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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 25, 2012

Cinemalaya Movie Review: Kalayaan - Not Viewer Friendly

WE’VE JUST SEEN two Cinemalaya entries that are both not viewer friendly but sleep-inducing exercises in boredom: “Kalayaan” and “Diablo”. “Kalayaan” (translated as “Wildlife”, which is so far in meaning from “Kalayaan”) is written and directed by Adolf Alix, whose “Muli” and “Chassis” we like. It opens with a naked man walking in the dark on the beach. He sees a mermaid, kneels down on the sand and the mermaid gives him a blowjob for about two minutes. Then we see the central character, Macaraeg (Thai actor Ananda Everingham best known for the original version of the horror flick “Shutter”), waking up in his shack in Kota Island in the Spratlys where he’s stationed as a soldier. We see him running, eating, exercising, fishing, cleaning and drying the fish he caught, playing with his pet turtle, then playing with himself while watching a Japanese porn video. For the next 45 minutes, we see him doing these same things repeatedly, while we hear news on his radio about Pres. Erap’s impeachment proceedings.

Then two other soldiers appear, Zanjoe Marudo and Luis Alandy, and finally, we hear people talking on screen. No matter how much they talk to Ananda, he won’t answer, simply because he doesn’t know how to speak Tagalog and it’ll be a problem if Alix would make him deliver Tagalog lines. So he becomes this taciturn non-speaking hero. In fairness to Ananda, he has good screen presence, but this is not enough to sustain a movie.

We keep on hoping something will come up to make the screen goings on more interesting, but nothing. Oh yes, for those interested in the bare backsides of the three actors here, they do have butt exposure in a swimming scene. Other than that, nothing else happens and so, after Zanjoe and Luis played basketball and Ananda still wouldn’t talk, we told ourselves we’ve had enough punishment and walked out.

If Alix’ purpose is to show how tedious life in the island is for these soldiers, we already got the point. We’ve seen movies about solitary heroes in an island, like Tom Hanks in “Castaway”, but they’re not as cumbersome as this one. The main drawback is that we do not invest any emotions in Ananda’s character simply because we don’t know anything about him other than that he wants to masturbate while watching porn. So what happens to him in the end? We don’t know. And we don’t care. The night scenes in this movie is another torturous test for the viewer. Sometimes, everything is so dark you cannot figure out at all what transpires on screen.