Rant and Rave: Metro Manila Film Festival [Part 1 of 2]

Saving Sally

Reviewed by Casey Eridio

Months before its initial release, Saving Sally popped up in almost everyone’s Facebook news feed. The trailer, which featured the film’s quirky animations and fairytale-esque narration, caught the attention of those who proudly wear the geek badge, as well as those who were simply looking for something different. But the creators of Saving Sally had put up a disclaimer through the film’s tagline: a very typical love story. And indeed it is, while at the same time, it is not.

The live-action animation disguises a perfectly relatable love story that seems as if it was torn straight out of your diary by adding in monsters casually blending in with the mundane world, steampunk machines, and the infamous walking male genitalia, making it entirely personal for its geeky protagonist, Marty. While stories of unrequited love have been told and retold over time, Saving Sally manages to escape out of the usual pattern through its characters with their idiosyncratic personalities and charming quirks.

Watching Saving Sally is like feeling sand in between your toes, or listening to music that perfectly matches a five-hour road trip. It is not overwhelmingly life-changing, nor is it something that keeps you up at 12 am, pondering about the meaning of life. It is a collection of the simple pleasures in life, making up a 94-minute journey that perfectly encapsulates the kind of love that is exuberant and full of nothing but pure intentions.

This typical-turned-into-peculiar love story will make you fall in love with its geeky narration, aesthetically pleasing animations, and endearing characters. Saving Sally is for those who want something that is out of this world, and at the same time, hits close to home.

Sunday Beauty Queen

Reviewed by Cody Cepeda

The moving, poignant documentary film draws focus to the struggles of those on the giving end of Balikbayan boxes and pasalubongs—the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). Sunday Beauty Queen takes us through the lives of Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong; they work six days a week, 24 hours a day, and care for families that are not primarily their own. They have Sundays to themselves, and on the only day that they actually get to rest, they choose to spend it with their fellow domestic helpers where they transform into beauty queens.

The beauty pageants that bring them all together are their escape from their week of grueling work; here, they get to have their own Cinderella moment. But just like in the classic fairytale, their ball doesn’t last for long. In the scenes, the women are seen rushing home to beat their curfew—in fear of getting reprimanded, or worse, fired by their employers.

Sunday Beauty Queen doesn’t try hard with tropes. The poetry of the women’s raw, honest narratives come naturally, and although their stories are gut-wrenching and heartbreaking, the film doesn’t bank on sob stories to push its important message. Beyond this, the film chooses to celebrate the dedication of OFWs and their selfless sacrifices out of unconditional love for their families. Such as there is the breaking of hearts, there is also the beat, warmth, and lifting of it. What is remembered of the film is the resilience of our OFWs, who are not only beauty queens on Sundays, but heroes of our nation everyday.


Reviewed by Catherine Orda

This film had to be made. There is no need to vouch for its relevance on account of its subject matter, but rather, based on the idea that current art, and in particular, film, must address certain specific and pressing issues. It must do this in a time wherein outfit of the day posts and articles about unspeakable inhumanities are all mediated through the same screen, consumed at twenty, thirty-second intervals with the shortest attention spans, and practically forgotten after scrolling for hours.

It’s exactly this problematic culture of spastic information consumption of both mundanities and injustices that makes Kabisera seem even more relevant and necessary. Viewers are placed in a rare position of uninterruptedly witnessing a hastily-pieced-together snapshot of how extra-judicial killings are being mercilessly carried out. The film works precisely because of what it is: a straightforward, accessible two-hour account of a brutal issue. That it is told through a detailed narrative arc gives a prevalent—but still rather murky—issue a sense of specificity, and therefore, a kind of third-dimensionality lacking in much more impersonal, prosaic headlines we scroll through everyday.

The creators of Kabisera have performed an important artistic duty, and so the question of interpretation—whether or not the film ought to be taken as a direct political statement—becomes almost irrelevant, secondary only to the fact that a very timely issue was given exposure—in a film festival notorious for favoring mediocrity, no less. The question of quality, however, is another matter altogether: Overscored, clumsily edited, and filled with dialogue that seemed to have come straight from afternoon radio dramas, it’s a film that ultimately falls flat, salvaged only by Nora Aunor’s nuanced performance.

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough

Reviewed by Michi Dimaano

Satire is tricky to execute, but Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough has done a pretty good job. Similar to its predecessor, its premise makes fun of the movie industry, this time focusing on the concept of romantic comedies, poking fun at the “formula” that is commonly used to make these movies a hit in the theaters.

Eugene Domingo reprises her role as herself, albeit a much more conspicuous version, who would play Romina in the movie within the movie. The plot is simple, but Domingo delivers the punchlines adequately and effectively through her character, especially during the hilarious sauna scene where she explains the three levels of heartbreak. The film relies heavily on this delivery to portray the message to the viewers, which can somehow simplify the topic at hand. Nonetheless, it is still effective comedy, which when combined with the smooth transitions between the real-life and imagined sequences, adds to the overall humor of the film.

Cody Cepeda

By Cody Cepeda

Catherine Orda

By Catherine Orda

Casey Margaret Eridio

By Casey Margaret Eridio

Michi Dimaano

By Michi Dimaano

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