2011, colour, 16:9, 82 mins
Directed by Lawrence Fajardo
By Derek Elley
Fri, 19 August 2011, 05:15 AM (HKT)
Interesting but unfulfilled idea of character vignettes based around a busy junction in Metro Manila. Festivals, plus some niche TV.
Pasay Rotonda junction, Metro Manila, the present day. During a sweltering summer day, various denizens of the junction go about their lives. There's a blind beggar (Spanky Manikan) and a kindly traffic policeman (Wovi Villanueva); Manuel (Nonie Buencamino) and his basketball-playing son Samuel (Xavi Hemady), waiting for an airport bus; grilled-meat hawker Belen (Patricia Ismael) and her young daughter Mai Mai (Akira Sapla); has-been actor Rogelio Vasquez (Mark Gil) and Claire (Ivy Rivero), a hooker he hired for the night; Melinda (Lui Manansala), a wealthy woman returning from church and her driver-brother Tinoy (Archi Adamos); a young gay man (Tux Rutaquio) and his ward (Bryan Cabase), who get into an argument with a taxi driver (Lowell Conales); a retired military officer, Sarge (Efren Reyes Jr.), who is trying to bribe an old woman, Lola (Ermie Concepcion), to start a fire to clear an area of squats; accountant Efren (Roli Inocencio) and his nephew Makoy (Acey Aguilar), photocopying a phoney university degree for a job application; and pool players Edwin (Garry Lim), tricycle driver James (John Arceo) and jeans hawker Dido (Dido Dela Paz). When Dido loses money in the game, a train of events is set in motion that has consequences for many around Pasay Rotonda that day.
An interesting idea that doesn't fulfil its potential, Amok (2011) lays out a series of character vignettes set on the streets around the busy junction of Pasay Rotonda (between downtown Manila and the airport) and tries to combine them at the end into a mildly didactic tale of social injustice. This third feature by director Lawrence FAJARDO (Raket ni nanay, 2006; Prinsesa, 2007) is something fresh in Filipino cinema but looks less remarkable from an international perpective.
To his credit, Fajardo doesn't go the more cliched route of a semi-documentary with grungy, you-are-there camerawork. Without looking formal or posed, the film is very carefully shot, with d.p. Louie QUIRINO making good use of shallow depth-of-field to highlight characters against the busy backgrounds; the editing by Fajardo himself moves smoothly between the various unrelated denizens of the area; and throughout there's a nice sense of the sweltering heat and everyone just managing to scrape a living in it.
But for a movie that's portraying one long hot, pressure-cooker day — and what happens when the cooker explodes — there's no real sense of growing tension to knit all the vignettes together, and the denouement is much more generic than the rest of the film. Also, for audiences not familiar with Pasay Rotonda, with its elevated walkways, street stalls and endless traffic, there's no sense of the exact geography of the place and how the various locations fit into the big picture — which further weakens the action denouement.
Individual performances are in general good and believable, though some vignettes are more successful than others. (One involving a has-been actor, played by Mark GIL, and a prostitute looks more "filmy" compared with the more quotidien tales.) Unfortunately, the end credits list only the performers' names and not which roles they played. An opening quote from Martin Luther King Jr. and a final wordplay on the film's title are rather too easy attempts to give some social significance to what's basically an offbeat street drama.
ContactSales: Pelikulaw, Manila (email@example.com)
Premiere: Cinemalaya (Competition: New Breed), 16 Jul 2011. Theatrical release: TBA.
Presented by Cinemalaya Foundation (PH), Pelikulaw (PH), Wild Coyote Pictures (PH). Produced by Elfardo (PH). Executive producer: Krisma M. Fajardo. Producers: Tessa Aquino, Lawrence Fajardo.
Script: John Bedia. Original story: Lawrence Fajardo. Photography: Louie Quirino. Editing: Lawrence Fajardo. Music: Von De Guzman. Production design: Lawrence Fajardo. Art directors: Francis Fajardo, Rober Robles. Stylist: Tessa Aquino. Sound: Albert Michael Idioma, Addiss Tabong. Creative consultant: Paul Sta. Ana.
Cast: Mark Gil (Rogelio Vasquez, the actor), Dido Dela Paz (Dido, jeans hawker), Garry Lim (Edwin, pool player with mohawk hair), Spanky Manikan (blind beggar), Nonie Buencamino (Manuel), Efren Reyes Jr. (Sarge, retired military officer), Archi Adamos (Tinoy, Melinda's brother-driver), Lui Manansala (Melinda, Tinoy's wealthy sister), Ermie Concepcion (Lola Espie, old woman bribed by Sarge), Suzette Ranillo (Be, Dido's pregnant wife), John Arceo (James, tricycle driver), Roli Inocencio (Efren, accountant), Acey Aguilar (Makoy, his job-seeking nephew), Patricia Ismael (Belen, grilled meat hawker), Nico Antonio (young man in car), Michelle Nollora (his girlfriend), Tux Rutaquio (gay man), Wovi Villanueva (traffic policeman), Akira Sapla (Mai Mai, Belen's daughter), Xavi Hemady (Samuel, Manuel's basketball-playing son), Lowell Conales (taxi driver), Bryan Cabase (gay man's ward), Ivy Rivero (Claire, Rogelio's hooker), J.M. Bermudez, Nino Verbida, Angel Pasiderio (street rappers), Ku Aquino.