Disclaimer: This is my commentary about Philippine cinema.
A rich culture and history is pride for every country and one way to show this pride for all the world to see is through the eyes of cinema.
In the Philippine Cinema however, Filipinos (especially the young adults up) tend to favor overused clichéd cinematic tropes over a much deeper story.
Gone are the days that Philippine cinema valued more in-depth stories more than a temporary eye-pleasing popcorn. A quick wiki search will show you that box office toppers aren't great movies anymore, especially in the annual Metro Manila Film Festival.
I can't say for sure that historical, biographical or simply, indie movies are box office flops since they are critically acclaimed and snagged most of the awards in MMFF, but the problem was not earning back its huge budget. But who knows, maybe they're earning cash in other ways.
These award-winning films,usually get overlooked by the general public, and yet these films are also the very same kind of film where you'll get the run for your money. They have dramatic, action, romantic, and even at times, comedic elements.
Even I, as a casual moviegoer (who's only watched movies in a theater for three times) can observe that a higher demographic favors these overused rubbish plots over in-depth works of art. It almost seems like a soap opera, although the soap operas are a lot better.
Don't get me wrong though, I love comedies and the other popcorn-y genre, however in recent years, it seems that the Philippine Box office came straight outta paperbacks. And even then, I can say that most of the cinematic adaptations are run-of-the-mill, and most are extremely watered down.
Perhaps the reason why mainstream movies are usually rubbish is because directors have to stick to a guideline and standard to get a rating that's suitable for all audiences. This is why independent films are essentially better than most mainstream movies - the stories they tell aren't dictated by a strict standard that takes away what makes a film good!
Well, that, and maybe the big studios think audiences are a bunch of idiots.
Storywise, a film shouldn't just make you laugh or give you a lot of memorable dialogs but you can't remember who said what. Honestly, is that how we would remember a film? An even funnier sequel to the previous ones? What's the true value of that?
Thus, it's really important that we bring back good story-telling... good movies. I remember that there was a time that most Filipino films released were about mistresses, marriage troubles, love affairs. They all were told differently, yes... But how unique are they really to each other? Was this the theme of the year and studios, writers, and filmmakers must follow it? I'll never know.
The fact that a lot of people will just watch the same (yes the very same) mediocre popcorn movie over and over again, is somewhat a testament of, for a lack of better word... how shallow we've become.
As a Filipino, I'm not saying that our mainstream movies are all terrible. A lot of them are really entertaining. And the 'entertainment' part (whatever entertainment means to you) is what sacrifices the good story - it's almost sacrilegious. You'll also see the same actors over and over again, despite the fact that there are still plenty of talented actors out there, oh yeah, and if I've mentioned this before, I'll say it again, recycled plots are getting oldddd!
However, there is hope.
In my next article, I will write about Heneral Luna - (it's still in theaters) our country's official entry for The Academy's Foreign Language film category.
This film was released only in select theaters, and that caused a lot of controversy, because these cinemas are making way for both local and international mainstream films. This kind of turned out as a blessing in disguise though, because a movie that would have been an undiscovered gem generated a lot of buzz, it garnered praises from critics and most importantly, it was lauded by young moviegoers.
I hope from this, we may learn not to judge a movie by its title or genre!