Thursday, August 22, 2002

Didn't expect an emotional night, but that's what I got.

A whole bunch of us went to see Gamitan Wednesday night at Power Plant. Practically the entire center block of seats was composed of either Quark's friends or his relatives. We watched and enjoyed the film; a lot of times the entire theater would burst into laughter because we got the many "in-jokes" sprinkled throughout. After the screening there was, of course, applause, and right outside the theater everyone was congratulating Quark and clapping him on the back, girlfriend Lia smiling happily and clicking away with her digital camera. So many people showed up, some of whom I haven't seen in a while, and it was a treat catching up with them.

After, we all went to Quark's house where he gave a party, complete with balloons sporting the movie's tagline: "Baby ang dating, hayop sa galing!" Good food and good drinks, better yet, good company. Highlights included Mo getting drunk (from whiskey he himself had brought) and playing songs from Moulin Rouge and Almost Famous on the piano, Mich spilling beer all over herself, and general ribbing of either Ozzy or Chris, whose twin sisters also passed their medical exams. Hurrah! It was nice seeing Ciudad again (sans Mitch, who didn't go to the party), and Marnie as well, who's been back since June without my knowing. Alexis was there, as was Joeybrash, Lia's name was changed to Special Thanks (see the film to find out why), and Quark's driveway became the smoking area, where some people just stayed permanently.

Maui's obviously artificial boobs was the topic of choice, and also the butt of many jokes, especially by the A-men, Quark's classmates from high school. Mich is apparently terrified of balloons, which of course just prompted Chris and others to chase her around, trying to tie the balloons to her clothing.

What a great night. I didn't expect it to be so emotional and meaningful, but that's what happened. It was when I started thinking about the significance of the event: we were celebrating the first film of a good friend. One of my best friends, whom I've been talking film and comics with since we were practically in grade school. I'm sure it must've been a thrill for him seeing the "Written & Directed by" credit on the big screen, and then hearing the applause. If it was me, that would've been the moment.

The party ended at around 3 AM.

The film itself is much better than I expected: not that I doubted Quark, but because we were privy to all his horror stories about what he had to put up with from Viva, his actors (well, just one, really), his insipidly inefficient Production Designer, the egos on the set (again, really just one), etc. It's a miracle he was even able to put out a film that made sense, let alone one that's as good as Gamitan is. And it's definitely better than most Philippine directorial debuts I've seen in a long while. My favorite thing about it is that he never relaxes comfortably into a groove: scenes with heavy emotional drama are suddenly interrupted by slapstick comedy, or segue to entirely comic scenes that then end violently, etc. In particular, pay attention to Patricia Javier's diet (surprisingly, she was pretty good). The dialogue is realistic and peppered with common catchprases of our barkada, and there's some great music too: some original score compositions c/o Mssrs. Raimund Marasigan, Rommel Sanchez, and Buddy Zabala, as well as some songs from Sandwich, Itchyworms!, Daydream Cycle and a brilliant use of Rivermaya's "Ambulansya" that needs to be seen, and makes the entrance fee worth it.

The film made P2 million on its opening day. By noon. Which means, basically, that it made that much money during its first screening in all the theaters showing it. The budget of the film was (I think) P7 million, so that should be met and beaten at least by Saturday, when most people will be able to watch it. I really hope this movie does well for Quark, and from the looks of things, it's well on its way.

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