Wednesday, December 28, 2016


The 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival was littered with controversy on the get go and with perennial box-office draw movies from Vic Sotto and Vice Ganda failed to make it, there were lot of buzz around the new set of films selected. And in the absence of old franchises - Shake Rattle & Roll, Enteng series and Mano Po series the public was left with predominantly indie movies to take a stab on watching. While I could say that it was a daring move on the committee, it was a great move in terms of improving the over-all value of the MMFF films. Here are the 8 films according to my rank of preference and citing the some good points on each one of them.

Sunday Beauty Queen - 9 out of 10
This film is one of the surprises for me. I did not actually think this documentary drama that gives a new take on foreign domestic workers would really be that good. The storytelling was fluid and the simplistic approach was something worth noting. Despite relative unknowns in the cast, the film stood on its own showing character and giving justice to their every portrayal. There is a high degree of simplistic humanity portrayed in the film. It deals with real life experiences not too much dwelling on power lines or overly dramatic dialogues. In an often complicated world we have right now, the film reminds us that even simple people can become queens in their own right.

Die Beautiful - 8.5 out of 10
This simply brings out the best in two of its characters - Paolo Ballesteros and Christian Bables who both have provided exemplary performance in the film. The ensemble cast have done a wonderful job in a film that is beautifully acted and touches the innermost senses of one's heart. Queer as it may seem, Die Beautiful is very human and veers away with the usual conflicts of living as gay. Witty and timely, this movie shows to us that comedy can be well thought of. With a tagline that speaks and shouts out loud, Die Beautiful clearly says that being gay is not just normal but is extremely wonderful and beautiful.

Seklusyon - 8 out of 10
Erik Matti has been one of the few directors who often experiment in his film choices. Some missed by a bit but this has somehow made its mark. Technical wise, this film was a marvel to watch with nice cinematography, lighting and effects. This film boils and is quite intriguing. It is blunt and very vocal. It carelessly weaves into the ideas of fanaticism entangling it with faith, morality and virtues. This is not a regular film. It goes beyond that. It shows the true horror in today's world where religion does not show any more miracles.

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough - 7.5 out of 10
I loved the first film so I did made I an effort to watch this new one. Not as much as I'd love it to be, Septic Tank still did impress. Eugene Domingo is still a wonder to watch in comedies. While Domingo did a great job as usual, the other cast members failed a bit in matching her comedic timings. The film was an overall pleaser as it will definitely make you burst into some laugh or two along the way. But for me it is a bit simple and safe that it failed to go beyond what it could have actually gone. Good but not excellent.

Vince & Kath & James - 7.5 out of 10
Simple yet refreshing. Seeing new faces on screen makes it a whole lot of experience in movies. While this is not the best rom-com ever, it can be applauded with its conscious effort of not trying to be a different. This movie did not deviate from the usual and there's nothing too wrong about that. It goes back to the usual formula and it still works. Light, simple and still very relatable, one would feel the simplicity in love and how it can shine by just being simple. Feel good movie out of the 8.

Oro - 7.5 out of 10
Oro has all the makings of a great film with a powerhouse acting cast of Irma Adlawan, Joem Bascon and Mercedes Cabral and a budding director in Alvin Yapan. And with a relatively intriguing script that grips on injustice and the dire reality of human perspective, it was supposed to be a runaway hit. The movie lets audience rethink their priorities and see on what is more important. Equity, equality and justice are some of the points the film constantly reiterates. While it successfully does address those issues, the film is somewhat a cliffhanger as it ends with questions and no definite answers.

Kabisera - 7 out 10
Nora Aunor is still Nora Aunor and she has always spelled greatness. Backed with a great ensemble of actors, Kabisera was poised to be an acting frenzy and it did deliver on that piece. And though the film relies on being extremely relevant and timely, it somehow failed to go beyond just being good. The other side of a normal family that includes the pains and struggles against the society is highly emphasized in this film but it somehow lacked coherence and consistency. The story telling piece becomes a bit dragging at times. The film was way too simple to address main issues and concerns. A little more imagination could have made it worked better.

Saving Sally - 7 out of 10
A film 12 years in the making, Saving Sally did deliver the goods but is far from perfection. It provides a different tune and entertainment to viewers. It deviates from the usual but remains steadfast on the ideas of loving together with all the joys and pains associated with it. This film is highly imaginative and oftentimes boisterous and it is high time to have more films of this genre. I guess one downside I see is the level of acting on this film. I was expecting the actors to play more and be in tune with their characters but from time to time I felt some things are missing. Still good enough.

Overall, this year's edition is noteworthy. Feel free to indulge in the movies and have a great time. It is but high time to have these kind of films and hope it is gonna be on a regular basis.

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