Thursday, 11 January 2018

A Pinoy @ The Movies: Ang Larawan

During the Christmas holidays, I tweeted the SM Cinemas and Robinsons Cinemas asking them as to when they were going to screen Ang Larawan (The Portrait) here in Bacolod City (in the Philippines) because, unlike the other films participating at the Metro Manila Film Festival, this film was pulled out from the cinemas because it wasn't as popular as the other films in the festival. 

Luckily for moviegoers in Bacolod City, both cinema chains finally screened Ang Larawan in the first week of January! 

As expected, and worthy of being awarded the Best Picture trophy during the festival, the movie was fun to watch. No wonder my friend Roselyn, who lives in Hollywood but watched the film in Makati last month, wanted to applaud after every number. From the production design, to the music, libretto and dialogues, and the voices of the lead actors, this musical is a must-see. Forget the other trashy MMFF movies. Yes, it's time we educate the moviegoers to watch the films that really matter. 

Today's moviegoers don't need to pay at least 200 pesos to watch trashy comedies in cinemas. All they need to do is switch on their TVs to watch poorly-made, poorly-acted, poorly-written Filipino television dramas that, to me, are comedies pretending to be dramas.

It's time we had better films, not only during the Metro Manila Film Festival, but all year-round.  

Ang Larawan, which was based on an English play written by the Philippine National Artist for Literature, Nick Joaquin, titled A Portrait of the Artist As Filipino, is set in the pre-WWII Manila, where two unmarried sisters fight off their two other siblings from selling their ancestral house in the charming Old Manila.

As to how it all happened and ended, you need to listen to the music, watch the acting, and admire their voices. I have an issue with the lead male though. Paulo Avelino's voice isn't exactly made for singing. Instead of music, I was hearing noises. Although he was probably hired because he was handsome and could draw the younger moviegoers, he was a miscast. 

I am sure there are other young, male actors who could sing out there. Piolo Pascual comes to mind, but he was probably very expensive. Forget Coco Martin; he could carry a handgun and shoot a target while tumbling, but that guy couldn't carry a tune even if it meant saving his family in Ang Probinsyano. Would Gary V. or Martin Nievera count? How about Jed Madela? Jake Zyrus?

And another thing. Zsazsa Padilla portrays a conga singer. But when she showed off her conga skills, she was shaking her shoulders like she was trying on a new bra. Again, I am sure there are singers out there who can sing and dance properly at the same time. Verni Varga, anyone? Sultry, sexy, and a real performer! They could have gotten Dayanara Torres. They could just have made her look Asian-ish, train her to sing a few bars, and she'd shake her shoulders like a real conga dancer! After all, she wasn't called a 'dancing queen' for nothing.

And Rayver Cruz as Zsazsa Padilla's partner looked like he belonged elsewhere. He was actually in my hometown to celebrate the opening of a new mall last year. He didn't belong in the movie; he belonged there. At the mall.

And if you saw the movie, remember the opening scene where the two sisters served tablea tsokolate to their male guest? It reminded me of my mother's tablea tsokolate at home.The old tradition was, if you served pure tablea tsokolate to the guest, he or she was welcome and would be seen by the master of the house. If you served diluted tsokolate, that's a message to the guest that he or she wasn't welcome at all and had to leave.

The two sisters served pure tsokolate. So does my mom. Ha-ha-ha!

I wish they make more Filipino movies like Ang Larawan. It's very educational, telling the new generation of what it was like before when the world was charming and peaceful. When everyone had manners and decency. When everyone enjoyed a cup of tablea tsokolate, played the piano at home, and sang like they meant it. :-)

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