2017 · Pinoy Indie

A breakthrough film in the Psychological thriller genre- Bliss proved to be the film to beat in terms of creative execution & an effective take on a risky plot.

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PICTURE SOURCE

FILM INFO

BLISS is a story about an actress named Jane Ciego who entered showbiz at a young age. Jane, now in her 30s, has become tired of the usual projects she’s been getting. She decides to produce her own film to win some respect in the industry. A terrible accident on the set of her dream project leaves her temporarily crippled, trapped in a house filled with bizarre phenomena and under the care of her unfeeling husband and a strange nurse. With the horrors and madness escalating each day, Jane’s simple dream becomes an endless nightmare. This movie is directed by Jerrold Tarog, the director who gave you Heneral Luna under TBA and Artikulo Uno Productions.

Cast: Iza Calzado, TJ Trinidad, Ian Veneracion, Adrienne Vergara, Michael de Mesa, Shamaine Buencamino, Audie Gemora, Stephanie Sol & Star Orjaloza

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Drama (R18)

WHAT I LIKE?

Bliss is for me a breakthrough film in the field of Psychological thriller. Perhaps, this is the first ever full-length movie and the most consistent masterpiece in the genre that was able to fully show a wide scale of a risky cinematic formula that effectively brought its audience to a whirlwind of twist and turns. More than part of the 12th Osaka Asian Film Festival, Bliss has every right to brag about its material and the brilliantly-crafted elements that will scare and disturb you at some point. For me, I am pretty amaze to finally see a Pinoy creation in this bold and risky take on dream versus realism. The entire flick is a dream within a dream and a movie within a movie. The main plot was presented in a very creative yet confusing manner that will raise lots of questions to the viewers. It evolves around Jane, who is exhausted in her career and wanted to explore more. After meeting an accident, Jane spent her recovery in a huge house where she began nightmares and hallucinations. What amazes me more is the magical hands of Direk Jerrold Tarog investing on various symbolism in the movie and the effective repetition scenes that will confuse you if the scene is a flashback, a dream or a reality. Kudos to the consistency of the symbols used and if you pay attention to the details of it, you can even figure out the plot right away. I loved how Direk Jerrold will take you on different perspective of Jane’s experiences and will raise questions and doubts as the story progresses. I really like the technique applied in the story-telling. Everything is a mixed tape of dream, reality and imaginations with a touch of disturbing and sensitive scenes about homosexuality, greed, sex & even poverty. Bliss is also a metaphor of show business and the ugly side at the back of the camera. I really loved how Direk Jerrold placed a movie within a movie showing back scenes of an ordinary movie shot and a glimpse of the ugly side some celebrities are experiencing. Plus, showing a little bit of conspiracy behind the camera was really fit for the plot. It was just breath-taking. Never a dull moment for me. It was a psychological thriller that is well-crafted with the right balance of disturbance and artistic approach. Kudos to the cast as well especially Iza Calzado (Osaka Asian Film Festival Best actress) for giving a powerful and her best performance yet. I really can see the hard work of Iza here. After her performance here, I must say she deserve that award. I mean, I am speechless with her acting prowess. TJ Trinidad and Ian Veneracion were also a great compliment. They have both gave justice to their roles and I think they were made for it. Adrienne on the other hand, made a surprising performance as a creepy nurse. She was a revelation in the film. The Location of the film were also great. It was consistent with the demand of the plot and the scene. Musical scoring was also good and on-point. I also would like to commend the Cinematography and editing. New techniques were shown in the movie and it did blend well with its dark and eerie atmosphere. Loved the visual editing and the transition. It was on point and very creative. Bliss will require you to look beyond its material and plot. For me, the best and most creatively done Pinoy film to date. Cheers to the cast, crew and Direk Jerrold Tarog.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

This is more of a disclaimer: BLISS contains disturbing images, sensitive social issues, nudity and profanity in language that’s why it got R-18 from MTRCB.

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorns.

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2017 · Pinoy Indie

Loving every frame and details of the story. 2 Cool 2 Be 4Gotten is not your ordinary coming-of-age film.

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FILM INFO

Felix, in his sophomore years, found his love for journal writing as his outlet from disappointments in life. His life changed after the arrival of the half-American Snyder brothers, entangling him in their dark ambitions. This Cinema One Originals is directed by Petersen Vargas.

Casts: Khalil Ramos, Ethan Salvador, Jameson Blake & Ana Capri

Genre: Romance, Drama

WHAT I LIKE?

2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten has effectively interpreted Homosexuality and Friendship into a much deeper meaning. The film is generally mature and conservative as it does not follow the formula of other coming-of-age Pinoy Gay Films produced in the past. What is good about the movie is that its subtle phase, cooler feel and tone, controversial plot, on-point cinematography and some pretty good acting performances from all characters blended well to come up with a very emotionally-engaging and charming masterpiece. It may go in darker tone as the story progresses but the film’s sequence and build up of tension is just right to give way to a lingering and a bit shocking ending that will truly stir your emotions and imaginations as well. I loved the concept of narration on majority of scenes. These were helpful on the creative side. The sequence and scenes are panned out well. loved the film’s color and texture too. The film is also consistent with its timeline. Shot in the 1990’s in Pampanga right after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Character build-up was also good. Each characters in the film are given justice and time to shine. The film’s strength lies in its 3 main characters that are truly eye-candy to watch. Khalil as Felix, being the senior actor, has done an impressive portrayal of a naive, discreet, curious and intelligent boy who is in his journey to discover his true gender. Khalil’s performance was powerful. he was just fit for the role. On the otherhand, newcomers Jameson and Ethan were great support too and they too were impressive on their respective roles. Jameson was effective in being a violent, stubborn and hard-headed boy. His controversial scene in the movie is just unforgettable. Ethan was also a revelation. in the movie. He was impressive in terms of acting too. Just like Jameson, Ethan also has a charm and a talent. The movie makes me wanna compare it to Thai Gay ones that are conservative in nature. For me, the best Pinoy Gay coming-of-age film that will truly glue you from beginning to end.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Watch out for some profanity in language and obscene acts not suitable for younger audience. By the way, this is R16 in Cinemas.

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorns.

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2017 · Pinoy Indie

I felt a disconnection with Sakaling hindi makarating

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FILM INFO

A devastated Cielo wen on travelling around the Philippines after her boyfriend for 11 years break off their engagement two months before their wedding. When a series of hand-illustrated postcards are delivered to her, she went on a journey across the country in search of the anonymous writer. Aside from healing herself from the break-up, Cielo aims to find something as she go wandering the beautiful places in the Philippines. Written and directed by Ice Idanan.

Casts: Alessandra de Rossi, Teri Malvar, JC Santos & Pepe Herrera

Genre: Romantic, Drama

WHAT I LIKE?

Filipinos loved stories about heartbreak and the process of moving on. We even find it more fascinating if that involves travel or the find-yourself-in-another-place kind of storyline. Sakaling Hindi Makarating is the film for you. Started off with a very organized and somehow predictable plot, the movie will focus on the journey of Cielo in the process of healing and finding the author of the post card. I loved the little bits of flashback focusing on the backstory of the heartbreak. I also loved the conversations. It was made in a subtle way with very simple words that pierced through your heart at times. When Cielo started travelling, this is the part where the film found its strength. The movie was able to feature 5 different places in PH namely Zamboanga, Batanes, Marinsique, Siquijor & Ilocos (Pagudpud). Glad to be with 3/5 places in the film during my personal travels. For me, the film is very relatable at many points. Aside from that, I loved how Tourism has somehow shown in the film as well. Alessandra de Rossi was the star of the film. She was just amazing. Her acting was real and consistent. The addition of Teri, Peppe & JC were also vital in the movie. They all did a great job. Cinematography is superb. Loved the canera angles especially the drone shots. The movie is inspiring. Glad to have travelled 3 out of the 5 featured places in the movie: Pagudpud in Ilocos, Siquijor Island & Zamboanga City.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

The greatest weakness of the movie is the disconnection I felt as a whole. I was never emotionally moved as I expected it to be or ¬†perhaps the message of the movie didn’t reach me as well. It maybe as inspiring and beautiful especially on the travel side but Sakaling Hindi Makarating lacks flavor and spices. I did not find justice in the ending and the turning point. Moreover, I wish they could have spent more time in Siquijor. I have been to that island and it was magical. Also, the places Cielo have been were not utilized well to set emotions and realizations. It was too vague for me. They could have use more angles on sunsets, winds and waves and highlight the emotion the character is undergoing. I felt the disconnection on those aspects. The realization left me hanging and I felt that the character deserve it. I can’t somehow find the significance of her travels until the last credits. Watching it with low expectations will help a lot.

RATINGS:

6.5/10 Popcorns.

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Pinoy Indie

Ang Babaeng Humayo (2016)

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Ang Babaeng Humayo is a whirlwind of emotions, realism, moral study and great performances from Charo, John Lloyd, Nonie and many more. This melodrama Indie film masterpiece of Lav Diaz is truly a Pinoy pride as it bagged the Golden Lion for Best Picture during the 73rd Venice International Film Festival this September. I am new to having movie reviews for Indie films but I welcome this film as my first under the Pinoy Indie Category. The 3.5-hour movie will bring you to a whole new perspective of some of society’s evils lurking in every corner of this society. With the focus of redemption for the main chatacter, the film will open our eyes to a lingering sorrow present in our society (Poverty & Crime). The film is heavy, symbolic and thought-provoking. Lad Diaz was able to utilize his single-angle frame approach on every scene and the dramatic effect of black and white as a whole. It may bore those mainstream movie review fans hungry for dynamism but for technicalities sake, Ang Babaeng Humayo is a gem of PH Indie Cinema Genre. Technically, will give it 5/5 stars. As considering a standpoint of general audience, I will give 3.5/5 stars.