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05 August 2014

Cinemalaya 2014: "Dagitab" (Film Review)

 “Dagitab (Sparks)” is the follow-up film from the production company that gave us “Transit.” “Dagitab” revolves around two professors as their marriage slowly erodes. It also touches on history, activism and literature. These various themes sometimes provide the film with moments of greatness but, at other times, they hinder narrative coherence. However, “Dagitab” is still one of my favorite films this year, mostly for three reasons. First, its noble ambition; second, my nostalgia for the University of the Philippines; and lastly, a visually and textually poetic scene: two different characters at a crossroad in their lives, and lying still on a beach as the waves tries to engulf them. Beautifully photographed, and lyrically written, this somber moment alone is enough reason to see this film. Director Giancarlo Abrahan V, who also penned the screenplay, is indeed one of the new blood, not yet possessing a fully formed body at the moment, but he is getting there.

Most of the scenes were very familiar to me. It is a delight to see the classrooms, the professor’s office in the Faculty Center, the cluttered houses of intelligent people, the drinking sessions in bars after class, and the excitement of attending your first writing workshop. “Dagitab” is the closest Philippine cinema can get to a literary film and some of the lines in the film were quite profound. U.P. campus was photographed beautifully, and the iconic figures of literature professors were crystallized, both for their detriment and benefit.

Eula Valdes’ character (Issey) is the anchor of the film and the most layered. In many instances, important details about the story are revealed through Issey, while the rest of the characters, specifically Nonie Buencamino’s, maneuvered the lofty political and philosophical meanderings of the narrative.

Eula Valdes owns this film from start to finish. She underplays her character in such a way that her subtle gestures and other nuances are magnified. With every scene, viewers will become more fascinated with her character’s complexities. Valdes is endearingly funny when drunk, relatable when melancholic, engaging when she implodes and cathartic when she finally had her last laugh.

Which film will be our entry? 
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Which Films Should You Watch in this Year's Cinemalaya (2014)
Critics' Awards
Post-Analysis Essay (soon) 

2014 Entries

2013 Cinemalaya Essays
What is a Critic?
Our Choices: 2013 Cinemalaya

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