Nothing’s wrong with it

But the kid is not my son

The Filipino audience is a bit complacent with how most of the pink films have been aggressive towards showing gratuitous sex and nudity. But it is not all vulgarity that we have produced; there is a couple in this genre that is more decent namely: Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and Maling Akala. Maling Akala is also one of the five films in competition in the last year’s concluded Cinema One Originals. Although it gives the impression of being a low-budget work, it relies on how effective the two main actors’ naturalistic acting approach.

JP (Victor Basa) runs from a crime he has committed and travels north. By coincidence, he gets to sit next to Teta (Jodi Sta. Maria-Lacson) who is nine months pregnant. When Teta gives birth, JP accompanies the mother and child home to their fishpond in Sasmuan, Pampanga. Teta impulsively introduces JP as the father of her child, surprising both JP and her parents. When JP and Teta agree to play-act as husband and wife, their queer, dysfunctional tale begins.

Basa and Sta. Maria-Lacson are great choices for actors to play these characters. They are natural actors that inhibits an aura of genuineness even when minimalist acting has been employed. Although the film has built-in flashback scenes mainly regarding the crime committed by JP, it has been a comedown to the tension between the two characters. The story is intriguing and the flashbacks could have been minimized. The desired effect of the director could be more potent.

The river of Sasmuan adds to the highly-flavoured characteristics of the film. It could be deceiving in a way since it seems to be calm. Like the river, the characters are well composed but have desires that surpass the remoteness of its location. Teta begins to feel affection for JP but JP has adored the male physique even more with the presence of local fishermen. When Teta caught JP having intimacies with another man, Teta’s supposedly conceived thoughts of a future relationship with JP dissolves.

Maling Akala secernates itself from the usual love story tragedies. It gives us no restrictions with what might occur between these two characters. They promised to see each other again after a year. It’s probable that one might not show up or they are both present in the place. It takes courage to commit your heart to your beloved. But it also takes courage to be true to your heart. The heart is not always right. The correctness of the heart does not lie in the truth of reality but just the truth of the human consciousness.

Charlie Koon's Rating:


Cultural Pollution

I am sleepy
Art is free. It can assume different forms. A crumpled paper on the sidewalk can have a magnetic appeal of sudden wonder to some. Films are the channels to express artistry. It is also open to assessment. As a critic, we try to scrutinize films with a neutral stance. We have no ploy to denigrate the efforts of the filmmakers. For now, I will try to trivialize you with the film (seen on its own merits). Imburnal (Sewer) is a film directed and written by Sherad Anthony Sanchez. It uses the technique of guerilla filmmaking. The lack of some material and mechanical elements in the film is based from avant-garde/experimental film genre. Actually, it is not anything new to the world of cinema. It could be classified as Paracinema.

It is quite good to see almost fifty people watching on its screening in the recent Cinema One Originals Festival held in Robinsons Galleria. It is almost four hours long. Before the first half of the film, almost twenty percent of the audience has left. Three-fourths of the film is like a milestone for the few remaining viewers (A golden laurel leaf could have been given to us). It is important for us critics to observe the audience. We want to see the reactions on their faces. I hear two people conversing in each sequence and they provide interpretations of the images shown (yeah, I hear it). Some laugh with the candidness of the characters. Others look very hopeful for something that could gratify the entire film experience. Well, films are open to the act of construing. Beyond that, the film is intended to awaken our judgment on the merits presented.

Imburnal employs a non-linear narrative and is demarcated with the use of abstracting techniques. The film is about the lives of adolescents in a destitute locality in Davao. Most sequences are shot in a septic sewage of Punta Dumalog. It is their preferred hangout. They converse in a Visayan dialect, much of it about fornication, phalluses, crotch hair, to name a few. There are also insinuations of political killings, pestilence, and homosexuality.

Imburnal employs disturbing imagery, sound and whiff to create a shocking experience. You might be disgusted with some parts that are exhibited. They collect cockroaches from the sewer and gather them inside a bottle. They bathe them in the nearest ocean with soap. Simulated sexual activities happen inside the culvert. I believe it aims to contravene the basic mores and Filipino sensibilities. It could be all true that it has merely tackled a reality within a city marked by poverty and inferior living situation.

The film is like a 'movement' of like-minded artists using shock value and humor in their work. Imburnal’s approach in its retailing of an art film has refused to take an easy approach to cinematic creativity. It has typical features of an experimental film such as non-narrative, impressionistic or poetic approaches to the film's construction and so forth. Sometimes, it is hard to give merits just for ‘shock art’ sake. It is the safest kind of art that can get the attention for most cult audiences. Imburnal is a film that will be enjoyed once you abandon the prescribed taste for most films. You will just realize that they become a sensation in their own right. Experimental filmmaking become predictable in its own terms. The shock value seems to have issipated after seeing the same thing over and over again. Art has become the excuse, not the ideal.


Charlie Koon's Rating:

Reverse Gear

My tummy aches
“Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” – Siddhartha Gautama
Every family has a dark secret. Seldom is it that secrets are brought into the grave. For some, there are stories that are not supposed to be told. There are pasts that will be forgotten. At times, we are enforced to deal with issues and hollow out things that remain in quietude. Motorcycle is one of the films in competition in this year’s Cinema One Originals 2008. It is directed by Jon Red and co-written by a real life rider Karlo de Guzman. Motorcycle is not the grandiloquent type of film nor too artsy. It is simple and self-effacing. Motorcycle will certainly have a special place in my heart.

Motorcycle is the story of The Rider (Jason Abalos) who takes care of his ill Father (Nonie Buencamino). His father has lung cancer. Before his father dies, The Rider is given a letter by his father. He is instructed to give it to a person residing in Vigan, Ilocos Norte. Little did he know that his journey will unlock hidden truths to his real identity.

Red’s previous works were unimpressive. Motorcycle is such a surprise. The bond between The Rider and His Father comprises most of the flashbacks. It is a way to show and evoke the special union between the two. Even their vacation in Ilocos Norte is still vivid with The Rider’s memory. The simplicity of the story relies with the connection of The Rider between his friends and some relatives. There are hints on what is in store for him after his father’s death. There are questions raised. Although The Rider goes through the death without too much heartbreak. Once he reminisces their solid relationship he starts to shed tears and let the emotions be released.

Motorcycle might captivate viewers who have strong bonds with their fathers. Even when you have trepidations in the past, the entire union will always be only one of its kind. Abalos gives a fine performance as the son of Buencamino. Both of them are naturalistic actors and have previously proved their craft in acting, mostly in independent features. Red has certainly gained my admiration on how I see him as a filmmaker. And we have to be reminded that Red is also one of the pioneers of digital filmmaking. Red crafted Motorcycle with minimalist style in acting and sets the mood with subtleness in letting go of one’s emotions. Without being too sexist, the restraint is truly a product of superior acting.

In films, fathers are sometimes disregarded as major players. They have lesser dramatic roles and are more reserved. It is a reflection on the traditional social structures of Filipinos. On a writer’s point of view, it could be hard to pitch this kind of story. It could look and sound too simple. But Motorcycle has explored the characters with confidence. The fathers we look up to are also human. They also make mistakes. In the end, love will overshadow the misdeeds. It is a form of liberation.


Charlie Koon's Rating:

A Parody of Dialect

Combat Duo

Familiarity with other Filipino dialects could be advantageous for critics because it helps in gauging the film’s sincerity and thoroughness. My father is from Negros Occidental and I understand fully the language used in Yanggaw even without the subtitles. Unfortunately, the soft-spoken quality of my fellow Ilonggos has been made into a spectacle of hilarity. It must be a horror film but it appears to be some sort of comedy of inelegance. Ilonggo dialect was skewed into evoking laughter.

Yanggaw is a horror film written and directed by Richard Somes. Even the names of the character are a takeoff to names of endearment by Ilonggos such as Toto and Inday. Even garbling the names upon dictation has crazed the audience who are watching it (most of them are Ilonggos). They are chuckling at how spontaneous the actors are (which I feel that most of the lines are adlib). They could have been so at ease with their mother dialect and that the essence of creating a horror atmosphere obnubilated by the inept script. Of course it is admirable to express amusement with how we relate to the rich language of Hiligaynon. It’s just disappointing because I understand it very well and it sounds like an honest mistake – really.

I too have been infected with the rapid amusement the audience has shown. But certainly, I have opposing insights with how the film rates in terms of horror. Yanggaw in Ilonggo is translated as ‘infection’. In the rural town, Junior (Ronnie Lazaro) lives with his wife Inday (Tetchie Agbayani) together with their children. One day, their daughter Amor (Aleera Montalla) goes home with a sickness. She has been diagnosed by Lazarus (Erik Matti) that she has been infected with venom that goes through her ears. In a few days, Amor evolves into a monster commonly called ‘aswang’.

Yanggaw is a mixture of horror and melodrama. The dramatic overtone in the film is protracted with the struggle of the family in protecting their keen that is now a monster. It’s ironic in a way since the monster is now being protected from the villagers who try to get rid of it but natural familial reaction takes place. It’s good in a way since the point of view is revolving on the dramatic event of the monster’s own family. With obvious low cost production, Yanggaw was able to give an atmosphere that is quite creepy and to that, they are still on the right track. Even the story itself is about a monster eating the insides of animals and humans. But my concern is the dialect’s intonation. The film could still be successful for the wrong motives. There is a laugh to ease the terror within the film. But the laugh we are indulging is because it looks comical. That is quite unintended.

Yanggaw has a fresh take on our local myths. Somes has achieved an atmosphere for such incredible tales of aswang. The aswang inspiration is attained even without hi-tech effects and that is totally delightful to see. Well known actors like Joel Torre as Dulpo is such a relief to see on screen even if he appears to be a bit funny. Even Tetchie Agbayani as Inday has delivered her acting again with much self-confidence. Yanggaw won the Audience Choice Award in this year’s Cinema One Originals 2008 Festival. Ilonggo’s are proud of the film obviously. But the use of the dialect is a major distraction to the aim of the film. I should be frightened and not something else.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Vulnerable to Love

Nice Hair!
Loneliness attenuates the context of love. When two people in solitude unite and realize their shared aims of happiness, they will easily break through the boundaries of the norms. Neither age nor gender supervenes. Dose is about a relationship of a twelve year old boy and the male house gardener with hints of sexual intonations. Whether or not it has broken the margin of social order, it is silly not to show gratitude to the very inspiration of the dreams of a boy to become who he will be and has become.

Edy’s (Fritz Chavez) family is not well off. So his mother decides to have Edy be taken care by his Aunt Helen (Irma Adlawan). Edy is supposedly not loved by his mother that is why he gives in to all his loneliness by playing dolls and mimicking lines from the movies he watches. Meanwhile, Danny (Yul Servo) is the gardener of the house. Danny tries to befriend Edy. Danny also has a lonely past and he shares most of his sentiments to Edy. With their friendship going-on, they reach a point where they are warranted to succumb to each other’s desire of love and affection.

The story material itself is thought provoking. It has convened several layers of forbidden acts. The treatment of the material has achieved decency without relying too much on skin exposure. It works solely on one’s own cognitive process. Would a person be maddened with how the relationship of the two progressed? Would a person think beyond what they see in the sequences portrayed? Unconsciously, any person viewing this film would partake towards this kind of psychological reckoning. Que’s efforts in blurring the inconceivable aspect of most of the situations did work very well. Well, it still depends on who watches the film.

Edy’s character wants to be a writer and a film director. He gets to watch every Vilma Santos film that is shown during the 1980 era. Edy starts to imitate the swim ala-Dyesebel from Emmanuel Borlaza’s Si Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe. Then he tries to dance and wiggle his hips in accordance to the film by Celso Ad Castillo’s Burlesk Queen. Together with Danny, they sneak from their house and watch a Joey Gosiengfiao’s Temptation Island. I would not even wonder the percentage of truth towards the writing process itself. It could be partly true. It is almost a right of passage for some.

Truly, a personal film like Dose could not escape certain questions pointed to the writer/director. Given it is personal, there could have other meanings purported to the idea of the genre. It has the verisimilitude benefits of believing what you have seen and it is now the truth. Supposedly, you will ask the director of the percentage of truth within the film. He will definitely not answer or be partial about it. A certain sequence in the film shows the forty year old Edy (Emilio Garcia) watching in a theatre while hearing his younger counterpart crying. It gives us a hint of reminiscence. The film clips within the film is a form of inspiration towards his dreams. Danny could have not been his lover. But when we watch the film, Edy’s dream comes true that somehow, even within the film, they have been united.

Charlie Koon's Rating:
Film Trivia:

• Alessandra de Rossi has a special participation in the film as The Teacher. Senedy Que co-wrote the film Mga Munting Tinig directed by Gil Portes starring de Rossi as Teacher Melinda.

Colors of Intrigue


Excommunication by the Church was flagrant during the Spanish Era. Even when the excommunicated dies, they will never be recognized by the church. It is a belief that that their soul is often seen as committed to hellfire. Kolorete (Rouge) is red cosmetic for coloring the cheeks or lips. It is a film directed by Ruello Lozendo and written by Sherad Anthony Sanchez. Ironically, the film is shot in black and white. The film depicts the lives of Filipino people during the Spanish Occupation. It has a fascinating manner of how the characters are established in the film. I am personally hooked with it. But to my dismay, it is only up to the intriguing aspect that it has delivered.

Luciano (Roeder Camañag) organizes a zarzuela for the departure of the Alkalde Mayor. The play is agreed and sanctioned by Father Antarez (Edgar Sandalo). Isabel’s (Coreen Chan) singing prowess qualifies her to a role in the play. Magdalena (Angeli Bayani) who has an inferior voice pitch is also chosen to be in the play. With the arrival of Asuncion (Jean Judith Javier) a soprano based in Singapore, the secrets start to unravel.

Actually, I am confused with how I am to describe the film’s story. Or is it the progression of the film that is confusing? It is hard to describe which character gets the role in the play precisely. But as the film progresses, the role of Magdalena goes to Isabel. Just a little spoiler, Magdalena did not show up on the day they will present the zarzuela. It was deliberated that Asuncion will play the role of Magdalena. But then, it is Isabel who gets to play it. The confusing plot twist might be part of it – I presume.

The film has the intriguing elements with how the characters are shown. There is irony with how they portrayed the roles. Father Antarez looks too innocent to be the antagonist of this film. It is also deliberated by the director of the film that the role of Asuncion must look androgynous. The tension that has been built in the film is like a revolution. The surmounting silence in the film is likely to break. But when we look closely at the characters’ layering and how the story develops, the mystique that veils each character was not fully uncovered up to the end. It still holds on to the secrecy and shifts to a different perspective years after the story takes place. It is also noteworthy on the believability of the movie since it is a period film after all.

Apart from the classy look the film has rendered, Kolorete meant belies the thirst for freedom Filipinos have silently been screaming for decades. Through the zarzuela, the musical pieces ignite the dormant passion of Filipinos to unfetter the aim of social equality. We might be confused with how the character’s lives are presented. But it meets its objective by doing so. But then, it could have been foretold in a way that the truth within each mystery is set off in the end with clarity. I am already intrigued. We deserve to be enlightened.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

The Love Revolution
(For the Zarzuela within the film)

.............................................I’ll Kill You

Kolorete has incorporated the Spanish lyric-dramatic genre called Zarzuela. Diwa de Leon composed and arranged the songs in the zarzuela. It is a love story set in a far away land. Isabel is in love with Tertulles. But then his brother Arcillo disapproves their love and seeks revenge.

The story is narrated by Asuncion (Jean Judith Javier) mostly in operatic performance. There are minor flaws in the libretto that is overfilled with the notes. It could be terser with the words, since it sounds too crowded. But as a soprano, she delivers very well. Isabel (Coreen Chan) has to make the notes more rounded as this is the style of most kundiman songs. But then, Chan embodies raw singing talent and has able to shell out emotions required for her character. Diwa de Leon is a talented musical composer. Despite the flaws in the zarzuela musical structure, it is still a superior work. It is a fuel of a person’s longing for independence.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Kolorete Soundtrack by Diwa de Leon on Imeem



Adela is one of the films in competition in the recently concluded Cinemanila Film Festival held in Gateway Mall. It is directed by Adolfo Alix Jr about Adela, a former radio personality, who celebrates her 80th birthday. She tries to treat it like a normal day- doing her daily chores and duties but she can’t hide her loneliness and how she longs for her family. Its casts include Anita Linda, Jason Abalos, Joem Bascon, Angeli Bayani, and Arnold Reyes. With special participation from Iza Calzado, Ricky Davao, Perla Bautista and German Moreno.

Adela has a special run at Indiesine of Robinson's Galleria from December 17-23, 2008.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Let’s Add More

I am beautiful
Truth is more painful than death. It would be easy to accept death than leave your loved ones until the time has arrived. It is sometimes unfair that even the person who will depart will prolong the agony for the people who truly love them by not telling the truth. But then, if we think further, is it because they are too strong to endure the pain? Is it pride until the end that would matter? We are all equal no matter what condition we have. The truth is the only thing that could heal even the most unyielding soul.

Joyce (Mylene Dizon) is a career-obsessed single woman. Suddenly, she resigns to her work at the brink of her achievements because she acquired the terminal disease, pancreatic cancer. She is given three months to live. She grabs her post-it and jots down the things-to-do in the remaining months of her life. She seems extremely good at this and is terribly organized. Until each of her loved one knows her true condition.

Martinez’ has crafted the movie itself like a cancer patient. It has the ability to be fragile and rough with its composition. It could be also true that a device commonly done by most filmmakers to handle the theme of death has been deliberated. Fusing it with humor is not so unusual to us critics. But 100 has been clever considering the fact that it’s brought upon by natural comedians of our country. Eugene Domingo and Tessie Tomas have the ability to make a discourse with the tragedy bestowed to the protagonist. I will never doubt the story’s ability to bind comedy in dealing with this illness. It is bravery on the director’s part to have the assurance that it will likely be of valuable usage to an engaging and insightful story of a woman stricken by cancer.

Independent films have the tendency to experiment with its camera works and cinematography. I have no qualms with the sentimentality generated from some scenes even if it could have been more restrained. Although the Hong Kong sequence could have been a bit off. The home video effect might be misguided as a personal travelogue by the two actresses having a vacation. It’s good that in the end of the Hong Kong segment, Joyce is back again to her condition. The overall technical quality of the film is definitely superior. It gives elegance to the connotation that ‘indie’ film works have this dark and muddy tendency in its film format. It has maximized the medium could offer, mostly with the strengths of the intangibles like the storytelling approach and genre style.

The theme death is a universal language that we could relate to. Its either you are the one dying or the one being left behind. In Joyce’s life, her friends embody who we are. Ruby (Eugene Domingo) is Joyce’s childhood friend. She is the first to know of Joyce’s condition. She effortlessly continues to take the journey with her friend despite being perturbed by the news she has known. Eloisa (Tessie Tomas) is Joyce’s mother. She did not know the condition until the time when Joyce has to be rushed to the hospital. The mother instinct in her strikes without any trace of despair.

Until the very end, we could not get what we desire. Joyce has been very successful in her line of work. She gets the empathy of her friend who stayed despite the awful times of her life. But Joyce has an unrequited love. Death brings family and friends closer together. Despite the tragic occurrence, we still have the ability to laugh. It might help to ease the pain. After all, laughter is as natural as death.
Charlie Koon's Rating:


Deeply Felt

Anxious Mother

It is actually hard to restrain one’s emotion especially on my part in watching the film Concerto. The subject matter is in fact a taboo with our Japanese ancestors and relatives. It really hurts to hear people say; Japanese people are violent. Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies is a prime example that even in Japan at the time of war, they also suffered. Concerto tackles a story of a Filipino family during the Japanese Occupation. It is atypical with its wartime depiction, much of it with subtlety and objectivity. It tries to show some sympathy towards the Japanese soldiers. It could be all true that the horrifying events are just the consequence of war.

Concerto is written and directed by Paul Alexander Morales. It tells the story of a family during wartime in Davao. During the Japanese Occupation, the family of Ricardo (Nonoy Froilan) and his wife Julia (Sharmaine Buencamino) evacuates their house in the city and stays in the farm of their relative. Their son Joselito (Jay Aquitania) shows fondness towards the Japanese culture. Joselito knows how to speak Nihonggo; which in return gets the consideration from the Japanese soldiers. Aside from the daily ration of fried sweetened potatoes, the Japanese soldiers always had lavish dinners in their home. His sister Maria (Yna Asistio) also showed some kindness towards the Japanese and even had a slight romance with one of the soldiers. But their other sibling Niña (Meryll Soriano) and their father Ricardo are hesitant in showing the same empathy.

The vital aspect for a period film to be successful is if it renders a film with accuracy. Concerto is able to mobilize their resources and come up with a film scenario that could be sufficiently convincing for a period look. It was able to show a 1940’s era without too much pretension. The story itself is set in a farm. That is an advantage on their part. The story happens during the Japanese Occupation. Morales gives deference to his story material by using authentic Japanese actors. This is quite admirable for obvious reasons. Filipino characters can only be played by Filipinos.

With the film’s title, some people confuse it with its inclination to music rather than a film. Some thought it is a musical extravaganza of some sort. Anyhow, Concerto offers a little tribute on how fruitful our music was produced in those times. Yna Asistio’s character Maria play and sings with the piano a common Visayan song entitled “Rosas Pandan” which is written by the famous Domingo Lopez. The other song played in the film is written by the National Artist Nicanor Abelardo. The song “Nasaan Ka Irog” gives a sense of nostalgia and it would really stimulate a sense of sentimentality. One evening, Joselito sings a famous Japanese patriotic song “Aikoku Koshinkyoku” by Morikawa Sachio. The Japanese soldiers join him with much enthusiasm and even cry “Banzai” afterwards. Classical Composition of Chopin and Beethoven was also played. Despite political and social barriers, the language of music is universal as it breaks walls.

The story of Concerto was based on the diary of Lt. Col. Anastacio Campo. “Diary of the War: Memoirs of WWII” is interpreted by the director’s own mother Virginia Yap Morales. The director has given a touch of melodrama with a more subtle approach in letting out human emotions. Joselito’s family might be a common welcoming family in your community. Each member might have differing opinions and approach of thinking. But here, we see them come together during the hardest of times. They entertain the Japanese soldiers wholeheartedly and provide them succulent meals in all chances. We cannot argue that Joselito’s comprehension with Nihonggo did help them save his family’s lives. War is not completely forgotten. The family has shown kindness but there are subtle points that there are calculated actions.

At one point, we will be questioning the kindness within us. Human sufferings, crisis, and wars might change our outlook in life. It will make monsters of us. The frightening truth is we tend to be influenced with austere similitude to life’s cruelty. Julia has a very good approach to combat misery and that is through prayer. Their family shows us a golden heart and has revealed it at the time when we should stay away from modesty. The Japanese too has shown compassion. One even knows how to show love and affection through Maria. Even Ricardo’s determination to show composure to the people who tortured and beat him is quite remarkable. Concerto humanizes us by showing both sides of the wall. With my mutual blood coming from two races, Concerto has been very sensitive with its rendition of a Filipino-Japanese relationship during the time of aggression. My partiality did not matter anymore because I was moved by the film completely.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

More Brandy Please

Your chest is so...

The popularity of Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes as a love pair in television could truly prop up their film One True Love. But this film is a bit more different. To view a film, you have to pay almost two hundred bucks for the admission (if you’ll buy food too) as compared to watching teleseryes or sinenovelas in our very home. As a matter of fact, before you can drag anyone to watch a film, it has to surpass the expectations of the majority who has already seen the film. One True Love has produced a schmaltzy love story which acquired the appalling sentimentality of the soap opera tradition.

Migs (Dingdong Dantes) is a neurologist who is engaged to a nurse named Joyce (Marian Rivera). Upon announcing their engagement to his family, his sister Ara (Bianca King) immediately informed Migs' past girlfriend Bela (Iza Calzado) and advised her to go back to the Philippines. After the wedding, Migs becomes involved in a motorcycle crash and suffers isolated retrograde amnesia. During the time of his recovery, Migs has lost all memories of his wife Joyce. But instead, he chooses to unite again with Bela.

The premise is pretty interesting and it is the only good thing I can say in the film. I can also forgive the clichéd/formula story and plot devices they have adhered to for the past few decades. But it is beyond the pale if they have abused the formula itself. It is also given and yet it is still not cohesive. Migs has amnesia and yet he portrays his character that he also lost all his good values and manners. He acts like a puppet manipulated by the creative core of this film production. This is not love anymore as love gives reverence to the very essence of showing it. A person who suffers amnesia might be a little stressed and shows embarrassment but definitely not to the point of being rude. Even if the character’s neurologists explained the side effects, the actor’s execution is unbearable. Joyce is another problem as she embodies the maudlin expressions of empathy without reasonable gravity. She did at some point in time manage to get angry but it still does not advance the way she should deal with love as a matured individual. Anyway, she gets the sympathy which is entirely the idea of it. Although in the long run, a good story does not need any of this cheap gimmickry.

It is disheartening to watch a film more so a film that tackles the universal language of Love and hate to see everything it has offered. The quality of the technicalities is satisfactory but the other essential foundation has been laid into a dull and gloomy terrain. The acting of the two stars is disgusting to imbibe. Good thing that Calzado gives a performance that could be well regarded as a decent performance and even the character appears to be the paramour.

One True Love is not in any way true love and I am certain about it. I am glad to hear in the news that it did well in the box office even the entire production looks a bit low-cost. Hopefully the money they get in this film will be used again in making a film (hopefully a 'decent' one). Audiences are easy to please. With the theme love, it is more trouble-free as we get to feel it not exactly the same as when others feel it. It is always unique. One True Love has integrated the fantasy love formula that has been here for years. It could be shameful to use. But if it has the certain ‘it’, it will have magic and not an abysmal ending.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Savor the Soul

Sir Yes Master!

Local urban legends roughly explain in a quizzical and a bit disgusting way the preparations of some of our favorite dishes. It ranges from dead cats to human innards to name a few. It is a bit alarming if it’s really true in practice. In casual talks, we asked the question: Would you mind if you have eaten such grisly foodstuffs? You would not care about. But what if the only thing left is human flesh and one must consume it in order to survive, to eat or not to eat?

Carnivore is the story of Lino Lucero (Carlo Aquino). It has nothing to do with neither the late Lino Brocka nor a tribute to Mike de Leon’s Batch 81’ (Lucero is Mark Gil’s surname in the film). Aside from the fact that it has fraternity components in both films, it is perceptively different and is beyond comparison. Lino comes from the province and is new in Manila. He is ready to conquer the world (very Ato). Ignorant yet idealistic, Lino tries to find ways in order to fulfill his ambition. Alas, when he was offered to join the Sigma Omicron Fraternity, he is now determined to follow the footsteps of the head, Senator Lucio San Miguel (Mark Gil).

Ato Bautista might sound too pompous when he regards his works as exceptionally brilliant. But he has the balls to do so, provided it comes with a little moderation. The first full-length feature Sa Aking Pagkagising Mula sa Kamulatan (Awaken) might look a bit sloppy in terms of its technicalities and editing but I have high praises for Carnivore. It has the kick. With Carnivore, he has certainly improved. Bautista is certainly equipped with what a good storytelling (thanks to Shugo Praico, his co-writer) and filmmaking (own technique) is all about. The camera shots are brilliantly maneuvered especially with its dungeon scene. The editing and camera works in that particular situation wherein it is superbly maneuvered. The feel of terror, anxiety and apprehension surrounds it. Carnivore certainly gives the audience a taste of life and how vicious it could become.

Without any doubt, Aquino has given a splendid performance as Lino. Geisler as Lino’s friend Ely still does not have the scar in his face in this film. I could have sensed that this film has been on the works for a long time. It could have been a long journey for the director to do this particular film. But miraculously, Erik Matti, one of its producers, has been of a great support with the project.

You might be receptive to the dynamics of the fraternity it has infused. Obviously, we share the sentiments. In any perspective and even on my own, fraternities are certainly unappealing albeit when talked about in everyday conversation. Sheer stupidity equals fraternity; this is all that reverberates into my ears. But life’s uncertainty is likely to bring out severe circumstances, worse than being beaten up by mindless fellows in a brotherhood. Carnivore has devoured much of it. But the climactic moment astoundingly weaves the entire idea of the film.

Despite the shocking and disturbing aspects in Carnivore, the film successfully penetrates the human mind. Bautista is perceivably way better in creating psychological fears. The effect is desirable with the film’s visuals. Carnivore achieves its goal, but definitely not in a disgusting way.

Charlie Koon's Rating

Too Much Drama

Futuristic look

First and foremost, how could we gage the success of a Sci-Fi film? It must be visually superior above anything else. Filmgoers have this perception that this kind of genre has fascinating production designs. Its special effects must be really spectacular. It is simple as that. I am not saying that Filipinos have no potential to make one, but it is so obvious that we lack the financial resources to put all together the splendor of an alternate reality. With Xenoa 2: Clash of the Blood’s ambition, I could say that the movie is doomed to failure.

Xenoa 2: Clash of the Bloods is the second part of this sci-fi trilogy. The first part has a straight-to-video release. There is a flashback on its opening scene from the first film. Briefly, Queen La’ian gives birth to the heirs of the Xenoan throne. But due to a conflict with the Zephyr, she decides to send her triplets namely; Eli (Isabel Granada), Zeus (Paolo Ballesteros) and Drix (Rey Talosig) to Earth. Unfortunately, Zephyr’s General Norak found Drix after some decades. General Norak tries to persuade Drix to acquire the Xenoan Trinity from Eli and Zeus.

With the story’s progression from the first film, I have sense that its concept has taken place as expected. Its attempt to make a sci-fi story and translate it into film is discernible but it has resorted into a drama featuring the struggles of the siblings. It is obvious that there is a major constraint in executing the sci-fi aspect of the film and the audiences get a little dosage of it relying more on its dramatic component. With the second part which is the Clash of the Bloods, Lim embarks again on a journey which is light years away with the very concept of it. It is an ambitious project and yet again, a good source of funding is the key to make this happen. Perhaps it is inevitable to criticize the inadequacy of the special effects. To this limitation, the director must find other means of compensating. But even the progression of the story, it is not engaging.

Clash of the Bloods is now focused with Drix’s son, Clyde (Victor Basa). Before Drix left the planet Earth, he had a short relationship with Amanda (Elle Velasco). Drix did not know that Amanda is a Zephyr. Their son Clyde is a hybrid of Xenoa and Zephyr and he is known to be more powerful. Clyde has the ability to control minds and this resulted to the killing of three men in their campus. The police start to investigate. With this happening, Amanda’s long overdue plan to conquer Earth with the help of her son Clyde begins. But the Xenoan Empire will do with all their might, to save and protect Clyde for this not to occur.

The film occurs in the year 2028. It shows some flying spaceships along the Metropolis. The cars look like a hybrid of Whirlpool Microwaves and Sony Flat screens. The cellular phones are so high tech – I can’t explain how amazed I am. And if you are a beggar, you simply swipe the card to another device and you have immediate funds – so true. It all sounds great. Anyway, I have no doubts that this is a thesis film made by a production company from a multimedia arts school. It’s too flashy anyway and unfortunately, it did not save the film from shame. With limited budget, they simply strive to make dramatic sequences. The film’s dramatic moments, is terrible. It is annoying to hear those dialogues. Good thing they have integrated this dialect from another galaxy, it cleanse my sense of hearing from all those superfluous dialogues. It did help conceal how badly it was acted.

Xenoa 2: Clash of the Bloods did not reach even the Earthly skies in its attempt to make a sci-fi film. They are more challenged in creating backdrops and gadgets which they think will exist on that particular period. Good thing they have created two clashing worlds and perceived Earth as a battle ground. It has some good ideas but it needs more time and money for this particular genre be of great success. Well, at least they tried.

Charlie Koon's Rating:


Cinema One Originals 2008

Seven films will compete in this year's Cinema One Originals 2008. Films are the following: Alon by Byron Bryant, Dose by Senedy Que, Imburnal by Sherad Anthony Sanchez, Kolorete by Ruello Lozendo, Motorcycle by Jon Red, UPCAT by Roman Olivares, and Yanggaw by Richard Somes.


Cinema One Originals will be shown in Robinsons IndieSine Galleria from December 3-9, 2008.

Cinema One Originals Schedule

Cul de Sac

Cul de Sac is a film directed by Juan Miguel Sevilla. It stars Sam Milby, Chin-chin Gutierrez, Jodi Sta Maria-Lacson and Albert Martinez.It will be screened in all SM cinemas starting December 3, 2008.


100 is a film written and directed by Chris Martinez about the last three months of a cancer stricken woman who has a list of things to do before she dies.
It stars Mylene Dizon, Tessie Tomas, TJ Trinidad, Ryan Eigenmann, Simon Ibarra and Eugene Domingo. It will be shown in selected theatres starting December 3, 2008.


Loosen up a bit

Are you sick?

I try to be as democratic as possible by reviewing all Filipino films, even the ones that I am anxious to see. Walang Kawala (No Way Out) is a bit of a surprise. It is like a balloon that is rapidly inflated. One instance, it suddenly bursts in your face. Walang Kawala is a story made by Joel Lamangan in collaboration with Manny Valera and his screenwriter Enrique Ramos. It is Lamangan’s first venture in independent filmmaking. Hopefully it is the start for mainstream directors to be roused from their periods of complacency.

With the return of Joaquin’s (Polo Ravales) wife Cynthia (Althea Vega), Waldo (Joseph Bitangcol) suddenly feels jealous with the lack of attention he expects from Joaquin. To his dismay, he escapes the province in search for a better life in the city. Joaquin is saddened by the incident and he left his wife in search of Waldo. In the city, Joaquin was clued-up that a police officer named Rufo (Emilio Garcia) is spotted last with Waldo. An awful twist of events happens when Rufo abducts Joaquin and makes him his human sex slave to take pleasure from his craving of younger men.

Walang Kawala does not qualify to be criticized in terms of moral values. So critics must be flexible enough with the use of different tools and criteria for every film. Walang Kawala has qualities that are perfect for such objective evaluation. It is so evident that Lamangan has been in the industry for decades. He has done quite a number of mainstream films and has been a hundred percent behind some of the important films that the Philippines has. He is part of Ishmael Bernal’s Himala and Lav Diaz’ Hesus Rebolusyonaryo. Walang Kawala is no different from his other works’ endeavor to be accessible to audiences. He imparts his skills in mainstream to independent filmmaking. It is quite easy to notice that Walang Kawala has ideas that might be very useful to sustain independent film works.

Non-linearity has been in the works for most filmmakers. Its usage consists of flashbacks within the story and yet it is still cohesive if and only if it is executed adroitly. It is quite good to see that the flashbacks in Walang Kawala are woven within the story with great skill. The progression of the story is quite overloaded with tension and melodrama which has been a guilty pleasure of most Filipino audiences. Spectators are like diners. They are drawn into more scrumptious dishes. Sadism has been an active element within the film. The sight of the brutality is quite gripping. Walang Kawala is effective with its aim of a definite sense of apprehension.

I was not surprised that the film got a tamer rating from the MTRCB than other films that recently got an X rating (Next Attraction, Imburnal, and Melancholia). I think it only needs common sense to persuade the board of their works. Evidently, our ‘indie’ artists today lack persuasiveness. They merely hate the entire system. As a result, their ego is inflated to such an extent that they consider their works as victims of uneven judgment. But how do we apply simple common sense in the defense of a film’s unashamed nakedness. In gay bars, obviously you get to see naked male bodies with their schlongs out in the open. Lamangan has confidently made a film with much blatancy, he will never go wrong. He might have been just honest about it. Plus the fact that Lamangan is very good in dealing with the bureaucrats which other artists try to avoid.

Nothing is pretentious in Walang Kawala that is why it is surely well-regarded all on its own. It has incorporated a love story between two men. You might revolt on how they dealt with this kind of relationship but their characters have human dignity and respect for love. The crude depiction of life within the film’s story is maneuvered confidently. It is evocative to a society that has tumbled down and its harshness will always be malodorous despite its good outer surface. Walang Kawala might not be the best film made in recent years. But how would we know in this period in time where we don’t even know what is best? If the film doesn’t stick to a certain narrative it is doomed to failure. If it tries to sugarcoat a simple story to attract more audiences, it will be quite repulsive to some. If a certain artist tries to be unpretentious, direct and integrates conventional filmmaking, will he be cast out? Lamangan certainly knows what he wants. He knows a lot about the process of filmmaking. Walang Kawala has a lot of good ideas that could be of better use in improving independent films. Independent films must strive for aiming a wider audience in order to survive (unless they’re damned to self-indulgence). Lamangan might have done a few silly mainstream films, but I think he does not even care. He will certainly know better than any of us and I believe that Walang Kawala is better than any Mano Po Series he has done.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Crafting Mystery

Neutral Look

Altar is one of the films in last year’s Cinema One 2007 Competition. This is the film I liked most simply because it has a very interesting story and superior cinematography. In most horror-suspense genres, we are perceptibly enthusiastic in speculating the twists the film has integrated within the story. Rico Maria Ilarde has effectively made it in Altar.

Anton (Zanjoe Marudo) returns to the Philippines and finds himself jobless. But then, a mysterious foreman named Erning (Dido dela Paz) hires him together with Lope (Nor Domingo) to a secluded house far from the city. Upon his arrival, Anton senses secrecy lingering in the house. Soon enough, a young girl appears to him asking for help. With much curiosity that has been built-up, Anton together with Lope tries to solve the mystery in the house by entering the basement which the foreman has illicitly prohibited them to go through.

I will not dwell on how ridiculous the maid costumes in the film are. Instead, I will try to be more proactive. Certainly, Altar is commercially viable with its usage of the horror genre. It has been very unique in infusing supernatural beliefs and diabolism. The malevolent envisioning of the evil entity is astonishing. So when it tries to contrive the development of the story it is totally understandable to the very aim of engaging its character and leads it to the plot.

Altar fairs substantially with its eeriness not only with its story’s progression but mostly with the use of symbols, secret codes and fictionalized history of sorcery. It has also included the elements of romance and humor for it does strive for accessibility. But the use of humor has altered a bit its frightening story, thus it could have been avoided. Ilarde’s Sa Ilalim ng Cogon has achieved much on its eccentricity feature. But with Altar, it has attained not only the latter, but also with other layers of what films must consist of not only in it’s strive for a wider audience but also with its remarkable skills in making the story more favorable. The film tries to depict irony in its horror persona. Is it the dreadful looking that we should be more cautious of or the innocent, soft-spoken type? The evil spirit idea has been created brilliantly with much forethought.

Obviously, Altar is my personal choice from the five films shown in last year’s Cinema One Originals. The leverage might have been different on the panel of judges’ personal biases and political clout. But it is noteworthy that the film is beautifully photographed than any other film in competition and it really looks mystifying. Like what I have said, it might be branded as an independent film, but it has made an output that could be viable for commercial release. The sound design, production design, musical scoring adheres to the very aim of the festival itself. Altar is global in outlook, looks very classy (not the hideous acting of the two maids), and it is well photographed. I admire Rico Maria Ilarde and Mammu Chua for there attempt to incorporate the element of surprise within the story and twists within a twist obsession. Altar is uniquely well-made horror-suspense film.

Charlie Koon's Rating:


One True Love

One True Love is a romantic film directed by Mac Alejandre. It stars Iza Calzado, Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera.
It will be shown in cinemas nationwide starting November 19, 2008.


Concerto stars Jay Aquitania, Meryll Soriano, Sharmaine Buencamino, and Ynna Asistio. This period film is directed by Paul Alexander Morales.
It will have theatrical screenings starting November 19, 2008 at IndieSine Galleria, SM North Edsa, SM Southmall, SM Megamall, and Glorietta 4.


Xenoa 2: The Clash of the Bloods

Xenoa 2: The Clash of the Bloods, the second of a sci-fi trilogy about aliens from a rival planet Zephyr will be shown at all SM Digital Cinemas starting November 12, 2008.
It stars Victor Basa, Paolo Ballesteros, and Isabel Granada directed by Sean Lim.


Not Only Me

Rock 'n' Roll!

The film is horrendous. I cannot think of an adjective to better articulate my dismay with this creepy crappy film. I have nearly lost my Filipino sensibility with its hazy ‘crude humor’ which they have deliberately incorporated. What’s with patola? You know, it’s just baffling to me, that somehow, at this point in time, they already know how to adhere with the proper usage of comedic devices in films. This is where we are good at. What I have seen is entirely a mockery of what they have already established (Star Cinema’s recent films).

My Only Ü is the story of Winona (Toni Gonzaga), who happens to have a history of early death from her mother’s side. They have been cursed that before they reach the age of twenty-five, they will die. Bong (Vhong Navarro) is the caretaker of the tenement where Winona lives. He is the closest friend of Winona. He has a deep admiration for her. He tries his best to save Winona’s life who is two days away from her 25th birthday. Things changed when Winona miraculously survives the curse.

The premise of the film has uncovered the contrivance I wanted to discuss further. They have integrated a device which has been used by Greek and Roman drama called dues ex machina. It is probably the idea behind the ‘fantastic’ or rather the insoluble plot. Of course a double usage might not be harmful and the film has gotten hold of it in the presence of Doctor Duke (Benji Paras). Obviously, the premise has something to do with the unexplained curse, which they have lethargically narrated in a very pseudo-comical way. They showed the ancestors of Winona who passed away before reaching twenty-five and has explained how they died. It is confusing though that they have explained the unlikely way they die rather than simply explaining the curse itself. Doctor Duke just comes out of nowhere to resolve the problem.

What can we do, the intractable problem in the plotline has already been completed. It is not entirely healthy to use this kind of device simply because it implies a lack of skill on the part of the writers (Emmanuel dela Cruz, Chinno Marquez, John Roque, Tanya Winona Bautista). It does not compensate to the appropriate logic of the story itself. What will the characters do? Just act out what has simply been the idea in the first place? Does it mean that the character’s seemingly sparkling romance is a bit off to put it further? It is a bit insulting for me as part of the audience watching it and persuading myself with its machination. I could not simply partake of it.

The moment I sit in that theatre, I know what they have to offer and that is to entertain. Actually, there is a promise of entertainment in the film which is easily recognized. Audience might need a little participation for this as they must be willing to overlook the limitations of the film and not interfere with the approval of the premise. It is quite interesting though, but even on its entertainment aspect, the film deeply subsides.

The cinematography is irrevocably bad. It doesn’t adhere to the very essence of why it was made in the first place. It looks dull at times, the color grading is a bit dark, or does it embody death? Actually it must look brighter. Nonetheless they have been proud of the fact that it is a black comedy after all. The supposed to be humor that surrounds death is a bit offensive. It tries to be humorous but it appears to be more on the scornful aspect of it. The idea has totally gone off-beam as their objective of a lighter approach towards the subject of death has not been reasonably thought of.

It is also noteworthy to define the jokes they have injected in the film. Filipino Culture is unique towards this and I have no condemnation with how ethnocentric the jokes have progressed. It is at times funny. The parody has been a very good device to extract laughter. But My Only Ü has been sloppy with the off-color humor it has projected simply because it is not hilarious at all. I never heard the audience laugh for some of its ‘in-jokes’. They could have been forced to laugh simply because there is a cue that it is indeed the punch line. I have no doubts that the actors have made their very best to make it humorous. They have done it with caution and much more, with precision. But I cannot simply give away my laughter for those silly lines. Anyway, Gonzaga and Navarro have this charm in how they handled their characters. It could save the film. Actually, it is funny that we still criticize films like this. Why not? If they could have known their strengths, they could have stuck with them. I did not feel any risk on their part as they get to use a hasty device.

Garcia-Molina might have done a great job with A Very Special Love simply because it is written with grace and is confidently executed. For now, it has been a hit and miss. My Only Ü has used a device not so common to all. People die for strange reasons and at times, even if they have sickness, it is still uncommon to the general Filipino public (You should go to PGH). Tragedy still requires a logical explanation for any occurrence as well as with comedy. Even with a comedic interpolation, it must be coherent. Films must give justice to what has transpired because after they have shown it, they can’t explain further what it tries to achieve.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Touching the Untouchable

Where's my rubber ducky?

Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice. - Virginia Woolf

Third world art is tough for critics to criticize. Next Attraction is so clever with its guard to criticisms. Next Attraction is really good in terms of improvisation. It also receives a special recognition in the recently concluded 10th Cinemanila. It is quite predictable though. I think that is the entire idea of it. As long as you have no budget, you have a weird concept; they will be praised as the new artists.

Next Attraction is about making a film. They have a steady camera recording the behind the scenes of a certain short film. Apparently, there’s a progression within those steady shots. We get the details of what the short film is all about. It is about a guy (Coco Martin) being reprimanded by her mother (Jacklyn Jose) for an act he committed. You can hear the dialogues but it is an art film so you expect something more profound. Instead you get to see a steady shot of the cameraman shooting the scene and the supposed to be director of the film. After fifty minutes of more or less fifteen long takes of behind the scenes, the film shooting packs up. The second part of the film is the short film which is roughly ten or fifteen minutes long.

Actually, the film has achieved many of its supposed goals. Next Attraction has a different perspective with its use of the strategic anticipation within the story. Nonetheless, the audience did acquire much anticipation. It is quite easy to understand the very concept of it all why they shot the film like that. It has inputs in making a radical approach in film making. The film doesn’t tolerate clichés or any form of 'hackneyism'.

To be honest, the film experience is like; I was brought into a different planet and literally got back without any trace of libido. I could have purchased Viagra afterwards. I know this might be my personal opinion on this film but it seems to be as important as how I objectively evaluate films in general. I am no robot. I could easily give four or even five stars with all those deleted scenes. But it is still a film. The film’s ‘in your face’ attitude is quite disturbing. Like “Oh we don’t have the money, and this is our film”, is a bit puzzling to be of good practice. To show some form of appreciation, the film has its defenders for what they have done and I am just not that enthusiastic about it. Anyway, Raya Martin is merely trying without expecting people to actually realize what his goal was in the first place.

Next Attraction is too safe for my opinion to be made by an artist who makes risks. It is quite easy to perceive art films that really have the edge to be noticed. Next Attraction will get the attention it ought to have. But I’m a bit confused as to why the film is shot in digital format, while the short film is with the use of film stock? Is he not too confident enough to stash some cash for a film stock for all the behind the scenes? If it is of equal importance, why did he shoot it in two different medium? Actually, I watch DVDs with bonus features. It’s pretty much this movie.

Charlie Koon's Rating:
Next Attraction is the second installment of the Box Office Trilogy. First installment is Now Showing. It also receives an X Rating (together with Melancholia and Imburnal) before it is shown in the Cinemanila 2008 Festival after the director made an appeal to the MTRCB.

I have seen the future

Smells good...

The observance of a certain region, a territory or even a town in the Philippines has this commonality in perception of what their livelihood must be. It is not entirely bad, but it is totally overwhelming to see a mini store all over one place. At times, the entire street is crowded with a bunch of bakery stores. This film’s depiction has tackled a mildly different approach but it has the same system. The Quiapo Church might be the common ground for fortunetellers. And this has been their bread and butter. In this film, the fortunetellers inhabit a small village. Their passion in fortunetelling was projected a bit more. But I never thought that this simple tarot card reading might be competitively baneful.

Messina (Eula Valdes) goes back to her village after her mother Dorothea (Chanda Romero) dies of an unknown illness. Messina wants to save her daughter Claire (Glaiza de Castro) from the fate of being a fortuneteller. When she arrives in their house, she soon discovers that her family is caught in debt by a fortune-telling syndicate headed by Jakob (Emilio Garcia).

It was corroborated by the producer of the film that they employed a touch of magic realism in Ang Manghuhula (The Fortuneteller). Obviously it’s a bit literary in nature and some of the most prolific writers in this literary genre have very few works translated into film. Ang Manghuhula has this certain feel that yeah, in a way, they have translated into film perspectives of what magic realism is. If you’ll be more critical with its story’s progression, you’ll be perplexed because the peculiarity is entirely part of magic realism. Like in the story, the tarot card owned by Dorothea is known to possess some certain powers. Or the mysteries involved if you get to possess those tarot cards. The very essence of magic realism is to make the fantastic seem or indeed become naturalistic. Herras has accomplished it.

When the film started, it has this feeling of coldness in its scenes. Death has been very common in anyway it could be represented. The technical execution of the film is crucial with their undertaking simply because it will play a big factor in defining what magic realism is all about. Ang Manghuhula is beautifully photographed. The eerie scenarios are convincingly effective in recreating a flight of the imagination.

The acting of all the characters is sufficient. Valdes as Messina has portrayed the character well with deep understanding of the supernatural beliefs. De Castro looks like a newcomer and she seems like she has been too challenged with her role as Claire and has tendencies to look a bit overwrought. Romero’s participation is of course very well appreciated. Her presence has made the film more enigmatic. And it is surprising that this film has almost star-studded cameo roles from the likes of Angel Locsin, Epi Quizon, John Lapus, Candy Pangilinan to name a few. Bella Flores has been a crowd favorite the night of its premiere. And she will always be.

It is good to see that Herras has improved a lot from his suppose to be acclaimed film Lambanog which I have perceived differently, much of it in a negative manner. But with Ang Manghuhula, I certainly will buy this magic realism he has employed right from the very beginning. When he tries to imply Maria Makiling’s mortality in Lambanog, I have doubted it. But in here, magic realism is adequately translated into film. It is certainly admirable. Hopefully, he sustains what he is best known for.

Charlie Koon's Rating:
The term “Magic realism” was first used by the German art critic Franz Roh in 1925 to describe a kind of visual style that expressed a heightened reality but is based on mundane subject matters. It has been championed by a lot of Latin American writers such as Gabrielle Garcia Marquez, using the style to portray the miraculous in a seemingly normal setting. In film, directors such as Tim Burton exemplified in his movie “Big Fish” is a prime example.

Count Your Blessings

Screen Legend

The new trend that is being employed by some of the most flourishing directors and screenwriters in film is with the use of real time in terms of storytelling. Adela is one of those films which made it right. The story’s development is loaded with all those activities happening in a day. You will never doubt Adela’s energy to do all those things for her age. And yet, it adheres to the most essential elements of a film despite the time constraint. It’s good to know that the film was shot for seven days not really a day in Adela’s life. It might be physically impossible for an actress like Anita Linda to conform to the idea of real time. I don’t want to meddle with the theories behind it as it’s a different issue. What is important is Anita Linda’s performance with of course Adolfo Alix’s directing. Despite her age and the director’s idea of real time storytelling (usually happens in a day), Adela is one that I will never get tired of watching. It is simply because; Linda is magnificent!

Adela turns eighty years old. It seems another ordinary day to her life. She goes to the market. She prepares the ingredients for the pansit bihon (vermicelli noodle dish). She expects a visit from her daughter to celebrate her birthday with her. She goes to the church. She visits the grave of her husband. She also visits her son in the prison. And come back to her shanty and wait with much hope that somehow, something extraordinary is in store for her that day.

The shabby production design is apparently shot in the junkyard part of Manila. Despite its understated setting, the moment Linda simply passes by the area; it made the entire place enchanting. I am at a loss for words on how great her performance was. Linda is the very key to the success of this film and I have no doubt about it. Alix’s directing skills with a handful of films as his backup might have contributed a lot in bringing the best from Linda. If this has been done by a different director, I have this feeling that it would get messed up. And for the role of Adela, I have exactly the same precognition. It is quite tedious to demonstrate a wide range of emotions with subtlety and Linda has done it with style.

When I review Alix’s film, it certainly appears to be short. Adela is a story which transpires in a day. The simplistic nature of the film threatens to belie its profundity for the unseasoned viewer. No dramatizations, no histrionics, just the stark goings-on of an ordinary woman’s life. Precisely this is what Filipino films lack, brevity. Before, I really have doubts with their ideologies in its incorporation of real time for film perspective. I basically view real time as something theoretical in nature, and will possibly distort its own views. I felt that Alix has done a good task in this. I have a fair grasp of this supposed new trend in films.

Adela is Alix’s best work so far. After all, seeing a legend on the screen is one rare opportunity. Linda is simply stunning. Her past works might have not been very visible in our local theatres as well as in television. Adela is one film you will certainly be blessed to see a performance that requires a luminary presence and charisma. Anita Linda has such qualities.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

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