Christmas season in would not be complete without the movies. And by that, I mean the movies being shown at the annual film festival held at this time of year, the Metro Manila Film Festival or MMFF.
First launched in 1975, the MMFF was an occasion where local filmmakers get to release films without having to worry about competition from foreign films during the Christmas season, something that has been an object of irritation among some cinephiles who are deprived of seeing some Hollywood film early. (like in the case of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy films which were released here in January instead of the same Christmas season opening in the US, thanks to the MMFF)
In its early years, the MMFF showcased a number of films that are already considered masterpieces in Philippine Cinema. While there are still a few cinematic gems that gets shown every year, in recent years the MMFF has become more “commercial-oriented” as it has been leaning towards blockbuster, crowd-pleasing films, (in the guise of being “family films”) which has become another source of criticism of the MMFF these days.
This year’s MMFF was no different in some aspects but in fairness some novel concepts were tried out at least in the case of some films. True, there were the usual “family” comedies, the usual horror films. But there were some interesting visuals and stories that were brought in to the mix like the visual effects mix of horror, comedy, action in Kubot, (which technically though is rehash of what the first film Tiktik did) the stories in the long-running Shake, Rattle, and Roll franchise. (at least one story as per some critics) Heck, even Vic Sotto tried something different with his MMFF film this year with a 3-story structure in My Big Bossing.
Then there were the 2 films that have been raved about by moviegoers and critics in this year’s MMFF. One of them is the bio-film of sorts Bonifacio Ang Unang Pangulo and the other is the romantic comedy English Only Please, both of which won big in the MMFF Awards night. While some have been keen to dismiss MMFF awards, there seems to be few disagreements about the choices compared to previous editions. One can suppose it’s not a bad thing, no?
It remains to be seen whether any of these films would be added to the masterpieces of Philippine cinema in the future. But the fact that producers are at least more open to try new approaches in film-making can be seen as an encouragement, even a little bit, to be somehow optimistic about the prospects of Philippine cinema in the future.
Still, so much work needs to be done.
As can be expected, the Urban Roamer just had to watch one of the MMFF entries this year, “Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo.” After all, I have an interest in history and I have heard good reviews about it, not to mention it is being promoted by the Ortigas Foundation. (which I later found is partly because an Ortigas served as one of the film’s producers)
Now I am not a cinephile so I cannot be trusted to make a good, critical movie review, especially of the aforementioned film. I will say though that the film impressed me on some aspects like the cinematography. The acting was not bad and the film did its job in introducing Bonifacio to the moveigoer.
That being said, I did not like the way that Bonifacio was portrayed in some scenes as one of those typical movie action heroes rather than the real person. I would also have to be critical of the way the portrayed the Battle of Pinaglabanan which is not the victory the film portrays it to be. Which was sad because they could have portrayed the event as something akin to what happened at Alamo in Texas.
Also, the film does not give much justification to Bonifacio as to why he should be proclaimed the country’s first president from an objective standpoint, ironic considering the title of the film. In fact, I went out of the movie theater as undecided as I was when I entered to those recent petitions that Bonifacio should be declared as the first Philippine president. (why by itself is another topic that is already beyond the scope of this site…for now)
Nevertheless, I still think it was a good movie that I didn’t regret watching.
Unfortunately, this is the only MMFF movie review you will find here as I never got to watch the other films and that the Urban Roamer is not a movie critic. However, there are a number of sites that have reviewed other MMFF entries.
Or you can check out the site of my blogger colleague Misstache which has a review as well of Bonifacio and another MMFF entry. Do check it out.