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!
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.
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?
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.
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?
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, et.al) 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