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One of the best 2021 series on Netflix!
D. P. (2021) has a good start and a great ending. The story, actors, music, direction, you name it, everything was well put together.
Anyway, I don't know what else to say except to encourage you to watch this series. (*There are only six episodes.) It is worth your time. And whether or not there is a second season, this season already speaks volumes.
The Final Girls (2015)
I was taken aback! "The Final Girls" is a good film. It is funny and not pretentious. Since we're all familiar with the slasher film formula, we know how it goes. With "The Final Girls", their unique humorous style was refreshing.
Come on. Don't take it seriously and admit that it was fun.
Kawatan sa salog (2020)
Life lessons and beautiful visuals
Kawatan Sa Salog (A Toy in the River) is full of life lessons presented through beautiful visuals. The film's locations and color palette create the right atmosphere. It was enigmatic, and I had the sensation that life had come to a halt.
In terms of plot, I like the idea of lost souls washing up on a mysterious island, with all the strange rituals and punishments that come with it. But I felt something was lacking.
What exactly is it? I'm not sure. But I do know that Kyle Kaizer, who portrayed Santi, and veteran Lui Manansala, who played the grandmother, did an excellent job.
Maski papano (2020)
Disposable, but non-degradable...
I believe Che Tagyamon and Glenn Barit's Maski Papano (I Mask Go On) successfully captured people's journey. Their comedic approach evoked pleasant memories.
Yes, I am aware that the virus, the government, especially the unemployment caused by the pandemic brings distress to people. At some point, you must have felt powerless.
Look on the bright side. The community quarantine gave people time to rediscover themselves. Yes, you are not alone. It led to people learning new skills, acquiring a new hobby or gaining confidence to push their dreams.
And that, my friend, is what the "I Mask Go On" means. Maski papano or, somehow, I must go on and continue living. So do not break down easily, okay?
Treseverse is vast. We need more than six.
The Trese animated series season one is composed of six episodes. As a reader, this was not enough for me. It would have been nice to have 13, but then, the number six does have quite a significance in the Treseverse. Now, as a viewer, six episodes is a safe number.
A little side notes: The moment I read the news that the animated series will release in 2021, I did not read or watch any Trese series-related material. But I share these online.
So when I hit play on Netflix, I was caught off guard. I was surprised by how detailed and accurate the MRT scene was in this episode. But that was just the intro. At mark 1:28, the tense theme music (as per the subtitle) that played along with the title sequence gave me goosebumps.
The series of art presented in every shot slowly welcomes us to THE WORLD OF TRESE. It was dark, bloody and shrouded in mystery which radiated through season one. Yes, like the graphic novel, the animated series did not fall short on those elements. So expect a non-stop mystery and action as different supernatural crime and iconic Philippine mythical creatures are in every episode.
Moreover, the series did not sugarcoat the pain and suffering of the characters, especially Alexandra and the Kambal (Crispin & Basilio). Which reminds me, I appreciate the flashbacks.
In this season, the audience met Alexandra, the Kambal, Hank, Alexandra's parents and a few supernatural creatures. Those interjected scenes gave the audience an idea of how the Team Trese, at present, intertwined with creatures of Philippine folklore they encounter in every investigation.
And just like Trese's job to keep the balance between the two worlds, the series also had some light moments in the form of the Kambal (Crispin & Basilio) and, of course, the trusted bartender of The Diabolical, Hank.
Now let's move to the story. Is there a difference between the graphic novel and the animated series? A big YES, BUT Netflix's Trese stayed true to the graphic novel.
The animated series writers Zig Marasigan and Mihk Vergara mentioned in the Netflix special, Trese After Dark that they kept the spirit of what the creators originally set as they translate it to a different medium. They took all the clues from the book and moulded it suitable for the animated series.
Fans of works adapted into films or series know that there will always be a difference. Some may agree with the changes, but there will always be people who will be protective.
As a fan, I do not mind the slight changes. I understand the animated series writers decision to fill the gaps based on the clues in the books. They did a great job in shaping the characters as they deem fit.
Trese is, after all, a Filipino graphic novel that started publication in 2005 and adapted into an animated series that is now streaming on Netflix, a large streaming platform. A little tweaking is needed to appeal more to the audience of today.
At the time of writing, there is no news of a second season yet. But I hope that Netflix officially gives the green light soon with more episodes as the Treseverse is vast. I assure you, the characters you met in season one are not the only ones you want to meet. The stories you've seen aren't the only ones you want to know. We need more than six.
A beautiful film through and through
I adore The Boy Foretold by the Stars because the film knows what it wants to convey. It is well-written and directed by Dolly Dulu.
Which reminds me, I did a little research. The film is base on a play, Ang Hangal, which director Dolly wrote in college.
"The story is based on my personal experience back in high school. It's a very personal story that I wanted to share with the audience. It's not just a passion project, it's a material that carries a very important message specifically for the members of the LGBTQ+ community," the director told Manila Standard Entertainment in a virtual interview.
No wonder you can feel a sense of genuineness (Is this a word?). There was no hint of pretentiousness. I guess we also need to thank the wonderful actors, especially Adrian Lindayag, the actor who portrayed Dominic.
Every time he appears on the screen, my heart and mind would say, I hear you, I feel you, and I understand you. He surely identifies well with Dominic, so he was able to convey what the character wanted.
If you get a chance to catch this, please hit play. The Boy Foretold by the Stars (2020) is a beautiful film through and through.
Little Evil (2017)
If you want to take a break from serious plots, you will surely enjoy this film. The film can be a little to very dark at times. But with the addition of absurdity, "Little Evil" is quite entertaining.
It Follows (2014)
Simple plot, great execution!
I watched this with a couple of friends and was surprised by the different interpretations. It follows a simple plot but the execution was on point; not to mention, the hidden issues you can find once you open your eyes.
Haunted Mansion (2015)
It wasn't that bad. It was a proper horror film.
You may have seen another movie with the same title but this is not what you think it is. Haunted Mansion is produced by Regal Entertainment, the same one that produced the Shake, Rattle & Roll series which follows a 3-part format. But you will not see that here.
Though Haunted Mansion featured elements we have encountered before such as a character with third eye, black magic, and the title itself, the film gave viewers more than that. Director Jun Lana perfected all the elements in making a horror film a proper horror film especially the intense story build up.
The Road (2011)
The Road is more than just a horror film with ghosts.
The Road is split into 3 parts (2008, 1998 and 1988), a familiar formula in Filipino horror films. But what sets The Road apart from others is its unique style blended with powerful visuals and development.
The film gave us a one path to follow. Though there were some bumps along the way, each part (2008, 1998 and 1988) dug deeper making the narrative even more interesting. It showed that The Road is more than just a horror film with ghosts.
'Wag kang lilingon (2006)
Film's ending took quite a turn giving viewers the best surprise a horror movie could give.
The 2006 supernatural horror film follows a formula we've seen from the Shake, Rattle & Roll series - 3 different tales in 1 film. But in Wag Kang Lilingon's case, it is divided into 2 related ones. Uyayi (Lullaby), the first part of the film features the story of nurse Melissa while the second part, Salamin (Mirror) tells the story of a family moving to a new house that has been uninhabited for years.
Despite the similar formula, Wag Kang Lilingon took the character and story development to new level. We were part of Melissa's journey to uncover the truth behind the murders in Uyayi and understood everything in Salamin. But the film's ending took quite a turn giving viewers the best surprise a horror movie could give.
Maricel Cariaga's Lapis is unforgettable even if the film only lasted eight minutes.
The film starts by showing the present - tall buildings, modern transportation, and office workers walking on the busy Ayala Avenue. It's a beautiful and familiar sight which speaks to many.
Once Soliman Cruz walks into frame, he sits beside the young applicants. There you will start to notice the gaps. While one applicant uses her tablet to draw, Cruz is seen using the traditional pencil (lapis) and paper. As this scene builds up leading to the interview, we finally saw Cruz realizing that modern technology has overshadowed his medium.
While watching this, the first thing that popped into my head is the concern for those who didn't get a chance like we did. This emotional punch made Maricel Cariaga's Lapis unforgettable even if the film only lasted eight minutes.
Jean Cheryl Tagyamon's creation and Sari Estrada's interpretation clearly worked well in this film
Mumu or ghost may be scary but it's the kind that everyone experiences and must be faced. In this case, it is faced by our protagonist Kara (Sari Estrada) who is a nursing graduate. But instead of reviewing for her licensure examination, she would rather go to auditions.
Does that sound familiar? Sari Estrada's character is indeed relatable and that includes the ghost haunting her. The female ghost that has been following her is actually her. This represents her emotions, thoughts, and desires.
Jean Cheryl Tagyamon's creation and Sari Estrada's interpretation clearly worked well in this film. It gave us not only a relatable and funny character but also the frustrations we all have experienced and overcame.
My Little Bossings (2013)
A good family film but is still lacking
Honestly, I enjoyed watching the film and would recommend it to families and people who want to have a good time. But though many enjoyed it and is one of the top earners, the film received mixed to negative reviews.
One problem is the flow. There are many instances where you'll ask, what exactly Baba is doing to clear her name. Why is there bad blood between them? And then, there's this feeling that everything went fast-forward.
Some of the questions were answered towards the end. But since you felt that they were in a hurry to tell the story, you just sort of accepted how it was answered. There wasn't any whoa and ah even nice one moment!
Second is the mini commercial. They did this before in one Enteng Kabisote film which was subtle compared here in 'My Little Bossings'. They could have just placed the product there and get on with the story. But they delivered a few lines about the products.
Bi xian gui ying (2016)
Lacked all the elements that make a good thriller and horror
I was able to watch this film on a channel called Thrill. Sadly, I am not thrilled with this film. It lacked all the elements that make a good thriller and horror. It is worth to mention that the light, music and surprises you often see in such genre to make viewers scream are all present in the film. However, it was not as effective as they did not use it wisely. In fact, they bombarded the film with such gimmicks.
Besides this, the story itself and the acting were also a problem here. It was quite bland. As part of the audience, I was not motivated to find out who the antagonist is. I just wanted the film to end so I can watch the next one.
Thought-provoking film that will not waste your time
Just a few seconds into the film, I was slowly captivated by the colours. Yes, it is sad and dull. But there is beauty even though it is a sombre colour palette. Besides that, the transitions are fitting as well. From locating the missing smartphone of our lead character, a Galaxy Note 9 (not sponsored) to be exact, the scene slowly and beautifully transitioned to a brain scan.
Okay, that might be ridiculous to some. But I do love a good transition. And with The Call (2020), it does not end with simple film transitions. There are several as the story shows us various process or periods of changing from one state to another, which are often heartbreaking. The narrative keeps moving and transforming as both our leads do what they need to survive and live the life they deserve.
And we all know this does not always work out. Sure, we can repeatedly change our life or rather what is up ahead as we have the power to plan or retract every decision we make. However, we cannot control external factors nor mould our life according to what we only want. And most importantly, we can not change the past. A truth that is hard for everyone to accept.
Speaking of which this film is not about time travel. No one travels from past to present or vice versa. The Call (2020) focuses more on connecting with the past and then bending reality when one realises she had the upper hand.
This horror mystery thriller is one of those films that work your brain. If you love that kind of genre, I highly recommend The Call (2020). It is one thought-provoking film that will not waste your time.
The Panti Sisters (2019)
The film left some gaps making me feel a little unsatisfied.
I have high hopes for The Panti Sisters (2019) mainly because of Die Beautiful (2016). But that does not mean I believe it can replace the latter. Based on the trailer and synopsis, I already knew that this will be lighter.
I honestly enjoyed the film from start to finish due to several funny and cute scenes. Paolo Ballesteros, Christian Bables and Martin del Rosario are great together. However, these were not enough to overlook the problems.
The film left some gaps making me feel a little unsatisfied. For instance, the transition from one situation to another was too abrupt. I wasn't ready for the change of tone and could not quite process the next scene. So when that scene arrived, I wasn't able to react accordingly.
Though there is no doubt that the actors especially the great John Arcilla (Heneral Luna) can draw the right reaction from the audience, there was something lacking. And that would be the depth of the characters as well as their relationship with each other. So that when the time one of them leaves the plot the audience will feel sad.
Don't get me wrong. I don't need a "Dramarama sa Hapon" type of drama. I just wanted to feel the right emotions when something tragic happens to one of the characters. And most importantly, not think if this certain character is essential to the story.
Anyway, it does say in the film listing The Panti Sisters (2019) is under comedy. But since something tragic happened doesn't mean it does not deserve a proper execution.
only runs for 24 minutes. But from the moment it started and ended, I can not stop thinking about my life choices.
The animation Drawer Hobs (2011) by Director Kazuchika Kise known for his work on Ghost in the Shell only runs for 24 minutes. But from the moment it started and ended, I can not stop thinking about my life choices.
Do not get me wrong. My statement may seem frustrating for some; however, that is not the case.
Unfilled is an adjective people can relate well. I, too, have that feeling within me. But I do not treat it as an enemy. Being unfulfilled guides you to become who you are supposed to be. It is more like encouragement.
In the short animation Drawer Hobs (2011), our main character Noeru lacks something in her life. When the drawer which has five levels with the top part having two slide-out drawers, things started to change for the better.
The way I see it these are different levels of encouragement. People have various needs to make them confident and complete. All these six slide-out drawers offered the best form of encouragement, helping Noeru improve her outlook. How this transformation happened was heartwarming.
Now, let me ask you. Where can I get a drawer like this? Also, watching the first few minutes got me thinking if we have seismic tension rods on our furniture? Which reminds me, what is a seismic tension rod? Oh, do we have an emergency kit? I badly need a drawer like that.
Sayonara made no 30-bun (2020)
Not only about moving on but also about having aspiration and finding inspiration
Though there are drama and fantasy, the film is pure in its core. All emotions the story wants you to feel are all here. That and great pieces of music made me cherish this film.
It's also worth to mention, everything presented on the screen is well-though-out. Sure, the story is touching plus, the actors are great. But the transition from one scene to another; not to mention, to a different emotion and season as time pass by is breathtaking.
A perfect example is, the shadow formed when our main character Kubota Sota played by Kitamura Takumi handed the tape to Murase Kana played by Kubota Sayu at night.
I truly love that one and some other shots. Everything about this film made me look back at my college days. Which reminds me, I NEED A SPOTIFY PLAYLIST!
If you get the chance to catch Our 30-Minute Sessions (2020), please do watch it. Though the storyline of possessing a body to interact with the people you left is not new, I can guarantee this film gives you more than an unfinished business that needs to be solved.
Our 30-Minute Sessions (2020) is not only about moving on but also about having aspiration and finding inspiration.
Maiko wa redî (2014)
A story filled with the colourful melody
A thousand thanks. I beseech your pardon. The pleasure will be mine.
These are three sentences you'll always hear (or, maybe read is the correct word) the characters say in the film Lady Miko. Honestly, I like it because it's beautiful to hear like a piece of music. Their language and most importantly the story filled with the colourful melody made Lady Miko, a 2014 musical comedy one of my favourites in the first JFF Plus: Online Festival.
I am aware that musicals are not everyone's cup of tea, and that is okay. Maybe they need to find the right story to appreciate it fully. In Lady Maiko's case, I 100% enjoyed it.
From the beginning and especially from the moment our main character Haruko Saigo played by Kamishiraishi Mone sang, I knew I had to finish the movie. While doing so, I also couldn't help but admire everything presented on the screen.
Everywhere I look, I see beauty. When someone delivers a line, the language draws me in. Read the next lines.
"A maiko's very essence is defined by her language. The Kyoto dialect is like the whispering of a gentle breeze. It always makes me happy."
If I remember this correctly, Kyouno Houshi played by Hasegawa Hiroki said these. You may know him from Shin Godzilla and Attack on Titan (film).
Their language is indeed music to my ears. So when they sing, all I hear are affectionate melodies. Which reminds me, is there a playlist on Spotify or somewhere? I badly want to listen to all the songs again while I work. If you get the chance to see this film in the next edition of the JFF Plus: Online Festival, do not dare miss it!
Not the best in this genre but it did give us a mystery to solve along with the thrill
Stolen Identity (2018) is not the best in this genre. But it is worth mentioning that the film did give us a mystery to solve along with the thrill; not to mention, some twists and turns that make you ponder.
What kept me going was how the characters reacted in every situation. Come to think of it, those are true. That is how people are in reality. You see, there is a scene wherein the antagonist tries to unlock a smartphone by finding possible passwords.
Do you know what he did?
He searches a platform called Social Book to look for links - not hyperlinks more like leads. And he was able to! He found the profile and the birthday of that person. Take note, NEVER use your birthday as a password ever! If you do, mix and match with other symbols, letters or numbers. Also, do not use obvious passwords. For instance, the street racer character in the film chose his plate number as a password.
Now, let me share with you the problems I encountered while watching. There are too many twists and turns; not to mention, characters with their own story. There is Asami, our main lead. There is also her boyfriend, her friend, and her past. Let us not forget the detective as well as the main antagonist.
The purpose of a plot twist is to surprise the audience. It may be, foreshadowed, to prepare the audience as the story transitions. But with several of these elements, there is a feeling of unnecessary dragging and confusion. So towards the end, instead of being surprised by the huge plot twist, you start to question why.
You see, the film did not only present a story of stealing personal information, but also stealing an entire identity. Our main female lead has a deep past that could have taken centre stage.
Gon, the Little Fox (2019)
The storytelling gives joy as well as sadness that pierces through
The animation started with our main character Hyoju crouched down and waiting for the perfect moment to hit a fox. But being the kind person he is, he purposely misses the shot giving the fox a chance to run away. The elderly accompanying him reprimands him and hoped that he didn't intentionally miss it.
The way I see it, Hyoju is torn. He understands what the elderly said to him. "We take life for a reason. We have to kill, for us to live." It is indeed part of our system. But how to do it and when to stop are questions that are difficult to answer.
Hyoju doesn't know it either; however, he keeps his mother's wise words to his heart. "You can stay as you are. My soft-hearted Hyoju." He sure did. But towards the end, he made a mistake. His mind took over his kind heart erasing possibilities. But I think it was the kind of fault that when taken to heart will help lead you to the right path.
Now, why did this short stop motion animation pierce my heart? I think the synopsis is a dead giveaway. How the film was put together and leading the viewers on was the breaking point.
You see, this stop motion animation is quite intricate. The breathing, the raindrops and the spider-lily season are beautiful. Add in the emotions brought by the storytelling gives joy as well as sadness that pierces through. The ending makes you question life and everything you've done.
Visually beautiful and very thought-provoking
Birdshot is the award-winning sophomore feature of Filipino director Mikhail Red which he co-wrote with Rae Red. The film is supported by the Doha Film Institute where they won a production grant.
Furthermore, the coming-of-age thriller won awards such as the CJ Entertainment Award at the Asian Project Market Awards during the 20th Busan International Film Festival as well as the Best Asian Future Film Award at the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival. It's also worth mentioning that Birdshot is the first Filipino film released worldwide by Netflix.
Yes, you read that last part right! Birdshot is indeed the first Filipino film ON Netflix. Well, it's no surprise because the film is not only visually beautiful but it's also very thought-provoking. Though "loss of innocence" is a common theme in a coming-of-age of film, Birdshot was able to give the audience another view - a good view of the present state of humanity and moral decay.
In the film, we see two evident characters robbed of their guilt. There is the farm girl named Maya (Mary Joy Apostol) and the newbie cop, Domingo (Arnold Reyes). The difference between these two is that Maya was too young to understand the life that is why she didn't think twice about shooting a bird. Domingo, on the other hand, is fully aware of the difference between good and evil. But with the presence of violence in his work life, he chose to forget what he was so desperately fighting for.
It's quite sad, to be honest, but it is in our nature. Our actions are easily influenced by the people around us especially if they are older or more powerful. This can be a strength but it can also be a weakness. In this case, it is the latter. Because of that, our characters made mistakes causing them to suffer.
The good thing about it though is that our characters reached a resolution. It wasn't an easy ride but it definitely wasn't late for them to decide on a different route. In reality and our current state, I think it would be a little difficult for us to resist the changes. The way I see it, Birdshot serves as a wake-up call that if we are not careful we might all end up losing the essence of morality.
1st ko si 3rd (2014)
1st Ko Si 3rd has the power to awaken your senses to reevaluate your life.
Florido's 1st Ko Si 3rd has a simple storyline but don't be fooled. 1st Ko Si 3rd has the power to awaken your senses to reevaluate your life. This is due to the film's grasp of reality showing us a balanced and better picture of a senior's life.
With that, the viewers were able to see and feel the core emotions - joy, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust. Sounds like Pixar's Inside Out, doesn't it? In a way yes. While Riley deals with the emotions of a youth, Cory deals with the latter part of life.
It is also worth mentioning that the power the film is due to Nova Villa's portrayal of Cory and Dante Rivero's Alejandro (Cory's husband) persona. These two characters are quite different not only in terms of attitude but with the way they see life. When Cory struggles with her retirement, Alejandro does his best to bring happiness to her. He tries to fix the Mercedes-Benz so he can take Cory for a ride and teach her to drive.
Before the film ends, he succeeds in fixing their car and does what he promised. In fact, Alejandro gave more than that. He gave Cory strength and positive outlook to face their future together. This for me is the turning point of Cory's character. Joy overpowered all the other emotions allowing her to face her past and the regrets that came with it.
Dr. Cutie (2020)
"Dr. Cutie" truly is a rom-com, one that has a fast and straightforward plot
There is a comedy which is not the silly type. There is also romance which is quite lovely. And though there is a tragedy, it is not that dark because all the characters are self-actualised; not to mention, fast when making decisions in the name of justice.
I like that last part, to be honest. The main male leads know who their enemy is that is why they do not hesitate to make a move. However, the series still had some shortcomings.
Though the pace in this drama is just right, probably because they only have a total of 28 and after the 23rd episode everything feels rushed. Too rushed to the point that they downplayed some details.
For instance, after learning that Tian Qi is Shen Zhao Er, her character was not as strong and as determined as depicted in the early episodes. Though she was in danger many times before, she still had the will. Just because she can now be herself, does not mean she has to look weak. I guess I miss the witty and strong-willed Tian Qi.
Another thing that got me thinking is the antagonist or the real villain. It is essential to understand that "Dr. Cutie" has intertwining plots revolving around the main characters. We have Shen Zhao Er a.k.a Tian Qi and her past, General J and his family (Ji family) as well as the Ji family's enemy, a clan in Dong Mountain Village who started a rebellion several years ago. Despite the conflicts presented, it is not easy to determine who the main antagonist is.
It frustrated me a little bit because the remaining heir of the clan from Dong Mountain Village seems to be cunning and dangerous. He plans well; unfortunately, the Ji half brothers - Ji Heng (General J) and Ji Zheng were more than he can take. They are smarter, faster and do not hesitate to protect. But by episode 27 that is when I realised there is something underneath.
Though Shen Zhao Er who disguised as a man is the main focus, I uncovered the Queen's karma. The Dong clan is just a little external bump for the Ji family. The internal problem; on the other hand, is the Queen's past decisions.
As per this drama and other dramas, people were quick to dismiss and take lives during those times. The Queen was the reason for the death of Shen Zhao Er's family as well as the death of Ji Zheng's mother. The remaining heir of the Dong clan used the situation to his advantage which of course, was not enough for him to be considered the villain.
I still could not point out who it is. I am starting to think there is no main antagonist as each character did something bad at some point. I guess "Dr. Cutie" truly is a rom-com, one that has a fast and straightforward plot which I enjoyed. "Dr. Cutie" is the perfect series after watching a heavy drama with 50 episodes.