I woke up one mid-morning to find online, several scathing reviews of the ongoing Metro Manila Film Fest.
Each December, the movie industry unleashes its sordid cinematic formula on the public under the rubric of entertainment for the masses, its dubious efforts vindicated only by blockbuster box office bottom lines. This lucrative, annual fête celebrates a form of mind numbing media entertainment; a parade of fantastical creative underachievements obscenely overrated.
So it was with a sense of solidarity that I read on as the online community expressed their critical displeasure at the star-studded showcase of non-talent, as well as its shameful waste of real talent onscreen. Justly do the doyens of Philippine cinema suffer such ridicule; their mockery is so richly deserved.
CASH & ATROPHY
It is an ugly idea that many of the festival’s filmmakers are such willing prisoners of box office profit margins, that we often find their creative faculties shriveled beyond hope of redemption. Any attempt at artistic integrity may lie well beyond the compass of many of the MMFF filmmakers’ critically diminished cinematic sensibilities. That is to say, they probably couldn’t have made an intelligent film if they wanted to. More to the point: if they could have they should have by now.
The movie community must find it the greatest consolation that cinematic substance is no prerequisite for profit. If it were, what would become of the industry?
You may have to lower your expectations. Sadly, most of these people won’t make good movies simply because they can’t.
SINS OF MEDIA
Conventional wisdom dictates that the masa brings in more sales. It is, therefore, expedient for producers, directors and screenwriters to create mediocre entertainment for an audience incapable of comprehending much else. This reasoning is the equivalent of intellectual vomit, and makes media not only guilty of pandering to a mindless market, but indicts it of helping create that very audience to begin with.
Utter servility to the industry leads inevitably to the betrayal of the craft.
Are blockbuster profits and critical acclaim so mutually exclusive that a filmmaker can’t create a story that is both profitable and worthy of its audience? Whether it be local, foreign, commercial, indie, gay, art, comedy, drama or suspense; the category is of no real consequence. A film is good by virtue of its merits, not its genre.
Jaded moviemakers are quick to use the lazy, hackneyed excuse that their asinine melodramas, plagiarised fantasy stories and regurgitated horror flicks are meant to be purely entertaining. To this one must concede, but only on the precondition that such entertainment is as close to pure drivel as critical thinking is willing to allow.
A CODA: REDEMPTION
It is heartening to observe the increasing number of individuals who push back, calling out the rampant foolishness and rank stupidity of the sort we see so often in our culture. It gives one the hope that there may yet be an emerging order of visionaries in Philippine cinema; those who aspire to a higher standard of integrity with such stoic determination that neither the ravages of time nor subsequent advances in technology will ever diminish the power, or the relevance, of the stories they create.
Artistry. Skill. Vision. For these reasons films are worth watching. Now, as then.