Cinemalaya Cinco (…so far)


3 days. 14 films. Not bad for a venue that is more than an hour away from my house. If you’re planning to head to CCP in the next few days, I hope this festival roundup of sorts will help you in picking which films are worth a look.


IN-COMPETITION (FULL-LENGTH)

These in-competition films are vying for the top award, the Balanghai trophy. Former recipients of this award are “Pepot Artista” by Clodualdo del Mundo Jr., “Tulad ng Dati” by Mike Sandejas, “Tribu” by Jim Libiran, and “Jay” by Francis Xavier Pasion. Among the ten in-competition films for this year, I’ve seen seven already. Here they are, ranked from best to worst:

DINIG SANA KITA
Rating: 4
It is not perfect or highly original, but it is my personal favorite from this year’s crop. I’m predicting it will take home the Audience Choice Award since the film greatly appeals to the predominantly younger crowd of Cinemalaya. It is also most likely to cross the mainstream with commercial success because of the story’s accessibility. Most of all, “Dinig Sana Kita” belongs to the rare breed of rom-coms slash family dramas that Filipino filmmakers don’t usually produce. You can read my full review at: http://pixelatedpopcorn.blogspot.com/2009/07/review-dinig-sana-kita-45.html



ANG PANGGAGAHASA KAY FE
Rating: 4
With a layered story and complex characterization, this film is still the film to beat. You can read my full review at: http://pixelatedpopcorn.blogspot.com/2009/06/review-ang-panggagahasa-kay-fe-35.html




ENGKWENTRO
Rating: 3.5
It is not for everyone, so watch it at your own risk. Some will perceive it as nauseating and poorly made (some of the scenes were intentionally dark and out of focus despite being shot on high-definition), while others will see it as a work of a genius. This has the highest chance of being picked up by international film festivals for its graphic retelling of gangster brutality and juvenile corruption. “Engkwentro” may snatch the victory from “Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe” like a real dark horse. You can read my full review at: http://pixelatedpopcorn.blogspot.com/2009/07/review-engkwentro-35.html

LAST SUPPER NO. 3
Rating: 3.5
Hilarious, socially relevant, and entertaining. This satire on the Philippine judicial system is a definite crowd-pleaser. You can read my full review at: http://pixelatedpopcorn.blogspot.com/2009/07/review-last-supper-no-3-35.html




MANGATYANAN
Rating: 2.5
Some are already proclaiming Jerrold Tarrog’s follow-up to “Confessional” as the best film of the festival. Although I recognize its merits, I don’t think it is as good as everyone else thinks. The fact that the ritual and the tribe portrayed are both fictional is a bit of a letdown. Anyway, why don’t you see it for yourself and find out if I’m wrong on this one?




SANGLAAN
Rating: 2
Although technically superior, the screenplay is mediocre at best. A mere rehash of soap opera elements that we have seen countless of times on the boob tube. Ina Feleo, Tessie Tomas, and Flor Salanga (the grieving mother in “Jay”) deserve a better film than this. You can read my full review at: http://pixelatedpopcorn.blogspot.com/2009/07/review-sanglaan-155-astig-15.html




ASTIG
Rating: 1
Making noise for all the wrong reasons – the numerous cameo appearances, Dennis Trillo as lead, and Boy Abunda as producer. Clich├ęd, vulgar, and a total waste of time. Slum-themed dramas like this should get a rest. So far, the worst film in Cinemalaya Cinco. You can read my full review at: http://pixelatedpopcorn.blogspot.com/2009/07/review-sanglaan-155-astig-15.html


I will catch the rest of the Cinemalaya Cinco main competition entries like “24K”, “Colorum”, and “Nerseri” this weekend. Meanwhile, my full reviews for the rest of the in-competition films will be posted soon.


IN-COMPETITION (SHORTS)

I really don’t have any plans of watching short films. I find their running time rather bitin to establish anything. But since a friend dragged me, I was able to see five shorts that are in competition. As expected, they are so-so with one exception. Here are the five shorts from best to worst.

WAT FLOOR MA’AM
Rating: 3.5
Imelda gets stuck inside an elevator with the ‘bad boy’. Questions are raised. And we are made to realize that ignorance is really bliss. Pinky Marquez and Lex Marcos will tickle our funny bones. This is a must-see!



BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Rating: 3
An intelligent examination of one crumbling marriage. Well-acted and convincing.

TATANG
Rating: 2.5
Another slumdog drama. Why are we Pinoys addicted to this theme?

HULAGPOS
Rating: 1
Forgettable.

MUSA
Rating: 1
Overly pretentious. Poetic? My ass.


OUT OF COMPETITION

MANILA
Rating: 3
Raya Martin and Adolfo Alix, Jr. direct Piolo Pascual in this two-part tribute to Ishmael Bernal’s “Manila by Night” (in the “Day” segment) and Lino Brocka’s “Jaguar” (in the “Night” segment). Despite the dark themes pervading both segments, be prepared to see Manila – in all its filth and glory – in a different light. Excellent filmmaking and poetic cinematography. The all-star cast includes Rosanna Roces, Angelica Panganiban, Baron Geisler, Anita Linda, Jay Manalo, Jiro Manio, Alessandra de Rossi, Katherine Luna, William Martinez, Aleck Bovick, Marissa Delgado, John Lapus, and many more.




AURORA
Rating: 2.5
Some will sleep through it, I almost did. But for a film that drags the minutes by, you can’t deny that this Adolf Alix-directed feature reflects the realities of terrorism. Rosanna Roces and Sid Lucero deliver memorable performances.


SAAN NAGTATAGO SI HAPPINESS?
Rating: 1.5
The opening song number sets the mood nicely. But unfortunately, the screenplay recycles the same poverty plotlines that have been used and overused in the past.



I will catch “Pepot Artista”, “Walang Hanggang Paalam”, “Kadin”, and “Batad” this weekend. Any suggestions what else I need to see? I’ll blog about the rest of my Cinemalaya experience next week.

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