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My fascination with films, admittedly, is concentrated on foreign ones. If you'd ask me to name my favorite motion pictures, I'd give you a list of predominantly American and some Japanese flicks. When it comes to Filipino movies, I have very limited knowledge. One reason for it, at least for me, is that obtaining copies of international movies is exponentially easier, it's commercially more accessible, and another one is that Filipino films leaning towards the indie genre get so little exposure at local theaters.

When I first learned about Cinema '76, all I could think of was "Fina~fucking~lly!" \(^▽^)/ Cinema '76 is a micro-cinema (seating capacity is 60) that offers public viewing (for only PhP 100 per film!) of Pinoy classics, independent films and international arthouse movies. What's more awesome is that they're located in San Juan, which is very near where I currently live. *confetti everywhere* The cinema's cozy (though it gets cold sometimes) and comfortable (there are rows of couches and a bunch of pillows on it). Though I have two concerns: one, I'm wondering how Cinema '76 would be able to handle the continued influx of moviegoers. The place is small, but seeing their FB page, more and more people want to see the films they show. Screening times are extended to as late as 12MN and a lot of people are still not accommodated. Two, the same level seating. When we went there to see Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa, the person behind my friend asked if he could lower his head throughout the film because they couldn't see the screen entirely. HAHAHA. Imagine the inconvenience! I do hope they get to do something about these.

Moving on, since they've opened their doors, I was able to catch these three films: Baka Siguro Yata, Blue Bustamante, and as I mentioned, just recently, Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa. (I tried to be as minimal with spoilers as possible, but I think there's still a few giveaways.)


Baka Siguro Yata was part of Cinema One Originals Film Festival last year, and I found really cute and funny to watch. I went straight to Cinema '76 from work, afraid that the plot might get too boring that I'll end up falling asleep, which luckily was not the case at all. It's a view on love stories of three different generations; it's straightforward and relatable, I think, for everyone who watches it.

Dino Pastrano (he reminds me a bit of Seth Rogen; he also won Best Actor in the festival for this film) was really adorable and charming as his character, the contented-to-be-not-aiming-for-more web designer/band member Carlo. How he got intertwined (aka got her knocked up) with Melissa (portrayed by Bangs Garcia), you have to see for yourself. Carlo got awfully whiny and loud, and got slapped a couple of times on some situations but you can't really help but laugh at the scenes! 

Katrina Legaspi was great playing Melissa's younger sister, Myka. She was annoying and funny and I enjoyed very much the love-hate relationship she had with Dino initially. As much she's a feisty little sibling to Melissa, she's completely smitten by her boyfriend, Jinno (Boo Gabunada), who pressures her into losing her V card to him. See where this potpourri of complications is going? Add the other leg to the triangle that is Dino's separated parents, Ricky Davao and Cherie Gil, who rekindled the flame and began cheating on their respective partners.

Although the plot may seem 'been there, done that,' there was something in the way it was all tied up together that made it work. It ended up being light, enjoyable and humorous (thanks as well to Nicco Manalo, Alex Medina and Jerald Napoles). I guarantee by the end of the film, Jinno's corny song will be stuck in your head for days.




Nostalgia! This is the story of George Bustamante (Joem Bascon) leaving the Philippines to work as an engineer in Japan so that he can, as most OFWs that decide to work abroad, provide a better life for his wife, June (Dimples Romana) and son (Jhiz Deocareza). But things don't turn out the way he wanted it to, George lands the job of a stuntman for a Japanese super hero TV show.

Watching the behind of the scenes of a super sentai show was enough to remind me of my childhood days, the low-budget appearance (props, etc.) and texture of the film was an added time-traveling treat itself.

Although Blue Bustamante was lighthearted and at times comical (because of his funny bestfriend, Roger Grace, played by Jun Sabayton, who has this fixation with beer gardens), it also seriously tackles the struggles of most Filipino families with their loved ones abroad -- the OFWs that needed to be away, the loneliness of being far away, the homesickness, the ones that get left behind, the kids that eventually grow apart from their overseas parents, and all the things in between. There's this another weird twist where a Japanese woman stalks George and falls in love with him. She declared her love for him over a meal but since George doesn't understand Japanese, the whole conversation was lost in translation.

I just found Joem Bascon's acting too toned down, especially on scenes that I thought should be more hilarious, or his delivery of punchlines, I hoped, was with more oomph. But I guess that's where Jun Sabayton perfectly complements Bascon. He definitely nails it each and every time, never failing to elicit laughter from the audience whenever he's on the screen. So in the end, the movie's serious but not too serious. Overall, it's a good film to watch with friends, friends who like super sentai shows, family and even kids.

Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa

I'm a sucker for love stories, even more for those that are sad and tragic. And this film, just by the title and soundtrack, I can surely say is a sad one. Then there's this clamor for it to be screened at Cinema '76 again. It was originally shown the first week of June along with Sleepless, but people who've missed the screening requested it to be shown again. So I thought this must be really good, I must watch it.

First thing's first: do not read the synopsis. I went to see the film with merely an impression about it, and not knowing anything other than what I've stated up there was a good thing.

There were some scenes I found too dragging and slow, like some bits of the traveling to school part, but I loved the symmetry shot (I forgot which LRT station they were at) which reminded me of Wes Anderson, the showing of Before Sunrise during a film class, the token funny and brutally honest guy friend ala Janus del Prado, Luke, played by Brian Gabriel Corella, the silhouette shots, the supposed #1 rule hipsters go by (laughed so hard on this one), and most especially the soundtrack (click here to listen to Quest's Walang Hanggan). I've never heard of Emmanuelle Vera (Isa) before and was blown away when she sang. Same goes with Nicco Manalo, who was funny at Baka Siguro Yata, but was stellar as his love sick character, Sam. Props to the crew of this film, I could just imagine how tedious it was filming all the commute scenes: walking on the streets, walking to the train station, inside the train, inside cabs, etc.

At one point, we were all scratching our heads because we seem to get lost with all the talking and being in transit, we felt there were some loose ends (like the scene where Sam opened his laptop and read something and looked shocked, the screen was never shown), but I'd still recommend you to watch it because of the simple but at the same time complicated plot. Timing's forever a bitch.

***

Appreciation for indie films just upped a notch because these types of films have become more accessible, thanks to Cinema '76! They are currently on their "Hugot Week" running from July 1 until the 7th, featuring the movies: Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, Ang Huling Cha Cha ni Anita and Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa.

For more information, please visit their Facebook page.

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