MMFF 2018 Trailer Reviews

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.

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Bedflix and Chill

I had a wisdom tooth removed a few weeks ago, so I also had a fuckton of free time to do absolutely nothing. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t exercise, and I couldn’t go outside lest the world discovers my sore, swollen face worthy of a Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho feature (“Kilalanin natin si Jolens, mga kapuso, ang babaeng kalahati pisngi, kalahati noo!”).

I was stuck in bed the entire time so I plopped the laptop on my chest and did my favorite slacker hobby: I watched movies.

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Pagtoma at Pag-ibig: Mga muni-muni ukol sa I’m Drunk, I Love You

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Nauuso yata ang mga pelikulang lunsaran ng mga personal na danas at hanash ng mga batang direktor. Cinema as self-expression, ika nga, at ang layunin ay ang maantig ang puso ng madla dahil unibersal naman ang tamis at alat at pait ng naunsyaming pag-ibig.

Sa ganitong framework ko nakikita ang I’m Drunk, I Love You ni JP Habac. Hindi kailangan ng extensive research upang mabuo ang kwento nina Carson at Dio, matalik na magkaibigan ngunit palihim na iniibig ng babae ang lalaki.

May sariling vibe ang IDILY kahit gasgas na ang premise nito. May road trip at indie hymns na nakasalansan sa naratibo at may mga eksena ring pang-music video ang hitsura at haba. Cool at hip, pero hindi pretensyoso. Swak ang aesthetics ng pelikula sa panlasa ng target demographic nito: ang nakababatang bahagi ng populasyon na may prebilehiyong tumuntong sa kolehiyo at magwaldas ng pera sa beer.

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On Filipino science fiction

Early this morning I watched the trailer for an upcoming Filipino science fiction movie called Instalado. Directed by Jason Paul Laxamana, the film explores the idea of a future in which knowledge can be purchased and installed on anyone willing to pay the cost. The protagonist is Victor, a young farmer hoping for a better life for his family, and the narrative follows his quest to be an “instalado” or an “insta” despite his limited means.

The film is an entry to TOFARM Film Festival, a two-year old fest that specifically aims to “uplift the farmers [and their] personal development.” Set in a country whose economy is still arguably hinged on agriculture, Instalado boasts of a premise that is both significant and potentially radical.

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Review: Wasabi (2001)

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Gerard Krawczyk’s Wasabi, to put it simply, is forgettable. It has its funny moments, but its use of tired slapstick cliches that exaggerate action sequences and make fun of dim characters can be both tiring and annoying—-usually both and at the same time.

The plot kicks off when police officer Hubert Florentini learns that his Japanese ex-girlfriend is dead and that they have a teenage daughter together. This discovery brings Florentini to Japan where he uncovers the mysterious death of his ex and tries to establish a relationship with his newfound daughter.

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Review: Breathless (1960)

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A little bit of historical context is needed to fully appreciate Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. This has been my third viewing of the film and, thanks to the fact that it is also one of the most celebrated products of the French New Wave, I am now more equipped to see the film beyond the literal sense.

One thing that bothered me the first time I saw it was the brush-the-lip gesture Michel (Jean Paul Belmondo) kept doing all throughout the movie. Apparently it was a nod to Hollywood actor Humphrey Bogart who is vital to the development of the protagonist’s character. Michel, a man on the run for shooting a police officer, is trying to emulate the charisma and bad-assery of Bogart known for his roles in iconic movies such as Casablanca.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 5.34.42 PMHumphrey Bogart | Screenshot

Without recognizing who Bogart is and the fact that he’s American while Michel is obviously French, one could get easily lost in the cultural significance of Breathless. It was made following a pact between France and the US which opened the French market for American products including cultural creations such as movies. Breathless, then, becomes not only a demonstration of technical innovation in film-making but also an exploration of a nation’s identity during the early stages of American cultural imperialism.

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Review: Hellboy (2004)

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Hellboy is one of the earlier inceptions of the modern comic book movie. It was released in 2004, a few years before Marvel kicked off their own cinematic universe, and was helmed by the brilliant Guillermo del Torro who made sure that this movie would go down as one of the most visually-gripping superhero movies since the turn of the century.

Or am I overrating it?

But no shit though, the movie reminded me a bit of Deadpool. Both characters are antiheroes, with Hellboy just a little bit more archetype-y because of his “saving the world” slant. Deadpool also has its breaking-the-fourth-wall shtick while Hellboy is more straightforward. The latter, however, has this sincere human struggle of trying to fit in and be accepted—something Deadpool never gave a damn about.

Case in point: Hellboy, a red demon spawn adopted by a professor who works for the FBI, shaves and files his two pointy horns. And upon suspecting that his ladylove Liz is dating the FBI agent who’s also his errand boy, he stalks them and squirms in queasy jealousy. “He took a picture of her!” he exclaims over and over again, as we all have similarly done upon learning that Crush is into Some Other Bitch.

The plot may have gone the stereotypical route of having the antihero lured into his evil ways then eventually choosing to be the good guy—but that isn’t an issue. The Superhero—antihero or not—is a character trope that offers too little a room for defiance (don’t all tropes do?). Some superhero movies have tried to pull the moral ambiguity clause, but their protagonists have still turned out to be flawed but inherently kind individuals who would do everything for the greater good.

What makes Hellboy stand the test of time, however, is its visuals. Except for the explosions that are obviously early 2000s CGI, the rest of the visual spectacle are sophisticated and are perfect for the dark comedy ambience of the movie. I was genuinely surprised that it was made before I even hit puberty.

And for the last point of this wonky attempt at critique: Hellboy looks so much like Gareth Bale! Right? Riiight?

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For people like me who very rarely watch movies the year they were released, maybe now is the time to give Hellboy a chance. Superhero movies are the hippest, and Hellboy definitely counts as one of those oldies but goodies kindo’ movie.