And we’ve finally reached the end. After almost a week of being in CCP, I’ve finally managed to see all 15 films in competition this year both in the New Breed and Director’s Showcase category. As a reminder, here are the four earlier parts of my Cinemalaya coverage: Part 1 (which has Real Florido’s “1st Ko si 3rd“, Giancarlo Abrahan’s “Dagitab“, and Milo Sogueco’s “Mariquina”), Part 2 (covering Francis Pasion’s “Bwaya“, Gino M. Santos’ “#Y“, and GB Sampedro’s “S6parados”), Part 3 (includes Ida Anita del Mundo’s “K’na the Dreamweaver“, Joselito Altarejos’ “Kasal“, and Louie Ignacio’s “Asintado”), and Part 4 (which is composed of Joel Lamangan’s “Hustisya“, Michael Tuviera’s “The Janitor“, and Derick Cabrido’s “Children’s Show“). As for the last three films of the fest…
Director: Nick Olanka
Cast: Aiai delas Alas, Carlos Morales, Carlo Aquino, Perla Bautista, Julian Trono
Competition: New Breed
Ronda follows a typical work night for policewoman Paloma Arroyo (Aiai delas Alas) and her partner as they catch thieves and arrest minor prostitutes while going around the metro. The only difference is that her son, Leo, has been missing for days now after telling that he’ll do a school project with one of his classmates.
The film opens with a long continuous shot of a roaming police car getting in and out of random streets maybe to further highlight what’s it like to be in Arroyo’s day work. This seemed like a really long set up for something but there really isn’t anything to look forward to. In between these, we encounter some interesting breaks such as Carlo Aquino’s thief role, Angeli Bayani’s nagging persistent reporter, and Bernardo Bernardo’s pimp to minors, but then again, they’re just that. They’re breaks in between something which wasn’t totally established. Then we’re reminded again that Arroyo still has to look for her son. And that she cares, but no establishment of such has been made for a compelling side story. In the end, when the film finally decided to move the story forward, it suddenly stopped. Whether these two stories are related nor if they’re bound to be connected in the first place, I really have no idea which leads me to believe that the film would have benefited from a balance of some sort in order to either make the first part more solid or the latter part more memorable — neither of which the film achieved to do. I get it though that one of the film’s selling points is Aiai delas Alas’ serious acting, which she really nailed here especially in the last part. But I think her countless Maalaala Mo Kaya drama episodes have already proven that, so I wasn’t really “shattered” per se by her more serious approach here (which was really subdued). If anything, my main consolation with it were the shots of Manila’s arresting visuals at night that showed the gritty and raw side and it takes a pro to showcase such.
HARI NG TONDO
Director: Carlos Siguion Reyna
Cast: Robert Arevalo, Cris Villonco, Rez Cortez, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Aiza Seguerra, Ciara Sotto
Competition: Directors Showcase
When wealthy man Ricardo Villena (Robert Arevalo) was informed that he’s close to bankruptcy, he decided to go back to his roots and take his runaway bride niece Anna (Cris Villonco) and college drop out nephew Ricky (Rafa Siguion-Reyna) to Tondo to learn how to grow a pair of balls, even if it’s against his offspring’s consent.
Movies nowadays rely on the flashy visuals or twist-y storytelling in order to ensure that they’d be spared from “copycat” or “same old same old” comments. But what’s faulty in that equation is that it doesn’t really need those as long as you’re aware of the limits of your material. That’s probably the biggest asset of Carlos Siguion Reyna’s comeback film Hari ng Tondo. The film, which even borders on too staged at times, doesn’t attempt to be a deeper, more cathartic version of anything. Its approach was direct to the point, and it effectively worked. Sure there are cliches here and there, and the film can’t help itself but to be too much of a Glee episode (during its peak) at times, but these things fit the material and what you get is an earnest depiction of its situations. This is a film that can be picked and tortured to pieces, but how it prevented such is by attempting to be heartfelt and genuine. I can’t help but somehow mirror the situation of Ricardo to the overall appeal of the film. Both the lead character and Siguion-Reyna tried to take a risk by going back to an old route that might or might not work, and the end result just speaks for itself. This is a crowd pleasing film whose cheesy approach will appeal aims to both serious critics and casual movie goers. The ensemble was commendable, and the songs here were really catchy. Dare I say, that by far, the local feel good film of the year.
Director: Janice O’Hara
Cast: Marc Abaya, Enzo Pineda, Isaac Aguirre, Elijah Canlas, Akira Morishita, Angelo Martinez, Nathaniel Britt
Competition: New Breed
Set in the 40s before the Japanese conquered the country, Sundalong Kanin is about four young lads who all wanted to be a solider when they grow up. The said invasion left an impact on the thinking process of the children when they learned what a soldier really is about.
Indeed, save the best for last. My last film from this year’s competition turned out to be the surprise I’m waiting for. Every year, I wait for that one breakout hit that will just sweep me off my feet like that of last year’s Transit and Purok 7. And I should have already seen it coming that it will be a film that has children on the forefront. Sundalong Kanin is one of the lesser buzzed entries in the film fest, as it has no big stars in it nor the “cool” image some entries had. But what it has up its sleeve is a heartbreaking coming of age tale of what happens when you’re confronted by your dreams at an early stage in your life. Director Janice O’Hara’s approach of opening the film in a somewhat comedic manner before seamlessly shifting to serious made the whole transition more effective. When children are already awaken of the actual concept of the one thing they have wanted, it becomes a battle of reality versus expectation. The film is aware enough to highlight the difference between such and the conflict and impact it leaves to these children. What’s more fantastic about the movie is despite running on a limited budget, none of it looked cheap. The four children ensemble also didn’t disappoint with all of them getting their own moments. Sundalong Kanin is one of the festival’s best entries, and the good word it has received by far is really well deserved.
And that’s it for Cinemalaya X. Whew I finished it earlier than expected. Dagitab and Sundalong Kanin were my favorites from this year with #Y, Mariquina, and Hari ng Tondo as the other solid entries. Both Children’s Show and 1st Ko Si 3rd were good as well. The rest ranged from good but flawed to outright horrible. On Sunday, I will be posting a complete recap of this year’s films including my rankings, picks, and predictions on who’ll end up winning at the awards ceremony.
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