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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Movie Digest # 084

Gateway Cineplex, Platinum Theater, January 14, 3:50pm

In the first Guy Ritchie reimagining, we came to know Sherlock Holmes as a very observant detective. This is suggested by the scenes wherein the well loved spy looks at a certain object, have it zoomed mentally and from there, his speculations are sealed. That attempt at making the film adaptation more exciting becomes tiring in this sequel. Save for the chasing scene at the German border and the funny camouflages, I didn’t find anything interesting in the film.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who’ve seen the first.

Cine Hoyts – Punta Carretas Shopping, Sala 2, January 19, 8:10pm

I dig deadpan humor which made me expect a lot from this Alexander Payne film. Plus George Clooney is a fine actor who’s always been picky of late with the projects he’s doing either as an actor or a director. After watching the film, I can say that it’s not something that I really liked but more of I enjoyed it. Mr. Clooney, best known as having a macho persona in the biz, portrays a husband who has been cheated by a wife who fell into coma. In the process of waiting what’s up for the bedridden spouse, the husband figures out what went wrong and tries to reconnect with his family. The title basically pertains to the protagonist’s role as a caretaker of an income generating piece of land from his Hawaiian ancestors. On top of the dry wit, there’s also a portion of melodrama, a commentary on being patriotic (as reflective as the New Zealand film “Once Were Warriors” by Lee Tamahori) and a melancholia that felt very close to home for me.

Friends who might appreciate it: The yayaspeak reviewer (aka Jessica Zafra).

Movie Center – Punta Carretas Shopping, Sala D, January 21, 7:00pm

I haven’t seen the Swedish original nor I haven’t read the Stieg Larsson book but I enjoyed this film immensely. It’s categorically a popcorn film but a really good one. At first, I was clueless as to what the film is all about and for a Hollywood film, it is a feat. There are two parallel lives unfolding separately which got me hooked until the two characters intersect. For a spy film, there are a lot of things to root for. The turn of events is interesting enough, thanks to the ensemble, and the twist is very much satisfying.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who think that Rooney Mara is love.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 5, January 28, 7:35pm

This film adaptation of a political play deals with two opposing candidates and the spin doctors behind them vying to win the majority of votes from a certain state. It’s like watching a game of chess on screen; each piece has its own moves and strategy. Given the subject, the film occasionally makes use of the Ohio River (or Mississippi River) as the backdrop to highlight the border of the two states Ohio and Kentucky, a powerful metaphor of the warring candidates. In one particular scene, two characters are seen talking on a bench in Kentucky side while facing Ohio. Directed by George Clooney, it boasts of a very competent ensemble (my best so far for 2011) that includes Ryan Gosling, Clooney himself, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Rachel Evan Wood, Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who are considering entering politics.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 1, January 28, 9:50pm

Leo DiCaprio topbills this Clint Eastwood film about the life and death of FBI head J. Edgar Hoover. I had high hopes for the project as it was the first time that DiCaprio and Eastwood (and even Judi Dench and Naomi Watts) will be working together but I was totally disappointed. First, the material has a lot of things going on. It tackles the rise of the intelligence group which is engaging on its own. On top, it is a character study and it partly proposes a thought on homosexuality. Furthermore, it also tries to touch some state secrets but it didn’t take off. Allegorically, the audience is given a clue and it’s immediately destroyed as the film ends. It all boils down to a DiCaprio project with a bad make-up and false promises.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who expect that DiCaprio can do another “Blood Diamond” someday.

Cine Hoyts – Alfabeta, Sala 5, January 29, 3:00pm

In the tradition of “500 Days of Summer” sensibilities, Joseph Gordon-Levitt tackles the role of a guy on his late 20’s who is diagnosed with cancer. Family and friends (Seth Rogen as the irritating best buddy and Angelica Huston as the motherly mom) support him as he tries to undergo a medication and overcome the illness. Since the film is essentially a comedy, it tries to downplay the grief that the patient has to endure but still makes it a point to hit the lachrymal spot when needed. I have to admit that I cried in some scenes, particularly those that show an overwhelming support from the people around the lead character. Another way to look at the film is the metaphor between battling a disease and moving on from a failed relationship.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who like 100.

Casablanca, Sala Humphrey Bogart, January 30, 10:10pm

From director Roland Emmerich who megged CGI-filled blockbuster films, this is a surprise for me. It proposes an argument that William Shakespeare was not the real author of the famous works we know but a certain royalty who cannot dish out his real identity because of the political situation then. Apparently, most topics from the play deal with political and social commentary, something that you couldn’t (and shouldn’t) share when you are within the fence of the crowned heads. The film runs for more than two hours, providing an extensive pathos on the subject matter sans the usual Hollywood edge-of-our-your-seat device. But of course, there’s still CGI and the striking costumes to heighten the period that complement the superb acting from the likes of Rhys Ifans, David Thewlis and Vanessa Redgrave.

Friends who might appreciate it: Shakespeare fans and non-fans.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 6, February 3, 7:50pm

The opening scene with present day Margaret Thatcher trying to buy milk from a convenience store is a winning way to perk up this memoir film. Meryl Streep, aided with a convincing make-up, is so good on this early part. Then it spiralled to the usual and tiring film bios that we’ve seen before, flashing some chronological back stories on the former prime minister’s rise to political fame. On the side, we saw the Iron Lady battling Alzheimer’s disease as punctuated by the frequent (and for me, unnecessary) appearances of her late husband. The final output is a bit muddled by its storytelling. I love all the current day scenes, even the madness it entails (a suggestion to her “insanity” to grab a position in the government in her early years) and the way the film ends (as if it’s just another day for Mrs. Thatcher). My problem is in the meaty part of the flashbacks as I did not gain anything from it. What’s left is a terrific actress doing a believable impersonation of a larger-than-life character.

Friends who might appreciate it: The one who did the make-up for “J. Edgar”.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 3D, February 3, 10:00pm

I have to say that Martin Scorsese made the right choice in bringing this film to life on 3D. Let me count the ways. First, it looks very personal for the ace director. It doesn’t have the violence that some of us are used to but it discusses about a dozen other films that every film buff should watch. Second, Hugo’s world is a world on its own. Sure, it is set in a train station that resembles Gare du Nord in Paris but the time and space are not distinct. Third, it is done outside the Hollywood mold of fast paced sequences and overwhelming CGI. Fans of popcorn blockbusters will be truly disappointed. Lastly, it partly talks about film preservation. It takes a clueless boy to save the artistry of master filmmaker Georges Méliès from extinction. In Hugo’s attempt to safeguard the memories of his dead father, he also salvaged the origin of moving pictures. This is a clear proposition on the contribution of cinema as it documents life in a time capsule.

Friends who might appreciate it: Cineastes.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 1, February 11, 9:30pm

If this film were produced roughly half a decade ago, then it deserves all the accolades it is getting (including an Oscar Best Picture nod). As it is, I am a bit lost. It is well made, yes, but it doesn’t leave a thought for the viewers to ponder upon. The messages it wants to partake are loud, almost screaming, and it doesn’t bother much. Even the scenes in Britain look fake or too Hollywood for me. Furthermore, I almost cried when Emily Watson delivered her weakest performance to date as a doting mother, an accessory character to the young protagonist. The intention of highlighting the importance of animals to the history of mankind is there but for sure Mr. Spielberg can think of something cleverer and more imaginative.

Friends who might appreciate it: I’d rather drink a bottle of Red Horse than recommend this.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 1, February 17, 8:20pm

As sure as the sunrise, this film will be this year’s Oscar Best Picture. Figures say it all. It has been awarded here and there and from what I see, it offers something new to the people behind the Academy. The film is supposed to be Michael Hazanavicius’ tribute to the silent film era as it studies the evolution of American cinema up to what it is now. The key homage is the total absence of speaking lines (almost) all throughout the film, complete with title cards and that lingering musical score that reminds everyone of the era. On the side is a sad story of a struggling artist who doesn’t want to sell out his own brand of creativity even if it means abandon and death. The story works for me a bit but not the gimmick. I find the idea of mimicking a silent film for the heck of making a tribute corny. Definitely there’s more to explore up to what length a real artist can go to and depression is the least subject that needs to be romanticized. Charming performances though from Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who have seen the OSS series.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 1, February 24, 7:35pm

For a Hollywood drama with a mainstream cast and editing, I can say that this film is above average. Stephen Daldry has become an actor’s director to beat. His cast are all good in the movie with the likes of Sandra Bullock even outdoing her Oscar performance in “The Blind Side” and the lead child actor, a revelation. The quiet scenes are very admirable as well as those that require shouting. Those dramatic scenes are well directed and should be merited as such. It’s just that I don’t see it as something vying for the highest honor in the Oscars but I understand how the 911 underscore did it. I cried in some scenes at the latter part, those that engage father and son connections and unspoken messages.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who consider that for an actor without a speaking line, it’s a toss between Max von Sydow and Jean Dujardin.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 7, February 24, 10:20pm

If there’s an excellent example of a film that deserves an Oscar Best Picture, it must be this film. From the director of the Swedish film “Let the Right One In”, Tomas Alfredson effectively transports the audience back to the 70’s with a consistent mood and feel of the time John le Carré first published his book. The chill of Gary Oldman’s stares is another thing. It highlights the coldness of what seems to be the camaraderie between colleagues of an intelligence group. I appreciate, too, the stagey approach of the adaptation wherein the progress of the storytelling is dependent on the dialogues, spoken or otherwise.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who think that there’s a mole in the Academy.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Carnaval del Uruguay 2012

This is my first time to experience summer in Montevideo City. I’ve seen two winters/autumns already but I always miss the sunny season. Part of the agenda when I arrived last mid-January is to check out the rambla (which is probably jampacked with people on their swimwear) and the month-long celebration of the carnaval.

Desfile de Inaugural

Last January 27, a Friday and on the last minute, we were scouting for a ticket to the carnaval kick-off (or Desfile de Inaugural). The payment center chain Abitab was no longer selling tickets on the day itself so we ended up risking to get a ticket hours before the event. Mike and Carlos went to Avenida 18 de Julio at around 5pm-ish while everybody went home to freshen up and prepare. We agreed to just meet up at the location where our seats are installed.

The opening parade for the carnaval is not that appealing to locals compared to other events. I think I understand why when I finally witnessed my first taste of it. We arrived at the venue at an hour before the given time. The wooden foldable seats are just put there for the event and are numbered with the aid of a tiny white sticker. Our officemate mentioned that we don’t need a seat as the people just find their place anywhere in the area. In our case, a mother with two kids was trying to get hold of one of our seats by negotiating on how everybody can fit in, including them plus 8 from our side. Good thing we have a Spanish-speaking company like Carlos and Ismael. In short, the seats are just there when you get tired of standing up and getting close to the participants. This also means that you have to be very extra careful of your belongings.

After close to an hour, the parade started to roll in. By then, there were already a lot of kids trolling around with some foam spray and some bits and pieces of what looks like a shredded Styrofoam. It’s irritating in some ways as you have to cover the camera lens from time to time and you have to brush your shirt off the small white dots the foam makes. The kids even sprayed on the participants adding a level up to the street party mood. Those with no game face on retaliated with either water or another foam spray. The parade, by the way, was a mix of what to expect during the height of the carnaval. There were some giant floats, candombe bands, those who are participating in the tablados, some bands on wheels and the sponsors.

Some pictures during the parade (the rest, in here):

One of the first floats to open the carnaval

Some streetdancing

Band on wheels

Some participants in colorful costumes

...And the price to pay, the white spots from foam spray


Almost a week after, on February 2, there’s Yemanjá. It is a day of offering to the Goddess of the Sea. Locals gathered at Playa Ramirez (and probably in other parts, too) to tender some food or other things which are usually put in a small boat painted with white and blue. It was already crowded when Mike and I went there at the beach, around 8pm, to meet up colleagues Margarita, Janet and Maria. There was a small group of women in white who were chanting some kind of a prayer then they rolled on the river bed as if they were possessed. Another ritual looked like a form of blessing from a certain spiritual leader. We left early because it was starting to rain (and ended up enjoying chivitos at Marcos’)
The event in pictures (complete set in here):

A couple is praying

Some ritual for the Sea Goddess

The Sea Goddess

Desfile de Llamadas

Desfile de Llamadas somewhat closes the carnaval celebration with a bang. This is the colorful parade with some girls in glittery get-up and drums (called candombe); pretty much the carnaval that most people outside Latin America are familiar with. Each set or competing group has a couple of banderistas first, waving some gigantic flags, then an old couple plus a group of dancing women. The last of the group is the vedette that looks like the carnaval queen to me and behind her are the tamboleros. An award is given to the best performer per category. The Rio de Janeiro (or Brazil in general) version is celebrated on the eve of the Lent, specifically on Fat Tuesday or the Tuesday right before Ash Wednesday. In Uruguay, it is days before that. The seating arrangement was the same as the opening night, only more rowdy and touristier. Our tickets cost UYU 175, a few pesos more expensive than the first one but definitely worth it. There were two nights allotted for this, February 9 and 10, where the latter was more of the final round. The parade took place at Isla de Flores in Montevideo. We only finished 13 out of 22 floats as it was 1am already. We just joined the tail end of the band and just copied what the patrons were doing.

Highlights below (and the rest of the pictures, here):

This house is renting their rooftop for viewing

Police on the look out

Banderistas in action

The dancing couple

The vedette and her tamboleros

More tamboleros

...And more tamboleros

This is the crowd that we followed

Guess who is next in line now


During the whole carnaval season, there’s the tablados. It’s a series of performances on stage in different locations. Just like the llamadas, this is a competition, too. Each show has various groups in it, categorized as Revista, Parodista or the classic Murga. Based on the performances I’ve seen at the open-air Teatro de Verano last February 13 (last one was supposed to be on the 12th but the original schedule was cancelled due to rain), Parodista is the easiest to distinguish. It’s like a spoof of a certain show and the group (called Nazarenos) even sang a Spanish version of a tune similar to Every Breath You Take and Carmina Burana. Murga and Revista, based on the performances I witnessed from Extasis, Japilong and La Gran Siete, are almost the same except perhaps the latter is less elaborate on the moves and the overall performance. I’ve heard from officemates that Murga groups were given a certain current event issue and from this, they will sing their commentary. The topic, I was informed, is about racism as recently ignited by the Uruguayan soccer player Luis Suárez. All the performances and even the breaks in between were all timed accordingly.

The performers below (and more pictures here):

Teatro de Verano after a performance

Revista group Extasis during the performance

From left to right: gate pass during break and the makeshift back rest

Japilong doing their murga (notice the timer on top)

The Parodista group Nazarenos on the first part of their performance

Last but not the least, La Gran Siete on their murga

Some videos here, here and here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Notes from My First (Trip to) “Cinema is Incomplete”

Ang larawan ay kinuha mula sa Facebook account ng Cinema is Incomplete.

At 2pm on January 14, a Saturday, I was already at the RCBC Plaza to consider catching the one-man play “Defending the Caveman” with Joel Trinidad. Unfortunately, the show starts at 3:30pm and I had no choice but to kill time at the Gateway Mall instead by watching the latest Sherlock Holmes movie at the Platinum Cinema (which is a totally new experience on itself).

My game plan then was to catch the film line-up of Cinema is Incomplete. A lot are already raving about the documentary “Tundong Magiliw” and I missed it in two occasions: first, at the Cinemalaya then to another semi-exclusive screening at Sikatuna Village. It was an epic fail on the second chance as I was already at the gate of the venue when I backed out simply because I can’t confirm whether the screening was a go or not. Anyways, armed with the text message below, at 6pm, off I went to the venue from the mall:
“Umm you can take the LRT to Anonas. Tapos sa likod ng St. Joseph, sakay ka ng jeep na VLuna City Hall. Tas baba ka sa Savemore tapos short walk na lang to 117C. You will get past the Ice Cream Store, Zombie Lounge, and Azul Spa. Tapat kami mismo ng Buds of Roses. Green gate. :)"
I arrived at 117C Anonas Extension 20 minutes before 7pm. My contact person said that they were still setting up and they might start later than the announced time. I explored the street and I ended up first at Trimona Vegetarian Restaurant which is just in front of the Zombie Lounge. For dinner, I had chicken adobo (so it’s semi-vegetarian after all), brown rice and pandan juice. Really, really good. They also sell some knick-knacks there from CD’s to herbal stuff. It looks like the business is owned by an Indian family.

From there, I walked to the nearby tea shop called Bumble Tea Place where they offer Serenitea-ish drinks like winter melon milk tea, a must try, with jelly or nata. I got another text notifying me that it would take probably an hour more to start the screening. That had me end up getting a foot massage at Azul Spa for only P250.

At 8pm, I finally went to the venue which is more or less the second floor of a house, a well maintained and a very clean one, turned into an art space. I was the first audience. Then I met the people behind the film showing, particularly Jewel Maranan who directed “Tundong Magiliw”. Usually, it’s free but for that event alone, they asked for a fee of P250 which will help fund the students (Jewel included) on their way to a film camp in Berlin (they are probably there as of this writing).

The place could accommodate 20 people. It has some small Zen tables which I mistook at first as chairs. You can order beer and finger food like peanuts and viewing is best enjoyed if you sit on the floor near the wall. People started coming in 10 to 15 minutes later including co-Cinephiles members Nico and Skilty (and I heard, Oggs, too).

Below was their line-up on that Saturday:

Hungkag (Carlo Francisco Manatad) This short film tackles the lives of ordinary people during a not so ordinary night. I guess the idea is to inject fear, particularly on how a peaceful evening can turn into something violent. This is a noir-ish and lighter version of “Amok”, only shorter. I don’t know if that’s really the insight that it wants to partake. I could be wrong. That brings me to my problem with the film. For me, the story is not smoothly told. It’s well directed but it needs to have some ironing out script-wise. Great cast, too. Star-studded for a student film: Jao Mapa, Alwyn Uytingco, Alchris Galura and JM de Guzman (still credited as Juan Miguel de Guzman).

Limang Libo (Ice Idanan) Another short film, it embarks upon the so-called karma between a midwife, her son, a man and his wife who just gave birth. This is what I best like in a short film, to effectively tell a story in a span of minutes. The role may be very tiring for Cherry Pie Picache but she did give her usual best. Strong support, too, from theater actor Paulo Rodriguez. There’s an indie film written by Ricky Lee and directed by Mel Chionglo called “Bente” that theorizes about the life of an average Filipino costing to P20 tops. This short film has the same effect only more powerful and thought provoking.

Tundong Magiliw (Jewel Maranan) It’s a documentary in the purest form possible. It doesn’t mention figures or percentages and no interviews from different sides are seen. I was reminded of Mario Handler's "Aparte" which explores an Uruguayan neighborhood outside the city for a duration of three years. Maranan's film, on the other hand, documents a family living in one of the poor communities in Tondo near Manila Bay. The film opens with the pregnant mother trying to catch a fish then we saw her having a conversation with the kids while waiting for the father. It is pretty much a crusade to show how the day goes by for that family. The highlight of the documentary is when the mother gives birth to her third child. I haven’t seen anything like that before and I won’t be able to forget the images of it for a long time. On top of it all is the anxiety it suggests regarding the future of the newborn. This is indeed the true State of the Nation Address.

Pepe Diokno's "Engkwentro" was originally included in the line-up but "Tundong Magiliw" ended at past 11pm. Since most of the audience already saw it anyway, the film was skipped.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ang Relihiyon ng Sekswalidad

Next Fall
Produksyon: Repertory Philippines
Direksyon: Audie Gemora
Mandudula: Geoffrey Nauffts
Mga Nagsiganap: Bart Guingona, David Bianco, atbp.


Kuwento ng magkasintahang sina Adam (Bart Guingona) at Luke (David Bianco) ang binagtas ng dula, mula sa kanilang pagkakakilala, pagtatalo sa usaping relihiyon at homosexuality at ang kinahinatnan ng kanilang relasyon. Ang kanilang pagsasama ay nasaksihan ng mga tao sa paligid nila katulad ng kaopisina at kaibigan ni Adam na si Holly (Liesl Batucan), ang best friend ni Luke na si Brandon (Niccolo Manahan) at ang mga magulang ni Luke (Miguel Faustman at Juno Henares).


Ang malaking share ng dula ay ginugol sa argumento tungkol sa kabadingan at kung isa itong kasalanan na kailangang ihingi ng basbas mula sa Diyos. Nagkataon kasi na isang devout Roman Catholic si Luke samantalang free spirted naman si Adam. Interesting ang argument, sa totoo lang. At least, na-justify nito ‘yung paggamit ng gay relationship at hindi masasabing gimik lang o nagpapakakontrobersyal. Sa ganitong perspektibo tumakbo ang dula, kasabay ng isang extensive na pagtingin sa umpisa at dulo ng isang relasyon na patuloy na umaani ng pagtanggap sa isang “moral” society (sa dula, ito ay ang mga magulang ni Luke, partikular ang kanyang ama). ‘Yun nga lang, hindi nasagot sa dulo kung ano talaga ang relihiyon ng sekswalidad. Sinabi lang na hindi na ito mahalaga, na may mga bagay na mas binibigyan dapat ng pansin sa isang pagsasama. Hindi na importante kung sino ang mas tama ang pananaw basta’t nariyan sa tabi ang isang minamahal.

Na-remind ako ng mga unang Repertory plays na napanood ko n’ung mid-90’s. Mula sa set hanggang sa pagiging competent ng mga aktor na kasali rito. Isa sa mga trusted actors si Bart Guingona at gustung gusto ko ‘yung take n’ya r’un sa character. May impression ako na marami silang similarities ng karakter pagdating sa pagsuong sa mga convention at irregularity. Naalala ko dati ‘yung pagiging vocal n’ya sa pag-ayaw sa idea na isagawa ang “Miss Saigon” sa CCP na lumabas pa sa isang local na production ng “Fire Water Woman” bilang isang pagwewelga. Mahusay rin naman si David Bianco. At home s’ya sa kanyang karakter kahit na minsan ay mukhang calculated at “directed” ang kanyang mga galaw. Syempre, bonus na lang na hanggang ngayon ay present pa rin sina Miguel Faustman at Liesl Batucan (na parehong magaling at nakakadagdag ng confidence para sa mga manonood). Gusto ko rin ang pagkakadirek ni Audie Gemora rito. Challenging ‘yung period na tinahak ng dula. May pagkapelikula kasi ang stretch ng kwento pero nagawa n’yang stagey pa rin ito.


May dating sa akin na parang nagpapaka-thought provoking ‘yung dula at nailatag naman ito nang maayos. ‘Yun nga lang, hindi talaga nasagot at hindi talaga ito pumanig. Sa kabilang dako, hindi na ito masyadong mahalaga. Tingnan na lang ang dula sa paraang inoobserbahan mo ang isang relasyon at kung paano ito lumago at pinatatag ng panahon.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pagdating sa Dulo

Produksyon: ENTerteynment Para sa TAo, Bayan, LAnsangan at DiyOs (ENTABLADO)
Direksyon: Alvin Yapan
Mandudula: Alvin Yapan (mula sa orihinal na teksto ni Severino Reyes at ilang paningit na eksena mula sa “La India Elegante” ni El Negrito Amante” ni Francisco Balagtas Balthazar)
Mga Nagsiganap: ENTABLADO ensemble


Isang grupo ng mga performer ng isang komedya sa pangunguna ng direktor na si Colas (Kalil Almonte) ang nag-eensayo, nagmumuni at nagdidiskusyon ng mga bagay-bagay tungkol sa pagtatanghal, pag-ibig at sa paparating na era ng sarswela. Pasulpot-sulpot sa pagitan ang pag-iibigan nina Toming (Tyrone Casumpang) at Menangge/Uban (Mark Legaspi). Ang huling akto ay isang contemporary reimagining ng mga nilatag na usapin mula sa unang akto.


Maraming pwedeng masabi sa dula. Maraming pwedeng magustuhan dito. Una, isang welcoming treat ang mabigyang-buhay sa stage ang ilang dula nina Severino Reyes at Francisco Balthazar. Napaka-rare ng pagkakataon sa lifetime na ito at sa kalakaran ng teatro sa Pinas ang pondohan ang mga ganitong malapit nang mapabilang sa endangered species. Baka nga sa sobrang rare ay halos hindi na natin makuha ang orihinal na hugis nito. Baka meron nang nawala sa paglipas ng panahon.

Ikalawa, may sundot ang aktibong sigaw nito tungkol sa mga bagay na nawawala, ang end of era, ang dulo, ang katapusan ng sining. Ang dalamhati ng direktor sa pagdating ng sarswela, isang uri ng pagtatanghal na mas mabenta sa manonood, ay isang agam-agam na pamilyar sa ating lahat kahit wala sa industriya ng sining. Mga relasyong natatapos, mga mahal sa buhay na pumapanaw, mga end of contract na trabaho, mga kaibigang nangingibang bansa at marami pang ibang pagtatapos na nangangapa sa lungkot. Bagama’t universal ang ganitong tema, may komentaryo rin ito sa local scene, partikular sa pagkitil ng Pinoy teleserye sa cinema. Ini-highlight ito ng kaisipang kahit na ang pelikulang may hubaran na madalas bumebenta sa manonood ay may hangganan din at kaya ring lamunin ng telebisyon.

At ikatlo, napakapersonal ng dula para sa direktor. Or at least, nagmukhang ganito. Hindi ko pa masyadong makuha ang direktang koneksyon ng pagsingit ng mga tauhang sina Menangge/Uban at Toming sa kabuuang statement ng dula pero mukhang may gustong sabihin ang direktor sa pag-ibig at identity. Ang ikatlong akto, na wala na sa realm ng mga literal na teksto ng mga akda nina Reyes ay Balthazar, ay isang matibay na pagpapalawig sa gustong sundutin ng orihinal na may akda. Bilang isang filmmaker din si Alvin Yapan, kitang kita ang kanyang vision at pangamba sa pagmartsa ng buong crew sa isang libingan.

Sa kabilang banda, hindi gan’un kaperpekto ang dula. Baka birthing pains ito para sa isang first time stage play director. Ang wire na nagdudugtong sa video camera at projector, halimbawa, ay hindi gumana. Nabawasan ng konting indayog nang walang lumabas na imahe sa malaking screen pero nakuha ko naman ang pag-simulate sa cinema na hinihingi ng akto. Ang ilang blocking din sa karamihan ng ensemble scene ay medyo sabog. Bumawi na lang sa kahusayan ng cast. Sigurado akong ang mga estudyanteng kasali rito ang susunod na huhubog sa Pinoy theater scene. Tingin ko, pwede nang isabak si Kalil Almonte sa naglalakihang produksyon. Naaliw naman ako sa timing at mga kalkuladong pagkembot ni Jai Jalasco bilang Ichay, gan’un din sa mga gumanap ng Menangge/Uban at Toming. At ang costume na ginamit dito (credited kina Erine David at Yel Devela at sa kanilang deputy na sina Stacey Militante at Therese Tuason), sobrang commendable. Bigyan na ng trabaho ang mga batang ito!


Litaw pa rin ang paggapang ng pagtatanghal pero natabunan naman ito ng malaking komentaryo ng dula tungkol sa kamatayan ng komedya, pelikula o ng sining sa kabuuhan. Paano nga kung tuluyan itong mawala dahil sa taas ng epekto ng konsumerismo? Ano’ng pwedeng pumalit? Ang panonood ng “R.I.P.” ay tila isang pagsilip sa isang kapalaran ng pagkawala, isang suhestiyon ng paggunaw ng mundo kung didiligan at palalaguin. Hindi pa man ito nahahaplos nang ganap, darating ang araw na ang artista, manlilikha o maging ang mga manonood ay dadalo sa isang burol.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Produksyon: Philippine Stagers Foundation (PSF)
Direksyon: Vince Tañada
Mga Mandudula: Jomar Bautista (Kari-Bal), Patrick Libao (Lahug), Glory Ann Nacional (True/Wagas) at Alex Dorola Yasuda (O.L.A.H.)
Mga Nagsiganap: PSF ensemble


Kamukha ng mga nauna sa seryeng ito, binuo ang staging ng apat na maiikling dula. Ang “Kari-Bal” ay tungkol sa mga tsikiting na sina Kari at Bal na madalas magkulitan at mag-away. Sila ay sinubukang pagbatiin ng kanilang ama na isang single dad (o biyudo, hindi ko na matandaan). Ang “Lahug” naman ay isang horror story tungkol sa struggle ng isang aswang na gusto nang magbagong-buhay. Tinalakay naman ng “True/Wagas” ang konsepto ng magpakailanman sa dalawang ligaw na mangingibig. Bilang panghuli, ang “O.L.A.H.” ay isang makulay na alitan ng tatlong magkakapatid na bading (Olgah, Lykah at Asiah Hasang-Hasang) na pawang mga cultural performer sa Japan.


Kung sa pag-arte lang, ambitious ang “Kari-Bal”. Competent naman ang tatlong protagonist dito (Regie Caranyagan, Jerie Sanchez at JP Lopez). Nakakaaliw ‘yung dalawang batang nagpapakabibo sa harap ng kanilang ama (kung ilang taon na ba sila, hindi ko alam). Ang concern ko ay ‘yung paggamit ng sekswalidad ng ama bilang isang peacemaker. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang take dito ng isang batang manonood. Baka isipin nila na ang pag-come out o ang paglabas sa closet ay isang bagay na dapat kaawaan o isang bagay ng pagdadalamhati. Dahil kasi rito, tumahimik ang dalawang bata, niyakap ang ama at nag-iyakan. Maaari namang ang take ay isang agony ang pagtatago at parusa para sa ama ang makukulit na mga bata samantalang ang pag-out ay isang bagay na mapagparaya (mula sa katigasan ng ulo nina Kari at Bal). Hindi lang siguro ito masyadong natumbok ng dula. O, baka merong sikolohikal na statement na nakatago, hindi ko lang agad nakuha.

Kung nagustuhan ko ang horror play n’ung “4C2”, ito naman para sa akin ang weakest para sa “4C3”. Unang una, mas pampelikula ang materyal tungkol sa isang aswang na nais magbagong-buhay. Ang ilagay ito sa isang dula, at sa one-act pa, masyado itong challenging at minsan ay limiting. Maliban d’un sa pagdating ng asawang mortal na isang buntis, na para sa akin ay nagmukhang pinilit (malapit nang manganak pero sumunod pa nang patago sa asawa na umuwi sa probinsya), ayos naman ang plot n’ya. Hindi ko lang talaga ito nakitang pandula. Ang mas malaking chunk, at base sa napanood ko na nagmukhang pinakaimportanteng bahagi ng dula, ay ginugol na sa pananakot sa audience (habulan sa pagitan ng batang aswang at ng kanyang ama). Maganda naman ang execution nito kung ang tili ng mga manonood ang gagawing metro. Ang sa akin lang, mas epektibo ang isang dulang pang-entablado kung hindi idinadaan sa mga ganitong short cut.

Napaka-traditional naman ng execution ng “True/Wagas”. Ganito ‘yung ilang one-act play na nabasa ko n’ung nasa high school ako. Simple, focused at pangdalawahan lang. Gustung gusto ko ang pagka-restrained nito, isang indikasyon na coherent ito sa mga iniisip at nararamdaman ng dalawang karakter na bagama’t pinaglumaan na ng panahon ay nananatiling wagas sa pag-ibig. Medyo may pagka-manipulative ‘yung pagkakaroon ng twist sa dulo, at tingin ko ay gan’un pa rin ang impact sa akin kahit wala ito o kahit sinabi na agad sa umpisa pa lang, pero na-pull off naman. Mahusay ang dalawang lead dito (Vince Tañada at Glory Ann Nacional). Commendable din ang paggamit ng Ilocano language dahil nakadagdag ito ng ilang misteryo o strangeness sa isang bagay na pamilyar na tayo katulad ng pagmamahal na walang kondisyon at walang kamatayan. Ito na siguro ang pinakapaborito kong dula sa dalawang 4C na napanood ko.

At first glance, tila isang workshop exercise para kina Kierwin Larena, Jordan Ladra at Kevin Posadas ang kanilang gay role sa huling dula. Ang requirement ko lang, bago ito mapanood, ay hindi sana matabunan ng “exercise” na ito ang substance ng materyal. Hindi masyadong kwela ang tarayan ng tatlong magkakapatid pero naaliw ako sa content ng mga linya nila na sumundot nang konti sa kalagayan ng Pilipinas. Pwede itong mapagkamaliang iskrip ni Jose Javier Reyes para sa “Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata”. Nakadagdag din ng charm na ang set para sa dulang ito ay merong tatlong malalaking salamin bilang trono ng tatlong bida sa backstage sa isang bar sa Japan. Habang nakaharap ang mga aktor sa audience, tila ang kanilang mga linya ay direktang pananalamin sa estado ng bansa, isang suhestiyon ng pagsipat sa loob mula sa labas.


Hindi pa rin ako sobrang solb sa 4C na ito pero mas superior at edgy ito sa akin kumpara sa una kong napanood. Sa katunayan, sobrang natangay ako ng “True/Wagas” at ang “O.L.A.H.” ay nakapagbukas naman ng ‘sandosenang surpresa. Pakiramdam ko, mas at ease ang PSF sa malalaki at mas challenging na produksyon kamukha ng kanilang musical (kabilang ang paparating na “Joe, the Musical” sa July). Gan’un pa man, isa itong breather at isang pandayan ng versatility dahil nahahasa ang mga Stagers hindi lang sa pagganap kundi pati na rin sa pagsusulat ng dula.
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