This year’s Metro Manila Film Festival is a run for the buck. As any film buff would notice, there’s an eclectic mix of the eight films that would be featured, which can be compared to the MMFF of the Golden Age of the Philippine Cinema where the greats such as Lino Brocka, Mike de Leon, and Ishmael Bernal each have their own entries.
Undoubtly one of the best line-ups so far, the MMFF still adheres to yearly entries from Vic “Bossing” Sotto for M-Zet and APT, Vice Ganda for Star Cinema, and Coco Martin for CCM Productions. Surprising however, is the absence of a Mother Lily-produced entry (under Regal Films). Nevertheless, the other five films (excluding the usual three I mentioned) truly deserve a spot in this litigious filmfest.
1. Miracle in Cell No. 7 (Viva Films)
When I first heard that Aga Muhlach would lead in this remake, I got very excited. It has been a very long time since I saw the actor star in a psychodrama. He’s definitely not psycho here, but seeing him play another psychologically-challenged character is hard to miss. It was my choice not to see the original Korean film (we all know it’s a grave tearjerker), but I told myself I would watch this Pinoy remake. The impressive ensemble is another thing, with my favorite character actors Joel Torre, Mon Confiado, and Soliman Cruz joining in. I’m also curious how child actress Xia Vigor would take on her role as the child protagonist.
2. Mission Unstapabol: The Don Identity (M-Zet and APT)
I’m a huge fan of the JoWaPao tandem (Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, and Paolo Ballesteros), AlDub (Alden Richards and Main Mendoza), the Vic Sotto and Main Mendoza Saturday sitcom, Daddy’s Gurl, and the longest-running noontime show, Eat Bulaga. To be honest, I even watched the Vic Sotto-Maine Mendoza and Coco Martin collaborative film, Jak Em Popoy, in last year’s MMFF. Although its storyline was already a familiar feat, I would not say it’s terrible. In fact, it was even good, given its stature in the Philippine cinema.
However, Mission Unstapabol might just be a waste of money for me. Yes, I would definitely miss out on Jose, Wally, and my new favorite Jelson Bay’s comedic tactics, but I can manage that. This film will just prove to be another one of its kind, with no cutting-edge plot to engage me. It’s one of the movies that I would just wait to be on Cinema One or on Netflix.
3. M&M: The Mall, The Merrier (Star Cinema and Viva Films)
In another same old recipe, I am very amused by Vice Ganda’s Stickiness factor in film. Vice Ganda’s characters are always a carbon copy to one another. It’s the same as Vic Sotto, but still, the latter’s films, characters, and co-characters are more diversified compared to Vice’s. However, this will continue to be a phenomenal production because of Anne Curtis, who is currently making waves (mostly due to her pregnancy), and trending actress Dimples Romana (of Kadenang Ginto).
4. Sunod (Globe Studios)
It took a while for me to write about this one because I hate horror flicks.😅
Sunod replaced Kris Aquino’s (K)ampon as the latter failed to make it to MMFF’s July 30 deadline in production and cast changes. However, 90s movie buffs will definitely be delighted that a gem like Carmina Villaroel is back in the big screen, all the more when she is coming back for a horror movie, just like what her usual stints have been in Shake, Rattle, and Roll, Tiyanak, and other distinguished 90s horror flicks.
Villaroel plays a dying girl’s single mother in the film, which, according to her, is very close to her heart. The trailer was quite horrific, so I guess this would be one of the better movies in the line-up.
5. 3pol Trobol: Huli ka Balbon (CCM Productions)
And here we are for another proven formula, now coming from Coco Martin. He plays yet another cop who disguises into a woman (he plays this well as I find him very beautiful in drag), which is reminiscent of his role in Ang Probinsyano and in last year’s MMFF entry, Jak Em Popoy.
Coco, along with Vice Ganda and Vic Sotto, genuinely dwell in their Stickiness factor in their yearly MMFF offerings. Still, I hope that next year, Coco would come back to his roots as a dramatic actor, and let go of action and comedy for once. The exciting feat for this film is that Coco is working with Kapuso actors Ai-ai Delas Alas, Jenelyn Mercado, and Tekla.
6. Culion (iOptions Ventures Corp.)
Culion is a historical drama based on the Culion Leper Colony in Palawan, which the Americans formed and isolated people with leprosy during their colony in our country.
One of the most revered writers in Philippine Literature, TV, and Film, Ricky Lee, penned the screenplay, so one could not expect short of a masterpiece. The film stars some of the best actors in the Philippine cinema we have today: Iza Calzado, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Joem Bascon, Suzette Ranillo, a bunch of other notable actors in theatre, and a no-surprise cameo of John Lloyd Cruz.
Culion is most definitely going to be the film with the most subtle social commentaries, so it will get us to a lot of thinking. That, I couldn’t wait.
7. Mindanao (Centre Stage Productions)
If you’ve seen at least one Brillante Mendoza film, you know that it’s not easy to watch. With Mindanao’s premise that involves a family subjugated to a cruel political war and built upon a culture that many doesn’t make any fuss about, this feature would hopefully enlight moviegoers about the “little-known” Islam culture and the tragedy that struck them.
Top-billed by Judy Ann Santos, Mindanao would definitely show her acting prowess again to her Pinoy fans, especially after recently winning best actress at the 41st Cairo film festival. I am hoping that her loyal followers would support this project and raise awareness about Mindanao and its rich culture.
8. Write About Love (TBA Studios)
Surprisingly, with the Philippine cinema being a rom-com hub, this is the only one that made it to the cut, which I’m happy about, or else I wouldn’t have come up with my blog title. Based on the trailer, I believe that this film would get us into thinking about what love is, so it may definitely be also one of the better films in the line-up, given that TBA Studios almost always produces good films.
Myles Ocampo finally breaks free from being a Going Bulilit kid to an adult through this film. Roco Nacino is also a great leading man choice; the two other lovers whom they write about in the movie, Joem Bascon, and Yeng Constantino offers a fresh team-up as well.
Which film/s are you looking forward to? Comment below.
Picture edits by Jim Morada