2017 · Pinoy Indie

Smaller and Smaller Circles

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PICTURE SOURCE

FILM INFO

Smaller and Smaller Circles is a film based on the Filipino Mystery Novel of the same title by F.H. Batacan that revolves around the solving of the murders of young boys in Payatas. The movie is directed by Raya Martin under TBA, Tuko Film Productions & Buchi Boy Entertainment.

Casts: Nonie Buencamino, Sid Lucero, Bembol Roco, Carla Humphries

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Investigative

WHAT I LIKE?

Smaller and Smaller Circles is a Filipino Novel Adaptation from FH Batacan about the mystery of the death of young boys at Payatas Dumpsite. First of all, SASC is I believe a rare movie that took seriously the Murder Mystery Genre with its superb Production design and engrossing storyline. What I like about the movie is its depth and accurate attack on crime-solving scenes without sacrificing the whole plot and carefully laying out all cards and twists smoothly in a way that the audience enjoy every bit of mystery and thrills. Smaller and Smaller Circles has the right chunk of suspense wrapped in creative cinematography and a very consistent Period setting. It is set during 1997 and I really love its cinematic and nostalgic tone & impressive production design from the places, way of speech, vehicles and even upto their hair and make-up. Aside from this impressive piece of art, the movie has effectively brought its Filipino audience into the world of forensic investigation. For a Filipino film, SASC is in all angle,  a great and breakthrough film deserving of that spotlight. Raya’s take on the scenes are creative and compelling. Narration was on point and camera angles were clean. I really love on the how the scenes depicted a vivid picture and backdrop of Manila in the late 1990s plus a very brilliant approach in incorporating religion, politics and crime investigation into a nearly perfect package worthy of an international citation. I am also impressed   with the characters in Smaller and Smaller Circles. Lucero and Buencamino were both great in their portrayal sa Jesuit Forensic Priests. Buencamino gave a convincing role of Priest that stands firm with his beliefs. On the otherhand, Lucero is a very charming one inclined more on the Academic side. The two make a good chemistry in most of the scenes. I also like the support given by Humphries, Roco, Trinidad and the other casts. They were all effective on their chosen roles. The contrast of the characters and the demand of the plot fits perfectly. Overall, the movie is worth every cent of your admission ticket and perhaps one of the best Pinoy movies of all time.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Expecting this film to be action-packed might disappoint viewers since the approach is really different from that of the mainstream. In a forgivable consideration, how I wish the Climax part was built up on a different manner. A little bit intensity on the confrontation will do. Neverthless, it did not changed the way I looked at this masterpiece

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorns.

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2017 · Pinoy Indie

12

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PICTURE SOURCE

FILM INFO

12 is a story of Anton and Erika, a couple who has been together for 12 years. The story will evolve into their lives as they struggle to cope up with various problems and hurdles in their relationship especially living together in one roof. 12 is directed by Dondon Santos under Viva Films.

Casts: Alessandra de Rossi, Ivan Padilla

Genre: Romantic, Drama

Previous Movie of Alessandra de Rossi: Kita Kita (2017)

WHAT I LIKE?

12 took a lot of risk in its storytelling and cinematography. For me, the risk was worth it. What I like about the movie is its bold approach in investing more from a conversational formula alongside a secluded setting and a very relatable conflict material specifically made for long-term couples undergoing certain issues in their relationship. It is just raw and affecting. Raw in the sense that the conflict material is their. Also, there were less backstory hence the Director focused on two tones of the story only – the ups and downs of the relationship of Anton & Erika. What I even like is how creatively the director set the two phases of their lives through cinematic tones and production setting. Moreover, conversations are abundant yet there were all real and heartfelt. It was generally natural and raw to hear it straight from the two characters. You can easily see their emotions cutthrough effortlessly. Cinematography is impressive. I also love the timing of the Sound Engineering. There were no unnecessary flashbacks and the storyline is presented in a straightforward and on-point manner. Acting-wise, I am impressed with Alessandra and Ivan on this one. Alessandra gave a pure and raw acting performance. Ivan, despite the Fil-Am accent, was actually effective in his portrayal too. Both of them look good on-screen and chemistry is undeniably there. Overall, the movie may be melodramatic but it has some pinch of humor that flows effortlessly as the story goes by. What I love about 12 is that it brings us to a deeper understanding of some of the issues a long-term couple are experiencing. What is most admirable is the lesson it tries to impart its viewers in terms of respect and love for both ourselves and towards others. I just loved the simplicity and realism shown in the movie. For me, 12 delivered.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Somehow it will really disappoint lots of viewers especially if they are expecting the story to be dynamic such as Kita Kita and the like. A big portion of some of the disappointments of the audience are largely attributed to comparing the movie from others too. Therd is no point of comparison because the movie delivered enough justice with the demand of its plot and phasing. Well as I said, watch 12 with your own risk. For me, the risk is worth it.

RATINGS:

8/10 Popcorns.

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2017 · Pinoy Indie

Pauwi Na (2017)

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FILM INFO

Pauwi Na is one of the Official entries of the 2017 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino that tackles a story a struggling family who traveled from Quezon City to Bicol Region on a pedicab. A series of unfortunate events will test their determination as they finally make their way home. This movie is directed by Paolo Villaluna under Universal Harbester Incorporated.

Casts: Bembol Roco, Cherry Pie Picache, Meryll Soriano, Jerald Napoles, Jess Mendoza & Chai Fonacier.

Genre: Family Drama.

Previous Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino Movies: Patay na si Hesus (2017)

WHAT I LIKE?

I am just so impressed with Pauwi Na. For me, one of the best Pinoy indie drama made in years. Finally, it is so great to see a quality movie about poverty and family values wrapped in a simple package yet cuts deep with your emotions. Actually, I am literally blown away on how the movie creatively played with its story-telling technique and cinematography from visual editing to production design. At some point, I can see Poverty on beautiful setting. This is somehow a good thing for light-hearted moviegoers since majority of the scenes are not so directly hard-hitting. The scenes are subtle enough to portray hardship and poverty because it will allow you to feel it instead. What I like is the insertion of creative scenes and metaphors in between major setbacks in the story. These interpretations are just brilliantly executed. The plot of the movie flows naturally with very relatable sequences that were all shot beautifully. I also loved their interpretation of Jesus in the movie. Aside from a very impressive Cinematography and Plot presentation, Pauwi Na’s strength is mostly attributed to its very talented casts. Bembol and Cherry Pie were just so delightful to watch on-screen. They both gave meaningful performances. Jerald and Chai were great as well. I must say, all of them were pretty good. Overall, the movie is heartwarming and very inspiring. Its definitely worth-watching.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

I can’t say any negative about the film. I enjoyed it as much as I was inspired by its very relatable and light-hearted plot.

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorns.

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Yes, you may still watch some of Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino Films here in Davao City. until September 23, 2017.  Visit FDCP Cinematheque Davao here at Palma Gil Street, Davao City. You may call them at (082) 282-4579.

Here’s the Schedule below:

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PISTA NG PELIKULANG PILIPINO (FDCP CINEMATHEQUE DAVAO)

2017 · Pinoy Indie

Patay na si Hesus (2017)

 

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FILM INFO

When Iyay, a single mother, learns that her estranged husband has died, she drags the entire family on a road trip from Cebu to Dumaguete to attend the funeral. This movie is one of the Official Entries of 2017 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino under the direction of Victor Villanueva.

Cast: Jaclyn Jose, Miles Canapi, Chai Fonacier, Albert Chan Paran, Olive Nieto, Sheen Gener, Melde Montanez & Vincent Viado

Genre: Family, Drama, Comedy

WHAT I LIKE?

Patay na si Hesus was a fun ride from beginning to end. The movie was generally light and funny most of the time. What I like about the movie is how creatively the director played on simple scenes and conversations and make it work on the Visayan language and somehow make a striking appeal for its general audience as whole. The plot is actually simple. Its a road trip of a family to pay their last respects for their father. What makes it colorful is their journey towards their destination. The story is not so cluttered with complicated stuffs and sticked only to the realistic side and back stories of each character. Aside from the official medium which is Bisaya, the film really depicts the culture and the way of living of the Bisaya people. The consistency is really there. Well, it was shot in Cebu so its really consistent and faithful to its entire premise. What I love about the movie is it featured good scenes along the Cebu-Dumaguete route. Also, the movie has lots of metaphors and very unexpected scenes that will truly delight your viewing experience especially on the climax part. The simplicity and the genuine approach of the movie is really felt. Cinematography is actually good. Sound engineering is the best since they included lots of Visayan Pop Songs in the movie. Its more of a celebration of the Bisaya culture. I must commend all the characters in the movie. They all did well. Hats off to Jaclyn Jose for being such a brilliant actress. Overall, Patay na si Hesus is light-hearted and heartwarming at the same time. No need to overanalyze the story. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

I really can’t point out any negative as I did not focused much on the technicalities of the film. If you are in for some fun, Patay na si Hesus is the right choice.

RATINGS:

9/10 Popcorns.

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2017 · Pinoy Indie

Kita Kita (2017)

 

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FILM INFO

Kita Kita is a unique love story of Two Filipinos living in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. The story begins with Lea who suffered temporary blindness. She then met Tonyo who happens to live right across Lea’s house. Aside from finding a “kababayan” in the quiet neighborhood, Lea and Tonyo gradually became closer and realize that there is a genuine connection between the two of them. This movie is directed by Singrid Andrea Bernardo under Spring Films.

Casts: Alessandra de Rossi, Empoy Marquez,

Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama

Previous Movies of Alessandra de Rossi: Sakaling Hindi Makarating

Previous Movies of Empoy Marquez: Bloody Crayons

WHAT I LIKE?

Probably one of the best Pinoy Romantic Comedy Film ever made. Kita Kita is definitely a masterpiece. The movie is genuine, light-hearted, subtle and very emotionally-compelling. I have never watched a film full of heart, laughters and emotions from a very unusual but effective chemistry of the main characters. What I like about Kita Kita is its simple tone and story-telling formula. I love how the scenes started off so simple yet striking. I like how the Director sprinkle some on-point and simple interpretation of the whole film’s romantic formula. I really love how a simple storyline could have a genuine impact from a viewer’s point of view. Aside from a very creative approach in presenting Leah and Tonyo’s lovestory down to an emotional turnaround that will redefine how we perceive about love, the movie was brilliant enough to showcase two sides of the story. Moreover, the comedy is on its perfect timing. Conversations were simple but very engrossing at times. Kita Kita will make you laugh, cry and even fall in love. Alessandra and Empoy’s chemistry from being a romantic and comedic duo were just a beautiful sight. They were both great and I am amazed of their strong connection in the film. Aside from a simple yet striking plot, the movie is shot beautifully in the beautiful Sapporo Japan. The place is just so perfect for the film’s tone. What more I can say? I fell in love with Kita Kita. Worth-watching and highly recommended.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

There is nothing to hate about this amazing film.

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorns.

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2017 · Pinoy Indie

Ang Pagsanib kay Leah dela Cruz

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FILM INFO

A newly assigned cop in a small town was faced with a mysterious case of a young girl who is believed to be possessed by demons. Aside from solving the girl’s case, the cop must learn to surpass the evils surrounding her and her vulnerability with this dangerous mission.  This movie is produced by Erik Matti and directed by Katski Flores under Kamikaze Pictures & VIVA Films.

Casts: Sarah Lahbati, Shy Carlos, Julian Trono, Jim Paredes

Genre: Mystery, Horror, Suspense

Other Films of VIVA: Darkroom somehow delivers. A risk on Pinoy’s first ever found-footage film.Working BeksBakit lahat ng Gwapo may Boyfriend?!Camp Sawi

Erik Matti Films: Seklusyon

WHAT I LIKE?

Ang Pagsanib kay Leah dela Cruz is no doubt a major breakthrough Pinoy film in the genre of exorcism & suspense-thriller. Actually, it is not a straight horror film so don’t expect some screamfest we enjoyed from the mainstream ones. However, this film is straightforward in bringing in disturbing and spine-chilling feels that lingers even after watching it on the big screen. Story-wise, I really like the way the Director position Ruth’s backstory (Sarah Labahti) through flashbacks and brilliantly integrate it to the whole plot which is the mystery behind Leah’s strange phenomenon. Also, the scenes weere executed well and the phasing was just right to give way to a very thrilling climax. It has some good twist and turns too. The whole storytelling technique was consistently serious and dark. Suspense-filled scenes were executed well too. Its not overrated generally. It invested on the psychological aspect and played well with shadows and whispering voices that are pretty scary and hair-raising. I like the shadow and subtle interpretation of the devil. My most favorite scene is the library scene (Watch it to find out why). The library scene is pretty unique and cool for a suspense-thriller movie. I also like the sound engineering. It was on-point especially on scenes were you are trying to hold your breath if something horrifying will happen. Production design and cinematography is comendable too. I love their locations. It feels so laid back and adds more to the dark atmosphere of the whole film. Camera angles were impressive. I love the shots specifically the tight shots of faces and things. The technique used gave a relentless feel of tension and fear. Aside from an impressive attack on the plot, the film’s strength lies with its characters. For me, I must give it to Sarah Labahti. She was stunning and very convincing as a troubled policewoman in the movie. She is monotonous, brave and less glamorous here and she really fits the role. Shy Carlos was a big revelations too. Being the one who was possessed, her role is the most demanding of them all. She was able to impressively gave justice to her character. I am really amaze with her acting skills here. Lastly, Julian Trono was a great support actor too. He was also effective being a young brother-like figure and his acting during the climax was commendable. Overall, I really enjoyed the film. I am very much happy that a lot of film-makers are coming up with quality suspense-thriller movies nowadays. Highly-recommended for fans of the genre.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

If you are expecting a horror movie, this movie is not for you. It is actually a suspense-thriller one. Also, if you get easily bored with less conversations and more symbolism via creative shots and eerie atmosphere, this movie is not for you. Personally, what I don’t like about the movie is the casting of other supporting characters. They could have found a better parents for Leah and a better and younger character to portray Sister Eloisa which plays an important role in the whole film. Being Spoiler-free at all – a certain death scene in the movie could have been way better in terms of execution. Moreover, the movie faltered a bit in terms of execution during the climax. Don’t expect Leah to be tied up on a bed and floating in the air. The movie ventured another angle of that. Not much of the details of the climax but it lacks substance and there was something missing. It feels like the momentum went down because of the camera angle used and the choice of the setting. Not minding this forgivable flaw, Ang Pagsanib kay Leah dela Cruz will go down as one of the best Pinoy suspense-thriller movies and the best of the genre after Sanib.

RATINGS:

7/10 Popcorns.

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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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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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