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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Star Cinema continues quality commitment

THE last time we had a talk with Charo Santos, president of ABS-CBN, she didn’t sound too enthusiastic about the state of the movie industry. She sadly told us she expected to be fielding only eight films this year. This is really bad news since Star Cinema is truly the only network outfit consistently coming out with movies even at the onset of the crisis in the industry.

Research shows that in 1997, Star released a record 24 films which means the company was still doing well. After that it was a steady decline with eight pictures in 2008, nine last year, and for 2010 three pictures already released "Paano na Kaya," "Miss You Like Crazy," and "Babe, I Love You" still showing in the theaters. The fourth, "I’ll be There for You" with KC Concepcion, her father Gabby, and Jericho Rosales as leading man has trailers already playing in the theaters.

Figures from SM and Robinsons, however, were more encouraging. In 2008, they report that four of the top five films from Star Cinema dominated the list of blockbuster films. In 2009, "You Changed My Life" was tagged by Box Office Mojo as the Highest Top-Grossing Filipino Movie of all Time as of April last year with US$4.7 million.

This Star-Viva co-production with John Lloyd Cruz (from Star) and Sarah Geronimo (from Viva) followed the blockbuster first team-up, "A Very Special Love" both megged by Cathy Garcia Molina. We had watched both these films in the theater and although there were times we cringed with embarrassment over scenes like Sarah’s rain dance, we would look around us and find the audience laughing with glee and not with embarrassment. This is the reason why we always watch movies in a theater because that is the real audience whether we like it or not.

This week, we watched the latest offering from Star Cinema and Viva, this time with Anne Curtis and Sam Milby doing a comeback team-up after their much written about breakup. "Babe, I Love You" also marks director Mae Cruz in her first feature film. We were anxious to see what this girl had up her sleeve. Apparently, she learned well from her training from production assistant in Magic Temple to director in "Maalaala mo Kaya" to the trilogy "Because of You" to the primetime soap, "Maging Sino Ka Man" where she worked with both Sam and Anne and got to know them very well.

One thing good about ABS is that they really train their creative team and directors, giving those with the best potential the chance to direct a movie. Mae has a firm hold of the material given her. She has mastered the science of manipulation, when to milk a scene for all it is worth, when to let go, with everything realistically done and believable to the minutest detail. Our friend who watched the movie with us kept saying, “Nakakainis ang direktor nito. Ayoko naman umiyak eh. Nakakainis kasi sobrang pagka-totoo.” (I don’t like this director. I don’t like to cry. But I’m crying because the situation comes across so real).

With Mae Cruz’ auspicious coming out film, Star Cinema has added another woman to its stellar selection of homegrown female talents Olivia Lamasan, Rory Quintos, Cathy Garcia Molina, Trina Dayrit.

We also found both Anne and Sam most comfortable in their roles in the movie. Anne as loud mouthed denizen of the slums is a difficult enough character to tackle but she did it quite creditably. Sam as the son who never quite measured up to his mother’s expectations attacked his role with quiet simple sincerity which worked. It also must have helped him that a lot of the dialogue required him to speak in English.

Next from Star Cinema is the KC team-up of KC-Echo-Gabby. So far, the projects of Star Cinema remind us of the old Viva Films when they used to come up with the glossy commercial blockbusters that also won during awards season. Star Cinema has similarly consistently been rated with an A or a B by the Ratings Board while breaking the box office.

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