Archive for December, 2013

MMFF 2013: MY LITTLE BOSSINGS

Posted in dramedy film, film festival, MMFF, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry, POC Pinoy LGBT channel, queer issues in film on December 31, 2013 by leaflens

Again, I was thinking of making a thorough cinematic review of this film but I deemed it fit to be part of my bunch of MMFF December articles for the Phil. Online Chronicles’ Pinoy LGBT channel instead. That’s because the film serves a double plus plus for the queer community via the character played by Aiza Seguerra and the citation that she received because of it.

Yes, that is a big deal. Because this film has, in my opinion, the best characterization of a lesbian in Philippine cinema in recent history. And we all know that that’s so rare, right? As rare as a butch to butch relationship here. That rare. Basta.

An excerpt:

mylittlebossing lezfamPero kahit ganito pa man kaintriga at kapalasak ang mga napapag-usapan minsan sa taunang MMFF, di natin maikakaila na bahagi na rin siya ng buhay Pinoy ilang dekada na rin. At dahil bahagi siya ng buhay Pinoy, ikinatuwa kong naisama rin ang LGBTQ kahit papaano sa buhay Pinoy na ito. At mas ikinatuwa ko pa lalo nang nakita nating lahat ang suporta sa isang kauri ngayong taon – ang pagpapahalaga sa katauhan at karakter ng isang lesbiyana sa pinilakang tabing at sa labas nito. Ito ang pagbibigay nila ng award bilang Best Supporting Actress kay openly out queer singer-actress Aiza Seguerra para sa ginampanan niyang role sa isa sa mga festival films.

Read the rest of my review here – “Our Little Bossing that could: Isang pahabol na pagpapahalaga sa lesbiyana.”

 

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MMFF 2013: The queer overview

Posted in film festival, MMFF, Philippine Cinema, POC Pinoy LGBT channel, queer cinema, queer issues in film on December 31, 2013 by leaflens

Each year, I try to do a summary of the MMFF films and see how the LGBTQ community was mentioned, referred, treated or depicted in these films. It’s part of my duty as a contributing writer for the Pinoy LGBT channel of Phil. Online Chronicles.

This year, it’s quite amusing to note that there is one film with a very vocal queer component and of course there are openly out queer actors who are playing roles in some of these films. I’ve already said my piece about GIRL BOY BAKLA TOMBOY but I still mention it a bit in this summary. So I looked closely at the other films that mattered in this context, namely BOY GOLDEN, KIMMY DORA and PAGPAG.

I also included a bit of MY LITTLE BOSSINGS but I found that I should do a whole article about that, especially since Aiza Seguerra won an award for her role there. As to why it merits its own article, just read it here.

An excerpt of the queer overview:

mmff2013B_entriesSa taunang ritwal na nakasanayan na ng karamihan sa mga Pilipino tuwing panahon ng Pasko, muli na naman tayong makikisilip sa Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) para tingnan kung paano isinabuhay ang mga buhay-buhay ng ilang miyembro ng LGBTQ community sa pinilakang tabing. Dito din natin nasisilip kung paano tayo tinatrato o isinasaalang-alang ng mga manggagawa ng pelikulang Pilipino, kung ang trato ba ay makatao, katatawanan lamang o may konting progresibong pagbabagong nasisilip.

Read the rest of the article here.

Let this be your guide. Happy viewing!

MMFF 2013: GIRL BOY BAKLA TOMBOY

Posted in comedy film, film festival, MMFF, Philippine Cinema, POC Pinoy LGBT channel, queer cinema, queer issues in film on December 27, 2013 by leaflens

Well, I’m not really sure if I will do a very thorough analysis of GIRL BOY BAKLA TOMBOY for this space like what I did with 10000 HOURS in my previous post — unless you want me to heheh. Hm esep-esep pa ko k.

But anyway, I already wrote something from a queer advocate’s point of view that was posted in the Pinoy LGBT channel of Philippine Online Chronicles so check it out there na lang muna, for starters.

An excerpt:

GBBT posterAng simple lang ng kuwento, kung tutuusin. Wala namang bago rito. Pero nakakabahala para sa mga tulad naming patuloy na itinataas ang LGBTQ pride dito sa Pilipinas kung hihimaying mabuti ang pelikulang ito at ang mga sinasabi niyang mensahe sa mga manonood.

Una, nabahala ako nang sinabi ni Girl ‘yung linyang “that fag twin brother” nung galit na siya sa pagtataray at pagpapahirap sa kanya ni Bakla. (Fag talaga? Ikaw na laking Amerika, di mo natutunang kapag sinabi mo ang fag ay mapapaaway ka?) At para gantihan ito, ang naisip ni Girl na gawin ay agawan ng love life si Bakla dahil sa analysis niya, sa totoong babae pa rin naman papanig ang isang straight na lalaki, kahit na parang nagkakaigihan sila ng Bakla niyang kakambal. Sa lahat naman ng paraan ng pagtira, talagang kailangang bumaba sa level ng straight girl vs. effeminate gay ang peg? Parang hindi ito nakakatuwa. Eto, dito tayo talo sa laro.

Read the whole article here. Basically, the article enumerates majority of  the reasons why I didn’t vote for this film to be on my shortlist sa aking jury duty sa MMFF Most Gender Sensitive Film Award last week.

I repeat: I didn’t vote for this film, k? As for my top 1 vote (or tie for top 2 rin pala), I’ll write the reviews of that in the coming days na lang, k? Suspense na lang kung ano sila at the moment hehe. K?

K.

P.S. So pinanood niyo na ‘yung 10000 HOURS? Anubeh! Gora watch!

MMFF 2013: 10000 Hours

Posted in action-drama film, film festival, MMFF, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry, production life, suspense-thriller film, women's issues in film on December 26, 2013 by leaflens

A first look at the box office results and it seems that Binoe’s latest action caper is like second to the last or something. But no! I believe this film should be seen by many since it’s well made. It’s not your average Pinoy action film mga beks. Anyway here’s my take on it na lang.

10000hours poster10000 HOURS

d. Joyce Bernal

p. Philippine Film Studios

sc. Teresa Barrozo

c. Robin Padilla, Bela Padilla, Carla Humphries, Michael De Mesa and basically a host of fine talents the country has to offer right now

Pitch: A senator about to disclose corruption details decides to run to Amsterdam instead and the story is his life as he was treated as a fugitive chenelyn chuvaness.

Catch: Script a bit didactic at times. But when one talks of corruption in Philippine politics/government/society, we all tend to wax poetic/speak in tongues/swear like there’s no tomorrow anyway, so what the hey.

Never mind that the film was loosely based on the life nga of Senator Ping Lacson as the producers and the PR said. Please overlook that “trivia.” And if you also want to enjoy this film, overlook na lang the fact that Robin Padilla sometimes overacts like he swallowed a “hey I’m a senator so I have to act this way” pill. Yes, some actors are burdened by roles like that: they don’t ingest and digest the role properly.

But what the hey. At least most of the time, we get to see the story unfolding around the senator protagonist. This is clearly a plot-driven narrative wherein the persecuted protagonist just goes with the flow of what happens, even if there’s this impression that the events transpire because he willed it. Anyway, scriptwriting talk aside, I like this film because the tightness of the script’s structure works for me. And it was in tandem with how the film was directed, shot, edited and scored. All of those major aspects working well in this film, working well together, I should add. No pabida effect. Not even the acting was pabida, meaning the actors knew their places and there was no outshining someone else, as they all were in character and played according to what the script/story/directing called for. Now that’s filmmaking at its finest. Like what I’ve always taught my students, filmmaking is teamwork, and I saw that here, clearly.

And yes, I should commend this because this is rare in Philippine cinema — or at least rare in the last decade or so. To see a film na pinag-isipan bago pa man ito mag-roll sa day1 shoot, that’s really something I admire. You would sometimes detect if a film was just treated in the usual “bahala na shoot” where shots appear tentative, dialogues appear trite and putting the film together appeared like such a chore for the editor. Dito, hindi. I think it helps that we have a director who’s sensitive to how a film will be edited, since Bb. Joyce’s original training was that of an editor kasi. Ito ‘yung may pulso. Kaya kailangan, alam din niya ang tirada ng camera, saan ito ipupuwesto para ‘pag niyari sa post, madali at smooth, mas madali pulsuhan ang edit.

And that’s what happened here. Most sequences had your usual invisible editing style wherein shots flow smoothly kahit cut to cut lang. Magic of filmmaking at its finest and most classic in approach. No fancy edits or paarte shots needed if you know your basics of filmmaking and you know how to harness the tech stuff well. But I also love the way they mapped out the senator’s escape sequences because they were also playful here. The dynamic way of shooting it was seeing the action thru CCTV cams interspersed with the usual stalker-type shots. Then edit them together and present them in multi-frame playback in one frame, but creatively, and you get a good and well-edited thriller that I haven’t seen in a long time in Philippine cinema. Oo, I really have to emphasize that because I love cinema and I love Pinoy ingenuity, and I hate how some producers or film outfits prioritize profit over ingenuity in this “business” cum artform. Hayst but that’s another blogpost na lang hane…

Mataas pati ang overall production value ng film na ito. It’s smooth and clean, well-lit and well-scored. Sakto ang elements sa pacing ng action as it unfolds. I admire the Amsterdam shots and they’re very lucky to have that creative freedom to shoot around town. Kahit ‘yung Pinas scenes naman malinis kaya like I said, mataas ang production values ng film so kudos sa producers ito. So yes, this is not you run-of-the-mill Pinoy action film but it’s more of a drama thriller with action sequences, let’s just put it that way. Action was a necessity only when the senator had to fight off villains after him. I appreciate the martial arts moves, the boxing and muay thai techniques shown “quietly” by Robin here, meaning parang fight sequences siya na totoong puwedeng mangyari in real life. So it’s not your exag x 50 action star acting. Sakto lang, and that works perfectly well for the drama it’s trying to unfold.

And the drama is where the didactic elements enter. Unavoidable, as I said, because the film is about the senator revealing who in the past and present government is in on the corruption stuff that he knows and discovered during his policeman days of fighting kidnap-for-ransom syndicates. Of course this means corruption that reaches the higher echelons of the ruling class in the country, from generals to high politicians yadda yadda yadda. Yes, alam na alam na natin itong mga storyline na ito, bilang Pilipino na sumusubaybay sa bawat corruption scandal na sulpot nang sulpot na parang kabute sa balita. At lahat tayo, may opinyon sa mga kaganapan, pedestrian man o “expert.” Kaya minsan, ‘yung mga linya sa pelikula, ganyan din ang tunog. Kaya didactic. Pero dahil madrama naman talaga tayong mga Pinoy in general, we forgive it.

But this kinda ending scene takes the cake. Didactic visualized = overkill. Minus 10 points for Gryffindor ito.

But this kinda ending scene takes the cake. Didactic visualized = overkill. Minus 10 points for Gryffindor ito.

And being didactic nga is unavoidable, especially given the kind of protagonist you have. If you really look at the heart of it, the story is about how an idealistic person still believes in the rule of law and abhors the corrupt who tarnishes it, because he loves his country so much. But it also discusses nuances that will make you think. Like for example, I like the way they were discussing when to reveal what they know. If I remember it right, there was a line there that said “sa tamang gobyerno/administrasyon” lang nila ilalabas ‘yung alam nila, timing para kalabanin ang matataas at malakas. And that’s very interesting for me. Kailan nga ba tamang oras maging tapat na Pilipino? May panahon pala ito, may oras? Kung whistleblower ka, kailan ka hindi mabibilaukan ng pitong ikaw mismo ang pumito para marinig ng lahat? Sadly, if you’ve been watching the news, you’ll know the answer to this already, to the point of being numb to the issues. Aminin, nakakapagod na. Pero nakakatuwa rin kapag may efforts tayong nakikita para baguhin ito, kaya tayo mismo ay lumalarga at nakikialam na, sa paraang kaya at alam natin. Hello Million People March Against Pork Barrel nga, di ba? There you go, people power Philippines, there you go.

Behind every great man is an even greater woman, gun handling optional. Good acting a must.

Behind every great man is an even greater woman, gun handling optional. Good acting a must.

But back to the film. Commendable are the actors here who played their roles well, regardless of how big or small they might be. As I blogged about in my media+pop culture site, I was lucky enough to be part of this year’s MMFF Most Gender Sensitive Film Award jury, so I’ve seen this film way before its Christmas release. And to tell you a secret, this film I voted as my number 2 choice for this particular award, simply because I like the mix of how women were portrayed here. A great revelation for me is Bela Padilla who looked like your “average” pretty broadcast journalist/reporter who turned out to have a chip off her shoulder which made her do the things she did in the story. She pulls off the role believably well, as she reminds me of colleagues and friends in the industry who indeed act and talk like that at work and at home, mga matatapang na palaban pero smart-ass din hehe. This girl should have more meatier roles in the future. Philippine showbiz, please be kind to this talent. At ilabas niyo nga sila ni Bea Alonzo sa isang pelikula hehe bagay silang mag-twin bill starrer teh! Magka-peg sa talent at ganda at aura hehe. But that’s just me.

Minahal ko siya lalo sa eksenang ito. A good confrontation scene with a very good plot twist of sorts. Haha I kras U Bela na talaga ang peg. #dykewoes

Minahal ko siya lalo sa eksenang ito. A good confrontation scene with a very good plot twist of sorts. Haha I kras U Bela na talaga ang peg. #dykewoes

I also liked the way women were pivotal in the life of the senator. Carla Humphries’ role in the Amsterdam portion was also good as she played this parang espionage-like maiden who was sophisticated enough to maneuver around town to legally/illegally help the senator, at the same time passing off as “just another person in town” to help conceal her true identity and the identity of the senator eklavu. Basta, it worked for me. Good characterization always works for me.

I’m just not happy with the two other women roles here, particularly the Philippine president role played by Bibeth Orteza. But hey, we know presidents could be corrupt, yes? Even if they’re women, yes? Okay, I’ll just leave that thought there.

Anak ka ba ng ina mo, o ng ama mo? Good acting nonetheless from Mylene, as usual. Although I don't think I could totally shake off the fact na junakis niya ang boylet na 'yan in age and stuff. Heniweys hemingways moving on...

Anak ka ba ng ina mo, o ng ama mo? Good acting nonetheless from Mylene, as usual. Although I don’t think I could totally shake off the fact na junakis niya ang boylet na ‘yan in age and stuff. Heniweys hemingways moving on…

As for the other woman, it’s Mylene Dizon who plays the senator’s ever-supportive wife. How I wish this character were a bit stronger in trying to pull her act together to keep her family left behind. But on the other hand, I also understand the vulnerability that such a burden would do to a woman like her. Mabigat, at masakit sa loob na sinusumbatan din siya ng anak na lalaki sa isang banda. I wish this character were stronger, but maybe it needed to be weak, to show how the male sons were struggling to be strong din. Hit and miss for me, but I understand the characterization nonetheless. So there.

So that’s my takeaway on this film. The moment the screening finished, I was happy to note that this film is way better than an action film they were touting as great earlier this year. Ahmsareeeh I think this is relatively better, lamang ng sampung paligo ito teh! Also happy to note that some of my former students (both formal and “informal” hehe) also worked in this film pala. Gujab guys! I’m so proud of you, as always. ‘Wag lang lalaki ulo, ha. ‘Yan lang naman bilin ko lagi sa inyo from day1 hehe.

So I do hope you catch it, and I do hope it wins awards on Friday. Let’s see. Goodluck and kudos!

Pahabol to the year-end roast

Posted in Cine Filipino, comedy film, indie films, intercultural issues, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry on December 24, 2013 by leaflens

Glad I was able to catch the Ayala Mall theatrical run of a Cine Filipino entry before the country transforms into its MMFF mode. And I was just going to watch it purely for entertainment’s sake but I can’t let it pass without a proper review because I think the film — and what it tried to do — has to be commended for its merit.

So this is it, pancit. Gora.

turkeyANG TURKEY MAN AY PABO RIN (2013)

d. Randolf Longjas

s. Allan Habon

sc. Teresa Barrozo

c. Tuesday Vargas, Travis Kraft, Julia Clarete, Cai Cortez 

Pitch: A Pinay with a white American boyfriend happily struggle to find the middle ground of their cultures in the hopes of improving their relationship to attain their goal of going to the U.S.

Catch: Most jokes were concentrated on the first half of the film, leaving the second half a bit wanting, but still satisfying ’til the end anyway. So kebs.

And this is why I can’t just let this film pass without saying anything about it: MAGANDA KASI SIYA. It works very well for me because this is a comedy that’s not caricature, and that’s sooooooooo effin’ rare lately in Philippine cinema. I’m talking about the likes of this film and HERE COMES THE BRIDE, for instance, where the film presents a far-out storyline yet it’s believable enough pa rin to make you sincerely laugh. And you sincerely laugh because the comedy is not just shallow or slapstick but it’s quite a mix of both, but differentiated because it tries to have depth in delivery and content. Depth, as in lalim, or at least pinag-isipan ang pagpapatawa at hindi mababaw ang punchlines. You know what I’m saying?

Hindi ito katulad lang ng mga Vice Ganda comedies na siya lang ang nagdadala dahil sa stand-up comic timing/delivery niya ng lines (although those work in certain contexts din naman, like in PETRANG KABAYO). At lalong hindi ito tulad ng mga comedy ng Star Cinema or ng mga dinidirek ni Direk Wenn na parang wishy-washy material lang na mukhang sinulat lang in three days (if may script at all, na para kasing tumakbo lang with a sequence outline lang at shoot na agad!). ‘Yung ganitong mga pelikula, nakakatawa talaga dahil maganda ang materyal, magaling ang delivery ng actors, at maganda ang pagkakahabi ng mga eksena at shot. Yes, it really worked for me.

Of course there’s nothing new in the story, you might say. What’s another film about a white man coupling with a brown girl in our islands? Oo, talamak na nga ang ganitong pairing but even so, each generation has something new to contribute to this intercultural discourse. For as long as we can’t shake off our memory of our colonial history, we will certainly continue to talk about the byproducts of such history in our present. Part and parcel of being Filipino, I think, is to have this discourse out in the open, whether people see it negatively or positively. But I hope we could talk about it in a more enlightened way.

And in a way, this film did. Of course the obvious objective was to show naysayers that the brown girl was not only after the money from the white guy. That’s really the default thinking here, and decades of cultural opinion and practice will not shake off that initial impression. Really. Even if we try really hard. But the film is charming because it succeeds in talking about that impression, and even overcoming it, presenting new ways and perspectives of looking at it.

Ako man baffled sa "cultural" eklavu of eating carbs on carbs, namely pancit canton with rice! Hindi ka nag-iisa, dude! LOLZ.

Ako man baffled sa “cultural” eklavu of eating carbs on carbs, namely pancit canton with rice! Hindi ka nag-iisa, dude! LOLZ.

And the first perspective is this: have the white man speak good Tagalog. That’s really cute, even way cuter than half-Filipinos/half-some-other-country people who come here and speak baluktot Tagalog like they’re the cutest thing after newborn puppies. No, chaka ‘yun dude, speak it. And then of course another cute thing here is have the brown girl learn how to speak proper English without even referring to that dreaded term “nosebleed” because in this film, she doesn’t see her baluktot English as a sign of being dumb (which is what, to me, the concept of “nosebleed” suggests/dictates). And what’s even cuter is she’s open to improving her English diction, without even feeling sorry for herself or without feeling insecure. That scene in the bathroom where they do this as they brush their teeth, plus the one where he drills her with meta cards, man that’s just hilarious! (e.g. Where was I born? / Penis…penisvanya? Pencil…Pencilvania!) And it pays off because Tuesday and Travis have great onscreen comedic chemistry. It works.

Another “new” yet tricky contribution of the film to this discourse is where they meet. The film is basically about these two people who met online, in a website obviously designed for meet-ups like theirs, as they both sign up in a dating website called “kanolovespinay.com” or something like that. Of course these kinds of websites exist in real life. And yes, there have been couples who have successfully formed relationships using such sites. But to the judgmental offline world, this kind of pairing is still suspect just because they met in “non-traditional” means. It’s the whole intercultural judgment, but transferred online.

And in this day and age of world wide web connectivity, many people seek out relations of all sorts online, and that should already be a given, a thing not to be subjected to morality judgments. Sige nga, ano ang pinagkaiba nito sa nireto mo ang friend of a friend of a friend of a friend mo sa friend mo for a blind date? In this case, may kalayaang mamili ang mga magde-date ng kanilang type. And yes, I’ve actually met some women who have met white men in such spaces, boyfriends nila currently or they even married pa nga and have a family na, ganun. Yes, take a look around, take a closer look, and you’ll see that these kinds of pairings — borne out of real love connections — do exist.  And even if it’s viewed judgmentally pa rin, the film was able to laugh at the face of this kind of judgment. At first, the film was laughing along with the prejudice and the bigotry. Later, nakikitawa na tayo sa prublema nila. Later, kasama na natin silang tumatawa sa success na na-overcome nila sa kanilang struggles. And as the film wraps up, napapaisip tayo na oo nga naman, may mga ganitong totoo. At okay naman pala. And then we cheer them on in the end, because what they are are just like who we all are: humans who just want to be in a loving relationship, regardless of race, culture or language divides.

White Kano with brown Pinay who usually has a child or two borne out of wedlock or from a previous failed Pinoy relationship, as depicted here. A common image in our country but still bears new discourse.

White Kano with brown Pinay who usually has a child or two borne out of wedlock or from a previous failed Pinoy relationship, as depicted here. A common image in our country but still bears new discourse.

At bakit nga pala turkey-pabo ang peg? The storyline’s plot centered on the nearing of Thanksgiving Day and the Pinay’s struggles to find an elusive turkey in Manila for the celebration, to make her boyfriend happy. Tuesday Vargas is a gem here, kenkoy na kikay na may puso at nasasaktan din naman. In short, totoong tao, someone na posibleng mars mo sa opis o sa kapitbahay ganun, mga taong totoong puwedeng mag-exist in real life, nagawa nilang ipakita dito in a non-caricature/two-dimensional way. Patok pa lalo sa two best friends niyang kikay na kalog din, sina Cai Cortez at Julia Clarete, lalo na sa mga hirit nila na para lang naririnig ko sa tabi-tabi kapag nagsasama-sama kami ng friends ko o napapadaan ako at napapa-eavesdrop sa mga kenkoy na samahang barkada around town. Mga totoong tao, nakikita sa pelikula, malaki ang identification factor nito sa audience, kaya mas effective na nakakatawa sila, dahil nga hindi sila caricature. Take note of this, please, Star Cinema, Viva Films, Regal Films and other outfits that continue to dumb down Filipino audiences by showing us crass comedy year in and year out. Matalino ang audience oy, kaya taas-taasan niyo rin ang level ninyo please lang, k. K.

Having said that, we now end up giving this film our two thumbs up. I hope the filmmakers continue writing material and I hope they’re given more chances to show their craft to the audiences. The future of Philippine cinema is slowly being secured, thanks to such talents. Sana lang ‘wag lumobo ang mga ulo, hane?

K? K.

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