In Pilipino, we have a saying that goes: Huli man daw at magaling, naihahabol din”! We still carry the fever of the last Metro Manila Film Festival and its effect on us still lingers on. It was just several weeks ago, anyway. In fact, some of the entries are still being shown in downtown theaters.
The official entries to last year film festival look interesting. Shake, Rattle & Roll, Zsa Zsa Zaturna, Super Noypi, Enteng Kabisote 3, Mano Po 5, Ligalig, Matakot ka sa Karma, Kasal, Kasalo, Kasali and Tatlong Baraha. In the early part of the festival, the top grosser position was a close fight between Kasal and Enteng Kabisote.
This early, I must admit I only saw two of the entries in the festival namely Kasal and Super Noypi. I watched Kasal first at Isetann after which I hurried to Super Noypi, hoping to be entertained based on newspaper ads I saw. But sad to say, I left the theater after less than half an hour, disgusted! I could not relate to the movie, I felt uncomfortable and went out fuming mad!
I did not know what the movie was about so I left after paying…was it P80.00? Was it fantasy? Sandara Park was disturbing. She tended to overact in the few scenes I managed to glimpse. Jennylyn Mercado was, I think, miscast. It was only the role of John Pratts that kept me seated a little longer. His was a comic relief but even if I enjoyed watching him, the force of his humorous acting did not keep me glued to my seat. So I went out and promised not to see another of the other seven entries anymore. It was a waste of my precious and my money (Christmas dollar gifts from my nieces and nephew in the U.S.). I felt guilty wasting their money.
I don’t want to say anything lest I will be accused of being ignorant or unfair. Yes, I remember, the film was perhaps intended for young viewer and I am no longer young to enjoy the film. But as a writer for film, I will know if a film is good or bad within the first ten minutes of viewing. I was lucky I spent 20 minutes more before I left the theater.
Kasal calmed me down a little bit. It was a feel good movie. Judy Ann Santos was a revelation. She played her role in the movie beautifully from beginning to end. Fantastic and Engaging are the only adjectives I can use for her. She was very good, really good, mixing both her dramatic prowess and comic ability in one film without much effort.
She was both funny and convincing as a woman awaiting the stork even if I know she has never married and got pregnant before.. Ang galing! I have seen some of her movies, most of them drama and I was not impressed that much. In Kasal, she was outstanding. Ryan Agoncillo’s acting was just right for his role, a very good support to Juday. Was his a supporting role? He underplayed his role, did just the right energy of acting, a little submissive. Did I take it right that his role was that of a rich spoiled brat about to leave for the U.S. to join his family and work? I think he lacked the eccentricities of a rich spoiled brat. Gina Pareño was fantastic, and also consistent in her portrayal. Pardon me but I think she ‘swallowed” (nilamon niya ) Gloria Diaz and Ariel Ureta in their scenes. But remember, Gina just brought home several bet actress trophies (three in all?) from international film festivals for Kubrador. So no one should question her winning I think Gloria Diaz lacked or lost the glamour and sophistication in that role. A miscast?
Because of her superb acting, Juday won her (second?) best acting award. Cesar Montano won (again) the best actor trophy, Gina Pareno her best supporting actress award and Johnny Delgado his best supporting actor award. And it was another best director award for Joey Reyes for Kasal director. I shall not comment on the other awards as I have only watched Kasal and a snippet of Super Noypi. Regal Films as usual had more entries, four of them. I wonder how the producer managed to get the lion’s share of entries every year when I remember last year, she angrily declared not to join the festival anymore for not winning the awards she wanted most. Anyway some people are so privileged to swallow one’s word easier than others.
Mano Po was the 5th in a series and Shake, Rattle and Roll was on its eighth sequel. When will they ever tell Mother Lily to drop this series thing? Nakasawa na!! Anyway, the stories and the characters are all the same. Mano Po was also about family problems of Chinese families (or Chinoys) in the Philippines. Enough of it please! And this Shake thing! Manilyn Reynes was just beginning her movie career when she did Shake, Rattle and Roll the first time around, and that was years ago. Enteng Kabisote was on its third sequel. Will the MMFF discourage producers to come up with repeated titles and stories next year? Are we really running out of good scriptwriters to come up with better and engaging stories for the audience to enjoy? Something that will at least challenge the minds of the audience and be happy for spending their hard earned money. Or are they saving much on rehashed stories? No wonder, Pilipino movies are no longer attracting moviegoers. We see the same actors, the same line of stories, and the same plots all year round. Wala na bang iba? This is what I call spoon-feeding, forcing this kind of movies into our consciousness all throughout the years. I believe there are other writers waiting in dark corners to tap. They lack connections or is it a syndicated formula?
The last MMFF ’06 once again rekindled an uproar over the Best Picture Award given to Enteng Kabisote on the basis of its being the top grosser. The award was given and accepted three days after the showing of the entries. Top grosser??! How can that be done when it is now public knowledge that Kasal has overtaken Enteng at the end of the festival and even during their extension. Will Enteng’s trophy be now retrieved and given to the rightful top grosser?
The MMFF organizers and think tank members must give a separate award for the top grosser and not make it the basis for the Best Picture Award? Was the award given to the top grosser because it would mean more money for the MMDA? How about the merit of the story? The technical excellence? The credible acting and directing? Will it be thrown to the dogs? Will somebody provide a more convincing explanation to this brouhaha? I understand a best picture is selected on the bases of a good storyline, the technical excellence which may involved good editing, production design, sound and music, acting and directing. That’s why a particular movie is chosen the best because of all these topnotch technicalities. In my humble opinion, if I be a judge, I will give my choice for best picture whose director was chosen the best, after all a director is principally the one instrumental in coming up with an excellent job. How disgusting! This hullabaloo had been printed in several newspapers and movie magazines, discussed in several TV shows and had been talked about by people in the know. It literally captured the public mind. Nobody will feel guilty over this, I am sure because they are in power. Never mind if we patrons of Pilipino films feel cheated and abused. Maybe these people think the audience, the patrons of local films are not thinking and even if they do, they do not have the right to complain. I dread seeing the time when the moviegoers will go out to the streets and protest against this kind of shenanigans or make an uproar and decide to throw rotten eggs and tomatoes on those MMDA people responsible for this state of affairs. I hope this kind of violent indignation will not happen but if it will, they all deserve it.