Archive for the love story Category

Spinderella cut it up one time!

Posted in children-young adult content, fantasy-mythical, Hollywood dream factory, love story, women's issues in film with tags , , , on March 24, 2015 by leaflens

Or in short, here’s my take on this year’s remake of a tale as old as time, but the messaging is as problematic as ever. Yes, I know it’s as predictable as hell but it still needs to be scrutinized, especially these days when media bombards women and girls with questionable embedded values.


d. Kenneth Branagh

c. Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Lily James

PITCH: That ageless tale of an orphan girl with a wicked stepmum and stepsisses who, out of kindness and through magic, snags herself a prince charming with a foot fetish of sorts. Okay glass slippers na nga!

CATCH: That ageless tale just rebooted its age-old problematic messaging and what this tale actually related to young girls out there.

That this film was directed by Kenneth Branagh surprised me more than anything. But no amount of Shakespearean creds or great film creds (Much Ado About Nothing or Dead Again or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein my fave! to name a few) could spin this tale out of its eventual tunnel vision of a message: that in order to get out of a miserable life, a girl needs to be kind and suffer first in order to snag a prince charming. Whoopteedoo.

Daniel Radcliffe, Kenneth Branagh, and Rupert Grint

Or maybe he was directing it as Gilderoy Lockhart. Yeah, Ron’s face, mine as well. Waaah Emma Thompson o! Oops, baka marinig ni Helena BC heheh.

Fine, given that the film didn’t identify its era so we automatically assume that it was from that era where women are considered property of men, saved only by virtue of being the daughter of a man or the wife of one (which still happens today devahhhhh but I digress). Since Cinderella didn’t have both a dad and a jowa, then she just tried to make do with what life handed out to her, until that fated prince comes along.

And this is where my sweetheart and I reacted when watching this film: that women like Cindy here would just accept what life handed her, without giving up a fight. I mean, is she that naive and trusting that she would just accept all the atrocities that her step-sibs/mum would hand her? Siyempre dahil mga palabang eba kaming mag-jowa, bumubula ang bibig namin nang panoorin namin ito, right? [Yup, dapat nasa Insurgent kami pero may kasama kaming kids at ito ang type nila, so there, k.] Granted that Branagh gave us a glimpse of a “palabang eba, slight” ni Cindy during that scene na parang “kinakaawaan” niya ang katangahan ng step-sibs niya, still, it’s not enough for us to forego all of the pang-aapi that she just received without a whimper. And this is where that idea of female sufferance enters the picture, where women ought to just accept these burdens thrown upon her, because woman! Kainis. Fine, given din na pinakita naman ni Branagh na may spunk kahit papaano si Cindy when she encountered the prince for the first time sa forest, pero onetime bigtime lang ito teh, at pag-uwi niya sa balur, yagit mode pa rin ang peg ni ati. Di ko bet.

I don’t know what’s more dangerous: Cinderella being portrayed as naive to the evils of other people, or that naivete is being disguised as kindness. After all, her mantra was her mother’s dying habilin: have courage and be kind. But mum forgot to lecture her that in order to be courageous, one has to stand up when people are being unkind na, right? Isn’t this akin to just accepting bullying when one is being bullied? With so many problems regarding bullying that kids these days face, they don’t really need another film to reassure them that being bullied now is okay because later, a prince will save the day! Kalerks. They should save themselves dapat ang peg. But no, Shrek kasi ‘yun. or Ever After.

And that’s also one point that my sweetheart reacted to: hindi ganyan ang ma-inlove k! Meaning love is not just about finding someone secretly and then later revealing their real identities and then later ulit inlab na sila. Fine, granted na love at first sight ito, a la Romeo and Juliet, but you know what actually happened to those two star-crossed lovers, right? [Na-tegi sila teh k!] At saka hindi mo mahahanap ang trulab mo because of her shoe size. Pero sige na nga, dahil magical naman ito, I’ll give you that: a shoe-fitted love.

And that’s another thing kung saan din kami nag-react: na hindi masasagot ng magic-magic lang ang prublema mo. No caru? Have pumpkin for a coach! No dress? Bibbity-bobbity-boo RTW courtesy of fairy godmother’s wand. No julalays? Have rats and lizards turn into humans for a few hours. At gorabels na sa ball! Tugz tugs na si teh. Winner.

Well, I guess wala na naman akong magagawa sa tale as old as time na ito, with messaging as dangerous as shit, so I tried to focus on the finer points of the film while watching it. And it involved fixating on the stellar cast . I mean haller, Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmum pare. Dapat mag-usap sila ni Angelina Jolie mylab at gumawa ng Maleficent meets Cinderella’s Evil Stepmum movie pare! Patok sa takilya yun.


If only for this scene, watch this film and see how this Academy Award-winning thespian makes bawi this forgettable story. Walang kupas!

I don’t know how much she was challenged in portraying this role, but she sure looked like she was having fun channeling filmic femme fatales for this role hehe. I don’t know but she reminded me of Marlene Dietrich in some scenes, while that emerging-from-the-dark scene confronting Cinderella and her glass slipper was just awesome. It felt like it didn’t belong in this film. Yes, that’s Branagh indeed, bumabawi si bakla lolz.










Dietrich, meet Blanchett. Pero minsan rume-Rebecca rin ang peg ni ati so hmm ayan hodgepodge.


At kumusta naman din na andito ang alter-ego ni Bellatrix Lestrange in the form of Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of the Fairy Godmother. Again, I guess she was trying to find some deeper hugot of this character pero wala naman talagang mahuhugot dito. So I guess she had fun playing this “alter ego” hihihi. Yes, I get it: raket lang ito, kids. Sige, kelangang kumita paminsan-minsan.


Uhm, Black Swan ba ituh lola Helena? It’s the wand, ano? Lolz. 

As for the notion of a happily ever after, I think there are many tales that have debunked this already, so maybe that’s why they decided to humanize the prince here, so he won’t be altogether 100% charming. By injecting some angst into him (i.e. I want to marry for love, not for political connections chenerz), we could now justify why he ran away from the ball and went bouncing after the belle in blue. Although that landian scene sa swing was a bit funny, and I detected a bit of sexual nuance here hehe. Puwede siyang symbolism for a one night stand kaya haller (i.e. landian blues then hawakan blues then takbuhan blues then ask si bakla ng “What is your name?” sa kalandian lolz yeah I’m overreading #bagotarepublic na by this point).


Ako lang ba ang bothered sa bakat ni boylet??? #himatay

Well, what more can I say? If you want to see a live action version of this Disney animated classic, then go ahead and watch this, if only for these superb actors. Other than that, just be prepared to guide impressionable young minds who might be watching this with you, and help them un-suspend their disbelief after watching this story. Yes, because they’ll need it, teh. K? K.


The future is here, but the future is not now

Posted in Cinema One Originals, dramedy film, film students, film teacher mode, indie films, love story, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry, romantic comedy films on February 16, 2015 by leaflens

Or in short, a review of that film that made you quote lovelorn quips this love month. Or earlier if you caught this in its festival inception.

312926_10150401822735190_748755189_10316644_525666240_nTHAT THING CALLED TADHANA (2014)

d., s. Tonet Jadaone

dop. Sasha Palomares

sound. Jedd/Bryan Dumaguina

c. Angelica Panganiban, JM De Guzman

Pitch: Great concept. Fresh take on storytelling. More stories like these, please.

Catch: A good story should be realized by good directing. Pulso is the key. Find your original. Leave duplicates at home. Just saying.

That local movie that got people buzzing again is a good one. This is good news for the new darlings of Philippine cinema, and I’m quite glad that I’ve had the privilege of peeking at the early stages of these darlings’ lives back when they were film students and I their film thesis adviser/film teacher. Teaching back then, I’ve always reminded these kids that they are going to be the future of Philippine cinema if they so choose to accept that path. After all, they’re there in our classroom learning about the art and the craft of this form we so love. As a teacher, I’m realistic:  I know that some of them are just there for the 4-year clocktime course while some are there to gain knowledge and move on to other fields, leaving a handful who will actively pursue different aspects of filmmaking in their lives, be it in the mainstream, the alternative, or the indie. And if they so choose to be part of the film future, then they better prepare for it in the present by looking into the past. For we are only doomed to repeat the mistakes of history when we don’t really learn from it. Tama po ba, Sir Teodoro Agoncillo? But I digress.

The year 2014 was a literary one for this film reviewer and I didn’t have the time to peek into what’s happening in cinemas both local and foreign since I chose to focus on the literary world of my huge universe. That at lumablayp muna lola mo hehe, kaya you know. So I kinda missed Direk Tonet’s other efforts, but I’ve been hearing some buzz about a couple of works she’s done in the past. Alas, since indie filmfest skeds conflicted with my work skeds, I missed all screenings of all things. So I was really glad this Cinema One entry had a commercial release, of course picked up by Star Cinema and supported by the same people who were in that ABSCBN-led indie filmfest. Of course, this might also mean that the same “story consultants” that festered sat on panels to revise review scripts/films already shot were also present in this film to give it a few katay directives pointers. Well, you get the drift.

Like what I mentioned in my pitch, the one thing that this film has is a really great concept. And I bet the concept also had a good script that went with it. The thing with Tonet is that she was able to capture the essence of today’s Pinay who undergoes real shitty hindi-ito-pang-romcom-nampotah type of love stories, and heartbreaks. Like I’ve never been so pleased to see a pretty heartbroken girl say Putangina! or Tangina naman! na pagkalutong-lutong mas malutong pa siya sa Lapid’s Chicharon pare, all because her heart is hurting. Totoong ganito ang tao kapag heartbroken at totoong masakit kaya totoong napapamura ka at totoong wala kang class, finesse o anumang kagalang-galang sa hitsura o pagkatao mo minsan kapag brokenhearted ka tangina tulo-uhog habang hagulgol and all. Angelica’s performance of the brokenhearted Pinay was well-captured here, great performance talaga si ati. Ever since I saw a different side of her naman as a non-sitcom type of comedian in HERE COMES THE BRIDE, pak na pak talaga ang acting ni ati.  That’s why I got doubly curious to see this film when I saw her topbill it.

But then here comes JM, once the darling of our business unit sa dos when I was there in my recent past as part of a team conceptualizing teleseryes and helping out in reality shows. I don’t know if it was the way he interpreted the character or if he still had some remnants of his personal troubles that crept into his professional performance, but his acting really appeared so uninspired. As in hindi siya mukhang inspired to shoot, much less to work. But I think this meh mode niya worked to build the character of the meek dude that will contrast with the loud gal character of the film. Kaya lang sana minsan naman, sana in-injection-an nila siya ng caffeine sa katawan man lang, know what I’m saying. Or maybe I’m just nitpicking. Kape pa more!


I felt like some scenes showing the boylet’s characters were axed, therefore reducing his performance into a dedma type of guy that ended up not being realistic. Like towards the end, when he mentioned that he mentioned about a person taking care of him with Biogesic or something, I was like “Nasaan ‘yung eksenang ‘yun?” ganun. Weird limbo scenes pare.

The concept of the film is not entirely new. It’s the usual tossed salad of a formula wherein you throw in elements already familiar to viewers and cook them up to serve something hopefully familiar but also new. As I’ve always said in my scriptwriting classes, you can’t reinvent the wheel but by golly push that wheel into a different direction so we could see new scenery and take us to places only you could see from your unique perspective. And literally, this film took us there: to places where we experience heartache so devastating that we tend to forget who we are or where we come from or, more importantly, where we’re going now, now that the love is gone, ‘ika nga ng kanta diyan somewhere. Not new because we’ve already seen films na strangers on a train/bus/plane/what have you ang peg, and of course my generation — and theirs — had Richard Linklater’s Before series as a default peg. But what’s great about BEFORE SUNRISE is that the long train ride produced a chance encounter of a boy and a girl who had a hell of a time killing time by talking to each other about mundane things and profound things. Here in TADHANA, all we see is a girl bawling her eyes out in a Rome to Manila flight, and their only chance encounter, aside from having met at the airport so boylet can help girlet with her overweight luggage, is seatmates sila and boylet couldn’t care less when girlet was watching the quintessential love-lost-and-love-found-but-sana-ako-na-lang-love-mo-ulit-kasi-tanga-ako-nung-pinakawalan-kita local romantic drama film ONE MORE CHANCE in her laptop. That’s about it. I mean dude, I’ve had more conversations with strangers in a 2-hour trip from Manila to Davao/Dumaguete/wherever Philippines, and this is a Rome to Manila flight ha. Ang dami na dapat nilang napag-usapan, lalo na ang unang crucial thing: na sana nagpakilala muna sila sa isa’t isa, karugtong ng pagpapakilala ni boylet sa sarili kay girlet sa airport. I mean, more convos siguro, since tinulungan siya ng boylet, regardless of her sabaw mode from her mega cryola mode k. Yes, we want to be cinematic but being cinematic works when we try to be more realistic at first.

And speaking of being realistic, it really fell flat on its face when meh boylet just went with the flow and accompanied girlet to wherever the hell she felt like going. I mean, sure, realistic pa rin if you ask a “stranger” to eat in a restaurant with you or go to a videoke so you could sing your broken heart out. But to actually have another life form engage you into going on a 500 pesos+ fare ride (one way) going somewhere (so mga lampas 1k yan if roundtrip) out of Manila is a stretch, especially if there was not enough getting-to-know-you-muna moments between the two of them. What TADHANA lacks is what BEFORE SUNRISE has developed well: exposition. As in, we get to be exposed to the who/why/what/where/how come stuff of the characters, before they decide to jump to a higher plot point to take the exposition to its more interesting rising action, hopefully to take us to the wonders of the plot’s climax and wonder where in the world this climax will take place/happen, and how. Alas, this is where I sort of disengaged with the good concept turned unrealized script, as the directing didn’t lead us to these seemingly simple but really truly important “smaller” scenes. Are they not as cinematic for one’s taste? It should be, since it is in the smaller and simpler scenes that you get the most profound insights, or elicit the most intimate of moments, between characters. Yes, this is realistic, but it could also be cinematic. Think about it. How many films have banked on the simplicity of shots, of a moment, a scene captured not because it has a gazillion things happening at the same time, but only one thing happening at that moment, captured quietly on film, a moment for us to ponder on. Pulso. Pinupulsuhan dapat natin ang panahon, ang eksena, ang detalye ng kuwento. Sadly, the film wanted to hurry up to the climax of things that it forgot to set up these important pulses that could make the film beat more towards its apex. Sayang.

Sa henerasyong ito ng budget travelers, may pera at panahon ka bang mag-up and go nang basta-basta without thinking of your job (na sa later scenes lang nabanggit), your money (yaman nila to be buying bus tickets just like that ha) or your time? Iangkla ang cinematic sa realistic para mas lumipad siya nang husto. #justsaying

Sa henerasyong ito ng budget travelers, may pera at panahon ka bang mag-up and go nang basta-basta without thinking of your job (na sa later scenes lang nabanggit), your money (yaman nila to be buying bus tickets just like that ha) or your time? Iangkla ang cinematic sa realistic para mas lumipad siya nang husto. #justsaying

And speaking of not quiet, cinema has its way of speaking to you without letting you hear anything. A good, quietly captured moment could actually speak for itself, and there’s no need to drown it with melodramatic musical score. The film also suffers from this drowning from time to time that I wonder if the filmmakers or the producers are scared of “not hearing” a scene. If so, then it becomes television fare, where the execs seem to be scared of that thing called dead air. In cinema, there is that thing called pregnant silence. Ang daming laman kahit wala kang naririnig, dahil sa ang nakikita mo ay marami nang sinasabi agad. At ang dami niyang feels! You got a great actor na and a great story to boot, so let them speak for themselves sometimes. Sayang these moments, especially when the girlet was just feeling the moment, kunwari ‘yung nasa Sagada siya and shouted her frustrations amidst the clouds atop Mt. Kiltepan. Her shouting on that quiet scenery could have made a great poignant scene. But again, it was drowned by musical score. Heartache needs to be felt lang sometimes, not heard. Let the scene breathe on its own. I hope they keep this in mind next time.

And this is why I titled this review the way I did. Because no matter how we tout that the future of Philippine cinema is already here, the future that we hopefully want to happen is not quite happening now, at least not yet. Not when the mainstream’s heavy hand is so obvious in shaping the form of these future-leading folks, not when these young ones feel like they have to be or mimic their mainstream mentors in order to be taken to the fold. In a way, if this is the objective — to become one with the fold — then this film has already succeeded. But seeing that the future may also want to have a different take on things, then maybe we still have to see what they will come up with next, in order for us to get excited more about how they could revive the future of this art we so love. But yes, this is indeed a great start.

I could see why so many people like this film, the same reason why I like it: its believability. I mean, sino ba naman kasi ang hindi na-heartbroken sa Pilipinas, at may populasyon nga dito na nagtatangkang maglakbay kapag ganito ang moda. And yes, laging ang default ay bundok: Baguio, Sagada ganyan. Natawa nga ako sa concept na ito, at salamat at may nagtanong nito finally. Puwede rin namang beach ang puntahan, di ba? Bilang archipelago tayo, mas madali ‘yun. Pero siguro dahil love could move mountains dapat ang peg, bundok ng tralala ang inaakyat ng Pinoy para doon hanapin ang sagot sa tanong ng lahat ng heartbroken: huwayyyyy or huwaaaay meeeee. And of course, andiyan ang unending love quotes and love songs to make you cry. Pero sana din naman, nailatag ang characterization ni girlet bilang love-quoting girl, kasi iisang quote lang lagi ang kinu-quote niya, and it kinda gets tiring teh. Quote pa more, girl. Dami pa riyan. Buklat ka ng Eat Pray Love baka makatulong hane? Or Shakespeare. Yes, these are the new things that we want to see in our local films. This believability works. It’s just the delivery that lacks a bit and I find wanting. In Tagalog, tinimbang nguni’t overweight sa ilang bagay at underweight sa iba. Yes, we want a new cinematic recipe indeed, and thanks for this really nice bite. But I hope the cinematic commercial cookie cutter gets challenged more next time. Hashtag just saying.

Again, great story. Loved this film because of the good concept. Witty will truly save the world, to quote Tonet’s other business, but I also hope someday, witty will be brave enough to break out of the mold, to discover her own. Andiyan na naman, eh. And the audiences are ready for it; long overdue, actually. I guess all I’m saying is: talon pa more! 🙂

Good luck with the next one. Looking forward to it.


[All images swiped from the internet. Salamat sa mga nag-upload.]


Posted in Cinemalaya, digital film, indie films, love story, Philippine Cinema on August 9, 2007 by leaflens


originally posted at

sige ito na ulit…san na ba tayo? ah…

D. Emilio “Jay” Abello

Pitch: one time in the ’60s or ’70s in a semi-rural negros town, the post office suddenly stops operating, disrupting lives and loves

Catch: hm…tapyas pa konti, better for a short film

the premise is such a novel one, at based daw ito sa true event na indeed, in the life before email and the internet, snail mail was the main mode of connection of people and their lives. kaya importante ito, at event ang makatanggap ng sulat sa koreo. sad ako sa mga tao ngayon dahil hindi na nila nafi-feel ang excitement na ito, na siguro e napalitan na ng excitement ng email…pero hindi rin. mas kikiligin ka kung makakatanggap ka ng sulat na nahahawakan at puwedeng basahin paulit-ulit sa kung saan manmo siya dala. at ipapakita pa sa ibang tao. tapos yung excitement na magpapadala ka ng sulat and all. kaya romantic mode ang correspondence e. just look at all those old films featuring letter-writing in special paper or parchment, complete with seals-seals na personal na may wax at personalized pangtatak na bakal, before the rubber stamp mode na sobra namang chaka ever. hay… nice di ba? lalo na sa akin, na lumaksi somewhat sa loob ng post office ng maynila at later on ng araneta center, dahil sa ang nanay ko ay loyalty awardee na empleyado ng phil. post office mula noong buntis pa siya sa kapatid kong bata hanggang sa magretiro siya. nakakatuwang magpatakbu-takbo sa mga mailbags, nakikiusyoso sa mga parcel people, at nakikitingin sa mga ale na tulad ng nanay ko ay nagbebenta ng stamps, na later ay naging high tech kasi registered mail na chenes and all that jazz…

ay, teka dami ko na nasabi. review nga pala ito. wala e, pangit ng film. dapat short film lang ito, napahaba. bad everything — acting, blocking, directing, editing and script. and producing? well, bigay na lang natin kay aktor-prodyuser karyll ang a for ayfort. pero mas maganda pa rin ang nanay zsazsa padilla niya kesa sa kanya. but that’s another blog entry.

bawi. maganda lighting at lugar. yun lang. sayang. inaantok yata si direk peque gallaga nang nag-creative consulting ang mga to sa kanya. huwah.

korean sampler: IL MARE

Posted in drama film, Korean film, love story on July 8, 2007 by leaflens



“siworae” (time-transcending love) in korean

i’ve been hearing about this film from my students who really dig korean movies. it was only last tuesday that i got to watch it on the big screen during the opening of upfi’s korean film festival this week. if you want to catch more korean films, the last day of screenings is, well, today (saturday). and it’s for free. so go watch.

i also heard about this film as being the reference of a local film called MOMENTS OF LOVE which was produced by gma films. i never saw that one but my mom did. and you know that when it comes to film reviews, my mom is my original siskel and ebert scale.  she liked that one but didn’t like the legitimate remake which is LAKE HOUSE. some friends also didn’t like that hollywood version so i skipped it. i’m not too keen on seeing keanu act in a drama again (tiniis ko lang ang SWEET NOVEMBER dahil kay charlize theron ha) and see his fantabulous display of his skills he earned from the school of wooden acting. but that’s another review.

so this IL MARE “original” is indeed an original. it was a longish film but i didn’t feel any drag. it was well-acted and nicely shot. more accurately, it was nicely framed. not too postcard-y finished but it looked picture perfect pa rin. the camera movements were cool, probably because the filmmakers were trying to experiment on movement. i especially liked the split-screen dolly arcs of the two main characters (shot individually) with the magical mailbox in the middle. it was creative and i liked it. very simple yet ingenious. kung hollywood yan, dinaan na yan sa chroma at special effects.

the story is well-crafted, too. it’s just simple yet very intricate. walang masyadong loopholes. kung may mapansin ka man, dededmahin mo na lang. it’s that okay it’s forgivable. you tend to buy the suspension of disbelief that the film is selling, which is the connection/communication of two people living in different time frames. and to think that it is a love story to boot and it made me stay on — wow, an achievement. rarely do i see love stories not treated sappily or mushily. eto iyon. kaya okay siya. it’s more of a “what happens next kaya?” type of film rather than a “uuy magiging sila kaya?” film. action driven. good plot point hooking pero character-driven pa rin ito. okay siya kaya nice.

what i don’t like about the film is the korean’s penchant of making a semi-music video cum videoke song scenes. i counted at least two here. yun ang attempts at sappy mushiness. i wish they could have done without that. but i guess this won’t have a korean mark if that was gone. napansin ko lang na korean films tend to have that kind of interlude scenes much like some mainstream filipino films. but the difference is, their interlude scenes look much like music video shoots or videoke shoots whereas for us, hmm… not exactly like theirs. i don’t know how to describe it. ah wait i know — pang-variety show ang sa atin, not mtv. parang ganun. well, ours border on the silly most times anyway so laos tayo in that aspect. but that’s another review.

i’m just wondering what came first, IL MARE or FREQUENCY. looking at the details, the former came out sept 2000 while the latter came out april 2000. hmmm… but i really dig FREQUENCY because it used the aurora borealis as its main reason for messing up the time-space continuum thingie which made the protagonist son-father tandem communicate over time using a cb radio. at least there’s a scientific attempt of explaining weird things!  hmmm… but nonetheless, nagkopyahan man o hindi, i liked both even if they used similar plot patterns because each had different and very uniquely inventive treatments naman e – which both worked for me.

a sci-fi whodunit detective drama (mixed genres!)

nice. two arps up in a circle! go watch.

but wait. i’m just lost as to why the place/house was named in italian. i missed the first few minutes (too busy with the cocktails pa hehe) so i might have missed something. was this explained?

just wondering.


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