My 2009 in Status Updates

Two days before 2009 comes to a close, I reminisce my year by going through all of my posts on my Facebook wall. Let me share my favorites with you.

DEC. 29: I’m planning to buy a notebook. Budget is 25K. Any suggestions on what brand and model? (FB is very helpful in soliciting tips from friends. 28 comments and counting.)

DEC. 29: Spell evil. S-U-E S-Y-L-V-E-S-T-E-R! Kick Schuster's sissy ass! (And Sylar goes down to # 2 as my favorite TV villain.)

DEC. 21: RIP: Brittany Murphy, actress/singer, 32. (The only death that mattered to me this year. Blame Paul Oakenfold and Happy Feet. Cory Aquino and Michael Jackson were complete no-shows on my FB wall.)

DEC. 21: 3 steps to unfriend someone 1. deny his/her existence whenever he/she is around 2. block his/her number from sending messages to your cell 3. delete him/her on Facebook Voila! Friendship over!

DEC. 18: Kids are running around the office. Summit Media has turned into Disneyland! (During our office Christmas party. Let it be Crowne next year.)

DEC. 7: My favorite thing to do in Facebook: UNTAGGING (So what if I love cleaning my wall? OC ako e. I don’t appreciate Friends for Sale, Pillow Fights, Farmville Gifts, Tag All Your Friends, and the like, so please spare me.)

NOV. 19: I never believed in blessing in disguise until now. (Being transferred to a new department is actually a good thing. Bitter? Not anymore. Grateful? Oh, yes!)

NOV. 12: It's almost midnight and I'm still in the office. Have to wake up early for tomorrow's presentation. Weekend, excited na kong makapiling ka! (One of the numerous times that I stayed in the office till the wee hours of the morning to finish presentations to advertisers. Goodbye to the corporate slave me.)

NOV. 8: Tryin' to bounce back from a tumultous week. A week filled with self-induced heartache and health failure. I gotta get through this. And I'm gonna get through this. (On recovering from kuliti and break-up. Awwww…)

OCT. 16: Just got back from a shoot with the Goin' Bulilit kids. Aaron is like a breathing stuffed toy. So cute! (I resisted the urge to sneak him in my backpack. Haha!)

OCT. 8: Don't you hate it when the cashier keeps on bugging you for loose change?

OCT. 2: Supermarkets and groceries are singing hallelujah to Pepeng. Panic buying at its best. (If we’re prepared, it won’t hit us.)

SEPT. 30: Is Jacque Bermejo a real 'sinner' or a victim of a fraudulent account? Or is she just another 'thesis' of a UP college student (Ederlyn, anyone?)? Jacque Bermejo will soon cement her status as an urban legend. (Whatever happened to her?)

SEPT. 28: Since I didn't have cellphone coverage and electricity over the weekend, I didn't realize how much damage Ondoy has done until I got to work this morning and found out that some co-employees lost their home and even their family members. Let's all pray for the victims of typhoon Ondoy.

SEPT. 22: You won't believe what FAP chose to represent RP in the Oscars. Not 100, not Jay, not Manila. Not even Lola, but close: Ded Na Si Lolo.

SEPT 22: Yes, it's true. Words can make your knees weak and your heart flutter, especially if those words came from someone you love. Who said Hallmark cards are passe? (After 1st monthsary. Surprise, I’m still capable of getting kilig.)

SEPT. 18: I can't be any happier that this busy week is about to end. Lo and behold, long weekend. I can finally shave. (After the Advertising Sales Conference.)

SEPT. 10: Friend mo na ba sa FB si Kimmy at Dora Go Dong Hae?

SEPT. 2: Vote for your favorite DJs in the Top 100 DJs poll. My vote goes to David Guetta, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Benny Bennassi, and Kyau & Albert.

AUG. 25: Sometimes, all you want is to be the wallpaper on someone's phone. (It actually felt good to be the wallpaper on someone’s phone… and laptop!)

AUG 24: Who said 'new me' resolutions are just for New Year? You don't need 2010 to be a better person. All you need is a catalyst for a change. Or more aptly, a special someone who would inspire you to change for the better. (In love nga ako e. Pagbigyan n’yo na ko sa mga cheesy posts.)

AUG. 20: What if ABS-CBN remakes Gossip Girl? Imagine Pinay Blair uttering these lines: "Dalawang salita, siyam na letra, sabihin mo at sa iyo na ako". Panalo!

AUG. 12: Lady Gaga has a dick and it's bigger than yours! (Thoroughly entertained by Lady Gaga during her concert.)

JUN. 25: With the barrage of status updates and tweets, are we sharing too much information already?

JUN. 2: If beer tastes bitter, it means you're problem-free. Otherwise, it's sweet. Drinking till the beer tastes bitter won't help solve your problem. -plagiarized from Men's Health

MAY 28: Dionisia is the new Imelda! (But with a better accent!)

MAY 25: OMFG! Brillante Mendoza is Cannes' Best Director! (The year’s biggest surprise. It was a great triumph for the Filipino people.)

MAY 14: I just received my credit card bill and I was devastated by the five digits that will devour my paycheck tomorrow. (This was just the start. This December, my 13th month pay was spent on paying my credit card dues.)

MAY 4: Prepare to suck the cock of karma! -Pineapple Express

APR 30: I finished the Ridiculous Burger, a three-patty burger, in 7 minutes. Over 2 minutes to be a Hall of Famer. That sucks! (Although I have beaten Seb in the K-Zone Challenge, I was still a failure. I need a hug now… and a milkshake!)

APR. 24: Today is Long Sleeves Day! Me haves skin allergies. Dunno what me is allergic to though. Maybe, BS. =P (On my recurring allergies.)

APR. 21: Sometimes, being negative is positive. (I got tested and I’m negative, that’s why I’m positive!)

APR. 16: Me calls them Spiky Boy Medel. Mine hair spikier than Goku's.

APR. 8: I'll stay in Manila for the holy week. Sino gusto sumama sa 'kin na mag-skateboard sa EDSA?

APR. 7: The things you own end up owning you. - Fight Club

FEB. 23: Gerard says, don't sweat the small stuff! (My personal mantra for the year.)

FEB 18: I have to channel his inner kid. Mind you, it's for work. (On my new position as Publishing Assistant for the kid’s magazines of Summit Media.)

So what are the highlights of my year?

1. I had the chance to be a kid for 10 months and enjoyed every minute of it.

2. I fell in love. It may not have worked out as I thought it would, but I’m happy it happened. I had so much to love to last me another four years of singlehood.

3. I am now a certified film addict. I conquered French Filmfest, Cinemalaya, Cinemanila, and Cinema One Originals. That’s on top of my DVD marathons at home.

4. I attended a lot of movie premieres, thanks to PEP and K-Zone. I wrote reviews for PEP. I also had a brief stint as contributing writer for SPOT.

5. I partied more responsibly compared to last year.

6. I started going to the gym.

7. I discovered Facebook and Twitter. I retired Multiply and Friendster.

Worst Pinoy Movies of 2009

Please raise your right hand if you want to watch bad movies. No one? It’s a fact that nobody enjoys watching awful films, so we avoid them at all costs.

Every time I get asked to critique, I hope and pray that the movie I’m about to see will be good. I look forward to discovering cinematic gems unfold in front of my very eye. I’m always hungry for bold, innovative, and gripping narratives.

I hate watching bad movies and I hate it even more to write bad reviews. But I think my readers deserve some honesty, I can’t just give away compliments if they don’t earn it. So every once in awhile, I am forced to watch god-forsaken films – films that shouldn’t have been made, films that make me cringe at such intolerable disrespect to the art of filmmaking.

And so, I’ve compiled the five worst Pinoy movies I’ve seen in 2009. I’m not saying that these are the WORST films of the year since I haven’t seen Nandito Ako… Nagmamahal Sa’Yo, When I Met U, Tarot, Ang Tanging Pamilya, and all those skin flicks that tarnish the reputation of independent cinema. I bet the aforementioned are strong contenders for the Hall of Shame.

Pasang Krus

Director: Neal “Buboy” Tan (Ataul For Rent)

Starring: Rosanna Roces, Ketchup Eusebio, Empress Schuck, Joross Gamboa

Although independent filmmaking is said to provide cutting edge and modern cinema for Filipinos, filmmakers are still caught up in a hangover infinitum caused by the classics. Most of the times, they can’t help themselves but genuflect to the past by borrowing clichéd and overused elements from the classics. And although we already have a handful of these dramas, especially those about the poor and their travails in life, some directors just don’t know when to quit. To label Pasang Krus as a tearjerker is a disgrace to the term. The film is just grossly sentimental and overly dramatic.

Read the full review at

Sagrada Familia

Director: Joel Lamangan (Mano Po 6: A Mother’s Love, Dukot)

Starring: Emilio Garcia, Snooky Serna, Lovi Poe, Gloria Diaz

The script is a little extreme compared to your average primetime soap in its inclusion of hefty servings of violence and incest. But other than that, the requisite elements are all in place: camp, sentimentality, and hearty melodrama. Its fatal flaws are its lack of logic and an inconsistent characterization. Lamangan’s direction shares the same distaste for melodrama as the script. The film is replete with hysterical acting, caboodles of tears, and clumsy dialogue. Like your typical soap opera, Sagrada Familia ends with a climactic shootout: a police intervention that’s a little too late. We’ve seen this ending before on the television. It’s sad that they have to recycle it for the big screen.

Will post the full review soon.

Astig (Mga Batang Kalye)

Director: GB Sampedro

Starring: Dennis Trillo, Sid Lucero, Arnold Reyes, Edgar Allan Guzman, Glaiza de Castro

The screenplay breathes and lives in third world clichés – movie house prostitution, suicide, gratuitous sex, and plenty of foul language. Instead of presenting a new treatment on the worn-out subject, we are left with an overused template of yet another movie about Manila’s squalor.

Read the full review at


Director: Gil Portes (Mga Munting Tinig, Saranggola)

Starring: Marco Alcaraz, Paloma, Victor Neri

MTRCB approved this ‘sexy thriller’ without cuts despite an explicit woman-on-woman sex scene that wasn’t necessary to the script at all. Aside from the titillating scenes, this film has nothing left to offer. Shallow story. Cheesy dialogue and equally cheesy delivery. Wooden acting. Awful score. Dry screenplay thriving on poverty clichés and plain stupidity. But wait there’s more, it’s Graded A by CEB.

Read the full review at

Ang Manghuhula

Director: Paolo Herras (Rekados)

Starring: Eula Valdez, Glaiza de Castro, Emilio Garcia

Ang Manghuhula is a mess. With numerous missteps in direction and editing, the drama largely feels flat and unaffecting. The ineffective editing doesn’t make the scenes flow seamlessly to the next. Peek into the future, I’m sure you won’t see Ang Manghuhula receiving any compliments.

Read the full review at

Aside from Pitik-Bulag, Ang Manghuhula and Sagrada Familia are also Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB). What a flagrant display of lack of taste. Why don’t we abolish CEB? Isama na rin ang inutil na MTRCB!

Donnie Darko

RATING: 1.5/5
DIRECTOR: Richard Kelly (Southland Tales)

TAGLINE: Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

Did you just call me a fuckass? You can go suck a fuck.
If the sky were to suddenly open up, there would be no law, there would be no rule. There would only be you and your memories.

STARRING: Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Daveigh Chase

THE GIST: A man in a bunny suit warns Donnie of an imminent disaster that will put an end to the world.

eFILMCRITIC.COM SAYS: The drowsy surrealism and elaborate inconclusiveness of Donnie Darko will simultaneously guarantee it a rabid cult and put it way off limits to the don't-get-its.

I SAY: If David Lynch decides to take on the High School Musical market, this would be the film that he will make.

Romance & Cigarettes


DIRECTOR: John Turturro

TAGLINE: A savage musical

BEST LINE/S: I hate you with all the hate I could hate you with.

STARRING: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Mandy Moore, Christopher Walken

THE GIST: A comic musical starring a married man, his inamorata (AKA the bitch in heat), and his wacko familia.

MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE SAYS: The film feels like a collision between a John Hughes teen comedy and a David Lynch freakfest.

I SAY: A hogwash hokum humbug of tomfoolery. But at least, it knows how to laugh at itself. And Kate should definitely do more comedies.

Did James Cameron Top Titanic with Avatar?

In 1998, James Cameron helmed Titanic, a film of ginormous proportions – both literally and figuratively. Titanic earned $1.8 billion and became the highest-grossing film of all time. Unlike box-office hits of the late like Spider-Man and Transformers, Titanic was well-received by critics and the international press. Its winning streak went all the way to the Academy Awards, collecting 11 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.

If you were James Cameron, how can you top that? Rather, can you ever top that? It must have been hard for the King of the World to stage a comeback that it took him a decade to return to the director’s chair. Avatar was conceptualized even before Titanic, but the technical requirements of the project made the production impossible. James Cameron wasn’t resting on his laurels because all this time, he has been preparing the technology and the infrastructure that will turn his larger-than-life vision into reality.

Avatar is a gorgeous film. It is set in Pandora, a fictitious planet of lush and greens. Although Pandora is just a product of the imagination, it is rich in life and detail. The place felt authentic. The magic of James Cameron’s filmmaking proficiency is definitely at work here. He puts digital 3D to maximum use and rejuvenates the need to watch movies on the big screen for an immersive experience. What’s great about Pandora is that it’s nothing like we imagined. It’s complete with bioluminescent flora, peculiar wildlife, and even alien traditions.

Aside form the visual marvel the film provides, its best achievement is infusing human emotions to the computer-generated characters. Although Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, and Sigourney Weaver have been turned to 10-foot tall, blue-skinned humanoids called Na’Vi, their expressions, mannerisms, and speech inflections aren’t any less human - all thanks to performance capture.

At three hours long, the script could have been tighter. Compared to recent special effects-heavy blockbusters, there isn’t anything particularly amusing or novel about the story. Moviegoers will be in awe upon seeing the visuals, but Avatar’s storyline is as generic as any run-of-the-mill sci-fi flick could get.

So can James Cameron ever top Titanic? Maybe. But not with Avatar.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Nines


DIRECTOR: John August

TAGLINE: Y9u never kn9w when y9ur number is up

STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy, Hope Davis, Elle Fanning (it is in your best interest that I keep my mouth shut about the roles they play)

eFILM CRITIC SAYS: A challenging loop of spiritual indecision within the confines of a city known for quick creations and their inevitable consequences.

I SAY: Takes the concept of having an avatar and leading a ‘double life’ to a whole new level. This three-part philosophical, meta-physical feature may be flawed but it will resonate on the mind and emotion.

2001: A Space Odyssey


DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick (The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut, Dr. Strangelove)

TAGLINE: Let the awe and mystery of a journey unlike any other begin.

THE GIST: As man tries to solve the mysteries of outer space, they find out that there’s more out there than they have ever imagined.

MOVIE GUIDE SAYS: A beautiful, confounding picture that had half the audience cheering and the other half snoring.

I SAY: There are plenty of reasons why it is hailed as the greatest science fiction film of all time – the enthralling visual effects, the poetic use of classical music, the ingenious jumpcut from prehistoric to futuristic, the enigmatic monolith, and of course, HAL the supercomputer supervillain. Despite the puzzling fourth segment, Kubrick’s space ballet is irresistibly hypnotic.



DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later)

TAGLINE: Never let your friends tie you to the tracks.

BEST LINE/S: Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?

STARRING: Ewan McGregor (dives into a filthy toilet, injects himself with heroin, and runs away with the moolah)

GLOBE & MAIL SAYS: The experience of watching Trainspotting – the electric, nasty and slick descent into the milieu of young Scottish junkies – is a little like speeding through the digestive tract of some voracious beast.

I SAY: Oozing with dark Scottish humor and sheer edginess, this is the most fun you can get with a film about substance abuse.

Dancer in the Dark


DIRECTOR: Lars Von Trier (Dogville, Antichrist)

TAGLINE: You don’t need eyes to see.

BEST LYRIC: They say it's the last song. They don't know us, you see. It's only the last song if we let it be.

BEST LINE/S: You just know when it goes really big... and the camera goes out of the roof... and you just know it's going to end. I hate that. I would leave just after the next to last song... and the film would just go on forever.

STARRING: Bjork (Icelandic songstress turned Cannes Best Actress)

SEATTLE TIMES SAYS: Has moments of unbelievable power and horror ... and these moments make the rest worthwhile.

I SAY: Von Trier unleashes his inner sadist to emotionally torture his audience with this gut-wrenching, soul-crushing, Cannes Palme d’Or winning musical. Although difficult to watch, this film rises above the ranks of greatness as a cinematic masterpiece beyond compare.

Amelia is MEANT to Soar

Amelia is a film meant to soar. Take note of the usage of the word: meant. It’s the biopic of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic on a plane. It stars two-time Academy Award winner for Best Actress, Hilary Swank; Golden Globe winner for Best Actor, Richard Gere; and Golden Globe nominee for Best Actor, Ewan McGregor.

Although Amelia aspired to be an eagle flying over high clouds, the filmmaking involved is stuck on the ground. The screenplay’s frail little wings couldn’t hold the weight of the eponymous heroine. We see glimpses of the aviation legend, but the portrayal skips her depth and intensity.

Hilary Swank has proven herself as an outstanding actress with two golden statuettes to boot (one for her androgynous turn in Boys Don’t Cry and another one for the Clint Eastwood melodrama Million Dollar Baby). But for now, the esteemed actress has to be contented with her two Oscars. Amelia is unlikely to be her ticket for a third Academy award.

In this film, Amelia was portrayed as an insipid character who acts on a whim as if she is intoxicated by the whiff of her own stubbornness. With this characterization, it’s a mystery how she achieved celebrity status as the face of early American aviation – a mystery more puzzling than her enigmatic disappearance.

The narrative is flat, without climax or denouement. It’s such a shame that the life of Amelia Earhart is as exciting as watching blips on a radar.

Rating: 2/5

Instead of watching Amelia, catch these following movies instead:

Sin Nombre (3.5/5)

Zombieland (3.5/5)

The Cell


DIRECTOR: Tarsem Singh (The Fall)

TAGLINE: His mind is her prison.

Jennifer Lopez (child therapist)
Vince Vaughn (FBI agent)
Vincent d’Onofrio (psychotic serial killer)

NEWSDAY SAYS: Taken on its own boldly visual terms, The Cell can be enjoyed as a stroll through a contemporary museum of your purplest imaginings.

I SAY: An optical fantasy journey inside the mind of a schizophrenic. His world is built in pillars of nightmare where every crevice and every nook is infested with grim and horror. Dive into his mind but be warned: it’s not real.

Happy Together


DIRECTOR: Wong Kar Wai (In the Mood For Love, Chungking Express)

Leslie Cheung (motto: let’s start all over again)
Tony Leung (motto: martyrdom is the best policy)
Chang Chen (motto: the ears can see better than the eyes)

MOVIEMARTYR.COM SAYS: Through its stunning imagery, it creates an intimate visual essay about the mood swings of a love affair.

I SAY: A realistic portrayal of the fickleness of relationship. One day, you love him. The next day, you detest the very sight of him until you find yourself unable to distinguish what you really feel. You want to go but you can’t leave. As social networking sites put it, it’s complicated.



DIRECTOR: Joseph Cedar

THE GIST: Israeli soldiers guarding Beaufort, a fortress built atop a mountain in Lebanon, await a command to retreat.

WASHINGTON POST SAYS: The camera never leaves the beleaguered compound, and Beaufort itself becomes a character in the story, a surrealistic zone of tunnels, bunkers and sandbags, about as far from the possibility of heroism as possible.

I SAY: Although this is a war movie, there is no enemy in sight (just missiles dropping from the sky) and no fighting. The slow pacing gives the scenes ample time to breathe and showcase the beautiful cinematography and production design.

Cinema One Originals 2009

Wanted: Border
Rating: 3.5/5
Read my review here.

Si Baning, si Maymay, at ang Asong si Bobo
Rating: 3.5/5

Paano Ko Sasabihin?
Rating: 2/5

Maximus & Minimus
Rating: 2/5
Read my review here.

Rating: 1/5

Wanted: Border Sweeps 2009 Cinema One Originals Digital Movie Festival

Best Film: Wanted: Border
And I agree with the jury.

Best Director: Ray Gibraltar (Wanted: Border)
I agree.

Best Screenplay: Ray Gibraltar (Wanted: Border)
I’m not complaining.

Best Actor: Mikhel Campos (Maximus and Minimus)
This is a toughie. Not because there’s so much talents to choose from, but because of the lack of it. But if I have to choose the lesser evil, I’d hand out the award to Baron Geisler (Maximus & Minimus).

Best Actress: Rosanna Roces (Wanted: Border)
Who I think should have won? The ultra-charming child actress who played Baning in Milo Tolentino’s Si Baning, si Maymay, at Ang Asong si Bobo. Forgive me for not knowing her name.

Best Supporting Actor: Jan Harley Hicana (Si Baning Si Maymay at ang Asong si Bobo)
There isn’t much talents in this category as well. So I’ll just go with the judges.

Best Supporting Actress: Rio Locsin (Si Baning si Maymay at ang Asong si Bobo)

Special Mention: Paano Ko Sasabihin
If this is equivalent to the Jury Prize or the Second Best Picture, I’d give the award to Si Baning, si Maymay, at ang Asong si Bobo.

Audience Award (Viewers’ Choice): Paano Ko Sasabihin
Our audience needs to be seriously schooled.

Best Production Design: Al Alacapa, Winston Lazaro and Allan Hilado (Wanted: Border)
Best Music: Malik Lopez and Eric Romulo (Wanted: Border)
Best Cinematography: Ogie Sugatan (Wanted: Border)
Best Editing: Anna Isabel Matutina (Paano Ko Sasabihin)

Special Honorary Award: Brillante Mendoza and Danny Zialcita

PEP Review: Maximus & Minimus (2/5)

PEP Review: Maximus & Minimus (Unedited)
by Fidel Antonio Medel

When you see the poster of Maximus & Minimus, you may mistake it for a cover of a chick lit novel because of its cosmopolitan artwork and purple background. Aside from the fact that the film’s protagonist likes reading and can finish one novel in a day, there’s nothing else in it that will remind you of chick lit. In fact, this movie is uncharacteristic of a chick lit. For starters, chick lits are usually sassy, wholesome, and romantic. With high doses of vulgar language and sex, Maximus & Minimus is definitely a far cry from the definition of chick lit.

In this adult comedy, size really does matter. It tells the parallel stories of Max (Cai Cortez) and Papu (Mikel Campos). Max is a plus-size woman, while Papu is a tall but skinny guy. Both are relatively happy and brimming with confidence. Regardless of their difference in body size, the two shared an intimate evening that ended in catastrophe. This is the part when we find out why Papu is nicknamed Minimus. Let’s just say, he isn’t ‘gifted’ down there.

After the disastrous encounter, Max moves on and meets Elmo (Baron Geisler), the man with a mojo that will fire up her sex life. Elmo has a fetish with the color purple. When Max discovers the reason why, she turns sour and starts blaming it all on her full-bodied figure. Both Max and Papu find themselves in situations wherein their confidence takes a massive blow.

The parallelism of the two tales did not work for the film’s benefit. Although Max’s story is colorful and exciting, Papu’s story is anything but eventful. For the most part, he is stuck in his bedroom trying to figure out how to enlarge his puny member. And that isn’t funny or even interesting enough. This seriously bogs down the narrative.

The supporting cast takes on roles that are staples in Pinoy comedies. We have the sidekick (Kimmy Maclang as the exaggeratedly enthusiastic Sugar), the maid with a regional accent (Malou Crisologo as Upeng), and the only one in the cast who thinks rationally (Liza Lorena as the grandmother).

Maximus & Minimus is an in-your-face comedy that isn’t afraid to use toilet jokes and vulgarity to illicit laughter. It also has a lot of sex but no nudity, which is actually a good thing, unless a nude fat woman turns you on. To its credit, the raunchy humor and oddball moments will keep you laughing real hard.

In its overemphasis on being funny, it feels a bit strange when the characters gun for the dramatic fireworks. The momentum wanes every time there is an attempt to emotionally engage the viewers. The score is also at fault. It turns too loud that the dialogue is already inaudible. It’s called background music for a reason so they should’ve made sure that its volume is kept low.

In the end, Maximus & Minimus takes the predictable route in addressing self-esteem issues. It’s a rather unlikely resolution given the film’s bold and brash attitude. Nevertheless, the requisite humor will not fail to leave a smile on your face as you exit the moviehouse.

Maximus & Minimus is an entry in the Cinema One Originals Digital Movie Festival that will run from November 13 to 17 at the Gateway Mall.

* published in PEP

PEP Review: Wanted: Border (3.5/5)

PEP Review: Wanted: Border (Unedited)
by Fidel Antonio Medel

The Cinema One Originals Digital Movie Festival handpicks five scripts from thousands of submissions and gives each filmmaker a P1,000,000 seed money for production. Compared to its more popular counterpart, the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, the entries for Cinema One Originals are said to be more experimental and out-of-the-box.

In line with this notion, I bet no other film from this year’s roster will be more experimental and out-of-the-box than Ray Gibraltar’s Wanted: Border. He is best known for the film When Timawa Meets Delgado, a modest indie production that he directed, written, and edited in 2007. Although his debut effort did not win any award or international citation, critics hailed it as an important film that every Filipino should see. Even the late Alexis Tioseco, a renowned film critic, championed it. When Timawa Meets Delgado tackled the nursing boom in the Philippines through its peculiar brand of faux documentary and visual poetry.

This same peculiarity and pizzazz can be seen in Wanted: Border. This black comedy slash horror film is about Mama Saleng (Rosanna Roces), a religion freak who wants to be crucified for the holy week. She was bullied throughout her childhood because of rumors that she hails from an aswang lineage. Now at 60 years old, Mama Saleng owns an eatery and boarding house. Her eatery is famous for her delectable Kansi. What her patrons don’t know is that her secret ingredient is fresh human meat from her slain boarders. Before you accuse Wanted: Border of ripping off the Johnny Depp-starrer Sweeney Todd, the similarities end with the subplot of human meat being turned into mouth-watering delicacies.

The film will probably receive sneers and jeers from devout Catholics for its atypical interpretation of the Seven Last Words. Moreover, Wanted: Border deals with how destructive man’s innate lust for violence can become. Part of the reason behind Mama Saleng’s thirst for blood is her traumatic childhood, climaxing when the townsfolk killed her grandmother in the suspicion that she is a man-eating ghoul. And there’s another character who nurtured her killer instincts. The townsfolk and the surprise character brought the aswang out of Mama Saleng.

Ray Gibraltar has a knack for non-linear storytelling (read: the narrative is not in chronological order), cutting to different time frames and segueing to different characters. Initially, it seems as if we are presented with random characters set in a hodgepodge of trivial and nonsensical circumstances. Aside from Mama Saleng and her daft assistant, the other characters include the nosy obese girl, the Rugby-sniffing documentarist, and the sexually abused girl who finally extracted her madcap revenge. They are all characterized by crude behavior, sexual innuendo, and plain insanity.

Although it isn’t easy to make sense of Ray Gibraltar’s message, it isn’t hard to appreciate the film’s dark fantasy. He confidently showcases his bravura in creating a grotesque world reeking of drabness and madness. And to make our viewing experience more leisurely, bits of humor is inserted here and there.

Wanted: Border is an entertaining and thought-provoking experimental project that will keep you optimistic about Philippine alternative cinema.

Catch Wanted: Border and the rest of the entries for the Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival at the Gateway Mall from November 13 to 17.

* published in PEP

Are You Itching to See Paranormal Activity?

When I first saw Paranormal Activity’s trailer in a fellow blogger’s site, it instantly captured my attention. The film is dubbed as this decade’s The Blair Witch Project.

Paranormal Activity was actually an old film. It was screened in various film festivals in 2007, Slamdance and Screamfest to name a few. DreamWorks loved it and commissioned Oren Peli, its director, to helm a remake with a bigger budget. So they conducted test screenings to determine areas of improvement. But the test screenings went so well that they ditched the idea of doing a remake.

The film started with midnight-only screenings in selected US theatres. Through an intensive viral campaign, Paranormal Activity was poised to become a sleeper hit. It soon became a trending topic on Twitter. As word of mouth grew, so does the number of theatres screening it.

The pinnacle of its rise to fame occurred during the Halloween weekend when Paranormal Activity trumped Saw VI on the box office. I know the Saw franchise is garbage but this was a feat for Paranormal Activity because of two things: (1) for the last five years, Saw has consistently dominated the Halloween weekend as box-office champion; and (2) Paranormal Activity was made under $11,000, which is not even a fraction of Saw’s promotions budget.
People have been hailing Paranormal Activity as the scariest film of the year, while some think it is an overhyped and boring piece of shit. If you’re itching to see the film, you’ll be glad to know that Manong Dibidi already carries a DVD copy of Paranormal Activity. But be warned, the version we will be getting on the silverscreen is not the same as what is available on pirated DVD. Why is that? The version available in pirated DVD is the 2007 original cut. After DreamWorks picked up the film for distribution, they implemented some changes: they cut scenes, edited sequences, CGI’d the special effects, and remade the ending.

Since I didn’t know this before, I got the original ending, which I thought was lame. Through blog-hopping, I found out what the new ending is and I regret that I haven’t seen that version. But I don’t have any plans of seeing Paranormal Activity on the big screen, simply because I don’t think it’s worth it.

I have terribly mixed feelings for Paranormal Activity. I admire its success story, which I have written above. But the film isn’t really that special. It’s a micro-budgeted film and that becomes noticeable right away. It doesn’t help that the actors were complete amateurs.

We all know it’s a mockumentary and I’m totally cool with that idea. However, I hate the fact that the director is trying too hard to pass the film off as authentic. Hence, the opening credits thanking the police department for the footage (the entire film is a ‘footage’) and the ending credits saying that the film is dedicated to Micah and Katie (the main characters of the film).

But no matter what I say, I know curiosity will take the better of you and you will still line up come December 2 to watch the film on the big screen. I can’t blame you. If it’s any consolation, there’s one scene that made me go OMFG with matching goosebumps, that itself may be worth the admission ticket.

Rating: 2.5/5

Other films I saw recently:

The Hurt Locker (4/5)

Tokyo (2/5)

Two for Gael: Bad Education & The Science of Sleep

Gael Garcia Bernal’s filmography includes:
Mammoth (2009)
Blindness (2008)
Babel (2006)
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
The Crime of Padre Amaro (2002)
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)
Amores Perros (2000)


RATING: 4.5/5

DIRECTOR: Pedro Almodovar (Volver, All About My Mother)

STARRING: Gael Garcia Bernal, Fele Martinex

THE GIST: So where do I start? Ignacio submits the script of “The Visit” to a filmmaker. It is a story inspired by his childhood – how the friars molested him and how he was separated from his first love. Mind you, that is just the tip of the iceberg.

NEW YORK MAGAZINE SAYS: It still exerts an uncanny power: Like the best of Almodóvar’s work, it throws you a first-love sucker punch that will stagger your heart, mind, and soul.

I SAY: To describe this Almodovar film as complex and layered may not be enough to cover its breadth and depth. The story goes farther than you can conceive and the surprises and reversals keep on whirring. It’s about life imitating art and art imitating life. It’s about concealed identities, guile, and hidden motives. It’s about pedophilia, religion, lust, and moral corruption. You’ve been warned: this film is a mouthful. And don’t miss Gael in drag.



DIRECTOR: Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind)

TAGLINE: Close your eyes. Open your heart.

BEST LINE/S: Randomness is very difficult to achieve. Organization always merges back if you don’t pay attention.

STARRING: Gael Garcia Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg

THE GIST: A boy, who distorts reality with his dreams, falls in love with his next-door neighbor.

UG-O SAYS: A creative, original work by a filmmaker with a fantastic visual flair who refuses to stick to any typical cinematic patterns, even if it's sometimes to a fault.

I SAY: This odd yet comic love story set in a cut-and-paste wonderland is nothing short of imaginative.

Two Documentaries: American Teen & Encounters at the End of the World



DIRECTOR: Nanette Burstein

TAGLINE: In high school, the toughest thing to be… is yourself.

THE GIST: A docu-drama, shot “The Hills” style, featuring the queen bee, jock, super geek, lady misfit, and a bunch of high school seniors in Warsaw, Indiana.

RICHARD ROEPER SAYS: Compared to the contrived junk we see on MTV masquerading as a reality series, I think this is very authentic.

I SAY: Makes us reminisce our pre-adolescent ambitions, acne, raging hormones, first love, and first heartbreak. And by the way, the illustrated simulations kick ass.


RATING: 2.5/5

DIRECTOR: Werner Herzog (Rescue Dawn)

THE GIST: Stunning footages of what’s it like to be living at the point where all the lines in the map converge.

ROTTEN TOMATOES SAYS: Encounters at the End of the World offers a poignant study of the human psyche amid haunting landscapes.

I SAY: Despite rousing insights about penguins wandering off-course and icebergs bigger than the country that built Titanic, this documentary feels clunky and cluttered. However, it made me ponder on my own philosophical questions about man’s abstract journey to find reasons behind our existence. Why do men keep trying to unearth the world’s greatest mysteries through charts and graphs? Why do men keep trying to explain the unfathomable? Can’t the world just exist as it is, that there are no stories or theories of creation.

Cinemanila 11: 24 Films in 6 Days

I know Cinemanila ended weeks ago, but I’m ready with a handful of excuses as to why this post is late. I got busy with work. I got sick. Yada-yada. Bottomline is: I wasn’t able to write reviews or even mini reviews for all the films I saw this year, which is a lot by the way. That’s why I decided to just post this wrap-up of sorts. I also posted my ratings just in case you’re interested to know.

Tulpan (3.5/5)

A Year Ago In Winter (2/5)

Anacbanua (1/5)

Ang Beerhouse (2.5/5)

Chengdu, I Love You (1/5)

Bakal Boys (3.5/5)

Beautiful (1.5/5)

Biyaheng Lupa (2.5/5)

Caramel (2.5/5)

Coco Avant Chanel (3/5)

Himpapawid (3.5/5)

Iliw (3/5)
Jeonju Digital Project 2009: Visitors (1/5)

Lake Tahoe (3/5)

Lola (3/5)

Macabre (1.5/5)

Mammoth (3.5/5)

Pandora's Box (1.5/5)

Passion (3/5)

Puntod (2/5)

Ricky (3/5)

When Timawa Meets Delgado (2/5)

Samson & Delilah (4.5/5)

Waltz With Bashir (2.5/5)


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