At Large

Shifting tastes at the MMFF

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THE LAST time I got an inkling of how “hip” P-Noy is to current trends and lingo was some years ago during the Senate deliberations on the Magna Carta of Women.

As we thanked him for his support of the measure, someone mentioned that another (woman) senator was “rumarampa” on the Senate floor.

P-Noy looked puzzled, turning to a friend of his to ask: “What does that mean?” Told that “rumarampa” literally meant someone was walking down a fashion ramp, or making a spectacle of oneself, he nodded, although he still looked rather confused. Clearly, the President is not one to keep tabs on faddish terms, much less “swardspeak,” from where most local slang emanates.

Now I wonder how much P-Noy enjoyed himself when he watched “Sisterakas,” the MMFF entry in which his sister Kris stars. “Sisterakas” is itself gayspeak for “sisters,” and the movie is liberally sprinkled with all sorts of current lingo. Did the President even have a hint as to what was going on onscreen?

We had to brave a long queue at both the ticket counter and in front of the theater before we could find our seats for the late-afternoon showing of “Sisterakas.” The line at Glorietta 4 in Makati was filled with an eclectic crowd of  Ingglisera  office girls, teen  barkada, and even entire families, including some who tried to sneak in babies in strollers. But as we settled in for the comedy, we found out why “Sisterakas” would end up dominating this year’s MMFF lineup (earning more than P200 million after eight days’ showing).

The movie is the perfect vehicle to forget one’s daily concerns, providing plenty of laughs, self-referential digs from the three leads, outré fashion, and even a saving dose of moral lessons and humane insights. So much so that my brother Fr. Boboy Jimenez, SVD, even mentioned the movie in his homily for the Jimenez clan’s New Year’s Day get-together.

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IT CERTAINLY needs no promotional support, and in fact I came in expecting a rehash of previous Wenn Deramas-Vice Ganda cinematic pairings. But their creative well seems bottomless, and Ai-Ai delas Alas and Kris Aquino proved all too willing to lend support to Vice Ganda’s star turn and the movie’s gay-centric conceit.

Worth noting is how moviegoers seem to have shifted their loyalties to a comedy of manners and current affairs from their previous fixation with comedy-fantasies (“Enteng Kabisote” and “Ang Panday”) or action-horror mash-ups (“Shake, Rattle and Roll”) during the holiday season.

Is it because “real” life is getting better, and people don’t need to seek escape in outlandish fantasy? Is it, as one observer put it, because once-closeted gays have been coming out in droves and supporting Vice Ganda as a show of power? Or could it be because this tall funny man who honed his comic chops in comedy bars has proven to be a reliable entertaining box-office draw?

Whatever the explanation, I’d like to share that I didn’t expect to enjoy myself but came out of the theater mouthing some of the more memorable lines, including the movie’s take on the (in)famous “amalayer” video of bad manners at the MRT station. Which just proves that real life is indeed far more bizarre than the imagined world of movies.

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BECAUSE they couldn’t stand the thought of enduring two hours in a dark theater watching Vice, Ai-Ai and Kris, the men in the family (the hubby and the son) demanded they watch an “action” movie. We compromised on “The Strangers,” an action-horror film directed by indie filmmaker Lawrence Fajardo.

I’d read and heard fairly good reviews of this local take on the origins of  “aswang,” the blood-sucking creatures who feed on human organs and figure prominently in the local underworld. My son said the movie is jolting only in the first half, while the rest of the film degenerates into the clichés of horror and chase movies.

The hubby most appreciated the original tale explored in “The Strangers,” with the  yaya  (Janice de Belen) recounting that the “aswang” were brought to our shores by the Spanish  conquistadores, some of whom were themselves vampires. Watch out for the twist toward the end, they warned.

Anyway, here’s the ratings sheet provided by my son of various aspects of the movie: On a scale of 1 to 10, he rates acting, 8.5; special effects, 6.5; story, 8.5; makeup, 7. Although, he adds, oftentimes in the movie, the beard of Enchong Dee as the grimy “aswang-hunter” keeps threatening to fall off.

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THIS could well be the final installment in this rambling series of reviews of the MMFF entries. Next week, theaters will once more be filled with offerings from the Hollywood behemoth.

This early, we already have a list of films we’ll rush to the theaters to see. First is “Les Misérables,” the first movie based on the original Cameron Mackintosh stage production (music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, with libretto by Herbert Kretzmer), and not on the novel by Victor Hugo.

The movie has, this early, already generated Oscar buzz, including acting nods for Anne Hathaway as the tragic Fantine and Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean. Also on my radar: Amanda Seyfreid as Cosette, Russell Crowe as Javert, and even Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the funny, malevolent Thenadiers.

“Zero Dark Thirty” also holds out much promise, with a most timely and relevant plot based on the search for Osama bin Laden, and directed by Oscar-winning director Katherine Bigelow. Notable as well, “Jack Reacher” with Tom Cruise.

But we also beg movie distributors and theater-owners to bring back “The Hobbit,” which we couldn’t spare time for amid the crazy hustle and bustle of the season. Please, pretty please?

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