Sunday, 30 August 2015

“One More Chance:” Eight Years Later

A few weeks ago, Star Cinema released a teaser trailer for what could be a sequel to “One More Chance.” This time, Popoy (in a pair of ill-fitting slippers) and Basha (with her fascinating choices in haircuts) do get married, fight, and invoke some of the “hugot” lines that made the original movie endure over the years.

It’s kind of hard to believe (and for those keeping tabs on age, difficult to accept) that “One More Chance” (directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina) turns eight years old this year. For all intents and purposes, the film has become a “classic:” a term usually reserved for really old movies that pioneered cinema. Despite its age, the film has experienced a resurrection of sorts not seen since Jolina-Marvin spring notebooks and Rico-Claudine posters: not only is the film showing again in a limited release, but it has also inspired a novel. People (usually my age) still take to Twitter to announce that “One More Chance” is showing in some Pinoy movie channel.

Surely we understand the appeal of this film eight years ago: John Lloyd Cruz stood for the “tunay na lalake” trope, while Bea Alonzo represented the feelings of so many women who desire independence. In a way, it articulated the emotional milieu of a generation. But again, that was eight years ago: could “One More Chance” still stand the test of time after so many love teams, tandems, and movies that overtly sell and dispense with “hugot?”

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So I took out my copy and, with a mind more open than that required for network marketing opportunities, watched it again.

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“Sana Maulit Muli:” A Film Review

It’s easy to accuse Filipino films of “crimes” that are easy to pin down, perhaps for the dearth of quality, the economic realities of Pinoy cinema, or instances of self-loathing (because y’know, it’s easy to review movies these days on the basis of a trailer). There are linear and almost formulaic plots, poor cinematography, and the stigma that comes with the typical local blockbuster. Yet every once in a while there are movies that sort of invalidate the criticism by making those tropes and preconceived notions work in its favor.

The formulaic plot is necessary to charge scenes with nuance. The poor cinematography is proof of a (what was then) young industry stunted by the poverty of support for it. The stigma is there: the movie industry is still, after all, a business that relies on star power and marketing.

Yet that ease of criticism stands in the way of the spirit of cinema. In “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema,” the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek puts it best: for us to understand the world, cinema provides us with the lens to see the reality which is more real than reality itself. For all the accusations of “poverty porn,” extreme melodrama, and linear plots made to put Pinoy cinema in the stocks and pillory, it’s not without merit.

And not without timelessness, either. In an industry that spews forth countless titles—and MMFF sequels—in a year, it takes a certain mindset to find enduring ones. And, in a society that puts as much stock on emotion as the Philippines, we need to find endearing ones.
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“Sana Maulit Muli,” directed by Olivia Lamasan and starring Aga Muhlach and Lea Salonga, is one of them.

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Vive La Rai, Le Rai Est Mort*

New Orleans, Louisiana. WrestleMania 30. 21-1: The Streak is over.

For many wrestling fans, ending The Undertaker’s 21-match winning streak at WrestleMania was shocking, perhaps even uncalled for. Just before that important client meeting half a world away, I was closely monitoring WrestleMania, expecting one of my childhood heroes – no, my childhood hero – to vanquish the cocky, arrogant Beast Incarnate called Brock Lesnar. It didn’t happen. After a battering and a bruising that involved finisher after finisher, kickout after kickout, The Undertaker – The Lord of Darkness, The Phenom – fell to Brock’s F5. 1,2,3. 21-1: The Streak is over.

Needless to say, on this side of the world, I was a bit more fired up for a pitch than I usually am.

I thought about it, watching the match over and over, letting the defeat of The Undertaker sink in and in the hope that somehow it makes sense. On the one hand, The Undertaker isn’t a young man anymore. It was a 49-year-old seven-time world champion fighting a 36-year-old three-time world champion and former UFC Heavyweight Champion. On the other hand, for smart fans, maybe this is The Undertaker’s last match. For a man who has been so protective of professional wrestling, losing and passing the torch is the best way to preserve the integrity of the business.

After watching all 25 minutes of the match over and over again, and letting all that sink in, I see it a bit differently now.

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Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Pinoy Cinema and Our Discontents

I think it was Lenin who said, “Of all the arts, for us the cinema is the most important.”  So it is for us here in the Philippines, where anyone who invokes Lenin would be an “enemy” and where “manood ng sine” is held in high regard.  And here we are – past MMFF season – and the Internet is abuzz about the “sorry” (or for some, “not-so-sorry;” still for others, “sorry-not-sorry”) state of Filipino cinema.

Some forced perspective is in order: cinema in the Philippines has seen better days.  In my hometown, the theaters and movie houses have given way to ukay stores. Filipino cinema is still vibrant, but even the pinilakang tabing is tarnished with the patina of operational costs, media piracy, and expensive movie tickets.  It may sound extreme, but every time we say, “I’ll just download the movie,” we move the wrecking ball an inch closer to the movie house.

And then there are “bad movies,” exemplified (at least for this MMFF season) by “My Little Bossings.”  Having opted to watch “Boy Golden” for this season (it makes me think more of KC Concepcion’s future in being this generation’s Cynthia Luster, and less of Jeorge Estregan’s movie career in general, but this is not a movie review), I’ll reserve my judgments for Vic Sotto’s movie for when I watch it.  But let’s take it as a given that our public intellectuals and cultural critics consider the film as a “bad movie:” my answer is a little less simple than what I want it to be.

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Thursday, 27 December 2012

Pinoy Super Kid: A Trailer Review

I’m not a guy who would review movies solely on the basis of a trailer.  Other bloggers have already done that, and are quite good at the nuances of prejudice masquerading as a review of cultural outputs.  Rather, think of this as a review of a trailer.

I have to admit that I haven’t watched a fair share of Filipino movies lately.  The last one I can remember watching was “Rigodon,” which was okay if not for the predictable turn of events (and Yam Concepcion, of course).  But then again, anyone who says “Pinoy movies are not worth watching” is, for all intents and purposes, eating his own crap in the process of talking out of his ass.  Lots of Pinoy movies are amazing: “Bwakaw” comes to mind.  “Temptation Island,” while lacking in some respects compared to the original, is a good movie.  I haven’t watched “Six Degrees of Lilia Cuntapay” or “Ang Nawawala” yet, but I’ve heard great things about the movies that I’d shell out for original copies of the DVDs.  Not to mention that “Himala” was remastered.

In spite of the wealth of good movies that we have, the Vice Ganda comedies and installments of Enteng Kabisote make millions of pesos in the cinemas.  I’ll probably be the last person to fall in line to spend an hour and a half to be narcotized by escapist pop cinema, but lots of people seem to enjoy them, nonetheless.  I’ll leave it at that, for more qualified people to talk at length about the topic.

This is, however, a piece on idiotic trailers for very probably idiotic movies like “Pinoy Super Kid.”

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Sunday, 15 August 2010

Tungkol sa Orihinal na Musikang Pilipino (On Original Pilipino Music)

Muli akong nagpapaumanhin sa anumang pagkakamali ko sa paggamit ng wikang Filipino sa maikling kuro-kurong ito, ngunit naniniwala akong dapat isulat ang talang ito sa wikang Filipino.  Anyway, translation follows. – Marocharim

Tungkol sa Orihinal na Musikang Pilipino

Iniutos ni Pangulong Aquino na muling ipatupad ang Executive Order No. 255, na kung saan dapat magpatugtog ng apat na awiting Pilipino ang mga istasyon ng radyo sa Pilipinas kada oras sa kanilang mga programang pang-musika.

Hindi layunin ng koryong ito na makipagtalastasan tungkol sa kung ano nga ba ang “awiting Pilipino” na ipaloloob sa debate ng kabihasnan at nasyonalidad, ngunit hindi ito maiiwasan.  Hindi maipagkakaila na marami sa ating mga magagaling na mang-aawit ay bihasa sa mga awiting banyaga, sa mga cover version o sa revival, o di kaya’y sa pagsasalin (tulad ng inyong lingkod, bagamat hindi ako mang-aawit).  Maaari ding ipahayag na walang “orihinal na awiting Pilipino,” hindi dahil sa usapin ng kabihasnan, ngunit tungkol sa mga katangian ng makabagong OPM na di mapagkakailang halaw sa mga istilo ng banyagang kompositor at mang-aawit.

Para sa akin, ang konsepto ng OPM ay mga istilo at porma ng musika na bahagi na rin ng iba’t-ibang kultura sa Pilipinas, gamit ang kanilang mga instrumento, wika, at pananaw.  Ang musika ay bahagi ng ating kuwento at kasaysayan; bagamat ikinalulugod nating pakinggan ang mga awitin ng ibang bansa, hindi dapat natin kalimutan o di kaya’y kasuklaman ang mga awiting atin.

Bagamat dapat purihin ang layunin ng EO 255, naniniwala pa rin ako na ang musika ay isang personal na kagustuhan, libangan, o di kaya’y kahalingan.  Naniniwala po ako na hindi solusyon sa sitwasyon ng OPM ang pagsasabatas na dapat makinig at magpasahimpapawid ang mga istasyon ng radyo ng mga awiting Pilipino.  Sa aking palagay ay walang batas sa mga istasyon ng radyo na pumipigil sa mga empleyado nito na magpatugtog ng awiting banyaga.  Sa aking hamak na pagpapalagay ay taliwas sa napakapersonal na karakter ng musika na ipilit na ipasahimpapawid ang mga awiting sadya naman ayaw pakinggan ng makikinig, o di kaya’y hindi bagay sa imahe ng istasyon.

Nakalulungkot na isipin na ang isang instrumento ng kalayaan – ang musika – ay ginagamit sa isang mapagpilit na paraan.

Isa akong masugid na tagapakinig ng musikang Pilipino, at kung kailangan man ay narito ako para ipahayag ang kagandahan ng ating musika, at kahusayan ng ating mga artista at ng industriya ng musika sa Pilipinas.  Ngunit ang ating sariling panlasa at pagkatig sa musika ay mga suhestiyon lamang sa gustong makinig.  Naniniwala ako na mas mapapasigla ang OPM kung ito ay may matibay na pundasyon; kung mamumuhunan ang pamahalaan sa mga istasyong pag-aari nito at patuloy na magpatugtog ng OPM.  Lalung-lalo na, kung ito ang mangunguna sa pagtangkilik sa OPM.  Sa pamamagitan ng de-kalidad na mga istasyon, na may makabagong kagamitan at mga dalubhasang empleyado, ay mas epektibong maibabahagi sa sambayanan ang kagandahan ng ating mga awitin, at kagalingan ng mga mang-aawit, kompositor, at manunulat sa industriya ng musika sa Pilipinas, sila ma’y nagsisimula pa lamang o batikan na sa larangan.

Hamon na rin sa kinapipitagang industriya ng musika sa Pilipinas na patuloy na gumawa ng mga de-kalidad na awitin; hindi natitigil sa kung anuman ang uso o di kaya’y kung anumang revival ang kikita.  Ang musika ay hindi idinidikta, kundi pinakikinggan: kung maganda ang awitin ay tiyak na ito’y pakikinggan.  Muli, bagamat ang layunin ng kautusang ito ay kapuri-puri, ang pagsasapraktika nito ay sumasagi sa ating sariling panlasa – at sa isang kaduluhan, ang ating mga karapatan – na mamili kung ano ang musikang ating kinahuhumalingan at pinakikinggan.  Ang sagot ay nasa mga prayoridad ng pamahalaan at sa industriya na mismo, at hindi sa sapilitang pakikinig sa awiting atin.

Translation after the break.

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Monday, 9 August 2010

Whoa! WOW: Women of Wrestling

At the risk of being called a chauvinist, sexist, and a misogynist, women’s wrestling leaves a lot to be desired.  There are talented divas in the WWE roster in the absence of Lita, Trish Stratus, Victoria, and most recently Mickie James: there’s Beth Phoenix, Gail Kim, Natalya Neidhart, and Melina Perez.  Joshi, or female puroresu, has always been a hotbed for great wrestling talent; with the likes of Chigusa Nagayo, Lioness Asuka, Megumi Kudo, Akira Hokuto, and Manami Toyota setting the bar for women’s wrestling worldwide.

Again, at the risk of offending the female population, setting the bar high means having to set another bar low.  I’m not talking about Michelle McCool matches on SmackDown! (trembles) or seeing Kelly Kelly wrestle (shudders).  I’m talking about…

For those of you who are old enough to remember Jack TV in its early days, there’s that fabled wrestling federation of botches, gimmicks, and all sorts of awesomely horrible women’s wrestling: WOW.

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Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Wages of Wowowee

The tearful spiels from Mariel Rodriguez meant the end of it: the last ropes that held the curtain up for Wowowee were cut off, and the show was no more.  To the very end – the last “boom-tarats” and the last dollar in the hat – Willie Revillame remained an inspiration, the wellspring of happiness to thousands (if not millions) of people who have watched the “show of every Filipino.”

It was a heartfelt, emotional farewell, from the cheery co-hosts, to the scantily-clad dancers.  From the producers, to the audience members who flew from San Francisco, California, just to watch Wowowee.  And yes, right down to the old women and children near the rafters – those who have spent hours under the hot sun – waiting for a chance to enter the studio, to take a crack at the games, and perhaps win the jackpot.

Conspicuous by his absence: Willie Revillame.  The inspiration, the wellspring of happiness, the icon of hope for millions of viewers.  The story we would like to believe in is that he was cut to size by Jobert Sucaldito, Wowowee Killer.  Wowowee survived allegations of cheating, scandals, the watchful moralistic eyes and ears of the MTRCB.  Heck, Wowowee survived when 71 fans died in a stampede, by the show’s own making.  It was almost invincible, unstoppable, infallible… until the whole thing crumbled into pieces.

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Saturday, 12 June 2010

Jejemon: An Apology

Krip Yuson asks, who’s afraid of Jejemon?  John Iremil Teodoro says, we are all Jejemons.  One can print out everything written about Jejemon over the past few months to come up with a passable anthology.

I didn’t invent the word “jejemon” per se – lots of people can take credit for that – although my obsession with TV text chat channels in entries written over the years sorta kinda makes me an “authority” on the new field of Jejemonology.  Then again, the field has become extremely intellectualized; the field populated with all sorts of cases to the point that Emily Dickinson may be a precursor to Jejemon (whaaaaat), and “Jejemaster” becoming almost professionalized.  Really?

The defenses and critiques of the Jejemon way of life and the use of language by Jejemon (there’s no such thing as a “Jejemon language;” it is a play on existing language), to me, border on the overintellectualization and hyping of hate.  Rather than explain, it marginalizes; it enforces and establishes the border of the “those who can” and “those who can’t,” especially in the proper use of language.  The Jejemon themselves are alienated from the discussion about them: a kind of acceptable backstabbing that comes with dividing society between Jejemon and Jejebusters.

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