Sunday, November 20, 2016

C1 ORIGINALS 2016: Review of EVERY ROOM IS A PLANET: Amorphous and Atmospheric

November 20, 2016

This is the second competition film I've seen from the currently running Cinema 1 Originals Filmfest.  I catch whatever film is being shown when I can squeeze time to go to the cinema, not exactly the titles I want to catch first or anything. The schedules given to these competition films were very erratic, and mostly at night, so I may not be able to see another one. For this one, I had to line up for more than forty minutes at the severely undermanned Gateway Cinema ticket booth Saturday afternoon to be able to watch.

Yannie was a mentally-unstable girl confined in a mental institution because she thought her husband Alan was abducted by aliens. Elly had sworn to take care of Yannie in Alan's absence, even as he also had a secret romantic longing for her. This seemingly simple plot was expanded into one truly mind-boggling feature film which can challenge your comprehension as well as your patience.

The first feature film by writer-director Malay Javier was the strange X-Files-like alien tale "Hindi Sila Tatanda" (MY REVIEW) which debuted in Cinema 1 Originals two years ago.  For his second Cinema 1 Originals feature film, Javier once again explored a sci-fi theme, which was obvious already in the title. This film actually had binary code sequences all over the screen in many scenes. Supposedly all of these codes actually mean something, so that is cool, though I would really know how to read them.

For each room we see in this movie, there was supposedly a corresponding planet it was supposed to represent. The clue would be in the color grading given each one. Elly's messy condo, where he says he lives "like a pig" had a blue hue, representing Earth. The psychiatrist Dra. Cara's room and love-nest had a reddish hue, which represented Venus. 

The bedroom of Elly's mother supposedly represented Saturn, but I did not notice the rings. Yannie's hospital room was supposed to be the Moon but I did not notice get the satellite reference. If not for that post-screening Q&A session, I would not get all of this interesting detail at all! The additional insight of that filmmaker discussion was vital to further appreciation of this bizarre film.

The aspect which really made this film achieve that out-of-this-world vibe was its background sonic atmosphere. Each room seemed to have its own soundtrack of audible emptiness and freaky feedback. Director Javier revealed that these ambient noises were actually downloaded for free from the NASA website which made available these sound recordings from their outer space probes to various planets! Again, this knowledge did not dawn on me while watching. Knowing this fact was such a geeky bonus.

The quality of the acting was all very low-key and mysterious, in keeping with the weirdness that this project exuded. Rap Fernandez's Elly looked like he was constantly stoned. Valeen Montenegro's Yannie was so fragile, we all want to take care of her. Antoinette Taus' Dr. Cara came on strong and lusty. Quark Henares's Alan looked like he needed the psychiatrist more than his wife. Pinky Amador's Mom looked all zoned out, but is she? All the events happening seemed to be unreal, either the product of a drugged out or disturbed mind.

I cannot say I really liked it, but it was unique and edgy, way out of the usual box. This was the essence of experimental cinema, definitely not for everyone. The audience would have to figure this nebulous abstraction out on their own, no easy answers, no correct answers. Attending the Q&A at the end gave me some revealing inside information about the process behind making a film as strange as this. Probably unfair, but this interesting post-screening session gave the film an additional point in my book. 6/10. 


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