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Festival’s finest

By Jullie Y. Daza

My take on the 2017 edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival?

I could only take four out of the eight movies, which is more than the average movie fan’s quota for him/herself. But I was glad, in an extreme sort of way, that for the MMFF season, three of this generation’s finest actors were captured, so to speak, well within the scope of the directors’ viewfinders. Paulo Avelino, who should’ve won an award as the con man aiming to seduce one of the sisters in “Larawan”.

Derek Ramsay, adjudged best actor for “All of You”, for what one enthralled fan calls his nonacting style. (Derek’s next role should remove him from the mould of a Derek Ramsay clone that producers and fans have glued him into.) Jericho Rosales, who doesn’t need to try hard and harder to delineate a believable character, and his role in “Siargao” as a fulltime surfer and parttime vocalist-guitarist with a band has just added a sprinkling of spice to his already colorful c.v.

The best thing about the festival is, no doubt, its best picture, “Ang Larawan”. But for the lack of a memorable song, one to take away with a hummable melody and captivating lyrics – after all, this is a musical – it would have been a 95 percent nearly perfect piece of theater transferred to the silver screen, silver but glowing golden in its luminous moments. If director Loy Arcenas lost the competition to Paul Soriano, the festival’s best director for “Siargao”, it could have been because Mr. Arcenas was hampered by the claustrophobic ambience of that old house in Intramuros, itself a character in the story. Compared to the tight shots and medium shots required by the story, Mr. Soriano’s Siargao went to town and hit the beach, rode the waves and plunged into the sea, delivering the beauty of the deep as a metaphor for life and its sea change of emotions, as superficial or as mysterious as they come.

And the best thing about the best picture? The last few minutes, which are its most beautiful – the stars and pillars of Philippine stage and theater, together in one artfully orchestrated celebratory scene – Dulce, Celeste Legazpi, Noel Trinidad, Nanette Inventor, Jaime Fabregas, Bernardo Bernardo, Ogie Alcasid, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Leo Rialp, Menchu L. Yulo, Rachel Alejandro, Joanna Ampil – as below them, the candle-lit procession blesses the streets two months before the bombs are to fall on Intramuros.

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