Film Reviews

FILMS - Inspiration 2Inspiration – “…In a musical era of 1970s, “Inspiration” was quite an experimental film, with no musical numbers but with better screenplay and well-written characters. Nestor and Bernal works well in establishing the character of Jay and Vilma. Their dialouges are not “corny” and very realistic. There is no over the top dramatic scenes inserted between musical numbers here. The parent played wonderfully by Merle Tuazon and Carlos Salazar were convincing. Although both Vilma and Jay played their roles effectively, Lilian Laing steals the film as Lola Jane. She was bubly and funny, a sex-starved, karate black belter, polo game afficionado, who loves life, considering she is playing the old grandma who is also the solution to all the complication in the lives of our four main characters. Bernal was on his element here, a good story teller, pre-”Dalawang Pugad Isang Ibon, Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga and Relasyon.” Although he is directing a light comedy, written by Nestor Torre Jr., he managed to established all the characters without relying on corny dialouges and musical numbers common in this musical era…” – RV (READ MORE)

FILMS - Young Love 4Young Love – “…Ang “Young Love” ay isang halimbawa ng pelikulang gawa ng unang bahagi ng dekada 70. Mabilisang gawa. Mababaw ng istorya at hitik ng mga musical numbers. Mayroon mga nakakatawang eksena tulad ng pagkanta sa mga burulan ng patay basta magkaroon lang ng eksena ng kantahan. Tutoo ito, may mga eksena na nagkakantahan sa ilalim ng punong kahoy. Mga sayawan, habulan, at ligawan sa mga beach at kahuyan. Nag-click ito sa mga tao nang unang bahagi ng dekada sitentat ngunit sinawaan rin ang mga tao at nang dumating na ang huling bahagi ng dekada ay nagbago ito. Dito dumating ang panahon na nagbago na ang imahen ni Vilma Santos at nag-umpisa na itong ungusan ang walang kawawaang pagkanta ni Nora sa mga basurang pelikula niya. Ang “Young Love” ay puno ng walang kawawaang musical numbers ni Nora Aunor. Puno rin ito ng mga eksenang nakakaloka na kahit na ang batang paslit ay magkakamot ng ulo at sasabihin ang “huh?” Kung hindi mo hahahanapin ang matinong istorya at ang hangad mo lang ay makita kung gaano kagaling kumanta si Nora Aunor kahit pa sa burulan ng patay tiyak na mage-enjoy ka sa pelikulang ito dahil maraming eksena rito si Nora na kumakanta ng walang kawawaang kantang dayuhan…” – RV (READ MORE)

FILMS - King Khayam and IKing Khayam and I – “…The film started promising with funny scenes of Joseph Estrada facing his people seeking his advice or help. One was when a man presented his new product, a flying magic carpet but when the carpet didn’t fly, the king suggested, avoid a heavy/fat rider. Then a much younger veteran actress Mary Walter appeared, brought her magic lamp. She complain that the seller fooled her to buy a defected product. She demonstrated and caressed the lamp. The genie came out but instead of the expected giant gennie, a midget/dwarf genie came out. Then from this moment the film went downhill. A singing bird, a transsexual Ike Lozada (being auctioned), Rod Navarro’s over the top villain antics, all failed to sustained our attention. The weak storyline did not help. Patterned with the Hollywood film, King Kayam & I’s only saving grace was the acting of its lead stars. Joseph Estrada’s presence was commanding and convincing as the playboy king and Vilma’s charming innocence despite the sexy dance number at the end complimented Joseph’s macho image. The two did three films, although they didn’t shared a single scene in Dugo at Pagibig sa Kapirasong Lupa, King Kayam was their only film together as mature actors. Their first outing was Batang Iwahig, when Vi was just a child star and Joseph was in his early years as a bankable action star. Produced by the late, Experidion Laxa of Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Production, the film was just a mild hit, probably the main reason why there was no follow-up project for the two. Two reasons why the film failed was probably the cheap set decorations and the weak story/screenplay of Nestor U Torre, Jr. The song lyrics of Levi Celerio can’t salvaged the mostly canned music of Resti Umali either. This was despite the splendid musical number in the kitchen (when Vilma protested to the cooks that she was a princess and should be treated like one). Die-hard Vilmanians would probably considered Vilma’s dance number at the very end as the highlight of the film….” – RV (READ MORE)

FILMS - LOVE LETTERSLove Letters – “…Love Letters is a musical films specially made for the fans of “teeny-bopper” stars – Vi and Bot. The film was probably shot with improvisations, which means, without a written script. This was noticeably clear as the film’s main characters and the actual names of the actors were not change at all. The film’s main plot was the the stealing of love letters that ended in court, followed by picket line (ala-”Occupy” Wall Street) that was hard to believe. And also the one-after the other testimonies of Edgar, Vilma and both parents that were irritatingly funny. Although we are used to Vilma’s tolereable singing, we’re more surprise to see a singing Alona Alegre! She looked more like Eugene Domingo (clearly before her sexy films/image). One more thing, Alona’s wedding gown was worth a second look, its not like your ordinary wedding gown. The head piece was a beaded hood that covers her hair and neck. With so much singing, Baby De Jesus’s voice stands out among the girls but her piano playing acting was over the top. Victor Wood’s duet with Edgar Mortiz, “Beautiful Dreamers” is worth downloading. Danny Subido was responsible for inserting all the musical numbers that was quite a tasks particularly without a well written musical screenplay. The film was shot in Baguio City and cinematographer, Avelino Peralta’s did a wonderful job showcasing the city on Vilma’s day dreaming except for the akward courtscenes. Love Letters was produced by Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Production and directed by Abraham Cruz, a forgettable film that only a die hard Vi and Bot fans (and those who loves film nostalgia) can only appreciate…” – RV (READ MORE)

FILMS - Kampanerang Kuba 2Kampanerang Kuba – “…Kampanerang Kuba’s convoluted long story maybe attributed to the original comics material written by Pablo Gomez. A good director should iron out all the unbelievable plots specially all the one-dimensional characters. For example, Celia Rodriguez character, Tateng. She is so masochistic that viewer might wonder why she is so mean. Also, with her tower-nesque beauty, why she decided to remained in a town where everything seems to be so trivial and everyone seems loves to gossip, even the men. Nilo Saez (with Jose Flores Sibal wrote the script) failed miserably in this regard. Shot in Nagcarlan Laguna, Kampanerang Kuba showcased the old Filipino beliefs in patron saints, religious rituals and miracles. It also demonstrates that people can be so cruel, can passed judgement, and can asked for forgiveness that quick when confronted with truth. All will be forgiving without taking into account all the harm that they have done. In the real world, these people will be punished. Celia Rodriguez seems to be wooden in so many scenes but equally infuriating when she started to do her verbal and physical abuse of Andang. With limited dialogue, a young Dindo Fernando portrayed Tateng’s lover convincingly. All the other supporting roles including Perla Bautista, Ernie Garcia and others gave forgettable performances. About the two main lead, Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos, both did what they can to portrayed their respective roles. Edgar Mortiz seems to be trying very hard to be effective as the priest but acting is clearly not his forte. Would this be different if Jay Ilagan did this role? Vilma Santos succeed more with her solo scenes, talking to the patron saints and the bell tower, eating with her bare hands and trying to beautify her ugly face. She appeared to be gearing up for more versatile roles that requires her not to sing but to act….” – RV (READ MORE)

RUBIA SERVIOS 02Rubia Servios – “…Perhaps, the most in “your face” reality-based role was Rubia Servios. Another transformation. An acting vehicle that even Madonna can’t accomplished, yes even with Evita! I considered Rubia as her most daring and demanding role surpassing Chato’s BQ. Not only the role required her to be physical but also she has to show the emotion of being battered and abused, inside and outside. The pain in her face was visible while crawling in the beach. The rage in her face showed when she smacked the rapist, Philip Salvador using the boat paddle near the end. I can still feel it, the revenge. I remember I swore a number of times while watching her lift that paddle in the air and aimed at her rapist (Sige pa! Pataying mo ang hayup na iyan! I told to myself.) But the most poignant connection about this film and her role now as politician was her awareness of the abuse Filipina women has become accustomed to. There are a lot of Rubias who doesn’t have the courage to face their assailant. There are so many of them who will have no chance to avenge their fate. Most people will even think that they have provoked the rapist to rape them and they are partly to blame. Vilma as Rubia has made her emphatized the victims and be tough on crime like this. Rape, Crime & Justice, three issues that Vilma have to faced every single day as a mayor…” – RV (READ MORE)

FILMS - Mano Po III My Love 2Mano Po 3: My Love – “…People are saying that her scene in the car where Paul (Jay Manalo) was shot was reminiscent of her death scene in “Relasyon.” Yes, there was a touch of it but the scene in MP3 was more intense because it’s shorter and the pacing was faster. Christopher as Michael deserves his best actor award during the film festival. Finally, Lamangan managed to control Christopher’s dialogue mannerism. Christopher has the tendency to starts his line with “well….” Probably because the MP3′s script was tighter and requires him to follow strictly each lines because each lines most of the time have other meanings. For example, when the three of them finally met, Christopher said: “Isa sa mga natutunan ko nuon sa kilusan is Honesty.” Which he is actually saying to Paul that he is dishonest and deceitful; particularly for not giving to Lilia, all of his letters when he left the country during the martial law years. As Paul, Jay Manalo, despite his young look managed to convinced us with his restraint performance. I wonder if Philip Salvador would give as strong performance as Jay Manalo in this role. Jay showed us that he’s indeed one of our great actors today. Sheryl Cruz didn’t do much as Bernadette. Her performance was one dimensional, a trap for villain roles. And all can be blamed to the three writers – Roy Iglesias, Lily Monteverde and Joel Lamangan. Maybe because they concentrated their efforts to established the three main characters and so they neglected the others. Eddie Garcia and Boots Anson Roa played the usual supporting roles but Boots gave us the most memorable lines in all of the movies showed in 2004: “hindi ka puedeng magmahal sa dalawa lalake…” of course, with her Chinese accent.

Vilma also will not be far behind with her lines: “hindi ka ba sasama sa kanila Judith? Alam mo ba kung para saan ang kanilang ginawa?… sanay na akong tinatalikuran at iniiwanan yang ang storya ng buhay ko…” Vilma’s performance here was an example of how she matured and became an A1 actress. From the start to the end, she transformed herself to be the character. She became Lilia Chiong Yang. Here are the highlights: Her scene in Tagaytay Highland: Her breakfast scene with her family, where all except for one, left her; The scene where she and Paul finally met Michael in a restaurant was full of irony and sarcasm; The scene where Bernadette and three other relatives one of them was Boots Anson Roa confronted Lilia. Like a true fighter and speaking in Mandarin, she told them, she’ll be back in five minutes and if they’re all still in her office they will see the worst of her; The scene where Lilia and Paul were in a middle of an argument and suddenly they calmed themselves down because their dressmakers arrived (to measure their sizes for the clothes their going to wear on their wedding anniversary) was poignant and funny at the same time; Then Paul’s death scene that followed the hospital scene. All in all, a controlled, restraint, riveting performance. How can someone not noticed? If I will evaluate “Mano Po 3: My Love”, I will give the film an A for its excellent production and magnificent performances…” – RV (READ MORE)

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