Archive for July, 2010

why, oh why, delilaaaah! why make such films?

Posted in Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry on July 25, 2010 by leaflens

I don’t know. I am bothered. Last Friday, I watched the latest mainstream-produced film that came out in Metro Manila theaters and I was wondering if I was transported like 20 years earlier. Parang retro na hindi, vintage na hindi. Pero hindi dapat ganun ang pelikula! Hay… Sige na nga, let’s just do this! Give me strength.

HATING KAPATID (LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER)

d. Wenn Deramas

p. Viva Films

s. Mel Mendoza-Del Rosario

c. Judy Ann Santos, Sarah Geronimo

Pitch: An overprotective older sister finds it hard to reconcile her life as the Ate of her sister who’s growing up fast and the daughter of OFW parents who have been absent from her life for a long time. Parang ganon. Yata. Sabi nila.

Catch: Ampotangenang product placements ‘yan o!  Die crappola commercial filmmaking!

Hay naku. Sabi na nga ba’t maha-high blood lang ako if I reviewed this film. My superfriend X who watched (read: tiniis) this film with me texted me when we got home and said he needed to watch another film just to remove his kabuwisitan sa film na ito. Alam mo ‘yun, like when you ate something that left a bad taste in your mouth, you look for another thing to eat to neutralize it or something. Well, I resorted to Facebook. Farmville helped, pramis.

Hay jusme, where do I begin kasi? Hay, sige na nga.

First, the material. Crappola fatale. The story’s soooo old and script’s sooooo thin that you would be bothered why they even greenlight such stories! Anubeh. Ate Juday competes with her own parents for the “parental” affection of her younger sister Baby Sarah. Wadapak??? This was uber-creepy to me, totally.

Fine, granted that Ate Juday acted like the nanay and tatay of Baby Sarah. With the aid of technology, they talk and chat with their parents on a daily basis. Yes, I know the OFW phenomenon really wreaks havoc on families, but Ate Juday’s angst is somewhat unbelievable, considering how strong her character is, so dapat natanggap niya ang realities, given na matalino at understanding and character niya, dapat. Mej maraming conflicts sa characterization, yes.

Second, making-promises-to-God-to-drop-love life-to-save-a-relative’s-life premises are so old they’re beyond vintage and retro. They’re Jurassic! Neanderthal! Wadapak??? “Break na tayo. Hindi ko kayang pagsabayin ka at ang pamilya ko.” Ano’ng mabigat sa pamilya mo? Haller, you have an independent-minded Bulacan paputok-selling Lola (Gina Pareno in her usual one-dimension acting in comedies) and a baby sister just a decade (or less) younger than you — at hindi naman ikaw ang nagpapakahirap sa Libya sa pagkayod para mapag-aral siya kundi ang parents mo, devah????? Kalurkey! But wait, there’s more. May house helper kayo!!!! Hindi ikaw ang naglalaba ng Charmee-soiled panties ni baby sis, right? Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Hay, itutuloy ko pa ba? Arrrr.

Third, those freaking hard-sell product placement ads. The videoke microphone thing and the Globe  Tattoo cellphone/laptop display were “subtle” enough so that’s forgivable, but pare naman, the six stacks of Charmee pads on baby sister’s desk? Sabi nga ni friend, “Ilang puke ba meron si Sarah Geronimo at ang daming napkin?” to which I replied “Baka tatlo, two for each. Anim e, pang-day and night flow.” And then mentioning “Jollibee BBQ Chicken” like 6 times in one scene while they’re already eating the damn chicken? “Ang sarap talaga ng Jollibee  barbecue chicken, ano?” Crap! And those bathroom moments with the obligatory close-ups of Belo facial products even if the story did not warrant a bathroom sink scene. Pero pinaka-pamatay ‘yung hawak ni Sarah ‘yung Charmee pads tapos nag-rack focus pa to emphasize the sanitary napkin pack she’s holding with the label in front. Ang dami pa niyan! May gatas pa, beach resort, mall, ano pa? Hay ewan ko, suko na ko!

Hay, okay fourth. The production design. Ang panget. Do you guys even know how to design a set these days? This is really scaring me. PD seems to be the most neglected part of filmmaking in Philippine cinema the past years. Katakot. Like during the scene where Juday’s family goes home to their “posh” new Pasig house and finds things in disarray because they were robbed. Ateh, to design a “house in disarray due to robbery” moda, huwag lang maglatag ng mga magazines na binuksan sa gitna at nilagay sa ibabaw ng ottoman chairs at sa sahig (ano ‘yun, nagbasa ng Newsweek ang akyat-bahay gang?), plus mga cheap plastic bags na mula sa palengke ay ilalagay na nakahilera sa isang side ng living room floor (may dala bang trash bag na itatapon sa labas ang robbers at nabutas lang?). Nakakita na ba kayo ng bahay na ninakawan? Parang hindi pa. O sana ma-imagine niyo ng husto na lang. Haysus…

Fifth. The directing. It dictated the camerawork. Boring. Static in a not-so-happy way. It also dictated the pacing of the editing. Super-slow. Plus it meddled with the acting. One-dimensional.

Hay, my goddess. Why did I even bother, you say? Why did I bother watching this film? Because I was hoping to see something kinda new, and more importantly, I don’t want to be bothered by the dismal number of Filipino films being produced these days. But if they still think we are very contented with this kind of crappola films, then I am truly bothered. We are back to dealing with the same problems that nearly killed Philippine cinema in the first place some years ago. Producers don’t seem to be getting the message, that we need new ideas, new stories, new cinematic presentations. Hay naku. Sabi nga ni Sister Stella L, “Kung di ngayon, kelan pa?” Ewan ko, Ate Vi. Ewan ko.

You know what? Juday is a good actor and she has proven that. This Sarah singer has some promise which she could maybe prove in a better material. Vice Ganda is another brilliant cinematic comedian waiting to happen (siya lang ang benta sa akin sa pelikulang ito, honest). If given the right material, Gina Pareno (hello KUBRADOR!) and Cherry Pie Picache (hello KALELDO!) are brilliant character-actors. And Luis Manzano is, well, Ate Vi’s son. Ewan ko. Parang sayang lahat sila, sayang effort, sayang talent, sayang ang negatibo, sayang ang pera. Sayang. Sayang ang pelikulang ito. Bakit ‘yung website nila mas naalagaan ang ganda? Ang film mismo, olats. Hay luz.

My mother and I used to devour movies as they changed titles every Wednesday. Be it local or Hollywood films, we just watched them. Pero kung ganito lang ang nilalabas lately ng local, hay, ayoko namang puro Hollywood lang ang diet ko. Hay naku. So fine, that Anne Curtis-Claudine-Richard Gutierrez Los Angeles-set film should be better ha. Siya sige. Sorry I won’t watch CINCO because I hate horror films.

Okay fine, itutulog ko na lang ito. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Ay shet wait, magha-harvest muna ko.

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Hollywood layering… and no, it ain’t cake

Posted in Hollywood dream factory on July 22, 2010 by leaflens

It’s not also about clothes. Recently, when I went to the USA for a vacation, I learned that there’s such a thing as “layering” when it came to wearing clothes, especially when you’re adapting to the colder weather there. Like dapat may thermals ka sa loob ng main clothes, and then on top of that, dapat may coat o jacket ka pa, and all that. Layering.  But yes, I am digressing so much already.

So that layering thing, yes. What I mean is, Hollywood has this tendency to have such a one-layered narrative plot in almost all of their films. It’s easier to follow the story this way because you are not bothered by the complexity of a story’s multiple layers, which is what actually happens in real life. As humans, I guess we also have this tendency to want to keep things super-simpler. And for Hollywood, that’s a good thing — the simpler the story, the better, and the wider the audience reach. But one-layered could also be monotonous, formulaic, and sometimes nakakasawa.

Let’s see how this layering thing fared in the two recent films I saw.

INCEPTION

d. s. Christopher Nolan

c. Leonardo diCaprio and a host of good American, European and Asian character actors as support players

Pitch: Sci-fi mode of storytelling as an agent struggles with inner conflicts to pull of a heist — how to plant an idea inside someone’s head through his dreams.

Catch: Leo should lose some weight. I’m just saying.

Other than that, I don’t find anything wrong with this film. Maybe it’s because I generally like most of the films Chris Nolan directed and wrote. I always use his MEMENTO in my scriptwriting class when I want to mess up their minds about dramaturgy hehe. But actually, INCEPTION is like Memento on drugs. Mind-altering drugs. Well, sort of.

The story is simple enough, and it seems like it is multi-layered, but when you look at it, it’s just really one simple thread: that this guilt-ridden father wants to go home to be with his children again. It’s just like Memento, when the lead character simply wants one thing: to discover who killed his wife. But what gives the plot this illusion of multi-layering is the multi-layered character, especially the lead, as we try to discover what his secrets are, what his past was like, what the other layers of the other characters that affect him are, and what he’s contradicting about himself and his actions. In short, the multi-layering thing appears to be working within the characterization and not the plot. It’s clear where the plot is taking us — to the subconscious side of things within the dream within a dream within a dream etc etc mindfuck devices Nolan seems to be pulling. But no, the premise is simple even if the main character’s persona isn’t. Ganun lang ‘yun, teh. So if you got a headache from trying to understand the layers, the thing is, try not to. Try to just watch this and enjoy it as it unfolds, and just watch bomb after bomb of secrets that the plotlines and the characters will reveal eventually, in perfectly timed sequences and narration of events.

Sabihin na nating sans rival cake ito. When you take a bite, kahit saan mang layer mag-ooze ‘yung laman, matamis pa rin ang matitikman mo. Ganun lang siya. Illusion of layered narrative. But still, it works well for me.  This is because I’ve always liked how Nolan’s characters were tortured, most times tortured by themselves, their own demons, their own ghosts. Take his take on The Joker. Brilliant lang din ang directing niya kay Heath Ledger, sumalangit nawa. But there was also this character ni Guy Pierce nga sa Memento, and then the character of Al Pacino dun sa INSOMNIA. Grabe aliw din ‘yung film na ‘yun. Imagine being an insomniac in a place where the sun doesn’t set. Ligwak! Saya. At doon ko natutunan ang konsepto ng “sleep debt.” Ayuz.

But anyway, kung nalito ka pa rin, click this link dahil may isang adik diyan na walang magawa at gumawa ng illustrated guide to the Inception dream levels hehe. Award din siya in fairness!

So anyway, yeah, this film works for me because it was entertaining, but not really in your usual manipulative Hollywood filmmaking-by-numbers approach chuva. And yes, ganju fatale si Marion Cotillard hehe. Yes that helps. Ah basta. Yes I am gay.

Bakit ka maganda kahit dapat mukha kang haggard, ha? Not fair.

At dahil laging dapat double bill ang panonood ng sine, eto pa isa…

THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE

p. Disney Films

c. Nicolas Cage and that newest dorky lead actor in Hollywood

Pitch: Underdog nerdy kid has to accept the fact that he is Merlin’s prime heir, so he needs to live up to the magic ek.

Catch: Damn, it made me miss New York. ‘La lang. Feelingera.

With these kinds of underdog-saves-the-universe type of plots, you really can’t say much except that it really has that thin a narrative. Yes, the underdog dude saves the universe in the end. Kahit di mo siya panoorin, parang alam mo na ang mangyayari sa end. And you don’t have to be a psychic to know it. Or a sorcerer.

So why bother watching this? First, let’s give Nicolas Cage a chance. Hamu nang umaksyon-aksyon ang lolo mo; at least lead role pa rin siya dito, at di pa tuluyang nasapawan ng Jay dude na bida rin. Although I have a problem with that dirty pa-cool costume design look and all. the rawhide trench coat doesn’t work. Well, sa akin lang iyon. If you like your men dirty, then sige, kanya-kanyang high lang iyan. Kung saan ka masaya, go.

But then again, this is a Disney-made film, so of course kailangang bumenta sa kiddies, dahil baka maging future theme park attraction/ride ito sa Disneyland. Plus it also has its roots sa isang piece of literature produced somewhere not in America, kaya maganda hehe. Chika. Di naman. I think it was also based on where Disney based Mickey’s famous FANTASIA film. Siyempre iba lang ang treatment. The kid’s story works here somewhat, kasi nakakaaliw naman siyang panoorin kahit di ka kid. I guess anyone who had or has or harbors a desire, secret man or otherwise, to have magic of some sort, will enjoy this film. Plus of course the underdog kid thing works, as always. We can always relate to the loser who triumphs in the end, and gets the pretty girl pa to boot. Saan ka pa!

And then of course there’s Monica Belluci. Hay, Monica Belluci. If she had you at MALENA, ‘yun nah! At least she was utilized here, kahit konti lang screen time, malaman naman at may silbi, unlike what the Wachowski brothers did to her sa isang MATRIX sequel, chaka. Dito, bet siya, at may-I-kumpas-kumpas siya ng magic circle chenes dun sa gitna ng Battery Park. I say go, sago! Kumpas all you want! Si Malena ka e, so you can do no wrong heheh. Yes I am so gay. Kebs mo.

Zoo-wee mama! Can we say "rawr?"

And then there’s that science geek connection. I loved the way they weaved in his being a physics nerd, doing all those Tesla coil thingies and such, and using it as a device for the magic chorva in the end. Keri itey. If only to have the kiddies take an interest in science and physics, game tayo diyan! Para they could start young, so that next time I visit the periodic table of elements come to life display at Griffith Observatory, the kid next to me won’t point at the box “containing” the gas elements and say “But there’s nothing inside the gas! There’s nothing inside the gas!”  *himatay* Pramis true story ‘yan. Ask my sister.

Hay naku. ‘Yun na muna. On that note, if you want to hear us make puri or daot INCEPTION, tune in to our Cine Chichirya film review radio program this Friday night 6-7pm Manila time, at DZUP 1602AM band if you’re in Manila, and on this link if you’re somewhere else in the world.

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