Ded na si Lolo (Soxy Topacio, 2009) February 27, 2010Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Noypi.
Written and directed by Soxy Topacio
Cast: Manilyn Reynes, Gina Alajar, Elizabeth Oropesa, Roderick Paulate
It doesn’t come as a shock because it happens every single year, but it is just absolutely unbelievable that in the press release of the Film Academy of the Philippines, announcing the result of their deliberation, there is no mention whatsoever why Ded na si Lolo was chosen as the country’s entry to the Foreign Language Film category of the Oscars. What’s more infuriating is that the press release goes on telling trivial stuff, the stuff that gossipmongers will be happy about: which films it ran in competition against, the final voting score, the submission requirements, and the members of the committee who made the decision. These are things reserved at the bottom of the inverted pyramid, and what the members of the FAP do, every pitiful year, as if their choice is too tragic to explain, is to leave the topmost part empty. Couldn’t they at least be fair with these films? Would a short note hurt their egos and credibility that much? Since when is judgment deemed immaterial? Every year we decry our failure to enter the competition, but the failure really lies in our ways, in our irresponsibility. Not only the FAP mistakenly glorify the Oscars, they also purport that it is merely a pie in the sky, just an annual flight of filmmaker’s fancy.
If I were in the committee, this is what the press release will be like (though I’m sure, when the press people receive it, it has already suffered a massive overhaul):
“What I don’t get is caricature for the sake of caricature; that while it proudly wears its being Filipino on its sleeve, I can’t help but feel that it is the only commendable quality it has: pride. Other than that there is none. We’re so used to noise that when the roles change and we become the observer, that culture of shouting we have does not seem too flattering, isn’t something that we must be proud of. Calling it overboard does not qualify as criticism. Calling it over-the-top is like calling Ebolusyon a long film. What doesn’t go without saying is the overstatement of farce; entertaining, yes, but redundant too, which towards the end becomes tiring and inefficient.
“Topacio dignifies television. And that is apparent in his staging of scenes, how one by one, the siblings take their turns in passing out, how one cry is louder than the other, how the story reveals an ugly memory of the family’s past one after another. There is nothing wrong with that. But that admonition of subtlety only works on two conditions: 1) if it’s on TV; and 2) if the material is good.
“Ded na si Lolo feels episodic. Like the structure of soap operas, it needs to push its point more and more until it reaches the climax, under the spell that it will be striking if done that way. Topacio gets carried away like his actors, thinking there is a commercial gap to save his lapses. The material is intended to be a lampoon, but it isn’t exactly the kind of lampoon that is praiseworthy. The superstitions are there to make us feel guilty that we forget them, but that’s not really the point. The superstitions are there to reflect our lost ways. But two hours of pointing out these superstitions, wouldn’t that be enough to drive the point home?
“The film refuses to be taken seriously. It barely allows itself to be taken for granted. It’s fair to middling. I am appalled that we’re submitting this.”
Go on, print that.