A Different Approach

Kiss me! Kiss me!

While I was watching You Changed My Life, a part of me was saying; the film nailed it once more. But then again, my stomach was twinging. It is like eating a sackful of gummy bears until one ends up vomiting a rainbow of empty calories. Yet I am still in high spirits. That could be the effect of this film. Seriously, what I did like in this is that they were able to sustain the charm of the story from the first installment. I am very particular with the narrative as I don’t want to gauge the futile kilig machinations as the prime strength. I am relieved that the film outfit did not exploit or even took advantage of the susceptibility of the audience towards these kinds of films. You Changed My Life is the second installment of the box-office film A Very Special Love directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina.

I was like a sponge with the reactions of the crowd I encountered. It is a surprise to see some guys trying to conceal their delight on certain scenes. The premise is not tacky. Laida (Sarah Geronimo) is fetched by Miggy (John Lloyd Cruz) for their first official date. Once Miggy stepped out of his SUV, jeez, the overall response from the ladies was deafening. And mind you, it is not the premiere screening I saw. It was during the lazy hours of the day and the theatre was just about to explode with people. The sundown screenings I guess might have caused an insurrection. Their rendezvous is set in atop a hill in Batangas while fireworks were set in the skies.

Aside from the fact that love has already been established, the story gradually revolves into the reality of social responsibilities, family affairs, and gender roles in the relationship of the two. It is observed that there is a contrast in the personalities of the characters. The candid Laida is constantly jovial while the serious Miggy is a bit temperamental. It is not exactly a clash of personalities as what mostly happens in romcom flicks. It tilted from this usual conflict and used another spectrum of issues that could be the obstacle for the love story. I know only a few joyless sociopaths will dislike this movie. The concoction of kilig is unashamedly determined to give out what the audience has wanted in the first place. It is of course executed adequately by both Geronimo and Cruz.

On the technical merits the film has presented, I think their major improvement is in terms of the long takes of the climax in the film. It transcends the true emotions of the character and it is proof of how these actors could shell out their superiority in the acting category. True enough, mainstream films’ major advantage in terms of cinematography is that, the night scenes are amazingly executed. And I have also noticed that the musical scoring has been lessened in scenes that need directed focus on pure emotions. It did certainly transcend and it is quite an improvement for Filipino’s compulsive proclivity towards musical fabrication.

In addition to the conflict of the story, Mackoy (Rayver Cruz) is an addition to the casting. He is the long lost best friend of Laida. It is astonishing on how they coated Mackoy’s character in the story such that he has a certain feel of authenticity. He did not come to give a full blast twist to the happy relationship of Laida and Miggy. But instead, he symbolizes a person that is sensitive to the feelings of others. He also embodies the people who might have certain regrets in the past and is trying to make amends. He could have been a good boyfriend nonetheless if he did not leave Laida before.

You Changed My Life lives up to its promise of a light romantic comedy. There are more kilig sequences and the dramatic scenes are just sufficient. It is a well-balanced aspect and even employs great skill in creating the story. As for the love insights the film has shown, I sensed that the audience could relate to it in different ways. Love compels us to be patient and to be kind. I think Laida has shown to us that her patience is quite not enough and her decision skills might be too harsh to her loved ones. It is a lesson she has dutifully learned. Through Miggy’s plight to get the approval of his father and his half-brother and to ameliorate his status from fleckless bastard to successful, trustworthy bastard, he pushed himself up and is stacked with his priorities in life. The best part of the story is that they were able to understand each other. They have resolved their issues not in a turgid way of thinking. But with careful intonations that relationships entail compromise. We can still achieve what we want and be loved in the way our hearts desire. But these things get tougher as we go deeper in loving someone.

You Changed My Life will be adored by most people. I have seen their reactions and they totally enjoyed the film. But watch out for the kilig assortment the film is contrived with. But please, do it infrequently in real life. These characters are special in the eyes of an audience seeking enjoyment. Love is not just kilig dear people. It is just a fleeting emotion. Laida did get tired. And there might be different ways to pump-up a relationship that is worth saving.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Love Gone Wrong

Zombie... Be scared

When I Met U is a Valentine movie offering of two of this generation’s hottest celebrities. It is also a follow-up from the success of the film For the First Time. Despite the predicaments our nation is facing, romcom flicks are very much marketable. The jam-packed theatres are the gauge to say that a film is a sensation. And yes, it is and this film has a very good advertising strategy to achieve financial success. But I beg to disagree - the insight of love the film story has set is a sure letdown on my part. Well, who cares anyway? This particular film is what the audience wanted – guilty pleasure I suppose. The kilig aspect is tolerable. But we have to explicate the rationale why this real love they are trying to advertise is just a mere artificial love.

Am I on the same boat with the audience? Oh yes, definitely. I have been championing these kinds of films for such a time. But for this film, it is shameful to succumb only to what the audience only wanted. Our local audience has been susceptible to a film’s promise of true love; even mistaking the kilig facet as the love. Escapism is indeed the bread and butter of the Filipino movie industry. I watched this during Valentine’s Day and I was not surprised with how the film faired with the audience. They got pleasure from the film for different reasons I suppose. It’s inevitable that the two lead stars look good as a love pair. Also, the film has ample amount of crappy mushy moments the audience will surely crave. I have to negate every single asset the film has because it reflects a different connotation to what kilig and love is all about.

To be honest, the film story is a representation of our generation. It is a story of two people who are trapped in unhappy relationships. Jenny (KC Concepcion) is a promodizer who is in a relationship with a serious veterinarian Albert (Alfred Vargas). Benjie (Richard Gutierrez) on the other hand is a struggling pilot. His girlfriend Tracy (Iya Villania) is a chic pastry chef. With these simple descriptions, I might assume that they come from the middle-class. It is also apparent that their respective partners look pleasing. Of course a few traces of negative traits are inevitable. Who is perfect by the way? But as the film progresses, it seems that Jenny and Benjie are just pissed-off with their partners. I think it has something to do with how the movie must achieve its purpose. But it could have presented it in a manner wherein the story goes just as it is without trying too much. I definitely believe that unhappy states in relationship are not entirely bad. These characters simply lack contentment.

To continue the story, the two lead characters meet in an uncanny situation. Both of them need to attend a wedding party in the island of Palawan. Since Albert and Tracy have common friends, it was requested that Jenny could hitch a ride in Benjie’s cargo plane. Soon enough, the plane had some engine troubles and landed on a remote island near Palawan. As the night sets in, the two started to exchange their ideas on love and Benjie initiated the fatal kiss.

Actually that moment is part of the film’s premise. I don’t want to mislead the audience for what the film has in store. It is a wise decision for the film to show this scenario as a reminder that these two characters are meant for each other no matter what. But if we review their background, which I first mentioned, I bet their acts could have been distasteful to a wider extent. After that kissing incident, they get back to Manila and started to see each other in secret. They did not even bother to break-up with their current partners. And most of the foolish audience gets to scream their hearts out in every love gesture of these two cheaters. And mind you, Jenny is playing it dumb to excuse herself from being guilty of her philandering act. It is a double standard I guess.

I don’t think this relationship would last. Poor audience, they simply get to see themselves in those situations. I mean, come to think of it, I cannot entirely blame the creative team for the tormenting film they have actually made. It is what the audience has wanted in the first place. And the story appears to be just a skeletal framework for all the kilig scenes to push through. But despite the story’s brittleness, it is still the audience I surely blame. Do we seek love simply for our self fulfillment – I think so. I simply see the characters to be selfish in their motives. Love is innocent but definitely not ignorant. Romcom flicks have an established pattern. But this one is such a mess.

When I Met U edifies a selfish pursuit for love. Albert and Tracy might have my sympathy than the other two. Despite their manipulative actions, I think it is just a product of the irrevocable contrivance of the story. But in real life, I think they must qualify to have loved more when they fight for a relationship that is not miserable, but could be realistically defined as plain contentment. I speak only in terms of their stand in the relationship but not on their actual characters. Anyway, audiences are free to feel the magic spark of love. This film has it. But I assure you that magic isn’t real.

Charlie Koon's Rating:
Critic's Note:
I also noticed that the film looks rushed. It is like the pito-pito kind of film. I pity the film stock used in this film for some reason. The material is expensive and yet it has been used just for a fancy display of love and affection by these two skanky characters. Poor film stock! And the silly dubbing is predominant all throughout the film – I have been particular with this ever since. This supposedly romantic film ruined my special day. The other chick flick Confessions of a Shopaholic did cleanse my system afterwards. Even though it is a Hollywood film (I don’t review foreign films) its pattern of a romcom is much pleasurable.

Panic Mode

I feel like I am.. Choking!!!

Reality is like this, it is either you laugh because you can relate to it or extremely dislike the entire aesthetics of the movie. Status: Single stars none other than the sonsie Rufa Mae Quinto as the thirty-year-old virgin. It gives Quinto a new comic outfit that could defy her trademark style.

The believability of the story does not worry me as I have seen worse situations in real life. Status: Single is a romcom film written and directed by Jose Javier Reyes. The film’s dexterity makes it way to make you laugh for its hyper-realistic circumstances. It is about the life of the vivacious Doris, an ordinary working class girl. One by one, her friends started to get married until she reaches thirty and gets deadlocked on her supposedly abnormal situation. Although she is contented, she has a steady boyfriend for two years, she gets to be pressured by her friends and family into marrying. One day, her boyfriend makes a disclosure to end their relationship. She gets a hold of her reaction for a moment until she gets hysterical.

It is a wise decision for Reyes to make use of comedy in bringing about the dilemma of modern women without being too cumbersome. Comedy is a great proposition to alleviate the stiffness of certain topics. It is safer and it is almost a passage or even the starting point before we delve into deeper implications regarding a woman that is towards infecundity. In modern times, women nearing their late 20’s are prone to delicate pregnancies.

Anyway, these juicy topics are handled with such ease without sounding too artificial in its rendering. An ordinary moviegoer might just laugh without much thought given to it. Although it is marketed as a romantic comedy, there is a familiar blend of the genre we call comedy of humours. The supporting casts in this film gives us a unique overview of characters that has an overriding trait of absurdity in their personalities and conduct. As for the women in the film, it gives us a brief outlook on how each handles love and relationships in their lives. The liberation is a great factor in providing what is best to be done in single-hood catastrophes. Poor Doris, if she only knew what to do. But that is a fact of life. At some point of her hysteria, she becomes fatuous, but there is a rebound from her grubby state.

We can gain knowledge from Doris plight. Even the love she tries to achieve might have led to hollowness but the film has been very blatant about being true to oneself. She is not deaf. Her hunky gay friend has been indiscreet about it. But one thing is for sure, watching this film is not entirely a waste. There are deeper meanings to it. The satiric flavor to it and its realistic undertones gives us an idea that this could be further tackled in future comedies and even in dramas. Interweaving love within the movie is just ample for kilig intentions. There is crisp sound to this film.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Motherly Excuse

All rice... coup is now in season.

When America sneezes, the Philippines contracts pneumonia. That might be a logical way of presenting the situation of two countries experiencing the recent global crisis. But Filipinos are clever. They would rather die in laughter than suffer the inexorable dilemma we are currently facing. Filipino comedies are so in-demand and it has a higher probability to be successful in the box office. Ang Tanging Ina N’yong Lahat is something the Filipino audience would instantly be curious about. First, the title has a strong double-entendre– Filipinos has a great deal of response to innuendos. And of course, the film will star one of our country’s best comediennes.

Ang Tanging Ina N’yong Lahat is the sequel to the box office hit Ang Tanging Ina. Its promise of laughter is undeniable; most of it is due to the retention of certain aspects from the first film. It stars the ever-wacky, bizarre looking comedian, Ai-ai de las Alas. She has the ability to make you chortle with her cleverness in delivering comedic skits and most of the time, just by simply looking at her. Let’s say the physical appearance have played a special facet in the unique caricature of her persona. De Las Alas’ unique donkey facial intimations and her prominent chin ala Tarantino will certainly be the selling point of this film. And of course she is not totally new in the business. We have to be reminded that her TV stints and comedy concerts were phenomenal hit. Although in films it is entirely different. I hoped they sustained the laughable phase in the film and it could have worked so well.

De Las Alas stars as Ina, still a fraught widow of a dozen children. The film starts with the cortege of her recent husband. Actually we get a little dose of dues ex machina interpolation in the first film pertaining to the death of her husbands. It just weaves the story through and we start to see a parody of a TV drama wherein Ina is part of the cast wherein she gets to double the white wolf alter-ego of the lead star. It is an effective premise as comedy films gets to show a high-pitch sounding of humor the moment it starts. Nonetheless, they have succeeded by just dressing up de Las Alas in a scanty wolf suit and made her jump at the top of the building. It’s appropriate for Ina to do the stunts but definitely not the female lead or the purebred Siberian husky. It’s funny.

Her equally waggish best friend Rowena is played by Eugene Domingo. She is a great support or even a great equalizer to a great comedian. Their moments in the film are lauded by viewers mostly for their great timing and execution. Although the film’s comedic ambience subsides mostly with Ina’s rapport with her children. This started after she gets to be a star witness in the killing of the President of the Philippines. And with the twists of the story, she was elected as the President. Half of the film blurs its comedic element into something a bit tragic. I kind of wished it would end and the film would get back to where they are originally good at.

The genre that they are trying to portray is a bit quizzical on their grounds to provoke more laughter. The films get more sentimental when it reaches its climax. It is a mixture of Tearful Comedy and Bourgeois Tragedy. But when we review the history of Comedy, Bourgeois Tragedy is the outcome of Tearful Comedy. They might have forgotten to do their homework. We cannot confuse the audience for something they might have wanted in the first place. It just suggests a reason for audiences to see that despite the tragedies that are inflicted on the heroine, there is a moral triumph that will prevail.

It is not all wrong to squeeze in a bit of tragicomic appeal in films. But it might spoil the promise they have laid all along. Considering the ample amount of comedic elements in the film, they could have stuck through it all along. First, there is parody employed in the film and even in Ina’s character. She lacks the skills of being the President and has constantly used obscure quotes to direct the problems in the country. The political and social satire was used for backdrop. It simply entrenches the errors present in the Philippine Society. The slapstick element has infused the film with a pragmatic tone which maintains its retrospective charm but with an updated style.

Ang Tanging Ina N’yong Lahat has great potential to fully develop the comedic structure which we excel in, provided that they will learn from their past works or even recent ones to make a comedy of superior caliber. The story does not require to be smart in all aspects but the invention of a story that is funny requires intelligence. I hope Wenn Deramas learns many things in his Ina Series. Their strong points are now presented and hopefully they stick to it. I am hoping to laugh from beginning till the end and I would look forward into seeing this in the future. This is quite possible as I have seen de Las Alas perform in concerts and it is really entertaining.

Charlie Koon's Rating:


You Changed My Life

You Changed My Life is the sequel to A Very Special Love, starring Sarah Geronimo and John Lloyd Cruz. It is a post-Valentine offering to Filipino moviegoers directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina.

You Changed my Life will be shown in theatres nationwide starting February 25, 2009.

You Changed my Life Official Website


When I Met U

When I Met U is a romantic comedy film directed by Joel Lamangan starring Richard Gutierrez and KC Concepcion. It is their Valentine movie offering after their first film shown last year entitled For The First Time.
It is currently being shown in theatres nationwide.

When I Met U Official Website


Simply Appetizing

Not my fingers!

Namets! can be purely explained as a sit down meal in a chic restaurant along the metropolis. It has an appetizer, a main course, a few entremets, and a sweet dessert. It has a good potential to amuse the mainstream audience. It is a love story to say the least with a touch of humor. If Namets! is the entire menu, I have to say that they have some delightful entrees.

Jacko (Christian Vasquez) gets bankrupt after losing a bet in a cockfight. He loses ownership of Puccini’s, an Italian Restaurant to a charismatic man famously called Boss Dolpo played by Peque Gallaga. Luckily, the hushed Dolpo loves food so much and was delighted with Jacko’s cooking skills. He was hired to be the cook of the restaurant in-the-making. Meanwhile, Cassie (Angel Jacob) is hired to be the food consultant. It surprises Jacko as Cassie is his former girlfriend, making him think that Cassie is making her sweet revenge.

Namets! is shown in last year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival. I was not able to watch any of the films in competition unfortunately as most of the films I wanted to see were all sold out. That is great to hear though. Namets! shows a pretty good grasp on how to make films concerning food with dynamism and originality. Its take on how to make a film more appetizing is incredibly seen. There are supplementary sequences oblique from the core story showing the Negrense Cuisine evolution. It also shows the proper way of eating the famous Bacolod Chicken Inasal. And of course, Ilonggo’s serious craving for Napoleones, a to-die-for glazed pudding.

Aside from the qualities of the film and the food, I would certainly agree with how the characters are molded within the story. Like what I have said in my Yanggaw review, my father is from Bacolod. He grew up in Silay for most of his childhood. We always go there for a fine vacation visiting our relatives. Jacko’s character is so true. I think its innate in most rich probinsiyanos with the way he lives. He changes his mind from one course to another until he ends up doing nothing. Most of my cousins are like that and it doesn’t matter because they have wealth and would have a back-up just in case. Their love for food is so serious and I certainly have lived up to this. Whenever we go to Bacolod, we always eat out and it is a must that the food is a hundred percent good or else. And why can’t I deprive to eat in that place? Their dishes are all sumptuous and I agree that the best time to eat La Paz Batchoy is during the afternoon.

Cassie’s character is the contrast of Jacko. She is independent and is well organized. Has a clear position in her life and has goals that she wants to accomplish. She appears to be rakish in her actions taking in consideration that she studies at Le Roche Culinary in Switzerland. All of a sudden, when love is again re-sparkled, she slows down a bit and savors the best thing life can offer. There could be a revenge factor on the first look with how she corresponds to Jacko. But her heart does not allow her to do so.

Namets! is a technically superior indie film. The interiors of both restaurants are laudably decorated. The music of Vince de Jesus is enchanting. The director Jay Abello and his writer Vicente Gracia Groyon has made an enticing film. I think Jacob is not an Ilongga but her accent will very much pass for an Ilongga socialite. And I commend her on how natural she gets into her character. Vasquez is well likely to play the part as he is a true-blooded Ilonggo.

The way to know Ilonggos are through food. I remember talking to my Auntie when she makes her classic Molo Soup. I will always ask her how she makes it. She will ask me back, what did you taste in the soup? And I will answer every ingredient I have tasted. Then we will go through the process and the secret ways of doing it until I realize that there is no secret but just common sense. Namets! is basic. I enjoyed watching it not because of acquired taste or cultural biases but it is because it is simple and pleasing to the senses.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Loose Ends


From the title alone, one might know what one should expect from the film. It has a lot of loopholes within the story and it could have been a deception on a higher level of understanding with what they have done with the story transition. Butas has three points of view. It tries to create a moralistic or perceptive dilemma in the minds of the audience. Each point of view represents one argument which is in grave contrast to the others. Anyway, this style is used to push the viewer to choose the one that is the closest to reality. I think in that sense it might be adequate. But in Butas, it is rather a machination on how they would keep up the twist of the story and a bit careless with its usage. I am not contented with how it turned out.

Butas (Loophole) is a film by Alejandro Ramos that tackles a forbidden affair of a married sluttish girl named Maya (Gwen Garci) and an equally promiscuous police officer named Virgo (Marco Morales). They meet in an abandoned house not far from the city and undertake the forbidden act of sexual congress. Little did they know that Maya’s husband Jake (Allen Dizon) is nearby waiting for an opportunity to kill the lover of his wife.

The first part of the story is tolerable as it conveys the point of view of Jake. He clinches at the ceiling of the house looking at all the lascivious doings of the two. The second point of view takes place from a video taken of the act. It shows much of the flaws in the film as this could have tricked the audience in so many ways. I don’t want to elaborate on this matter as this could easily give away the twists of the story. Anyway, the twist is nothing compelling or even groundbreaking. It lacks the basic necessity in weaving sequences where it must appear cohesively even in having different points of view. Not unless the director himself did that on purpose, hence altering the characterizations of the characters is part of the twist.

I am not also convinced on how everything has taken place in the climax of the film. Maya’s character was drugged by Virgo and could have easily loosened up. But she did at one point have the physical stamina to stand up and deliver all those stupid lines and commit something awful. It is very tacky in so many ways. And also, there are lots of jump cuts and blur sequences in the movie. Did the MTRCB have something to do with this?

The acting of the three main characters is passable. Both Garci and Morales (Walang Kawala) have already been undressed in their previous films that I saw. It is also apparent that Garci and Dizon could be the sexy loveteam indie films as they too are the couple in the erotic film Room 213. Butas could have been made for easy bucks. The various points of view Ramos has explored in the film are not ideal. Once it is woven in the film, you will see a lot of holes in it.

There are lots of excuses nowadays in film making. It is really confusing. But I am sure that once a film makes money, they could make another film. Hopefully they make a well made film, not necessarily circumventing the bareness or even the sexual activities. I understand that these are the facts of life.

Charlie Koon's Rating:


An Impregnable Dilemma

Angelic Abortionist

It doesn’t mean that if a film advocates the principle of righteous judgment, that it will mechanically be tagged as ‘a-must-see’ film. Many religious groups have already recommended Hilot. It is apparent because it advocates the stop of abortion. On a moral level, yes of course, something that is opposed to sin will perhaps get the endorsement from the scrupulous and conscientious sects of society. The bible says “Let who is without sin, cast the first stone.” and it must also be a lesson for all writers. Hilot is not a very good advocacy film. It gives an impression that if you’re a bad person, you will suffer ‘big time’.

Hilot is a film written and directed by Neal Tan. The story revolves around the mother and daughter relationship of Amparo and Carmen. Amparo (Melissa Mendez) is a midwife who practices the illegal procedure of abortion. While her diffident daughter Carmen (Empress Schuck) is the subject of animosity of her peers because of the mysteries revolving their family’s exclusiveness. One of Amparo’s daily chores is taking care of his bedridden husband. She really loathes him so much probably a take on the importance of sacrifice. Meanwhile, Amparo’s friend Claudia (Glenda Garcia) visits her and seeks another abortion. While she stays for her recovery, grisly events suddenly happen which make her decide to have a new life.

Hilot has good intentions with the film’s strive towards the eradication of abortion. But with the confines of film as a whole, it lacks polishing. The script makes too much effort in building up confrontations and moral arguments which is hypocritical in its manner. There is too much campaigning on how horrendous abortion is to the point wherein the characters have to suffer so much to the peak of being pointless. As a fellow writer, it is best to embrace the characters no matter how flawed they are. That is the best way to enlighten the viewers of their plight. I am not entirely saying that it is prohibited to make the characters suffer for their cruelty, but it has to be justly done without being too contrived. The problem is not that the film took a stand, but the way it presented its argument.

I am also concerned with Schuck’s performance. She looks distressed in all aspects but has managed to be a school achiever. It is a bit confusing especially with how she acts out the life of a daughter who lived in a house full of misery. She could have been used to it. I think she does not anymore require looking more sympathetic. She intrinsically has those qualities already. Mendez’ character could have been polished more. I like the angelic look on her face. It gives contrast to her character as the abortionist.

I am a religious person but I will not proffer my stance on this matter. Films are made to enlighten us. But I am sure that Hilot gives a confusing enlightenment for me to doubt its advocacy. Films do not need encouragement from the Church for it to be watched. We too are the Church. I love films. We critics love films. We love life. We are inclined to love characters even if they are iniquitous. We are pro-good films.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Desperate for Laughter

Go Girl! Girl Power!

Desperadas 2 is a not ingeniously made comedy film. The film tries to jest any possible in-joke or even tries to blend the vernacular with a twang of absurdity but it could not save the film from shame. Probably that’s the entire point of it. It has a ridiculous plot, executed in a tremendously sluggish manner. I could have laughed because of the misery of the shambled production, not due to the film’s hilarity.

The story is easy to follow through. There are four half-sisters, and all of them have chock-full of attitude problems. Courtney is played by the masa pleaser Marian Rivera. Her full-time problem is she dislikes having a baby despite being married to a not-so-hunky hunk husband Patrick (Will Devaughn). Isabella (Ruffa Gutierrez) is a matron who tries to control the career of her younger lover Vito (Jay-R). The suicidal Stephanie (Iza Calzado) is having a post-partum syndrome and picks a fight with everyone especially her husband Richard (TJ Trinidad). Patricia played by the wacky Rufa Mae Quinto gets troubled with her relationship with Congressman Fely played by Christian Vasquez.

Comparing all the characters, I personally think that Quinto’s character is adequately conveyed through the screen. Her trademark of dense humor will always be well-liked. But there is an extreme twist to the storyline. They have another half-sister who is played by Ogie Alcasid. She is Luga Luda, a tranny looking princess from the island of Kehwali in South Africa. She speaks gibberish but most of the time in an SMS way of conversing, I get the entire idea of it. Well, she is also desperate. She craves for twinks with an oblique carnivorous gusto.

Aside from their attitude which is compulsory in a way because of the film’s title, you can also see how women have discovered shopping for clothes and makeup makes them at ease. They smile throughout while sashaying in Bonifacio High Street. Not to mention that we are in a tropical country. They all looked glamorized under the unswerving heat of the sun. Despite their pathetic lives, they maintain a pretentious demeanor while they are strutting their stuff in public.

The technicalities for Desperadas 2 are nearing mediocrity. It looks rushed in most parts. Even dubbing is again evident with all the unsynchronized mouthing of words. Weaving the story of the dilemmas of these sisters looks nondescript. It appears to be sloppily written and the leverage for this kind of comedy is like the audience from the primordial times. It is not progressive at all. The comedy element in this film could not be defined even in various forms. It is opprobrious to the terms slapstick or burlesque for the dry humor it has given away.

I am sure that the lad paired with Luga Luda was ensorcelled. She has no redeeming loveliness in her. Despite the contrived goodness she has shown to her other sisters, we have to be reminded that she has carnivorous tendencies (literal sense) for crying out loud. And with the other women in this film, there is nothing that could be admired for their plight for being a free woman. It gives a negative light on womanhood and a shameful light on Filipino comedies especially to a jaundiced eye. There are other better comedy films than this. A film does not need any feministic concepts to make the film look pragmatic in context and superior in substance. Sometimes, it just causes a film to be very messy and hypocritical.

Charlie Koon's Rating:


Jay is directed by Francis Xavier Pasion and stars Baron Geisler. It was the unanimous choice for the Best Film Award in the Full-Length category of the 2008 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival competition. It was the first feature film in competition to be shown in the 2008 Venice International Film Festival’s Orrizonti (New Horizons) sidebar.
Jay will be shown in selected theatres in Metro Manila starting February 4, 2009.


Not Clever

Dude, punch me

Magkaibigan is a film written and directed by Jose Javier Reyes. The inevitable theme of death is protracted within the friendship of two middle-aged men where the other acquired cancer. We cannot underrate the rationale of most people on how repulsed they are towards this film. Probably skipping this film is not entirely missing a phenomenal film. I understand their grounds. They know better the hardships of everyday life.

Seriously, I am not confused with the intentions why this film is made. It is a tribute to Rudy Fernandez. It is such a shameful tribute with all the gimmickry in full might. It is just a scratch from the surface of the lives of the people surrounding a person who had cancer. They have greater advantage since they have a source and most of us are now internet savvy, research is almost trouble-free. But of course actual experience is irreplaceable. I am not entirely anticipating a discussion of the disease as this could be a saunter to the traverse. But on how the scenarios progress and how the characters behave and react, it does not offer something edifying. The scanty story treatment is revealed on how manipulative the film is. It has actuated in every lighting effects, gross prosthetics and even the acting.

Atoy is played by Christopher de Leon, a successful family man who happens to have been diagnosed with pancreas cancer. He is also given three months to live the same prognosis with Joyce in the film 100. But in 100, it is discussed that the cancer could be the advanced type so it has spread to most of the organs. Magkaibigan treated it like some sort of a curable type of pancreatic cancer (they could have crossed-fingers). Despite the mortality rate, together with his chubby friend Ruben (Jinggoy Estrada) they dealt with it like any man could.

I am thinking if that sounds inspiring. Undergo stomach-churning treatments despite how terminal the disease was. They could have patterned it with Rudy’s case which is peri-ampullary cancer although I am not sure if after a year or so of his treatment, the cancer cells spread in other organs. This is one of the films downfalls because accuracy is imperative in any kind of story they are trying to pitch. Especially on this case, this has lots of medical innuendos, facts are undeniably vital in the progression of the story.

The same thing with the characterization which I think in this case is more remorseful than witnessing a death of a loved one. Estrada’s character sounds too childish most of the time; I could have commended Atoy for being patient with him. Most of his outbursts are with his rapport with his equally nagging wife played by Maricel Laxa. But when the time comes to be serious, they sound too cliché with their affection. I certainly believe in de Leon’s portrayal. I also think that the wife of Atoy played by the lovely Dawn Zulueta made a decent portrayal of an anguished spouse caring for her husband.

The passage of dying that film has gotten into is meritorious apart from its other components. There are misleading instances in the script which tackles the subject with less sensibility and maturity. Albeit humor could also help ease the pain, it is not what I am pointing a sore finger at. It is mostly on how they have forgotten to acknowledge first the condition, their own emotions, and their sense of being there for the one they love. Yeah, I certainly understand that this is their first time to encounter such a dreadful event. But isn’t it central to have written it with much more forethought? Better insights could have been mentally synthesized.

Everything that is given to us whether it is of hardship will always be accompanied by opportunities. Magkaibigan could have just tackled it with less effort to make it more insightful. Even the ideas thrown upon us are confusingly to be of a good influence in making ourselves a better and enlightened individual. I have recently watched three films with similar themes on illness and death. And boy, it is mentally exhausting and it is emotionally unbearable. For those who are experiencing this kind of predicament in their life, you might need to watch something else that could help you uplift your well-being. Not unless you are succumbed to a clichéd way of dealing with death.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Critics Note:
The mental and emotional torture I am talking about is just a paradox. I would personally recommend those three films and it is way better than Magkaibigan. 100 is a film by Chris Martinez about a woman who also has pancreatic cancer. It is like a cake that is sugar-coated with dozens of humor; you will never be bored to death. Motorcycle is the recent work of Jon Red about the relationship of a father who has lung cancer and his son. Motorcycle is poignant film narrated in a non-linear mode, and with a multitude of secrets revealed on its climax. Lastly, Ron Bryant’s recent film entitled Alon. This is a film that knows how to demonstrate unconditional love, a finer way to understand someone who has illness and how we would let go of our emotions being neither overly dramatic nor indubitably pretentious.
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