Magic 8 For 2018: The Metro Manila Film Festival Films Rundown
The annual smorgasbord of Filipino cinema, the Manila Film Festival, is just around the corner. And let’s face it, while this feature hopes to give you some insight into what this year’s Magic 8 are all about; for a segment of the population, the MMFF translates to ‘What’s showing at the IMAX theaters?’ (which are exempt from exhibiting MMFF films during the festival period), or ‘Thank God for Netflix and Amazon Prime!’ So if you’re in either of those categories, stop right now and shift to another Metro.Style article, as this rundown may be of zero interest to you.
Still here? That’s great, because Filipino cinema is still a cause to support and stand up for. Well, this year’s line-up promises to be as adventurous as last year’s. And should we be surprised? Of course not. If you haven’t figured out what MMFF programming is like by now, head to the back of the film class. It’s a mix of very grand commercial film concepts, horror films (because horror works during this Christmas season, and go figure that out!), easy to digest rom-coms, and a sprinkling of cinematic gems that come out of nowhere. And yes, it’s these gems that help restore our faith, and make the preponderance of formula bearable.
First off, we have the two front runners for who’ll rule the box-office. It’s the two who use the box-office kings and queens of the last years; and the high concept, as always, is to create tandems of stars who rule on TV for rival networks working together in film, and using that rival network affiliation as points for meta-comedy. Yes, it’s gasgas, but as year after year, it works wonders, the formula persists.
1. Fantastica: The Princess, the Prince and the Perya
Star Cinema and Viva Films, directed by Barry Gonzalez
It stars Vice Ganda, Dingdong Dantes, Richard Gutierrez and this year's most talked about love teams: Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber (MayWard), Kisses Delavin and Donny Pangilinan (DonKiss), Loisa Andalio and Ronnie Alonte (LoiNie) and practically anyone and everyone who can be dragged in for a featured role or cameo. This is meta with a capital M, and it’s guaranteed to vie with the next film as the Top 2 for the festival. Like #2, it’s got ‘for everyone’ stamped all over and given how being entertaining, making the audience laugh, and have their lives lightened for two hours is the recipe for success, this one fits the bill.
2. Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles
MZet, APT, and CCM, directed by Michael Tuviera.
This stars Coco Martin, Vic Sotto and Maine Mendoza; and again, is pure meta with TV roots. Coco will portray a policeman (no surprise there), as will Vic and screen daughter Maine. It’s ABS-CBN teleserye prince joining forces with GMA’s Eat Bulaga, so how can you lose? Action plus comedy, with romance thrown in, with the stars we love on TV. This will be either #1 or a close #2.
And then, the romantic comedies that couples flock to for date night.
3. Mary, Marry Me
Ten 17P, directed by RC Delos Reyes
It stars real life sisters Alex and Toni Gonzaga, with Sam Milby. Here, one sister is about to get married, and predictable but enjoyable complications will ensue. It’s rom-com, with the emphasis on com, given the gift of the Gonzaga sisters to play physical comedy.
4. One Great Love
Regal Films, directed by Enrico Quizon
This film stars Kim Chiu, Dennis Trillo and JC de Vera. It’s a love drama that basically asks can best friends be best lovers? Pinch of comedy with real life situations put up for our consideration, but definitely stronger on the romantic side with emo-moments a guarantee.
5. The Girl in the Orange Dress
Star Cinema, Quantum Films, MJM Productions, directed by Jay Abello
Stars Jessy Mendiola and Jericho Rosales. Jessy’s character experiences a night she can’t remember, but it involves an encounter with an artista played by Jericho. So it’s regular girl meets an actor, with all the possibilities that one can imagine from that scenario.
And then there are the horror films.
Viva Fims, directed by Yam Laranas
Stars Anne Curtis. Premise involves the wreck of a passenger liner off a remote island and salvaging the bodies, as they’re unsettled spirits seeking closure. This is being promoted as a high concept suspense film that elevates our notion of horror. How well they execute the special effects and jump scares will spell how this fares, and word of mouth will be important for this film.
Horshoe Studios, directed by Joven Tan
It stars Ricci Rivero and Buboy Villar, and it’s about one night in a haunted house as an initiation rite. Of course it’s multo spelled backwards and it’s suspense horror. This is the one out to capture the young audience; and like Aurora, it’ll be heavily dependent on word of mouth.
And last but not least, here’s the one that looks most likely to be the acting vehicle, and carry most of the festival’s acting awards.
8. Rainbow’s Sunset
Heaven's Best Entertainment, directed by Joel Lamangan
It’s a geriatric gay love story for the LGBTQ crowd, and everyone else looking for something heart-warming and dramatic. It stars Eddie Garcia, Tony Mabesa and Gloria Romero; and if last year’s Ang Larawan was the critic’s darling, expect this film to take that spot this year. Look to traditionally ladies’ man Eddie Garcia (who, has anyone noticed, seems to be the busiest actor this year) to take home the festival’s Best Actor trophy for this film outing.
See you at the Cinemas come MMFF time!
Lead photos screengrab from Aurora's official trailer