Sunday, August 20, 2006


One of the many differences between HKG and Manila is the film scene/industry.

In HKG locally made movies are churned out an incredible rate, the cinemas usually have two or three locally made offers to see and they have subtitles (not always incredibly accurate!) so those of us whose Cantonese is not so good can at least follow the majority of the movies...

Here in Manila, there is a small local movie industry, however, unfortunately for me I am an incredibly bad linguist and therefore the fact that the movies here don't normally have English subtitles means I don't go and watch them....

..until last night....when Torn & Frayed texted me and asked if I wanted to go and see 'Kubrador'..after clarifying that there were subtitles...I agreed...(you can read Torn & Frayed's take on the movie here)

'Kubrador' is the Tagalog word for a 'bet collector', in this case someone who collects bets for Jueteng.

The movie follows the main character, Amy, played by Gina PareƱo, for three days, and gives an insight into the gritty life in the many alley ways of Metro Manila. Whilst sitting in the cinema the feeling is not so much that of watching a film...but more of a documentary. It is incredibly well filmed and there are so many touches that make it so real...the lack of vivid colour that so many films have, the way the camera follows the characters down the streets and alleyways - not in the usual smooth movements of the more main stream films; but in a jerky, human if you were walking right behind the character..

There were so many things in the film that made it so typically Filipino, the towel that Amy carries with her all the time - most of the time tucked around inside her shirt collar, the way the son in law was holding the notes folded through his fingers whilst selling the newspapers, Amy's almost reverential treatment of her umbrella, the scene in the alleyway of the kids performing dance steps to music, the sari-sari store that Amy's and her husband have, the image of the 'useless' husband, the alms collecting....

The film leads the viewer through the money collection for jueteng, from the bottom to the top of the pyramid....from the one Peso bets to the scene at the treasurer's house of coins being shovelled into sacks and piles of P1,000 notes being put into envelopes for bribes.....just a small part of the huge net of jueteng that covers the Philippines.

There are a few small injections of light-heartedness...someone searching for Erap's grave at the Manila North Cemetary on 1st November and one of Amy's neighbours choosing his cock's birthday as his lucky numbers for jueteng provided enough humour for me.

The saddest thing was the fact that the cinema at the Mall of Asia had only about 10 people in it....this is a home grown movie, that has won awards overseas and yet no one was watching it....could it possibly be because the film is an incredibly accurate slice of reality for a huge part of the population of the Philippines (particularly Manila) and therefore does not provide the required escapism that one is normally looking for when going to see a film?

It's definitely not a nice and fluffy film, but it isn't gory or gruesome and I managed to watch the whole movie without having to hide behind a chair! And as far as I am concerned that is already a mark in its favour! I can honestly say that it was the best film I have seen so far this year....and I wouldn't say no to seeing it again...

"Your cock has a birthday?"

more info about the movie and pictures from here


Blogger Dana Marie said...

nice movie review!

Thanks a lot for sharing to us your review of the film... it sure will help me a lot for my own movie review (which is a requirement in school)

thanks again!

9:06 pm  
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