Sunday, December 04, 2016

Si Magdalola At Ang Mga Gago (Jules Katanyag, Cinema One Originals 2016)

In the indie film scene, there are several people working behind the scenes whose presence in the credit roll marks that film to be of high quality. Of course, they do appear in some clunkers but these team players are like solid baseball pinch hitters able to help their team win big. On the top of my head, such reliable film people include producer Bianca Balbuena, producer Daphne Chiu, scriptwriter Michiko Yamamoto, editor Carlo Francisco Manatad, and script consultant Armando Lao.

Filmmaker Timmy Harn had been helping tyro filmmakers work on their dream projects for the Cinema One Originals film competition the past three years. He was a finalist during the 2013 competition with his film Ang Pagbabalat ng Ahas. In 2014 and 2015 competitions, he was assistant director to the award-winning films Violator and Manang Biring. This year, assistant director Harn kept his Midas touch by helping the film Si Magdalola At Ang Mga Gago win the Jury Prize. 

Si Magdalola At Ang Mga Gago surprisingly incorporated some concepts from films made by Harn. Reptilian behavior, horrific flaming deaths, and feisty elderly women find their way into this wonderful amalgamation of film genres.

Memorable oddball characters created by Jules Katanyag include a nubile granddaughter, an English-speaking food-sensitive villain, a pistol-packing female mayor, and the titular elderly shaman, Magda (Peewee O’Hara). They keep the story boiling because any interaction between or among themselves reek of strong sexual tension or high suspense.

Si Magdalola At Ang Mga Gago utilizes multi-screen images that seemingly blend an insect’s way of seeing with a witch’s clairvoyance. The witches can locate the whereabouts of any person. A witch easily traverses the forest like a slithery snake to put a hex on a rapist.

A hilarious scene uses the subtitle to bring on the laughs. The gang leader is more adept in mauling the English language than in gunning down the spunky Magda.

The action scenes are okay although the scenes to watch out for are the graphic drug abuse scenes. The dopey girl who've had a good time ended up in the morgue. Another scene shows a pair of thugs trying to extract information from a druggie.

Si Magdalola At Ang Mga Gago combines the lunacy of Big Time, the surprises of a Quentin Tarantino movie, and the smoldering atmosphere of Alon. It is a heady, messy, bloody but intensely riveting movie.

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