18 August 2008

sige na nga, bago ko makalimutan...


chichiryahin ko na ang cinemalaya full-length films.

in order of viewed films.



MY FAKE AMERICAN ACCENT
d. ned trespeces
s., p., ned trespeces, onnah valera
dop. jke see

pitch: about the lives of young and old call center agents, the newest kind of yuppies on the philippine scene

catch: camera handling needs polishing

i like this film, and not because mga kabarkada ko ang gumawa hehehe. kaya maiintindihan din nila (i hope :) ) ang constructive criticism na sasabihin ko dito.

i like ned's sensitivity as a filmmaker. his sensitivity as a scriptwriter shows kasi. his material is not that mainstream. it actually treads on that border between mainstream and independent, in terms of storytelling, story handling, (choices of) characterization, and narrative development. this is evident in his star cinema-produced script JOLOGS where multiple characters are given short times to interact with each other and to have each of their lives unfold a bit, creating a narrative chain that sustains the viewers' interests from beginning to end. he utilized the same technique in TRABAHO, his first digital full-length, about the travails of jobhunting.

with this new film, he still utilizes the same sensibilities by unfolding the lives of call center agents. and i like the humor and wit; so contemporary kaya ride ka agad. i think that's the charm of his material, and his films. and for me, that works. wala kang masyadong mabigat na three-act structure na aabangan (very indie) pero may makukuha ka pa ring narrative satisfaction in the end or within the course of the film (very mainstream) so best of both worlds talaga.

my glitch about this film is that bitin siya. i guess kung may mga ganitong naratibo, talagang mabibitin ka kapag konting panahon lang ang naiuukol sa mga karakter. pero kung kumpara sa TRABAHO, parang mas buo iyon in terms of narrative expectations. o siguro talagang naaliw lang ako sa MY FAKE kaya i want to see more.

glitch din ng kaunti ang handling sa character ni mailes kanapi, that team leader-manager (whatever it's called) na bida. i'm not sure how mailes saw her role, pero parang caricature-ish ang treatment niya sa karakter niya (na very teatro ang dating for me) kaya parang na-off ako minsan. parang exag na hindi, parang OA na hindi. lam mo yun? basta, parang ganun ang pull-tug sa character attack. feeling ko nahihiya ang director to direct her baga. minsan talaga, may ganun.

yun ding camerawork minsan. may konting depokadong eksena na yung bg ang focused at ang fg ay hindi. sorry jke! pero i think this is really the folly of the digital technology e. kasi sa shoot ko sa gma, minsan ganyan din ang nangyayari sa cameraman. i wonder why. last na. once, nakita din ang reflection ng camcrew sa eksena. iwas lang sana! :) peace, people.

well, yun lang naman. this is still highly recommended. i like that it doesn't give a heavyhanded lecture on the pros and cons of call center life. casual lang, and that works well.



BABY ANGELO
d. joel ruiz and abi aquino
c. ces quesada, mark gil and a host of others

pitch: about the landlady's search for the person who threw a fetus in the garbage near her apartment compound

catch: nasan ang naratibo?

what happened to the drained look of this film? it doesn't really help the story at all.

as usual, storylines like this are not new. put different types of characters in one setting and let them interact. put a whodunit path para may konting tatakbuhan ang kuwento. and then end it. but how? ayan ang naging prublema ng film. it knew what to start with, when to start, but sustaining what it started was hard for the filmmakers. in the end, we just get an ending na...wala, kelangan lang tapusin. hindi siya bitin, kasi wala kang makagatang malaman na kuwento in the first place. it doesn't work, sorry.

it doesn't help din na the characters are expected na sa kanilang roles. masyadong cookie cutter na siya. yung iba naman, di mo alam ano purpose. yung iba, weird na out of character siya. i'm particularly iffy about those two garbagemen who were feeling icky and all that when they picked up the trash and saw a fetus inside. hindi na sila ganun kasensitibo sa mga napupulot at nakukuha nila sa trash! have you actually seen actual garbagemen pick up trash and all? ang weird lang nito sobra. hay.

sayang pera.



CONCERTO
d. paul morales
c. meryll soriano, shamaine buencamino, nonoy froilan, jay aquitania

pitch: about a wwII story of a family who hid in davao but has music as their refuge ek

catch: hindi kumeri ang pitch na to, kahit well-funded siya!

memoirs of a war nga ang pelikulang ito, tungkol sa isang pamilyang kung saan-saan napadpad kakatakas sa japs during the war, where their father endured hardships and all. sadly, hindi ito lahat nakikita. bagkus, nalalaman ito through expository dialogue na kinukuwento na lang ng mga karakters. eg "kawawa naman si tatay, dalawang taon siyang kinulong ng mga kempentai(sp?) at pinahirapan.." chenes. haysus. nagpelikula ka pa. sana bumili na lang ako ng kopya ng book na pinagbasehan nito, matutuwa pa ko.

tapos weird lang na musika eklat ang nagtatahi sa pamilya eklat para mabuhay chorva, e before the war, wla naman tayong nakitang ganoon kabigat o memorable na episodes kung saan music prominently figured in their lives (cross-reference: watch polanski's THE PIANIST!), save from one scene or two na tumutugtog sa bahay ng piano si ate at sister at nakikinig ang boylet siblings. kaya sobrang walang impact yung na-ship na yung piano sa bukid na pinagtataguan ng family tapos they played pa a concerto sa bukid for the japanese soldiers na naging friendships na nila. hay! ang hirap! ang hirap tanggapin ng narrative unfolding nito. i'll just read the book siguro... sayang ang akting. akting! weird din na parang may mga sexual tension ang characters, especially the siblings! ewan ko. may ganung feel. basta. o baka gutom na ko while watching this. hohum.



JAY
d. francis pasion
c. baron geisler

pitch: a gay reality tv news reporter follows the wake of a murdered gay man, twisting some truths and enhancing some facts all for the glory of tv ratings

catch: TUHOG REDUX, anyone?

the film is very talkative and aptly so, for the medium that it presents in the film (the world of television broadcast chuva, especially of the current affairs/public affairs type). however, i just find it too talkative sometimes that i need a breather/break from too much words. i wanted visuals.

visuals. yes, they're here, and the camerawork is okay naman. very tv lang nga din ang approach at attack. sige, apt na rin sa kuwento.

actingwise, okay siya. nakakatuwa si baron lalo na yung nakikipaglandian siya kay coco martin, yung "basaan tayo. sasabunin kita" ek. hahahaha! typical! funny. he deserved the award.

the story is okay. contemporary, i guess, that's why the foreign judges found it quaint. but for someone who has seen jeff jeturian's TUHOG, it might be bothersome. kasi parehong-pareho ng handling. does it matter that tuhog's scriptwriter was jay's script consultant? i'm not sure if that was a good move on sir bing lao's part. and the director thanking jeff during the screening was...weird.

it's a kind of film you only see once, and that's it. novelty ang dating. sayang. siguro the narrative handling could have made a difference in turning it into a timeless piece. pero parang...mahirap ata yun. talagang pang-here and now lang siyang pelikula. yes, sometimes merong ganun. at eto na nga yun.




HULING PASADA
d. paul sta. ana
c. agot isidro

pitch: a writer deals with the separation from her husband by writing her feelings and hardships into a fiction novel which we also see unfold along with her own narrative

catch: dumaan lang siya, yun na

it's nice na ang isang pelikula ay nag-focus sa isang writer--at fiction writer pa!-- bilang bida. tapos pinakita din ang kanyang sinusulat na kuwento sa atin. novel within a film. tapos nakita natin na ang mga karakter na nag-portray ng fictional characters niya ay ang "real-life" characters na nakakasalamuha niya sa buhay niya (hello shades of dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ). pero parang hanggang doon na lang ang charm ng pelikula.

ito yung film na dadaan lang sa iyo, walang masyadong major impact or emotional dent. hindi ko mawari kung bakit. ripe naman ang naratibo for plausible richer scenes, given the kinds of conflicts it presented. kaya lang parang dumaan lang talaga siya, just like the pasada ng taxi na siyang bida sa nobela sa pelikula. dumaan lang.

in fairness, magaling ang akting ng mga aktor. they were handled well. the camerawork i'm not too happy about. may off sa framing, lalo na yung nagsasalita ang characters tapos nasa edge tapos parang saliwa pag pinagdikit ang dalawang shots shot this way. basta. there's something wrong about the visual language; medyo hindi pa siya hasa. passable, pero needs polishing sobra.



NAMETS
d. jay abello
c. christian vasquez, angel jacob

pitch: bacolod bred ex-lovers work together to find the right cuisine of their upcoming restaurant, and in a way find that that is the way to each other's hearts. ek.

catch: saliwa ang camera handling te

cute itong film! one-time watch lang siya pero may novelty kahit papaano. that o baka biased lang ako dahil i love negrense (tama ba term?) cuisine. i heart bacolod and the food and the quaint surroundings and the diction of the ilonggos. tama, biased lang ako. hehe. i wanna be an honorary ilonggo kasi hahaha!

cute yung film. the story is simple: love story pero hindi siya a la star cinema-kilig factor, pero you still find yourself na kinikilig. it helps na siguro maganda ang onscreen chemistry ng actors. at ewan ko lang kung bakit pero when i saw angel jacob outside the cinema, hotness siya! kahit sa screen, hindi naman gaano. hahaha. now this is biased! hahaha. ewan.

in fairness, maganda ang film kahit na obviously rahrah pro-negros chorva ang materyal, pero ang maganda, hindi halata ang pagka-rahrah niya madalas, at hindi salamat-po-dept-of-tourism ang approach. although weird lang minsan yung character ni christian na chef chuva siya pero di niya ma-sense ang basic ingredients ng negrense cooking chuva. flaw itong malaki. sana ibang motivation na lang ang binigay sa kanya kung bakit hindi niya bet ang local cuisine nila in the first place. sayang.

off din ang camerawork dito. may eksenang nagsasagutan na ang lovers pero nakatalikod pa rin si gelay. among other shots. sayang. needs polishing.

all in all, its simplicity worked. hindi siya spectacular, hindi siya pang-award, mainstream ng konti ang sensitivity pero pumapatok naman. watch!




100
d. chris martinez
c. mylene dizon, eugene domingo, tessie tomas

pitch: a woman diagnosed with cancer lists the 100 things she should do before she dies, and does them

catch: BUCKET LIST, anyone?

sure, sure, what plot is original these days, eh. pero the handling of this story was good. so very good. madaming napanalunan ito, directing and script ata included. well-deserved. simple lang, polished in an upper middle class way (think early viva films of the 80s), and acted well. maganda yung nuances ng characters dahil lahat sila buong-buo, have a life of their own, and can stand alone when tested. okay siya. natulungan siya ng magandang script, yung good editing pulse at acting and direction. sample: yung scene na first time nadiskubre ng nanay ng may kanser yung sakit. nasa ospital at nakaratay si mylene, sabay pasok hagulhol si tessie at hyperventilate, cut to next shot nasa wheelchair na si mylene at si tessie na ang nakaratay sa hospital bed. hahahaha! simple yet well-executed in all counts. winner! nakakatuwa siya. at gusto ko ang script kasi witty rin siya, contemporary witty, contemporary witty na lasting, hindi lang pang-here and now ang quality. now that's classic!

gusto ko rin na hindi heavyhanded ang mga eksenang dapat e sad, lalo na yung patukoy sa kanser niya. maganda yung pagka-casual ng treatment pero may weight pa rin, lam mo yun? basta, okay siya. nice. watch!



BOSES
d. ellen ongkeko-marfil
c. coke bolipata, ricky davao, cherry pie picache

pitch: a bitter violinist and a physically abused boy find bonding as healing via the music of their violins. ek.

catch: not so new narrative

the story's not new. sampu sampera din ang ganitong seeking refuge of abused souls via art ek, especially music. marami nang films na ganito. what's refreshing siguro dito is the superb talent of the child prodigy na naglalaro talaga ng violin. doesn't require too much acting prowess din kasi pipi ang role niya. although minsan parang so unicef-heavy ang film na parang nakakairita na. pero maganda na may ganitong awareness sa pelikula. at maganda rin na ang approach ay walang tuldok sa abuser father na posibleng ma-reunite with the abused son later on. pero di na natin kelangang makita ito, kaya di na nila pinakita. open-ended. ang pinakita lang, ang superb violin playing prowess ng kid, and that's that. simple. mentor-student narrative. no big expectations, and sometimes, that works. enjoy the film lang. yun na. it's worth watching, if only to see coke bolipata act and his child prodigy play. nice siya.



RANCHERO
d. michael cardoz
c. archie adamos, garry lim

pitch: the story of the last day of a prisoner who serves as the prison cook

catch: parang nanatili siyang pitch

michael's my former student sa upfi and i really like the way he handled his thesis short film. but playing the mainstream way might not be his biggest quality, as yet. i'm not sure what happened to this film (okay, i partly know hehe but i'm not telling!) kasi parang ang feeling e tinamad na siyang ituloy ang development ng kuwento (consequence ba ito?). maganda sana ang ina-achieve nitong "real-time mode" in unfolding of the narrative, pero dapat it was also well-choreographed in the way shots were made. we get the sense na pinapa-feel sa audience ang banality of life in prison, yung pagka-bagot, boredom ek. pero there's a way of doing this, not just through making longtake babads with scenes without an emotional focus. sayang.

saka my biggest beef here is, hindi marunong maghiwa at magtalop ng foodstuff ang mga ranchero! dapat may konti silang culinary training before the shoot. kasi kung ang reason e preso sila at lalaki at wala talagang alam kaya nag-imbento sila ng sariling style, hindi ito akma. halatang hindi marunong maghiwa ng sibuyas man lang ang mga ito. at ang kapal nilang magbalat ng gulay! dapat alam na nila by now how to make tipid sa paghiwa para mas maraming laman di ba? hay. sorry maikel, avid fan ng lifestyle/food network ang lola mo kaya i can't let this go. but the others, i think i can.

sayang lang ang ending. again, naratibong bitin ito. sayang, malaki pa naman ang potential ng material. sana hindi nabitawan ang development...



BRUTUS
d. tara illenberger
c. yul servo

pitch: mangyan children who work as helpers of illegal loggers in mindoro meet lots of "social issue" obstacles in their task

catch: nalunod sa NGO-ship ang kuwento

maganda sana sobra ang premise ng pelikula. it has an obvious statement on the environment, particularly illegal logging (although off lang yung music video-ish sa gitna na may modang 'mahalin ang kalikasan chorva' to the tune of a joey ayala song). but along the way, the story was marred by a wayward unfolding that left the story without a clear-cut focus.

it's a simple story sana about two kids who want to make extra money the illegal way, by being "brutus" -- people who bring the cut wood to the lowlads via hidden means. along the way, dami nilang nadaanan at bawat dinaanan e dagdag sa kuwentong nakapagpalayo ng konti o malaki sa main plot nila. i guess that's the point: too many subplots na sinubukang i-resolve isa-isa at minsan nakakalimutan balikan ang main plot ng dalawang bata.

it doesn't help din na ang mga dialogues dito mostly sound like advocacy pieces, lalo na when that waxing poetic of a character ni ronnie lazaro as the army soldier with a golden heart speaks his mind. tapos si yul servo andun din to speak for the NPAs and why their fight makes sense pa rin chuva. kaya lang for a neps, hindi siya magaling gumalaw sa bundok! ang labo. parang ma-o-off balance siya sa pag-step sa kahoy, sa bato, etc. wala siyang liksi ati. parang hindi niya alam kung san tatapak -- and not because hindi siya familiar sa place kaya nagpatulong siya sa kids for directions. not to mention, as mentioned by another indie filmmaker somewhere, na ang bright color ng shirt niya, at bagong bago ang jeans! hihihi. nitpicking i know pero may point: that adds realism kasi to the story, kaya sana the production designer focused on having a believable and deliverable mise en scene. sayang.

high point ng film ay ang editing. i guess that is still tara's strength, given the years of service niya editing mainstream full-lengths. that one worked, especially during the scenes na natangay ng rumaragasang ilog ang balsa at mga bata. panalo ito te! the other aspects, sorry pero they still need lots of work. the camerawork is good, though. good colors and shots.




okay yun na. trabaho lang folks, walang pikunan!

see you next year!


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