Friday, July 9

Life, Love and Loss in the Gutter: Arnold Arre's Kaye for Komiks Review

Arnold Arre's second film is a biting, often humorous tribute to the local Indie Komiks scene.

A couple of nights ago, I braved yet another stinky cab and Fort Boni rush hour to make it to Arnold Arre's debut screening of Kaye for Komiks, his second short film and outing into the world of moving pictures. As with Chapter:-One, the venue was the underground theater at Fully Booked at Bonifacio High Street. But unlike last time, the house was PACKED. As in, the place was made for about sixty people, but there were well over a hundred confirmed guests for the night, and most of them came. It only added to the enjoyment, in any case.

In contrast to his first short film (which was of the horror/suspense genre), Kaye for Komiks is one part tentative, opposites attract romance, two parts local comic book industry documentary and one part retelling of Arnold's own experiences as an indie comic book creator. Filmed mostly at the Sputnik X comic book store in Cubao, the main story is about the relationship between a jaded, failing local comic book creator (Mihk Vergara) and a bubbly ex-advertising artist (Cathy Ferolino). In between we're also treated to various interviews with some luminaries of Komiks, such as Gerry Alanguilan and Leinil Yu.

Running at just short of an hour at about 57 minutes, K4K moves by fast at a quick pace. Edited tightly and containing elements of green screen hocus pocus and even some bits of animation (complete with art from Arnold's past illustrated works and some other local titles), the film has a slightly off-kilter, surreal visual style that fits well into the comic book theme, and is downright impressive for what is basically a one man (well, one man and wife) operation. But even ILM effects would be for naught if the central figures had no charisma, and thankfully that's no problem here.

For (as far as I know) first-time actors, Mikh Vergara and Cathy Ferolino shine as the leads, and thankfully not just because they're just pretty faces that stand up great even to Arnold's VERY intimate camera (though they are indeed easy on the eyes).

Vergara is able to convey the martyred air of the struggling, world-weary artist he's portraying, through his eyes and the gravity in his words. A lot rides on him delivering in the film's most intense moments, and he passes with flying colors.

Ferolino's Kaye on the other hand, is all sweetness and light, a bubbly outsider looking into a world she knows little about (at least, initially), and carrying on with just an open smile and bright eyes. Again, as far as I know her performance works because partly it's real (she's probably mystified in real life by all the comic book geeks and oddballs surrounding her on set), and partly because there's a sincerity and genuine quality to her smile and the look in her eyes.

The other members of the cast, from the Jay and Silent Bob tributes (played by none other than Sputnik's owners) to odd characters and weirdos encountered throughout the film, are as usual composed of Arnold's friends and associates, all looking and acting with the exuberance of pizza-and-soda-laced performers. There's even an appearance by celebrity R.J. Ledesma as a 'childstar-turned-comic book legend'. Once again, somehow, you know people had fun on the shoots.

Kaye for Komiks is an entertaining watch and in my eyes a definite notch up from Arnold's first work. Once again, he tells a complete and satisfying story, laced with drama, comedy and anecdotes from a world he once played in (and should again, I hope), along the way regaling viewers with his own visual flair and comic book sensibilities.

It's also a story very close to my own experiences (very much akin as I am to Arn as well in the Komik Industry), but that doesn't mean you have to be a komikero to enjoy it. I can't wait for his next issue then. What's next Arn? Action Movie? Sci-fi Extravaganza? A Pinoy Lord of the Rings???

After watching this, I can easily believe the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, July 6

Full Metal Alchemist Ends Again! (Anime)

Seeya, Ed!

It was just several weeks ago that I posted about the ending of the Full Metal Alchemist manga, and now here's the ending of the anime version. Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood takes its final curtain call at Episode 64. The last ep was all epilogue, giving the cast of characters their due desserts and resolutions. The anime version alters/improves on some aspects from the original manga ending. All in all, it was a great send-off, and the emotional parts were handled superbly with the gravity and emotion needed for a good impact.

It's nice to note that FMAB's endings, at least for the main heroes, are not vague as is often the case with anime. It's no surprise who ends up with who, but more with that they actually show us quite a bit, which is lovely. From all indications, the lands of Amestris, Xing Et Al are in a new Golden Age, free of machinations by evil forces, open to exploration and adventure. Who's willing to bet that Ed's kids will grow up to be master alchemists like their dad, uncle and granddad? Perhaps if Arakawa-san sees it fit, we'll see the next generation of Elrics go on their own adventures someday.

There's actually a bit more FMAB to come, surprisingly- apparently there's a movie version coming, though what it contains will probably be more of a summary of the series rather than any continuation. It will be nice to see what it turns out to be, I guess.

In any case, it's been a wild ride. Few titles hit me with the impact that FMA has, and none but FMA has hit me like this TWICE. Awesome, just freaking awesome. Good thing I can always rewatch and enjoy this classic anytime. Later then!