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Damn great, John!

With the future of Philippine arts in general in the doldrums, cinema has been the most resilient, but it does not mean that it’s not vulnerable.



Puñeta, John Arcilla! You did a good job again, man!

Kudos should go to director Erik Matti, too, for bringing out the best in Arcilla who won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for the film On the Job: The Missing 8 at the 78th Venice International Film Festival last week.

Their team, with equal mention deserved by Michiko Yamamoto — whose film credits are exemplary, too — also deserves long applause.

Okay, a disclosure: This rubbernecker has yet to see the latest Matti-Yamamoto-Arcilla movie. He has seen the first On the Job and was highly impressed with it.

Another disclosure: This rubbernecker is not a film buff. He’s more into music, but every time there’s a good movie to watch, he makes sure he spends the precious hours in another world and time that’s not his.
His recollection of films is short, though.

Oro, Plata, Mata — where Joel Torre easily became one of the Philippines’ greatest actors, and was part of the first On the Job.

Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, a Lino Brocka masterpiece, where Bembol Roco quickly took his place in the pantheon of great Filipino thespians.

Himala. Insiang. Kisapmata. No explanations are needed.

Picky? Yes.

So, when news about Arcilla’s take on the constantly cussing Heneral Luna, the Filipino general murdered by Emilio Aguinaldo’s crew — the kinesics of Philippine politics then revealed — was aired, he made sure he’ll see it, and has seen it thrice.

Third disclosure: This rubbernecker has become an Arcilla fan since then.

Arcilla’s victory in Italy’s Veneto region should spark a renewed interest in Philippine cinema in this time of the pandemic.

With the future of Philippine arts in general in the doldrums, cinema has been the most resilient, but it does not mean that it’s not vulnerable.

Music — live and recorded — has been bleeding even before the pandemic. Radio is no longer the same as before. Artists no longer earn money for their works, with digital streaming not turning in the monies they should have.

The visual arts, like painting and sculpture, are treated as investments. The Internet has become new art galleries, where artworks are for sale or for auction. The lack of feeling in viewing an artwork from a laptop screen tells much about the future of art, though.

Cinemas have been closed for nearly two years now. Moviemakers are finding ways to sell their works and find their bases of viewers.

Arcilla has created a new buzz for the whole of Philippine cinema, though, by winning the trophy named after Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata, the founder of the Venice Film Festival.

He has joined the ranks of previous winners River Phoenix, Liam Neeson, Sean Penn, Benn Affleck, Brad Pitt, and Joaquin Phoenix. Just, wow! What greater company should one ask for?

All of us should see On the Job: The Missing 8. We should learn from it. Then we could shift to the usual rom-com if we’d want to, but see the serious films first.

On the Job is now a six-part Philippine miniseries for a streaming service — both the first and the sequel.

It should generate a foreign audience, too. Let us hope that Arcilla’s victory would be noticed in other countries, too.

Our filmmakers and actors deserve it.

Matti is optimistic that he is looking forward to releasing the On the Job sequel in cinemas when this pandemic ebbs.

He plans to split the movie that runs for nearly three hours into two to make it “a little more enticing for the audience.”

We need not be called to be enticed to see it, though.

Their foreign peers have deemed our actors’ performance in it as best in the world.

We should be cussed for not knowing it. Again, puñeta!