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12.05.2012

CINEMA ONE: THE LOWDOWN PART III

Mamay Umeng 
Directed and Written by Dwein Tarhata Baltazar 

Ang Paglalakbay Ng Bituin Sa Gabing Madilim
Directed and Written by Arnel Mardoquio

Palitan 
Directed by Ato Bautista 
Written by Ato Bautista and Shugo Pracio












Mamay Umeng: Mamay Umeng is in his 80s and has nothing left to live for except dying, only he's in the pink of health and death has been everything but cooperative. The risk you run with a film about tedium, a film that's ultimately about the lack of anything happening, the slow action of life going on and on and on, needs no elaboration, but in drawing out the minutiae of the old man's waiting, often with dollops of funny, and not to mention a couple of tiny and poignant semiotic gestures, it proves sound the premise behind slow cinema that stillness is conducive for stumbling on epiphanies. 

Ang Paglalakbay Ng Bituin Sa Gabing Madilim: It boils the intricacies of the Bangsamoro conflict down into the plight of a lesbian rebel couple and the suddenly orphaned nephew of one of them, still reeling from the murder of his parents and whose backpack is bursting with ransom money, as they make a break for friendlier territory and evade the soldiers bearing down on them.  Not so much minimalist as it is almost graceful in its restraint, it slows the chase film down into a road movie and achieves, in the subtle shifting of tones  from urgency to languor, a dreamlike reverie that poeticizes their own futile yearnings to free themselves from the strictures of both their revolution and their religion.

Palitan: Sure, it gets its softcore jollies down pat, but just like its spiritual forebear, Scorpio Nights, this is really about the simmering desperation that comes from sustained ennui and claustrophobia, re-imagining the cramped milieu as an ever tighter space with even flimsier walls, both literal and metaphoric, through which slithers the devil at the heart of matters, embodied gamely and diabolically by Mon Confiado, with all the threat and malice of a coiled snake.

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