MMFF: Metro Manila Filmfest Farce
STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco () - January 16, 2010 - 12:00am

(Second of two parts)

The other day, I made my own ranking of the Metro Manila Film Festival entries according to quality (basically my critical evaluation of each film since I watched all seven). Mano Po 6 was my first Best Picture, followed very closely by Ang Panday and I Love You, Goodbye in No. 3 (although I have to say that I didn’t like it very much). To continue the list, here’s my ranking of the remaining four entries in the recently concluded MMFF, which should now stand for Metro Manila Filmfest Farce (no thanks to the stupid ruling about making box-office results a criterion for Best Picture):

4) Shake, Rattle & Roll XI — I would have put it as my third Best Picture because the first two episodes were very entertaining. Rico Gutierrez’s Episode 1 may have been influenced too much by The Exorcist, but its special effects were impressive — and so was Maja Salvador’s performance. The second episode by Don Michael Perez was campy, but Ruffa Gutierrez brought the house down by giving her all to it. Her mere presence already made that episode worth watching. Too bad, the last episode was badly put together and it pulled the picture down as a whole. Otherwise, I liked Shake, Rattle & Roll even better than I Love You, Goodbye.

5) Nobody, Nobody But... Juan — This film has a great premise: About an old Filipino immigrant (Dolphy), who is living a lonely life in the United States and hankering to come home and manages to reconnect with people in his past, including the love of his life (Gloria Romero).

I would love to give this movie an A for effort, except that some of that effort shows. But it is very charming, especially since Dolphy gives a truly heartfelt performance as a very lonely man, who feels useless and a burden to his children now that he is in the sunset of his life.

Nobody, Nobody But... Juan is supposed to be a comedy, but the dramatic parts work better and are better staged. There are a lot of poignant moments and you feel for the elderly, particularly in America where old people are deposited in nursing homes. Unfortunately, this homage and tribute to our senior citizens is canceled out by that entire sequence that shows Dolphy and other co-elderly prancing around only in adult diapers. It must have been funny on paper and during brainstorming sessions, but the whole idea comes out pathetic and unnecessary on screen.

Another drawback of the film is how it is used as a promotional tool for Wowowee. It is an overkill that even slows down the film’s pacing.

6) Wapakman — Maybe since I was expecting the worst, it doesn’t come out as bad as it unfolds on screen. But I wouldn’t have recommended it for viewing just the same since some of the scenes are intolerable.

The film stars Manny Pacquiao as a septic tank cleaner, but at the same time attends to all the needs of his children because his wife and mother to the brood (Rufa Mae Quinto) is abroad and cuckolds him by sleeping with the boss (somebody had been unfaithful there, eh?). Somewhere along the way he becomes a superhero, except that the film can’t decide where to go.

The sensibilities of this movie are so skewed that you can’t even show it to children because how do you explain to minors the situation of a family where the absentee mother returns home from abroad one day with a lover in tow? Surely, that happens in real life, but as a film producer, Manny should have studied first his target audience.

Oh, but Wapakman is many, many times better than his previous film outing, Anak ni Kumander a couple of years ago where he reportedly spent P30-M on a junk like that (it was also for the Metro Manila Film Festival).

Now, if your sole aim is to see Krista Ranillo in Wapakman, you’ll get disappointed because she’s hardly there. I can only assume that most of her scenes were edited out so as not to add any more flame to the already burning issue linking her to the boxing champ. In the few scenes where I saw her, I even mistook her for Angelu de Leon. And since there is hardly any Krista in Wapakman, she can proudly proclaim to the world that she cannot be blamed for the poor showing of Wapakman at the tills.

The dismal earnings of Wapakman should also send another message to Packman to stay out not only from politics, but from the movies as well. Boxing is where he is at his best — at his greatest even — so stick there.

7.) Ang Darling Kong Aswang — Admittedly, this was a film that wasn’t made to please critics and film reviewers. It was a treat for the children and that helped Ang Darling Kong Aswang become the film festival’s second top grosser and even snagged third Best Picture because of the MMFF ruling combining quality with box-office success. And so congratulations!

Till the next MMFF — or how it should now be called: The Metro Manila Filmfest Farce.

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