Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cinemanila 2008

It's Cinemanila 2008 and incidentally their tenth year, hence the slogan: Dekada Cinemanila (The Cinemanila Decade). Schedule of what's showing is here.

It's still hands down the best buffets of films, local and otherwise, available in Manila. Of the cornucopia of goodies available, I recommend--highly-- Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (easily the best film of 2007). Also thought Jerrold Tarog and Ruel Dahis Antipuesto's Confessional (2007) was worth looking at (the film has already screened--but keep an eye out, Cinemanila does do repeat screenings). Also not to be missed: Lav Diaz's massive latest work Melancholia (approximately nine hours long) and Raya Martin's Now Showing and Next Attraction. Have not seen these, but judging from Lav and Raya's previous works, anything they're going to do next is of high interest.

Not a big fan of Park Chan Wook (Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance), but some of his most avid supporters include New York Time film critic Dave Kehr, and gotta admit, the title of one of his latest films, I'm a Cyborg and That's OK is easily the coolest titles I've heard recently. That, and the fanboy in me just has to has to has to watch Evangelion 1.0: You are (Not) Alone, Hideako Anno's first-phase reload (four films are planned) of his legendary Evangelion series.

Also recommended: Gavin Hood's Tsotsi (2005), the harrowing tale of a youth that goes on a rampage, then in the back seat of a car meets his destiny. Cold blooded killers on murderous crime sprees are the fashion nowadays; cold blooded killers suddenly confronted with the possibility of renewal and redemption aren't, and are all the more notable when done well.

Of the older films--Cinemanila plans a retrospective of Brillante Mendoza's films, from his latest Serbis (Service, 2008) to Foster Child (2007) to Manoro (The Teacher, 2006) to Kaleldo (Summer Heat, 2006), among others. Mendoza's style can be best characterized as the Southeast Asian cousin to the Dardannes brothers (albeit at a far smaller budget), all handheld camera, little if any moral judgment visited on characters, and no soundtrack music.

Foster Child I especially liked for laying open the mechanism of a child adoption service, and for Cherry Pie Picache's extremely close-to-the-chest playing of the foster mother, with emotions held tight, tight, tight, until you're just about to turn blue, waiting and wondering to see if she at all minds--if she at all cares--that she's giving up a child she's raised as her own.

That said, Manoro is perhaps Mendoza's finest work, about a young provincial girl who's learned to read and write, and is determined to educate her family and neighbors to the point that they can participate in the coming local elections. Relentlessly deadpan in emotional tone and beautiful in its use of ambient sound and casual handheld camerawork, Manoro it seems to me is one model of how Filipino films can triumph over better funded Hollywood films, but rarely do.

Of the rest--Cinemanila will present a selection of films screened at the Director's Fortnight, the prestigious film festival that occurs parallel to Cannes. Among the titles: Ishmael Bernal's Himala (Miracle, 1982); Mike de Leon's Batch '81 (1982) and Kisapmata (Blink of the Eye, 1981); and Mario O'Hara's Babae sa Breakwater (Woman of the Breakwater, 2004).

Then there's the Lifetime Achievement Award to be given to Jose 'Pete' Lacaba--and as a matter of fact, Lino Brocka's Bayan Ko (My Country, 1984) is to be the festival's closing film.

But that's some weeks away; in the meantime, fun's barely begun. Go! Watch!


Andy Briones said...

Recently saw Adela and P.V.C.-1 in Cinemanila!

P.V.C.-1 is hands down awesome! Check it out!

Peter Nellhaus said...

I liked I'm a Cyborg. I had to get it on a Thai DVD with English subtitles. When it was playing theatrically in Chiang Mai though, I couldn't see it because it was Thai dubbed.

Less then a week to go before the Denver International Film Festival slate is announced. I am hoping they make up for the canceling of the Asian Film Festival that use to take place every June for the past ten years.

1minutefilmreview said...

Nice post. Loved 'I'm A Cyborg' too.

jayclops said...

Parang Gavin Hood ata yung Tsotsi Sir Noel. I think he directed Rendition? Anyway, I thought The Diving Bell is easily one of 2007's best. How I wish I'm in Manila and see Cinemanila...

Noel Vera said...

Uh. Don't know why I wrote Smith. Corrected, thanks.

Saber Hawk said...

I have to agree with you Noel. The Diving Bell and Butterfly was one of the best film of 2007. I recently watched this at Cinemanila, and I was amazed with its cinematography.

Andy Briones said...

I watched Adolfo Alix's Adela last week and the cinema was almost empty. Same with P.V.C.-1; I think there were only 5 of us in the cinema.


When I went to Cinemanila last year the cinemas I went to were almost full.

Saber Hawk said...

Andy, I believe that it has something with to do with the ticket prices. Last year, it was only 100 pesos. This year, it is priced as a regular movie (151). It is quite expensive if compared to previous years. That is, I think, one of the reasons why moviegoers are being more selective.

Noel Vera said...

I know Ting Nebrida of Cinefilipino is a big fan of Diving Bell as well.

The economic downturn might be affecting people too. It's a bad time for anything, any kind of activity.

Andy Briones said...

I hope Cinemanila keeps on going despite the dwindling moviegoers this year. It's the best film festival in town and I'd really feel bad if they stop screening films because of the low audience turn out.

I went to Gateway today, giddy at the thought of finally seeing Brillante Mendoza's Foster Child. I was irked when I found out that they'll be screening The Band's Visit instead. They said that people have been requesting for it. WTF. What about the people who would rather watch Foster Child than The Band's Visit? They should stick to their sked and stop changing it every so often.


Noel Vera said...

Festivals will have reasons for changing their skeds without notice--the print or DVD didn't arrive, or was being used elsewhere, or arrived broken. That said, they could have told you a less aggravating reason.