Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lost…aren’t we all? (Part 2)

Sometimes, clouded emotions can help us find our way towards things we would not have found if we weren’t…sort of lost.

An example is how one disappointing afternoon at home led to a fun solitary time at the movies, specifically, the Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveroz movie.

This calls for a review on the said film which I may call, Ang Pagbibinata ni Ping Medina. (You will soon find out that this title does not have anything to do with my piece.)

So here goes:

The problem with non-commercial films is their deficiency in visual spectacle only expensive technology can provide. And we all know that visual spectacle is the in thing today, thus the abundance of the telefantasia genre. Just as expected, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveroz came short of such pop flavor. It even lost some more points for its far from perfect technical make up. There were slight inconsistencies in the quality of moving pictures which were supposed to show one scene taken from different angles. One angle shot had normal lighting while the other appeared too warm and yellow. Then there’s that loud background music, not to mention noise, which was almost always on the verge of drowning the characters’ dialogues.

However, the movie was able to get away with these shortcomings. Its being a non-commercial film alone frees it from all the enumerated faults, leaving us with its story and its acters to discuss. (Blogger’s note: The use of “acters” is intentional. It is the nonsexist way of addressing people engaged in such occupation.)Then again the movie is set in the slums, probably the last place we’ll expect anything spectacularly grand and grandly spectacular.

Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveroz is based on a plot that is expected from any independent film--one that explores the life of an ordinary person and one with social relevance. And in the tradition of the said genre, it always helps to throw in poverty to make the whole thing work. But as I have said, the film pulled it off no matter how I seem to be trying to imply that it is just some independent film cliché. Perhaps its redeeming value lies on the build up of its characters.

For one, it revolves around the lead character, Maximo, otherwise called Maxi, a preteen gay from the slums. Let it be said that, although Maximo’s gender leans towards the alanganin side, he was portrayed with dignity. His family, composed of three men and him, loved him so much and showed no signs of indifference towards his preferred lifestyle. Then there’s his dad, Paco who snatches mobile phones for a living. And although he steals, he tries to raise his children with the few remaining values he knows. However he fails with Boy, Maximo’s eldest brother. Boy seemed to have already been corrupted by the life he was born into and commits a murder. On the other hand, the second brother, Bogs (played by Ping Medina), learns to live with life in the slums better than the other kuya. He is the typical astig istambay who sidelines as a jueteng kubrador. It was clearly shown that there is sweetness in his roughness which makes him the second most loveable character in the movie, next to Maximo.

Another character in the movie is Victor Perez, the cop who captures the heart of young Maximo. We see him struggle in the perverted world of men with badges, he hangs out with the wrong “mentor” and guess who he helps kill in the end? (That I will not tell.)

The movie deserves credit for creating three dimensional characters, the opposite of which is the downfall of majority of commercial Filipino films these days. The characters actions do have a basis. There are reasons behind their behavior and those reasons were clearly shown in the film. There’s nothing complex about the movie much like life in the slums--it’s too simple that it sees no rules or laws to follow.

For an hour and a few minutes, the film successfully draws us to a world which exists in real life, the world of Maximo Oliveroz, the little boy who was loved and in return knew how to love.


* * *This is the review I promised Ms. Lala that has been long overdue and has been

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