My favorite time of the year has already come, it’s Cinemalaya season once again! Since today is the last day of this year’s Cinemalaya run, it’s time for me to give my final verdict. Here are my thoughts on this year’s full-length features. Take note that I only got to watch 5 out of 9 films in competition, so I’m only reviewing and ranking the ones I’ve seen.
This list is ranked, 1 being the highest, and 5 the lowest.
Directed by Alberto Monteras II
Starring Abra, Dido de la Paz, Chai Fonacier, Loonie
This one was truly a surprise for me. I went inside the theater without any clue as to what this film was, except for the fact that it stars Abra and Loonie. I came in without any expectations, my mind cleared like a blank slate, ready for what this film has to offer. At the end of it all, it was worth it, the film ended with everyone (including myself) clapping.
There are so many layers to this film, and what’s funny is how fliptop/rap is only at the surface of it all. These layers slowly unravel to depict the different types of violence and disrespect one would encounter in their lifetime. The pacing was just perfect, it was truly engaging from start to finish. Unexpectedly, Abra delivered as an actor, and his rapport with Dido de la Paz was fun to watch.
This is definitely my top pick for this year. It isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely a Cinemalaya film I would never forget.
My Rating: 8/10
2. Kiko Boksingero
Directed by Thop Nazareno
Starring Noel Comia Jr., Yul Servo, Yayo Aguila
Charming, touching, heart-warming. Yes, these three words rhyme, and they perfectly describe this film. There’s nothing new here, story-wise, but what makes this special is that it’s full of heart. What makes it even better is the acting. Newbie child actor Noel Comia Jr. gives a heartfelt, but nuanced performance as Kiko. Yul Servo plays a damaged former boxer who’s also Kiko’s father, and he plays it with enough subtlety. Yayo Aguila‘s performance as Kiko’s guardian is the most sincere in the film.
This, among the entries I’ve watched, also has the best cinematography. It’s cleanly shot and well-framed althroughout. Also, I loved the theme song, very fitting for a movie of this kind, it has a comforting melody that stays with you even after watching the film, paired with the innocent singing voice of the lead, Noel Comia Jr.
If you want a feel-good film, then Kiko Boksingero‘s the one for you. It’s a ray of light in this year’s Cinemalaya, where all the other film’s themes seem to be too dark.
My Rating: 8/10
Directed by Sonny Calvento
Starring Gina Alajar, JC Santos, Jameson Blake, Billy Ray Gallion
I love films like this, but somehow, Nabubulok fell flat for me. It’s pretty obvious what happens from the get-go, never really letting me use my brain as to what happened. There are a lot of questions laid out, but are easily answered within the film or through common sense. The ending is lazily executed as well, instead of giving us a smart ending, it just feeds us all the answers via the ending text.
What saves this is the acting. Gina Alajar is the star here, giving a subtle yet emotional performance. Billy Ray Gallion plays the American accused of murder, he never has much to say, but he gets the job done. JC Santos provides some lighter moments in the film. Jameson Blake isn’t given much to do, but he still makes his presence felt. The daughter’s awkward acting and phony accents make them hard to watch.
Nabubulok is a solid film, it just never really lived up to my expectations. It’s a murder mystery bereft of any mystery.
My Rating: 7/10
Directed by Joseph Israel Laban
Starring Elora Españo, Therese Malvar, Bembol Roco, Jess Mendoza
The Baconaua is a sea serpent in Filipino mythology, which is believed to cause eclipses. Now I’m guessing this must be the reason why this film is so dark, literally dark. Even the scenes set in daylight tend to be dark, and while it’s fitting for the movie’s premise, it’s not that great to look at. Don’t get me wrong though, there’s a lot of stunning imagery in here, it’s just hard to see through the darkness of it all.
There are a lot of interesting concepts shown here, but they all went to waste because of the awfully slow pace and thin storyline. The acting isn’t so great either, but it is bearable. One thing I’d like to commend is how they all nailed the way people from my hometown, Marinduque, speak. It was highly accurate, down to the words they used.
Overall, it’s really not as compelling as it should be. It’s a bit dragging as well, which makes this a tough watch.
My Rating: 6/10
5. Ang Pamilyang Di Lumuluha
Directed by Mes De Guzman
Starring Sharon Cuneta, Moi Bien, Richard Quan, Michelle Vito, Kiko Matos
This film had a lot of potential, and I was even hoping that this would be 2017’s Mercury Is Mine, but instead, it kind of disappointed me. Considering that this is a comedy film, it’s not really that funny. Most of the time, it feels like a badly written sitcom, where most of the jokes fall flat. The concept of the story was promising, but the execution really let it down, with the addition of bad editing, awkward transitions, and mediocre acting from the rest of the cast.
The saving grace of this film are the performances from both Sharon Cuneta and Moi Bien. Sharon’s always a delight to watch in the big screen, and Moi Bien is really committed to the craziness of her character. All this, once again, is wasted by the overall mediocrity of the film.
It’s hard to recommend Ang Pamilyang Di Lumuluha, as there are much better films similar to this. All the potential and talent wasted by mediocrity.
My Rating: 5/10
So, there you go. Comments? Violent Reactions? Valid opinions? Comment them down below. 🙂