Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sundalong Kanin (Janice O'Hara, Cinemalaya 2014)

One of the more interesting screenplays at the 10th edition of Cinemalaya, Sundalong Kanin is marred by bouts of haphazard filmmaking. The thrilling adventures and misadventures of a quartet of rural boys during the Second World War captivates the attention of the audience. Then, just when things get exciting, the audience members are bombarded with inept dramatic scenes and lame action set pieces.

A pet peeve of mine is seeing a breathing 'dead man' in films. Sundalong Kanin is the latest one to show a corpse with a heaving stomach. Filmmakers can easily change camera angles to hide moving stomachs but they continue to show the full body. Maybe they saw it done in Tokyo Story and decided to do it, too. I'll turn a blind eye if their films are as excellent as Tokyo Story.

The execution segment in Sundalong Kanin loses its impact because of poor blocking of the crowd scenes. The long shots are okay but the shoving and jostling scenes are jarringly dull. I also dislike some parts of the nighttime chase. The weak lighting presents the kids as being unconcern about exposure to enemies.

A memorable scene shows two vagrant kids stealing mouthfuls of rice. A rice soldier valiantly tries to stop them but fails. It shows how nimble and brittle the bravery of the frail, puny rice soldiers. 

A rash of abusive acts by enemies will turn the innocent children into raging animals. Think of the Lord of the Flies meets Oro, Plata, Mata. The scene showing a kid poking a gun on the head of another boy is a nod to an iconic scene featuring Joel Torre in Oro, Plata, Mata. 

Sundalong Kanin also has a few nods to the film Seven Samurai. The cutting of a girl's hair to make her look like a boy is from the Japanese film. Both films end with a shot of mounds of graves. The little boy giving a snappy salute is a nice touch by the Sundalong Kanin team. He has finally learned his lesson although he still needs to bulk up. Cinemalaya 2014 Special Awardee Kidlat Tahimik will probably advise him to 'eat samurais' - 'eat some more rice.'

No comments:

Post a Comment