Unlikely Privilege

Remember me

With the struggling state of Philippine Cinema, one could not help but be lenient to first-time filmmakers. Actually it is more cause to be severe, there is no room for mediocrity. In this case, Seymour Barros Sanchez might be privileged enough to be granted such an awful justification. Handumanan is a sloppily made film. But not an utter disaster – you could still distinguish the difference. Hopefully Sanchez would not get disgruntled with the unpleasing remarks as this frankness could help him reassess the story development.

I had these little discussions with another writer through a previous film review. He said that there’s no room for common sense in art. I will perpetually disagree with it. But I’m not a theorist, if I am now sounding one. Handumanan lacks these practical and logical approaches in polishing the overall qualities of the film. Let’s look at other works of art. Van Gogh started with somber earth tones, still-life representations of life making it darker to see. Soon enough, he developed his style with use of vivid colors, swirls and visually optimistic paintings making him the pioneer of Expressionism. Dining is also an art form. If its taste is bland, pinch some salt and pepper. And why excuse filmmaking from other art, for freedom’s sake? If the story doesn’t work, then polish it.

Handumanan suffers from a narrative not because it is disjointed or the structure is not linear. It has rather lost grip to the aims of the three characters. A famous pocketbook writer Sol (Chin Chin Gutierrez) resists writing erotic stories and goes back to her province in Negros Oriental. Carlos (Akihiro Sato) is a Filipino-Brazilian model who is searching for his roots. Lean (Jason Abalos) dreams of becoming a writer but is stuck as a government auditor. Carlos finds his picture in a pocketbook written by Sol and the two eventually chats through the internet. Lean is tasked to go to Dumaguete to audit but gets delayed. He soon gets sick and is taken into custody by Sol. After a few days, the trio is completed. Carlos and Leon inundate their frustrations in life. On the other end, Sol is hushed and seemingly optimistic despite her obvious infirmity.

Some might consider the setup too contrived. In Handumanan (Remembrance), it is rather a situational type of story in order to get insights from how the characters will relate. But that’s the idea. He also incorporates the unconventional non-linearity. The effect is that the aims for the characters look improbable. It is because there are gaps in between that needs to be filled in. Jump cuts are known in editing. Incorporating this could still work but not necessarily on top form in treating the story. It is goal obsessed as the film implies it so, guess they forgot to remember. I am getting the idea in the story structure and where the director is heading. If he possesses the passion in the craft, he would certainly know the areas to develop.

Sometimes, I could not help myself to silently accuse filmmakers for being too self-indulgent. They are not supposed to waste any second for unnecessary scenes. There are famous filmmakers that I don’t necessarily understand especially when they hang around certain scenes. Just like this scene wherein Sol is chopping green peppers. Should it take ten long seconds for that shot? I mean, I understand that maybe the point is to make it the only important thing happening. It’s her focal point. It’s just a waste of scene. Three seconds will be enough.

Handumanan could have the promise just as it is granted by the National Commision for Culture and the Arts. I could not disagree with it. If it is his dream to make films, he can never be discouraged, but the fact persists, Handumanan is not really well-made. This could be his first film experience. At least for him, he could learn something from the chaos.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

art as the excuse? common fare nowadays


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