Filthy Man-whores

Innocent stare

Dolores is a careless tale of a young girl’s loss of innocence. Even with the character’s fragile moment, the film has already shattered. Not only is it broken into pieces but pulverized to an imperceptible form. Reservations may be raised since the acts within the film are immoral. But that could also be a remarkable advantage of showing the ugly facet of carnal pleasures since it successfully disgusts the spectator. Sad to say, that is not the case. Dolores is a failure. It is in crude state when it is made and so it crumbles without notice.

Actually, Dolores starts with a good performance from Mailes Kanapi, the mother of Dolores, and then deteriorates pathetically into a Z-movie. Dolores (Lara Buenaventura) is a young lass that lives with an almost portrait-like semblance of a Filipino family in rural areas. She lives with her parents with two brothers around and her grandfather. One day, her mother Maila (Mailes Kanapi) decides to go abroad. But Maila has sharp eyes and senses that Dolores’ grandfather has a licentious liking with her daughter but just like a true Filipino, she does nothing. She is not at ease in leaving but is left no choice as she dreams to have a better life. She reminds her husband to be watchful of Dolores during her breast-baring souvenir-like coitus. After she leaves, his brother (Dido dela Paz) pays a visit and decides to stay as his devilish tiger eyes are already laid to Dolores.

Noel Casaje writes and directs this ubiquitous tale with the help of Jerry Garcia (screenplay). The idea is simple actually since it just explores innocence amongst the youth. But it has gone on the wrong side of the fence when it accentuated the lust aspect of the filthy men. It does not really hurt to polish the story. Surely no blood will burst out while ejaculating. Roughly and blatant like the idea of Casaje, that is how the film goes. Sometimes, it looks like a lampoon, and in a millisecond it appears to adapt a Z-movie kind of attitude. If that is their demonstration of our wildest desires, then it could have pushed the envelopes further. But it doesn’t as it still has a formless grip. The shape of the film is difficult to imagine more so comprehend it.

I am sure Dolores has good intentions to fully express the freedom filmmakers ought to have. But they should also be mindful that we are not in a Battle Royale arena. There is already no harmony in our local films so fusing in a little integrity might not hurt their ego. It exudes more of the selfish proclivities of the filmmaker in seeing the final product. How did he care for the characters? Was it superficial or over-the-top? Is it one-dimensional? Did the characters have true emotions? Or does it lack consistency? This could have been pondered over and over.

Dolores is the weakest and messiest film I have seen in the Cinemanila Digital Local Competition. The film’s effect is like speaking without any consonants. And the worst part is I have to make a review and extend the unspeakable qualities of the film. It could really make my review the worst I could possibly write. How I wish all films are good. Sometimes, laughing through could make the trick. Voila, Dolores is an enjoyable, funny and ‘wacky eerily crazy amorphous dark comedy – a new genre to behold. Not!

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Listen to me

Bleeding Ears

It is now true that we could make a Hollywood kind of film not that that is a meritorious feat. Yam Laranas remakes his own film Sigaw (Shout) and advance it further for the world to see. The Echo (Alingawngaw) is the result. Although it is not even near its translation, I think it is more appropriate to the feel of the film. The film’s subtle vibrations is spot-on at the start and progresses to a coherent and rip-roaring highlight of our very own Iza Calzado. The Echo is a mood-bestowed horror thriller that begins with a sigh and ends speed high.

Bobby (Jesse Bradford) is an ex-convict who moves to an apartment building where his mother resides when she was alive. The death is quite mysterious and little by little, Bobby notices weird stuff in the apartment. Later on, he meets Carly (Jamie Bloch), his previous girlfriend. Carly is hesitant to rekindle the past affair but changes her mind after a while. While fixing the relationship he have with Carly, he starts to hear noises from the apartment. Strangely, it is a voice of a woman who is getting beaten by her husband. As the story dwells unto the mysteries deeper, not only the echo becomes clear; violent revelations will be witnessed if you choose not to listen.

The pivotal role Iza Calzado plays is Gina, a battered wife that asks for Bobby’s help. There is something weird in her manifestations. This is same with her daughter who plays her fancy piano along the corridor of the building. Although it is not implied, Gina could be a Filipina; well she is played by one, obviously. She is helpless and lonely. But in her eyes, we could see her lovely stares that evanesce within the begrimed walls and her sullen appearance. Calzado reprises her role with radiance, caught unaware that a battered look could still be damn gorgeous. It is my pleasure to help her out in that situation. But no single soul cares for the weeping beauty and the trouble slowly rises.

Eric Burnt and Shintaro Shimosawa supervises the screenplay Yam Laranas made together with Roy Iglesias. The improvements are more likely an expected result since it ought to be credulous even for remakes. And I think it is the best way to showcase the great aspects of the original idea. It really is a great accomplishment for Yam Laranas to bring to light how The Echo should be made into a film. Just like an echo, it is hard to capture where it comes and he wants the film to linger in our senses from all directions. And we have to recall and be mindful that Laranas excels in the cinematography department. It really is a showcase of his talent. If he gets to be subtle and could get the most out of the use of all the senses, he will achieve a symphony of scares. Even though the traditional horror stories are a healthy exercise of connecting with an audience, he could still squeeze more ideas that no one has possibly gripped – it is for him to discover. With that, he will be a true master of Horror. The Echo is one of those credible horror films but to us Filipinos, it is a triumph.
Charlie Koon's Rating:

Z for Zloppy


I too could emphasize my dizappointment with how Joel Lamangan could actually make a film that is roughly run-of-the-mill. It amazes me how his mediocrity can still surprise people. I Love Dreamguyz has queasy visualz to begin with, followed through with a grubby story progression. The film is like choking during orgazm ‘in reverse’ while in a coma. Someone should wake them up az they are likely having a dizorder called sleep apnea. They might drown in their own saliva. If this is what the audience might have dreamed for, then so be it. And if you snooze midway, there is still the Z factor offered as a bargain.

I Love Dreamguyz is about a group of young guys who aspires to be dancers in Japan. The group is composed of five cheeky gym buff guys, having different life stories to tell - in snippets. The group leader is Rico (Marco Morales) which I could remember has no character backbone. His presence only intensifies when Jake (Jay-L Dizon) becomes close to him. Jake has a live-in partner Jenny (Niña Jose). Alvin (Sherwin Ordonez) is the beloved of the flamboyant gay talent manager Didi (Jao Mapa). Even if the story segues to Didi’s intolerable gayness and networking scam sub-conflicts, Jake is the heart of the story. He is likened by Rico who has no story to tell but has a wang to show. The other two guys are like opposing magnets. Benjo (Miggy Valdez) is the battered son while Michael (Mhyco Aquino) is the hotheaded gigolo.

I could not question the lust factor between Rico and Jake after the premise has been laid (no pun intended). Just like the concept in the product life cycle, Lamangan is quite deliberate in hauling out all possible carnality without further notice. It has been a franchise all along and the two young guys having sex with each other, not once but a couple times do matter for his vision. The sequence is not anymore relevant and substantial. The insistence might be somewhere in the decline point and so Lamangan might be avoiding any possible risk. Its shoddy production is the unyielding proof that it is near to extinction and for now, he could only milk the cow.

If this could be a trend, then what could have I Love Dreamguyz instilled in the present state of Philippine Cinema? The truth is that, a prolific director like Joel Lamangan will always embark on catering the sweet hot-dogged spaghetti the majority would delightfully consume. Would anyone have a problem with that? There will be hecklers for that matter and I assume it is no two-way channel. Lamangan has static visions and it appears in the film. But at least the film has someone who could still be honed in the dramatic genre. She could fake decency and might as well get well-rounded roles if the franchise turns obsolete. She is none other than Niña Jose.

I Love Dreamguyz could be the expected downfall of a mainstream veteran director. The film appears to be an extremely poor mise-en-scene home-made video like production. Despite the negativity, Joel Lamangan still makes films and makes even more. He might have an easy rapport with the majority perceived in the commercial success of Walang Kawala and Heavenly Touch. But for people having exotic tastes and bigotry, he will always be a failure. But he has strengths which I could affirm; he is an actor’s director. But I have issues with the tawdriness and smudgy qualities he has for now. He is expected to come up with a better output. I hope a good sleep could do the fixing – no nightmares, hopefully.
Charlie Koon's Rating:

Spoiled Humor

I'll kell you Yaya!
Yaya and Angelina: The Spoiled Brat Movie is like a pacifier to appease avid followers who just can’t get enough of this duo. It was originally made for a television sitcom which explores the relationship of a brat and her nanny that becomes her eager prey. Well at least the amusement is already built in place. It could easily infect laughter for their antics which also brought them to fame and become household personalities. But let us be a little shrewd as the margin of merits in the silver screen is categorically above the mark of lame topical gags from the television.

Well, the film is like backtracking the event before the rich family of Angelina got her affable and martyrish nanny. Angelina (Ogie Alcasid) is this eight years old girl, not a bubbily-baby but a pygmy sized bratling who drives her nannies mad with her extreme frolics. She may perhaps believe that a nanny must endure all the throbbing dilemmas since she knows she could get away with it. One day, there is a big explosion in their mansion and causes her ‘back then’ nanny (Regine Velasquez) to be hospitalized – she never comes back. Then, a new nanny walks in their home showing glee in her face and her name is Rosalinda.

Rosalinda (Michael V.) plays the next in line to be beatified for exemplary nanny-endurance in taking care of the rascal. The next thing she might not be aware of is that, does she have what it takes to pass death-defying exploits that Angelina is craving? Well, at least we could see in her eyebrows that she has still some time-off to pluck it out and stay in style. The key element of this comedy is to be a willing victim. And the audience itself is an extension to that.

The comedy devices they are using in the film are quite sufficient. It has a mixture of parody and heavy use of slapstick. Although the execution of the entire gag is deplorable since the film is only making reference to its television sitcom counterpart typical. It took the adventure literally and sometimes if it gets executed by the actors, the creasing moments look intentionally made for television but not for a film. I think the action sequences have its stall since it involves cues that should look hilarious and yet it looks sloppy and superfluous. The improvements could have been more with its overall aesthetics of comedy such as its treatment. I’m laughing in slow motion and that is quite phony if you will ask me. Laughing backwards could be more fun.

I might not be the right person to be asked if the film as it is could be an enjoyable treat when it is available in DVD. But mind you, television shows could be really enjoyable that is why Yaya and Angelina has the edge if it is done with caution. I have always enjoyed slapstickish comedy films which may not necessarily imply that their dumb. There is no excuse for dumb so I am no member of the Intelligentsia Club and be bigoted towards the film – no hard feelings. It’s just not the cream of the crop.

If you are a fanatic, no one can prohibit you from watching the film. People can easily admire Ogie Alcasid and Michael V. for their persistence to create characters that could be best exaggerated and charming – you bet. Alcasid has been playing opposite sex roles like Luga Luda in Desperadas 2 and Frida Akikla in Oh My Girl!. Gender switching could easily smash in instant laughter. Alcasid has created a better character now than the previous two.

Yaya and Angelina: The Spoiled Brat Movie could be a deadlock sign for an enjoyable treat in films. There might be a couple of laughing moments but its stay only at that point and they have to reassess that farcical comedies should have tight gears. It should deviate from the lackluster style of television as film appreciation could be astute. Yaya and Angelina might be the Starsky and Hutch of local films and we might expect more shenanigans from these two determined comedians.

Charlie Koon's Rating:


Cinema One Originals 2009

Cinema One continues with the highly anticipated 2009 Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival as it kicks off on November 13 to 17 at the Gateway Cineplex Cinema at the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City with its five finalists : Si Baning Si Maymay at ang Asong Si Bobo, Bala Bala, Paano Ko Sasabihin, Wanted:Border and Maximus & Minimus.

Please click
here for the schedule.

Other films will also be shown like Yanggaw, Kinatay, Dose, Confessional, Serbis, Lola, Tirador, Altar, Masahista, Himpapawid.

Movie Ticket Price: P120.00
For block screenings and discounts, please contact Jeng Encabo at jeng.encabo@gmail.com.


Dark Fruits

Who are you?

It is fairly meritorious what Alvin Yapan has done, he took the elements of common Filipino fear and infused it into his current Cinemalaya offering, Ang Panggagahasa kay Fe, under the banner of pontifical local feminism no less. As with small-town frights, the bucolic atmosphere is first scratched by a gossip, seemingly innocuous whispers, a small bird disemboweled on the clean grass. Then it begins, under the picnic cloth of hardworking rural artisans and artificial marital civility lie a darkness that if viewed closely, is scarcely different from the desire that created it.

And how cleverly the disconcerting insinuations have been woven, which along with a few stylistic flourishes, effectively comprise the better half of the film. It almost has that Blair-Witchian factor, I never took a second thought on how disturbing a patchily woven basket of mangosteens could be. Along with some sibilant window calls stitched on a quiveringly restrained but brilliant musical score, the production has achieved a contextually nuanced film that burrows itself into a reluctantly curious consciousness. Yapan is truly a director of his time, technically proficient and with a flair for emotional urgency. Yet the film is not entirely preachy, not exactly what I would expect from something endorsed by the Women’s Crisis Center. Still it is a cautionary tale, shattering the stereotype that all abused women are bleating weaklings. Irma Adlawan’s Fe is no wilted lamb, but her helplessness provides another crude specter of societal inequity, just the type of message the foundations are gunning for. Hence it is unclear if the movie’s core lies in eliciting fear or social outrage. If you wish to scare, suck blood, if you want a rally, paint with it. One must not push to do both. The ambivalence could certainly be off-putting to the pedestrian gatherer, but what do you expect from an indie film?
Another aspect of Panggagahasa that fulfilled expectations was the title character. Rapture, rape, and the ravenous were all portrayed with an unyielding constancy that only Adlawan could deliver, the male characters only served as rocks on the opposite sides of the fulcrum. Ever since Pusang Gala, Adlawan has already exhibited a noteworthy thespian range that could approximate the breath of the modern Filipina’s psyche. In this movie that frail and elusive landscape is accentuated more with excruciating quietude than screams of pain, truly a Filipina proclivity. Black-eyes veiled under stupid excuses, ignorance mistaken for womanly trust, so silent the usages of that unfunny wound. The pleasure is portrayed similarly, but the fact that it was portrayed at all is reason enough for celebration. True to his artistic predilections, Yapan is tastefully fearless in his endeavors. The rape scene was graciously no Irreversible and the longer take of Fe burying the black fruits of her trepidation yielded so much more of the intrinsic state-of-affairs of an abused individual.

Mainstream horror films could certainly learn from this movie. Presently there is a cavity that is clawing to be filled. The franchise should start realizing that in fear, less is more. Directors from Thailand understand this, so why is the catching up so belated. This is what Yapan employed which made his work quite effective that is until the ending, definitely risky and perhaps potentially disastrous almost to the point of negating the effect that the entire movie has accumulated. But the risk is a product of his generation. Weaned with magical realism his was an expected seduction, ultimately to show the object of dread only for it to share an almost avuncular caveat to the furniture-making enemy lover. It could have been worst. I thought Fe was going to get banged on the newly carved Sala piece. In the end, post-modern directors cannot help but to be ironic, whether they decry postmodernism or not. It’s charming though. Why choose your carabao-oriented husband Dante (Nonie Buencamino), or Arturo (TJ Trinidad) for that matter when you can have a real man, one who’s not really a man, who lives in a tree of undying love. Who says there’s no romance in fear?
Written by: Alex Milla (Guest Critic)
* Ang Panggagahasa kay Fe
(The Rapture of Fe) will be shown in Robinsons Indiesine from November 11-17, 2009 (
Official Website)
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