Walang Sinehan. No Movie Theatres. That’s a hard fact about Boracay Island that one would have to live with should he decide to reside here. And for a cinephile like me, that’s one big problem having to miss all those movies on theatres in the city and having to settle much much later on DVD copies. I bet you can only imagine how delighted I was to know that there’d be a one night beach screening in the island. But Last Saturday, 31st of March, was my final independence day from my job, also the first year anniversary since appearing on Inquirer’s Youngblood column but most of all it was the day I finally got the chance to watch a movie on the big screen for the first time in a long long time.
Cinema One, which according their poster is the country’s number one cable channel, was in town once again for their sixth consecutive years of hosting a beach screening – a.k.a. free sine with stargazing. This year they brought us the award-winning 2011 Independent film “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” (The Woman in the Septic Tank)that bagged the major awards in Cinemalaya and many more adorations outside the country. The film is directed by Marlon Rivera and it stars Eugene Domingo who recently won an Asian audience choice award for Best Actress opposite the great Andy Lau (WTF with Andy Lau of Infernal Affairs!). The beach screening was held at White House Resort in Station 1 and the particular event also observed the Earth Hour so we have to wait an hour before seeing the film.
There were special appearances also by Kapamilya stars Jake Cuenca and Megan Young to the delight of the crowd. The event was hosted by John Lapus and Cai Cortes who also starred for the movie. Supporting actor Kean Cipriano was also there to perform with his band Calla Lilly. The dude can act. I told it’s free sine with stargazing. Haha.
The movie was very nice indeed. I’m not really a big fan of Filipino films, you know growing up watching those terrible commercial mindless movies of the 90’s onwards, but hey Septic Tank made me a believer that somehow there is still hope for the Philippine movie industry – a huge statement for someone who had long given up watching the local scene.
So here’s my obligatory review, and if you have other things to do, do it and just come back again haha:
Septic Tank takes us on a journey of the three ambitious young filmmakers trying to make the film that will change their lives forever, and (according to them) the film that will be their ticket to Cannes, to Oscars and to international stardom. The title of their film is “Walang Wala” (With Nothing), a story of a widowed mother of seven children who one day was forced to sell one of her children to a pedophile. Their problem is, well, they have a lot of problems, i.e. budget, production crew, castings, script issues, egos, location, and everything.
Kean Cipriano plays the director of the film – the visionary, the brain of the project. He’s a pure artist, who just wanted to tell his story in the clearest cinematic way. But his downside is him being naïve to the game of production, where to get this and that, who’s going to do this and that (He even wanted to cast Mercedes Cabral as the widow just because he got a crush on her). JM De Guzma played the producer of the film who does the dirty works for the film. He deals with people and financiers, he negotiate with them and sometimes when the going gets really tough he’s force to compromise the vision of the project just to get that project done. Never mind the third filmmaker; I really don’t know how to make of her. She doesn’t even have a dialogue.
Septic Tank has a unique and clever storyline because it is composed of two interlocking story arcs; one is the one that plays tricks to the audience’s perception of the fictional world that houses the adventures of the trio of filmmakers that blends effortlessly with the castings involving the real life Eugene Domingo and other cameos from real actresses. The second story arc is the story within “Walang Wala” – the film within the film – which houses the story of Mila the widow and mother of seven.
Eugene Domingo played dual roles for Septic Tank, both as the real life The Eugene Domingo and Mila. The accolades and adorations she got from the Septic Tank seems legit and certainly no fluke as she delivers one unforgettable performance; having both characters in multiple angles giving each a distinct personas. I think it’s not only the story or the dual roles she got but it’s one of the rare kind of films where overacting and no acting at all gets away in a spectacular fashion.
The filmmakers (as in the real one who made Septic Tank) successfully fused these two-story acts into one entertaining, educative and thought-provoking narrative. It’some kind of a mock documentary of the Indie Scene vs Mainstream Philippine industry, it’s the only film puts up a clean and humorous take on definitions of the two industries from their concept, the content, the production and almost everything that differentiate them and of course their inevitable similarities. Watching is like having a case study of the Philippine movie industry.
But the wild card of this movie, and almost the strongest part, is the script. Not only did it fuse two different story arcs but it blended multiples style of filmmaking in one picture. There’s one particular scene in Walang Wala where the director and the producer (Kean and JM) visualizes what that scene will look like if they’ll show it as a documentary, a poverty-porn Indie flick, a Glee-ish musical and a commercial-heavy mainstream picture – that’s one scene shown on four different approaches. And the result is simply brilliant, as in, Wow! What an experience.
Don’t worry there is a real septic tank scene in the movie with The Eugene Domingo in it (it’s really gross). You won’t be disappointed with this must-see film. Two thumbs up. Indeed the best things in life come in free.
- Adorable Acceptance Speech: Andy & Eugene (thefilmexperience.net)