Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cinemalaya Cinco

I was able to watch the Cinemalaya Cinco Film Festival held last week. I was able to watch the opening movie, Manila, which was shown for FREE! I am not much of a movie critic, nor am I an avid Indie film enthusiast, my utterly baseless and unsolicited comment of the Adolfo Alix-Raya Martin Masterpiece was that it wanted to tackle on a lot of issues about Manila, but failed to concentrate heavily on one. Maybe I a just a shalklow observer, but I could not see the connection of middle credits with the movie's overarching theme. Perhaps the directors would explain it in their respective interviews. Overall, Manila had its drags and bores, but it was okay. At least we are seeing improvements in the Filipino movie industry as it veers away from Filipino-Chinese overexposed culture multi-sequels, or the horror flick fever. At least from movies like this, we can see that we can still make quality movies for a reasonable budget.

On Wednesday that week, I was able to convince two of my officemates to join me in watching a Cinemalaya Cinco entry. I was choosing between 24K and Colorum because they were the two movies available at 9pm that day. We went there and found that Colorum was already full, so we ended up watching 24K. Being a fan of treasure adventure movies like Indiana Jones and National Treasure, I expected some sort of the same thing by reading from the festival's brochure. Well, it did not disappoint that much. :)
The film shot directly from Suyo, Ilocos Sur. The place was beautiful, breathtaking, picturesque. The director had no problem shooting for beautiful angles because it seemed like there is a beautiful spot in every corner of the place. Thus, it gave the movie the highest honors in Cinematography. The stars Julio Diaz, Archie Adamos and Jojit Lorenzo were fantastic. The exchange of lines, though sometimes inaudible, were very natural and smooth. The comedy and the tragedy of the movie was well put into place. Until now, I still recall a few exchange of lines between treasure hunters Manok (Diaz), Ninong Fred (Adamos), Boyet (Lorenzo), Karlo (Miguel Vasquez), and Arturo. Their funny and sometimes insane ways of looking for clues while digging into a hole in the fabled treasure spot was truly catchy.

I enjoyed the film and recommended it to my other friends. To bad it did not gather much attention and hype, thus garnering the lowest box office turnout among the finalist. Nonetheless, the film is a must-see, especially by nature- and culture-loving Filipinos like myself. Kudos to director Ana Agabin for her work!

Apparently, my officemates enjoyed the 24K experience so we decided to watch again the next day! We then watched the movie Colorum same time Thursday. Luckily, it was Colorum's Gala night, so the cast of Colorum headed by Alfred Vargas and Lou Veloso were there.

The movie had a simple and mundane plot, which developed into a big bloody mess towards the end. Simon (Vargas), a decent cop by day and Colorum FX driver by night, crossed path with Pedro (Veloso), an recently-pardoned ex-convict. Their meeting was the usual driver-to-passenger relationship, until suddenly, they were caught in an accident that immediately changes their lives. The recently released Pedro, was once again bound by freedom constraints because he was the only witness to the bloody accident which led to the death of an American serviceman. Simon accidentally run over the guy while looking for Oasis Transit, Pedro's supposed drop-off point. And it was a rollercoaster ride after that.

Veloso's powerful performance in this movie earned him a Best Actor nod in the recent awards ceremonies. His tandem with Alfred Vargas was the main highlight of this movie. There were a few dragging scenes in the start, but were quite necessary to build up each of the casts' characters. The subliminal excerpts that somewhat linked to the Marcos era, were seemd unnecessary. But overall, the film was okay.

Of the three movies I watched, I enjoyed 24K the best.

After the film, we were fortunate to be able to mingle with the cast of Colorum. I approached and congratulated Alfred Vargas, who was my high school batchmate. I also requested a souvenir shot with him and Lou Veloso. :)We also got to see Ninong Fred (Adamos) during the Colorum showing, since he is also part of the cast of Colorum being Alfred Vargas' Colonel Ninong. My officemates and I became instant fans of Archie Adamos, for his versatile acting from both movies we watched.

Overall, the Cinemalaya Cinco was a success. From the three days I went to CCP, the hall was filled with people: fans, movie-lovers, enthusiasts. Whatever their intentions were in going to Cinemalaya, one thing's for certain. The Filipinos' innate love for art will surely help revive the dying movie industry through their support in festivals like this. Filipinos may now exercise their craftsmanship and talent in an industry that is seemingly expensive to practice, with very minimal budget.

Thanks to my Cinemalaya buddies, Tata and Herzon! Also, thanks to Joan, Tere and friends for having been convinced to watch Colorum over Public Enemies! :)

Cheers to the Philippine independent movie industry!

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