Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Movie Review: "Mga Pusang Gala" (2005)

nag iwan ka ba ng candy?

Local independent cinema is undergoing a rennaisance. Since the advent of the digital video camera, Every kid with a computer and a DV cam is starting to produce and shoot their own movies. Now all we need to do is sort out the bad ones and watch the inspired, well produced ones..

Recently, local movies have been earning dimes and quarters and sadly, there are no signs of improvement, while we quietly anticipate the new Harry Potter movie, they give us Enteng Kabisote 2. I can hardly contain my excitement.

Consquently, Filipino independent cinema remains the only faint glimmer of hope in a dying industry. I was willing to do my part. I was very, very hesitant at first. To be frank, gay-themed movies aren't exactly my cup of tea. I was extremely pleased that the gay element was kept to a minimal (the movie is PG-13) and was not a central part of the movie.

Boyet (Ricky Davao) is a pocketbook novelist with a thing for cats (the furry kind and the club-going, muscular-kind). Marta (Irma Adlawan) is and Ad exec with a boyfriend who's almost always never there. They're neighbors sharing a duplex. Boyet writes his noviels using Marta's loves and losses as an inspiration. Together they form a bizzarely symbiotic relationship as they seek that which is most important in life, this crazy thing called love.

Mga Pusang Gala is an excellent story based on the play Mga Estrangero at Ang Gabi by Jun Lana (I was later told by my very informed friends that the movie was based on an original play by Jun Lana entitled Libog at Kabilugan ng Buwan). Ellen Ongkeko Marfil, the film's director had the wise judgement of not deviating from the theater-like feel of the story. Most of the story takes place in the duplex compound (which is very practical, given the story). The camera work is pretty standard at the beginning and middle parts but takes a surreal David Lynch-esque turn upon the end of the movie and paves the way to a surprisingly effective ending.

Irma Adlawan definitely shines in this one. Her experience in the stage definitely reflected on her performance. Her delivery of her English dialogue brought a hint of sophistication to the budgeted production. I can say that it is one of the better deliveries of English dialogue I've seen in recent movies. It's amazzing that most of the time, even the Caucasian actors in Philippine movies dont deliver their English lines very well either. Well, they get crappy lines in the first place, anyway.

Nawasa: please clean your filters!The production values are understandably below par. The ad agency looks more like a P3,500 a month condo unit furnished with an iMac and some chairs. Shoot permits in Ortigas and Makati are pretty expensive. However, as the movie went by, it just got better and better, soon you focus more on the story. Yes, you get distracted now and then by some of the cheap fantasy effects (like the one with the rosebushes representing the boyfriends Steve and Dom), but soon you get engrossed with how the story will end up, you forget about it.

Mga Pusang Gala is a rare gem in a box full of rocks, a rough gem at that, but rare. I have a double standard for Filipino Movies so here's my rating...

Rocketboy's rating **** (4 out of 5)


Blogger filmphiler said...

Wow! You get to see it na rin, a? That's nice! :-)

You really see movies on their first day opening? Hanep! (No pun intended.) :-p

3:05 PM

Anonymous atoy said...

haven't seen the film though. i'll try it on the weekend.

5:51 PM

Anonymous Allan and Jane said...

Wow, napanood mo na! Haha buti ka pa, ako pinopromote namin hindi ko pa napapanood.

Uy, favor naman. Pa-link ng WritersBloc sa'yo, keri mo lang? Kasama namin si Rody Vera at Jun Lana, mga sumulat ng Pusang Gala. (Check the website out na gawa, ahem ahem, ko: )

3:51 AM

Blogger the rocketboy said...

filmphiler: I try to see evertything on the first day, but that's not always possible. Plus depende rin sa budget.

Sabi din nila na the first day is the most important in terms of attendance for the mall to determine if the movie should stay for the week or if they get pulled out and replaced with another movie. Kay sayang kung mawawala na lang bigla. Just did my part...

atoy: Yah go see it. it's still in theaters

allan and jane: Sure thing. basta may authorization mo. Maybe one day, pag sinipag akong sumulat ulit ng fiction sumali ako sa group nyo (nangangarap lang ng gising...)

5:55 AM

Anonymous Alon said...

Ei rocketboy guess your ranting the other day was answered by cats! he he he! This should have been one of the films in the festival! Astig!

11:31 AM

Blogger drei said...

di ko muna binasa review mo since i'm watching it this weekend. :)

TGIF!! :)

12:46 PM

Blogger the rocketboy said...

alon; oo nga eh. Sana this will pave the way for more indie movies to be shown in wide release. Andaming maganda dyan, nakatago lang...

drei: go, go, go.

hey, Cinemanila is showing Belgian movies in Megamall. Next few weeks naman yung mga Cannes entries..

6:20 AM

Anonymous strippedfighter16 said...

seen it...liked it. i liked the cinematography...and the story of course...

sa sm cinema ako nanood eh. mabuti naman at hindi na-cut yung mga ibang scenes...

9:20 AM

Blogger the rocketboy said...

Strippedfighter: I liked the fact that it kept the 'commercialization' factor to a minimal. even The Colt Ice sequences were so uncommercial, heheh.

11:04 AM

Blogger Radioactive Adobo said...

Rocketboy, I think it is based on the Palanca Award-winning script ‘Libog at Kabilugan ng Buwan’ by Jun Lana, who also wrote the screenplay adaptation with Rody Vera of the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA). :-)


3:06 PM

Blogger filmphiler said...

"Mga Estranghero at ang Gabi" was the original title of the play. When it was submitted as a screenplay to Direk Ellen, it was entitled "Libog at Kabilugan ng Buwan." Even Direk Ellen mistook the latter as the original title. 'Yun daw kasi ang nakita niyang title. :-)

11:43 PM

Anonymous Allan and Jane said...

If memory serves us right, baligtad 'ata. "Libog at Kabilugan ng Buwan" was the original title of the play. "Ang Estranghero at ang Gabi" was the title submitted (and won) in competition sa Palanca awards.

8:45 AM

Blogger the rocketboy said...

Filmphiler, Adobo and Allan and Jane: Thank you very much, guys for the correction. It's obvious that I based all of this on the website But did also check it out and you guys are right. It was based on the play "Libog at Kabilugan ng Buwan" in the write ups I read in the periodicals. Salamat ulit.

6:01 AM

Blogger Radioactive Adobo said...

Of course the play was different from the SCREENplay. They normally change titles to suit certain audiences, but what the heck?!

Basta, three cheers to a wonderful film! Ayos!

11:57 AM

Anonymous watch movie said...

The film takes place in the Philippines and is in a mixture of Tagalog and English. The cast is energetic and committed and the result is a fairly entertaining.

7:15 PM

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