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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.

Sep 20, 2023



‘VIDEO CITY’ is, more than anything else, a tribute to local Cinema, paying homage to Viva movies like “Bituing Walang Ningning”, “Maging Sino Ka Man”, “Palabra de Honor” and to top actresses Sharon Cuneta, Maricel Soriano and Lorna Tolentino. 

It’s also a homage to Viva directors like Roman Perez Jr., Victor Villanueva, etc. who make cameo appearances in the movie. 

And of course, it is also a nod to nostalgia when feature films are available on VHS format and can be rented in outlets like Video City that are now a thing of the past. 

Even the theme song they selected, “Sa Tuwing Umuulan”, comes from a hit Robin Padilla-Regine Velasquez movie made by Viva, “Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw”.

The central character is Han (Ruru), a film student who feels lonely and world weary. He is supposed to complete his film thesis but he lacks the inspiration to do it.

His depression stems from his mom's being an invalid, Anita Pena (Suzette Ranillo), when she used to be an award-winning director noted for her epic black and white works ala-Lav Diaz.

Once, Hans chances upon a VHS rewinder in an old internet store and when he presses it, he is suddenly transported to 1995, inside a Video City outlet where he meets Ningning (Yassi Pressman), a store attendant who wouldn’t believe him when he says he is from the future.

He keeps returning to the past with the help of the magical rewinder and he, expectedly, falls in love with Ningning, who eventually believes he’s really a stranger from the future. But how can their love affair prosper when they come from two different time frames?

The film comes hot on the heels of “Love You Long Time”, an entry in the MM summer filmfest last April about two young people from different time periods who get connected through an old cellphone. 

The characters in “Video City” are better developed, although the storytelling is a bit slow at the start. Yassi is an aspiring actress who eventually helps in perking up the melancholic Ruru. 

She gives him the inspiration he needs to finish his film thesis and makes him want to consummate their relationship even if they actually have a huge age gap between them. 

Those who nitpick will no doubt have a lot of questions about some details in the way the story is told.

The movie could have ended in that scene where Ruru saves Yassi from riding on a ferry boat that, he happens to know in advance, would sink.

But it goes on and on, with Ruru trying his best to locate Yassi’s whereabouts in 2023.

So the story goes up to the present time when Ruru is invited to attend a film screening for the film’s obligatory happy ending. 

We like it that when the lovers finally meet again, Director Raynier Brizeula did not show them rushing to each other to hug or kiss. They just stare at one another, with tears of happiness welling from their eyes.

Suffice it to say that hopeless romantics will not be disappointed, but what really carries the movie through are its stars who are both oozing with a lot of charm. 

Both Ruru and Yassi excel in their light moments and even more so in the dramatic ones where they both shed tears so effortlessly. 

Also a stand out is Suzette Ranillo as Ruru’s mom. All throughout the film, she is disabled and just shown sitting on her wheelchair. 

But there is a flashback sequence where Ruru, while in the past, meets her mom in a convocation focused on her films and she delivers a very inspiring talk on how to bounce back when you are feeling low, just rewind yourself then play it back again.

Suzette is so splendid and competent in that scene we wish Viva would give her more acting assignments in the future.