House of Gucci

Note: It May contain spoilers.

Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci” is said to be based on true events about the murder of Maurizio Gucci, heir to the Gucci fashion empire. I’ve read Sarah Gay Forden’s “House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed”— the book is of course much better in terms of historical facts.

The film’s story has many discrepancies with the actual events that took place. The trouble with making movies based on true-to-life stories is when artistic or creative freedom takes precedence over real-life events. The House of Gucci offers a powerhouse cast with the very talented Lady Gaga on the title role. Her fans are saying that she’s on her way to her second Academy Award. She gave her heart and soul to her role but I feel that the story itself limited her to give more. On the other hand, Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci allowed us to see his character development from a shy law student to a cold-hearted business owner. Adam Driver and Lady Gaga have strong on-screen chemistry; you would want them to live a happy life until the end.


In real life, one of Paolo Gucci’s daughters was disappointed about how Jared Leto portrayed his father as unkempt and incompetent. Jared Leto stole the scene as the least appreciated Gucci who wanted to prove that he could contribute to the brand. Al Pacino as Aldo Gucci had a sympathetic character, I felt bad when he and Paolo walked out of the meeting in rage. As Rodolfo Gucci, Jeremy Irons let us feel his pain as a disappointed father. Salma Hayek played the role of Patrizia’s psychic friend Pina. Though she’s good in the movie, her role could have been given to a lesser star. In reality, Salma Hayek’s husband is now the owner of Gucci!
If you are not familiar with the book or Maurizio’s murder story, you would be confused by the turn of events in the movie. The first thirty minutes showed the passionate love affair of Patrizia and Maurizio while the remaining part of the movie showed the manipulative side of Patrizia. The film failed to focus on the breaking point on WHY Patrizia had to get rid of Maurizio. If you don’t know the story, you would assume that she was just jealous of the new girlfriend named Paola Franchi.


The last part of the movie after Maurizio’s murder showed the arrest of Patrizia, Pina, the gunman, and the driver of the getaway car. Assuming that we do not know the real story yet, maybe the film wanted to point out that the investigation of Maurizio’s murder case took two years because there were other suspects like Paolo and Aldo.

Commercially, I think that this movie deserves a 3.5/5. But who needs ratings by the way if you’re a fan of Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, right?

Death of a Girlfriend

Note: This may contain spoilers.

Cast:

AJ Raval- Christine

Diego Loyzaga- Alonzo, Cristine’s boyfriend

Arnold Reyes- as the forest ranger

Raul Morit- as the farmer

Soliman Cruz- as the interrogator (voice only)

“Death of a Girlfriend,” tells the story of a high school student named Cristine who was found raped and murdered in the secluded part of the forest. The interrogator summoned the last persons that were believed to have seen Cristine on her way to school.

The first one was Alonzo, her secret boyfriend, and schoolmate, who told the investigator that he believed that the forest ranger was the one responsible for her rape and murder. From the start, Alonzo and the forest ranger appeared to despise each other because of their mutual admiration for Cristine.

The forest ranger and the farmer were already wearing the orange jail uniform so we could assume that they were already the prime suspects in the heinous crime. The two kept on pinning one another because of an obvious personal and professional grudge. Just like Alonzo’s story, the farmer believed that the forest ranger was the one who raped and murdered Cristine. The forest ranger’s alibi was he could never do that because he was a family friend of Cristine. He insisted that it was the farmer who had perverted thoughts about Cristine.

Cristine was an easy target because of her carefree attitude. I think that because she grew up in the area, she trusted the people around her. Instead of waiting for her school bus, she preferred to take the isolated shortcut on her way to school. She was a loner and a secretive girl who had her share of her youthful mischief by smoking which is against her family’s rule. Had she been more open about her day-to-day activities with her mother, maybe she could have told her about the guy who kept on following her to school. But yes, telling more stories might give her mother an idea that there was a time when she became curious and tried drugs with her boyfriend.

I hated that part when Cristine was raped and murdered. Why would her admirer rape and kill her when she offered her friendship to him? The answer is because not everyone thinks like we are. What is harmless to us could be a ticking bomb to another especially if the person is obsessed or a psychopath.

The supporting actors Raul and Arnold are good in this movie and they give a convincing portrayal of their roles. Diego is also good and comfortable in his role, I feel like watching a young Cesar Montano as he is a spitting image of his father. Of course, the talk of the town is AJ Raval, a newcomer and one of the daughters of Jeric Raval. While Cristine’s role calls for someone who is guarded and aloof, AJ somehow overdid it thus appearing uncomfortable and conscious in some scenes. AJ has a strong screen presence and she appears to have a natural talent for acting. She needs to improve her line delivery and attend speech workshops.

Her controversial breast exposure was done in good taste. (Looks like she was wearing body stockings and fake nipples, though).

You can watch the movie on web.vivamax.net.

PS: Please share this article if you find it interesting. Let us continue to support our local cinema! Thank you.

Pieta- Ace Vergel Movie

Note: It may contain spoilers.

Here’s another 80s movie that I watched; it starred Charito Solis as Amanda, Ace Vergel as Rigor, and Vivian Velez as Marta in the lead roles. The great painter and sculptor Michaelangelo did the painting and sculpture version of it. Pieta means “pity” and it shows Jesus on Mary’s lap right after the crucifixion. Therefore, the movie’s theme is about the compassion and love of a mother to her son but the son here is the exact opposite of Jesus because Rigor is the kind of son any parent would not dream to have.


Amanda raised Rigor singlehandedly along with her adopted daughter Marta. Growing up, Rigor was always involved in making troubles and was disrespectful of Amanda. He called Amanda just by her name and grew up to have the reputation of being the most feared person in their area. Fidel, Amanda’s admirer, tried to be a father figure to him but he let him feel that other men were not welcome in their house because he was supposed to be the only man in the house. This changed when Marta’s ex-convict father Rubio came to his rescue and as a form of gratitude, he let him stay with them.


Instead of bringing peace into the house, Rubio introduced Rigor to the underworld. The big boss Jack was hesitant but accepted him because he was Rubio’s recruit. So, I guess that Rubio was a valuable member of the group to be given that consideration. Jack tested Rigor’s capability in the hope that he would lose to his henchman but Rigor won the fight and earned his place in the group. Instead of being grateful, he bedded Jack’s mistress in the master’s bedroom while the latter was sleeping soundly.
Some criminals change but in Rubio’s case, the evil in him was deeply rooted and could not be softened by the years he spent in prison. He raped Amanda and this angered Rigor not because he cared for her but because he stepped on his male ego being the man of the house. In retribution, he raped Marta and even announced it to his neighbors. Like, how could he rape someone he grew up with? When Rubio learned about Marta’s rape, he was naturally triggered as a father. He and his henchmen attacked Rigor but they were all defeated and killed. Fidel was one of the casualties when he tried to stop Rubio from harming Rigor.


Amanda and Marta’s life should have been okay when Rigor was sent to prison but the problem did not stop there. Marta was pregnant and was initially thinking of aborting the baby. Amanda scolded her and made her realize that the baby had nothing to do with the problem. So, Marta went on with her pregnancy and Amanda informed Rigor about it.
While in prison, he met the henchmen of Don Jose, the lord of the underworld. The group helped him escape the prison and brought him to Don Jose. In a twist of fate, Don Jose was his biological father and he was overwhelmed by the money and power that he had. Ironically, he was soft on his father and did not criticize him for leaving them. He was bent on taking his son from Marta to groom him to be his future successor. Marta went to the province to hide the baby but was unfortunately traced by Rigor when Amanda visited her. A chase scene in the woods followed with Rigor threatening to kill Marta if she would not give the baby to him. When he realized that the police were after him, he made Marta and the baby a human shield. Now in despair and nowhere to go, he appeared to be planning to harm the baby but was interrupted by a sniper’s shot. The baby, Marta, and Amanda were safe; Rigor was in the blink of death. Amanda let the dying Rigor rest on her lap. She loved her son so much and had that brief tender moment with him. He uttered the word “Nanay” and then passed away. It was the first and last time that he acknowledged her as his mother.


Ace Vergel was the original Bad Boy of Philippine cinema. You would surely hate him in this movie especially if you were raised by a single mother who moved heaven and earth just to give you a good life. I don’t see any logical reason why Rigor would hate his mother and grew up notorious except the Nature versus Nurture explanation. He got his bad genes from his father and no amount of good nurturing could change that. Speaking of Ace, he was the son of Alicia Vergel and Cesar Ramirez. He was the brother of Beverly Vergel. He had a son named King with his ex-wife Maya dela Cuesta. He passed away at the age of 53 in 2007.


Charito Solis was famous for her Ina Magenta role in Okay Ka, Fairy Ko. But before that, she was a sought-after LVN actress and later on, a respected drama actress. She died at the age of 62 in 1998.


Vivian Velez is still active behind the scenes as the director-general of the Film Academy of the Philippines.


By the way, this film was made into a teleserye in 2008. It starred Ryan Agoncillo as Rigor and Cherie Gil as Amanda. They changed Marta’s story on the TV adaptation from being Rigor’s adopted sister to being his love interest.

Ang Babaeng Hinugot Sa Aking Tadyang-1983 Movie

Note: It may contain spoilers.

I love to watch old movies because it allows me to get a glimpse of how places and fashion look like in earlier years. This time, I chanced upon a 1983 movie “Ang Babaeng Hinugot Sa Aking Tadyang” with Vivian Velez and Eddie Rodriguez on the lead roles. If the title rings a bell to you, it’s because it was made into a teleserye in 2009 by Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes. Vivian Velez caused a stir when she commented that she was disappointed about how Marian portrayed the role of Proserphina. Who is Proserphina and why would Vivian disagree with how Marian portrayed it?


Proserphina (Vivian Velez) is not your usual dreamgirl because inside her beautiful exterior is a woman with a complex character. When an old bachelor and successful businessman named Homer (Eddie Rodriguez) wakes up and finds her sleeping beside him, he is caught off-guard and clueless about the tragedy that will befall soon. Instead of calling the cops or even his maids for help, he allows her to get more sleep and gives her food when she wakes up. He, being the master of the house, an alpha-male, and Adam of his paradise, is obviously intrigued by his unwelcomed guest. Things go a little faster when she seduces him and they end up making love. Priscilla, his loyal assistant, is puzzled why Homer is late so she calls him up and is devastated to know that he is in bed with another woman. His excitement is short-lived because Proserphina leaves him without saying good-bye.
Soon we see men dying in Proserphina’s hands; one is even Homer’s acquaintance while the other one is a random college boy that she met on the road. Homer knows that Proserphina is the culprit but keeps mum about it. One day, Proserphina asks him to hide her from the people that keep coming for her. He keeps her in a beach resort and learns a little information about her family. While he is away, the gang takes Proserphina and he assumes that she simply leaves him again.


In Proserphina’s absence, he comes to appreciate his loyal assistant and makes love with her. Later, he finds out that the extortionists that come to his office are the same gang that is holding Proserphina. He is given 3 days to give them the money or they will kill Proserphina. Before Homer can do anything to save her, she gets the chance to kill them and goes to Homer’s place. Her body is having withdrawal effects from the drugs that the gang injected on her so she begs Homer to give her drugs to stop the symptoms. Homer tells her that her mother is waiting for her to go to her father’s wake. He also offers her medical help but she runs away again.


In the streets, her mental health starts to deteriorate badly. She has flashback memories about her childhood, her parents’ excessive love for her, and how she grieves to the suicide of her first love. She spites her family by bringing home Rado, the leader of the extortion group. The final scene shows Homer asking Priscilla for a date but is torn again when Proserphina shows up. The policemen ask Homer not to meddle with the law because she is a dangerous woman. In despair and nowhere to go, Proserphina chooses to die by jumping to the building.


The movie title seems out of place with the story but you will understand it more if you listen to Anthony Castelo’s song about a man who accepts that the woman he loves is not only his equal but there are times when she is smarter than him. Homer is a highly accomplished businessman but gets illogical when it comes to Proserphina. The movie tells us that there are many kinds of love in this world and too much of it is not healthy.


Proserphina’s parents’ obsessive love for her did not allow her to grow up normally. Her father is particularly very strict on her especially when she had her first boyfriend. Rado’s love for easy money and terrorism result in innocent casualties. Priscilla’s love for Homer is unrequited. Homer’s love for Proserphina is unconditional. I guess this is the reason why Proserphina spared Homer’s life because all her other men’s love is superficial. With Homer, she finds home.


Vivian Velez was really the Ms. Body Beautiful of her time. Her strong screen presence is enough to keep the audience interested in the movie. Vivian’s Proserphina was femme fatale and antagonistic while Marian’s version was sympathetic and protagonistic. Of course, there should be no comparison because the movie version had the dark love story concept while the teleserye version was more on a drama-love story.

SARS Movie: The Homecoming

This 2003 movie is very timely today because of the NCOV scare. The Homecoming is the story of an OFW who comes home from Toronto, Canada to prepare for her wedding. Initially unknown to her, she becomes the virus carrier that costs her youngest brother’s life and the persecution of the townpeople.

It happens everywhere; people associate themselves with people who have money, fame, connection and fortune. In Abigail Edades’ case, she is regarded as San Isidro’s benchmark when it comes to improving one’s quality of life. A caregiver in Toronto, Canada, she becomes the family’s breadwinner for five years but nothing much has changed in terms of her family’s life when she comes back home for her wedding. Her mother is always grumpy and complaining about money, her father has a new family, her younger brother is into drugs. But anyway, she seems to be the town’s idol and they only have good words about her— the teacher who influences her students to go abroad just like Abby, her mothers’ friends who dine with them for her homecoming, her future mother-in-law who looks excited about going to Canada and her seemingly timid fiance who looks nervous all the time.

Disaster strikes and she is positive with SARS, her fiance leaves her and her youngest brother dies. Abby mourns alone in the quarantine section of the San Lazaro Hospital. She learns about Noel’s demise while watching the television. Back at home, her mother and younger brother face further discrimination when San Isidro is put into quarantine. Her father’s live in partner leaves him. Her happy homecoming turns into a nightmare.

While slowly accepting what happens to her and her family, she comes to understand the importance of quarantine and feels sympathetic about the situation of the doctors and nurses in San Lazaro. After her quarantine period, she tries to rebuild her life but her employer does not want her to return after learning about her confinement.

The good outcome is the realization that above anything else, it is one’s family that is the most important thing a person can ever have. Her parents reconcile, her younger brother quits drugs, she faces her ex-fiance and tells him that she doesn’t want him anymore.

Alessandra de Rossi is undoubtedly the indie film princess. You will fall in love with her character the moment she internalizes her role. But The Homecoming also has Elizabeth Oropesa and Bembol Rocco who shine in their respective scenes. My most favorite scene is the church scene wherein husband and wife finally reconcile. The emotion is just too much! Lester Llansang and Brian Homecillo are also effective and I wonder why they are not actively acting anymore.