Concentrated Nonsense (cinema edition)

Now Showing by Raya Martin
May 21, 2008, 8:25 pm
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Tomorrow May 22 at 14h00 on Théâtre Croisette (50 La Croisette) in Cannes is the premiere of a new film by a Filipino filmmaker for whom I’ve been both biggest critic and biggest fan. In a number of ways he and I grew up in cinema together (still growing) over the past several years, and so it is with a measure of pride that I look at what he has accomplished – regarding this acceptance, but even more so the maturity of the work – and with a measure of hope that I look forward to the future – for he is but 24 years of age this year, and there is much more cinema to come. A cinema that, I believe, is slowly helping to fulfill that which Avellana so desired, that: “On the screen, we’ll see the way we talk, the way we make love, the way we die.”

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I’ve been trying to track the online Cannes coverage for reviews of Raya’s film and Eric Khoo’s film My Magic, which showed in Competition on friday. Khoo has only been reviewed once (negatively) by ScreenDaily, thus far (Sunday). But I can’t find anything on Now Showing, except for this from a group blog, by Christoph Huber:

“NOW SHOWING. Doesn’t really come together in the end, even as it has some really fine scenes, especially in the first half. Sometimes the long take strategy seems an affetcation rather than organic. Still, among the fest’s four and a half hour films, easily the less tough watch. Very moving introduction by Raya Martin nearly seemed to make up for its failure though, especially as leading girl was onstage in the most incredible dress.”

To show your film in any of the official selections in Cannes is obviously a great honour and will look good on posters and resumes for years to come, but I wonder – if no one writes about your Cannes premiere – does it really happen/matter?

Comment by ben

Is this Ben S from Singapore? Thanks for the link. I just got to read that as well before your comment came in.

I agree about the ‘honour’ and it looking good on resumes and posters perhaps being a perk one receives even if the film doesn’t make a splash in the mainstream media, but I think the question of does it really happen/matter is moot– the answer will likely change depending on who you ask, and when; it’s only been a few days after all, and we only pretty much have access to the English language press thus far.

And all the same I think you’re right– isn’t the leaf enveloping the word Cannes the truly important part of screening?

Comment by Alexis

Yeah, it’s me, Slater. And I’m sure more coverage will be forthcoming. And yes, foreign language media is probably doing a better job than the US/UK publications. I’m just feeling very cynical about Cannes (and by extension all big festivals). It’s a very complex game of personal favours, internal/external politics, compromises, obligations, old allegiances, star f*cking, and bandwagon-jumping that makes the festival. And the stakes appear to be so high, but then so many films play there and disappear with two (English) trade reviews back to where they came from.

Comment by ben

Like I said on the phone, everything still feels strange, with all the reviews and comments thus far. But reading this again is one of the warmest most significant reminder of why I did the work in the first place. Again, maraming salamat, my dearest friend.

Comment by direk

Raya Martin’s video interview by the Cahiers crew
And Philippines Cinema will be celebrated at the festival Paris Cinema this summer (more info on the films projected at the press conference on June 12th).

Comment by HarryTuttle

Hi Ben, I understand the misgivings, somewhere along the way, in the politics and competitiveness (between festivals) of it all, cinema can seem to get lost…

Comment by Alexis

Hi Harry, thanks for the update. I read your interesting post on Unspoken Cinema about Raya and “Now Showing” as well. Looking forward to Part 2.

Are you based in Paris?

Comment by Alexis

Yes I’m in Paris. I was at “Cinéma du Réel” in March. ;)
Part 2 is up now.

Comment by HarryTuttle

Ah, a shame we didn’t get to meet there!

Comment by Alexis

Well I didn’t quite catch your name when you introduced the films of Lav Diaz, so I figured out only afterward it was your blog.
The schedule of all these movies was very tight, too bad there wasn’t time for a discussion. Though I usually don’t have much to say right after a screening.
Hopefully we can meet next time.

Are you going for the Philippines cinema spotlight at Paris Cinema festival?
No Lav Diaz and Raya MArtin this time. They will show films from Brillante Mendoza, Joey Gosiengfiao, as well as mainstream movies (Chito S Roño, Dante Nico Garcia). I don’t know any of these.

Comment by HarryTuttle

The final line up of Filipino films at the Paris Cinema festival was announced today. Which ones from the 6 programs (40 some films) linked here do you most recommend?
I’m happy to finally be able to catch Insiang! :)

Comment by HarryTuttle

Why those films? Where are the classics like the Gerry de Leon films, Lino Brocka masterpieces like Oranoprobis, Peque Gallaga’s Oro, Plata, Mata & Scorpio Nights, etc. Gagamboy? If they wanted sensible & sexy, why not Jeffrey Jeturian’s Bridal Shower or Ishmael Bernal’s Manila By Night & Pagdating sa Dulo

Comment by Ed

Variety’s take on Raya’s “Now Showing”

Comment by Ed

Hi Harry, I’ll send some recommendations soon.

Ed (Saludes?), they ARE showing Bridal Shower.

Regarding the Variety review: his brutal attempts to be witty aside, that’s really a schlock piece of writing. He says the film “ultimately fails to convince even on its own loosely defined aesthetic terms”, but doesn’t even seem to have a position on what it’s trying to do and why it fails at that. Comments are thrown out regarding the length of shots (Variety seems to enjoy counting minutes, Kohler did the same for his positive review of Autohystoria), and calls the film structuralist? Well, if those are the aesthetic terms he imagines it defines itself by, then surely he’ll see it as a failure; but he’ll also not have understood anything.

Comment by Alexis

Yeah, this Variety review is so “commercial-minded” I wonder why they even bother to review “artfilms”…
The film as a whole is far from “structuralist”, though it does incorporates some elements borrowed from the structuralist Avant Garde scene (notably the silent film deconstruction, or the suppression of the songs soundtrack).
I thought Scott Foundas was a good critic… when he says he can’t tell if something is beneficial or detrimental to the film, I call that a failure of criticism.

Comment by HarryTuttle

Di ako yung Ed.

Comment by Ed Saludes

Can anyone out there in internetland tell me of any upcoming film festivals or screenings showing a Raya Martin/Lav Diaz/ or Khavn films in Manila or Cebu? I am currently in Cebu and planning on travelling to Manila, but would like to coordinate with a film screening. Salamat!

Comment by Misha Anissimov

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