fart jokes, not to mention characters on the throes of a diarrheaic episode, pepper this Tony Reyes cinematic atrocity. The idiots at the Cinema Evaluations Board gave it a B-rating. Were you surprised? Well, not really. Not when they also gave “Tween Academy”, “Panday 2”, “Enteng ng Ina Mo” similar rating. You know what one of those moron judges called Bea Binene? The new Maricel Soriano! Alcohol intoxication perhaps? Nausog tuloy si Maricel. :)

6. Students Project. Another Laguna-bound homophobic quartet (teen age boys this time) head to the province to interview a transvestite. Appreciate the narrative coherence already? The lines in the flick were careless, even thoughtless. Define "gay", students were asked by an interviewee. One poor guy replied: "Gay is a social being who is creative and responsible". He might as well describe National Artist wanna-be Carlo Caparas, right? Or Sharon Cuneta, for that matter. While the guys were picking up a hooker, Richard paid her a compliment: "Ang ganda mo. Para kang isang magandang dilag!" Huh? Maybe Rich thought the girl was a transsexual? At one of the class scenes - filmed under the canopy of a camachile, their professor introduced, "This is Psychology. Do you know what the world needs now?" Love, sweet, love, maybe? Then suddenly, these homophobes started canoodling with each other’s joysticks at a camp out. And wait, this Deo Fajardo-movie ended up with a good guy-bad guy chase scene. Still follow the narrative structure?

7. Masikip sa Tatlo. Edz Espiritu’s film examines infidelity in a homosexual relationship. Eh? Does this mean there’s a degree of discernment here? Fat chance of that happening. But see Jersey Milano cry from one room to the next in the most painfully protracted crying scenes in the history of the human race.

8. Untamed Virgins. John Ad. Castillo and Malaysian expat Z Lokman incorporate two unrelated stories: one follows indigenous tribesmen as they go about their daily jungle routine; the other follows a fictitious tribal king in search of a potion that could revitalize his sexual stamina. Roldan Aquino parades around with his male boobs and a gargantuan potbelly, bemoaning his incapacity to “get it up”. One scene has him scouring the jungle to look for his "mahiwagang dahon" (magic leaves supposedly possessing Viagra potency). When he saw a porcupine, he was so petrified he jumped on a tree and stayed there overnight until his son found him the next day! He said, "Nakakita ako ng napakaraming malalaki't mababangis na hayop!" A single diminutive porcupine?

9. Tiyo Pablo. Another Edz Espiritu hair-pulling masterpiece. This provided a cinematic template to the low-budget, pink-flavored domestic drama that doesn't need change of scenery. Characters just navigate the walls of a house, gallantly disrobing between lines. This scenario is seen in succeeding homoerotic titles like Rad Francisco’s “Playmates”, Vince Tan’s “Laro”, Paul Singh Cudail’s “Sulot”, Darry de la Cruz’s “Bingwit”, Lucas Mercado’s “Trabajador: Men @ Work”, etc. Aren't homosexuals the most brilliant minds where art is concerned? Why are the most detestable films of the year the pink-fueled releases? Mediocrity has become almost pathognomonic to the genre. One reason for this unrelenting proliferation is the audience’s tolerance to poor creativity; as long as there are flashes of genitalia, it’s a five star movie. I actually overheard two men conversing about “Kape Barako”. “Uy napanood mo yun? Ang ganda ganda nun, maraming titi!” I rest my case. Isn’t that plain stupidity? Someone bring him a brain… fast!

10. Crisaldo Pablo Films. Six of them: “Subok”, “Hinala”, “M2M Eyeball The Movie”, “Manong Konstru”, “Wanted Male Boarders” and “Dose, Trese, Katorse”. While a big network like GMA Films can only muster 6 commercial releases, Crisaldo Pablo easily comes out with the same output; many of them in simultaneous weekly commercial releases. Fuzzy camera, low budget, tuberculous guys willing to flash their magic wands, and stories conjured from a libidinous, confused, albeit hallucinating writer characterize these stories. We have separate reviews of each gag-inducing work. Pablo’s excuse for their mediocrity? These are not “films” but “video movies”! LOL. Didn’t he finish Film Studies in UP Diliman?

2011’s Most Annoying Performances: The Horror Roll

We’ve retitled the heading. Why? Because if we were to really qualify a heading with “worst”, then we’d need a long, long list. Instead, we’ve collated the performers who stuck out like sore thumbs in their respective films. They made our viewing experience unbearable. We wanted to throw rancid eggs and rotten tomatoes while they were on screen.

Inclusion-exclusion criteria: All films screened in commercial theaters. We’ve excluded most of the Pink Films of Crisaldo Pablo and some of his cohorts. Otherwise, this list would be a roll call to most of the year’s gay-friendly outputs. Besides, you can hardly take these flicks seriously where artistic merit and professional standards are concerned. But, we had to make an exception to two of the most hair-pulling performances from that genre. As heaven is my witness, these names deserve to be here.

1. Aljur Abrenica as Alfredo, the college jock, in Chris Martinez’s updating of Joey Gosiengfiao’s “Temptation Island”. For all of Abrenica's physical splendor, he is hopelessly hammy. Abrenica's deliveries were perfunctory and at times painful... like playing a pre-recorded indolent declamatory line, robotic and wooden. He has taken Machete to heart. Method acting, perhaps?

2. Melai Cantiveros as hard working bread winner Pureza in Soxy Topacio’s wrinkle-inspiring penitence flick called “The Adventures of Pureza: Queen of the Riles”. Stripped of the charm and affability we've expected from Cantiveros, all that’s left is a shrill, noisy, charmless comedic delusion that irritates and tests patience.

3. Toffee Calma as gay director Melos who sets out to manipulate the lives of his household help in Vince Tan’s “Laro”. Watching him perform on screen felt like he hasn't learned much from his considerable experience in the business – a long list of mostly B-movie eroticas. He is awkward. He articulates as though there’s a gum stuck in his incisors and a furball down his larynx. He fills his persona with wasted facial contortions and lavishly unnecessary animated spiels; it was like a bad drag show in a two-bit comedy bar.

4. Marc Abaya as Rodel, the head henchman who’s running after the children of the massacre victims in Jerrold Tarog’s “Aswang”. Abaya took his character with livid thespic strokes, you might as well expect him to eventually transmogrify into Beelzebub himself. His depiction is exactly similar to his role in Joaquin Valdez’s “Dagim” (about cannibals in the mountains). He could have hopped from that set to this, there wouldn’t be discernable contrariety. This has always been Abaya’s unfortunate inclination. When he portrays, he goes all out, with no heed for restraint.

5. Noriel Jarito as Efren, the middle aged OFW who, after getting downsized from work, comes home unannounced only to find his wife canoodling with their neighbor in Jarito’s “Rindido”. Jarito, the film’s protagonist and lead star, wears a single facial expression throughout the film; he displays a uniform blunt affect that slightly changes when he closes his eyes during coitus. Doing double duty as actor and director was an ill advised decision and sheds all the focus that his narrative required.

6. Richard Gutierrez played 4 characters in GMA’s “My Valentine Girls”: as novelist Arvin Perez who struggles from an artist’s block; as taxi driver Oslec in Dom Zapanta’s “Soulmates”; as apocalypse survivor Aidan in Chris Martinez’s “Gunaw”; as lawyer Zack in Andoy Ranay’s “BBF”. Here’s the rub: Whether he's a lawyer or a taxi driver, a novelist or an action hero, Gutierrez offered no delineation in terms of characterization. They were strangely similar. How an actor could impart an absence of distinction in all four characters is stuff of legends.

7. Roldan Aquino as Bating, a tribal head in search of the “mahiwagang dahon” that could bring his sexual vitality back in John Ad. Castillo and Z Lokman’s “Untamed Virgins” – a film populated by bulging abdomens, static emotions and inert facial expressions. And this was marketed as old-school erotica, without any hint of eroticism, mind you!

8. Jersey Milano as Sandy, the call center agent whose lover (Anton Nolasco) cheated on him in Edz Espiritu’s “Masikip sa Tatlo” – curiously one of this blog’s most searched titles. Milano’s film is stippled with incessant, caustic caterwauling and vociferous scenes that inspires hara kiri from its audience. You’d find him crying in the bedroom, then he’d move to the living room to cry again, and further his emotional calisthenics in the bathroom. The film, bafflingly labeled as an experimental film by its discombobulated makers, is one of the year’s most painful films we had to endure.

9. Candy Pangilinan takes a twin dishonorable mention for her choleric demeanor as Monique in Deramas’ “Who’s That Girl” and as the irascible camera person in Tan’s “HIV: Si Heidi, Ivy at si V” elegantly displaying her dense and boisterous, staccato version of how acting should be. If you've seen her in "For The First Time", "Petrang Kabayo", "Who's That Girl", and all her other television work, it's the same thespic attack: she has, in fact, mastered the art of constipated delivery. She's always irritable, throws her lines like she's going to drop dead if she couldn't finish a sentence in 2 seconds. In one scene, out of desperate haste, she referred to Gil as "a hot young shot director" - Ano daw? What’s a “young shot director”? Of course, she meant "a young hotshot director".

10. Maricel Soriano as Mariel, the spiteful television network head in Jun Lana’s “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”. Lana has managed to singularly destroy Maricel Soriano’s spotless reputation as an insightful, dependable actress. For the first time in her illustrious career, I was surprised to find Ms. Soriano heavy handed and misdirected. This was a Soriano that’s graceless, shrill and mediocre. Her one-note performance is baffling. What has time done to one of the most versatile actresses this business has ever produced? What's more mysterious? She won Best Actress at the recent MMFF! Doesn't it make you wonder who these idiotic panel of judges are?

11. Carla Varga as Cedes, the widow - with three sons – who falls for an apocryphal young husband who has eyes for her sons in Edz Espiritu’s “Tiyo Pablo”. Varga repeated herself as Melba, the abandoned wife in Jigz Recto’s “Dulas”. In both flicks, the aging upstart parades around fully made up and accessorized, wearing her skin tights and ready to party… even in the bedroom where her young husband was already half naked.

12. Toni Gonzaga as music teacher Maribel who opted to work in Japan in Jose Javier Reyes’ “Wedding Tayo, Wedding Hindi”. We love Toni to bits, but hated her ill-advised turn in the movie. Her decision to meet Eugene Domingo’s flagrant comedic (but welcome) excesses head on exposed her weaknesses. Her performance straddled between demonic possession and constipation. Yes, we know that living in Japan could have toughened her up, but did she really have to be that loud and eccentric? Toni mistook change of personality for insanity.

13. Jaime Pebanco as Haddic, the coffee farmer whose son, a slow-learner in school, was recruited to join the Abu Sayyaf in Joel Lamangan’s “Patikul”. Pebanco’s first ever award – a best supporting actor from Cinemalaya – was as mysterious as the crop rotations of South America. His turn was one of the sore points of an otherwise serviceable, if a tad too schmaltzy pro-education film campaign. Yes, “30 years” in the business (really?) sometimes doesn't teach cinematic restraint.

14. GMA Tweeners (Barbie Forteza, Joshua Dionesio, Elmo Magalona, Bea Ninene, Jake Vargas, for their collective effort in “Tweet Academy: Class of 2011”. Here’s a bunch of charmless, clueless young performers who awkwardly hopped into cinema like fish out of water. Weird growing-up flick for an extra terrestrial audience. Enough said.


There’s more – like Sue Prado’s hysterics as Lolita, a drug mule in Joseph Israel Laban’s “Cuchera” and the cast of Sari Lluch Dalena’s “Ka Oryang” – with the exception of Alessandra de Rossi, who was brilliant as usual. Special mention goes to Marife Necesito and Angeli Bayani for their gag-inducing, soap opera’ish depiction of abused political prisoners. Didn’t I mention before that this abomination won “Best Picture” as well at 2011’s Cinema One Festival? They should have shared the “Best Picture” trophy with Shireen Seno’s “Big Boy” to completely realize the big joke! The good news: These flicks didn’t make it for commercial screening!

Marife Necesito and Sue Prado

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