Swelter, Sizzle, Boom
by Jansen Musico

Amok (2011)
D: Lawrence Fajardo
S: Mark Gil, Nonie Buencamino, Gary Lim, Dido Delapaz

There is a popular Pinoy novelty rhyme that would best sum up the Amok experience: “Shit! Sobrang init! Abot singit! (Shit! It’s so hot! It’s reaching my crotch!)” Lawrence Fajardo’s Cinemalaya entry generates enough heat to make his audience’s balls sweat. The opening sequence places the viewers in the middle of Pasay Rotonda on what I assume is a hectic Baclaran Wednesday. The streets are heavily congested, the traffic is suffocating, the sun is merciless (evidenced by the copious amounts of sweat drenching the characters’ armpits), and the blaring noises all around are unbearable. Every little detail put together is enough to make anyone’s blood boil. It’s the perfect setting for anyone to run amok.

The film makes use of a multi-character narrative, with distinct mini stories ricocheting off one another. There is a father and son eagerly waiting to go to the province, workers killing time playing pool, a barbecue vendor nagging her little girl, and other small, interesting story arcs with bit players waiting for that one incident that would tie them all up together—a wild shooting spree care of a vengeful gunman.

The fact that this kind of film was ever shot in a place that would imaginably be a producer’s worst nightmare is a feat. It takes guts to create something so complex in a location that’s so volatile. Perhaps this is why Amok worked well as a finished piece. Aside from all the colorful figures plucked out from Pasay’s thoroughfare, the locale itself became the most important character; the filmmakers made sure to weave it in. This shouldn’t take away any merit from the actors, though. Some gave very impressive performances.

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One of the most noteworthy appearances is that of Mark Gil’s. Fajardo and Gil have a director-actor relationship that just clicks every time they work together, and that is carried over here. Gil goes all-out as a washed-up two-bit action star stuck in his short-lived glory days. His arc was very brief, but still insanely hilarious. It’s a welcome break, painting some light in this dark and suspenseful comedy-drama.

Unlike those of many films in the same genre, Amok’s suspense isn’t so reliant on the element of surprise. It is the careful pacing which makes it so effective. As if a kettle of water placed on a stove, the movie is made to heat, steam, and boil into a loud whistle. Amok starts off slow with a stretched drag and then gradually picks up its pace until the audience is finally treated to a flurry of intertwined events. This is the film’s greatest strength, but it’s also its weakness. Since movies, in general, are basically split in three acts—beginning, middle, and end—the conclusions of all the little stories, which were all so meticulously fleshed out during the first act, felt so rushed. Some of which even seemed they lacked a finality that would place a period on their running tales. Whether it was the filmmakers’ intention to leave some things open-ended, I cannot truly say. Maybe it was? The film treats its audience like voyeurs eavesdropping on private conversations. We, the audience, get involved, and that’s what makes it engaging. But just like eavesdropping, we get cut off without warning, and we’re left to meander with the ideas we gathered.

Technically, the film was good, but for a person aware of the setting’s geography, mentally placing each of the characters in the environment was a tad bit confusing. The strong, crisp visuals, and the witty play of on-screen elements made up for any negligible faults. Though the film is about running amok, everything played out with such precision. It’s organized chaos, a good counterpoint for the film’s subject matter.

5

Menchu and Nonie are the new Anna and King!

The amazing Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and Nonie Buencamino headlines Resorts World Manila’s production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I. The two are alternating with Shiela Valderrama and Bo Cerudo.

The King and I runs until May 2013. For ticket reservations, click here or call Resorts World Manila’s Tourist / Visitor Hotline at (02) 836-6333.

Cultural Center of the Philippines
TRIPLE THREATS
The Leading Men and Women of Philippine Musical Theater

A series of solo concerts featuring the stalwarts of Philippine Musical Theater. Each concert is an intimate evening of beautiful music, personally selected by the artists themselves, from their vast repertoire of favorite songs from Broadway, West End, original Filipino musicals and the movies. Dubbed as a series of “concept concerts”, the narrative of the performance is dictated by the song choices. A rare opportunity for audiences to see a different facet of the acclaimed theater, television and film artist being featured. The definition of a “triple threat” is someone in a particular field who exhibits three skills that are necessary to excel. In this case, our “Triple Threats” – Nonie Buencamino, Audie Gemora and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo – can sing, act and dance.

Artists:

Nonie Buencamino is very much visible on stage, television and film, having done straight plays and musicals while appearing in daily television series as well as independent and mainstream cinema. Prior to the concert, Nonie portrayed the King of Siam in “The King and I” at Resorts World Manila. He’s also part of an afternoon daily series produced by ABS-CBN entitled “Dugong Buhay”. Leading a five-piece band is musical director Carmela Sinco. Guest artists include Ms. Mitch Valdez, daughter Delphine Buencamino and wife Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino. Lighting design by noted film, television and stage lighting designer, Gawad CCP awardee Monino Duque. Stage director is Kokoy Jimenez.

Though his name is primarily associated with theater, multi-talented Audie Gemora is also one of the more respected singers in the local music industry. He recently cut a Broadway album entitled “Playlist”. He won an award for “Best Performance as Male Lead in a Musical” at the Gawad Buhay Awards of Philstage for his performance in “Sweeney Todd”. He recently starred opposite Joanna Ampil in Resorts World Manila’s “The Sound of Music”. His latest baby is “Talent School of Academics and Art”, a K to 12 school in tandem with Maestro Ryan Cayabyab opening in June 2013. Musical Director is Rony Fortich. With special guest artists. Lighting design by one of the country’s most sought-after lighting designers for live events and theatrical productions, John Ilao Batalla.

Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo began her career in 1978 with Repertory Philippines. She has worked with other theater groups and production companies such as Trumpets, Atlantis Productions, Actor’s Actor Incorporated and New Voice Productions. Recently,  Menchu played the role of Anna Leonowens in Resorts World Manila’s production of “The King and I”. She was also last seen the Atlantis production of the musical “Nine”. Last year, Menchu did a three-week run in Singapore of the play “The God of Carnage” where she garnered an Aliw Awards nomination for Best Actress in a Play. Her most recent directorial work, the musical “Jekyll and Hyde” opened to rave reviews. With this concert, Menchu celebrates her 35th year as a theater actress. Musical director is Rony Fortich. Lighting design by one of the country’s most sought-after lighting designers for live events and theatrical productions, John Ilao Batalla. Stage director is Raymond Lauchengco.

Tickets:
Subscription Price: Php1,200 | Php1,500 
Individual Price: Php800 | Php600

For tickets and inquiries, please contact: CCP Box Office (632)832-3704, (632)832-1125 loc. 1409 & 1406; Ticketworld (632)891-9999

A Mother's Story

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A Mother’s Story
Directed by John Lazatin
2011/2012

There is something in this movie that wrings close Filipino hearts as it reflects something that is currently happening in the Philippines, well, at least most of it or sans the uber melodrama.  I quite liked how Pokwang’s usual humor and jokes were sprinkled generously in the movie that it did not interfere so much with the storytelling.  The scene where Pokwang and her mother were talking about Skype or other Online instant messaging applications was funny and heartfelt at the same time. 

As much as the movie wants to showcase Pokwang’s acting skill, which I think were good in the movie, the story and the movie does not take risks and resorted to Hallmark-ish melodrama.  The start of the film, the pacing and the transfer of timelines were really good.  It started off really good but it got a lot murkier as it progressed.  In the end it was just a dud and banal story, with a banal ending.  I can’t help but feel really disappointed with it.   However, I can still see the movie being something that would be relatable to Filiinos.  C
TRIPLE THREATS: Leading Men and Women of Philippine Musical Theater

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TRIPLE THREATS: Leading Men and Women of Philippine Musical Theater is a series of solo concerts featuring the stalwarts of Philippine Musical Theater. Each concert is an intimate evening of beautiful music, personally selected by the artists themselves, from their vast repertoire of favorite songs from Broadway, West End, original Filipino musicals and the movies. Dubbed as a series of “concept concerts”, the narrative of the performance is dictated by the song choices. A rare opportunity for audiences to see a different facet of the acclaimed theater, television and film artist being featured. The definition of a “triple threat” is someone in a particular field who exhibits three skills that are necessary to excel. In this case, our “Triple Threats” – Nonie Buencamino, Audie Gemora and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo – can sing, act and dance.

Opening the series on June 13, 2013 is “Much Ado about Nonie” featuring acclaimed actor Nonie Buencamino. Nonie is very much visible on stage, television and film, having done straight plays and musicals while appearing in daily television series as well as independent and mainstream cinema. Prior to the concert, Nonie portrayed the King of Siam in “The King and I” at Resorts World Manila. He’s also part of an afternoon daily series produced by ABS-CBN entitled “Dugong Buhay”. His concert will take his audience on a personal journey from theater to mainstream show business with a mix of the two in between. Leading a five-piece band is musical director Carmela Sinco. Guest artists include Ms. Mitch Valdez, daughter Delphine Buencamino and wife Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino. Lighting design by noted film, television and stage lighting designer, Gawad CCP awardee Monino Duque. Stage director is Kokoy Jimenez.

Not to be missed on July 5 is the second concert of the series entitled “I Was Here” with Audie Gemora. Though his name is primarily associated with theater, multi-talented Audie is also one of the more respected singers in the local music industry. He recently cut a Broadway album entitled “Playlist”. He won an award for “Best Performance as Male Lead in a Musical” at the Gawad Buhay Awards of Philstage for his performance in “Sweeney Todd”. He recently starred opposite Joanna Ampil in Resorts World Manila’s “The Sound of Music”. His latest baby is “Talent School of Academics and Art”, a K to 12 school in tandem with Maestro Ryan Cayabyab opening in June 2013. Musical Director is Rony Fortich. With special guest artists. Lighting design by one of the country’s most sought-after lighting designers for live events and theatrical productions, John Ilao Batalla.

Capping the series on August 15 is “Leading Lady”, the third and last concert of the series featuring Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo. Menchu began her career in 1978 with Repertory Philippines. She has worked with other theater groups and production companies such as Trumpets, Atlantis Productions, Actor’s Actor Incorporated and New Voice Productions. Recently,  Menchu played the role of Anna Leonowens in Resorts World Manila’s production of “The King and I”. She was also last seen the Atlantis production of the musical “Nine”. Last year, Menchu did a three-week run in Singapore of the play “The God of Carnage” where she garnered an Aliw Awards nomination for Best Actress in a Play. Her most recent directorial work, the musical “Jekyll and Hyde” opened to rave reviews. With this concert, Menchu celebrates her 35th year as a theater actress. Musical director is Rony Fortich. Lighting design by one of the country’s most sought-after lighting designers for live events and theatrical productions, John Ilao Batalla. Stage director is Raymond Lauchengco.

TRIPLE THREATS: Leading Men and Women in Philippine Musical Theater is presented by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Subscriptions to the three concerts are available at P 1,500 for Orchestra Center and P 1,200 for Orchestra Sides. Individual concert tickets are P 800 for Orchestra Center and P 600 for Orchestra Sides. The following standard discounts apply: 50% for students, 20% for Senior Citizen, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), Military and Government Officials. All performances begin at 7:30pm at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater).

Cultural Center of the Philippines
TRIPLE THREATS: NONIE BUENCAMINO
Much Ado About Nonie

13 June 2013; 7:30pm
Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)

Nonie Buencamino is very much visible on stage, television and film, having done straight plays and musicals while appearing in daily television series as well as independent and mainstream cinema. Prior to the concert, Nonie portrayed the King of Siam in “The King and I” at Resorts World Manila. He’s also part of an afternoon daily series produced by ABS-CBN entitled “Dugong Buhay”. Leading a five-piece band is musical director Carmela Sinco. Guest artists include Ms. Mitch Valdez, daughter Delphine Buencamino and wife Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino. Lighting design by noted film, television and stage lighting designer, Gawad CCP awardee Monino Duque. Stage director is Kokoy Jimenez.

Tickets:
Subscription Price: Php1,200 | Php1,500 
Individual Price: Php800 | Php600

For tickets and inquiries, please contact: CCP Box Office (632)832-3704, (632)832-1125 loc. 1409 & 1406; Ticketworld (632)891-9999

Aswang

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Aswang
Directed by Jerrold Tarog
2011

Even though I think that this film is the weakest among Jerrold Tarog’s feature films, that does not mean that I did not like it, in fact, I did.  Just that I think that Tarog has set a high bar for himself (his last film was my favorite movie from last year), a commercial film may pose to be a very hard task, and I think that he still did a pretty good job.  What I hated in the film was that  it was weakly acted compared to his previous works which I personally see as to be really well acted pieces.  Albie Casino and that annoying kid never felt like they lost their parents.  They were murdered, it’s a grave loss for them, but it was as if they were not.  I’m not asking them to cry a lot, but I was expecting for them to be a little shaken or shocked.  Marc Abaya overplayed his role.  He comes of as a caricature.  Nonie Buencamino was great in her cameo-ish role.  Paulo Avelino was an able lead as well.  Lovi Poe pretty much owned the movie, like in most of the movies she was in this year.  I also wish that the creatures could have been scarier.  Nevertheless, I still think it was a really good film from Tarog.  Fun, intriguing, and definitely better than most of the mainstream fluffs that came out this year.  B/B+
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