That Thing Called Tadhana (movie review)

That Thing Called TadhanaOne of the most lauded in 2014’s CinemaOne Originals film festival, That Thing Called Tadhana more than lives up to the hype with the great screenplay and directing of Antoinette Jadaone and the brilliant acting of Angelica Panganiban and JM De Guzman.

This movie is such a breath of fresh air. Dealing with subjects of love lost, broken hearts and moving on were shown in realistic scenarios featuring relatable characters in the form of Mace (Angelica Panganiban) and Anthony (JM De Guzman). Meeting each other in the airport and signing in for an eventful road trip towards the north of the country might be a little too unbelievable, but trust me as these two characters deal with each other and talk about love and life that you’re in for a great ride of your life.

I really like how Antoinette Jadaone does her movies both as a director and a writer. She’s one great talent to boot that generations of today could really look up to. The audience could feel that punch of reality in her writing and smoothness in her directing and these are very evident here in Tadhana. To think about it, most scenes in the movie only have Angelica Panganiban and JM De Guzman talking. But don’t get me wrong, because of the great screenplay and the said actors’ brilliant delivery of lines, they’d bring you to what they were talking about, letting you feel what they felt and think about what they thought during those times.

I can’t wait to watch more of her movies.

Angelica Panganiban stars as Mace, a 20-something girl who just had her heart broken by her boyfriend of 8 years. As everyone who had just had a breakup, Mace was very emotional and a bit unpredictable with her decisions. Panganiban nailed her character very well. It’s about time that people be reminded that she’s a force to reckon with in the acting department. She’s natural with her lines you could really see she’s able to relate well with her character and show this through her outstanding performance. On the other hand, JM De Guzman made a great comeback in the entertainment industry with this movie. A fellow Filipino passenger of Mace in an airplane boarding to Manila who saw her struggling with her luggage (that she explained contained her life- watch the movie to know why), De Guzman was able to make believable how a stranger like Anthony could turn into a shoulder to cry on. He used his charm through his character to win the hearts of the audience and the moves he did as Anthony seemed so natural like what Angelica did. Their conversations at the start seemed awkward, and that’s what really happens when you do talk to strangers, right? But that awkwardness turned into something else as they got to know each other’s lives. As one is begging to know where a broken heart goes, the other one is saying it will eventually find its way home. Hahaha, corny. Did I mention they have great chemistry? Yes, they do have great chemistry and if ever they have a project together again in the future, count me in to watch it. I have become a fan of these two.

Meanwhile, the movie made me really want to go back to probably the most popular part of northern Philippines, which is Baguio, and experience for the first time the cultural haven where mountains are high and the sunrise is great to look at, which is Sagada. It made me want to go there as soon as I can not to do some soul-searching like what Mace wanted to do in the movie but to just really feel the excitement going there and being there. The cinematography, the visual design and the locations used in the movie captured the great beauty of Sagada and some really memorable scenes in Baguio. Anyone up for a road trip? Haha.

That Thing Called Tadhana’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 5 out of 5

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Into The Woods (movie review)

Into_The_Woods_(film)I am not really into musical films and have sort of graduated from watching adaptations of fairy tales both on TV and film (e.g. Once Upon A Time, Brothers Grimm) but I still gave Into The Woods a shot. I do not regret watching it but, of course, I got what I was expecting to get afterwards.

I have a pretty solid record in watching musical films in movie theaters after a hard day’s work: I tend to sleep if the story’s not that strong to keep me truly interested until the end. Re: Into The Woods, let’s just say that the music is okay and all but the story wasn’t that great to keep me up and invested for the long haul.

To give credit to where credit is due, the movie did succeed in the acting department. The actors who have shared their talents in the movie were all good. Led by Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep who embodied the witch that cursed her neighbor’s unborn child (the baker) because of stealing from her magical garden, the cast got not just the singing chops to sing their pieces but also such natural acting that definitely helped build up the story. Anna Kendrick, despite my doubt about her tackling the Cinderella role, proved her versatility with this movie. Emily Blunt, which doesn’t really ring a bell every time I hear her name was pleasantly great as the baker’s wife. The baker, portrayed by James Corden, was good it was like he was molded into his role. Meanwhile, Chris Pine surprised everyone not because he looked well as Prince Charming but because he could sing! I also liked how remarkable were the young actors who portrayed Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk) and Little Red Riding Hood.

I heard people say that the movie did a lot of changes from the musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine in which it was based. They said that some songs were pulled out and some details left out. In fairness to Lapine, the movie’s writer, what’s important to me as part of the audience who’s not aware of the musical where it was based was that the story was cohesive and easy to understand. It’s amazing how the movie’s able to weave the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood by using one elephant in the room among fairy tales: the woods.

However, I find the movie really just a so-so. I didn’t expect something really spectacular and that’s what I got, nothing spectacular. Unlike Streep’s first venture into musicals via Mamma Mia, this movie fell flat after striking it really well during the first half. The music also seemed repetitive after a while and the plot seemed to have lost touch after a pseudo-happy ever after ending.

If you like Streep, Kendrick or Pine singing in charming roles, go ahead and watch his film. If you happen to like musicals, then it’s a plus. Just don’t expect too much, okay?

Into The Woods’ movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 2.5 out of 5