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  • Parasite

    Parasite

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    There is a house on a hill, and there are people in it. And they're nice, but not really. There is a garden, and there they get a lot of sunlight. And it is nice, and they get to sleep there sometimes.

    There is a house underground, and there are people in it. And they're the first to tell you that they're not very nice: they're con-men, grifters, forgers and imposters. They sit among stink bugs, and they've been there…

  • Edward

    Edward

    ★★★★½

    It feels like there's a lot of hopelessness in this year's edition of Cinemalaya. You can't blame the filmmakers. That's just the world right now. But yeah, if you go through a marathon of the lineup, you get weighed down by these depictions of people in dire straits, unable to do anything to escape, never even presented an opportunity to fight back against the systems that are oppressing them.

    But then there's this movie. It also presents what feels like…

  • Tabon

    Tabon

    I have, on occasion, advised student filmmakers. They'll show me their screenplays or tell me the story of the movie they want to make. And often, they'll tell me about the great twist that's going to blow people's minds. And I tell them, invariably, that twists are harder to pull off than you think. More often than not, you can feel the contrivance of them. You get a lot of scenes where people don't really talk about anything, lest they…

  • Indak

    Indak

    ★★

    There's a lot of voiceover. Overwritten, faux-poetic voiceover that tries to underline themes that often aren't in the narrative. It doesn't even sound like the character we're getting to know. Jen, as portrayed by Nadine Lustre, isn't at all the ponderous bore that we hear droning on in flowery language all throughout the movie, trying to tell us a story that just isn't there on screen.

    Lustre is okay in this film, but it becomes a real issue that she…

  • Hello, Love, Goodbye

    Hello, Love, Goodbye

    ★★★★

    It's the specificity that I enjoyed the most. There have been many movies about the OFW experience, but this one roots itself in the particulars of the Hong Kong domestic helper. They're women who have made the great sacrifice to be separated from their families for the sake of potential economic prosperity. But they labor under a system that seems intent on limiting them. They are given work, certainly, but they are free to seek other work. To do so…

  • Avengers: Endgame

    Avengers: Endgame

    ★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    If you want big moments, this film has them. And like Infinity War, it gets to them with swagger. It doesn't always follow the rules of narrative. It glosses over some things. It makes huge logical leaps. It skips between the concerns of a humongous cast of characters, their backstories embedded in other movies, urging the viewer to catch up. If you stop a little bit to think about the new concepts they've introduced to this cinematic universe, you might…

  • Ulan

    Ulan

    ★★★★

    It feels goofy at times. The tone twists and bends, leaning comedic, jumping dramatic, veering into the fantastical. Maya is given advice by a tikbalang. She believes the rain is a curse. She speaks to typhoons. It's all in her head, or maybe it isn't. It doesn't really matter, in the end. It gets goofy, but that's mainly a consequence of the film's earnestness.

    This isn't really a romance. In some ways, it's an anti-romance. The film takes the tropes…

  • Captain Marvel

    Captain Marvel

    ★★★

    Captain Marvel is very cool. She's tough, and doesn't crack under pressure. She's also incredibly powerful; powerful enough that she has no reason to be intimidated by anyone or anything that she's facing. This is an issue. Especially since she doesn't grow into this role. She starts this movie already cool and rebellious and awesome. She doesn't really have to learn anything to come into her own. The changes that come in the story are external, our Captain needing only…

  • Time & Again

    Time & Again

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Spoilers ahead.

    Our main character is Apol. She writes romance novels online under a pseudonym, like all the cool young people do. She also works at a cafe, and that's where she meets Ozzie, who becomes a regular customer at the joint. She becomes infatuated with him, but he has a girlfriend. His relationship with the girlfriend is iffy, though. But that doesn't matter, because they don't really have much chance to interact. And though he is nice to her,…

  • The Girl in the Orange Dress

    The Girl in the Orange Dress

    So when I announced that I was boycotting the MMFF, people told me that I should at least try to catch this movie. This was the one, they said, that actually had something different to offer. It was, they said, the best film of the festival.

    If this was the best film, then wow. That must have been a really terrible festival.

    I could just harp on the fact that the whole premise of it is nonsense. There are so…

  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

    How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

    ★★★★½

    Note how quiet this film gets. How long it sometimes goes without dialogue. To me, this has always been what sets the How to Train Your Dragon movies apart from other animated movies. There are just these significant stretches where it lets the visuals speak for themselves: the boy getting to know his dragon, a first flight, a moment of kindness, the revelation of some awe-inspiring visual.

    There are plenty of great visuals in this film. It's actually kind of…

  • Exit Point

    Exit Point

    The movie has me tickled in its opening title card, which declares that it takes place in 2024. Why does it takes place five years from now? Beats me. The movie doesn't fill out that history, and the year never comes up again. We then cut to a prison where several things are happening simultaneously: some guys are having a dance contest, a lady prisoner is trying to intimate a new inmate, and Ronnie Ricketts is playing chess with Alvin…