Monday, July 30, 2012

Essential Actors: Cinemalaya 2012

For Gibson (Ang Nawawala), it's pointless speaking unless you really have something good to say. For several years he kept his silence, biding his time, waiting for that perfect moment. 

There's no one more perfect to play Gibson than Dominic Roco: an actor with talent and charisma flowing through his veins. His twin brother, Felix, had his big break three years ago with Pepe Diokno's Engkwentro

The table has turned for Dominic. With Ang Nawawala, 2012 is his for the taking. 

Thai actor Ananda Everingham hardly speaks a word of Tagalog. Director Adolf Alix, on the other hand, has a strong liking for long, wordless sequences. With Kalayaan, a match made in celluloid heaven was made. Alix showcases Everingham's depth and maturity as an actor, proving he's more than just a pin-up boy for needy girls. 

It's amazing watching Everingham do so much without saying anything. His eyes convey what words could not. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ang Nawawala (2012)

Ang Nawawala has the pulse and sheen of a foreign movie. Of all the films in Cinemalaya, director Marie Jamora's coming of age rockathon is the most technically accomplished. Finally, a movie without shrieking roosters and earsplitting tricycles blaring in the background has arrived. 

Jamora is a savvy filmmaker and she plays to her strengths. Years of directing short films and music videos (40 as of last count) paid off.  Ang Nawawala is solid, cohesive and glossy. Elements perfectly complement each other—editing, production design and music are all faultless. 

Beyond its technical merits, Ang Nawawala offers nothing new that we haven't seen before. It doesn't have the emotional resonance of Vincent Sandoval's Aparisyon nor the scope of Loy Arcenas' Requieme!. What it does have is an irrevocable coolness factor which many viewers will find appealing—irresistible even. It may not win best picture (leave that to the big shots), but it will definitely win in the box office, which in the end, is just as important as the latter.     

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Requieme! (2012)

When the lights dimmed and the film started playing, jaws dropped to the carpeted floor of CCP and stayed there. Blame Rody Vera's rip-roaring screenplay. The last time CCP reverberated with glee was during a midnight screening of Jade Castro's Zombadings

Film editor Lawrence Fajardo (Amok) worked his magic and turned Requieme!a biting satire on how Filipinos deal with sexuality, grief and death—into a tight, thoroughly engaging movie. Although there were glitches during the screening (audio kept tuning in and out), that didn't hamper the movie's impact. If Requieme! were a lesser movie, people would have burned the theater to ashes.

Arcenas is developing into a fine filmmaker, displaying a flair for witty, character-driven movies. Society's double standard is none more evident in our country and Arcenas doesn't hold back in showing all its gory, thorny details. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kalayaan (2012)

Director Adolf Alix fuses local folklore with contemporary socio-political elements in Kalayaan

The first half of the movie is rife with beautiful long takes of Ananda Everingham. The 30-year-old actor's boyish face works magic for cinematographer Albert Banzon. Everingham is the movie's heart and soul and he shines in scenes where his character is lost in thought, drowning in remorse and doubt. 

The second half of the movie is punctuated by Zanjoe Marudo's angry soldier rants/revelations. He's like the walking Cliff's Notes of the movie. You can only take so much of his yakking before you start wishing for a tsunami to frisk him off to the Indian Ocean. 

As for the mermaid element, if you're thinking Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989), think again—Alix's lust-driven she-fish could scar you for life. 

Kalayaan is a minor film in Alix's repertoire. Don't expect too much, enjoy Everingham's wonderful acting and take the movie's pretense with a grain of salt. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

French Connection Dark Knight Collection

As Batman mania heats up, UK-based fashion label French Connection releases a limited edition series of graphic T-shirts. The Angry Bat Universal Tee (above) best exemplifies French Connection's edgy, youthful style. Pair this with a cracked brown leather jacket and ripped black jeans for a  punk, non-conformist veneer.

The urbane Gotham City Tee (above) is more restrained. It's good for a relaxed night out at the cineplex. A rip-roaring Batmobile, of course, is optional. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cinemalaya 2012

Cinemalaya 2012 started with a maelstrom of rants and barbed criticisms. MNL 143 director Emerson Reyes raised hell over casting disagreements with the festival organizers. No compromise between the two parties was reached. MNL 143 was disqualified from Cinemalaya and festival director Nestor Jardin eventually resigned. Although it's a draw, both parties suffered severely. The real losers are the viewing public. When will we get to watch MNL 143?

Another New Breed finalist that won't be seeing the light of day is director Eduardo Roy Jr.'s Lola Igna: a comedy/drama about an old woman who confronts her mortality after an unexpected, eerie premonition.

Taking the slots vacated by MNL 143 and Lola Igna in the festival's New Breed section are two coming of age movies: Marie Jamora's music-driven Ang Nawawala (about a displaced boy searching for his voice in a country he hardly fits in) and Gino Santos' The Animals (a high school drama dealing with teenage hedonism and heartache).

Mainstream actors dominate both the New Breed and Directors Showcase categories. Dennis Trillo (Ang Katiwala), Thai sensation Ananda Everingham (Kalayaan) and Eddie Garcia (Bwakaw) will each have a movie in the festival.

Garcia leads the cast of Bwakaw, Jun Lana's sentimental tale of a jaded man who forms an unlikely bond with a stray dog. There's a good chance that the eighty-three-year-old acting dynamo will win this year's Best Actor trophy. It will rain fire and brimstone if he doesn't.

The director of Niño (2011) and his muse make a strong comeback in this year's New Breed section. Director Loy Arcenas' second film, REquieme!, is a far departure from his previous effort. Arcenas reunites with Cinemalaya Best Supporting Actress Shamaine Buencamino in a black comedy that involves four dead guys, two wakes and the infinitely endearing Lilia Cuntapay.

Coco Martin returns to Cinemalaya after several years of absence, proving that mainstream movies haven't soften his affection for independent filmmaking. In Emmanuel Palo’s Santa Niña, Martin plays the grieving father of a young daughter whose body was preserved after being covered by lahar,

After years of doing several pedestrian movies for Star Cinema and Regal,  the 30-year-old actor's return to independent filmmaking is a welcome respite. An oasis, finally, has appeared.