Saturday, July 28, 2018

Rak of Aegis (PETA)

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After a series of typhoons and torrential rain showers, Baranggay Venizia becomes a maze of flooded streets and alleys, yet the residents make do by virtue of their resourcefulness and optimistic outlook in life. Aileen (Kim Molina) wants to capitalize on their misfortune to pursue her dreams. The plan is to record a video showcasing her pipes while wading in the leptospirosis-infested waters. The video will reach Ellen Degeneres, leading to a guesting that will make her famous. Her father, Kiel (Renz Verano), does not agree, and instead tells her daughter to take her full-time job seriously. As the town continues to get significant attention from the outside world after the video goes viral, Baranggay Captain Mary Jane (Carla Guevara-Laforteza) must decide whether to embrace their new livelihood heavily reliant on the flood or to get to the bottom of it and solve the problem once and for all, losing their newfound fame.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

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Stressing over the grand reopening of Hotel Bella Donna, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) finds it hard to balance her obsession to make her mother proud along with her role as a wife to husband Sky (Dominic Cooper). It doesn’t help that she is stuck on Kalokairi while he is pursuing a career in New York. Sam (Pierce Brosnan) is with her for support, although she wishes her two other dads Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) could be there, too. As opening night looms closer, Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters) also arrive to bolster their de facto niece. All the reminiscing on the island paves the way for an origin story of sorts to be told, on how one summer a young and optimistic Donna (Lily James) fell in and out of love with her child’s three possible dads: a younger Sam (Jeremy Irvine), Bill (Josh Dylan), and Harry (Hugh Skinner).

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Ang Huling El Bimbo (Resorts World Manila)

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Covered with newspapers, a woman’s corpse lies motionless in a dark alley. Three men are invited to the police station for questioning. Emman (OJ Mariano), Anthony (Jon Santos), and Hector (Gian Magdangal) have not seen one another for a few decades now and identifying an old friend’s dead body in a morgue is probably not the best venue for a reunion party. As they bicker over unfinished business and grudges past, they can’t help but recall their carefree college days back when they would spend lunch breaks and study sessions at Toyang’s, an eatery run by Joy’s (Tanya Manalang) Aunt Dely (Sheila Francisco) where a young Anthony (Topper Fabregas) becomes the BFF; Emman (Boo Gabunada), the older brother from another mother; and Hector (Bibo Reyes), the love interest harboring a secret crush. As they go on a joyride to Antipolo to celebrate graduation day, what could have been a lovely evening ends in tragedy, and their relationship as friends will never be the same again.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

VIRGIN LABFEST 14: Set E

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BIRDCAGE – Three BPO agents clash as they discuss life's everyday realities during lunch break. Peter (Jerom Canlas) is leaving his post to go back to the academe and fulfill his dream of studying again. He has not decided on a course program just yet, but Arthur (Gie Onida) is already convinced that the young lad will be back soon enough after he has squandered his savings on his worthless academic venture. Playing referee is Ed (Aldo Vencilao) who ends up reminiscing about his own what-ifs as he confronts the lonely fact that is his status as one of the company's long-tenured workers.

It is not difficult to understand why this play made it to this year's revisited set. It is just so damn relatable. Witnessing two opposing perspectives unfold, it is up to you based on where you are in your life at present to decide whether you will side with aging realist Arthur or support young idealist Peter. It's hard to decide because at certain points in our lives, we're both, but perhaps it is Ed who characterizes most of us, the undecided. If anything, the narrative just harks back to the common favorite theme that self-aware existentialists usually debate on. As such, this material will never get old because it refers to a topic that will always be relevant in today's society.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

VIRGIN LABFEST 14: Set A

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MGA BATA SA SELDA 43 – Ino (JM Canlas) and his older brother Philip (Tomas Santos) find themselves in what seems to be a jail cell labeled #43. What they have done to end up there is unclear, but the bond between the two is evident. They deal with the uncertainty of the situation by sharing anecdotes and annoying each other like typical siblings do, but their musings are interrupted by the arrival of Ed (Rafael Tibayan) who emerges from the shadows explaining how he has been trapped there for the last three decades. He also reveals the truth to his two new inmates, a fact that they might not just be ready to accept.

This one starts off making you think that it's going to be another play with a lot of talk and reflection about life, but the spick and span nature of their jail cell is just a little bit too unrealistic for the Philippine setting. This leads you to believe that there is a twist halfway through, and there is indeed. In any case I couldn't have guessed it. All the while I thought it was going to turn into some X-Men wannabe of sorts. The twist is heartbreaking, even more so when you see what happens next. For that alone I'd even dare say that this is one of the best entries this year as far as emotional impact is concerned, if only for the wet eyes in the audience when the lights finally turned on.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

I Love You, Hater

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Joko (Joshua Garcia) lies to his family pretending that he is working in New York after an illegal recruiter runs away with his money. Zoe (Julia Barretto) works hard to get recognition from her father who denies her existence as an illegitimate child. When social media mogul Sasha (Kris Aquino) begins her search for a new assistant, Joko inadvertently gets the job after exchanging smart graphic design quips with her during a chance encounter on the company elevator. Being a persistent fan and believing that the position is her destiny, Zoe challenges the decision, her being blunt catching the attention of her potential boss. When she reiterates how their target audience mainly consists of women and gay men, a desperate and cash-strapped Joko lies again, pretending to be homosexual and, thus, qualified for the role. Sasha decides to put both of them under probation for three months, after which she will choose who is better suited for the job.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

VIRGIN LABFEST 14: Set C

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LABOR ROOM – Fearing that her baby might come out with abnormalities, Veh (Hariette Damole) is wheeled into the waiting room as preparation for induced labor. There she meets Ate (Skyzx Labastilla), a first-time mom wannabe who just suffered a miscarriage. Minutes later, Nay (Sheryll Ceasico) also comes into the room for dilation and curettage, which happens to be her fourth time. As more pregnant women come and go, Dok Jean (J-Mee Katanyag) and her assistant Nars (Kiki Baento) try to make do of whatever facilities, or lack thereof, their local hospital has to offer.

Labor Room is a pleasant surprise. We have all experienced being born, but giving birth is something exclusive to mothers and not everyone will get to witness this beautiful phenomenon live. There are various factors at play from moral to logistical, which is where this one-act play succeeds. It doesn't just give you a glimpse of reproduction from a biological standpoint, it also shows you the various aspects that affect it at present. The ladies' anecdotes, for example, tell you all about the cultural dimension. The doctor's attitude and candor are a critic of the socio-political factor, while talks about abortion and the like allude to the moral side of things. The mood is nevertheless kept light and the narrative avoids melodramatic territory thanks to the funny banter among the women.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

VIRGIN LABFEST 14: Set B

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ROSAS – Merto (Bembol Roco) and Anding (Crispin Pineda) meet once again at Home for the Aged, a nursing home for senior citizens who either have no family left or simply not welcome in the family home anymore. The two men reminisce and share stories of their younger days while also reflecting on the current state of their lives and how they ended up on a swing at a garden with roses aplenty. As the discussion continues, their past catches up with them, something they eventually have to confront.

Rosas starts this set in a nostalgic note that seems a bit too melancholic. The overall vibe can be a little loaded albeit monotonous, leading you to ask whether the management’s decision to place it ahead of the other two is ill-advised. Nevertheless, Roco and Pineda don’t disappoint. The blocking leaves something to be desired, though. Given how the narrative is anchored in its two lead characters and there is nothing much in the minimalist set for distraction, not being able to see either actor’s face is a bit disappointing especially if you are on the side bleachers.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp

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Following the events of Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been under house arrest for almost two years now. He misses the action, but also takes advantage of the downtime to be with his daughter. With his sentence ending in a couple of days everything seems to be alright, until he makes a phone call to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). In his dream, he is Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) playing hide and seek with her daughter. Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her dad are both on the run due to their involvement with Lang, but resume contact with him after his revelation, thinking that perhaps his dream wasn't a dream at all but rather a call for help from deep within the Quantum Realm. Father and daughter work hard on building a quantum tunnel in an effort to rescue the original Wasp, not knowing that a figure in the shadows also wants their tech for personal reasons.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Tag

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A group of friends from Spokane have been playing the same game of tag for the last three decades or so during the whole month of May. This year, it's different. After applying at Bob's (Jon Hamm) company as some sort of covert operation just for the sake of tagging him, Hogan (Ed Helms) convinces his friend to fly with him to Denver to pick up their pothead friend Chilli (Jake Johnson). Afterwards, the trio crash Kevin's (Hannibal Buress) psychotherapy session before they all fly home to Washington for their special mission. Jerry (Jeremy Renner) has never been tagged ever since they started playing the game in their childhood. He also plans to retire after getting married to his fiancé before the month ends. With Wall Street Journal writer Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis) who plans to cover their story in tow, the group attempts to tag their friend one last time, but nobody said it's going to be easy.

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