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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.
Secrets in the Hot Spring (2018)
You will get both the comedy and the horror of the story.
Secrets in the Hot Spring (2018) is not an ambitious film. It knows what it is and thus, successfully executed and presented both the comedy and the horror elements without pretensions.
I'm sure you've seen comedy horror films that lean more on comedy and isn't scary at all. There are also films of the same genre that doesn't give justice to the comedy part. With Secrets in the Hot Spring (2018), you will truly get both the comedy and the horror of the story. And in the end, you will also receive a heartwarming story that completes the film experience.
The characters struck me because one I've met them and two I'm one of them.
Not far from reality.
Gem (Glaiza de Castro) works as a call center agent, a dead-end job according to her mother (Irma Adlawan). But Gem thinks otherwise. Thus, she continues working despite the shifting schedule which messes up her body clock.
There, she meets Barry (Dominic Roco). He's a new agent who like her is also suffering from sleepless nights. Upon learning that they live in the same building, they make a pact to keep each other company with stories.
These characters struck me so hard because one I've met them and two I'm one of them.
Simple and relatable.
Though both characters have their own issues, the sleepless journey is as simple as their train ride which takes them from point A to B. And just like any journey, they encounter a stop sign hindering them from moving forward.
But together they face the reason behind their sleepless nights. Together they combat loneliness through imagination and creativity.
There are scenes wherein Gem and Barry would "dub" the conversations of other people leading them to more weird and funny ideas.
Anong gagawin mo 'pag may zombie apocalypse? If a zombie apocalypse happens, what will you do?
Gem would be channeling her inner Lara Croft and fight them using a riffle. Barry, on the other hand, would be chopping off zombie heads using a katana. Loneliness is indeed a powerful thing but with someone beside, you'll be able to break through eventually.
Life in darkness.
It's worth mentioning that the film has many visually captivating shots which balanced out reality. Besides those working at the call center, how many more are up at night? You can count the old lady selling balut near the eskinita, people out for a late night snack, and couples fighting in the middle of the night. Sleepless successfully showed us that there is beauty as well as life in darkness.
The film Sleepless clearly deserves all the praises. I hope more people will be able to watch this and more films will be as beautiful as this.
The plot is familiar but I appreciate every scare and details they presented.
The film starts with a dream but some will say it's a vision, a warning. I agree with the latter. The opening sequence was bleak, melancholy and the signs were all there. Indeed, something is going to happen with our protagonist who then wakes up in a hospital room where her daughter is confined.
Olivia played by Carmina Villaroel is a solo parent. She's been making ends meet while taking care of her sick daughter, Anelle played by Krystal Brimner. But things aren't going their way as Anelle has been confined for quite some time. As any solo parent and parent, in general, would do, Olivia finds a job. Though the job fair is exclusively for college students, she pursues it and ends up getting the job.
Now all throughout their journey, a bleak setting was presented. The atmosphere never broke but it gets darker and darker every time Olivia goes to work. She works as a call centre agent and her workplace is set in an old building with quite a history and filled with secrets.
As per Lance, the Team Leader played by JC Santos: "The Liboro House used to be a settlement for survivors back in World War II. The family's patriarch, Doctor Jaime Liboro, bought the entire building and turned it into one of Manila's best hospitals in the '70s only to be reopened and remodelled into where we all are now.
Some housekeeping tips. LGO is currently the only office in the entire building. The second and third floors are all under renovations, so please be careful when walking around."
Those secrets slowly come to light as Olivia helps a little girl, who she thought was lost, get out of the building. And this is where we first hear they use the title, sunod. The Filipino word sunod has different meanings but when Olivia used it, it simply means to follow her as she leads her out of the building.
Once she's out, this is where all the craziness in Olivia's life happens. Her daughter gets possesses by the little girl from the building which turns out to be Nerisa played by Rhed Bustamante. She and her mother Perla played by Susan Africa lived in the basement of the building when it was still a hospital.
Though the owner of the building already noticed how weird this girl is and her mother, his wife, a kind nurse showed them compassion and helped them in any way. Sadly, this mother and daughter tandem had terrifying plans for the wife. When they were caught by the husband, Dr Jaime Liboro played by Freddie Webb he strangled Nerissa out of anger ultimately killing her.
Now that night was set to happen again as Olivia mistakenly reunites Nerissa and her mother. With the thought of finding Nerissa's body in the basement to help her move on, Olivia finds herself in the same position as Dr Liboro's wife. Tied to a sacrificial table, Perla starts the ritual. The red thread or yarn, as well as the visions Olivia, keeps having turned into her reality.
From what I understood, Olivia is the next or sunod. The next person or body that Perla will be taking. Now was she successful? I'm not going to tell you just like I didn't share the whole film.
But I am going to tell you that though the plot is familiar, I appreciate every scare and details they presented. It's honestly simple but beautiful especially the part with the red thread or yarn. The actors are great, too. I think Carmina Villaroel played Olivia well most especially Krystal Brimner who played Anelle.
I think the only problem I have is I wanted a little more story concerning the ritual. What kind of people are these mother and daughter duo? Are Perla and Nerissa their original form? Or, did they also steal these people's lives? Lastly, what exactly is this ritual and what were those dark figures?
I'm not hoping for part two. But if they will, I hope they will keep it simple, scary and break barriers like they did in this film. You see, when there is a backstory about a rich family in a horror film, they usually have something to do with everything. But not here. The Liboro family is innocent except for killing Anelle who tried to sacrifice and killed the Mrs.
Was It Love (2020)
A beautiful series but dwindled towards the end
When I started watching the series, all six episodes were already available on Netflix. The moment I finished watching an episode, I already knew I wanted to watch the entire show. So every Wednesday and Thursday night I would wait for the latest episode. It was unbearable at first because the drama gave me several emotions - heartache, hope, wonder and nostalgia.
The first six episodes got me. I felt everything the story wanted me to feel; not to mention, I related well to the characters especially with Noh Ae-jung (Song ji-hyo). Well, only the part about the sacrifices and her dreams. But pretty sure some numerous viewers relate to her and the other characters well.
But I was able to endure the long wait every two episodes because I was happy with every single episode especially the flashbacks. Also, I'm glad all the actors in the show participated in this drama. I couldn't imagine someone else in their places.
Sadly, towards the end, I was not having the same satisfaction. Episodes 15 and 16 were the lowest episodes for me. If you watched the series, you might have remembered that there was a cancellation of episode 15 release. JTBC did not air the said episode due to typhoon Bavi so fans of the series waited a bit longer.
Since we were down with the last two episodes, I decided to watch them when they're both out. The day came and I finally did. As per my thoughts on the early episodes, I lost all those feelings towards the last two episodes.
I thought there would be a sense of clarity and satisfaction. I did get the former but the latter was a slight disappointment. I felt that a person who underwent such tragic misunderstanding, yes I use tragic, should get the best conclusion. Noh Ae-jung and Oh Dae-oh/Cheon Eok-man deserved so much better like the rest of the main and supporting characters did.
Don't get me wrong. I did appreciate the ending specifically how our beloved Noh Ae-jung finally fulfilled her dream and continuous to do so. Also, I know they did end up together but the added two years apart was an agony.
In the previous episode where they fixed Ryu Jin's problem, the way they did that to protect Noh Ha-nee and also Ryu Jin was so well-planned and executed. But when the problem with Oh Dae-oh or should I say, his other persona Cheon Eok-man the author resurfaced, it was different.
I guess it's because he knows well and is already a part of Noh Ae-jung and Noh Ha-nee life that he wanted to protect the love of his life and daughter. It makes sense, to be honest. But the hyped feelings the series gave us since episode 12 dwindled in the last two episodes.
I guess that just made me a bit sad about how the beautiful series ended. I can re-watch the early episodes but not the whole series.
P.S The music here is really good especially Dreams by Lee Ba Da. It's the perfect music to describe Noh Ae-jung's journey.
Les lèvres gercées (2018)
Powerful short animation film
Of all the short animation films I watched, I can say that this one is the most powerful. Why? Well, for a few simple reasons.
First, the animation style is a good choice as it was able to set the mood of the entire film. Second, the scenes and dialogues are on point. They're honest scenes and lines that anyone who is experiencing troubles in life can attest to that. And despite the short running time, Chapped Lips (Les Lèvres Gercées) was able to leave its audience some very thought-provoking questions.
"What happens when I die? Will I be a girl then?"
Yes, Chapped Lips' (Les Lèvres Gercées) theme is gender identity. The kid (or, maybe teen) in the film has been trying to speak to his mom. He doesn't know how but the more he tries, the harder it gets. It's devastating and exhausting.
Besides a judgmental society, family can be insensitive, too. That is why I recommend this film to be watched by young adults and older. They need to realise that their silence over this matter is not a good approach.
It would also be great to educate the younger ones because they, too can be mean and rude to others. But this task falls unto their parents/ guardians hands. Moreover, there are also other issues that need to be addressed early. I hope that besides parents, older siblings, godparents and grandparents help educate the younger ones properly to avoid any unwanted situation which often leads to a sorrowful one.
Since this is only a short film, I hope you find time to watch it, too.
Plot and characters were just a little too thin but the terrifying story is within
The trailer gave me a good impression. When I decided to hit play, the first sequence gave a promising start.
Set in an unknown forest, we see a teenage girl looking for her boyfriend. She didn't look lost to me because it was obvious, she was being pranked. But that sequence did give off a terrifying vibe of being alone and lost. And just like I predicted, her boyfriend appears. Unfortunately, that didn't last long as two found themselves in an irrevocable situation.
Now onto our main characters. It's the typical situation friends getting together after finals week and ready to go on an adventure. Nothing wrong with that honestly. It's not unique but it's a true situation which anyone can relate to.
In terms of the story, I appreciate how they delivered and executed it. They used the forest and scares available well. But what I didn't like is how horror movies work. Filipinos know that the lead actors Bianca Umali (Erika) and Miguel Tan Felix (Rich) are a loveteam.
Loveteams in the Philippines is essential and sacred. So, when they do a horror movie, you instantly know that they will both survive. Typical moves like that need to change. This is horror and you need to be bold.
Use all your characters well like Mac played by Kim Last, Thea played by Andrea Brillantes and Yel played by Taki Saito wisely. Build them well and make the audience love them so when they reach their end, they will be missed. Sadly, they were just disposed of.
Now, don't let my words stop you from watching it. Banal (2019) or sacred in English is a good horror film. The plot and characters were just a little too thin but the terrifying story is within.
Filmmakers did not waste any second. Every scene was flawless.
The first few minutes are all about lolo Bert (Dido Dela Paz). He lives alone in an old brown house. He doesn't like company so he pretty much ignores people who knock on his door. If you don't read the synopsis as I do, you will start to think that lolo Bert is an introvert. He cherishes serenity and enjoys a hot cup of coffee on a rainy day. But soon you find out that he is suffering.
Ang Gasgas na Plaka ni Lolo Bert Poster*Side note: As lolo Bert cleans the old piano, we see two books - A Credible Threat by Janet Dawson and Trip to Quiapo: Scriptwriting Manual by Ricky Lee. Because you don't just put sir Ricky Lee's book for no reason, I searched for the first book.
The first phrase from the summary caught my eye. It says, "The pleasant old brown shingle house..." Lolo Bert lives in a sombre old brown house. Moreover, one of the filmmakers, Janina Gacosta joined the Ricky Lee Scriptwriting Workshop.
As per the opening, we see a short report from the UNAIDS about the estimated number of people with HIV (PLHIV) in the country. In the end, we see an all too familiar line that says a lot about our society.
"HIV doesn't kill - stigma does"
No wonder lolo Bert has shunned himself from the outside world and has somehow given up. But that changed when another unexpected knock comes at his door. It's a box of memories where he finds an old vinyl record which we know by the title is broken.
When it did not properly play, he set out to have it fixed. Miyo (Soliman Cruz), the owner of the shop is a pleasant and friendly character. He is quite an open character and reveals too much about himself throughout lolo Bert's trip to his shop. As expected, our main lead could not be bothered. But after a while, he succumbs to his desire.
The way this happened is very beautiful. From a sombre, old brown house to a bright, music-filled brown house, we see him dance with his ex-lover. When he wakes up, he did what he had to do - open up and be happy.
This short film has a running time of 19:07 minutes and the filmmakers did not waste any second. Every scene was flawless especially the set design, lighting and music. I felt sad for our main and even cried during the dance scene but eventually felt happy as he accepted the fact that he found and deserves happiness, too.
Filmmaker Carla Pulido Ocampo's Tokwifi is a masterpiece
I had a good feeling with Tokwifi and now I'm pleased that I was able to get that affirmation. Filmmaker Carla Pulido Ocampo's Tokwifi is indeed a masterpiece. I can't even point out which scene is my favourite because every scene is needed and is a work of art.
That is why I encourage you to watch this short film before the Cinemlaya 2020 ends. Who knows when you'll be able to see this!
But I have to admit I wish it was longer. A mini-series, perhaps? Both characters are strong and relatable that I have gowned to love them even if the film lasted for only 20 minutes.
In addition, Tokwifi presented some interesting issues. What does the girl in the television remind you of? What does Limmayug remind you of?
In a world where streaming is normal, don't you just see yourself in Limmayug's place? You're there in front of the screen (tv, laptop, or phone) watching a series in another country. A Spanish soap opera? A K-drama? Either which you won't understand their language but you try to. And with the help of the subtitle or a little Googling, you finally get the idea.
Our leads didn't have those means but it wasn't a hindrance as they still found a way to understand each other. Love itself is a language between two people willing to break the barrier.
But there is also a dark side to beautiful fantasy and that is being over-generalised or stereotyped. How are men and women; not to mention, their preference or culture portrayed on television? Are they all truly like that? Again, someone has to break the barrier to convey the right message.
I believe Tokwifi was able to transmit it loud and clear.
The Slums (2019)
The mockumentary is successful in showing how families keep up with the life they have.
The first time I saw the trailer, I was already intrigued. As mentioned, time and time again, I don't always read the synopsis. But I saw something in their 30-second trailer that made me want to watch it right away.
My intuition was right. There is indeed something about this short film which made me watch it again after completing all the entries in this year's Cinemalaya.
What was that something, you ask? Well, the truth. Maybe not everyone's but this is their truth. Just because there are families or people, in general living a different life that you don't mean that their experience or feeling is the same.
Sure, they don't have a lot in terms of material wealth but I can say the same with families who live in villages or subdivisions. They don't have a lot and they struggle as well. We've all seen that type of portrayal common on teleseryes where they would exaggerate the socioeconomic status of a character. Thus, creating a huge gap between each.
If you're rich, then you are filthy rich with a mansion, an ancestral home and cars on your driveway. You also speak English or "Spanish" which is only limited to the words bueno, tonta or cochina. If you are poor, then you live in a barong-barong and only speak Filipino.
Is there no in-between? I doubt it. But I have to point out that there have been some changes in the way socioeconomic statuses are presented on television and film today.
Now, let's take a look at the family in the film. They are made of likeable, relatable and good characters. If they start a YouTube channel, I would surely subscribe and watch their videos. Why? Simply because they are the true picture of what a family should be. They have values and you see how much they love each other.
The mockumentary is successful in showing how families keep up with the life they have. And let me tell you, a family like them exists and they are not going to give up. They will continue to work hard and live a good life they deserve.
Dead Kids (2019)
Dark and suspenseful
There were several complexities presented in the film but they were able to put all together allowing a balance between crime thriller and teen drama. It's also worth mentioning that the cast especially Vance Larena who played Charles Blanco was great. I'm glad about the selection of young actors.
Successfully showed the truths about the life of an extra and life itself
Before That Thing Called Tadhana, writer and director Antoinette Jadaone gave us Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay. The mockumentary is a finalist at the 2011 Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival where it won six awards including Best Actress for Lilia Cuntapay, a professional extra and dubbed as the "Queen of Philippine Horror Movies".
No surprise there as the film uniquely and successfully showed the truths about the life of an extra and life itself without being overly dramatic. Not only that, but Lilia Cuntapay proved she can be in the lead too. She has a sense of humor and a charm that makes you want to listen and see what she'll say and do next.
I remember a scene where she took her neighbor's advice and went to Starbucks so she can write her thank you speech. After seeing the prices, she asks herself what's wrong with Starbucks' coffee. And when it was her turn, she orders a bottle of water instead. To her surprise, the cashier asks her for Php 40.00. Cuntapay directly asks, "What's wrong with your water?"
It was a short scene but it made me laugh. Plus, it also showed how much she loves acting that she is willing to try new things just to be able to write the perfect thank you speech.
Besides that, Lilia Cuntapay also delivered lines that speak to your heart. There was a scene where she was called for work and arrived at the set before the call time. Director Antoinette Jadaone asks her why did she come early. Lilia Cuntapay simply says that she would rather wait than have people wait for her.
"Ang buhay hindi para sa taong mainipin. Kasama sa pagiging tao ang paghihintay." (Life is not for impatient people. Waiting is part of being a person.)
"Ang mga extra simpleng characters lang. Walang past. Wala ring future. (Extras are just simple characters. They don't have a past and a future.)
Hearing the last line from her, it dawned on me that extras with lines or no lines are only there to fill the space. They don't even support the characters and are simply forgotten. But not Lilia Cuntapay.
Successfully delivers a strong message
Buttons is filled with wonder and positivity as it shows the genuine friendship between our main characters, or shall I say dolls - Iko and Dixie! Though its animation style is simple, the film's execution complemented its story enabling it to successfully deliver a strong message to its viewers.
Emotional punch and a relatable feeling...
Geo is simply great. The music and visuals from the introduction made Geo seem like an action-packed adventure film by Marvel. Not only that, but the story itself has an emotional punch and a relatable feeling. It gave me the same impression when I watched Walt Disney Animation Studios' Big Hero 6. And that isn't bad.
Little Lights (2015)
Did not fail to impress!
The beautiful background music in Little Lights takes us on an enchanting journey from beginning to end. Viewers were treated with magical and colorful visuals starting with the falling leaves in the morning to late afternoon leading to the fireflies' activities at night.
In terms of story, the animation did not fail to impress. Little Lights simply tells us to find our light. Know what we, as a person are capable of doing and not be afraid to step up when necessary.
Ang manananggal sa unit 23B (2016)
Visually Gorgeous & Clever
Before sharing my thoughts on the film, let's first tackle the fascinating creature that Filipinos love. The manananggal is an ordinary human female by day. When the moon rises, she performs a ritual which involves rubbing a certain type of oil on her waist and transforming her into a vicious, half-bodied monster with huge bat-like wings!
Yes, you read that right.
After the ritual, this creature of Philippine mythology and folklore would leave her lower body hidden in the bushes till dawn while her upper body flies off to search for food. They usually prey on pregnant women by sucking the unborn infant from the womb but eating human heart is also on their list.
Now let's talk about Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B.
The film started by showing what Jewel (Ryza Cenon) probably sees everyday as a human - the sky, the buildings and the streets. Then we were shown how Jewel lives her day - eating balut and feeding her pet turtle. During the first few minutes, we can conclude that Jewel is a shy person and doesn't want to be around people too much.
But when Jewel met and befriends her neighbor Nico (Martin del Rosario) and his grandmother (Vangie Labalan), we start to see more about her as a person. Plus based on the jokes she makes about her life and her actions, we can validate that she is indeed holding onto her humanity.
"Wala akong boyfriend kasi wala namang nagmamahal sa 'kin e. Masama akong tao, hindi mo lang alam." - Jewel, Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
Honestly, I think this is the most "human" manananggal I have ever encountered in Philippine cinema. Yes, she still does the ritual I mentioned earlier as well as eat human hearts. But this creature is usually portrayed as mysterious and they don't try to hide that making them easy to be identified.
Despite that, I am not mad about this film's version as they made the character a bit more intriguing. It didn't even bother me that there was no explanation as to how Jewel became a manananggal. The audience just accepted it because the story and her character was very well put together. Besides, the film isn't really horror but more on romance.
It is also worth mentioning that there were some social commentaries cleverly inserted in the film. To hide the manananggal's feeding activity, Jewel places a sign on her victim's saying, "Huwag tularan Pusher ako" which is very timely.
Moreover, Jewel's transformation from human to monster is visually gorgeous. I must say, Ryza Cenon did a superb job. Since her GMA StarStruck days where she is the Ultimate Survivor of the shows second season, Cenon has grown so much as an actor. Have you seen her in GMA Network's Ika-6 Na Utos? She is great there as well.
100 tula para kay Stella (2017)
A Nostalgic & Coming-of-Age Story
The film starts at the beginning of the School Year 2004 – 2005, Fidel's first year in college. Like any school, the first day is dedicated to getting to know the professor and the students. In one class, it was Fidel's turn to do so. To help him speak and cover the fact that he has speech defect, he prepared a couple of cue cards. But as soon as he was asked about his interests and hobbies, Fidel was caught off guard revealing his secret.
Though that incident led to students making fun of him, that encounter also led to his inspiration. The professor who asked about Fidel's interests and hobbies happens to be the Faculty Adviser of The Seedling, the school's publication. She asked if he could submit a poem about anything that inspires him.
"Anything that inspires you."
He tries to write but was unsuccessful. When Freshie's Night came, he met Stella, the person who showed him kindness and the inspiration behind his first poem.
As he gets closer and their friendship deepens, he soon writes more and more poems with her in mind.
What I like about 100 Tula Para Kay Stella is their take on both sides of college life and life in general. It is, after all, the time where a person discovers and understands himself.
Take Fidel, for instance. Though Stella never left his mind, he continued life in school and experienced the "college life". Stella, on the other hand, was blinded by her dream. She kept looking straight ignoring the signs making her loose sight of what's important. But in the end, both characters acknowledged the emotions and mistakes they committed helping them accept everything that happened.
100 Tula Para Kay Stella successfully delivered each characters' journey. Though there were some sudden shifts in the film's tone, I didn't mind it at all because that's how life truly is. One day, you're happy. The next, you're angry at everyone and life starts to loose meaning.
Another thing I like is the non-stop nostalgia. I wasn't in college yet but I do remember that 2004 was indeed a good year for Pinoy Rock Bands and Nokia phones. I believe it's the perfect setting for 100 Tula Para Kay Stella.
Water Spirit and Possession
LAWOD is director Dan Villegas' first foray into the horror genre. Direk Dan initially wanted a demonic possession but after some brainstorming sessions with scriptwriter Yvette Tan, they finally settled on "a family plagued by a water elemental spirit." With the help of director Antoinette Jadaone (Villegas' girlfriend), their monster was named.
Ilawod or downstream is the opposite of ilaya or upstream. This word may be unfamiliar but it is creepy and intriguing enough. Just think of reports about mysterious or "unexplained" drowning. People who survived such incident say that a force tried to drag them down.
With a menacing water elemental spirit like that, Dan Villegas' Ilawod is clearly a supernatural horror. But that is not all! I found two subgenres – psychological and drama horror which pulled me even more.
First, it is worth mentioning that Therese Malvar's performance as the water elemental is so absorbing. Her first target in the family was the young son, Ben played by Harvey Bautista. She attacked Ben psychologically which I found beautiful.
On the side, the Ilawod also manifested to Bea the youngest child played by Xyriel Manabat, Kathy the mother played by Iza Calzado and Dennis the father played by Ian Veneracion. But as the elemental got deep into Ben's head, the family's world turned upside down.
The execution was very dramatic. The emotion heightened when the mom found out what happened to her son. As the father, Dennis did everything he could. Unfortunately, the family's bond has been over taken. Thus, the elemental won.
The supernatural element, psychological attack and dramatic scenes might not be a good horror combination for some. But there are times you won't need horrific images to make you scared. The mind is very powerful and Ilawod played with that.
Bloody Crayons (2017)
Bloody Crayons is Surprisingly Okay
With such a simple and unpretentious story line, it wasn't difficult to enjoy the film.
The direction built was straight and clear. Along that road are nine characters (less after some got killed) which we got to know even if it was just for a short while. When they started playing the Bloody Crayons game, there was a brief harmony among the characters.
BUT that same moment also marks the turning point and emergence of each personality's darker shade. The deception and confusion led to an even more interesting and gruesome series of events.
The young actors' performances were on point but there are those who stole the spotlight. There's Jane Oineza who played Olivia. Switching from killer to victim and back to killer asked a lot from her but she delivered. Yves Flores who played Justin also stole the spotlight with all his outbursts.
With all those together, I found how surprisingly okay Bloody Crayons is.
Kita kita (2017)
Unconventional But Beautiful
Kita Kita is unconventional. The producers took the risk of presenting something unusual. To everyone's surprise that so-called "unconventional" worked wonders!
Casting actor and comedian Empoy Marquez alongside the beautiful and talented actress Alessandra De Rossi is the best decision ever. Sure Marquez is not the cute guy next door but the role given to him and his portrayal made everyone fall for him. It's also worth mentioning that Marquez and De Rossi has an incredible chemistry making their "AlEmpoy" love team a huge hit.
Besides unconventional, Kita Kita is also absolutely beautiful – visually and emotionally. While touring the beautiful Sapporo, we know that there is a grand plan at the end. Kita Kita prepared us by giving a simple path to follow. As we slowly take it, we learn more and more about the characters gaining a deeper understanding of their life, friendship and love.
Sigrid Bernardo's Kita Kita proves that unconventional can also be beautiful.