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

Reviews

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Porno: Mistulang Arsenal ng Postkolonya-Lismong Lumabnaw na

Ni Benilda S. Santos

Mula pa sa salitang Griyego—pornographos—ang pornograpiya na mula naman sa isina-Ingles na pornography. Tinutukoy nito ang mga antigong sulatin na tungkol sa buhay ng mga babaeng nangalakal ng kanilang katawan, at kasama na rin ang tungkol sa buhay ng kanilang mga tagatangkilik na dinulutan nila ng kasiyahan. Sa Porno na pelikula ni Alix, wala na ang anyong sulatin. Nasa anyong DVD na ang marami sa materyal na pornograpiko, at bagaman kontrabando, inilalako pa rin nang patago kapag may nanghuhuling pulis, at nang hayagan naman kapag wala. Samakatwid, anumang bagay na hayag na hayag sa anumang materyal na mapaglulunsaran ng pornograpiya sa Porno ay ang pagiging sadyang laganap nito. Lubhang pangmasa na ang porno (maraming DVD nito kahit sa labas lamang ng Mercury Drugstore sa gabi), demokratiko ang murang-murang renta sa mga nagsulputang internet café (at nakakabit na rin dito ang cottage industry ng cybersex na pang-pedophile). Ano pa’t maituturing na isang kakatwang sitio ng bayan ang anumang umiinog sa porno. At ito ang natatanging layon ng Porno ni Alix: ang maglarawan ng isang quasi sosyolohikal/antropolohikal na pag-unawa sa paglaganap ng porno upang maipakita kung paano ito nagiging isang uri ng currency, produkto, o paraan ng pamumuhay sa pagtutulak ng espasyong okupado ng mababa-babang-panggitnang-uri.Read more

Porno: Nag-Uumapaw na Sex sa Bangkaroteng Mundo

Ni Rolando B. Tolentino

Magkakasalikop na buhay sa isang bangkaroteng lipunan ang sinasambit ng pelikulang Porno. At ang nagtatahi sa mga buhay ay ang marahas at komersyal na spero ng sex at entertainment. Sa sperong ito nagkakaroon ng virtual at angat na tunay na buhay ang mga tauhan: gun-for-hire mula sa preso, porn dubber, at transgender na performer. Epektibo ang pagganap nina Yul Servo, Rosanna Roces, Angel Aquino, at Carlo Aquino; maging ang sinematograpiya, editing, at direksyon.

Ang referensiya ng pagsasabuhay o karanasan sa buhay ng mga tauhan ay ang integral na element ng fantasya, o ang paglinang sa aktwal at historikal na buhay at karanasan sa poder ng imahinaryo: ang fantasya ng pag-asa. Pag-asa na bubuti (pa) ang buhay, pag-asa na ang kinabukasan ay maganda na, pag-asa na liligaya (rin).

Umaasa dahil sa kawalan at kabangkarotehan ng kasalukuyan, na nakaangkla sa kawalan at kabangkarotehan ng mabahang nakaraan. Umaasa rin dahil may hibla at labi ng humanidad sa buhay na tumutukoy sa subersibong potensyalidad, hindi ng said na nakaraan at kasalukuyan, kundi ng isang bukas na iba naman. Read more

OTJ (On The Job): In the Underbelly of Service, Honor and Justice

By Mike Rapatan

Erik Matti’s OTJ (On the Job) is a kinetic incursion to the underbelly of Philippine politics and the police system. Through the persistent yet doomed forays of NBI agent Atty. Francis Coronel Jr. (Piolo Pascual) into the murky depths of syndicated crime, Matti plunges the audience into the moral morass that lawmakers and lawbreakers dwell in. Matti’s montage title sequence where clips of the national government’s anti-corruption campaign intercut with gory tabloid street violence reports seems to establish a clear contrast between law and disorder. But as the film hurtles to its dismal end, Matti steers us to the conclusion that disorder is the law.Read more

Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan: Pagharap Sa Hangganan ng Lahat ng May Sinag at Saysay ng Buhay

Ni Benilda S. Santos

Sa dulo ng mahigit sa apat na oras na pag-ikot ng pelikulang Norte, hangganan ng kasaysayan, paglabas ni Fabian (Sid Lucero) sa silid ng kapatid na babae pagkaraang halayin niya ito, at pagkalipas ng wari hindi na magsasarang huling eksena ng pagkakadukmo ng lalaki sa isang tabi ng kasukalan hindi kalayuan sa masinop, malinis, at maaliwalas na tahanan ng angkang Viduya sa Laoag, at matapos niyang isunod at umugin hanggang sa maputulan ng hininga ang asong tagabantay ng malawak na lupain ng mga magulang, naagnas na nang tuluyan ang nalalabi niyang pagsisikap na ipunin sa sentido ang isang identidad at pagkakakilanlan na bibigkis sana sa kanyang hatol, bait, at muni.

Paano nauwi sa trahedya ang isang katulad ni Fabian na kay laki ng pag-asang magkaroon ng buhay na kung tawagin ay may “magandang hinaharap”? Ayon nga sa karaniwang pansin, “nasa kanya naman ang lahat.” Read more

Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti: The Narrow Road to Perdition and Redemption

By Tito Genova Valiente

“Bilang tagapagtaguyod ng realismo sa pelikula, ang pangaral ay wala sa estetika ni de Guzman.”—Bienvenido Lumbera reviewing Mes de Guzman’s Diablo

What Bienvenido Lumbera, a member of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino and National Artist, is saying is that as a purveyor of a kind of cinematic realism, being didactic is not part of Mes de Guzman’s aesthetics. The film Diablo from last year won the Gawad Urian for Best Screenplay and established de Guzman as a major voice of Philippine cinema, indie or not. Read more

Ekstra: Claiming Spaces for the Unheard and Unseen

By Gigi Javier Alfonso

Ekstra is the putting on the big screen what goes on in a day on the set of a soap opera production. Together with its many bits and pieces of narratives that create a complex montage mounting into a gamut of sounds, voices and images. The successful shifting of the lenses masterfully directed by Jeffrey Jeturian as it focuses on what goes behind the popular-glitzy-celebrated mainstream menu for millions of Filipinos, makes us stop… and think of all those who are unheard of and blurred by the engaging sparks, glamour and frenzy cranked by the busy production processes of a humongous television industry which in many ways is a dehumanizing system of production. Read more

Dukit: Carving God in the Image of a Sinner

By Nicanor G. Tiongson

In the Western cinema, filmmakers who have tried to create portraits of iconic visual artists in the narrative film have faced one and the same challenge : How does one depict in a feature film the process of creation, so essential to the understanding of an artist’s works, without ending up with a cold documentary or putting the audience to sleep? According to critic Jeff Hanson, some directors have solved this “problem “ by ignoring altogether the artist’s creative process and focusing instead on some unknown or sensationalistic aspect of the artist’s life, like the tumultuous relationship between Van Gogh and his brother in Vincent and Theo or the many dalliances of Picasso in Surviving Picasso. On the other hand, the more imaginative directors have gone beyond factual reality to weave deconstructive fables that offer precious insights into the artist, his works, and his times, as Derek Jarman did in Caravaggio and Akira Kurosawa in the Van Gogh episode of Dreams.Read more

Dukit: Material Na Produksyon Ng Ukit, Santo’t Buhay Sa Pampanga

Ni Rolando B. Tolentino

Matulain ang kwento at pelikula. At tulad ng akda ng sining, ang pag-unawa’t apresiasyon ay matutunghayan lamang sa kabuuan nito, sa masusing pagtunghay ng simula, gitna at katapusan bilang pagkilala sa materialidad ng paglikha ng sining, at ang alegorikong paglikha ng organikong artista’t manlilikha, etniko at etikal na mamamayan. 

Ang Dukit ay pagtunghay sa produksyon ng ukit, mga santo’t buhay sa Pampanga: ang magkahalintulad kundi man sabayang proseso ng paglikha ng sining at buhay ng isang manlililok, si Waldo na isinadula’t ginamapan ng tatlong artista sa kani-kanilang yugto ng sining at buhay nito: Bambalito Lacap, Bor Ocampo, at Willy Layug. Read more

Badil: Kung Bakit Nasa Indie Ang Pag-Asa

Ni Bienvenido Lumbera

Ang Badil ni Chito Roño ay malinaw na patunay na ang indie ang anyo ng pelikulang Filipino na matatakbuhan ng mga mainstream direktor na naghahangad makagawa ng makabuluhang obra. Malaya ang anyong ito sa mga sagabal na sumisira sa integridad ng bisyon ng isang malikhaing director. Tulad ng prodyuser na ang tanging layunin ay kumita ang pelikula sa takilya. Mga artistang matunog ang pangalan na ang unang-unang pinangangalagaan ay ang image nila na siyang binabayaran nang mahal ng kompanya. Ang tinitipid na mga kagamitang teknikal. At ang mga tauhang teknikal na mababa ang singil sa kanilang serbisyo kaya’t mababa rin ang kalidad ng kanilang trabaho. Read more

Bisperas: A Microcosm of Middle-Class Filipino Family

By Butch Francisco

Bisperas, culled from the Castilian word vispera or eve in English, means the day or night before a special event.

In countries where people know how to feast and celebrate, the eve of any occasion that is part of tradition is always filled with a flurry of activities. In the United States, specifically in New York City, the annual New Year’s Eve countdown in Times Square is even beamed on television to millions of viewers all over the world.

In the Philippines, bisperas is an often-used word among fun-loving Filipinos, especially in the provinces where fiestas are still big. And so we see locals who had migrated some place else rushing back home on the eve of a patron saint’s feast to be part of the celebration on the actual day of the festivities.

The two major events in Philippine calendar, of course, are Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. In the film Bisperas, the night before Christmas is used as the setting and time line for this film by Jeffrey Jeturian.Read more

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