Kamera Obskura

Verdict: Value for Money

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 3.20 (20 ratings)

Genre: Drama

Director: Raymond Red

Writers: Raymond Red and Pen Medina

Cast:  Pen Medina, Joel Torre, Nanding Josef, Abe Pagtama, Irene Gabriel, Ping Medina, Suzette Ranillo, Lou Veloso, Archie Adamos, Mads Nicolas, Sue Prado

Synopsis:  The narrative plays with the idea of a retro-futurist world where a prisoner locked away in a dark chamber for over two decades only sees the reality of the world outside through the small hole in his cell, which projects an image of the city on his wall, the phenomenon of the “camera obscura”. He later immerses back into society by slowly climbing up the different social classes represented by the levels of different floors in a mysterious building, where corruption, deceit, and betrayal seem to be at work at every level.



4.0       Jansen Musico (Pelikula Tumblr)

“On its own, Kamera Obskura’s silent film segment is competent and well-crafted. Red’s treatment is respectful to the period, scrutinizing every detail captured by his lenses.” (Read full review)

4.0       Macky Macarayan (Death of Traditional Cinema)

“On the surface, Kamera Obskura is visually enchanting, intriguing, and yes, subversive.” (Read full review)

3.5       Skilty Labastilla (Young Critics Circle)

“The ambition and bravado to create a believable Pinoy silent film are commendable. It’s just unfortunate that Red believed so much in the Import and Relevance of his silent film that he saw the need to spell out to the audience what it might mean.”

3.5       Philbert Dy (Cinephiles)

“It’s a stunning piece of production, but there might be just one element too many. Not only is it a silent movie that mimics the aesthetics of early cinema, but it’s also a film within a film, and a film about films.” (Read full review)

3.5       Apa Agbayani (Katipunan)

“With all things considered, Kamera Obskura remains to be a film that offers inklings of light, but for the most part, keeps us in the dark.” (Read full review)

3.5       Present Confusion

“This film will be polarizing and will gain measures of both praise and scorn. But discussions and reflections on the film are what the industry needs right now (at least from my humble outsider’s view.)” (Read full review)

3.5       Lyndon Maburaot (Table Stretcher)

“The film is a tribute to the power of camera and, to a deeper extent, of film. If only the storytelling was not that simplistic!” (Read full review)

3.5       Manuel Pangaruy (Tagailog Special)

“Kabi-kabila at nag-uumapaw ang poetry rito kung masinop lang talaga ang pagbabasa sa mga imahe.” (Read full review)

3.5       Sting Lacson (Da Couch Tomato)

“Since this is a silent film, the other half of the ‘audio-visual’ requirement is fulfilled by a great and very effective musical score by Diwa De Leon.” (Read full review)

3.5       Ira Lastrilla (Cinephiles)

“If only the beginning and ending of the film hadn’t spelled out the film’s mysteries and ambiguities, I think this film could’ve come close to some type of bizarre masterpiece. OK I agree the music was sometimes grueling. Yet, is there any other Philippine who ‘lights’ films as well as Raymond Red does? The film is chock-full of so much wonderful, metaphorical imagery regarding the camera obscura.I especially love how Pen Medina witnesses the camera obscura only when he is in some type of prison – whether it’d be his prison or the office bedrooms of Joel Torre and worker’s party. Medina’s character gains the power of the camera obscura (which can be whimsically used as a weapon) in order to search for truth, and he finds it neither in the capitalist’s nor the labourers but in something unattainable – a ghost of a woman who utters the most powerful line in the film “You are free to think as you please”. I still can’t wrap my head around this film for now, but i have a feeling this film will age really well.”

3.5        Jay-r Trinidad (Cinephiles)

“Nabilib at naaliw sa panimulang entrada ng pelikula kasama na din ang pagiging expressionist film niya. Pasok din ang feel ng isang lumang pelikula. Pero hindi na siya naging consistent sa pagbibigay ng mga weird na elemento na supposedly na na-introduce sa simula. Nag-eexpect lang siguro ako ng something big, pero naging Planet of the Apes ang peg.”

3.0       Eduardo Dayao (Cinephiles)

“Sorry but the modern sections didn’t work for me, it gave the film a context that pushed it towards something less experimental and more conservative when I think it would’ve worked better if we just saw the silent film and ended with the montage of decaying film reels (didn’t need the piece of paper saying ‘for disposal’, though, or to have the film-within-a-film among the reels) sans the missing reel with the ending that appears midway through the credits. Or maybe the conversation between the three could’ve been about film preservation in general and not about the fictitious lost film. Made the film a little too didactic , a little too preachy . . which isn’t a flaw per se, just not to my tastes. and i have to agree with Oggs that the score was . . well, awful. I do like how Raymond uses the silent film trope as a means of commenting on film, not necessarily as an aesthetic but as a physical object. And there were parts of the whole alternate history dystopian vision that were beautiful. Still prefer Ang Magpakailanman.”

3.0       Mark Angelo Ching (Pisara)

“Interesting premise but deathly boring. Needs more weirdness to ramp up interest. Flying bikes and camera-welding hands are not enough.” (Read full review)

3.0        Arsenio Tan Liao (Cinephiles)

“An ode to silent filmmaking and a call for the preservation of our movies. Well crafted although there are some crudities that could stand some polishing.”

2.5        Oggs Cruz (Lessons from the School of Inattention)

“Red expresses the power of cinema, how it can be used and abused, in the name of money, advocacy or, as the post-credit sequence reveals, the filmmaker himself. Unfortunately, most of the message gets lost in the spectacle and the noise.” (Read full review)

2.5        Nicol Latayan (Tit for Tat)

“For a silent film, I find it too loud with all the unnecessary sound effects used. Add the fact that it was too wordy as well. I also had issues with the too much “in your face” with the message that it wants to deliver.” (Read full review)

2.5       Don Jaucian (Philippine Star)

“There are great things in Raymond Red’s much awaited Kamera Obskura, particularly how cinema can be an element of social change, but the film shoots off in rather protracted dimensions that drown its more intriguing concepts in a string of political theatrics.” (Read full review)

2.0       Vinny Tagle (We Talk About Movies)

“The film is weighed down by the heavy-handed use of vague political metaphors and the film’s crutch on title cards. ” (Read full review)

2.0       Carl Joseph Papa (Whatever, Carl)

“The movie never really needed the extra non silent parts.  It was unnecessarily didactic.  But that said, I kinda enjoyed the silent parts.  I just wished that it was pushed more, show more imagination, give more backdrop to the surrounding.” (Read full review)

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