Finally, a Filipino film worth watching in the cinema. Whoops, dead giveaway. The post should end here. But wait, we literally took notes for this one. If you haven’t seen it yet, let us set your expectations. If you already did, you may want to discuss with us.

So yeah, it’s a Jerrold Tarog film. The same guy who brought us the Camera trilogy that includes Confessional (2007), Mangatyanan (2009), and the 2013 buzz maker Sana Dati. If you don’t/can’t explore Filipino indie films enough and you don’t recognize the name, well, there you go. He’s pretty big there. Don’t feel so sorry though. It’s a shame but we know just a tiny bit more than you.

The movie just started when we pulled out our notebook from our bag. We know. NERD! The last time we did something similar was in high school and we were only pretending to write something that made sense. The truth was we were simply listing down character names so we could keep ourself from saying “this guy who’s practically cardboard” and “this girl with ridiculous hair and fake laugh”. But in the case of Heneral Luna, we knew we had to write something down. It’s one of a kind. Good or bad, it’ll be a shame to not have anything to say about it. To make it look less nerdy, think of yourself looking at something and then realizing “this is some instagram shit!”

We listed good and bad points. While we could say that we liked the film, we don’t want to over-inflate its image like what other historians did to the image of our “heroes”. Whoops, sorry. So let us present to you our notes on the film and give you reasons to watch or not watch Heneral Luna.

The good,

  1. Each scene seems to have been pulled out from a photo exhibit. We’re no photographer but we find them really good. The filter works. The angle works. We think we can pause the film at a random time and the image will still be picture perfect.
  2. Set design and effects was apparently carefully done. Whatever observable flaw can be attributed to budget and technology limitations and not mere lack of creativity. It is easy to tell. With the detail given to all other things, you know they would have gotten rid of that flaw if they could.
  3. The supposedly comic parts are not lame. When our primary school teachers taught us about our ilustrado national heroes, we imagined people who could deliver the lamest jokes in world history. They were simply too “refined” you wouldn’t stand hanging out with them. In the movie, they are not.
  4. The characters are more human. They are not painfully good. The film does not have the problem of trying to make everybody appear good that the viewers no longer know who’s the protagonist. It works on other films but definitely not in one that has one person’s name as its title. In a case like this, the main character may be a dick, he may know when he’s being a dick, but at the end of the day, he believes he is right. That’s something to think about before you exclaim “BIASED!” It is. It understandably is.
  5. In most films that tell about our history, the characters are simply there to complete the big picture. In the case of Heneral Luna, the picture starts from one person which is a welcome change.

the Bad,

  1. The light, that bright white light during night scenes, we just can’t forgive it. Please pardon us.
  2. Clean, new, costumes. We know. They were literally new during the shoots and that’s something not easy to hide. Unfortunately, It’s also difficult to forgive. It was handled well on some scenes though.
  3. Luna seems to have a curious case of bipolar disorder wherein the poles are cheerfulness and passionate anger. We cannot tell if this was intended. Our guess is that this is because John Arcilla did well in acting the two states out but the movie has few memorable scenes that demonstrate the state in between. We’ve known John Arcilla back to his “coffee na lang dear” days. We know he’s good.
  4. The casting seems to send out messages that quite disturb us. Mon Confiado usually plays the bad guy. When we saw him, we knew that his character Emilio Aguinaldo shall have a certain badness in him. Noni Buencamino plays a Buencamino. Need we say more? But it can be just us. They did nothing wrong as far as playing the characters is concern. They are good actors!

and some other notes.

  1. The shift from one language to another is not a problem for Filipino viewers. Thanks for losing wars, we gained enough understanding of our enemies’ languages. We can now look back and view the story from different angles and languages without subtitles. Yay!
  2. It is not a disneyfied retelling of history where you’ll find several versions of Jesus Christ. It’s closer to reality no matter how ugly it may be. One shall miss a big update on their Philippine history knowledge if they don’t watch the film.

There you go. We already said it’s good. Now go watch it! This movie deserves a longer stay in our cinemas. Stop reading lists like this. Go! -aB


Featured image from: Heneral Luna Official Website

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