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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.

Nov 20, 2013

Islands Review: A Test Of Patience That Will Cater To A Very Limited Market

‘ISLANDS’, an entry in Cinema One Filmfest, is an exercise in boredom that will test the ordinary viewer’s patience. We say ordinary because it might appeal to a very limited market of viewers with very looong attention spans and enjoy scenes that are extended on and on. But for us ordinary viewers who are used to the remote control, this is certainly sleep-inducing.

It opens with a male character reading a long letter in Visayan (turns out to be Luis Alandy as a tribesman), then Meryll Soriano answers in an equally long letter also in Visayan. It goes on and on then we see Marita Zobel lying in bed, not moving at all. After an interminably long period of just lying there, she moves and gets up, taking her sweet sweet time. Her daughter Irma Adlawan comes to visit her.

Then we see Benjamin Alves as an astronaut alone in his spacecraft exercising. Then we return to Marita Zobel and Irma Adlawan to what’s basically a reprise of their earlier scene, with some changes here and there. Then we go back to Luis Alandy, then to Benjamin Alves. By this time, more than 30 minutes have passed and still nothing much is happening. We know patience is a virtue but sorry, our patience has been tested and it’s been found wanting. At this point, my friends and I who’re watching the movie decided to just have dinner as we’ve had enough of what’s going on (or the lack of it) on screen.

Someone later told us the movie is about love. Well, we already know that the greatest thing you’ll ever know is to love and be loved in return. It was in a movie by Baz Luhrman, “Moulin Rouge”, that didn’t take forever to convey that.

About the winners in Cinema One Filmfest, it’s obvious that they give more importance to form rather than content among their entries. The films that won big time, like“Alamat ni China Doll”, “Riddles of My Homecoming” and “Bukas na Lang Sapagkat Gabi Na”, are all difficult to sit through. Just like “Islands”, they’re a test of patience and will cater to a limited market of viewers with indie sensibilities. Sometimes, the scenes don’t seem to make sense and not cohesive. But Cinema One head Ronald Arguelles justifies them, saying it’s all part of the film language. Ronald does not favour films that he calls old school, like“Sonata”, which we like but which he says is “luma na”. Oh well, to each his own. We have to respect each other’s preferences. But still and all, we prefer a movie that is more viewer-friendly, rather than the award-winning entries in this year’s Cinema One that are really difficult to sit through.