2018

FANTASTICA (MMFF 2018)

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PICTURE SOURCE

FILM INFO

Fantastica is a story of proprietor of a struggling carnival must help a prince from another land find three lost princesses. This movie is directed by Barry Gonzales under Viva Films & Star Cinema.

CAST: Vice Ganda, Dingdong Dantes, Richard Gutierrez, Jaclyn Jose, Ryan Bang, Bella Padilla, Maymay Entrata, Edward Barbers, Ronnie Alonte, Loisa Andalio, Kisses Delavin, Donny Pangilinan, Chokoleit, Johnny Revilla, MC Muah, Lassy Marquez, Juliana Parizcova & Angelika Mapanganib.

GENRE: Comedy, Adventure

WHAT I LIKE?

With so many controversies surrounding the 2018 Metro Manila Film Festival, I am making Fantastica an exception in terms of Quality. What can we expect? With Commercialism for every year of MMFF, it all boils down to revenue. Adding any Vice Ganda Movie would mean millions of returns in the box office. Fantastica has effectively lived up to its purpose to provide cheap laughs and accessible entertainment to its viewers. Watching it after a disappointing “AURORA” was such a good relief actually. Fantastica is as shallow as expected but for me, it was refreshing Vice Ganda Movie with a heart. With Perya/Carnival as the main setting, the movie is really in for some fun ride from beginning to end. What I like about Fantastica is how it set the movie’s conflict & struggles through family. What comes after is pure entertainment and gags that are overall effective in its merits. The Carnival Concept was staged well. For me, the fun is always there. With pop culture references along with staging some memorable Star Cinema Films, Fantastica is downright funny & entertaining. The Magical Concept of the World of Fantastica was also pretty cool. The Location is really impressive. After all the laughs the movie is offering, Fantastica is a heartwarming story about Family & Love. I see so many heartwarming scenes on this film. Aside from that, Vice Ganda never failed to bring an epic performance as usual. The love triangle between Dingdong & Richard was such a refreshing site to see. Lassy & MC was again a good support to Vice. Jacklyn Jose’s role was truly one of the film’s strength. Bella Padilla was a good villain too. Not minding the quality of the film we are all aspiring, Fantastica was a good escape from other disappointing MMFF 2018 entries.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Fantastica may have a good location bit Visuals could have been improved. How I wish movies like this could spend on Production Design considering that Vice Ganda Films always rake the box office returns. Aside from that, Love teams present on the film was not utilized well. How I wish they have given worthy screen time and even a worthy plot support on the film’s premise. It felt like there were just pure accessories and glitters on the movie.

RATINGS:

8/10 POPCORN

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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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2017 · Pinoy Indie

Ang Larawan

 

Larawan

FILM INFO

Based on the 1997 stage play, Ang Larawan the Musical which in turn was based on “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” by National Artist, Nick Joaquin. The film was set in 1941 just before the World War II in a mansion located in Manila. This movie is directed by Loy Arcenas under Culturtrain Productions Inc.

Casts: Paulo Avelino, Rachel Alejandro, Joanna Ampil, Sandino Martin, Cris Villonco, Aicelle Santos, Nonie Buencamino, Robert Arevalo, Celeste Legazpi, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Ogie Alcasid, Rayver Cruz, Jojit Lorenzo, Dulce, Bernardo Bernardo, Jaime Fabregas

Genre: Musical

WHAT I LIKE?

Finally, a full-length and old-fashioned Pinoy Musical Masterpiece that successfully executed its Musical Scenes and at the same time depicted a nostalgic feeling of Philippine History and Literature… Ang Larawan is truly worthy to be the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Picture that offers appreciation of our very own treasures. The movie will take you to Old Manila specifically in Intramuros set before the World War II. I must say that being a Period Movie, Ang Larawan exceeded expectations in terms of execution. From houses, walls, costumes and even down to the choices of words, I really can see the careful and extensive research done to achieve a perfect depiction of a film set in 1941 in the Philippines. I really like how Arcenas utilized different techniques especially on musical scenes. He effectively played around the same corner of the house in majority of the scenes but set a perfect and unique mood in each sequences that will make a feeling that it was shot somewhere else. Arcenas is faithful with the material and loves to keep intact with a certain scene while highlighting the emotions of the characters. This technique truly captivated me with every frame and it almost feel like I can see raw emotions from each of the characters. Ang Larawan’s success is of course attributed with the Musical production that composed of nearly 95% of the film’s running time. I am just amazed with Ryan Cayabyab’s composition as well as the interpretation of the characters. Joanna Ampil is truly impressive and deserving of the Best Actress Award as well. She got my attention most of the time. She was just brilliant and emotionally-engaging. Rachel Alejandro was a good support too. I really love majority of their duets as well. Paulo Avelino was also perfect with his role as Tony Javier. He may not sing as good as everyone else but he was convincing in his portrayal as a desperate and shady small-time pianist in the film. Aside from the amazing lead characters, the film is well-supported with other amazing performances of well-known celebrities and gem of Philippine showbiz. Their musical collaboration is some scenes are such a joy to watch on the big screen. If you are in to quality films and you love Philippine History and Literature, Ang Larawan might be one of your favorite films so far.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Given that its a full-length Musical Film, expect that majority of conversations will be sang of course. Not-so-fan of the genres may find the movie boring given the formula. Also, to manage everyone’s expectations, Ang Larawan is more of a direct translation of a masterpiece which means that you should not be expecting grand musical numbers rather a series of conversations sang beautifully and with emotions. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea especially as compared with other MMFF 2017 Entries but Ang Larawan is truly a gem of Philippine cinema.

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorns.

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2017 · Pinoy Indie

Siargao

SIARGAO

FILM INFO

Diego, a musician who returns to his hometown of Siargao to take a break from the chaotic life in Manila. There, he meets Laura, a fashion and beauty video blogger nursing a broken heart after her boyfriend dumped her. Along the way, they challenge each other as feelings grow between them. For Diego, returning to Siargao also means facing his past, including ex-flame Abi. Siargao is directed by Paul Soriano under Ten17 Productions.

Casts: Jericho Rosales, Erich Gonzales, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Wil Dasovich, Mica Javier, Roxanne Barcelo, Will Devaughn, Enchong Dee

Genre: Romance, Drama

WHAT I LIKE?

Siargao’s strength is the island itself. The movie undeniably showcased the best of the island in all angles. Probably, this film has the best execution in terms of promoting a certain Philippine destination. I am glad they chose Siargao in Mindanao. With lots of bad publicity and apprehensions about Mindanao, creating a beautiful movie like this will somehow help us to slowly erase all negative things about our beautiful island and be able to promote our underrated tourist spots worthy of a Massive Tourism campaign. Thank you to the producers of Siargao for this superb job in terms of Cinematography and production design. I really can see the brilliant hands from Underwater Camera angles to breath-taking aerial shots of the whole island. I really like the snippets of Tourism-inspired videos that were shot beautifully. My most favorite parts are the shots with the waves. They were just so professionally-done. I am glad Pinoy film-makers could pull-off some great shots with surfing scenes. Overall, I also love the color tone of the movie. It really suits to the island-life feels and as well as the demand of the scenes. Story-wise, Siargao need not to be that deep. Somehow, you forget the story-line because of the amazing island shots and sequences. If you are in for some appreciation of Siargao and its natural beauty and adventure offer, you might find the movie fairly enjoyable.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Despite a breath-taking view of the island and an impressive cinematography & breakthrough cinematic techniques, Siargao fails to provide a solid foundation and conflict material and gave in to its several tendencies of Eat, pray, Love cliches. In as much as I wanted to fully enjoy this cinematic masterpiece, I can’t help but get disappointed with the full potential of the film. I expected it to venture a whole new story-telling experience but just like the big waves of the island, the plot is drowned with incoherent story development and weak character build-up. There is nothing in the plot that could either inspire or provoke you. At some point, the story has no bearing at all. More than a lackluster plot, Siargao suffered with a weird characterizations that were a bit off to the whole story. Honestly, Erich could easily be removed from the whole film and will have no effect with Jericho and Jasmine’s story at all. I expected Erich’s character to be fully involved but I felt she was just a beautiful seashell on the shore. Aside from that, I find Jericho and Jasmine’s love story to be lacking in terms of foundation. To begin with, it was not established well. Just like Tourists in the island, their story lasted from their entire stay and ended up after they left the island. Siargao is better off a Tourism Advertisement and Instagram Filter than a movie.

RATINGS:

7/10 Popcorns.

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2017

Haunted Forest

 

haunted forest

FILM INFO

Haunted Forest tells the story of Nica, a teenager forced to leave her life behind when her estranged policeman father who got reassigned to the province. The once peaceful town is now haunted by “sitsit,” a supernatural being who preys on women, eventually leaving the victim’s lifeless body in the middle of the forest. This movie is directed by Ian Lorenos under Regal Films.

Casts: Jane Oineza, Jameson Blake, Maris Racal, Jon Lucas, Raymart Santiago, Joey Marquez, Jerald Napoles, Betong Sumaya, Myrtle Sarrosa, Miho Nishida, Beverly Salviejo, Kelvin Miranda

Genre: Horror, Thriller

WHAT I LIKE?

Haunted Forest is the only Horror Film entry at the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival. Somehow, the spotlight is on this film being a lone offering in the genre. Overall, Haunted Forest was a good movie in terms of the following aspects: (1) Casting: Regal Films has somehow given a good venue for uprising and talented celebrities in their films. For Haunted Forest, they made a good choice in casting young and fresh faces. I actually loved the mix of new and veteran actors. Jane, being the lead actress, gave a very impressive performance. Perhaps, this is Jane’s best so far after her stint from Star Cinema’s Bloody Crayons. I have high respects with her even more after watching the movie. Maris, one of my favorite actresses so far, also did a good job on her portrayal as Jane’s cousin in the film. Her charm and lovely aura is just hard not too admire. Jameson and Jon were good supports as well. Jameson has the tendency to become a good leading man too. The addition of veteran actors namely Raymart Santiago and Joey Marquez was also a good move to compliment the talented cast. (2) Prosthetic: I must commend Regal Films for staging an impressive “Sitsit” Creature for this film. After the successful Haunted Mansion, the movie was able to pull-off some scary shit with this creature. I am glad they have learned so much in making monsters over the years. By far, this is one of their best monster creations too. Aside from that, the make-up of those dead women are also great and quite disturbing at all. The climax almost got me at the edge of my seat for a while. Overall, the movie is enjoyable with a fairly good mixture of teen romance, drama and thrills which can be mostly appreciated by die-hard fans of its young and talented leads.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Honestly, Haunted Forest is better off an episode of a Shake, Rattle & Roll Movie rather than being a full movie after all. I don’t think the whole material is not enough to stand alone as an amazing Horror Movie. I can’t help but compare it with their previous movie – Haunted Mansion which is by far the best Pinoy Horror Movie for me in terms of technicalities. Overall, the phasing is so slow. It is far-stretched with unnecessary melodramatic scenes and some cringe-worthy conversations and script which I find thinly-written. Despite some good Production design, the movie still fails to deliver enough creepy feels and darkness as most of the night scenes in the forest are well-lit. It did not fully maximize the horror scenes and was pulled off with laid-back scenes that could have been way better in terms of execution. Moreover, how I wish CGI Effects were lesson during the Climax too. The climax was good but the visual effects made it a little goofy.

RATINGS:

6.5/10 Popcorn

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2017

All of You

All of me

FILM INFO

Gab and Gabby, two individuals who have strong opposing views on love and marriage, fall in love and agree to be in a committed relationship. As they hit their 3-year mark, the couple find themselves back to where they started as they asked themselves where their relationship is headed. All of You is directed by Dan Villegas under MJM Productions and Quantum Films.

Casts: Jennylyn Mercado, Derek Ramsay, Sam Milby, Solenn Heussaff, Yayo Aguila, Kean Cipriano, Nico Antonio, Enzo Marcos, Via Antonio, Hannah Ledesma, Kelvin Yu

Genre: Romance, Comedy

WHAT I LIKE?

All of You is a movie that has raw emotions and intentions to its target audience. From the beginning, it is true to its intention to show a glimpse of a normal relationship and the struggles of the couple through simple yet striking scenes all throughout the movie. Moreover, the film will show the two sides of the coin for the audience to see different perspectives from each of the gender involved. All of You is a good mixture of Romance, Comedy and Drama geared towards a more direct approach in conflict setting. What I like about the movie is how the Director played well on conversations and pure emotions to convey pain and even happiness of the characters. The plot is simple however the moral lesson the movie is trying to impart is indeed deep and relevant. At some point, I can put my shoes to either Gab or  Gabby as they have presented well the demand of the conflict material. Overall, the movie is not suitable for younger audiences due to mature topics. Acting-wise, I am satisfied as usual with the Derek and Jennylyn tandem. Derek was the perfect fit for the role. He is just a great charmer and good actor as well. Jennylyn, on the other hand, was still at her best form. She was just natural and beautiful to watch on the big screen. What I like about All of You is the fact that it is a big improvement from all other Dan Villegas movies in the past.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Lowering your expectations for All of You might help you a bit. I didn’t fully like the ending though. Regardless of these forgivable flaws, I must say that All of You is still a good flick to watch this MMFF 2017!

RATINGS:

8/10 Popcorns.

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2017 · Pinoy Indie

Deadma Walking

deadma walking

FILM INFO

The film is all about gay best friends for life John and Mark whose friendship is put to the test when one of them has a terminal illness and asks the other to help him stage his fake death, wake, and funeral as his dying wish. Deadma Walking is directed by Julius Alfonso under OctoArts Film and T-Rex Entertainment.

Casts: Joross Gamboa, Edgar Allan Guzman, Gerald Anderson, Eugene Domingo, Candy Pangilinan, Dimples Romana, Vin Abrenica,                                                      

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama   

WHAT I LIKE?

Deadma Walking can easily be compared with Die Beautiful but after watching it, I must say that Deadma Walking is much lighter and much more entertaining to watch. I am really amazed on how a very shallow plot of faking your own death and mounting a fake funeral can be so emotionally-engaging and even inspiring to say the least. I really like how the Director played with the script and invested on several comedic timings from its talented actors and actresses and a plot that is easy to digest. Aside from a very dynamic approach on the story-telling, the movie is a power-house of cameo roles from several prominent celebrities in the industry. What I also admire is their creativity in presenting the idea of death in a manner that is quite heartwarming and thought-provoking. There was never any dull moment from beginning to end. What I also love is the inclusion of musical numbers through their own concept of Crying Divas. Deadma Walking’s strength is mostly attributed to its talented cast namely Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman. I must say, the two of them was great and delivered award-winning performances. Their performances alone are worth the price of your admission ticket. Joross is given to be a good actor to begin with. What surprised me a lot is EA Guzman’s impressive acting performance that really deserving on an award. EA was the perfect gay best friend for the role. He was funny and charming. After watching the film, I had high respects to them as an actor. Deadma Walking should be part of your MMFF 2017 Bucket list.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

For me, there is nothing not to like about Deadma Walking.

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorns.

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