Tag Archives: Movie reviews

tv + film by Philbert Dy

Bad Comedy Smothers the Tender Heart of ‘Seven Sundays’

Oddly mean-spirited stabs at humor negate a lot of what’s good about this family drama

NBHD movie 2 ticketsSeven Sundays is about the Bonifacio siblings: Bryan (Dingdong Dantes), Cha (Cristine Reyes), Allan (Aga Muhlach), and Dex (Enrique Gil). The film begins with each of them finding some reason to not show up for the birthday of their father Manuel (Ronaldo Valdez). That same night, Manuel gets news that he has cancer, and that he has around two to six months to live. He asks his kids for one last wish before he dies: that they all spend the next few Sundays together as a family. And so, the siblings are forced to deal with their individual issues, as they each bring their baggage back home.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 12.34.45 PMThat baggage turns out to be the weakest part of the story. The individual problems of the siblings more often than not involve cartoonish side characters that display an unflattering mean streak on the part of the filmmakers. It ultimately clashes with the tender heart of the movie, which works best when it revels in the loving familiarity that the characters share. This is a sweet movie overall, but it could have done without its outsized exterior conflicts. There is already plenty of drama to be found in the family dynamics of these siblings.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 12.36.04 PMThe movie can be a little clumsy in laying out the plot. There is a pretty important point in the middle that has Manuel voicing out the details of his internal conflict, helpfully explaining it for the benefit of no one in particular. He might as well have said “this is going to be a problem later in the story.” But the movie can be pretty elegant as well, letting the histories of these siblings emerge organically simply from the way that they treat each other. What the film gets right is just how much can go unspoken among family: how old wounds fester, and how hard it is to be honest to those who know you best.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 12.36.55 PMThat stuff is real enough that it really hurts every time the movie brings in its contrived external conflicts. The script is just too careful to make the characters feel blameless, so there is scant real personal drama in a lot of these choices. We don’t really see Allan, for example, make the bad business choices that make the family store struggle. We don’t see Dex have to deal with the people chasing him. Instead, the film makes it out to be a misunderstanding setting up comedic scenes where he has to hide from them. In all these scenes, people are made out to be buffoons, which really cut into the real sentiment that exists in the scenes involving familial strife.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 12.37.29 PMThe film just gets distracted, as if weirdly insecure about its dramatic content. The film’s ending is one of the biggest emotional cop-outs of all time, basically negating the tender moment captured in its emotional climax. It’s really sad, especially since the cast does a pretty good job at selling the film’s central drama. Aga Muhlach, Dingdong Dantes, Cristine Reyes, and Enrique Gil don’t look much like siblings, but they collectively nail their roles within the family dynamic. Ronaldo Valdez hams it up a bit too far, but he mostly gets away with it. The mistake the film makes is building its comedy on status, these actors coming off badly as they deign to deal with people who aren’t as conventionally attractive as they are.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 12.37.55 PMSeven Sundays has good moments in it, but a lot of it is negated by the latent meanness exhibited in other sequences. Its drama can be gentle, but the comedy is blunt and built entirely on status. The film’s last sequence, which abandons the sweet sentiment in favor of mawkish comedy, and has the protagonists inexplicably sending an antagonist away crying, is really indicative of what goes wrong in this film. It has something, but it adds this layer of unpleasant, unspoken elitism into the mix, leaving a bad taste in the mouth.

SEVEN SUNDAYS IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
dsc00195
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

‘Balatkayo’ Has a Point, But Has Trouble Getting There

This OFW story gets distracted by the sights and loses the thread

NBHD movie 1-2 ticketsBalatkayo is about Edith (Aiko Melendez), who is an OFW in Singapore. Her husband Samson (Polo Ravales), meanwhile, works in Dubai. The movie starts out with Edith having to fly home because their son Jasper (James Robert) shows up in a sex video posted on the internet. While Edith deals with the situation back home, Samson is carrying on with an affair, and is secretly working on getting his marriage annulled. Soon enough, the couple is forced to reckon with the consequences of their choices.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 1.12.18 PMThe general point that the film seems to be to be making is that for all the benefits that being an OFW can bring, the price to the family might not be worth it. It’s certainly a worthy point to make, but the film lacks the narrative focus to make that theme work in a compelling fashion. It wanders aimlessly between its three main characters, giving them disconnected stories that offer the audience little to root for throughout the runtime.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 1.14.01 PMWhat’s most interesting about the film is that there’s a sense of satire written into the movie, its characters almost always directly commenting on the struggles of the OFW in a broad, somewhat comedic way. This is in contrast to the overall tone of the film, which is otherwise drab and listless. The film might be going for deadpan, but what it does instead is make its characters out to be just deeply unpleasant. Their unpleasantness is often compounded by the lack of forward action. An early sequence has Edith completely ignoring her friend while walking around Singapore. The scene seems designed to be funny, but it mostly makes Edith out to a terrible person prone to wasting everyone’s time.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 1.08.15 PMIt’s not a great start, and it just keeps going on this way. The film just seems unable to find a focus for its narrative, and is all too willing to linger in sequences that show off the fact that they got to shoot abroad. There is a long stretch in the middle that details a weekend getaway for Samson and his lover. It’s a montage of scenes of them enjoying various tourist attractions in the UAE. Nothing is gained from this sequence. The film has already previously made clear that the two are serious about each other, and want to be together. The whole thing just comes off as the production wanting to make it clear that they were really in the UAE.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 1.14.50 PMIn all that, the film struggles to come up with anything that might be considering dramatic. The script seems to actively avoid confrontation. It spends a good long chunk in the middle dryly explaining the convoluted legal process of annulment, rather than just dealing with what the children feel about it. The acting is not great overall. Aiko Melendez comes off badly, the film not playing along with her harsh, comedic delivery. Polo Ravales doesn’t give much at all. And James Robert, given the pivotal role of Jasper, doesn’t really seem to know what he’s supposed to be doing in any given scene.1Balatkayo actually takes a compelling position. In moments, it’s able to convey a trenchant point: that the “practicality” of working abroad comes at a harsh cost, and that the “sacrifice” that OFWs are making might be more complicated than the simple narrative often presented. But these moments get buried under a lot of tedious nonsense. At times, it feels like the film would rather be a travelogue than a story. The characters and their individual narratives end up paying the price. It just becomes impossible to feel anything for any of them.

 

BALATKAYO IS NOW SHOWING IN SELECT CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
dsc00195
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

‘Blade Runner 2049’ Walks Slowly Through a Fascinating Future Landscape

The belated sequel to the 1982 classic takes its time, luxuriating in incredible visuals

NBHD movie 5 ticketsBlade Runner 2049, as the title suggests, takes place thirty years after the events of the 1982 film. Opening text explains where we are: artificial humans known as Replicants rebelled against the social order but were crushed, later to be replaced by a more docile, controllable version created by the Wallace Corporation. Special police officers known as Blade Runners hunt down the remaining rogue Replicants. The story begins with Blade Runner K (Ryan Gosling) on a mission where he stumbles onto a much greater mystery that has him tracking down the participants in an impossible event that took place decades prior.BR-CC-7250This sequel expands on the original in rather interesting ways. Like the first, it is essentially a detective story dressed up in sci-fi elements, following a future gumshoe in a dystopian Los Angeles as he unravels a mystery that brings up questions about what is real and what it means to be human. And like the original, this film mostly lets the plot be a facilitator for exploring the world that it has built. The difference is that the world is much bigger this time, and this film is even more willing to linger in its curious little corners, luxuriating in the pure visual splendor of this dystopian future world.BR-11K walks slowly in almost every scene he’s in. It is a function of the character being cautious as he walks into dangerous situations, but it also sets the pace for the film. It walks slowly and methodically, giving time to take in the surroundings. It offers space for fairly lengthy conversations that overtly address the themes of the story. The dialogue can feel clunky at points, with characters spouting odd turns of expository phrase in pursuit of expressing these heady ideas. But they still serve to add intriguing layers to the central philosophical dilemma inherent to the setting.

And so, the plot is designed mainly to bring K to one strange, interesting place after another, revealing new horrors and wonders alike. A woman in isolation designs dreams for robots. Children forced to work in an orphanage in the middle of a massive scrapyard. The remnants of a once-alive city, now covered in a deadly orange haze. The film boasts a level of design that more than lives up to the reputations of the original, which turned out to be one of the most influential films of all time. It mitigates the effects of its lengthy runtime through its sheer ability to show the audience things they haven’t quite seen before. Director of Photography Roger Deakins is doing the best work of his lengthy, storied career. And that’s really saying a lot.BR-MarietteThe film exhibits skill and directorial aplomb in its less flashy moments as well. The direction is often elegant, the film’s procedural elements coming to life thanks to the calm, assured staging. Take note of a very simple scene early on where K revisits the scene of a crime, and notices something new. It is a small scene made up of as few shots as possible, perfectly timed to convey a feeling that goes beyond the plain facts of the scene. Ryan Gosling turns out to be a key part of what makes this film work, though. The actor, who has always shown a capacity for being a little alien, is used to great effect in this film. The very questions that the film seeks to answer play out on Gosling’s face.BR-26On a visual level alone, Blade Runner 2049 would be worth recommending. The film just puts together so many powerful and memorable images in its lengthy runtime, and it offers the space to take it all in properly. That the film actually works on a narrative level almost seems secondary. The script can be clunky at times, but it manages to find clever ways to tie into the past while still being its own thing, adding intriguing layers to what’s come before, digging deeper into a vision of the future where the very nature of humanity is put into question.

BLADE RUNNER 2049 IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
dsc00195
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

‘Respeto’ is the Movie We Need Right Now

This courageous hip-hop film has many things on its mind

NBHD movie 4-2 ticketsRespeto tells the story of Hendrix (Abra), a poor kid suffering under the thumb of his older sister’s drug-dealing boyfriend. He dreams of becoming a hip-hop artist, and he’s drawn to the world of underground rap battles. But Hendrix doesn’t quite have the skills to hang with more seasoned battlers, and he ends up losing some money that wasn’t his to lose. He gets his friends together and tries to rob a book shop, but they get caught. They end up having to work off their offense by rebuilding some shelves that they damaged. And Hendrix gets to know the book shop’s owner, Doc (Dido de la Paz), a poet haunted by his past.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 6.03.27 PMIf this were just any other movie, that setup would lead to something that might resemble a mashup of 8 Mile and The Karate Kid, with Doc serving as Mr. Miyagi to the precocious young Hendrix, and them taking on the dominant forces in the world of underground battle rap. But Respeto has something else on its mind, the oppression of past and present intersecting in this unique milieu. This is one of the first films to truly tackle this current era of extrajudicial killings, and it does so with striking panache and courage.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 6.04.19 PMThe story itself plays out a little strangely, in that Hendrix isn’t much of a hero. The film hardly gets around to the story of his growth and redemption, which is kind of understandable in context, but still doesn’t make for a particularly workable narrative structure. It feels like the two main characters spend too much time apart, and not enough time really learning from each other. It is interesting to a point that the film is so committing to depriving audiences of the conventional pleasures of this setup, but the lack of progress within Hendrix does become problematic.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 6.05.00 PMBut again, it turns out that this film is hardly about winning rap battles at all. It draws something more powerful through the stark juxtaposition of two generations of oppressed peoples. It bravely draws the line between the Martial Law Era and the current drug war, the relationship between the two main characters brought into sharper focus through mutual experiences with injustice and the cycle of violence. The film never really does get to the expected climactic rap battle where everything he’s learned from Doc comes into play. Instead, the film wails into the void, underlining the tragedy of where we are now, and the necessity for something else.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 6.06.55 PM

The narrative may not completely work out, but the film pulls off its tricky juxtaposition anyway through sheer craft. The whole movie just looks wonderful, and it confidently strings together its scenes regardless of how disparate they might seem at first. Abra can’t fully sell the worthiness of his character, but the movie does come alive through his earnest delivery. But really, the movie belongs to the tremendous Dido de la Paz, whose outward ornery demeanor is quickly offset in moments of quiet menace. The actor lets the pain of his character be visible in every moment, the horrors of martial law never far from the surface.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 6.04.39 PMRespeto has its flaws, but it feels vital. It feels downright necessary, given everything that’s going on right now. The film’s ambitions were perhaps too huge to ever really get right in a 100-minute entertainment, but that it tried at all and got so much right is a real feat. The film itself will tell you that making art isn’t quite enough to fight back. But it is still necessary to make art, to craft entertainment that can highlight the ways in which people are hurting, and what must be done to solve it. This is, in the end, a pretty remarkable movie that ought to be seen and talked about.

RESPETO IS NOW SHOWING IN SELECT CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
dsc00195
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

‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Doubles Down on Both the Good and the Bad

This sequel is a little more clever, and a lot more problematic

NBHD movie 2-2 ticketsKingsman: The Golden Circle kicks off with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) fending off an attack from Kingsman rejectee Charlie (Edward Holcroft), who is now apparently working for a new criminal organization, a powerful drug cartel known as The Golden Circle. Soon enough, the entire Kingsman infrastructure is taken out by a coordinated attack, and Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) are left to fend for themselves. But soon enough, they discover that Kingsman has an American counterpart known as Statesman, and with their help, Eggsy takes on The Golden Circle.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.11.43 PMThe first Kingsman movie was a reasonably fun but overlong James Bond riff that moved just quickly enough to gloss over the somwhat noxious themes just lurking underneath. This sequel is a little more clever, but also longer and more problematic. The puerile elements of the first movie come closer to the fore, in sequences that put up the illusion of commenting on the underlying misogyny of the Bond myth while still taking advantage of the lurid material itself. The film is best taken as pure action spectacle, its big fight sequences still deliriously staged. It’s harder to accept if you give it any thought at all.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.17.47 PMLike the first movie, the plot is mostly one big joke. The film rarely moves with immediacy, the whole thing more concerned with looking stylish than actually moving the story forward. To an extent, this is fine. The action is actually stylish enough to distract from the characters’ strange detachment from the dangers that the world is facing. But the film is surprisingly long for such a silly lark, and it fills up a lot of its runtime with indulgent digressions that aren’t nearly as funny or as clever as the film seems to think. The most intriguing diversion involves the U.S. president’s reaction to the crisis at hand, which is oddly relevant to the local situation. But the movie is hardly capable of any trenchant commentary.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.26.42 PMIt just doesn’t take anything seriously enough to make its attempts at relevance matter. It makes it pretty clear at every point that nothing of consequence is ever really happening. People might die, but within this cartoonish world, it is entirely possible that they might just come back. It’s all in the name of good fun, one supposes, but the “good” ends up being pretty debatable. As much as the film seems to be making fun of the standard formula of the Bond film, it never really does anything to remedy the more noxious elements of those stories. It still uses them in the end.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.16.09 PMYou might remember the slight controvery over the final joke of the first film. The film doubles down on it, calling it back no less than two times. In general, the movie just doesn’t treat its female characters very well. They are either princesses to be rescued or narrative sacrifices that give the male characters their tragic motivations. Performances are okay, but they don’t matter much. The action sequences are the main attraction in this movie. These absurd, frantic, VFX-assisted, faux-long takes are thoroughly entertaining, if excessively violent.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.24.17 PMOne’s acceptance of the excesses of Kingsman: The Golden Circle will be dependent on one’s acceptance of the excesses of the first movie. If you were able to overlook the thematic problems with the first film, then it’s likely that you’ll find this an equally fizzy entertainment. On the other hand, if you took the film to task for its various indulgences in puerile material, then you’ll likely find this film twice as disgusting. Either way, the fun action sequences aren’t entirely enough to acquit the film of its rather ridiculous length, though they do go some way in making stuff bearable.

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
dsc00195
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

‘Mother!’ Goes for Broke

Darren Aronofsky’s latest film is completely committed to its wacky metaphors

NBHD movie 4 ticketsMother! stars Jennifer Lawrence as the wife of a poet played by Javier Bardem. They live alone in a pretty remote house in the middle of the country, and she spends a lot of her time restoring the home while her husband struggles to start writing again. Then one night he allows a guest (Ed Harris) into the house. The guest is a doctor who says he thought the house was a bed and breakfast, and her husband inexplicably just allows him to stay. The doctor proves to be a pretty awful houseguest, and it only gets worse when his family shows up.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.29.08 PMThe less said about what happens next, the better. Suffice it to say that this isn’t quite the conventional thriller that the trailer might be suggesting. It is far crazier than that, the entire film a rather bananas metaphor that reframes some very familiar stories as the inexplicable, increasingly absurd struggles of a housewife with a famous husband. One’s tolerance for weirdness and clumsy symbolism will likely determine one’s enjoyment of this picture. But given that, it is easy enough to admire the film’s utter commitment to its own insanity.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.29.18 PMThe movie doesn’t bother being subtle. Anyone with a passing familiarity with the bible will likely pick up what a lot of these scenes are alluding to, and by the end, Aronofsky gets startlingly literal with the meaning of his movie, basically having its characters explain the whole thing out loud. Given that, it’s all still pretty compelling. There is just enough wiggle room in all of this allegory to leave a lot of it open to interpretation. The movie may be pointing directly at the bible, but its maximalist approach to its own symbolism offers many other avenues for critical examination.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.29.40 PMIt can come off as clumsy and inelegant, but the movie manages to be oddly entertaining through all of it. The last act of this film is a series of escalations that compresses centuries of violent history into one grueling sequence. It is beautiful and audacious while still being a little bit juvenile. It just doesn’t quite have the sophistication of some of the best films tackling the same kind of material. It is too blunt, and at time too scattershot to really build to a compelling theme. And yet the film is compelling all the same. Aronofsky seems to be wearing his heart on his sleeve, and as clumsy as the film is, it can be a real hoot to witness.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.30.12 PMAt the center of all this chaos is Jennifer Lawrence, in a rather unusual role for the actress. She is at this point most known for playing characters with a palpable inner strength that translates into forceful agency. In this film, she is mainly reactive and unassertive, unable to control anything that happens. But she pulls it off with aplomb, and the film benefits from keeping the focus solely on her. The camera often moves with her, as if attached to the actress herself. It’s a marvelous performance with a delightful payoff. Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer all seem to relish their outsized roles, and make the best out of even the clumsiest allusions.Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.35.18 PMWhether one ends up liking it or not, one has to admit that Mother! is a rich cinematic experience. It is a decadent chocolate cake of symbolism and religious allusion, a densely caloric meal of the director’s personal obsessions. It’s certainly delicious, but it’s probably too much. If nothing else, though, the film will likely leave audiences with much to talk about. And that’s a net good. And one must give the film credit for achieving its maximalist visual and thematic ambitions, whether one agrees with those ambitions or not. One must admire its willingness to go for broke.

MOTHER! IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
dsc00195
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

‘DAD: Durugin ang Droga’ is Devoid of Value

Its very existence may be proof that life is nothing but chaos

NBHD movie 0 ticketThe inexplicably titled DAD: Durugin ang Droga is sort of about family man Lucas (Allen Dizon), who immediately goes into a downward spiral after going to a party where’s he’s treated to booze, women, and drugs, in that order. He starts coming home late every day, ignoring the needs of his wife (Jackie Aquino) and his children. This in turn leads her to turn to alcohol to numb the pain of her absent, drug-abusing husband, and his eldest son (LA Santos) to start hanging out with the bad crowd at school, who all skip class to smoke marijuana in stairwells.Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 11.39.26 AMThis is only half of the story, however. At some point, the film basically forgets about this family and starts concentrating on the internal struggles of a couple of drug lords (Efren Reyes and Sharmaine Suarez) and their corrupt congressman boss (Rey “PJ” Abellana). There’s some fuss made over a few undercover agents that have managed to infiltrate that syndicate, but it’s a subplot that doesn’t really move much until the very end. It doesn’t matter, really. None of this really makes any sense. In the last stretch, there’s a big twist reveal that theoretically changes things, but it’s just another dumb thing in a movie that is suffused with dumb things.Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 11.43.09 AMLet’s put aside the fact that the movie is a pro-Duterte screed that literally ends with a clip of the president saying “My gahd, I hate drugs” and take the film on its own merits, of which there are none. The very first two shots are out of focus, the presumed subject of the scene left hazy while some garden feature in the background stays sharp. The film’s sound is consistently bad, the filmmakers often not putting in any effort to make the dialogue intelligible to a human ear. There are a couple of sequences where characters are singing, and nothing was done to make the sound sync up with what’s happening on screen.Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 11.43.35 AMAnd let’s say you don’t care about those technical details at all, and simply wish to partake of the film’s narrative. Then you’ll run into the problem of the utterly incompetent storytelling. Characters disappear for long stretches before it is revealed that they are actually integral to everything that’s going on. The sequence of events is utterly baffling, the film prone to cutting away to completely unrelated scenes in the middle continuous sequences. And often, these scenes introduce new characters without any context whatsoever, their relation to the larger plot left as a later surprise.Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 11.41.13 AMAnd then there are just the straight up baffling choices. This film has an absolutely insane flashback sequence where the members of the cast play younger versions of themselves. Rey “PJ” Abellana is wearing a cap that has “1996” printed on it, presumably to identify the year. Allen Dizon walks into this scene wearing a bandana to indicate that he isn’t yet the businessman that he will eventually become. For that sequence, at least, he is a bandana-wearing young person. There is a sequence where Jackie Aquino is made to watch herself drinking beer in a mirror. It turns out, too, that she’s holding a wine bottle in the other hand, as well. Because of course she is. Everyone in this movie is made to look completely ridiculous.Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 11.44.39 AMAnd one shouldn’t get the impression that DAD: Durugin ang Droga is worth it even for just ironic appeal. True, the pure absurdity of the flashback sequence makes it come close. But most of the movie is actually really boring. There isn’t much that happens for long stretches, the movie not even having the decency to be consistently insane throughout its overlong runtime. It is interesting only to the extent that it was made at all, this movie so lacking in value that one would assume that the universe wouldn’t allow it to exist. But it is here, perhaps the strongest proof yet of a completely uncaring, unjust cosmos.

DAD: DURUGIN ANG DROGA IS NOW SHOWING IN SELECT CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
dsc00195
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

‘Loving in Tandem’ Takes Its Romance for Granted

Clashing tones and myriad plotlines bog down the first MayWard film

NBHD movie 2 ticketsLoving in Tandem begins with the arrival of Luke (Edward Barber). He’s in the Philippines to get his mother to sign some papers that will allow his debt-ridden father to sell their house. Shine (Maymay Entrata) is desperate to get some money to pay for her nephew’s hospital bills. She ends up helping out some pickpockets lift wallets at the church. Among the stolen wallets is Luke’s, and amidst her overwhelming guilt over her part in the crime, she meets the despondent young man, who wants nothing more than to book a flight back to the States, and just happens to live next door.Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 12.01.35 PMLuke finds out the truth soon enough, and the movie mainly becomes about him forcing Shine to work in order to earn enough money to pay back what he lost. All the while, Luke works out his issues with his mother (Carmi Martin), who he resents for abandoning him when he was a kid. The film basically spends the first half of the movie making Luke terribly unlikable. It isn’t just that he is acting out because he’s been wronged. After a while, it feels like Luke is enjoying having Shine under his thumb. And through all this, the movie continues to sell cutesy little romcom beats.Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 12.01.43 PMIt gets iffy, especially as through her hardship, the film still makes it out that Shine feels lucky to just be around Luke. The second half of the movie focuses on the rehabilitation of Luke’s character, with him eventually waking up to the possibility that he might be a terrible person. And then the film just gets weird. Actually, it’s kind of weird all throughout, juxtaposing grounded, economically-based drama with outsized wacky antics. There’s a lot of emotional whiplash in this movie, jumping from big, silly gags to teleserye-style drama at the drop of a hat. In the big, touching emotional moment that resolves Luke’s parental issues, Ryan Bang’s character still has to make a joke.Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 12.02.30 PMIt never really lands on a particular tone. The final stretch involves several bizarre elements that are theoretically comedic, while involving elements of illegal activities and characters earnestly expressing their feelings to crowds of people. In all this, the film seems to forget to make a case for the romance between the two main characters. It’s one of those situations where the entire supporting cast is already convinced that the two are perfect together. Their relationship is sold through the reactions of others, rather than any inherent value found in their interactions.Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 12.02.48 PMThis isn’t to say that there aren’t any cute moments in this movie. Within the mess of the plot and emotions, the film sometimes hits on something sweet between the two main actors. Both Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber feel pretty raw as onscreen talents, but there’s certainly some potential there. If nothing else, the two show an enthusiasm for what they’re doing, which can go a long way. But there’s just absolutely no nuance to anything that they’re doing. It’s like their characters can only handle one emotion at a time, leaving little room for the conflicting feelings that should be present in their respective situations.Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 12.02.59 PMTo its credit, Loving in Tandem does seem to be trying to feel different from your average romcom. But a lot of its choices just don’t work out. It ends up spending too much time on all the things surrounding the characters: the families, the economics, the criminal elements, and whatever else. It gets too distracted, never really giving enough attention to the problem of why these two ought to be together. In lieu of that, it has an entire barangay cheering for them, even when things are actually pretty terrible. It gets off-putting, the movie just taking romance for granted.

LOVING IN TANDEM IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
dsc00195
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

Steven Soderbergh Makes a Relaxed Return to Cinema in ‘Logan Lucky’

This shaggy heist film has charm and cleverness to spare

NBHD movie 4 ticketsLogan Lucky quickly lays out the situation of its protagonist, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum): he’s divorced, has a daughter (Farrah Mckenzie), and is soon laid off from work because of an old football injury. His ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) has been talking about moving away with his daughter, which would make it harder for him to visit. So, with no means to really support himself, Jimmy decides to go rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. He recruits his brother (Adam Driver), his sister (Riley Keough), and a convict (Daniel Craig) to try and make it happen.Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.13.28 PM
A lot of the talk surround this picture involves the return of Steven Soderbergh to cinema after a retirement that turned out to a hiatus that still had the director doing a lot of compelling work as a producer and a TV show creator. It’s a rather absurd, comedic situation that wouldn’t feel out of place in one of the director’s films, really. Whatever the case, Soderbergh returns to big-screen directing with a relaxed caper that goes a little too long but is still confidently entertaining. It’s a riff on Ocean’s Eleven that breaks out of the bubble of luxury and finds meaning in the larger world.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.16.22 PMIt’s a heist film, but set in rural America. The target is not a casino, but a NASCAR racetrack. The characters don’t have the resources that the Oceans crew does, but they are more able to take advantage of cracks in the system. This is not a film about a crew of professionals deftly pulling off an incredible caper. It is instead a strangely breezy film about the ways that America is falling apart. It curiously studies several systems that become vulnerable just because people aren’t willing to admit that stuff has gone wrong.Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.17.49 PMAt nearly two hours, the film does test the limits of its premise. There isn’t really a whole lot of narrative here, and we don’t actually get to see a big chunk of the heist. But the Soderbergh’s unmistakably confident filmmaking goes a long way in keeping one’s attention. The tone is light and jaunty all throughout, and the film is able to navigate these bizarre transitions between broad comedy, smart commentary on economic disparity, and at points, genuinely emotional content. These scenes are so expertly put together that shaggy as the film might be, one might be able to forgive its excesses.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.18.44 PMA charming cast of characters helps as well. Channing Tatum provides a solid center for this movie, the actor mostly playing stoic straight man to a carousel of more bombastic performances. Adam Driver brings a quiet oddness to an otherwise simple character. Riley Keough matches Tatum’s confidence beat for beat. Daniel Craig is cast against type, and seems to be relishing the absurd accent that he gets to use. It’s great to see Bond having fun for once. The odd man out in this cast is Seth McFarlane, who plays a British energy drink magnate who inexplicably feels like he’s walked in from a different film, in spite of the present variety of oddball acting choices.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.16.34 PMLogan Lucky is just a good time at the cinema. On the surface, it’s just a fun little heist film that involves characters who don’t have nearly resources to pull off what they want to do. Dig a little deeper, and the movie is about an America more concerned with appearances than the truth of what they’re experiencing. It may run a little long, and perhaps it all gets a little self-indulgent. But for the most part, the movie is able to create beautiful harmony from those concepts, expertly crafting an entertaining little romp that just gets better the more you think about it.

LOGAN LUCKY IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.
dsc00195
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

‘American Made’ is a Coke-Fueled Binge Through the Absurdity of the Cold War

Tom Cruise is fun and frantic in this not-quite-true biopic

NBHD movie 4 ticketsAmerican Made claims to tell the true story of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), a notorious drug smuggler who worked for the Medellin Cartel. The film begins with Seal as a pilot for TWA, already doing some small time smuggling on the side as a remedy to his boredom. Then, he is recruited by the CIA to fly reconnaissance missions against Soviet-backed insurgents in Central America. In the process of doing this, he meets Pablo Escobar, and things get much more complicated from there. Through various absurd deals, Seal ends up working for both the CIA and Escobar, getting filthy rich along the way.The purported connection between Seal and the CIA has always been suspect, but the film doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. The movie plays like a drug-fueled fever dream that doubles as a tour of all the shady business that took place in the name of protecting American interests in the Cold War. In the middle of all this is a charming schlub who was never as smart or as competent as he thought he was, inexplicably failing up while America tried everything to could to score points against the Soviet menace.
Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.20.59 PMThe movie presents the entire story as a humongous farce. Barry Seal may be at the center of this, but he hardly ever seems to be in control. There are larger forces at work, and Seal is just a ball of unwarranted bravado that gets caught up in all the complex politics at work. He isn’t exactly a good guy, but he isn’t exactly a bad guy, either. He’s certainly not the worst guy in this story: he’s just a cog in this capitalist machine run amok. He is both someone who takes advantage of a broken system and someone who becomes a victim of it.Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.23.10 PMThe result is pretty compelling. The film moves quickly, and has an edgy quality to it that makes it feel like things could explode at any time. It feels like the entire movie is as coked-up and desperate as some of the characters become, frantically tying together disparate narrative threads, trying to get a bigger picture that’s difficult to get a handle on. It is this jittery energy that fuels the entire project, the film just barreling through years of complex geopolitical policy as it follows this completely unreliable narrator through an opulent adventure of absurd proportions.Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.22.33 PMKey to all this is the lead performance from Tom Cruise. Cruise is just very good at playing characters who just have to hang on as the world crumbles around him. In the Mission: Impossible movies, he often does this literally. In this film, he makes Seal feel like he’s always scrambling. He’s moving at light speed even when he’s standing still, figuring out angles and keeping an eye for an exit. Cruise’s performance goes a long way in selling the appeal of this film. Most of the story depicted may not be true, but there is still some strange verisimilitude in what Cruise is doing on screen.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.23.47 PMAmerican Made is an unreliable film with an unreliable subject. But it knows this, and seems to acknowledge it at every turn. At the very end, there is some indication that this whole story might just be something that Seal made up. But while it might not serve well as a strict history lesson, there is still plenty of value on the things that it touches on. Because this film isn’t really about Barry Seal. He’s just the frantic vessel through which we study the excesses of the Cold War, and all the terrible things that came from those excesses. Cruise provides an entertaining center for the exploration of a pretty strange and complex subject that doesn’t quite get talked about enough.

AMERICAN MADE IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.
dsc00195
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

‘It’ Brings the Nightmare Fuel

Though uneven at times, this new adaptation of the Stephen King opus hits where it counts

NBHD movie 4-2 ticketsThis new adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal horror novel It moves the events of the story into the 80s. The setup remains the same, however: a shapeshifting demonic presence is terrorizing the children of the town of Derry, Maine. Thirteen-year-old Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), whose little brother was one of the children that went missing, leads a group of a friends that stumble on to the truth about the disappearances in their town. When it becomes clear that they’re the only ones that seem to want to do anything about it, they decide to take on the evil themselves.Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 1.03.09 PMThe movie is faithful up to a point: it does as much as it can to get the broad strokes of the plot in, but cuts out much of the stranger, more out-there elements of the novel. The move to the late 80s doesn’t actually change things all that much, apart from the kind of references that the kids end up making in the film. It does prove to be somewhat of a hurdle in establishing a tone for the film, which indulges a bit too much in the easy comedy of referencing the New Kids on the Block. It is endearing to an extent, but doesn’t really serve the narrative in compelling ways.Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 1.04.01 PMIt can all feel a little uneven, the movie’s approach to nostalgia not quite meshing with the darkness to come. And while cutting back on the elements of the novel is understandable, it at times feels like the movie is oversimplifying things, turning the characters into exposition machines that will make bad choices in service of plot. Having said that, when the movie is on, it’s on. The film largely eschews the jumps scares of modern horror in favor of a monstrous intensity. The film never quite crafts a sequence as powerful as its opening bit, but it puts together quite a few nightmarish images on its way to its conclusion.Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 1.04.27 PMThe film exhibits a flair for monster design. In spite of a generous sprinkling of computer generated imagery, the film seems committed to creating tactile, palpable threats for its characters. It effectively conveys the danger of rows of teeth and icky ooze and torrents of blood. And then there’s Pennywise, who gets a pretty sinister makeover. The film seems to take great pleasure in contorting the already-unsettling clown into horrific shapes, but it gets just as much mileage from simpler touches. The way the film depicts the clown’s movement ends up being one of its most effective tricks.Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 1.04.46 PMThe movie understands, however, that the horror of the story lies not only in the literal monster. And there is value in the way it depicts the casual and often overt abuse perpetrated by the adults in this story. It makes clear that these kids are essentially alone to deal with this threat, their parents unnervingly distant and prone to terrible acts. Great casting furthers the film’s appeal. Jaeden Liberher makes for a solid and affecting lead. Sophia Lillis is the right mix of tough and vulnerable. But it’s Finn Wolfhard who really runs away with this film playing the wisecracking Richie Tozier. The Stranger Things star displays a different side here, and proves to be pretty magnetic.Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 1.05.02 PMIt doesn’t get everything right. Its references to the era, for example, start to feel like empty pandering past a certain point. And while it is easy enough to recognize that some things had to be culled in order to make this story work for the big screen, there is still a sense that the movie oversimplifies at times, sabotaging its own horror mechanics in the process. But those hiccups don’t really negate the power of the movie. It mostly hits where it counts, taking the best parts of this story and using it generate all manner of nightmare fuel.

IT IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
dsc00195
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

‘Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha’ Lacks the Focus to Make Things Matter

In her first non-studio outing, Sharon Cuneta struggles through a series of disconnected comedic vignettes

NBHD movie 2 ticketsAng Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha begins with an animated intro that tells the story of the titular family that does not weep. Legend has it that if you have them over as guests in your house, they will bring you your heart’s desire. For Cora (Sharon Cuneta), that would be to have her family come back to her. She now spends most of her days alone in her house, getting drunk on cheap liquor. Her new helper, Bebang (Moi Marcampo) offers to help her find the legendary family, and enlists the aid of her uncle Biboy (Niño Muhlach) to do it.Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 8.03.03 AMThere isn’t much to the actual search, which largely takes place off screen. There are a couple of sequences where we watch Biboy aimlessly walking in streets, asking everyone in proximity if they’ve heard of or seen the people that he’s looking for. The scenes are comedic in theory, but the only real joke in this sequence is the visual of Niño Muhlach charging through these streets in increasingly absurd clothing, bothering regular people with wild, weirdly aggressive questioning.Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 8.03.33 AMThe aimlessness of those scenes is a symptom of a greater problem. The movie is wildly unfocused, and at times overly sloppy. At times, it feels like the script was assembled hastily, bits and pieces of different concepts stuck together into a single ungainly structure. Its scenes play out like unconnected vignettes, separate sketches that just happen to feature many of the same characters. For the most part, its most sustained source of comedy are the strained interactions between Bebang and Cora. They are infuriating to each other, Cora’s inherent meanness and Bebang’s dense behavior a reliable fount of comedic tension.Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 8.03.51 AMBut it wears thin. There just comes a point where the story needs to move on, where we need to see Cora really dealing with the problems in her life. The film builds to a big dramatic payoff, but it lands with a thud. It spent too much time on its sitcom humor for those big emotions to land. It took too much pleasure in making fun of Bebang to make her part in the dramatic resolution feel earned. The film in general doesn’t show enough sympathy for its characters. It makes it hard to connect with any of the emotional content, the film making them out to be too ridiculous and venal by the end.Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 8.04.19 AMThis is in spite of a pretty strong effort from the film’s main star, Sharon Cuneta. Perhaps the cleverest thing about the film is how it basically embraces the outside context that the Megastar brings with her. It builds a character on her image, finding odd humor in spite of circumstances that one might consider tragic. Cuneta’s comedic timing is impeccable, and she is still able to unleash plenty of affecting emotion. And she plays well with Moi Marcampo, who delivers a generous, un-self-conscious performance. But the script just doesn’t build enough around them to make it really matter.Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 8.04.57 AMThere are certainly funny moments in Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha, but as a whole it feels disappointing. It just feels sloppily constructed, its scenes giving off the impression that the whole thing was just haphazardly slapped together. It lacks connective tissue, the film settling for a disconnected series of comedic sketches that don’t really add up to a whole lot. It can be entertaining in the moment to see Sharon Cuneta strutting her comedic stuff, but the film seems to be promising more than it actually delivers.

ANG PAMLYANG DI LUMULUHA IS NOW SHOWING IN SELECT CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
dsc00195
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.