Vilma Santos

The longest-reigning Queen of Philippine Cinema, also widely known as the Star for All Seasons and the QueenStar, Vilma Santos celebrates her golden anniversary in showbiz. She has starred in more than 200 films and has given the public some of the most memorable performances in Philippine motion picture history. An icon of film and popular culture, her magnetic screen presence has captured the hearts and minds of generations of Filipinos. Her enduring charisma and popularity have made her filmdom's most durable female superstar. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Cynical Views

by Mek Torres, 20 August 2013

The title "Ekstra" seems to indicate that it's about a person who has an inspiring story of her years of being the extra role in every television show. The actual film is somehow different. While the main character do learns through her experience, the film mostly plays as a comedy for satirizing what's going on behind the scenes. It's ironically an entertaining cynical view towards filmmakers who make television episodes without any ambition except the income they would receive. With slick direction and great performances, Ekstra is an absorbing cinematic trip.

The first act introduces Loida as a humble person who looks like there's a destiny ahead of her, but following the dreams of becoming a big star is not the only story we get to see here. It also gives a look to how the shows are being filmed, and that's not all, the filmmakers are usually depicted as selfish and heartless, while the bit players are only tagging along trying to transcend their career. That side of the plot is gloriously ridiculous, showing that the job is really all about money: the producer barely does anything, the production is managed by cheapskates, we can understand the director's pressure, but what's crueler than his rants is the gross decision for product placements. They're presented to be amused and it is a witty satire.

The film seems to be aware that our local TV hits are interchangeably generic since the director's, Jeffrey Jeturian, current running one is a total contrary to those. It's amazing to see that someone's sick of the clichés; like family relation twists and endings with kidnappings and guns. Now this movie made them look stupid, which is true. But the substance of their stories isn't supposed to be the point of the film. Again, it's Loida's story, though she is more of an example. All of the bit players have the same ambitions and same luck. The film just picks Loida as the underdog because she's the most talented among the extras. But that's it, she's just taking all the bitterness of reality despite of her skills, since that's probably the point of the film.

Vilma Santos is the attraction here anyway and she definitely did what she does best, even if her role is supposed to be humble. Her amazing glow keeps the character feel down-to-earth inspiring. The direction is decent enough for whatever an independent film would ask, skillfully placing the cameras in crafty ways.

Ekstra is not a character study, but it is an absolutely enjoyable commentary about today's mainstream entertainment and its creators who lack passion in their work. It's also a fun speculation for really noticing and poking fun of the awful clichés of our modern soap operas, but I think the plot has something better to say. It just didn't got the chance because it was too busy expressing its cynical portrayal of local filmmaking. Nothing can fault its artful storytelling, besides that's actually the best way of telling stories. I think we should merit for being totally honest in its own perspective. Ekstra is already a great movie anyway, and the performance by Vilma Santos makes it even better.

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