2019

Maria (2019)

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FILM INFO

FILM INFO

When a former Black Rose cartel assassin deliberately betrays them by refusing to complete her mission, the cartel orders her execution. Unknown to them, she fakes her own death and is able to create a new life of her own. When the cartel discovers she is alive, the hunter becomes the hunted as she fights to get revenge on those who took her new life away from her. This movie is directed by Pedring Lopez under Viva Films.

CAST: Cristine Reyes, Germaine De Leon, Adrea del Rosario, Ronnie Lazaro, Johnny Revilla, Cindy Miranda, Freddie Webb, Guji Lorenzana, Jennifer Lee & KC Montero.

GENRE: Action, Thriller

WHAT I LIKE?

Maria is truly one of the breakthrough Action Films after Buybust. I really admire the effort and the creativity poured in making this film. What I like about Maria is the fact that it was consistent with its R-16 content. Violent. Brutal. Gory. Anything you expect from its plot full of killings & betrayal is laid down very well. True to its premise, Maria is a complete bloodbath showcasing impressive and well-executed man-to-man fight scenes and some pretty amazing stunts & Cinematography. Well, I really adore the fight scenes between Cristine & Jennifer & Ivan & Cristine. These scenes are truly one of the film’s strengths. Aside from solid stunts & fight scenes, the plot of the movie is also relatable as it tackled drug syndicates and assassins in the Philippine setting. The Sequences were presented well and the Conflict of the whole story was justified from beginning to end. What I like about Maria is the fact that the whole film really invested on Production Design & Action Sequences. I didn’t see any cringe-worthy scenes at all. Well, the drama of loss was injected well to fire up Maria’s revenge plot. I must say, I admire Cristine Reyes for this role. She was born for this. She was a perfect fit. I couldn’t think of anyone who could portray MARIA other than her. Her action scenes were natural and were executed seamlessly.  Ivan Padilla & KC Montero were effective villains. Oh! I must say that their English Conversations were just so lovely to watch on screen. At some point, I can imagine watching a Hollywood movie. Their actions scenes were also great. Freddie Webb was also good on his portrayal as the Master Villain even with the absence of action scenes from him. Overall, MARIA is something we could truly be proud of. How I wish many more audience could watch this movie. Wait, its R-16 by the way.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

It may be a little bit similar to other Hollywood Movies with the Revenge plot formula but I must say that MARIA was able to put a Pinoy taste as a whole. The whole movie is graphically-disturbing thus the R-16 Rating.

RATINGS:

10/10 POPCORN

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2018

Sid & Aya (Not a Love Story)

SID & AYA

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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2018

Meet me in St. Gallen

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FILM INFO

Meet me in St. Gallen is a story of Celeste and Jesse who have found each other during the trying times of their lives. They spent a memorable night together and became separated for how many years. Their second chance of meeting again became special until they met each other at St. Gallen years after. This movie is directed by Emma Villamor under Spring Films and Viva Films.

Casts: Bella Padilla, Carlo Aquino

Genre: Romance, Drama

WHAT I LIKE?

Meet me in St. Gallen is a good addition to the quality conversational Pinoy films ever made since “That Thing Called Tadhana’. I really loved that Filipino Film-makers are now taking risks with this kind of genre which usually brings out a well-produced and creative cinematic masterpieces to date. Overall, I fell in love with the movie. What I like about the movie is that its simplicity in terms of story-telling technique and overall plot material is supported with superb cinematography, great dialogues and a story that is deep, raw and very heartfelt. First of all, the plot is pretty much understandable. Its a story of two strangers met at a very random moment and eventually shared a nigh they won’t remember. As a whole, it is a story of chance encounters, timing and missed opportunities. I really like how the Director laid out the sincerity of the plot with the timelines presented in the movie. I would also like to commend the film’s Cinematography and sound engineering. The whole movie was done with artistry especially on the camera angles and shadows. The best part was of course the shot at St. Gallen which is by far my most memorable scene in the film. The whole backdrop was majestic and impressive. Of course, I also loved the Soundtrack especially the one with Moira’s. Since its a conversational film, the film usually invests on dialogues which the film did not disappoint from beginning to end. I was literally driven into a whole new kind of emotions listening to the words that come out from Jesse and Celeste. They were speaking on behalf of their souls and experiences. It was heartfelt and moving. The lines are relatable and engaging to the whole audience. Without spoiling the ending, I think the whole sequences were just right to give way to the climax. Despite three separate timelines, the movie never failed to create connections from one scene to another. Moreover, I also commend Bella and Carlo for such a strong chemistry together. Carlo being a musician and an aspiring Doctor was just so ideal for me. Carlo still has the charisma and the quality of acting that is worth your cinema ticket. Bella on the other hand never fails to impress me with her portrayal of a troubled artist wanting to be free of her own world. Bella was both charming and convincing for her role. Both of them both delivered their best performances and their connection with each other is undeniably strong.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Meet me in St. Gallen falls short in providing cohesive attachment for each scenes especially in the character developments of Jesse and Celeste. I think their was not much of the intensity given and invested on how the values and choices of the characters affected their confusing decision at each timelines they will meet again. Also, the climax will somehow let you question if what is the film trying to say to us? Well, it might be different with yours. Despite this forgivable flaw, you should go and see Meet Me in St. Gallen.

RATINGS:

9/10 Popcorn

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2018

Mr. & Mrs. Cruz

Cruz

PICTURE SOURCE

FILM INFO

Mr. & Mrs. Cruz is a heart warming film about two individuals learning to love after a heartbreak. They both share memories and wonderful experiences in the wonderful island of Palawan. This movie is written and directed by Sigrid Andrea Bernardo under Idea First Company & Viva Films.

Cast: Ryza Cenon, JC Santos, Yayo Aguila, Dennis Padilla, Dido Dela Paz, Lui Manansala, Bong Cabrera, Sophie Rankin

Genre: Romance, Drama

WHAT I LIKE?

Sigrid Bernardo never disappoints with Viva’s latest offering – Mr. & Mrs. Cruz. I am really quite impressed with the turnout of the movie. JC and Ryza are such charming together on-screen. Mr. & Mrs. Cruz offers a realistic and relatable premise about heartbreaks and moving on. It invested on tourism with Palawan as the major backdrop. More than just the wonderful and amazing shots in the island, I was actually more compelled with the story and its soul. Palawan is given. The movie showcased the place with justice. Cinematography is spot on and color grading was the best for me. Drone shots are utilized well and did not overpower the continuity of the shots. The movie’s theme song and sound engineering was great too. I loved how the hugot music was utilized on some major scenes. Plot-wise, the movie won’t play around subplots. It is direct and sincere. Most of the scenes were like a mirror to all of us. The drunk scene at the bar was my favorite. It was raw for me. The pain is lingering within the movie. As the characters find the answers to their questions, Sigrid effectively created an atmosphere wherein all emotions are smoothly flowing within the characters and their choices of words. The tight shots and slowmos were creatively used and applied. The narration and metaphors were spot on. More than an impressive cinematic approach, there is too much happening in the movie that will truly glue your interest from beginning to end. I was smiling even after the film. Overall, the film geared towards a realistic ending. An ending that will make you crave more. JC and Ryza both gave award-winning performances. Finally, I am glad to see JC landing on a lead role. He was amazing in the film. His comedic timing and his charm really blended well with Ryza. He’s just too hot to handle at some point. Ryza was just amazing as usual. I am also happy that she landed on a lead role in a film like this. I was really impressed with her acting and her bubbly attitude in Mr. and Mrs. Cruz.
What more I can say. The movie made me smile and it landed in one of my most fave Romantic films to date. Congrats Viva Films and Direk Sigrid!

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

No hate. Just love.

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorn.

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2017 · Pinoy Indie

Ang Pagsanib kay Leah dela Cruz

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PICTURE SOURCE

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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