Monday, August 4, 2008

Murder By Cuteness

Allergy is the word that pops in my mind every time someone mentions anything cutey-pahootey. So when I read Ian's review of Star Cinema's major production titled A Very Special Love, blisters and rashes started to sprout in my neck.

However I am the kind of Grinch that refuses to be one-upped so I took the bait and decided to watch the flick.

Listen. I am as shocked as you are. Cuteness overload isn't my idea of a Masochist's Sunday. (Dropping hollow blocks on my own foot would have been more fun.) This is compounded by the fact that this is a local movie and we all know homemade flicks are a ticket to mush/cheesepit where any given moment the cast will burst into a song and dance number. Or a kidnapping.

I had a plan: Here is my chance to gloat over Ian and Xienah. Ian, because he did that glowing review. Xienah, because, for some insane, incompressible reason, has this delirious girly crush on John Lloyd Cruz. Whatever she inhaled I'm not having some.

I dashed to the nearby Galleria and with a straight face gingerly whispered to the leery ticket booth clerk that, yes, I am buying a ticket to A Very Special Love. I feared she'd burst into maniacal laughter and slide off her seat in convulsions. My paranoia is heightened by the psychotic fear that anyone I might know will show up behind, armed with a digital camera and nursing blackmail in his heart. If that happened I won't live to hear the end of the tauntings and sniggery jokes. None of such misfortune transpired so I sneaked in the theater, avoiding faces as if I'm about to screen the updated version of Debbie Does Dallas.

Determined to shred the movie and lord over Ian and Xienah with smug satisfaction of having poked fun at its stars I planted my butt somewhere in the middle. Somewhere darker, to avoid being recognized.

Then the movie gut-punched me.

All the nasty lines I was crafting in my head for this blog melted along the breezy cadence of the movie. I was giggling like a fucking schoolgirl. I kicked myself three times in the dark to slap some Grinchness back to no avail. So excuse the drippy moment. Regular Grinch programming will resume as soon as I wipe the mocking grin off the face of Ian. And Xienah, if she starts making a jab at me.

A Very Special Love is not special if you take the plot. It's a formulaic mash with traces of Ugly Betty, Two Weeks Notice meeting The Devil Wears Prada. But it's a very good mash and at risk of being discovered and mocked by real life colleagues, I will dare say it's well-crafted mash: it is romantic, comedic, dramatic without murdering the audience with cuteness overkill. It has many swoon worthy moments without inundating with cloying drivels. Even clichés are given sincere treatments and you believe it without cringing. It is a compact, well developed flick and it's refreshing to note that there seems to be no superfluous or unnecessary scenes. Pruning the excess, it lets the characters shine with less to close to nil goofy gimmicks, which is a welcome treat.

A dopey premise like A Very Special Love in capable hands can come off surprisingly good and the movie is hell-bent to redeem itself with spectacular acting from the lead characters. And I am saying this with cautious conviction because I cannot stand the cute antics of John Lloyd Cruz outside this movie nor can I endure the chorus lines of Sarah Geronimo's ballads. So imagine my dazed experience when these two yanked the carpet off my cynical feet. Maybe it's too soon to say but Cruz and Geronimo are credible talents in search of great materials and roles to inhabit. Here they are palpable, real and - I'll go out on a limb here - radiant.

Cruz essays the tempestuous Magazine Publisher who is unshakably desperate to prove his worth to his clan. He storms with imperturbable ability and evil glee. He is Anna Wintour minus the tits but on perpetual PMS. At one point I was half-expecting for a dream sequence where it is finally revealed why he is such a crabby grouch: aliens have abducted him and forgot to remove his anal probe, ergo justifying his being a tyrannical sourpuss. The real reason of course is that he is an illegitimate child and is under tremendous pressure in buying the respect and acceptance of his father and half siblings. For a moment I was afraid that all his menacing fury is due to the fact that he is made to wear leather shoes sans the socks.

I can't stand too much perkiness but Geronimo dared not become Mary Poppins on steroids. Her cheerfulness is calculated, giving a billowy command on the role and the lines she's tossing. Lesser talents might have converted her role into a talking cheesecake but Geronimo dazzles even in her clichéd lines and syrupy moments. She's equally as surprising as Cruz performance-wise. Together they can make a toothache bearable and cheesy plots decent and enjoyable. (She fixes him coffee with Post-It notes containing smiley faces stuck to the mug, he retaliates fixing her coffee with a flower stuck to the mug. Under different circumstances I'd launch into projectile barfing. Instead, I giggled like I am yet to hit my first menstrual moment. Ugh.)

Maybe the Powers That Be of Star Cinema should pay heed to these two and shower them with more abundant opportunities than pumping the attention to the Sam Milby and Whatsherface tandem.

Everyone in the cast delivered. Zingers are tossed with aplomb and touchy moments are lent with such humanity that you can't contain a burst of recognition.

Aside from competent acting, well-assembled cast and a very crisp, well-paced script my biggest pleasure is the art direction. Mother Lily (aka King Midas In Reverse. “Everything she touches turns to shit.”) pay attention: This is why the movie is a visual experience! Make it look good as the case here in A Very Special Love. It appeared like no expense is spared on the set, designs, styling and locations and it pays off handsomely.

The sets are well-lighted, apt and tastefully put together. This is the first local movie I have seen in ages that looked sleek, modern, clean. Mid century classic chairs and lamps, check. (I let out a weak whistle when I saw John Lloyd's half brother's desk lamp, because I own the exact same thing plus the floor lamp version of the same design. Artemide would be proud.) Elegant and streamlined interiors, check. Fashionable wardrobes, check. (Kudos to the stylists for making the cast look so chic. Even the locations are bursting with cool factor.)

So there I was enjoying the hell out of the movie, leaving the theater with newfound respect for Cruz and Geronimo.

And yes, Ian and Xienah. Wipe out those mocking wacky smiles off your faces.

Before I do it for you.

With a mallet.


ian said...

I feel like singing whilst JLC (John Lloyd Cruz) and JLC (Jolly Loud Cloud) do the sun dance! =]

I never believed in love
I was deceived by love
I never had much luck with lovers before
And I couldn't compete
I seemed just part of the street
To be walked on by everyone but then
Then I found a very special love in you
It's a feeling that's so totally new
Over and over, it's burning inside
I found a very special love in you
And it almost breaks me in two
Squeezing me tighter
But I'm never gonna let go
You're not like the rest
I know you're one of the best
You give more than you should and take nothing in return (in return)
Stay always with me
And I always will be
The one person that you can count on always to love you
And I found a very special love in you
It's a feeling that's so totally new
Over and over, it's burning inside
I found a very special love in you
And it almost breaks me in two
Squeezing me tighter
But I'm never gonna let go
But I...
Found a very special love in you
It's a feeling that's so totally new
Over and over, it's burning inside
I found a very special love in you
And it almost breaks me in two
Squeezing me tighter
But I'm never gonna let go

(repeat and fade out or pass out)

loudcloud said...

ian! bwahahahahahah go away! thanks for bullying me into watching the movie.

another friend dared me to watch the KC-richard flick and that one gives me the creeps.

let's see.


Anonymous said...

kinilig ka?
talandi ka talaga.

alam mo
ikaw nga naalala ko nun e--
kay miggy
kasi feeling ko
ganun mo itrato
mga tao mo.

di naman ako kinilig
or kinilig ako
pero di ko lang matandaan
dalawang beses ko pinanood
kasi di ko nasimulan
yung movie
at sa parehong eksena
lang ako naiyak--
sa last part
eksena ni laida nung
nasa kwarto at kakain ng agahan
kasama pamilya niya
wala lang
di naman drama yung eksena
pero naiyak ako e
ewan ko

ang cute ni jlc
nung nagsun dance siya
wala lang ulit.

napansin mo rin pala
na walang socks
si jlc ano?
at mabuti na lang
hindi siya nagplug
ng biogesic
tulad sa last movie niya


mister said...

OMG! Who are you and where have you taken the real loud cloud?! Ungag and release him at once before i alert the authorities! Misterhubs

loudcloud said...


"alam mo
ikaw nga naalala ko nun e--
kay miggy
kasi feeling ko
ganun mo itrato
mga tao mo.

hindi ko na nga inamin dito sa blogpost, tama ba naman ibulgar ako. hahaha.

the sundance bit was a riot! LOLz

loudcloud said...

misterhubs - don't worry we will release LoudCloud real soon. This is going to happen when the Richard-KC vehicle hits the theaters! mwahahaahahaha.