Films to look forward to in 2018

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 29) — The last year has been a good one for film, but the new year means new movies.

"Kita Kita" set a new record for the highest grossing independent film, while other romantic comedies like "I Love You to the Stars and Back" and "I'm Drunk, I Love You" also won the hearts of audiences.

Productions got more daring with the release of at least two psychological thrillers, "Bliss" and "Smaller and Smaller Circles." Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) crowned a musical, "Ang Larawan," as its best picture. Cinemalaya's Best Film this year tackled poetry and poverty, set with the backdrop of the bloody war on drugs.

Philippine cinema is set to get pushed even further with promising upcoming local productions. Whether you're a film junkie or a regular movie-goer, here is a list of things to look forward to seeing in theaters this year.

 

Buy Bust

Anne Curtis plays a rookie law enforcement agent alongside Filipino-American mixed martial artist Brandon Vera. Her team is set to conduct a drug bust in a Manila slum, but they get trapped. In the trailer, one of the residents resentfully tells the officers, "Ito na ang buhay namin, dahil sa inyo (We were forced into this life, because of you)."

Amid President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial war on drugs, "Buy Bust" is a possible take on the complex system of organized crime. It's also the product of a grueling 50-day shoot that used over 300 stuntmen, 23,000 explosives, and 250,000 grams of gunpowder.

 

Bakwit Boys

After being displaced by a typhoon, four brothers move to a new town. They meet a girl who agrees to help record their songs and get them on the radio. As they chase their dream, the boys must come to terms with their trauma and stick together as a band -- and as brothers.

The plot of this promising musical appeals to some aspects of Filipino culture: family, resilience, and love of music. The film features music from Jhaye Cura of Mernuts, and is helmed by "Instalado" director Jason Paul Laxamana. It is expected to open on January 2018.

 

Citizen Jake

Broadcast journalist Atom Araullo gets his acting debut as in "Citizen Jake," where he plays a reporter whose stories begin to irk his political family.

Helming the project after 15 years away from the industry is Mike De Leon, whose previous body of work includes classics and social commentaries like "Batch '81" and "Kisapmata." It is interesting to see how De Leon, whose last film "Bayaning Third World" was released in 2000, will tackle contemporary politics. The film set to debut on the first quarter of next year at Cine Adarna in U.P. Diliman.

 

Meet Me in St. Gallen

Rom-com fans will recognize the break-up film "Celeste and Jesse Forever," which has been breaking hearts since its 2012 release. Bela Padilla and Carlo Aquino play characters with the same names, but who vow they won't suffer the same fate.

The film, partially shot in Switzerland, carries on the recent trend of Filipino rom-coms taking place in various travel destinations here and abroad. How will "Meet Me in St. Gallen" take this concept, along with a couple of reluctant lovers, and spin it differently?

Eerie

The stuff of student horror stories comes alive in "Eerie," a horror flick set in a Catholic all-girls school. After one of the students is mysteriously murdered, a guidance counselor (Bea Alonzo) butts heads with Mother Superior (Charo Santos-Concio) throughout the investigation.

The film has a promising premise not just to bring schoolgirl nightmares to life, but to also tackle the relationship between faith and science. It's also Alonzo's first horror flick, and Santos-Concio's return to the genre since last starring in Mike De Leon's 1976 film "Itim." Heading the project is Mikhail Red, whose credits include the Philippines' bet to the Academy Awards, "Birdshot." The production team is gunning for a premiere in July.

 

Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral

Paulo Avelino takes the titular role of Gregorio del Pilar, the 24-year-old general who leads Filipino troops in a resistance to American colonization. Avelino told CNN Philippines the movie isn't just a historical biopic or action flick -- it's also a coming-of-age film, as Del Pilar grapples with the power and responsibility entrusted to him.

Director Jerold Tarog's 2015 blockbuster hit "Heneral Luna" takes national heroes down from their pedestal and paints them as erring humans for Filipinos. "Goyo" will likely continue this project, and it will probably rock theaters too after the welcome success of its prequel.

 

Bonus: Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story The Movie

From the creators of "Saving Sally" is another animated feature film. Perfume sales-cat Nimfa Dimaano is caught between two lovers: her macho mongrel boyfriend Roger, and the high-rolling business dog Iñigo.

In a third world country like the Philippines, full-length animated projects are few and far between -- but they're endeavors worthy of audience support. While we're not entirely sure it will hit theaters this year, the studio announced that it is working on the animatic, which is the stage of a film where a soundtrack is added before a final cut.

Hollywood films

On top of exciting local productions, audiences are also anticipating blockbuster Hollywood films. Here are a few movies we're looking forward to.

 

Avengers: Infinity War

Marvel Studios embarks on its biggest production yet, as The Avengers meets the Guardians of the Galaxy. The former superhero team, which split after the rift between Captain America and Iron Man, are getting back together with the ragtag space crew to face a common enemy Thanos, who aims to bend reality as they know it.

 

Ocean's 8

Sandra Bullock plays con-artist Danny Ocean's estranged sister, who assembles a group of women to orchestrate a heist during the star-studded Met Gala in New York City. The all star cast features Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, and Awkwafina.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

In the same fashion as "Rogue One," Lucasfilm is set to release another standalone Star Wars story before they drop the last installment to "The Force Awakens" trilogy in 2019. This film takes on the origin story of a fan favorite: Han Solo, with Alden Ehrenreich playing the young rogue before he joins the Rebellion.