Now showing: ‘Asian Persuasion,’ ‘In His Mother’s Eyes,’ ‘GomBurZa’

Thanks to the impressive box office numbers, critical acclaim and word-of-mouth campaign for A Very Good Girl and Five Break Ups and A Romance, these two Filipino movies made Pinoy audiences step out of their homes and spend their hard-earned pesos on watching movies again in cinemas.

More quality Pinoy films are coming out or are already showing. Currently in cinemas are Jhett Tolentino’s Asian Persuasion and FM Reyes’s In His Mother’s Eyes. In competition in this year’s upcoming Metro Manila Film Festival is Pepe Diokno’s Gomburza, which had its premiere screening recently.  

Cinematic cotton candy

Tolentino’s Asian Persuasion is not the usual hard-up Pinoy in US making ends meet with multiple jobs story. There’s no “tago ng tago”, dying of homesickness and loneliness and other Pinoy and Asian character tropes. What is in Tolentino’s cinematic cotton candy are Asians of different nationalities who are successful and sophisticated, a congenial and sincere community of kababayan in New York City. 

The New York in Tolentino’s cinema debut is better lighted and photographed compared to Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex In The City/And Just Like That. And they’re set against postcard-perfect locations that are eye-catching and inviting.

It boasts perfect casting in KC Concepcion as Avery, a fashionista of note and a designer recently divorced from Micky (Dante Basco) who gets the surprise of her life when Wall Street hotshot Lee (Paolo Montalban) woos her.

KC’s Rubenesque figure adds to her allure and charisma, and her Avery is a true romantic who loves museum visits and movies of yore for dates.  Her chemistry with Basco is believable, but becomes electric with Montalban.

Asian Persuasion is not a pang-Oscar film, but it has a beauty and charm that brings a smile to your lips while pulling your heartstrings a little. It will make you believe that if you can make it in New York, you can truly make in anywhere.

As emotional as it gets

FM Reyes’s In His Mother’s Eyes is a true Pinoy melodramatic experience.

Its narrative of a mother leaving her special son in the care of an elder brother, resulting in her long absence and comeback to a now fully grown-up teen, along with the bottled-up feelings, the explosive confrontations and even bigger revelations, and the unconditional love and power of a mother, stings and hurts even as it also makes viewers laugh. Crying is not an option here, it will happen naturally.

The movie’s major aces are the emotional commitment and truth that Roderick Paulate, LA Santos and Maricel Soriano give their respective roles.

This trio con brio show that performances filled with sincerity and anchored on their character’s resolve, essence and being bring forth not just movie characters, but real people we get to understand, root for and love, flaws and all.

Power and precision

Pepe Diokno’s GomBurZa is a cinematic oeuvre that enthralls because of its fierce and honest depiction of a distant part of history, now resurrected with power and precision on screen. As the historical film reaches its climax, what is left in your heart is a heavy feeling, a questioning, a desire to do something noble, to fight for the truth and put an end to the reign of greed that has blighted this country from Rizal’s time to ours.

The narrative, written by Diokno and Rody Vera, pulsates with truth, made more riveting by the understated grace and authority of Dante Rivero as Father Mariano Gomez, the brilliance and gravitas of Cedric Juan as Padre Jose Burgos, and the flippancy and resolve of Enchong Dee as Padre Jacinto Zamora.

Worthy of mention is Piolo Pascual in a special role as the courageous and defiant Padre Pedro Pelaez. The court scene where he defends the secular priests against the frailes, speaking in (what sounded like) perfect Spanish, makes one want to shout: Bravo, bravo, Señor Pascual!

GomBurZa is a cinematic reminder of the lives sacrificed and the blood offered in our country’s struggle for freedom. It urges us to love the Motherland even more, in this most horrible and trying of times.