:: Cinemalaya2012 Day 4 ::

My Day 4 of Cinemalaya or simply put, two films I saw last Wednesday, was quite interesting. A mix of black and white and something that I am not ready of. It seemed tedious, in a way, but I’ve been in a situation where I actually spent the whole day watching films.

And imagine the money spent on cinema food. Fucking expensive. Save for that Chimera health conscious shit of place where I could actually spend my hundred bucks for tea and popcorn; unlike the other store, the one with the corn dogs, twice the price man.

DAY 4.


The trailer for this film is truly awesome. An expressionist, modern-day Filipino film that is directed by one awesome auteur. What more can you ask for?

We are welcomed by a press-con about the missing, and finally found, film made during the American territory. They gave out the background of the film, Kamera Obskura, and the mystery that shrouds it. You see, fake press-con people tells us that they didn’t know the origins of this film. There weren’t any credits in the end and they are still looking for the people who made this film.

Next scene introduces us to the surreal world of Kamera Obskura. A man trapped inside a cell reminiscent of the four hollowed walls of Intramuros. He found a way in making a great escape. Since he was trapped for so long, he is now wary and curious of the new Manila. Flying bicycles, a building of Power (looks like a puny version of the Tower of Babel), and a magic camera were his new allies, and enemies. And then, the film tells us in a Matrix-y type of story, that he is the chosen one.

I really loved the opening scene of the film. It was as if I was watching those really old, old films (mga pelikulang pinalabas pa noong panahon ng lolo mo sa tuhod) with those crazy angled shots as the protagonist was trying to escape his prison. Much to my initial delight, it followed the same rules of black and white films: orchestra music is used throughout, dialogues can only be seen in print (after every scene in which the actor talks), and the feel of those dirty films used before (simply put the images are dirty with smudges and scratches).

I also loved the magic initially introduced in the film. I was literally WOW’ed with it. Now, here’s the not so good part. The story was eventually stuck with politics taking out the well-executed experimental and odd beginnings. It was as if that the director, or the scriptwriter, ran out of crazy ideas that made it suck during the middle part of the film. Maybe, I was expecting Wizard of Oz crazy or even Cabinet of Dr. Caligari crazy. It just was not there.

To add, it lacked one of the most used elements in the olden days. The concept of close up shots. The one where they would just focus on the face of the actor and use it for the rest of the scene. It worked before, it should’ve worked in this film. Instead, Red added a Keaton / Chaplin – isque scene; sorry, that part was just lame.

I really wish that in the future, someone should do a follow-up of this film. It could give way to new things or probably someone should improve it. Nonetheless, it was still an experience. Kudos for the consistency of the main elements used in the film. Maybe, we should watch this film while in a drunken stupor or while having sex. I think it would work that way.


I think it is way proper for me, to spoil a few plot points in the film. I know it would be beneficial for you, the reader, since I was kind of surprised (not really) with what I saw. And was actually waiting for walk-outs inside the theater, my count was three, and I think that is a good thing for the film. Either the film is that engaging, or people are just hesitant to go out of the theater since they spent their hard-earned money. And the guy beside me enjoyed the film, in a sense that he took a nap during the “boring” parts and was delightfully gleeful during the oh-so “happy” ones.

A soldier “trapped” in Kota island during the Erap regime. Set during the last few days of President Estrada, we would see the daily musings of a man’s survival in a pure, pristine, and beautiful island: the basic needs of man, exercise, and sexercise (self-sexercising or sariling sikap for all the dirty minds out there). Much to the delight of us viewers, while sexercising, we would also see scenes of your gracious Japanese porn (yan lang actually yung great parts ng film, kidding). And then the magic starts when fish creatures come out during, mostly, nights and the appearance of two acquaintances, accompanying our protagonist with his last day(s) in the island.

Aside from the fact that the cinematography of this film is superb, the movie really tells a lot on what happens to a human being in times of isolation. It greatly reminds me of Tom Hanks in Cast Away but this one takes out the mainstream appeal of a film. Instead, it shows a man just trying to survive his daily activities and hoping that the time, finally, comes for him to go home. But as people, we are not used to isolation. We are social creatures and we would find ways to survive an “ordeal” just to get the day over and done with.

The film is a puzzle but it can easily be solved by pure viewing patience. I think that this was where the film got its strength from; the complexities of the story paved way for an interesting premise despite the really slow pacing of the story. I mean you can actually tell the story of this film in 15 minutes, tops. I guess that is where art comes in. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Luckily, it worked in this movie.

The element of the mermaid (a freaking fellatio wielding mermaid man, shit. too awesome) was probably the greatest inclusion in this film. Because us viewers, we are eventually welcomed by shock and then, curiosity right after. It felt that the movie didn’t matter much anymore and we just want the fucking mermaid back in the screen. But seriously, that was a good call for the director. And to make things even better, he introduces two people to the audience, making the dialogue of the triumvirate become the new source of curiosity. But we were still waiting for that damned mermaid until the end of the film.

The ending was perfect. Everything was told at the right moment. Even if the story was used already in some other film, it still worked. And the best thing about this is, it had closure.

Oh, I won’t say I fully understood the film. Please don’t quote me on that.


~ by targrod on July 27, 2012.

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