At this point in time, most of us have gravitated towards watching movies online either through digital download or streaming sites. One of those streaming sites, Netflix, has a wide range of movies not only abroad, but locally as well.
There are dozens upon dozens of Filipino movies to choose from with more being added periodically on the immensely popular streaming site, Netflix. All these movies though might make it hard to choose what to watch first or some might fly under your radar. With that being said, here are 7 Filipino movies that you should give a try. These are movies from different genres that tackle a variety of topics that showcase a slice of what Philippine cinema has to offer.
Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap (2018)
From first time director Marius Talampas comes this eccentric comedy following three petty criminals, Eman (Pepe Herrera), Carlo (Jerald Napoles), and Toto (Jelson Bay) who fail at being good thieves. One day, they are joined by Nicoy (Paolo Contis) as a way to improve their skills and it seems to work at first. Later on, they get the opportunity to plan their first big heist, but the endeavor proves to be more difficult than expected. From start to finish, the film is a good time with jokes that land and multiple laugh-out-load moments. It also helps that the 3 lead actors have great comedic timing between one another. At times, the movie does take a turn for the bizarre, but the comedy is always there and done right. The interesting thing is that the movie somewhat resembles Guy Richie’s crime movies. His crime movies are known to feature a big cast and an over-the-top plot and Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap feels at times to be channeling those kinds of films through uniquely Pinoy lenses. Weird, dumb, and funny are just some ways to describe this movie and it makes for an entertaining experience.
This Mikhail Red directed film centers on Maya (Mary Joy Apostol), a young farm girl who accidentally shoots an endangered Philippine eagle. This accident causes the local police to investigate and track her down. What starts out as an investigation into a poacher leads 2 cops, Domingo and Mendoza (Arnold Reyes and John Arcilla respectively) to uncover violence and corruption within the system itself. Part police procedural, part coming-of-age drama–this film has a compelling story that features an impressive first feature length film performance from Mary Joy Apostol. The Philippines entry shortlisted for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Oscars, Birdshot handles its interesting subject matter well.
Buy Bust (2017)
The topic of drugs has been a hot topic in recent years and a few films have tackled that subject matter head one, but one of the more notable examples was Buy Bust, an action thriller from director Erik Matti. This film follows Nina Manigan (Anne Curtis), an anti-narcotics special operative and her squad as they try to take down a drug lord during a massive drug bust. When the operation goes south though, Nina
and her squad must make it to safety with a whole army of angry citizens between them and the exit. The film shines best in its action. It takes a while for it to get going, but when it does, it’s full steam ahead. The fight scenes are well choreographed and action-packed as the film goes all out with the violence. Think of the fight scenes of John Wick or The Raid, but set it in the narrow streets of Manila’s slums. The movie also manages to add some commentary on the war on drugs and the realities that face the issue of drugs in the Philippines. For those looking for a more thrilling experience, Buy Bust maybe that movie for you.
Hintayan ng Langit (2018)
The concept of Heaven and Purgatory get a unique spin in this romantic drama from Dan Villegas. Lisang (Gina Pareno) is an old woman that has been dead for two years, but she is stuck in “The Middle,” a purgatory-like facility where departed souls are kept until they are allowed entrance into Heaven. She has a reputation of causing trouble with the other souls but that changes though when she gets a new roommate, Manolo (Eddie Garcia), her ex-boyfriend. Now, the two of them must settle past differences before they get their call to heaven. As stated in the beginning, this film has an interesting take on purgatory and the way it’s done gives the movie a charming feeling. The facility is vintage inspired with the sets decorated with old and retro props such as a dinning room that looked ripped straight from the 1940s, old TVs from the 60s, and the abundant use of VCR tapes. Gina Pareno and Eddie Garcia absolutely carry this film with their magnetic on-screen chemistry. At times, they’re expressing their heartfelt emotions to one another, others telling a snarky remark or a joke. They feel very natural together which makes their struggles feel believable. The movie is also effective in the way it expresses its main theme of how regret, lose, and letting go affect the human soul. Lisang and Manolo have baggage they need to address in order for them to move on, both literally and figuratively. This charming and heartwarming movie makes for a good viewing option. (If movies about old people are your thing, try watching Lola Igna after this, a movie centered on a grumpy woman who has the chance to claim the title of oldest living grandmother in the world).
Never Not Love You (2018)
Antoinette Jadaone has always been great at making films that grounds the often-discussed topic of young love. With Never Not Love You, the young love sub-genre is given a realistic take with its story of 2 young lovers whose love for each other clash with their dreams and desires. Joanne (Nadine Lustre), a young and ambitious employee under a marketing department, and Gio (James Reid) a freelance graphic designer and tattoo enthusiast, decide to build their lives together. When a career opportunity takes Gio to London, their once impervious love starts to fracture as they struggle to realize what truly makes them happy. Nadine and James have great chemistry together and their relationship feels real. As the film progresses, you get to see their evolution from young professionals to matured adults in both the way they speak and dress. The struggles of being with your love and doing what you love are on full display here. Never Not Love You is no fluff movie you normally see, but a personal tale of young people struggling to manage their ambitions for their careers and building a lasting relationship. (If heartfelt tales of love are your thing, try watching Through Night and Day after this with its story of a couple whose relationship is put to the test when they go on a trip to Iceland)
Pamilya Ordinaryo (2016)
Losing a close loved one is never easy and that is a topic Pamilya Ordinaryo tackles in a gut-wrenching manner. Based on a true story, Jane (Hasmine Kilip) and Aries (Ronwaldo Martin) are a poor teenage couple living on the streets of Manila with their baby Arjan. They barely make by as pickpockets when one day, their baby gets stolen. Now, the 2 of them must go on a wild goose chase around the city to find their missing child. While you may not agree with the lifestyle of the main protagonists, its hard to not sympathize with their plight as their search for baby Arjan brings them to some dark places in Manila. This isn’t a feel-good movie but a drama of how far a family, regardless of their standing in
society, will go to find their baby. A compelling story, great acting, and a surprisingly thrilling finale make this award-winning film a must watch.
Thrillers are a dime a dozen in Filipino movies so when one does pop up, it’s interesting to see what they have to offer. UnTrue may have been one of the less talked about movies of 2019, but it deserves a look. Set in Georgia (the country, not the US state), Mara (Christine Reyes) and Joachim (Xian Lim) have a chance encounter on the streets which soon leads them to forming a volatile relationship. As time goes on though, their past comes back to haunt them as their perception of one another starts to shatter. As a bruised and beaten Mara asks the police for help against Joachim, it’s a he-said-she-said story of lies and deception. The movie is mainly told through the viewpoints of the 2 main characters and they have a different approach to the situation, so you wonder who is telling the truth and who is lying. The movie manages to keep you engaged as each revelation further deepens the mystery of Mara and Joachim. The film’s use of monotone colors gives it a dreary feeling with the use of red occasionally adding sharp contrast in some scenes. It’s one of the more serious options out there with its take on mature and explicit themes. This dark tale of love, sex, and deception is a good choice for those looking for a more suspenseful option.