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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Movie Digest # 087

Movie Center - Montevideo Shopping, Sala 3D, July 3, 7:00pm

Marc Webb of “(500) Days of Summer” fame did a wonderful job in recalibrating the popular franchise to a younger audience. It felt like it’s targeting the “Twilight” market and it worked massively in that angle. As a popcorn superhero film, it was average for me. I appreciate it when a protagonist endowed with superpowers doesn’t seem invincible, exposing his soft spot that can only be mended and protected with the help of other people. Andrew Garfield is perfect as Peter Parker physically but a toned down script would help him avoid falling in the trap of exerting too much especially in those scenes that require melodrama. Emma Stone just complements her partner’s presence. Their chemistry is definitely one of the guilty pleasures that the film has concocted.

Friends who might appreciate it: Easy to recommend to anybody.

SM Mall of Asia, IMAX, Theater, July 20, 1:25pm

I remember liking Dark Knight and Inception because it’s too serious for its drive regardless if the audience was too receptive of it or not. This latest film from Christopher Nolan tried to soften a bit, bordering to some cheesy storylines and double dead take on human heroism. Set pieces remained sleek though. The chase scenes were enjoyable and the CGI was just flawlessly executed. Tom Hardy did a terrific job as Bane. He’s physically menacing even with his mask on. Hopefully it lives up to its promise as brought up in the epilogue.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who blindedly think that Christopher Nolan is a god.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 5, July 31, 9:55pm

Created in the same campy mold as Chito Roño’s other horror “Feng Shui”, the film gambled on giving Vilma Santos a project that was expected to earn money and provide cheap thrills. I am not sure about the box office returns but it did provide some scares when I saw it. Plot is about a neighborhood who is embroiled in a karma-like situation. The neighbors are having a second lease on life with their own set of illnesses after a life insurance agent’s dad was attended to by a faith healer named Elsa (who happens to be the name of Nora Aunor’s character in the masterpiece “Himala”). It may be low in coming up with a compact and weighty story to connect with but at least it gave its main chunk of meat a good production value and execution. The one involving a Chinese temple is my favorite. I also have to note that Jerrold Tarog did a wonderful job in the editing department. The ending, for instance, did not linger much on the drama and the realizations. Star Cinema also released two versions of the film. One is R18 which contains more gore and the other, to reach to a wider audience (read: more money), R13.

Friends who might appreciate it: Vilmanians, no less.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 5, August 10, 8:50pm

I only saw the first “Step Up” and made it a point to skip its sequels. This time, the installment featured some flash mobs which got me curious. Dances were used as a way to resolve the flimsy conflict on oppression in a Miami neighborhood and, as expected, the good won over evil. There’s nothing much to root for but I enjoyed the sleek dance numbers. Lead stars Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick are both cool with their roles but that’s about it.

Friends who might appreciate it: Followers of the series.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 4, August 10, 11:20pm

The first thing that the franchise got succeeded at was the transition it did from Matt Damon’s original character to Jeremy Renner’s. Tony Gilroy effortlessly closed an old book and opened a new one, brimming with equally plausible characters and engaging action sequences. The extended chase scene alone in Metro Manila is worth the ticket. Then there’s the ever reliable Rachel Weisz and the Filipino cast whose main requierement for me was not to distract. The epilogue was suggesting that a sequel is already under negotiation. There’s this fleeting observation that it was abruptly cut but I liked it as it is.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who participated in the 3-month shoot in Pasay, Binondo, etc.

Market! Market!, Cinema 3, August 11, 2:15pm

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a subversive feminist film. Surprisingly, it’s an animated movie and it’s from Pixar. Let me count the ways. First, it’s a princess movie that doesn’t have a prince charming. Secondly, it’s actually a mother and daughter film and this one’s highlighted with all the male characters that were portrayed as exaggeratedly barbaric. Not to be too biased, the witch was also a woman. Thirdly, the part that turned the mother into a bear was telling something about what’s internal or what’s within regardless of the external appearance. For me, that alone boasted of gender sensitivity and equality. Fourthly, one pivotal task that the female protagonists needed to accomplish involves sewing which is, by custom, attributed as something girly. Lastly, the Stonehenge type structure signifies traditions or beliefs that stood there since time immemorial only to be destroyed by a woman empowered by her newfound strength and love for her family. I can say that this one’s the most memorable and satisfying Pixar films I’ve seen. Hopefully, it would inspire more children to find their own voice and willpower regardless of their sexuality.

Friends who might appreciate it: Everyone.

Waltermart - Makati, Cinema 3, August 18, 2:50pm

It’s made of stuff that I wish to see from Star Cinema. It remains empty but it is more risky compared to their other so-called blockbuster comedies. I won't recommend it because of the association with Eraserheads but at least it gave me an illusion that perfect barkadas do not disband. Kinda teary eyed when “Minsan” was played in a scene when things started to go wrong. The song was prophetic enough for me about the band's break-up when I first heard it. For anything tribute-y, I like the Lynch Hotel part the best. Automatic minus points though for the obligatory chase scene. I can say that Frasco Mortiz is a director to watch out for.

Friends who might appreciate it: At the very least, those who haven’t heard any Eraserheads song yet.

Waltermart - Makati, Cinema 1, August 18, 5:50pm

It’s made of stuff that I hate from Star Cinema. It so happened that at least it got the message across. Definitive Mac C. Alejandre film: shampoo commercial cinematography, crane shots straight from a Sunday musical variety show and the locations, all postcard-friendly. Elmo has the presence but it was Julie Anne who has the acting chops (she's a promising singer after all). As I see it, the film was produced basically for the fans (which I am not) and to earn money (on this one, I am sure, I contributed). I just feel sad for Joel Torre. We almost didn't notice him in The Bourne Legacy and now he's hit in the face by a tweenstar. Nevertheless, he shines in all his scenes, be it melodramatic or not.

Friends who might appreciate it: Worth repeating, Julie – Elmo fans.

SM Megamall, Cinema 8, August 27, 2:10pm

The Doppelganger phenomenon is once again explored in this horror film, just a few weeks after “The Healing” was shown. It’s well thought of and at least, the “double walker” here managed to make love with the one of the male characters. It worked effectively with the quiet moments but very underwhelming with the big ones (death scenes, revelations, etc.). Also, multiple POVs could be effective if it has an anchor that pulls everything together. Good to see new names though on the technicals and some are commendable: photography, production design and musical score. The cast is actually notable, from Lovi Poe to Gina Alajar then Julia Clarete and the newcomer Benjamin Alves.

Friends who might appreciate it: I couldn’t imagine anyone.

Shangri-la Cineplex, Cinema 1, August 27, 4:40pm

Performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep are engaging from start to finish even if the characters are not relatable from my perspective. It’s about an old couple who’s undergoing a marital problem. They ended up seeking the help of a psychologist played by Steve Carell. It’s a simple premise set in a small town. Director David Frankel (“The Devil Wears Prada”, “Marley & Me”, etc.) made it a point to downplay the execution and it worked. I liked it being talky and oftentimes stagey but it remains a Hollywood template for me.

Friends who might appreciate it: Probably those couples who are in the same boat.

Shangri-la Cineplex, Cinema 2, August 27, 7:00pm

I’ve seen this as part of the 6th International Silent Film Festival. It was the only entry I have seen and I am sure that I missed a lot. Radioactive Sago Project provided the live musical score to this 1923 film starring Harold Lloyd as a man who pretended to be making it big in the city just to please his soon-to-be wife. The film, by the way, is best known as having a scene with a man hanging on a giant clock. Live performance aside, it remains a thrilling experience especially for an acrophobic like me.

Friends who might appreciate it: Everyone.

UP Film Institute, Cine Adarna, August 28, 8:00pm

The film reminds me about what a documentary should primary fulfill: to document. On the outer layer, it's about archiving the lost Kundimans through some haranistas gathered from Cavite and Ilocos. With that, audience is then hit on lack of sense of history as some harana pieces are no longer accounted and credited for. Along the way, the documentary shifts to another tune. It becomes a tale of mucisians on the road trying to accomplish a lot of things including helping out a guy court a girl and educating the young ones with what's lost and found again. For the road trip part alone, some raw emotions are captured which highlighted the whole film viewing experience.

Friends who might appreciate it: Every Filipino.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 4, August 29, 7:10pm

A mixed bag for me: OK script for a simple premise, hit-and-miss song numbers, good choreography and a punchline in the last scene that betrays the film being a salute to OPM. If there's one performer who I think is really up for the triple dare of dancing, singing and acting, it has to be Sam Concepcion. His participation in the film just upped the ante and it would be very difficult not co compare him with the other cast members. The funniest part for me was the scene with Eugene Domingo and Ogie Alcasid singing “’Di Na Natuto” though it was also the most off key sounding among the songs (at least for a non-singer like me). But I have to note that the most interesting cameo came from John Lapus who appeared as a drunken videoke bar host. I am not sure if he was really drunk during the shoot but his short display of emotions highlighted a particular subplot. Apo Hiking Society compositions are made more beautiful by the musical. The song in every scene came naturally and just appropriate. Hopefully they allot one screening a day where people can sing along.

Friends who might appreciate it: OPM lovers (and haters).

Glorietta 4, Cinema 5, August 29, 9:40pm

Based on the crowd's reaction, this template horror film worked in most scenes. I liked it being fast paced and the performances from the three leads especially from Angel Aquino are earnest enough. Though the Toppel Lee’s vision is loud and clear, I don't find anything new.

Friends who might appreciate it: Angel Aquino fans.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 1, September 8, 9:25pm

Impressive animation but premise-wise, it's your usual Hollywood fare. I'm not sure if kids would appreciate this film that discusses third eye and the afterlife but it's entertaining nonetheless. The finale was a bit stretched and I didn’t get any redeeming values from it.

Friends who might appreciate it: Adults for sure.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dalawang Mukha ng Kanser

Noli Me Tangere, The Opera
Produksyon: Dulaang UP
Direksyon: Alexander Cortez
Libretto: Guillermo Tolentino (halaw mula sa “Noli Me Tangere” ni Jose Rizal)
Musika: Felipe Padilla de Leon
Mga Nagsiganap: Ivan Niccolo Nery, Myramae Meneses, Jean Judith Javier, atbp.

Produksyon: Gantimpala Theater Foundation
Direksyon: Adriana Agcaoili and Jheyar Caguimbal
Mandudula: Jomar Fleras (halaw mula sa “Noli Me Tangere” ni Jose Rizal)
Mga Nagsiganap: Jay Gonzaga, Cris Pastor, Marj Lorico, atbp.

Ang larawan ay kinuha mula sa

Ang unang unang malaking ambag ng pagsasadulang muli ng opera version ng Noli Me Tangere ng DUP ay ‘yung pagpupugay na binigay nito sa National Artist for Music na si Felipe Padilla de Leon. Aaminin ko na wala s’ya sa aking limitadong bokabularyo. Sa tulong ng playbill, d’un ko lang nalaman na s’ya pala ang kompositor ng mga traditional na Christmas song kamukha ng “Pasko Na Naman”, “Noche Buena” at “Payapang Daigdig”, maliban sa ilang arias at harana pieces na sa pagdaluyong ng panahon ay tuluyang matatambakan ng alikabok. D’un ko rin nalaman na s’ya pala ang founding president ng Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (FILSCAP) na hanggang ngayon ay tumutulong sa pagprotekta ng legal rights. Ang librettist nito, si Guillermo Tolentino, ay isa ring National Artist para naman sa Visual Arts. S’ya lang naman ang gumawa ng seal ng ating republika at s’ya lang din naman ang lumilok ng oblation sa UP. Ang pagsasateksto ng Noli Me Tangere para sa operang ito ay isa lang pagsasalarawan ng kanyang versatility.

Hindi rin ako masyadong well versed sa opera. Bilang pa sa mga daliri ang aking napapanood kaya’t may kasabay na prosesong matuto ang panonood nito. Maliban sa matataas na nota at ang kakaibang display ng pagkanta nito, ang pinaka-glaring na kakaibang experience dito ay ‘yung panonood ng pagtatanghal na kontrolado sa bawat paghampas ng baton ng maestrang si Camille Lopez-Molina na nakaupo sa front row ng Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater. Napansin ko rin na dahil nga siguro opera ito, naka-highlight ang mga solo number ng mga karakter kung saan nagsisiwalat sila ng kani-kanilang agony. Nakabalangkas pa rin naman sa daloy ng mga chapter ng libro ni Jose Rizal ang obra pero mapapansin ang pagbibigay-diin sa mga pasakit na naranasan at naramdaman ng ilang key characters dito kamukha nina Maria Clara at Sisa.

Naniniwala ako na ang dalawang nobela ng ating pambasang bayani ay pawang nasa anyo ng aktibismo. Gusto nitong magising ang sinumang babasa at hindi para ma-enjoy lang ang literary composition nito. N’ung una, ang naisip ko sa adaptation sa isang opera, mas mababahiran ito ng conceit ng pagkasining at matatabunan ang nais nitong ipamulat sa audience. Kung tutuusin, parang walang katapusan ang pagpapagising na gustong gawin ng Noli Me Tangere at El Filibusterismo dahil naririyan pa rin ang mga ulupong na gusto nitong kitilin. Natakot lang ako na baka hindi maantig ang audience at mag-focus ito sa pagka-opera ng materyal. Nagkamali ako. Si Sisa na pinakamalungkot na representasyon ng social ill sa libro ay may kaangkop na vindication na sa mga aria n’ya lumabas ang lahat ng himutok ng bayan. Litaw na litaw ito sa huling bahagi ng opera. Gusto lang sabihin na kasing baliw ni Sisa ang audience o taong bayan, kasing paralitiko n’ya at kasing rupok na basta na lang hinayaang magahasa ng pagmamaltrato.

Bagama’t nagmukhang masikip ang entablado sa stage design ni Gino Gonzales na punung puno ng kawayan, hindi naman ito naging sagabal. Nararapat lang ito sa isang pagtatanghal na hindi naman nangangailangan ng marangyang choreography at ensemble singing. Masarap sa mata ‘yung set, Pinoy na Pinoy ang ambience at hindi kailanman naging agaw-atensyon. Nagamit din nang maayos ang mangilan-ngilang video ni Winter David upang makadagdag ng kinang. Tingin ko, kung meron mang theater group na maingat sa eksaktong paggamit ng audio-visual sa dula, DUP na siguro ‘yun. Hindi ko man mabibigyan ng hustisya ang galing ng mga nagsiganap na Crisostomo Ibarra (Ivan Niccolo Nery), Maria Clara (Myramae Meneses) at Sisa (Jean Judith Javier) dahil wala akong masyadong alam sa opera pero nakarating naman sa akin ang mga pasakit na kanilang pinapasan.

Ang larawan ay kinuha mula sa website na ito

Ang atake naman ng Gantimpala Theater sa straight play adaptation ng Noli Me Tangere ay mas academic at mas konserbatibo ang pagkakabalangkas. Napanood ko na ito noon ng dalawa o tatlong beses (Neil Ryan Sese at Jao Mapa bilang Crisostomo Ibarra) at base sa aking napanood, wala namang binago na madaling mapansin. Na-challenge lang ako sa ideya na panoorin ito sa isang libre at pampublikong tanghalan kamukha ng Concert at the Park Open Air Auditorium sa Luneta. Naisip ko, baka mas angkop itong medium para sa isang akdang umaapila ng aktibismo mula sa mga manonood.

Magkahalo ang likaw ng audience nang ipalabas ang dula. May ilang pamilyang nagpi-picnic na may dala-dalang hapunan na nakaplastik at may ilan ding guro na may bitbit na bag. Nakita ko ring dumaan ang pamosong curator at pro-RH Bill personality na si Carlos Celdran na hila-hila ang dalawa o tatlong aso. Ang ilan naman ay magbabarkada na nais lang masilayan ang mga artistang kasali. Hindi maiiwasang makarinig ng diskusyon at daldalan sa gitna ng palabas. At kahit ako, hindi ko napigilang lumantak ng tsitsirya at softdrink dahil alam kong kasali ito sa experience at baka hindi ko na maranasan sa ibang pagtatanghal. Medyo malamok ang lugar dahil malapit ito sa Chinese Garden (kung hindi ako nagkakamali) pero naghanda naman ako rito sa pagbili ng tigbebenteng Off lotion sa pinakamalapit na tindahan doon. Sa kalaunan ng dula, biglang bumuhos ang ulan at ang karamihan sa mga manonood ay humangos mismo sa stage dahil meron itong bubong samantalang ako ay nanatili sa sementadong upuan ko gamit ang isang maliit na payong. Tuluy-tuloy lang lang palabas.

Sigurado akong nakatawid naman ang nobela ni Jose Rizal at matutuwa ako kung makakapasok ito sa kamalayan ng isang out-of-school youth na hindi man lang umabot ng third year highschool (kung kailan pinag-aaralan ang nobela). May ilang pagkakataon na ‘yung nanay sa likuran ko ay nagbibigay ng konting background sa kanyang mga anak at ito ay isang magandang bagay. May hinala pa rin ako na mahaharang ng pagka-escapist na experience na makapanood ng isang dula (ang kakaibang paggamit ng ilaw, ang magagarbong costume, ang karupukan ni Cris Pastor bilang Maria Clara, ang stage presence ni Jay Gonzaga bilang Crisostomo Ibarra, ang mga hikbi ni Marj Lorico bilang Sisa at ang malaking buwaya) ang panggigising na gustong gawin ng obra pero mabisa na itong simula. ‘Paglabas ng auditorium, makikita ang kumpul-kumpol na taong naglilibang at nagpapalipas ng oras sa tagiliran ng pond na merong laser show. Marami pang puwedeng pukawin si Jose Rizal na sa hindi kalayuan ay nakahimlay at ginaguwardiyahan.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Got a Snow Patrol Concert Shirt

First, let me get this straight. I am not a Snow Patrol fan. It’s more of I just know them. I first listened to them back in 2005 while I was on my second onsite assignment in Belfast. That time, it was the farthest city from Manila that I’ve been to. And it was wintery and sad even with the presence of Pinoy colleagues that eventually became my close friend. We got along with music from the radio, specifically from the car stereo that four or five of us shared on our way to the client’s office just outiside the city. That’s every single work day in a span of three to four months.

I remember Keane. I remember McFly. I remember a duet by Delta Goodrem and Brian McFadden who just turned solo that time and left Westlife for good. Let’s just say that 2005 was the year when I first had the closest encounter with Brit pop. That includes my trivial affiliation with Snow Patrol and the trigger song was probably “Run”.

When I first learned that the band was stopping by in Manila for a one-night concert, I knew it already that I had to see them perform live. Never mind that I am familiar only with a few of their songs that span from 1998 down to 2011. It’s part of the Fallen Empires tour anyway. I just had to familiarize myself with the latest album to avoid being a vegetable for the duration of the concert.

Three days before their concert last August, there was a heavy monsoon rain that paralyzed some of the streets in the metro. Smashing Pumpkins was also scheduled for a concert two days prior to Snow Patrol’s but it was reset the day after just to pacify the mood of those affected by the calamity, not to mention the safety for those who were still willing to brave the rain.

The weather cooperated just in time for the Snow Patrol concert. Though it wasn’t raining during the day, it was gloomy. I reached the venue by MRT an hour early. I got in and bumped into The Richard Bolisay again with two girl friends while I was about to get some food. I then explored the souvenir booth. That time, I only had P600 in my wallet and I wanted to buy the shirt badly for P800 each. They didn’t have options for credit card transactions and worse, for the record, there’s no ATM inside the venue. When I was about to get out to withdraw money, I was warned that I can no longer come in. Obviously, I don’t frequent the coliseum as I am not familiar with the said inconvenience. I tried calling Chard but he can’t be reached, not to mention that the Globe signal was very weak. Where was I again? Oh, Smart – Araneta Coliseum.

Out of nowhere, I saw an ex-officemate with a very prominent last name. She was alone that time and we were on the same seat section. I had no choice but to share my dilemma. Without blinking, I asked if I could borrow money from her and she obliged without questions. We then exchanged numbers, primarily to keep in touch on how I could pay her up. She joined me back to the booth and even suggested the shirt design to choose. Since it was the last piece for my size, I grabbed it.

Some of the songs performed that night, as expected, were from the Fallen Empires album. It had been a favorite playlist for a few days already so I wasn’t that lost. A remix of “Berlin” opened the show and I recall them performing “In the End”, “This Isn’t Everything You Are”, “New York” and “Called Out in the Dark” among others. They also did some old hits like “Run” and “Chasing Cars” which became more popular when it was used in the love scene in the Star Cinema film “The Mistress”. My favorite track from the album is the upbeat “The Symphony” but it wasn’t included in the setlist that night.

Crowd was consistently ecstatic. I was surprised actually that they can fill the coliseum given the weather condition. Lead vocalist Gary Lightbody made it a point to interact with the concertgoers as if the band has been to the country before. He even sympathized with those affected by the flood and dedicated a sincere rendition of “Life-ning”. The song, by the way, enumerates things that matter in life like “a hand upon my forehead, the joke and the laugh, walking up in your arms, a place to call my own”.

The rain finally poured right after the concert. It was an ordeal getting a cab from the nearest building that looks like a call center hub. I decided to just go to EDSA with a tiny umbrella at hand and joined the crowd in waiting for a bus on the southbound lane. A taxi came after a few minutes and I hailed it. Never mind that my shoes were all damp as long as the newly bought concert shirt was dry as a bone.

The rest of the pics here and videos here and here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ely Buendia Once Performed His Greatest Hits and I Was There

About two months ago, music enthusiasts flocked to Hardrock Café in Makati to witness Ely Buendia perform his greatest hits. The long queue was a bit intimidating. I was so sure that I didn’t know all of Ely’s songs, especially those outside the Eraserheads radar, and the crowd would just eat me wholly everytime I miss the lyrics.

Three weeks prior, I was in Montevideo when I heard about the gig. Ely was basically asking for some help from everyone to raise fund for A. Mabini Youth Center. It’s just a small show, meaning no Ticketworld reservation whatsoever. The how-to’s include emailing a certain Benjamin (who’s very nice based on the email exchange), waiting for a confirmation, depositing the payment and emailing the scanned copy of the transaction slip. Not in any bank but just Union Bank. In short, for my case, I had to ask some apartment folks a big favor to have the whole thing settled for me.

I remember being in the area at 7pm past. Part of the instructions from Benjamin was to redeem the ticket at the entrance by presenting the confirmation in PDF form. This one went well, if not sidetracked by the souvenir shirts and posters lying on the table. Chard (the Richard Bolisay) came (more of arrived because he’s The Richard Bolisay, there’s a noble difference) after 30 minutes. Since we were informed that the show will start as late as 10pm, we decided to proceed to Food Choices which is on the other side of Glorietta to have some dinner.

When done with the food and right before we bashed another film buff, I got a text from Trish that the gig has started already. It was only 9:15pm. We hurried back to Hardrock in denial that we’ve probably missed a song or two. I felt sorry for Chard and more importantly, I felt sorry for the fan in me. I mean, that was Ely Buendia singing his greatest hits in a venue that is not Saguijo, with a quartet-esque accompaniment and wearing a Hogwarts-like, preppy suit. How could I possibly abandon the very first part of the experience?

The moment I caught him sing his third song, “Maling Akala”, I knew I had forgiven myself. Hopefully, it was the same for Chard. As expected, the resto-bar was packed. We stayed close to the wall just opposite the mini-stage and tried our luck from there to fit in the crowd. That part was easy but the iPads used as a camera, that’s another story. “Huwag Mo Nang Itanong” was just right on cue.

Trish said that we missed “Alapaap” and “Ligaya”. The consolation is that at least I had the chance to catch the rest of the excellent playlist like “Magasin”, “With a Smile”, “Light Years” and “Fill Her” in a set-up that is far from his other small gigs. It was still intimate though. There was supposed to be a gap between two sets but Ely just sang (and played a guitar) a medley of his hits that included “Trip to Jerusalem” plus other songs that either I can’t remember or I didn’t know the title. “Tindahan ni Aling Nena” was given a fresh kick and it was a delight to hear such a masa song in a sosy place. The touches of harmonica for the “Pare Ko” number gave an equally entertaining nostalgia but it was “Huwag Kang Matakot” that reaffirmed why I braved the sucky ticketing procedures and why I easily moved on after missing the opening song. Ely, by the way, looked transparently happy all through out and that’s the most important thing.

He capped the short but sweet gig with “Tikman”. Though fans were still clamoring for more, we ended up heading to the bar area and redeemed our share of iced tea. Beer was an option but it was unusually busy that time so we only grabbed what was the easiest to grab. Trish and I caught up after the instant mosh pit was cleared. Chard introduced CJ de Silva to us and what followed was a brief photo opportunity. Trish was with Jeff whom I will always remember as a guy who has a tattoo of Ely Buendia’s signature on his left arm.

The rest of the pics here plus a video of Magasin here and With a Smile here.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Mga Endangered Species

Ang Tagak
Produksyon: Dulaang UP
Direksyon: Tony Mabesa
Mandudula: Rolando Tinio (halaw mula sa “The Seagull” ni Anton Chekhov)
Mga Nagsiganap: Frances Makil-Ignacio, Carlo Tarobal, Nadine Samonte, Menggie Cobarrubias, atbp.

Matapos ko itong mapanood, nagkaroon ako ng impression na galit sa probinsya si Chekhov. Hindi ko masyadong matandaan kung ilang dula na n’ya ang napanood ko pero ang huling dalawang malinaw pa sa hinagap ko (“Three Sisters” ‘yung isa) ay parehong nagtanim ng komentaryo sa desolation na bugso ng pagkakalayo sa siyudad. O, baka nangangailang hukayin ang historical background n’ung panahong isinulat ito upang lubos na maintindihan ang punto. Para sa akin na lumaki sa probinsya at unang nanirahan sa siyudad n’ung nakatapak lang sa college, hindi ko masyadong maisiping ang sarili sa melancholia na nais nitong ibulalas. Ang iniisip ko sa probinsya ay pamilya, tahanan, kaibigan, kamuwangan at ilang mumunting alaala ng paglago at pagkabigo.

Maraming karakter ang dula pero halos umiinog ito sa apat na pangunahing tauhan. Ang artistang si Irina Arkadina (Frances Makil-Ignacio) ay ina ni Konstantin Treplev (Carlo Tarobal) na ang kasintahang si Nina (Nadine Samonte) ay umiibig sa nobelistang si Boris Tagurin (Menggie Cobarrubias) na kasintahan naman ni Irina Arkadina. Bagama’t madaling susugin ang apat na karakter sa isang larong musical chairs, hindi ito nakahimpil dito. Tungkol din ito sa mga taong namumuhay (o nagbabakasyon) sa probinsya, tungkol sa iba’t ibang porma ng sining, tungkol sa end of era at tungkol sa pagkalugmok bunga ng pagkasawi sa pag-ibig.

Merong apat na akto ang dula at kung susuriin, ang lahat ng mga importanteng kaganapan dito ay nangyari na hindi pinapakita sa audience: ang pamumulaklak ng pagsasama nina Irina Arkadina at Boris Tagurin, ang pagkabuntis ni Nina at ang pag-iwan sa kanya ng nobelista at ang ilang pagsuko ni Konstantin sa depresyon. Ang kahusayan ni Chekhov (na sinang-ayunan ng translation ni Rolando Tinio), hindi n’ya ito lahat ipinapakuwento sa kanyang mga tauhan. Idinadaan n’ya ito sa mga reaksyon at metaphor na parang wala naman talagang nawala sa mensahe nito sa mga manonood. Nandoon pero wala naman talaga. Hindi makita pero merong nakakarating.

Ang pagkamatay ng tagak sa ikalawang akto, halimbawa, ay napakarami nang gustong sabihin. Inalay ni Konstantin ang hayop kay Nina. Maaari itong tumukoy sa isang panatag at magandang bagay kamukha ng pag-ibig na hindi na kailanman masusuklian. Puwede rin na ang gustong sabihin ay ang pagkamatay ng sining sa pagdating ng bagong era. Puwede ring pagkamatay ng moralidad sa kabila ng nirerespetong pagtingin sa kahusayan sa pagsusulat ng nobelistang si Boris Tagurin.

Napaka-classic ng pagkaka-envision ni Tony Mabesa sa materyal. Hinubaran ito ng kung anu-anong palabok at palamuti. Wala itong audio-visual gimmick, walang deconstruction at walang anumang bahid ng kanyang opinyon sa content nito. Maging ang blocking ay napaka-old school. Kalkulado at balanse ang focus ng sinumang nagsasalita at ang stage design ay kailanman hindi naging agaw-atensyon. Sa mundo ng Philippine theater na sagana sa reimagining ng kung sinu-sinong Ponsyo Pilato, ang produksyong ito ng DUP ay maihahanay sa mga endangered species. Isang paalala lang din na ang staging ng kahit anupamang inaagiw nang materyal ay nananatiling sariwa sa mundo ng teatro.

Wala akong masabi sa cast dito. Umasa talaga ako na wala akong masasabi sa kanila dahil Tony Mabesa ito. Nang matapos ang dula, tinanong ko si Miss Frances kung nacha-challenge pa ba s’ya sa mga gan’ung role (diva, artista, nanay). Mabilis s’yang sumagot ng “Oo naman!” Sinabi n’yang mahirap daw sabihin sa sarili ‘yung maging sariwa at batang bata. Napangiti ako. Matagal-tagal bago ko makalimutan ‘yung kanyang reaction sa isang eksena bago magwakas. Naka-deliver din para sa akin si Nadine Samonte. May hinihinging pagka-newby ang mga unang eksena ni Nina na n’ung una ay nahihirapan akong basahin kung nangangapa lang ba talaga ang TV actress o deliberate. Nasagot ang tanong ko r’un sa eksenang tila nilamon na s’ya ng panahon sa may parteng dulo. Gusto ko rin ‘yung pagka-unpredictability sa linya ni Carlo Tarobal (ngayon ko lang yata s’ya napanood). Meron akong pakiramdam na parang makakalimutan n’ya ang linya pero mukhang gan’un lang talaga ang kanyang estilo. Nakamalas ako ng ganitong delivery kay Jao Mapa n’ung ginawa n’ya ang “Kanser” para sa Gantimpala Theater Foundation.

Kung meron pang pagkakataon, panoorin n’yo ang “Ang Tagak” sa dalawang dahilan. Una, para sa akademikong rason, upang maintindihan ang tinta ni Chekhov at upang masilip ang bahagi ng kanyang sensibilidad. Ikalawa at tingin ko ay kasing importante ng nauna, darating ang araw na mawawala na ang mga ganitong disiplina ng pagtatanghal. Kamukha ng pagpanaw ng ibon sa dula, baka lumisan na rin ang puting puting kagandahan nito. Hindi man natin lubusang masagip, kahit papaano ay nabiyayaan tayo ng pagkakataon na mamalas ang mapayapang pamamasyal nito sa lawa.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Ang SONA ng Philippine Theater

Le Praning Du Sining
Produksyon: AB Production Design and AB Technical Theater Programs (DLSU/CSB)
Direksyon: George de Jesus III
Mandudula: George de Jesus III (halaw mula sa “Le Malade Imaginaire” ni Moliere)
Mga Nagsiganap: Joel Saracho, Reuben Uy, Stella Cañete, Martha Comia, Issa Litton, atbp.

Dalawang dula ang nagpapalitan ng schedule para sa produksyon na ito. Una, ang orihinal na “Le Malade Imaginaire” ni Moliere na isinalin ni Charles Heron Wall sa Ingles. Ang ikalawa ay deconstruction naman ng materyal na isinulat ng direktor-mandudula na si George de Jesus III. Ang una, ayon sa program, ay nasa klasikong porma samantalang ang ikalawa, ang napanood ko, ay isang ekstensibong opinyon sa kung ano talaga ang gist ng imaginary invalid.

Hindi ko pa (yata) napapanood ang kahit na anong bersyon ng obrang ito ni Moliere. At hindi masyadong nakatulong na ang ang halaw ni G. de Jesus ay iba ang piniling direksyon. Kung ang orihinal na teksto, ayon pa rin sa program, ay tungkol sa isang matandang maysakit (Argan) na ikinumpromiso ang sariling anak na babae (Angelique) sa isang nakababagot na doktor (Thomas Diafoirus), ang adaptation naman ay nagkuwento ng dilemma ng isang artistic director na si Arman (Joel Saracho) na kumbinsido sa sarili sa pagkuha ng isang pamosong showbiz personality at indie actor para sa ikaiingay ng isang nalalapit na produksyon.

Malinaw naman ang koneksyon: integrity. Isa itong sundot sa kahinaan bilang tao, partikular sa mabilisang pagbulusok ng paniniwala (moral o kung anuman) para lang maisalba ang sarili o ang majority. Nagkataon na nasa ibang pedestal kapag sining na ang nakataya, kumpara sa, halimbawa, kahit anong propesyon na merong eksakto at siyentipikong panukat. Sinasabi natin na ang art ay expression ng sarili at kaluluwa, hindi ng sarili na namuhunan lang sa isang pagkakadalubhasa. Ibang usapan kung isang traffic enforcer ang nakipagkumpromiso sa isang violator o isang government official ang nagmamaniobra pailalim at kung isang artistic director ang bulag na luluhod sa demand ng takilya.

Mabuti na lang at ang kaluluwa ni Arman ay pinagtulungang isalba ng kanyang stage manager na si Toni (Stella Cañete), ang playwright na si Angeli (Martha Comia) at ang dramaturg na si Ver (Reuben Uy). ‘Yun nga lang, mahirap talagang kalabanin ang kalam ng sikmura. Hindi rin nakatulong na ang isang flamboyant at beteranong aktress (Issa Litton) ay patuloy na nagpapaalala na ang integrity ay matagal nang pilay dahil patuloy pa rin itong gumaganap sa mga papel na hindi na naaayon sa edad nito.

Nang naisalang na ang balangkas, marami pang sinambit na komentaryo ang dula bilang pagpapalawig ng tema nitong artistic integrity. At dito ako nag-umpisang magandahan sa adaptation. Lahat ay nakatago sa speaking lines na pumupukol sa ills ng Philippine theater. Madaling mawala sa range ng panahon at content nito pero siguradong ang bawat isa sa audience na merong malasakit sa teatro ay madali lang itong makukuha. Maliban sa kumpromiso sa paggamit ng mga sikat na artista (na hindi natin alam kung para sa takilya o para magsilbing awareness sa art o training sa isang baguhan), bumanggit din ito ng ilang award-giving body sa teatro na barometro ng pagkasining at ilang mga pangalan sa industriya na huwaran sa ideyalismo. Minsan ay halos hindi magkamayaw ang mga suhestiyon at opinyon sa dula habang si G. de Jesus ay nakaupo lang kasama ng audience at nakikitawa sa bawat kibot ng eksena.

Si Salvador Dali ang naisip kong inspirasyon ng stage design. Makulay ito, abstract at halos hindi gumagalaw maliban sa pagsingit-singit ng ilang maliliit na props. Ang costume ay wala ring kasing loud na tila karagdagang suporta sa isang mahabang editorial na ipinamalas ng dula. All in all, masarap tingnan ang set. Sa mga gumanap, banayad ang atake ni Joel Saracho sa karakter. Wala itong pasabog pero alam mong nasa crossfire s’ya ng mga nag-uumpugang prinsipyo. Mahusay naman ang mga suporta pero walang masyadong moment para sa kanila dahil malinaw na ang focus ay nasa statement. May ilang breather na song and dance number na medyo nakaka-turn off dahil sa pagka-amateur nito pero naiintindihan ko na ang palabas ay isang student project.

Nakakalungkot na aalog-alog kami sa teatro ng De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Design Arts nang ipalabas ito. Marami itong gustong ibahagi na obserbasyon sa kalagayan ng theater scene. Nangangailangan ito ng mas maraming audience. Pero ‘yun nga, ang absence pa lang ng mga manonood ay isa nang statement mismo.
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