Cinemalaya Sa Aking Mata

2015-category-title-review-film20180803-review-cinemalaya-sa-aking-mata-intro

Bahagi na ng buhay ko ang Cinemalaya.

Ito ang nagsisilbing homecoming ko taon-taon sa tahanan ng ating napakatingkad ngunit mapanghamong sining ng pelikula. Pinaglalaanan ko ito ng pera at panahon dahil sa panahong ang ideya ng pinilakang-tabing ay nagkakaroon ng kalabuan, ang Cinemalaya ay tanglaw na marami pang magaganda’t may saysay na pelikula para sa kasalukuyang henerasyon. Mag-isa man o kasama ang mga kaibigan, ang Cinemalaya ay may ekstraordinaryong puwang sa aking kamalayan bilang Pilipino.

Dito sa Aurora Metropolis, nagkaroon din ng ispesyal na sandali ang Cinemalaya. Apat na pelikulang tampok sa ikapitong edisyon nito noong 2011 ang hinimay ko gamit ang aking sapat na kaalaman sa pelikula at binigyan ng sariling pananaw na may kaugnayan sa ating lipunan. Ang tinawag ko rito ay “Cinemalaya sa Aking Mata”.

Tatlong taon ang nagdaan, sa selebrasyon ng unang dekada ng Cinemalaya, napili ang inyong lingkod bilang isa sa mga kauna-unahang set ng peer reviewer sa Cinemalaya Campus, isang film education program na nagtuturo sa high school students at mga mag-aaral ng pelikula sa kolehiyo kung paano sumulat ng movie review. Ang pagkakataong ito ay tunay na karangalan dahil hindi lang nito nabigyang-kilala ang kakayahan kong mag-rebyu kundi ang kakayahan kong magbigay-inspirasyon gamit ang pagsusulat.

Dalawang taon din akong hindi nakapunta sa CCP para sa Cinemalaya dahil sa trabaho. Kaya ngayong 2018 ay nangako akong babawi sa naging tahanan ng pagmamahal ko sa pelikula. Muling papagaspas ang aking mga pakpak patungo sa pugad ng Cinemalaya sa CCP at tangkilikin ang mga magagandang obra ng ating panahon.

At pitong taon pagkatapos ng una nitong lathala, bubuhayin din ng inyong lingkod ang Cinemalaya sa Aking Mata at susulat muli ng maraming review para sa taong ito sa abot ng aking makakaya. Ito ay bilang pakikiisa sa pagdiriwang ng ika-14 na anibersaryo ng Cinemalaya at ng aking ika-13 anibersaryo bilang fanboy ng Cinemalaya.

layout-red-line copy
Ang 14th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, na may temang “Wings of Vision” ay magaganap mula August 3 hanggang August 12, 2018 sa Cultural Center of the Philippines at sa mga piling Ayala Cinemas sa buong bansa. Para sa schedule, i-click ito.

 

 

cropped-article-stoper.png

REVIEW | Ang Babaeng Humayo [The Woman Who Left] (2016)

2015-category-title-review-film2016-poster-ang-babaeng-humayo

“Di mo ‘ko kilala. ‘Pag nakilala mo ako, matatakot ka.”

In a world where truth hides between kindness and darkness, there is no other way to reveal it than disguise in kindness in the midst of darkness. This is what Horacia Somarostro (Charo Santos-Concio) did when she found out the truth after thirty years of suffering inside the correctional because of a crime she did not commit in the first place.

A schoolteacher prior to her imprisonment, Horacia spends the first days of her restored freedom by planning to kill Rodrigo Trinidad (Michael de Mesa), a powerful man in a remote island town who used to be her ex-lover. Rodrigo was the mastermind behind her incarceration, according to a written confession by Horacia’s closest fellow inside the prison Petra (Sharmaine Centenera-Buencamino) before she killed herself. Petra was the real person who did the crime that they blamed to Horacia and it was done through Rodrigo’s orders. She wants to seek retribution by ending Rodrigo’s life in her own hands before finding for her lost son Junior who was last seen in the streets of Manila. There she becomes Renata, an owner of a small eatery by day and a gallant hoodlum who wanders in the streets by night. She makes friends with Mameng (Jean Judith Javier), a mentally-challenged street dweller and Kuba (Nonie Buencamino), a hunchbacked street vendor to gather pieces of details about Rodrigo’s whereabouts.

2016-review-pic-humayo-01

During her surveillance, she also met with Hollanda (John Lloyd Cruz), an epileptic transgender drag queen who roves around the town for hasty sexual encounters. Like Horacia’s tattoos inside her clothes, Hollanda has his own mysterious persona behind the fancy dress, three-inch-heeled shoes, fake boobs and make-up. Their coincidental connection leads them to an event where they finally get their desired outcome. As a gesture of his gratitude for Horacia’s fading kindness, Hollanda gunned down Rodrigo which makes him confine in permanent gloom inside the prison. On the other hand, Horacia, after embracing undeserved darkness for a long time attained unexpected light in Hollanda’s murder of Rodrigo. However, she has to enter into another chapter of darkness as she moves to Manila and throw her luck to track her beloved son.

Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left) was Lav Diaz’s one of the shortest yet most elaborate magnum opus to date. His way of writing Horacia’s journey can be compared to a heartbreaking literature: a compilation of real-life stories of a nation immortalized by fictional tales and deep poems.  Despite breaking his traditional slower-phased scenes that made his past films longer than traditional movies, he did not fail to pass on the same magic of realism and cinematic chiaroscuro in this almost 4-hour masterpiece. Some may criticize about Diaz’s continuity style but its unpredictable transfer from sequence to another makes the viewers adjust to the sudden change of emotions or mood of the story. He was able to sensibly integrate totally different eras, situations and perspectives when he applied Leo Tolstoy’s 1872 short story “God Sees The Truth But Waits” in a 1997 setting when the world was overwhelmed by events such as the historic Hong Kong turnover to China, the death of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa and the kidnapping crisis in the Philippines. With his flawless embroidery of Horacia’s journey, it seemed that the film becomes a more modern version of Diaz’s other critically-acclaimed film “Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis” (A Lullaby To The Sorrowful Mystery) where history attempts to enlighten today’s society through realizations that people unintended or purposely ignore.

2016-review-pic-humayo-02

The public already expected to see a different Santos-Concio here but she still surprised the world in her more powerful performance as Horacia. She perfectly showed the main character’s enigmatic personas as she shifts from a caring storyteller, a compassionate old woman to a night-time heroine, and vice versa. Her encounters with all the characters were significantly remarkable as it all helped the story progressed slowly but crystal clear. Truly, like how Cruz described her in an interview, there was no trace of the “Ma’am Charo, the media giant executive” that Filipinos of this generation used to see on TV. Through Diaz’s directorial guidance and prowess, Ang Babaeng Humayo successfully awakened Santos-Concio’s “sleeping dragon” inside her that once made her Asia’s best actress in 1977.

Meanwhile, Cruz did not disappoint everyone in his portrayal as a she-male – a first in his nearly two-decade acting portfolio. Like Santos-Concio, he exceeded cineastes’ expectations his stunning performance in Hele which won the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival last February. Supporting casts led by Javier, Buencamino, de Mesa effectively represented Filipinos of different social classes which never changed from 1997 up to this day. They personified the common beliefs and doubts in God’s existence, how faith shapes a country’s collective psyche and how people live in a society that is controlled by money and false hope.

2016-review-pic-humayo-03

While few media observers have seen Diaz’s collaboration with mainstream producers (Cinema One Originals, a film production outfit under a cable channel of ABS-CBN where Santos-Concio continues to serve as one of the top honchos) as threat to the very purpose of creating a platform for the real independent Filipino cinema, Ang Babaeng Humayo’s road to victory can actually be a great example of how liberal and traditional moviemakers should meet halfway to produce and/or promote a deserving work of art. Today, this successfully-crafted merger between the unconventional filmmaker and the powerful producer gave the Philippines its first Golden Lion trophy in the world’s oldest film festival, the Venice Film Festival. It is just a matter of harmonious negotiation and balanced interests, and surely, it will benefit not just the film but also the entire Philippine film industry that is trapped in a state where getting efficient government support in terms of funding and incentives remains a struggle.

2016-review-pic-humayo-04

2016-ratings-review-ang-babaeng-humayo

Title: ANG BABAENG HUMAYO
International Title: THE WOMAN WHO LEFT
Date of Release: SEPTEMBER 28, 2016 (PHILIPPINE PREMIERE)
Award: GOLDEN LION (BEST FILM), 73RD VENICE FILM FESTIVAL

Studio: SINE OLIVIA PILIPINAS and CINEMA ONE ORIGINALS
Director: LAV DIAZ
Writer: LAV DIAZ
Screenplay: LAV DIAZ
Executive Producers: RONALD ARGUELLES and LAVRENTE DIAZ

Cast:

HORACIA – CHARO SANTOS-CONCIO
HOLLANDA – JOHN LLOYD CRUZ
RODRIGO – MICHAEL DE MESA
KUBA – NONIE BUENCAMINO
MAMENG – JEAN JUDITH JAVIER
PETRA – SHARMAINE CENTENERA-BUENCAMINO
WARDEN – MAE PANER
MARJ LORICO

MAYEN ESTAÑERO
PAOLO RODRIGUEZ
ROMELYN SALE
CACAI BAUTISTA
JO-ANN ROQUIESTAS
JULIUS EMPREDO

AURORA-NEW-LOGO-2015 copy_small

 

REVIEW | Honor Thy Father (Reality Entertainment, 2015)

2015-category-title-review-film

poster-honor-thy-father

Grabbed from Honor Thy Father Facebook page

“What will a man do to save his family? You don’t want to know.”

Most of us trust religion as source of answers to our questions. Our faith dictates us that God is the key to achieve success or surpass complexities in our lives. We consider spiritual leaders as messengers of the Heaven and it is just to contribute money for the church’s “expansion”. Religion makes everyone believe that God will provide even in the midst of our hardest life struggles – but not for Edgar (John Lloyd Cruz).

He is not a firm believer of their religious group, the Church of Yeshua, as oppose to his wife Kaye (Meryll Soriano) who works as an agent for his father’s investment scheme business. Everything was in order for Edgar’s family until they face the most difficult, life-changing challenge that even the sect where they belong was not able to help them. Edgar needs to save Kaye and his only daughter Angel (Krystal Brimner) from this family crisis at all cost, even if it means danger and denunciation from their so-called faith.

09

Erik Matti’s “Honor Thy Father” (also known as Con-Man) is a fresh entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) which has been dominated by comedy and horror films for over two decades. Following the success of his critically-acclaimed “On the Job” in 2013, Matti, along with writer Michiko Yamamoto crafted another masterpiece that elaborates the most critical issues today. The move by its studio (Reality Entertainment) and producers (Matti, Dondon Monteverde and Cruz) to screen a film that shows religion’s influence in the society during a religion-motivated holiday like Christmas was definitely courageous. However, the movie does not fail to relay a bold message that’s fit for the season – love for family. Camera angles are more into slow smooth panning shots and striking landscapes than shaky movements, manifesting calm aura in the midst of intense and nerve-racking scenes. The cinematography and lighting make us all feel the real ambiance of the Mountain Province and support the mood of every scene and emotions.

10

Cruz, a first-timer in producing movies, in joining MMFF and in portraying a role of a father, is undoubtedly marvelous. His stint in this year’s film fest signals a new and exciting era in his career as an artist. Soriano’s impressive performance elevates her to another notch-up of acting excellence. We can actually call her the Philippine independent cinema’s “diamond star”, a moniker adorned to her aunt, actress Maricel Soriano. In addition, portrayals of supporting cast, specifically veteran actors Tirso Cruz III (Bishop Tony) and William Martinez (Pastor Obet) as church leaders are significant and indeed commendable.

01

As of this writing, festival organizers disqualified “Honor Thy Father” for Best Picture and some malls are starting to pull it out in their theaters. For a movie that is timely, realistic and can give a sensible Christmas viewing experience, it is unfair for “Honor Thy Father” to seize its chance to make this generation’s filmmakers, film outfits and moviegoers realize that it’s time to revive the very purpose of MMFF’s creation: to showcase local cinema’s ingenuity in presenting the reality around our country.

2015-ratings-review-HONOR-THY-FATHER

Title: HONOR THY FATHER
Date of Release: DECEMBER 25, 2015
Official Entry to the 41ST METRO MANILA FILM FESTIVAL

Studio: REALITY ENTERTAINMENT
Director: ERIK MATTI
Screenplay: MICHIKO YAMAMOTO
Story: ERIK MATTI and MICHIKO YAMAMOTO
Executive Producers: DONDON MONTEVERDE, ERIK MATTI and JOHN LLOYD CRUZ

 

Cast:

EDGAR – JOHN LLOYD CRUZ
KAYE – MERYLL SORIANO
ANGEL – KRYSTAL BRIMNER
BISHOP TONY – TIRSO CRUZ III
PASTOR OBET – WILLIAM MARTINEZ
NANANG – PERLA BAUTISTA
LANDER VERA PEREZ
YAYO AGUILA
DAN FERNANDEZ
KHALIL RAMOS
BOOM LABRUSCA
DALIN SARMIENTO

 

AURORA-NEW-LOGO-2015 copy_small