Don’t hack it till you’ve seen it: MMFF 2012

Some of its movies are better than its logo

Some of its movies are better than its logo

Movies watched: Shake, Rattle, and Roll: The Invasion, Thy Womb, and Sisterakas.

There are many things wrong with the Philippine movie industry, but it’s not fair to dismiss ANY and ALL Pinoy films as exceptionally awful. I am personally not a big fan of the concept of the Metro Manila Filmfest but I appreciate the attempt. Let’s just hope that the reforms currently explored by small and big film companies alike make way so we won’t need an MMFF to get Pinoys to watch their own.

The lesson learned with MMFF 2012: sometimes, there’s a good reason why ticket sales soar with some titles, but don’t with others. Big studios may smudge the numbers for the press, but audience lines don’t lie. It’s not always artistically founded but it represents a need that moviemakers may want to consider when taking on their next project.

Reviews after the cut.

Thy Womb

The success of Thy Womb lies not so much with how it does in theaters, but how it gives people a look into the reality of contemporary Badjao tribal life. Thank God for variety in this set of MMFF films, but let’s not kid ourselves here: this was a movie for the critics and the international filmfest circuit, not the average moviegoer. After a long day at work, a lot of us are not keen on long scenery shots and quiet angst.

I am personally bothered at how much effort was put into making the Badjao reality, which falls apart the minute lead actors spoke and revealed themselves as very Tagalog surrounded by authentic locals. At the same time, did the film really need to find a birth double for Lovi Poe? Did anyone else not find that last live birth film scene rather exploitative? I’m sure there are other options to drive the climax of the story aside from a live birth. Or how about actually resolving the love triangle that took an hour and a fifteen minutes to establish?

It’s a beautifully-shot film. It has more substance than most of the films in the MMFF. It is worth watching if only to support the variety, but it’s not a must-see.

Sisterakas 

Sisterakas was fun in being absolutely unapologetic about being a star-studded comedy. It’s the perfect showcase for Vice Ganda’s cutting wit, complemented by Ai-ai’s humble humor. It’s refreshing to see Kris Aquino open to making fun of herself, but it stopped being fun when they attempted to poke fun at James Yap’s and Kris Aquino’s failed relationship. That got real awkward real fast. Otherwise, bring the barkada, have fun.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll: The Invasion

It still retains the three-vignette set-up of the previous Shake, Rattle, and Roll movies, but are all directed by Chito Roño. While I missed seeing different directors strut their stuff, unifying it under one director made it feel more put-together. Ricky Lee writes the first segment, a comedy-horror about a horror comic coming to life at the cost of an inheritance. The second segment, written by playwright Rody Vera, felt like fresh horror. Rody Vera’s tale of a group of soldiers venturing into the jungle only to come across cannibalistic, “magic” soldiers was freaky. A rather loose closing, but an awesome watch. I’m not a fan of the alien creatures approach to the third story on the series, but it provided a good closing as a whole. For anyone looking for hope in how much further Filipino storytelling can go, this, I feel, is the movie to watch.

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