Archive for the romantic comedy films Category

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.]


Unrealistically yours, officially

Posted in Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry, romantic comedy films, women's issues in film on February 24, 2012 by leaflens

So much hype on a film that’s supposed to present “taboo” subjects in local cinema. Ang tanong: define taboo. Baka tabo – tumabo ng konseptong di naman talaga bago sa kultura natin pero dahil konserbatibo (read: takot) ang ating media gatekeepers, wow, hype it up yo! Wasup wasup! Lech.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.


d. Cathy Garcia Molina

p. Star Cinema

c. Angel Locsin, John Lloyd Cruz

Pitch: Boy dentist turns lifestyle journalist trains under a former one night stand fling and of course love is renegotiated.

Catch: Aside from Google, my dear creatives, real-life research is your best friend. Just sayin’. At ang chaka ng poster design. 

So of course my main beef with this film is its authenticity in depicting the world of lifestyle-entertainment journalists. And why is that? Because I belong to that beat, is why! Like haller, you don’t go to coverage events to ambush interview like political beat reporters noh. Most coverage work in this beat are pre-arranged or writers and editors are invited to a press event where we don’t have to outscoop each other. We are spoiled like that.

So to have that kind of trainee-reporter-trained-by-veteran-writer blah is truly not not not authentic. Not to mention accepting a newbie writer without the benefit of, er, previous sample writing works??? That he needed to be trained to be a writer??? Hello naman sa non-suspension of disbelief sheesh. Puwede na kong himatayin sa portion na ito teh. Please lang. Lifeline: show me the popcorn.

But of course that’s just for people like me who want to nitpick. (Chos!) The real deal is, of course, the one night stand/fuck buddy storyline, something oooohhh sooooo controversial in Philippine cinema daw. Anubeh. Di ba kayo nanonood ng mga lumang sine? Di pa nga uso ang cougar term, may cougars na tayong karakter sa pelikula (see ’80s BAGETS especially the subplot of JC Bonnin) or any other film during that decade. In short, please do your homework. Bawal ang tamad.

So the next best thing is to explore instead how fubus or no label relationships are interpreted in this day and age. While the film makes a sexy effort, talagang A for ayfort lang siya teh. For one, the cinematography is so uneven that you tend to think if they want to show an unflattering angle of Angel during sex (read: hindi siya delicious tignan ever, which is so taliwas in real life dahil naglalakad na alindog ang ate mong ito noh), not to mention you wouldn’t believe that Lloydie really had an orgasm in some shots (read: beks pretend na hindi nala-lock ang patotoy this time. Kung totoo man ‘yun). I mean man, ganyan ba mukha ng isang naligayahan sa kama? Porn acting looks more believable than that, man. Geez. Just saying. And it doesn’t help that the camera seems to be more biased towards showing Lloydie as prettier than Angel. Success iyon actually. But not that palatable. O baka sa akin lang iyon bilang iba ang bias ko sa larangang iyan. Chos.

And then there’s the issue of past emotional baggage getting in the way of present love prospects. Mukhang ito lang ang success sa pelikulang ito bilang ito lang ang swak na nadebelop sa brainstorming. Sure, it’s very relatable and that’s a good thing. I just wish it wasn’t treated in a teleserye way. The film also suffered that way, like the first half of the film was so cinematically tight in concepts-visuals-pacing but the rest is melodramatically loose na. You’d actually think that there were two different directors who helmed this pramis. Sobrang nag-iba ang timpla. Labo.

Oh well. And another thing is, I just wish they didn’t fall into the trap of stereotyping women again, na dahil lang nasaktan sa pag-ibig chever ay “loose morals” na ang dating kaya parang pakawalang pukengkeng na lang siya. Hello creatives, read mga magazines naman like Cosmo, Preview, mga ganun, all those women-centric glossies, to see na hey, may mga single women naman na empowered enough to fubu because they prefer it, without so much emotional baggage. May underlying panghuhusga kasing bumabalot sa pelikula kaya parang mas kakaawaan mo ‘yung character ni Lloydie because he’s the stupid dork who seriously wants a relationship with his fubu and yet he’s being dismissed. Hello damsel-in-distress plot device isdatchu? Hm.

Sayang. I really had high hopes for this film but okay I have to commend it for at least trying. I hope next time, they try harder. We audiences would love to see more storylines like these, veer away from the usual kilig rom-coms and actually depict Pinoys as sexually active beings — because we are. Kasi naman, look at how our society is so scared of talking about sex, much more regulating things connected to it (read: pass the RH bill! Now na!) and of course because of conservative Catholicism, we have been so culturally sex-negative for so long. It’s time to change that. And damn well film it!



Posted in queer cinema, queer issues in film, romantic comedy films on September 6, 2008 by leaflens


originally posted at


d., w. ol parker

c. lena heady, piper perabo

pitch: a recently married woman gets struck by love at first sight with a lesbian florist, and is torn on what to do

catch: wala! maganda siya! 🙂

okay, this is not the first queer-oriented film that piper appeared in. i liked her first in COYOTE UGLY kahit hindi queer ang character niya, pero napaka-queer lang ng scenario ng film (e kasi mukhang mga tranny performers yung ibang models doon). i liked her in LOST AND DELIRIOUS even if the whole lesbian storyline of that film is soooo whacked! (as in haller, tragic lesbian love na naman, pweh!). i like her here, too, kas siguro okay ang chemistry nila ni lena hedy, who plays the lesbian florist na na-inlababo-han nung just hetero-married character ni piper.

out of the list of films i really want to watch, gusto ko siya simply because of the title hehe. kanta kasi siya, at isa sa kanta na gusto ko mula sa lumang panahon. or more appropriately, first line siya ng kanta ng the turtles entitled “happy together.” well, it doesn’t really get featured so prominently in the film pero ginamit siyang device in the end kaya nagkitang muli ang would-be lovers na itey, in that star cinema kilig fantasy way.

and that’s how the whole film feels — it feels like a star cinema production! palitan mo lang ng hetero loveteam ang lesbian loveteam dito and you get the whole star cinema film shebang: title na halaw sa isang kanta, two gorgeous-looking lead stars, a good storyline with believable characters, humorous sidekicks used as foils (the girl bida’s new hubby’s promiscuous best man best friend who wanted to bed the lesbian florist), smart wisdom-y things from old characters (piper’s dad supportive of her daughter’s experience of “love at first sight” despite the homo odds), the mega kilig muntik-nang-maghalikan-pero-idelay-para-kilig moments (at madami ito ha, piper has perfected acting this out haha!), the mega-kilig plant and payoff devices used to make the characters find each other (complete with habulan sa ending kasi papunta sa airport/vacation ang hurt one, na hahabulin ng natauhang loved one at hahabulin yung isa chuva), grabe lang kulang na lang ang credits nito e sabihing directed by olivia lamasan produced by charo santos concio hahahaha! sobrah! all the elements are really there!

kaya siguro gusto ko. kasi it’s so mainstream that way (but unlike star, laidback lang ang storytelling at hindi magarbong attention-caller) kaya effective ang kilig moments kasi nakaka-relate ako. finally, a true lesbian kilig film! winner!

hotness si lena heady! yun lang. hehe. i was wondering where i saw her before, and a quick imdb search revealed siya nga pala yung nasa spanish/english film na LLUVIA EN LOS ZAPATOS (the man with rain in his shoes) directed by spanish filmmaker maria ripoll, whom we all met when she went here a couple years ago and we had coffee and cake at the upfi office. tama! at siya rin yung hotness na queen sa testosteron-y cgi film 300. ayuz. i love lena hehe especially that british accent niya ha. happy siya.

happiness ito. for a hetero guy writer-director, super sensitive ang approach sa materyal na ang ganda. parang non-issue masyado ang pag-switch ng hetero lead girl sa pag-fall in love sa lesbian, kasi given lang na hey, it’s love, chever. although masyado lang mabait at madaling natanggap ng husband niya, pero sige kineri na rin ng characterization ng dude, so puwedeng palusutin.

but all in all, okay siya. watch!


Posted in Hollywood dream factory, romantic comedy films on August 29, 2007 by leaflens


originally posted at


c. dennis quaid, topher grace, scarlett johansson

some months back, nonoy our cinema programmer sa film institute showed this for like one or two weeks, na medyo na-off ako kasi well, it’s just another hollywood flick as i saw it. the current hot dude of the moment in another usual city-set story about the battle of the ages. pang-dvd, to my taste.

so tama nga. sa cinemax ko yata ito naabutan last weekend at doon ko na lang pinanood over dinner. at tama, pang-dvd lore nga siya pero hindi pala siya typical hollywood story din. of course nandoon ang mga rise and fall of characters chenes, pero gusto ko yung nangyaring character development nung 26 year old executive hotshot. he had a fall from grace thingie pero humanized, di tulad ng usual corporate world-set stories wherein mga saksakan sa likod chenes ang nangyayari.

actually, the whole treatment sa film is human, quite tender but not sappy. cautious lang, and quite realistic in a way. for instance, i like the story arc of scarlett as the new nyu creative writing major (yun pa lang inggit na ko! hehe) na hindi apologetic getting it on with this guy and at the same time athletic siya pero she chose cw as a course at sinuportahan siya ng magulang dahil nyu yun at kahit mahal, go pa rin sila. that was really nice, pero hindi siya heavyhanded sa treatment. tapos yung anggulo na nangyayari i’m sure sa mga 50something executives na napapalitan o threatened ng young executives nga. ang daming ganito kasi, at ako mismo witness–if not subject–ng ganitong klase ng age conflict before, that’s why i understand where it’s coming from from both sides of the corporate fence.

tapos ang ending, the old exec gets his justice chenes pero tender pa rin ang approach, tapos yung young exec ay naiwan sa pagmumuni-muni kung ano ang gagawin niya sa buhay niya, a very realistic characteristic of people that age who are in that state. interesting. siguro kasi relate lang din ako sa kanya kasi it was also at that age that i left the corporate calling and headed to…tadaah, creative writing. hindi nga lang nyu hehe. although sarap sana kung ganun ano. well, maybe later, who knows.

maganda siya, well written, directed, and acted, except for that topher guy na kahit saan siya lumabas e dala pa rin niya yung mannerisms niya sa THAT 70S SHOW. i hate when he does that, parang yung sa SPIDERMAN 3 siya. men, leave the acting quirks at home. or adapt naman sana to the story at hand. labo niya eh. nakakairita lang minsan kasi. sarap putulin dila.


Posted in Hollywood dream factory, queer cinema, queer issues in film, romantic comedy films on July 8, 2007 by leaflens



i swear, i looooooooooooooooove this film! ang ganda pala nito!

hesitant ako nung una kasi akala ko, maliit lang ang lesbian storyline but no, dominant pala siya, and it’s gay-positive at that! and magaganda ang mga lesbiyana hehehe, with heather graham in the lead and that model girlfriend ni big sa SEX AND THE CITY, sinu nga yun? bridget moynahan ata. tapos who can go wrong with that actress who plays helena in THE L WORD? i heart helena. she’s pretty. tapos okay pa ang supporting cast, with a funny shrink sissy spacek, and that funny comedian molly shannon. kewl. di ko lang bet yung guy who played heather’s bro pero keri na rin. and a cameo by the gloria gaynor singing “i will survive”??? sankapa!!!

man, i love this film. it beats those other lesbian-themed films with mainstream distribution na oo nga’t may pretty lesbians and lesbian storylines pero shonga naman yung script at storya! hello, three words: LOST AND DELIRIOUS. hay, minus ten thousand points si piper perabo dun i swear.

basta cute siya. watch it. saka galing din ni alan cumming dito. he plays gordy the scottish taxi driver. he has the best line, nung kinu-console niya ang kaka-out pa lang sa sarili at sa mundo (at the same time) na 30-year old character ni heather, aka grey:

“All you need is some fresh air, space and perspective.”

bet! i’m taking your advise. i’m doing that now hehe. chos.

see ati, hindi lang ako ang late bloomer na lesbiyana at hindi lang ka-tropa ko ang mga late bloomer sa sex and sexuality chenes hehehehehe. marami kami. swear. buti nga ako early 20s no hehe. e itong sa film, 30 na siya ati! hehehe.

saka isa pa, si gordy rin nagsabi:

“Easy is so bloody boring!”


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