SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION FROM LILIA CUNTAPAY (2011)
Director: Antoinette Jadaone
Lilia Cuntapay had been a bit player in countless Filipino films, big and small, for the past 30 years. A filmmaker was following her around to make a documentary about her life when she received an unexpected nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the film "Sangandaan," alongside the likes of Rio Locsin, Raquel Villavicencio and Mercedes Cabral. For the first time in her long career, she is enjoying her brief 15 minutes of popularity.
Peque Gallaga handpicked long time anonymous extra Cuntapay to play a ghost in a "Shake Rattle and Roll" film and only then did she became sort of famous. Antoinette Jadaone made an auspicious feature film debut with this delightful mockumentary which immersed us in the simple joys and frustrating heartbreaks of an unheralded movie extra. In the lead role for the first time, Cuntapay embraced the spotlight on her and gave a memorable performance so humble and realistic you could not distinguish which was fact from fiction.
Director: Roman Carlo Oliver
High school senior Lucas (Felix Roco) wants to pass the UPCAT to be with his girlfriend Jane (Hiyasmin Neri), daughter of the mayor (Mark Gil). He reviewed with neighborhood artist and UP graduate Michael (Richard Quan) along with his best friend Joaquin (Joseph Roble). However, for reasons unknown to him, his parents (Bembol Roco and Malou Crisologo) were very much against his decision to study in UP.
This was just a simple coming of age film about a high school boy taking a college entrance test, but there were some lapses in the storytelling. At times it felt like, some scenes were lost in the editing. It took too long to tell the reason why the dad was so against Lucas going to UP, it felt anticlimactic in a way. With his naturally energetic performance, supporting actor Joseph Roble actually upstaged lead actor Felix Roco. The post-credit scenes, featuring a cameo by Arnold Reyes, tied loose ends up quite well. At best, it worked to bring back UPCAT memories for UP grads in the audience.
ROME AND JULIET (2006)
Director: Connie Macatuno
Prim and proper pre-school teacher Juliet (Andrea del Rosario) was engaged to be married to young hotshot local politician Marc (Rafael Rosell). She hired stylish florist Rome (Mylene Dizon) to supply their flowers and be their wedding planner. As they spent a lot of time together, the deep friendship between the two women blossomed into romantic love -- a love that the people around them all could not accept.
The buildup of the brave story was very good for the first two acts as it took its time to build the romance between the two lead female characters, and the attitudes Filipino society had for and against their lesbian relationship. It was just too bad that by the third act, Macatuno decided to squeeze in all the usual tropes of Filipino melodrama, such that the ending scenario felt contrived, unconvincing and unsatisfying. Mylene Dizon totally dominated the screen as the seductive Rome, above the rest of the attractive cast (del Rosario, Rosell and Mico Palanca) who all delivered well in their daring roles.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."