Director: Quark Henares
Cast: Jason Abalos, Glaiza de Castro, Alwyn Uytingco, Ketchup Eusebio, Matet de Leon, Diether Ocampo
How could a film on the alternative be so… mainstream?
I won’t lie. Rakenrol was horrible. Even though I love Pinoy rock, even though I love Jason Abalos, even though ngayon lang ako nagka-crush kay Alwyn Uytingco, man, I really felt like walking out of the film’s screening at CCP. (And trust me, I can watch horrible films and not feel that walkout urge.)
I mean, goodness gracious, I really felt offended. If there was any director who could make a film on this topic, it was Quark Henares. Prince of the NU 107 and Belo Medical Group empires, only he has all the resources, all the connections, everything within reach to make a truly wonderful film about the Pinoy rock scene. And he wasted it. Wasted it.
The trailer caught my attention. It was a very good trailer; it showed off the film’s main elements, good production qualities, and great cast. It had all the makings of a good coming-of-age rock film, something like a Pinoy Almost Famous. (Okay, my expectations weren’t THAT high but you know what I mean. Maybe more The School of Rock?)
These weren’t unrealistic expectations. Rakenrol had the resources to mobilize the best of Pinoy rock. The sad thing is that all the film does is use them as cameos. In fact, I can safely say that this is a film composed of strung-together cameos. Ely Buendia, the filmmaker-turned-rock-icon, swoops in the middle of the third act to deliver this gratuitous didactic inspirational speech. Ebe Dancel and other Pinoy rockers appear as… drinking buddies. What we have for a storyline is a very conventional newbie-band-coming-to-terms storyline, told in a very I-could’ve-seen-this-on-TV way (boy has a secret crush on girl, tells it through music, etc etc.).
The main characters—bassist Odie (Jason Abalos), vocalist Irene (Glaiza de Castro), lead guitar Mo (Ketchup Eusebio) and drummer Junfour (Alwyn Uytingco)—were generally well-acted. The sound was okay, the script had its good moments. Ricardo Cepeda had an amusing, but also confusing cameo. There’s also the obligatory ridiculing of death metal dudes, emo guys, and hipsters. Matet de Leon (as herself) is a treat; she’s probably the best cameo in the film.
Granting the direction sucks, but what is even more annoying is the film’s whole approach to “art.” In every other scene, art is the punchline. Whether in the form of self-absorbed pogi rocker Jacci Rocha (Diether Ocampo) repeatedly crooning “art is the extension of your soooulll,” or the starving irrational artistic roommate (Jun Sabayton) wailing over the destruction of his “conceptual” installation, or the flamboyant gay director (Ramon Bautista) and his “art na art” music video. Seriously, what is Quark Henares’ beef with art?
The irony of Rakenrol is that it’s about art and artists (and seeing the cast and crew list, made by artists as well), but it takes every opportunity to bash art-making. It employs exaggerated “artiste” caricatures—straw men who, of course, are promptly bashed and criticized to death by the lead characters. False dilemma. Convenient punchline.
The whole thing ends with a musical performance, of course, over a montage showing how each character has grown and changed, liberally sprinkled with inspirational quotable quotes. Go figure.
Sure, it’s entertaining and could even be a fun watch for Pinoy rock fans. But it’s such a fluff piece that one has to wonder—is it really an ode to Pinoy rock? Or is it just a grand flaunting of Henares’ insider industry position and impressive social network? #
Entry filed under: Edgar Allan Paule, Filipino films, Full length films. Tags: alwyn uytingco, band, diego castillo, furball, glaiza de castro, indie, jason abalos, ketchup eusebio, music, Philippine music, pinoy rock, quark henares, rakenrol, rock, rock music.