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

Reviews

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La Visa Loca: Trail blazer in today’s local filmmaking

Producer Tony Gloria has successfully put together a masterful filmmaker, director/writer Mark Meily and top stars as executive producers, Sharon Cuneta and Robin Padilla. The latter also stars in the film and creates a work that fully deserves the “A” rating of the Cinema Evaluation Board of the Film Development Council.

La Visa Loca is unmistakably a satire that has wit, sensible timing, good pacing and dialogue with crisp and spunk. The material delivers statement after statement on why and how Filipinos try to leave their country for greener pastures to capture that “American Dream.” The Filipino diaspora discourse has been thickened by this film, a popular culture form, which is a rare occasion in the Philippine film industry. It does not, however, leave an open ending to the story but instead boldly and bravely states the need to look at ourselves, to reflect at the Filipino mass migration. It deals squarely with the issue of broken homes and the lengths that Filipinos go through just to get that elusive US visa.Read more

Ang Daan Patungong Kalimugtong: Children of the pine-covered loam

In “Ang Daan Patungong Kalimugtong,” two Benguet orphans living with their invalid grandfather and jobless brothers traverse the mountain fastness in order to get to school everyday. They brave rough terrain, deep forests, roaring rivers, and a precarious hanging bridge to be able to make it to school and learn the day’s lessons. The rigors of travel do not break the kids, who have stout hearts and even stouter spirits. But they break the viewer’s heart, who can only watch disbelievingly at heroism that comes from so lightweight a carriage and so tender an age.

Directed by Mes de Guzman, “Kalimugtong” is poignant and moving. Here is a social document of poverty without the silly idealization or the agitprop condemnation. It presents poverty and hardship merely as a given, something that melds with stunning nature, which, incidentally, carries within itself harshness and cruelty.Read more

Blue Moon: On the road with romantic men

We always are happy to take note of films that are grounded on Philippine experience. Blue Moon, produced by Lily Monteverde for Metro Manila Film Festival and directed by Joel Lamangan, is one of the films that can be noted as part of the attempts of film artists to come up with a technically well made work and at the same time concern themselves with content that gives insight to how people try to solve their problems as they go through life in a complex society. It shows Filipinos specific and particular experiences, as it comments on social realities like war, separation and alienation. It talks of human weaknesses that bring out hesitation and even betrayal. But likewise, it celebrates love and life.Read more

Bigtime: Taking risks for the big time

Danny (Winston Elizalde) and Jonas (Nor Domingo) are lowlife buddies who tire of the small change they get from their petty crimes. They dream of winning the jackpot by planning and staging a kidnap and demanding huge ransom money. They abduct Melody (Joanne Miller), a self-absorbed fan of Philippine movie actresses, and accidentally meet in Melody’s house Wilson (Jamie Wilson), Melody’s boyfriend and the gruff and temperamental son of Don Manolo (Michael de Mesa), a ganglord involved with payoffs to different politicians. Disgusted by his father’s refusal to hatch his own criminal operations, Wilson turns around Danny and Jonas’s kidnapping into a “joint venture” and conspires with them to have himself abducted as a way of siphoning his father’s funds. Read more

Ala Verde, Ala Pobre: Complex but good storytelling

The past days of Cinemanila film festival have highlighted the local digital films created by mostly independent film artists. Here are different story-telling forms that our audiences may find unfriendly and not easily palatable in the standards of commercial filmmaking. I find this healthy…at least we, as the audience, can have choices beyond the mainstream formulas.

Unfortunately the local films that joined the festival have very minimal promotions and therefore not many people know that they are being shown.

This again is not surprising. The producers joined not for profit and therefore are wary about pumping in more capital that will dictate concerns about the return of investment. In our system, promotions spell expenses that amount to more than the production budgets of these works. All in all, parties concerned are comfortable with the idea in helping out our young independent film artists. However our exhibitors or our theater owners may have some reservations. But, we think that the experiment is a prototype that may be easily improved in the future.Read more