On 'Hercules' (1997)

Disney’s Hercules begins with a quintet of Muses singing about the origin of the cosmos and calling this tale “the gospel truth.” The phrase is repeated all throughout the opening anthem — an interesting use of Judeo-Christian jargon, as if hinged on the popular misconception that Greek and Roman myths are akin to ancient religion.

The movie is peppered with similar familiar tropes. As the film progresses, it becomes more apparent how Disney traverses the predictable route. Instead of craftily unknotting the intricacies of the legend of Heracles, Disney dilutes a celebrated story and streamlines it into an easily marketable, family-oriented flick.

Classical myth does not necessarily constitute religion, yet these two concepts are still commonly interlinked. The shared jargon alone (e.g. “gods,” “temples”) makes it easy for people to associate them with each other, rendering religion a convenient template to use when retelling ancient myths.

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On ‘Indak’ (2019)

“We don’t want to be a copycat of Step Up,” director Paul Alexei Basinilio was quoted saying during a VIVA Convention prior to Indak’s release. “If you noticed in the baybayin translation…that’s indak. We specifically wrote this because we wanted to promote Filipino culture.”

Basinilio presented an interesting causality — to use baybayin is to promote Filipino culture — and some would argue that this was a rather misinformed reach.

Baybayin is just one of the many ancient scripts in the Philippines and it was mainly used by the Tagalogs*. To imply that baybayin is representative of an entire nation therefore reveals a seeming obliviousness to certain nuances surrounding the discourse on Filipino culture. Even using the phrase “Filipino culture” alone already invites further discussion; it suggests the existence of a monolithic (read: singular) identity which may not be true for a country as widely diverse as the Philippines.

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On Sid & Aya (Not a Love Story)

It is precisely the parenthetical reminder in the title that compels me to pay closer attention to Irene Villamor’s Sid & Aya (Not A Love Story). The textual framing calls attention to itself. It is gimmicky, sure, but it is also an unveiling of directorial intent and an invitation for the viewers to examine what exactly makes this movie not a love story.

From this examination stems what I deem to be the film’s ambition. Sid & Aya centers on the familiar Rich Boy Poor Girl couple, but it swerves around the typical trajectory from Meet-cute to Happily Ever After. The film instead parses a familiar premise and plays around the tried-and-tested formula of the cross-class romance genre [1].

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MMFF 2018 Trailer Reviews

It’s that time of the year again. It’s Metro Manila Film Festival. Again.

Much has been said about the MMFF. To expound on how shitty and commercialized this festival has become is to just preach to the choir at this point.

But I wonder if this year’s festival would earn just as much as last year’s, considering the failed economic policies that plagued the Philippines in 2018. The enactment of TRAIN Law and the rising inflation have greatly affected the typical MMFF market, and the people with money to spare are too disillusioned (or too high brow) to watch Vice Ganda deliver the same tired jokes over and over again.

(Un)fortunately I don’t have access to any of the Magic 8 movies. Still I watched the trailers and I wrote some notes too.

Now let’s begin the killing. Charot.

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Bedflix and Chill

I had a wisdom tooth removed a few weeks ago, so I also had a fuckton of free time to do absolutely nothing. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t exercise, and I couldn’t go outside lest the world discovers my sore, swollen face worthy of a Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho feature (“Kilalanin natin si Jolens, mga kapuso, ang babaeng diumano kalahati pisngi, kalahati noo!”).

I was stuck in bed the entire time so I plopped the laptop on my chest and did my favorite slacker hobby: I watched movies.

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Pagtoma at Pag-ibig: Mga muni-muni ukol sa I’m Drunk, I Love You

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Nauuso yata ang mga pelikulang lunsaran ng mga personal na danas at hanash ng mga batang direktor. Cinema as self-expression, ika nga, at ang layunin ay ang maantig ang puso ng madla dahil unibersal naman ang tamis at alat at pait ng naunsyaming pag-ibig.

Sa ganitong framework ko nakikita ang I’m Drunk, I Love You ni JP Habac. Hindi kailangan ng extensive research upang mabuo ang kwento nina Carson at Dio, matalik na magkaibigan ngunit palihim na iniibig ng babae ang lalaki.

May sariling vibe ang IDILY kahit gasgas na ang premise nito. May road trip at indie hymns na nakasalansan sa naratibo at may mga eksena ring pang-music video ang hitsura at haba. Cool at hip, pero hindi pretensyoso. Swak ang aesthetics ng pelikula sa panlasa ng target demographic nito: ang nakababatang bahagi ng populasyon na may prebilehiyong tumuntong sa kolehiyo at magwaldas ng pera sa beer.

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On Filipino science fiction

Early this morning I watched the trailer for an upcoming Filipino science fiction movie called Instalado. Directed by Jason Paul Laxamana, the film explores the idea of a future in which knowledge can be purchased and installed on anyone willing to pay the cost. The protagonist is Victor, a young farmer hoping for a better life for his family, and the narrative follows his quest to be an “instalado” or an “insta” despite his limited means.

The film is an entry to TOFARM Film Festival, a two-year old fest that specifically aims to “uplift the farmers [and their] personal development.” Set in a country whose economy is still arguably hinged on agriculture, Instalado boasts of a premise that is both significant and potentially radical.

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