Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The film major code

It's interesting how a review of a local movie over at rom's smoking room could stir up such impassioned debate. Just goes to show how much Pinoys care about their movies (or their idols); they take it personally. No wonder movie stars make such powerful candidates during elections. Anyway, I wanted to comment but for some reason the network security features installed here prevent me from commenting on wordpress sites. I have since found a way to access the erstwhile blocked blogspot sites and comment in those pages (as long as they use blogger's built-in commenting page), but wordpress is a little tougher to crack.

Anyway, the usually unflappable rom was irked by a comment from a certain Arch D, which you could access in her page in its entirety, but anyway, Arch D said this:
I understand how the commercial viewer would not appreciate the storytelling of this movie. ...

By the way, not that I you wanted to know or I wanted to show, I am a Film major at UP Diliman. Just so you know what I am talking about.
Rom guts him. And I have to confess I felt no sympathy for the hapless Arch D, as for anyone else who insists on giving you their resumé in a blog comment, as if their words and reasoning alone werent enough to establish that they know (or dont know as the case may be) what theyre talking about.

The Film major, I suspect, is a different breed altogether. I remember being in a screening for a film by Marilou Diaz-Abaya whose working title was Moral 2 (title was changed for its commercial run to... I forget). So the Star Movies people screened a rough cut of the movie for us selected folk and there was a discussion afterwards. I suppose they were trying to find out how to market the movie. They asked for comments or questions and I raised my hand.

"Bakit laging may nagra-rally?," I asked. I felt the film had too many scenes in UP Diliman with rallies as the back-drop. It didnt make sense to me. (I was in the group that hadnt seen the Moral prequel.) A woman, a film major I gather, spoke and spoke pretty much like Arch D did: The symbolism is lost to the ordinary moviegoer, notice that at first Dina Bonnevie and Jericho Rosales wore black and that later they wore white which is symbolic of the blah-blah-uppity-blah. There. Film major puts ordinary moviegoer in his place: in the corner where he is to keep quiet and let the adults talk. I remember asking myself, Do directors really do this? Put codes in their movies that only the adept, the initiates --the Film majors -- can decipher? That's almost cool if it werent totally bollocks. I was about to say that for me the reason Dina and Jericho wore black or white was because of purely visual reasons, no codes, no hidden symbols. The rallyists were wearing black so Diaz-Abaya had them wear black; the rallyists were wearing white so Diaz-Abaya had them wear white. Superficial, ordinary moviegoer stuff like that. But the conversation was picked up by some university professor who lectured the room on commercialization, on the pandering and patronizing of the poor, etc.; scholarly stuff on the ills of society and the corrupting influence of local film. Then, having delivered his lecture, walks out, leaving the Star Movies people, and the room in general, dumbfounded. It took a while to get things going again. My participation after that was limited. I was too engrossed pondering the movies-with-coded-symbols-for-film-majors thesis. It was fascinating.

Too be fair, the film major chick probably realized how snobbish she was and remembering that she was from UP and was supposed to be kind to the Philistines, tried to make amends by smiling at me a lot. A friendly smile, not a condescending one. I made further comments after that to the effect that some scenes didnt make sense and that it could probably do better without the reference to the Moral prequel; add or delete scenes to establish that it wasnt a sequel, and whatnot. I think, since the general consensus of the ordinay moviegoer crowd in the screening was that the movie sucked, Star Movies would market it on the strength of it having been directed by Diaz-Abaya. Yeah that would work. When they asked if we knew nothing else about the movie except that it was directed by Diaz-Abaya, would we watch it, I said sure. Who of my generation didnt like Sic O'Clock News? That Rene Requiestas was hilarious.


grifter said...

is Archie Dairocas going back to school now, studying film?

go, Rom!

cvj said...

I remember a previous discussion on Philippine literature (i think it was on Manolo's blog) where someone said that one of the problems was that Philippine writers write for each other's consumption. Perhaps the same thing is happening to the local movie industry, at least the artsy segment.

I don't mind coded allusions to previous works as long as they are not heavy handed and don't detract from the movie. For example, on the plane back to Singapore, i watched 'Ten Things i Hate About You' (made in 1999). I liked the movie enough to google it to get more info and found out that it was a actually Shakespeare's 'The Taming of the Shrew' reimagined in an American high school setting. Wikipedia explained all the homages and allusions to the original, from the names of some of the characters and the dialogue. They were incorporated into the movie in such an organic way that they do not seem out of place to one who was unfamiliar with Shakespeare's works as i was. Execution has a lot to do with it.

karthika said...

nice details....

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Lucila said...

I am a Communications major that LOVES film and I dediced to to a double major. When I went to sign up in the Film department.... OMFG.... In the waiting room there were 3 kids waiting for the same. One with a Psycho shirt (we get it future film major, you like movies...though choosing a shirt of the most famous movie does NOT make u a fking expert). that waiting room was a competition of who watched the weirdest movies. If you havent, they would reply "OMG, you have NEVER seen it??!". SNOBS. Fking snobs. They ruined it for me! i said "if i have to put up with this people for the next years...". And of course, they treated me like shit because I love studio movies of the 40's and 50's. DAMN SNOBS.

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