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October 22, 2010

D'Anothers

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Joyce Bernal - 2005
Star Cinema Region 0 DVD

If one didn't pay attention to the credits, one might think D'Anothers was directed by a guy. This is a film with some of the kind of raunchy humor involving food, farting, and pants wetting that might be aimed for an audience of teenage boys of all ages. Most of the comedy is frankly broad or low brow, but some of it is actually pretty funny. This is a Filipino film made for the home audience, but I suspect that if some smart producer invited Joyce Bernal to make something in the vein of of a Scary Movie or The Hangover, she would be more than capable of delivering the goods.

The film's main character is a variation of the kind of of role often associated with Bob Hope, the perpetual coward who even seems afraid of his own shadow. What makes this film even more deeply Filipino in certain respects is that Vhong Navarro portrays a scaredy cat named Jesus Resurreccion. With a name like that, D'Anothers goes into certain theological areas I'm not really capable of addressing. In this case, young Jesus inherits a mansion full of ghosts that are his past relatives. The plot involves a key which allows these ghosts to pass from being house bound to go "into the light", or turn into cockroaches. The ghosts have been waiting for Jesus, whom all signs point to being "The One". For someone with only a slight knowledge of Filipino culture, D'Anothers simply works when not trying to think about some of the thornier implication of the material.

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It's a motley crew of ghosts, including a headless priest, and midget, and a young tough who would rather stay earthbound to be near is beloved, a now mature woman who runs the little sari-sari store down the road. Jesus also has to contend with supporting his very large aunt and her two punk sons. Learning that he has inherited the mansion, Jesus hopes to sell the place with the hopes of buying the approval of his girlfriend's parents. Goaded to prove he is not a coward, Jesus is frightened by all manner of spookiness in a fake haunted house with costumed creatures. With nothing left to lose after being dumped by the girlfriend, Jesus virtually hurls himself into the mansion with its residents possessing temporal corporeality.

The film was probably designed to be something of a lark for Bernal, and screenwriters Adolfo Alix, Jr. and Raymond Lee, not only spoofing conventions of Filipino movies, and other horror films, but some other films as well. The title should be a giveaway, referring The Others. One unexpected bit has the oversized aunt of Jesus posing as an eye patch wearing nurse, with the whistling in the soundtrack making sure one thinks of Kill Bill. Bernal takes a break from the story for an extended dance number that's a bit of Bollywood and a breakdancing face off, including an amusingly silly song, "The Chicken Dance", that does nothing to add to the narrative, but is a reminder of Bernal's skill as a editor. Even though the dance number is composed mostly of some very short shots, the combination of the compositions and the editing appears more seamless and ultimately more visually coherent than visual hodgepodge from the likes of Rob Marshall.

This is the first film I've seen by Joyce Bernal. The chronicler of Filipino cinema, Noel Vera, considers her worthy of being a National Artist. There is very little critical writing about Bernal in English, even by those who claim to champion female filmmakers. Even if one doesn't take the time to give Bernal the same kind of attention given to someone like Nancy Meyers, the sheer number of films made since moving from editor to director is impressive. For those paying attention to Asian cinema, Bernal's films frequently represent The Philippines at the Udine (Italy) Far East Film Festival. In any case, this is a filmmaker I need to make of point of revisiting.

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Posted by peter at October 22, 2010 06:45 AM

Comments

Have not seen this, but it sounds interesting. Joyce is excellent at romantic comedy--I think she did the better version of whatsisname, that Julia Roberts comedy--oh yeah, Notting Hill. Also did Booba, but the special effects are a tad too crude to make it really funny. This, however, sounds interesting.

Posted by: Noel Vera at October 25, 2010 12:29 AM

I recommend that you also watch Kimmy Dora, Joyce's latest comedy film. The film was produced by her own production company, Spring Films. The film was the Philippines' surprise hit in 2009, which was a feat given its relatively small marketing budget and launched into stardom critically acclaimed comedy actress, Eugene Domingo.

Posted by: Tammy Dinopol at October 25, 2010 11:54 PM

It seemed to have many big name actors in it, wondering if they knew what they were getting into by being associated with this movie. The only parts that were semi-enjoyable were the slapstick-y bits with just Vhong and Toni.

Posted by: free movie at October 27, 2010 06:21 AM

I've seen this recently and I am enjoying this watching movie.This is another Philippines's best horror-comedy flick. Joyce Bernal is a great Filipina director.

Posted by: Elgart at October 29, 2010 11:33 PM