Film Review of Broken Marriage

Broken Marriage; directed by Ishmael Bernal; written by Jose Carreon and Bing Caballero; starring Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon; produced by Regal Films (* * * * *). Broken Marriage is Ishmael Bernal’s best film since his ill-fated Manila by Night/City After Dark (1980). In fact, Broken Marriage is-in the sense the term is used by painters-a detail from the huge canvas of City After Dark. The theme of this latest masterpiece from the Master is simple: the emotional violence in a marriage mirrors the physical, political, and social violence of the city, City After Dark gave a bird’s eye view of the city. Broken Marriage looks at the city through the eyes of a woman. The violence in the marriage of Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos is obvious enough. He is a conscientious, compassionate, successful police reporter who is just about to be promoted. They are, in other words, alike. Like poles repel, goes the age-old adage from physical science, and these two career-conscious individuals have no time for each other. He spends his leisure hours reading or catching up on videotaped films. She spends her time on the telephone, making her home an extension of the studio. Bernal cleverly places an issue of Time magazine always within reach of de Leon. The director is saying that time is what is just beyond the reach of these two persons who are in love, not with each other, but with themselves. In fact, their very similarity (they are both sloppy in dressing, in fixing their things, in working habits) points to what must have made them fall in love in the first place; they both see themselves in each other.

To say that the two persons are “incompatible”is to miss a lot. They are, in fact, extremely compatible, because they look, think, and act the same. They both want the marriage to revolve around themselves. They both want fame and fortune. They both want to be loved by the children but not to spend time loving them. They are both stubborn, yet forgiving. They are both faithful to each other, almost to a fault, yet they cannot stand each other. Is Bernal saying that marriages can never work if the two partners are equal in every respect? Is he saying that only a male chauvinist marriage can work, where the man works all day and the woman stays home? Or is he subtly suggesting that marriage itself as an institution is an anchronism in a rapidly-changing world? There will be various interpretations of this film, depending on one’s own preception of one’s own marriage. But disagree or not, viewers cannot fail to see what Bernal’s underying thesis is-that the violence in urban, middle-class marriages is caused by violence outside the house. The home is the center that has failed to hold together. The city is the world that has become “broken.”

Bernal cleverly shows that he is interested not only in a marriage, but in the city, when he lets his background seep into the interstices of the plot. In the first sequence, for instance de Leon is watching Bonnie and Clyde on videotape, an obvious hint that Broken Marriage will also be about love in a violent setting. In Bonnie and Clyde, if you recall, the two lovers-having rediscovered each other are mercilessly mowed down by law enforcement officers. Similarly, the marriage in Broken Marriage is “mowed down”by the lawlessness of society. Again ang again, Bernal includes violent news from the otuside of the home. Rod Navarro’s voice is heard talking about the Middle East war. A bank shoot-out is headlined by de Leon’s paper. During the climactic break-up scene, The Greatest American Hero is showing; in that series, the hero needs extraterrestrial help to combat crime in the modern world. The registration scene in the university shows the lack of discipline that pervades Manila. If the city is not disciplined how can a small family be? Sprinkled throughtout the screenplay are derogatory remarks against institutions noted for their lack of discipline-Meralco (taping is hurried because of an imprending brown-out), MWSS (Santos refuses to pay a bill for water since there has been no water in her neighborhood for months), the Ministry of Publick Highways (streets are described and shown to be full of diggings), the police (who are asked by de Leon to “salvage” or murder a Chinese prostitution king pin), movie actresses (one star fails to appear for a song number), movie producers (Orestes Ojeda’s only object is to sleep with Santos), and, most appalling of all, politicians (personafied by a fictional mayor who points a revolver at de Leon). In short, this is City After Dark all over again, but with more subtle, probably more lasting, effect.

The ending has been criticized by a couple of reviewers. It is true that the beach sequence smacks of commercialism. All’s well that ends well, and all that. But City After Dark, we may recall, also ends on such a happy note. We may disagree with Bernal’s perception that there is always hope left fro man, woman, and the city, but we cannot disallow him his views. In other words, most of us cannot agree that the broken marriage can be mended, but Bernal thinks so, and his films have all ended on such an up-note. I personally would rather see a darker, more realistic ending, but Bernal would not be Bernal without his happy endings. It’s not a completely happy endings, anyway. Two sequences before the beach scene. Bernal films the wedding scene in a haze, as though he were saying that whatever follows the wedding is mere romance. It is like Bonnie and Clyde. The gansters dream of a happy life together, spinning romantic castles in the air. But as soon as it is time to go out into the real world, violence is right there at the doorstep. The ending is filmed as a romantic interlude, but the reality is waiting around the dark corners of the city, like the mayor’s goons who cannot stand the thought that someone is finally about to tell the truth. – Isagani Cruz, Parade Magazine 1983, reposted by Pelikula Atbp (READ MORE)

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Magkaribal is 36 (Videos)

FILMS - Magkaribal 6

Released Date: August 17, 1979

Plot Description: A story of a woman whose closest friend became her worst rival. They were once very close to each other-almost like sisters. She even confides all her troubles and heartaches to this friend. Later, she sensed some changes in her friend’s attitude towards her which became obvious when this friend of hers tried to outshine her in everything. She tried not to mind this but worse came to worst when she discovered that the other woman in her love one’s life is the very same friend thus a never-ending conflict arised. It stars: Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon, Alma Moreno. – Trigon Video

32nd Year Anniversary of Haplos (Photos)

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Released: December 25, 1982

Plot Description: Al (Christopher De Leon) is a balikbayan who returns to his former hometown where his mother is buried. There he meets his childhood friend Cristy (Vilma Santos) who works as a counselor for family planning. Eventually they develop a romantic relationship and end up as a couple. However, a mysterious lady appears one day while Al tends to his mother’s grave. Al falls in love with the stranger and is now torn between her and Cristy. Haplos is another cinematic masterpiece by famed screenwriter Ricardo Lee. It is the official entry to the 1982 Metro Manila Film Festival. With Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon in the lead roles and supported by Rio Locsin, Haplos is a brilliant movie with a mind-boggling twist in the story. It’s a must-see for all Pinoy film buffs. – neTVision

Watching Vilma’s Films

FILMS - Lipad  Darna Lipad

The Beginning – When I was a little kid, I remember watching my very first Vilma movie with my aunt. It was “Lipad Darna Lipad.” The theatre was Cinerama on Claro M Recto near the underpass headin’ towards Quiapo. I remember the crowded theatre. The carpeted floor and velvet curtains. With no more seats and an SRO crowd, we sat on the stairs near the balcony area. People were screaming and into each fight scenes. I remember vividly how my aunt almost got into a fight because she wanted me to sit on one of the seat that was vacated and a man standing in front of us wanted the seat too. Celia Rodriguez was really scary with her head covered with snakes and her voice was so icy cold. Liza Lorena didn’t registered much on me but Gloria Romero was even scarier! This film brought me some nightmares but it also gave me and my cousins something to play about every afternoon after school.

FILMS - Pakawalan Mo Ako 1Pakawalan – The second memorable film experience for me was during early 80s where I saw the free sneak preview of “Pakawalan Mo Ako” at Gotesco Theatre near University of the East. I was one of the lucky ones who managed to get in. My college mates weren’t. They got stocked in the pandemonium outside. I was worried sick as I took the long escalator and saw them being crashed by the crowed. The security guards have to closed the gate of the lobby. Fans became so restless and broke the glass windows (where they displayed posters and still photos) . Inside, It was crowded, hot and wild. We were seeing a more mature Vilma Santos. From the very beginning, the crowed went along the story until one of the climatic scene – the courtroom scene where she cried and swear! Oh my god I still remember the crowd swearing and cursing too! It was so wild!

ARTICLES - Sister Stella L 1OF2 (6)Activism – The third movie experience was when I saw Sister Stella L at Capri near the Philippine Rabbit Bus Station on Rizal Avenue (it is always called Avenida). Now, the total opposite happened to me. The theatre was half empty but most of the people I noticed were students and office workers. This film affected me so much and I started to join rallies and demonstration along Mediola and at our school. I also remember that Sharon Cuneta had a film showing at the same time, and most of my friends watched this film instead. I was so disappointed that they decided to see this film instead of SSL. This film also became my mantra at school. It inspired me to take issues and voice out what I think, I became militant. I rebelled against my family who I believe were too strict. I wanted my freedom and so this film inspired me. The end result was my independence. Up to this day, I will never forget the time when I had an argument with my grandfather, it wasn’t funny back then. I told him: “Tama na, panahon na, hindi habang panahon pipigilan n’yo ako sa pagsasalita” – the line from SSL.

FILMS - Rubia Servios 12Why does he have to rape Rubia? – Another memorable experience was when my aunt got into a huge fight in front of Galaxy Theatre on Avenida. Being a true Vilmanians and with her deadly weapon, her umbrella, my aunt pulled the hair of this two crazy Nora Aunor fans. This was after the two said nasty things about Vilma while passing on in front of the theatre. I ended up on the cement floor hiding near the newspaper stands. Thank god she always came up on top because we were always able to go home uninjured. Rubia Servios was showing at the Galaxy Theatre back then. Again we have to sat down on floor, my aunt’s realized that she can’t put me on her lap anymore as I am a bit heavier now. As I observe, people are more serious this time. No shouting but silence as the story being told to us. The crowd was so into it too but no shouting instead a feeling of sighs and sadness. My aunt cried as she watched Rubia crawled on the sandy side of the beach. Rubia Servious was for adults only but my aunt’s sister was the ticket collector or “takilyera”. So I was able to get in. Philip Salvador was so “hot” in his black swimming trunk, I dreamt of him a number of times. As we watched the film, I remember asking my aunt about why does he (Philip) have to rape Darna? My aunt patiently explained, about love and lust. My innocent mind were corrupted that day. Eventually, I got over that rape scenes but revenge when Vilma killed Phillip using a boat paddle still stucked on my mind.

FILMS - Magkaribal 2Naked Christopher – Lastly, the one that was so special to me, was when I saw Magkaribal at Luneta theatre. I went to so many theatres to get in but at last the woman at the box office was so busy reading comics that she didn’t even bother to ask about my age. The film was “For Adults Only” and I agreed. Christopher De Leon here was so sexy, riding a horse, naked. And Alma Moreno was so young and thin. Even her boobs here are well proportioned to her body, although its already huge. And ate Vi here was at her best, acting wise. The crowd here are more mature, a combination of college students and office workers. The theatre was not SRO but all the seats are taken and it was obvious that the film was catered to couples.  – RV

Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon (Photos)

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Christopher de Leon (born October 31, 1956) is a Filipino film actor and politician. De Leon appeared on the gag show Going Bananas and has appeared in over 120 films since the early 1970s. On July 1, 2010, he was sworn into office as the board member of the 2nd district of Batangas. He studied Fine Arts at the University of the East in Manila. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

FILMOGRAPHY: RELASYON (PHOTOS)

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“Ang hirap dito sa relasyon natin, puro ikaw ang nasusunod, kung saan tayo pupunta, kung anong oras tayo aalis, kung anong kakainin natin, kung anong isusuot ko sa lahat ng oras, ako naman sunod ng sunod parang torpeng tango ng tango yes master yes master!” – Maria Lourdes Castaneda

“Ano ba ako rito istatwa? Eh dinadaan daanan mo na lang ako ah, hindi mo na ako kinakausap hindi mo na ako binabati hindi mo na ako hinahalikan ah…namputsang buhay ‘to. Ako ba may nagawa akong kasalanan hah? Dahil ang alam ko sa relationship, give and take. Pero etong atin, iba eh! Ako give ng give ikaw take ng take! Ilang taon na ba tayong nagsasama? Oo, binigyan mo nga ako ng singsing nuong umpisa natin, pero pagkatapos nuon ano? Wala na! Ni-siopao hindi mo ako binigyan eh dumating ka sa bahay na ito ni butong pakwan hindi mo ako napasalubungan sa akin eh kaya kung tiisin lahat pero sobra na eh…hindi naman malaki hinihingi ko sayo eh konti lang… alam ko kerida lang ako…pero pahingi naman ng konting pagmamahal…kung ayaw mo ng pagmamahal, atleast konsiderasyon man lang. Kung di mo kayang mahalin bilang isang tunay na asawa, de mahalin mo ako bilang isang kaibigan, Kung ayaw mo pa rin nun bigyan mo na lang ako ng respeto bilang isang tao hindi yung dadaan daanan mo lang sa harapan na para kang walang nakikita!” – Maria Lourdes Castaneda

Emil, a young executive, and his mistress Marilou, a planetarium guide, decide to be live-in partners. In the process, they discover each other’s failing, which result in the strain in their relationship, bringing about their temporary separation. When they finally decide to resume their relationship, under a set-up wherein the man devides his time between his family and mistress, he dies frpm an attack of cerebral aneurysm. The woman decides to start a new life abroad, finding strength in the Jove of her departed lover. – Manunuri web-site

RELATED READING:
Relasyon, Ishmael Bernal (1982)
Nora at Vilma… Ang RELASYON Ng HIMALA
IMDB: The Affair
Relasyon (Photos)
Relasyon (1982)
Wikipedia: Ishmael Bernal
Ishmael Bernal (1938-1996)
The Films of Ishmael Bernal Circa 1971-79, Part One
The Films of Ishmael Bernal Circa 1980-94, Part Two
Tribute to Ishmael Bernal
Ishmael Bernal (1938-1996)
The Films of Ishmael Bernal Circa1980-96, Part Two
Remember The Face: Bernal Film Director
The Bernal-Santos Collaborations
Relasyon

FILM REVIEW: IMORTAL


The Plot: The first time they laid eyes on each other, they knew from that very moment that they were destined to be together. But their love was not meant to be consummated instantly-they had to wait. But their waiting spanned not just year but lifetimes. The time comes that they meet again. But now, they must break the walls that have for so long kept them apart. They must fight for their love because now is their last chance. – Viva Films

The Reviews: We saw the movie “Imortal” starring Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon, and directed by Eddie Garcia, which won most of the awards in the last Metro-Manila Festival. It was awful. People who make such movies, and those who hand out awards to them, thoroughly deserve each other. In its asinine plot, “Imortal” tells of the immortal love between two siblings with a common father — a doctor Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos who becomes a nun, wife of an impotent husband, adulteress and a whore. They never make it because movie censor Manoling Morato would have gotten mad, but in the next generation, the daughter of the whore with foreigner (without AIDS, we hope) — also played by a younger Vilma Santos — marries the son of the doctor, played by a young Christopher de Leon, in a psychedelic wedding in the year 2016 AD. In the year 2016, youngsters Vilma (with brown skin and blue eyes) and Boyet are singing Happy Birthday to the father Old Christopher, a senile old man in a wheel chair. “Happy Birthday, Papa,” says Vilma as she kisses him on the cheek; he does not respond so she panics: “Papa… Papa… PAPA!” He does not answer because he is dead. According to the movie script, the father Christopher was born in 1954, which makes him in 2016 only 62 years of age — much younger than Director Eddie Garcia or even Dolphy, hardly an age to be senile and dying.

There are other laughable scenes. Vilma says, “My husband is (music rises ominously) — my husband is (music again) IMPOTENT (music rises to a climax)!” You’d think the husband just contracted the AIDS virus or got castrated by Sparrow units! Shucks, I know several husbands who just can’t do it anymore, and I hear no heavy music when their wives complain. As a matter of fact, wives prefer their husbands to be impotent, rather than be sexually active with other women. Another terrible scene. The car ridden by Christopher and wife Cherie Gil falls off a cliff. Cherie who is pregnant is mortally wounded and dies. And Christopher looks at his dead wife, and holds aloft a new born baby complete with umbilical cord. This is absurd without a caesarian operation by a doctor. The worst scene is when Christopher digs up the corpse of Vilma at the cemetery, amidst thunder, lightning, wind and rain, and embraces her passionately, while she exhibits no rigor mortis, and apparently no smell of formalin. You don’t find this kind of idiocy in a television commercial. Most of my grandchildren, including Angeli who is only four months of age, enjoy commercials more than dramas.

Some TV commercials can tell the story vividly, memorably, with impact in 30 seconds, better than two hours of unmitigated nincompoopery in filmed dramas. A simple love story is telescoped into a heartwarming half a minute of the Lizl Lebron commercial for San Miguel — boy meets girl against the parents’ wishes, in the tennis court, Fort Santiago in the rain, in the balcony — and ends as he gives her a engagement ring. Actresses with a roomful of acting awards can never match the birth of love and passion in the virginal innocence of this young girl. The same love story is retold in the Ligaw ad of Jollibee chronicling the Filipino traditional courtship — the chaperoned visit, permission to take the girl out for a snack, “Sigurado ka bang sa Jollibee?” the first tentative holding of hands, and the sudden appearance of papa — a slice of true life experience every young person can identify with, more than the bizarre events of “Imortal.” Movies are a director’s medium, the stage is an actor’s medium, a TV commercial is the medium of the advertiser who pays for the ad. The advertiser conducts enough studies to justify the expenditure in a logical way: product and consumer research to determine the most compelling reason to buy the product; careful attention to story boards, makeup, hair style, with no waste, irrelevances or digressions — long before shooting even starts.

A commercial of 30 seconds takes from P800,000 to P2 million to produce or as much as P67,000 per second. A movie of two hours or 9,600 seconds may take P5 million to produce, or P520 per second. A commercial costs as 128 times as much as a movie. Del Monte’s Spaghetti Sauce’s Godfather ad, mechado sauce’s Candida ad, and ketchup’s Family Dinner ad; the San Miguel series with Fernando Poe Jr., Tawa Marcelo and Freddie Aguilar; Jollibee’s Lola ad; and the Sarsi ad — are technical and artistic masterpieces. The Hope cigarette ads are colonial, sexist and insulting to the intelligence, as are those of Vos Brandy, White Castle Whisky and Old Captain Rum. But even the worst TV ad is better than “Imortal.” – Hilarion M. Henares Jr., Jan 14, 1990, Philippine Daily Inquirer READ MORE

Watching Imortal on ABS-CBN was purely out curiosity. At first I thought it was a remake of the old Vilma Santos-Christopher De Leon movie entitled Imortal. Gosh. Then only to find out the teleserye is about feuding wolves and vampires. You don’t have to be Twilight fan to realize how Twilight-y the plot is not even halfway into the first episode. And like any other Pinoy plot, the story line is just so darn predictable! The first episode isn’t over yet but you already know how it’s going to end. Why is it always like that? Can’t the writers think of new twists and be creative for once? (I’m already in my late 30s and they’ve been at it since I was in grade school.) Or is it that unpredictable twists don’t sell to the masses? Most probably! Either way, don’t blame me for being ‘unpatriotic’ because I get more satisfaction watching reruns of good old foreign films. – READ MORE

Related Reading:
IMDB: Imortal (1989)
Metro Manila Film Festival Recognitions
The 1989 Metro Manila Film Festival: “Imortal” Sweeps Awards
Pinoy Musicians: George Masangkay Canseco
Top 100 Vilma Santos Films (part nine)
Vilma Santos’ Top 10 Film Directors (part three)
Eddie Garcia, FAMAS Three Time Hall of Fame Awardee
A look at the past MMFF controversies
“Imortal”: Worst TV ad is better than best movie
Eddie Garcia: Actor, director, icon, Philippine cinema’s one-man totem pole