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.


Anonymous said...

which cut of lambanog did you watch?
the 90min or the new director's cut?

Charlie Koon said...

not sure but i think its also the directors cut.. i saw it 2yrs ago in UP. :)

Anonymous said...

You saw the first cut. That was horrible. It has since been recut and now pretty watchable at 72min or a bit more.

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