Friday, July 10, 2009

Ded Na Si Lolo (2009, Soxie Topacio)


A brainchild of Tony Tuviera and the Directors Guild of the Philippines Inc., Sine Direk is one of the best things to happen to Philippine cinema in 2009. The movie project provided a grant of 2 million pesos each to six directors. It produced five well-made films, and only one clunker, Fuschia.

A top-notch Sine Direk production, Ded Na Si Lolo is one of the best Filipino comedy films I've seen in years. A hybrid of Pamahiin, Jay, and Crying Ladies, this is a film that is truly Filipino. All the drama, all the mystery, and all the superstitions associated with bereavement were given their share of the limelight in this laugh-out-loud film.

I can deeply relate with the movie. For years, I've been wondering about the need to follow countless superstitions such as cutting a rosary into pieces in order to avoid immediate death of another family member. But, how soon is an immediate death? Isn’t it that we all die in the end? All my unspoken thoughts and objections about following superstitions were concretized in hilarious fashion in this film.

Filmmaker Manuel Conde remarked that the best comedy films contain scenes that mirror the behavior of real people. The goal is to make viewers see themselves in the movie and laugh at their own behavior. Maybe, just maybe, the viewers will change their laughable behavior.

Roderick Paulate, playing a gay impersonator, leads a cast of veteran actors such as Gina Alajar and Elizabeth Oropesa. They had so much fun working as a team that it rubbed off on the movie. The spontaneous interactions and ad-libs of the actors gave the film a carefree and vivacious feel to it.

Director Soxie Topacio was so sure of the film's blockbuster and critical appeal that he included a teaser for a possible sequel at the film's end credits. Sure enough, Ded Na Si Lolo became a hit, though not on the same level as the mega-millions of You Changed My Life. But, if we consider a week-long theatrical run for an indie film as a mild success, then the month-long run of Ded Na Si Lolo at SM Megamall is truly phenomenal. It serves notice to producers that people do patronize excellent movies. I hope Sine Direk returns for a second installment in 2010.

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