Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
Say "I do" to Chris Martinez's I Do Bidoo Bidoo
Only 3 days left to see it at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15
Forgive me from coming so late to the dance. I was in Burbank for a couple of weeks and didn't get a chance to see I Do Bidoo Bidoo until the day before it opened in San Diego.
Movie musicals are a scarce commodity these days and I Do is clearly patterned after Mamma Mia! Instead of the ABBA discography, I Do uses the songs of APO Hiking Society (the Philippines answer to the Beatles) for its soundtrack.
There is more style and energy on display in the buoyant Filipino import than anything you'll find in Phyllida Lloyd's leaden calisthenics class cum movie musical. I'll take it a step further: if you are going to see only one movie this holiday season, why make it a miserable(s) experience? Say I Do!
There is one catch: there are only a handful of screenings left at Reading Cinema's Gaslamp 15 before the film leaves town on Thursday so you'll have to act fast.
Not wanting to deprive writer-director Chris Martinez of a good night's sleep (it's 16 hours ahead in the Philippines) we opted for a brief email exchange.
Scott Marks: Do you remember the first American film you saw as a kid?
Chris Martinez: As a kid, we mostly saw Filipino films in the cinemas. When we got our VCR, Betamax to be exact, my father would rent tapes like Sound of Music, West Side Story, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang along with Doctor Zhivago. So I grew up watching musicals and a bit of Russian tragedy on the side.
This is the first I've heard of APO Hiking Society. Tell me something about their popularity and why you deemed the group important enough to use 18 of their songs to help form the basis for your movie.
APO Hiking Society's songs are the soundtrack of the Filipino's lives. The songs' popularity span almost 4 decades. They're classics. They're timeless. They're what Pinoy pop music is all about. Singable. Sticky. Relevant to any of milestone in any Pinoy's life. They talk about love for family, for your sweetheart, for your friends, for the country. It's a pity I can only fit in 18 of their songs. Yes, they have more. I consider them the fathers of OPM or Original Pinoy Music. Their songs have been revived by current bands and have been given new life and popularity.
Your film helped to coin a new term, "movie-oke." Did audiences sing along with the I Do when it opened in the Philippines?
Yes, I saw some heads nodding and heard some feet tapping. The younger crowd would sing along to Panalingin during the dream wedding in the movie. It's a really infectious song.
I Do took 5 years to develop and only 27 days to shoot. When it was over were you left with a feeling of exhileration or exhaustion?
To be honest, I never felt exhausted while doing this film. Maybe because somehow I know projects like this come very rarely or never at all. I was relishing every moment of shooting and rehearsing. I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was too giddy to get tired.
This marks my introduction to Eugene Domingo. She's a dynamo! It's your fifth time working together. Where and how did the two of you meet and what is it about her talent as an actress that keeps you coming back for more?
The dynamo and I are bestfriends since college. We also did a lot of plays in the University of the Philippines where we both graduated from. She's always been my muse even before we got into making movies.We were even roomies at some point in our lives. It pays to know what she's capable of doing and how else can her talent be stretched. One big reason why I keep coming back for more of Eugene? Aside from being one hell of an actress, she makes me roar with laughter in between takes. She's so much fun.