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The MMFF Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, 2017

'Even Tom Wolfe may have kept his head in the clouds contemplating the controversy that surrounded this year's MMFF. Thankfully, the films are just around the corner!'

Without even a single frame being shown, a million voices shared their opinions on the issues that dogged this year's MMFF. After the 'honeymoon' with the critics and cinephiles that was last year's 'indie' MMFF, it was time for a dose of 'Reality Bites' as the theater owners and big producers executed a neat stranglehold on the selection process - being assured of commercial prospects via the early announcement of the 'First Four' mainstream entries.

Then, when we had the full listing of the eight entries, we were left with the bitter taste of accusations of paying your way into the Festival, and a collective scratching of heads as to whether this is the ideal mix all sides have utilized as their rallying cry - while disagreeing with each other! Confused? That's okay, most everyone else is; but that can all be swept aside as the movies are finally on their way - and the Acid Test commences.

So from December 25th, the MMFF comes to town - the annual parade happening on the 23rd at Filinvest City, Muntinlupa. And from Romance to Drama to Comedy, to films with Fantasy, Horror, and Superhero elements, it looks like this year's roster aims to please. And if at times it seems like a number of the entries are 'related' to each other, let's just call that artistic coincidence. In no particular order:

Ang Panday (Star Cinema, CCM)  - fantasy superhero movie with Coco Martin directed by... Coco Martin! Yes, this is his directorial debut and so we don't really know what to expect beyond the Excalibur-like concept, and the cramming of most every Filipino folklore and supernatural figure into the storyline.

If it's MMFF time, can Vic Sotto and Vice Ganda be far behind? No!

Meant to Beh (OctoArts, M-Zet, APT) - directed by Chris Martinez, here are Vic and Dawn Zulueta reuniting for the first time since when they worked together on Okay Ka, Fairy Ko in 1995. A family comedy that should be a sure fire hit!

Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad (Star Cinema, Viva) - Action Comedy Superhero film, this is directed by Joyce Bernal, and stars Vice Ganda, Daniel Padilla and Pia Wurtzbach. Yup, Pia in her film debut.

Haunted Forest (Regal) - The genres being mixed here are Horror and Teen Romance, as the cast is led by Jon Lucas, Maris Rascal, James Blake and Jane Oineza. Expect the kids to make a mad scramble to watch this one!

All Of You (Quantum, MJM) - Banking on his success with English Only Please, director Dan Villegas is back with Derek Ramsey and Jennylynn Mercado as star-crossed lovers. Some scenes were shot in Taiwan, and expect this to be one of the date movies of the Festival.

Siargao (TEN17) - Paul Soriano directing his first Romance. The other date film, with a triangle that involves Jericho Rosales, Erich Gonzalez and Jasmine Curtis-Smith. Location is the 4th major star of this film, I would venture to guess.

And finally, the ones with some literary weight:

Deadma Walking (T-Rex) - From a Palanca-award winning screenplay comes this comedy about two gay best friends, and what transpires when one finds out he has only a year to live. Smart script and excellent performances & cameos.

Ang Larawan (Culturtain) - Based on the Nick Joaquin novel, this is a period musical film. It's 1940's Manila, and the plot line centers on the lives of two sisters coming to grips with their waning fortune.