Archive for the drama film Category

MMFF 2016: Oro plata woof-woof

Posted in advocacy filmmaking, digital film, drama film, film festival, MMFF, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry on January 30, 2017 by leaflens

I’m not even going there, folks. I know ORO has a lot of controversy surrounding it, but we’ll be barking up the wrong tree if I’ll focus on it hehe. Google niyo na lang mga bes. For me, it’s irrelevant to discuss here because I want to focus on the film itself, because I think this one struck gold. See why.

oroposterORO (2016)

d., s. Alvin Yapan

dop. Ronald Rebutica

p. Feliz Film Productions

c. Irma Adlawan, Joem Basco, Mercedes Cabral and a whole community that we should actually protect IRL

Pitch: A small-scale mining town somewhere in rural Philippines gets disturbed by so-called nature patrollers who end up abusing their powers, to the detriment of the kind folk there.

Catch: Di ko sure ano pa-epek ng camera angling minsan beh, pero sige kineri na rin later.

[poster swiped from their wikipedia page, other stills swiped from Mell T. Navarro’s FB page (beh peram ha)]

MGA BEH, MAY SPOILERS ITO HA. HUMANDA KAYO KUNG DI KAYA NG POWERS.

To be honest, I was expecting to be underwhelmed by this film, given the rural setting and the bucolic shots featured in the stills I’ve been seeing online, and reading the log line about a mining town et cetera, I’m thinking, “Ay, mga indie na pang-award ang peg nitey I bet.” You see, there’s a bunch of digital flicks that have been approaching filmmaking like that: pang-award lang. And that was actually parodied brilliantly by the film ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK (the first one). These films tend to overly-romanticize provincial-set stories and overly-romanticize (read: exploit pala) simple stories for an international audience (poverty porn, anyone?). But since my indie faves Irma Adlawan and Mercedes Cabral are in the cast, I thought I’d relax that “expectation” a bit.

Lo and behold, never did I expect that I will strike gold pala with this MMFF entry. For me, I think this is one of the best directed and best scripted films in the lot, because you can see the effective storytelling here. It creeps up on you, unti-unting lumalabas, emanating, like growing organically like a well-cared for tree or shrub, kaya namulaklak ito nang bongz sa climax o huli.

The story is rather simple, and it’s my first time to hear that this was based on a real incident somewhere in Camarines Sur. Which is sad, really, since I think there should be national outrage about the events of the story. But sadly, that’s Pinas for you, hay naku. Anyway, it’s a good thing to see how small-scale mining folks function; you will learn how they also try to care for the environment as they try to mine the small benefits that mother nature provides us humans. And the community is humane about this: the small-scale mining is not totally destructive and not greed-based, as the folks there are not grandly ambitious a community who will exploit the gold until mother nature gives up. We’ve also been highly exposed to other news and issues of these extractive industries and the human rights abuses perpetrated by the corporations given leeway to rape our land for greed, so it’s really a breath of fresh air, albeit just for an hour, to see the more humane way of mining.orostill1

For me, it was very interesting to see the daily life of such a community: like Joem Bascon’s miner character who’s just a laidback dude trying to earn an honest living and earning extra so he can marry the love of his life; Mercedes Cabral’s public high school teacher character who’s also nonchalantly taking her pregnancy news in a very calm demeanor; the feisty Kapitana character of Irma Adlawan who serves as the town’s mother image and later mother-warrior protecting her constituency; and of course the small-scale miners there who show us how they do their stuff, from the first process inside the cave down to the collecting of their mini-treasures, with a bonus of seeing this town goldsmith do his thing as well, when Joem went to have some gold fashioned into jewelry or something. These are the “small things” that shouldn’t go away due to “modernization,” methinks. Maganda lang. And it was also interesting to see how things could get shaken up by a little bit of greed with the introduction of Sue Prado’s character, that woman who also buys gold from the townsfolk “in competition” with the Kapitana. Of course such conflict and controversy will hound any community, so here it is.

Things turn for the worse, however, when some thugs with high-powered assault weapons arrive and brand orostill3themselves as the protectors of nature, Patrol Kalikasan. Apparently, this is a thing in communities such as this one, and it’s sad that the goons with the guns still terrorize people for gold. Hindi na ba talaga mawawala ang formula na ito sa Pilipinas? Nakakalungkot isipin ito, I swear. So apparently, the thugs are also in cahoots with Sue’s character. And this Patrol stops the operations of the community, even taking the small-scale miners hostage to ban them from illegally entering the mining cave. NKKLK! Their excuse was, the community has no permit to operate a mining thing, so the Kapitana gets a permit and all.

Pero ganun pa rin, the abusive Patrol goons still terrorize the small town, until the town appears so divided as some are forced to work for Sue under the Patrol’s watchful eyes, then some like Joem’s tropa continue their honest work later on when the Kapitana finally gets that permit nga (since the people there have been mining for decades, they thought they didn’t need such a permit na or something like that). So of course, everything goes awry when the Patrol thugs wreak more havoc and shoot Joem and his tropa while they were having their occasional inuman session one night. And this is where the film gets political after an hour: the mining issue becomes a national issue with the deaths of these innocent men. Walang kalaban-laban, binaril lang nang ganun. Insert national outrage here. Sadly, the case known as “Gata 4” is still unresolved, as I read. Gata is the real place where this incident took place. Kaya sad, sad, sad. But I’m glad it became a film. We learn of our nation’s troubles, heartaches, and aspirations in cinema sometimes, and this is one of them times.

15267507_694528670714823_3240130399885393009_nThat one is hooked on the story and its unfolding is a success brought about by the tandem of good directing and good scriptwriting, topped with the very inspired acting of all, as in all, the actors involved. Mercedes as that cool lang na titser gets her moment during the crucial wake scene, as she slowly dissolves and realizes that the love of her life is gone (bonus ‘yung tumakbo siya from the iskul to the mining place and back sa bahay ng nanay niya to get one gadget that the town doesn’t use often: the cellphone). Kapitana’s feisty mother-warrior mode was also excellently portrayed by Ms. Irma, deserving talaga ng best actress award si ati dito. She appears like one of those kind kapitana women na community leader, mabait pero matapang kapag kailangan. She pulls it off well. And well, Joem is Joem, oks naman si koya, pero talagang ganun lang ang acting ni koya no, yung parang steady heartbeat na minsan babagal at minsan bibilis, pero may beat pa rin at maaantig naman ang heart mo when needed. So he gets the job done.

This would have been perfect nga sana if the film’s camerawork improves a bit. Like I don’t get the tilting orostill2horizon effect of some shots as the actions unfold, and sometimes it’s excessive that I just want to grab the cam and hold it steady na lang. LOL. But that’s just me.

Overall, I really think this should have won best directing. Kinulang yata sa dasal dahil napunta dun sa isa. Award! LOL. Hay naku, heavy ang heart mo after watching this, pero hindi naman wazak na wazak mode, kasi nga mapapaisip ka sa mga nangyari, at makikisimpatiya ka enough para sumigaw din ng HUSTISYA! Ganern.

Thanks for this film, team Oro. Good luck dun sa dog controversy na lang.

15194604_694528874048136_5231514782967557227_o

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MMFF2016: Kabisera ng buwan, at ang hangin ay may kalamigan…

Posted in drama film, film festival, MMFF, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry, women's issues in film on January 12, 2017 by leaflens

Ahmsareeeh, was quoting this APO Hiking Society song (sing along here). Kailangan lang may kapitan ang lola mo sa pelikulang ito. Kasi kung ito ang unang napanood mo sa MMFF 2016, either bibitaw ka na agad o…matutulog na lang. O makikipaglambutchingan sa iyong jowa kasi malamig ang Disyembre at Enero.

Anyway I digress. Here’s why.

 

kabiseraposterKABISERA (2016)

d. Arturo San Agustin, Real Florido

c. Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao 

Pitch: A seemingly simple family in a province, with a barangay captain for a father, gets embroiled in unexplained garden variety injustices in 2016 Philippines. Or something like that.

Catch: When the actual pitch of your movie is understood by the audience after 1 hour of watching it, teh, may kailangang ayusin.

 

With my deka-dekadang film industry knowledge in tow (or info/gut feel since 1990s), I knew that this film will not make it through the January cut kaya siya ang una kong hinabol na panoorin.

For those of you still unfamiliar with how the MMFF works in the country, there’s a lockdown of MMFF-only entries cinemas in Metro Manila and nearby provinces have to abide by, meaning no Hollywood fare muna sa panahon ng Pasko sa Pinas. And it’s but a fair move to help the industry recuperate from being blasted month by month ng big budget Hollywood. Alas, bombastic din kasi ang labanan sa MMFF entries, and the bottomesa of the lot will not see the light of day (or the flicker of the silver screen) come second week of January if they don’t perform well during the MMFF Christmas week. Poor ticket sales and word of mouth work hand in hand this Christmastime reel time, I tell you. For reals.

So anyway, there’s so much hullaballoo about this year’s MMFF crop being indie-indie fare lang at hindi daw ito kikita dahil walang bombastic no-brainer trashy comedies being served blah blah blah ad nauseam. I will not even join that conversation because it’s ho-hum chika na for me, aside from having too many ignoramus loopholes. What matters more is seeing films as films, regardless of how it was produced. And this is what I’m doing with KABISERA.

Na indie pala siya ay hindi ko alam until I checked their Wikipedia page (swiped the poster photo from there, too. Teynkyu!). But that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that I want to see Ate Guy act formidably again. Sadly, I have to tune in to other things to find that. Wala dito.

I remember her distinctly because when I was still working in mainstream showbiz back in the mid-to-late ’90s, isa sa mga formidable entries namin sa MMFF 1997 yung film niyang BABAE, directed by no less than MMFF 1976 entry MINSA’Y ISANG GAMU-GAMO director Lupita Aquino Kashiwahara (eh kasi boss ko din ang producer ng Gamu-Gamo and then Babae kaya reunion film kami ng tropa nila gow). Aba beh Second Best Picture winner kami dito noh! Galing lang ni Ate Guy kaya dun. Na laging padaan-daan si direk sa cubicle namin to rant endlessly about the Superstar’s no-show mode while problematizing that Babae could be read as a lesbian-themed narrative ay ibang kuwentong pang-memoirs ko na lang hahahaha I swear ang colorful ng life ko back then pare.

babaebabae-97-nora-aunor-back-sf

The film is actually partly sponsored, if I remember it right, ng DOH, because anti-violence against women ang tema nito, with Nora’s hubby making physical bugbog sa kanya and Juday’s BF Jao making emotional bugbog sa kanya. Generational tuhog ng isyung kababaihan bes, sankapa! Salamat sa paborito kong video rentahan dati na Video 48 para sa hiram na pic na ito.

 

 

So yeah, I remember Ate Guy giving great performances in films like that, ka-acting sparring ang iba ding magagaling (in our Babae film, it’s Judy Ann Santos who held her own sa kanilang ina-anak drama tandem, at andun din si Nida Blanca sumalangitnawa). In Kabisera, I don’t know what’s up with her acting here, pero para siyang ‘yung comment na lagi kong naririnig when we critique film students and their thesis works dati sa iskul na pinagtuturuan ko: “They look uninspired.” I’ve always wondered what “uninspired acting” meant, way back when I was a film student in that said school myself, when I hear our film profs say that or write about that (mga film critics din kasi sa industriya mga prof namin). Only when I took the required acting class did I discover what it meant: na hindi ka believable sa acting mo kasi hindi ka bilib sa karakter na ginagampanan mo. It’s that simple. That, or mababa TF mo so uwing-uwi ka na after the take. Puwede rin ‘yun.

And this is how Nora’s take on the docile obedient wifey role ruined the film for me. Well, the storytelling also didn’t work, but first things first: It looks like the universe knocked the wind out of her acting prowess and gave it to someone else. Parang bato ni Darna na pinaluwa na sa kanya para isubo na ng iba. And what were we left with? Something of an echo of past greatness. Sad. There’s this one particular scene where she was wary of having a hunch confirmed (that her hubby was gunned down na) and she made her way slowly, as in eeeeveeeer soooo sloowly pababa sa hagdanan para puntahan ang nakahandusay na jusawa sa lupang inuulan (siyempre kelangan umuulan ang death scene! More drama! Waaah.) Tapos ‘yung eksenang convinced na convinced siya na inosente ang asawa niya. It’s like the one person she’s trying to convince is herself — na marunong pa rin siyang umarte. Nalungkot naman ako ng bongz teh. Uber-bongz.

Siyempre, malilimutan ba natin ang napaka-Ate Guy moment na ito in Philippine Cinema, one of the best lines ever?

himalarestored

Salamat sa pag-upload ng excerpt na ito, mga beh!

And of course, from Gamu-Gamo, itself a great critique on the presence (and abuse) of the US bases here in the Philippines (her bro was gunned down by American soldiers who mistook the boy for a baboy damo daw).

mybrotherisnotapig

Picture swiped from here. Pahiram mga beh.

To sum up this Kabisera film, parang ganito lang siya: “My husband is not a pig! My son is not a pig!” Tapos insert call for hustisya dialogue. Roll credits.

Na hindi namalayan ng audience mismo sa loob ng sinehan na tungkol pala ito sa extrajudicial killings ay isang fail na fail na teh! Sorry, kahit kasi basahin mo ang synopsis o log line, wala kang makukuha. Dahil sa unang 30 minutes ng film pa lang, di mo na alam kung saan siya pupunta. Para siyang choose your own adventure teh. Comme ça:

Plotline 1: Barangay Chairman has hints of being corrupt, ergo riding in tandem hitmen try to gun him down, twice.

Plotline 2: Higher provincial politicians try to “bribe the good man” but goes awry.

Plotline 3: Family man of a barangay captain flexes macho flirting skillz when younger and sexier secretary applicants flirt with him out in the open, amidst the death stare glares of subservient domesticated wifey.

Plotline 4: Religious wifey gets persuaded to check out a palm reading seer outside of the church who predicts ominous omens that tadaaaaah will come true later I swear. Bad foreshadowing isdatchu?

Plotline 5: Captain and wifey deal with conflicted son number 1 who wants to shift out of his nursing course but who doesn’t want to go back to working on a cruise ship of sorts (they talk about this to death) and face conflicted son number 2 who impregnated his jowa agad-agad.

Tomoo, magandang game ito: Choose Your Own Story Arc To Develop. Gow. Kasi by the time Act II commences, biglang kabig ng manibela at:

Suma-subplot na plot pala 1: Pinasok ang bahay ng unidentified high-powered gun-toting gunmen ang bahay at pinatay ang kapitan.

Suma-subplot na plot pala 2: May bloody bank robbery in town at si kapitan pala daw ang isa sa mga suspects dun, kaya tinimbog.

Suma-subplot na plot pala 3: Kasabwat daw ‘yung isang junakis kaya biglang nagtago matapos um-attend lang ng birthday party so hindi na siya umuwi since then. (Ha? Ma.)

And don’t get me started on the role of the woman/wife/mother in a Filipino household being subservient blah. My inner feminist is also screaming. I’m ignoring her this time. Bigger screams to face, beh.

I know that in life, we have so many issues we face and struggle, but in fictional storytelling, we need to weave these sub-narratives of our lives together in order to bring us to a coherent whole. Sadly, this film forgot their cross-stitch needles. Walang tahian teh. Facundo, ibili nga ito ng Singer sewing machine, ahora mismo! Kalerks.

Even the slow-pulsed/paced directing can’t save the life of a script that sounds so first draftey. As in, kung ipapasa mo sa akin ‘yang script beh, mamumula ang mga pahina sa mga corrections ko pramis. Revise revise revise. Tapos shinoot na lang bigla without approval. Edit edit edit. And yeah, it doesn’t help that the themes of the film echo 2016 sociopolitical concerns. Or if we’re going to follow the “logic of 2016” (a.k.a. ang logic na illogical) eh sige bes pasok na pasok ka. I admire the effort, brave siya to boot, pero hilaw pa sa luto ang putaheng ito. Balik muna sa kusina beh. Timpla pa more. Baka maka-jackpot na next time.

Sayang. But I’m still happy na may Nora Aunor entry ulit sa MMFF. Sana mas magandang materyal na sa susunod. Or taasan niyo TF niya para mas inspired ang acting? Or I dunno what will make it tick next time.  Choose your own production path na lang din sa susunod. Huwag susuko. Gawa lang ng gawa, k.

Next!

Queering the historic universe

Posted in bioflick, book to film, drama film, Oscars, queer cinema, queer issues in film, women's issues in film on February 23, 2015 by leaflens

Oscars 2015 rush started with this film for me. So here are a few thoughts. Queers, listen up!

imitation gameTHE IMITATION GAME

d. Morten Tyldum

s. Graham Moore from the book by Andrew Hodges

c. Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley

Pitch: A glimpse into the life of Alan Turing whom we might be neglecting as the dude who is credited for the creation of the basis of our modern-day computers. And yes, he is gay. 

Catch: You see the strengths and the weaknesses as you watch the film unfold. But you tend to overlook this unevenness because it has an engaging story.

As I wait for the actual Oscars 2015 live telecast as I write this, thought I’d jot down a few notes here about the films that I was actually catch and somehow moved me, in a way. This is one of them.

I know of Alan Turing from a few years back when I was searching for queer-identified people in history. Glad to learn that the modern day computer is somehow directly due to his work. But he is more known for being the genius code-breaker during the war against the Nazis, and he was a great asset of the UK during that time because of decoding how the Nazi communication machine worked. Until, of course, they slapped him with an indecency case, all because he was gay.

Yes, folks, in a first-world country such as the UK, abominations such as this happened. Gays were persecuted, and in Alan’s case, he was made to choose between serving time in prison, and taking hormonal therapy drugs to “alleviate his homosexual disease.” This was, of course, the 1950s, and no civil rights movements connected to sexuality was happening yet. Too bad Alan didn’t live to see this happen during the next decade, as he took his own life before the 1960s happened.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, sorry.  On to the film muna. Yes, this was indeed a moving film, queerness aside. The film chronicles Alan’s life during the time his neighbor reported a robbery in his home. Turns out to be a “booking gone wrong pala.” Yes, my dears, dahil kloseta nga ang lola mo, may-I-booking siya ng boys sa balur niya, or else tegi nga siya. But this one booking stole from his house kaya doon nagsimula ang gulo for him. When he didn’t want to press charges, a police dude got suspicious and decided to dig deeper, even searching for Alan’s wartime records na classified or absent for public consumption. So of course they picked him up and it was during the interrogation scene where the police learned of Alan’s great contribution to humanity. So the film used this sandwich-type of narrative wherein you split the present and they flashback to the past to tell the meaty palaman of the film, and then go back to the present to wrap up the sandwich.

The palaman is, of course, the meatier side of the story. This is where we learn of Alan’s journey from being a Cambridge professor up until his wartime recruitment nga. He belonged to an elite handful of cryptologists with just one job: to decode the Nazi Enigma machine so the allied forces could read the encrypted messages/communication of the Nazis. What a job eh?

As is the case with uber-brilliant people, they are, of course, anti-social. This didn’t bode well for our no-nonsense hero, who had to be tutored to have social graces by another genius woman — Joan Clarke, played brilliantly by Keira Knightley. It was surprisingly refreshing, finally, to have a woman acknowledged for her brains and not merely her beauty or her reproductive system. I like the character of this Ms. Clarke girl who became an unofficial but crucial part of Alan’s team later on. Of course we see the gender bias at the beginning, when Alan wanted to recruit more people and tested them via a timed crossword puzzle. That was really intellectually cute. And the men in charge couldn’t believe that a woman could have done such a feat. Kainis lang of course. Pero mas kainis yung muntik na niyang talikuran ang job just because as a woman, she is expected to stay home with her parents, find a husband, and have a baby. Hay, reproductive system function, oo. But it’s also so cute how Alan was able to “persuade” her to join the team. Ewan ko ba, basta ang daming intellectually cute moments ng film na ito hehe watch it to understand what I mean.

imitation keira

I am woman, hear me code! Sabi ni lola Keira hehe. Talagang behind a great queer man is a het girl. Historical fag hag lang ang peg lolz. I kid, I kid! Love you Keira!

 

The strength of the film is its pulse: the way it ticked and took us rhythmically from scene to scene, which is the good work of an alert director and a good editor making a tight script come to life. I just wished the cinematography was at par with these other aspects, but you can’t win ’em all, I guess. But this is a good enough combo for me: script-directing-editing. This film pulsed these so well, kaya feel mo yung edge-of-the-seat excitement as to how they’re scrambling for time and going against odds to have Alan’s decoding machine — nicknamed Christopher — work in time before snooty authorities pulled the plug. Of course the excellent acting of the cast worked well with these aspects of filmmaking kaya more edge sa seat ang peg teh! Lalo na when Christopher finally worked. And then another dilemma begins. Kaya tiri-tirintas na ang development ng drama na talagang hihilahin ang interes mo until it ended.

And then, within the flashback, we have another set of flashbacks concerning Alan’s childhood, especially his boarding school days where he was bullied in an all-boys school. And we see his only friend there named Christopher, who introduced him to a book of cryptology of sorts. Siyempre doon na-formulate ang queerness ni koya and we see that, but we also see his heart being broken there, because of what happened to Christopher. Kaya ang love of his life ay ginawa na lang niyang prototype ng modern-day computer natin. Kalerks, this.

This film will really break your heart several times, especially if you’re queer and you see all this happening just because he’s queer. But I didn’t like the way his queerness was inserted here in the beginning. Like we didn’t really see any hint of it except when he confessed later on that he is homosexual — first to his co-worker who turned out to be a double-agent/spy (so of course his homosexuality was used against him by this dude as blackmail material) and second to Ms. Clarke whom he was trying to “save” (i.e. pinapauwi ng parentals dahil single pa siya at malayo ang work daw) by offering her marriage. Nagtapatan naman sila na bekiloublanco si koya at tanggap ni ati yun, at hanggang fiance mode lang naman sila para lang manatili sa work si ati. Kaya lang, yun nga, this was all in talk. Walang masyadong scenes to show this, na sana they humanized Alan more in a way. But I guess they didn’t want to show that, or they didn’t find enough historical evidence to portray him as such. But this is also where you’ll see why Keira was nominated for a best supporting actress award: that turning point of confrontation nila ni Alan, when he was saying na he didn’t care for her at all, basta kasama lang siya sa work and all. That sampal and that pagpipigil ng another sampal and that look and that body language ni Keira at that moment, galing! It reminded me actually of another turning point scene ng isang Academy Award winner: si lola Kate Winslet during her courtroom scene sa THE READER when she was being questioned for her role during the Nazi occupation. Yung moment na hinampas niya yung mesa sa frustration in defending herself, galing!!! parang similar in effect sa aking yung two scenes na ito ng mga aleng ito na kras ko hehe. Winner kayo mga darling, ever.

Tapos nung bumalik na nga ang film sa present ulit, to wrap it up, we see Alan being slapped nga with the indecency case, turning into a recluse while on therapy drugs, and being visited  by Ms. Clarke. Good to see they remained friends naman pala, and that’s where they concluded the film, with notes saying na Alan took his own life chenes nga, but never forget that your computers today are the result of Turing Machines before. So there.

Yes, homophobes, a gay man's invention led to your modern day computer. Kung wala siya, wala 'yan.

Yes, homophobes, a gay man’s invention led to your modern day computer. Kung wala siya, wala ‘yan.

Hay, lungkot.  Nakakatuwa na finally, lumabas din ang buhay niya sa film nang ganito. Maganda naman ang portrayal and all. It’s another good notch to add to queer history, cinematic or not, basta history natin. We need to see more of our lives out there, see how we were treated, and see what we contributed to the world anyway even if we were being (mis)judged. Maybe this is indeed a reminder nga for us to not take our “queer freedoms” for granted today, but it’s also a reminder to celebrate them because somehow, we have (some of) them freedoms nga, in a way, which Alan never did.

Anyway watch watch watch. Happy siya, in a sad sorta way. Basta! Sana manalo ito ng award later. Fingers crossed.

 

[All photos swiped from the internet. Thanks to those who uploaded them.]

MMFF 2012: Thy Womb

Posted in drama film, MMFF, Philippine Cinema, women's issues in film on January 13, 2013 by leaflens

THY WOMB (2012)

thy womb poster2d. Brillante Mendoza

s. Henry Burgos

dop. Odyssey Flores

mscore. Teresa Barrozo

c. Nora Aunor, Bembol Roco, Lovi Poe, Mercedes Cabral

Pitch: In a Muslim community down south, an infertile wife agrees to find another wife for her husband so they could have a child in the house.

Catch: ‘Yun na ‘yun. Maniwala ka bang the pitch is also the catch? Basa kung bakit!

Kasi ganito ‘yun teh. ‘Yung pelikula, maganda. ‘Yung scenery lalo na. Tahimik lang siyang nilatag, imahe after imahe, na ipinapakita ang buhay ng isang particular na lugar na ito sa Muslim community somewhere in Mindanao. Culture kung culture spectacle teh. May pinakitang kasal ng isang lalaki at babae (si Mercedes Cabral the indie cutie) na kahit parang may pumipilit na suma-subplot na naghahabulang saglit na military vs. rebels chuva, kebs pa rin si ati at may-I-dance siya ng ritual dance ng kinasal, to the tune of that dayang dayang song na sikat ay may rele pala sa kanila doon.

Tahimik ding pinakita ‘yung buhay ng mag-asawang ginampanan ni Kuya Bembol at ni Ate Guy. Na gumagawa sila ng mga special colorful na banig tapos binebenta nila. May moments na ‘yun lang ang pinapakita, na naghahabi lang hibla by hibla si Ate Guy. Tapos si Kuya Bembol nagluluto at nagkukulay ng hibla. Tapos tahimik ding pinakita na minsan, fisherfolk sila. May maliit silang bangka na may motor tapos nangingisda sila sa vast Mindanao waters, na minsan may rebels at nahagingan sila ng baril tapos kinulimbat ‘yung fishes na nahuli nila. Ganun lang.

Tapos tahimik ding nag-usap ang mag-asawa na ‘yun nga, kumuha ng bagong asawa para maanakan ni Kuya Bembol. Nalulungkot kasi sila na walang bata sa bahay kaya naghanap sila ng bagong babaeng may silbi ang bahay-bata. Enter frame si Lovi Poe the mainstream cutie. Pinakita din dito ang struggle ng mag-asawa na mahanap ang perfect yet affordable next wife na afford nilang bayaran ang dowry. Ito interesting for me as a feminist. Mas mahal pala ang gelay kapag titulado at nakapag-kolehiyo. Parang 120,000 pesoses yata siya or something. Tapos may extra pa, mga tinapay saka magarang belo saka reams ng yosi para sa padir at madir ng gelay. Interesting makita ang kalakarang ito.

In fairness, sa kuwento, affordable ang byuti ni Lola Lovi. ‘Yun din pala, tahimik na pinakita kung paano nag-raise ng 80,000 pesoses yata or more ang mag-asawang mananahi ng banig at sometime fisherfolk para afford nilang bayaran ang Lola Lovi dowry. Kelangang ibenta ang motor ng boat at nag-pitch in ang community for fundraising. Pero may request ang lola, na pagkaanak niya, palayasin na daw ni Kuya si Ate sa balur at silang dalawa na lang ang magsasama. Yes, finally, conflict! Na dumating mga makalipas ang isang oras at kalahati ng katahimikang paglalahad ng mga imaheng kultural.

Tapos eto na, nang manganak na nga ang lola mo, si ati ang nagpaanak at pinutol pa ang umbilical cord at tinago for souvenir. Tapos tinitigan lang siya ni kuya at lola and then pagkaputol ng cord, BAM! Pinutol na rin ang pelikula, literal. Credits na. The end.

And I was like, Thy Whut???

Napaganun na lang ako. parang naglalatag pa lang ang kuwento, naglalatag pa lang ng istorya, parang ang mga pangyayari sa naratibo ay nagsisimula pa lang maging interesante pero malabong tinapos na ito ni Brillante. Kamusta naman. Sige, maganda ang katahimikan ng mga imahe, fine. Magaling ang pag-arte nilang lahat dito impernez, fine. Pero naman teh, asan ang script??? Asan ang laman ng istorya??? Naman eh. Nalurkey akey. Di ko knows kung ano naganap. Kaya ayun, bitin lola mo. Buti na lang at biased ako at naisalba ang mga oras ng katahimikan ng pelikulang ito sa pagtitig sa ganju mode ni Mercedes my crush at ng alindog-in-a-shawl mode ni Lovi my lust. Pramis ‘yun lang tumawid teh. Haynakuh beks di ka na natuto. Di ba ganitich din naman ang reak mo sa ibang pelikula ni koya BM? Oo ‘pag naiimbey ako I talk to myself, di ka kasali dito, beh.

thy womb lovi

Hay Lovi, why so pretty?

Hay nakuh. Sayang. Andun na sana e. Maganda na sana ‘yung mga katahimikang subtleties na sinusubukang isaksak ni direk sa pelikula. Pero walang direktang story consciousness ang pelikula. In short, wala kang masyadong kakapitan na kuwento. Scenery na lang, fine. Konting filmic nuances (esp. acting, cinematog) fine. Pero kuwento? Wiz! Balik sa workshop ‘yan. Now na.

Saka sana Tinagalog na lang nila ang titulo. Saka lost ako sa choice na “thy” kasi di ba associated itich sa Christian/Catholic writings? “Thy will be done/on earth as it is in heaven.” Um mga followers po ni Allah ang characters. May counterpart ba ang thy chuvaness sa Quran? Just wondering. Parang mali, eh. Maling-mali.

Hayst. Sayang. Wala, ang lola Mercedes at ang lola Lovi ay nasayang lang ditich. Anyway kebs, naka-rampage naman sila sa Venice Filmfest saka sa Cannes din yata. Hm bakit kaya nanalo ito sa Venice? Siguro relate ang judges dahil puro tubig ang nakikita dito sa film. Di ba Venice canals chorva mode? Wala lang, wafung na akiz. Naubusan ng popcorn.

Next!

Iyo na! Iyong-iyo na!

Posted in drama film, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry, production life with tags on September 5, 2010 by leaflens

Or in short, my review of SA ‘YO LAMANG. Sa ‘yo na talaga! Iyong-iyo na! Baunin mo na, iuwi mo na! Chos.

SA ‘YO LAMANG

d. Laurice Guillen

p. Star Cinema-ABS-CBN

story by five people, script by three people

dop. Lee Meily

c. Lorna Tolentino, Christopher de Leon, Bea Alonzo, Coco Martin and a bunch of ABS-CBN TV talents

Pitch: A seemingly well-to-do family’s life suddenly flips when their father — who abandoned them and was absent for ten years of their lives — suddenly returns and moves back in the house. Imagine the drama. Ho-hum.

Catch: It’s like watching your garden-variety nightly melodrama series. Ho-hum.

Let me share something I picked up in the becky world recently. The beckys (bakla) have this new expression of jest whenever someone seems to sound like they are grandstanding, intended or not, when they’re telling a story. Sort of like the pabidahan “wala ka sa Lolo ko” hirit. The beckys would say “Ikaw na! Ikaw na ang __!” Insert your own adjective in the blank, depending on the conversation you’re having. Ikaw na ang maganda at tinitigan ni Piolo nang nag-jogging siya sa UP Oval! Or maybe Ikaw na ang sikat na bineso-beso ni Angel Aquino sa La Union! Something like that. A variation of this is “Iyo na! Iyo na ang ___!” which also means the same thing, but to take it up to a level, like Miss Universe level, they could say “Iyo na ang spotlight/korona/scepter dahil __!” State your own reasons in the blank. So that’s like an added interpretation whenever someone would say “Sa ‘yo na!” and all that.

You learn something new everyday, noh? Chos.

But anyway, this film didn’t really fare well for me, having just participated in a regional meeting of the IAWRT or the International Association of Women in Radio and Television last week, where I entered as a happy observer and ended up as an impromptu speaker on the portrayals of women in Philippine cinema. Wadapak! But of course we pulled it off, since this topic is right up our alley — which doesn’t seem to be up the alley of the filmmakers of this here film. Hay.

Where do I begin? Hm, the producers?

Ikaw na! Ikaw na, Star Cinema, ang gumagawa ng pelikulang may gloss! Sure, call it high, clean production values. At least the people who work in their production design dept. seem to have a good handle of how to PD things. And Lee Meily’s lighting helps, too. So that’s a strength.

Ikaw na! Ikaw na, Lorna T. ang magdala ng universal women sufferance role! Sabi nga ng aking co-CINE CHICHIRYA host last Friday where we discussed Filipino families in film, women who were left behind seem to be the martyr who needs to carry this sufferance thing to the next level. I can’t imagine how a woman who was screwed over by her philandering husband not once, not twice, not thrice, but many times more, and then being left by that husband to take care of four kids for ten years, and then the husband comes back when his mistress leaves him, and then discovers that the husband is still trying to take care of the mistress who came back with a baby on the way, hay… I’ll stop myself. Sino’ng tanga ang tatanggap sa kanya? Eto, ang karakter ni Lorna T. Kaya ikaw na! Ikaw na talaga ang martir!

Ikaw na, ikaw na, Tope, ang hari ng mga macho shit double standard! When it was revealed that, during one of the first times his character had an affair, the wife — probably in retaliation — also had an affair that bore a child. When she was confessing this to him, he had the gall to say “Walang lugar ang batang ‘yan sa bahay na ito! Pini-pendeho mo lang ako!” Yeah, fuck you, too. When the wife commits adultery, she is shamed here to no end, to the point of having her abandon that child and give it up for adoption for the sake of keeping her legal family intact. Ano’ng intact? E iniwan nga rin sila ng nag-pendehong padre de familia, e. Nubah! Bullshit macho shit!

Ikaw na, ikaw na, Bea Alonzo, ang magkaroon ng ultra-schizophrenic characterization sa buong pelikulang ito! Her character, being the eldest child, takes on the padre de familia role with resentment, and she doesn’t let anybody forget this fact in like every other sequence.  The hardworking, successful, no-nonsense interior designer persona in the beginning suddenly takes a nosedive when a lover from her past, Diether Ocampo’s character, suddenly comes back, and she just throws all things in abandon as she dives into a beginning of an affair with him, leaving the poor, kind fiance of hers hanging on the side. And then she lectures her siblings of responsibilities and not forgetting them and being an adult and taking care of things? Ikaw na, ikaw na ang malabo!

Ikaw na, Coco Martin, ang mag-portray ng chick boy na nakabuntis sa karakter ni Shaina Magdayao na bigla na lang sumulpot (literally, under an umbrella on a rainy day, just standing there outside this bida family’s house without saying anything, hanlabo). Since Shaina’s character was somewhat a meek and mild-mannered poor girl, the mother figure let her stay in their house for the duration of her pregnancy, to the resentment of Coco’s character, of course. But one freaky night, he undresses and forces himself on her, and she can’t do anything about it, and after a few humping and pumping scenes, close up on his and her face as he slowly realizes that he loves her, and they kiss, like lovers. Wow. Now how’s that for covering up rape? Bali-baligtarin mo man ang pelikulang ito, ang ginawa na iyon ni Coco ay rape. It wasn’t planted anywhere earlier that he still likes Shaina’s character, so this is clearly rape. And this is clearly scary. And this is really maddening. My nostrils are flaring as I type this. It’s so infuriating! What message are you trying to relay with this one? Na dahil nabuntis na naman niya ang babae, puwede na niyang halayin ulit dahil nasa kama naman niya sa bahay naman nila at buntis na naman ng batang siya ang ama naman? Naman! Tumbling talaga ako dito.

At ikaw na, dear audience, ang manood ng pelikulang ito para ipagpatuloy na hanapin kung may kagandahan nga ba ito o wala. Aside from being religiously preachy (the Santo Nino/Mama Mary/various saints and religious icons designs in almost all scenes, plus that let’s-pray-while-hugging-the-sick-instead-of-calling-the-ambulance scene – OMG this scene is so fucked, wait for it, don’t walk out yet), this film is a failure in its execution of a story that sounded so contrived to begin with. Aside from questioning the other gender-based double standards of this film, the story plots out like a super-fast weekly television teleserye drama where plot point upon plot point upon plot point are unraveled so fast that it seems to be anticipating the next upcoming commercial gap. It doesn’t help that most scenes, especially the dramatic ones, are always framed in close-ups and medium shots and scenes just get dumped one after the other that you would think the filmmakers are allergic to this cinematic device called the establishing shot were you should put at least some semblance of contextualization of what’s happening in the scene, or where it’s taking place, or who the leads of that particular scene are. Ang gulo, ang labo, ang bilis.

This is the problem when people work too much on television; they forget that cinema has a different set of aesthetics altogether. Review, guys, review. Let the scenes breathe, and give the characters some pacing, so that they won’t resort to the usual melodramatic histrionics of releasing angst shouts on an open space or magdadabog ng walang kaabog-abog at magsisisigaw sa inis at magsisira ng gamit sa kuwarto. Puwede niyo namang i-execute ito ng maayos at maganda, e, without resorting to the old and ho-hum tricks. For instance, two bright and shining examples of this is when Bea Alonzo’s character confronted the father for the first time and just cursed at him, a curse that has been ten years in the making. That was good. Another was when, after the mother told Bea of a secret, she just cried there in the rain, under an umbrella, her hand silently covering her mouth, because they are outside a church after all, so no noisy histrionics there. E puwede naman palang ganun, e! Aside from those two scenes, I can’t find anything redeemable about this dangerously anti-women film.

Which got us thinking last Friday. Ito ba ang pamilyang Pilipino? We thought of asking ourselves, since cinema seems to depict Filipino families this way over the years — histrionics, ma-drama, and all that. Sure, some families are even worse than this, but is this representative of what the Filipino family is like? Hm, that’s up to you to find out, and see.

As for me, the main regret in watching this film is not having any chicha while watching it. I certainly needed the distraction. Oh well, you watch, you learn.

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!

THE BRAVE ONE

Posted in drama film, Hollywood dream factory, women's issues in film on September 17, 2007 by leaflens

[FROM MY OLD MULTIPLY SITE]

originally posted at leaflens.blogspot.com

—————–

dahil hindi na ko makapaghintay…

…chichichiryahin ko na itong bagong pelikula ni jodie foster my love.

yes, my love, dahil ang tagal ko nang itinakwil ang debosyon ko sa kanya mula nang mapag-trip-an niyang maging mas action star-ish (FLIGHT PLAN, PANIC ROOM) o kaya’y dekorasyon sa mga pelikulang kelangan ng pag-aayos ng kwento (THE INSIDE MAN, DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS). pero mula pa noong bagu-bago pa lang ang internet sa buhay ko e nauna na ang debosyon ko kay jodie nang masilayan ko sa sinehan ang kagalingan niya bilang aktor (THE ACCUSED, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, NELL, CONTACT) at minsan din ay direktor (LITTLE MAN TATE, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS) kahit sa sige na nga, magaling siyang umarteng hetero kahit ang ka-akting niya ay banban (SOMMERSBY) o sobrang bilib sa sarili (MAVERICK) pero alam naman naming lahat na ang tawag niya sa co-parent ng kanyang mga anak ay partner at matagal nang inaabangan ng sangkalesbyanahan ang kanyang pag-amin na siya ang aming numero unong diyosa. 🙂

but i digress. let’s go to this film.

THE BRAVE ONE
d. neil jordan
dop. philippe rousselot
c. jodie foster

it’s been a while since i’ve seen a neil jordan film. i like the way he directs because he knows how to visualize a well-written material. he knows how to communicate with his production people, his dop most especially, and the actors of course, that’s why he could get the most out of all of them and make one great concoction that is so meaty, refreshing, satisfying, and thought-provoking. similar examples are THE CRYING GAME and INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE.

hm, is it strange or is there a lot of homoeroticism going on in the characters of these two films? so it might not be a wonder if jodie herself appears so freakingly dykey butchy here in the film, which made me — and i’m sure a host of other jodie-devoted dykes out there — fall in love with her anew.

and fall is right. because finally, after years of hibernation, jodie emerges with a film that befits her stature as a great thespian. finally, good material for jodie! at eto na nga yun.

the story is good. she plays erica, a talk radio host who ruminates on the essence of new york city and its streets chever. she even records sounds of the city. at ang ganda kasi it’s been ages din since i saw a film focus on sounds as life ek. at okay ito. tapos maganda rin ang discussion na “why don’t my hands shake” chever na na-feel niya when she makes killings with her 9mm automatic gun. boy, would i want to do that din, no? kaya i’m sure daming babaeng relate dito kaya nga sabi niya regarding the many outraged women out there e marami kami out there. at tama siya doon. hundreds, if not thousands of women are harassed, abused or downright killed just because they/we are seen as weaker than men. kaya when she makes killings vigilante style, men, sarap lang ng feeling kahit visceral lang. as in. well, not really. kasi ako i also target shoot as a hobby before (rifle, not pistol) , pero not anymore, since i got my glasses. at saka wala akong tinamaan na tao. although i really wish… some people…

natatawa lang ako kasi iba talaga ang nakikita ko sa pelikulang ito. o masyado bang purple-colored ang lenses ko? pero kasi naman ati, sobrang dykey lang talaga ng hitsura ng lola jodie dito eh. from the simple colored shirts to the straight cut jeans and the fitting jackets, especially the leather ones! ang simple pero ang cool! and ang lesbian! hahahahaha. and the way she walks din. postura baga. sometimes she’s so andro, sometimes she’s so butchy, soft butchy nga lang, the kind i’ll make patol to hahaha and the kind i have been accused/labeled from time to time. hahahaha. hay…

nakakaaliw lang din isipin na ang galing niyang i-shake off ang kanyang clarice sterling fbi agent training of holding a gun at kaya niyang palabasin ang first time gun holder chever dito. winner!

winner din ang support cast, from mary steenburgen to that detective dude. okay rin yung interracial ek na ang fiance niya ay isang indian national. cool.

saka hindi mo iintindihin ang haba ng film. 2 hours lang siya pero hindi siya mahaba. maganda kasi ang storytelling pace, plus i also like to look at how rousselot, one of my favorite dops of all time, lights the scene. siya rin ang nag-ilaw sa INTERVIEW and other films i also visually love like CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, LA REINE MARGOT (with another of my loves, isabelle adjani), CONSTANTINE and HENRY AND JUNE.

gusto ko rin yung discussion na you become someone else when something tragic or traumatic happens to you. tama siya doon. kaya maganda yung characterization because it’s real and it’s honest. and most important of all, it’s valid. kasi tama, you never go back to who you are after you experience something traumatic, lalo na sa mga babae, be it as “simple” as being mugged or maholdap ka sa fx, ma-harass ng isang manyak, as emotionally complicated as experiencing the death of a loved one (relative, parent, friend, sibling) or having your heart broken for the first, second or nth time, or worse, being molested or raped. no, my dears, you never go back to who you once were. tama yung film, you become someone else, and most often, that someone is indeed a stranger. like how many of you out there feel that you don’t know yourselves anymore after such a traumatic experience? think about it.

that’s what i like about this film. kahit simple lang kung titignan ang string of events, marami siyang insights na papag-isipin ka deep down. kaya keri ko siya.

o bilis, nood na! dapat big screen. sayang dop ni rousselot kapag sa dvd lang pinanood ito!

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