Putukan at poetic shit: A review of Lorna.

There was this wonderful trick in the first sequence of Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s Lorna: It essentially summarized the story we were about it watch, but one will only realize it once the movie finishes. It also introduced the recurring metaphor for love used in the film. Bullets fired from guns were the modern-day Love arrows, and they left a bloody mess where they struck.

Lorna (2014) poster

Lorna was the story of one woman’s quest for love and the many men in her life: the ex-husband who left her, a foreign boyfriend, a returning old flame, and a charmer who pops up every so often. She was occasionally accompanied by two long-time friends, her son from her ex-husband, and a very randy housecat. The film had an impressive cast of actors, with Shamaine Buencamino as a very effective lead actress. Maria Isabel Lopez and Raquel Villavicencio were her two best friends; Ms. Lopez totally deserved her Best Supporting Actress win for playing the hilarious Elvie. Felix Roco was adorable as Lorna’s emocore son. Juan Rodrigo was refreshing as the guy with embarrassingly corny pick-up lines. Angel Aquino had a short, but scene-stealing appearance. And, of course, there was Lav Diaz.

Tangina, I love Lav Diaz.

Sigrid Bernardo is one of the probably few feminist filmmakers working right now, and Lorna had strong feminist themes. The beauty of it is how one won’t notice it at first; the feminism does not get in the way of entertainment. Lorna, just like her previous work, looked into the many facets of women’s lives, making them fully fleshed-out characters with histories and motivation. The roles women took for themselves were discussed, and the ideas of motherhood and womanhood examined through witty banter (typical of Sigrid’s screenplays) that combines heavy musings with humor. One of the few directors to consistently do so, Sigrid candidly presented women’s sexuality as a natural part of their being, not merely as a subject for jokes or titillation.

Sigrid is also a queer filmmaker. Unlike her previous film, however, Lorna was not about a gay character. There is a very minor queer subplot, although it might be one of the weaker aspects of the story. It felt underwritten and was explained as how a person might “change” which seems to send a message that sexual attraction is a choice. One of my main criticisms for the film were the inclusion of these intriguing plot points (another one was the backstory of Raquel Villavicencio’s character) which were not addressed in depth, making them feel like missed opportunities.

Another thing I can’t quite swallow is believing that Shamaine Buencamino (who is 49 years old) et al are a bunch of sixty-year old folks. This was perhaps lampshaded in the movie when Angel Aquino admitted within the story that she is supposedly fifty (fifty!) years old, but was told that she does not look fifty at all.

The movie had a delicious ending sequence where the character of Lorna, steaming while reading a romance novel in her favorite restaurant table, was surrounded by several couples making out. One of those couples were a pair of men (“Ano ba yan, puro mga bading,” exclaimed a man sitting behind us), the first to be shown. The whole sequence was played for comedy, but the inclusion of a gay couple in that shot was a subtle but strong statement on how love does not care for a person’s age nor gender.

Filipino films today at the French Film Festival.

If it weren’t for a friend inviting me to watch the screening of her short films, I wouldn’t have noticed the French Film Festival currently screening at the Shangri-la Plaza.

Later, the film festival will be featuring works from Filipino filmmakers:

Traditionally, on Independence Day, the festival pays tribute to Philippine cinema by screening Filipino films that have been shown in festivals in France, or whose directors have participated in French workshops or seminars. Among the films to be shown this year are “Busong” by Auraeus Solito (Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes 2011), “Manila” by Raya Martin and Adolfo Alix, Jr. (Official Selection, Cannes Film Festival 2009), “Bakal Boys” by Ralstom Jover (participant in the Cinéfondation Atelier, Cannes Film Festival 2012) and the short films “Little” and “Au Revoir Philippe” by Sigrid Bernardo (One Country One Film Festival, Apchat).

Because of limited time, I probably will only be able to catch the short films. Which is too bad because I want to see “Busong”.

The schedule for the remaining screenings at the Shangri-la Plaza are below:

Busong

June 12
1:30 pm – Bakal Boys
4:00 pm – Short films
8:00 pm – Busong

June 13
12:30 pm – Demon Lover
3:30 pm – Irma Vep
5:30 pm – Summer Hours
8:00 – Sentimental Destinies

June 14
12:00 pm – Rebellion (L’ordre et la morale)
3:00 pm – The Art of Love (L’art d’aimer)
5:00 pm – Heartbreaker (L’arnacoeur)
7:30 pm – The Artist

June 15
12:00 pm – Cold Water (L’eau Froide)
2:30 pm – Demon Lover
5:30 pm – All That Glitters (Tout ce qui brille)
8:00 pm – Clean

June 16
12:00 pm – Hideaway (Le Refuge)
3:00 pm – The 3 – Way Wedding (L’ Mariage a Trois)
5:30 pm – Sentimental Destinies
8:00 pm – Summer Hours

June 17
12:30 pmh – Clean
3:00 pm – Roses A Credit
5:30 pm – Deep in the Woods (Au Fond Des Bois)
8:00 pm – The 3 – Way Wedding (L’ Mariage a Trois)

Citi-Rustan’s French Film Festival

Notes from a really long weekend: Saturday at The Collective Art Fair.

It was a Friday night when we screened at Cinema is Incomplete, not Saturday.

PG4M at The CollectiveI could now remove setting up a booth in a fair from my bucket list.

There was a slight mix-up when we signed up for tables at The Collective Art Fair: I told Philip Paraan of Kanto I will be reserving table booths for Sine Bahaghari, 2 tarot readers and for my friend Mich, whom Philip also knew. Philip was able to do that but thought I will be relaying the news to Mich, while I thought Philip will be contacting Mich himself. Of course, with both of us busy with a million things leading to the fair, neither of us were able to tell Mich that she will have a table at the fair. And that’s how Sine Bahaghari ended up with two tables.

So sorry, Mich.

I don’t know how it happened that we were not able to sell any Sine Bahaghari merchandise, though. I guess the fact that none of the Sine Bahaghari organizers had any real experience running a business has something to do with it.

Early in the morning, I also realized I will not be able to do any tarot readings for anyone so I left the tarot reading booth to my friends so I could only focus on my other booth and the film screenings. I ended up forgetting lunch, losing my temper, hardly paying any attention to an even more tired Bern, and heading straight home as soon as we’ve settled all the dues for the booths and tables.

It was a crazy, tiring day; and that is coming from someone who has had his share of crazy, tiring days.

But yes, The Collective Art Fair was fun, too, the way fairs are always fun. I finally got to meet in person a long-time online friend (hello, Gabs). I got to hear Gerry’s royal penis joke. The most fun I had was when I introduced Sigrid Bernardo to my boyfriend, Bern, and my ex-boyfriend, Carlo, with the three of them facing each other.

Ay!” Sigrid exclaimed and mentioned it was one of those awkward “it’s complicated” moments. Except that, as far as complicated moments for me go, it wasn’t that much, yet. I was really enjoying myself at that point.

It would have been more fun though if I had money to actually buy something, but that should be something I ought to remember for next time.

Sine Bahaghari at Cinema is Incomplete and Kanto. Tarot Monkey at The Collective Art Fair. The Forsaken House at UP.

I was telling Philip Paraan of Kanto earlier this afternoon that the next time we mount an LGBT film screening for Sine Bahaghari, it won’t be on February. There are too many things going on for the National Arts Month and mounting a film festival bars one from attending other art-related events around the metropolis.

From tonight until Sunday, I don’t expect I will be getting enough sleep.

Tomorrow evening, Sine Bahaghari will screen two love stories at Cinema is Incomplete: the romantic comedy “Lovebirds” and the gorgeous-looking drama “Muli”.

In “Lovebirds”, a young man introduces his Spanish chatmate to his conservative mother; said chatmate turned out to be another young man, to the mom’s disbelief. “Muli” is the story of the affair of a lawyer and an activist innkeeper in Baguio, spanning several years. The two films offer two facets of gay relationships and it would be interesting to see contrasts between the two films.

The Collective Art Fair 2012

On Saturday, Sine Bahaghari will also participate in the first The Collective Art Fair. Several artists and entrepreneurs will gather at The Collective for a day filled with art, music, books, clothes, movies, and food.

At Kanto, Sine Bahaghari will be screening two short films by Sigrid Bernardo: “Little”, an internationally-acclaimed film which was only shown once in the Philippines, and “Babae”, a favorite among LGBT film screenings. They will be followed by the noir-ish “Señorita” by Vincent Sandoval.

For the fair, Sine Bahaghari will be selling the soundtrack of “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa”, DVDs of “Ang Panggagahasa kay Fe” signed by Irma Adlawan, and Sine Bahaghari shirts and bags. The fair will also have tarot readers available, courtesy of the Tarot Monkey, SP Lovecraft Productions, and Yam Lacaba.

Speaking of Irma Adlawan, by Sunday morning, the boyfriend and I will be watching her perform in The Forsaken House from Dulaang UP. We were supposed to watch the afternoon staging instead of morning so we could have some rest after the art fair, but Ms Irma will not be playing during the afternoon. Why should one miss catching Irma Adlawan on stage if one has the chance to do so? You just don’t.