ONE MORE TRY

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ANGEL Locsin in “One More Try”

SCENE from “El Presidente”

This early, movie people are already vetting—and betting—on which film will romp off with the Metro Manila Film Festival’s coveted “top grossers” award. Past experience points to “Si Agimat, Si Enteng Kabisote at Si Ako” as a front runner, because it stars two “solo” hitmakers, Vic Sotto and Bong Revilla—plus Judy Ann Santos.

But, hold your horses, “Sisteraka” has its cadre of boosters, who point out that its own three stars, Vice Ganda, Kris Aquino and Ai Ai de las Alas, have had blockbuster hits and even record-setters and -breakers before. Will it be a fight to the finish for the two hotly touted front runners?

For our part, we’re more interested in qualitative factors, so of course the Nora Aunor starrer, “Thy Womb,” directed by Brillante Mendoza, stands out.

To complicate things, however, a period production, “El Presidente,” also aims to be an exceptional film—and it also stars Nora, albeit in a less extended participation.

JULIA Montes and Enchong Dee in “The Strangers”

Will it be Nora competing against herself for the festival’s Best Actress plum? Now, that would be a really unusual turn of events for the screen icon who, only a couple of seasons ago, was sniffily dismissed as a hopeless has-been by some people allegedly in the know!

There may be a recondite gem or two among the other entries, but they have yet to make their positive prospects felt. “Shake, Rattle and Roll” is already on its 14th incarnation or concatenation, so it’s hard to get hyped up over it.

But, it is directed by Chito Roño, and he could still pull off a thrilling surprise in one of the anthology chiller’s stories.

Similarly, “The Stranger” (with Cherry Pie Picache, Enchong Dee and Julia Montes) is initially unexceptional—but, it’s megged by Lawrence Fajardo, whose short film some years ago was a visual and visceral stunner. So, we’re eager to see what he’s conjured up this time.

Dingdong Dantes’ starrer, “One More Try,” casts him with a different set of costars (Angel Locsin, Zanjoe Marudo, Angelica Panganiban), so the project feels “fresher” than usual for him.

Let’s hope this movie helps Dantes open up new horizons and reveal aspects to his performing persona other than those that his fans have already “memorized.”

ANGEL Locsin in “One More Try”

What about “Sosy Problems”? Its stars (Aljur Abrenica, Solenn Heusaff, Rhian Ramos et al.) are of the “sexy eye candy” type, so you sort of know that they’re mostly focused on fun and games, not on significance. But hey, if they get things right, that could be a good thing, too, right?

All told and considered, therefore, this year’s MMFF entries feel like a generally proficient lot. Of course, some harrowing humdingers could be hidden in the bushes, biding their time to assault the festival audience with their stunning mediocrity or out-and-out yuckiness.

But, they have yet to manifest themselves, so we should give the festival a fair shake by expecting to enjoy the most of its offerings—until confounded otherwise. Fair enough!

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