Capping Off the Year With Great Local Movies: An MMFF 2016 Roundup (Part 1)

Big props to my aunt, I was able to see seven out of eight MMFF movies this 2016. I actually have a few things to say about the entries for the previous year’s most anticipated film festival but first, let me share my thoughts about the MMFF restructure.

#Reelvolution: Change Has Come to MMFF

2016 has been a year of change for the Filipino people and the MMFF took part in this country-wide revolution. I know this is a big leap for the MMFF crew, and so I take my hat off to the brave people behind the curtain who broke the annual tradition of parading commercial (garbage? loljk) movies on the big screen.

MMFF: “December’s Most Awaited Family Affair?”

The only thing that I didn’t like, though, was the fact that they didn’t include a family-friendly movie on the list. Yes,  I’m one with the MMFF committee in picking these micro-budget films. I have nothing against the lineup. In fact, I actually loved the movies and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them for the years to come.

Sadly, the event is, to quote the admin of the MMFF website,”December’s most awaited family affair.” If they claim the festival to be a family affair, where were the family-friendly films? Oddly enough, the 2016 MMFF  lineup made it impossible for kids to enjoy their movie experience. Oddly enough, the 2016 MMFF lineup deprived the Filipino families of what has become a family tradition during the Christmas season.

Let’s take my aunt’s situation as an example. During the previous years, she, her husband, and their three lovely daughters were able to watch almost all entries because most were either rated G or PG. This time, the only movies they have seen were Saving Sally and Vince and Kath and James.

Sure, Vince and Kath and James and Sunday Beauty Queen were rated G, but who would pick SBQ for the entire family? I can’t say much about Vince and Kath and James because I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s a love story, not really something that brings a family closer together. Ang Babae sa Septic Tank and Oro were rated PG, but I doubt kids would take interest in those films.

When my friend Eca and I watched Oro,  two mischievous little kids sat beside us and all they did during the entire screening was to repeat the lines of the actors and actresses (they were so cute I almost punched their daddy in the face). Apart from being noisy (and annoying), these poor kids even attempted to drink my iced tea while I was busy watching how the villains killed a dog in a controversial scene. The point is, although these movies were rated G and PG, kids as young as nine years old wouldn’t enjoy their movie experience if they couldn’t relate to the story. Even my 12-year-old cousin didn’t enjoy watching the movie.

My heart goes out to all the Filipino families who had a hard time choosing which films to watch this year because, let’s face it, most of the entries were not family-friendly.

Quality Over Quantity: The Battle Between Art and Entertainment

Personally, this restructuring thing that the MMFF peeps did was indeed a risky move but I think it’s worth it. Judging by how powerful and influential social media is these days, this #Reelvolution of MMFF could be our first real step toward our journey to an improving industry that produces high-caliber films.

As a MassComm graduate, I have always dreamed of the day when the masses would finally appreciate the beauty and quality of independent films. After all, art and entertainment do not always go hand in hand–an art film can be entertaining but an entertaining movie isn’t always a work of art. Sometimes, moviemakers create films not because they have an interesting story to share, but because they want to make money out of their blockbuster films.

When I first heard about the MMFF restructure, my first thought was “finally!” For me, it’s about time a film festival as big as the MMFF acknowledge the underdogs in the film industry. The mission of the organization, after all, is “to encourage the production of quality Filipino films,” not to produce crowd-pleasers that the masses a.k.a. poor Filipinos are bound to enjoy.

Welcome Change: A Message to Big Production Companies

If there are a few things that big production companies can learn from this year’s MMFF slate, these are: welcome change, fuck the formulas, and don’t be afraid to take risks. If you have seen Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2, you’ll know what I mean.

Now, if the MMFF continue to stick with this #Reelvolution trend and choose to curate films based on quality (subjective as it may seem), the only way big franchise films (like Enteng Kabisote, Shake, Rattle, and Roll, Mano Po, and Vice Ganda films) can make it to the slate is to adapt the new (reclaimed?) face of Philippine cinema that focuses more on top-grade films and less on commercial garbage.

All in all, my MMFF 2016 experience was definitely one to remember. I have to say that there’s no better way to cap off a good year than to watch great local movies like the ones included in this festival. It was like binge-watching independent films at the Cinemalaya film fest. Only this time, I had to deal with annoying parents who had the guts to bring their kids inside the cinemas but did not have proper movie theater etiquette.

Stay tuned for my next blog post ‘cos I’ll be writing a review for each film (except, of course, for Vince and Kath and James, which I refused to watch because 1) it’s too hype and overrated 2) I have no moneeeeeh na po huhu).

To be continued…

*Featured photo source: MMFF Website

Advertisements

This Is How You Deal With a Smart Woman Based on Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl

After I returned the copy of the book to my workmate, I knew that I needed to put my thoughts into writing immediately. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl has fucked my mind, perhaps not in the way that you think or the way it fucked yours, but it did. Hard. While critiques focused on the story, twist, structure, and the author’s style of writing, here’s me writing about the relationship advice I got from the book.

Here’s the thing: I believe that when we read a book, it is the book that reads us and not the other way around. Gone Girl has read my mind: I am like Amy in so many ways, sans the murderess and psychopath part.

No, I am not a killer. No, I am not a psychopath. But if having a brain with no switch, being an over-thinker, and hating on the subject of sexism, misogynistic men, cheaters, and Cool Girls mean being like Amy, then count me in.

When a Guy Falls in Love With a Smart Woman

You know the cliche, “men want her and women want to be her”? That’s the best way to describe Amazing Amy. And Nick? He’s good-looking, he’s hardworking, but he’s poor and has personal issues. He didn’t want to be like his father–the man who abused his mother, the man who calls all women a bitch. Nick was eager to prove that he was not like his misogynistic dad but things got a little out of hand after he married Amy–he lost his job, his mother died, he couldn’t give Amy the life that she wanted. Nick was a failure; he couldn’t be the hero in Amy’s life.

Amy was eager to compromise–to live in a lonely town in Missouri and leave her fabulous life in New York. Isn’t that what love should be? Unconditional? Amy was fine with all these until she was not. She found out that Nick had a mistress.

To say that Nick felt belittled when he couldn’t give Amy the life they both wanted was an understatement. Subconsciously, he wanted Amy to make him feel that he was still his hero, his man. But he refused to tell Amy this because he didn’t want her to think that he was weak. And then he met Andie, the Cool Girl who gave him everything. He chose to ran away from his problems by turning to  this girl who soon became his mistress.

Andie was the opposite of Amy: Andie was also pretty, yes, but mediocre. Andie would give everything to him. Andie did not challenge him. In short, being with Andie was easy. With no curves thrown on the road, he felt superior again. With Amy–his beautiful, smart, almost-perfect wife–everything seemed to be a challenge. Amy’s mind was always three steps ahead of him. Amy’s lifestyle was grander than his. Amy took charge of their life. All of these belittled Nick and hurt his ego as a man. Why would he settle for Amy when there’s Andie? Why would he choose the bumpy road over the empty highway?

This is the problem when a guy falls in love with a smart woman. It’s a matter of pride and ego. When a woman takes charge of your life and orders you to do this and that, of cours, you’ll feel like  shit. You think because you are the man, you should always have the last word, the final say. Gender role issues.

If your woman tells you that she loves you despite your flaws and imperfections, believe her. She wouldn’t be with you in the first place if that’s not true. You may be intimidated by her strong personality at times, but that’s just how she is, especially if her brain has no switch. If she loves you enough to accept your flaws, then you don’t have to try hard to level with her intelligence. What Bob Marley said was true after all:

“If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you’re not worthy. Truth is, everybody’s going to hurt you. You just gotta choose who’s worth suffering for.”

Remember that.

Here’s a letter of Amy to Nick to make you feel better:

” So we both have things we want to work on. For me, it’d be my perfectionism, my occasional (wishful thinking?) self-righteousness. For you? I know you worry that you’re sometimes too distant, too removed, unable to be tender or nurturing. Well, I want to tell you that isn’t true. You need to know that you are a good man, you are a sweet man, you are kind. I’ve punished you for not being able to read my mind sometimes, for not being able to act in exactly the way I wanted you to act right at exactly that moment. I punished you for being a real, breathing man. I ordered you around instead of trusting you to find your way. I didn’t give you the benefit of the doubt: that no matter how much you and I blunder, you always love me and want me to be happy. And that should be enough for any girl, right? I worry I’ve said things about you that aren’t actually true, and that you’ve come to believe them. So I am here to say now: You are WARM. You are my sun.”

How to Make This Kind of Relationship Work

When Nick and Amy first fell in love with each other, everything was all about hearts and flowers. They were attracted to each other; both tried their best to please the other. But then life happened and got in the way. They must now face the married life, and as it turned out, the true Amy was not a Cool Girl–the girl who laughs at your silly jokes, does silly things to please you, watches silly movies even though she hates the sexism and lightness of the story, etc.–she was a deep woman who can’t be pleased with mediocre, silly things. Still, Amy tried her best to compromise because she loved Nick so much. Nick loved her beyond words, too. But losing his job, the death of his mother, and the pressure of it all got the best of him. He cheated on his wife because that’s the only way he knew that could keep him sane.

When I reached this part of the book, I sighed and told myself this was too basic. Lack of communication, of course. I can’t stress enough the importance of communication in a relationship. Many couples take this advice for granted, seemingly oblivious to the fact that more than fifty percent of marriages fail because of lack of communication.

You see, Nick and Amy both loved each other but failed to communicate their innermost feelings and desires when they were at their most vulnerable. The inevitable happened. Nick found comfort in the arms of another woman who could give everything that his wife couldn’t. Truth is, Amy was willing to compromise further if he only told her. Nothing of this would have happened if they worked things out before their problems became too much for them to handle. Communication. Honesty is important, too. Obviously.

When you love someone, you should also be willing to compromise. Personally, I don’t believe in unconditional love. There will always be some things that you need to give up to make a relationship work unless you are a perfect couple. Remember what Amy said at the end?

“I was told love should be unconditional. That’s the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever? If I know I am loved no matter what, where is the challenge?”

True love is always challenging. If everything is about hearts and flowers, how would know if he or she is the one? How would you appreciate the sunshine if you haven’t seen the rain? True love is always hard; it’s always difficult. When you get past all these challenges, only then will you see that he or she is the person worth waiting, fighting, dying, and above all, living for.

Communicate, compromise, be honest with your partner and everything will fall into place. It might sound easy or hard–it ‘s up to you. But if you’re both determined to make your relationship last, everything is survivable. Just look at how things ended up for Nick and Amy. This might be a work of fiction, but it fucking happens in real life. And no, I’m not talking about the killing part, but the failure of a marriage? Yes, that happens. Gillian Flynn has been kind enough to destroy the lives of her characters to teach you a lesson; be modest enough to take it from her.

​Singletons Come Together to Watch Bridget Jones’s Baby on the Big Screen

(Spoilers Ahead)

By way of introduction, I am not a Singleton by any means. But Singleton or not, I’ve fallen head over heels for Bridget Jones’s love and life story ever since I read the first two books: Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. I was lucky enough to get into a fight with my boyfriend (ironically) when the third movie came out, so I took the opportunity to go to the movie theater alone. I did not regret a single thing. In fact, I actually loved the experience. Here’s why:

Bridget Jones’s Baby was screened in selected Philippine cinemas and I chose Robinsons Place Manila because it was the nearest mall to me. When I found out from ClickTheCity’s website that the movie was to be screened in the mall’s Cinema 1, I knew right there and then that this was the perfect place to be. The cinema houses only like a hundred seats and it rarely ever gets full. As an introvert, I would NEVER watch a movie in a theater if it’s full of people–annoying and pretentious people to be exact–which is always the case with mainstream films (Star Cinema, MMFF, Marvel, and the likes) and mainstream indie (yup, it’s a thing nowadays) films like the movies in Cinemalaya.

As you would have guessed, the cinema was not even half full. There were only like 30 of us and as expected, ALL of us were WOMEN. I was not surprised at all. When I pictured myself going to the cinema house earlier that day, I saw a place full of Singletons who see themselves as Bridget Jones in real life.

The Bridget Jones movies were not blockbuster hits in the Philippines, so I guess the people who came to watch the third movie were either those who have read the books, those who have watched the first two movies and loved it, those who have both read the books and watched the movie and went head over heels for them, and those who review movies for a living.

As I scanned the place, I saw women who went alone, women in groups, and even one pregnant woman who went on her own. I think these women went to see the movie because they can relate to Bridget Jones for a number of reasons. I did. In fact, I think we all did.

I think it’s safe to say that majority of us who watched the third installation can see a reflection of ourselves in Bridget Jones: the clumsy, awkward hopeless romantic who keeps a diary to keep track of her accomplishments but life always gets in the way to ruin her plans so she ends up being alone most of the time (even, as she stated in the movie, when she and Darcy were together). When our favorite heroine appeared on the screen, I knew. In that moment, Bridget Jones was all of us.

In that moment, Bridget Jones was all of us.

***

Bridget’s Big Comeback and Her Big Problems: Two Boys and a Big Bump

Enter the new and improved Bridget Jones on the big screen. We all felt sorry for Daniel Cleaver, but laughed our heads off when our favorite heroine started acting like her normal self: the woman who speaks and moves awkwardly in front of people. When All By Myself started playing in the background on her 43rd birthday, we knew that our Bridget Jones was back.

Things are going quite well as Bridget celebrates her 43rd birthday. She’s single again, but her life has been fine without Darcy–Bridget is now a big-time television producer. But no matter how hard she tries to be happy in the company of her friends and family, Bridget must face the truth this time: she is not getting any younger. At the age of 43, she might lose her last chance to conceive a baby. All of her friends were already married and having children. Though she won’t admit it, our poor heroine is alone again.

renee-zellweger-bridget-joness-baby-universal
Photo Source: Google

But life has its own way of reminding us of our past in the most unexpected ways. Bridget bumps into Mark Darcy for the first time after their breakup–only this time, he’s with his wife. We all thought that the quiet Mark Fitzwilliam Darcy, whom we fell in love with in the first two movies, is the one true love of our much-loved protagonist. Sadly, they broke up because Darcy had been busy with his work, leaving Bridget feeling alone most of the time.

When Bridget’s friend Miranda takes her to a music festival for a birthday treat, they made a deal that Bridget would have sex with the first man that she stumbles upon. Here comes our dashing debonair who goes by the name Jack Qwant, the billionaire who owns a dating site that matches couples according to the algorithm of love. And knowing how things come and go in Bridget’s life, they met in the most awkward (and disgusting) way–by falling into the mud.

bridget-joness-baby
Photo Source: Google

Bridget and Miranda let their hair down at the music festival until they get drunk and accidentally went their separate ways. Miranda finds herself making out with Ed Sheeran, while our Bridget finds herself entering the wrong tents trying to find her lost friend. Thanks to the Gods above, she ends up in the tent of our handsome Jack. As expected, they had passionate sex between the sheets. Next morning, Bridget again finds herself alone.

Like the past two movies, the film made me feel a roller coaster of emotions. I laughed so hard, especially when Ed Sheeran, one of my favorite singer-songwriters, appeared. I personally liked how Bridget, a 43-year old woman who tried her best to act cool, to look and feel young, and to let her hair down at a music festival, failed at the “look young” part when she did not recognize Ed Sheeran. I was amazed at how the writers and director presented the irony and the truth–that Bridget is getting old and that she already needs to settle down but there she was: enjoying life and setting aside the loneliness that comes from being alone but still worried that she might end up like this for the rest of her life. It was also the choices of songs like Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran and Gangnam Style by Psy that helped present the irony of the situation.

Things go back to normal as the two ladies go home. A good news welcomes Bridget this time–one of her friends invites her to become the godmother of her child. As it turns out, the godfather is the one and only Mr. Mark Darcy.

35c1606f00000578-3664351-image-m-99_1467129208080
Photo Source: Universal Pictures

Here comes the most kilig moment for me: Darcy kisses Bridget instead of the baby when the photographer urges them to try to look happy because it is, after all, a christening and not a funeral. I even made the screenshot of that scene my cover photo on Facebook because you see, I’m at a loss for words until now.

Being the only godparents in the event, the past lovers are forced to talk to each other. Things are awkward until Darcy invites Bridget to get some air. Now, we see the sparks of an old flame coming to life again. Bridget finds out that Darcy and his wife divorced and they kiss and kiss and kiss and kiss and kiss and kiss and make love upstairs.

Bridget Jones's Baby
Photo Source: Universal Pictures

Bridget Rose Jones is now pregnant, and she’s never been happier in her entire life. Now the big question is, who is the daddy? Is it Jack Qwant, the sweet debonair, or Mark Darcy, Bridget’s could-have-been-hubby?

team-jack-or-team-darcy-bridget-jones-baby
Photo Source: Google

I won’t go into details now because I don’t want to spoil you (if you want to know the ending, go watch the movie). I’m ending this by giving you a hint:

Jack Qwant is the prince charming that every woman wants to marry. Rich, handsome, sweet, and affectionate–it’s all things beautiful rolled into one. He even asked Bridget to come and live with him to start a family. Mark Darcy, on the other hand, loves Bridget beyond words, but his responsibility as a dedicated lawyer always gets in the way. The differences of Mark Darcy and Bridget Jones made their relationship even more difficult to handle. But whoever turns out to be the father of the baby, our favorite heroine is bound to get her happy ever after. She deserves it, though. We all do.

If you are a Bridget Jones at heart, continue to be yourself because there are so many of us out here who believe in the good and beauty in you. If Bridget Jones can find her own happy ending, so can you. Believe me, so can you.

If Bridget Jones can find her own happy ending, so can you.