I. Postcolonialism in PH Indie
Contemporary film criticism started during the 1970s, the period where film became a legitimized art that emerge in critical collision of commercialism and political state of a space, and as an academic discipline under the program of mass communication and literature. Art criticism started in the field of scholars and teachers of art, theater, and literature like Bienvenido Lumbera, Petronilo Bn., Daroy, and Nicanor Tiongson.
Advancing to the the start of the millennia, the young cineaste and advocate of Philippine cinema Alexis Tioseco wrote his dismal in the state of film criticism, ” There are hardly any other critics in the Philippines that write regularly and write well about both local and international cinema; there are very few critics that are dedicated to the craft of the criticism, in a manner more than simple ‘good’ or bad ‘reviews’, in short; there are very few people who deserve to truly be called film critics, and therefore very few people to learn from.”
Parts of a film
F. Mis-en-scene (setting, costume and make-up, staging-movement and acting, and lighting)
G. Sound (Speech, music, and noise)
H. Social Context
I. Others: raison d’etre (reason for existence) of a film –the motivation of a film to be popular for its ending, the climax
-Source: Rolando B. Tolentino. Sinema ng Milenyo: Kritisismong Pampelikula, Kritisismong Pambansa
Aspects of Film Studies
A. Film as Entertainment
The main effect of film narratives— the main form of experiencing film— is for entertainment. This happened during the intensification of emotions and sentiments. In one and a half hour, the literal world of an audience transforms into a dark and comfortable sphere of light and image, away from the “ordinary” world of historical reality or any place that an audience comes from. According to Aristotle, the thee-act scenario dominates the film narrative (introduction, raison d’etre, denoument).
Entertainment is the desired state of nature of the working body, that a person works and earns money to watch a movie, to designate time, space and money for entertainment. Therefore, the standard of entertainment of a person constitutes to the raison d’etre (reason for existence) of work, that’s why it’s important to experience watching films occasionally, even rarely, for two issues. First, there’s an effect of diminishing return when one watches a film too often, that’s why it’s bundled to other activities like a date, bonding between friends and family, or quality time with self. Second, mass media opens up the homogenization of experiences as a passive entertainment. One pays to watch films in order to have access to a global media (whether through film of Internet) and transform the passive media that one uses into an active one.
B. Film as Aesthetics
Aesthetics is a modality of experience in the art of an observed medium, the object of art. The standard of aesthetics of a film is realism, or its reference to actual reality (society, history, and modernity). But it’s amusing that the realism of film makes the beautiful into dazzling, and the ugly becomes aesthetically pleasing. The audience is conditioned by the elements of the film (i.e. make-up and design, slow and fast motions, music) for the expected effects of the scenes. This results to the realism of the film.
Aesthetics is deeply rooted in the humanistic viewpoints of an individual, one which is suitable in his/her modality of the reception of a film. The only thing that a film can quote is the realization of an individual according to his/her anchored humanistic perceptions. This perspective though is criticized by the modernist movement in film or the emergence of new waves that marks the alternative experience to realism. It conditions the audience into its appropriate emotions, beliefs, and views.
Aesthetics of film is thriving in different parts of the world. Third Cinema is one of the emerging types for the revolutionary filmmakers in Latin America and Africa. In the Philippines, the new wave is anchored to the political cinema between the middle class and the marginalized during the dictatorship of the Marcos regime; the independent cinema that created the expanse for the subaltern character and modality of filmmaking.
In conclusion, aesthetics emphasizes the construction and reception of film. A filmmaker intentionally uses aesthetics to obtain a desired experience. The intentionality of a production and the reception of a film are deeply anchored in the political-economic ownership of it (who owns it, who is the director, who will watch it?). This concept is interconnected to a larger mode of production and superstructure of the countries where aesthetics is abundant.
C. Film as National Sinema
The collective and artistic application and criticism of the elements of a film, including the capacity of the media to be critical in discourse and commentary in its society, develops a text into a great film. Similar to the canon of literature, these texts have depth, extent, and scope of the collective experiences of a country, of its national identity, and of the timely question of what does it mean to be called a Filipino.
The canon of national sinema (“cinema” as a global and universal term, “sinema” as a localized one) is the crown of the accomplishments of art and politics of film in the country. The body of national sinema embodies the country and its national identity. These are films that became popular because of its high class artistry, capacity to interrogate the country and its identity, and the representation of the marginalized and subaltern experience and collective. During the dictatorship of Marcos regime, films including Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Lino Brocka, 1975), Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon (Eddie Romero, 1976), and Batch ’81 (de Leon, 1981) exhibited the unparalleled quality of the artistry of films and the inability of media to represent the opposing narrative of the country and the national identity. Because of the great necessity for arts and discourse, most of the commercial films are not considered as national sinema. National sinema, first and foremost, is examined by cultural institutions: system of education, criticism, scholarship, international film festicals, awards, National Artists, etc. Popularity is not a basis of national sinema rather it is earned through its cultural capital and the examination of the films and artists.
D. Film as Social Context
This notion discusses the space where film is the main concentration. These are the techniques on how to popularize films, fan culture, subculture identity, space and transportation of films, film consumption, and purchasing pirated DVDs. Fan culture is integral in the maintenance of centralization of the protagonist of a film. It produces the equivalent of the protagonist and the film’s genre through promoting the actors into iconic statuses. Examples are Dolphy as the comedy king, Nora Aunor as the melodramatic star of the mass, Fernando Poe Jr. as the mythical action star. With the competency of the artists and the orchestration of the film industry, the character of the actor merges with his/her personality outside the film: Nora as the quiet citizen, Fernando as the protector of the oppressed, etc. This aspect of film also bestows power of the medium that elects artists, including newscasters and sports icons, to become national politicians. The overwhelming admiration in the film roughly translates to the splendor that the public profits during election. That’s why public spaces are vital in situating fans; it’s an accessory of the artists and positions the fans as societal beings that foresee their identity enclosed in a collective identity needed for an active fan culture.
The dialectics of this mechanism is the same instrument used in mapping the cartography of experiencing films and movie theaters. Aside from watching films, other groups of people display specific activities in the theaters: sex workers in old theaters, the gay subculture in third-run movie houses that allows cruising and public sex, sexual harassment of both males and females in the theaters, among others. Other mechanisms of films as a social context is the conditioning of buying food and drinks before watching a film, standing up during the national anthem, the AVPs for anti-piracy campaign, theaters as a space for dating and PDA (public display of affection), etc. “Sine ang sentrak na enerhiya ng pang-araw-araw na aktibidad gayong ito ay sityo at lunan na may kapangyarihang makapaglatag ng kahalintulad at alternatibong aktibidad ng pagtunghay sa namamayaning identidad at pagtuklas ng kontraryong identidad”