The society of respected film critics that hands out the annual Gawad Urian in cinematic excellence

Reviews

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Melancholia: Philippine cinema as meditation and metaphysics

By Lito B. Zulueta

Lav Diaz’s Melancholia provides a sweeping fillip and summing-up to the aesthetics he has stubbornly maintained and that has always baffled audiences. A mordant movie that is part pastorale, part meditation, and part social commentary, there is no other film like it, except for the previous movies he has done— sweeping narrative movies that seem determined to break the standard idea of a regular feature movie that’s all but told in just 90 minutes more or less.

But unlike in his previous movies where the narrative seems a recasting of the picaresque, “Melancholia,” Diaz dispenses with the narrative trajectory altogether, leaving the viewer on tenterhooks but still with a modicum of familiarity with its most basic story line revolving around three characters—a hooker, a pimp and a nun. All of them seem wounded by grief over the deaths of communist rebel friends who had been dashed and killed either by the insurgency conflict or by natural calamity. Everyone is held by the memory of death and destruction.Read more

Melancholia sa 'Melancholia'

Ni Rolando B. Tolentino

Sa mga rebyu ng “Melancholia,” laging dinidiin ang kalungkutan na pumapaimbalot sa mga buhay ng tauhan, ng produksyon ng sining at katotohanan sa gitna ng matinding politikal na panunupil ng komersyal na cinema (negosyo) at ng gobyerno. Ang huling dalawa ang bumubuo ng estado ng bansa, ang black hole na humihigop sa lahat ng mga anak at mamamayan nito sa pagdalumat sa kolektibo at individual na buhay bilang kalungkutan.

Tatlo ang pangunahing seksyon ng “Melancholia”: ang una, sa Sagada, magtatagpo ang isang madre, bugaw at puta na pinag-ugnay ng nakaraan bilang naiwan ng politikal na pinaslang o inaasahang patay na; ang ikalawa, sa Maynila, ang bugaw ay naging publisher, ang puta naging prinsipal ng eskwelahan; at panghuli, sa gubat sa Mindoro, isang rebolusyonaryo, asawa ng puta sa una, ang mamamatay sa digmaan. May epilogo, ang paghahanap ng balo ng rebolusyonaryo sa kadiliman ng parke sa syudad.Read more

Jay: Cinema gets back at television

By Butch Francisco

Media had always been very useful—at disseminating news and information, providing public service and exposing society’s ills, especially corruption in the government.

Unfortunately, media can also be abused in many ways by its practitioners who are corrupt and by those who slant the news, twist and distort the truth and embellish and exaggerate factual events to get readership (for print) and bring in the almighty ratings (for radio and television).

The indie film “Jay” gives us an inside view of what may be happening behind the scenes in the production of news documentaries on television.

Directed by Francis Xavier Pasion, the story of “Jay” begins when a gay schoolteacher is killed in his house and the suspect is a masseur who provides home service. A news program on TV apparently sees the opportunity to bring in the ratings by doing an exclusive feature on the case. A producer, played by Baron Geisler, is sent to the murdered teacher’s hometown in Bacolor, Pampanga to interview the family and to possibly dig whatever dirt they can find there.Read more

Jay: Censuring TV 'infotainment'

By Lito B. Zulueta

In Francis Xavier Pasion’s mordant “Jay,” the brutal killing of a gay TV employee in his own pad in Manila occasions a media scramble. TV journalist Jay (Baron Geisler), the victim’s namesake, gets to the family in Pampanga ahead of the pack, lures the relatives to Manila and turns out a footage of the mother breaking down at the sight of her carrion-son at the morgue. High TV drama, except that it was staged. Finding the footage damaged after the victim had been buried, Jay had asked the woman to repeat the “breakdown.” She had performed like a pro. This is what televiewers see.

Taking liberties with the factual is possible because by the time the crime is broadcast, Jay has ingratiated himself to the relatives and struck a deal for an “exclusive” in exchange for a possible donation from the network. The donation doesn’t come but, by then, the entire town will do or say anything on-cam for their 15 minutes of fame. The moral could be, “The truth is not what it seems.” But this is all tendentious, if not hackneyed. To be sure, Pasion makes sure that an element of ambiguity is always present in the film which he also wrote.Read more

Imburnal: Davao down the drain

By Lito B. Zulueta

Sherrad Anthony Sanchez’s “Imburnal” builds on the strengths of the young filmmaker’s commanding debut, “Huling Balyan sa Buhi,” with slight modification of geography: from the mystical but conflict-ridden hinterlands of Mindanao, we are brought to the sewers and emerging ghettoes of Davao City, a countryside in transition from the pastoral to the cosmopolitan. The extended opening shot of the sewer framed by a giant pipe as the waters and effluents merrily gurgle along provides both a foreshadowing of what is to come and an objective correlative of a countryside village in urban transition: nature apparently unaware of the wages of progress it is welcoming, innocence quite too innocently embracing the development that would prove to be its own undoing. The innocence is reflected in the two boys, Allen and Joel, of Barangay Matina Aplaya, Punta Dumalog in Davao City, whose points of view are the lenses through which the viewers get to see Davao. Through their unaffected gaze and ways, we see Davao’s beauty and ugliness, the latter taking the criticaal dominance in contrast to tourist brochures and loud marketing campaigns that have always provided Davao a patina of charm and allure.Read more