Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My thoughts on Cinemalaya's Purok 7

Finally saw Purok 7 last night! Caught the 9:00 PM show in Alabang Town Center after work. I disregarded the chances of puyat for it. LOL. I was that desperate to see it especially after reading numerous good reactions about the film. It probably didn't help because I expected too much and I ended up underwhelmed :/. My friend said that it's just like another episode of MMK and I agreed. It's  simple, heartwarming and bittersweet at the same time. It also didn't help that the film's sound in some of the scenes are inconsistent and uneven. It's definitely not bad though.

I think everyone would agree that its strongest aspect are the lead characters, Diana and Julian. Their sibling relationship is displayed quite well as they effectively showed a warm display of love and care for each other and their hopeful longing for a family. Scenes where they're the only characters on screen are my favorite part of the film as I thought most of the supporting characters are TOO comical and exaggerated particularly Diana's best friend who has cerebral palsy (Isabella de Leon in Magnifico did cerebral palsy way better). The quietest scenes of Diana and Julian together in their little home is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

I also appreciate the direction and screenplay. There is that one scene where Julian was lying on Diana's lap, holding a cellphone their father gave to him, hoping and waiting for a call from their mother in China who's in death row. No dialogue whatsoever yet I think it's the most touching part of the film aside from the last scene. As I've mentioned earlier, the film's most quiet scenes are the most potent parts of it.

The message is so subtle but powerful at the same time. I would have liked it more though if their relationship with their mother was furhter emphasized. I understand that other scenes already showed how much they're longing for their mother but I still feel like it's not enough that's why I wasn't that affected on the inevitable bad news these kids were about to receive while they're enjoying their precious moments together in the carnival.

In the end, despite its imperfections, the film effectively showed a light and loving relationship of two siblings regardless of their complicated condition. It's truly the most uplifting and redeeming part of Purok 7.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cinemalaya's Ekstra, Instant Mommy, The Diplomat Hotel and Babagwa

Watched 4 Cinemalaya entries yesterday: Ekstra, Instant Mommy, The Diplomat Hotel and Babagwa

My ranking:

1. Ekstra
2. Babagwa
3. Instant Mommy
4. The Diplomat Hotel

I feel like I still haven't watched the best of this year's entries as I've heard and read a lot of good things about Purok 7 and Transit. But I must say, The Diplomat Hotel is probably the worst this year because it just turned out to be one of the worst films I've ever watched. I read here that The Diplomat Hotel file was corrupted in the cinema where I watched it, (apparently the subtitles are so fukced up). But despite that, with or without the subtitles I think it's plain garbage. Sorry! But it really is. The first 10 to 20 minutes had so much promise but then it turned out to be a ridiculous film. While watching, I noticed many viewers leaving the theater and I totally understand because it's really hideous. Too bad because I thought Gretchen Barreto was great in this but her performance is such a waste because the screenplay is pointless. You can tell that it had a lot of post-production issues - from editing, to sound mixing and scoring. I'm not good at pointing out those flaws (probably because I've never watched a film so bad like this before) but those flaws can easile be spotted in The Diplomat Hotel.
For those who are waiting for reviews to watch the Cinemalaya entries, I can't even tell you to see it for yourself to prove what I'm talking about because doing it would be a waste of money, and waste of time. Trust me, don't bother. The movie is like full of that one scene from Ekstra where they had to change the script because of lack of props, time and budget.
Which leads me to this gem, Ekstra. I recommend this to everyone and suggest to put it on top of their must-see Cinemalaya entries because it's hysterical, eye opener, funny, dark and touching. I love how its fast paced as the time setting of the movie revolves around a 48-hour life in Philippine TV production. Everyone was laughing almost throughout the movie but the silence was deafening during its climax. There's a 180 degrees turn of emotion after that climax! And there's nothing more I could say about Vilma Santos' performance (I consider her the Meryl Streep of the Philippines) You'll laugh with her, ROOT SO MUCH for her especially with that one line that lead to the climax, and then you'll also feel bad for her. Its screenplay was great, I enjoyed every line, I enjoyed its creativity. Although very dark, it's also very pleasant that I'm sure everyone would appreciate it.

Instant Mommy is my second Cinemalaya film. Watching the trailer, I must say that it didn't excite me but I had to watch it because one of my friends was excited about it. Plus, it stars Eugene Domingo which never fails to make me laugh. After watching her in Ang Babae sa Septic tank, I think every film she stars from that point is a must-watch. Instant Mommy is her latest film just right after Tuhog. It's a Cinemalaya entry and a comedy so I had high expectations for this. Although watching this after Ekstra didn't help my opinions about Instant Mommy. They have a lot of similarities despite having a very different story. But Instant Mommy is obviously the inferior movie. I felt like it was rushed. There are lots of continuity issues, the Holiday Inn to Intercon Hotel scene, in my opinion, is lazy on their part. It had a lot of moments but even Eugene Domingo can't save it. It's really not that BAD, but it's just really far from being good. It's below average for me and I must say, it's a disappointment. I like that Eugene portrays a different kind of role here though. More real, despite those ridiculous ideas her character did in the film. This is probably one of the weaker entries this year.
Lastly, Babagwa. After watching this, I tweeted "Parang gugustuhin mong maligo pagkatapos ng Babagwa". Kasi ang dumi dumi ng mga tao at lugar kahit saan mo tignan sa film. They're effective in setting up the mood of the film. Nakakapanglagkit yung movie. But I must say that out of the 4 films I watched so far, this one is the most engaging. It would make you wonder, it would make you cringe, it would make you laugh and it would also impress you. The characters here are iconic to an extent, they're real CHARACTERS especially Joey Paras' (I could compare him to Jacki Weaver's Smurf in Animal Kingdom or heck, even Marlon Brando's Godfather solely for creating this character so huge, you'd despise him at first but you'd root for him and you'd love to talk about him after it). I had no idea who he was before but now I have huge respect for him as an actor. He's stunning to watch utter those profane words. He's easily the best in this film but other performances were also great! From Alex Medina to Alma Concepcion, ang galing galing nila! Their performances really helped the screenplay to shine which is also not bad. Not bad at all, it's actually very good as I think every scene matters for the totality of the film. I also like that almost half of the script is Kapampangan. Thank goodness, subtitles were in-sync. The trailer for this film really irked me (how dare them for using The Social Network's score) as I thought it would be the usual show-some-flesh-poverty-cliche film. Funny thing is it's not really part of my plan to watch this, but my friend and I still had some time to burn before the weekend's done so we watched it and I'm so happy that we did. I think the only reason why this is behind Ekstra for me is because the last 20 minutes, while thrilling, it's also predictable. Just think of Argo's airport scene, you know that they'll succeed but you're still on the edge of your seat.