Still more Hollywoodization

From av_phile1, in pinoydvd:

How old is the Filipino film industry?  I think those post-war films were the toddler years of our cinema. Aping those hollywood movies was like what budding fine arts students do when copying artworks of the masters to sharpen their technical skills before their own individualistic artisitic styles can shine through.  

Unfortunately, the aping continued to the 70s and uo to now.  The problem is that hollywood has also been evolving in both technical, production, directing and artistic stykes.  Starting with those glossy musicals and Greta Garbo films under the studio stable system of the 30s to the 50s, then to the adolescent rebel years of the 60s and 70s starting with those James Dean films and the French Connection-like films.  The materials and the neo-realist styles and themes evolved.  Along the way, pinoys have been mimicing one change after another, never really finding their own indivdualism or signature.

The first film was shown in the Philippines in 1897; the first Filipino film made by Filipinos was shown in 1919. Before World War 2, we were doing 60 films a year, and was the most advanced moviemaking center in Southeast Asia.  

Arguably the greatest Malaysian moviemaker ever was Filipino Ramon Estella, who made films there and taught the Malaysians how to make films. We did musicals, horror, dramas, action, comedies--you name it.

After the war, we were doing neorealism (Anak Dalita (The Ruins)) and noir (48 Oras (48 Hours)). Manuel Conde's Genghis Khan so impressed film critic James Agee (ever read him? Classic volumes on film criticism, the scriptwriter for African Queen, and Night of the Hunter, and a Pulitzer Prize winner) that he befriended Conde and championed his film to Venice film festival. Gerardo de Leon continues to dazzle film critics today (ask Pierre Rissent, ask Tony Rayns), and impressed even David Lean. De Leon was influenced by Ford, admittedly, but also Kurosawa, and he wrapped that great film style of his around subjects that were quintessentially Filipino.

Hollywood has influence--that much I know. But there are filmmakers then, filmmakers in the '70s ((Lino) Brocka, (Ishmael) Bernal, (Mike) de Leon, Celso Ad. Castillo) who resisted that, and learned not from Hollywood but from de Sica and Fellini.

Today, (Mario) O'Hara, (Mike) de Leon and Lav Diaz have moved beyond that neorealist style into different directions.  De Leon is sui generis, God only knows what goes  on in his head or inspires him; Diaz is inspired by Tarkovsky and Kurosawa Kyoshi and Hou Hsiao Hsien--admirable models indeed.  O'Hara--well, I don't know where his influences come from.  He's never seen Godard, or Renoir, or Hou Hsiao Hsien or Wong Kar Wai, so I can't tell...but of the three his is possibly the wildest imagination.  Check out Sisa or Pangarap ng Puso (Demons).

Tikoy Aguiluz carries on in the neorealist tradition, a la Brocka, but he has a canny commercial sense and sharp nose for a good story that almost helped him break out internationally with Boatman (he sold that to Warner Brothers too) and with Segurista (Dead Sure).  Still have expectations of him.  And who knows, Celso might still surprise us...

Hollywood has little to offer--mostly a banal, chewed up storytelling style that's imaginatively and culturally bankrupt. I've cited filmmakers who have gone to Hollywood who saw what made them distinct and special become dull and smoothly glossy--Emmerich, Goeff Murphy, Roger Donaldson, Verhoeven, Besson, Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, even poor Jean Juenet isn't doing all that well nowadays.  The list is long, and gets longer all the time.

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