All Smoke But No Fire, A Big Disappointment from Peque Gallaga
First off, I am a big fan of Peque Gallaga. He is one of the most brilliant and gifted filmmakers to come out of the Philippines. I have seen his Shake, Rattle & Roll series more times than I could count. I thought Magic Temple was the work of a true artist and Gangland was pure visceral genius. And if there is one true great epic film in Philippine cinema, it would be his masterpiece Oro, Plata, Mata.
So upon entering the theater, I was excited beyond belief. His first film in almost 6 years. But halfway through the screening, I was already checking the time, wanting the film to end already. Pinoy Blonde is a overly reflexive, self-indulgent, pretentious film masquerading as a satire that relies on pop culture references to hide its flaws, mainly in the script, the story structure and character development.
From the start, it was already a mess; a mish-mash of different plots and scenes that lead to nowhere. The fast pace of the film and its vibrant visual style didn't hide the fact that the filmmakers simply had no focus in making the film. You'd keep wondering what the end result would be; is it a social commentary? is it merely an exercise in visual style? an attempt at a witty screenplay? Even the film itself can't figure itself out as it doubles back and forth through ideas and concepts, with the two lead actors' overly loud exaggerated performances not helping the equation. As the film ends, you feel visually assaulted but at the same time, emptiness. And that would be the last thing I'd think of feeling after seeing a Peque Gallaga film.
With a film filled to the brim with brilliant ideas, they are never pulled off well. It simply comes off as "trying too hard" and as an example of cinematic excess, big, bright, visual eye candy signifying nothing. A big disappointment from one of my favorite directors.
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