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niso2020

Germany

niso2020

Germany
Completed
Country Boy
18 people found this review helpful
Jun 22, 2021
2 of 2 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.5
This review may contain spoilers

No BL, but a true gem

The last six months have seen some remarkable BL-highlights, like 'A tale of 1000 stars' or 'I told sunset about you', where a lot of money was spent to create beautiful series. Wayufilm once again proves that it's possible to compensate the lack of a huge budget and lucrative sponsorship with creativity, dedication, and a cast of highly talented and overwhelmingly cute actors. And – to make this clear from the start – although this is not BL, it is a true gem that BL fans will love, I promise.

The plot is simple on the surface: A student from Bangkok visits Chiang Mai to experience life in the countryside and therefore travels with three Chiang Mai friends to a remote rural 'hotel'. This simple plot is, however, used to address some of the problems Thailand (like many developing countries) is facing, not by making the actors elaborate at length on migration from land to cities, left-behind marginal rural areas, unequal distribution of wealth etc, but by seemingly incidentally displaying their consequences in the daily lives of the people.

Let me give two examples. When the country boy's mother tells her son she's afraid she will be left behind alone some day, after her daughter has already escaped to the city with a guest, we see like in a magnifying glass what internal migration means for the countryside. When a debt collector of a money shark threatens Kep his boss will take the 'homestay' away from the family who have run out of money due to the covid crisis, this little scene en passant makes it obvious that the pandemic hits poor people the hardest and makes the rich even richer.

Now this may sound as if 'Country Boy' was a depressing account of poor people's problems, but it is exactly the opposite, thanks to the carefully constructed storyline, which contrasts the big problems with little pleasures on the personal level. In part 2, the film offers a solution to overcome the divide between prospering cities and left behind countryside: the visitors decide to help Kep and his mother improve their 'hotel' and attract more paying guests, and donate their money so that the outstanding debt can be paid. It is a small example of how the problems of marginalized regions can be solved: by the transfer of money and skills, on a much larger scale, of course, supported by many more good-willed people like these four boys, and local people ready to adapt to the changes.

So we have to talk about the characters. Kep is the country boy who succeeds in smiling away all the obstacles of the hard life in the country. However, he isn't the one-dimensional naive optimist, he has his moments of fear and frustration, too, but he always finds the beauty in the little things of life. As his guests expect 'activities', and there are none, he invents some over night: watering the plants, for example, which seems weird to the visitors at first, but then they love it.

The Bangkok student and the three Chiang Mai boys, on the other hand, at first only see the quaint, romantic side of country life, but soon realize that things are not so romantic when you have to face the naked truth behind the pictoresque scenery. They do appreciate the clean air, the beautiful landscape, and the rural life, but they are soon confronted with the basic problem of poverty. Unlike many well-off city people, they don't close their eyes, but do the best they can to help their new friend Kep. At the same time, they learn that the local food that looks like 'dog's puke' to them, tastes wonderful.

Now you may ask, 'where is the BL-factor' in this? Well, there actually isn't much, no kissing, no sex like in previous OakMon movies, just a few secret glances in episode 1, and two hugging scenes in the final part. That may be disappointing to some viewers who have expected more, but honestly, more wouldn't have fit the characters of Kep and Nabdao. Not so soon. But maybe in a sequel? Somehow it feels like Nabdao and Kep will meet again.

Which takes us to the actors, and they are just brilliant. Oak has proven he is able to give depth to his roles at the age of 16 already (if you haven't seen 'Key Love' or 'Night Time', you should watch them, too). The way he expresses joy, fear, surprise, shyness, and love proves he is a natural. With Mon he has a congenital partner which makes these two young actors an iconic couple already (even if they don't become a couple in this movie), and all that without the fan service from a big production company.

But this movie doesn't only rely on the talent and chemistry of the two leads. The supporting actors are all very good. What makes the performance of these five young men so outstanding is their natural way of depicting their roles. In many scenes it feels like the camera is only there to accompany a group of boys for two days, so you get the impression they aren't acting at all.

In some of the big Bangkok productions the main criteria to put together the cast of a series is the cuteness factor; talent and acting skills come second and sometimes are lacking completely. In this movie we have one of the rare cases where all the actors are extremely cute, each in his own way (don't tell me Oak isn't cute. Gosh, this smile, and these eyebrows!), and they are talented and skilled at the same time.

The settings are also carefully chosen. When at the beginning the Chiang Mai boys proudly take their Bangkok visitor to the most popular coffee bar, he's bored because he knows all the coffee bars in Bangkok, and coffee bars aren't the reason for him to visit the North of Thailand (which reminds me, a country boy myself, of proudly inviting my city-friend to our newly opened pizzeria, and he was complaining pizzas are much better in the city. He rather wanted me to take him to the forest which I find boring because it's just full of trees and nothing else. Well, the other man's grass...).

Kep's Homestay feels like a haunted house, opening the opportunity to show that boys from the city are more frightened of ghosts than the country boy who finds it completely normal his late grandmother's spirit still inhabits the room he rents out to the visitors. I had to smile when he apologized to her she will have to spend the next few days in his mother's room. The environment of Kep's 'hotel' is used to show the rural people's love of nature, e.g. when Kep teaches his visitors to water the plants, which for him is an act of pleasure and respect.

The cinematography of this movie (I won't call it a series, it's more a movie released in two parts) is an improvement compared with previous Wayufilm productions. This isn't meant to say the older ones weren't good, but the surroundings of Kep's Homestay allow more attractive shots than a classroom, a small flat, or a dirty alley like in previous productions. It doesn't reach the quality of series like '1000 Stars', but it's still good.

Finally, I must mention the soundtrack. The song performed by Mon and Oak is so beautiful it makes me smile every time I hear it, just like the movie makes me smile every time I watch it. I rarely re-watch series or movies, but I have already re-watched the first part three times.

To sum it up, this movie is a true gem, and a real highlight of 2021, maybe not as BL as you would have wanted, but Oak's smile and the natural acting of all the boys easily make up for that. If you're in a sad mood, watch it (again), and I'm sure you'll feel better. If you're in a good mood, still watch it (again), because you'll have one more reason to feel good.

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Completed
Serpiente
2 people found this review helpful
Jun 23, 2021
10 of 4 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 3.0
Story 4.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 4.0
Rewatch Value 1.0
This review may contain spoilers

What a mess

Star Image did it again! Announced 8 episodes, started promising, finished it after 4 (or rather 3 and a quarter).

I usually don't write negative reviews, but this time it has to be, because I was looking forward to Kaleb displaying new facettes of his talent. Unfortunately, I was deeply disappointed (which isn't Kaleb's fault!). I will keep it short, though.

Basic idea: not bad. A story of some boys getting lost in the jungle of the city, unpolished, realistic.

Script: None. Just a sequence of scenes about boys getting drunk and fucking around.

Director: Probably just told the actors, 'Boys, get drunk and fuck around'.

Cinematography: Remained in the dark.

Actors: That's the tragedy about this 'series'. Despite everything said above, they are talented and cute, with Kaleb outstanding of course.

What to do? Well, maybe another production company should produce a remake of the basic idea, hiring the same actors, but a different, that is to say, a proper, screenwriter and director, and this may be a thrilling series.

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Completed
Hometown's Embrace
9 people found this review helpful
Aug 6, 2021
8 of 8 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
This review may contain spoilers

Good intention

Before I start nagging about the many flaws of this series, let me say I liked it, for more than one reason. I'll keep this short, because I think everybody have to make up their mind about the show themselves. I only want to give you some clues.

The message
This series, unlike most other Thai BL-series, addresses the social and political situation in the country, like corruption, killings of non-corrupt politicians, or the threat of gang crime. The message behind it is to encourage people to not accept these circumstances, to stand together and fight against crime and injustice. In this sense, the series can be called patriotic, especially in the last episodes. Given the overall situation in Thailand, it seems brave to produce a show like this. So the intention is good.

The plot
I won't spoil any details here. A young man returns to his home village in the North of Thailand where a local gang blackmails and kills residents. He teams up with some other young men to fight the gangsters.

The script
Here's the first big problem. Many scenes are unintentionally comic with a high level of ridiculousness. You get a rough idea what the writer intended, but the execution is often unrealistic if not illogical. One example among many others is the acceptance of boys' love by the villagers, with parents encouraging their son to have sex with his boyfriend. And in real life it would be nothing short of suicide, if a bunch of inexperienced, if not naive young men stand up against gangsters who have killed average citizens as well as politicians. Fortunately, the gangsters are mere caricatures who don't recognize their enemies although they have seen them several times before. They even don't wonder why a guy they think they have killed is suddenly alive again.

The cast / acting
This is the second problem. I have given 8 stars, but this is a compromise: a 10 for the cast, but a 6 for acting at best. There are some very attractive young men, like Kawaii (Din) or Andew (the teacher). But: after some of the boys showed their amazing physique in bathing scenes in the first few episodes, this promise is not fulfilled, as they stay completely dressed in the later episodes which is a pity. More importantly, and unfortunately, most of them have no acting skills at all, making dramatic scenes unintentionally comic.

The setting / cinematography / soundtrack
The story is set in a rural surrounding in Northern Thailand. Cinematography and production are surprisingly good, and the ost is beautiful.

Product placement
I understand you need a lot of money to produce a series like this, and most Thai BLs have more or less product placement. It's nice to have the boys praise a brand of soap while they are taking a shower, but I wonder if it has to be a bleaching soap. When it's about painkillers or sauce, just regard it as a comic intermezzo, and it doesn't hurt too much.

Rewatch value
Whether you will want to rewatch the series or not obviously depends on how much you liked (or hated) it. As I liked it, and as the title song keeps hanging in my ear all the time, I may rewatch it some day, when there's no other BL series to watch. I also guess one may discover some hidden messages at a second glance only.

There have been better series than this, but it's definitely not the worst. All in all, despite the flaws mentioned before, in my opinion watching this series is no waste of time.

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Completed
Bad Roommate
7 people found this review helpful
Jun 14, 2021
30 of 30 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0

3 reasons to watch this series

I have one principle when I start watching a series: I don't expect anything, so at least I won't be disappointed. Then I give it three or four episodes to decide whether to watch it to the end or not, which usually takes at least an hour or so. This time it didn't even take ten minutes, because the total runtime is 70 minutes for 30 episodes. Was I disappointed? No, I was surprised.

There are three reasons to watch this series: 1. Junior, 2. Kad, and 3. it's fun. It's fun because many of the things that make 'normal', i.e. longer, Thai series so hard to watch sometimes are simply not possible when there's less than 3 minutes per episode: no staring at each other for 10 minutes, no endless crying scenes (there are actually none at all!), no distracting side couples, no shrieking bl-fans, even the ex-girlfriend isn't toxic, and she doesn't get more than 2 minutes of screentime.

I won't spoil the plot, there isn't much to spoil anyway. The episodes display short scenes about two roommates who are different from each other, but there isn't the worn-out hater to lover trope. There are just 30 glimpses of two boys getting closer, and I find it surprising how well they are being characterized. Junior and Kad have a fantastic chemistry, and they obviously enjoy the opportunity to show their talent as comedians.

Cinematography is also surprisingly good for a tiktok series, as is the soundtrack.

The series is now available at youtube with English subtitles, all episodes put together without any commercial breaks, and if you have 70 minutes to spare, and if you want good, light entertainment, and if you like Junior and Kad, then this is exactly right for you.

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Completed
Country Boy 2
5 people found this review helpful
Apr 5, 2022
2 of 2 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

Another Wayufilm masterpiece

The history of BL series is a history of iconic BL couples – from Off and Gun over Max and Tul, Boun and Prem, Elijah and Kokoy, Ian and Paolo to Ohm and Nanon - names that make BL fans send their ships sailing. For me, Mon and Oak belong in the same category, although they are so different from all the others. They have been playing together in short films and series for more than three years, growing up together as actors and personalities, carefully guided by Director Nicchi. Their movies like ”Key Love”, ”My Friendship”, and of course ”Country Boy” are among the best the genre has to offer. Even a music video (”Just Like That”) proves how talented these two actors are, and that they are a perfect match.

I was sad when Oak announced the end of his acting career in a tearful video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zobLJdV2DHk). Fortunately, fans kept asking director Nicchi to produce a sequel to ”Country Boy”, and luckily two fans, John Piccone and Solipsism5, who actually met here at mydramalist, offered to finance ”Country Boy 2”. Many other fans donated smaller amounts of money, too, and Nicchi succeeded in persuading Oak to return to the screen, which made this movie possible.

The plot is simple. Keptawan, the Country Boy (Oak Puwanart) leaves his homestay, which is his comfort zone, and goes to Chiang Mai for a month as a trainee in his uncle's café. He has problems to adapt to working in the café and to life in the city, he is bullied by his uncle when he keeps making mistakes, and he feels lonely because Nubdao (Mon Hatsawatchon) doesn't have time for him because he is preparing for his final exams.

It takes four weeks until the two boys, who shyly hugged when Nubdao and his friends went to stay at Keptawan's homestay for some days in ”Country Boy”, finally spend a day together, and this time it is Keptawan who helps Nubdao overcome his crisis with the simple truths that a country boy knows. When Keptawan returns home, Nubdao is already waiting for him. The boys confess their love to each other, and their shy kiss (or should I say peck?) feels more emotional than many kisses at the end of 13 episodes of high end series.

A word about the actors. Mon is very experienced in the meantime, and it shows in this movie. Oak feels a little OTT sometimes, but he plays the simple, clumsy, yet somehow wise boy from the countryside very authentically. There are only a few supporting characters: Keptawan's mum, who doesn't come across as grumpy as in the prequel, her brother, the owner of the café, the ”villain” of the movie, and Ju, whose name, which sounds similar to the Thai word for 'dick', is a running gag, are all very natural and contribute to the authenticity of the movie.

I was a little skeptical when it was announced that a major part of the movie would be set in the city, because the landscape around Keptawan's homestay was a beautiful setting for the first episode. But we do get the rural setting again, and the places in Chiang Mai (the café, Nubdao's room, some street scenes) are well selected. Cinematography, sound and OST are very good for a budget production.

I admit I am not objective when I write about a Wayufilm production, and especially a movie starring Oak and Mon. I love those boys, and I appreciate Director Nicchi's work very much, so all in all I can only say that in my opinion, this is another masterpiece that takes you on an emotional journey.

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Completed
Stranger's Kiss
5 people found this review helpful
Apr 9, 2021
8 of 8 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
This review may contain spoilers

Terrifyingly realistic, with some glimpses of hope

Let me start with what I hate about this series: 10 days after it's finished there are still no English subtitles for the final episode, and I don't understand Filipino. I have decided to write this review – my first at MDL – anyway, because imo this series is a lot better than the overall rating suggests.

Some of the best and most successful BL-series of 2020 have come from the Philippines. To name two of my favourites: 'Gameboys' is a huge international success, mostly due to its main actors, Elijah Canlas, who has won international prizes for his outstanding acting as an AIDS-infected boy in the movie 'Kalel, 15', and Kokoy de Santos, who also starred in a full movie ('Fuccbois') before. 'Gaya sa pelikula' is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful BL-series, due to the great chemistry of the two leads, Ian and Paolo Pangilinan, convincing script, outstanding OST and cinematography.

The commercial success of those series (and some more, like 'Hello Stranger' or 'Quaranthings') has triggered a boom of web-series, some of which started promising, like 'Amore' or 'Lakan', but ended in a mess. Dozens of others the titles of which I'd rather not mention suffered from a low budget, poor acting, terrible filming, unbearable sound, and a non-existing script.

'Stranger's Kiss' seemed to fall into this category, I thought, after watching the first episode, and so I skipped it. After five episodes had been released, I was surprised to see that the series gained up to a quarter million viewers, many of them international, which is quite a lot for a series like that. So I got curious and gave it a second chance, and honestly, the script has some flaws, the sound is sometimes awful, cinematography poor at times.

But: in contrast to all those Thai 'student coming out' stories focusing on the internal troubles of sons from well-off families, this series displays the struggle of lgbt people at the lowest end of the social scale. Although it doesn't by any means reach the quality of the 'Kalel, 15' movie, it conveys the same dark atmosphere, relieved only by some glimpses of hope and happiness.

Without spoiling too much, let me give a few hints at the plot. The lives of the protagonists move from one catastrophe to another. Nico, for example, after his parents' death has to leave his little brother Arjay behind in the province when he moves to Manila to earn some money. His departure is a heartbreaking scene, and things don't get better for him. He is robbed and beaten up for being gay, he is yearning for a meal of rice, and he has to take the humiliation of his evil boss when he finally does get a job. Meanwhile, Arjay is being sold to a pimp.

Miray and Nora hope to make some money by winning a gay beauty contest, but their gowns are torn to pieces by a competitor, and Vergel, who is running to bring them another gown, is beaten up in the street and gets to the venue too late, so they again end up hungry. Vergel himself is so desperate because of unpaid bills that he tries to commit suicide. He is rescued by Miray, another heartbreaking scene and superb acting.

This series is ugly, dirty, disturbing sometimes. But life of lgbt people in this social setting is exactly this way, and so 'Stranger's Kiss' often comes across more like a docudrama than a fictional story. It is terrifyingly realistic in places, and this is to a large part due to a) the fact that all of the characters are not one-dimensional which is surprising for a miniseries of 8 x 20 minutes, and b) the talented actors. It seems unfair to mention one of them in particular, but I want to mention three of them: Lj Russell as Prince, who lives up to his character's name, Xerxes Damuggo as Nico, who credibly depicts the role of the caring brother as well as the desperate province boy in the jungle of the megacity, and most of all Edz Bonggastar as Miray, who shows so many facets of hope and despair (and must have gotten badly injured because it seems extremely realistic when she is beaten up by her drunken father time and again).

I must admit I was deeply moved by this series, although (or because?) it is really hard to watch sometimes. Even some of the small glimpses of hope I mentioned before bear some irony: Nico goes to pray in a church for his little brother, and even Miray prays to the Virgin Mary, and one wonders why they seek consolation from an institution that does all it can to make life of lgbt people even harder.

There is one more positive thing I must mention, and that is the OST. The sound of this series mirrors the messy sound of the megacitry Manila (street noise, quarreling people etc), but the beautiful song 'Magkasama' by Justine Cabiso, a low budget production like the series itself, is a kind of counterbalance that helps you recover from all the ugliness, dirt, and hopelessness.

So if you are willing to be confronted with the tragic life of socially disadvantaged lgbt persons in a poor, conservative country, if you are willing to let your heart be broken by real-life tragedy, if you are willing to feel with the protagonists who are literally struggling to survive and at the same time struggling to remain good persons, if you are willing to face a reality that is brutal through and through, and if you thought that 'Kalel, 15' was one of the best movies of 2019, then this is the series you should watch.

There is a quote from Prince in episode 3 that characterizes this series quite perfectly: 'Sometimes in life you think you are a loser because you are alone in this world, but the truth is that we live so as not to give up to fight and learn, and I am Prince who will continue to fight with people who are willing to sacrifice and love.'

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Completed
Meet My Angel Season 2
3 people found this review helpful
Feb 6, 2022
9 of 9 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
This review may contain spoilers

Despite minor flaws, one of the most beautiful BL series

In contrast to other reviewers here, I waited until the end of season 2 before I'm writing my review, and it is good I did, because the final three episodes revealed some unforeseen weaknesses of the script, which is one of the reasons why I can't give it full 10 points.

The story sets in where season 1 ended - both Angelo and Damon are angels now, and their obligation is to take care of their respective ex-lovers. So far, so good, so predictable. Unfortunately the explanation who harmed whom in their former lives contradicts season 1 in a major point: It was never mentioned that Damon was raped, and Angelo's guilt also contradicts the way he acted in season 1. Anyway - the message of the series remains the same: love is universal, and forgiveness is the key to happiness and a peaceful rest.

What makes this series so outstanding is the brilliant acting of the entire cast. Kaleb Ong once again deserves a prize for his performance, but all the others are really great, too. Miggy Campbell plays the drunk Anthony very convincingly, and if the Catholic church portrayed God as attractively as Peter Sotiangco, they wouldn't lose so many members.

The sound quality is a major flaw, especially in the most crucial and dramatic scenes when the yelling of the actors is so loud and distorted that it affects the atmosphere. The OST is very similar to season 1, with the return of Howie Day's "Collide".

There are rumours that actors were not paid in accordance with their contracts which were confirmed to me by one of the actors. This leaves an ugly stain on one of the most beautiful BL series of 2022.

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Completed
Paano Kaya Kung Tayo
3 people found this review helpful
Aug 13, 2021
9 of 9 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 6.5
Story 5.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 6.5
This review may contain spoilers

Why the heck did I love this series?

I finished my review of 'One Day Pag-Ibig', the first series by director/screenwriter Ranz Gonzales, saying 'It seems there is going to be a season two, and if so, I only hope that the script will be more consistent, actors better trained, technical issues resolved, and screenwriter/director Ranz Gonzales gains more experience. As I am an unshakeable optimist, I'm looking forward to it.'

'Paano Kaya Kung Tayo' isn't the season 2, but the writer/director and main cast are the same. Unfortunately, my hopes have been disappointed, because this series suffers from similar flaws as the former.

But why the heck did I love it then? And why does it attract the same or even larger numbers of viewers, an estimated third of them international, than series like 'Worth the Wait' or 'Why Love Why 2' that have bigger budgets and more promotion? I guess there are two reasons: the cuteness factor of the lead actors, and the passion and dedication that the director, cast, and crew have invested in making this series happen.

The plot is not very original: A boy from a rich family (Sef, played by Allen Caguioa) falls for a poor boy (Andrei, Ivo Rosimo). First he teases him, then he tries to get closer to him, he is desperate when Andrei doesn't seem to feel the same way, but doesn't give up. His methods of getting close to Andrei are more than questionable, though, as is Andrei's response.

Andrei is a loving son, an ambitious and successful student, and a friendly guy all the time (except towards Sef). On the other hand, he accepts all kinds of expensive presents from Sef, instead of rejecting them and telling Sef frankly he does not want to be his boyfriend. This makes him appear greedy and selfish. It isn't even clear if he isn't lying to Sef when he claims he has broken up with his long distance girlfriend Trisha, because when Sef and Andrei meet again after Sef has been abroad for two years, he is obviously in a relationship with Trisha.

Sef's character shows some facettes and disruptions, too. He's a bully in the first episodes, then starts awkwardly hitting on Andrei, moves into his apartment, sleeps in the same bed, and gives him presents, although Andrei rejects him. This may come across quite infringing, and it is, especially when he even kidnaps Andrei. It is his somewhat helpless way of crying out for the attention of the boy he loves. Sef doesn't feel at home in his own family, his relation to his stepbrother Ivan (Bert Calara) is bad, and he feels misunderstood by his parents. It looks like he chooses Andrei and his father (John Rudolf) as a substitute for his own family.

There is another boy who has a secret crush on Andrei: Kian (Clark Blancaflor), who sits around with his guitar and a sad face throughout the series. He is a much nicer person than Sef, and Andrei likes him, but Kian is always too shy. When he overcomes his shyness for once, he's just a minute too late. Unrequited love is the most bitter form of love, and there are heartbreaking scenes when I wanted to hug poor Kian (especially in the ”rain scene” in ep. 8). On the other hand, he compensates his sadness by writing a beautiful song, so there's something good about it, at least for the viewers, because for him it doesn't pay out.

There are loads of side characters, who are necessary as the story is set in a school. Some of them side with Sef, others with Andrei, but they do not contribute anything essential to the story. Only the love story of Ivan and Gelay (Alexa France) is a nice little subplot, although its outcome isn't clear in the end. Like in many Pinoy Bls, there are some trans characters, and I'm glad that Ranz Gonzales, unlike other writers, doesn't make them mere caricatures or even ridicules them. I also appreciate that Sef's ex-girldfriend is not simply presented as the evil ex as in other series.

The setting isn't very unique for a BL-series: it's a school. What is unique, though, is the school uniform these poor lads have to wear! The waistcoats are just as terrible as Kian's makeup in the first episodes. The teacher and his methods ('Now hug your partner for five minutes' – Gosh, I would have loved being in that school) are also very unique.

The script has many empty spaces, repetitions, disruptions, and flaws. Just a few examples: Why does Andrei leave his father and rent an apartment? He just says 'We talked about it'. Okay, good you did, but why don't you tell the interested audience? How does Andrei pay his rent? He says once that he gets money for papers he writes for other students. Why not show him getting money and handing over papers now and then? Why does Sef hate Ivan? What is their background story? How sick is Andrei, what exactly is his illness, and how does he recover so fast? The ending, however, is the worst and least plausible ending of any BL-series that I have watched.

I guess one major problem of this series is that Ranz Gonzales has to do too many jobs at the same time: writing, casting, directing, and while shooting this series, already drafting the next one which is probably coming soon ('He's mine').

Acting is another issue. I love Allen, Ivo, Clark, Bert, and some of the rest, which is the main reason why I enjoyed this series. When I gave 7 stars for acting/cast, it is 10 for cast, but only 4 for acting. All the actors need to take acting lessons if they want to become real actors, or Direk Ranz should at least hire a proper acting coach. They all have a large fan base, due to their tiktok activities, and this may tempt them to think they don't need to invest their time in learning how to act. If they don't work hard to improve their skills, the early success could put an end to their careers sooner than they want, which would be a pity, because I would like to see much more from them.

Unfortunately, directing and filming in general are not good throughout the series. There is only little progress in all these things, compared with 'One Day Pag-Ibig'. Editing and sound quality are still poor. The low budget may serve as an excuse for some time, but it won't do so forever.

Finally, I must talk about the soundtrack. It was Clark Blancaflor's 'Kung Pwede lang' that kept hanging in my ear for a long time after 'One Day Pag-Ibig' had been aired, and it even made me rewatch the series. The same is happening with Clark's title song 'Paano Kaya Kung Tayo'. So when I said at the beginning that I, like many thousands of viewers, like this series because of the main actors, and because of the passion and dedication of everyone involved in the production, I should have added that Clark's composition is the third point that has made me a fan of this series. So if I give 6.5 stars for rewatch value only, that doesn't mean I won't rewatch it. I know I will.

Because that's what I am: a fan of the series, especially of the main actors and Direk Ranz (otherwise I wouldn't have written this long review), although the final episode was a big disappointment. I must admit that my optimism with regard to improvement in the aspects mentioned above is limited, but I am still looking forward to the next series by Ranz Gonzales and his bunch of cuties.

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Completed
Padayon
3 people found this review helpful
Apr 21, 2021
6 of 6 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0
This review may contain spoilers

One of the better pinoy low budget productions

The plot of this series is simple at a first glance: The neglected son of a rich landowner visits the manor house of his father's rural property and falls in love with the housekeeper's son who rescues him when he is attacked by the local gang of bullies. There are for a series as short as this (6 x 20 min) too many subplots to mention here, which is an advantage as it adds credibility to the story, but a disadvantage at the same time as it takes away space for the main couple.

The script though is much better than in many of the numerous low budget productions. The main characters' background is explained in a surprising depth, and their development is understandable. Also, the situation of the rural population (like dependency on landlords who live in the city, restricted access to education, poverty because of unfair market conditions, and the disgusting wave of government-induced killings in the Philippines) is described extensively. The director and writer, Tyrone Lim, says he wants to tell a true story and educate. Maybe it's a bit too much education sometimes.

Of course, it can't be denied this a low budget production, but it's not as bad as many others. They've made the best out of these conditions, some landscape shots being really beautiful, with the predominance of the color brown hinting at the poor living conditions in that village.

I liked the acting of the main couple, Ian Rosapapan as Kai and John Padilla as Andre, whose performance is natural and credible, but I liked Yoyen Bautista as Kai's longtime best friend Drixler even more. I could feel his character's disappointment, jealousy and despair. What I don't really understand is why again like in many other pinoy bl-series there are trans characters that do not help develop the plot but are rather displayed in a merely comic way which doesn't do justice to this part of the lgbt community.

There are some highlight scenes in this series, e.g. Kai's family commemorating the killed father and Kai and Andre's mutual account of their childhood. The scene I liked most, however, is the climax of the plot, the confrontation of Andre, his (you may guess:) evil (ex-) girlfriend Elaine and Kai, which is appropriately commented on by the noisy competition of some (you may guess again:) roosters. This scene, and Elaine's final text message to Andre's father obviously serve as a cliffhanger for a season 2.

Finally, I must mention the extraordinary soundtrack by musical director Lester V. Flores who contributes some beautiful songs, especially 'Himig Ng Elehiya', sung by John Padilla, which is a heartbreakingly sad song obviously referring to the murder of Kai's father.

All in all, like some other pinoy bl-series this is not pure entertainment, a bit too much education sometimes, but very worth watching if you don't expect cinematographic perfection à la '1000 stars'.

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Completed
He's Mine
2 people found this review helpful
Feb 27, 2022
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 6.5
Story 5.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 6.5
Rewatch Value 4.0
This review may contain spoilers

”A unique story with an incredibly amazing technique?” Are you kidding me?

I've been a fan of Ranz Gonzales' series and especially of his cast since ”One Day Pag-Ibig”, although his series have the typical flaws of low budget productions like poor sound and cinematography, amateurish acting and a weak script. I hoped things would get better through ”learning by doing”, but they didn't.

”He's mine” is his third series, and it is really disppointing. When ODPI had at least an interesting basic idea and PKKT some kind of plot, ”He's mine” unfortunately is the worst Ranz Gonzales series so far, because old mistakes are being repeated, and new ones added.

I'm not talking about the terrible sound quality, the inconsistent editing and the poor directing – all this was already there in former series. What really annoys me is that there is no real plot. It starts like the good old rich vs poor story, and it goes on as the rich vs poor story for episode after episode without anything really happening. Whereas we learn about the poor guy's (Callix) background (evil mother, lazy elder brother, angel-like little sister), the reason for the rich guy's (Luke) sadness and bad mood remains in the dark until episode 9. The entire ”plot” consists of the two groups being mad at each other which gets boring soon, and the revelation of Callix and Luke's backstory in the final episode is completely implausible..

Another negative point is that the cast who showed at least some talent in former series are much worse in this one. The leads – Allen Caguioa as Luke and Clark Blancaflor as Callix – are in a bad mood for the first 8 episodes, yelling at each other – what they are doing can't be called acting at all – with the rare exception of Clark when he sets a highlight interacting with his family. It feels like the actors are embarrassed about the poor script and just don't want to be there.

We have to wait for the final episode until both Allen and Clark are allowed to show that they do have acting talent. Finally, Allen displays some different facettes than just being sad and mad. Actually, the only member of the cast who does not only have acting talent, but has proved in ”Stranger's Kiss” and ”My Chinito Prince” that he also has acting skills, is LJ Russell who unfortunately has only a minor support role. Like the lead actors, all the other (way too many) side characters speak in an unnatural way most of the time. It often sounds as if they have problems memorizing their lines, especially when they speak English.

I'm rating the acting an 8, but that's more for the cast, not exactly for their acting, because I love Allen, Clark, Robert, LJ, and Dave so much. Clark deserves an extra mentioning for the song he contributed to the OST again. I like his voice, and his compositions, so I'm a little sad we didn't get to hear more from him in this series.

The terrible writing peaks in the final episode, where Juanmig suddenly drops dead just for the sake of drama, and where the completely implausible backstory of Luke and Callix's ”relationship” is being revealed. Btw Luke's younger, nerdy self made me laugh out loud; congrats to the make-up designer for that.

When Global TV praise this series as a ”unique story with an incredibly amazing technique” that ”only Direk Ranz Gonzales can do” (source: youtube Global TV SMO Series community message), they must either be joking or blinded by the 7 million views their series have gained on youtube. These 7 million views prove that fans all over the world watch the series because they want to see Allen, Clark, Robert, Dave, LJ, and the rest of the lovely cast, but they watch it despite, not because of Ranz Gonzales' poor writing and directing.

When a small company like Global TV gathers so many views, they should be able to acquire sponsors or investors so that they can hire a competent writer, director and sound engineer to support Ranz Gonzales who could focus on what he's obviously good at: gathering an attractive cast. If nothing like that happens, I can only hope that the talented actors find a company that helps them improve their skills instead of simply exploiting their tiktok popularity. If they want to succeed in the entertainment industry, it's time for them to move on.

Let me finish with a hint for all those who like Allen Caguioa as much as I do: I recommend you to watch him baking cookies with his friend on his youtube channel which is a lot more entertaining than watching him grudgingly grumbling in ”He's mine”.

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Completed
One Day Pag-ibig
2 people found this review helpful
May 17, 2021
7 of 7 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 6.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 5.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 5.0
This review may contain spoilers

Interesting basic idea, but a lot of space for improvement

It took me a while until I decided to write a review, because I usually don't write one if I don't like a series, and I didn't like it at all at first. However, I had the beautiful ost song 'Kund pwede lang' by Clark Blancaflor in one of my playlists. That song made me rewatch the series some days ago, and now I do like it.

The basic idea is the 'guardian angel' topic: A desperate boy is about to commit suicide, calls a number he finds on the railing of a bridge he's going to jump down from, and the boy who answers persuades him to stay alive. Without knowing each other, the two boys meet by coincidence, are enemies at first, but become friends/boyfriends within a day (hence the title 'One day love').

This idea would have provided a good story, but the script has some issues that are, to put it mildly, confusing. Loads of side characters, some of them mere caricatures, divert attention from the main couple too often. Whereas the background of the 'desperate boy', Roi, is being told step by step, so his actions and character become understandable, the story of his 'saviour', Kyle, remains superficial.

Some scenes are barely credible, like ex-lovers appearing out of nowhere, Kyle falling into a pool twice, almost drowning although the water isn't deep enough for that, his friends standing around yelling at each other instead of 'rescuing' him,etc etc. In short, the script lacks quality. Sound and 'cinematography' have a lot of space for improvement, too.

There are a few things, however, that make this series watchable. Although the acting is poor (you can't actually call most of the crew actors), the main couple, Ivo Rosimo as Kyle and Allen Caguioa as Roi, show glimpses of talent, especially Allen is lovely in some scenes. Same can be said about Clark Blancaflor and Dane-Dane Hernandez who would have deserved a little more screentime (which one could have achieved by leaving out some unnecessary side characters). The story, although clumsily told, is basically interesting. The best thing is the ost which mainly consists of the 'Kung pwede lang' song.

It seems there is going to be a season two, and if so, I only hope that the script will be more consistent, actors better trained, technical issues resolved, and screenwriter/director Ranz Gonzales (whose 'review' you can read below ;-) gains more experience. As I am an unshakeable optimist, I'm looking forward to it.

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4 days ago
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 9.5
This review may contain spoilers

An important and beautiful short film starring Elijah Canlas and Rex Lantano

To make this clear from the start - ”Ang Nagliliyab na Kasaysayan ng Pamilya Dela Cruz” ("The Blazing Hisrory of the de la Cruz Family" )is no Boyslove film, but it stars two of the most famous and best Pinoy BL actors. Elijah Canlas rose to international fame for his amazing acting in the movie ”Kalel, 15”, where he plays an HIV-infected boy, and for setting new standards in the history of BL series and movies with Kokoy de Santos in ”Gameboys the series” and ”Gameboys the movie”. Rex Lantano is well known for his outstanding performances and his readiness to risk something new in various short films like "Siphayo" and the series ”Daddy Love”, ”Meet my Angel Season 2”, as well as for co-producing and acting in ”Love at the End of the World” and the upcoming series ”Papa, what is love?”.

This short film depicts the fight of peasants in the Philippines against landowners who usually live in the big cities, using the De la Cruz family as an example. With stylistic elements of a documentary as well as fictional scenes, it shows the hard life of poor villagers, and the brutal methods of land-owners who try to steal their land by force.

Rex Lantano plays Jun, the son of a family who has joined the non-violent peasant movement in Central Luzon after his elder brother José was killed in a fight against the landowners' minions. He tries to persuade Tonio, the son of the de la Cruz family, played by Elijah Canlas, to join the movement. Tonio is reluctant, because his father doesn't want the family to be involved in the movement.

Things change when Tonio's mother eye-witnesses the killing of a neighbour. In a moving speech, she calls upon her husband to join the peasants' fight for the good of their son Tonio. The father, who was crippled by gunmen when Tonio was very young, is still reluctant, because he is afraid Tonio may face a similar fate as himself, and he has no hope that the peasants' movement can ever be successful against the minions of the landowners.

Tonio, however, agrees with his mother. During their discussion, the village is attacked by gunmen, huts are set afire, and Tonio is hit by a bullet. He dies, so this movie does not have a happy ending, just as the fight of the Filipino peasants has not come to a happy ending, but is still going on today, and with the return of the Marcos family to power, there is no hope it will come to a positive end any time soon.

The short film follows the tradition of Filipino movies that display the social conditions in the country, and it is remarkable that actors like Elijah Canlas and Rex Lantano have the courage to speak out against the inequality and injustice in their country, which is definitely dangerous in the Philippines, when they could lead the easy life of young celebrities.

The short film is very similar to the BL-series ”Padayon” (or rather the other way round, because this short film was released two years before ”Padayon”) which I reviewed earlier, and which I would recommend to everyone who is not only interested in the BL genre, but also in social and political conditions in the countries where most of the BL-series are set.

Elijah and Rex have proven their talent and skills in many other projects, and they do so here once again. Angeli Bayani and Angelo Hulip are also convincing in their respective roles as Tonio's parents, and Elijah's younger brother JM has a short cameo as Tonio's younger self.

To sum up, writer and director Miguel Louie de Guzman has created an important, realistic, in parts brutal, but still beautiful short film that has deservedly earned lots of prizes. It can be found on Miguel Louie's youtube channel.

Country: Philippines (2019)

Duration: 20 mins.

Director: Miguel Louie de Guzman

Cast: Angeli Bayani, Angelo Hulip, Elijah Canlas, JM Canlas (as young Tonio), and Rex Lantano

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Completed
Love While You Can
0 people found this review helpful
Jul 10, 2021
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

Love it or hate it

When Migs Villasis is involved, you know you're not gonna get your ordinary feelgood BL-series. That's what many people (like myself) love him for, and that's why some people hate him. And when the title is 'Love while you can' you'll guess the final scene won't be a passionate kiss. So I was prepared, I thought. But I wasn't expecting this short film of about 35 minutes would hit me as hard as it did.

The plot covers five days, from River (Migs Villasis) and Cloud's (Kimpoy Feliciano) first to their fifth anniversary. They quarrel through the first four and decide to separate the day before the fifth, the main (but not the only) reason being that River wants to make their relationship public while Cloud doesn't. Despite this, River asks Cloud to celebrate their fifth anniversary together, spending a nice day without quarreling for once, before they finally part ways. They do spend a dream of a beautiful day, at the end of which Cloud is finally ready to come out publicly. He dies the same night in a car accident, although a letter he leaves for River indicates that it wasn't an accident.

There are only three characters in this movie: River, Cloud, and River's best friend (Mark Wei), the latter doing his best to support River and Cloud's relationship, so there is nothing to distract viewers from the essentials, i.e. story of the main couple.

All the three actors are great, absolutely on point, never overacting. Another production company may have been tempted to show more scenes of Migs' attractive body and tattoos (which one may have expected after watching the trailer), but this one doesn't, and that's good, because that's just not the point here.

The script is very good, appropriate for a short film that focuses on the relationship of the leads whose opposing characters are depicted in short sketches but still are completely credible and understandable. Cinematography is also better than a lot of Pinoy series. I didn't like part of the OST, but that's a matter of taste. I rate this 9.5 'only' because of the OST, but the rewatch value imo is clearly a 10.

This is a great little movie, but you should be warned not to watch it before you go to bed. You may not find sleep anytime soon. It will make you think, about time, about missed opportunities, about the way you treat your partner. Like always, when Migs Villasis is involved, you will love it or you will hate it. I love it.

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