When I first saw the teasers of Sinag Maynila last year, I thought that it was just one of those movie festivals that would come and eventually would go. To add, I hated disliked the teasers. They portrayed the most common themes in the independent movie industry (and in black and white too). Women crying. Children being wrongfully accused of theft. You know the drill. The scenes were just a bit over-the-top for my taste. However, whatever my first impression was, I was proven wrong. After watching the five films claimed to be “significant”, I laughed and cried. I was moved and inspired. I was changed. I was a different person each time I went out of the movie theater.
More than a week ago, the first Sinag Maynila Film Festival was launched. Knowing that it only showed five movies and that internationally acclaimed film director Brillante Mendoza served as a the festival director, my inner indie film fanatic curiosity was switched on. I ran to the nearest mall after work (SM Aura) and to my surprise, the gala screening for three of the films were going to be held there. I literally ran to the ticket booth. There, I saw a familiar face. It was Junjun Quintana (Quick Change, A Philippino Story)! Junjun originally played the role of Rodel in the play version of the Virgin Lab Fest entry with the same title. I wanted to take a picture with him but he disappeared before I could gather the courage to do it. After buying tickets for Balut Country and Imbisibol, I went to the food court area and there he was, just sitting with other indie film people. I was too shy to directly approach him there and there so I did something ridiculous and a little stalkery-ish. I sat on the bench adjacent to where he was sitting. So we were sitting back to back. I could hear them talking but I wasn’t listening of course. My mind was too busy rehearsing how I would ask him for a photo.
Set in a remote rural town during the reign (specifically after the declaration of Martial Law) of former President Ferdinand Marcos, Mga Kuwentong Barbero (Barber’s Tales), directed by Jun Robles Lana told different stories beautifully embroidered into a simple delicate handkerchief.
I actually had no idea of the existence of Unfriend until I saw the trailer in JackTV. Instantly, I had to watch it, I thought. As I searched about it in the web, I was surprised when I realized that the movie was based on a not so old piece of news years ago about a shooting incident in a mall involving two teenage boys.
This sparked my interest and curiosity. As I continued researching, I found the news sad and frustrating. It could have been prevented since all the clues were on the victim’s Facebook wall. (This could always be one of the cons of social media. Not everything’s taken seriously, even something that could lead to a gruesome crime.)
Naturally, I wanted to know how the movie would play out this story that was misunderstood by most people not only because it was about homosexuality but also it involved two young minors.
Unfriend put viewers in the eyes of David (Sandino Martin) a homosexual teen presumably younger than his former-boyfriend Jonathan (Angelo Ilagan), who dumped him on Christmas Eve.
The movie revolved around David’s desperation to get Jonathan back. He would struggle with his emotions and develop some sort of obsessive and a self-destructive behavior. Although he had a loving grandmother that had no idea about his online life, his sole outlets were computer games and social media.
As the title suggests, Starting Over Again is a film about a love that has been lost and revisited by the main characters Marco Villanueva (Piolo Pascual) and Ginny Gonzales (Toni Gonzaga).
We all know from the trailer that Ginny’s the one that pursued her then History professor, Sir Marco during her college years (2004) as an architecture student. Being Ginny, a bubbly, enthusiastic, hopeless romantic that she is, she eventually wins Marco’s heart. All goes well until Ginny decides to leave Marco for unknown reasons, for an unknown acceptable reason (to quote the movie).
Fast forward to 2013, Ginny and Marco meet again. Both have changed and are more successful. This creates (false?) hope for Ginny and doubt and confusion for Marco as he already has a new girlfriend in the person of Patty (Iza Calzado). As the former couple goes down memory lane, they are reminded of the feelings they once felt for each other. The love, joy, excitement and of course, the pain.
Both are searching for closure. Ginny wants to know if there is a reason why destiny has brought them back together and Marco, on the other hand, needs to know why Ginny left him in the first place. Will they get the closure that they need? Or the one that they want?
Judging from its past releases, Star Cinema has been slowly becoming more and more radical in its films’ themes and story lines. It is slowly distancing from forgettable romantic comedies titled with love songs and brainless comedies.
At least for me, the paradigm shift started with My Amnesia Girl. My Amnesia Girl’s trailer has promised a story that is supposed to be familiar and in parallel with the plot of similar films like 50 First Dates or A Moment to Remember (Korean). However, like what is done in Kim Chiu and Xian Lim‘s second film, Star Cinema plays with the viewers’ expectations and shifts them in an at least less predictable perspective. It’s the same formula but just a different equation.
Bride for Rent introduces Kim Chiu as Raquelita Dela Cruz a.k.a. Rocky, 24 years old from Sampaloc, Manila. She is your typical cinematic breadwinner with a big family, a big heart and an over-the-top bubbly personality. She sidelines as a direct seller of bras and make-up and a commercial model. Xian Lim, however, plays a spoiled Lola‘s boy with commitment issues caused by childhood emotional baggages. Rocco also has a trust fund (yet to be received unless he’s married at the age of 25), which basically is the reason why the two opposite characters will meet.