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.

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[Review] The Avengers

I can’t review this movie objectively since I am its target market. I’m personally not a big fan of Marvel and DC comics, but I grew up with my share of 1960s Marvel cartoons and Superfriends. To top it all off, this movie is directed by Joss Whedon, who I’ve loved since Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Thing is, in the adaptation hype of the last few years, it’s very rare that the directors get it right (ahem Michael Bay and Transformers). For once, they picked wisely, as Joss Whedon is a comic book fan and has penned work for X-Men and Superman/Batman, to name a few. The Avengers movie was clearly Joss Whedon’s love letter to the comic book. You can see it in every frame.

Personally, I love it. Geek or not, give it a watch. It is at the very least, fun. In this infernal summer heat, you need fun.

Go. Book your ticket. Drag your friends and family. Just watch it.

Viva Filipinas Futbol

Why football? Because, as the script says, the sport says so much about the Filipino spirit.

Sometimes, it’s that one goal that makes all the difference.

Co-written with Nikki del Carmen.

If you like what you read and see, “like” it for the ASEF Short Film Competition!

“Football had come a long way from its home in England. 

The sport had won the hearts of those outside of Europe, even in parts of Asia. 

Japan and Korea are recognized leaders in the game, and most of Southeast Asia followed and loved the beautiful game.

But in the Philippines, it began with one team.

A team that sought to make a name for themselves, even when few else followed their sport.

While most of the country found their heroes and medals in basketball, boxing, or billiards, they kept on playing football. 

They trained, they played to win, even when they were ignored.  

Even when they hit their lowest, they never gave up. 

Then came 2010, the AFF Suzuki Cup.

They swept through the group stages, undefeated.

Then came the game when they conquered defending champion, Vietnam.

For the first time ever, in the history of the team, they reached the semi-finals.

The news hit home, word spread, the country finally took notice. 

They cheered! 

No longer ignored, more people tuned in to follow the team as they prepared for their semi-finals. Bars and restaurants filled with fans, new and old, wanting to catch a glimpse of the game.

To everyone’s dismay, they were defeated. But, it was only the beginning. 

They may have lost the tournament, but won an even bigger battle: the hearts of their countrymen.

They left the country as underdogs, but came home accepted by many as Filipino champions. 

A team which started out as nobodies came home heroes.

And at THAT moment, it felt that Football was here to stay.

And sure, what does the Philippines know about Football? 

Not a lot, definitely.

But just like that one team, we WILL persevere, and we WILL overcome.

Because THAT is who we are, THAT is our story.”


Film by Nikki del Carmen

Written by Nikki del Carmen and Mia Marci

VO by Ebong Joson, the Blue Haired Fanatic

Like it? VOTE for it at the ASEF Short Film competition! Like it on the site!

A note in Z: Zsa Zsa vs. Zombadings

I can’t help but compare Zombadings to the Zsa Zsa Zaturnah adaptations.

What I liked about Zsa Zsa Zaturnah the graphic novel is how it showed a rare vulnerability through Ada, the boy who would be Zsa Zsa. That kind of vulnerability, the quiet contemplation of what it means to be gay was lost in the slapstick of the musical and movie adaptations. It’s enjoyable, but I came out of it feeling that it seemed be the only way to be gay: just be sing out loud silly.

I feel that Zombadings learned from the flaws of the Zsa Zsa adaptations. The camp is very much there, from the minute Roderick Paulate casts his curse upon Remington, to a wink-nudge at Robot Unicorn, to the “gaydar”. At the heart of it is Remington himself, a boy forced to learn a hard lesson on being careful who you pick on, and what it really means to be a man. This is a film I’d show as a way of homophobic intervention.

This time, if all they see are zombies, it’s not the film’s fault.

Tarush! Catch Zombadings now on its last run at cinemas around the Philippines.

High School Life: A review of Jerrold Tarog’s ‘Senior Year’

Here’s my experience with Philippine cinema: I either had to wade through a lot of crap, or have to hack through the sociopolitical films to find something to enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the reminder that we have so much more to go as a country, but that can’t be the only thing I can watch. I’ve been CRAVING a “coming of age” story that isn’t glorifying a studio love team or talent. I want MY coming of age story told: high school cramming, tsimisankabarkadahan, awkward panliligaw, college entrance examinations, and intrams; with the brilliant wit and worldplay that is quintessentially Filipino. The generation before me had Bagets, the closest I got was America’s Clueless. I even caught Indonesia’s Ada apa dengan Cinta (translated: What’s up with Love? Cinta is the word ‘Love’ and is also the lead character’s name), which was overall corny, but I appreciated the peek at the day in the life of the average Indonesian teenager and how they dealt with their insecurities.

So that’s the novelty and brilliance of ‘Senior Year’. Philippine high school life it is: intrams, extended tutorial sessions with your batch crush, dealing with the joys and consequences of blossoming with age, while confused with what the world expects from you.

There are a few details I wonder, considering that it is set in present day Manila; As someone who has a young cousin in high school, modes of communication are via text, social media, and Sun’s unlimited calls offer. In this film, the students are still using the landline to call each other up. Direk, your nineties are showing! Between that and a timeline that darts between high school and the batch’s reunion ten years later, it’s quite jarring. I also object to a lot of the post-production after effects, it didn’t do anything for the story and we could have done without it after the opening credits.

But mucho kudos for getting our story out. It can be argued that a lot remains unfulfilled by batch 2010 of the fictionalized St. Frederick’s School in Muntinlupa as the credits scroll up, but I don’t think that’s the point of the film. The film is about the nostalgia for how a grade, a friend, a heartbreak meant the world in that era. I also deeply appreciate that it manages to brush on mature themes such as homosexuality and spousal abuse without falling into the preachiness trap.

So please, do this film justice by catching it at the cinemas. It’s already on its last few days at Ayala Cinemas, the limited run ends on April 19 at Glorietta 4 cinemas; but I’ve seen and heard that seats have barely filled up. Round up your friends, make an outing out of it. Hope you all enjoy!