Here we are almost at the end of 2009. It was a pretty bad year. I'm glad it's almost over.
There's something we can celebrate!
But to get in the spirit of things–particularly making lists, which I actually like doing this time of year–I decided to write down my top ten cinematic experiences for 2009. Here they are in no particular order:
- Enjoying Kimmy Dora and enjoying their success. I was sincerely laughing at this spot-on comedy with a breakout star Eugene Domingo, produced by independent outfit Spring Films. I'm super happy that they made money! People actually went to see their movie. Awesome.
- Tripping out while watching Anacbanua at Cinemanila in October–it's more video art than feature film, with traditional Pangasinan poetry and stark black and white images. I really hope they play it on buses traveling to and fro from Pangasinan. I really hope the dialect does not die. I really hope Christopher Gozum, the 30-year old OFW filmmaker, gets to make more stuff and gets to show it.
- Sitting inside the CCP's Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, packed with the arts and culture cognoscenti plus hundreds screaming fans for Piolo Pascual in Manila opening at Cinemalaya this year. It was glamorous. It was fun. And I enjoyed the homage two young directors (Adolfo Alix and Raya Martin) did to two old masters (Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal).
- Getting creeped out with the carefully constructed darkness of Wanted:Border which won at the Cinema One Digital Film Festival in November. Rosanna Roces is pitch-perfect in her role as a cannibalistic religious fanatic, as is the musical score . Bravo, guys. Brava, Ms. Roces.
- Listening to the sublime live musical score at this year's Silent Film Festival featuring The Mechanical Man and a bunch of my favorite genius boys. I'm glad they do it every year, and doubly glad they do it at the Shangri-la Cineplex which really has the best sounding theaters in Metro Manila.
- Cheering on the Anti-Hero in Raymond Red's Himpapawid. It inspired me to get in touch with my inner anarchist. She has a long way to go.
- Meeting Independencia's Raya Martin at a random party. I was kind of star struck because he's so cute and awkward in person and his films show vision, taste, and self assurance beyond his years. I'm looking forward to more of his work.
- Rediscovering Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising on DVD, thanks to Rey Santayana who lent me his precious copy. Tito Rey (who co-wrote it) was cool enough to tell me the stories of how this film was made by Mike de Leon in the '70s, and how it's really a musical that revolves around the concept of ligawan sa ilalim ng puno. It's set in the Baguio of my childhood, it's got a young and super charming Christopher de Leon singing love songs to a gorgeous and tragic Hilda Koronel, and they don't have a happy ending. It is now my favorite Tagalog romance, even more than those black and white ones I watched as a kid. (Plus the DVD had special features like behind the scenes footage and cast and crew interviews.)
- Stumbling upon the actual corner of Ongpin and Misericordia in Binondo–where Julio (Bembol Roco) would wait outside the window of his lost love Ligaya (Hilda Koronel) in Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag. Misericordia has been renamed Mapua, but the old shop house is still there complete with faded wood walls and old fashioned glass windows. Thanks to Brocka I have a new fascination and appreciation for Manila and Philippine cinema.
- And while it is not a Filipino film, Ponyo On the Cliff by the Sea by Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki (released on DVD this year) is a lovely little film about a gold fish and a boy. It's classic story telling and animation at it's finest. Watch it if you can.
My one regret: I didn't get to see Erik Matti's The Arrival. I heard it was Amazing. But the premiere was invitational and I wasn't invited. Ah, well. Someday.
Don't forget, the Metro Manila Film Festival opens on Christmas Day. I'll be blogging about it for sure. Happy holidays, don't get too trashed, and please support Philippine cinema!