Thursday, December 31, 2015

My take on About Time ~ Film Review

by Love Esios

photo grabbed from
2015 is closing in a few hours. That means, you are able to complete 365 days of your life and in a few, you are going to complete another set of 365 days as we welcome another year full of hopes and aspirations.

But what if your dad told you a secret that you can travel back in time? Will you immediately jump into the opportunity of going back into one of the days in our previous set of 365 and make it better?

In the movie About Time, Tim Lake (portrayed by Domnhall Gleeson) was told by his father (portrayed by Bill Nighy) a family secret --- men in their family can travel back in time. Tim was skeptical at first, but when he tried to go back to the time when he didn't kiss a girl on New Year's day, he was shocked that he could actually do it. And during that time, he kissed that girl with so much confidence and passion.

After thoroughly going through the process of time-travelling with his dad, Tim resolved himself that he's going to use his new-found skill to get a girlfriend. He tried to use it with his first love Charlotte but he wasn't able to capitalize on it. Not until he met Mary (portrayed by Rachel McAdams) on a blind date that he realized that he is actually in-love. And that is the beginning of the real struggle of a complicated life for a time traveller.

Now here comes the question: What sets this movie apart from other films with time travel plots? This British romance-comedy masterpiece of Richard Curtis was peppered with British punch lines that you will truly leave you with a hearty laugh. It has also made me look back on the unfortunate events in my life brought by wrong decisions and impulsive decision-making. It affirmed my belief that love is so much stronger than any fear, doubt or sadness combined.

We may not have the ability to go back in the past and make it better, but I guess this movie wants us to see the beauty of living your life to the fullest every day. And that every day is also an opportunity to make things right and make it the best day ever.

The year will soon come to an end. Another year is about to unfold. May the year 2016 be "about time" spent with the people you love. Spend your time wisely, seize every moment and allow yourself to be filled with love so that you can share more love in return. Let's always remember that unlike Tim, there's not going back for us again. So enjoy the moment while it lasts. :-)

Before I forget, let me give this movie an 8.

Cheers for 2016! :-)

Top 15 Best Pinoy Films of 2015 That I Have Seen

by: Benj Ramos

15. ARI: MY LIFE WITH A KING - dir. Carlo Enciso Catu

MMFF New Wave Best Picture awardee. Poetic, simple and funny. When a film gives you a discovery, it is a good film. ARI gives us characters that we have never seen before— a group of Kapampangan poets with a King.

14. TAKLUB - dir. Brilliante Mendoza

My favorite Nora film over Thy Womb, Hustisya and Kwento Ni Mabuti. It is almost a sincere post Yolanda tribute.

13. TANDEM - dir. King Palisoc

My favorite MMFF New Wave film. Post On The Job genre. Looks like OTJ really sets the bar high. Props to Nicco Manalo. Nakakainis lahat ng characters!

12. IMBISIBOL- dir. Lawrence Fajardo

Almost sleep inducing but lemme give props on how it was done. Never imagine the outcome after seeing this from Virgin Labfest. Sayang talaga si JM, back to back siya dito sa list (#13-Tandem) and last year, That Thing Called Tadhana.

11. WATER LEMON - dir. Lemuel Lorca

Weird, funny and witty. Pero mostly weird. Jun-Jun Quintana is a breakthrough. 

10. MANANG BIRING - dir. Carl Joseph Papa

Fresh and creative. It was never afraid to step up, and it worked.

9. BAMBANTI - dir. Zig Dulay

This Sinag Maynila film entry is about a struggle of trust from a mother to her son. It all started with a lost golden watch, and the son becomes the suspect. It invites us to be the judgmental audience. Has several good moments and better performances as expected. 

8. DAHLING NICK - dir. Sari Dalena

Nick Joaquin in a nutshell. Reliable and interesting interviewees, bonus na narealize kong may ibang writers na akala ko patay na pero buhay na buhay pa pala. Di lang ako masyado naadvise na 3 hours pala ‘to.

7. KID KULAFU - dir. Paul Soriano 

It wanders through an old Mindanao of boxing, agriculture and kulafu. Excellent perfomances from Buboy Villar as Pacman and De Rossi as the infamous Dionesia. A fairy tale without glass slippers but a boxing gloves instead. So far,it wins the boxing match of films about Pacman.

6. MISS BULALACAO - Ara Chawdhury

Ang wild nito. At ang wild ng Biliran! It delights me when a film showcases the beauty and culture of the Philippines.

5. APOCALYPSE CHILD - Mario Cornejo and Monster Jimenez

The best Q Cinema entry so far from the film fest’s three-year run. Bale ang ganda ng Baler. I can never be friends with the characters coz they’re so out of my league. Rich kid problems.

4. HENERAL LUNA - Jerrold Tarog

Your HEKASI books comes to life, and with dialogues. Punyeta the Spoliarium scene, it was so clever. This has set the standards of period slash history films. I hope Hermano Puli and Goyong also deliver.

3. Honor Thy Father - dir. Erik Matti 

A real second chance for John Lloyd after the disappointing A Second Chance. No more love team for JL, please. Meryll Soriano is the next big thing in indies.

2. AN KUBO SA KAWAYANAN - dir. Alvin Yapan

It takes a good director to teach the insect, stones, ants, slippers and the entire kubo to act. Everything that you see from this film are actors. They are as equally good as Mercedes Cabral.

1. ANINO SA LIKOD NG BUWAN - dir. Jun Lana

Amazingly executed. You think you know it, then you don’t, and then you think again, then you hold back on what you think the ending might be and then you just stop guessing. Take each scene at a time as the story unfolds. Cleverly choreographed.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Second Chance ~ Film Review

by: Uel Ceballos

I was one of those who got hooked in the “One More Chance” film that starred John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo. Thus, when the release for the sequel was announced I was as much as excited as the rest. 

Ms. Cathy Garcia-Molina has unique way of creating romance drama films, which are both exciting and mature for the adults to connect to. I like most of her films – just right with perfect blend of “kilig”, drama, and moral. She seldom got off; always just right, delivering us a good taste of romance film.

“A Second Chance” is much more of a heavy drama. It centred not in the mushy chick flick scenes, but in the ugly truth of reality; the up and down of marriage. It was a brilliant move to deliver the sequel years after the first one, allowing the characters to grow and evolve in their own perfect time. Should it be done only year after the One More Chance’s success, I doubt if John Lloyd and Bea would deliver it as good as they did now. Likewise, one couldn’t say if the story would be as intact and justified. The years of gap between “One More Chance” and “A Second Chance” allowed Popoy and Basha to grow, to mature, at least inside the mind of the writer if not in the sight of the viewers. Indeed, “striking whilst the iron is hot” isn’t always the rule of the thumb. When they appeared in the first sequence of the film, I knew the characters have changed in time – not John Lloyd and Bea – I’m talking about Popoy and Basha.

One thing I love about “A Second Chance” is its sequence treatment. I personally admired the way it broke the linear delivery, with mixes of flashbacks and real time narrative. What I’m just bothered about is its being too melodramatic. Popoy and Basha were crying for almost 80% of the whole film. I have no problem with heavy scenes, but the approach, it seemed to me were always delivered in a similar level and manner. The two leads are great drama artists, but somehow it made me think that they overdid the crying scenes. I was fed up with all the crying, sequence after sequence. It became too strained for me. No questions asked that they cry good in front of the camera, but anything you do in too much repetition loses its intended effect to the viewers. Apart from these, I love all the rest. In fact, “A Second Chance” can be levelled alongside international romance drama films. It is written and directed with clarity and mastery. The brains behind it definitely know where they wanted to go to. The ending however, was a cliché for me. But nonetheless, this romance drama film is something different from what we’re used to.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Game of Thrones Series Review (Season 5)

By: Uel Ceballos

The Season 5 of the most watched TV series today -- the Game of Thrones has just ended last week in the HBO. It was another heartbreaking season finale that sent the fans ranting and raving over the internet. However, what could they do anyway? It has happened. Jon Snow was dead. Or is he really?

Though its first four episodes were leaked on the day that the episode 1 was aired, the Season 5 was still a huge success and that’s quite hard to beat. It surely rattled HBO and hurt the production in one way or another but that experience would surely make them more cautious for the next season. For whoever who did that, please think again before doing such a thing. You’ve scared the hell out of our skins; for fear that HBO might never produce another season again for GOT. That’s unthinkable, but not impossible. Especially that HBO has apparently learned from GRRM some of the cruellest ways to surprise the people. 

The first half of the Season was not as exciting and suspense as the second, but it was neither dragging nor boring. It was arranged in the order that each episode was set to be more intense than the previous one, thus the scenes were building up as the series proceeded. Reviewing now the full season 5, it made sense that the first five episodes were all preludes to what came next in the second half of the show. 

Compared to the previous seasons, this year’s season brought us all around the Westeros from Winterfell, Castle Black, and Beyond the Wall in the North, King’s Landing in the East, to Dorne in the South; with much of actions too in the neighbouring nations of Free Cities, wherein Daenerys and her people trying to control the rebellion in the Mereen; and faint but hard to forget scenes of Arya in the Braavos. 

There were just some few deficiencies, which could have been made better. I’m pertaining to the episode 2 “The House of Black and White”, wherein Jon Snow was elected as the new Lord Commander. Don’t get me wrong. The episode was good. However, it lacked the emotion that I looked forward to – the same level of extreme emotion that I felt while reading it from the book. The episode did deliver a strong transition on Jon Snow’s character, but it was still made better in the book. Nonetheless, I’m sure people who hadn’t read the book were sure overwhelmed when they watched it. Imagine hailing your favourite character as the youngest elected Lord Commander from being the often bullied bastard of the Winterfell. This particular build-up however, was pulled to the deepest down, when Jon Snow was betrayed at the Season Finale (let’s talk more of it later.)

There were many instances that the series stayed out of the book’s context. While some of it were bothering for the GOT readers fan, truth must be told that HBO has done excellent changes in the story. I’m a fan of the book, but HBO changes were not bad at all. Making it Sansa Stark instead of Jeyne Pool was a brilliant idea. I’ve been wanting to see more of Sansa’s exposure in the show – well, more exposure but not as the weak Stark second-born that she was. I’ve sensed it from Ned Stark’s death, that Sansa would turn to be wiser and braver but her transition was so slow that I have considered giving up the hope. Arya is my favourite Stark female character, but it didn’t mean I don’t like Sansa. I hated her for being the meanest sister that she was to Arya (and to Jon) but her character got so much potential. I wanted her to grow strong as Arya and get brave as Daenerys' (a part of me even wished that she get fiendish enough to match with Cersei). Okay, tell me about it, I just couldn’t get enough of the women’s epic demonstration of power and bravery here. 

I didn’t like the death of Maester Aemon and Ser Barristan here -- another plot changes from the book. Though perhaps, GRRM had really the intention of killing the characters in the succeeding books after “A Dance with Dragons”; and they just made it earlier in the TV series. I’m disappointed with the fact that Daenerys wouldn’t be able to reunite now with her oldest living kin. And it was sad to see Ser Barristan gone but I knew it has to be made in able to give the slot to Tyrion, as Daenerys’ adviser (because for sure Ser Barristan wouldn’t let a Lannister get close to Daenerys). I don’t know if this will ever happen in the book 6 “The Winds of Winter" of which the GOT fan readers have been waiting for ages. But I hope it will. Because having the two as tandem makes the Game of Thrones more exciting than ever – imagine Daenerys having to face Cersei, with Tyrion on her side. I just couldn’t wait. 

The second half of the Season from episodes 6-10 was relentless and brutal to the viewers. Yes, it was cruel and ruthless to our feelings. Very inconsiderate. I rarely cried over a series (okay it's a lie, I cried over Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, True Detective etc.). It sent us gaping until the ending credits, with nothing in mind but, “What the hell has just happened?” Even though you’ve read the books from cover to cover, still you wouldn’t be spared. Because of the changes in the plot twist, GOT readers had not the slightest idea of what might come next in the following minutes of each episode. Each ending would send the fans ranting over the net that they were done with GOT, that they would never watch it ever again. Of course, it was all a lie; they would be the same persons ranting again the following week for another painful ending. The last five episodes of the season 5 never fails in giving us a blast. It made us anxious for the next weekend to come so we could watch the continuation.

Sansa getting raped and the mass killings in the Hardhome were two of the most shocking events in GOT TV history. The first one being upsetting; and the second being horrifying. Both made me clasped my hands to my mouth, while shedding tears as silent as I could. It wasn’t in the book, thus I was stunned. Let’s not forget as well the chaos in the net brought by Princess Shireen’s death – two weeks before the Fathers’ Day. It wasn’t in the book as well, and this I couldn’t really believe. How could Stannis do that? What was with all the affection and love he showed in the earlier part of the show? Then I remembered it was Game of Thrones after all. It took pleasure in killing the most loved characters. Should we worry now for Tyrion in the next season??

The season finale “Mother’s Mercy”, though not surprising at all for the readers (because it was in the book), still created one of the greatest upheavals among the GOT fans over the net. I couldn’t blame those non-readers who were devastated after seeing Jon Snow, lying lifeless (or is he really?) in the snow. Somehow I sensed it that they were going to end the season that way just like in the book 5. And yes I know how merciless indeed to give us such a ruthless cliff hanger. Though I sensed it, I wished deep down in my heart that HBO would change it. All for the same reason that I don’t know if Jon Snow was really dead for good or if we’ll be seeing more of him in the season 6 and book 6. Only then in the release of both (TV and Book series) will we find out. There are numerous possibilities and including in those is the possibility that Jon Snow may be really dead for good. Remember, it’s Game of Thrones by no other than GRRM. Many had probably vowed to not watch GOT again because of Jon Snow’s death but I bet they don’t mean it – not even a bit. For now all we could do is to wait, no matter how agonizing it is. 

As for the production, there was nothing negative to say. Things were all close to perfection. The wights and white walkers sent me a shivering fear and I just couldn't thank them enough for not visiting in my dream. I couldn’t compare it with the Walking Dead because first and foremost I don’t see any competition between the two TV series. However, one couldn’t deny the excellent make up, prosthetic, and CGI works in Game of Thrones from the walkers, dire wolves, to the dragons and even to the entire breathtaking landscapes. This TV series is setting the bar high for the standard of TV series with high fantasy genre. The visual effects are stunningly exceptional, not to mention the casts who perfectly fit the role that they are assigned to play. Once again the GOT show had kicked the notch higher in its rating. No doubt that this series is among the strongest contenders for this year’s Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. 

Every year, I’m rooting for Peter Dinklage for the Emmy’s Supporting Actor. However, he hasn’t shown much for this year due to the limited exposure he had in the season. But all his acts were as great and admirable as ever especially those scenes he had with Emilia Clarke. It just that, we all know that Dinklage has got more to show for his fans and that we will keep looking forward to. 

Lena Headey and Maisie Williams got most of the opportunities in this season to demonstrate their acting prowess. Their respective characters and scenes had given them all the chances and they apparently gave their best on it; resulting to their extremely good performance. Williams deserves the recognition for being so much effective as Arya Stark, and no one could argue on how the role fit her perfectly. Headey on the other hand, deserves her long overdue Emmy award. She played the role of Cersei with great mastery. Cersei is hated and abhorred; but despite that fact, GRRM never forget to present her human existence; that though in the wrong way, Cersei like anyone else, also know how to love as a mother, as a daughter, and as a woman. And Lena Headey nailed that! She was able to portray the hating Cersei, the wicked Cersei, the mother Cersei, and the woman Cersie. Wondering now what taking Emmy so long!

To cap it off, what else can I say but Game of Thrones Season 5 was a helluva epic show!

Top 10 Best Movies of 2015 That I Have Seen So Far (January to May 2015)

by: Benj Ramos

2015’s first half has offered us excellent film experience. Local movies, however, need to catch up. Probably because most of the Pinoy film festivals happen in the second half (Cinemalaya, QC Cinema, C1 Originals, MMFF, World Premieres etc). So far we got two local films in the list, we got an entry from the first Sinag Maynila Film Festival that lands the number ten spot, a 2014 American film that only premiered this year in the Philippines, and more British films. 

10. BAMBANTI- Zig Dulay

This Sinag Maynila film entry is about a struggle of trust from a mother to her son. It all started with a lost golden watch, and the son becomes the suspect. It invites us to become the judgmental audience. Has several good moments and better performances as expected. 


Should be included in the 2014 list but the Philippine release is 2015. Based from the writing of Mrs Hawking, Theory captures story of a collapsing relationship and a building future. Redmayne deserves the acting recognition. 

8. CINDERELLA - Kenneth Branagh 

Faithful to the plot, it is the fairest retold,rehash, reinterpretation of a bedtimes story-- of them all. It proves that it doesn't have to be dark to enhance visuals and story lines, or to meet the need for 3D or 4Dx. Simple ,elegant and charming. 

7. KID KULAFU - Paul Soriano 

It wanders through an old Mindanao of boxing, agriculture and kulafu. Excellent performances from Buboy Villar as Pacman and De Rossi as the infamous Dionesia. A fairy tale without glass slippers but a boxing gloves instead. So far,it wins the boxing match of films. 

6. SPY - Paul Feig McCarthy and Statham give wonderful performances in this punchy comedic approach of a spy film better that is than Johnny English. Imagine an obese CIA woman who's tasked in her first field assignment. 

5. SHAUN THE SHEEP - Mark Burton, Richard Goleszowski

I always think that a silent film can only last for at least 20 minutes. Beyond that it becomes dragging. But despite the exchange of baas and ughs and mumblings, it'll surely not bring you to sleep. Charming, sincere, and simple. There's no best time to show a sheep film but on a Year of the Sheep. 

4. AGE OF ADALINE - Lee Toland Krieger 

After a tragic incident, Adaline, a well spoken and eloquent woman, found herself forever 29 as she tries to escape not only from being experimented but also running from the chance of true love. Subtle, touching and emotional. Go watch it and be in love. 

3. PREDESTINATION - Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

A very thought-provoking time travel film with a paradox idea that is not meant to be understood but meant to be experienced. Travelling in time is always confusing that's why you will never get a full closure with it because it creates more questions than what it answers. One of the best time travel films. 

2. MAD MAX - George Miller's Mad Max is a hyperbolic post apocalyptic experiment mixed with so much hype, adrenaline, estrogen and breast milk. Be ready to be on the edge of your seat for this 120-minute lunacy is like a waterworld in the desert. Make sure you bring your dust mask, a bottle of water and an inhaler. 


Ambitious, violent and ultimately heavy-on-comedy celebration of the old-school British spy movie. Not a bad premise for an offbeat modern art experience. The church scene will always be my favorite. Lemme tell you a spoiler--- the film is excellent.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Better Call Saul Season 1 ~ Review

by: Uel Ceballos

It’s freaking brilliant. You can never compare it to Breaking Bad which was equally distinguished. There weren’t any magical formula of chemistry here; no such awe-stricken process of chemical science which Heisenberg (Walter White) demonstrated to us. But it was filled with equal measure of satire; diluted with emotion-stirring stories of family, love, and loss among others. 

Better Call Saul is the spin-off of the by far, best series in the history of television, the Breaking Bad. It tells the story of Jim McGill or we know better as Saul Goodman, years before his appearance in Breaking Bad as the famous lawyer of the notorious. At first I never thought that the story of Goodman was worth telling; not until I saw the pilot episode of the Season 1. Though I had become fond of Goodman for his role in BB as the funny life-saver of the main characters, it didn’t occur to me he could become a remarkable name in the series world just like Walter White (Breaking Bad), Frank Underwood (House of Cards), Rust Cohle (True Detective), Lady Mary Crawley (Downton Abbey) and lots of other names from the successful TV shows. One great thing about Saul was his quick-witted character; yes he got brain -- canny, droll, and ingenious. His ways could sometimes go off and disastrous, but it worked for most of the time and you’d just find yourself laughing your head off. Since Saul Goodman was always a blend of tricky, witty, and resourceful personality, you couldn’t quite see through him – is he really concerned? Does he have personal interest on the matter at hand? Isn’t he scared? But whenever he was doing decision that risked his life, you couldn’t help but think that there was something REAL good in this man after all. 

Thanks to Vince Gilligan, the brain behind Better Call Saul (and Breaking Bad) we now, get to know more of Saul Goodman. I think Bob Odenkirk had nailed the character in the BB more than what was being asked of him. It has added perhaps for the drive to push a spin-off. And as expected, he nailed twice better in the Better Call Saul, showing off now the real person behind the lawyer we saw in BB. The first season has shown us when and how Jim McGill started to break bad and it made us more sympathizing than being judgmental. Though like what we thought of Walt in BB, Jim still got the choice to do the right thing or do it in the bad way. In Better Call Saul Season 1, our plates got filled of Jim’s frustrations in life; and yes he got us sympathizing and taking on his side. He chose the curved way but that didn’t make us stop watching the show. We were now actually looking forward to the next season.

Another strong character of the season was Mike played by Jonathan Banks. This one got me. I was just thinking yet that another spin-off for Mike’s life would be good as well, and then here he came in the series. Sorry to say this, but upon knowing Mike more, a part of me hated Heisenberg for killing Mike and disposing his remains in the most awful means – by dissolving it in the hydrofluoric acid! Just imagine that – disposing Mike’s character that way after all the significant scenes which he’d been a part of. I bet Vince Gilligan was regretting it while he was submerging through Mike’s back story. I’d realize my fault if I were he. Anyway the damage has been done. Mike was already slid inside a plastic drum filled with the dissolving acid; he was disposed along with the trash collected by the truck. Nothing could turn back the time. And re-doing the BB for Mike’s sake would not work either. 

Despite the fact that we knew what they (Jim and Mike) would become in the future, it didn’t keep us from watching the series. I was moved by Mike’s story. He was indeed the coolest pap there was in the TV series. His story was more real than of Jim’s. And he moved us deeply, on that episode he confessed to his daughter-in-law about the death of his son. It was quite heart-rending, not alone with what happened, but on the way Mike had dealt with it internally. As we see him, he was a tough old guy, a man of few words. To see him showing tears and emotions – it was tear-jerking. Small wonder that Jonathan Banks would be among the strongest contenders for this year’s Emmy for the Outstanding Supporting Actor category. The same goes for Bob Odenkirk who often brings us to a rollercoaster of emotions. He’d send us laughing, then sympathizing and at times, agreeing (though we deny it to ourselves) on his dark plans. That episode where he was blown away by the fact that Chuck wasn’t and never was proud of him for passing the bar, was one helluva of a heartbreaking scene. The person you cared the most and the one you all left with in this world doubted your capability – not the capability to do great things but the capability to make great change about yourself. 

All the actors were good in this season and the timing of the scenes was perfect. Now I couldn’t wait for the next season, and please give us more of Mike. Jonathan Banks was a terrific actor. And would it be too much to ask for Jesse Pinkman’s appearance on the show? Hehe. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rosewater By Jon Stewart ~ Film Review

By: Uel Ceballos

For a first-time director, Jon Stewart made an impressive directing debut through his first masterpiece, Rosewater. He was brave enough to create a film which was opposite to his personality as a comedian. One would expect Stewart to create a satirical film just as his TV show The Daily Show but he optioned a biopic film of Maziar Bahari that explored a sensitive political issue.

I wasn’t clearly aware of this event in Tehran until I saw Rosewater. The chaos of things however wasn’t a surprise to me. It happens everywhere. It happens in our own country as well –the cheating on the election, the suppression of the freedom to express, and the violent attack of the regime to the outrageous protesters and reformists. For such event to be told is one thing, but for that to be told in a film is another. As I said, the brutality against the common people is not news to me as well as the participation of America in each and every event-worth-putting-to-the-history-book. Jon Stewart has definitely made a bold act here, revealing to the world the dark side of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration, and releasing it just a year after Ahmadinejad stepped down from the office. While I’m quite sure that details in the film are based to the real life of Maziar Bahari, I couldn’t help thinking that some details are probably not covered to avoid tarnishing someone’s or some administration’s image. Nonetheless, apart from the accuracy of the events told, Rosewater is a good film.

Oftentimes, the impact of the film is risked when the story is a true-to-life one. Since you can’t add more exciting twist, you can’t change the order of the events, and you can’t add characters more than who is actually involved, all you can do is to make the film as tasteful and exciting as you can make it. Biopic film often suffers the tendency of falling into the category of a boring, monotonous film. However, Rosewater made it across the line with the right mixture of drama. Gael Garcia Bernal is a good choice. I’ve often pictured him as the charming actor that he is but to see him in a serious journalist role is something to look forward to. The musical scoring is one sure of a delicious spice for the film; it did so much to uplift the spirit of the story. The choice of the beat and the type of music were compelling enough to provoke the sympathy of the audiences. I admired the way that the filmmakers beautifully incorporated a potential music to the major turnout of the events in the movie. From that part when Bahari was telling Rosewater of the massages he has gotten addicted to, going to the scene where he danced inside his cell after learning that Hilary Clinton kept pushing for his realease– the music was a clear indication that the things were starting to build up, with the rising sensation of hopes for Bahari’s situation. I found it brilliant for the filmmakers to deliver the story in a not-so-unusual but compelling treatment, thus making the serious topic palatable even to those who are not so much into politics. I know it wasn’t meant to be an entertaining film but really to see Garcia Bernal smirking discreetly and dancing sexily (I know, I know that was not sexy dancing and he wasn’t meant to dance sexy after all but he couldn’t really help being hot when he moved like that), make the people curve a smile in their lips too.

Overall, the whole point was delivered and it sure did call international attention. It's not only in Tehran that journalist and media men are arrested and tortured for bearing witness, it has been a common situation anywhere else especially in countries with authoritarian and dictatorship form of leadership. To end this article I’d like to quote Bahari in the last part of the film where he said, “finally, I was free, but my joy is tempered by those I left behind. People that did not have the advantage of international attention. Countrymen and women, whose only crime against the state is not believing in its perfection.” May justice be served to those who need it.

Monday, March 9, 2015


Dear Bob,

Yung totoo, anong nakain mo at naisipan mong isulat ang Si? Hahaha! :D Nung una kong makita yung Si sa bookstore, natuwa ako. Medyo matagal-tagal na rin kasi mula nung ilabas mo ang Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin na pakiramdam ko'y hindi lang isang matapang na paghamon sa mass media kundi isang panggising na rin sa mga taong tumatangkilik at bulag na sumusunod dito. Nasanay ako sa ganung genre mo, Bob. Pakiramdam ko, magkaklase tayo sa eskwelahan nung binabasa ko ang ABNKKBSNPLAko?!. Sa Kapitan Sino naman, akala ko may bago nang superhero na kabibiliban ang mga bagets. Una kong naisip na subukang muli ang pagsusulat nung nabasa ko ang Stainless Longganisa at kinilabutan ako ng bonggang-bongga sa libro mong Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan. Iniisip ko tuloy, hindi kahanay ng Si ang mga aklat na ito. Iba siya. At nag-iba ka.

Ang weird 'no? Sabi nila, 'pag pag-ibig na ang pinag-uusapan, nag-iiba talaga bigla ang mood ng tao. Pansin ko kasi, sa nobelang ito, bumalik ka ulit sa loob ng kahon. 'Wag mo masamain, Bob. Alam kong malaya ang istilo mo ng pagsusulat. Kaya nga naging fan mo ako eh. Pero hindi ba sa pag-ibig may kalayaan? Iniisip ko palagi na ang mga tao, hindi na nag-iisip 'pag pag-ibig na ang pinag-uusapan. Hindi na kasi isip ang umiiral, puso na. Sa aklat mong ito Bob, pakiramdam ko kinahon mo yung pag-ibig na yun. Bumalik ka sa pinakasimpleng kahulugan at sa pinakatradisyonal na pagsasabuhay nito. Hindi ka naging lohikal kasi ang pinairal mo dito ay puso. May porma ang pagsusulat, bawat salita may kahulugan. Maganda ang paggamit mo ng ating wika sa aklat mo, Bob. Ngayon ko mas lalong na-appreciate ang wikang Filipino. Nakakakilig. Nakakabighani. Tagos.

Pero marami ka ring hugot dito eh. Sa mga panahong ito, nauuso ang teleserye na may pamagat na Forevermore. Sa totoo lang, naalala ko yung mga listahan ng mga pamagat ng teleserye na sinulat mo sa Ang Paboritong Aklat ni Hudas. Haha! 'Di ka nga nagkamali, paikot-ikot lang sa forever, you, me, I, against, love, heart, tayo, iisa, ikaw, ako, sila, kami etc. ang mga pamagat ng teleserye. :) Dahil sa Forevermore, maraming mga tao ang bigla na lang nagkaroon ng sarili nilang depinisyon ng salitang forever. Eh maski ako, pinanghawakan ko ang paniniwalang 'walang forever'.

Pero dito sa Si, pinaintindi mo sa akin na buhay pa ang konsepto na 'magpakailanman'. You know, that thing called 'tadhana'? HAHA. Sorry, napanood ko kasi yun. Pero yun din ang sinasabi mo dito Bob may taong nakatadhana para sa atin. Na buhay ang pag-ibig. Na ang pag-ibig na tunay ay ipinaglalaban. Na may mga pag-ibig na hindi ukol at hindi mananatili kahit ano pang pakikipaglaban ang gawin mo. Na ang pag-ibig madalas nakakadarang kung sariling pag-iisip mo ang iyong paiiralin. At ang pag-ibig na itinadhana ng langit ay magpakailanman. 'Di pa ako umiibig ng katulad ng pag-ibig ni Victoria sa lalaking nasa aklat, pero yun yung pinapangarap kong pag-ibig. Hopeless romantic man ang peg ko ngayon Bob pero kahit mahirap at madalas akong dinadalaw ng kalungkutan sa aking paghihintay sa isang tulad niya, ayokong mawalan ng pag-asa. Araw-araw hinihiling ko sa Maykapal na bigyan lang ako ng lakas at pasensya upang maghintay pa. Na balang araw ay makikilala ko yung Si ng buhay ko... SIno man SIya. At matutupad ang itinadhana ng langit sa aming dalawa. :)

Tumatagos sa puso ko ang lahat ng mga hugot mo dun, Bob. Marami beses kong binababa ang libro at tumitingin sa malayo para lang namnamin yung mga hugot mo. Napagtanto kong gusto ko ring maranasan ang ganoong uri ng pag-ibig. Gusto kong magmahal ng tulad ng pagmamahal ng lalaking yun kay Victoria. Malamang sa mga makakabasa nito, sasabihin nila na ang korni ko. Wala nang ganito sa panahong ngayon kaya 'wag na akong umasa. Pero hindi Bob... dahil naniniwala akong sa pag-asa nabubuhay ang pag-ibig. Habang may pag-asa, may buhay. At habang may buhay, may pag-ibig.

Salamat Bob. Sobrang sulit ng paghihintay ko sa nobela mong ito. Gusto sana kitang ayain magkape at makipagkwentuhan sa'yo kasi panigurado, marami tayong mapag-uusapan. Nakaka-excite yung idea na yun! Kaso alam kong hindi mo ako pauunlakan. Ayos lang, intindi ko naman. Siguro, balang-araw. :)

Iiwan ko ang linyang ito mula sa Si kasi sobrang tagos ito sa damdamin eh:

"Hindi sa pag-ibig nasasawi ang marami, kundi sa kawalan ng pag-ibig at kamangmangan ng maling pagmamahal."

Mabuhay ka at ang panitikang Pilipino!

Ang iyong masugid na tagapagbasa,

Siya nga pala, para sa kauna-unahang Taglish kong komento sa isang nobelang Pilipino, binibigyan kita ng 10 tasang latte! Sa susunod, magiging totoong latte na ito... 'pag nagkita tayo. :)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Top 10 Best Pinoy Films That I Have Seen in 2014.

by: Benj Ramos

Better late than never. Inantay ko kasi matapos yung MMFF baka sakaling may pumasok sa list ko (unfortunately, wala). Araw araw papalit-palit sila ng rank kasi nahirapan ako magdecide, pero eto na talaga ang final answer ko. As usual, 2014 isang makabuluhang taon para sa commercial and indie Pinoy films. This year mas marami akong local na napanood than foreign. Such an achievement. Nakatulong din kasi yung kaliwa’t kanang film festivals.

10. THE JANITOR – Directed by Michael Tuviera

“Madasalin kang tao di ba? Ano sa tingin mo ang nararamdaman Niya sa ginagawa natin?”

Magaling magtahi si Direk Tuviera, mas magaling pa siya sa kapitbahay naming sastre na nagtahi ng napunit kong shorts. Oo, mataas ang naset na bar ng On the Job (my last year’s #1). Hindi siya OTJ level pero action packed pa rin naman. Okay, mukha nga siyang OTJ kasi nakita ko na naman si Richard Gomez. Mamaya sa Top 5 nandun uli siya.Puro dugo dito for sure maraming food coloring na nasayang. Teka lang, at one point ba hindi narealize ng mga characters na gwapings sila lahat?

9. THE TRIAL – Directed by Chito Rono

“Lahat ng taong nagmamahal, nasasaktan.”

Walang patwitums na love team at walang uber family drama, although family drama pa rin siya, subalit sinikap ng The Trial na hindi masyadong humilera sa Tanging Yaman, Sa’yo Lamang, Anak etc. The Trial doesn’t only pertain to the “court trial” but their trials in life.  Dmay gantong baliw baliwan role si Budoy talaga naalala ko eh pero buti medyo matinong Budoy si John Lloyd dito na nagawa pang makipag toooot. Kudos to Star Cinema for putting together court drama, rape, viral videos and unconventionalfamily (John Lloyd’s gay-lesbian parents) in this movie.

8. SHE’S DATING THE GANGSTER– Directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina

“I can’t breathe.”

Hindi talaga ako fan ng KathNiel, but in this movie, meron ka talagang kilig na mararamdaman. Yung kilig naman sa Richard and Dawnwith Hihintayin Kita sa Langit references ay para sa mga medyo tanders na. Surprisingly, pang mature level ito. Well at least kung napanood man ito ng  fans ng KathNiel, may iba silang level of maturity in love na natutunan. Hindi ko nabasa yung Wattpad version, but I heard Cathy Garcia Molina stepped up and changed it a little bit by making the present time the subplot, and the 90’s the main story. Better than ABNKKBSNPLaKo and Diary Ng Panget combined.

7. BWAYA – Directed by Francis Xavier Pasion

“Ngayon ko lang nalaman na may bwaya pala sa lupa”

I can’t remember thelast  animal versus human conflict on Pinoy cinema. Kaya nga Bwaya is such a breath of fresh air. For some reason, I felt that this is a horror movie. And when we say conflict with nature, wala kang masisisi. Kalikasan ang kalaban mo eh. Magagalit ka ba isang buwayang kumain sa anak mo? At infairness sa buwaya, mukhang makatotohanan. May passion talaga ‘tong si Mr Pasion. Aerial shots pa lang.The pseudo-docu style reminds me of his other film, Jay,  which was also a finalist in Cinemalaya years back. Meanwhile, Angeli Bayani is undeniably a gem in Philippine Indie. Watching her will make you just wanna sit down, watch her cry and you cry with her.

6. SUNDALONG KANIN – Directed by Janice O’hara

“Hindi basta laro-laro ang gera dahil mga buhay ang nakasalalay”

Marami na tayong napanood na Japanese occupation-themed sa  Pinoy cinema but this film offers a different perspective. It looks at how kids and their innocence were occupied by Japanese violence and brutality. Sinakop rin sila guys. Medyo nangilid luha ko dun sa batang babae huhubels. Well, it showcases a different take on a coming-of-age genre in the Philippines. The kids can really act, good job direk nasa nagdidirek yan and of course, Marc Abaya.

5. MAGKAKABAUNG – Directed by Jason Paul Laxamana

“’Kapilan ku lungub iskwela ulit, Tang?”

Pagkapanood ko nito sinabi ko agad kay Direk Jason na napaka-mean niya kay Allen Dizon. Hiwalay sa asawa, namatayan ng anak (hindi ‘to spoiler ha nasa trailer ‘to) at hinuhuthutan pa nung malanding si Neri. Take note, nasa Babagwa rin si Neri. Ang mahiwagang taong, makikita pa ba ulit natin siya sa susunod na trip ni Direk Laxamana? Kahit hindi magsalita yung character ni Allen Dizon, alam mong stressed na siya. Walang tulog, walang kain, walang tae, basta nagbreak down na lang siya sa ilog katabi nung bangka na hindi natin alam kung nakisimpatya sa kanya. Si Gladys Reyes as usual magaling at yung eksenang naguusap sila ni Allen Dizon grabe lang. Ay, mean din pala si Direk sa tuta.

4. THAT THING CALLED TADHANA – Directed by Antoinette Jadaone

“Hindi-na-kita-mahal-makakaalis-ka-na. Seven words. ‘Yung eight years namin tinapos niya in seven words.”

Etong si Jadaone hindi mo alam kung san niya nakukuha mga hugot niya. Basta magaling. At ngayon,  I’m dying to go to Sagada, ay Rome muna (sosyal haha). Dun pa lang sa excess baggage hugot na,yung simbolismo winner. Benta yung John Lloyd reference ni Angelica tas si JM yung line niya na “naka-droga ka ba?”. Ipapalabas ulit this February at ide-date ko ang sarili ko magkahawak ang aking kanan at kaliwang kamay at muling babalikan ang buhay ni Mace. Hindi siya heavy emote drama, chill lang. Saka kahit puro usapan hindi mo naman kelangan makakita ng sampalan or elevator acting para humanga eh, yung delivery mismo. Makatotohanan. Pero sorry, best actress ko pa rin yung main character sa #3 film ko. Next na.

3. LORNA – Directed by Sigrid Andrea Bernardo

“Sino bang nagsabi sa’yo na habulin mo ang oras? Habol ka ng habol, hindi naman nagpapahabol. Gaya ko, habol ng habol, takbo ka ng takbo.”

Fan ako ng mga gawa ni Sigrid, naalala ko may anthology screening siya sa UP sinubaybayan ko talaga. My most favorite CinemaOne Originals entry this year. Husay ni Mrs Buencamino pati ni Sir Lav Diaz. Yung tambalang Lorna at Rocky, feels. Gusto kong magtayo ng fans club tatawagin itong LorKy kase nakaka-lorky naman talaga. Si Lav may swag sa mg a linya. At yung mga tropapipz ni Lorna lalo na si Maria Isabel Lopez benta hahaha. Bale kahit tanders na wag kayong mawawalan ng pag-asa, baka kasing cute din ng love story ni Lorna ang love story ninyo 30 years from now.


Kapag may bagong labas si Direk Lav na pelikula, ang una ko agad tanong, “Gaano katagal?”. Hindi ako fan ng matatagal na movies. Pero ito ang trip ni Sir eh, walang pakielamanan. Sinubukan ko siyang panoorin, at akalain mong hindi ko namalayan ang 4 na oras sa sinehan! First movie that I have seen from him and it did give me a very good impression. Sayang di ko kasi napanood yung Mula it could have been on my list as well. Hindi mo kelangan maging bobo o matalino para tangkilikin si Lav. Basta manood ka lang, makinig atmay matututunan ka. Yung plot nito madali lang maintindihan. Kelangan lang ay ang iyong pasensya kasi nga may mga mahahabang eksena.The Filipino audienceis a mainstream audience. Hindi man ito yung tipong pelikula na magugustuhan ng nanay, tito, at lola mo, kung open minded ka (lakas maka networking) magugustuhan mo ‘to. Oscar worthy, kaso sayang hindi man lang nashortlist sa top 9.

1. BARBER’S TALES – Directed by Jun Lana

“Mali ba ang gumawa ng tama? Hindi. Pero minsan hindi handa ang mga tao na harapin ang tama.”

Kung naaliw ka sa Kimmy Dora at Babae Sa Septic Tank, ibang Eugene Domingo ang makikita mo rito. It was set during the height of Marcos regime pero hindi ito purely tungkol kay Marcos, tungkol ito sa mga kababaihan, kung papaano sila naoppress noong dekada ’70. Hindi common ang mga babaeng barbero, pwede namang parlor diba pero marahil ay simbolismo ito ng babae taking over a patriarchal stuff. My favorite role goes to Glady’s Reyes. Hindi siya anti-climactic, sakto lang para medyo gumaan yung seryosong issue na tinatalakay sa Barber’s Tales. Napredict ko yung ending, pero wapakels maganda naman yung execution. Sana talaga may libreng kakanin habang pinapanood ‘to direk :P