Move Review: Hiblang Abo

Directed by: Ralston Jover

Main Cast: Lou Veloso, Jun Urbano, Leo Rialp, Nanding Josef, Matt Daclan, Lui Manansala, Flor Salanga, Cherry Malvar, Angela Cortez, Mike Liwag, Rommel Luna, Rener Concepcion, Anna Luna

Synopsis: “Hiblang Abo” speaks volumes of muted memories and infinite struggles among four men in their twilight years, confined in a hospice facility or home for the aged. Their gray hair grows and fades unnoticed, their lives enter the void of oblivion. Everything unfolds so naturally into their swan song until their body pains and heartaches yield the same intensity, when their hearing and their feelings become permanently impaired; and when their blurry vision and memories become “clear” signs that the inevitable state of death is as fleeting as the vibrancy of life itself. (Cinemalaya)

This film was my first for this year’s iteration of Cinemalaya. I just read the synopsis and thought that it might be an interesting story. I came out from CCP’s Little Theater confused, tired, and a bit bored.

First thing off, the film is a bit too dark, literally. There are a handful of scenes when I really had to squint just to see what is happening. Is it meant to mean anything, to invoke a subtle message? I am not sure, and if it does, I obviously do not get it.

The story itself is also a bit too dark for me. How can everything like that happen in a place where people are either trying to remember what used to be good or forget a bad past? I only learned that it was an adaptation of a 1980 play when I researched about it after the screening. That explains the storyline and flow for me. I feel like the story works better when performed live.

The movie won’t be in my top 10 Cinemalaya films I’ve watched, but the performances of the actors are still worth your time, I think. It can also be that the movie is just too deep (and too dark) for me. 🙂

Movie Review: Pamilya Ordinaryo

Directed by: Eduardo Roy, Jr.
Cast: Ronwaldo Martin, Hasmine Killip, Maria Isabel Lopez, Sue Prado, Ruby Ruiz, Moira Lang, Karl Medina, Erlinda Villalobos, Domingo Cobarrubias, Paolo Rodriguez, John Bon Andrew Lentejas, John Vincent Servilla, Rian Magtaan, Myla Monido, Alora Sasam, Ruth Alferez

Synopsis: Jane and Aries are teenage parents. They make a living out of stealing on the streets… until fate hits back at them. (Cinemalaya)

When I read all the synopses for this year’s Cinemalaya, Pamilya Ordinaryo piqued my interest  the most. Granted that it is still about poverty, a topic used and overused by filmmakers, the story about teenage parents living on the streets somehow intrigued me.

I watched the film at Greenbelt 1 and a minute before the film started, the Production Manager spoke and said that the film was 5 minutes off-sync and the case was the same for their screenings in other venues as well. The good thing was the off-sync was not during a crucial scene. That would’ve sucked if ever.

I loved the lead actors for the most part. There are times when you can see that they are snapping out of their characters, but I am thoroughly impressed and convinced by their performances.

The movie is heart-wrenching, and while it does not in any way try to justify the acts of the lead characters, it somehow provides a glimpse into the motivations for their actions. You cannot help but pity the characters and be frustrated with their situation, and with the people who keep on taking advantage of their situation.

I just felt like the movie ends so abruptly, without any resolution. It can be intentional to invoke the message that there is no end in sight in the hardships of the characters, but I felt like it could’ve used a few more minutes to at least let that idea linger and marinate in the minds of the viewers.

I also want to get the attention of the people behind the film. It really bothered me that the subtitles kept using the word “fag” to refer to “bakla.” I understand brevity and all, but “gay guy/man” will not fill up the whole screen. It just gives the impression that it is okay to use “fag” to refer to gay men. It is not. It never will be.

 

Movie Review: This Time (Starring James Reid and Nadine Lustre)

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This Time
Starring James Reid and Nadine Lustre
Directed by Nuel Naval
Produced by Viva Films

Ava and Coby’s relationship has been defined by their memories every summer. Being the grandson of an Ambassador who is based in different countries, Coby (James Reid) only gets to spend time in the Philippines every summer. And when he meets Ava (Nadine Lustre) when they were still young, what started out as an innocent friendship turned into a complicated label-less relationship.

This movie was clearly made with JaDine fans in mind. While the story had its promise, they way it was told was somehow lacking in substance and depth. While they touched on the reasons that drive the characters’ decisions, it would have benefited the movie if they dug a bit deeper to actually make Ava and Coby more relatable. The conflict presented at the latter part of the film also somehow felt forced and unnecessary. I think it was added to put more emphasis on how time and distance can cause trouble in a relationship. I just thought that maybe that story could’ve been executed better. Or they could’ve just gotten a better actor than Bret Jackson.

But the undeniable chemistry between the reel-to-real love team of Reid and Lustre made this romantic-comedy very entertaining. Continue reading