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By Lei Landicho and Heinrich Domingo

top5

2015 introduced us to a multitude of outstanding films. It was a year of nostalgic remakes, revolutionary animations, and novel stories. Today, we would like to look back at five films that ignited once again the cinematic spark in us. If you think we missed some notable movies, feel free to put your comments below.

Here are our top five in no particular order:

Mad Max: Fury Road

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Mad Max veers away from the mediocre offering of films these days. It serves as a reminder that movies are to be made with utmost artistry, that viewers demand the best, and that beyond seamless cinematography is the importance of story-line.

In this year’s story Fury Road, we follow the journey of the main character Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) and his unending road chase featuring dirt, blood, and mechanics. After being captured by a certain pack, he finds himself on a desert fortress named Citadel ruled by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). It is a land full of fanatics known as war boys who glorify Joe as they await their ascension to Valhalla.

As Max tries to escape from his captors, he finds an alliance with a warrior turned traitor Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Together, they try to save Joe’s ‘breeders’ from him while pursuing their personal motives. For Furiosa, it is to find redemption in her former home the Green place, while for Max, it is to gain freedom once again.

The story has a tendency to bore minds that might be too feeble to understand the interweaving concepts of fanaticism, feminism, and environmentalism. The sequence of events inside the fury road can be dragging. But as viewers opt to open their eyes and minds in the metaphors, the journey could be both entertaining and satisfying.

 

Heneral Luna

LUNA_HR_posterWe are all story-tellers meddling with history. Our reading of the past is as personal as our preference of what is good and bad. The makers of Heneral Luna boldly write history from their own perspective without question or doubt. Banking on ingenious script, charismatic humor, and chic cinematography, the movie stomps its feet hard and readily marches forward.

The effectiveness of the script came not as a surprise as the screenplay has previously won an award. The exchange of line was just right. Humor inserted in various scenes can tickle the funny bone of the Filipino audience. Yet, in an attempt to please its apparent audience choice, the film has to advance its humor to slapstick comedy. Moviegoers are rewarded with ‘joyful’ soundtrack in the background coupled with an over-the-top acting that would ensure full blast laughter from the crowd. If this is ineffective in engaging the public, what could be?

There will be criticisms and disappointments from people in the academe, but the film, from the beginning, is certain of its audience. It is a work that intends to draw on closer to the public the once aloof image of our heroes. The Ilustrados. The wealthy. The few. Common Filipino folks cannot relate to these. As a result, the film’s treatment is inclusive. Through common traits such emotional outbursts, betrayal, and forwarding personal interests, the viewers can go home with a personal piece from their national hero. With this objective, Heneral Luna can claim its success.

 

Inside Out

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From the two animation studios that gave us Wall-E, Brave, and Frozen, comes a trailblazing film that charmingly captures what it feels like to be human. Inside Out greets its viewers with comicality, engages them in a clever discourse of the mind, and finally, leaves a lasting memory of friendship, family and more importantly, self-discovery.

The highlight of the story is the dichotomy of Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith).  The film describes our seemingly overrated necessity to be happy and stern evasion from melancholy. It debunks the notion of happiness as the only and ultimate goal of living. Faced with hardships, Riley cannot solely rely on a happy mindset. Inside Out teaches us to embrace sadness in its raw form – sappy, debilitating, and painful. It is not just, “only through sadness can we appreciate life’s joy,” but it is “through sadness that we can fully be alive.”

 

 BambantiBambanti-movie-poster

It is time for rural poverty to take the limelight. In this Zig Dulay’s masterpiece, he beautifully tells the story of a poor family set in the backdrop of abundant green rice fields and culturally rich Province of Isabela. He captures the essence of an Isabelino’s life through casting a brilliant ensemble of actors and actresses.

Bambanti revolves around the life of a kid named Popoy (Micko Laurente) and how he and his family’s life changed when he was wrongfully accused of stealing. With his mother Belyn (Alessandra de Rossi), their struggle towards defending themselves is laid bare in the eyes of the viewers through drama and occasional laughter.

The film roots itself on the quality of its casts’ portrayal. It was apparent that the director opt to select non-Ilokano speaking veterans than to experiment on Ilokano speaking newbies. This paid well because aside from award-winning performance of its main casts, all were able to deliver Ilokano lines without the tendency of bastardizing the language.

Bambanti is one indie film that the popular Filipino audience must watch. Despite using the voice of the rural poor, the language of poverty speaks to all parts of the country. Inequality brought by division of social classes must be discussed from various perspectives coming from all sides of the country. A toast for Zig Dulay for this outstanding piece of work!

 

 Honor Thy Father

122515-honor-thy-father-posterHonor Thy Father is a mine of gold for cinephiles who have been patiently digging for something good in an insurmountable mound of trashy MMFF collection. It completes the checklist of an outstanding film – intricate storyline, enticing cinematography, and empathic acting.

In the annual showcase of films in the capitalist-driven Metro Manila Film Festival, a deviant movie always rises. It is deviant for mediocrity has become the norm. For 2015, Honor Thy Father coveted this spot.

Under the direction of Erik Matti, the film tells the story of a couple named Edgar (played by John Lloyd Cruz) and Kaye (played by Meryll Soriano). After falling for a Ponzi scheme, they find themselves penniless with multitudes of credit to pay and a death threat. To save his wife and daughter, Edgar is confronted to face his past and conquer his enemies. The story narrates the ill nature of the world decorated with hopelessness, dissatisfaction, and desperation.

Honor Thy Father is a soulful masterpiece that has the rare quality to reach the audience into their core. It is an art that values respect between the creator and the viewer. It does not intimidate. Rather it gives space to audience to ponder what is exclaimed in the big screen. This is the partnership that must be flourished inside the cinema – one that honors both the giver and the receiver.

 

Happy New Year! May cinema have a great 2016!

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