Posts Tagged ‘Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang’

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

Marso 23, 2012

The Lorax: Which way, does a tree fall?

The Once-ler: Down?

The Lorax: It falls the way it leans. Be careful where you lean.

-The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

 I almost decided not to watch this movie. After seeing Corazon: Ang Alamat ng Unang Aswang, I went out of the cinemas, got out of the mall and headed straight to the terminal where I would be getting on an FX to go home. I checked my watch, it was a little past 8:50. Arriving there, I saw an enormous crowd lining up for the next “trip” going to Sta. Ana (the place where I live). Being the Math teacher that I am, I tried doing a quick estimate of the time by which the people in front of me would be “served” by the FX. Overwhelmed, I told myself that I would not make it home in an hour or so with the sea of people before me. Well, I honestly don’t know if the line was really that long or if it was probably because I realized I had wanted to see the movie so much that I exaggerated and imagined the line to be like that, intentionally doing a wrong estimate. At that point I didn’t care. I just felt like I had to see it. So I decided to get in the mall once again, and  I dashed up to the theaters like no one’s watching. I ran, and for a moment forgot about how silly I looked to other people or how much risk there was for using the escalator as stairs – skipping some steps on my way.

I reached the theaters in about 4 minutes and bought my ticket.

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I am a child at heart, so if there are movies I would most likely appreciate, it would be animated films. I never really got to see these kinds of films when I was young so I guess it’s only now that I am trying to enjoy, in a way, this aspect of one’s childhood. So instead of doing a review that would only be biased, I will just enumerate those lines from this film (just like the one above), which are standouts  for me.

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Ted: The last seed?

The Lorax: It’s not about what it is. It’s about what it can become.

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The Lorax: I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues…

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The Once-ler: When a boy does a stupid thing once… It’s because he’s a boy… But when he does a stupid thing twice, it’s because of a girl.

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The Once-ler: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.

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Happy viewing!

Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang Review

Marso 18, 2012

Last Friday, after hearing a lot of stressful and disheartening news from work, and as I have planned the night before, I decided to reward myself from a week of hard work and cheer myself up by dropping by the theaters to check on what is presently showing. From the six films currently being shown, I limited my options to two: Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang and Dr. Seuss’ Lorax. I had a very hard time deciding so I actually ended up watching both films, one after the other.

The first one I saw was Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang topbilled by Erich Gonzales and Derek Ramsay and produced by Star Cinema. Honestly, I have been anticipating to watch this film since the time I saw its trailer a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued as to how a story which centers on a theme that is ever-so-familiar to the common Filipino and which has been adapted countless numbers of times in films be retold to the increasing number of more critical viewers. As the title suggests, the movie will be about the aswang, and I will bet my finger on it that if you are Filipino, you have at least seen a horror movie featuring these creatures. That is why before watching it, I told myself that the main challenge to the director (Richard V. Somes) is to present a different treatment to this otherwise ubiquitous theme.

In a nutshell, the story revolves around the couple Corazon and Daniel from a barrio called Magdalena, who in their five-year marriage hoped nothing more than having their own child. The couple exhausts all means possible to realize this dream, which included the search of a woman from another barrio (Maria Isabel Lopez) whom Corazon’s former midwife referred to as someone who can help her conceive. Different from her former midwife’s approach, this woman was said to help couples by using miracles – specifically a devotion to San Gerardo. This devotion requires a two-week sacrifice that only Corazon can perform, without asking assistance from her husband. After the task is completed, Corazon miraculously conceives,  which added bliss to the couple’s marriage. This was short-lived, however, as things start to take a turn for the worse when Corazon finally gives birth and finds her child dead.

Her world shattered, Corazon turns her back from her faith.  She felt betrayed that despite all her sacrifices, God was not able to grant the one thing she has ever wanted. Corazon retreats to the forest to the very place where her vow to sacrifice was first made, swearing by her dead child that children from their town will be cursed.

Cinematography

The film’s cinematography complimented the era  (set in the circa 1940’s) when the events supposedly took place. Unlike Asiong Salonga which was on black-and-white the entire film, the film utilized colors which would definitely remind the moviegoer of spending afternoons in the province or in front of the beach when the sun is just about to set. The colors, the lights, and the set had the feel of an old barrio untouched by civilization. The cinematography is in fact my second favorite element of the film. I believe that for movies with themes like this, capturing the right mood for the audience is as essential as a gripping story line.

The Characters

Erich Gonzales gave a pretty decent job as the main character. Judging from her previous stints in films and on TV, her performance in Corazon showcases a remarkable improvement. Although there were parts when I did not find her acting that believable, specially in scenes where more depth was required (for instance, when she found out her child was dead and when she expressed her regrets when she was not able to fulfill her father’s last wish before he died, where her eyes streaming with tears proved insufficient to convey deep anguish ), her portrayal of Corazon as the aswang is more than enough to compensate for this.  I could not imagine someone else playing the same role without coming off as overacting and unrealistic. In fact, I believe Gonzales turned out to be the perfect choice for the role.

Derek Ramsay on the other hand was just okay as Daniel. Numerous times in the film, one would hope for a better execution for the role. Daniel in my opinion is a very interesting character, troubled by inner conflicts, and his undying love for his wife. This in my opinion calls for a more sophisticated, not-over-the-top, but not underacted delivery from the one portraying it and Ramsay unfortunately failed to meet these. It is good to mention, however, that Ramsay, if not for anything is the one who had shown the most effort in this film. One can clearly see his eagerness to do well in every scene and how hard he tries to achieve what is expected of his character.

The Aswang

But the highlight of this movie is not the cinematography.  Nor are the actors, or the story. The best element would be the execution of the aswang. Personally, it has surpassed my expectations, whatever they were of how the aswang should really be.

Unlike the usual depiction of the aswang in previous films – extremely ugly with a wrinkled face which seems to have been hit by a baseball bat at least fifty times, equipped with wolf-like fangs, half-bodied with enormous bat wings, and transforming by the application of oil all over the body – Somes’ aswang is surprisingly more human.   As if to break stereotype, it is not how Corazon looked that made her terrifying but what she does to her victims. The tandem of Somes and Gonzales just pulled this off excellently without being corny and implausible. While watching Corazon, I can not help but think that there before my eyes was the perfect presentation of the creature. It was so much similar to the ordinary person which for me made it more realistic and believable. I was convinced that Corazon’s transformation to the monster she has become is the closest depiction of the aswang there could possibly be.

If you are watching this movie to give yourself a good fright, this is not the one for you. It sure was able to elicit a few screams from the audience (specially after Corazon’s transformation), but I guess the film is not primarily designed for this purpose.

This is anything but a  horror story, I daresay. Rather, it is an interesting and convincing take on how this classic creature, which we so oftentimes fail to connect to our very own selves, came about. It is a reminder that within each and everyone of us, is a small voice, waiting for the right time and opportunity, to lure us to embrace the dark side and become the worst monsters we could think of.