The answer is a big YES!
More than any other films, Cinemalaya films should top our ‘must-watch’ movie list. This festival has been serving us quality and real masterpieces, all worthy of our time, money, emotions, and brain cells (since pag-iisipin ka talaga).
I’ve been supporting this festival since its launched in 2004 at sobra kong na-miss tong panoorin sa sinehan because of the pandemic, two years din walang theatrical release at hindi naka-visit sa CCP.
Now that we have the chance again to binge-watch outside our homes, hindi ko na pinalagpas. When I got the chance to watch, I grabbed the ‘sponsor pass’ from my MPlify family (hello Boss Migs! Salamat!) and spent the entire day watching these mind-boggling and heart-wrenching Cinemalaya 2022 films.
I got the chance to see three movies last week and the best pa rin akong mamili, since dalawa sa mga mga pinanood ko got most number of awards nung gabi ng parangal. Thumbs up! 😉🙌 See festival winners here
I saw ‘The Baseball Player’, ‘Blue Room’, and ‘Retirada’, all good movies that tackle specific societal problems. (Well lahat naman halos ng Cinemalaya movies ganito ang temang iniikutan, kung may love stories man, eto ung unexpected, outside the box and hindi usually dinisdicuss in a normal situation).
These three are all okay to me, but the ‘Blue Room’ hits different, sobra! May gigil, inis at satisfaction at the same time, after finishing the film. Antagal ko nang hindi tinayuan ng balahibo sa isang pelikula, and this film made me want to scream and curse at our current system. Iba pa rin talaga ang nagagawa ng pelikulang totoo, relatable, tagos sa puso.
Sabi nga ng kaibigan ko, when I told him that I’ll be watching the movie, ‘t’yagain mo lang, cringy ang conyo dialogue and delivery pero the best yan!’
It was true, at the end of the film, I realized na yung pagiging conyo nila justifies the plot, the entire story. They needed to be old-rich kids para mai-present yung plot twist na sobrang totoo sa sistema ng kapulisan natin. I won’t be spilling things further, because i’m sure magkakaroon to ng commercial release since it got the Special Jury Prize, Best Director, Best Cinematography awards and Best Supporting actor award for ‘the’ Soliman Cruz, na sobrang panggigigilan n’yo pag pinanood nyo! Promise!
Sa tatlo, sa ‘The Baseball Player’ ako medyo naging emotional. I really cried in some scenes, nakarelate ako, I guess. Anyway, it tackles a story about a baseball player in Mindanao who is also being trained to be part of a private army. The plot is about Mindanao in the middle of a war and how civilians are living in this scary and dangerous situation. Each character tackles different conflicts which are all addressed towards the end of the film.
The build-up of the story is excellent for me. The actors are okay as well, Tommy Alejandrino (the main character and the festival’s best actor) is a breath of a fresh air- very raw, and delivers really natural, parang si Gold Aceron nung nagstart magpelikula or pwede din Coco Martin sa mga old indie films n’ya before, mas gagaling pa to for sure, we better watch out for this boy.
Scenes that were shot during the night are the best part of the films for me- mysterious, somehow hint danger and uncertainties, and appeal to viewers’ sensitivity. The ending is the best for me as well, hindi ko na alam yung nangyari after, but I have something in my mind that tells me possibilities after the young boy was found in the middle of the woods, ako na magbibigay ng conclusion ko. lol
Lastly “Retirada’. I’m not sure kung ako lang, pero dragging ang first sequences and paulit-ulit ang delivery ng problema ng buong kwento. There are parts of the film na inantok talaga ako (i’m sorry). If what presented in the first sequences is intentional, medyo hindi ko nagustuhan, for me other sequences like yung sa bay walk scene ata yun, is already unecessary, get’s ko na!
However, when Bingo game was introduced already, which is the main conflict of the story, medyo nabuhayan na ko. Dito ako sobrang nainis sa character ni Ms. Pewee O’hara. While watching and trying to understand her character, dito pumasok sakin yung basic Psychology theory na Stages of Development ni Eric Erickson. The character was at the last stage which is Maturity where Ego Integrity vs. Despair comes in. This is where you reflect back on life, you evaluate if you do good, if you’re satisfied on how things turned, if you’re happy with the path that you chose or the other way around- you regret things you did or didn’t do.
Those who look back and only feel regret will instead feel fearful that their lives will end without accomplishing the things they feel they should have. The person will be left with feelings of bitterness and despair.
So dito ko nakita yung character ni Azon Marcelo. Hindi s’ya satisfied with how she lived her life, so I guess that’s why she keeps on repeating, ‘ano na gagawin ko after my retirement?’, ‘hindi ako sanay’, wala akong silbi’, such things. Relating to the theory, dapat sa stage na to ng ating buhay, life-well-lived na ang pakiramdam natin- satisfied, traveling abroad na lang iniisip natin or staying at home spending time with our love ones, and Azon Marcelo exhibited dislike of all these things sa movie. The reason kaya s’ya nalulong sa sugal, thinking na yayaman s’ya pag nakuha nya yung jackpot or masosulusyunan nito yung financial problem ng pamilya. This happens in real life and people who are going or near this stage should start maneuvering their life to avoid all these negativities.
The film was ended in a very unexpected way. Hindi ko inexpect na may doktor na papasok to do behavioral and psychological therapy despite the fact na wala na sila ni singkong duling, for me that’s very unrealistic (mahal nun per session noh! lol), if nagkaroon man ng source kung saan galing ang tulong, hindi lang naestablish or nakapagbigay kahit hint man lang sa film.
Nevertheless, two thumbs up pa rin sakin ang film. Ms. Pewee O’ Hara and his husband in real life Mr. Jerry O’ Hara are both a revelation to me. This is the first time I saw them did a full-length film na sila ang bida and they are really good, they deserve this film and to be given more in the future.
I believe some films are having commercial exhibitions and are being shown in partner cinemas in the metro. Catch the screening schedules here: https://cinemalaya.org/
I also saw the coming soon partnership advertisement of Cinema ’76 Film Society (in Anonas guys) with Cinemalaya. So don’t miss your chance to see these 12 best films of 2022.
The theme “Breaking Through the Noise” announces that Cinemalaya is alive and kicking, is making a homecoming to a live theater, and looking forward to a brighter future. The key visual, especially the eyeball, represents an idea of continuity and relevance of independent cinema today.
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