24 Mar Ninja Warriors: Jim Libiran vs Philbert Dy. BRING IT ON!
JUAN SAYS: Today, we bring you the most unusual but lively thread that we have seen in the movie industry. We can NOT make a legitimate comment on the movie Ninja Party by Jim Libiran since we didn’t get the chance to catch it, we still want you to read through the exchanges between movie critic/reviewer Philbert Dy and filmmaker Jim Libiran. Philbert is a known critic in the industry. As far as we know he is amongst the few whom people regard for credibility, not exactly for his taste in movies (because hey, everybody is entitled to their own opinion right), but for the fact that Philbert doesn’t accept any monetary compensation so he can write a good review of a movie. He is known, just like the other credible ones like Jessica Zafra et. al., to be fierce and no holds bard. If he likes a movie, he likes it, if he doesn’t well… good luck. We maintain what we have been standing for during those times when we were part of the MMFF New Wave: “hindi mo pwedeng sabihing basura ang pelikulang Pilipino, kung hindi ka naman talaga nanonood at sumusuporta nito.”
As we have learned, independent films are not for everybody. It is not for a mass market audience, nor is it for everybody’s consumption. But aren’t we all proud that many filmmakers are giving their best shot in local cinema festivals and thereby reaping awards in international film festivals?
But where do we draw the line in filmmaking? Where do we draw the line in critiques to independent films. When is it constructive and when is it destructive? You be the judge. Right now, we along with many aspiring filmmakers, are wishing that we had one hell of an indie film that is being criticized (or lambasted) by a movie reviewer like Philbert Dy. At least pinansin. Good or bad publicity IS STILL publicity. Exhibit A: KRIS AQUINO. ‘Nuff said.
Philbert Dy’s Review from ClickTheCity.com:
Ninja Party follows friends Alexa, Nicky, Sasha and Carla (Annicka Dolonius, Bea Galvez, Julz Savard and Elora Espano), who all study at an exclusive all-girls Catholic school. Nicky is secretly jealous of Alexa, who is effortlessly staying at the top of the class. Tensions between the friends rise when Alexa’s racy production of Lysistrata causes the school’s principal to cancel the Valentine’s Day soiree, which Nicky has been organizing.
The tension doesn’t last, however. The film jumps ahead to the two making up, and hatching a plan to hold another soiree in secret. The film then becomes about the fallout of that event, which features the titular activity. Ninja Party is a story of young girls gone wild; of the consequences of unchecked privilege, and the limitations of a Catholic education. It’s kind of like an all-girls version of Gino Santos’ The Animals, minus the insider’s perspective. It’s kind of gross, and it’s kind of pointless.
It’s actually hard to tell what the film is trying to say. It doesn’t have a very strong perspective. It doesn’t have a clear protagonist from which we are meant to experience these events. It switches up between the four main girls, but there isn’t really much differentiating their outlooks. The film doesn’t really spend much time exploring the specifics of their separate lives. The film could have been pared down to the conflict between Nicky and Alexa, and it wouldn’t really be much different. There would just be a couple fewer girls to get naked on camera.
And all this provocation doesn’t really amount to a whole lot. There isn’t much contemplation to go with the depiction of the sexual activities of these Catholic schoolgirls. There isn’t any point to any of it. The film doesn’t get into the consequences. It doesn’t get into the causes. It doesn’t get into the circumstances that lead to these decisions. By the end of all of this, it isn’t any clearer why these girls are taking part in these ninja parties. The film doesn’t need to provide a clear answer, but it might have helped if it put forward a couple of theories.
The film risks nothing in its empty depiction of naked bodies. It doesn’t even provide enough of a position to provoke outrage, or any other meaningful emotion for that matter. It just seems to have nothing to offer beyond the concept of a ninja party. It feels like the entire movie has been produced just so that it can say that those things happen. It stops short of providing any insight at all into the phenomenon. The girls keep saying they’re having fun. They’re saying they want to do it. But there just isn’t any examination. The production is pretty shoddy. The music cuts in and out at seemingly random intervals. The editing doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The acting is okay given the material, but this is no showcase for these young actresses.
Ninja Party doesn’t make much of an effort to understand its subjects. It doesn’t even make much of an effort to hide the fact that its actresses aren’t really Catholic schoolgirls. Intruding into the reality of what the film is depicting is the fact that the three of the four main actresses have visible tattoos. One would think at the very least that for the sake of verisimilitude, the production would have tried to cover that up. There’s even a scene where the principal chides Alexa for wearing lipstick. It only makes sense that tattoos would provoke more outrage. But the movie just doesn’t get that far. Because all that matters is that these girls are getting naked.
An open letter to Philbert Dy, blogger.
Good friends have told me to rise above the situation and ignore you and your insult. Lourd de Veyra, who knows you, told me to be classy and “do a Lav Diaz” and stay quiet amidst heckling and acid criticism. Friends in DGPI have told me to keep quiet. My mom is praying to God right now that I calm down. I am doing this despite their efforts to convince me.
I am personally inviting you to be my guest and attend the final festivities of Sinag Maynila. Yes, you are entitled to your opinions. But times have changed, and if it hasn’t I am changing it right now. Film critics once had a pulpit. They can make judgements on other people’s work, and either crown them with celebrity status, or dismiss them as mediocre and consign them to the bowels of ignominy. Times have changed. Pulpit is gone. You speak in the midst of a rabble, and he who can rouse them, wins. Now, you are still entitled to your opinion, but you will be challenged, by the same mob. The consequences of your opinions may either win you popularity, or a sore black eye, from the person you insulted. And dont give me that “It is my duty to tell the public honestly what I think,” because in truth, you are not immaculate, the muck you throw at us is the same muck that smears your shoes. Don’t play that bullshit integrity card because we, in this small circle of film making, knows that you have friends and you praise them and you diss those who are not. You have director-friends and you choose your words when you criticize them. So don’t ever EVER give me that bull crap. In my time, I have raised my opinon and reported against the SCARIEST enemies imaginable, Ping Lacson, Mayor Lim, corrupt politicians, terrorists, rebels, leftists, goons, even SM (who is magnanimous enough to let me participate in this festival). But I STOOD my ground, and will continue to stand my ground, even if I am hunted down by murderous ilks or assassins. I am ready to change what i have said if proven wrong. I continued reporting on Ping Lacson until his campaign for presidency, and then he declared a truce. Mayor Lim went to my set during the filming of Happyland and we shook hands. I can still go to Mindanao, or Basilan, or Afghanistan or Iraq, because I have spoken the truth, stood my ground and is willing to face any consequence, including a muddy hole in the ground. You have roused your rabble and swayed them to stay away from my film. Its ok. It hurts because you dismissed it as if we wiped our asses and made a film out of it. (Funny, because some of your filmmaker friends really wiped their asses and made films about it, and you hailed it as art). The Sinag Maynila officially closes tonight and I want to end this stressful situation between us.
In Tondo, when you come as a guest, the host will protect you to the death. Insult him and your body will never be found, or, displayed for the public to see.
Come, join me, drink with me and tell me personally what you think of my film. All thats well must end well.
Snub my invitation, and I will read it as another insult and I will hunt you down. I am a gentleman, I am also a warrior. You choose which one you want to awaken. Lets drink Philbert, and end this, maybe, with a heated discussion and then a celebratory toast.
A toast or a fist. Your choice.
Friends told me that I might just be making you famous. I feel the opposite. You ARE more famous than me. I just want to re-introduce you to your followers as “yung sinapak ni Jim.” Wag sana. Tara, inom na lang tayo.