Burlesk Queen, Reyna ng Pelikulang Pilipino

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Celso Ad. Castillo’s Burlesk Queen surpasses past attempts to integrate cinematic qualities in a film and Castillo’s own previous experiments, which critics found bombastic and purely commercial. Like no other film by Castillo or other directors, Burlesk Queen, with its synchronized techniques and the significance of its message successfully gives substance to the trendy subject of sex-for-sale. The movie tells of a teen-age burlesque dancer in the ’50s, who suffers deprivation, personal crises, alienation, and in the end, an abortion as she dances her grand finale for survival. With such a simple plot, the movie laudably brings together the talents of director Castillo, screenwriter Mauro Gia Samonte, musical director George Canseco, actors Vilma Santos, Rollie Quizon and Roldan Aquino, cinematographer Ben Lobo, and editor Abelardo Hulleza. Castillo’s creativity is seen in the use of radio darma and music, meaningful gestures, and visual metaphors or allusions to give added psychological and emotional dimensions to dramatic situations. Lucid exposition and delineation of the conflict are carried out through particular techniques like ensemble acting to reveal the individual characters’ needs, emphasis on visual details rather than talky dialogues to drive home a point, and active camera movements (cuts) to suggest the passage of time in the burlesque dancer’s career. The tragic ending is prepared for by a logical presentation of what happens eventually to all the characters. Artistic form and meaningful content merge to convey the film’s statement on society’s view of low-class entertainment. Moralist censure burlesque dancing, but as the stage impressario in Burlesk Queen asks, what form of entertainment then should be given to ordinary people who cannot afford to watch shows which are exclusively for the rich who dictate the community’s morals? The irony lies in the fact that while audiences are entertained, the performers’ lives are none of their concern. For these cheap entertainers who dare to live outside society’s moreal laws, there is only condemnation. – Jun Cruz Reyes, The URIAN Anthology 1970-79, reported by Simon Santos, Video48 Blogspot, 27 August 2018

Maraming reklamo ang tagasubaybay ng pelikulang Pilipino. ‘Yun nga namang mga paksa noong “nineteen forgotten” at panahon ng kopong-kopong tulad ng pag-iibigan ni mahirap at ni mayaman ay siya pa ring kinagigiliwang tema hanggang ngayon. Sabi nga, ang mga ganitong pelikula ay maikukumpara sa mga dulang panradyo. Puwedeng ipikit ang mga mata sa loob ng sinehan at pakinggan na lamang ang usapang kinargahan ng waring walang katapusang “ngunit papa” at hagulhulan. Kung nakakaasar ang pelikulang mala-radyo ay ganoon din ang pelikulang mistulang pang-TV naman. Ito ang klase ng pelikula na ang mga tauhan ay pirming nasa sala at nagwawalis habang nag-uusap dahil wala nang ibang set na mapuntahan. Sa ganitong pelikula ay waring tinatamad ring kumilos ang isa o dalawang kamera. Sa dalawang salita, ito ang klase ng pelikula na tinipid at pinag-ubra. At siyempre ang resulta ay basta-basta. Mayroon ding pelikula na para namang komersiyal na dadaanin ka sa ganda ng sinematograpiya na sa biglang akala’y parang maganda, pero tulad ng paninda’y walan naman palang lasa. Sa madaling salita nawawala ang tinatawag na pelikulang de-kalidad at ang sangkap nitong “refreshing touch.” Sa pag-eeksperimento ng mga direktor, may ilang nakahulagpos sa pelikulang mala-radyo at mala-pang-TV. Gayumpaman, marami sa nag-eksperimento ang hindi makakapa ng tamang pormula, ang pagtutulungan ng maraming tauhan sa paggawa ng pelikula, tulad ng kombinasyon ng magandang istorya, mahusay na direktor, makinis na sinematograpiya, matinong editing, mahusay na set, angkop na tugtugin at mahusay na pag-arte. Kapag napag-isa ang mga sangkap na ito, nakakapanood na nga tayo ng isang mahusay o namumukod-tanging pelikula.

Si Celso Ad. Castillo ay marami nang naunang ekspiremento. Pero pumaltos sa pamantayan ng mga manunuri. Maraming nagsuspetsa na may ibubuga siya, pero hindi lang talaga maibuga nang nasa tiyempo. Malimit ang kanyang pelikula ay maingay at maraming sobra. Halimbawa, maraming karahasan na wala namang katuturan ang kanyang Madugong Daigdig ni Salvacion, seksing walang kadahilanan (pinagandang garapal) ang kanyang Pinakamagandang Hayop Sa Balat Ng Lupa, numero unong manggagaya ang kanyang Maligno, at sabog-sabog ang kanyang pinakamagandang nagawa, ang Daluyong at Habagat. Kung may magkamali mang pumuri kay Celso, iyon nama’y halos pakunsuelo-de-bobo lamang, at hindi ito sapat para itaas ang kanyang pedestal sa ranggo nina Bernal, Brocka at Romero. Wari ngang napako sa komorsiyalismo ang direktor na inaabangang maglalabas ng natatagong talino. Lalong nagduda sa kanyang kakayahan ang mga kritiko nang kumalat ang balita na gagawa siya ng serye sa TV na ala-Cleopatra Jones na papamagatan naman niyang O’Hara. Pero ang direktor na ipinapalagay na laos ay biglang pumalag nang walang kaabog-abog. Bigla’y nabalitang may inihanda raw itong pang-festival na ikinataas na naman ng kilay ng kanyang mga kritiko. “Aber tingnan,” ang pasalubong sa balita. At sa preview ng kanyang Burlesk Queen, biglang napa-mea culpa ang ayaw maniwalang may ibubuga nga si Celso. Tiyak na naiiba ang Burlesk Queen, kahit ikumpara sa mga naunang trabaho ni Celso at sa iba pang direktor na nagtangkang tumalakay sa paksang ito. Matagal-tagal na rin namang nauso ang kaputahan sa pelikula, pero walang nakapgbigay ng katarungan sa lahi ni Eva bialng Pilipina at bilang puta. Sa Burlesk Queen, para kay Celso ay hindi nangangahulugan ng pagpapakita lamang ng utong, puwit, o singit, kung hindi isang kapani-paniwalang dahilan na nangyari sa isang makatotohanang kapaligiran.

Sa kanya, ang tao ay hindi bast maghuhubad at magtatalik. Maraming pangyayari sa buhay ang dapat munang linawin at unawain, at iyon ang basehan ng kasaysayan. Simple lamang ang plot. Isang tinedyer si Vilma Santos na alalay ng isang orihinal na burlesk queen, si Rosemarie Gil. May tatay na lumpo si Vilma, si Leopoldo Salcedo. Si Rosemarie naman ay may kabit na hustler, si Roldan Aquino. Nang iwanan ni Roldan si Rose, nagwala ang huli. Naging lasengga siya at tumangging magsayaw sa tanghalan. Mabibitin ang palatuntunan, kaya’t si Vilma na talaga namang may ambisyong magsayaw ang pumalit. Hit naman sa manonood si Vilma. Sa bahay, pilit kinukumbinsi ni Vilma si Pol na payagan na siyang maging full-time danser. Ayaw ni Pol, mas mahalaga sa kanya ang prinsipyo at delikadesa. Sapagkat wala namang ibang pagkakakitaan, si Vilma rin ang nasunod sa bandang huli. Nag-suicide si Pol nang hindi na niya masikmura ang pasiya ng anak. Si Rollie Quizon naman ang binatilyong masama ang tama kay Vilma. Nagtanan sila at nagsama. Pero hindi sanay sa hirap si Rollie. Sa pagpili sa pag-ibig o ginhawa sa buhay, ang huli ang pinahalagahan niya. Nagkaton namang buntis na si Vilma. Sa pag-iisa sa buhay, nagbalik siya sa pagsasayaw. Nagsayaw siya nang nagsayaw hanggang duguin siya sa tanghalan at malaglag ang kanyang dinadala. Bagama’t simple ang plot ay hindi naman masasabing simple ang pamamaraang ginawa rito ni Celso. Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon ay nangyari sa isang pelikula ang pagsasama-sama ng magandang istorya, mahusay na direksiyon, magaling na pag-arte ng mga tauhan, masinop na musika, magaling na editing at angkop na sinematograpiya.

Sa Burlesk Queen ay nagsama-sama ang talino ni Celso (direktor), Mauro Gia Samonte (story and screenplay), George Canseco (musical director), Ben Lobo (cinematographer), at Abelardo Hulleza (editor). Kung may ipipintas sa pelikula, iyon ay ang hindi malinaw na pagbuhay sa panahon na nangyari ang kuwento. Kung minsa’y maiisip na nangyari ito sa panahon ng kasikatan ni Elvis noong 1950s. Pero kapag pinansin na maraming ekstrang may mahabang buhok, may wall paper at sintetikong sako ang bahay nina Vilma ay maari namang sabihing baka naman pa-Elvis craze lamang ang mga tao roon. Pero may pulitiko, at Yabut, at may dagdag pang Connie Francis bukod sa motorsiklong Lambretta at mga kotseng Buick. Kunsabagay, maliliit na detalye lamang ito na agad makakalimutan kapag ang inasikaso ay pagbubuklat sa magagandang punto ng istorya. Tingnan natin ang ilang magagandang eksena sa pelikula. Sa ikalawang eksena ay nagtatanong si Vilma kay Rosemarie kung puwede rin siyang maging danser. Walang malinaw sa sagot ni Rose, pero ang timing ng background music na “It’s Now or Never” ay makahulugan. It’s Now or Never nga, payo ni Elvis. At kung kailan siya maaaring mag-umpisa. Tomorrow, sabi ng kanta. Ang ganitong sagot ay nasa mukha ni Rose, pero hindi na kailangang sabihin.

Ang ganitong pamamaraan ay tinatawag na creativity ng direktor, na nagdagdag ng ibang pamamaraan sa paghahayag ng damdamin ng tauhan. Sa paglakad ng istorya, dapag ding pansinin kung paano ang karakterisasyon ay binubuhay dito. Halimbawa, sa isang eksena na nangyari sa isang patahian ay nag-abot sina Dexter Doria, ang bagong kabit ni Roldan Aquino, at si Rose. Naroroon din si Vilma at sa hindi kalayuan ay si Rollie. Maliwanag na may kaniya-kaniyang pangangailangan ang mga tauhan at magkakasama sila sa iisang eksena. Walang nakawan ng eksena na naganap dito. Nag-insultuhan sina Dexter at Rose, natameme si Roldan at waring walang pakialam sina Rollie at Vilma na panay-na-panay ang kindatan. Lalo namang walang pakialam ang dalawang pulubi na tumutugtog ng biyolin (na siya ring background music) sa mga nagyayari. Limos ang mahalaga sa kanila. Sa eksenang ito’y may gamit ang lahat ng tauhan, wala sa kanilang nagsilbing dekorasyon, walang nag-o.a. at pare-pareho nilang ginawang makatotohanan ang komprontasyon. Magandang halimbawa ito ng orchestrated acting. Kung allusions naman ang pag-uusapang, marami ritong mga sariwang metapora na mababanggit. Isa rito ang mahusay na pagpapakita ng birhen pa si Vilma sa sex act nila ni Rollie. Habang sa likod ng tanghalan ay may nagaganap sa magkasintahan, sa tanghalan ay nang-aaliw naman ang mga akrobat na sinundan na isang madyikero na tumutusok ng sariling noo, nagbabaon ng pako sa ilong at lumululon ng espada. Masakit tingnan iyon. At ganoon din ang nararanasan ni Vilma sa likod ng tanghalan sa piling ni Rollie. Hindi rin madaldal ang pelikula. Kung itatanong kung paano tinanggap ni Pol ang pasiya ng anak, nagtulos na lamang siya ng isang makahulugang kandila sa altar na para na ring sinabing “bahala na ang Diyos sa iyo.”

Kung paano naman ipinakitang naging mananayaw na nga si Vilma, sapat nang ipakita ang isang trak na nagbababa ng isang wheel chair na ipapalit sa lumang tumba-tumba ng ama. Maging ang paglakad ng panahon ay nararamdaman din ng manonood kahit hindi ikuwento o ipakita ang kinagawiang pamamaraan at ulat ng “nalalaglag na dahon ng kalendaryo o dahon ng puno kaya.” Sunod-sunod na cuts na nagpapakita sa uri ng palabas sa tanghalang kinabibilangan ni Vilma ang ginawa ni Celso. Saka ito sinundan ng kuha naman sa bahay nina Vilma at Rollie. Nag-iinit ng tubig si Vilma habang nakikinig ng dula sa radyo tungkol sa buhay ng isang asawang tamad at ireponsable. Ganoon nga ang nangyayari sa buhay ng dalawa, at may kasunod ring “abangan sa susunod kabanata.” Sa paghihiwalay ng dalawa, sapat na ring iparinig ang awiting “You’re All I Want for Christmas” para buhayin ang irony na nagaganap sa relasyon ng dalawa. Kung makinis ang eksposisyon at pagbuhay sa tunggalian ng istorya, malinaw rin ang paghahanda sa wakas ng pelikula. Si Rose na laos na ay naging mumurahing puta. Si Dexter kahit hindi ipakita ay maliwanag na sumama na sa ibang lalaki. Si Roldan ay may bago nang kabit at napatay sa spiral staicase ng tanghalan na siya rin niyang dinadaanan sa paghahatid sa dalawang naunang kabit. Si Rollie, ang mama’s boy, ay natural bawiin ng ina. Si Vilma ay nagsayaw nang nagsayaw. Sa simula’y mahinhin at nakangiti at kaakit-akit hanggang sa pagbilis ng pulso ng tambol at pompiyang balakang, upang sa pagbuhay sa damdamin ng manonood ay siya namang maging dahilan ng pagkalaglag ng sanggol na kanyang dinadala. Sa labas, matapos ang pagtatanghal, may tatlong bagabundong naiwan na nakatanghod sa larawang pang come on ng burlesk queen, habang ang kadilima’y bumabalot sa kapaligiran. Kung matino ang kaanyuan ng pelikula, ay ganoon din ang masasabi sa nilalaman. Makatotohanan at masinop ang pagtalakay sa buhay ng isang abang mananayaw. Tinatalakay rin dito kung paano siya tinatanggap ng lipunan at inuusig ng mga tagapangalaga raw ng moralidad. Maging ang empresaryo ng tanghalan na ginampanan ni Joonee Gamboa ay may konsiyensiya rin at nagtatanong sa atin kung anong panoorin ang dapat ibigay sa isang ordinaryong Pilipino na hindi kayang pumunta sa mga mamahaling kainan upang manood halimbawa ng Merry Widow at Boys in the Band. Ang stage show ang munting kasiyahan ng isang Pilipinong hindi “kaya ang bayad sa mga eksklusibong palabas ng mayayaman.” Samantala’y abala tayo sa paglilibang at sa kanila’y walang pakialam ngunit may handang pintas at pula sa mangahas lumabas sa batas ng moralidad sa lipunan. – Jun Cruz Reyes, The URIAN Anthology 1970-79, reported by Simon Santos, Video48 Blogspot, 27 August 2018 (READ MORE)

Bagong Porma sa Lumang Pormula

Sa Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan?, Minsan pang pinatunayan ni Danny Zialcita ang kanyang pambihirang abilidad sa pagbibigay ng bagong treatment sa lumang tema ng pag-ibig, na kadalasa’y umiikot sa pormula ng trianggulo. (Hindi nga ba’t maging sa kanyang mga naunang obra tulad ng Hindi sa Iyo Ang Mundo, Baby Porcuna at Ikaw at ang Gabi, ay naitatak ni Zialcita ang kanyang makabagong sensibilidad sa pagtalakay sa mga kuwento ng pag-ibig?) Mula sa istorya ni Tom Adrales (na nagsilbing katulong ni Zialcita sa iskrip at sa direksiyon), ang Gaano Kadalas ay tungkol sa magkaibigang Lily (Vilma Santos) at Elsa (Hilda Koronel), na bagama’t kapwa nakaririwasa sa buhay ay magkaiba naman ng suwerte. Matapos magpatingin si Hilda sa doktor, nalaman niyang wala na siyang pag-asang magkaanak pa. Si Vilma nama’y may kaisa-isang anak nga sa pagkadalaga pero wala naman itong ama at mas grabe pa, may taning na ang buhay ng bata (may congenital heart desease ito). Minsan, nagkahingahan ng problema ang magkaibigan, at sa kanilang pag-uusapa, inalok ni Hilda si Vilma na gawing ama ng kanyang anak ang asawa nitong si Louie (Dindo Fernando). Bagama’t ipinalabas niyang mahal din niya ang bata at gusto niya itong mapaligaya kahit pansamantala lang, ang kanyang tunay na pakay ay mapaglapit ang kaibigan at ang asawa nang sa gayo’y magakaroon siya ng maaampong anak mula sa relasyon ng dalawang taong kapwa niya mahal.

Nagtagumpay ang tatlo sa kanilang pagpapanggap, at gay ng inaasahan, nagka-ibigan nga ang dalawa. Pagkatapos mamatay ang anak, nagbuntis si Vilma. Dahil delikadong manganak siyang muli (diumano’y may sakit siya sa puso), nagtangkang ipalaglag ni Vilma ang nasa kanyang sinapupunan. Napigilan siya ng kaibigang si Chanda Romero at ni Dindo mismo. Perso sa wakas, nang siyang magsilang, nawalan si Elsa ng asawa, kaibigan at anak. Mahusay ang pagkakadevelop sa kuwento ng Gaano Kadalas at epektibo ang direksiyon ni Zialcita. Nagawa nitong masangkot ang manonood sa problema ng mga tauhan. Absorbing ang naging tunggalian ng mga puso’t damdamin. Naipakitang may sapat na motibasyon ang kanyang mga tauhan para pumasok sa ganoong arrangement. Gayunman, may ilang katanungang hindi nasagot sa pelikula. Una, paano nakakasiguro si Hilda na ipagkakaloob sa kanya ni Vilma ang anak nito kay Louie sakali ma’t hindi namatay ang bata? Ikalawa, bakit masyadong naging hayagan ang relasyon nina Vilma’t Dindo lalo pa kung isasaalang-alang ang kanilang tayo sa sosyedad? Ikatlo, kung totoong mapera si Vilma, bakit nahirapan siyang kumontak ng abortionist at dahil nga dito’y isinugal pa ang buhay? Kung tutuusin, lalo pang naging prominente ang mga kakulangang ito dahil lubusang nag-rely ang pelikula sa samu’t saring medical convolutions ng plot: kesyo may anak nga si Vilma pero blue baby naman at kesyo hindi rin siya puwedeng manganak ulit dahil sa sakit niya sa puso (at ang mga ito ay nakapagtatakang hindi pa nalalaman ni Dindo).

Ang madalas magpaangat sa pelikula ay ang acting cast. Dahil mas malaman ang kanyang papel at tila naperfect na ni Vilma Santos and agony ng other woman mas nangibabaw ang kanyang performance kay Hilda Koronel. Kahit na mas marami ang nagsasabing si Hilda ang mas angat dito. Pasulpot-sulpot ang papel ni Hilda at may kahinaan ang motibasyon (isipin mong siya pa ang nagtulak sa sariling asawa sa ibang babae!). Medyo nakaka-distract ang kanilang mga kasuotan (mga gawa ni Christian Espiritu), gaya rin ng ayos ng mga bahay at kasangkapang tila nakikipagkumpetensiya sa tauhan. Epektibo rin ang pagganap ni Dindo Fernando bilang Louie na nakati ang puso para sa dalawang babae. Magagaling din ang supporting cast, lalo na si Suzzanne Gonzales, ang yayang sosyal at ang batang si Alvin Joseph Enriquez. Kahit maikli ang kanilang papel, mahusay rin ang rehistro nina Tommy Abuel, ang doktor na nanliligaw kay Vilma, at si Chanda Romero, bilang matalik na kabibigan ni Vilma. – Justino Dormiendo, Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino, Jingle Extra Hot Magazine 1982, reposted by Pelikula Atbp (READ MORE)

Film Review of Broken Marriage

Broken Marriage; directed by Ishmael Bernal; written by Jose Carreon and Bing Caballero; starring Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon; produced by Regal Films (* * * * *). Broken Marriage is Ishmael Bernal’s best film since his ill-fated Manila by Night/City After Dark (1980). In fact, Broken Marriage is-in the sense the term is used by painters-a detail from the huge canvas of City After Dark. The theme of this latest masterpiece from the Master is simple: the emotional violence in a marriage mirrors the physical, political, and social violence of the city, City After Dark gave a bird’s eye view of the city. Broken Marriage looks at the city through the eyes of a woman. The violence in the marriage of Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos is obvious enough. He is a conscientious, compassionate, successful police reporter who is just about to be promoted. They are, in other words, alike. Like poles repel, goes the age-old adage from physical science, and these two career-conscious individuals have no time for each other. He spends his leisure hours reading or catching up on videotaped films. She spends her time on the telephone, making her home an extension of the studio. Bernal cleverly places an issue of Time magazine always within reach of de Leon. The director is saying that time is what is just beyond the reach of these two persons who are in love, not with each other, but with themselves. In fact, their very similarity (they are both sloppy in dressing, in fixing their things, in working habits) points to what must have made them fall in love in the first place; they both see themselves in each other.

To say that the two persons are “incompatible”is to miss a lot. They are, in fact, extremely compatible, because they look, think, and act the same. They both want the marriage to revolve around themselves. They both want fame and fortune. They both want to be loved by the children but not to spend time loving them. They are both stubborn, yet forgiving. They are both faithful to each other, almost to a fault, yet they cannot stand each other. Is Bernal saying that marriages can never work if the two partners are equal in every respect? Is he saying that only a male chauvinist marriage can work, where the man works all day and the woman stays home? Or is he subtly suggesting that marriage itself as an institution is an anchronism in a rapidly-changing world? There will be various interpretations of this film, depending on one’s own preception of one’s own marriage. But disagree or not, viewers cannot fail to see what Bernal’s underying thesis is-that the violence in urban, middle-class marriages is caused by violence outside the house. The home is the center that has failed to hold together. The city is the world that has become “broken.”

Bernal cleverly shows that he is interested not only in a marriage, but in the city, when he lets his background seep into the interstices of the plot. In the first sequence, for instance de Leon is watching Bonnie and Clyde on videotape, an obvious hint that Broken Marriage will also be about love in a violent setting. In Bonnie and Clyde, if you recall, the two lovers-having rediscovered each other are mercilessly mowed down by law enforcement officers. Similarly, the marriage in Broken Marriage is “mowed down”by the lawlessness of society. Again ang again, Bernal includes violent news from the otuside of the home. Rod Navarro’s voice is heard talking about the Middle East war. A bank shoot-out is headlined by de Leon’s paper. During the climactic break-up scene, The Greatest American Hero is showing; in that series, the hero needs extraterrestrial help to combat crime in the modern world. The registration scene in the university shows the lack of discipline that pervades Manila. If the city is not disciplined how can a small family be? Sprinkled throughtout the screenplay are derogatory remarks against institutions noted for their lack of discipline-Meralco (taping is hurried because of an imprending brown-out), MWSS (Santos refuses to pay a bill for water since there has been no water in her neighborhood for months), the Ministry of Publick Highways (streets are described and shown to be full of diggings), the police (who are asked by de Leon to “salvage” or murder a Chinese prostitution king pin), movie actresses (one star fails to appear for a song number), movie producers (Orestes Ojeda’s only object is to sleep with Santos), and, most appalling of all, politicians (personafied by a fictional mayor who points a revolver at de Leon). In short, this is City After Dark all over again, but with more subtle, probably more lasting, effect.

The ending has been criticized by a couple of reviewers. It is true that the beach sequence smacks of commercialism. All’s well that ends well, and all that. But City After Dark, we may recall, also ends on such a happy note. We may disagree with Bernal’s perception that there is always hope left fro man, woman, and the city, but we cannot disallow him his views. In other words, most of us cannot agree that the broken marriage can be mended, but Bernal thinks so, and his films have all ended on such an up-note. I personally would rather see a darker, more realistic ending, but Bernal would not be Bernal without his happy endings. It’s not a completely happy endings, anyway. Two sequences before the beach scene. Bernal films the wedding scene in a haze, as though he were saying that whatever follows the wedding is mere romance. It is like Bonnie and Clyde. The gansters dream of a happy life together, spinning romantic castles in the air. But as soon as it is time to go out into the real world, violence is right there at the doorstep. The ending is filmed as a romantic interlude, but the reality is waiting around the dark corners of the city, like the mayor’s goons who cannot stand the thought that someone is finally about to tell the truth. – Isagani Cruz, Parade Magazine 1983, reposted by Pelikula Atbp (READ MORE)

Everything About The Film Reviews of #EAH

ARTICLES - EAH May 2016

Released Date – 27 January 2016, Philippines; 29 January 2016, North America; 6 February 2016, United Kingdom

Story Plot – “Powerful but ill-stricken business woman, Vilma Santos navigates her complicated relationship with her caregiver, Angel Locsin and her estranged son, Xian Lim in this story about acceptance, love and forgiveness.” – IMDb (READ MORE)

The Reviews

ARTICLES - Everything About Her film scenes 14Biggest revelation – “…The iconic actress (Vilma Santos) embraces her character’s flaws and fortitude with affecting clarity in a superlative portrayal that is passionate but never coercive. Her meticulous insistence on honesty guarantees that no tear is unearned—and no emotion manipulated…Angel also comes up with a focused performance that, for the most part, benefits from the film’s propulsive dramatic proceedings…Xian may not have Angel’s earnestness or Vilma’s finely calibrated bravado, but he is the movie’s biggest revelation. He figures in some of the film’s most gripping dramatic sequences—and delivers his moving moments with aplomb. It doesn’t hurt that Xian is cast in a role that fits him to a T: Albert is distant, guarded and spiteful, and is armed with an emotional axe to grind! Bernal makes clever use of those elements to thrust the heretofore phlegmatic performer outside his self-limiting comfort zone. Result: Xian’s finest portrayal to date!…” – Rito P. Asilo, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 30 January 2016 (READ MORE)

Everything is Genuine – “…Vilma Santos kept her promise and profile. She remains one of the most effective actress for all season. Her execution brought tears to every single scene. Bernal successfully defined her character at the beginning of the movie. They approach Vivian as a figure in a time-honored character template in which a convenient plot mechanism allows the bitch to revisit sad chapters in her life so that we can understand that it was quite a life, indeed. But she failed to understand motherhood that her son suffered from missed opportunities being with her because of her profession. It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters…I didn’t expect much from Xian Lim’s character but he is a revelation in this movie. His approach to drama is a serious attempt to keep his career on top. There should be more of him in this genre. Though I wish there’s too much to say from where he is coming from. His physique improved though I noticed. I have seen and admired Angel Locsin from her last movie with Olivia Lamasan opposite Aga Muhlach and it sets a high standard from then on. Her role as a patient nurse is one relate-able middle class professional that worked along the way. Angel Locsin gave an enormous justification in her character searching for answers about her mother…9/10.” – Rod Magaru, Rod Magaru Show, 28 January 2016 (READ MORE)

Humanizing Stereotype – “…Given that she plays a character that teeters towards caricature, Santos is tasked to humanize Vivian, which she does with astounding ease. She manifests a quiet understanding of the character, depicting the role of an uncomplicated woman without the histrionics that one often sees from comediennes who are required to portray dramatic roles and the discomfort that one often observes from serious thespians who are forced to be uncharacteristically comical…It is a film that does not necessarily earn its fairy tale conclusion, but its efforts in allowing its audience to bask in feel-good escapism is not completely wrong. In the end, it deserves its rainbow, even though the rains that precede it is blanketed in all the conveniences formula affords…” – Francis Joseph “Oggs” Cruz, Rappler, 29 January 2016 (READ MORE)

ARTICLES - Everything About Her film scenes 11Somewhat Refreshing – “…The film is driven by irony: Vivian (Santos) later finds out she’s afflicted with cancer. Instead of wallowing about it, she accepts it like no other’s business, hires a private nurse, and maniacally, laughs it off—all with enviable and self-confidence and awareness. She’s a strong woman, after all. She’s going to win. Where she drains her strength is on her estranged son, Albert (Xian Lim) who, after many years flies home for a high-tier real estate project for her company. Unbeknownst to her, her private nurse Jaica (Angel Locsin) has made Albert aware of the situation. There it is, a chance for her to rekindle an interrupted relationship with her son, never mind the irony of the timing…This thick, disquieting anxiety carries through a scene in Everything About Her, where Vivian mutters, almost weak-sounding: “Baka nga kailangan ko ng deadline,” she confesses. “Sana lang wag masyadong mabilis.” It’s a great scene, one that requires an actor of Santos’ pedigree to pull off. You take everything Santos says and you’re always sold on her sincerity. A few sequences earlier she speaks of spilling someone’s guts and ripping insides out, and you believe her just the same…The dynamic between Vivian and Jaica is extremely watchable, owing mostly to both Santos and Locsin’s commendable performances. There’s an underplayed gag toward the end where Jaica persuades Albert to stay for his mother, mentioning something about Darna. “Ikaw si Ding,” she exclaims. “Siya si Darna, at ikaw ang bato.” It’s somewhat refreshing to see this in Everything About Her, however random. Punchlines are echoed as poignant monologues, such as in the funny bit where Jaica missends a text message to Vivian, essentially calling her an “impakta”. It’s flourishes like this that pepper the middlebrow story that it has…” – Armando Dela Cruz, Film Police, 02 February 2016 (READ MORE)

An Inspiring and Heartfelt Message – “…Vilma Santos is a master in her craft — there has never been a question about this. My favorite scenes in the movie were actually the quieter moments when she longingly looked at her son as he slept, her unsolicited hug for Angel’s character to thank her for her compassion, but the best scene, perhaps not just for Vivian, but for all three lead characters — was the bathroom scene when she finds out that her son knows about her disease despite her wishes…All in all, I loved the movie because it carried an inspiring message about families and balancing work life with one’s personal life. Its a story about forgiveness and love and the way it was laid out was just brilliant. Just, the feels. It was a perfect combination of a great story, a heartfelt message, great acting and an execution that was on point throughout the entire film…” – Its Wynne’s World, 02 Feb 2016 (READ MORE)

Remarkable and Substantial – “…Santos and Locsin meets halfway at the same level of caliber that is equally remarkable and substantial. The film’s touching moments make it difficult to forget their chemistry, much more to realize that they are all out with their performances…In spite of the predictability of the story right from the very beginning, the entire ride is memorable, granted how the story is weaved without compromise—without fear that the audience would not stay put. As it wants to stir up sadness towards its ends, it controls itself by giving into the tested formula of the outlet. True enough, it works fine on that note. There is a stinging sensation at the end of the line but happy thoughts prevail and make use of its impact. Before the last frame, Vivian cries, “But in the end, even if we die alone, we need other people.” As we hold onto her last words, there is really much to relate to in her story as there is much to believe in ourselves. Familial attachment is everything about her. And we are more than familiar with that…” – J Bestillore, Cinema Bravo, 27 January 2016 (READ MORE)

ARTICLES - Everything About Her film scenes 10Credit to Make-up Artists – “…That is where I found out from E.R. Tagle that the movie “Everything About Her” was showing at a nearby cinema house. He was all praises for it, so I told him that any movie starring Ms Vilma Santos was worth watching. I am happy to catch a few on TV. The following day, I had to drag myself out of bed, fearlessly cross our busy street, risking life and limb to see the movie. It wasn’t the last full show; it was only 12:15 noontime, and the movie was just starting. But already we had to rise for the Philippine National Anthem. I told our “street facilitators” from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (“The joy of being useful,” Opinion, 1/29/16) that anyone who can sing our national anthem and not choke up with emotions rising from their breasts and leaving a lump in their throats do not love their country enough. They agreed with me, but I have my doubts about the last sentence—about dying for my country. Well, if push comes to shove, maybe. As expected, the movie was excellent despite a few things, but the main thing was I enjoyed the movie, was fully entertained even if more than half of it had tears rolling down my cheeks and, to top it all, I didn’t have any tissues with me. I must say, the cinematography was something to rave about; the acting was superb, the leading man was handsome as he should be, and the two leading ladies’ acting skills were flawless. Some credit must go to the makeup artist whose skilled hands transformed Ms Vilma’s character into a tough and uncompromising business person. I regretted it had to end, and I stayed for the credits to find out who performed the theme song and to give a chance for the crowd in the ladies’ room to clear…” – Shirley Wilson de las Alas, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 16 February 2016 (READ MORE)

Affectionate Charm – “…Whereas the film’s proceedings come across as yet another orchestration of a familiar film cliché, it strikes a chord by remaining adherent to a formula, that maybe too predictable at times, but nonetheless works because of its relatability. There is an affectionate charm in its humor and subtle comic attempts, and it massively works when injected on the film’s emotional moments. It is barely a surprise how Santos pulled off Vivian with undeniable credibility here. She delivers her character and its layers with profound depth, believability, and artistry that probaly only someone with her caliber, could do. On her character’s most heartbreaking moments, Santos delivers exactly what a woman faced with the wrath of death, while also struggling to reach out for a son she might probably don’t have enough time to spend together with, would feel and look like, an act she easily carried out with searing capacity. Locsin, on the other hand, has an equally impressive maneuver of Jaica, who on most occasions, is presented as the film’s comic effort, acting as one of the narrative’s heart and its very symbol of hope. The character is commendably pulled by Locsin with irresistible charm and affection, a capacity she maintains even on the character’s very own moments of breakdown. But the biggest commendation, perhaps, should go for Lim, who emerges here, with an unfamiliar but convincing versatility. This is probably the actor’s strongest performance yet, having gotten across with the necessary power required by his character, whose wounds and struggles are equally as deep and excruciating as his mother’s…Rating: 3.5 out of 4…” – LionhearTV, 27 January 2016 (READ MORE)

Generous to Co-stars – “…Vilma Santos diehards will not be disappointed as Ate Vi handles her role with much understanding. At first, the character is almost caricaturish, with people she interviews shown breaking down or throwing up after talking to her. But Ate Vi knows how to humanize her Vivian with little knowing nuances here and there. Even in her heaviest dramatic scenes, she shows an intrinsic understanding of Vivian by not resorting to histrionics. Hindi na niya dinadrama pa ang mga dramang eksena, even in that scene where Angel is expecting to be fired and she just says quietly: ‘Kunin mo ang putanginang gamot ko.’ And she is so generous to her co-stars in their scenes together, allowing them to shine on their own, especially to Xian Lim in that hospital scene where he delivers a long aria of how much he hates his mother. Honestly, we were feeling uncomfortable for Xian on how he’d handle that scene of a son haunted by an unhappy childhood, but in all fairness to him, he manages to acquit himself quite well. Since this is a production of Star Cinema, you can expect a feel good happy ending. There is the obligatory fairy tale romance between the caregiver and her boss’ son. In photos, they’re even shown being wed and having a baby. Needless, as far as we’re concerned but, hey, the movie has to be very family friendly. So give escapism a chance. We’re sure Director Joyce Bernal was told to treat it all with levity. And that’s exactly what she did. If you want a more serious film about a dying woman, watch Ate Vi’s similarly themed classic film directed by the other Bernal…” – Mario Escobar Bautista, Journal, 12 February 2016 (READ MORE)

ARTICLES - Everything About Her film scenes 3Larger-Than-Life Portrayals – “…Vilma Santos’ latest starrer, “Everything About Her,” is a worthy addition to her pantheon of exceptional screen portrayals. Right from the get-go, she affirms her versatility by playing a “new” character for her, a powerful and abrasive property magnate who reduces her victims to quivering masses of protoplasm….the production’s thespic crown firmly rests on Vilma’s head, due to her daringly strong character choice and ability to come up with a suitable larger-than-life portrayal, despite her slight and light physical frame. Even more compellingly, Vilma is able to dig really deep and summon up the especially strong emotions needed to make her inordinately powerful character believable—while still being able to shift naturally and depict her at her most vulnerable. Finally, “Everything About Her” is a revelatory change of pace and tone for its director, Joyce Bernal, who’s usually identified with more light-hearted and “cheeky” film fare. Her adeptness at humor leavens this film’s tragic scenes, while not diluting them—a tough directorial feat to pull off! It’s a testament to Bernal’s maturing skills that she’s able to do it—and, in the process, show us a bracingly new facet and prism to her directorial scope and oeuvre…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 13 February 2016 (READ MORE)

Pinakamahusay na Aktres ng Bansa sa Kasalukuyang Panahon – “…Mahusay si Vilma Santos sa kanyang papel bilang pangunahing tauhan ng pelikula. Sino pa bang kukuwestiyon sa kanyang husay bilang aktres? Wala na. Maituturing mo siya talagang pinakamahusay na aktres ng bansa lalo na sa kasalukuyang panahon. Every inch, every scene napakahusay. Dahil sa husay ng kanyang performance, mahirap malimutan ang pelikula at maaaring siya na uli ang best actress ng 2016. Makatuturan ang pagbabalik ni Vilma sa napakatalino niyang desisyong piling-pili ang uri ng ginagawa niyang pelikula. Mas effective sa akin si Xian Lim. Mahusay! Nauunawaan niya ang role niya. Sumabay talaga siya kay Vilma Santos na generously ay sinuportahan siya. Sa lahat ng eksena nila, nilalamon ni xian si Angel ng buung-buo. Napakasinsero umarte dito ni Xian na kita mong bawat bitiw niya ng emosyon ay galing sa puso…Sa kabuuan, typical Star Cinema pa rin ang pelikula. Maganda na sana pero dahil kailangang bigyan ng resolusyon lahat sa ending, pilit na pilit; very unrealistic; pumangit lang tuloy ang dulo. Ganda na sanang sa party na nag-end ang movie habang nagsasalita si Vivian (Vilma) at may hope na tatagal pa ang buhay niya. Bakit kailangan pang ipakita thru collage photos na kinasal at naging mag-asawa sina angel at xian?! Yuck! Ok na sana kahit wala silang romantic angle tatayo ang pelikula. To beginwith, mukhang tiyahing tibo ni Xian si Angel. Pero dahil Star Cinema nga ito, kailangang babuyin ng ganun ang ending ng pelikula na sinasabi nilang pang masa, na sa tutuo lang, iniinsulto nila di lang ang masa kundi ang mga manonood na nasa matinong pag-iisip…” – Ronaldo C. Carballo, Facebook, 08 February 2016 (READ MORE)

Symbolism of the Chandelier – “…The cinematic devices and motifs the film employs to drive its narrative have given it much advantage. Particularly noteworthy is the symbolism of the chandelier that Vilma is shown to gaze at in one of the many heartfelt moments of quiet drama the film boasts of. The convulsion scene is carried out in a single take that only an actress of Vilma’s caliber could ever pull off with much aplomb. Vilma proves her comic mettle and efficacy in at least two scenes. One is the long shot of an open field with her voice heard clarifying with her staff the exact number of executive people she is about to have an exclusive meeting with. Another is the one upstairs at her residence as she confronts Angel’s character with the latter’s wrongly sent phone text referring to Vilma’s character as a creature from hell and a whore…” – Nonoy L. Lauzon, Young Critics Circle Film Desk, 08 February 2016 (READ MORE)

Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 – “…Indeed, the performances of both lead actors and supporting cast were so compelling you felt almost everyone in the cast deserved an acting award. The surprise actor in the cast was Xian Lim who delivered not just a focused performance but a highly stirring one. His hospital scene with Vilma Santos was a stand-out one could hear people quietly sobbing behind me. Angel Locsin has no match as a supporting actress, the part of Nonie Buencamino (as the padre de familia) has all the hallmark of a good actor and the part of Shamaine Centenera Buencamino and Vangie Labalan (no matter how brief) registered with layers of pathos. Most of all, this could be Vilma Santos’ best performance todate. The transition of her character from corporate mogul to repentant mother revealed the true artist in her. The musical scoring blended with the story but my favorite part is the household scenes with the character of Vilma Santos noting the significance of the chandelier in the living room with a movement from Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in the background. The grandness of the music matched the leading character’s grand ambition. It is also gratifying to find classical music find its way in a family drama…” – Pablo A. Tariman, Arts News Service, 06 February 2016 (READ MORE)

ARTICLES - Everything About Her film scenes 5Iconic Maternal Roles – “…Everything About Her has good and bad parts. This can probably be said about most Star Cinema movies — as the fulfillment of formula has made these qualities distinguishable, knowing where it goes well and where it nose-dives — but with Vilma Santos and Joyce Bernal, the desire to endorse it, and make a good case for it despite its inevitable shortcomings, is strong. It is convincing at first, from the start when the characters and conflicts are established and all the way through the piling up of challenges for both female characters. But in an effort to close it with something remarkable and leave the audience with warmth, it decides to be generic and resort to platitudes that dilute the inspired moments, in turn weakening what could have been a moving depiction of female (and maternal) strength. Ate Vi gets away with the many times she repeats herself (her approach and sentiment) from her previous movies, and this showcase of recognizable maternal roles makes her iconic in this regard. But Everything About Her does not find its soul in her but in Angel Locsin, delivering what could be one of the best Star Cinema characters in years…” – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula, 08 February 2016 (READ MORE)

Uber-Bitch – “…Vilma Santos has fun with her role, and she looks terrific. We do take issue with the scenes in which her character telegraphs to the audience that she’s not as bitchy as they think she is. As one who is extremely familiar with the species, a bitch does not care whether you like her or not. In fact an uber-bitch would prefer to be loathed so that she doesn’t waste time pandering to the tender feelings of people she doesn’t give a shit about. You know what words a bitch finds irritating? “You’re nice naman pala.” “Hugot” lines do nothing for us, but there is one line in the movie we especially like. In one scene, Vivian gets nauseous and starts to throw up on her bed. Jaica grabs Vivian’s designer bag and dives across the bed to catch it. “Kunin mo na rin yung Balenciaga bag ko,” Vivian says, deadpan, “Doon ko gustong sumuka uli.” Bitch, that’s a bitch…” – Jessica Zafra, Interaksyon, 05 February 2016 (READ MORE)

The Heart of the Story – “…Speaking of Albert, Xian Lim’s character was the central source of drama in the movie. The scenes of Vivian and Jaica were mostly comedic and amusing, but it was the introduction of Albert that brought more heart to the plot. Albert’s character is what drives the conflict – with Vivian struggling to re-establish ties with her son, and how Jaica’s job seemed to get more complicated with her feelings for Albert. Xian was definitely revelatory in this film, and my initial doubts of having him as the leading man faded with my impression that he’s only good for rom-coms. Surprisingly, he had great chemistry with Vilma Santos an Angel Locsin, and he was able to add more dimension to his otherwise uptight character by being emotional when needed. This and the fact that he had similarities with the features of Vilma Santos made it hard for me to think of anybody else more perfect for the role…Vilma Santos still has her charm and her performance was nothing short of remarkable. She was able to fuse the two sides of Vivian seamlessly together – one was this terror business magnate who’d go out of her way and ride a chopper to Tagaytay just so she could fire someone personally, and the other was this loving mother who longs for the forgiveness and embrace of her son. The role allowed her to once again showcase her versatility as an actress, and the heart and dedication that she gives out to every scene transcends effortlessly to the audience…Angel’s role was what brought comic relief and lightness to the story. She no doubt demonstrated her flexibility as an actress in the film however, there were several unnecessary comical moments from her character…” – Geoffrey Ledesma, GeoffReview, 03 February 2016 (READ MORE)

Warm and Soothing – “…This movie is about understanding and forgiveness. Not just between people and their expectations of life but of oneself with life itself. Overall it’s a good movie which explores mainly parent-children relationships but also gives a clear view on how unpredictable cancer (or any kind of life- threatening health issue) may be. Finally, this will not be a silly comedy but it’s not the overly soul breaking drama movie you may have expected either. I found it rather soothing and earth grounded yet at the same time refreshing. It’s rare to find a movie which can deal with life and The ending without being overbearing gives away a bittersweet sensation from which you experience but a taste. As for the aftertaste, it’s like buying a dark chocolate. You what you will get but nothing prepares you for the surprising filling which levels everything in the end…” – KloKlo, IMDb, 20 March 2016 (READ MORE)

For more information about the film,, CLICK HERE

Fine Film

FILMS - Karma 3

The Technical preview of “Karma” the other night was delayed for about an hour but I didn’t mind waiting because I was quite certain that I’d be seeing a fine film. To while away the time, “Firecracker”, co-starring American actors with local talents like Chanda Romero, Vic Diaz and Rey Malonzo was shown. Chanda and Vic delivered their lines themselves but surprisingly Rey didn’t. Before one whole reel could roll, the prints of “Karma” arrived. “Don’t stop it yet, a bed scene is coming,” Mario Bautista protested.

FILMS - Karma 2Happily, “Karma” turned out to be as good as I expected. It’s performers are first-rate – Vilma Santos, Ronaldo Valdez, Tommy Abuel, Chanda Romero – so their award-winning acting didn’t surprise me at all. The script was outstanding but even that was expected, coming from director Danny Zialcita. What impressed me was that minor parts were played by name actors. The housekeeper who appeared in one short sequence could have been played by any elderly woman but those who made the movie wanted nothing less than Etang Discher. The psychiatrist could have been played by any decent-looking man but they didn’t settle for anybody less than Vic Silayan. The male lover at the start of the story had to be acted out by Dante Rivero, that at the end by Christopher de Leon.

The movie boasted of several bold scenes. Those involving Vilma weren’t much as we know for a fact that Vilma could show only so much. One scene showing Chanda was a different story. It showed her with absolutely nothing on, yet it didn’t offend anybody as it was executed in style, shot with great care. There was just one thing which looked unnatural to me – the way in which one of the main characters killed himself. “That’s all right,” Danny assured me. “Before we shot it, we doublechecked its possibility.” Reincarnation and transference are undoubtedly mindboggling subjects but, to his utmost credit, Danny managed to present them simply, bringing them down for everybody to understand. “Bala lang yan. Katawan lang ito. Babalik at babalik kami sa mundong ito,” Dante vowed. Come back they did as they promised building the foundation of the story. – Bob Castillo, People’s Journal, 12 December 1981 (READ MORE)

FILM REVIEW: THE HEALING

The Plot: – “…Stories about the Filipino tradition of going to faith healers for guidance and treatment of ailments have not yet been tackled in-depth in movies. And in our film, the viewers will not just be horrified, they’ll somehow be challenged to think as to how faith healing has already been part of our culture…” – ABS-CBN News (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “…Created in the same campy mold as Chito Roño’s other horror “Feng Shui”, the film gambled on giving Vilma Santos a project that was expected to earn money and provide cheap thrills. I am not sure about the box office returns but it did provide some scares when I saw it. Plot is about a neighborhood who is embroiled in a karma-like situation. The neighbors are having a second lease on life with their own set of illnesses after a life insurance agent’s dad was attended to by a faith healer named Elsa (who happens to be the name of Nora Aunor’s character in the masterpiece “Himala”). It may be low in coming up with a compact and weighty story to connect with but at least it gave its main chunk of meat a good production value and execution. The one involving a Chinese temple is my favorite. I also have to note that Jerrold Tarog did a wonderful job in the editing department. The ending, for instance, did not linger much on the drama and the realizations. Star Cinema also released two versions of the film. One is R18 which contains more gore and the other, to reach to a wider audience (read: more money), R13. Friends who might appreciate it: Vilmanians, no less…” – Manuel Pangaruy Jr., Tagailog Specials Presents, 28 October 2012 (READ MORE)

“…We are glad director Chito Roño has found his mojo in making effective horror flicks. After “Feng Shui,” which was truly scary, his next works like “Sukob,” “T2” and “Bulong” were quite inferior. He’s now back in top form in “The Healing,” which really works as a thriller. After seeing it, we’re no longer surprised the MTRCB gave its uncut version a rating of R-18 (although there’s an expurgated version that’s R-13) as he really upped the ante in the violence factor. It has a decapitation scene right in the middle of a busy street, a self immolation scene, necks being slashed, a stomach split open with the intestines spilling out, a bloodbath in a massage parlor where several defenseless people were killed and in a Chinese temple were monks were massacred, and most ruthless of all, a little girl being impaled in a flagpole. Those scenes are already shocking and horrifying enough as they are. In “Feng Shui,” the series of terrifying events was triggered by a cursed bagua. This time, the killings take place after Vilma Santos as Seth, an insurance executive, takes her ailing father (Robert Arevalo) to a faith healer (Daria Ramirez).

Her dad gets healed overnight so her ailing neighbors ask Seth to accompany them to the same faith healer: Ces Quesada who can’t speak, Ynez Veneracion who has a breast tumor, Janice de Belen’s blind daughter, Pokwang and Cris Villanueva who are afflicted with skin disease and Kim Chiu, who has a kidney problem. They do get healed, but the healing also doomed them and turn them into violent killers. We won’t go into detail as to why this happened, so as not to spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that Roño and his scriptwriter, Roy Iglesias, try their best to come up with a believable explanation of its root cause that stems from the concept of “huwag mong buhayin ang bangkay.” Chito manages to sustain the feeling of dread and anticipation throughout the movie. And of course, it works because we feel for Ate Vi as Seth. It’s not her fault that the series of gory incidents happened but she’s the one being hounded by the ghostly spirits in the story since she’s the one who brought all the patients to the faith healer. Running against time, she then tries to reverse the curse by going to its source. All the graphic killing scenes are staged convincingly for maximum gruesome effect and it’s effective as all the actors deliver.

Pokwang is truly quite chilling when she turns into a monstrous entity with superhuman strength throwing people down from a tall building. Even perennial Roño actor Jhong Hilario stands out in a short but menacing role, the nature of which we can’t reveal here. The special effects involving the bulging and rotating left eye of all the killers is a touch of genius. Vilma is subjected to a lot of stressful scenes in the movie as she fights for dear life. We have to suspend our disbelief a bit in the scenes where she gets violently mauled, stabbed, hit by a chair, repeatedly hurled down into the floor, but it did elicit a lot of deafening screams from the theatre crowd. Some of her fans feel she should have just done another drama but we can understand her desire to flex her wings and do a vehicle of this sort. When we saw the movie, a lot of viewers were young people who enjoy watching scary films like this. With this, Ate Vi has successfully reached out to a new demographic, with the help of a young star like Kim Chiu, who in all fairness, also does well in her dual roles. For us, it’s a very wise decision indeed. And Chito Roño shows here to younger horror directors like Topel Lee, Richard Somes and Jerrold Tarog (Tarog did a fine job of scoring and editing the movie) that he remains to be the master of the genre who can be even playful with the orchestrated color scheme of the costumes worn by his characters in the movie…” – Mario Bautista, Malaya, Aug 6 2012 (READ MORE)

“…Director Chito S. Roño is a veteran in doing horror movies. In 2004, he helmed the box-office hit Feng Shui, an answer to the Asian horror movie phenomenon. The Healing, on the other hand, can be considered an answer to Hollywood’s torture-and-gore horror movie phenomenon. It may be the first local horror film to do so, and thus it is refreshing to watch. There is no shortage of shocking gore in The Healing. There are lots and lots of blood; horror movie fans will not be disappointed. The movie is also made more fun by moments of fan service, that recalls several niches of pop culture that seem to be taboo in Philippine mainstream cinema. There’s a small child wielding a ninja weapon killing groups of monks, before jumping to her death. There’s a beheading using a giant knife. There are many more. The story also offers something new, away from familiar themes like haunted houses and vengeful ex-girlfriends. It exploits the Filipino tradition of faith healing, and the consequences of tapping this alternative form of therapy. What’s most admirable is the fact that The Healing’s actors went to great lengths to provide credence to the story. Vilma Santos, for instance, gets stabbed multiple times that you’d wonder how she can take these intense physical scenes at her age. Kim Chiu should also be praised for her handling of her character, Cookie. Her early scenes when she needs to act sick are believable and downright affecting. In summary, The Healing is suited for Pinoy horror fans. It is fun as it is shocking, and non-squeamish viewers should have no problem having a good time…” – Mark Angelo Ching, PEP, July 30, 2012 (READ MORE)

“…Santos’ spine-tingler is far from original, but as it tweaks the narrative conceit that has made “Final Destination” a box-office-busting film franchise, the movie finds innovative ways to establish an atmosphere of impending doom that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats: You feel that something gruesome is about to transpire, you just don’t know how it will play out—or when! The Star for All Seasons decided to make the film because she wanted to add something “new” to her formidable oeuvre—and, with “The Healing,” Santos accomplishes exactly that. The role doesn’t require her to do much except run in circles or look worried or scared. But, she displays flashes of dramatic brilliance when she is hounded by guilt, a motivation that presents her with forks in the road that just might lead to the resolution of the horrifying story’s main conflict. More than anything, it’s a treat to see the durable actress on the big screen again. The horror-thriller genre she dabbles in effectively introduces her to a younger (and wider) viewing demographic that derives pleasure from getting scared out of its wits…” – Rito P. Asilo, Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 28, 2012 (READ MORE)

“…The reason I like Chito Rono’s horror movies, and the reason I see most of them in the theatre, is because suspense-horror is a completely original genre, completely divorced from the hang-ups and expectations of movies that involve real people doing somewhat credible things. I remember when Chito Rono did a suspense project DAHAS, topbilled by Maricel Soriano and Richard Gomez. It was one of a kind. Very engaging just like the Healing. Kim Chiu, among other characters has lesser exposure here but a huge revelation. She epitomizes the typical Asian character on every horror films we watched. Her make-up was perfect and she looks so fresh on the movie. Pokwang, Janice and Martin Del Rosario did a great job as support role. Their characters are very important and happy to see Janice De Belen again on the big screen. Pokwang gave a little taste of comic on her dialogues, which gave everyone to catch their breath in preparation to next scene. Martin Del Rosario is a real charmer. Again the focus of the film is the story, its suspense package and for Vilma Santos, which they succeeded. I suggest everyone should watch the uncut version, brave the director’s cut as there seems to be obvious reason why some of the scenes are not included on R13. DISLIKE: There’s one thing I don’t like, they are trying to blur some of Vilma Santos physical feature. That looks very obvious on the big screen. But you will love the color coding (that’s for you to find out). Star Cinema gave another reason for everyone to go back to movie houses and appreciate local films. It’s another excellent film of 2012…The Movie is in honor of Vilma’s 50th anniversary, Star Cinema gathered an all-star highly acclaimed powerhouse cast composed of Kim, Janice de Belen, Mark Gil, Martin del Rosario, Allan Paule, Cris Villanueva, Daria Ramirez, Ces Quesada, Ynez Veneracion, Simon Ibarra, Abi Bautista, Joel Torre, Chinggoy Alonso, Mon Confiado, Carmi Martin and Pokwang. I am giving THE HEALING 10 out of 10…” – Rod Magaru (READ MORE)

“…After the first character dies, you already know how the story would go. The suspense you feel as you watch grows, but this is in anticipation of the gory way the next character will die, not because you do not know what will happen next. To Rono’s credit, each “death scene” would top the last one as far as gore and blood are concerned. The cast did well, too. Vilma Santos is Vilma Santos. She will always be bigger than her roles. This is not to say that she did not perform well; she did. But, watching her, you see Vilma more than Seth – too strong to ignore. Kim Chiu appeared in very few scenes despite her second billing. As with her performances on TV, she would have done better if she injected more energy into her role. I did not know Martin del Rosario before this movie, but he delivered very well in his crucial role as Jed. I’m not really sure why Ynez Veneracion had to show her right boob in a scene – maybe for old times’ sake.

Several camera angles used by Mr. Rono were very well-planned and executed, maximizing the tension onscreen. Like other productions (movies and theater plays) I watch nowadays, there was color coordination in the outfits/costumes of the characters onscreen. In “The Healing,” though, I did not quite get why a certain color was chosen to be the “theme” of a scene. It was too obvious, that when a scene’s color scheme continued into an unrelated scene, it became distracting. Many common scare tactics and music were employed in the film. Thankfully, there was no Sadako-like creature in this one (if you still don’t know who Sadako is, Google “The Ring” Japanese version — or search on YouTube). Overall, “The Healing” is okay. It is similar to other horror films in the way the friends of the lead female character are dying around her and it is up to her to break the curse. If it was Kris Aquino who played Seth instead of Vilma Santos, the movie would just be “Feng Shui” all over again…” – Fred Hawson, Rappler, Aug 12 2012 (READ MORE)

“…The movie has a cohesive plot. The editing is brisk. The story telling is to the point. The jolts, the surprises, the building tension as the plot thickens makes you squirm from your seat. You can’t take your eyes off the screen so as not to miss the details, the foreshadowing, the conflict resolution. From the impressive opening credits, to the alternate theme colors of blue, red, yellow & white, you know the movie is special. The ensemble acting reminds you of such sleuth movies as Murder on the Orient Express & Death on the Nile, where Rono is able to flesh out the best from each actor or actress, no matter how small the role is, whether in a group or singly . I particularly like Janice De Belen, Pokwang, Robert Arevalo (in a groovy role that Sildenafil users could relate to), Kim Chiu, Joel Torre & Martin Del Rosario. Vilma Santos is in almost every frame. It is a most restrained performance, akin to her Urian winning Amanda Bartolome character in Dekada 70 where she has mastered “doing less is more.” As the key figure or the cause of the sad fate of her friends, Vilma is able to effectively use her eyes to show fear, guilt, sadness, even remorse. Her best scenes are when she tells her son Martin to not leave Kim from his sight, while calling from a cell phone, her confrontation scene with Kim in a car while Martin is driving the van & her hair raising, thrilling confrontation scene with Kim, the evil twin…” – Mar Garces (READ MORE)

“…The film is, by turn, violent and the sexy episode given clinical treatment. The breast of Ynez Veneracion (as Greta) is fondled matter-of-factly to show that the cancerous lumps are no longer there. The series of death – suicide and murder, keep the moviegoers on the edge, screaming here and there and up to the very end when the ‘sanib’ victim Kim Chiu (as Cookie) opens her eyes. Rono has a perfect acting ensemble to make this film credible and engaging. Even with the limited exposure and dialogue that she had, Daria Ramirez was great acting personified in The Healing. Pokwang (as Alma) was another revelation. Here, Rono doesn’t allow her to take another crack at her comic talents and emerges a natural performer. Everyone has defining moments in this film from Kim Chiu (as Cookie), Janice de Belen (as Cita), Robert Arevalo (as Odong), Martin del Rosario (as Jed), Mark Gil (as Val), Carmi Martin, Cris Villanueva (as Ding), Allan Paule (as Ruben), Ces Quesada (as Chona), Chinggoy Alonzo and Simon Ibarra (as Rex), among others. Joel Torre -as the healer’s brother- turns in another winning performance. This is my first horror film with Vilma Santos in it and I must say that she acquitted herself very well. Her subtle acting in The Healing was reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark. I think she should do more horror film with Rono. Like it or not, The Healing is my Horror Film of the Year…” – Pablo A. Tariman (READ MORE)

“…The movie queen has also reached out to new media. In the weeks leading to the movie’s showing, and during its entire run, the blogosphere is abuzz with news and features on its star. Bloggers, who are slowly eclipsing the legit press in prestige, a powerful bloc who are not paid purveyors of gossip and publicity stunts, are one in their admiration and praise for the screen icon. One thing that “The Healing” has achieved is it gained for Vilma Santos a new following. Not only has Vilma encroached on the horror-suspense niche, but with the film’s R-13 rating, she has also reintroduced herself to the younger segments of the population. Vilma’s insistence on challenging herself by doing different projects paid off, she has just made herself current, still, and very much a big, dominant fixture in popular culture, notwithstanding the new crop of stars that have come up and populated the scene. One palpable proof is her movie has set a trend in Philippine cinema: a slew of horror-suspense flicks followed suit after its huge success in the box-office. Philippine horror-suspense is usually associated with Kris Aquino, but Vilma has given the genre a new meaning and dimension…” – RRI Espinoza (READ MORE)

“…Whilst the script is somewhat threadbare the vistas, cinematography and overall presentation feels on par with that of its contemporaries. It’s just a shame that the screenplay fails to capitalize more on its own interesting premise. Whilst some light is shed upon the peculiar push-pull of Healers and the country’s strong catholic heritage; more time seems to of been placed upon moving the characters to the next set piece, complimented by some overly expository dialogue and a few to many ham-fisted deliveries. Having said that though, The Healing marks the mid-point of an exciting time for the Filipino horror industry. With titles such as Feng-Shui, Ouija and The Road seeing some overseas success, one hopes that a marriage of script, production and budget isn’t to far away. For now though The Healing represents a curio for the discerning viewer, or perhaps instead, a seed from which greater films will eventually flourish…” – John H. Marshall, Japan Cinema (READ MORE)

Film Review: Edgar Loves Vilma (1970)

FILMS - Edgar Loves Vilma 3

Relesed: September 27, 1970

The Plot: – Daughter of a nightclub singer, Vilma met Edgar whose father, like Vilma’s mother is also single parent. While dating, their parent also fell in love. Some twists of events happened, like the sudden break-up of their parent due to Edgar’s grandmother’s disapproval of her son’s relationship to Vi’s mother who is a night club singer, which was a societal taboo for the upper class during those days (the 60s-70s). Another twist was the kidnapping of Vilma. But all we’re ironed out in the end, just in time for the final musical production number, showing the whole gang dancing and singing to Vilma’s hit song, “Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Love You!”

The Reviews: – “Edgar Loves Vilma” (1970) started with suitor Oscar (Jess Lapid Jr.) calling Vilma about a party they’re attending, he’s trying to make sure Vilma will be his dance partner. The following scene, Edgar is also talking over the phone, and his girlfriend was also trying to assure herself that Edgar will be her dance partner. A premonitions? The two attended the party, both did their usual singing number and both ended up in the dance floor leaving their partners. As Vi and Bot became lovers so is their parents, both single and lonely. Vilma’s mother who is a nightclub singer (Perla Bautista) falls for Edgar’s rich father. Edgar’s grandmother who lives with them discovered his son’s new affair and visited Vilma’s mother.  She insulted her, being a “nightclub singer!” and asked her to leave his already engaged son alone. Vilma’s mother followed the old witch’s request.  At the same time, she had an argument with her daughter, resulting with Vilma to run away. Missing for two days, Edgar helped to find Vilma while his father ironed out his own affair with Vilma’s mother, who is now sick.  Edgar found Vilma asked her to go back home.  She agreed.  Vi and her mother reconcile and we thought this is the end but Vilma’s suitor Oscar kidnapped her. Thankfully, Edgar rescued her after the usual fight scenes. The film ended in the typical musical production number. Vilma singing her recorded hit song, “Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Love You.” Rico Bello Omagap’s story and screenplay was poor and so is Leonardo L. Garcia’s direction. There were so many unnecessary scenes particularly Edgar Mortiz’s several singing segments in his house back yard garden, while being watch by his two young siblings.  Another one was Ben David’s character despite the attempt to add some comedy.  At times Perla Bautista was convincing but some scenes can be edited shorter. After watching Edgar Loves Vilma, you will not feel the love. – RV

Edgar “Bobot” Mortiz (born September 8, 1954) is a Filipino movie/TV actor and director. Mortiz is married to Millette Santos (born 1960; sister of Charo Santos-Concio) on April 3, 1977, with 4 children: Edgar Francis “Frasco” (born 1978), Edgar Albert “Badjie” (born 1980), Ma. Carmela Catalin “Calin” (born 1981) and Ma. Frances Camille (born 1983). Frasco, Badji and Camille are now married giving Edgar five cute grandchildren named Joaquin Edgar, Julien Alva, Edgar Carlos, Jayla Sophia and Francis Marcus. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)