Archive for the Cine Chichirya sa DZUP1602 Category

Philippine history X-ed

Posted in Cine Chichirya sa DZUP1602, foreign films in the Philippines, historical films, Philippine film industry on June 29, 2011 by leaflens

Hm, they say that the folly of Filipinos right now is that we don’t know our history or we don’t really learn from it that much so we repeat our mistakes over and over and over and over again… Yeah, just look at our government right now. But hey, let’s talk about films… my friend. Friend daw, o! Chos.

In short, here’s a long rant — er, review — about a recent film I saw. Thanks for the invite-sabit* (*incidental tag-along) sa premiere, though. Anyway, here goes. Hold on to your postcolonial butts.

Postcolonial talaga!

  AMIGO (2011)

  d., s., e. John Sayles

  dop. Lee Meily

  c. Chris Cooper, Joel Torre and a bunch of fine Filipino actors and good young American actors

Pitch: Set in a rural town somewhere in the Philippines, the film tells the usually untold tale of what happened during the American occupation of the Philippines right after/overlapping with the tail of the Spanish occupation, focusing on the town leader’s struggles as they are caught between two imperialist forces and helping the Filipino underground movement battling colonial rule.

Catch: Historical fiction at its finest should be also at its cinematic? Hm ewan. Just saying.

Let’s start with the great points.

It’s good that acclaimed American independent film director John Sayles — he of The Secret of Roan Inish fame — came here and shot this film entirely here, in Bohol (south of the Philippines) and had a great cast and crew, with the crew being mostly Filipinos, some of whom are our film school grads. I’m glad this gives the local film industry practitioners quite a boost so if only for that, please go to the Metro Manila movie houses on July 6 and watch this film and support it.

Also, it’s good to support such a film that narrates what historical evidence we could have regarding our nation’s past. Never mind if it was written by a foreign storyteller or viewed through a foreigner’s lenses. It’s always interesting how they frame us and how they see us, since we also frame them and see them in different angles as well. Di ba?

So here’s my angle.

In terms of historical content, perhaps it should have been established first as to where this took place. I mean, having subtitles saying “Luzon, the Philippines” and having the rural town only referred to as San Isidro doesn’t quite cut it. It’s like saying “I live in Main Street, (insert state here) USA” since practically most — if not all — of the towns anywhere in America has a Main Street on its map. So when you say Luzon, that’s like one of the three major islands that comprise the Philippines. And when you say Luzon, you also have to differentiate the geographical necessities such as the mountainous areas of Luzon (like up north in Mountain Province, Baguio and the like) or the beach side watery areas of Luzon (like the beaches of Batangas, Pangasinan, La Union, take your beach pick) or the rice field-dominated plains of (mostly central) Luzon (like Nueva Ecija etc.). And, much like having a Rizal street/boulevard/avenue all over the country, lots of provinces in the country share the name “San Isidro.”

Okay fine, so granted that this is a “historical fiction based on real-life events” chenelyn like what some write-up somewhere said. I think it’s still necessary to establish at least a good footing in terms of the perceived/imagined location because that really gives viewers the necessary grasp of the setting, which is very important in storytelling. One could argue that the labeling (or the lack of it) in this film would be enough for viewers who don’t know jack about the Philippines. But how come foreign films put such details in their films and we seem fine with it? Like I would have never appreciated Montmartre if not for Amelie, for instance, or I would have never gotten to know New York that much — before actually visiting it — if not for Woody Allen’s films. You get the drift. Location as setting: very important. So yes, I don’t want my country to be just a “generic Anywhere, Philippines” when it comes to that point.

But I know, I’m nitpicking. Let’s get down to business — storytelling and content. Hm how do I begin?

Granted that Sayles is a fine storyteller but somewhere in the characterization of the leads here defies that. Like I’m not sure where the compassion and the change of heart of the American lieutenant is coming from. On the one hand, he is a semi-ruthless imperialist schmuck who throws orders to get what he wants and to have everyone obey him. On the other hand, he then appears like a gold-hearted wimp in front of his more vicious American colonel (played well by Oscar award-winner Chris Cooper) when he finds his colonel’s commands as a bit “harsh” for the town because, like he said “but we have to live with these people…” I mean hello, yes, you Americans lived with these Filipino townsfolk but I didn’t see you treating them warmly, especially their town head or kapitan del baryo (played brilliantly by Joel Torre). Hmmmm. Failure in image presentation? Or possible plot loophole? I don’t know.

Aside from uneven characterizations, the film suffers from too much romanticizing of the old “Filipino way of life” especially what life was in the rural provinces, and this is evident in the film’s overall visual presentation, or what we call mise-en-scene in film school talk. While I enjoyed the pretty bucolic shots of our very own Pinoy cinematog, Lee Meily, I’m not sure about the accuracy of the costumes. I mean, I’m no expert but the costumes, especially what the women wore, seemed so dressed up for daily wear. And I don’t think they’re also that dressy in faraway rural provinces or even in old Manila; I’m sure they dressed up more casually than that, whatever their version of casual was during the early 1900s. But hmm, PD-ing our own past culture always seems to be a problem for local production designers. I mean *cough cough* Rosario? *cough cough*… But I digress…

Did someone say "bucolic?"

Speaking of characters, I don’t even know who is the main protagonist of the film. It could have two: the American lieutenant who has very murky character developments and the kapitan del baryo who has clearer character goals. But sometimes, they seem to be competing for the I’m-the-central-character role that it gets distracting in the overall plotting.

Plot-wise, the ladder of storytelling is clear-cut but some messages in between the steps seem to be loose. Like I don’t know whether the film actually wanted to say “Sorry Philippines, we did this to you. Love, America”  or “Hi Philippines, hate America more and let this remind you why.” There are some scenes where the former resonates and there are some scenes where the latter resonates as well. But in terms of “presenting a hidden history not often told” as they pitched to us before the movie began, I’m not quite sure what exactly is hidden here. In short, tell me something I don’t know: Pinoys got fucked during American colonial rule, and I know that already, saw that already, read that already, watched that already. Maybe this is new/news to  Americans who don’t know jack about which countries their beloved homeland has invaded over the decades. Or maybe this is also new/news to Pinoys who don’t seem to care about their nation’s history as well. Well then, like Sayles said in the premiere (yes, he was present), people nowadays seem to learn about history from films and TV, so here it is. Ayuz.

So yes, if only for that — learning about our nation’s history — please watch this film, especially if you are not the type who actually reads books.

But regardless whether the story being told is “old,” there should be at least some kind of new treatment to it. No, I’m not asking for a Baz Luhrmann type of redoing, like how he jazzed up like psychedelic crazy Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet back in 1996. Maybe have the narrative pacing a bit more engaging by crafting better dialogues and executing better scenes? Maybe edit the film down to sharpen the focus of the narrative? Maybe stitch clearer plot lines tighter? That would actually do. Just saying.

Maybe my heart can't feel it because my history remembers another thing... Chos.

But who am I to dis a John Sayles work done in the Philippines? Not that I want my country to be better represented in film, but I only want to see a good narrative done on film about my country, whether it presents skeletons in the national closet or discusses cultural gangrene. This film is not yet there, but I wish it were. Sayang kasi, e.

Anyway, they also said in the premiere that they hope more Americans would come here and do more films here. Hm, but they already have been doing this. Um, Apocalypse Now? Francis Ford Coppola was here with a wide-eyed little girl named Sophia. Born on the Fourth of July? Oliver Stone shot that in Ilocandia and had his cast and crew sleep in Vigan, and he also edited Platoon in the defunct motion picture lab at PIA along Visayas Ave. (where I also edited my 16mm undergrad film thesis). Hm. History lesson ex-ed.

Heniweyz, it’s a great effort, really. I just wish it were a bit better. But that’s just me. Go ahead and watch it pa rin, and see for yourself na lang. You might say I’m just bitter about America, but that’s another blog post for another time.

Anyway, we’ll be discussing this film further in our Friday night Cine Chichirya radio show at DZUP1602AM. Listen to us live via streaming at dzup.org this Friday, 08 July at 6-7pm.

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Mga dakilang imbentor

Posted in bioflick, book to film, Cine Chichirya sa DZUP1602, Hollywood dream factory, Philippine Cinema, tech film on November 3, 2010 by leaflens

Sino ba ang mga dakilang imbentor ngayong mga panahong ito? Dalawa ang napanood kong sine na may mga kanya-kanyang imbensiyon silang pinapalaganap — sa kasamaang palad man o sa kagandahan ng, um, mga anik-anik sa buhay. Echos.

Or in short, here is what I think of two recent movies I saw in cinemas here in Metro Manila.

Unahin na natin ang imported.

SOCIAL NETWORK

d. David Fincher

sc. Aaron Sorkin based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich

Pitch: The film chronicles the life of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues, beginning from its controversial inception to its eventual launch to the world.

Catch: So far, I can’t see any, accuracy or no accuracy involved, in terms of content. Daw.

Give it to David Fincher to give us an excitingly paced movie about an otherwise humdrum series of events if followed in the real world, mostly involving lawsuits, mediation talks, delivery of deposition statements in an ongoing case inside a conference room, and so on. You get the picture. SOCIAL NETWORK was mostly that. After all, one would think that the main subject of the whole lawsuit thingie is just this online site that nobody has heard of — Facebook. Bah, what’s that? Charut!

But because it is Fincher, and because it is Facebook, ay, F to F itey. No, not femme to femme, you lesbian you! (Or ako lang ‘yon.) Fincher and Facebook. Nice combo meal. Let’s chicha.

Dubbed as “The Facebook movie,” it was fun to watch as you get to know the story behind the invention of the latest online craze to capture the world. It was fascinating to see why it was indeed such a fascinating and addictive site, this Facebook thing, which started in the annals of ivy league schools in the US of A. Mostly, scenes were just about people talking, talking and talking, like a he said-they said type of narrative. Potential snooze-fest as I said, but surprisingly, it was not.

Perhaps that’s because one who is familiar with FB will find it curious enough, how the site started, and all that. And I think that is where the charm of the film lies — sa intriga. Aminin, intrigera lang tayong lahat, at nakiki-chismis lang tayo sa mga kaganapan sa Harvard noong mga 2003-2004 na nagaganap ang lahat ng ito sa isang dorm room ng mga geeks. REVENGE OF THE NERDS anyone? This is so ’80s, right? But technology today makes it possible to make the nerds and the geeks rule the world. And actually, they already are. Like hello, Bill Gates? Wala nang iba.

So yes, this film is fueled by the intrigue behind it, and Fincher’s directorial pacing helps in delivering this story, aided of course by the writing of Sorkin, a longtime Hollywood reliable in terms of cinematic storytelling. His was A FEW GOOD MEN. Again, another courtroom drama in the military set-up, producing good lines there like “You can’t handle the truth!” and all that jazz.

It’s basically a simple story of intrigue, one that is countered by the real-life subject of the film, Zuckerberg. Only no matter how hard he denies these events, it’s still dramatic to us, whether real or imagined. And that was what Fincher delivered. It’s time to humanize something as cold and impersonal as a website. And it was actually touching, to a certain extent, to learn that the reason behind the creation of such “cold and impersonal” things are motivations that are warm and very personal — as simple as being turned down by a person you like. It’s that plain and simple, and also the stuff of the good basis of a good narrative for a good movie. Hehe oo na OA na, but obvious bang I like it?

Yes, I do. I like this. I like it. I like Fincher’s work naman in general kasi. At buti na lang hindi si Brad Pitt ang ta-artits dito ha hehe. But Justin Timberlake was kinda channeling Brad in his role as the Napster founder, don’tcha think? Bringing sexy back in his image hehe. Kebs.

So there. I guess I can’t say anything more here, kasi wala, gusto ko siya! No room for improvement? Well, it’s just also a sad reality that even in such new media realms, sexism rules, like what a New York Times review said. Totoo naman, na ganun ang kultura. Pero siyempre labas na iyan sa film. Nakita naman natin sa pelikula at sa kuwento, e. Pucha, yung Facemash na lang, e! Misogynistic indeed. Well, let’s just hope that Zuckerberg also underwent na some gender sensitivity trainings over the years. Para maiba naman ang landscape. Sana.

But still, good movie, good invention.

Um, which segues into this local film.

Imbentor indeed.

 

‘TILL MY HEARTACHES END

d. s. Joey Reyes

dop. Jun Aves

e. Vito Cajili

c. Gerald Anderson, Kim Chiu

Pitch: A no-boyfriend-since-birth new nursing grad finds it hard to balance life and a newly discovered lovelife with a former chickboy of an ambitious young condo selling agent. Daw. Heh nahirapan akong isuma itoh.

Catch: Parang walang katuturan ang kuwento, kaganapan,at hay, ang buong pelikula.

Ang isa sa mga unang tinatanong naming faculty bilang kaguruan sa UP Film Institute sa mga batang gumagawa ng pelikula ay ito: What’s the purpose of your film? Parang gusto ko ring itanong ito kay direk Joey.

Direk, what’s the purpose of this film? Reply in 3-5 sentences lang. Chos.

The reason I ask is because the narrative unfolding is so askew that you don’t know what’s first, what’s next, and what’s last. Not that nonlinear storytelling doesn’t work. It does, but not in this film. Hay, bakit kaya?

Well, this is because of that imbentor thingie I mentioned at the beginning. I think Direk was trying to reinvent the concept of cinema. Imagine that! Imagine watching this film, the operative word being “watching” dapat. But no, pagpasok mo sa sine, pagkaubos mo ng cheezey fries, iced tea at siomai (mga chicha ko hehe, oops buko!), dapat e tumutok ka sa pinilakang tabing para manood ng mga kaganapan. Manood.

But even if you close your eyes, you can actually follow this film, because it mostly ran on dialogues. And sadly, nothing else. Yes, it was like a 100% gabfest, with the film being opened by a scene where Kim’s character waits in a coffee shop to talk to Gerald’s character. And when they begin to talk, another scene cuts in to feature the talking mag-ina Boots Anson Roa and Matet, or was it mag-jowa Matet and this guy who plays her jowa? basta in another time frame, presumably one after the coffee shop scene. Dapat. Ewan, basta ang kasunod, pinag-uusapan nila si Kimerald lang. Ganun lang. That’s the whole frigging film! They just talk, talk amongst themselves, talk about the Kimerald couple’s love story beginnings and its eventual end and the effect of its ending on the girl, and that’s it. Talk talk talk. Lahat ng drama, lahat ng conflict, sa laway lang dinadaan. At wala nang iba.

So yes, Direk was able to reinvent cinema here, kasi this is not a film to be watched, but a film to be heard! Imagine that. Audio cinema, anyone? Ito na ‘yun. Para ka lang nakikinig ng radio drama sans the cool special foley-in sounds. Ewan. Labo. Scene after scene, people are just talking. Talking and talking. Buti nga kung may portions na interesting ang usapan. Pero kahit kuwento ng mga karakter, parang di mo trip sundan dahil inconsistent ang characterization.

Hay, barkada ko pa naman nung college ang editor nito. At least may pulso. Pero a badly-written script can’t really be salvaged by the good pulse of an editor’s cuts and stitches kasi. Hay. Sayang. Sayang pera. Sayang oras ko.

Well, at least hindi cookie cutter acting moda sila rito. Maybe it’s because it’s a drama, unlike the past local comedies I’ve seen, excluding Vice Ganda in PETRANG KABAYO ha. He has a category of his own hehe. Yes I’m still a fan.

Anyway, wala, olats. This film is not even so ready that it needs to  be workshopped heavily. It looks like a first draft! They were discussing this briefly in TV5’s Juicy chismis show kanina, sabi “Ginawa lang ni direk yan ng 6 weeks!” meaning sinulat daw niya in that short span of time daw. ‘Sus. Tita Cristy, may script akong sinulat in one month lang, nanalo pa ng award, not once, but almost twice! Hehe. Paano ‘yun? Chos.

Oh well. Isa lang masasabi natin…

Next!

Blindsided: sa mata ng pitik

Posted in Cine Chichirya sa DZUP1602, comedy film, drama film, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry with tags on August 31, 2010 by leaflens

Or in short, my reviews of two current Philippine cinema releases: IN YOUR EYES and MAMARAZZI. Sabi nga ng isang Carlo J. Caparas film — God, save us! Chos. Teka, siya nga ba iyon?

Whatevssss!

IN YOUR EYES

d. Mac Alejandre

p. GMA Films-Viva Films

s. Keiko Aquino

c. Claudine Barretto, Richard Gutierrez, Anne Curtis

Pitch: Americanized older sister petitions younger sister who brings along boyfriend who, upon younger sister’s prodding, marries older sister for US citizenship only to fall in love with older sister which wreaks havoc in young sister’s life who turns out hating older sister and brings boyfriend back to Manila but they also split so she reunites with older sister and flies to the US for good, only to casually bump into ex-boyfriend who’s there legally now and tries to rekindle his thing with younger sister. O ha, one-sentence pitch, kaya mo iyon? Charut.

Catch: Lumang panutsa sa bagong palara. Er, siomai saves the day? Or bring chicha when you watch this. You’ll need the distraction.

Where do I begin, sabi nga ng isang movie theme song dati. I don’t know if current film scriptwriters don’t watch old, old, old, old, old movies, both local and foreign ones, especially local ones. I think it should be required of them that they watch old films so that they’ll know what has been done, to give them ideas and cues as to what they could rework with what has been done, so that they won’t end up repeating, concocting and cooking up and serving us tasteless and stale cinematic fare.

That is basically what this film made me and my girlfriend feel. She kept on saying that it’s just like DUBAI, Claudine’s earlier film in her former home studio, where she as the woman comes in between two brothers in a foreign land setting. But that’s the thing with scriptwriting in Philippine cinema. Just change the location of the original story, change the names or switch the genders of the characters and voila! You have a “new” story-script. And yes, they option and greenlight such projects even if they suspiciously sound and look like other existing works. Don’t believe me? Ahem, um, ask Lualhati Bautista na lang kaya? But I digress.

I was quite excited to see this film because of the trailer. I saw where they shot part of the American scenes — in Los Angeles, California — and I was curious to see how they would pull off shooting there. Plus of course I also wanted to reminisce about my recent summer trip there, where I was left alone to explore the Hollywood area on my own by my friend. Yes, I wanted to see how they would treat it, shoot it like a tourist or from a local’s point of view and such. I guess it’s the filmmaker in me that created that curiosity. But even with those scenes, I felt shortchanged since they really didn’t show much, plus a lot of this-is-in-America scenes were obviously shot here. And that would have been okay, but sometimes, halata siya, at pangit iyon. So that’s a failure of the PD, I think. Hay, production design na naman? You know what I think of that now. Read my previous reviews for more insights.

But what about the story? Hm, like I said, old fare cooked up anew. Lasang panis na, teh. Iyan ang masama. The marrying-for-citizenship storyline is as old as the OFW phenomenon, sobra. And then magkaka-inlab-an ang dalawang arranged marriage folks? Ngorkzzz. Wala na bang ibang conflict? Tumbling ‘yan kung biglang sa boylet nainlab ang character ni Richard, na pinangalanan nga pala nilang Storm (Ewan ko kung bakit – binagyo niya ang buhay ng magkapatid? Chaka kung iyon, ha!) o kaya sa girlash nainlab ang character ni Anne Curtis. Hm, I think I’d like that storyline better. Or biased lang ako.

But a bad script could sometimes be overlooked if the directing saves the day, or fantastic special effects and superb acting. Sadly, this film had none of those. I guess if Claudine was handled by another director, say Lino Brocka maybe (yes, this is wishful thinking), then we could have felt more heartfelt hugot ng emosyon ng character niya. Her crying scenes look so automatic, like she just turns them on and off as she sometimes does on TV dramas. Iba ang on-off switch ng acting, iba ‘yung iparamdam mo sa audience na malalim ang pinaghuhugutan niyan kaya kami mas maniniwalang dama talaga ng karakter mo ang nararamdaman sa eksena. And sorry pero hindi lang ako echoserang frog na namimintas dahil I also underwent acting lessons for one whole semester back in college. So yes, may pinaghuhugutan ang critique kong ito sa acting. And yes, 1.5 ang final grade ko dun, but I digress…

You’d also think that Anne Curtis could give something extra here, besides her usual pretty looks and sexy body, which they obviously wanted to flaunt by the way she was shot in this film. At oo, gets na naming endorser siya ng GSM Blue na tinungga niya sa bar kung saan na-pick up siya ni Storm. Pero teka, ‘yun nga palang pick-up line. I don’t know much about current heterosexual pick-up practices but my goddess, Storm’s pick-up line was so lame that I don’t know if it actually works on pretty girls like Anne. “Excuse me, do you know where Legaspi Village is?” sabi ni boylet. Tinuro naman ni girlash. Tapos alis si boylet, tapos sabay balik, at sabing “One more thing. Could I have your number? Just in case I get lost?” Kill me now! *tumbling tumbling tumbling* Oh wait, I already died, and landed on the nth circle of hell where people with bad pick-up lines are punished! But man, I ask you, does that work, with hetero women these days? Hetero women with Anne Curtis looks?  Kakaiba. I mean haller, I was also once a  heterosexual girl out in bars and I’ve heard better pick-up lines than that! Susmaryosep. Kalurkey.

So with their characterizations, you’d think that what was established with Anne’s character was someone who’s strong, who didn’t need a man to make it happen, as the Pussycat Dolls sang. E pucha pini-pick up nga sa bar, e. Tapos nang tanungin siya ni Storm about their status, “Paano tayo?” ang sagot ni girlash e “May tayo ba?” Tapos kelangan pang i-rattle off ang characterization niya while driving in a badly executed scene where Storm was driving a rugged jeep without a roof and Anne’s character suddenly sits on him as he drives. Talk about unsafe driving practices, to which he says “Ganyan ka ba talaga?” at sinagot ni girlash like reading out her character mapping “Ano, fun, independent, spontaneous?” or something to that effect. If you’re not familiar with a character map, eto ‘yung sheet kung saan nakalista ang characters sa script with matching descriptions, like:

Anne – 25 years old, Claudine’s younger sister, fun, sexy, spontaneous

Ganun. And then all of a sudden, she’s spewing lines reminiscent of early classic cinema’s “Ate, mamamatay ako ‘pag nawala siya sa akin…” “Ipalilibing kita!” She said something to this effect, which I really didn’t understand, because it didn’t match her character mapping of fun, independent, spontaneous as earlier mapped.

But I think Storm’s was the character that is the most badly-written, and even horribly executed. I know that for dramatic purposes, they heighten the actions. But if they did some research as to how Pinoys behave in the US, especially non-legal ones, they stay out of perceived trouble there. So that scene where Storm got an under-the-table job as a photo processor in a photo developing store, where he showed attitude towards his American boss, to the point of bumping into him, as in bodily contact, when he stormed out of there when he was fired, is not very realistic at all. They could have shown his frustration in another way, I think, and that wasn’t the best behavioral execution of all. The director could have called that one. Plus need I mention Richard’s tuod style of acting pa ba, where, at the height of the sisters’ drama of discovering the infidelity, he just fucking stood there??? Like he wasn’t part of it all??? And let the sisters mouth off??? Ang labo, potah.

And this brings me to this dangerous implication of women in cinema as propagated by this scene. How come the man is spared from sin? How come the women are the ones punished? I was surprised to see that this was scripted by a woman, but I guess she’s not as enlightened as we want her to be. Even when Anne’s character went home, tagging along Storm, the guy still lived with her for a year in utmost misery??? As if his jowa was punishing him for falling in love with her sister? Ang labo potah. Again, why do they have to make the women weak (that they needed a man like Claudine’s character) or vengeful (like Anne’s character hating her sister and latching on to the guy afterward). Pero teka, reality check, bakit hindi na lang hiwalayan ni Storm ang girlash pagbalik sa Manila? Kasal ba sila? Hindi naman, di ba? At saka kung kasal man, e payag naman si PNoy sa legal separation, a, huwag lang divorce. But I digress again.

Hay naku. There are several other things wrong with this film, but it’s just wrong for me to belabor over them without having lunch first. Or baka kelangan ko nang matawa.

Ay, matawa ba kamo? Then… oh well.

Here goes the other one…

MAMARAZZI

d. Joel Lamangan

p. Regal Films

s. Ricky Lee, Chris Violago

dop. Mo Zee

C. Eugene Domingo, John Lapus, Diether Ocampo and a host of slight cinema newbies whom you see to death naman in TV shows

Pitch: An unwed single mom mortician dotingly raises triplets who have individual issues but is bound by their insatiable curiosity of knowing who their father is. O parang ganun.

Catch: You know there’s something wrong with Eugene’s film when our common friends in the theater circles don’t publicize it to death on their Facebook accounts. Seriously. I’m just saying. Pansin ko lang naman, mga teh hehe.

I was actually surprised to see the trailer of this film, that our reigning comedy queen of Philippine cinema, theater-trained Eugene Domingo, was top-billing a comedy film financed by Regal Films. Now you know you have arrived when Mother Lily trusts you enough to give you such a project. And sadly, you also know you have arrived when you actually have to star in a badly written and horribly directed film reminiscent of badly written and horribly directed ’80s comedy films from the history of Philippine cinema, complete with an uncalled for song-and-dance number. Yes, even if it appears in a (day)dream sequence, it’s still uncalled for, plus it was done in utterly poor taste. I mean hey, if we were still in the ’80s and I saw this, I would accept it gladly, because during that time, it was kitsch-y “cool,” in a way. It had (quirky) character. It was pastiche. But it’s 2010, and I’m not willing to travel back in time to experience kitsch and pastiche like that anew.

But that’s the thing. I thought Philippine cinema already graduated from these kinds of portrayals, treatments and executions. I don’t know why they are trying to revive it like how Sarah Geronimo or whoever’s popular at the moment revive and revive and revive old pop songs.  I mean hello, we have dozens of uber-talented writers today, still alive, living in the present, who could write you newer songs or newer scripts or newer storylines. Why hark back to the oldies? Labo.

So now you know why Uge’s (Eugene’s nickname as called by her friends) theater friends didn’t publicize this that much. It’s crap. It’s unlike what they did with HERE COMES THE BRIDE but of course that might be biased because that one was penned and made by one of their own, too. But regardless of the bias, that film was good. (I reviewed that before, see my older posts. Pak!) But hey, come to think of it, if you gave MAMARAZZI kaya to Chris Martinez, what would happen? Hm, flashback ako bigla sa isang segment ng Sesame Street, a. What would happen if I prick this balloon with a pin…

Well, for one, I think the comedy would have been better written. I don’t know what they find funny in a mother uttering her dialogue when all of a sudden her skirt is torn off to reveal her floral undies, to the horror of her only son. Or her son won’t be obligated to utter the title of the film so it would somehow fit into the scheme of things, during that scene where she was trying to convince her son to ride on their hearse after he talked to the girl of his dreams. And then when he said “Mamarazzi,” the mother said “Ay, mamarazzi? Ano ‘yun? Bago ‘yun, a. Ay, gusto ko iyon, gusto ko iyon, ahihihi!” and then proceeded to dance like a crazy woman who had no iota of intelligence in her persona. Hay mahabagin…

We already discussed to death–habang namatay kami sa kabagutan–the women in comedy characters of Philippine cinema in our Friday night Cine Chichirya radio show last week, so I’ll spare that. But there’s one characterization I so wanted to discuss, because I believe it is disturbing and dangerous regarding how homosexuality and bisexuality are portrayed in this film.

John Lapuz’ character is a respectable gay barangay chairman or something. He is not the macho-acting type of gay man but not swishy either; just right and discreet, but a bit flirty in private quarters with his babylove (their term of endearment), Diether’s character. I don’t know what type of portrayal they intended with Diether, but the first time he is introduced, his buff bod was overly displayed as he bantered with his babylove, and he was sweet but he was also asking for money. So are we going back to the straight guy-who-hooks-up-with-gay-men-for-money storyline? Ano nga ‘yung sabi sa kanta ng Disney film? Tale as old as time… Kaloka. I don’t know why gay writers or directors continue to characterize and portray gay men in films this way. Why are they insisting on putting homosexuality down? This really baffles me to no end. Fine, granted that there are still set-ups like this, but then again, this is an old, old, old story.

And what happens to the gay man in this film? He “donates” his willing babylove to his single straight best friend so she could have her wish of being impregnated by someone — doesn’t matter who — before they take out her ovaries or something reproductive health-related like that. But what does babylove do? He goes to bed with her, sure, but also runs off after, robbing her of money to boot — which is later redeemed as money he used to help his sick grandmother. Yes, you can roll your eyes now in disbelief. My own suspension of disbelief in this film already ended after the first 10 minutes.

So both gay and single straight girl best friends lose the guy, only for babylove to reemerge later on which mars their friendship. Babylove says he realized his mistake, is sorry for the robbery, and wants to be an active father to the children of the mortician, whom he says he realized that he is in love with her pala. Jusme. So of course, gay bff gets mad at mortician. Hay jusko, need I say more? Nagtapos din ito sa kasalan — heterosexual na kasalan. Luhaan nung una ang becky pero nagpaubaya na rin sa bff at sa ex-babylove. Horrible.

Again, why do they continue to put their own kind down??? Why do they insist, even??? Hay. Ako ngang becky in spirit lang e offended na offended. Paano pa kaya ang mga tunay na becky??? Kalurkey.

Hay jusme. I don’t know. Mag-iisaw na nga lang muna ako, para mas masaya. O siya, bahala ka na. Babu!

PISAY

Posted in children-young adult content, Cine Chichirya sa DZUP1602, Cinemalaya, digital film, indie films, Philippine Cinema on August 5, 2007 by leaflens

[FROM MY OLD MULTIPLY SITE]

originally posted at leaflens.blogspot.com.
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o siya, here we go with the cine chichiryahan. open up your snacks.

paano ba? ah, in order of appearance na lang sa cine adarna showings…

PISAY
d. auraeus solito

pitch: a four-year sweep of high school life in the famed phil. science high school takes a look at a group of students’ developments as students and as citizens of marcos-era manila

catch: loves mo to kung pisay grad ka. if not…

the same guy who directed ufo pictures’ (to their dismay) cinemalaya 2005’s ANG PAGDADALAGA NI MAXIMO OLIVEROS is back with another teen-featured feature. siya ba ang sulat? oo yata e. laos naman itong cinemalaya website hindi updated. heniwey…

four stages, meaning from freshman year to senior year, may nafo-focus na karakter. pero they circulate within the same vicinity of their social sphere. okay naman siya except that di ko talaga keri ang camerawork sa pelikulang ito, lalo na yung mga arc movements dun sa isang shot na nag-uusap ang teacher at student hay…

saka halatang teatro ang tumitira. from the way it was staged to the blocking of the actors and camera movement down to the acting minsan, lalo na nung bio teacher dude character na secretly teatro ang love. that guy’s always a ham. artista siya ng students ko sa thesis nila and i said the same thing. bigyan nga ng isang kilong hamon yang guy na yan… buti na lang at ang ka-sparring niya ay ang lovely theater lady na na-miss naming lahat, si wena basco. grabe para siyang di nag-age. last ko siyang napanood sa isang romeo and juliet retake na may japanese characters chenes. man, ang tagal na nun a. hay… the good ol’ days…

pero back to this one. tama, kung di ka taga-pisay, di mo mae-enjoy ito kasi it was obvious aureus did this for fellow pisay peeps. hindi niya nai-translate into universal issues ang nangyayari doon sa loob ng school, not enough to make the other audience want to care. not to mention ang mainstream pa ng approach niya sa materyal. parang star cinema presents ang dating. super…

so did it work for me or not. not really. for the reasons i cited above. may potential siya actually. masyado lang kasing theatrical ang treatment na madalas parang ang feeling i’m watching a filmed stage performance instead of a film staging filmic performances. basta. saka mahirap panoorin ang mga pelikulang mina-mantra-han sa shoot ng “dapat manalo ito ng award” hahahaha labo.

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