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A Post Review on ‘LIHIS’

Caught in the Shadows of ‘Brokeback Mountain’?

Official poster of Lihis.

Official poster of Lihis.

Joel Lamangan’s entry to the Sineng Pambansa National Film Festival All-Masters Edition didn’t totally give justice to the story written by the award-winning screenwriter Ricky Lee.

In an interview with Lee, he mentioned that he wrote the story in 2003, during the time of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration, which is why it highlighted extra-judicial killings and other political events in the said period. The original idea came from Lamangan though, since he knew of male comrades who fell in love with each other at the time when homosexuality was forbidden in underground movement.

In the film, its central character portrayed by Isabelle Daza, a professor in a state university and is in the process of completing her research, which links the missing pieces to the questions she has tried to answer for the longest time. She’s determined to unearth the mystery of the death of the two men she is closely related to—her late father and her late godfather.

Joem Bascon and Jake Cuenca played the gay rebel lovers—Dominador Reyes and Cesar Lumibao, and who took on several aliases in the film—Ka Felix or Ka Ador or Ka Domeng and Ka Jimmy or Ka Cesar or Ka Omar, respectively. And in every love story—to make it more interesting—the injection of a third-party via the character of Ka Jasmine or Cecilia, perfectly fit Lovi Poe. But when Gloria Diaz assumed the said character in the current setting with Gloria Diaz as the mature Cecilia—it seemed to have lost its effectiveness.

‘Lihis’ is a material that cannot be separated from the 2005 epic romantic drama film ‘Brokeback Mountain’, which Ang Lee directed and was an adaptation of the 1997 short story of the same title by Annie Proulx with the screenplay written by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry. Yes, it is very similar in its theme and its treatment, especially with the love scenes of two men. Though there were devices of not trying to be ‘porno-ish’, but while watching it—particularly the shot where Felix was pumping Jimmy in a missionary position atop a huge rock by the lake—even if the director would insist that it was necessary to establish the characters; still I find it offensive and distasteful. Fine, Bascon and Cuenca are both hot, but I just don’t know why it has to resort to such execution. Perhaps there are better ways of handling such sex scenes, and not those.

Acting-wise, the mother and daughter – Gloria Diaz and Isabelle Daza lagged behind their co-stars. Both needed some more depth and understanding of their respective roles. The continuity in some characters were quite inconsistent.

Lagman failed in squeezing out the drama and the acting capabilities of the two male leads—Bascon and Cuenca. Even in the scene where they were mercilessly gunned by the soldiers—the necessary emotions were lacking.

I wondered if the script had several aborted opportunities to get produced—why is it not a piece that I would not compare to Annie Proulx’s? Lee’s piece about how administrations, and how people in power try to erase and manipulate history—be it the history of a town or a forbidden love—was directed poorly. If I had to re-write the script—I would have explored the internal struggles of the three women—the roles of Isabelle Daza as Ada, Lovi Poe and Gloria Diaz as the young and older Cecilia, and Raquel Villavicencio as Cesar’s mom; with flasbacks. The three women can essay their stories in a more dramatic tone. In fact, Villavicencio did well as the loving and understanding mother to Cesar.

‘Lihis’ is a case of a good story, but badly executed. Lee made a good attempt in telling the story, but Lamangan failed to give justice to it. However, as a whole, it is still not a film that anyone should shrug it off because of its message.

Vilma Santos remains a BIG STAR in ‘Ekstra’

Vilma Santos as Loida Malabanan wit Vincent de Jesus as the assistant director in the soap opera scene in 'Ekstra'. Image courtesy of Star Cinema.

Vilma Santos as Loida Malabanan wit Vincent de Jesus as the assistant director in the soap opera scene in ‘Ekstra’. Image courtesy of Star Cinema.

Despite the nature of the production, which was intended for the recently concluded Cinemalaya 2013—the flick ‘Ekstra’ (‘The Bit Player’ in English), starring the one-and-only Star-for-all-Seasons—Vilma Santos did not just make raves here, but as well at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. It opened on Wednesday, August 14 in cinemas nationwide, as part of Star Cinema’s 20th Anniversary offering and once again made Ms. Santos a ‘big star’ even until this day.

In a press conference held on Thursday, August 8, exactly a week ago, Santos’s co-stars who also played as her co-bit players in the said socio-realist drama-comedy film had great praises for her. All of them were equally overjoyed while working with the actress-turned-politician. Vilma Santos won the hearts of her co-actors while breathing into the character of Loida Malabanan, as part of the marginalized laborers in making soap operas.

Also, Santos admitted that doing the said movie gave her some jitters due to some feedback she received, but she was just ready to gamble, no matter what. She, at the point of her career, ‘Ekstra’ is something she takes pride in, not to mention the recognition she received at Cinemalaya as Best Actress for the Director’s Showcase category film entry. Jeffrey Jeturian directed the film for 12 shooting days.

Piolo Pascual, Marian Rivera, Cherie Gil, Pilar Pliapil, Tom Rodriguez, Eula Valdez, Cherry Pie Picache, Richard Yap, Terence Baylon were among the big names in the entertainment industry that made special appearances in the film. Those who played support for Santos were Marlon Rivera, Vincent de Jesus, Ruby Ruiz (Cinemalaya’s Best Supporting Actress), and Tart Carlo.

At Toronto International, ‘Ekstra’ is set to have its premiere on September 5 to 15 under the Contemporary World Cinema section. Other recognitions earned at Cinemalaya are: Special Jury Prize (Directors Showcase), Audience Choice, NETPAC Award, Best Screenplay, and a nomination for Best Film for Directors Showcase.

Charice turns Yahoo! OMG! Awards into her Mini-Presscon

GLOBAL CITY, Taguig, Philippines – On Tuesday, June 4, at the URBN Bar and Kitchen, Charice Pempenco received her Media Magnet award during the third annual and the biggest Yahoo’s OMG! Awards launch, and the star turned the event into her mini-press conference since the issue of her ‘coming out’ drew various reactions from the Filipino people.

Pempengco answers questions thrown at her during the launch of Yahoo! omg! Awards. Photograph courtesy of Jing Javier.

Pempengco answers questions thrown at her during the launch of Yahoo! omg! Awards. Photograph courtesy of Jing Javier.

The now butch-acting Pempengco got a bouquet of roses and joined the host JM Rodriguez onstage. The entertainment press rained her with questions that insinuated her current life. The once girly image of Pempengco is no longer evident in her.

Charice when asked if how is she these days, she was quick to say, “Masaya po. [I am happy].”

She thanked all the people who supported her and those who understood the life she has chosen to live.

The list of nominees was also revealed that evening and the names included the following and do reflect that the ‘stars rock but fans rule’:

Official invite to Yahoo! omg! Awards 2013 launch.

Official invite to Yahoo! omg! Awards 2013 launch.

Actor of the year:

  • John Lloyd Cruz
  • Dennis Trillo
  • Coco Martin
  • Derek Ramsey
  • Dingdong Dantes

Actress of the year:

  • Bea Alonzo
  • Anne Curtis
  • Marian Rivera
  • Jodi Sta. Maria
  • Angel Locsin

Celebrity of the year:

  • Anne Curtis
  • Sir Chief and Maya
  • Marian Rivera
  • Sarah Geronimo
  • Angel Locsin

Male Performer of the year:

  • Jovit Baldivino
  • Abra
  • Gloc 9
  • Christian Bautista
  • Elmo Magalona

Female Performer of the year:

  • Angeline Quinto
  • Sarah Geronimo
  • Charice
  • Rachel Ann Go
  • Julie Anne San Jose

Breakthrough Actor of the year:

  • Alden Richards
  • Richard Yap
  • Enrique Gil
  • Daniel Padilla
  • Edgar Allan Guzman

Breakthrough Actress of the year:

  • Andrea Torres
  • Kathryn Bernardo
  • Jessy Mendiola
  • Jasmine Curtis-Smith
  • Bianca King

Comedian of the year:

  • Jose and Wally
  • Vice Ganda
  • Ogie Alcasid
  • Michael V
  • Jason Gainza

Comedienne of the year:

  • Pokwang
  • Maureen Larazabal
  • Melai Cantiveros
  • Ai Ai Delas Alas
  • Eugene Domingo

Favorite Male TV Host:

  • Ryan Agoncillo
  • Vic Sotto
  • Edu Manzano
  • Luis Manzano
  • Willie Revillame

Favorite Female TV Host:

  • Bianca Gonzalez
  • Pauleen Luna
  • Kris Aquino
  • Toni Gonzaga
  • Amy Perez

Male Radio DJ:

  • King DJ Logan, Wave 89.1
  • Sam YG, Magic 89.9
  • Papa Jack, Love Radio 90.7
  • Chico, RX 93.1
  • Mo Twister, Magic 89.9

Female Radio DJ:

  • Jessica Mendoza, Magic 89.9
  • Nicole Hyala, Love Radio 90.7
  • Tracy Abad, Mellow 94.7
  • Delamar, RX 93.1
  • Jinri Park, RX 93.1

Best Radio Show:

  • Boys Night Out, Magic 89.9
  • The Morning Rush, RX 93.1
  • The Wake Up Show, Mellow 94.7
  • Good Times with Mo, Magic 89.9
  • Tambalan, Love Radio 90.7

Best FM Radio Station:

  • Tambayan 101.9
  • Magic 89.9
  • RX 93.1
  • Mellow 94.7
  • Barangay LS 97.1

Fan Club of the Year:

  • Popsters, Fans of Sarah G.
  • Kathniel, Fans of Kathryn and Daniel
  • JulieElmo, Fans of Julie and Elmo
  • Cocoholics, Fans of Coco Martin
  • Angels, Fans of Angel Locsin

Movie of the Year:

  • Thy Womb
  • The Mistress One More Try
  • Sisterakas
  • It Takes a Man and a Woman

Love Team of the Year:

  • Kim Chiu & Xian Lim
  • Kathryn Bernardo & Daniel Padilla
  • Sir Chief & Maya
  • Louise delos Reyes & Alden Richards
  • Marian Rivera & Dingdong Dantes

To vote, please logon to Yahoo! Omg! Awards 2013.

Announcement of winners will be on July 19, Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena and is expected to be a star-studded, spectacular evening. It has 106 nominees and 22 categories. The said award is dubbed to be a platform for online users, particularly the fans to vote their favorite stars on Yahoo!‘s popular entertainment news page.