2018

AURORA (MMFF 2018)

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PICTURE SOURCE

FILM INFO

The passenger ship Aurora mysteriously collides into the rocky sea threatening an entire island. A young woman and her sister must both survive by finding the missing dead for a bounty. Aurora is produced by Viva Films & Aliud Entertainment and directed by Yam Laranas.

CAST: Anne Curtis, Alan Paule, Mercedes Cabral, Marco Gumabao, Andrea del Rosario & Phoebe Villamor.

GENRE: Thriller, Mystery

WHAT I LIKE?

Aurora is definitely a breakthrough in the Filipino Film Industry in terms of Editing, Cinematography and Production Design. So far, this is the film to beat in terms of the following cinematic elements. Set in the majestic and mystic island of Batanes, Aurora was able to utilize the beauty and gloominess of the island into something that is creepy, strange and very dark for the movie’s atmosphere and feels. Production-design wise, I must commend Aurora for staging that old Seaside Inn on the seashore plus the realistic and impressive mounting of the giant ship in the water. The interior shots of the old seaside Inn was creepy as hell. The corridors and the atmosphere of the Inn added much on the demand and genre of the movie. Camera angles were brilliantly utilized especially the drone shots of the waves, the giant ship and the panoramic view of Batanes. The underwater shots were staged beautifully too. I am just glad to see an upgraded Production with Aurora. Acting-wise, Aurora provided some impressive performances from Anne Curtis, Alan Paule, Phoebe Villamor (child actress) & Marco Gumabao. Anne Curtis is already a revelation in Buy Bust but she gave an entirely different performance from Aurora. As a whole, Aurora brought decent chill from the spine moments that may pleased certain audiences and fans of the genre.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Aurora may have the impressive Technical & Visual Aspects but for me, but the movie is a lost sheep trying to find its shepherd in a barren land. In as much as I wanted to praise the movie for being a breakthrough film, Aurora lacked the cohesiveness of its plot starting from the conflict setting going towards a lackluster climax. The movie has set the mood right. It is creepy, dark & gloomy as hell but the film invested much on unnecessary sequences that did not add up to the resolution of the movie. There were a lot of scenes that has no impact with the movie’s turnaround. I admit these scenes were made to send some chill-from-the-spine moments but it somehow failed knowing that it doesn’t add any impact at all. The twist was good however the development of the twist stopped right there. What happens next are failed premonitions and some weird stuff going on. From there, the movie went into a downhill. For me, Aurora was a big disappointment.

RATINGS:

6.5/10 POPCORN

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2018

Buy Bust (2018)

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PICTURE SOURCE

FILM INFO

After surviving the slaughter of her entire squad in a drug raid compromised by dirty cops, anti-narcotics special operative Nina, is eager to go head-to-head with the drug cartels that hold a bloody grip on Manila. But when her new mission in the city’s most dangerous slum goes south, the angry civilians turn on her squad. Trapped between a brutal drug gang and hordes of bloodthirsty citizens, their only option is to fight their way out, turning one claustrophobic street at a time into a symphony of apocalyptic violence. This movie is directed by Erik Matti under Well Go USA Entertainment.

Casts: Anne Curtis, Brandon Vera, Victor Neri, Arjo Atayde, Levi Ignacio, Alex Calleja, Lao Rodriguez, Joross Gamboa, Ricky Pascua, Nonie Buencanimo, Mara Lopez & AJ Muhlach

Genre: Action, Thriller

WHAT I LIKE?

Buy Bust is perhaps the best Pinoy Action Film ever produced for me. More than just an impressive Cinematography and Visuals, the movie is a Socio-Political awakening masterpiece about the current situation of the Philippines in the campaign of War on Drugs. Buy Bust is a thought-provoking film that will somehow leave a lasting impression after watching it on screen – it gives a disturbing feeling that this kind of issue in the Philippines has taken its roots already and the solution is truly not a walk in the park to begin with. What I like about Buy Bust is its direct and solid plot. The film revolves around a Buy Bust operation of a notorious drug syndicate. What happens after is a complete bloodbath and violent sequences after the whole Squad was cornered with people in a certain place in Tondo, Manila. Plot-wise, the movie got the right elements from the beginning. The whole Production Design was impressive especially on the scene of Gracia in Sta. Maria. It was a perfect description of little hell. The whole maze thing and the rain effects on the slum area was perfectly executed. Aside from that, the action scenes were the best in the history of Philippine Movies so far. The stunts and fight scenes were staged flawlessly and were realistic at most times. I can literally see violence right in front of my eyes from the sound of punches, disturbing sounds of  knife stabbing, sound of bullets and some pretty horrifying sounds of humans in pain. Everything was pretty disturbing and intense. I was literally at the edge of my seat and feeling terrified on the series of bloodshed scenes. Anne Curtis gave her best and all I can say, she is the strength of Buy Bust along with other talented casts in the film. Anne’s fight and stunt scenes were beautifully executed and her role was given with enough justice in terms of consistency and acting. Anne deserves an award on her epic portrayal in the film. On the other hand, Brandon Vera was as impressive with Anne on the fight and stunt scenes though the Filipino conversation parts were a bit off at some point. Victor Neri, Mara Lopez, Nonie Buencamin, AJ Muhlach and the rest of the casts were impressive too. I have never seen so many talents on one screen giving their best performances yet. More than just the brilliant staging of these scenes, it gave me a glimpse of reality and horror that is actually happening on this pursuit in making the Philippines drug-free. For me, I felt something after watching it. I was even disturbed afterwards. It was a lingering feeling that has stirred so many questions and doubts. Regardless of Political views, Buy Bust is a must-watch movie and it deserves an International Award. Oscar Nomination would be the least for me.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Due to strong violence, the movie is R-16. If you tend to set aside Political Views and Shades, the movie is an awakening masterpiece that will provide a lingering and disturbing feeling after watching it.

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorns

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2018

Sid & Aya (Not a Love Story)

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FILM INFO

Sid met Aya, a mysterious woman whom he met after asking to spend time with him as he battles insomnia and those long & empty nights. This movie is directed by Irene Emma Villamor under Viva Films.

Casts: Dingdong Dantes, Anne Curtis, Gabby Eigenmann, Cholo Barreto, Bubbles Paraiso, Josef Elizalde, Pio Balbuena, Gab Lagman, Joey Marquez, Jobelle Salvador & Johnny Revilla.

Genre: Romance, Drama

WHAT I LIKE?

Sid and Aya is indeed not a love story. The movie is a life story. It teaches us to take risk for the persons we love. The movie is pragmatic and straightforward. It gives us a different kind of views in love and in life. It was raw and realistic. The status inequality was laid down well along with the contrast of characters between Sid & Aya. Sid being an established, well-mannered, handsome and arrogant person at the peak of his career. He is a go-getter and very determined in his goals. Aya, a hardworking middle-class woman who is cool, jologs and outgoing person. She is a family-oriented person. I salute how the Director played creatively the contrast of the 2 main characters and made it look seemless as both of them flaw effortlessly on the film’s promise of love and happy endings. Sid and Aya is not your typical sugar-coated love story. With the addition of scenes in the workplace (PH Stocks Market, Laundry & Coffee Shop), these location add to the complexity and differences of the two characters living their own lives and crossing their path somewhere in between. Cinematography is on-point. Color Grading was perfect. The Japan Scenes were beautiful and impressive. The Soundtrack was great too. Everything is so smooth and flawless. Anne and Dingdon were such a joy to watch and I must say, their first time together on screen was a huge success. They were the film’s gem aside from the unconventional plot material. There is something deep and relevant about the ending. Its a thought-provoking and inspiring to say the least. Overall, I highly recommend Sid and Aya to everyone. 

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

How I wish the movie’s running time was longer. I was craving for more Anne and Dingdong’s scenes.

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorn

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2016

Bakit lahat ng Gwapo may Boyfriend?!

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Cheers to Viva Films’ best film to date and I must say the GAYEST Pinoy film ever. Bakit lahat ng Gwapo may Bakla actually exceeded my low expectations with the lackluster and lousy movie projects of Viva lately. I ended up pretty satisfied after the movie that literally gave me some solid laughs. Loved the way the whole material was utilized well. From production design to the Cinematography, the film will never disappoint. The film’s strength lies in Anne, Paolo, Yam and Dennis. All of the 4 actors complimented well with each other and has given justice in their respective roles. I must give it to Paolo for this one. He is the biggest revelation of the film. Anne and Dennis pulled out some chemistry as well. Generally a bit too mainstream but the film was able to caught its audience with relatable conversations and real scenarios that are very familiar to Gays and the like. Anne was fit for the role. Dennis on the otherhand is scorching hot. The first half of the film is truly-entertaining. The other half is a bit slow as it focused more on the realizations of the characters. Nevertheless, the film’s flawa were forgivable, The film is highly-recommended sa mga bakla out there, discreet or loud. 4/5 stars.