Rant and Rave: 10,000 Hours

There are no bone-cutting and gut-wrenching scenes in 10,000 Hours unlike the ones with James Franco in 127 Hours – just cut scenes that were pieced together, seeming misfit, possibly simply brewing confusion in the psyches of the dazed viewers. The movie title speaks for the overall viewing experience of the film; it did feel like a 10,000 hour film inside the theater. Directed by Joyce Bernal and starring Robin Padilla, Bela Padilla and Mylene Dizon. The film stood champion as the winner of the Metro Manila Film Festival Best Film Award. This award alone might suffice to convince the ordinary reluctant Manileño to watch this film but after a swift assessment of the movie’s competition and a quick viewing of the film, it becomes clear why it deserved the accolade.

Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The movie is about a policeman turned senator whose fortunes turned sour after his political opponents tried to pin on him a murder to effectuate his arrest thus precluding him from exposing high ranking officials in the government. He evades arrest through multiple chase scenes and some cloak and dagger acts, then flees to Amsterdam. He leaves his family behind in Alabang where they are left to fend for themselves. It appears unclear what his real intentions were in Amsterdam whether to flee, to plan his exposé when he returns or to look for a former police colleague who is also in hiding in Amsterdam. In any case, he works as a dishwasher and was sheltered by a former kidnap victim he saved. Once INTERPOL gets a lead on him, he flees with his colleague to Manila but not without complications wrought by his media friend, who turned out to be the daughter of a syndicate leader whom he killed years back. After all the drama and hullaballoo, he returns to his family and armed with evidence, exposes those who are involved in a multimillion graft scam. In the ending, his police colleague’s throat was unceremoniously slit by an inmate in jail as ordered by a high ranking police official.

The intention to create a dramatic action film reminiscent of Hollywood films of old is there to be seen. However, execution-wise, it fell horribly short. In effect, this shortcoming made the film appear to be a patching together of scenes which are badly sequenced. Some scenes seem like a misfit with the next, and just as the viewer starts to get a grasp of what is going on in front of him, the scene changes; he is now back to his confusion. Also, the mention of very many names of people who have not appeared yet just confuses the average viewer. It is not easily known whether a scene shown is in the present or in the past and since they are badly put together, one can hardly distinguish which is which. Perhaps the director intended them to be suspenseful and a recall to the golden days of espionage movies, but her intentions unfortunately vanished in the cold Amsterdam air.

It is easy to see why this movie swept awards including the Best Picture Award, chances are, there was no other worthy winner – no one even comes close. In hindsight, MMFF movies generally are, rightly or wrongly, dubbed as bland, profit-seeking and brainless. This year is no different. However, 10,000 Hours did offer viewers a glimpse of the immense potential of Philippine cinema bar the nonsensical incredulities to the other floundering movie franchises. Some camera angles and techniques in this movie are commonplace in Cinemalaya and perhaps, if Cinemalaya movies camera techniques and directors become more popular without compromising their quality, then viewers would be treated to a film fest more worthy of the title of the Metro Manila Film Festival and worth the prohibition of the showing of foreign films during the fest. 10,000 Hours is a half-baked gem which fell short because of inexplicable scenes and presumably, commercial reasons. The movie was a worthy attempt at something different from the disappointing and slapstick Philippine cinema we are accustomed to and for this, it was rewarded. 10,000 hours is a promise and a peek to what lies ahead of Philippine cinema if directors dare.

Rating: 2.0/4.0
Jonathan Mendoza

By Jonathan Mendoza

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