Blue Moon (2006)
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The problem with Joel Lamangan is that his works, like in "Filipinas" and "Aishte Imasu" have very awkward transitions. The editing that is involved in his films seemed to just work on their task with robotic clumsiness, devoid of any artistic or careful sense of timing and cinematic grace. That is to say that it has no heart; it has no emotion and it is never fluid. With a movie like Blue Moon that is not only a romantic story, but also has elements of nostalgia involved in it, you would think that there would be room for a little showing-off in the field of cinematography. Instead, what we get is a special effect of a shot of the moonlight that seems to be the same moonlight shot used in the Darna movies.
Same problem with MULAWIN the movie, its music is a monotonous mix of synthesizer-induced soundtrack of the same bullcrap pattern of instrumentals. It is as if they were using the same synthesizer-induced music that has been used in all Aga Mulach movies for the past 20 years. No progress, the music in this movie still sounds like the 'drama' that is heard in AM radio stations. And many times, even the musical choices of AM radio 'dramas" are better.
Eddie Garcia, Christopher De Leon, Dennis Trillo, Pauleen Luna, Boots Anson Roa, and Jennelyn Mercado did an excellent work in this movie. It was uncanny how Boots Anson Roa does have similar facial features with Jennelyn Mercado. And then, there's Mark Herras, who was outright bland in his acting. It was too bad that he was cast for one of the main roles; it is clear now that his talent is only fit for noontime variety shows and teenybopper shows, and that his acting abilities are way below zero. The way-too-clean wardrobe and costumes did not help either. Mark Herras seemed to have GEL on his hair during ALL his scenes. And when I say ALL, I do mean ALL his scenes. There's a scene where he's working with his mother by the sea-- while his head shines with a stylish shimmer of gel, and then there's another scene where we see him fixing the holes in his wife's roof--and he has GEL on his head AGAIN! Then we see him waking up from his sleepand OH MY GOD-he STILL has GEL on HIS HEAD! Maybe I'd give it the benefit of a doubt, but it's obvious that we have here the same ERRORS that "Aishte Imas" and the "Mano Po" movies have; either Regal Film Productions or Joel Lamangan, DGPI can claim this as a signature of what they might think of as fine art of film-making.
In a "Death March" scene with Mark Herras and Polo Ravales who were held captive by the Japanese invading army, we see Mark and Polo, who, aside from the bloodied hand and T-shirt had looked too clean for that scene which they have supposedly been under harsh treatment. Hello? Just 10 minutes under the heat of the sun can make one look as wasted as a grunge junkie, and here we have Polo Revales and Mark Herras walking a Death March with faces that looked as if they were just showered with Eskinol? Oh, and let me not forget; Mark still has his GEL on.
Don't you just hate it when you watch a Tagalog movie and they speak a lot of English in their dialogues? Sure there's not much wrong with it, because many of us indeed use English in normal conversations. But NOT AS OFTEN as the ones in badly-made Tagalog movies! They screw it up to a point that it does not come off as a natural expression; they sound silly and appear to have just recited a script. In addition, it's a Pinoy movie, with a majority of Pinoy characters; try to lessen the English! The movie has many loopholes and awkward, inappropriate, and weakly-executed scenes. There's a scene where Eddie Garcia, Christopher De Leon, and Dennis Trillio is reacting to a romantic scene between a pilot and his loved one. Instead, we see an ultra-cheesy scene with the couple doing a cliché "run-to-the-person-you-love" scene that looks like a deodorant commercial.
The movie is filled with scenes that are just utterly improper, ridiculously overblown and often is devoid of either common sense or unsubstantial exposition (What triggered Manuel to find Corazon? Why is Corazon looking for somebody in the Philippines? What happened to the other Corazon?). In addition, Blue Moon is also filled with scenes that lacked emphasis and could've been executed in an alternate remarkable way.
With this movie, I have discovered that Joel Lamangan's style can be given the definition: the insistence to do a period piece movie, which only ends up being a badly made film, filled with pretentious and lousy CGI effects, exaggerated costumes, and the unrealistic and imbalanced delivery of the movie package itself. All one can get from this movie is the exercise of imagination of how such a beautiful story could've been made BETTER if it were made by other directors and produced by other producers. Sure, this movie is better than the other MMFF entries, sure, this movie could bag lots of awards in the MMFF, but it is only so, because it is not as AWFUL as the rest of the entries.
The story revolves around an aging Manuel (Eddie Garcia) and his search for his lost love named Corazon. What follows are is a series of plot twists which involve decades of family relationships straight out of a Danielle Steel novel. After all of the trials and hardships thrown upon the main characters, they triumph over impossible odds; never mind the historically inaccurate portrayal of World War II Philippines and the absurdity of certain circumstances, all that matters in the movie is that it made the audience cry.
It was not hard to feel for the characters in the movie, most effective portrayals include Christopher de Leon and Dennis Trillo, the only actors who carried the movie all the way. The only hindrance for a total enjoyment of the film was the World War II sequences of Mark Herras and Jennylyn Mercado, whose bland-to-overacting acting can easily be noticed, which utterly destroyed the viewing experience. The flashback scenes are creamed with over-the-top impossible and historical inaccuracies, unbelievable training scenes, stinky CGI of aerial dogfights, and laughable teenybopper scenes obviously written in to attract a younger audience. In my humble opinion, I believe that the movie could have been a lot better without the cheesy flashbacks and the full concentration was centralized on the present time, through the character portrayals of Eddie Garcia, de Leon, and Trillo.
All in all, the makers of the film could have made "Blue Moon" a great film, almost in the same level of Abaya's "Jose Rizal" if they had only avoided the clichés of the common romance epics and instead focused on character and plausible plot development.
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