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December 26, 2016 / emmanintheworld

MMFF 2016

Damn. The 42nd Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) has now started and it’s definitely a different experience.

My usual MMFF routine is to watch one film with the family on Christmas Day and watch another one a week after if the buzz is good. But this year, I’m planning to watch almost all of the entries this year (still not sure about Vince & Kath & James though).

I’ll add my thoughts on the movies I watched below:

1. Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough
Director: Marlon Rivera
Writer: Chris Martinez

The (movie) crew is back and they’re creating a romcom this time around. With her character looking to make a comeback after a sabbatical from showbiz, Eugene Domingo is determined to make a record-breaking commercial success. However, her “suggestions” are exactly the opposite of what director Rainier (played by Kean Cipriano) had in mind for the film.

After the original Septic Tank made fun of Philippine independent filmmaking and how it was slowly becoming mainstream, the sequel made a 180 and looked at how different an indie movie is when compared to a mainstream movie.

In Rainier’s mind, The Itinerary will have Joel Torre as the leading man for his world-weary look and subdued acting.  But Eugene Domingo keeps on imagining Jericho Rosales in the leading man role since they have “chemistry”. She also wants new characters (“Kailangan may bakla!”), a theme song, and an origin story for the leading lady.

Obviously, the approach from an indie and a mainstream perspective is wildly different. Randomly adding Eugene’s suggestions-slash-tropes into the scenes that Rainier had in mind emphasized the absurdity of it all. Imagine your best friend suddenly calling you to dish out relationship advice (and ask for ube jam) at the exact moment when you made the decision to leave your husband. It’s jarring and funny as hell at the same time. You just can’t help but be exasperated with Joel Torre.

The contrast between Rainier’s home life and work life is also a nice touch from Rivera and Martinez. For example, the scene where we see Rainier for the first time ended with the camera panning out to capture him working while his wife and child are in the other room – you can feel the distance between the two. On the other hand, the scene where we first saw Eugene and Rainier together ended with a  groufie (with laughing sounds to make it realistic) in the spa resort.

The film culminated into a fight between Eugene and Rainier about mainstream vs indie movies. Eugene defended formulaic movies as moviegoers wanted a safe and predictable escape from their daily suffering. However, Rainier refuted this by saying that movies, or at least The Itinerary, should reflect the lives of ordinary Filipinos given how personal filmmaking is to the creators.

“Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough” is a strong contender in the 42nd MMFF because it balanced being funny and thought-provoking. Although the arguments above are nothing new, I think it’s still very relevant and worth thinking over. Are the two sides really mutually exclusive? If not, how do we bridge this gap? Is it arrogance on the part of the filmmakers to treat their market as an afterthought?

2. Saving Sally
Director:Avid Liongoren
Writer: Charlene Sawit-Esguerra


The plot of this movie is simple enough: Marty, a comic book artist, is in love with his “weird and nerdy” best friend, Sally. Naturally, he can’t confess his feelings for her since he’s too shy and is waiting for the right moment. Sally, on the other hand, is an inventor who is too busy dealing with her home life and secret projects that she hasn’t noticed Marty’s affection for her.

What makes Saving Sally stand out is the animation. It’s obvious that the heart of the animation team was poured into this film since the flow of the drawings is so smooth. Plus, the animation is cleverly incorporated into every part of Marty’s life. He sees almost every character as a monster, which gives the production team space to draw random creatures out of thin air. There’s even one monster who is shaped like a penis – specifically a dickhead! Sally’s gadgets – from a floating night light to a automatic ironing machine – are also very creative and well-drawn. These gadgets are light and quirky enough that it didn’t feel too confusing when they’re all out.


On the scenes where the setting is also animated, the wit of the creators shine through. What is one of Marty and Sally’s usual hangout places? Sandara Park. What’re the names of the stores behind Marty when he was acting as the bridge for Sally and her boyfriend? “Martyr” and “Beh Botika Nga”. Little jokes like these made me chuckle and appreciate their attention to detail.

Saving Sally’s exceptional animation isn’t there just for the movie to be cute or fluffy. It also highlighted the moods of the characters in the scene. It’s an effective tool especially when Marty finally revealed his feelings for Sally.

The dialogue of the movie also sounds natural. Each character, no matter how little screen time they get, have their own distinct voices. Marty’s dad is ever-distracted with his toys while Tito sounds like…well, a joker of an uncle who never had a serious moment in his life.

Saving Sally knows what kind of film it is. It consistently avoided adding unnecessary drama to spice up the conflict between the characters. The movie is about Marty saving Sally from the monsters in her life, whichever form it may take.

At this point, I only watched two movies in the entire film fest but I’m already sure that this will be in my top 3 list.


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