Festival Report – CineFilipino 2018 – Part 2

Short reviews of the remaining CineFilipino features

by Philbert Dy

Mga Mister ni Rosario, directed by Alpha Habon, stars Kate Alejandrino as a fan-turned-wife of a major star played by Joross Gamboa. It is explained that following a car accident, her actor husband basically became a method, bringing the characters he plays in TV shows and movies back to their home. This, of course, presents many challenges, especially as it seems to prevent the couple from confronting the issues that have cropped up between them since the accident.

It’s a cute concept, certainly. And the actors are game enough to make some of it really fun. But boy, does this film go wrong. There just comes a point where it stops being cute, the specific complications growing to proportions where it becomes extremely difficult to swallow. Even if one manages to go along for the ride, the movie’s uninspired direction and constant, overexplaining voiceover narration might still make it a challenge to really enjoy.

 

Rogue Recommends?: The concept is pretty good, but it just doesn’t work out for this movie.

Roni Benaid’s Poon tracks the tale of Sister Claudia (Glydel Mercado), who brings home a supposedly blessed icon of San Vargas to add to her collection of religious images. And then, one day, she discovers that the statue appears to be crying tears of blood. Soon enough, it starts to appear as though the statue is somehow causing the deaths of people that cross her in her parish community. These deaths come to haunt Claudia, who as it turns is still grappling with a trauma from her past that involves her daughter, who is played by Shy Carlos.

 

It’s pretty standard horror stuff, except slower and not very exciting. The film struggles to build escalating tension, as each of the deaths play out in pretty much the same way: someone crosses Claudia, that person dies pretty much offscreen, and then appears to her at the wake. The film just falls into this pattern, with little gained in the way of character development or intrigue. And then it deploys a twist that is a lot more hilarious than is probably intended. The end result is a movie of muddled intentions that might elicit laughs at the moment people are supposed to be shocked. It’s not great.

 

Rogue Recommends?: Hard no on this one.

Alec Figuracion’s The Eternity Between Seconds is largely set in Incheon Airport. TJ Trinidad is a successful self-help author about to return to the Philippines after a signing event. Yeng Constantino is a young woman who has just arrived in Korea to meet her father for the first time. Both are using the airport as a means of delaying the inevitable. The two meet and start wandering the airport together, ostensibly on a quest to find a missing watch, but mostly finding comfort in being able to express their worries to a stranger.

 

We’ve seen several films over the last few years that document strangers meeting and getting to know each other over some limited amount of time. This film is different in that it isn’t a romance. It doesn’t really put the idea of a more intimate relationship on the table. The film just bathes in that weird feeling of being at the airport, this strange limbo that people are subjected to before moving on somewhere else. The film lingers in that setting, languishing in the welcome idleness that these characters are able to find. There isn’t really a whole lot that happens, but there is gentle drama in the stories of these two people who at this point in their lives are happier to wait around in an airport, enjoying the amenities, rather than moving on to confront the uncertainty of what waits beyond it.

 

Rogue Recommends?: Yeah. It’s a film that gets lovely in its stillness, and its smallness.

 

Ronald Battalones’ Excuse Me, Po is the story of Hilda (Elizabeth Oropesa), a former professional background talent who now makes her living by telling sob stories out on the street, essentially scamming people out of some of their pocket money. But the film makes clear that Hilda isn’t a bad person: she is just doing this because her husband has Parkinson’s, and she’s shown to be more than kind to other people in need. Later, she catches the attention of a group of filmmakers, who decide that they want to tell her story.

 

There are a few intriguing ideas in this story, like Hilda treating her little scams as performances. But this story is begging for some structure. There is just an overall lack of storytelling knowhow throughout the film. The film ends up stumbling from one clumsy scene after another, the story never really finding momentum as the film fails to follow through on emotions from scene to scene. It’s just not very good.

 

Rogue Recommends?: It feels like this film needed a lot more guidance than it actually got.