“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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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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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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