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A. Russell Andrews,
As a Filipino American filmmaker, I was excited to sit and watch a film about Filipinos. What I got was. a film about Filipinos from filmmakers who seem to think that 'we' are not intelligent human beings.
Who was this film made for? Americans? Filipinos? Everyone? I'm not saying the characters were non-intelligent, but the way the story was told seemed like it was told to those who wouldn't get it.
Subtext? Where was it?
If this was a film made for American's then I'm embarrassed at the representation. Not the representation as far as character and story, but the representation as far as Filipino filmmakers and their work.
If this was a film made for Filipinos, then I'd have to ask. are we this dumb that you have to over explain things?
As user, `mhark villaruz' states, `the film tends to over explain things'. That was a huge complaint of mine which I posed to another Filipino director. He argued that maybe that is how Filipinos really are. They wear their emotion on their sleeve and nothing is left to subtext.
Okay, I can buy that, but that is not what filmmaking and solid story telling is all about. Is it? My argument was that the non-subtextual style of characters was an insult to us as intellectual viewers. Again, why over explain things?
The performers could only do so much based on a script and a director directing them. So here are a few things that stand out.
-Was it kinda `stagey'? Cheating to the camera is one thing, but playing to the camera as Marissa (Bonnevie) did in the break up scene was just so. well, `stagey'! (that was just one of many)
-Who knew Gerry (Davao) was gonna kiss Mike (De Leon)? Was that just so fricken' obvious? That didn't come out of nowhere but it could have. And if it did, it would have been a very dramatic moment. And what does it say about Davao's character, who we rooted for, when he was so in love with a man dying of AIDS? He just cheated on his life long partner at the END of the movie!!!
If the film was structurally sound, the archs would have been more convincing.
The 'kiss' and Tere's (Picache) breakdown, for example, could have all been structured as a midpoint sequence. It would have been interesting to watch their lives play out for the whole second act after that. Then we could see rewards for what they went through at the VERY end: Gerry possibly coming to terms with his mother and Mike, or Tere finding the love of her dreams, etc. etc. etc.
Overall, the film was able to portray life here (America) as Filipino Americans and some of the cultures: The party where people were dancing in the b.g. (where was the pig on the table?), the American/Filipino language, the rich bitch, the political angst, the hardships, and the results of labor.
But it lacked in direction, story and style.
What got it made? Here's your answer: PASSION.
PASSION - the number one lesson from this film for future or current filmmakers!
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