Tuesday, October 21, 2014

QCinema International Film Festival 2014 Schedule

Nice slate of films for the 75th founding anniversary of Quezon City! There are also several free screenings to boot. 

Now, I hope organizers follow their sked with a few deviations. It is a hassle going to the mall and finding out that the film you will view has been rescheduled or, worse, will not be shown.

Alienasyon and Lilet Never Happened are way up there on my watch list.

Children's Classics at QCinema (Free Admission)


November 5, 2014 (Wednesday) - Cinema 3
11AM - Boses
1PM - Bunso
2:30PM - Boses
4:30PM- Bunso

November 6, 2014 (Thursday) - Cinema 3
11AM - Children of Heaven
1PM - Not One Less
3PM - The Color of Paradise
5PM - Dance Without Music

Friday, October 17, 2014

K'na The Dreamweaver (Ida Anita del Mundo, Cinemalaya 2014)

'Mara Lopez does a new trick in this film,' says my brother-in-law. I racked up my brains trying to find something new in Mara's performance. My brother-in-law relents and says that Mara kept her clothes on throughout the film. Ah, yes, I remember those enchanting clothes.

The intricately designed t'nalak attires stole the thunder from the actors. The bloody red color of the woven fabrics complement the verdant surroundings of the lake-side community. The striking costume patterns are products of dreams by the predecessors of K'na (Mara Lopez). The young lady is the latest one given the responsibility of manufacturing designs.
She is a dreamweaver and a peacemaker, too. She makes a huge sacrifice in order to bind two tribes together once more.

K'na The Dreamweaver is a lavish visual feast of colorful traditional costumes and picturesque settings in South Cotabato. It is a grand showcase of the culture and way of life of the T'boli people. There is music in the air as maidens walk by because of jangling brass bells on their waists. The whole village was constructed the traditional way. There was nary a nail used in building the huts.

A beautiful, symbolic scene shows a heartbroken K'na riding a boat towards the village of the Northern tribe. The chasm has been breached by her flood of tears. There's another scene of K'na seemingly submerged from her overflowing tears as her lover looks on.

The stories of star-crossed lovers and warring tribes are staples of local adventure films. The film K'na needs to have a unique image or plot line that will make it doubly memorable or even better, into the annals of Cinemalaya greats. As the film nears the end, I was betting on the lover's show of affection for K'na. He faithfully ties red yarns on tree branches to show her love for the lady.

I was expecting a dazzling display of fiery strands hanging from trees at the end of the film. Years have passed since K'na went home. The excited audience hold their breath as a wide-eyed K'na scans the trees. Then, the camera cuts to the trees.

Ehrrr, is that it? It was a big letdown. The red streaks barely made an impact. Oh well, I still have those clothes and the grandeur of Lake Sebu to remember.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dementia (Percival Intalan, 2014)

Mara (Nora Aunor) is suffering from dementia. Her caring cousin Elaine (Bing Loyzaga) convinces her to return to their home province of Batanes. Maybe the months-long vacation will help in bringing back memories. It seems to be a good suggestion as we see Mara guiding her kin to her home. There's no hesitation at all with the route she takes. The pathways are as familiar to her as an old glove or first love.

From the outside, the stone house seems to be small. But, it is surprisingly humongous and well-kept. Roaming through the house, Mara stirs up her worst memories. The restless ghost of the past torments her. That's the problem with reliving memories, some ought to be forgotten forever.

The audience experiences the horrors of Mara's imagination. From the boat ride up to the cliff side scene, it had been a dark journey into the deep recesses of Mara's mind. The cinematography brightens up a few notches after the Mulholland Drive-tinged plot ends with a freefall dive. The muted colors clear up as the plot's final jigsaw puzzle piece is unveiled.

I will remember Dementia not for the plot twist but for the wondrous performances of Bing Loyzaga and Jasmine Curtis-Smith. Nora Aunor gives her usual stellar performance but her younger co-stars exceed themselves. I especially remember the look of annoyance on the face of Rachel (Jasmine Curtis-Smith) as she hops on to the tricycle of a distant male kin.

Bing Loyzaga is so good as the cousin of Mara. She doesn't need to raise her eyebrows or raise her voice to be noticed. She just fits to a tee her role of an altruistic kin. There's something simple with her actions that make her so effective. I also loved her in another horror film, Celso Ad Castillo's Bahay Ng Lagim. Now, that house is something I will return to in a flash.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Hari Ng Tondo (Carlos Siguion-Reyna, Cinemalaya 2014)

Hari Ng Tondo is among a trio of popular Cinemalaya films, including Hustisya and The Janitor, which probed and dealt with the dirt and grime of the crime-infested city of Manila.

An important dramatic scene shows a dejected grandfather, Ricardo Vilena (Robert Arevalo), buckling down from the weight of his grief. He cannot believe the genial Tondo district he grew up in has turned into a grimy, violence-laden area. He stands up and faces the problems head on.

Vilena joins hands with neighbors to clean their surroundings. The remaining problem, violence, is not something he and his toughened grandchildren and neighbors cannot handle at all. They huddle together and brace up for hooligans and trouble-makers.

Director Carlos Siguion-Reyna grew up in Tondo and must have shared the sentiments of Vilena about the faded luster of Manila and broken promises of local leaders. His comeback film, Hari Ng Tondo, chastises past local kings, Dirty Hari and others, for the sorry state of the capital. The film challenges current Hari ng Tondo (Erap Estrada) to live up to the excellent leadership of Arsenio Lacson. The filmmakers seem hopeful in Estrada's capability to turn things around.

The film suggests that Manila is worth living in despite the obvious blight, horrendous traffic, and monstrous floods. A couple of rich kids ditched their cozy, comfy homes to live in with their grandfather, Ricardo Vilena, in the notorious Tondo district. They see how garbage bins are raided for recyclable food. They scamper away from fights sprouting like mushrooms in nearly every street corner. But, amidst all the poverty and gang riots they learn about love and community bonding. 

Soulful music, emanating from the heart of the compound, cleanses and soothes the hearts of everyone who hears it. A bit of that music, loads of courageous art, and lots of caring hearts will play a big role in restoring the grandeur and allure of Manila.