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

Reviews

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Another serious look at overseas Filipinos

By Butch Francisco

From the late ‘60s up to the early ‘70s – when the exchange rate was only P7=$1 – came a trend in Philippine cinema that had local movie companies shooting films that showcased famous landmarks abroad. Premiere Productions, for instance, made quite a number of these films: blockbuster hit El Pinoy Matador with Dolphy and Pilar Pilapil in Spain, Once Upon a Time with Cocoy Laurel, and Lollipops and Roses in the US, also with Laurel and Nora Aunor –plus Don Johnson, who, received a measly $500 for playing support to our local actors. Amalia Fuentes’ AM Productions made movies filmed abroad: Sta. Teresa de Avila and those light dramas with Liezl that were shot all over Europe and in the united States.

This trend in the movies stopped because of the travel ban during the martial law years, but returned a decade later in the late ‘70s up to the early ‘80s. Vilma Santos did a lot of these films: Pinay American Style, Romansa, and Ayaw Kong Maging Querida in the US and Miss X in the Netherlands.Read more

'Milan' and 'Sabel' make a credible case for Urian best picture

By Gigi Javier-Alfonso

The Filipino expatriate life in Italy gets a scenic, glossy but realistic treatment in “Milan,” which is arguably the most successful Filipino movie of 2004, scoring very well both in the box office and in critical approbation.

Directed by Olivia Lamasan and written by Raymond Lee, “Milan” is an engaging, totally affecting survey of the Filipino migrant worker experience in Europe. Filipinos will find this tale of Lino (Piolo Pascual) looking for his missing wife (Iza Calsado) in Italy, and meeting there a street-smart, self-driven but emotionally scarred domestic helper, Jenny (Claudine Barretto), quite familiar and recognizable. It is the tale of tens of thousands of other Filipinos who risk safety and family togetherness to eke out a living in uncertain climates abroad. The predictable postcard-pretty romance that happens between the two merely provides an intriguing sheen that perhaps subdues the harsher aspects of the diaspora. But the result is nothing bland or evasive. “Milan” is a compelling romance.Read more

Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros: The maturing of local film stories

During the past few months, the one film that had been the toast of local movie town is Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros – done in digital form.

Last Tuesday, when we were asked to report to the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) review, I was pleased no end when I was told we were watching Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros. (They don’t tell us what we are watching until we get there to prevent board members from feigning illnesses or becoming suddenly unavailable just because the film up for review is obviously a lousy one.) Finally, I would have the chance to watch this film everybody is raving about – and I didn’t have to travel all the way to the CCP or UP Diliman.

With all the reviews that already came out extolling this film, most of you probably already know that Ang Pagdadalaga is about a pre-pubescent boy (Nathan Lopez) who is torn between his infatuation for a good-looking and kind-hearted cop (JR Valentin) and his loyalty to his family. Read more

Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros: Maximum heartache

It’s not easy to miss the conceit in “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros.” Because of the penchant of Filipino cinema for tearjerkers and comedies tackling the travails, joys and puppy loves of adolescents and teenagers, it seems only a matter of time for our film artists to do more of the same but with a certain refocusing: if straight children could fall in love with adults, why not gay kids?

In Maxi, writer Michiko Yamamoto, director Aureus Solito, and producer Raymond Lee have found a character so appealing, so irresistible that they could never go wrong with the movie. And as played by young actor Nathan Lopez, the character is incredibly charismatic. It helps that despite his prettiness, Lopez plays the 12-year-old princess without affectation but with a freshness that could only come from the fact that he’s straight.Read more

La Visa Loca: Intelligent and entertaining

Some 40 years ago — when the exchange rate was P4-$1 — getting a US Visa was literally a walk in the park. Armed with basic documents, you walked right through the US embassy (no lines in those days), which is off Luneta and — unless there is a valid reason for you to get “denied” — you’d get a US tourist visa good for six months.

Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE) graduates also left in batches and given teaching posts in the United States. It was the same with the commerce graduates and other professionals who finished four-year courses. Their papers were easily processed and eventually they landed good jobs in America and in time obtained US citizenship.

Incredibly enough, there weren’t that many takers of this generous offer from Uncle Sam here in the Philippines. Maybe because there weren’t that many Filipinos then. Fewer still were desperate Filipinos who were willing to exchange the conveniences of home for a life of uncertainty abroad.Read more