Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Friday, July 15, 2005

Movie Review: "Pinoy Blonde" (2005)

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Philippine Cinema is at a crossroads. Profits have significantly dropped for various different reasons, most notably because of rampant piracy and the general attitude of local moviegoers towards Philippine cinema. Some desparate measures have been taken, such as the decrease in the number of projects per year (most film outfits only make up to five, give or take, per year) and the overall release-hold of Hollywood and foreign films during Christmas season to give way for Philippine productions to thrive in the box office without competition.
Despite all this, Local cinema is still in a virtual life support system. Only a complete overhaul of the cinematic system can get it out of it's imminent demise. I'm not being pessimistic, I'm actually looking forward to reform. Digital cinema is a great way for young pasionate filmmakers to release their ideas long since in incubation because of lack of finances. Once the Phillipine viewing public finds out how good our own filipino filmmakers can be without resorting to the exhibition of their work in international festivals, I believe a renewed interest in more complex, artisitcally significant cinema will awaken in their long jaded movie-going minds.

Now let's talk about Pinoy Blonde.

Peque Gallaga is considered the Philippines equivalent to the early Speilberg. His work in the 80's is a testament of what a familiarity to the pinoy psyche plus Hollywood inspiration can do to degrade his audience into thinking that our movies have to look like Hollywood drivel to be considered "quality" cinema. Obviously that has backfired on the Philippine movie industry and Peque is doin damage control.

Two cousins (Boy 2 and Epy Quizon) are tasked by their dying uncle to deliver an important package in a paper bag the contents of which, are unknown. This leads them to an abandoned hotel where an exchange goes wrong and leads them to circumstances they can't get away from. What sets this movie apart from your "typical pinoy film" is that the scenes are executed in a way that the main characeters' imaginations, which are filled with scenes from Hollywood and pinoy movies, take hold of their realities and view every scene as if they were in a movie themselves.

Pinoy Blonde is obviously an attempt to gain the thinking Flipino's confidence back to Philippine cinema. It is also an attempt to relish on the good-old days of real Filipino cinematic geniuses such as Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal. The format is intentionaly similar to Mike De Leon's surreal comedy "Kumakabakaba Ka Ba?" and Joe Gosengfiao's "Temptation Island". A lot of the movie's appeal comes from it's constant dropping of different film references. Quotes from Star Wars, The Matrix, Kill Bill and the Terminator are referenced in almost every situation. Some scenes are also "re-generated" in the minds of the main chartacters to compliment the movies they've seen, such as the gunfight sequence in the hotel lounge where Eddie Garcia and Jaime Fabregas are replaced by younger actors Ian Veneracion and Ryan Eigenmann in a flashier more Matrix-style sequence. One groundbreaking feat worthy of note is the injection of animated sequences in key scenes giving it a Tarantino-esque edge (heheh, Tarantino who, himself, is another copycat).
The best part of the movie was Jaime Fabregas' oddball character as the tradeoff guy and boss to Ricky Davao. He definitely moved the movie a notch in my book. He can turn from funny movie theme song singing, gun toting, samurai wielding smartass one minute to creepy foot fetish pervert the next.

Milli Vanilli, pinoy styleThe names involved in this project make it look like a variety noontime show. If I make a list it would just be too long. Apparently a lot of movie luminaries wanted to be involved in this project (seeeing that they actually have nothing else to do except star in Fanta-seryes and Tele-novellas). This can do wonders to a movie with their combined star power. In this case it was just plain suffocating. One other fault I find is the awful editing job. There were a few scenes that just didn't belong and were obviously spliced in.
One thing direk Peque should know, by this time, is that no matter how flamboyant or over the top your actors may be to fit the special two leading roles, they still need to know how to act.

The attempt was made, but fell short. Pinoy Blonde may be a good deal at P80, but it's no "Temptation Island" or "Kumakabakaba Ka Ba?". Now if they'd just release DVDs for those two, I'd happily pay P499 for them.

Rocketboy's Rating: ** (2 out of 5)


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