Once inside the cinema by 12:00 PM on January 2, I was sleepy and had to fight my sleepiness until the end of the film “Die Beautiful”. Do I like the film? I don’t know enough film vocabulary to articulate why the film did not meet my expectations. But I realized that I have no idea what those transgenders go through in real life until this film. The fearless head-on fight for transgender definition and existence gave me something to puzzle about: Is Patrick’s (Aka Trisha Echaverria) father the only one feeling weird and hostile toward transgenderism? When does one merely patronize such difference and when does one genuinely acknowledge and accept that there aren’t just two genders? Clearly, this movie had me thinking about my own attitude about transsexuals.
At 3:00 PM, I watched “Babae sa Septic Tank 2 (#forever’snotenough)”. This satire did not make me laugh as much as I expected since the first Babae Sa Septic Tank film in 2012 was so funny. But it made me weigh the extremes – Pop or Indie? What’s wrong with Pop, Uge asks, and there is precisely what’s wrong with it. Nobody asks questions about it is what’s wrong with it. But why poke at pop when Indie isn’t totally innocent of sometimes similar schemes of profit and escapism, although on a lower budget?
There are four characters in this film, representative of film collaboration hierarchy – the actress, the director, the producer, and the line and staff assistant. Who calls the shots? In making movies in the Philippines, the actress isn’t just an actress. And many directors have compromised their visions in exchange for more mainstream jobs and popularity. The visionary director who gains recognition for the quality of her films and who doesn’t want to compromise her vision is asked, for whom really are the awards? Who gains if an Indie gets international recognition while a great number of local moviegoers won’t see it? People forget their problems when they watch their favorite actors act out even dumbly thought out roles. Why should they crave for other than entertainment in the movies? For most of us, that’s the point of going to the movies. What’s wrong with escaping reality for about two hours?
But in fact, the motivation for any formula movie isn’t to meet the problematic’s need for escape, but to ensure maximum profit for the film producer. At the end of this film, the prized actress, who for the whole duration of the film was in a high end spa, was doused with human wastes from a septic tank. The statement is loud and clear – “we’re for the visionary Indie films here” and this statement damns everything, from soap-acting, commercial casting, cliche cinematography, predictable plotting, and profit-driven moviemaking.
Curiously though, in both these films I missed some real laughter and tears. I missed the catharsis.
My best film is the documentary – “Sunday Beauty Queen”. The domestic helper’s beautiful way of coping with loneliness and isolation made me cry for every Filipino family waiting for an OFW relative who is unable to come to occasions of intimate bonding and kinship. I cried for every home broken by the stupid economy.
(As of this writing, I still hope to see ORO and Saving Sally).