Friday, December 30, 2016

7 Things About Die Beautiful

This review may contain some harsh comments but that doesn’t mean that the movie is altogether
ugly. The 42nd Metro Manila Film Festival is made of ultra-high quality films – what more can I ask for?

My goal is to give my best (and also my most brutal) review of the films with the desire to help the filmmakers and actors alike. The Golden Age of the Philippine Cinema is here and these people need inputs and insights! This is what exactly I am trying to achieve through this blog.

Before anything else, I’d like to congratulate all the people behind the film “Die Beautiful”. I hope these inputs help you in your next films – or whatever.


1. Very impressive concept


I like the fact that this film banked on Paolo Ballesteros’ superb make up transformation skills. That skills set is impressive and I would love to see it in a movie. I believe this is also one of the reasons why Die Beautiful won the hearts of many – it was already loved even before it came out. Now for filmmakers this is double-edged sword. Can it live up to the expectations of the discriminating crowd or will it just settle for being one of those highly entertaining films? Or can it do both?

Overall, Die Beautiful is a likeable film. It may not be my most favorite Filipino film ever but still undeniably raised the standard of quality of local films. This is how films should be like!


2. Good and bad actings


There are two people who stood out in the film – the actor who played Barbs and then Joel Torre. 

Barbs is so good you would believe the role was intended for him – or that he was involved in the conceptualization of his character. He owned it – even outshone Paolo Ballesteros at some point. All his lines and nuances are all in the right places at the right time. This guy should be thrown more projects!

On the other hand, Joel Torre was scary! I have seen him do dark and sinister characters before but his performance here is just amazing. He should do more projects like this.

While there are good actings, there are also remarkably bad and unconvincing actings. I got disappointed with Iza Calzado and the guy who played the high school crush of Paolo Ballesteros. These are pivotal roles and I thought the actors for these should have been carefully chosen.

The role seemed to be not for Iza – but as they say there are no wrong roles. Despite this, I knew Iza could have done better. I really loved her in “Milan”. Can she channel what she did in that movie again in her next projects?

About the guy who played Paolo’s high school crush, there is something that’s telling me that this guy is not for “serious” projects like this. He can play roles in feel-good, light and comedy movies but Die Beautiful is just not one of those films.


3. You could have “milked” some more the 7-day wake


The whole film centered on the 7-day wake of Trisha, Paolo Ballesteros' character. It is on each day of the wake that the anticipation for the make-up transformation of Paolo Ballesteros is being built upon. All the make-up transformations of Paolo are fantastic. And this is remarkable to me because make-ups and prosthetics are things that I don't remember Philippine cinema is excelling at.

Because of this very powerful material  (Paolo's make-up transformations), I believe that the 7-day wake should have been developed some more. For example, the make-up transformations can have a pattern – allowing one to lead to another – to build up a much better momentum for the story. Or connections should have been established between the make-up transformation characters and the stories for each day.

The mind loves patterns and connections. By using this insight alongside a raw material that is already powerful in itself, I believe that the film will be able to outdo itself.


4. Emotions checklist


In every film that I watch, I always do an emotions checklist. A film should be able to convince or confuse the mind while it tickle the emotions and activate the imagination. Below are the emotions I remember during the film.

a. Funny – The film is funny. Thanks to Barbs and his witty lines. Also, Paolo Ballesteros did well.

b. Scary – It doesn’t have to be a horror film to induce fear. Thanks to the excellent acting of Joel Torre playing the homophobic father of Paolo.

c. Drama – The film, of course, also has drama. Which Filipino film doesn’t? However, there are not much crying in this film – which is a little bit sad because the film has a great opportunity. At some point, I even found myself waiting for it. I am not looking for dragging drama scenes but there are parts of the film that should have been developed some more to inspire some sobbing.

d. Love – Two more elements that should have been explored more is the love between Paolo and his adopted daughter and also the love between Paolo and the guy who died of leukemia. I felt it fell short on those aspects – even though the film itself testified on the importance of these two relationships for the lead character.

e. Curiosity – The film gave us all a glimpse into the lives of the “beaucons” or beauty contest joiners. While I laud the film for taking this road less traveled, I think that it did not necessarily excel in it. It just did okay. I was waiting for more “aha! moments” about the lives of the beaucons. What are some of the remarkable things that world should know about them? The film already had the chance to tell that important story. It should have fully arrested that opportunity.


5. Cameo performances


What are the cameo performances of famous celebrities in indie films for? Are these just for PR stunts or because the story itself calls for it? 

I believe Die Beautiful excelled in this aspect. The appearances of Iza Calzado and Eugene Domingo are excellent. I just have nothing much to say on the acting of Iza. And also, on the wig and overall appearance of Eugene Domingo as a recognized fashion designer. I just don’t think fashion designers “overdo” it. Eugene Domingo did well in acting though.


6. Some far-fetched, unresolved and unconvincing ideas


Below are some unresolved issues inside of me because of the film.

a. How the guy who died of leukemia confessed that he had been stalking Paolo for so many years after that fateful night is just too far-fetched and unbelievable. It was too contrived. I believe the writers could have done better with this one.

b. The reunion scene of Paolo with his ate, Gladys Reyes, was unsatisfying. Aren’t they friends when they were younger – Gladys was his "ate" and the only one who truly understood him? They don’t even have a mother anymore! How can the writers be so un-generous with their protagonist like this?

c. How the adopted daughter of Paolo grew up so fast that the movie started with her being pregnant is just too amazing! Should the movie really have to start with that premise? Even without it, the film will stand.



7. Anti-climactic or just bad ending?


Okay. Let me begin by saying that the film had successfully created sequences that were so solid for an ultra-satisfying climax to stand. However, until now, I am not sure if I’ll call the film anti-climactic or the ending is just so bad. 

Anyhow, below are some of the better endings that played in my mind.

a. Barbs and friends stole the body of Trisha for additional suspense and thrill. This was followed by a car chase or someone getting hit by a bullet. It can be Barbs – and then Barbs dies beautifully too as he laid down his life just to fulfill the last wish of his friend. I dunno. Something like that.

b. Joel Torre turned out to be gay too and buries his son's body peacefully.

c. Trisha wakes up from a very long dream. Cuts right through the scene where he will answer the question, “If you were given the chance to live again, who would you be and why?”


Overall, I still believe that Die Beautiful is an awesome film that is worth-watching. I am so proud to be a Filipino – especially nowadays. Also, only quality films deserve lengthy reviews. They are worth the time.

Thank you for the opportunity, Die Beautiful.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

4 Things I Like The Most About Coconut Mogu Mogu

1. Not too sweet  For the past weeks, I’ve been finding myself reaching out for coconut Mogu Mogu whenever I visit convenience stores. I even get the 1 liter size from time to time.   The reason why this is fast becoming my most favorite drink of all time? It’s not too sweet.   Mogu Mogu claims that there is real coconut juice inside the bottle. Perhaps it’s one of the contributing factors why the flavor is great with just the right amount of sweetness.   Some people go for healthier drinks nowadays and no wonder, like me, they are going for the coconut flavor too – though all of Mogu Mogu flavors are good!  2. Yummy nata de coco  Aside from the fact that nata de coco is healthy, it’s also very yummy.   I am just so glad that nature has a way of giving us yummy and chewy desserts so that we don’t always choose the high fat, high sugar and high calorie ones.   3. Cutest packaging  Unarguably, Mogu Mogu has one of the cutest and the most eye-catching packaging among all those that are in the shelves.   I realized packaging must be unique too so that it’s easier to find.  4. Super refreshing when cold  A cold coconut Mogu Mogu is one of the best things in the world. Really, next to water, it’s what I search for whenever I feel thirsty.

1. Not too sweet


For the past weeks, I’ve been finding myself reaching out for coconut Mogu Mogu whenever I visit convenience stores. 

I even get the 1 liter size from time to time.

The reason why this is fast becoming my most favorite drink of all time? 

It’s not too sweet.

Mogu Mogu claims that there is real coconut juice inside the bottle. Perhaps it’s one of the contributing factors why the flavor is great with just the right amount of sweetness.

Some people go for healthier drinks nowadays and no wonder, like me, they are going for the coconut flavor too – though all of Mogu Mogu flavors are good!

2. Yummy nata de coco


Aside from the fact that nata de coco is healthy, it’s also very yummy.

I am just so glad that nature has a way of giving us yummy and chewy desserts so that we don’t always choose the high fat, high sugar and high calorie ones.

3. Cutest packaging


Unarguably, Mogu Mogu has one of the cutest and the most eye-catching packaging among all those that are in the shelves.

I realized packaging must be unique too so that it’s easier to find.


4. Super refreshing when cold


A cold coconut Mogu Mogu is one of the best things in the world. Really, next to water, it’s what I search for whenever I feel thirsty.

Thank you Mogu Mogu for coming to the Philippines!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

3 Things The Viral "Sandy Hook Promise" Ad Taught Me About Advertising

sandy hook promise viral ad evan bbdo new york1. Relay the message. Use advertising if necessary.


In advertising, message is king.

Everything depends on it.

Sand Hook Promise has a solid message and I believe this is what made all the difference.

“No cares to see the signs of gun violence.”

Banking on this solid brand message, they were able to conjure a mind-blowing ad that relays it.

Indeed, no one could care to see the signs of gun violence because we are so busy in our own little fantasy world.

Heartbreak only comes after the effects of gun violence had finally been realized.


2. If the message is powerfully relayed, it becomes a solid ground for the call to action to stand on.


“Gun violence can be prevented. Sandy Hook’s advocacy is to help us read the signs.”

Some ads fail to relay the message with enough clarity and impact that sometimes, even the message has to be “explained”. This shouldn’t be the case.

The message itself must be relayed clearly and powerfully enough so that it becomes a solid ground for the call to action to stand on.

When a message is relayed clearly, the audience themselves voluntarily clamor for the call to action or “What’s next?” on their own.

When this happens, the call to action is anticipated not contrived.

3. You can use an entirely different ad as a springboard for the “real” ad.


Sandy Hook’s ad tried to hook its audience into a story which was enchanting and exciting on its own – only to find out that that was not the “real” story it was trying to tell.

And then during the resolution part, I told myself “Yeah, I didn’t see that.” – which was exactly the point!
“No cares to see the signs of gun violence.” 

After feeling a little bit bad about myself, the ad itself offered a solution through the call to action part which was what Sandy Hook Promise is all about – reading the signs of gun violence everywhere and helping them prevent it.

Sandy Hook Promise is a non-profit organization in the US which was led by some of the family members of the victims of the shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School last December 14, 2012.

Learn more about the organization by clicking here.

More power to Sandy Hook Promise and BBDO New York!

Watch the ad below.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

3 Lessons I Learned From The Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Movie

1. Don’t judge a beast by its cover.


Newt Scamander will pass for an animal rights activist in the modern day time.

Even in the magical world, the magical beasts were mostly feared and misunderstood. They have the capacity to kill and destroy. But that’s because not too many are like Newt, a magizoologist, who dedicated his life training, taming and understanding them and even studying their benefits to the wizarding world.

Without Newt’s influence, there may be no Buckbeak nor thestrals which are very important creatures in the whole Harry Potter saga.

For muggles or no-maj’s who are clueless, Buckbeak is the giant bird which Harry and Hermione rode on during the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie. It’s the same bird that you’ll also see in the front cover of the book with the same title. It was illustrated by Mary Grandpre for Scholastic.

Thestrals, on the other hand, are the invisible winged horses being used by Hogwarts to transport its students from Hogsmeade to the castle. The thestrals are very powerful magical beasts that its tail hair was the one used to create the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand ever made.

One of the things that I learned in Fantastic Beasts is that we can’t always judge anything or anyone through the outer appearance. What’s ugly or scary is not necessarily evil.

The exact opposite is Grindelwald, which was described by Rowling as charismatic and brilliant. This wizard turned out to be one of the most dangerous wizards of his time until he was defeated by Dumbledore.

This character is to be played more extensively by Johnny Depp in the next Fantastic Beasts movies. Can’t wait!

2. Do not suppress your magic.


This blog is by no means supporting any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, divination or any related practice whatsoever.

I’d like to consider magic as a metaphor for our innate talents and skills which, I believe, we should develop and hone.

Rowling made a beautiful story through the Fantastic Beasts movie about the magical children who denied and suppressed their own magical abilities. Because of persecution of the witches and wizards in the past, some children with magical abilities chose to hide their abilities. This character was portrayed by the young man named Credence Barebone. 

And we know what happened to Credence. He became an obscurial for suppressing his magical abilities.

I believe that this is not too different in real life. One of the most tragic things that could happen to anyone is to deny himself of the development and enjoyment of his talents and abilities just to avoid persecution. 

Rowling made a persuasive invitation to discover and develop our talents and skills by painting a perfect (and scary) image of what can happen to us if we don’t – an obscurial.

3. Hufflepuff’s are not duffers.


“Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o’ duffers.” –Hagrid to Harry, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Among the four houses in Howarts, Hufflepuff may be the most unpopular one. 

It was said that if you are courageous, you go to Gryffindor. If you are a pureblood, you belong to Slytherin. If you are brilliant, you may be sorted to Ravenclaw. All the rest, go to Hufflepuff.

But Rowling, being who she is, is a huge lover of the underdogs and the unpopular ones.

Hogwart’s representative for The Triwizard Tournament during Harry’s time was from Hufflepuff – Cedric Diggory. And then Newt Scamander, the star of the first Fantastic Beasts movie, is a Hufflepuff.

In the world of J.K. Rowling, the bullied and the downtrodden ones take the center stage. 

I sincerely believe  that this is the reason why her books are loved by many. 

That includes myself.