14 November 2010 | Guardia
Waiting For the Ad Break...
This documentary with it's (deliberately?) misleading title, gives viewers a brief overview of the Filipino cult cinema of the sixties, seventies and eighties. In a seemingly endless string of fragmented interviews (some of the edits so short that the subject's title is flashed for a fleeting moment), the film tries to draw an overview of this period of American/Filipino co-productions. Archival footage is interspersed here and there, and occasionally we are given context.
Is it interesting? Yes, but as much as it is frustrating. For you will certainly find that the film never settles down from its opening moments. The pace of the film is that of one tempo, as if the editor was worried that we might lose interest, or as if the visual information was paramount and the factual information (something I'm more interested in than anecdotal) was a mere triviality. You will be bombarded with cuts and clips and cues for the duration of the film - it's an editing style borne from the free-to-air TV realm that transposes to the cinema with a terrible effect.
Also, the relentless funk soundtrack (the staple to the C-Grade Grindhouse films) undermined the interviewees' comments, robbing them of any memorable moment and washing them altogether with the same colour. I can't help but relate the style of this documentary with American style 20-to-1 type shows, where the interviewees are there to provide colour to a proposed topic, not to provide any real insight. This is the films worst crime, for Filipino film-makers we are shown are outnumbered five-to-one by the Americans, yet the tiny grabs we are given with these eccentric characters were far more interesting and exotic.
This film belongs on a commercial or pay TV network, but the limited audience and scope of the film will probably condemn it to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's schedule sometime in the near future. Wait for it then, for the cinema gives little to this difficult documentary.