Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa (movie review)

ang-kwento-nating-dalawa-2Just by its title, you’d already think that this movie is a love story. Well, it is. But the intriguing part is not that it’s a love story, but what kind of love story it is.

Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa (“The Story of Us That Never Was” when translated to English form) focuses on Sam (played by Nicco Manalo) and Isa (played by Emmanuel Vera), as they struggle to maintain their not-your-typical-kind of relationship. This atypical relationship is what holds the film together, as it will come out as a revelation; it would eventually unfold to the eyes of the audience who’ve been firmly watching from start to end. I will not go into details further so as not to spoil those who want to watch it.

I love the simplicity of the film. The rawness of emotions displayed by the actors playing as the lovers was so believable you’d think this is about them for real. The camera work done by the director, Nestor Abrogena, was so tight at times you’ll experience more of the emotions being delivered by the actors. The long shots that Mr. Abrogena employed in many of the scenes made the film experience closer to reality. Nicco Manalo, son of comedian Jose Manalo, couldn’t be more believable in his role here.  I’ve not seen an honest performance as his in this film for quite some time. Emmanuel Vera, whom I fondly remember as Sarah Geronimo’s rival in their drama show before entitled, “Idol,” has blossomed in this film. Gracious and charming, she’s able to somehow lighten up the seriousness of her character and her character’s situation in the film, hitting that perfect balance.

Did I forget to mention the songs rendered in this atypical rom-com film? Songs by Gabe Piolo (“Look Along The Way”) and Emmanuel Vera herself (“Hanggang Kailan Kita Mahihintay”) were memorable. But the real stand out was Quest’s “Hanggang Kailan,” which pierces the heart right from its very first lines: “Gulong-gulo ang puso. Saan ba ito patungo?” This might just be the perfect question to ask to the story title.

Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5.

 

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

Starting Over Again

Starting Over Again movie poster

So far the best romantic comedy movie I have ever watched (I haven’t seen One More Chance on the big screen so maybe that made a difference), Starting Over Again is easily the most relatable and probably has the most realistic portrayal of hearts who have loved, lost love and found it once again. The movie stars Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga as former lovers who have crossed paths once again. Are they going to relive their romance even though one of them is already attached to somebody new? Or are they still trying to find answers from each other about what happened before while yearning for what could have been if they had stuck together?

“It’s complicated. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

Starting Over Again is one interesting movie. The story of two couples breaking up and trying to start over again was already made before, but this one is very different story-wise and how it was told. Some people may find the ending sad, but for me, it was not just satisfying, it was also what’s most likely to happen in a story like this. The whole feel of the movie might be too idealistic, but in its roots it was based on what’s realistic.

“Naniniwala ako na kung may gusto kang sabihin, dapat sabihin mo na.”

Films about love can start a whole discussion about loving. One realization I had while watching this movie is how fragile the heart can be. The heart is used to love, but sometimes it goes against us if we love too much. Because once it breaks, with or without a good reason, it may take a very long time to be whole again. Another realization would be: hoping, even though always good in a sense, can also go against us. We can be all too hopeful in love but we have to be grounded on what’s real and true. Or else, we might just be surprised we no longer know ourselves after yearning for something we cannot have and being torn about it for a long time.

“Adik ka na naman sa pag-asa eh. Try mo na kaya lumaklak ng realidad?”

There were surprisingly a crazy lot of funny scenes, some heavy dramatic scenes and a combination of comedy and drama in a number of scenes in this movie. For years, I’ve never seen a movie that made me laugh out loud in a second and pained me just right after. I was impressed by how the director, Olivia Lamasan, and her lead actors, Pascual and Gonzaga, made that possible.

“In love, there is no fear.”

Speaking of Lamasan, I have never been a fan of her films. However, after watching this movie, I may just check out her previous works. The way she handled the scenes, especially the heavy drama stuff, was nothing short of great. Those close-up shots she made of the actors magnified the emotions they were trying to convey on their scenes together. And it worked! Add to that the many flashback scenes, which were gradually given as if to tease the audience, really worked out well to tell the story more effectively.

“I deserve an explanation. I need an acceptable reason.”

Piolo Pascual may just have proven once again he’s still the leading man to look up to after all these years. He showed in this movie that his good acting skills certainly did not leave him after being absent on the big screen for a long time. Toni Gonzaga, on the other hand, can claim the title rom-com queen for consistently hitting it big in the movies whoever her partner is. Her charm and effortless comic skills certainly pushed her on top of the game.

“Closure.”

I don’t always watch romantic-comedy films but when I do, I make sure it’s really worth it. And Starting Over Again is more than worth it.

Starting Over Again’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5

Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo?

Bakit_Hindi_Ka_Crush_Ng_Crush_Mo-_filmCombining hilarity and wit and showing relevance while still being conventional, Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo? may just be the most significant commercial movie yet for the youth this year. Based on the popular romance guide book by the comedian-writer Ramon Bautista, the movie displayed issues of love, romance and sex in both funny and serious ways.

The movie is about Sandy (played by Kim Chiu), a girl who may be touted as pangit mag-ayos ng hitsura and baduy magdamit. After being used and abandoned by her boyfriend, she gets axed in her work by Alex (played by Xian Lim), the new president of the recording company where she’s working. However, when Alex comes to know about Sandy’s importance in the company, he proposes for her to come back and promises  to help her be the girl that guys would fall in love with. Would Sandy agree to be changed in order to find her true love? You’ll find it out in this film.

Kim Chiu takes the cake for being the best artist in this movie. She attacked her role seriously without pushing herself to the point that would make her performance over-acting. Meanwhile, Xian Lim is a revelation. I didn’t know he could pass as a formidable leading man to Kim until watching the film. They sure had lots of kilig moments, and you could see in their eyes that they might actually be in love even in real life. Meanwhile, their tandem has been provided with a good supporting cast, most notably Freddie Webb as Xian’s grandfather and Ramon Bautista as himself, giving love advice that’s basically taken out of his book where the movie is based.

Romantic comedies usually have contrived plots and this one is not an exemption. You’d know even before watching the film how it would end. But what sets the movie apart from the others is the transformation of the lead character, Sandy, from being such a hopeless and hapless romantic to an ideal girlfriend. Along this transformation, though, she remains who she truly is: a girl with a principle. (Oops, that was a spoiler. Sorry!)

The movie has a couple of great scenes: the LOL moment when Sandy sang “Bakit Pa” with Tangerine (played by Angeline Quinto, whose character was brokenhearted like Sandy), the goodnight kissing scene of Sandy and Alex in front of the Sandy’s house and the whole harana sequence. I highly doubt anyone won’t get to laugh or feel in love while watching the said scenes.

The movie should also be commended because of its cinematography and directing. Many of the scenes were shot in ways that would augment the beauty of the setting. Meanwhile, the way Joyce Bernal, the director, handled the scenes was laudable as the story-telling was smooth from start to end. The songs used were also good. What I didn’t like though was the audio error in a few scenes wherein the characters’ dialogues seemed morphed for some reason.

Funny, relevant yet serious about love issues, Bakit Di Ka Crush ng Crush Mo? is a must-see for teenagers and young adults with or without a love life.

Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4 out of 5

It Takes A Man and A Woman

It_Takes_a_Man_and_a_Woman movie posterIt Takes A Man and A Woman features John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo as a love team for the third time. I was surprised to find out that it was 4 years ago when they last paired up on the big screen. But this is hardly difficult to believe. With huge clamor from their fans since 2009, it didn’t seem like long ago when they last teamed up.

It Takes A Man and A Woman is a feel-good movie. You’d find yourself laughing at times, crying during some scenes, but probably smiling most of the time. The chemistry between the two lead stars is undeniable. They always light up the screen every single time they are present and that means more when they’re together in a sequence. The way they carried their characters was certainly believable: John Lloyd as Miggy, a young businessman with a propensity to committing big mistakes and Sarah as Laida, a successful yet still the bungisngis magazine consultant. I guess you need not be reminded of that if you’ve been watching their movies since. Their delivery of lines is still impeccable: what they’ve shown was still true to their characters.

The movie won’t be so good without the supporting cast. A shout-out to Al Tantay and Irma Adlawan as Sarah’s parents; Rowell Santiago as John Lloyd’s older brother and most especially Joross Gamboa, Gio Alvarez and Matet de Leon as the pair’s co-workers for providing some of the laugh-out loud moments in the film. This supporting cast is so solid they’ve been making the John Lloyd-Sarah films a whole lot better.

The film will make you fall in love. If you’re already in love, it’ll make you feel more in love. Some of the romantic scenes might have bordered on the cheesy/ bubbly territory, but a certain few certainly showed more depth; yes, the two lead characters showed maturity. I guess that’s already implied in the movie’s title. And more: forgiveness and infidelity are the two main themes of the film and they were sensibly shown, if not explained. The touching scenes provided the right intensity to let the audience feel what they were supposed to feel. These scenes, including the comic and the romantic ones, really stood out.

Cathy Garcia-Molina never fails to make a romantic-comedy film that is full of really kilig moments. This movie’s got so many kilig scenes you’ll never regret watching it with your loved one  in the theater. Moreso, scenes with these moments were beautifully shot and this certainly made it more romantic. (Spoiler ahead: wait for the movie’s wedding sequence and really fall in love)

It Takes A Man And A Woman movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4/5.