This movie recalls the early films of Robert Rodriguez. Highly original.
I would have liked a thorough "making of" featurette to accompany this DVD.
I had read about Cavite in the L.A. Times when it came out here on a theatrical run. This simple idea was deftly executed by Ian Gamazon (who also stars) and Neil Dela Llana. Adam (Gamazon) gets a call one night to come back to the Philippines because his father has died. Once he gets there, he realizes he has a cellphone in his bag and upon answering it it he is informed that he must follow a bunch of instructions or his mother and sister will be killed. From there, we are taken on a trip through many different areas of the Philippines where we, like our main character, see a world we probably never knew existed. Adam's journey becomes our journey as the stakes in the film gets raised and raised. However, unlike so many Hollywood films, this remains highly exciting without ever sacrificing it's own reality.
Outtakes and Deleted Scenes
This is a series of unedited scenes, long shots, discarded footage, etc.. We see some real low budget filmmaking as these guys were in the thick of things as they made this film (they literally had dogs chomping at their heels!). I chose to listen to this with the commentary track on and I really got a lot out of Ian Gamazon explaining exactly what I was seeing. Low budget filmmakers, you now have a new movie to use as your standard.
I give Gamazon and Dela Llana credit for admitting up front that their commentary tracks were recorded separately. Sadly, Dela Llana should have recorded his in the same room with Gamazon. I don't know what mic he was using but it sounds really muddy. Due to this, I favored hearing Gamazon. He talks about how he wanted to the opening of the film to resemble Joe Carnahan's Narc, Cavite is apparently his and Dela Llana's fourth collaboration together, they originally wanted a girl in the lead role and they both discuss their heartbreak at not getting into Sundance. If you wanna hear a commentary on a the making of real "indie" film, this is it.
4x3 Letterbox. I don't know what form of video this movie was shot in but it is done in such a way that you can never tell that it's video. Even though it doesn't look like film, the video gives this movie a rich washed out look. It's sort of like the anti-travelogue that we might see of the Philippines. The fact that it looks like something anyone could shoot on vacation, don't let that fool you. This is a highly stylized film that holds up well as a thriller.
Language: English with Tagalog, 2.0 Dolby Digital. Subtitles: Spanish. Considering that the majority of this movie plays as a phone conversation, the sound should be top notch. This being a lower budget production, good sound isn't always a top priority. The audio on this movie is really good. In fact, it could be a one-act play, it's that solidly written. While I might take issue with how the audio sounds on the commentary track, the movie itself does everything perfectly.
The front cover utilizes pictures of the military with only a small image (and I mean small) given to the main star of this film. The back does a better job offering up some shots of the movie, a succinct description, a cast list, a Special Features list and technical specs. Sadly, since the majority of this film is Dela Llana walking around on a cellphone, the images on this front cover make it seem like they were all taken at the same time.
While at times the acting isn't that great, those moments are few and far between as Cavite is one of the best movies I have reviewed on DVD all year. With it's interesting storyline, solid approach to politics and rubber band and glue production values, this movie clearly represents a high point in honest to goodness low budget filmmaking. I am unsure just how big of a crew they had but from what I understand, it was mainly just the director and the actor. Also, when you realize the technical logistics of what these two filmmakers have been able to pull off, that makes their achievement that much more impressive.
Cavite is solid filmmaking from two guys who know their medium intimately.
Cavite was released March 12, 2005.