by Richard Bolisay
▶︎ Speaking of misery, here’s another one. One of the few certain things in Philippine cinema is for Joel Lamangan to come up with another bad film, for him to take on another current social issue and demonstrate his ever-dependable skill in making a lousy drama out of it, in simplifying poverty, violence, and morality and rendering them in black and white, and in the case of That Thing Called Tanga Na and Foolish Love, both comedies, and both utterly appalling, in using tasteless humor and stereotypes for the sake of crude entertainment. His latest film, Bhoy Intsik, delivers not only the tacky cinematic language expected of him, but also the offensive sensibility that reduces characters into sloppy, cardboard caricatures and issues into plain, flimsy backdrops. There is no question about the importance of showing poverty in local movies — it is real, it must be addressed, it shouldn’t be avoided — but in Bhoy Intsik the depiction hardly cuts deep because of the irresponsible handling of material (primitive direction, hideous visuals, shallow representation of poor people) and the old tricks of dramatic storytelling (unrealistic plots, laughable dialogue, undying platitudes) that should have long been out of use. The true enemy is not poverty porn but bad directors. Lamangan is the industry’s gift that keeps on giving, and at this point of his career, it is only fair to expect nothing better. ***
Richard Bolisay is a film critic. This piece was first published on his site Lilok Pelikula as part of "Dispatches from Cinemalaya 2017 (Part 2)," August 13 2017.