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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.

Aug 13, 2018

What We'll Remember The Most Among The Entries Of The Recent Cinemalaya Filmfest

TODAY IS THE last day of Cinemalaya and here are some of the lasting impressions its entries leave with us. Former child star Therese Malvar shines in two totally different roles: as the college student who harbors ill feelings against her lesbian mom in “Distance” and as the jaded teenager who offers blowjobs to passersbys in “School Service”. Therese is so good in her confrontation scene with her mom in the former and in the scene where Ai Ai de las Alas reprimands her for brazenly selling her body in the latter.

We have a hard time watching the over the top cruelty inflicted to the child actors in “School Service”, particularly the child actress who played Maya. She’s repeatedly hit on the head and insulted all throughout the movie. The other kids are made to deliver offensive lines like “nakita ko ang titi mo”, “blowjob, P50 lang”. We’re really curious if a psychologist was on hand to debrief them after the shooting.

Joel Lamangan’s no hesitation, no shame scene undressing to show off his “curvaceous” body after killing his lover in “School Service”.

Lesbian and gay characters are properly represented: Iza Calzado and her lover Max Eigenmann, her daughter Therese Malvar and Therese’s own love interest Adrianna So in “Distance”. Andres Vasquez as the gay killer ion “The Lookout”, where sodomy scenes are so rampant (even Rez Cortez was sodomized). Ketchup Eusebio as the gay teacher in “Mamang”, Joel Lamangan as the gay older brother in “School Service”.

New actors who somehow make quite an impression in their respective films: Tony Labrusca in “ML”, Kevin Sagra in “School Service” and Andres Vasquez in “The Lookout”. May these entries help them get meatier assignments.

We wish the script of “Liway” was better written like many other films about prisoners in detention camps that really capture our sympathy. Glaiza de Castro and Dominic Roco play rebels who stayed in the mountains and inside their prison camp for political prisoners for so long, but they still look so clean, smooth and unscathed, as if they’re having facials everyday inside the camp. Someone should have also supervised the blouses that Glaiza wore, specially her printed and floral outfits when simple shirts or dusters would be more believable for an amazon who fought the government underground. The boy who played their son is quite a good actor, but sadly, not for a moment would you believe that he is the son of both his fairly goodlooking parents.

Yayo Aguila is subjected to so many indignities in “The Lookout”. She was battered by her common law husband, Alvin Fortuna, several times, hitting her several times until she falls on the ground. Her head is repeatedly banged on the wall and she gets blind. And he even sodomizes her and forces her to sell her children. Inspite of all these abuses, though, she never learns her lesson and continues on living with the same man. Our heart also goes out to the so many actors and actresses who agreed to do nude scenes in this movie, some of which were very exploitative.

The excessive scenes of violence in “ML”. Eddie Garcia is very effective as the deranged colonel who tortures his teenage victims, but we cannot take that cringe-inducing scene where he inserts a bottle into the vagina of teen star Lianne Valentin, even if they’re just using a double for her in that repulsive scene.

Celeste Legaspi and Ketchup Eusebio do seem adequate in their roles in “Mamang”, but we can’t help but imagine how much better “Mamang” would have been if the original choices for the role, Gloria Romero and Roderick Paulate, played the part of the mother suffering from dementia and the gay son who’s looking after her.

Noni Buencamino as the very patient, very forgiving martyr husband of an unfaithful wife in “Distance”. His acting reminds us of Rosa Mia’s mater dolorosa roles in Sampaguita Pictures dramas.

Ogie Alcasid tries to be likeable as “Kuya Wes” but, sorry, the character he plays is a loser (about this, you can ask his previous little girl persona, Angelina) and we don’t enjoy movies about losers. How can we care for someone who falls in love with Ina Raymundo who’s already married with kids? When Ina and his parasitic brother dupe him, Kuya Wes can only blame himself for being such a doormat. We want characters we can really care for.

Another movie with a lead character we don’t care for is “Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon”. Who cares about a philandering husband who’s about to die? We don’t sympathize with Bene (Dante Rivero) at all and, sa totoo lang, inip na inip nga kami at gusto na namin siyang mamatay agad para matapos na ang nakababagot na pelikula. Truth to tell, the stories of their kids, Romnick Sarmenta and Che Ramos, seem more engaging but these are not pursued.

We like it that four movies feature very talented child actors: “School Service”, “Pan de Salawal” , “Liway” and “Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma”. The last movie has such beautiful visuals but the story telling is such a big bore that it lulled us to sleep a couple of times.

We’re also glad that there several movies featured old people playing senior characters, Perla Bautista and company in “Dapithapon”, Eddie Garcia who’s bloodcurdlingly effective as the demented colonel living by himself in “ML”, Bodgie Pascua as Sal in “Pan de Salawal” and Joe Gruta in “School Service.” Take note that there are other movies outside of Cinemalaya that also features old people, like Nova Villa in “Miss Granny” and Gloria and Eddie in “Rainbow Sunset”.