Showing posts from 2017

BLISS (Jerrold Tarog, 2017)

Jerrold Tarog's "Bliss" is a maddening satire of the local entertainment industry, told in a surreal, nonlinear fashion. In this world, characters are outrageously crazy, one way or another, with Tarog never one to shy away from pushing the boundaries of genre cinema. 
Iza Calzado plays Jane Ciego, a famous actress who succumbs to an accident while filming her self-produced movie, a prestige picture being eyed for international recognition. As the character Jane recovers from the accident, we bear witness as she is sucked dry by her husband (TJ Trinidad), co-star (Ian Veneracion), director (Audie Gemora) and even her own mother (Shamaine Buencamino). But what could have been just a straightforward depiction of the ruthlessness of show business transforms into a psychological labyrinth, as Jane struggles to escape her demons. Tarog employs surrealism to portray Jane's consciousness, or subconscious, if you will, creating layer after layer of bizarre instances. 

GHOST IN THE SHELL (Rupert Sanders, 2017)

Whitewashing controversy aside, Hollywood's live-action adaptation of Masamune Shirow's manga "Ghost in the Shell" is a visual feast, among other things. Rupert Sanders, who will now be forgiven for the disaster that was "Snow White and the Huntsman," herein directs with a steady eye for detail. Sanders borrows some shot-for-shot iconic scenes from Mamoru Oshii's 1995 anime version, while setting up plenty of stunning images himself, through the help of lensman Jess Hall ("Transcendence"). In this new "Ghost" adaptation, 3D holograms adorn the facade of huge skyscrapers, which could be a reverse "Blade Runner" because much of the story, or at least the exterior scenes occur in daylight. Most of the visual composition focuses on circles, like the shape of Major's "apartment building" and the cemetery, which could either be a metaphor for the brain (the "ghost") or the narrative path which leads us to…

I'M DRUNK, I LOVE YOU (JP Habac, 2017)

Familiar romcom elements abound in JP Habac's feature-length debut "I'm Drunk, I Love You." There's the road trip, the beach, drinking (lots of it), a best friend/confidante/wingman and yes, unrequited love. However, the film treads rather dangerously on familiarity that it misses being a full-blown mainstream fare by only several inches. 
Co-written with Giancarlo Abrahan (Dagitab), "I'm Drunk, I Love You" centers on Carson (Maja Salvador) and her seven-year hell being best friend to Dio (Paulo Avelino). Carson likes Dio a lot, and for seven years she harbored her secret feelings for him. Jason Ty (Dominic Roco), Carson's other best friend is the only other human in the know of such intentions. 
The film opens days before both Carson and Dio graduate from college. Dio takes Carson and Jason Ty on an impromptu trip to La Union province for a music festival, with the two unaware of what lies ahead.
Enter Pathy (Jasmine Curtis-Smith), Dio's s…


2016 has been a great year for Philippine cinema, with a large variety of stories and genres, and a number of film festivals. It is also notable for the revamp of the Metro Manila Film Festival, which reverted to its roots of handpicking entries based on finished film rather than scripts. As such, the usual escapist fares were out, in favor of thought-provoking yet accessible films.

Despite this phenomena, this reviewer still had a hard time watching all films. For transparency's sake, the following films were not seen for consideration due to time and scheduling constraints:

* Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis by Lav Diaz
* Ang Taba Ko Kasi by Jason Paul Laxamana
* Expressway by Ato Bautista
* Lila by Gino Santos
* A Lotto Like Love by Carla Baful
* Straight to the Heart by Dave Fabros
* 1st Sem by Dexter Hemedez and Allan Ibanez
* Pitong Kabang Palay by Maricel Cariaga
* Kakampi by Vic Acedillo Jr.
* Pilapil by Johnny Nadela
* EDSA by Alvin Yapan
* Iadya Mo Kami by Mel Chionglo
* Kute by R…

DIE BEAUTIFUL (Jun Robles Lana, 2016)

"Die Beautiful" is a tale firmly rooted in contrasts and ironies. The narrative design itself, an examination of a trans woman's colorful life through the context of her unexpected death, lends to endless possibilities.
The film could not have been more timely, too, released in the midst of important LGBTQ milestones in Philippine history. In May, people elected the country's first openly transgender woman lawmaker, Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman. Just about two years earlier, Jennifer Laude, another trans woman was found dead in Olongapo City, an apparent victim of hate crime. Reporters and newscasters are stumbling whether to call her Jeffrey, or Jennifer. In a way, "Die Beautiful" mirrors both important events through the ups and downs of Trisha Echevarria's (Paolo Ballesteros) life.   
Rody Vera's script follows a nonlinear narrative, starting off with Trisha's unexpected death and journeying back to important events tha…