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

2012

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The Natural Phenomenon of Madness

Away From the Title: The Natural Phenomenon of Madness

By Tito Genova Valiente

A woman meets up with her rapist. They spend a great deal of time talking about something else, some other persons other than themselves. They never talk about the rape and they really never dwell about them being together, or even apart.

The man and the woman have no biographies. The story is not clear about their genealogies, nor are their psychologies revealed to us, or at least hinted. Thus, with the absence of any past that may ingratiate the two to us, in forms of sympathies and empathies, we expect the audience to be voyeurs, eyes stuck close to peeping holes and silent and silenced as they view the events transpire and pass by. With no future in the horizon for these two beings, they thrill us for the open spaces of relationships that the film opens with a lovemaking scene, without the love, and without the woman seemingly enjoying it. We assume the man enjoyed the act on the premise that for men, the acknowledged initiator of any kind of coupling, any sex act is always delicious.

Ngayon At Bukas Ng Sineng Filipino

Ni Bienvenido Lumbera

The Natural Phenomenon of Madness ang kakatwang pamagat ng pelikulang nakasentro sa naganap sa pagkatao ng isang babae at ng lalaking sangkot sa kaso ng panggagahasa. Ito ba ay ulat tungkol sa nabanggit na kaso? Para kasing medical report. Baka naman pagpapaliwanag ng isang psychiatrist batay sa kanyang naobserbahan sa kilos at pagsasalaysay ng babaeng biktima. O kaya ay ulat ng isang sosyolojis na naging kapalagayang-loob ng rapist.

Pero ang pamagat ay pamagat ng isang sine. Kung produkto ito ng industriyang sa mahabang panahon ay nagsilbing tagapagbili ng aliw, paano kaya nito maaakit ang madlang noo’y dumumog sa talkilya nang paglawayin ang mga ito ng Diligin ng Hamog ang Uhaw na Lupa na tinampukan ng eksenang sinipsip ni Joseph Estrada ang hita ni Gloria Diaz na kinagat ng ahas, at pinangakuan ng maiinit na tagpo ng pagtatalik nina Charito Solis at Ricky Belmonte sa Hugasan Mo ang Aking Kasalanan?Read more

Thy Womb

Birthing Cultures In Misunderstood Time/Spaces

By Tito Genova Valiente

THE wide expanse of the sea and the constant rain, and the vision of Brillante Ma. Mendoza—these are all that is needed for great cinema to be formed. Then there is the presence of Nora Aunor, natural and artifactual, filling the spaces with her silences and silencing the spaces of doubts, pains, understanding and misunderstanding, historical and individual, with a performance that will go down in history as the ultimate in the aesthetics of reality. Or realities.

The film Thy Womb has a story that is terribly cinematic but also rare, as in ordinary. The story begins with a woman, Shaleha, a midwife, who collects the umbilical cords of the children she delivers. After each birthing, she brings the inch-long snippet from the cord now wrapped in gauze or cloth and hangs it on a wall, along with other umbilical cords of earlier births. The rope from which those birth cords hang is a tiny history of population in her community. The collection of cords is an almost hyperbolic sign of fertility against the incapacity of Shaleha to have a child.Read more

Posas

Silang Ipinosas sa "Posas"

Ni Benilda S. Santos

Muli pang pinatunayan ng pelikulang indie sa Posas ni Lawrence Fajardo kung paanong ang isang walang paligoy-ligoy, payak, mahinahon, siksik, matalas, matinik, malinis, at malutong na produksiyon ay tagumpay na naging landas ng pag-unawa sa hunyangong realidad ng kasalukuyang panahon nang hindi pinagdidiinan kung ito nga ang landas na higit na tuwid kaysa ibang patuloy na nililikha at inihaharap sa bayan bilang tatangnang moral at panukat ng realidad. Sa halip, piniling tistisin ng tuwirang naratibo ng Posas ang mga larong kinasangkutan ng mga tauhan sa loob at labas ng institusyon ng batas at ng mga tagapagtatag nito.Read more

Oros

Pagtahak Sa Naunang Landas

Ni Rolando B. Tolentino

Dalawa ang pelikulang nakakuha ng aking atensyon sa Cinemalaya 2012, The Animals (Gino Santos), at Oros (Paul Sta. Ana). Ang una ay dahil may tinatahak itong bagong direksyon para sa indie cinema, ang mundo ng maykaya na may self-reflexivity sa kalabisan nito, pati ng media at social media sa pagtataguyod nito. Sa exposisyon ng kalabisan, pati ang abang uri—driver ng taxi—ay nadawit sa paglalahad ng amoral na uniberso nitong uri.

Ang huli ay dahil may tinatahak itong lumang landas, ang subalternong kahirapan, at ang pagkakulong ng mga nandito sa malawakang mundong ito sa bansa. Ang Oros ay tumatalakay ng buhay sa saklaan sa isang komunidad ng maralitang lunsod, at ang kwento ng moralidad na nangyayari sa subalternong mundo na ang patay ay maari pa ring pagkakitaan.Read more

Mater Dolorosa

Fighting Back Tears

By Butch Francisco

Every Good Friday—particularly in tradition-rich parishes—religious devotees and even mere spectators are treated to a pageantry of carroza-borne images of saints who were with Christ on His way to Calvary. At the start of the procession is always the statue of St. Peter with his rooster, followed by St. Veronica holding a piece of cloth with the imprint of Christ’s face on it, then St. Mary Magdalene with her bottle of perfume and St. John the Evangelist. Some big parishes also carry the images of lesser known saints like Sts. Cleofe and Salome (cousins who went to clean the tomb of Jesus). In Agoo, La Union, also joining the procession is a tableau of the Last Supper—with life-sized statues of the 12 apostles, dining table and all.Read more

Florentina Hubaldo, CTE

A Cartography of Anomie and Angst

By Mike Rapatan

Lav Diaz’s Florentina Hubaldo, CTE probes into the harrowing and pitiful life of its eponymous character afflicted with chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a debilitating condition that emerges years after an individual has experienced a series of physical assaults on his or her brain. The disease reportedly strikes professional athletes engaged in rough contact sports (e.g., boxing and wrestling) where during play, the exposed head is heavily battered. Typical symptoms of CTE range from depression to mental anguish and dementia.Read more

Diablo

Ang Matimping Sining Ni Mes De Guzman

Ni Bien Lumbera

Ang naunang mga pelikula ni Mes de Guzman ay nasa estilong lantay na realismo. Hiwalay ang mga ito sa tradisyonal na sineng Tagalog na batbat ng madudulang tagpo kung saan ang mga popular na pangunahing bituin ay naglalambingan, maingay na nag-aaway at nagpapalitan ng mga dialoging sadyang pinatitimo sa damdamin ng mga manonood. Ang estetika ni Mes de Guzman ay hubad, umiiwas sa “drama,” walang borloloy, nakatuon sa totoo lamang.

Ang Diablo ay nagbubukas sa isang eksenang nangangako ng “drama.” Isang minero ang sinapian diumano ng diablo at kinailangang ipailalim sa kakayahan ng albularyong makapagpapalabas sa diablo. Pero walang kinalaman ang isasalaysay ni Mes de Guzman sa pambungad na eksena.Read more

Colossal

Ang Pelikula-Tula Bilang Alternatibong Andamyo Sa Pagtatag Ng Bansa

Ni Benilda S. Santos

Lubhang bantad na tayo sa mga balita sa media, at maging sa mga paksa ng pelikulang indie nitong nakaraang lima o pitong taon, na nagsisiwalat ng iba’t ibang antas ng kabulukan at kahirapan sa ating lipunan. Hindi naman sa nais kong imungkahi ang total ban sa ganitong mga balita at pelikula; higit na nakaririmarim ang ibubunga nito. Subalit hindi ko pa rin naiwasan ang umasa sa pagdating ng naiibang anyo ng naratibo ng pagtatatag ng ating bansa. Read more

Bwakaw

Deceptively Innocent, Truly Revolutionary

By Nicanor G. Tiongson

With the rise of inexpensive digital video technology, indie filmmakers have finally been liberated from profit-oriented producers and now are able to make films more freely, including those with themes that were studiously avoided by the commercial mainstream cinema. One of these themes is homosexuality, which has become a fad among new wave filmmakers in the past six years, especially since Philippine urban society itself has become more tolerant or at least less condemnatory of gayness. Moreover, gays have now found their own niches in arts, academe, and media and their own voice in militant organizations that fight for gay rights. Read more

Baybayin

Inscribing Love, Land and Loss, and Self via Subversive, Sensual Syllabaries

By Tito Genova Valiente

In the beginning was chaos. As with all myths, order comes through words or naming. Man and woman give names to things that are unknown to them, and knowledge brings about harmony. Classification restores logic and understanding to the universe.

Syllables create the film, Baybayin. To be precise, the ancient syllabaries called Baybayin initiate the movement of people—characters—in this tale, while the metaphor of Paradise runs amok, losing control at certain points, meandering now, and then, but coming to an end that is rightfully, forcefully in silence, at the heart of any post-colonial discourse. The traveler is always on his or her way, never reaching the destination.

Loss, to follow Eva Hoffman, can magically preserve things.

That is the magical proposal of this film: Loss of language or its vanishing, more than its strong presence, can help people preserve elements of their culture and their identities. That is what happens in this film, when syllables are inked on the body of a boy in a trance.Read more

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