Archive for the ‘cinemalaya 2013’ Tag

Cinemalaya 2013 Final Recap   Leave a comment

Photo courtesy of Rappler

In a few hours, the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival will officially come to an end. With that said, we still have the awards ceremony to look forward to. I’ll be posting my predictions and personal choices as well as my rankings of all the fifteen films in contention for this year.

Ranking of the 15 competition films this year:
1Sana Dati (Jerrold Tarog) – 5/5
2. Transit (Hannah Espia) – 4.5/5
3. Debosyon (Alvin Yapan) – 4.5/5
4, Purok 7 (Carlo Obispo) – 4/5
5. Quick Change (Eduardo Roy Jr.) – 4/5
6. Babagwa (Jason Paul Laxamana) – 3.5/5
7. Porno (Adolf Alix Jr.) – 3.5/5
8. Ekstra (Jeffrey Jeturian) – 3/5
9. Liars (Gil Portes) – 3/5
10. Rekorder (Mikhail Red) – 3/5
11. Amor Y Muerte (Cesar Evangelista) – 2.5/5
12. David F (Emmanuel Palo) – 2.5/5
13. Instant Mommy (Leo Abaya) – 2/5
14. Nuwebe (Joseph Israel Laban) – 1.5/5
15. The Diplomat Hotel (Christopher Ad Castillo) – 1.5/5

Ranking of the 10 short films:
1. Onang
(JE Tiglao) – 4/5
2. Sa Wakas
(Nica Santiago)  – 3.5/5
3. Missing
(Zig Dulay) – 3.5/5
4. Pukpok
(Joaquin Pantaleon, Immanuel Canicosa, Stephan Domingo) – 3/5
5. The Houseband’s Wife
(Paolo O’Hara) – 3/5
6. Para Kay Ama
(Relyn Tan) – 3/5
7. Bakaw
(Ron Segismundo) – 2.5/5
8. Taya
(Adi Bontuyan) – 2/5
9. Katapusang Labok
 (Aiess Alonso) – 2/5
10. Tutob
(Kissza Campano) – 1.5/5

NEW BREED CATEGORY PREDICTIONS:

1. Best Sound
Will Win: Ray Andrew San Miguel, Drew Millalos, “The Diplomat Hotel”
Could Win: Ray Andrew San Miguel, Andrew Millalos, “Debosyon”
Personal Pick: Ray Andrew San Miguel, Andrew Millalos, “Debosyon”

2. Best Original Music Score
Will Win: Teresa Barrozo, ABSCBN PhilHarmonic Orchestra, “Debosyon”
Could Win: Pepe Manikan, “Purok 7”
Personal Pick: Teresa Barrozo, ABSCBN PhilHarmonic Orchestra, “Debosyon”

3. Best Editing
Will Win: Fiona Borres, “Quick Change”
Could Win: Chuck Gutierrez, “Debosyon”
Personal Pick: Benjamin Tolentino, Hannah Espia “Transit”

4. Best Production Design
Will Win: Whammy Alcazaren, “The Diplomat Hotel”
Could Win: Joel Bilbao, “David F”
Personal Pick: Arthur Maningas, “Purok 7”

5. Best Cinematography
Will Win: Dexter dela Pena, “Debosyon”
Could Win: Marvin Reyes, “Purok 7”
Personal Pick: Dexter dela Pena, “Debosyon”

6. Best Screenplay
Will Win: Jason Paul Laxamana, “Babagwa”
Could Win: Carlo Obispo, “Purok 7”
Personal Pick: Jason Paul Laxamana, “Babagwa”

7. Best Performance of a Supporting Actor
Will Win: Joey Paras, “Babagwa”
Could Win: Art Acuna, “The Diplomat Hotel”, Arnold Reyes, “Purok 7”
Personal Pick: Joey Paras, “Babagwa”

8. Best Performance of a Supporting Actress
Will Win: Irma Adlawan, “Transit”
Could Win: Nadine Samonte, “Nuwebe”, Eula Valdez, “David F”
Personal Pick: Irma Adlawan, “Transit”

9. Best Direction
Will Win: Hannah Espia, “Transit”
Could Win: Carlo Obispo, “Purok 7”
Personal Pick: Hannah Espia, “Transit”

10. Best Performance of an Actor
Will Win: Alex Medina, “Babagwa”
Could Win: Ronnie Quizon, “Rekorder”, Paulo Avelino, “Debosyon”
Personal Pick: Mimi Juarenza, “Quick Change”

11. Best Performance of an Actress
Will Win: Eugene Domingo, “Instant Mommy”
Could Win: Gretchen Barretto, “The Diplomat Hotel”, Mara Lopez, “Debosyon”
Personal Pick: Krystle Valentino, “Purok 7”

12. Special Jury Prize
Will Win: “Purok 7”
Could Win: “Babagwa”
Personal Pick: “Debosyon”

13. Best Film
Will Win: “Transit”
Could Win: “Purok 7”
Personal Pick: “Transit”

DIRECTORS SHOWCASE CATEGORY PREDICTIONS

1. Best Sound
Will Win: Albert Michael Idioma, “Porno”
Could Win: Ditoy Aguila, “Amor Y Muerte”
Personal Pick: Albert Michael Idioma, “Porno”

2. Best Original Music Score
Will Win: Roger TJ Ladro, “Sana Dati”
Could Win: Toni Munoz, “Amor Y Muerte”
Personal Pick: Toni Munoz, “Amor Y Muerte”

3. Best Editing
Will Win: Aleksander Castaneda, “Porno”
Could Win: Gilbert Obispo, “Amor Y Muerte”
Personal Pick: Pats Ranyo, “Sana Dati”

4. Best Production Design
Will Win: Benjamin Payumo, “Amor Y Muerte”
Could Win: Adolf Alix Jr., “Porno”
Personal Pick: Adolf Alix Jr., “Porno”

5. Best Cinematography
Will Win: Gilbert Obispo, “Amor Y Muerte”
Could Win: Mackie Galvez, “Sana Dati”
Personal Pick: Gilbert Obispo, “Amor Y Muerte”

6. Best Screenplay
Will Win: Senedy Que, “Liars”
Could Win: Ramon Ukit, “Sana Dati”
Personal Pick: Ramon Ukit, “Sana Dati”

7. Best Performance of a Supporting Actor
Will Win: Adrian Sebastian, “Amor Y Muerte”
Could Win: Kuya Manzano, “Amor Y Muerte”
Personal Pick: Nico Antonio, “Sana Dati”

8. Best Performance of a Supporting Actress
Will Win: Ama Quiambao, “Amor Y Muerte”
Could Win: Alessandra de Rossi, “Liars”
Personal Pick: Tart Carlos, “Ekstra”

9. Best Direction
Will Win: Gil Portes, “Liars”
Could Win: Jeffrey Jeturian, “Ekstra”
Personal Pick: Jerrold Tarog, “Sana Dati”

10. Best Performance of an Actor
Will Win: Paulo Avelino, “Sana Dati”
Could Win: Carlo Aquino, “Porno”
Personal Pick: Jan Harley Hicana and John Michael Bonapos, “Liars”

11. Best Performance of an Actress
Will Win: Vilma Santos, “Ekstra”
Could Win: eh… okay maybe Angel Aquino, “Porno”
Personal Pick: Lovi Poe, “Sana Dati”

12. Special Jury Prize
Will Win: “Porno”
Could Win:  “Amor Y Muerte”
Personal Pick: “Porno”

13. Best Film
Will Win: “Amor Y Muerte”
Could Win: “Ekstra”
Personal Pick: “Sana Dati”

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Advertisements

Posted August 4, 2013 by Nicol Latayan in Awards, Films

Tagged with ,

9th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 4   4 comments

As the 9th Cinemalaya closes tonight with the awards night ceremonies, I now post the last batch of reviews for this year’s filmfest. If you have been following this blog, you’ll know that I have posted eleven reviews already. Part 1  has Gil Portes’ Liars, Mikhail Red’s Rekorder,  Carlo Obispo’s Purok 7, and Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra, Part 2 has Adolf Alix’s Porno, Alvin Yapan’s Debosyon, and Leo Abaya’s Instant Mommy, while Part 3 consists of Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati, Christopher Ad Castillo’s The Diplomat Hotel, Joseph Israel Laban’s Nuwebe and Eduardo Roy Jr.’s Quick Change. Now I present the final piece of the puzzle with the last four movies of this year’s Cinemalaya entries:

BABAGWA
Director: Jason Paul Laxamana
Cast: Alex Medina, Alma Concepcion, Joey Paras, Kiko Matos
Competition: New Breed

An internet scammer falls in love with a wealthy old maid while trying to swindle her using a fake Facebook profile.

The whole concept of Babagwa is probably one of the more relatable ones in this year’s batch. While one does not need to do fake profiles in order to relate to the film, it tackles the unveiling of one’s identity in this time of social media obsession. Laxamana’s screenplay is one that’s fresh and inspired. During the first two parts of the story, we were introduced on how this whole bogus scam works – we see the step by step process of how they pull off this shenanigan and how they successfully pulls off money from their targets. The last act is the weakest one though; by the time it started, everyone already has a hunch of what will happen and how it will end up. But two things make up for it: first, everyone still waits for the reveal despite knowing how it will end up. Second, Laxamana’s effective build up and depiction as Paras’ narrates while it shifts back and forth to Greg (Alex Medina) to support the narration. It’s a build up that can easily hit or miss, but in this case, it definitely worked. I’ve learned that this won the Audience Choice in the New Breed category, and I’m actually not surprised at all. The way the director held up the audience at the edge of their seats without going backwards is a feat of itself. We’re also treated to mighty fine performances of Alex Medina and Joey Paras, as they are probably frontrunners for awards on Sunday night.

Rating: 3.5/5

TRANSIT
Director: Hannah Espia
Cast: Irma Adlawan, Ping Medina, Jasmine Curtis Smith, Mercedes Cabral, Marc Justine Alavarez
Competition: New Breed

The film begins and ends in an airport during a father and son’s transit flight from Tel Aviv to Manila.

One of the best things about Transit is how it connects its characters and stories seamlessly. I like the approach director Hannah Espia used in order to present to us the five characters in the movie. She clearly knows how to intricately weave all these similar and shared events from different points of view and how each and every one of them is affected by it. That same approach works perfectly well in the context of her storytelling, and it’s one that I will appreciate the most here. With that said, the movie also boasts of technical and acting achievements. The cinematography here is gorgeous, and even in small scenes like the one of Yael in the playground is very much inspired. The ensemble is also really commendable. All characters feel very natural from their speaking manners up to their interactions with each other. Irma Adlawan portrayal of a mother is one that can make you see your own mother too. Jasmine Curtis’ has these raw acting chops that were well showcased here. It’s one that surprised you with her depth. But the heart of the movie probably lies with the four year old kid, Joshua. And he exudes this innocence that will certainly leave an impression on you. By effectively combining both the emotional tug and effective presentation of the story, there’s no doubt that Hannah Espia’s debut feature is one of the year’s best films.

Rating: 4.5/5

DAVID F
Director: Emmanuel Palo
Cast: Eula Valdez, Rocky Salumbides, Daxx Martin, Shamaine Buencamino
Competition: New Breed

David F weaves three stories that look into the lineage of African-Americans in the Philippines –from American soldiers in the Fil-Am war to the “Amboys” in the former Clark Airfield.

The premise of David F somewhat reminds me of Stephen Daldry’s The Hours. While that may really be arguable, the Af-Am connection is probably the Mrs. Dalloway counterpart. On the first part, we travel back to see a David Fagel being captured by two Filipinos and is on his way to become beheaded when his Filipino partner suddenly appears to free him. The next part is during the Japanese occupation when a deaf woman carries the child of a Filipino soldier. The last one is during the present time when a comedy act performer wants to find his father who is named David Fagel and is being helped by a volunteer to trace the steps in doing so. The thing with David F. is that it seemed that the three stories are somewhat disjointed and tends up to either overwhelm or underwhelm the audience, depending on how you enjoy each segment. While there are some strong aspects in each of the three stories, the whole is not the sum of its parts here. You can see some good storytelling in each part but it wasn’t totally fleshed out to leave a mark to its viewers. With that said, the director’s attempt is appreciated and the film has believable production design especially during the two earlier parts. I was actually invested the most in the third one, but it did not leave enough room for me to cling on to the story and the whole movie just felt half baked.

Rating: 2.5/5

AMOR Y MUERTE
Director: Cesar Evangelista
Cast: Althea Vega, Markki Stroem, Ama Quiambao, Adrian Sebastian
Competition: Director’s Showcase

An erotic 16th Century period drama, the film examines the initial encounter between the indios and their colonizers and their conflicting views on love, passion, religion, and sexuality.

The trailer of the film suggests that it will be some sort of a no holds barred level of eroticism in the context of the 16th Century. On one hand, they actually did portray that, as it showed the different views of the characters in the film, and how they conflicted with thoughts on the said aspects. But the approach it did will make the viewers feel like “That’s it?” once the credits roll. Probably because it left viewers conflicting whether it’s a tongue in cheek or a serious approach. That’s how I see it. Others expecting it’s a serious film will probably remember the tongue in cheek ones while those who find it light will look for the depth of what the movie wants to offer. However, the redeeming factor of the film is its technical achievements. The music adds more interest, and some shots were memorable, albeit way too overdone. Althea Vega is really good here, capturing the conflicting character of her natural feelings with the adjustments that she has to undergo now. It is a very physical role and she showed no signs of inhibition at all. All in all, I’d say that Amor Y Muerte’s strength lies in Vega’s performance and its technical achievements than what it wants to say in its story.

Rating: 2.5/5

There you have it. Whew, finally it’s over! The awards night will happen tonight over at the CCP as they hand out the best of the best (really? LOL) from this year’s batch of films. Good luck to everybody!

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

9th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 3   6 comments

Okay guys, here’s part three of the my coverage of the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. For those who missed the previous ones, Part 1 consists of Gil Portes’ Liars, Mikhail Red’s Rekorder,  Carlo Obispo’s Purok 7, and Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra.  Part 2 has Adolf Alix’s Porno, Alvin Yapan’s Debosyon, and Leo Abaya’s Instant Mommy. Here’s four movies from this year’s batch:

SANA DATI
Director: Jerrold Tarog
Cast: Lovi Poe, Paulo Avelino, Benjamin Alves, TJ Trinidad
Competition: Director’s Showcase

The film is a love story about a woman whose wedding is thrown away when a mysterious person arrives and reminds her of the man she really loves.

As the conclusion to his Camera Trilogy, director Jerrold Tarog intimately showcases how love can make a person strong yet vulnerable, how some instances push us to move forward despite wanting to be stagnant, and ultimately teaches us to let go. I’m captivated with how the story unfolds – one does not need a personal experience to feel Andrea’s (Lovi Poe) jitters on her wedding day, but you can clearly identify what she’s going through. It’s difficult to move to another stage of your life when you still attach yourself to the previous one and it’s even more difficult to unlatch yourself from it because you do not know where and how to begin. When Dennis (Paulo Avelino) enters the picture and made his presence be known to her, it makes her confront the lingering feelings that she still has. Probably my favourite scene is when Andrea was on the rails and just closed her eyes and probably gives her the peace of mind she wanted even just for a few moments. Aside from the strong writing and directing, the film benefits from having a great ensemble of actors. Lovi Poe is definitely one of the best actresses of her generation and this is just another addition to her list of memorable performances. Paulo Avelino resembles the “mysterious” person effectively – his curiosity leads you to think what his intentions really are. Both Benjamin Alves and TJ Trinidad were effective too, as well as the whole ensemble of actors who played as family members and friends in the movie. Tarog mentioned that he tried to pitch the movie several times since he conceptualized it seven years ago, and that this was the only time when he felt it was ready. And he surely knows what he is doing. Oh, and plus points for the Up Dharma Down song in the end.

Rating: 5/5

THE DIPLOMAT HOTEL
Director: Christopher Ad Castillo
Cast: Gretchen Barretto, Art Acuna, Mon Confiado, Nico Antonio
Competition: New Breed

Victoria Lansang (Gretchen Barretto) is a popular news reporter who has been requested to mediate a hostage crisis. And in front of a national television audience, something horribly goes wrong.

I really do not know what to make of The Diplomat Hotel. I must admit that it’s one of the more exciting films I have for this year, since the hotel itself is a popular horror destination which is known for its ghosts and other spiritual sightings. I acknowledge that the film wants to go on a different direction – it’s more of a psychological thriller and the ghosts that you probably expect to see are not literal ghosts but the ones people have within. I guess that made the film flat for me. When you have a prominent ghost location, it sets the mood for something that will build up the tension and fear; instead, all those fears came from the characters themselves and it leaves no attachment to the viewers. I can’t pinpoint what is wrong with the film (since I don’t think that WRONG is even the correct word to use for this), but I feel that it was a missed opportunity to highlight something better. The characters weren’t fleshed out interestingly, and as they scare themselves to death already, you won’t care a bit. If anything though, you can see that they tried – the Baguio shots were crisp, the “tour” inside the hotel was also good, and the ensemble is living up for their roles. Mon Confiado’s physically transformed look and Art Acuna were always dependable. As for Gretchen Barretto, you know she’s clearly trying and while certain deliveries still caught me off guard and resulted to some laughs, I see the effort. I guess that’s how I’ll sum the movie: the end result was bleh, but I acknowledge the effort.

Rating: 1.5/5

QUICK CHANGE
Director: Eduardo Roy Jr.
Cast: Mimi Juarenza, Jun-Jun Quintana, Miggs Cuaderno, Francine Garcia
Competition: New Breed

Life of Dorina, a middle-aged transsexual looking for his niche amidst the complexities of the world he is in. This is a story of suffering, acceptance, and hope.

Quick Change is one of the lesser known entries in this year’s filmfest: it does not have big stars in its cast, it does not have the most audience friendly story; however, it’s also one of this year’s biggest surprises. The film follows the life of Dorina, as he offers cheaper collagen injections to transsexuals and young women who want to have bigger breasts or more noticeable cheekbones. He’s particularly known in their community because of that business. Alongside his young nephew whom he calls Kuya, this is how Dorina lives his daily life. Oh, and he has a boyfriend who’s cheating on him with another transsexual. I like how Dorina’s personal predicament is ironic with what he’s doing for a living. Think of how Dr. Gregory House is someone who cures for a living but can’t cure his own. It’s also an interesting look on how this whole business works: who are the usual customers, what are their motives in doing so, and what are its implications to all of them. There is a scene in the near end where we see someone who looks like a frozen mannequin already due to countless injections but then goes on saying “Iturok niyo lang ng iturok, kahit ano. Basta gusto ko ang feeling ng karayom sa mukha ko” and that leads you to an idea that somewhere along the way, it will catch up to all of them. Dorina is a well written complex character supported with a fearless award worthy performance by Mimi Juarenza. It is safe (no pun intended) to say that it is this year’s “little film that could.”

Rating: 4/5

NUWEBE
Director: Joseph Israel Laban
Cast: Barbara Miguel, Jake Cuenca, Nadine Samonte, Anita Linda
Competition: New Breed

Inspired by the actual story of one of the youngest mothers in Philippine history, the film charts the story of Krista, who at the tender age of nine got pregnant from the sexual abuse of her own father.

Nuwebe benefits from having a really interesting premise and something that can speak volumes about an issue in our country considering that it was inspired from an actual story. With that said, it’s really hard to identify your place as a viewer while watching the film. I think the biggest problem of the movie is its writing. It was a big letdown from the film’s intriguing story. The dialogue was cringe worthy, and I know that I’m supposed to feel for Krista, but she left me confused and apathetic. She’s spewing lines to her mother like “Ano ako? tanga?” and “Ayoko ipalaglag ang anak ko.”, and while I give the director the benefit of the doubt that the “real” Krista did say that, it’s just too awkward to be believable. Her character was portrayed as an intelligent person in her class (as she’s the only one reciting – about the sperm and pollens of all topics), yet she admits to her mother that she did not know it was a bad thing that she and her father made a baby. By the near end, I just ended up not caring for any of the characters, Krista included. The premise has really some potential, but I don’t think it was smoothly fleshed out to totally work.

Rating: 1.5/5

Eleven down, four left to review. Last batch consisting of Hannah Espia’s Transit, Jason Paul Laxamana’s Babagwa, Emmanuel Palo’s David F, and Ces Evangelista’s Amor Y Muerte will be posted on Saturday morning.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

9th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 2   9 comments

Hi everyone! The 9th Cinemalaya Film Festival is still on going so in case you still want to watch this year’s entries, you can do yourself a favor by going to CCP, Greenbelt 3, Trinoma, or Alabang Town Center. So far, there’s some really good stuff from what I have seen. Anyway, I will now share with you the second batch of my reviews. Yesterday, I already tackled Gil Portes’ Liars, Mikhail Red’s Rekorder, Carlo Obispo’s Purok 7, and Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra which you can access here. Now I’ll add three more reviews in the list:

PORNO
Director:Adolf Alix
Cast: Angel Aquino, Carlo Aquino, Yul Servo, Rosanna Roces
Competition: Director’s Showcase

An assassin, a porn dubber, and a transgender. Three souls, on explicit illusion: to find the ultimate joy in their lives. A safe haven, where passion and love means enlightenment and the soul is the ultimate arbiter of the truth.

Coming off from Kalayaan from last year’s Cinemalaya, it’s somewhat of a hard task to see what Porno will bring to the table. The trailer doesn’t give a clue on what this is about, though the title does give one. There’s actually a lot to like about Porno. For one, Alix’s style has continues to evolve over the years, and this one is yet a new addition on the list. Then you also have the riveting performances of the cast with everyone delivering an array of performances from Angel Aquino’s physically transformed role, up to Carlo Aquino’s bold one and the sensual chemistry of Yul Servo and Rosanna Roces. Alix’s production design is also a stand out here, particularly the one in the earlier motel scenes. The heart shaped mirror with the shining curtains and the blue lights set the mood in the beginning of the film. I like how it’s contemplative that the porn in the film goes far deeper than the erotica of the human body, especially in Angel Aquino’s storyline, but this is probably a case of me acknowledging the film’s merits than loving it.

Rating: 3.5/5

INSTANT MOMMY
Director: Leo Abaya
Cast: Eugene Domingo, Yuki Matsuzaki, Luis Alandy, Rico J. Puno
Competition: New Breed

In order to solve a personal predicament, Bechayda (Eugene Domingo), a wardrobe assistant in TV commercials pretends to be pregnant.

Instant Mommy has a really good story in it. Bechayda’s predicament when she pretended to be pregnant was a highlight in this film. However, in order to get to the good story, you’d have to go through weaker ones first. That’s what pulls the film from achieving what it actually intends to do. It suffers from a lot of tonal inconsistencies and you’d get confused with where they want to bring the story. While there are certainly humorous scenes in the film (with the birth giving scene a top highlight), the uneven writing makes it difficult to identify where the film wants to stick. At times, it’s a glimpse of what happens in advertising agency, then it shifts to Bechay’s problem, then it shifts to loyalty issues between her and her Japanese boyfriend. I’m also probably nitpicking here, but there are very visible goofs within the film (with the taxi direction standing out a lot). If anything, watch out for Eugene Domingo who gives a very humanizing performance here that perfectly balances comedy and drama, but even she can’t save this one.

Rating: 2/5

DEBOSYON
Director: Alvin Yapan
Cast: Paulo Avelino, Mara Lopez, Ramona Raneses, Roy Dominguiano
Competition: New Breed

Mando (Paulo Avelino), a Bikolano devotee of Ina, Virgie ng Penafrancia, injures himself in the middle of the forest. A mysterious woman, Saleng (Mara Lopez), found and nursed him back to death. They soon fell in love. But when Mando invites her to come with her to the plains, Saleng refuses. She holds a secret that will devastate Mando’s love for her.

If there’s one word that I’d describe the film, it’s hypnotizing. I like how straight forward the film is: we just follow the film and watch Mando at the beginning with what he’s doing, until he meets Saleng and how he was smitten by her, and what the implications of this to both him and her were. The movie rests solely on the shoulders of Paulo Avelino and Mara Lopez, but they sure did one hell of a job in doing so. So far, Avelino is 2/2 when it comes to his performances from Yapan’s direction, and I’m looking forward to more collaborations. Mara Lopez is an inspired casting choice as she was perfectly suited for Saleng’s character. The movie also boasts of really impressive technical achievements with the captivating cinematography and visual effects. I always have a penchant for directors who include big crowd scenes (such as the Nazareno feast in Brillante Mendoza’s Tirador), and Alvin Yapan does the same feat here in the near end with the Ina, Virgie ng Penafrancia. Supported by the haunting musical score of Teresa Barrozo, the juxtaposition of the feast and the final scene is one that speaks volumes about the faith and acceptance we have of a certain thing – may it be love or commitment or just one’s mere existence. It’s definitely one of the best so far from this year’s batch.

Rating: 4.5/5

There you have it! I am to release the third batch on Friday. And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

9th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 1   8 comments

Hi everyone! It’s Cinemalaya time of the year again. It’s the time when we get to see some of the most exciting and most promising independent films produced by directors both veterans and new ones. This year’s crop of films are really interesting as they varies from different genres and with more big stars having their first Cinemalaya entries (coughVilmaSantoscough). Over the next few days, I’ll be posting my reviews of this year’s entries, and weigh in my thoughts about the ninth batch of indie films. Let’s get the ball rollin’ shall we? 🙂

LIARS
Director: Gil Portes
Cast: Alessandra de Rossi, Jan Harley Hicana, John Michael Bonapos, Arnold Reyes
Competition: Director’s Showcase

The film tells the story of journalist Eloisa (Alessandra de Rossi) whose expose’ of the truth results in life-changing consequences to a baseball team of poor boys. It is inspired by a true story.

It is interesting to note that the director claims that the movie is a fictional take just based from a true to life story that happened in 1991. While the whole film gives you a lifetime TV movie of the week feels, this is a familiar territory that combines two concepts that Gil Portes excels at: children and inspirational story. The tandem of writer Senedy Que and director Gil Portes already did it before in Mga Munting Tinig, and they successfully did it again with Liars. The story, as told from a series of flashbacks, recounts the step by step process of the fictional Smokey Mountain team, though what’s special with this is that the two main characters (played by Jan Harley Hicana and John Michael Bonapos) were given ample attention in the story and they certainly delivered. Alessandra de Rossi was dependable as always, and the ensemble consisting of Arnold Reyes, Cris Villanueva, and Sue Prado were all given moments to work on. The movie is not something that hasn’t been told before, but it goes on point with the message that it wants to deliver successfully.

Rating: 3/5

REKORDER
Director: Mikhail Red
Cast: Ronnie Quizon, Mike Lloren, BuboyVillar, Earl Ignacio
Competition: New Breed

The film tells the story of a former 1980’s film cameraman who now currently works as a movie pirate operating in present day Manila. He routinely smuggles a digital camcorder into movie theatres in order to illegally record films. One night, he records something else… and the footage goes viral.

The premise of this film is one that simply strikes me as interesting when I first read the synopsis. But I guess that ended up as its strongest downfall, as it did not live up to what I was expecting to see. Helmed by Raymond Red’s son, Mikhail Red, there seems to be a lacking in terms of storytelling. The perceived impact of what Maven (Ronnie Quizon) has captured did not totally live up to the build-up of the film’s intensity. With that said, the style of the direction is commendable here, and if anything, Maven was written and portrayed as a complex and intriguing character that really holds your attention. I like the film’s opening and ending shots, and for some reason, some of the earlier parts with the police reminded me of Lawrence Fajardo’s Posas from last year. Quizon was awkward but that’s what made his performance engaging and convincing, and his portrayal gave justice on how his character was written. If only the viral video was more engaging, it would have been an overall better film.

Rating: 3/5

PUROK 7
Director: Carlo Obispo
Cast: Krystle Valentino, Miggs Cuaderno, Arnold Reyes, Julian Trono
Competition: New Breed

The film follows Diana (Krystle Valentino) and her younger brother as they strive to relieve their longing for a family.

Pronounced as Purok Siyete (or its English translation “Zone 7”), the movie depicts and creates an atmosphere of its own – something that gives you a clear description of how it feels like for Diana and her brother. The concepts of waiting and longing to be a part of a family were on full display effectively, thanks to the endearing performances of both Krystle Valentino and Miggs Cuaderno. I admit that this is one of the few great surprises I have seen so far, and most of it is credited to director and writer Carlo Obispo. Diana’s character is one that is probably more known in movies: the optimistic barrio lass who despite the trials and being the breadwinner of her and her brother do not lose an inch of hope that someday, they too will finally get what they long have wanted. What makes this one different though is that Diana was more humanized; she’s very much transparent that it’s easy for the audience to smile, laugh, and feel for her. I also like how this one ended when it puts the whole story on a full circle. And yes, let me reiterate that you have to pencil in Krystle Valentino bas she showcased one of the best performances of the year by far.

Rating: 4/5

EKSTRA (The Bit Player)
Director: Jeffrey Jeturian
Cast: Vilma Santos, Tart Carlos, Marlon Rivera, Vincent de Jesus
Competition: Director’s Showcase

A socio-realist drama-comedy film, it follows a seemingly usual day in the life of Loida Malabanan (Vilma Santos), as she embarks on yet another shooting day of a soap opera as an extra.

Probably the most buzzed about film in this year’s batch, Ekstra will surely go on to be one of the more prominent and memorable films this year. On one hand, it gives us a glimpse of how it feels like to be an extra – how they’re treated in TV production, what they do in between takes, how they get the roles that they do among others. It’s this kind of “backstage peek” that makes the audience get really interested in. And Ekstra showed that comprehensively in a funny and humorous manner. On the other, if you’re not into that kind of thing, then this one is not for you. It’s too overstuffed that it just went on and on and on. There are parts that can still be trimmed down from it, and it just felt too long. The truth is despite the normal people enjoying the glimpse of what it’s like in a soap opera set, it does cater more to those people who are really a part of it with inside jokes thrown endlessly left and right. With that said, this is a Vilma Santos vehicle, and Santos certainly delivered. More than the witty one-liners or the endless lines, one thing that I’ve always like about her is her great physical acting, and she does that lot in here. She really commands the screen, and it’s nice to see her show it again. I guess my favorite is the one near end of the film when the camera just stares at her – that’s when her emotions are on full display, stripped of the environment where she was just the day before. This somehow reminded me of Ang Babae sa Septic Tank¸ and while both contained impeccable lead performances, it just tends to go beyond the line of too much over the top every now and then. If anything, I enjoyed Antoniette Jadaone’s solo feature Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay as a better vehicle to see a day in the life of a bit player.

Rating: 3/5

Expect the second batch to come during the next few days. And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl