Tag Archives: Empoy Marquez

tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘Kita Kita’ Can Get Iffy, But Its Strengths Are Evident

Strong filmmaking helps mitigate a few problems inherent with this romantic film’s premise.

NBHD movie 3-2 ticketsKita Kita is Lea (Alessandra de Rossi), who is a Filipina working in Japan as a tour guide. At the start of the film, she’s looking forward to finally tying the knot with her Japanese fiancee, but then discovers that he’s been cheating on her. To make things worse, she suddenly loses her ability to see. She convalesces in her home, resigning herself to a rather lonely existence. But that’s when her neighbor Tonyo (Empoy Marquez) introduces himself to her. Tonyo seems determined to break Lea out of her funk, giving her food and taking her out, and trying to push past her resistance to finding any sort of happiness in her predicament.Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 8.16.02 PMThere’s more, but it’s better to avoid the details for now. Suffice it to say that not everything is completely as it seems, the film at times playing fast and loose with the timeline to achieve a very specific effect. But for the most part, this really just the story of a persistent suitor; of a well-meaning young man who approaches a brokenhearted woman and tries to be there for her. There are problems inherent to this premise, but there is a gentleness to this film that lets it skate by the expected discomfort. It is thoughtful and patient, the film giving its characters space to build something real.Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 8.07.21 PMHaving said that, the stuff that the film chooses to romanticize can still feel iffy. All the film’s sweetness doesn’t completely erase an overall tendency to portray borderline creepy behavior as the foundation for a love story. The film is best when it just allows the characters to talk frankly about who they are and what they’ve been through. There is resonance in how these characters speak of their lives in this far-off land, away from their families, looking for any sort of connection that might make them feel a little less lonely. The film builds a context where heartbreak is amplified, because these characters, no matter suited they might be to living abroad, still aren’t home.Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 8.05.55 PMAnd that’s smart, but it doesn’t entirely excuse where the movie goes. There are still points where what the film plays as infatuation comes off as strange obsession. There are bits where Tonyo’s efforts might feel like overreach. The film tells its story well, employing clever little structuring tricks that create interesting parallels between its two main characters. But there are just these moments where it all becomes a little questionable, playing into fantasies that in real life would be much harder to swallow.Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 8.08.15 PMThere’s plenty of skill on display, though. Skilled direction allows the film to shift seamlessly between silly little jokes and much heavier moments. The production design gives the film distinct personality. The more questionable aspects of the story are also mitigated somewhat by the two leads. Alessandra de Rossi brings an interesting edge to her character, the heartbreak conveyed with greater ennui than your average starlet. And Empoy Marquez just doesn’t bring an ounce of malice to the role, which helps out a lot. The contrast between the two tells a story in itself, and there’s real merit in that.Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 8.21.10 PMThe strengths of Kita Kita are clearly evident. Its weaknesses are obscured somewhat, but they’re there. And any objections to some of the behavior of these characters would be completely understandable. But if you can get past that, it ends up being a pretty sweet film about two people who just didn’t give up on each other. Issues aside, there is genuine skill on display, the film handling emotions big and small, building palpable romance in its smaller moments of kindness.

KITA KITA OPENS ON JULY 19 IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘Bloody Crayons’ Uses Slasher Tropes to Test the Limits of Young Friendships

Though it doesn’t completely hold together, Bloody Crayons is youthful, violent fun.

NBHD movie 3-2 ticketsBloody Crayons follows Eunice (Janella Salvador) and her friends, who have all traveled to a creepy old house on a remote island to help aspiring director Kiko (Elmo Magalona) shoot a short film. Tensions quickly rise among the friends as romantic entanglements get in the way of work. These tensions come to a head one night, when a seemingly innocent game ends with one of them suddenly dying. Things only get more dangerous from there, as the kids find themselves locked in the house, unsure of who to trust as the body count continues to rise.Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.42.55 PMThe film takes a good long while to get to the killing. The setup gets a bit awkward, as the movie doesn’t seem fully equipped to portray young people getting along and having fun. But it starts to get more fun as the story applies pressure on the characters. The film builds something compelling by testing the limits of these supposed friendships and then just breaking them. It largely gets around the problem of horror movie characters making bad choices by embracing their fragility. It takes these dumb kids ruled by hormones and emotion, and stresses them to the point of violence.Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.43.55 PMThe fun really starts when the characters start pointing fingers at each other. The film exposes the shallowness of these relationships, and amplifies every dumb emotion to dangerous ends. So, what might seem like playful tension between two characters later becomes something much more overt and physical. Petty, hormone-driven jealousy might grow into suspicion, later leading into a fight between characters who really ought to be helping each other. The film creates something potent as it takes what could be small issues and just sticks them in a pressure cooker of proximity and violence.Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.44.21 PMThe result is fairly fun, even if it doesn’t completely hold together. The story overreaches a bit when it gives one of its characters a tragic backstory. Given the effect that the film is trying to create, it might have been better to leave that character more of a mystery. And though the film does largely justify these characters acting illogically, there are still moments where it feels like they go too far off the rational scale. But the film does make up with this with solid genre mechanics. The movie really flexes its muscles in scenes where a character is hiding from someone else, finding clever ways to express the nearness of danger.Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.45.34 PMThere are odd technical hiccups here and there, but it isn’t really enough to distract from the overall craft. The film gets a lot out of its location, the production design amping up the natural eeriness of the house. The young cast is good enough. Janella Salvador ends up being saddled with the least compelling character, but she makes do. There’s a fragility to Elmo Magalona that serves his character well. Ronnie Alonte can make awkward line deliveries at times, but he just brings so much presence to the screen. Everyone really starts to shine when the pressure’s on, these actors doing a great job of conveying the fear and confusion surrounding their characters.Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.44.50 PMBloody Crayons, if nothing else, doesn’t feel like most locally produced horror movies. Its threats aren’t these abstract supernatural ideas that tend to pop up in the background of scenes, inexplicably idle as the film attempts to oversell the moment with a loud stinger. The film instead finds its danger in the fragility of young friendships, which can go from one extreme to the next in a split second. The cracks show every now and then, but there is a sense of youthful energy that helps keep things fresh and fun. And that’s enough, really.

BLOODY CRAYONS IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.