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Kailangan Ko'y Ikaw (You Are What I Need)

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  • noelv@i-next.net
    A surprisingly good love story Kailangan Ko y Ikaw Joyce Bernal By Noel Vera Viva Film s “Kailangan Ko y Ikaw” (You are what I need) is a romantic comedy
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 31, 1969
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      A surprisingly good love story

      Kailangan Ko'y Ikaw
      Joyce Bernal

      By Noel Vera

      Viva Film's �Kailangan Ko'y Ikaw� (You are what I need) is a romantic
      comedy starring Robin Padilla and Regine Velasquez and -- surprise,
      surprise -- it's actually very good.

      It's nothing really new -- actually, it's the nth variation of �Roman
      Holiday,� where Audrey Hepburn plays a lonely princess longing to escape
      her duties and go on a holiday and Gregory Peck plays the journalist who
      accompanies her on her holiday and ultimately falls in love with her. Here
      Velasquez is a pop-music princess with a full schedule; one of the quickie
      activities she happens to be involved in is a "Your Dream Date" contest
      which Padilla happens to win, hence their first meeting.

      Or rather, not quite -- Velasquez does show up, but she's in such a hurry
      to get to her other engagements that Padilla is left forgotten and
      bewildered and not a little disappointed. So he stalks her, kidnaps her,
      then continues the date from where they left off.

      And they fall in love. And they have the usual lovers' quarrels (here
      involving her being a rich and famous singer and him being some poor
      nobody). And, despite everything, it all ends happily. That's not the
      point; the point is Joyce Bernal (who directs) and Mel Mendoza (who wrote
      the screenplay) have taken a tired genre (the romantic comedy) and a tired
      plot (poor boy meets rich girl), and spun off fresh (okay, fairly fresh)
      and funny moments from the less-than-promising material. And that (as
      anyone familiar with recent romantic comedies can tell you) is a minor
      miracle.

      Part of it is the way the film plays against the two stars' public persona
      which has been done before, but rarely with such intelligence and wit (I
      can barely remember the last Filipino or even Hollywood romance that had
      wit, much less intelligence). It's established early on, for example, that
      Padilla is popular in his impoverished little barangay -- one of the
      film's conceits is that he's so popular everyone in the community
      submitted his name to the "Dream Date" contest in the hopes of seeing him
      with their favorite singing star (Velasquez), which explains why he won
      (cute; a stretch credibility-wise, but cute). He enjoys a standing among
      his people, and Velasquez's unintended snub was more than his honor can
      bear -- hence his improvised kidnapping.

      Which is pretty much a recap, in romantic-comedy form, of Padilla's public
      life to date. We know he has the ability to command the loyalty and
      affection of ordinary folk; we know he's popular with girls and gays
      (though with gays it's strictly "look, no touch"); we know he's given to
      impulsive acts of questionable legality (for which he's already spent time
      in prison); we know he's a die-hard romantic of a lover, who falls for all
      his leading ladies. We know all this and still we forgive his flaws, still
      we cheer him on -- because he's not just the movie's leading man, he's our
      leading man; he has that indefinably quality that kept stars like Fernando
      Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada, James Stewart and John Wayne popular through the
      years.

      It helps, I think, that Bernal is directing; an accomplished editor, she
      knows how to pace the film, to keep it moving along. She seems to have a
      light touch with comedy�an almost unheard-of trait in a Filipino filmmaker�
      and a gift for comic timing. More, having an intelligent woman filmmaker
      take the famous Padilla machismo and -- well, not exactly deconstruct it,
      but contribute her take on it -- gives the movie an interesting tension.
      Bernal doesn't do much to soften his character -- we still see his temper
      flareups, his tendency to talk with his fists rather than his brain -- but
      she does see him as a kind of anachronism, one to be put up with and
      understood rather than put down and censured.

      Which, incidentally, is where I think recent James Bond movies fail --
      instead of seeing Bond as the dinosaur that he is and honoring him for
      what he once represented (male European sexism), they updated him, made
      him politically correct -- in short, emasculated him. Bond, and to a
      lesser extent Padilla, belong to an earlier age, when men were men; that's
      the basis of their appeal. Defanging them doesn't make them more
      interesting as characters, or help us understand them.

      It also helps that in Velasquez, Bernal has a champion willing to fight
      for her sex, on both the ideological and comical front. She concedes
      little to Padilla's pride and reverse snobbishness (in this the film is
      spot-on accurate -- the rich are proud, the poor, prouder); she even
      engineers the film's fairly ingenious conclusion bringing the whole story
      to a full circle. Better, she brings her own public persona and charisma
      and sense of humor to the role -- at one point she's game enough to even
      make fun of her surgically improved nose (very distracting to look at).
      And she has a strong singing voice (the film manages to work in a few song
      numbers -- some of them, surprisingly, the picture's comic high points.
      Unsurprisingly, Viva Recording is promoting Velasquez's album based on the
      song score).

      Kailangan Ko'y Ikaw is a hit -- the theater I saw it in had people sitting
      in the aisles. It's heartening to think that at a time when the local film
      industry seems to be in a depression, people still love to go see a movie;
      it's even more heartening to think this particular movie is not unworthy
      of their love -- that it earns that love through heart and skill and
      carefully crafted humor. The film isn't the best local film I've seen this
      year �- it�s safe-as-houses entertainment, and it lacks the harrowing
      realism of Tikoy Aguiluz's Biyaheng Langit (Trip to Heaven), or the poetic
      ferocity of Mario O'Hara's Pangarap ng Puso (Hope of the Heart) -- but it
      pretty much stands head and shoulders above everything else. Now if local
      audiences can be persuaded to watch more eclectic fare...

      Meanwhile, elsewhere in the metropolis' film scene, French films are being
      shown on projected video, all for free, all at 8 p.m., at the Antonio
      Molina Hall, Equitable PCI Bank Tower 2, Makati Ave. corner H. De la Costa
      St., Makati (southern Metro Manila).

      On Oct. 16, it's The Wild Reeds (1993) by Andre Techine with Elodie
      Bouchez (she shared the best actor award at Cannes for Dreamlife of
      Angels). It's about four young people exploring their sexuality in a
      boarding school.

      On Oct. 17, it's Pauline at the Beach (1983) by Eric Rohmer, the third in
      Rohmer's series of "Comedies and Proverbs." Rohmer won Best Director at
      the Berlin International Film Festival for this.

      On Oct. 18, it's Hate (1995), a very controversial, very intense film, by
      Mathiew Kassovitz, about 24 hours in the life of three friends with one
      Baretta 9 mm. It won Best Director at the 1995 Cannes, and Best Picture at
      the 1996 Cesars.

      On Oct. 19, it's The Little Thieves (1989) by Claude Miller, from a
      screenplay by Francois Truffaut, about a 16-year-old girl trying to make
      sense of her life (it's a common problem among characters in French
      cinema) in a small town in post-World War II France.

      And finally, on Oct. 20, there is La Dentelliere (1977), by Claude
      Goretta, a sad twist on the Cinderella story. It was nominated for a
      Golden Palm at the 1977 Cannes.

      Send comments to noelv@...)

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