ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK (Marlon Rivera)
Why ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK works as a film and as a work of art is because of its objective- to deconstruct mainstream cinematic conventions as well as misguided aspirations and visions of young filmmakers. Also, it exposes the actors who are in the limelight per se, embodied here as Eugene Domingo playing herself, and we revel as Domingo, representing the glamorous movie star is being brought down to the level of the septic tank (literally and metaphorically).
The script by Chris Martinez and the direction of Marlon Rivera with Eugene Domingo's comic timing and caliber as a dramatic actress made ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK a witty critique of some of Philippine cinema's bane of existence-those things a lot of us were enraged about, but can only do so much.
A film within a film, we see a trio of filmmakers (director, producer, production manager) do a quick pre-prod at Starbucks, throw bitter remarks at their friend who has become a successful director, and get a dose of their own medicine as they try to romanticize poverty. I've always been against romanticizing poverty, and I think SEPTIC captured the issue very vividly.
Sure, SEPTIC is hellfire funny. Eugene Domingo steals the movie; in fact it just wouldn't work without her. The cameos by Mercedes Cabral and Cherry Pie Picache are welcome too.
We see how the mental debate between the filmmakers transpire visually-how gender and ethnic profiling, stereotyping, and exploitation affect and ultimately derail a seemingly noble cause. All they wanted to do was to make an Oscar-worthy film, and while we know that it's more impossible than winning the lottery, the filmmakers (and their real life counterparts) don't. The problem lies in the very misguided objective. I mean don't make a film solely for awards sake! God knows how many filmmakers still follow that mantra.
We see common film styles bastardized for exactly the point of satire. The helpless woman pushes her back against the wall and slowly drops down to the floor. That is a classic. I somehow anticipated that.
Then there's the musical, (Mother Lily and Star Cinema, pay attention!) which works when done outside mainstream cinema (can someone do a thesis on the matter?) and such is being done as a metaphor for romanticizing poverty.
Even when done as a neo-realist docu, Rivera and Martinez captures the beauty as well as the pitfalls of said genre.
Eugene Domingo falling in the septic tank is the ultimate payback of society against know-it-all self-important bastards; if society could speak, it would say "don't assume what you don't know".
Meanwhile, I hope I'll never see Eugene in more elevator acting in the future. She has precise comic timing and a sparkling character rare in contemporary Filipino actresses. Oh well, Cinemalaya's over. Time to refer to Hollywood.