Must Watch: Always Be My Maybe+

Always Be My Maybe
Always Be My Maybe Movie Poster

Star Cinema‘s post-Valentine offering, Always Be My Maybe is probably the bravest rom-com movie in recent local rom-com history. For me, it does not try to impress. It doesn’t have complicated backstories. The characters don’t have complicated family problems. There are no product placements (at least that I caught). Minimal unnecessary cameos. It just keeps everything simple and that’s how it became effective to keep the audience applauding and wanting more.

It stars Arci Muñoz, fresh from A Second Chance, and Gerald Anderson. A super-duper random pairing if you ask me. Coming from nowhere, you see a movie teaser showing Arci doing a make-up tutorial viral video, and Gerald down on his knees, proposing to an unknown girlfriend but ultimately rejected. This is enough to make me go line up and watch this movie. Thankfully, I did.

Seeing Gerald and Arci on the big screen feels refreshing like when I saw Jennylyn and Derek in English Only, Please, which coincidentally was also directed by Dan Villegas. Their chemistry is undeniably natural. Arci Muñoz as Tintin is Arci Muñoz being the reliable actress that she is. Ever since Starstruck, she has always proven that she’s competent to handle any role. And as Tintin, she does it again. She’s effortless (and super funny too!). Gerald Anderson (Jake), on the other hand, may have just found a new career in romantic-comedy. He makes the audience kilig even as a “dirty” playboy with a beard and lots of bad tattoos. He gives the depth and maturity required by the scenes. As an actor, he is effective and, as Jake, he is as lovable as ever. (And his laugh is cute!)

The film tries to steer away from the conventional style of storytelling. It has many scenes where the characters just have long conversations like in the Before Sunrise trilogy. Conversations you think are irrelevant to the development of the story but, subtly, these effortless dialogues form the almost invisible puzzles at the end. The slow build-up is worth it in the end. You’ll find yourself watching two strangers meeting each other, going on friendly dates and hanging out early in the morning. And as they fall in love, unknowingly, you also fall in love with the movie.

If you’re looking for a simple, funny and a little sexy feel-good movie that makes you want to hope and love again, I recommend watching Always Be My Maybe. If you’re going on a date, DTR muna! Watch the trailer below:

Have you seen Always Be My Maybe? What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

Solenn Heussaff and Dennis Trillo in Lakbay2Love (FB/Lakbay2Love)

Must Watch: Lakbay2Love+

Solenn Heussaff and Dennis Trillo in Lakbay2Love (FB/Lakbay2Love)
Lakbay2Love movie poster: Dennis Trillo, Solenn Heussaff and Kit Thompson
Biker-actors Dennis Trillo, Solenn Heussaff and Kit Thompson star in environmental advocacy film Lakbay2Love.

Erasto FilmsLakbay2Love is a romantic, coming-of-age, environmental advocacy film by director-producer Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil (Boses) starring actors and real-life bikers Dennis Trillo, Solenn Heusaff (two of my fitspirations!) and Kit Thompson.

Dennis Trillo, reliable as ever, fits the bill as forest ranger and biker Jay-R. He bikes during his free time based on his social media (I promise I’m not a stalker!) and it shows. He seems to have done all the biking stunts on his own, even climbing up to a high mountain peak. It was a beautiful visual, and it felt like I was transported to the mountains, but I was holding onto my seat for dear life.

Solenn Heussaff plays half-Filipino half-French photo journalist (or was she a videographer? Not really sure) Lianne. Reeling from her boyfriend Macky, played by Kit Thompson, recently leaving her, Lianne accepts an environment-focused project at Jay-R’s request. She, along with her work companion and friend Monday, played by Patricia Ismael, embarks on this project and immerses herself in the world of biking. There’s a funny bit where Lianne says that growing up as a half-French people asked her weird questions including “what does voulez-vous coucher avec moi really mean?” LOL! IMO, this is Solenn’s best acting piece so far.

The film features actual biking events and the people involved in these kinds of projects. We get to visit a vintage bike shop, witness a bike race, and see padyakeros on and off the tracks. We even get to travel to different bike trails in and around the metro. The Benguet trail looks so gorgeous and beautifully captured on film. Aside from the beauty, we also briefly see the ugly side of things, poignantly depicted by the felled logs caused by illegal logging. Having seen that Lianne realizes that all of her problems seemed so petty. It also made me realize that the environment is still not a primary concern in our country, and that needs to change. To those running for office this coming elections, please focus on these issues. Include the environment in your platform and you have secured my vote.

We can’t just stop at watching this beautiful environmental film. “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you have to keep moving.” That also applies to our fight for the environment. Let’s start supporting more environmental advocacy projects. Let’s pick up a bike and ride around the metro to decrease pollution. Let’s spread the message of this film and make this a personal journey for all of us—a journey to love for Mother Nature. 🙂

If you’re looking for a light feel-good movie that packs a message, I recommend watching Lakbay2Love. Support Philippine indie films. Watch the trailer below:

When the world is crumbling around you, love may just find you a new trail.
Starring: Solenn Heussaff, Dennis Trillo, Kit Thompson
Directed by: Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil
Screenplay by: Layeta Bucoy & Elle Marfil
Produced by: Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil 

Have you watched Lakbay2Love? What did you think of the film? Are you into biking? Do you suddenly want to buy a bike, learn it, and ride all around the country? Sound off in the comments below.

Apocalypse Child+

apocalypse-child-poster-fbApocalypse Child is the story of surfing instructor and Baler native Ford (Sid Lucero), who is apparently the son of famed director Francis Ford Coppola. At least that’s the story, nay the urban legend even, in town.

By Mario Cornejo (writer-director) and Monster Jimenez (writer-producer), Apocalypse Child was an official entry to the QCinema International Film Festival Circle Competition just last month. It went home with four awards including Best Film, and Best Director for Cornejo. I was already eyeing to see this during the festival but alas my schedule got in the way. So when they held a charity screening at Rockwell earlier this week, I immediately grabbed the chance to catch it. I must admit: I came for Sid Lucero (I’m a huge fan!) but I stayed for the beauty of Baler and the mysteries that surround it. I’ve only been to Baler once, but this film is tempting me to go back.

Some, after watching the trailer, might dismiss this as merely a surfing movie, but it is much more than that. It isn’t even just the story of Ford. The people around Ford also get their space to share their own tragedies. Chona (Ana Abad Santos) is Ford’s mother who firmly believes that Francis Ford Coppola is Ford’s father, and is determined for father and son to meet in the future. However the truth is much bleaker than that. Fiona (QCinema Best Supporting Actress Annicka Dolonius) is Ford’s girlfriend, in town to tend to her dying grandmother. Ford’s childhood friend Rich (RK Bagatsing) left Baler for several years but has now returned to fulfill his duty as newly-elected congressman. He and Ford were as close as brothers before but time, distance, and conflicts happened, causing a rift in their relationship. If that’s not enough tragedy for you, he also has a damaged eardrum preventing him from surfing ever again. Serena (Gwen Zamora) is Rich’s fiancee, but spending time with Ford during surf lessons might give her second thoughts about her relationship. Jordan (Archie Alemania), Ford’s close friend, is the fifth wheel paving the way for comedic moments in the film.

I can’t say this enough, but Apocalypse Child is a visual and aural (thanks to Up Dharma Down’s Armi Millare) feast. Sid Lucero really fits the bill as the laid-back, carpe-diem-believing surfer. When the scene requires intensity and passion, he gives in spades. (I think I blushed a little during that scene.) Annicka Dolonius deserves the accolade as she shines in every scene that she is in. I have to give props to that scene when Fiona ambles to Ford’s house and asks him to hug ang console her for the last time. Pretty intense. I’m not too familiar with RK Bagatsing’s filmography but I’m looking forward to see more of him in films like this. On the flipside, I am familiar with Gwen Zamora’s work as a TV actress, but this film showed a new side of her. Archie Alemania is in a lot of films lately (my first reaction to seeing him on screen was siya na naman?) but his every-man character works perfectly in this film providing the comic icebreaker for when times might get overly dramatic. Finally, I have to commend Ana Abad Santos’s performance as Chona. I love how at the beginning she was just being Ford’s cool young mom and then slowly unraveling to a woman who has gone through a tragic childhood and coping. I was at the edge of seat in that scene where she was recounting the events leading to Ford’s conception at her young age of 14.

Here’s hoping there are more screenings (or even a commercial run) in the works soon. In the meantime, here’s the trailer for Apocalypse Child:

Have you watched Apocalypse Child? What did you think of the film? Are you, like me, wanting to return to Baler, feel the sun, surf the waves, and immerse in the town’s culture?

You’re Still The One Movie Review+

I had high hopes when I first heard that Dennis Trillo will be making a movie for Star Cinema (co-produced with Regal Films), and with Maja Salvador no less. Star Cinema has been making quite satisfactory films recently and I wondered how they would utilize Dennis. I had always wanted a good romantic-comedy material for Dennis. I’ve been a fan since his Twin Hearts and Mulawin days by the way. I’m also a fan of Maja. I’m not fond of the fact that she has an album and a singing career, but I do love her acting. I’m also sad that Gerald Anderson broke up with her. Tsk!

Anyway, the movie You’re Still The One was promising at least looking at Dennis’ Instagram posts. I was excited about how they would bring us back to the 90s. His Nick Carter haircut. The university setting. I had really high hopes. But sadly, I was just disappointed. I almost walked out of the movie house not because of the performances of the two leads but because of the bad writing and poor direction. There seemed to be a disconnect among all the elements of the movie. Nothing was jelling. I didn’t feel that I was transported back to the 90s at all. I guess the director just decided to put a pager and some old peso bills in some scenes and called it a day. The supporting characters did not support at all. They weren’t utilized well. They were just there.

I’m not gonna make this post long because I already wasted my time tonight. (Mind you, I’m very patient with movies especially local ones.) Dennis and Maja were good (as always) though their dialogue could have been MORE natural. Maybe it’s the script. UGH. Just recalling the terrible storyline makes me want to barf. I don’t know.

Sorry, but Dennis and Maja deserve better material than this. Watch it, just so you’d know what I mean. Or like me, watch it just to support Dennis and Maja.

The #SinagMaynila Experience Part 1+

When I first saw the teasers of Sinag Maynila last year, I thought that it was just one of those movie festivals that would come and eventually would go. To add, I hated disliked the teasers. They portrayed the most common themes in the independent movie industry (and in black and white too). Women crying. Children being wrongfully accused of theft. You know the drill. The scenes were just a bit over-the-top for my taste. However, whatever my first impression was, I was proven wrong. After watching the five films claimed to be “significant”, I laughed and cried. I was moved and inspired. I was changed. I was a different person each time I went out of the movie theater.

poster

More than a week ago,  the first Sinag Maynila Film Festival was launched. Knowing that it only showed five movies and that internationally acclaimed film director Brillante Mendoza served as a the festival director, my inner indie film fanatic curiosity was switched on. I ran to the nearest mall after work (SM Aura) and to my surprise, the gala screening for three of the films were going to be held there. I literally ran to the ticket booth. There, I saw a familiar face. It was Junjun Quintana (Quick Change, A Philippino Story)! Junjun originally played the role of Rodel in the play version of the Virgin Lab Fest entry with the same title. I wanted to take a picture with him but he disappeared before I could gather the courage to do it. After buying tickets for Balut Country and Imbisibol, I went to the food court area and there he was, just sitting with other indie film people. I was too shy to directly approach him there and there so I did something ridiculous and a little stalkery-ish. I sat on the bench adjacent to where he was sitting. So we were sitting back to back. I could hear them talking but I wasn’t listening of course. My mind was too busy rehearsing how I would ask him for a photo.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Continue reading “The #SinagMaynila Experience Part 1”