Surplus for All Seasons (Review of “Ekstra”)

19 Aug

J. Pilapil Jacobo

It is rather amusing that Ekstra can imagine the debacle of its cinema as something like a most excessive accomplishment.

The plot tracks the forlorn effort of Loida, a “talent,” to follow her star, in spite of  the  culture industry that reduces her aspirations to a “fee” that would allow her daughter to finish college. That the screenplay had chosen to zero in on the commodity fetish of stardom through that figure of the “extra” is nothing novel. Neither is the critique of the photography that creates the mass media aura that entitles a consciousness to misrecognize the falsity as authentic spirit. Recent pretenses which allowed the exploitation of thespian Eugene Domingo and horror genre veteran Lilia Cuntapay need to be mentioned here, less for citing advance guard aesthetics in these parts than for iterating the futility of archiving a vapid independent filmography. Joji Alonso, Charo Santos-Concio, and Laurice Guillen can only be mistaken in assuming that a form of immanent critique is possible from their megalomaniac machineries. And Jeffrey Jeturian is no longer the filmmaker that can perform the role of a critic, much less that of an immanent imagineer. He has lost all manner of intimacy with an idea and dexterity with the image.

The writing sounds so pedestrian in its attempt to be contemporary, and the direction that intervenes in this foolhardy reportage can only be impoverished. The style is culled straight from the comedy club, a colleague quips. Now wonder it can elicit the most vulgar amusement from an alumnus of the bar who has joined the gallery of freaks entrenched in a prominent media company. The film narrates and describes the market compromises a soap opera production unit needs to internalize to survive the etiquette of commodity. This cinema’s choice to inscribe itself through televisual form cannot be argued to be strategic. Bereft of conscientious humor that casts irony as a “principle of structure,” the joke is on the signature, comedy.  Not even the high camp that is delivered by performers such as Cherie Gil and Pilar Pilapil can prevent the thought that comes after the failure of critique: television has reduced film to a narcissistic implement. This is hardly the cinema that is purported to thrive in self-reflexive practice.


The figure in question, the “extra,” should have been inspiring enough to yield a neo-realist argument on a crisis of cinematic representation in the post-colony mired in “combined and uneven development.” The“extra” should have performed a project of arresting articulation from the mass media product that is the “star” by letting herself act out the intellect of her marginal visibility. Stardom could have been laid bare as the surfeit of appearance in an exposure of the superfluous violence on the body hoping to be rescued from disposable labor and negligible talent. Instead, what the film does to this figure is fashion her into a victim of the predatory methods of a third world capitalist media outfit whose work ethic is based on product placements and the bonuses released for those who perpetuate this licence. She is subjected to the minutiae of abuse, which includes the defiles of slapstick. The productive possibility of allowing her to foreground the agency of the underside is annulled by exploiting the bathos of such a displacement. As a consequence,the argument on the extra as that irreducible—indeed the supplement that is no longer the addition, nor the replacement, in an anatomy of the motion picture that runs on delirium tremens—all that disintegrates among the debris of directorial neglect. The extra remains an aspect of the dismissible, almost the nil. Her humanity must be subtracted for fumbling over Anglophone legalese in a final confrontation scene. In an industry that favors the labors of antipathy, her fault is the sensible failure of a mechanical delivery.

Vilma Santos, whose star’s premise encompasses age, climate,even time itself, portrays this “extra.” It is time to report that the brilliance has failed. The consistency of her light years has been credited to a vigor whose basis is melodramatic competence. With the genre demolished at primetime, every night of our lives, the actress looks dissipated in the rehearsal, and what she can afford to muster is a middling energy. There was a time when her powers largely depended on this “extra,” which can be derived from the “over-” in her “overacting.” Even without training from the Peking Opera, Santos repeated this shrill technique from one project to another, for the manner somehow worked at the box office. Manner became the mannerism that launched a star most distantiated from the repertoire of an ensemble and the theater of an environment.  Ekstra ultimately fails in Santos’s inability to inhabit the supplementation that she has triumphantly supplanted, with total industrial patronage, all these absolutely industrious years. Her “extra” is a “surplus”: a defective product that deserves to be remaindeered. The catatonic performance in last year’s The Healing should have warned us of the affliction in Ekstra.  She is never “Loida”; she doesn’t possess the sentimental history to locate the interiority of such victimage. Frame after frame, “Vilma” remains the star who became an actress, by aspiration, then capitalist scheme, and, perhaps, through bureaucratic accident. The only feeling Vilma understands from Loida is despair, having realized that the industry has lost its charms to restore whatever has remained of recognizable talent. We can only hope Santos has known the extent of such violation, with those final eyes of a rather infinite regret.


Posted by on 19 August 2013 in Film Review


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67 responses to “Surplus for All Seasons (Review of “Ekstra”)

  1. Anonymous

    20 August 2013 at 1:41 PM

    This is an example of poor writing–when meaning is buried by too much zeal to sound intellectual. Please lay off the thesaurus.

    • A Real Writer

      29 August 2013 at 2:50 AM

      I FULLY AGREE. THe writer tries so hard that his verbosity has made the article quite difficult to make sense of. Instead of using the term ‘English,’ the writer opt for ‘Anglophone legalese.’ Seems the tragic review was written by a fresh college graduate with a thick Merrieam-Webster dictionary by his side.

  2. Reply

    20 August 2013 at 2:40 PM

    The luminosity of an article cannot be showcased through unfathomable words.

    What are you trying to say? I only understood one part clearly and Vilma does not have to relate to Loida to portray her well. You are not blogging to feed your ego with big words, you are blogging to inform the readers.

    • iluvdimdum

      27 August 2013 at 3:56 AM

      You’re feeding the readers with your lies because of your fan mentality. You are putting Vilma Santos down to make your idol look good, as simple as that.

    • martin

      09 August 2014 at 1:09 PM

      Who’s the critic? YCC was just created to keep on giving awards to their idol nora aunor. PERIOD…. wag na magpaka critic…lumalabas ang tunay na kulay…pwe! YCC basura kayo…

  3. alex vergara

    20 August 2013 at 2:44 PM

    You accuse Vilma of doing a Peking Opera acting (whatever that is), but you could very well be the one speaking Chinese with this meandering, over-the-top piece that is clearly meant to impress instead of enlighten your readers. Lighten the rhetoric and get rid of those excessive figures of speeches. Your verbosity smothers the life out of me.

  4. DoucheLikeYou

    20 August 2013 at 3:28 PM

    You are no other than a maleficent horizontally propelled current of gaseous matter whose portentous advent is not the harbinger of a modicum of beneficence.

    In short, ANO DAW???

    This article is pure douchebaggery at its finest. Nagsulat ka pa, wala namang nakakaintindi sa target audience mo.

    Sabagay, pang-“young critic” nga naman ito.

    • Hermie L.

      28 August 2013 at 2:30 PM

      Young critic but no longer young anymore. Balasahin na nila dapat ang mga miyembro nito. Hindi balanse ang mga reviews nila. Wala kang maririnig na strength ng pelikula kahit na katiting. Obviously a fanatic small-time award giving body that tries to assasinate. Obvious talaga, walang strength na inilahad, hindi balanse!!!

  5. confuzzled reader

    20 August 2013 at 11:55 PM


  6. salbaje

    21 August 2013 at 5:54 PM

    put down the thesaurus, sweetie. just… put it down.

  7. Lorraine Rafols Lorenzo

    21 August 2013 at 7:08 PM

    Honestly, I had a very hard time trying to understand your review. So I just went ahead and watched the damn movie. Maybe next time you should keep it simple. Oh and yeah — syntax!

  8. Shing Ha

    22 August 2013 at 12:23 AM

    pretentious nincompoop…

  9. yeah

    23 August 2013 at 12:14 AM

    hindi naman mahirap intindihin. 🙂

  10. Just asking

    23 August 2013 at 2:04 PM

    So what is your point? That Vilma, because she is a product of a middle-class upbringing, will never give justice to a lowly film character? That Nora Aunor, whose class origin is that of a peasant/lower-class citizen, is the only legitimate interpreter of all “underdog” roles? Hindi kaya masasabing makitid at mababaw ang pagtingin at pag-critique mo ng acting? Kung ganyan ang pamantayan sa acting, eh di basura palang maituturing ang lahat ng pagganap ni Sharon Cuneta, all because she was born with a silver spoon?

  11. Anonymous

    23 August 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Is your review a harbinger of YCC’s choice next year? No Vilma nod? Well… what’s new? You seem to have a penchant for head-scratching choices. Who will ever forget your vote for Maricel Soriano’s Vampira role for Best Actress?

  12. Dino

    25 August 2013 at 11:02 PM

    To the young critic/writer of this article masyado kang pa-intellectual and your high falutin writing style is very annoying.

  13. jluvra

    27 August 2013 at 3:52 AM

    Puros positive ang nabasa kong review kay Vilma Santos sa Ekstra, ito lang si Pilapil Jacobo at si Neil Garcia ang sobrang namintas. Kaya pala sobra ang panlait kay Vilma Santos napag alaman ko na pareho pala silang avid fans ni nora aunor.. Hay naku! sino na maniniwala sa mga review mo, di ka pala credible pinapairal mo ang fan mentality.

  14. bn_tzn

    27 August 2013 at 4:32 AM

    J. Pilapil Jacobo, alam mo ba kung ano ang sinabi ng kasamahan mo si Skitty Labastilla (Young Critics Circle) “Mabisa ang pagganap ni Vilma Santos bilang isang single mother na nagsusumikap magtrabaho para mapatapos sa pag-aaral ang kanyang anak. Relaxed ang kanyang body language pero on point pa rin ang performance, lalo na sa kanyang mga close-up scenes.”

  15. Aisling

    27 August 2013 at 8:57 AM

    pa-talino masyado, pa-impress naman sa Ingglisan ito…….ano, akala mo hindi naman maiintindihan?…….oo nga, hindi nga namin naintindihan!….

  16. LandDownUnder

    27 August 2013 at 1:25 PM

    I thought I’m the only one who can’t understand anything about this review, I guess I’m not alone. I’m glad I watched the movie Ekstra and I can say that I LOVE the movie and Vilma Santos is really good. No wonder she won Cinemalaya’s Best Actress Award.

    • A Real Writer

      29 August 2013 at 2:59 AM

      I watched the movie also. I laughed and cried! Jeturian is genius! Vilma is superb lalo na dunsa climax at heart-breaking ending! My, oh, my! She can do a Nora!

  17. Faith, Hope & Charity

    28 August 2013 at 5:08 AM

    What can you say about this J. Pilapil Jacobo.. coming from your fellow noranians…

    How about a glammed-up Nora Aunor?
    By Andy Bais – Philippine Daily Inquirer

    AUNOR. No more underdog roles?

    Venus de Jesus, teacher: “I’m a Noranian who also happens to follow her archrival’s career. Recently, I watched Vilma Santos deglamorize herself in the Cinemalaya indie, ‘Ekstra,’ in which she plays a bit player and, I must say, I was impressed with the way she ‘reinvented’ herself.

    “If Ate Vi can do that, perhaps Ate Guy can do the opposite—stop portraying underdog roles and play bitchy socialites or ruthless fashionistas, instead. I’ve never seen her in those roles, but I think she can pull them off and surprise us with a fresh take on a role that’s often assigned to glamorous mestizas!”

    Read more:
    Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

  18. andy

    28 August 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Seems like you are trying to impress yourself with your thesaurus piece that does not say anything other than that you are a noranian. wake up news for you – ate vi can do the underdog roles with brilliance , but can your idol do the glam roles and look believable? By the way, with this piece, YCC for me has no credibility as an awarding body. Eh avid fan ka pala eh.

  19. Hermie L.

    28 August 2013 at 2:12 PM

    This review is purely catatonic, a megalomaniac transcription using words to hide and deceive. A fanatic-based critic deserving for restructuring. Too much intellectual pretension for such a small-time and minor award-giving body!!!

  20. Donna

    28 August 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Boba ang ang writer no\a to walang alam sa review !! Ikaw lng ang nag sabi na di maganda ang ekstra. lahat positive review.

  21. Ed Lozano

    28 August 2013 at 3:45 PM

    Anybody who’s reviewing a film should set aside “fan mentality” otherwise, the review will not be credible. The review of this “critic” is a very good example of a one-sided review just like the single-dimensional acting style of his idol.

  22. XamPnoy

    28 August 2013 at 3:48 PM

    Nosebleed talaga aku rito. Wala akung nainintindihan. Na-bobo kaya aku o sumobrang talino (raw) nitong nagpapaka-genius na writer. Haayy.. tumaas ang high-blook ko.

    • lito

      15 September 2013 at 3:31 AM

      i found the article to be useless, since the message did not get across. I was once in his shoes, believing na napakatalino ko compared sa lahat ng tao. Only if i have known, it is sign of immaturity and not of brilliance. Then later in life, i became comfortable with myself. Then I said to myself, hindi ko kailangan ng DICTIONARY to let my message known to men.

  23. evangeline sermonia

    28 August 2013 at 5:50 PM

    Very obvious that this fucking writer is a “shabu” user!

  24. rufina caluducan

    28 August 2013 at 5:52 PM

    what is YCC? isang samahang hanggang ngayon ay naghahanap ng lugar sa critic circle? pwede ba? mga gurang na kayo noh!

  25. Amo ni Inday

    28 August 2013 at 6:34 PM

    pakitawag nga si Inday. baka maintindihan pa niya ito.

    • bogart li

      12 August 2014 at 12:15 AM

      oo nga si inday….ito ang forte ni inday…day! day! lika dito at sapatosin mo tong si pilapil..

  26. Mama Monchang

    28 August 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Pa intellectual pa ang hitad na ito wala naman nakakaintindi sa kanya. Ang alam ng lahat, noranian siya kaya never he will say anything nice to Vilma.

  27. A Real Writer

    29 August 2013 at 2:53 AM

    The writer tries so hard that his verbosity has made the article quite difficult to make sense of. Instead of using the term ‘English,’ the writer opts for ‘Anglophone legalese.’ Seems the tragic review was written by a fresh college graduate with a thick Merrieam-Webster dictionary by his side. Makes me think that ‘young’ is the only word that aptly describes your group.

  28. Nosliw

    29 August 2013 at 2:55 AM

    Tons of good reviews on Vilma Santos’ Esktra ( versus 2 bad review from 2 noranian writers. Kanino ako maniniwala siempre sa majority. Ang motibo nun 2 ay siraan si Vilma Santos maiangat lang ang iniidolo nila na wala naman bagong pinakita mula ng nag umpisa siya hangang ngayon, pa dipa dipa at pasagwan sagwan lang. Di tulad ni Vilma Santos na palaging nag experiment ng iba’t ibang roles.

    • bobby

      01 September 2013 at 5:37 PM

      leave the fan mentality idiota. focus on the review

  29. Hermie L.

    29 August 2013 at 2:23 PM

    This is a SURPLUS film review. Hindi maiintindihan ng masa ito. The irony is, you are trying to educate the public about good films and yet hindi maintindihan ng publiko ang nais ninyong iparating. Pure Surplus, garbage!!

  30. Dexter Santiago

    30 August 2013 at 12:38 PM

    ilang coils ba ng katol and sininghot mo, kuya? my advice: Keep it short and simple, STUPID!

  31. Em L.

    31 August 2013 at 12:13 AM

    Brilliant and spot on! An honest and intellectual review. No wonder “Ekstra” was a reject at the Cannes.

  32. Jeffrey Jocson

    01 September 2013 at 3:08 AM

    Alam mo J. Pilapil Jacobo, wala akong naintindihan sa sinulat mo…KISS (keep it simple stupid). HIndi impressive ang English mo because you can not be understood. You have no right being a critic or a writer because you can not communicate your thoughts clearly. I found Ekstra to be a highly entertaining film…it won the Special Jury and Audience Award at Cinemalaya (and was also the top grosser) and was recently a hit during it’s commercial run. For me, being appreciated by the local audience is the most important thing for any film maker whether your movie is mainstream or, more importantly, an indie. Gumawa ka nga ng peilkula wala namang nanood. It’s like writing a song and no one bothers to listen to it. Sayang naman energy at effort mo.

  33. bobby

    01 September 2013 at 5:35 PM

    bravo…. a clear review of the flop of a movie that is ekstra…my mom saw it FREE in makati along with her 20 CWL friends..wala nang ibang tao sa moviehouse..sila sila lang libre pa….taga Dasma Vill po kami…B Cheng

  34. jennie

    01 September 2013 at 5:41 PM

    i think ok naman ang portrayal ni ate vi kaya lang superlungkot si maam joji kasi ang laki laki ng lugi nya…laging nagwawala daw

  35. pet g

    01 September 2013 at 5:44 PM

    nosebleed sa mga hindi taga UP…. sorry naiintindihan ko loud and clear ang mensahe…hindi kapanipaniwala si vilma sa role gets??? ha??/ nakuha?

  36. wilama babalina

    02 September 2013 at 7:16 AM

    i agree. kaya di tinanggap sa Cannes kasi low quality……

  37. luzy

    02 September 2013 at 8:32 PM

    alls well that ends well…flop ang movie kaya tigilan nyo na ang bangayan. fr Theater checker

  38. Stella Lumuarte

    04 September 2013 at 4:09 AM

    Hoy, baklang Jacobo, tigilan na iyang paggamit ng syntax & jargon of & for the Lacan-Derrida academic crowd kasi (1) matagal ng laos iyan; it is being thankfully phased out everywhere in the English speaking world except sa UP & Ateneo Lit dept. na palaging 10 years behind the times. Nagmumukha ka lang gurang niyan. (2) Colonial mentality iyan, pare ko, at nakakahiya. Sentence after cringe-making sentence is pathetic. And most importantly, (3) hindi most talaga kaya. Your consistent bad use of conjunctions & prepositions gives your whole game away. Para kang pilay na nagpupumilit sumayaw.

    Isn’t it horrific enough that your fellow delusyoNora, the ineffable, constipated closet queen Noel Vera, keeps on imitating Pauline Kael all over the internet — and failing, reading more like a deracinated Bosley Crowther?

    Is there no Noranian on the planet with the brains & the talent for writing? You’re all a miserable bunch of clones, phonies, & career-oriented fruitcakes. Down to the last faggot.

    And for what — Nora Aunor? She’s a mediocre melodramatic actress whose brand of over-underacting even back in her long, lost heyday was already all wrong & often terrible. Believe it.

    Pare-pareho kayong mga hunghang…!

  39. WTF

    05 September 2013 at 11:22 PM

    What the fuck, i CAN’T even understand your writing, i need Thesaurus

  40. pet

    06 September 2013 at 11:13 PM

    agree ako jan! pretentious cunt wala ka nang magagawa …soon to be National Artist si Ms Nora Aunor. inggit ka lang mamatay ka sa inggit Stella (as in Sister Stella flop now Ekstra flop hahhahahhaha

  41. amby

    07 September 2013 at 9:36 AM

    yes walang kawawaan ang Ekstra whatever the fact remains di yan natanggap sa Cannes,

  42. jan

    08 September 2013 at 7:33 AM

    reject ng Cannes. napaka ordinary kasi walang international appeal eh

  43. anthony akiz

    08 September 2013 at 3:19 PM

    most of all lugi ang producer na nagpabongga bongga ayun an dami kopya sa bangketa walang nabili eh

  44. Hodor

    10 September 2013 at 1:28 PM

    And yet, after all these comments about his absurd verbosity, this Jacobo fellow will look upon us all from his pedestal of self-delusion, and brand us all as ignorant and uncultured swine for not understanding his “brilliance”. :))

  45. manangbok

    12 September 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Hindi ko rin nakaya!

    Pareho pala kami ng mga pelikulang pinapanood ni J. Pilapil. Napanood ko rin kasi ang Ekstra. Okay lang si Vilma, tolerable lang sa akin ang movie. Pwede nga tulugan sa ibang parts e. Pero hindi naman siya yung klase na gusto ko nang magmura sa sinehan.

    Pero, gosh nag-nosebleed ulit ako sa critique na ito! Ano ba yan ‘day. Hinay hinay sa paggamit ng Big Words 🙂

    May comment yung kaibigan ko na MD (medical doctor). Ang delirium tremens pala ay panginginig sanhi ng addiction sa alcohol at sa alcohol withdrawal. Minsan yung may may delirium tremens ay paranoid, agitated, confused. Hmm .. so nung sabihin ni Mr. Jacobo na ang Ekstra ay isang motion picture “that run on delirium tremens” — ano nga po ang ibig nyang sabihin? Agitated, confused at paranoid ang Ekstra? — well, confused siguro pero medyo exag na kung paranoid at agitated din sya 🙂

  46. Kc chu

    15 September 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Hindi ko naintindihan ang mga pinagsasabi nitong lintik na pretentious reviewer na ito. Just because one speaks english does not mean one is knowledgeable, one meeds ti be understood! Palanas nga ang credentials nito to see if he or she is credible as a film reviewer! This is the only negative review i read of the movie.

  47. Ed Saludes

    16 September 2013 at 11:16 AM

    noranian ang reviewer

  48. charisse

    20 September 2013 at 11:19 PM

    whatever….reject ng Cannes and thats a fact

  49. Sal Marcellana

    25 September 2013 at 6:38 AM

    I’ve read over a thousand movie reviews here in USA and have never encountered this kind of out-of-this-world kind of writing.

    This reminds me of the satellite coverage of the Marcoses being thrown out of Malacanang when the newscaster had to remind Ople to “tone it down” and, in another episode, had to subtly correct Marcos in pronouncing the word coup d’état.

    KISS, as mentioned elsewhere, should be the universal norm in writing and speaking effectively.

    This site should discipline this ineffective writer and banish him/her forever ASAP.

  50. Shisain

    09 October 2013 at 10:01 PM

    Despite the rather incomprehensible writing, Jacobo has a point. Look at the film’s title. Now look at the actor portraying the role of the main character. Do any of you not see the irony? Why is a superstar like Vilma Santos playing the role of an extra? Yes, she did a wonderful performance, and the film does succeed in showing the inhumane nature of the film industry, but nevertheless, it is still problematic. It’s as if they cast Vilma just to attract the crowd, thus losing the credibility of the film.
    I do agree with many of you on Mr. Jacobo’s… use of words, but please, be civilized when expressing your opinions.

  51. bopols

    17 November 2013 at 7:58 PM

    di naman ibig sabihin na dumugo ilong ko kakaintindi sa review eh di na maayos ang review. mentally challenge lang po. mabuti iyun para gumana utak. hi hi hi.

  52. realcriticspleaaase!

    11 December 2013 at 12:56 AM

    hahaha! I can’t agree more! Reader’s would be drowning with the use of too much highfaluting words. His attempt to sound intellectual makes you want to puke.

  53. xander lim

    23 December 2013 at 9:47 PM

    o sigi na..ito yung grupo na kahit kailan yong mga vilmanian wag umasa na manalo si vilma..solid noranian yung mga review pa kunyari…o mga, (anong pngalan ng grupo ninyo?) kultong noranian award giving body?..bigay na sa idolo ninyo..wag na mag publish ng mga nominees..automatic e announe na ninyo na winner ang idolo ninyo…sigi tumahimik na kayo…

  54. rbc

    19 January 2014 at 11:52 AM

    Poor writing at its poorest.

    Very, very pretentious!

  55. Woman

    03 March 2014 at 11:20 AM

    Haaay… what a review! Seems high and mighty. Parang ang tingin sa mga Pinoy ay ‘di nag-iisip. Tingin ko lang ha. Kindly improve your job as a film critic. Huwag naman ‘yung MEMA lang. God bless!

  56. Mon

    06 March 2014 at 11:56 PM

    Tanginang Review to!

  57. Jepoy

    23 April 2014 at 7:58 AM

    Nagmamaganda sa English teh? Di naman kagalingan. Sinayang ko lang oras ko sa pagbabasa. Nainis lang ako ><

  58. Jeffrey Roy A. Lopez

    07 May 2014 at 8:39 PM

    Making things complicated, eh?, CIRCUMSTANTIALITY and TANGENTIALITY is in the mind of whosoever wrote such shitty review!


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