Ma’Rosa: A Film about the Current Philippine State

It is supposed to be the time of the year when I would write about Cinemalaya, an annual indie-film festival here in Manila.  I would usually write about the movie entry that I enjoyed or touched me to the core.  However, I opted not to write any of the movies I saw because it seem that the quality of films featured this year seem not worth it.

Instead, let me feature the film I saw over the last weekend.  It was shown in movie houses a year ago and in the comforts of my home that I got to see Ma’Rosa, a film by the brilliant Brillante Mendoza.

MAROSA poster

unexpected! surprisingly brilliant!

Ma’Rosa is the official Philippine entry in last year’s Oscars Foreign Film category.  This movie however failed to make it to the final cut of finalists.  Nevertheless, this is the same movie that was an entry in last year’s Cannes Film Festival in which the lead actress Jacklyn Jose was adjudged as the Best Actress.

The story, the representation, the set and acting seem so real, it felt like I was actually groping into the lives of a poor Filipino family who only have few options of endure life’s challenges.  Jacklyn Jose was so outstanding now I know why she won.

After seeing the movie, I was actually not surprised why the Film Academy of the Philippines chose this movie as last year’s entry to Oscars.  It is because the elements, the texture and the narrative are all Filipino in nature in its present sorry state.  The movie effectively showed and represent how it is to be poor in the Philippines.

I was also not surprised why this movie did not make it to Oscars, maybe it is because the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences of America felt that this Brillante movie was too fictional to the point of being too exaggerated.  But let me oppose that.  I would be one of those Filipinos who was born and raised here, who would dissent at this type of notion.  Ma’Rosa is nothing but real, genuine and existent in this side of the planet.

It was a superb Filipino movie.  It may not have reached the Oscars level but Ma’Rosa is one brilliant Filipino film.  And I hope next year’s Cinemalaya entries would be as exceptional as this one.


Midnight Express: A Nail-Biting Movie Masterpiece

A film is considered a classic or a masterpiece if the viewers today will still be totally stirred, emotionally moved and knocked off even if it has been created decades ago.  Usually a movie turns out to be ridiculous and hilarious when it will be viewed years after it has been produced – outrageous costumes; goofy hairstyles; over-the-top spiels; and, campy setting – though during the time when it was released for commercial screening it was once considered hip, sensible and even serious.

But the movie I saw last night belonged to a different league.  It is a 35-year old classic entitled “Midnight Express” directed by Alan Parker and written by Oliver Stone.  It is a graphic story of Billy Hayes and his brutalized ordeal in a Turkish prison for a drug abuse offense.  It is a prison drama years before my favorite 1994 prison-themed movie Shawshank Redemption was produced.

Midnight Express is a riveting film that still holds up in today’s viewing public.  It exhibited unmatched intensity concerning injustice, human abuse, releasing of pent up anger, frustration and even sensualism to the point of mental disintegration. This is so far the oldest prison-themed film I have seen that invokes nail-biting emotion on my part.

Right after seeing the movie, I immediately googled Midnight Express and was not surprised to learn that the movie won a couple of Oscars (for best music and Oliver Stone for his writing).  It was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Best Director and Best Picture.  If I were an adult during the year it was released, I will definitely write the Oscars demanding them to explain why on earth they snubbed Brad Davis’ brilliant performance in the film!

Naubos ang kuko ko!!! Kakakagat! Galing!