Tag Archives: Philbert Dy

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
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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

‘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
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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

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.
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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

‘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.
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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

‘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
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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

‘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
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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

‘Fangirl/Fanboy’ Sleepily Runs Through Its Tropes

A new love team stumbles in their first cinematic outing

NBHD movie 2 ticketsFangirl/Fanboy is about wannabe artista Ollie (Julian Trono), a flash-in-the-pan looking for the next big thing. He does have one loyal fan, though: Aimee (Ella Cruz), who works at a major studio dubbing their Koreanovelas. It just so happens that Ollie is auditioning for a local remake of one of the Koreanovelas that Aimee works on. The two end up meeting, and it turns out that Ollie becomes a better actor when Aimee is throwing lines with him. The two end up spending a lot of time together, and while they enjoy each other’s company, their closeness soon proves to be a problem for both of them.Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 7.25.23 AMAs is standard in this kind of film, the characters both have their own little dramas that they have to resolve. Ollie, as it turns out, is the son of parents who have moved to the States, and he has a chip on his shoulder about it. Aimee has a heart defect, and this leads her parents to be a little overprotective. The film doesn’t do a great job of integrating these conflicts into the central romantic narrative, and that proves to be a major problem. When these subplots pop up, it feels like the film just doesn’t know how to properly insert conflict between its two romantic leads.Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 7.25.58 AMThe movie just doesn’t do the work to build its drama. The first big dramatic scene involves Aimee’s father, who at that point in the movie hasn’t actually appeared. Ollie’s angst over his parents is all laid out in a single scene, but the film plays the resolution of that subplot as some sort of great personal breakthrough. And then there’s Aimee’s heart condition, which is basically treated as a plot device, appearing and disappearing to the convenience of the plot. All of the film’s drama feel like sad obligations, the film insecure in its lack of pathos, artificially inserting all manner of bland, unearned drama.Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 7.26.53 AMPerhaps it seeks to distract because there really isn’t much to the romance, either. The film makes the mistake of depicting the relationship as one based on function. The film actually takes too long to show that these two actually like each other. It takes for granted the natural appeal of the central pairing, and doesn’t really do enough in the story to make it feel like these characters really ought to be together. It basically just runs them through a perfunctory romcom montage, before reverting to the elements of the transactional relationship through which Aimee’s presence makes Ollie a better actor.Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 7.27.33 AMIt’s all just a mess. It doesn’t feel fully thought out. There are sequences that feel like they don’t fit together. When it tries to get cute, the film stumbles all over itself, the clumsy stabs at comedy resulting in stilted punch lines. Julian Trono and Ella Cruz don’t quite feel like a natural couple on screen. They both seem to try hard enough, but neither one can really overcome the weaknesses of the script. The clunky dialogue and the shortage of scenes that really sell the relationship make it difficult to gauge their viability as a couple onscreen. They both have their moments, but on a whole, neither come off as particularly compelling.Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 7.27.58 AMThere is a strange subversive touch to Fangirl/Fanboy, in that part of its plot involves speaking out against the artificiality of love teams. And yet, here is a film that is designed specifically to sell the Filipino public on a new cinematic pairing. The film ultimately doesn’t feel smart enough to really turn that incongruous theme into something really interesting, but it’s still somewhat intriguing that the point is made at all. As a whole, the movie is just terribly unambitious, sleepily running through familiar tropes and obligatory drama, offering up nothing that’s particularly affecting.

FANBOY/FANGIRL 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.
tv + film by Philbert Dy

Amidst Arthouse Aesthetics, ‘The Beguiled’ Delivers Pulpy, Subversive Fun

Sofia Coppola’s latest derives pleasure from Southern Gothic weirdness

NBHD movie 4-2 ticketsThe Beguiled takes place in Virginia in 1834, deep into the American civil war. It opens with the young girl Amy (Oona Lawrence) picking mushrooms in a forest, the sound of distant cannons scoring her search. And then she runs into Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell), a Union soldier with a wounded leg. Out of kindness, she brings him to where she’s been staying, a boarding school for girls run by the formidable Miss Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman). They mend his leg, and in spite of the girls’ many reservations, they let him stay and hide out in the school until he gets better. Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.29.22 AMThe sound of gunfire is never far from the house that serves as the setting for this film. There is a war being fought for the soul of America outside. But it never really quite reaches the house. Confederate soldiers show up occasionally, and the fact that McBurney is a Union soldier is hardly ever forgotten. But these are not matters for the characters in the house, who put up illusions of decorum amidst the brutality of the war. The girls continue their French lessons under the tutelage of Miss Edwina (Kirsten Dunst). They sew and they play music, and have dinner by candlelight.Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.58.13 AMThe intrusion of this outsider brings the cracks in this decorum to the surface, but the film makes it clear that they were always there. Right from the start, young Alicia (Elle Fanning) seems to be bored out of her mind. Edwina’s reserve is the kind that seems to have been burned into her. And there is a thread of despair in Miss Farnsworth, who seems to struggle with the illusion of her Southern genteelness as the former glory of her house continues to fade. And in each of these characters, the film seems to study aspects of femininity, the conflicting and contrasting impulses that society has put upon women.Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.30.01 AMThere isn’t really much incident in this movie. It really isn’t about stuff that’s overtly happening. It’s a study of the undercurrents of the relationships between this group of women, who have all been trained to act and think in certain ways. This is a film about imprisonment, both literal and figurative. There is a sense that everyone in this film is trapped in their own unique ways, and this all results in a strange desperation that brings about violence. But interestingly, the film resists all temptation to be lurid, in contrast to the 1971 film that tells this same story. Like its characters, the film maintains a sense of decorum, all while exposing the darkness underneath.Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.29.40 AMThe result is terrifically entertaining. There is dark comedy mined from the shifting power dynamics, and from the ways in which these characters express their various feelings. It goes to pulpy extremes, the film luxuriating in the Southern gothic setting, deriving great pleasure from the most arch turns of phrase and macabre developments. The film also makes perfect use out of a terrific cast. Colin Farrell’s snaky charisma is used to great effect. Nicole Kidman becomes a source of many of the film’s most deliciously arch moments. And Kirsten Dunst just shines in her character’s odd repression.Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.59.53 AMAt just 94 minutes, The Beguiled feels slight, especially considering the setting. It feels like there’s more it could have added to the conversation of the zeitgeist. But what it does in lieu of that is just a whole lot of fun. Within its arthouse aesthetics lies a really fun, pulpy film that finds power in its subversion of exploitation tropes. It somehow maintains most of the plot of the 1971 film, but finds clever ways to play with the power dynamics, casting a feminine eye of this strange, Southern Gothic tale, and unearthing intriguing themes that maybe should have been there all along.

THE BEGUILED 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.
tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘An Incovenient Sequel: Truth to Power’ Becomes Too Much About Al Gore

While the facts are still vital, this sequel feels less effective

NBHD movie 3 ticketsTen years ago, An Inconvenient Truth was a bit of an anomaly in cinema. It was a hit, despite the fact that it wasn’t at all cinematic. It was, after all, basically a filmed version of a slideshow that Al Gore regularly gave at seminars. Now, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, tries much harder to feel like a conventional movie documentary, finding its center in trying to tell the story of Al Gore’s efforts to save the planet. The facts are still there, and they remain the best part of this movie. But the narrative it attempts to weave actually gets in the way of the message.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 6.24.06 PMThe movie splits its time between an updated version of Al Gore’s presentation and following the man around itself. He goes to a glacier in Finland that’s been melting. He checks out the flooding in Miami Beach, Florida. And the main thrust of the story that the film is trying to tell involves him working on a deal with India in the run up to the Paris Agreement, trying to convince them to give up a plan to build 200 more coal fired power plants. If you keep up with the news, then you know how it turned out. The good chunk of the film is about the role Gore played in those negotiations.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 6.24.34 PMIt’s interesting stuff, certainly, but it doesn’t make for a great movie story. Even if it’s true, even if a deal was reached purely because of the heroic efforts of Al Gore, it comes off as awkward hagiography. It doesn’t really get into the complexities of those negotiations, the concerted efforts of world leaders pushed aside in favor of portraying Gore as the savior of this deal. And this narrative, anyway, is necessarily undone by the reality of the Trump administration’s stance on the Paris Agreement, denying the film the kind of denouement it seemed to be aiming for.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 6.25.52 PMThere is no denying, however, that much of what is said in this film is still vital. Gore on stage remains a compelling figure, and his presentation offers up plenty of compelling facts that outline a humongous problem while at the same time pointing the way forward. It isn’t just doom and gloom. The new version of his slideshow puts a lot of focus on the great strides that have been made worldwide in the adoption of renewable sources of energy. Gore’s anger calls attention, but it is his hope that ultimately makes his arguments so powerful.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 6.23.52 PMIn expanding the scope of the documentary, the film seems to be trying to put together more cinematic footage. And while there is some of that, its most powerful images are invariably taken from news clips of disasters. As it follows Gore, it mostly ends up in hotels and conference rooms. It’s in meetings where people seem keenly aware that they’re on camera, perhaps getting in the way of truly frank discussion about the subjects on hand. Al Gore is a perfectly charming subject, but it is hard to escape the sense that there is some branding going on here.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 6.25.14 PMHaving said all that, the stuff said in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is still stuff most people should hear. It is to some extent just frustrating to watch, because it feels absurd that these things still need to be said, especially when one considers the extreme weather events we’ve all experienced in the last 10 years. Gore seems to share in that frustration, and there is some value in seeing him deal with those problems. But in this film, it just sort of feels like a distraction, a piece of celebrity puff taking time away from the cold, hard facts that need to be said.

 

AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL IS NOW SHOWING EXCLUSIVELY IN AYALA CINEMAS
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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

‘The Dark Tower’ Feels Bland and Lifeless

Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star in a film uninterested in its own weirdness

NBHD movie 2 ticketsLet’s just get this out of the way: if you’re looking for a faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s fantasy cycle, The Dark Tower isn’t for you. There was absolutely no way that this 100-minute film was going to capture every aspect of King’s books, which span over 4,000 pages in length. This is not to excuse the film, because given that caveat it’s still pretty bad. It’s just to explain that there isn’t much to be gained from talking about how the film deviates from its source material. It seems to just have completely given up on trying to translate the story of the books to film.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 5.57.49 PMIt instead begins with Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), a 12-year-old in New York City who has dreams about another world: of monsters hiding behind skin masks, and a powerful evil being known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey). And of course, the dreams turn out to be real. Jake manages to take a portal to this other world, and there he meets Roland (Idris Elba), the last surviving Gunslinger. Roland was once sworn to protect the Dark Tower, the structure at the center of the universe that kept all manner of evil things. But now he is only consumed with finding and killing the Man in Black.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 5.58.04 PMAnd oh, it turns out that Jake is a psychic, and that the Man in Black wants him for his power, since he can use it to take down the Dark Tower. And the Man in Black has agents working for him in various places, including real world New York, which can feel the effects of the attacks of the Tower. And there are all manner of other people caught up in this conflict. There is a lot going on in this film, which just tries to cram in as much lore as possible without actually taking the time to make any of it mean anything.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 5.59.00 PMThe film is just lifelessly trudging through the plot, trying to get the characters from point A to point B to point C as quickly and as painlessly as possible. They aren’t allowed to grieve their tragedies, aren’t provided the room to show their growth. There is theoretically an arc for Roland, but there isn’t any work done to show what it is that’s actually changing within him. In lieu of that, the film sketches out these fish-out-of-water scenes of him having trouble understanding life in modern day New York. Those scenes are mildly amusing, but don’t fit within the theoretically epic context of everything that’s going on. The universe is under threat, and Roland is berating some girls for hitting on him.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 6.02.14 PMVisually, the film looks okay, but isn’t very distinctive. It looks like it could be any other tentpole movie release, which is a shame given how strange the elements of this story are. The shooting style seems determined to be bland. Any flavor the film exhibits at all comes from the cast. There really isn’t much to the movie’s Roland, but Idris Elba has so much presence that it hardly matters. Matthew McConaughey really bites into the role of the Man in Black, and he slithers on screen with dangerous charisma. Tom Taylor kind of disappears between those two actors, but one can hardly blame the young actor for that.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 6.02.57 PMThe Dark Tower just doesn’t do much that feels special. It’s got so many strange, compelling elements, but it feels like the movie doesn’t particularly care. It just barrels forward blandly, seemingly uninterested in all the cool things happening. This a movie with demons and gunslingers and psychics and an entirely different world populated by what look like civil war refugees. It should be strange and magical, but it is instead workmanlike and uninspired. Whether or not you’re invested in the source material, the movie just isn’t up to snuff.

THE DARK TOWER 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.
tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘Love You to the Stars and Back’ Has the Freedom to be Different

This teenage melodrama wants to make you feel things

NBHD movie 5 ticketsLove You to the Stars and Back is a road film romance between two young people. Mika (Julia Barretto), still struggling with the loss of her mother, runs away from home to go to a site known for alien sightings. Caloy (Joshua Garcia) is on a quest to reunite with his estranged father before a terminal illness takes away that chance. Mika, in a fit of angry panic, accidentally runs over Caloy’s foot. She offers him a ride in her car, and the two end up traveling together to their respective destinations.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 5.33.18 PMWithin the first few minutes of the movie, it’s clear that this isn’t your standard Star Cinema romcom. It’s immediately a little stranger, and a little more somber. For once, the powers-that-be seem to have allowed the filmmaker some leeway, and director Antoinette Jadaone doesn’t squander the opportunity. This very much feels like one of her earlier films, closer to Relaks, It’s Just Pag-Ibig and That Thing Called Tadhana than any of her recent work for the studio. It’s a film that puts the focus squarely on two young people enjoying each other’s company slowly falling for each other as they embark on an unlikely adventure.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 5.33.41 PMThe quirk of the alien milieu turns out to be a bit of a misdirection. It is just an extension of the heightened emotions of the movie’s teenaged characters. Youthfulness is really the main quality of this film. It exists within that frame of mind, where one seems to feel everything more deeply, when one is more able to believe in crazy things and making equally crazy choices. The two main characters go into their respective trips hurting, and the film builds the relationship on the comfort they bring each other. They’re young, and they’re at a point where they’re trying to make the world make sense. In lieu of that, they find romance, which the film depicts to be enough.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 5.34.22 PMThe film embraces melodrama in a way that makes sense. It builds up to it, at first showing the small ways the characters deflect from their sadness. Mika rushes through her food. And it’s apparent rather quickly that Caloy’s outgoing persona is somewhat of an act. And then things get really bad, and the characters can’t maintain their pretenses. Their miseries feed into each other, even while their young romance seems to take them away from all of it. There’s some clumsy writing in here though, mostly in the back end, where the melodrama has to co-exist with lines that explain the specifics of Caloy’s medical situation. It’s just a little clunky, though it just seems to be the part of the genre at this point.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 5.35.52 PMBut make no mistake: the film feels very different from your average romcom. It just feels like there’s more freedom, in both narrative and aesthetic. Notice the handheld camera, and how it adds a sense of verisimilitude to familiar scenes. Or the more restrained use of music. The movie, while still working within familiar elements, just doesn’t seem to be trying to fit into established templates. The acting is pretty strong as well. Joshua Garcia has a real talent for letting pain sneak through an overtly charming façade. And his chemistry with Julia Barretto grounds the romance even in its most melodramatic moments.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 5.36.35 PMLove You to the Stars and Back just feels different. It feels more vital, more committed to what it wants to do. It doesn’t feel like it was made out of obligations, like it’s trying to hit quotas or deliver the same kinds of moments that have sold before. It feels like it just wants to tell a story about kids in pain and kids in love. It’s a small basic thing that doesn’t happen often enough in the world of big studio filmmaking. When something like this sneak through, they have to be cherished.

LOVE YOU TO THE STARS AND BACK 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.
tv + film by Philbert Dy

Star Power Keeps ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ from Going Straight to Video

Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson form the charming center of a middling action movie

NBHD movie 3 ticketsThe Hitman’s Bodyguard largely takes place over the course of 27 hours. A deposed Belarusian dictator (Gary Oldman) is on trial at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), a top-level assassin, is en route from London, set to testify against the dictator. But the transport is ambushed, leaving Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung) with very few options. She calls up her ex-boyfriend Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), a down-on-his-luck bodyguard still bearing a grudge. She convinces Bryce to take Kincaid to the Hague before a predetermined deadline, lest the case be dismissed and the dictator be set free.Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 4.50.44 PMOf course, all of the dictator stuff is just window dressing. There’s some resonance to be found in there, but the movie isn’t really interested in any of that. Neither is it really interested in the relationship between Roussel and Bryce, even though it’s placed as a primary motivation for the character. This is really all just about sticking Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson together, having the two actors throw banter at each other. And when the film isn’t doing that, it’s having their stunt people execute oddly indistinct action sequences.Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 4.52.07 PMThere is some charm to the pairing of the two actors. The film leans into some of their primary characteristics: Jackson is an unflappable badass, while Reynolds has a capacity for weary annoyance. The scenes that focus on their personalities rubbing up against each other are typically the strongest of the film. Though neither role presents much of a challenge for either actor, they do seem to be giving it their all. And there’s some sense that the two are genuinely having fun with each other, and that goes a long way.Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 5.12.53 PMAnd if this film didn’t have an absurd amount of backstory, if it had been maybe 15 minutes shorter, that fun might have lasted through the entire runtime. As it stands, the movie flags a bit through sections where characters have to explain exactly what’s going on. The film clearly doesn’t really care about any of this: the elements of its plot all seem pretty arbitrary. So it could have held back on all this explaining and spend more time just enjoying the company of its two leads.Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 5.12.22 PMTheir absence is also somewhat felt during the action sequences, which aren’t particularly well put together. They’re certainly in the modern action mold, with frantic, distant shots creating a sense of chaos. The exception is one sequence cut together to look like one long take, but the shooting of it is so haphazard that the effect never fully lands. It works well enough, but it would be tough to hold this film up against many recent action films, which either feature a more distinct style or a greater ability to capture movement and emotion within the noise of an action sequence.Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 5.13.36 PMThe Hitman’s Bodyguard isn’t really bad, though. It just feels a little bit behind the times at this point. It not quite crazy enough to really be as fun as it could be, and it isn’t stitched together well enough to be worthy of any serious consideration. It falls somewhere in the middle, among dozens and dozens of other action films, many of them now going direct-to-video. The only thing that really separates this film from whatever movie John Cusack is showing up in now is the star power. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson try their darndest to class up this affair, and they almost pull it off. Almost.

THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD IS NOW SHOWING IN SELECT 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.