Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Confrontation Hysterics

A few weeks ago, I watched "In My Life" starring Vilma Santos, John Lloyd Cruz and Luis Manzano. It's a rare mainstream movie that features a gay couple (though they are not what the movie is about). Furthermore, the movie is decent enough in its portrayal of a gay couple (but the kiss between Luis and John Lloyd was talked about in showbiz news - it's just a kiss and not a wild sex scene ala Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal).

The movie is quite alright but I got annoyed by the confrontation scene between Vilma and John Lloyd. It's not that a confrontation scene is bad, it's just that I don't like the treatment - Vilma and John Lloyd shouting at each other, the camera focusing on their faces. As Jessica Zafra noted in her blog, Filipino drama movies have confrontation scenes where spittles fly and camera so close to the actors' faces that you may be able to see the pores of their skins.

I've never liked confrontations, in movies or in real life. Much more if the confrontation involves frying saliva, extended period of high-pitched and loud voices and camera angles focusing on the faces rather than on the body.

Yet this seems to be de rigueur in Philippine movie or TV drama (much like a picnic or an out-of-town complete with a song-and-dance number is the norm for Philippine comedies; or a shout-off [while both are holding their weapons and hiding between walls, support beams or other structures] between the main protagonist and the main antagonist is the staple of Philippine action movies).

I'm not sure if this is a cultural thing as most Hollywood movies don't have this (there may be a confrontation but are usually not treated in the same way). Some say that the Philippine movie industry evolved from theater and that maybe why some actors/actresses/directors believe that something is not drama unless there is a confrontation characterized by overacting. In theaters, you have to act more than what is normal in a real-life situation or in a movie since the play is viewed by audiences from afar (especially those in the backs). There are no close ups of these emotionally charged moments. Yet somehow in the translation to screen, the acting remains the same yet the viewer can now examine the bucketloads of tears and every imperfection in the faces of the actors.

[On a slightly related note, I remember watching several episodes of Lobo (while my family visited me here in Makati or when I go the province). The story seems good with its mythology and conflicts (haven't watched the whole series so I can't judge for real). What I don't like is how almost all characters seems to be always shouting at each other even when they are having a tribe/race meeting].

In movies, I prefer movies that rely more on music (sone or score), body language and silent tears (than on overblown emotions) to convey sadness, anguish or coldness. But then again, maybe it's just because I don't like confrontations in real life and prefer to grieve a silent grief and be lonely alone.

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