Thy Womb: A Rare Digital Gem in a sea of Celluloid Garbage

I started my year quite right by watching the only movie worth watching in the MMFF, ‘Thy Womb’, which is of course starred by the only superstar, Nora Aunor, and directed by Brilliante Mendoza, both winners of international festivals where this movie was showcased.

I tried recalling if I have ever watched any movie of La Aunor in a moviehouse and I realized that this is only the 2nd that I did, the first being Flor Contemplacion.

H and I have read numerous reviews of the movie and the generally positive review has convinced me to watch the movie. Several online searches revealed that Thy Womb is only shown to at most 10 cinemas in the Metro, fortunately with the one being very near my workplace.

The movie tells the story of a Badjao couple, Shaleha (Aunor) and her husband Bangas-an, played by the equally great Bembol Roco. Despite their advanced age the couple have failed to have children. Shaleha, a traditional birth attendant, has to be reminded constantly of her own failure of bearing a child by keeping the umbilical cords of the babies she delivered, hanging them by a special corner of their house, a small shanty on the Badjao Village in Bongao, Tawi-tawi.

The frustration and desire for a child has led to Bangas-an to convince her wife that he should take on a second wife, (later played by a bland Lovi Poe) a tradition accepted in the Muslim faith. Shaleha, loyal and loving wife, has no choice but to agree, and starts on a quest to find the wife for her husband.

The next scenes reveal to the audience the simple yet complex Badjao-Muslim tradition and way of life, of  how the people can be poor and yet manage to pool money for dowries worth hundreds of thousands, of the the lavish ceremonies celebrated despite gunfires shooting from a distance, of lives flourishing despite odds and conflicts.  Mendoza, in his style of story-telling that makes you think you are watching a documentary instead of a feature film, gives the audience a glimpse of the life in the islands. Its beauty against poverty. We see the juxtaposition of the catholic chapel and the muslim mosque, reminding us that in these islands, christianity is a weakened, ignored force. The picturesque, wide-angled shots of the Tawi-tawi landscape and the sea reminds us of its pristine beauty but then we are also subtly reminded of the conflicts; of pirates stealing even meager pieces of fish caught by Shaleha and bangas-an, of military personnel chasing unseen bandits.

This style went on for most part of the film. While H and I couldn’t complain, I could imagine other viewers exasperated to the point of being bored. I can’t blame them if they’ve been waiting for some action to happen. The only conflict, revealed by Mersila, Lovi Poe’s character, is simple yet it would turn the old couple’s life around. Mendoza, however, has prepared his audience for this moment.  We no longer question the logic of their tradition. We only eagerly await what happens next.

But the brilliant (pun intended) Mendoza did not craft some run-of-the mill drama of wives and mistresses.  You will not see ‘sampalan’ anyhere in this film. You may question how the arresting beauty of Mersila would accept a wedding with an aging Bangas-an but as she reveals her ‘requirement’ for the wedding to continue, her beauty and desirability made sense. The next few seconds after the reveal managed to be gut-wrenchingly painful by the mere sight of Nora Aunor’s eye-acting.

Ah, Nora’s eyes. She may have lost all the glamour, she may have aged and botched her plastic surgery which affected her golden voice (a mystery if you ask me), but those eyes could tell everything inside Shaleha’s conflicted heart. The satisfaction of a completed task, the happiness in holding a new-born and the subsequent desire to have it for her own, the confusion, pain and acceptance rolled into one expression when she realized that what she found for her husband would be worth more than the 150 thousand peso dowry and their married life. No words, just those amazing eyes.

I would have preferred a more dramatic ending to the story. Just a few seconds longer would have made a huge difference, but in Brilliante Mendoza’s mind, the ending where exchanged looks said everything, I should no longer complain.

Hay nako Hayden.

Saw the Hayden Kho videos yesterday and I was genuinely disturbed.  I thought I’d be turned on by the thought that I’d see Hayden naked but nah.  I was disgusted with Hayden.  And I felt genuine pity to the girls who were with him.

I agree with Ruby.  He should be punished, not only because of his stupidity, but also because of his nerve to show his mini peepee.

But why isn’t Dr. Vicky Belo reacting? She should complain that his BF didn’t bother to record their intimate moments. Ugh the mental image! Erase erase.

Rest muna tayo

Before I go and watch my dvds and pop my eyes out, let me share this interesting article:

Nightmare on Elm Street gets a remake.

Interesting, first it was Jason, now it’s Freddy.  And the guy who played Roschach in Watchmen will play a creepier role.

And in local entertainment…

I’m intrigued with Maricel Soriano’s T2, especially Star Cinema opted to have its opening day tomorrow, April 11, Sabado de Gloria. Now that’s some gimmick.

Have a peaceful and holy weekend everyone!

Naiwan ng Sundo

Want to waste your hard-earned money? Watch Robin Padilla’s movie “Sundo”, directed by a certain Topel Lee.  But if you care for your friends and family, keep them away from this crap.

When we watched this movie last night, we were still hopeful.  But all hope got lost once the movie started.  And then, agony.

So what do I think of Sundo:

  • It’s a complete waste of time and money. I just said that earlier right?
  • Final Destination anyone?
  • Topel Lee probably has padrinos somewhere to still get projects after his other “scary” work “Pamahiin”.  And we thought that movie was bad.
  • The trailer was even scarier than the film. But I guess that’s what happens when you tell everything in the trailer.
  • What happened to Robin Padilla? The only time he was acting naturally was when he was holding a gun. A gun?  To shoot down ghosts? And what’s with the stance?
  • The entire movie felt incomplete, unpolished and haphazardly edited. The plot was too obvious.  Just watch the trailer.
  • Yes Rhian, we know your character is blind, now if you can only realize that Filipinos are not 7 feet tall.  You do not need to constantly look up above people’s heads to convince us that you do not see anything.  The white contacts are distracting. Although, you looked like a European model, and you are beautiful. But acting blind is not your strength. Or acting in general.
  • We thought, after so many scary movies that did the same thing, they would already know how to execute the “Man being run over by a speeding vehicle” sequence. Apparently not.  Catsup being spewed out of its plastic bottle anyone?
  • The movie had this desaturated, photoshopped feel. Videoshopped?
  • Did I say that this movie is a waste of time and money?
  • Topel should go back to what he’s been doing before making scary films and stay there.
  • Again, a complete waste of time and money.

Congrats, Mr. Ledger.

Superb work, Mr. Heath Ledger. Your interpretation will be a tough act to follow.

While I’m not totally ooohhh-ahhhh over the movie, The Dark Knight will give you a rollercoaster of a movie experience. Worth the 120 (or more) ticket? Yes, definitely. Just prepare to give your grey matter a bit of an exercise though.  But for those who won’t get it, the Batpod will suffice. 😛