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Ang Larawan — A Must Film to Watch!

December 26, 2017

I do not usually watch Metro Manila Film Fest entries, especially when the usual, consumerist, commercial movies primarily meant to entertain and to profit comprise the list. Producers are not to blame anyway, if ROI [return of investment] becomes their priority. For them, it is business first and foremost.

And so, when the MMFF last year presented largely indie films instead of the formulaic anticipated entries, I was one of those who hailed the decision. Unfortunately, money rules, and so, now that the same stuff are back, having something different sort of compensates, or should I say, serves as a compromise despite the setting aside of quality indie films.

Yesterday, I watched “Ang Larawan”, a depiction in film of National Artist in Literature’s Nick Joaquin’s three-act play, “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.” It was for me quite refreshing to watch having been presented not in the usual narrative and dramatic form but as a musical film adaptation. I enjoyed wholly the experience having appreciated the integration of theater and cinema; of literature made into films. With superb performances of all the cast members, especially the engaging roles of Paula and Candida played by Rachel Alejandro and Joanna Ampil; the moving music of Ryan Cayabyab, the film’s meticulous production design, the cinematography of Boy Yniguez, a colleague at the UP Film Center, and the able direction of Loy Arcenas, the work of Mang Nick becomes all the more unforgettable. He would have enjoyed its preview with beer in hand… the way he did when Tatarin was previewed for him.

Ang Larawan form somehow reminded me of the multi-awarded film “La-La Land” by Damien Chazelle; also, Paolo’s personality as Tony Javier, the piano player is also reminiscent of Ryan Gosling in the same film.

I also love the use of documentary footage of Nick Joaquin’s beloved Old Manila, and the War footage during World War II giving more texture, and ambience of the times as the setting required of the film.

It is a must-see film if only to appreciate Nick Joaquin’s literature better, and the wonderful performances of our artists.

Below is a home video recording when Nick Joaquin joined several other literary writers in the house of Ms. Virginia Moreno, poet and playwright. The documentation must be one of the last footage showing Mang Nick with his friends. He died four months later after the event. I happened to be there with a mini-dv cam, and though lights were low, I just shot their activity notwithstanding the video noise. I knew that whatever my cam caught would be rare… isang kabanata na hindi na mauulit.

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