Monday, October 17, 2016

QCinema2016: Patay na si Hesus, Shorts A

This QCinema entry takes the road movie format, which pops up from time to time in local cinema (ToFarm's Pauwi Na being a recent example) and gives it its own unique comedic flavor.

The titular Hesus isn't the religious icon, he's actually a normal guy. Upon learning of his death, his ex-wife Iyay (Jacklyn Jose) decides to take her three children from Cebu to Dumaguete to pay their respects to him. Iyay's family is anything but run of the mill, and the movie takes its time going through each of the characters and delving into their respective hopes and dreams. The road movie is made for this sort of thing, and the excellent ensemble cast helps in this regard, giving life to their respective quirky characters.

The film is pretty funny from start to finish. The jokes range from silly and inconsequential to screwball to outrageous. The family meets a number of weird situations and characters that challenge their status quo, including a criminal on the run, a borderline insane nun and so on. When the film does become somber, its near the end of the film, and it's just for one scene. Sure, the film can be faulted for being too comedic, but I think that's just the personality of the film shining through. It didn't lessen my overall enjoyment of the film.

The film makes that one somber scene count, though, and it encapsulates the thesis of the film, that life is generally a crapshoot, and sometimes all we can really do is laugh it off. Iyay's life hasn't been easy, raising three kids on her own. But in that scene, she's still okay with it. In the end, when life seems set to kick your ass, things generally work themselves out in the end. Given recent troubled times, I think this is something we need right now.

This mixing of laughter and tears - basically, life - can also be seen during one of the other comedic scenes near the end. It's a moment that should be tragic (and the characters are bawling their hearts out) but the audience was laughing. It's a strange juxtaposition that really hooked me. Though a bit rough around the edges in some parts, Patay na si Hesus is a funny, charming film that entertained me from beginning to end.

QCINEMA SHORT SHORTS REVIEWS

Time for some shorts. Overall I thought this slate was decent, with the individual shorts ranging from ok to great.

Sayaw sa Butal had a few cute moments, but I felt it really didn't go anywhere. Those drone shots though.
I really liked Contestant #4, because I've met people like our main character, who sacrificed their own needs for the needs of the family. Though the start was a bit slow, it really paid off with some lovely, poignant moments near the end.

Viva Viva Escolta is a love letter to Escolta, once the jewel of the city, now teeming with abandoned buildings and ghosts of the past. The story revolving the film's two main characters feels secondary to the location itself, lovingly lensed by Albert Banzon. In the end, however, that seems to be the point; their story serving as metaphor to old, fading memories.

There's a scene during If You Leave where one of the characters muses about horror tropes descending into cliche. It's a bit self reflective, as the film uses a lot of the same conventions as its sister film Violator: creepy places shot on old video formats, strange other dimensions, a mix of the mundane and the supernatural, even a few jump scares for extra measure. But the film is far from cliche, and I think it's actually the best film of this lot. The mere character of its strangeness makes for an unbelievably creepy experience.

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