Top picks from QCinema
The fifth edition of the QCinema film festival is taking its final bow today. So, it’s your last chance to catch the best titles in its thematically diverse lineup. The movies may be uneven but viewable, and they’re more palatable than the alienating and annoying entries fielded by Cinemalaya this year.
We’ve been asked which films to prioritize, especially in the full-length Circle category. On top of our list is Khavn dela Cruz’s “Balangiga: Howling Wilderness,” the movie event’s most significant entry.
The critical success of “Balangiga” is no easy feat, because Khavn’s unconventional coming-of-age drama about 8-year-old Kulas (Justine Samson), his stern lolo, their carabao Melchora and the orphan (Warren Tuaño) they rescue following the bloody Balangiga massacre in Samar boldly smashes the stultifying limitations of mainstream filmmaking.
Like “Balangiga,” James Robin Mayo’s “The Chanters” doesn’t have big stars in its cast. But, its fly-on-the-wall tale about ambition and an indigenous tribe’s dying tradition, framed by the poignant story of its starstruck young protagonist Sarah Mae (Jally Nae Gabaliga) and her senile lolo (Romulo Caballero), benefits from a well-spun yarn that is as realistically portrayed as it is disarmingly depicted.
Mikhail Red’s “Neomanila” alternately sags and soars, but it’s hard to look away from it when the pertinence of its themes— among them extrajudicial killings and its musings on nature versus nurture—hits its mark. It’s made more viewable by the fine performance of Eula Valdes, who portrays an assassin for hire and a mother who doesn’t know how to connect with her “estranged” only son.
For its part, there’s more to Jobin Ballesteros’ visually delectable and gorgeously realized sci-fi romance “Kulay Lila ang Gabi na Binudburan Pa ng Mga Bituin” than its rom-com froth and overreaching themes—about Aries and Chai, who are trying to iron out the contentious issues that are threatening to break their marriage apart.
It doesn’t hurt that the production’s easy-on-the-eye lead stars, Max Eigenmann and Jay Castillo, know how to turn on the charm—even when they can’t stop cursing each other.
Pam Miras’ thematically provocative “Medusae” meanders as it winds down to its final act, but it tells a compelling story just the same—about single mom Alfa (Desiree del Valle) and how she deals with a deep sense of loss and guilt when her troubled albino son, Luni (Carl Palaganas), inexplicably goes missing.
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