Villa Estrella

Villa Estrella is a suspense horror film directed by Rico Maria Ilarde. It stars Geoff Eigenmann, Maja Salvador, Jake Cuenca, Shaina Magdayao, Ronnie Lazaro, John Estrada and Liza Lorena.
It will be shown in theaters nationwide starting July 1, 2009.


Dose is a film written and directed by Senedy Que. It stars Yul Servo, Fritz Chaved and Irma Adlawan. It is about the unlikely closeness between a curious 12-year-old boy named Edy and a lonely gardener Danny, the line that defines love and friendship, passion and trust inevitably intersects.
It will be shown in Robinsons Indiesine starting July 1, 2009.

Charlie Koon Film Review: Dose
Charlie Koon's Rating:


My Fake American Accent

My Fake American Accent is directed by Onnah Valera and Ned Trespeces. It is a slice-of-life workplace comedy following the lives of technical support call center agents in the span of six months. Speaking with a fake American accent is a prerequisite for the job. This ensemble comedy is an inside look into the maddening, sleep-deprived, caffeine-fuelled lives of those who ply their trade in the call center industry.
My Fake American Accent will be shown at Robinsons Galleria Indie Sine starting June 17, 2009.


Reel Freedom

Trio Mio
And so the night came when all the free peoples of our beautiful home-metropolis detached themselves from the substrate of their functional particularities in order to hark to another form of substantiated simulacrum which the philistines refer to as ‘indie culture’. There they were, the milk-lipped movie enthusiasts pseudo-mingling with the culturati of the blogosphere, all in their cat-eyed, long-haired, vitriolic glory. The air was rife with the colors of freedom, and so it should, as Raya Martin’s much anticipated and grant-bestowed Independencia puts the waiting crowd in a rare thirst, that which can only be quenched by a decent independent movie or as a matter of fact, a free movie, the latter being immune to any scruples of public decency and choosiness.
But as it turns out the audience did make a choice. Perhaps palled by Hollywood’s asphyxiating tinsel truck or the flesh parade of the quotidian Filipino indie film, they are starting to realize that maybe it’s time the directors stop fucking up and start making real movies. Whether Martin is the bearer of good things to come has yet to be seen but at least the good tidings are at hand. His film scintillates in a stylistic sense. The studio scenes are both innocuously attractive and deliberately nostalgic, trying to evoke no doubt the irony of the Philippine-American war set in an extinct aesthetic of a made-up American movie reminiscent of Hollywood’s early, in-studio period. Succinctly, the whole movie feels like a perambulating diorama. The claustrophobic forest with its synthetic weather and painted backdrop introduces Martin to an international audience as well as to his own countrymen as a technically proficient twenty-something colt with a flare for sepia tones and Lutgardo Labad’s classical music. Certainly the soundtrack is eerily gorgeous and the scenes maintaining a static loveliness thanks to the unmoving camera (again part of the aesthetic irony) but the film in general lacked the sensual violence that could catapult Martin’s work into the realm of masterpiece.
But the movie itself is not a failure; it is in fact direct evidence of Martin’s increasing maturity. He opted for a more conventional plot, quite peculiar since the movie was intended for Canne’s Un Certain Regard which tends to be more experimental. The scenes were less sprawling, less Antonionian, and certainly followed a clear and accessible trajectory. The subject matter also lacks the self-indulgence of a lot of Filipino indie films. The merits are still rather closeted but ineluctably undeniable. It has always been the opinion of this blog that the public has been yearning for stories to be told. Never mind art, never mind the idiotic prettiness that flowers in the breasts of dead rats and subtle angles. The days of the art films are over, should be over. If a director wants to find true art, he should look for it through the eyes of his tangible audience, not in the limpid pools of his own abstractions.
And such palpable forces Martin’s characters find themselves in. Confronted by the encroaching realities of war, a mother and her son are forced by their own volition to live in the forest, left with their human devices in an inhuman wilderness. They are typical Filipinos, moved by a typical hunger and a typical lust. It was intriguing to watch Sid Lucero, a young and obedient naïf, masturbating on the riverside, not a staple scene for most period films. The acting was itself like that of a 19th century play with de Rossi shining as the most natural despite the classical dialogue. Characterization in general is presented in two layers, the one seen by the outside world and the other intrinsic landscape conveyed through dreams and taciturn stares. Though the ending required a little prestidigitation, overall the characters are moved by the hackneyed and powerful hand of nature, to which they respond as the plot does, with a very Filipino sense of dignity and equanimity. Women are raped, seniors expire, children, like sylvestrian ghouls, come and go like the blinding dusk-edge, but the banana leaves must still be laid, the twig floor swept with the good ol’ broom. It is always a difficulty to live despite of your freedom. Before sidling towards the movie house I noticed Anita Linda entering the restroom, it was probably a sign telling me that though the movie I was going to watch free of charge, some things cost more than we expect.
Written by: Alex Milla (Guest Critic)
Independencia is shown in the recently concluded 14th French Film Festival held in Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong during the Philippine Independence Day (June 12).
Independencia also competed in the Un Certain Regard section of the recently concluded The 62nd annual Cannes Film Festival held from May 13 to May 24, 2009.

Faux Blood Almighty

Promise, I'll visit you.
I am actually covering my face in some scenes in the film Dalaw. For that, I have to apologize. To be honest, I am not really fond of watching scary films because I palpitate right away. It’s not because I am scared but more with the calculated horrifying apparitions that come up every now and then. Dalaw has a lot of it and most of it has no freaking logic. I think it’s not entirely new to Asian Horror film-maniacs since they are used to the careless shock approach. But if we will look carefully, it really has no congruency to the story.
The story starts with Laarni (Katrina Halili) visiting an abandoned house. She is trying to make a fabulous documentary for the TV show ‘Ikatlong Mata’. After a few negotiations with the spirit to show up, she screams endlessly. After a few days, she is now in a state of shock and is in her sister’s (Matet de Leon) care. Her sister views the video footage and we are now introduced to the life of the ghost who is known as Estella. She shows some erratic behaviors and somewhat has a dual personality. She cares for his father like a husband. One day, her mother (Glydel Mercado) died after being slapped by his father (Tonton Gutierrez). A fatal slap, how scary is that. Guilty of the incident, his father locked Estella in the room before hanging himself.
There are hints when Estella appears or when something gruesome might happen. When she is still alive, while having a severe pain in her menstruation, someone dies. There are local hearsays that ladies having menstruation will be visited by Estella. But the film incorporated this haphazardly. The ghost has really no purpose with all her emergence, whose prime aim is to scare the audience without solid connection to the scenarios. It appears to me that the particular ghost can appear to almost anyone as long as it is being recorded by the camera. She is just shocking but not really scary. The ghost is wearing a white gown wearing a pale make-up and semi-long wavy hair. And why is her mouth and eyes wide open by the way? Maybe they just want to scare without entirely conscious if the script is seamless or not.
I have noticed in Joven Tan’s film that the cinematography is quite superior, helmed by Romy Vitug. This is also the case in his film Tutok. But both stories are sickening. Dalaw is too impulsive to shock. Even if they try to establish the scenes with the use of flashbacks, it lacks a sophisticated approach to make even the illogical things acceptable to the viewers. They have already tackled tell-tales and ghost legends so it’s really on their hands to infuse the story with more convincing contraptions. The character of Estella as a ghost has really lost a better purpose. Why is she appearing in awkward ways? Is she making revenge through scaring people? Oh please, we are not kids to be tricked. They have to dig to the core of her apparitions.
Just like in the film, Laarni is inspired to create the documentary that she read from a tabloid. Writers also do the same thing. We get inspirations from headlines, shocking events and tragedies. We fuse more devices and create impossible scenarios and give logic to each scenario and character for it to appear as wholly credible. Dalaw lacks polishing and even its inspiration has no substance to make it more compelling.
Charlie Koon's Rating:

Point to the Ass

Oh pleazzz, don't shoot me. Oh pleazzz.

is the worst film I have seen so far. Joven Tan tackles media exploitation and rebellion in general. However, his rendition is too frail to be convincing. The rebels have neither clear objectives nor demands. Tantrums could be more descriptive of their grisly behavior. We as an audience would like to know even a gist of what they are fighting for. Sentiments are not sufficient for us to understand their cause. Another truism the film tackles is media sensationalism. I am sure that Tutok is a waste of money. But if you have lots of money, then go waste it.

The story is very simple which I think was inspired by the abduction of Ces Drilon months ago by the Abu Sayyaf. Although the film has no intention of showing humanity as it lingers more on the dark aspect, it could be classified as a noir film since all the characters are pessimistic and the subject matter itself is obnoxious. Roman (Emilio Garcia) is a paranoid news reporter who believes that he is always bypassed by his colleagues. He gets to view a video tape from rebels asking to be noticed through the killing of an innocent man. Although his superior has no belief in the material, Roman still goes to the jungle together with his faithful friend and cameraman Zaldy (Allen Dizon). He believes it is his chance to become famous with this death-defying act.

I could not be deceived with the films encroachment with sensitive topics and proclaim its artistry and significance. Tutok has nothing to offer since it even stays behind on the core of their ideas. Even the rebels are just too few for us to believe the significance of their ideologies. Ten rebels are alarming to our national security? Even the fickle-minded Roman would not even dare touch the topic. This is a part wherein noir elements in films must still have proper logic for the story to be credible enough. (But Tutok just rides on the bandwagon of noir without actually achieving it. It’s more of a faux noir.) The characters do not simply want a dream to take place. They could have at least added more extras as rebels just for film integrity. Anyway, they still lack the necessary thought for the rebels as a whole, they should have conceived more about their aims, motivations, drives and visions. Humanity is shown in the film by showing a rebel having oral sex with a fellow rebel, which could arouse the curiosities of their sexual desire.

It’s disappointing to watch a film that has big aims in covering thought-provoking issues but does not incite any hint of interest to its entirety. Even the acting is not synthesized well because the characters have no souls. They appear as caricatures of intriguing personalities, forgetting that these people also have hearts. The film itself should be shut-off as they don’t offer any value that could be worthy for your time and more so your hard earned money.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Chummy Forever

Half moon, Full moon

With Wenn Deramas’ film Ang Tanging Ina N’yong Lahat, I gave a smirk. But not with his latest film BFF (Best Friends Forever). It is a polished version of how he works as a filmmaker inclining to be a crowd pleaser in the comedy genre. And even when the film is made to accommodate the much-loved masses for economic rationality, they are predisposed to deliberately perk up the comedy craft all the while. I am not being sarcastic. It’s just that the previous film is a shame to comedies in general. Its story is insensible, forced to commit the deadly sin of greed without reliable merits with the end product. I am comparing it because BFF is an example of a film that is entertaining, funny and ingenious in relative terms.

Don’t get me wrong here; BFF is not made to be a spectacular work of art. But the art of comedy that Deramas has fused in is more commendable. These are on the grounds of comic execution and swift combination of comedy and drama. The heavy usage of slapstick is very laudable mostly because the lead actress Sharon Cuneta could do all those crazy antics without looking inadequate in comic timing. Ai-ai delas Alas grace the limelight once again with a finer composition of her comedic persona.

I really love comedies especially slapstick films made by Chaplin and Gaidai. This is why I admire how slapstick is incorporated in this film. I know most people think that slapsticks are a major turn-off albeit antiquated. But if you come to think of it, it’s merely loathed because the execution is nearly detrimental to the idea of slapsticks which is; it has to be perfectly timed and clear-cut. Cuneta and delas Alas merely lets loose and make fun of their selves which I think works miraculously. Cuneta is not even anxious to be poked fun with her plump demeanor. They also exploited their awkward behaviors and human flaws like the glorified elongated chin of delas Alas. It’s not insulting and its execution is admirable with the customary whacky sound effects utilization.

The film starts with the funeral of Tim (John Estrada). He is the husband of Honey (Sharon Cuneta). Frances (Ai-ai delas Alas) walks in the room veiled in black, create a mini-scandal as she is known to be the mistress of Tim. The subsequent scenarios are mostly flashbacks, giving us the story of how these two people establish their friendship. Honey is a mother of three who is getting frustrated with the cold behavior of her husband. She suspects that Tim has a mistress after seeing a pair of lingerie at the trunk of the car. She was counseled by her mother played by the flamboyant Gina Pareño that she has to work on her appearance mostly on her corpulent figure. She applies in a gym where she is helped emotionally and physically by the cheerful and fun-spirited Frances.

Another dimension tackled in the film dwells on relationships, family affairs and friendships. There are tips to wives with philandering husbands just like what Frances talks about appreciation, emotional connection and even our sexual fantasies. These boost a stagnant relationship which could be learned from an undeclared mistress. It’s not all flippancy but a paint of drama is apparently important as the film depicts lives of distressed people.

BFF has a good script written and it’s a bit alarming for the efforts made to make the film wholesome. I had fun watching this film as I could see that slapstick comedies are again alive and in good form. He could be more experimental on this aspect as anything that looks crazy, absurd, and even illogical as long as the execution is crisp, could be amusing. It adheres in theory with what slapstick is all about. This is the best comedy he has made so far. I think the main problem is, will the audience take this seriously? Comedies are best appreciated if we aim to believe the laughter and not defy the act of laughing, which is ridiculous.

Charlie Koon's Rating:



UPCAT is one of the films included in last year's Cinema One Originals 2008. UPCAT is a film directed by Roman Olivares starring Felix Roco, Yas Neri, Joseph Roble, Bembol Roco, Mark Gil, Malou Crisologo and Richard Quan. It is about two teenage boys who believe that passing UPCAT is the passport to their dreams. This film is the top grosser of the said film festival.
It will be shown in Indiesine from June 10-16, 2009.

Charlie Koon's Film Review of UPCAT
Charlie Koon's Rating:

UPCAT Official Website


Baby Angelo

Baby Angelo is a film directed by Joel Ruiz. It stars Archie Alemania, Mark Gil, Katherine Luna, Ces Quesada, Dante Balois, Alchris Galura, Cedrick Lamberte, Jojit Lorenzo and Diana Malahay.It will have an all-day screening from June 3-9, 2009 and an all-month screening every 1pm for the whole month of June.

Baby Angelo Official Website

Delusions and Misunderstandings

I'm freaking out, dude!

Agaton & Mindy is a story that lingers between the anti-romantic and the anti-tragedy of the formulaic love stimulated stories. It’s a film directed by Peque Gallaga with a script written with Lore Reyes and Vicente Gracia Groyon. This film might not be liked by most people not because it is terrible, rather it is something unusual. The misconception is the core of this tale to be taken just how it is presented.

This might be the first romantic film that could also be a character study of two unlikely individuals. Agaton (Chase Vega) is a loner, mysterious and somewhat restrained from showing an emotional connection with anyone. He is abandoned by his mother when he is still young. Mindy (Louisse delos Reyes) is quite the opposite, mainly due to her manic episodes, she always cusses at everyone and is stuck with her made-up fantasies. They get to meet in a dance class handled by the fiery, outspoken and sensual dance mentor Tanya (Cherie Gil). Their pairing is awkward at first. But along the way, these two opposite polarities flourish yieldingly.

Agaton & Mindy not just tackles love. It gives reverence to theatrical dance as a whole. Some might not be able to relate with the sheer beauty of this craft. The sensuality in their dance routine is not based on symbolisms. It is more on the outpouring of emotions, the desires, and the inexorable manifestations of two loving individuals. Instead, they use dance as the electricity of being in love, words might not be enough. Art is a form of expressing love which could go sideways with the love for the craft. It is usually inspired by such passionate and bewildering complexities.

What the audience might not be able to understand is Mindy. She is a typical angsty young girl who seeks to be noticed. She has a bipolar disorder. This film manifests a clear consideration of a person who has this kind of mood disorder. What you see is what it is. What you might not understand in this film is more likely awareness. She is not just a brat. She deals with her self in the dark. She is unlikable and hotheaded but this is her struggle. Agaton might not understand what she’s dealing with. But love is a cataract in the eye, and the haze is quite lovely. It underlines the fine qualities and acknowledges the flaws.

Upper class individuals are mostly present in the film. Could this be a nuisance? I hope not. They are branded as conyos of today’s generation. They love to socialize and use jargons on a daily basis. There are no conflicts between the social classes. The film is a representation of society in general.

Agaton & Mindy is not the usual love story. It tackles a character that is not common to romanticists especially to a character having psychological troubles and it is the cause of the story’s conflict. The problem could not be controlled and it’s not within anyone’s hands. It’s a self struggle; a struggle that would be ignored by most. Could love save this kind of relationship? I think that would depend on how we deal with the reality, not only for practicality’s sake, but more on how we could synthesize our own support system. Nearing the end of the film, these two characters did not only show film presence as a love pair, they could also win our compassion without too much hypocrisy of their true identity. I understand very well their plights, mostly of Mindy. It’s complicated to consume but love brings us back to reality. Perhaps love is not madness, but rather an act of beautiful sanity.

Charlie Koon's Rating:
Related Posts with Thumbnails