Thursday, August 18, 2011

Double Film Review : Cowboys And Aliens, Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank

Obviously, in both cases, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

.:Film Review: Cowboys And Aliens:.

Yes, Trixie gets top billing over Daniel Craig...

Cowboys And Aliens
Unexpectedly good.

Sometimes, going in with low expectations for a movie can end up giving us a pleasant surprise, and that's how things turned out in last week's Nuffnang film premiere for Cowboys And Aliens, of course, brought to us by Pizza Hut in Gateway Cinemas.

The pizza was divine!!!

Thing is, the whole night was made more interesting because Pizza Hut played such a significant role in it. Whether it was their pep rally demanding "hot pizzas", or the dance number from the Pizza Hut riders after they delivered fresh and hot pizzas to every single person in the theater, or even Edgar Caper's excellent hosting to complement mine, the night was already filled with joy and excitement from the get-go, and by the time the movie reel started churning, everyone was pleasantly surprised.

Cowboys and Aliens was, admittedly, riddled with bad reviews all around. Despite that, on paper, it was hard to go wrong with two genres that often make a dent in the box office, and then James Bond + Indiana Jones. And you know what? If you don't come into the film expecting anything more than a popcorn flick, then you're going to be pleasantly entertained.

Set in an alternate Old West period where aliens existed and attacked a town, Cowboys and Aliens follows the tale of a small town who discovers the need to band together and fight as one against an advance alien force scouting the planet for possible domination. Describing the film beyond that would probably result in creating expectations for this film, which would probably yield only disappointment, so let's talk about what made this film work.

First of all, this film had the right amount of thrills, chills, and spills. It had moments of fun, it had moments of suspense, and it even had a cute albeit trite attempt at character development. Combining all of these things, the film managed to prove that even when handed a less-than-stellar script, actors like Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford could chew up the scenery enough to make the film entertaining.

This movie, to be honest, isn't something I'd pay to watch on the big screen. I'd gladly catch it on DVD or on HBO a year from now, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it in the cinemas. Despite that, it doesn't make this a bad movie at all: this film is simply something that everyone wrote off as balderdash, only to prove everyone better. It isn't smelly, stinky excrement; it's actually rather pungent, so unless you come in with high expectations, Cowboys And Aliens is certainly worth a watch.

Fun Evaluation: B
Critical Evaluation: C+

.:Film Review: Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank:.

This movie stinks. Because it's supposed to.

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank
Indie-cative of our life and times.

Eugene Domingo is one of the best local actresses of this decade, and there is no doubt that she has the chops to pull smart but mainstream-appealing comedy thanks to her crossover charisma.

What none of us expected was that she would have enough range to also be credible enough as a serious actress worth her weight in gold.

"Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank" is a brutally hilarious deconstruction of the typical Filipino indie film, usually marked by an insatiable appetite for exploiting poverty as a topic at every given turn, and focusing on showing the "dark underbelly of urban Manila." It's rather unfortunate, but you see so many of these films that it feels like a veritable crutch whenever Pinoy filmmakers attempt to touch on these specific themes.

Following the tale of a fledgling movie director, his ambitious buddy producer, and their imaginative production assistant, the film reflects sensibilities you can truly expect from your average indie production focused on winning awards instead of just coming up with a quality movie. Even one of my least favorite people, Kean Cipriano, deserves props for an excellent effort at portraying a pretentious artsy douchebag, but I guess that just comes naturally for him.

Laughs and meta-commentary plus a bit of musical flavor on top of everything. This film had it all, and the fact that the indie filmmakers welcomed a deconstruction of this nature with open arms can only bring hope that the Philippine indie film community is growing up beyond the dreary morass it has been initially.

No question about it: this film is a must-see.

Fun Evaluation: A (Would've been perfect if it didn't follow the formulaic dragging style of certain indie films too well...)
Critical Evaluation: A+


kay said...

I think that was the point of the entire thing diba? They had to show the formulaic thingie of the indie films ... they were making fun of it.

I just heart this movie. It is such a refreshing change.

Marcelle said...

@kay: Yes, that's definitely the point, but a dragging scene is still a dragging scene, even if it was used ironically or to prove a point.

If you evaluate it on how fun the movie is, that would automatically take it down a notch, because the dragging scene, while clever, was obviously not fun.

That being said, an A isn't anything to cry about. That's still pretty high. :P