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In this simple, slice-of-life-like modern fantasy, audiences are treated to a sweet urban parable about a lonely old baker named Sal (played by Bodjie Pascua), who finds comfort and joy in a mysterious girl known only as Aguy (played by Miel Espinoza).

Everyone in Sal's neighborhood is living turbulent lives, and yet each find something to be happy about in the midst of the many obstacles life has to offer. He himself has grown hopeless from his loneliness and his never-ending kidney stone-related problems. Everyone is coming to terms with their respective ages, and each struggle to remain connected to what is left of their once optimistic youths. It would take Aguy and her magical healing abilities to turn everything around.

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The movie is as sweet and flowery as it can be, and there are some moments that would be very much reminiscent of popular slice-of-life anime. (Aguy's decision to wear someone else's underwear as a hat certainly does give-off that vibe) Though there are times that the movie becomes unbearably cheesy for its own good (with one instance being hammered down by the extremely on the nose closing narration), the film succeeds in charming the audience with its universal message of hope in the midst of hardships.

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Both Pascua and Espinoza succeed in winning the audience with their simple father-daughter chemistry. The other actors and actresses are also not behind, as each and every one of them managed to leave an impression that would help welcome moviegoers to the very vibrant world of Pan de Salawal.

Though I have to fault the movie for its usually flimsy use of CGI (e.g. the rain effects, and .... SPOILER ALERT ... Aguy's ghost form), and its often corniest moments, I do have to applaud the film for not trying to craft so grand or so melodramatic. Instead, what the film delivers is a film filled with warmth and heart. If there's anything everyone else in the movie theater would suggest, Pan de Salawal is a finely cooked pastry.

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Additionally (being a BS Development Communication freshman in need of additional points), we can say that this film explored the theme of poverty with absolute poignance. It shows the usual tidbits such as financial burdens and familial problems that we have already seen in somewhat similar films, the film instead chooses to put hope in the spotlight. Sad that you're family left you on your own, even with your own healthcare? Look on the bright side.

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In this movie, we follow the life of jaded and lonely painter Nora Simeon (played by Sunshine Cruz), who enters a May-December romance with a much younger man named Migs (played by Enzo Pineda). As they both struggle to have a decent relationship, both soon realize that there is something missing in their almost exclusively physical relationship.

Malamaya is quite an oddity. Though I have to admit that the film is beautifully shot, with (dynamic colors here and there during its more "tender" moments, I have to say that I was not a huge fan of this film. As the credits rolled, there was only one adjective that could best describe mine and my classmates' moviegoing experience: "cold" (which is honestly more ironic when you realize that this is an adult movie).

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"Cold," as in there is literally nothing left for me to care about these characters. Though yes, I understand that like all artists who struggle to make it through the Philippine art scene, Nora is simply trying to maintain her legacy by not turning into a commercial pawn, most, if not all her interactions are character traits that are just ... unlikeable. She comes-off as condescending when it comes to her work, and she is so full of herself that she is literally "excited" at the touch of one of her paintings. (Ugh!)

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"Cold," as in the chemistry in this film is just ice cold. Though I do not fault both actors for doing their absolute best with what is given to them, the completely unrelatable and annoying character traits make their intimate moments a lot less enticing.

It also doesn't help that the movie adds absolutely nothing new to this type of story. So much that you can almost clearly see the end of the movie in just the first ten minutes. If their toxic attitude towards each other doesn't give it away, I don't know what will.

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I got to give props to this film's very brief yet insightful look at the art scene though. As mentioned, Malamaya offers a glimpse into the hardships faced by painters here in the country. What it does so uniquely is that it doesn't just discuss the financial difficulties in selling and crafting paintings, but the existential problem of "legacy," and what our painters think about whenever they craft something new. Alas, I just hope that the film could have connected with this theme a whole lot more.

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Overall, much like what the literal translation of Malamaya means (the color of ash), this film is ultimately a gray and quite dull story about complicated relationships, and its ultimately unlikeable characters only alienated audiences a whole lot more. If you don't believe that this film left an otherwise undesired reception, ask the other people who watched it with me. Props though for the cinematography.



Struggle Is Real

Ariel Villasanta risked everything for the release of his comedy/reality film entitled KINGS OF REALITY SHOWS in select cinemas beginning November 27. Asking help from anyone and everyone he knows, this one-man-team has been restless, excited, and proud that after several years of perseverance, the long wait will soon be over.





Covering the major television networks, Ariel managed to have some “air time” to promote his film. But it wasn’t exactly in the traditional sense. From GMA’s NewsTV …


To TV5’s Aksyon News …


And even ABS CBN’s TV Patrol with Ka Noli. 


Aptly called ‘manual marketing’, he posted that the “struggle is real”, in reference to his uncanny promotional efforts, but maybe also for his effort to dedicate this film to all the struggling artists out there … 


 … and even the struggling commuters.

After the Press Screening held at the UP Film Center last November 15, Cinemabravo touted the film as a “star-studded movie oozing with passion from the director”. Domcrisrea.blogspot could not explain why they felt very emotional during the screening, “Hindi namin namalayan, umiiyak na kami. Sa kabila ng kabaliwang pinaga-gawa nila, may kurot sa puso ito”, and went on to say; “This is something new sa ating mga moviegoers and you should watch this film.”


Ariel’s style of getting raw reactions from his interactions with people reminds you of films like Borat, Jack Ass, or Where To Invade Next, but with a distinctly Pinoy flavor. There’s just something powerful about people’s unguarded moments and capturing it on video, as it happens. Truly hilarious at times, but on some occasions, he seems to have no boundaries at all, and you’re left waiting for or wanting him to just stop and draw the line. Did this really happen? Or is this just a ploy? We suggest you just enjoy the ride and experience Ariel’s “reality”. If only her Mum, fondly called “Mommy Elvie” can see him now, you can almost hear her say “ARIEL!!!”


KINGS OF REALITY SHOWS: ARIEL AND MAVERICK The Movie is produced by Lion’s Faith Entertainment and exclusivley distributed by Solar Pictures. Screening in select cinemas nationwide November 27. This film is lovingly dedicated to Elvira Ramos Villasanta and to all struggling artists.

KINGS OF REALITY SHOWS: ARIEL & MAVERICK

Written and Directed by: Ariel Villasanta

Cast: Ariel Villasanta and Maverick Relova with special guest appearances by Mayor Sara Duterte, Senator Trillanes, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Mayor Isko Moreno, Cong. Strike Revilla and Chaye Cabal–Revilla, Raffy Tulfo, Mocha Uson, Joey de Leon, Coco Martin, Regine Tolentino, Jose Manalo, Empoy, Jasmine Trias, Cristina Decena, and the late Mr. Eddie Garcia and Mr. German Moreno.

Production Company: Lion’s Faith Productions, released thru Solar Pictures, Inc.

Genre: Comedy, Reality

MTRCB Rating: R13 (Strictly for 13 years old and above)

Running Time: 1hour and 41minutes

What does it take to fulfill your dream?

This is a question that Ariel Villasanta, half of the now defunct reality comedy tandem, Maverick and Ariel, asks himself one night as he was hounded by his own regret and career frustrations. This sets him off on an impossible journey of producing a nearly forgotten and unreleased movie he and his partner Maverick shot in the US 10 years ago. Armed only with his charm and undeniable guts (kakapalan ng mukha), he seeks help from everyone and anyone he knows that made it big in their industries, but even that is not enough so Ariel takes a leap of faith and sacrifices more than just his smooth talking to finally get the movie out.

We are taken back to 2008 when at the height of their careers, Ariel and Maverick feeling stifled by the local showbiz industry, sought greener pastures in Hollywood USA where they get a shot at the big leagues. Both then and now, blurring the line that separates ambition and disillusion, they have gone through misadventures just for that shot at fame. Through their journeys, we see the real cost of making it big in this industry, but will it all be worth it?

OFFICIAL FACEBOOK ACCOUNT: http://bit.ly/KingsOfRealityShows_FB


 


TRAILER ON YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/Yvp-yc1X-_4


Official Hashtag: #KingsOfRealityShows #ArielAndMaverickTheMovie

PAGBALIK 

"Kwento nang pagmamahal, pangarap at ng pamilyang Pilipino".            

Release date: September 13, 2019, an official Pista ng Pelikula Entry,  
                       Sandaan Showcase

Directed by: Hubert Tibi and Maria Ranillo

Cast: Gloria Sevilla, Vince Ranillo, Suzette Ranillo, and Alora Sasam

Production Companies: Nuances Entertainment Productions and PRO.PRO, released thru Solar Pictures, Inc.

Genre: Family Drama  

MTRCB Rating: G (General Audience, all ages admitted)

Running Time: 1HR 33MINS (including hardlock of 5-minute shortfilm “Kanlungan”)

LOGLINE 

Rica (50s), after working abroad, comes home to stay with Choleng (85), her ageing mother, until she finds new work. She learns what her mother has done all the years when she was working abroad.


SYNOPSIS 

Rica (50s), after working abroad comes home to stay with her ageing mother until she finds new work. She is disappointed to discover that all past years of sending money to the Philippines to repair their old home amounted to nothing. It looks the same way as she left it years ago. Her son, Vincent (18), is finishing college and needs to focus on his studies so Rica takes over to be a caregiver to her mom, Choleng (85). 

Taking care of her stubborn elderly mother is a nightmare. She never thought that it can be so difficult. Choleng complains about everything and treats Rica like a child which she really despised. Afternoons are spent on prayer meetings and evenings on more praying. Rica realizes that her mother's difficult behavior is caused by her impaired hearing. With the help of their prayer meeting group they pitched in to buy her a hearing aid that she refuses to use. It reaches a point that Rica and Choleng start fighting. Rica blames her mother for her futile sacrifice of working abroad. Rica decides to accept an offer to work abroad again. Choleng requests for her not to leave anymore. Rica thinks otherwise. In the end, Rica learns what Choleng has done all the years that she was working abroad. 


Pagbalik is one of the official entries for Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2019.  It is the only Visayan entry to this year's festival. 


WRITE-UPS/PR

“PAGBALIK is a quiet family drama which people of all ages can relate to.” Suzette Ranillo https://www.philstar.com/entertainment/2019/09/05/1949025/will-visayan-film-industry-be-revived

“Gloria Sevilla’s brilliantly-restrained acting in PAGBALIK is complemented by Suzette’s subtle performance that gradually builds up and detonates.” https://showbiznewsintrigues.com/2019/09/03/powerhouse-acting-story-make-pagbalik-a-must-see-visayan-film/


           
Release date: September 13, 2019, an official entry to the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2019, Sandaan Showcase

Loglines/Taglines/Quotes:
One hundred years of memories

Written and Directed by: Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr.

Cast: 

Anita Linda together with Philippine cinema's finest thespians (in alphabetical order): Gina Alajar, Perla Bautista, Rustica Carpio, Ricky Davao, Alessandra de Rossi, Enchong Dee, Laurice Guillen, Jaclyn Jose, Liza Lorena, Elizabeth Oropesa, Alan Paule, Rosanna Roces and with the special participation of the late Eddie Garcia

Also starring: Oliver Aquino, Adrian Pascual, Kim Last, Joel Palencia, Joel Saracho, Divine Tetay and Ge Villarin

Production Companies: Noble Wolf 
                                      ABAJ Film Productions
                                      Swift Distribution
                                      RSVP 

-with the support of the HongKong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), released thru Solar Pictures, Inc.

Genre: Family Drama  

MTRCB Rating: PG (Parental Guidance)

Running Time: 1HR 45MINS (including hardlock of 5-minute shortfilm “Toto, Tawag Ka Ng Ate Mo!”)




“CIRCA” GIVES TRIBUTE TO PHILIPPINE CINEMA 

Press release

New poster of CIRCA revealed! A fitting tribute to Filipino cinema as it celebrates its centennial this year, CIRCA relives the glory days of cinema through its characters – with the great Anita Linda (who at 94 is the oldest working actor in the industry) headlining the film about Doña Atang, a once celebrated film producer in the early days of cinema who wants to be reconnected with her peers as she celebrates her 100th birthday. Her wish opens up a Pandora’s box as her filmmaker/grandson searches for them - we remember the glorious years of cinema from of its workers- a nostalgia piece filled with memories of what the good old days of Filipino cinema is like. 

Aside from Ms. Linda, CIRCA boasts of a fine ensemble that puts together some of the finest actors of Philippine cinema – Cannes Best Actress winner Jaclyn Jose; multi-awarded actors Laurice Guillen, Elizabeth Oropesa, Gina Alajar, Ricky Davao and one of the best actors of his generation Enchong Dee playing the pivotal role of the grandson. Also in special roles are acting stalwarts Perla Bautista, Rustica Carpio, Liza Lorena, Rosanna Roces, Alessandra de Rossi, Menggie Cobarrubias and Alan Paule with Joel Saracho, Ge Villamil, Tetay Ocampo, Erlinda Villalobos, Rener Concepcion and upcoming actors Oliver Aquino, Kim Last, Adrian Pascual and Joel Palencia.  The late Eddie Garcia is also part of the cast and plays a celebrated actor in the studio era.

CIRCA not only touches on the issues of nostalgia but it also is a drama about a family that wrestles between the past and the future as Doña Atang’s siblings are beset with the conflicts of what to do with their family’s legacy. 

Written and directed by Adolfo Borinaga Alix, Jr., CIRCA opens this September 13-19 in select cinemas nationwide as an official entry in the 2019 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino’s Sandaan Showcase.  The film is produced by Noble Wolf ABAJ Film Productions and RSVP with the support from the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) and distributed by Solar Pictures. 

Last March, the film won the White Light Post-Production Award in the 17th Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) which allowed the film to do post-production in one of Thailand’s premiere post production facilities – White Light Studio.

CIRCA


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Synopsis: 

Doña Atang, a once celebrated film producer from the earlier years of Filipino cinema, celebrates her one hundredth birthday. For her wish, she wants a reunion with all the actors and staff that she has worked with in the past. She is also looking for an unfinished film from one of her directors. Her grandson, a budding filmmaker, Michael decides to take the task of finding them. As he does, we remember the glorious years of cinema from of its workers-fragments of a colorful past filled 
with faded memories.  Will it remain as part of the past? 

OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/CircaFilm2019/

WRITE-UPS/PR:

"CIRCA is more than a producer’s biography. It is the alchemy of arts, the bewildering dreams of an old lady whose only true remembrance is about how film captured everything, including the unseen." -Tito Genova Valiente  https://businessmirror.com.ph/2019/07/25/the-enduring-enchantment-of-anita-linda/

“It was a different experience working with her because there are lapses but there are times she is so sharp na parang sabi ko, ‘Wow!  https://www.philstar.com/the-freeman/cebu-entertainment/2019/05/30/1922075/enchong-dee-honored-work-94-year-old-anita-linda


“Held at the Cinematheque Center in Manila, the event was part of the commemoration of Sandaan: One Hundred Years of Philippine Cinema.”  https://entertainment.inquirer.net/336805/anita-linda-ph-cinemas-oldest-working-actress-feted-at-sandaan-event 

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

“There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.” ― Federico Fellini

This year is the centennial of Philippine cinema. From the first light coming the projector of the first film about the life of our national hero Dr. Rizal, cinema has evolved into a lot of shapes.

Circa is a film in which I want to confront the demons surrounding the old and the new form of cinema. Of what is pure and classic, of what is new and stylistic. I am interested to know the ghosts of the past and how a simple wish of a dying woman can open up a Pandora’s box full of memories, emotions, pains and unresolved issues about what we love and hate about cinema. The past always remains to be a thing to be looked upon but I think it is important as a filmmaker to be able to understand the currents of what used to be to be able to meet with the waves of the present. The interplay of actors and various characters during the reunion will create a microcosm of what use to matter about the craft of filmmaking. Their voices will speak against the walls of death echoed in the old structure of the mansion which used to be the hub of the old producer’s studio system. Michael represents the new filmmaker. He may look at old films as references for what he wants to do but it is important to live and breathe cinema more than evoke a past.


In the end, Doña Atang maybe cinema personified- her dying wish maybe what films are all about.
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Kailangan Kita / I Need You (2002)

Rated PG-13: For minimal language and sensitive themes

Running Time: 105 minutes (1 hour and 45 minutes)

Genre/s: Drama, Romance

Released on November 6, 2002 (PH Release Date; Available for Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Star Cinema

Writers: Shaira Mella Salvador, Raymond Lee, and Emmanuel Dela Cruz

Director: Rory B. Quintos

Starring:
  • Aga Muhlach as Carl Diesta
  • Claudine Barretto as Elena "Lena" Duran
  • Johnny Delgado as Rogelio Duran

“Never forget to love your country” … is a theme that one would never expect to be discussed in a romantic drama. But one did, and that film was 2002’s Kailangan Kita.

If I were being honest, I really had no idea this film existed, until one day, Dad and I were looking for a food movie to watch, because Dad loves to cook. We skimmed through the Internet’s suggestions, and we stumbled upon one that really interested me: Kusina, a food-centric film set during the Second World War.

It was … “costly”, so we settled for the next best thing. Being the responsible, law-abiding citizens we are, we rented it through “TFC”, or “The Filipino Channel,” for P99.83 for a total of two days. (Remember, we say no to piracy.)

If I am being more honest than I was awhile ago, I really had almost no expectations for this one. Heading into this flick, I actually believed that this is a by-the-numbers romantic drama ... and you know how much I don’t like “by-the-numbers” and “romantic drama” in the same sentence. This is made much worse by the fact that there are so much films here that matches that description that this might as well be the national film genre. However, even though this movie did hit the usual, generic notes in some places, I was caught off-guard by the few surprises Kailangan Kita has in store.

Directed by Rory Quintos, and written by Shaira M. Salvador and Raymond Lee, alongside Emmanuel Dela Cruz, who contributed to the story, the film stars the man who made Jollibee famous himself, Aga Muhlach, and Star Cinema’s “Optimum Star”, Claudine Barretto, alongside Johnny Delgado, Liza Lorena, and many more.

From what I can tell you, this movie was very much well-received upon its release. It received 9 different nominations at the 2002 “Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences” (FAMAS), including “Best Actress” for Barretto.

In the film, Carl Diesta, played by Muhlach (Seven Sundays), a star chef working in New York City returns to his home country after 17 years. Now engaged, Carl heads to the Bicol region, a province in the southern part of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago, to formally introduce himself to his fiancee’s family, including the tough-as-nails, former mayoral aspirant Rogelio Duran, played by Delgado (You Got Me!).

However, delays in their marriage surface. With his patience tested, Carl realizes that his heart might not be in the right place. He would now need the help of his fiancee’s younger sister and the black sheep of the family, Lena, played by Barretto (Milan) to once again be in-tune with his roots. Maybe, even find true love in the process.


As I’ve said before, this film manages to be extremely basic in its approach to the romantic genre. Right of the bat, we are treated to typical romantic tropes, from the upbeat opening credits crawl, accompanied by the feel-good background music, to the cooking montage that’s supposed to develop the obviously budding romance between the two protagonists. These are all topped by the typical premise of an engaged man against his fiancee's father.

But then, the initial conflict of impressing the father is suddenly resolved after the first twenty minutes. Carl managed to impress Rogelio by just cooking a fancy dish for him, and by now becoming more open to eat local food. I was originally confused when I watched the film for the first time, but after watching it once more, I realized that the real conflict is not about Carl leaving a good impression to the family, so he can secure his fiancee’s hand in marriage.

No. It is Carl’s struggle to embrace his cultural origins after previous negative experiences while living in the Philippines. Yes, in case you are wondering yourself, this entire film is a big debate between colonial mentality and patriotism. And yes, this film is classified as a “romantic drama.”

The representations of colonial mentality and patriotism are seen through both Carl and Lena, respectively.

Carl is a Western-oriented man. The first ten minutes help establish this through the way he speaks, and the way he dresses, especially with his “flattering” cooking outfit, pin-buttons and all. It is then later enforced by his outright refusal to consume “laing”, a traditional Bicolano dish with coconut milk and chili. Carl comments that the Mayon Volcano, for all of its majesty, is not as great compared to the Grand Canyon in America.

This is officially solidified by a conversation between him and Lena. While military forces are going around the town to search for members of the real-life Communist group known as the “New People’s Army”, or the “NPA”, Carl describes them as soulless as mercenaries.


Not only is Carl a devout worshiper of the Western world, but he is a very overzealous one. This is made more obvious by his refusal to answer questions pertaining to his earlier days in the country.

Despite this, however, it is quite clear that he somewhat misses his childhood prior to moving away, as noted by him gazing at the sight of children frolicking and playing by the river.

On the other hand, Lena is noticeably vocal towards her disagreements with Carl’s views on the NPA, citing that not all of them are terrible, with some of them only fighting for what they believe is right. In addition to her character’s visual nods, such as her preference to cook with more Philippine-inspired means, we also see that Lena really does care about her fellow countrymen when she helps a man pick-up his scattered stock, whom Carl practically ignores.

The way the movie explores both arguments is very enlightening, especially now more than ever due to recent contemporary controversies. Not only that, but the film’s endearing, character-driven discussion of such complex topics, as well as the theme of politics playing a key part in breaking family dynamics, are some things that I really admire. Though in most cases, Lena’s frequent proclamations of patriotism and brotherhood can be a tad bit, eye-rolling at times, especially when her stances are repeated over and over again, but the intimate portrayals of the actors really help sell all of the necessary points.


Even with their differences, there is one thing that unites both of them, and that is the recurring motif, and the other thing that this film is notable for: food. This is only mildly apparent in the first thirty minutes, when Carl and Lena cook their signature dishes, and with Carl impressing Rogelio with his work, while he in turn loves Lena’s laing. However, it becomes increasingly clearer with Rogelio hosting a get-together with his election opponent, and with Carl having a nice happy drinking hour with the rest of Lena’s family members.

As food is the central motif, food lovers will still find lovely scenes for them to gnaw their teeth in, especially the very first sequence of both Carl and Lena cooking their signature dishes.

After finally tasting laing, and enjoying the savory goodness of it, Carl’s journey of self-discovery begins with the aid of Lena. It finally reaches its peak when Carl realizes the real reason as to why Lena has a deep-seated sympathy for the NPA. That is because Lena has a boyfriend who is a member of that organization. The man, named Abel, played by Jericho Rosales (On the Job) is discovered by Carl while being secretly treated by Lena of wounds when Abel has encountered military soldiers in a gun-fight. 

Then all of Lena’s relatives found-out about her secrecy, which leads to Abel’s (presumed) demise. It is later revealed at the near-end that Lena’s small connection to the NPA is what caused Rogelio to lose the elections, leading to her black sheep status.

Slowly, Carl begins to see that because of Lena’s wholehearted affection for the country and her people, he, also a Filipino, must also care just as much, regardless of past events. Carl, originally the person to dismiss any discussions about current day issues, slowly begins to feel somewhat patriotic, as noted by him suddenly engaging in various country matters.

But that path to realization is halted temporarily when we learn of the identity of the laing legend living by the rice lands, Ka Pinong, played by Dante Rivero (It Takes a Man and a Woman), who is revealed to be none other than his biological father. After lashing-out, Carl opens-up to Lena that his father, a former member of the NPA, abandoned him, his brothers, and his mother to serve the organization, fueling his hatred for the country. “It’s not fair!”, Carl exclaims.

Carl quickly regains his senses after recalling his happiest memory: learning how to cook from Ka Pinong. Finally accepting his cultural identity, Carl asks for Ka Pinong to teach him again how to cook laing, and they mend fences as father and son. This again evokes the food motif.


Though a lot of the actors are forced to play by tropes, I can safely say that they did decent jobs, especially the late Johnny Delgado. We’ll talk later about what I think about Muhlach’s and Barreto’s performances.

On the technicalities of the film, such as the cinematography, the direction, and the editing, I have somewhat mixed feelings about it. Though it doesn’t completely strike me as something entirely unique, I do admire the cinematography and direction for giving us a sense of a rural environment, thanks to its emphasis on the usual Filipino locations such as grass lands and cultural architecture. The editing is also alright for the most part, but I really don’t like the cheesy wipe transitions in the montage segment, because I find it absolutely corny and just plain overdone at this point.

Again, the character-focused story, made especially better by its emphasis on timely topics, is very good, and the second act’s redirection farther from its initially messy set-up really did help in saving this movie from being a complete misfire. That is … until we get to the third act, where I am reminded that yes, I am watching a romantic film. A typical romantic film.

Even if this film falls under that aforementioned genre, its more romantic aspects are arguably the worst parts about Kailangan Kita. This is because I feel that the overall story, complete with its political overtones, are never meant to be included in a romantic film. I have read in one online post that this film was originally supposed to be more about cooking and food, and that certain changes were made supposedly to make the film more appealing to general audiences. If that really is the case, then I can see why the romance in this film feels more like an after-thought.

The one plot point that ultimately verifies my assumption is the sub-plot surrounding Lena and Abel and how it is resolved. You would expect that a woman like Lena, who sacrificed her dignity and risked her family’s name just to support Abel in his exploits, would be completely shaken by the death (or at least, “assumed death”, because we only heard gunfire while the camera focuses on Lena’s reaction) of her beloved. The film explicitly states she really does care about Abel, evident when Lena, despite being already shamed by her father, still chose to hide Abel in one of the family’s own supply shacks. Her tirade in the aftermath of Abel’s “death” when Lena once more waxes political enforces this even more.

Guess what? She completely manages to move-on from that incident in a span of five minutes, so the film can finally head to the plot and tone audiences actually paid for. This then leads us to the usual romantic trip montage.

Granted, we could say that the distance from Abel and the pressure from the family factored into Lena’s decision to lose all feelings for Abel, but the way the film rushes the story, and the fact that Abel is never mentioned again, even immediately before the credits make this plot point … pointless.

Outside of those times when Carl constantly gazes at Lena, and that one time when Carl comments about how beautiful Lena is, almost no interaction between Carl and Lena, especially their respective lines, are romantic. Their dialogues don’t even have the sweet and charming energy that can be found in films of the same genre, such as Kita Kita. As the film portrays their interactions in a friendly, sibling-like light, which is again noted by the dialogue and the conflict, I found myself in a position asking myself … “why even call this a romantic movie?”


Aga Muhlach’s and Claudine Barretto’s performances also don’t have the chemistry reminiscent of a slowly blooming couple. Though both of them are fine here, even though they both took a more melodramatic turn by the third act, and it is quite clear that both are trying to sell us on that romantic vibe that the film wanted to give-out, the best way I could describe their chemistry is that it ranges from lukewarm to subzero.

While I have no problem with how the film wanted to end, outside from it being extremely cliched, I do take issue with the fact that it is rushed. Not only did the last thirty minutes manage to take us back to the super stale tone of the first parts, but it also manages to disrespect all of the characters by glossing over all of their respective arcs’ resolutions. 

The only way to rectify this mistake is by giving hints with regards to their arcs during the wedding reception of Carl’s ex-fiancee Crissy, played by Rissa Manansquil-Samson (Keka). Yes, people are allowed to leave certain plot points up for interpretation, but you have to give the audiences something to speculate over


I could just end this review here and call it a day. But since I was unbelievably unsatisfied with the end result, here are four suggestions to properly wrap all of the character arcs up, complete with explanations as to why these would make complete sense.

Carl’s entire arc revolves almost entirely around his absentee father, but is never seen again after their small moment of reconciliation. Since the one year time skip only partly suggests that he stayed in the Philippines, Carl could have had a conversation with one of Lena’s brothers that he only took an extended stay in the country to catch-up with his father, with some hint of only minimal animosity. This way, we see that Carl has moved beyond rage towards his father, and has grown more accepting of his background.

Prior to this wedding, we never really get to know or even see Crissy, outside of newspaper clipping and phone calls with Carl. One big exposition dump from Consuelo at the closing moments of the film suggests that Crissy is never the most committed person to be with. This arc is also made jarring by the fact that we never get to see Crissy feeling bad for having Carl wait for too long, or how she reacted to Carl liking Lena. Instead of that lame conversation between Crissy, her new husband, and Carl, the two could have a private talk and acknowledge their shortcomings. Both wish only the best for each other. This way, Crissy would not come-off as a materialistic jerk who couldn’t care less for Carl’s feelings, because the entire wedding scene that still doesn’t add any layers to her character, but this one small chat would.

Lena’s arc revolves a lot around her love for Abel, but again, we don’t even get to see exactly what happened after Rogelio and his sons find him. To make her and Carl’s relationship less abrupt in terms of development, Lena would mention that though she loves Abel, she believes that she should give herself a chance to be happy with someone else. This way, Jericho Rosales’ very brief cameo would at least serve a purpose for Lena’s arc.

Finally, Rogelio and Lena had their father-daughter bond broken by Lena’s relationship. Despite being a massively crucial driving point for the entire film, we never see how this plotline is resolved, because both of them never said a word to each other during the last five minutes. Mere silence and brief glances mean nothing in the grander scheme of things. Instead, they both should at least have one long discussion prior to this scene to have either Lena and Rogelio put aside their differences, or Lena, regardless of what Rogelio feels, decides to live her life by her own accord. In addition, there should at least be a mention of Lena’s progress in life in the form of a mention of the scholarship proposal mentioned earlier in the film, which she decides to take.

All of these suggestions are very small additions, with each of them at least ranging from either thirty seconds, or roughly three minutes. By inserting all of these four in the closing moments, we could have had a much more complete, much more satisfying conclusion.

Overall, Kailangan Kita is a great family drama that manages to discuss colonial mentality and patriotism through a great character-driven narrative that manages to overcome its base level of depth. However, it is an overwhelmingly terrible romantic drama that does nothing unique to distinguish itself from others in the crowd, and is made more frustrating by its melodramatic and rushed ending. Though Aga Muhlach and Claudine Barretto both give everything that they have, in the end, its flaws outweigh its stronger points.

To better explain, this movie is just an average sandwich, wherein the contents within the slices of bread are delicious, but the bread surrounding said fillings are stale and underwhelming. I hereby grant this film a 14/25 (Okay?).



All this talk about food really got me hungry. Speaking of food, it is no secret that food is essential in our everyday lives. They give us strength, and perhaps something to be joyful for. We did mention awhile ago that eating is a custom that helps build bridges and mend fences between people. Of course, no such occasion would be successful with a horrendous menu. That is why, if you or your friends really want to have a fruitful festivity, we highly recommend that you go green. By "going green," we mean that you ought to have yourselves some healthy and nutritious salads that are simple and very easy to make.

Tuttle, the world's leading international publisher of innovative books discussing all things Asian, from culture, martial arts, travel and design, to economics, to obviously, food, has sent us a copy of their latest book: "Asian Salads: 72 Inspired Recipes from Vietnam, China, Korea, Thailand and India" by writer Maki Watanabe. To give you a brief background on Ms. Watanabe, she is said to be active in the natural community, from forming a partnership with SHOP to create kitchen utensils, to writing various works on the topic. Her Japanese work, "Daily Side Salads" won the "Recipe Book Award" twice!


As the title of the book states, readers have access to 72 different salad recipes based on and inspired by various Asian recipes. As a salad lover myself, I wholeheartedly recommend that you give this book a shot. It allows not just culinary artists everywhere, but even inexperienced fellows such as I, would be given the chance to experiment with various recipes. Through this book, with its easy step-by-step guide and photos, you would be able to not just mix fruits, vegetables, and some sauces, but you would also be able to try with chicken, seafood, and meat. Simple to make for your daily meal and great to share for every occasion with your family and friends! 



So what are you waiting for? Buy now at your favorite bookstores near you, and happy salad making! (If that's even a phrase.)  You can buy it directly at the Tuttle website by clicking the link: https://www.tuttlepublishing.com/asia-general/asian-salads

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And that's a wrap for our latest movie review. Be sure to check-out Gary Valenciano's theme song for the film, and stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!