Mindy's Musings: All I Want for Christmas is a Movie

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It's December once again! Movie fans have more reason to anticipate the start of the holiday season, because Christmas Day marks the start of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

This year is the annual festival's 34th. First established in 1975, it is generally held from December 25 until the first week of January. This season, the MMFF will end on January 3, 2009.

Entries are chosen based on several criteria, including story, creativity, commercial viability, Filipino cultural values, global appeal and innovativeness.

Are you excited to watch movies while waiting for Santa Claus to come on Christmas? So am I!

Making history

This year is special for those working in the animation industry because for the first time, there is an animated film in the official festival entries. Dayo from CuttingEdge productions, according to its official website, is a fully-digital animated film which uses 2D and 3D technologies.

This movie seems interesting to watch not only because it's the first of its kind to premiere in the MMFF, but also due to the fact that it features “remixed” versions of figures from Philippine mythology. Instead of baby-eating monsters, there are good manananggal and nuno sa punso as well as a kindly kapre, who help Bubuy rescue his grandparents trapped in the mystical world of Elementalia.

Remaking history

The years of the Philippine Revolution were full of violence, chaos, pain and intrigue—in other words, a perfect setting for a whirlwind romance. Viva Films probably thought so too, hence Baler.

Baler is a period piece set in 1898, during the turmoil of the war between the Spanish military and Filipino revolutionary fighters. The story takes place during the “Siege of Baler,” when Filipino revolutionaries attempted to defeat Spanish soldiers cloistered in the town church.

In this movie, Filipina Feliza Reyes (Anne Curtis) falls in love with half-Spanish, half-Filipino Celso Resurrecion (Jericho Rosales). Theirs is a story of forbidden love—Celso's choice to fight with the Spanish will never sit well with Feliza's father, the leader of the group aiming to wipe out the colonial forces stationed in Baler.

A funny family romp

Once again, siblings Courtney (Marian Rivera), Stephanie (Iza Calzado), Isabella (Ruffa Gutierrez) and Patricia (Rufa Mae Quinto) entertain movie goers with their frolics, antics, trials and travails in Regal Films' Desperadas 2, a sequel to last year's Desperadas.

This installment adds a long-lost “sister” to the cast: Luga Luda, played by singer and songwriter Ogie Alcasid, who dons a dress, a wig, high-heeled shoes and colorful bracelets to portray the African princess.

Reviving the past

Originally called Iskul Bukol: 20 Years After, the Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon trio's comeback movie Escaleras and Ungasis: 20 Years After brings back to life the characters they popularized on Philippine television in the late 70s to the early 80s.

The movie was written by Bibeth Orteza, who also appears in the film, and was directed by Tony Y. Reyes.

Jimmy Santos also stars in the movie as Big J, while other personalities will be making appearances as well: boxer Manny Pacquiao, Sharon Cuneta, Francine Prieto, Ryan Agoncillo, Bianca King, Oyo Boy Sotto, Val Sotto and Keempee de Leon, among others, IMDB said.

A gift for a friend

The Maverick Films production Magkaibigan is, according to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada's website, the Senator's “tribute to Daboy (actor Rudy Fernandez),” who died of periampullary cancer earlier this year.

The movie, directed by Joey Reyes, is based on Estrada, Sen. Bong Revilla and Phillip Salvador's friendship with Fernandez, and stars Estrada, Tirso Cruz III, Maricel Laxa, Dawn Zulueta, Bobby Andrews and Christopher de Leon, who plays Daboy.

Love in the Hideaway

Also from Maverick Films, One Night Only is an ensemble film starring Katrina Halili, Alessandra de Rossi, Valerie Concepcion, Diana Zubiri, Jennylyn Mercado, Manilyn Reynes, Paolo Contis and Ricky Davao, among others.

This movie, directed by Jose Javier Reyes, interweaves five different stories—bringing together characters in a motel called the “Lover's Hideaway,” where they spend an eventful 12 hours.

Though the title and the place the characters end up—a motel—suggest the movie will be only about the seamier side of human nature, it is actually packaged as a comedy. It also explores the absurdity of relationships and the hilarious situations people get themselves into in their pursuit of love in these modern times.

Rated X for creepiness

Shake, Rattle and Roll 10, also known as Shake, Rattle and Roll X, is the 10th installment in the three-in-one horror series that started in 1984.

This year, the Regal Films production features two episodes directed by Mike Tuviera and one episode by Toppel Lee—“Emergency,” directed by Tuviera and written by Ellen Estrada; “Class Picture,” directed by Lee and penned by Cheryl Narvasa; and “Nieves: The Encanto Slayer,” also directed by Tuviera with a script by Penny Tuviera.

“Emergency” is about people inside a provincial hospital. After the arrival of a woman with strange facial wounds, the hospital is attacked by aswang, played by Mylene Dizon and Wendell Ramos.

“Class Picture,” starring Kim Chiu, Gerald Anderson, Erich Gonzales, and Andrea Torres, among others, is about ten students haunted by the spirit of a demented nun, Regal Entertainment said.

In “Nieves,” Marian Rivera plays the title character who is a town's lone Engkanto Slayer—kind of like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I suppose. Along with her slayers-in-training Junie, played by Robert “Buboy” Villar, and Kaysee, played by Jennica Garcia, Nieves tries to save the residents from paranormal attacks.

Make way for the first mother

Starring Ai Ai Delas Alas, Eugene Domingo, Shaina Magdayao, Carlo Aquino, Alwyn Uytingco, Serena Dalrymple, Yuuki Kadooka, John Prats, DJ Durano and Gloria Diaz, Star Cinema's Ang Tanging Ina N'yong Lahat continues the family saga of Ina Montecillo, a single mother who took on odd jobs in order to single-handedly raise her 12 children, who were sired by different men.

In this sequel to Ang Tanging Ina, Montecillo feels that her children don't need her anymore, and so once again tries to earn their respect and affection by thinking big—she lands a job as a chambermaid in Malacañang Palace, which will lead her to heights she never thought she'd be able to reach.

Ultimately, though, Montecillo will have to make a difficult choice, one which will decide not only the fate of her family, but the country as well.

It's tough enough being a parent, but to be the Philippines' First Mother as well? Now that's a challenge.

Have you decided which MMFF entry you're going to watch? I haven't yet. Maybe I'll just pool my resources and watch them all! ---

You can e-mail your comments, suggestions, and inquiries to mindy@wikipilipinas.org Also, you can visit Mindy’s Blog at WikiPilipinas <www.wikipilipinas.org>.

See Mindy's column archive