Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Here’s To Death

When he was still a copywriter, Chris Martinez would let me read his plays and ask me my opinion of them. Even then I could see he had an ear for sharp, funny and real dialogue; I can identify lines in his plays that were actually uttered by his friends during our dinners and gimmicks out. Eventually he graduated from writing plays to directing them, and from plays to screenplays. (He fabulously adapted and directed for the stage the camp classic movie Temptation Island, and adapted for the stage the camp modern classic comic ZsaZsa Zaturnnah.) A few years back he started directing television commercials; last night was the premiere of the first full-length movie he wrote, co-produced and directed, the Cinemalaya entry 100.

100 is basically “100 things to do before you die.” Mylene Dizon plays the cancer-stricken woman, with Eugene Domingo as her confidante and Tessie Tomas as her mother. Given the subject, one would expect that this is a straightforward drama, and in many ways it is. But Chris has perfected the tightrope act of balancing drama and comedy within the same scene, often even within the same paragraph. Throughout the movie, just as you are about to cry your eyes out, something happens and you laugh your head off. Or you’re laughing your head of with a lump in your throat. Not too many writers or directors possess this skill; as writer and director, Chris has this in spades.

Everyone in the cast with the exception of the actor who played Mylene’s boss (let’s not name names, okay?) gave wonderful to stellar performances. But I must say this right here: I move to declare Eugene Domingo a national treasure. Pramis. Sure, she sometimes just telegraphs her performance (especially with underwritten parts in hurriedly done television series), but even at her laziest or most over-the-top, she still can run circles around most of the lead actresses she has to prop up. Her timing and delivery are impeccable.

Death has been tackled so many times before. There are no new insights to be gleaned, no new lesson to be learned here in 100 (the filmmakers wisely avoid making statements and lessons, anyway). Here’s a glimpse of the last legs of a life lived in pretty, post-it notes and scenes, neatly arranged and sequenced, bookmarked with a neat opening and ending. With 100, Death is a laugh-out-loud, for crying-out-loud dramedy.

1 comment:

joaqui_miguel said...

Eugene Domingo should have a monument! LOL She's very entertaining! No matter how big or small her role is she does it very well. :)

I hope this will be shown over the weekend so that I can still catch it.