Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Best Pinoy Movies of 2008

Gay or not.

I'm taking a break from my usual gay snobbery to re-evaluate every movie made in the Philippines in the last twelve months, or those I've seen anyway, which is not everything, but a good lot. Contrary to rumors, gay people watch non-gay movies too. But as you will see, I just think gay movies are great, even in the context of everything there is. In this list are seven awesome creations, plus three honorable mentions to round up a top ten.

1. Jay

You may have heard people's praises for writer-director Francis Xavier Pasion's sharp satire on how the media exploits lives, but this is, in fact, the least original aspect of the movie. As the repetitive deadpan jokes accumulate to suffocation, the drama reveals itself to be something more unsettling: a call to how our casual neglect for hard truth can be the death of us. The film bounces the examination from subject to hero to viewer, a truly, enjoyably, reflexive piece of cinema. You may also have heard people declare it's not a gay movie at all, including those behind its creation, but how can it not be if the central figure is a gay journalist covering a gay man's murder (played brilliantly by Baron Geisler), who uses his effeminate amiability as a power tool then gets swept under by his own vulnerability. Yes, folks, an intelligent, funny, sad, touching mockumentary-drama-comedy can be gay, and it's the most accomplished Filipino movie of the year.

2. Dose
A young boy's rapturing sexuality is told with a refreshing ambiguity: Thrilling but daunting, a celebration as much as an elegy, it's a near-perfect encapsulation of the precise moment when a life was made alive by discovery. (Full review)

3. The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela
Officially a co-production between the Philippines, Iceland, and France, the documentary-like journey of a Cebuana "ladyboy" has the easy-going flow of a fun fairy tale and a sad heart of dislocation and longing. (Full review)

4. Adela
A tribute to people of a certain golden age and an abomination of a country's neglect, the slice-of-life realism stars screen legend Anita Linda in the year's most undeniable performance.

5. Melancholia
Lav Diaz's films are epic not only in length but in their relentless sweep of big subjects. This nine-hour black-and-white meditation on loss, mining implications both spiritual and political, is raging rallycry and prayer.

6. Quicktrip
The most romantic movie of the year doesn’t have a love team, but a single gay soul with a bleeding heart and an empty pocket. There’s homecooked magic in the way a search for a partner transforms into a quiet reclaiming of love for self. (Full review)

7. Carnivore
Brash and propulsive, the fraternity initiation potboiler that’s part jungle horror bonanza is a visceral juggernaut depicting no less than the psychic pain that nestles in the breast of macho culture.

Carlo Aquino in Carnivore

Honorable Mentions:

A contained drama in which two men talk, fuck, dance, and fuck some more, it’s intelligent in its use of economy to raise its question: If two people love each other when they’re together, what good reason is there outside to tear them apart? (Full review)

We’ve almost forgotten the joy of watching a good formula teen flick, but this one about high schoolers on the verge of their futures oozes with personality – through its winsome cast and the youthful zest of the filmmaking.

Scoff if you must at its technical flaws or its limiting kiddie appeal, but the most entertaining Pinoy animation thus far gets an honorable mention for its hip, funny, loving make-over of Filipino folk creatures: They’re more alive than most real-life actors in the movies this year.

Felix Roco in UPCAT

Also check out:
Where I Stand on 2008's Other Celebrated Films


Reyville of Simply Manila said...

narinig ko na yang jay na yan. i'm interested to get involved in indie films. masubukan ngang ma-appreciate tong mga to this yr. :)

Francis Xavier E. said...

thanks for including JAY in your selection.
JAY is now out on DVD.

Writer-director of JAY

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