2014 proved to be another banner year for the local film industry. As promising as the previous year, I am so delighted with the number of movies I have seen. Quite amazed with how great and rave worthy they are, too. The following reviews, however, are based solely on my observations and reactions. As I have mentioned the last time, I do not consider myself a film critic. Please do not expect anything grand. 🙂 So without further adieu, errm, ado, beaming with pride, here are my top 15.
15. BITUKANG MANOK, Alec Figuracion
This is my kind of horror/thriller/suspense movie. The premise alone enticed me, and sure enough it didn’t disappoint. I feel like I was part of it; like I was one of the barkada, or the brother of the family on vacation, or probably one of the truck drivers. That’s how engaging the characters were. The only minor flaw, for me, was the ending (I won’t spoil hehe). It’s as if it was rushed or probably they ran out of idea on how to end it. But it didn’t ruin the film’s entirety so it’s all good.
14. SUNDALONG KANIN, Janice O’Hara
Ahh, I will never forget how emotionally scarred this movie left me. The ending crushed my heart into tiny little pieces. Ang bigat sa dibdib. What I loved most is the film’s focus – the kids and their stories. No need for big stars and extravagant acting. Just them doing what they’re good at.
13. MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON, Lav Diaz
A one-line review said it was “hauntingly beautiful.” Indeed it was, and as expected, long. Almost 6 hours. This is another Lav Diaz masterpiece. The long shots were impressive. Blink and you’d miss a single and important detail. I especially liked the scenes at the beach – mysterious, intriguing, full of clear and crisp images. And it’s in black and white, which gives the audience the film’s sharp and stark outline.
12. BWAYA, Francis Xavier Pasion
The aerial shots were breathtakingly beautiful. It transported me to this small Agusan town, had a taste of how a Manobo’s daily lives and routines were, and felt the grief of the townsfolk when tragedy struck them. This is Angeli Bayani’s most riveting performance, I’d like to believe. The scene when she learned that her daughter was attacked by a crocodile and was found dead is absolutely heartbreaking.
11. BANG BANG ALLEY, Ely Buendia, King Palisoc, and Yan Yuzon
A first of its kind – a murder and crime trilogy. And that alone is enough for it to land a spot in my list. It has its strong and weak moments yes, but altogether a pretty good film. It was so nice to see Jimmy Santos on the big screen again. I wished more of his part and his story. The episode I liked the most was the second, Makina. Gabe Mercado aced the acting!
10. KUBOT The Aswang Chronicles 2, Erik Matti
I wasn’t able to watch Tiktik, but Kubot was a treat for me. Those blue-blooded aswangs (not zombies) who aren’t afraid of bawang but instead of bagoong, Elizabeth Oropesa and her big wild pubic hair-like hair, and Nieves, the character played by Lotlot De Leon, I believe are the film’s aces. I love how it introduces different kinds of aswangs in each movie (yes, there is a third part), it will make the audience crave for more. I will look forward for it next year.
9. SOAP OPERA, Remton Siega Zuasola
A young superhero with an unknown past, a pair of lovers torn between the magic of their romance and the reality of life, and a portrait of a family who will stop at nothing just to provide for its members. This film’s view of soap operas and how it affects its Pinoy viewers was a breath of fresh air. I thoroughly enjoyed Matt Daclan and Natileigh Sitoy’s performances. If this movie is a three-course meal, their story is the main dish.
8. MAGKAKABAUNG, Jason Paul Laxamana
This film depicts one of the many ironies in life. A coffin maker who can’t even provide a coffin and a decent burial for her daughter. Told mostly in Kapampangan, which I think gave it more zest. It sounded foreign to me. Allen Dizon’s character is one of my favorites this year. His scenes with her daughter are golden. Ah, things a parent would do for the family. It’s heartbreaking and so real I felt it.
7. THE TRIAL, Chito Roño
This film has the right balance of drama and comedy (which most of the time a hard thing to pull off), a well written screenplay, good directing, and impeccable acting. John Lloyd Cruz is the heart of this film. I had lumps on my throat in that scene where Sylvia Sanchez was beating him. Vincent De Jesus, on the other hand, was such a delight to watch. A comic relief that balances out all the intensities, emotions and drama of the whole situation.
6. VIOLATOR, Dodo Dayao
It was like I’m in a different dimension. That’s how it felt like watching this extraordinary film. Those series of vignettes haunted me in my sleep. I have never seen anything like it. Eerie and creepy. After watching, it made me question myself if I am able to find and eventually fight my own demon. Just the thought of it is giving me creeps. And oh, this movie also gave a new and different meaning to “The subscriber cannot be reached. Please try again later.”
5. DAGITAB, Giancarlo Abrahan
A long, sad, painful, but beautiful journey. This film can be poised as a classic, in my opinion. Easily became a favorite Cinemalaya film. Eula Valdez and Nonie Buencamino gave a very powerful and moving performance. The narrative was quite impressive, all done in good taste and it made me fall in love with poetry all over again.
4. LORNA, Sigrid Andrea Bernardo
A roller-coaster ride of a film. Hilarious, yet very sincere. Almost half the time the cinema was filled with hearty laughter, and the next minute you would hear “Awww” followed by sniffles. That is how the people felt this movie. I am glad Shamaine Buencamino finally had a title role. There can be no other Lorna than her. A notable character though, was that of Maria Isabel Lopez. She brought the house down! And yes, Lav Diaz!
3. THAT THING CALLED TADHANA, Antoinette Jadaone
First minute alone, and I am sold. Seriously. The heart and the arrow – it’s like it pierced right through me. I knew I was watching something different, something I would remember and will not forget. And true enough. Days…no, weeks after watching it, the beauty, the sadness, the pain, the heartaches that this film gave the audience stayed with me. Whitney Houston’s Where Do Broken Hearts go was playing in my head for weeks. I am pretty sure a lot of people will relate to Anthony and Mace, the characters played by JM De Guzman and Angelica Panganiban. Tadhana also made me want to go and see the glorious Sagada. Favorite line: “Eh sorry, mahal ko eh.”
2. NORTE, HANGGANAN NG KASAYSAYAN, Lav Diaz
It was 4-hour long, but I wanted more. I actually wished it never ended, or at least it was longer. Fabian (Sid Lucero) was such a character; a beast of a man, he devoured the rest. My favorite was that of Mailes Kanapi – her acting speaks volume and it haunted me for several days. Angeli Bayani and Archie Alemania did not disappoint either. I hope that this film will FINALLY bring us our first Oscar nomination, and win too.
1. BARBER’S TALES, Jun Robles Lana
Powerful and exceptional. Every minute, every scene, every symbol in this film is perfection. I may be exaggerating but this is a movie every Filipino should see. Masterfully done, set in the 70’s but kept itself relevant, worth every peso. Equally powerful is Eugene Domingo. None of those TV Patrol/elevator acting but pure and raw emotions.
I have seen more, and it’s too difficult to make a list of just 15. Hoping for more quality Filipino films in the years to come, and eventually more people to embrace and support these type of movies. With NORTE having a lot of Oscar buzz, and lots of amazing pool of directors and writers showcasing their talent each year, our film industry is indeed in good hands. See you at the cinemas! 🙂
I am torn. Whose version do you like best?
The one from The Voice US grand winner?
Or the ginger-y cover? 🙂
It’s that time of the year again! Now on its third year, PhilPop Foundation dishes out a new batch of 12 songs for the competition. After hearing about it, I right away checked the songs out on Spinnr where it was released. From the huge success of PhilPop 2013, I have to say I am expecting a lot from this group of composers, songs, and interpreters. After more than a week of putting it on repeat, here are my top 3 picks:
1. AWIT MO’Y NANDITO PA composed by Ronaldo “Toto” Sorioso, interpreted by James Bucong and Aldrich Talonding. My personal favorite this year. It spoke to me, actually. Which is what I look for in a song. I love the chorus and the line that went, “Nawala ako at natagpuan pagkatapos lahat ng nagdaan, awit mo’y nandito pa. Pag-ibig mo’y kinakanta.” and it’s very refreshing to hear Aldrich sing this lovely piece.
2. SALBABIDA composed by Jungee Marcelo, interpreted by Kyla. This song has what it takes to win it – great lyrics and melody, LSS-inducing lines, and the interpreter. I may be biased here being a Kyla fan, but I’d like to believe she’s got this charm in song festivals (Tara Tena, Himig Handog 2001 grand prize; and Buti Na Lang, Metropop 2003 third prize).
3. BABALIKAN MO RIN AKO composed by Soc Villanueva, interpreted by Nikki Gil. I am pretty sure this will be that one song people can relate to the most. Heartache speaks volume in this song, which I think would be a great tool in making it very popular. Not to mention Nikki Gil interpreting it. Watch out for the last line, it’s a killer. Ouch.
Another notable one is the Taglish No Girlfriend Since Break which is starting to grow on me. I personally think last year’s batch is more diverse, more distinct, and more Pinoy. But this is still a good batch. Give them all the support you can give. Check out their website for voting and downloading details and for other festival information. Mabuhay ang OPM!
Four days til the Academy Awards! I was able to watch all 9 Best Picture nominees this year, a first for me. Much thanks to online streaming and torrent sites, and some literal pirate bay I went to one Monday afternoon. Having said that, let me dish out my predictions on who and what films are going to win (or for some, who I would want to win) in the major categories. I am not much of a film critic, just fond of watching movies so spare me of being biased. This time, however, will be a little different, for I will do a “who should win and who would win” sort of thing. Let’s get the ball rollin’, shall we?
Actress in a Supporting Role
Who should win – JUNE SQUIBB for Nebraska. She is my most favorite this year! She did not necessarily play the good part, her role was not at all charming but altogether lovely and funny that you just can’t help but gave her a loud cheer. If last year there’s a catchphrase that went, “Argofuck yourselves!” hers is “You can all just go fuck yourselves!”
Who would win – JENNIFER LAWRENCE for American Hustle. Let’s admit it, she’s an Academy favorite. I can’t blame them. I loooove her, too! She’s very effective in this film; her craziness, her being a beautiful domineering careless and sometimes dumb wife, her lip-locking with Amy Adams! Maaan! She never fail to surprise me. Note: I am ready for a Lupita Nyong’o upset.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Who should win AND who would win – JARED LETO for Dallas Buyers Club. You can probably say his role for this film is an Oscar bait. Maybe. But Leto delivered here. Performance wise, transforming wise, nobody else should get it but Jared. And if it’s indeed a bait, the Academy got themselves a big fish at that!
Actress in a Leading Role
Who should win – MERYL STREEP for August: Osage County. First 5 minutes of the film, and I am sold. Acting in spades. Can she do no wrong? I can watch her in this film all day and I you will not hear me complain. It’s THE Meryl Streep, anyway.
Who would win – AMY ADAMS for American Hustle. I can go all day telling you about how fine an actress she is; from Enchanted, Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter, The Master, etc. She never fail to mesmerize me. But let me just say this… It’s about time!!
Actor in a Leading Role
Who should win – MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY for Dallas Buyers Club. First, he transformed. It was a totally different McConaughey. Then, he gave an incredible performance backed up with an amazing and based in true events story. It’s Oscars written all over, I tell you.
Who would win – LEONARDO DiCAPRIO for The Wolf of Wall Street. Just give him the golden trophy, PLEAAASE!! DiCaprio is also an Academy favorite…. snob, that is. I think, and I hope, this will be his year. I gotta say, he wowed me in this film. For the first time, I did not see Jack Dawson in him. I think that’s the problem with Leo. After all these years, we still see that young Mr. Dawson in each film he’s making. Let’s see if this would be an exception.
Who I want to win – HER, Spike Jonze. This is the film I can relate to the most, hence it’s my pick for the Best Picture category. It’s a long shot, but who cares. Joaquin Phoenix made me cry, yes. That’s why when I found out he wasn’t even nominated, I cried too. Nah, just kidding 🙂 “Despite its initially unsettling romantic premise, it speaks volumes about how and why we need to love.” to borrow a quote I retweeted.
Who would win – AMERICAN HUSTLE, David O. Russell. I’m not really a fan of this movie, honestly. But the buzz and hype for this film is loud. I may have to watch it again for me to appreciate it more. I loved the songs, though. 🙂
So, there. Whoever wins among the ones I listed, I’m good. I can’t wait for the Oscars on Monday morning (Philippine time). It’s another field day for all film buffs like me. See you all at the Red Carpet! 🙂
Inspired from an article by Jessica Zafra titled “Is this a Golden Age of Philippine Cinema?”, I am also posting my top 10 best-list of Filipino films I have seen this year. As a firm believer and a supporter of what film making in the Philippines has become, seeing its growth the past couple of years or so, making a list of just 10 became quite a challenge. Although I have not seen all of the other good ones released (pressed by time and sometimes budget too), I believe I have seen enough that would testify and prove that the Philippine movie scene is thriving and is something to be proud of.
*clapper board* Action!
10. AMOR Y MUERTE, Ces Evangelista
A 16th Century period film, which means Love and Death. I think this is Ama Quiambao’s last film before she passed away. I loved how she played her role here, a crucial one. Newcomer Althea Vega sizzles as a Filipina married to a Spaniard played by Markki Stroem, but somehow fell for the snake-wielding Apitong. Note: Huwag pakawalan ang sawa! 🙂
9. DEBOSYON, Alvin Yapan
Idyllic setting, a haunting and mysterious lady, poetic, and lyrical. This film will have you very quiet and attentive, well at least that’s how it was for me. Quiet in a way that it will keep you focused with what’s going to happen; and attentive, for lack of a better word, because it caught my attention. A mix of myth, legend, and religion, it was an overall good film.
8. EKSTRA, Jeffrey Jeturian
A very light, funny, and touching movie. Easily became a favorite Ate Vi film. I didn’t see a Vilma Santos as an extra; what I saw was a lady, a mother doing all her best for her daughter, and is passionate in what she’s doing. A star for all seasons, indeed.
7. PUROK 7, Carlo Obispo
A happy and a sad film at the same time. Touching base on a sensitive but known Philippine issue, though not entirely dwelling on it, this movie was a breath of fresh air – from its setting, characters, and how the story was told. Krystle Valentino, the girl who played the lead role, was a natural. I won’t be surprised to see her in other films in the succeeding years. The ending made me feel better for Diana and her brother, and that’s enough for me. And oh, it’s on the 7th spot! I didn’t notice that. 🙂
6. TUHOG, Veronica Velasco
This is a Eugene Domingo film, I have to say. I love how she owned this movie. There are other stories and characters, of course, but I don’t know, I was engrossed by her role. Leo Martinez did great, too. I like his story and I really see him as this retired employee struggling with his time and family, and finding comfort through his friends. What made this film effective, I think, is its heart – speaking to its audience and sending a message across that all our lives are somehow connected and that we can all relate to each and everyone.
5. ON THE JOB, Erik Matti
Probably the most hyped and acclaimed Filipino film this year. But who can even argue – a big cast, a gripping tale of assassins and hired killers, Piolo Pascual, and yes, Cannes! Setting all those aside, it was a great film. Although I have to admit I got a bit hesitant to watch it because it stars big names, but it didn’t disappoint. This, however, belonged to Joel Torre. What a moving performance!
4. BABAGWA, Jason Laxamana
I was raving after watching this film, wanting for more. A nail-biter of a story, I believe most of the audience in the theater was just as pumped as I was waiting for the next scenes to happen. What a ride, this film is! Fresh, current, and engaging characters. MORE!!
3. ANG HULING CHA-CHA NI ANITA, Sigrid Andrea Bernardo
A film so brave, yet so sensitive; funny yet so heart-warming, candid, insightful and amusing. It discussed a lot of topics and issues most of us Filipinos are well aware of, but are just too “personal” to be willing to be shared at. The film succeeded in bridging and crossing that gap, in a very light and non-intuitive manner. Aside from the premise, what I loved most were the kids – very charming and natural. I believe they are one of the film’s strength. Definitely a must-see!
2. SANA DATI, Jerrold Tarog
Engulfed. Encaptured. These two words can probably best describe the feeling I had after watching this gem of a film. I know I can speak for some others who have seen it, and I know there are more fitting words. Or maybe not. This is Lovi Poe in her most defining moment. I may be exaggerating, but yeah, I felt her pain and longing the entire time. The supporting cast did not fail either. And when Up Dharma Down’s Indak was played at the end…t*@$#!^%!!
1. TRANSIT, Hannah Espia
Moments after seeing Transit, I tweeted that it can very well be our entry to the Oscars next year. A month or so after, it became official! But this film being an Oscar material is not the main reason why I picked it as my number 1 film. It’s at the top spot, simply because it is deserving to be at the top. I am not a film critic, really, I am far from being one. I just love watching movies, and I really believe in this film. Whether or not it becomes successful in bringing us our country’s first ever Oscar, or even a nomination for that matter, Transit will remain a favorite of mine.
So, there. I hope to see more quality Filipino films next year and the years to come. I hope that the promise these films are giving becomes a trend, and that directors and producers won’t get tired of coming up with good ones. We need more and more of these type of movies! Let us encourage other people to watch and support our very own. It will be a good start.
*clapper board* Cut!
I am a sucker for songwriting festivals/competitions. I remember the days when I would record Gary Granada’s Mabuti Pa Sila in my cassette player, write its lyrics and sing along with it. The days when I bought a Metropop 2000 cassette tape and went crazy over the song Forever And A Day, and would always vote it on RX’s The Daily Survey. The days when I had the Metropop 2003 cd on repeat (mainly because of Kyla’s Buti Na Lang haha). This got me thinking though, whatever happened to Metropop? Anyway….
And now this – Philpop 2013. A friend gave me a copy and this album has been on loop for more than a week now and I must say, the songs are good! Here are my top 5 picks:
1. ARAW, ULAP, LANGIT composed by Marlon Barnuevo, interpreted by Christian Bautista
– I just couldn’t help but feel good every time I listen to this song. I love singing along with it. I especially like the chorus part, and the melody is quite inviting too. Listen and fall in love.
2. DATI composed by Thyro Alfaro & Yumi Lacsamana, interpreted by Sam Concepcion, Tippy Dos Santos and Quest
– This song brings back a lot of good memories, as what the title suggests. It has this nice upbeat vibe that can make you move and snap your fingers. Julio at Julia, Princess Sarah, Marvin and Jolina, and Mylene and Bojo were mentioned in this song. Never fails to put a smile on my face.
3. SA’YO NA LANG AKO composed by Lara Maigue, interpreted by Karylle
– I surprisingly like this song. I love how Karylle sounded and how she sang it. And the words, man, killer!
4. PAPEL composed and interpreted by Joey Ayala featuring Denise Barbacena & Gloc 9
– Papel is in a totally different league among all the entries, I’d like to believe. The song is reminiscent of the above mentioned Gary Granda song, and also Bayang Barrios’ Malayo Man Malapit Din (Metropop 2003). It was great to hear Joey Ayala again! And the song in itself is a revelation. It will make you dig deeper into a simple word such as, well, papel.
5. KUNG ‘DI MAN composed by Johnoy Danao, interpreted by Ney Dimaculangan
– The first line says it all, “Kung hindi ako ang iyong pipiliin, aanhin ko pa ang hangin?” I love how rock solid this song’s words and melodies are. Another killer lyrics. But I think I may have to stand by what I tweeted sometime ago, it would sound better if Johnoy Danao himself interpreted the song. Not that I don’t like Ney haha! Just stating my opinion 🙂
The other songs are good and pleasant to the ears, too. Sana Pinatay Mo Na Lang Ako is an example haha! Philpop is true to its tagline “Your theme, Your genre, Your song” as it showcase different sounding tunes for the listeners’ delight. Try downloading the album, guys! It’s worth it, I tell ya. Support OPM! 🙂
Check out Philpop 2013’s website on how to vote for the songs and for other information and details.