Controversial yet I can consider it a successful Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) for the year 2016. Yup, it was full of controversies but I still applaud the restructure of the 42nd edition of the annual MMFF. The line-up is quite different from the previous years but it is one of the best!
I am unable to watch all eight films, but I saw at least six of them. Now here’s my personal thought of the films (in no particular order):
DIE BEAUTIFUL – The award from 2016 Tokyo International Film Festival is a great factor why this film gained a huge interest from its Filipino audience and I really can’t question the make-up skill of Paolo Balesteros. However, the acting level (for me) is only good for MMK. Too bad, I wasn’t able to see Oro. Thus, I can’t compare the acting with Joem Bascon. But yeah, props to bes Barbs portrayed by Christian Bables who really deserved the Best Supporting Actor award. Being a non-linear film, Die Beautiful was presented well by the Director. Although they were successful on showing the past, present, and future of the main character, it still lacks “purpose” for me. Kulang ng lalim. There are some elements missing.
SAVING SALLY – It’s a conyo-geeky-animated film with a familiar love story. Being promoted by my friends from the Comic industry, I took a shot on checking out this film. Unlike most of the reviews, I didn’t get annoyed or awkward with the film having 80% dialogue in English. Perhaps the characters are conyo in real life so the dialogues were delivered naturally. Hehe. I can’t be so technical when it comes to the animation side, but I’m giving this film A for effort. It’s like an awesome college thesis that made its way to the big screen. I just wonder what will it be like if Anna Larucea finish the project. Nevertheless, Saving Sally is visually entertaining.
VINCE & KATH & JAMES – I read the viral post in facebook and no, the film is not an adaptation of it. It’s totally different. They basically just use the name of the characters and the “text” element and that’s it. Just like many viewers have noticed, Joshua Garcia is a revelation. He was very effective on playing his character as Vince. If this teen will embrace his craft and will work hard, he is close to achieving John Lloyd’s charm on screen someday. Julia Barretto on the other hand, gave justice to her character well and avoided to appear trying hard on her acting. Forget about Ronnie Alonte (James). Heh. Someone can do it better. Anyway, even though Vince & Kath & James is another familiar love story that caters to the millennials, the film was able to deliver a light and positive vibe to the viewers and I think it is also the most child friendly entry for MMFF 2016.
ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough – Despite using the same old formula from the first instalment, I appreciate the film for boldly discussing a relevant issue that is apparent at this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival: Indie films versus Commercial films. Surprisingly, I like Kean Cipriano’s acting here compared to the first one and Eugene is as awesome as always. My favourite part is the “Different Hugot Level”. That scene alone makes me forget the “Jacqueline Jose School of Acting” part in Die Beautiful. While I am not really impress with the ending, I still like Septic Tank than Die Beautiful. I dunno, maybe I easily grasped the “purpose” of the film compared to the latter. But yeah, that’s just me. Who am I? I am just a normal viewer. Ha!
SEKLUSYON – I was born and raised Protestant. Thus, the film doesn’t have that much impact on me. While the life-size images of the rebultos are creepy, it really didn’t bother me that much. The storytelling of the film is quite good but it still has this Erik Matti element that will leave you with questions. Surprisingly, I didn’t hear any reaction from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, as I find some points that might be offensive to the Catholic church in general. Nevertheless, Rhed Bustamante who played as Anghela gave an outstanding performance. I’ve seen this kid in a couple of “Ipaglaban Mo” episodes and her acting is remarkable. Again, forget about Ronnie Alonte (Miguel). Heh. He needs more acting workshop. Anyway, Matti’s signature ending will make you think and see things in a different perspective. Leaving your imagination with scenes that you can relate to your own experiences. In short, this movie is worth your time.
SUNDAY BEAUTY QUEEN – The only documentary at this year’s film festival. Sunday Beauty Queen doesn’t just deserve the Best Picture but it also has the Best Cinematography for me. The low-angle shots of the high-rise buildings are just genius. I can smell and feel HongKong from the screen. I love the authenticity of every scene. There was no script and the characters are simply natural. The film highlighted different portraits of being an OFW, the struggle, joy, and victory. The director’s straightforward storytelling is just solid to the point that it left me feeling happy and heavy at the same time. This film was beautifully crafted with a heart. Ika nga nila, uwian na! May nanalo na!
The 42nd Metro Manila Film Festival may not be the usual MMFF that we are all familiar, but I think, the committee members just did the right thing. How can we improve if we are boxed and afraid to get out of our comfort zone? Yes, I know. This brave move is something that needs more time before the majority can fully embrace it. But for me, the changes are worth it. I believe that Filipino filmmakers can achieve the commercial value with technical excellence.
It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.