A film is judged based on multifarious, sometimes unclear, criteria, as, however we look at it and attempt to make the language of ‘reading’ sound elegant, any judgment that has to do with art will bound to be a judgment that has to do with taste, or at least the taste of people who control power or those with hegemonic interests, as my Soc Sci teacher at UP indulgently referred to these.
Despite agreed upon universals such as believable narrative, motivated acting, clear direction, and seamless editing, most aspects of the criteria are genre-specific. Some people who are not schooled in film-making or film analysis, like this writer for instance, rely on more primitive, almost instinctual means, to judge whether a film is good or not. No, this is already too lofty. Say, whether a film is able to achieve its objects or failed unequivocally.
We working-class people, who work ourselves to death from Monday to Friday, only look forward to a Friday night of senseless entertainment, to feed our need to escape from our boring and tiring existence, much like the Russian in the 1800s who drown themselves in vats of vodkas after a day of plowing the fields of their landlords. People like us do not demand much from the films we watch. A good laugh here and there that would help us forget, for an hour and thirty minutes or so, how we are oppressed by the prevailing societal and economic systems, is but all we ask from a movie we paid 160 pesos (4 USD) to watch. But I guess, this oppression we sustain in workplace, forgive my very Marxist tone, is extended beyond its walls.
Mamarazzi is directed by Joel Lamangan and starred by the most bankable, to use the term of some media pundits, comedy actress of present, Eugene Domingo. It is a story of Violy, an owner of a funeral parlor who has a triplets born out of wedlock and the conflict that arises when the supposed father of her children resurfaces one day. To sum up, Mamarazzi is a film of loosely sewn parts, a comedy of the worst sort, a none sense parading to address social issues like death, parenthood, and homosexuality, which must have been the director’s suggestion, utilizing wry comedy in its unintellectual sense.
This film reflects Joel Lamangan’s decline as movie director. To say the least, he is overrated. And this film shows without doubt his ineptitude as a director. Lamangan ruined the film with his sloppy and pretentious direction. The camera shots are unvarying and ugly, the acting is uninteresting, and all the rest seems to be forced fed on movie goers. But what is most enraging is the fact that the film is not funny, at all.
We patiently sat in front of the screen waiting for something to laugh about. That was the most we tired members of the proletariat expected from our Friday-night movie.
It was, however, clear after fifteen minutes of watching Domingo and the rest of the cast trying their best hard to make the audience laugh that Mamarazzi has got virtually no story to tell. So we the pitiable audience dope ourselves in believing that a slapstick act or a punchline is on its way. A handful made it, but most didn’t.
Yes, I am certainly aware of the assumption. This is a stupid film for stupid people, but had this been the premise, then the director should have gone all the way down the slope of senselessness, without any half-baked commentaries on issues that he feels strongly about, he being an ‘activist director’. I want my movie, if it has to be stupid, to be plainly stupid. The condescension of the director to the intellect of the viewers enrages me.
After coming out from the cinema, I realized I was robbed with my hard-earned 160 pesos.