It’s that time of the year again. It’s Metro Manila Film Festival. Again.
Much has been said about the MMFF. To expound on how shitty and commercialized this festival has become is to just preach to the choir at this point.
But I wonder if this year’s festival would earn just as much as last year’s, considering the failed economic policies that plagued the Philippines in 2018. The enactment of TRAIN Law and the rising inflation have greatly affected the typical MMFF market, and the people with money to spare are too disillusioned (or too high brow) to watch Vice Ganda deliver the same tired jokes over and over again.
(Un)fortunately I don’t have access to any of the Magic 8 movies. Still I watched the trailers and I wrote some notes too.
Now let’s begin the killing. Charot.
Rainbow Sunset (dir. Joel Lamangan)
What strikes me here is the faded glow aesthetic, as if the colorist/cinematographer decided to render a glow filter on the final cut and everyone in the editing room thought it was a job well done. Rainbow Sunset ends up looking like a gaudy school project similar to those congratulatory tarps with sky blue background and flying doves.
But tacky colors aside, the trailer presents us Tanging Yaman version 34 with homosexuality instead of Alzheimer’s at the core. The premise would have been subversive 5 years ago but doing this in 2018 is hardly brave or bold (this is MMFF after all). We get the typical family drama elements, from a senior family member being the pivot for the main conflict, to the peripheral families dealing with different shades of dysfunction. What a shitty premise for such a talented cast.
Plot prediction: someone will die or will get close to dying and everyone will reconcile in the spirit of Christmas. #FamilyIsLove
One Great Love (dir. Enrico S. Quizon)
Can we all just agree that Kim Chiu is a terrible actress? Ten years into her career and she still commits amateur acting mistakes (e.g. awkward kunot-noo acting right at the very first scene). And when she sees JC De Vera at a coffee shop, she stiffens her face and portrays an expression of neither shock nor grief — try diarrhea, pwede pa.
One Great Love seems to follow a trite love story involving a conflicted best friend. There’s nothing fresh here, although this seems to be a hard drama versus the typical romcom fare. Maybe this is Star Magic’s ploy to get the audience to take Kim Chiu seriously? #WorkshopPaMore
Plot prediction v.1: Kim will remain single and will realize that her one great love must be herself (thank u, next).
Plot prediction v.2: Kim and JC will start over again and Dennis Trillo will let Kim go because that’s what you do for your one great love. (Nakakasuka, next!)
Mary, Marry Me (dir. RC delos Reyes)
As most movies in the MMFF, Mary, Marry Me is also significantly hinged on the star power of its cast and the tabloid headlines to which their names are attached. Real-life sisters Toni and Alex Gonzaga are the two bidas while Toni’s former boylet Sam Milby completes the triangle. There’s also the kabit/sulutan issue at the center of the plot which reminds us of a prior intriga concerning Erich Gonzales and Paul Soriano’s alleged extra-marital affair. #juicy
But save for the salacious implications and the Gonzaga sisters’ tried-and-tested brand of humor, there’s nothing else interesting about this film. The jokes in the trailer are insufferable lines of nonsense and Alex resorts to her usual ineffective slapstick antics. This is hands down the most boring movie in this year’s roster.
Plot prediction v.1: Sam Milby is a crook who’s only interested in Alex for shady reasons, and the sisters will realize that, as always, blood is thicker than water. #boooring
Plot prediction v.2: Toni’s hunch against Sam Milby’s intentions is simply a red herring; Sam turns out to be genuinely in love with Alex and the older sister will give way for her younger sister’s happiness. Still, #boooring.
Otlum (dir. Joven Tan)
This isn’t Shake, Rattle & Roll but it does involve a barkada and an ominous bida-kontrabida in the face of Jerome “Da Who” Ponce. I don’t know half of Otlum’s starlet ensemble, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But is it true that one of the top-billed actors is a UAAP athlete? Yikes?
Anyway, I didn’t like how the trailer explained the origin of the word “otlum.” The explicit spoon-feeding proves how the minds behind these movies always assume the worst of their audience: they think we’re stupid, period. The trailer also reveals only bits and pieces of the premise: an outsider trying to fit in, an initiation rite, and an eponymous enemy designed after The Grudge’s Toshio Saeki. Solid yikes!
Plot prediction: everyone’s going to die except Buboy Villar. #ChocoNaGatas
Aurora (dir. Yam Laranas)
Anne Curtis has reached a point in her career in which she can do movies that may tank in the box office and it wouldn’t hurt her cred in any way. Is this what she’s doing with Aurora? Hmm.
That said, Aurora’s trailer doesn’t seem to offer much either. There could be social commentary on finding the missing (#desaparecidos) but this is MMFF so I wouldn’t reach that far. Maybe Aurora is just a straightforward takbo-sigaw-takbo thriller with a thin plot, although I do get a Sixth Sense vibe.
Plot prediction: the young girl sees dead people and Anne is one of them dead people. Or they’re all dead, including the kid. #YamNightShyamalan
The Girl in the Orange Dress (dir. Jay Abello)
Ang ganda ni Jessy Mendiola, ano? Too bad that’s all she has to offer (see Kim Chiu, One Great Love). But Jessy’s role in The Girl in the Orange Dress does not seem to require any complicated character internalization. She just has to say her lines, avoid looking straight into the camera, and act happy or confused or pretty. Can one act pretty? Hmm.
But while the trailer seems to show us a fresh take on the romance genre, further scrutiny reveals typical romcom tropes. The movie kicks off with a comedy-of-errors encounter and the lead characters are of unequal social status. There’s also a third character that provides further conflict (i.e. love triangle c/o Ria “Another Da Who” Atayde). I think the critical success of this movie will largely depend on the lead actors’ chemistry, which — judging by the trailer — does not seem to exist unfortunately.
Plot prediction: Jessy + Jericho will be separated from each other but will find themselves in the same place at the same time years after their initial encounter.
Fantastica: The Princess, The Prince, and the Perya (dir. Barry Gonzales)
I see an inter-dimensional fantasy adventure, a big name comedian as the lead actor, and a cast that includes a plethora of minor celebrities — is Fantastica a re-mix of Okay Ka, Fairy Ko? Choz. I personally find Vice Ganda’s stand-up material funny but I didn’t laugh at any of the jokes in this trailer, not even once.
This movie, like most Vice Ganda films, is nothing but pure escapist fluff with no regard for substance or subversion. Of course the cast will tell us that their ultimate goal is to entertain the audience (“marami po kaming mapapasayang bata!”) but that’s not entirely true. If MMFF had not been a lucrative business venture, none of these actors/producers would even bother trying to “entertain” the people. Their ultimate goal has always been to make money and — you know what? They probably will.
Plot prediction: top grosser of the festival. That’s it; that’s the plot.
Jack Em Poppy: The Pulisincredibles (dir. Mike Tuviera)
See Fantastica above. Gan’on na rin ‘yon.
Plot prediction: the movie will be second top grosser, Maine Mendoza and Biggie Chen will continue to deny to the press that they’re dating, and Lito Lapid will become Senator again in 2019.
Oh, what fun. Happy holidays, everyone! 🤗
Note: I initially listed Rodel Nacancieno as the director of Jack Em Popoy but apparently it’s Mike Tuviera. I should’ve paid keener attention; apologies for the error.