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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I Don't Hate The MMFF

I can't hate something I don't feel strongly passionate about.

Let's be honest here: If you think I'm anti-Pinoy, then a look at this year's 2011 MMFF (Metro Manila Film Mestival) entries will give you a good indication why.

(Photo courtesy of

An action hero in a special effects extravaganza, a role handed to the lead actor as some kind of legacy, a voyeuristic heirloom, passing the torch (some would argue the belch) from father to son. Which would be par for the course, since in real life, the father and son both held the same position in government. (And they say the movies aren't realistic.)

Another melodrama starring an actress from my childhood, Maricel Soriano. (I haven't seen/heard about her in quite awhile, so it's refreshing to see her in this lineup, as the current movies and TV shows exhibited locally keep on showcasing the same "actors" and "actresses" over and over and over and over...until we switch to commercials and we see the exact same "models" over and over and over and over.)

Two successful (and by success I mean in monetary terms solely) franchises in filmfest history, the Enteng Kabisote "fairy tales" of Vic Sotto (is he also in the running for the game show host with the longest life span?) and the Ina Mo series from Ai Ai de las Alas have joined forces this time around. They (or their producers) must have heard the "common wisdom" line in showbiz circles: when a celebrity pairs up with another celebrity, their fame multiplies.

A horror movie franchise that has been with me since my high school years, Shake, Rattle and Roll. I was surprised to hear that we're only up to number 13. I guess they needed to use Once Upon A Time In China as their benchmark, which as I remembered lasted till 10 or 11. That's a lot of "once upon a time" to go around. And I'm always puzzled why they release this at Christmas time - are they just going "against the holidays"? It's either that, or they're gunning for the receipts.

The Presidential sister in "her" genre. When I saw the trailer on TV, as she was opening the closet and water came rushing to engulf her, I thought midway: (a) her scream sounded like she saw all her TV shows taken away; (b) there isn't a single acting bone or DNA on her, so she must know The Emperor's New Clothes by heart; and (c) I thought she promised to go away when her brother was elected?

The only two films I am holding out hope for - in place of pride in local cinema, I'm left grasping for any reason to believe that anything of substance will come out of it still - are the entries that aren't "fantasy" flicks: Manila Kingpin and My Househusband. One is a look at a notorious warlord, the other is a reversal of gender roles.

I've only seen one of them, and hopefully I will complete seeing the other one this week.

Two things I wish to let the producers of these films know - and as a consumer, my voice is just as valid as anyone else's, so stop hounding me for film credits or asking if I've ever directed a movie.

One, placing all these movies side by side, and force feeding them to the public under the guise of "saving local cinema" (for these 2 weeks, foreign films are banned from being shown in theaters) only highlights the mediocrity that local cinema coughs up as "films". In a festival that is supposed to celebrate "the best" in Filipino filmmaking, we are constrained to choose movies that make us hurl the least.

And two: Quality does not recognize race. If a film is good or, pray tell, even great, it's good or great because the film is good or great, and not because the actors/directors/producers were Filipino, or Armenian, or Latin Americans. A film that has merits will stand up to "Hollywood blockbusters" - now there's another industry spawning off mindless flicks. (Just with better looking actors. And even that point is debatable.)

You have just wasted an opportunity, a golden one, to use film and art as a medium to challenge, inspire and make people think, even if it makes them uncomfortable. And with the thick hides of many Filipinos, we all know it's going to take a lot to make these types uncomfortable.


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