2018 | DIR: MATTHEW VICTOR PASTOR | STARRING: MATTHEW VICTOR PASTOR, LAMAROC, KRISTEN CONDON, GLENN MAYNARD, STUART SIMPSON | REVIEW BY GLENN COCHRANE.
This is the twisted and surreal final instalment in director Matthew Victor Pastor's atypical Aus-Filo trilogy; MAGANDA: PINOY BOY VS MILK MAN. The first instalment was the short film I Am Jupiter, I Am The Biggest Planet, which was followed by the feature-length second film Melodrama/Random/Melbourne! And while those titles make up the trilogy, his first feature film Made In Australia – as referenced in Maganda – serves as an important prologue to the overall sprawl. Of course being a thematic trilogy, seeing one film without seeing another will not impact the individual stories, but for those of us fortunate enough to have bore witness to the whole mangled chronicle we certainly have more layers to contend with.
To an unprepared or uncultured mind MVP's unique approach to storytelling may seem inept and pretentious, which would be an understandable conclusion. But for those familiar with his work (or indeed him) they will understand the complexities at play. There isn't a filmmaker in Australia as distinctive or eccentric, and what MVP puts on the screen is the entire inner-workings of his mind. MAGANDA is a culmination of his past work and serves as a self-inflicted exorcism of his mind's congestion. The film presents itself in a variety of tropes, from being auto-biographical and psychedelic, to cliche-riddled and meta. The film has a flagrant disregard for traditional structure and forges its own path towards its conclusions.
MAGANDA is also MVP's most technically arresting and beautiful film to date. With his middle-finger held up to the concept of subtlety, he splashes every frame with vibrant colours and a kaleidoscope of techniques. From flashing blues and reds, to the saturation of white, he hurls the film on to the screen as if wanting to startle us with the splat. Each component of his story is told through a different lens, such as the crude 70's style of analogue television to represent the cops, or the crisp digital format to portray his world of filmmaking. Suffice to say the film is a constant tussle between conflicting techniques, all of which represent the mind of an important auteur, and when you add themes of multiculturalism, depression, infidelity and foreign investment (just to name some) it's clear that MVP has a lot on his mind.
The cast includes a who's who of local talent, with most being familiar to a specific circle of the indie film scene. Glenn Maynard (Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla), Kristen Condon (Under A Kaleidoscope) and Andrew Leavold (The Search For Weng Weng) are just some of the faces that you might recognise. They are joined by Anthony Lawand (credited as Lamaroc), Celina Yuen and Koki Keneko, who all give measured performances. The entire cast understands MVP's unconventional style and each of them, presumedly, gives precisely what is demanded of them. Their performances range from absurdist to poignant with key moments of frivolity and hilarity sitting back-to-back with emotionally charged monologues and heart-wrenching earnestness.
You will be strapped to find a comparable filmmaker to Matthew Victor Pastor and despite MAGANDA: PINOY BOY VS MILK MAN being the conclusion to his Aus-Filo saga I suspect that he's got a lot more to say on the matter. Here's hoping that he continues to tell his stories as fearlessly and creatively as this, and here's hoping that his unique voice is recognised by the wider global audience.