It’s all in the story and in the storytelling.
A couple of weeks back, an officemate managed to drag me to a screening of “No Other Woman”. How she was able to do that was… an achievement in itself, considering I have never paid to watch a Star Cinema movie.
In any case, after sitting through the torture that was THAT movie (including the sad realities that Derek Ramsey cannot act to save his life and that Anne Curtis’ lips should be credited separately from the actress—they seem to have a life of their own, quivering every damn time the actress is on screen), I swear to the high heavens that that would be the first and last time I will pay for a Star Cinema movie.
Before I receive flack for being lord knows what, let me just be clear about the fact that I can be totally campy when I want to be—I tremendously enjoyed Zombadings, mind you. I chalk it up to the fact that during college, as a Broadcast Communication major, I was required to expose myself to the commodities that a conglomerate like ABS-CBN spews out—whether it be soap operas, movies, and yes, entertainment news masked as hard news (remember that STD scandal involving a couple of well-known personalities several years back?). I apologize, it must be such exposure that made me develop an averse reaction to crap that I would have to pay for.
So what are the problems with “No Other Woman”? I could nitpick about it all day, but at the end of the day, it boils down to the storytelling. Perhaps I would have appreciated it if I felt the struggle of all the characters (I could only empathize with the wife—and this, I think, is rooted in something that’s deeply personal—no, I haven’t married anyone yet). This is the problem when there are no longer legitimate movie stars—just a bunch of good-looking people cavorting onscreen. While the script itself had stellar moments (“Ang buhay parang Quiapo, maraming magnanakaw!” and “Ano ba ang pagkukulang ko? May kulang ba sa niluto ko?”), the story was something all too expected with melodramas—and trust me, I wonder what people take away from the movie. It seems to me that it condones home-wrecking. Of course, it just had to have that deus ex machina moment when the man has to be maimed in an accident, so he can crawl back to the arms of his wife—who is just all to martyr-ish to accept him once more (sure, there was a dabble in karmic retribution—but really, maybe it’s time for more bitter pills).
I could go on and on and on, but really, I’m not the target market for the crap and a half that Star Cinema spews out. At the end of the day, these movies are made for profit, not because there’s a good story to tell.
I am reminded of the Spanish films that I saw in Pelicula (the Spanish Film Festival) the week before. I saw Habitacion en Roma and Fuera de Carta.
Habitacion en Roma (Room in Rome) is pretty much about the one night stand between a lesbian and a woman engaged to be married but got all too curious. Yes, they spend 92.5% of the film naked inside their room. It’s a bit jarring for audiences used to a film having a plot, but this one was largely character-driven. While the exploration of characters, their histories and motivations, was interesting, I was particularly moved by the cinematography—how it seemed to weave added intricacies to the story, paying attention to minute details, and giving the delicate feel of a woman’s touch.
Meanwhile, Fuera de Carta (Chef’s Special) was actually the Audience’s Choice a couple of years back, and I’m glad to have caught it this time around. It’s about a gay chef obsessed with acquiring a Michelin star and an exploration of his relationships with the people around him as things unravel. It’s a laugh-out-loud type of movie, and I guess this is something that mainstream local filmmakers ought to take on—that there is humor in characters and everyday situations, not in slapstick alone.
See, it’s all in the story and in the storytelling. There are, in fact, a lot of good local films with masterful storytelling. Unfortunately, they’re just shadowed by crap and a halves being spewed by the media conglomerates that only care about profit. (I should really stop ranting before getting in another tussle with another ABS-CBN subsidiary. Harharhar.)