Ever since my colleague told me about this small, mostly-indie-film-showing cinema late last year, I have always wanted to visit the place. It reminded me of my college days when me and my friends would watch indie films at UP Diliman’s Film Center (hello? I watched Boatman (1985) there and couldn’t even finish the film). Since it’s a bit out of the way, it took me awhile to actually drag some friends along, intentionally inviting my friend who had a car (haha!). When I learned that Iza Calzado’s Bliss was going to be shown starting May 10, I knew that had to be the first film I would see there.
Without even watching the trailer nor reading the synopsis, I really wanted to watch Bliss because of an interview I read about Iza. When they found out the MTRCB gave the film an X rating, Iza’s reaction was, “Porn star ba ako?” I loved her reaction and it was effective in spiking my curiosity so on the first day of screening at Cinema ’76, me and two of my friends headed to the tiny movie house.
I was actually surprised by how big the whole production company (TBA) and their office was. We watched the 8pm showing so no photos of their office and the cinema house but it’s fairly easy to find via waze. There are limited parking slots but it’s not located at the highway so it was ok. We got there on the dot and the place was already packed. The cinema can accommodate about 50 people. We ended up sitting at the back, with high chairs, which proved to be a great spot because (i) we could see well above the heads of those in front and (ii) that was the only place food and drinks were allowed. If you do decide to sit in front, comfy seats and fluffy pillows await you.
Bliss, for a Filipino film, was pretty good. Not for the impatient, not for the weak, not for the malicious. No slapstick jokes, no overly-gory scenes, no over dramatized lines. In other words, not for people used to ‘mainstream’ films. You don’t have to be the artsy-fartsy, hipster type of viewer to enjoy it but just someone who appreciates art (whether or not you get the art). My favorite elements of the film were (i) Iza’s impeccable acting (she is so underrated); (ii) the whole cast and their respective characters who all had well-written backgrounds; (iii) I loved how the nurse looked with her freckles and how unique her character was; and (iv) the build-up and how the director tied all loose ends of the film.
After more than an hour of the film, what better way to end the night but with street food, drinks and laughter at Juanito’s. We had kwek-kwek (P120), sisig pork isaw (P150 I think), chicken isaw on stick (P120), dynamite sticks (P175) and of course, beer (P50) to wash it all down.
Make sure to follow Cinema ’76 website. Let’s do our part in “keeping indie films and small cinemas” alive.