Movie: Walang Forever

"Walang Forever"

Mia, a celebrated writer of romantic-comedy films, is at a turning point in her life which makes it difficult for her to believe that love could last. Everything comes to a head when Ethan returns, only for her to find out that he has become a cynic of lasting love because she broke his heart.

Walang Forever wears its heart on its sleeve, and that’s a good thing. Because out of the four movies I’ve seen this Metro Manila Film Festival season, this is the only one I actually enjoyed watching. One, because it didn’t try to be too clever for its own good. And two, because it didn’t capitalize on any popular love team. Story was king.

It also helped that Jennylyn Mercado is proving herself to be the romcom lead to beat.

I only have four gripes with the movie: the splicing together of scenes in the exposition-heavy beginning that could’ve done with a bit more cutting, the climactic confrontation between the two leads which I felt could’ve used some tweaking in dialogue, the too-vague planting of the main conflict and its reveal, and the acting decisions of the guy who played Aldus–

But, at the end of the day, I think the movie was well made. My gripes are just nit-pickings at things that I felt could have been improved more, but in no way detracts from one’s enjoyment of the movie. Walang Forever proves that Filipinos are just as capable at making romantic movies that tug at hearts and tear ducts both.

I also have to commend Kim Molina for her acting in this film. Out of the four films I’ve seen, she was most deserving to win the Best Supporting Actress Award– And I’ll leave it at that.

If you enjoyed English Only, Please last year– you’re bound to enjoy this one as well. So if you haven’t seen Walang Forever yet, do check the film out while it’s still in theaters. Support quality films!

Movie: My Bebe Love

"My Bebe Love"

Vic Sotto plays the role of Vito who finds himself at odds and in a bitter professional rivalry with Cora, played by Ai-Ai delas Alas. The two are both in the business of mounting special events. The conflict happens when their respective wards – Anna (played by Maine) daughter of Vito, gets romantically entangled with Cora’s beloved nephew Dondi (played by Alden). As expected, the “parents” actively reject the budding romantic involvement between the star-crossed lovers.

It’s that time of the year again when theaters in the Philippines are showing only entries for the Metro Manila Film Festival. And as is the case every year, my mom had the family watching a Vic Sotto movie. Which means that I watched My Bebe Love.

I didn’t hate it.

I mean, I didn’t love it either, but it wasn’t as bad as some of the other Vic Sotto-starrers I’ve been subjected to. But it wasn’t as good as the Vic Sotto films that got it right either. (I have very low expectations set when it comes to films starring Vic Sotto. Ever since the very first Enteng Kabisote film.)

The thing with My Bebe Love is–it doesn’t seem to know who the central characters are. And I sort of blame the AlDub phenomenon. (I’m not going to explain what the AlDub phenomenon is, but you can read about it on Wikipedia. That’s right. It has a Wikipedia page.)

Now, watching My Bebe Love, it was obvious that the story being set up is supposed to center on conservative Vito clashing and then falling in love with the liberal Cora. They’re the ones with the premise and promise right at the beginning. Their respective charges, Anna and Dondi, are only supposed to move their plots along. It’s a very basic story set-up.

I don’t know during what part of the production period the AlDub phenomenon happened, but you can clearly see that when this movie was being filmed, some Vito-Cora development was thrown out the window in favor of giving more screen time for the better-loved supporting players. And it ruins the love story that the film was supposed to be about: that of Vito’s and Cora’s.

The thing is, this could have not been the case.

I know the producers of My Bebe Love were banking on the popularity of the AlDub love team to make this movie bigger than it was projected to be. But how hard was it to make their participation not feel shoe-horned in?

The set up is there. The stakes are there. But instead of using the additional scenes featuring the supporting characters to give their story more substance, they were underutilized and made to do what they’ve been doing every day in their Kalyeserye on television. And it makes their plot, the subplot, disjointed. Because, obviously, their characters had plot points they needed to hit. But instead of just progressing with those and letting those plot points define their character arcs, they were given scenes that didn’t serve anything more than a fleeting sense of romance and giddiness.

And they’re not the only ones to suffer. Suddenly, the main plot of the film is also missing two of its most vital parts: it’s supporting plot, and the time to progress their story forward. At one point, it felt like they were the ones supporting the subplot.

I feel bad for all the actors involved in this film. There was potential for My Bebe Love to be something more (and something different) from what the Vic Sotto films usually turn out to be), but it was wasted on poor story structuring and character progression.

Movie: So It’s You

"So It's You"

So It’s You is a romantic-comedy offering from Regal Films starring Carla Abellana and Tom Rodriguez. It tells the story of two people who are lost in love–one ready to move on, while the other is still desperately hanging on. When they meet, they think that life is finally giving them a second chance… Unfortunately, Lira (Carla Abellana) sees the chance as a way to get her previous love back, and not a chance to move on.

The film is pretty solid for a Filipino film… Which isn’t a qualifier I wanted to use, because I have high respect for writer-director Jun Lana, and I loved Bwakaw. But I feel like So It’s You could’ve been better.

Carla Abellana, Tom Rodriguez, Paolo Ballesteros, and Kevin Santos bring their A game… But when you’re willing to list the actors who made you enjoy the movie, what does that say about the other actors? I mean, JC de Vera continues to do what JC de Vera used to do… But he looks tired for most of the movie. Leo Martinez is at his wise-man best… but it’s not something we haven’t seen from him before…

But, as you might have noticed in previous blog posts about films I watched, I usually ignore the acting when the story is engrossing. And this wasn’t. And I blame the confused point-of-view of the story-telling. In Regal Film’s efforts to balance the screen time between leads Carla and Tom, the story kinda gets confused on whose story it’s actually telling: is this the journey of Carla’s character to realize that love isn’t something you cling on to desperately? Or is this a finding hope in love again story for Tom’s character?

We start with Carla, where Tom is just an incidental character. When they finally have their meet-cute, we see more of Tom’s character…and we kind of stick with Tom during the duration of his relationship with Carla’s character. So we have his point of view during most of the love story… But it’s Carla who we are with when conflict comes. And it’s Carla who flashes back to all of Tom’s memories. So you can see why we get a confused perspective on the whole thing… Right? Or is it just me?

I find it admirable that So It’s You doesn’t have perfect characters. I like that. I like the fact that none of them are two-dimensional stereotypes… Well, save for Kevin Santos’s character. But I find him funny. And  I find Paolo Ballesteros’s character hilarious. Neither one of them really adds anything substantial to the story, but they surely amp up one’s enjoyment of the film.

But the long short of it is… I’m just trying to find something to like about the film. My mom liked it. My mom cried during the big confrontation scene. So the film works for some people. I’m just not one of them.

I still admire Regal Film’s for continuing to be a player in a market that’s dominated by Star Cinema though. And I hope they continue to produce films… better films… that will compete against Star Cinema.

Web: Jorgendipity

"Jorgendipity"

I’m taking a break from writing about Pinoy books and komiks for one Friday to talk about something I scripted for the web: Jorgendipity.

Take note, I said scripted and not wrote. Though, technically, I did write for it. But, well, to cut things short–I don’t own the story. The characters and the premise were given to me, as were the major plot points–which I will not spoil, because the biggest one is coming in the fourth episode which hasn’t come out yet.

So what did I do for Jorgendipity exactly? Well, I put structure into the story (with the person who actually conceptualized the story, Jane Bracher of M2Comms), and I wrote the actual script they used during filming. So I guess the words are mine.

And thus, here I am promoting.

Mind you, Jorgendipity is far from perfect. As a scriptwriter who relies on a lot of visuals (I like to picture the scene before I write it, to see how my characters would move), I tend to be nitpick-y with my material–and I can nitpick with the best of them.

But I know that I’m have my faults too. I know that I have a tendency to be unclear with my scripted directives.

The thing with productions like this though is this: you have to learn to let go. What’s important in the end is that people like the end product regardless of behind-the-scenes complications and miscommunications.

And I’m hoping you’ll like Jorgendipity.

There are two episodes left, and I believe the next one will be out very soon.

So, what do you think? I’d love to hear some feedback.

Movie: Warm Bodies

"Warm Bodies"

A funny new twist on a classic love story, WARM BODIES is a poignant tale about the power of human connection. After a zombie epidemic, R (a highly unusual zombie) encounters Julie (a human survivor), and rescues her from a zombie attack. Julie sees that R is different from the other zombies, and as the two form a special relationship in their struggle for survival, R becomes increasingly more human – setting off an exciting, romantic, and often comical chain of events that begins to transform the other zombies and maybe even the whole lifeless world.” — (c) Summit

It’s funny how, almost two years ago, I couldn’t imagine the book being turned into a film–much less a film worth recommending. But that’s just what happened. Summit has made a good movie.

What I really liked about Warm Bodies was how it was trying to change the zombie genre. But, as I said, I couldn’t imagine how the people behind the film would translate that. What we end up with is a romantic-comedy sort of film. And it works.

Warm Bodies, in essence, is a Romeo and Juliet story. You have two factions, and a love that was as much impossible as it was inevitable. But it happens. And the film captures this, and celebrates this. So much so that we actually get a balcony scene between Juliet and R which I found really hilarious.

Though, much as Nicholas Hoult and (a strangely plain) Teresa Palmer do great in their roles, it’s actually Rob Corddry and Analeigh Tipton who steals the film for me. They are awesome and hilarious–and they hit the right notes. Especially Analeigh Tipton. This is, I think, the first time that a movie version of a character made me like a book character that I didn’t really notice. And now that I love Nora, I’m very much looking forward to the paper book version of Isaac Marion’s The New Hunger which makes Nora a bigger character than she is in Warm Bodies.

Before I move on to the other things I liked about the film, I want to bring this up: what happened to Teresa Palmer? I’ve seen her in I Am Number Four, in Bedtime Stories–and she looked hot. So why does she look like a blonde Kristen Stewart in this film? That’s not a good thing, let me tell you.

Moving on.

What I like best about Warm Bodies the film is the subtle things they incorporated–especially with R’s character. Something is changing in R. As per the synopsis, he’s increasingly becoming more human. And the make-up department does wonders with their gradual change of his skin tone. Nicholas Hoult also does well with the slow subtle changes he puts into his character–like the fact that he’s always slouching in the beginning of the film, and starts to stand up straighter as he turns more human.

R’s asides in the book fit nicely with the voice overs for the film.

And I like how there are four different looks for the film: the blue-gray tint of the zombie ruins, the harsh lighting of the survivor camp scenes, the toned-down and yet vibrant colors of memories–and the warmer colors of the ending scenes. This is a great use of color-grading, I think. Something I hope the makers of Tiktik take notice of when they get to the post production of their sequel.

Overall, the movie is a must watch. It’s not perfect, but it’s totally worth the ticket price.