A Pre-MMFF Commentary
By Reymundo Salao
MMFF 2005. Will it be tasting the same kind of garbage? A couple of months after last year's Metro Manila Film Festival, there was an announcement that the next festival will be featuring independent filmmakers. I was really filled with optimism for the upcoming MMFF, because such a move shows a sign that film appreciation in Manila would move a step forward. There are so many independent filmmakers out there waiting to be tapped with attention and honor. So many artists out there whose works deserve the spotlight. That optimism of mine was only up until I discovered that the entries for this year's festival seem to be infested with the same filmmakers, producers, and same kind of projects that have defined the local film industry as mediocre. The same names, the same production companies, and even the rebirth of an old awful film franchise.
After the uneven continuity of the MANO PO franchise, the utterly un-original SO HAPPY TOGETHER, and the pretentious AISHTE IMASU, do we need Joel Lamangan to direct two more MMFF movies for this year? MANO PO 4: AKO LEGAL WIFE is another incongruent sequel of the MANO PO franchise. One that is utterly corny and cheesy from the trailers alone. The storyline is supposed to be a satire of relationships but the acting is inappropriately cartoonish and awful. We have the same flaws of the previous MANO PO movies: pretentiously bad Chinese accents and exaggerated costume designs, to the extent that it looks like setting up props for a High School play. The brand of humor is reminiscent of the Matutina days, in which I believe, Matutina can do better. Lamangan is also directing BLUE MOON which is another ambitious period piece. I am suspicious that I might see the same flaws that I got from his work in AISHTE IMAS: Insincere acting, and everybody uniformly wearing costumes that looked too fresh off the production company wardrobe department.
Another one on the director’s chair which is again an MMFF director is Jose Javier Reyes, whose works may have a bit of decency, but ultimately unoriginal, unconvincing, and chronically mediocre. His entry last year “SPIRIT OF THE GLASS” was boring and crammed with the same garbage daytime television is made of. I have yet to see a Jose Javier Reyes movie which would have some speck of originality.
In an obvious and pathetic effort of jumping on the Asian horror trend unoriginal move, they are now reviving the horror series SHAKE RATTLE & ROLL. The first SR&T movie may have become a local instant horror classic. But all its sequels are mere commercial works of cinema. The kind that is made, without any essence of heart, art, and originality. But just a big fat effort of inducing money-generating popstar hype. Good horror movies are made of good storylines, convincing acting, and frightful scares. Just like the deservingly award-winning “SIGAW” by Yam Laranas. The SR&T sequels have all lacked in all those aspects. If the producers of SR&T have indeed thought of new refreshing stories and concepts in the horror genre, then it would not have been a Shake, Rattle & Roll sequel.
Side-by-side Bong in his narcissism is Vic Sotto with his once-upon-a-time popular television series OKAY KA FAIRY KO, in which its continuity has now gone out the window by reconstructing the storyline with his ENTENG KABISOTE movies which are a confusing sequel to “Okay Ka…” Childishly an eye candy, his film is a hindrance to opening some breathing room for new film-makers.
I am disgusted because I want the local film industry to gain some progress in terms of quality, integrity, and reputation. No wonder the local film industry is not moving forward. These same people who run things in their own obsessively capitalistic way still run it.
Hey, it’s Christmas! Just forget about my hostile comments for a while and let me sincerely greet you a MAAYO KAG MASADYA NA PASKWA!