The other night, we saw a Filipino film on Netflix called "Kita Kita," which means two things in English. When you use the phrase in addressing a group, it means See You All Later. But when addressing an individual, it means, I See You Now. Fascinating, right?
Anyway, this movie is amazing. It's one of the best foreign films I've seen of late and probably THE best romantic comedy movie that came out from the Philippines. The writing is unique, the actors Alessandra De Rossi and Empoy Marquez have incredible on-screen chemistry, and the direction/storytelling is engaging and inventive.
The movie is set in the Japanese City of Sapporo and it features two Filipino-expats who crossed paths in the most unfortunate times in their lives. So unfortunate that they did not figuratively "see" each other even though they came face-to-face numerous times and only got to do so when they couldn't do it, literally It's a cruel twist, which makes the film endearing, charming, and heartbreaking. My description may be cryptic to most but it's the best description I can make without spoiling the whole thing.
Asian cinema is known for its off beat nature. Its magnificence lies on its independence from the western template that leave viewers, who are used to Hollywood flicks, unsettled and sometimes outright disturbed.
Consider some of the Asian films that garnered acclaim over the years: Spirited Away, Battle Royale, (Japan), The Handmaiden, Old Boy (South Korea), In The Mood For Love (Hong Kong), and On The Job (Philippines). These movies have peculiar aspects unique to the cultures of the filmmakers given their countries of origin.
Kita Kita has those same unique qualities. It moves to it's own pulse and rhythm and does not adhere to any formula that ensures laughs and tears. But we did laugh and cry anyway. The film is unapologetically it's own thing. No pretensions and no desire whatsoever to be anything other that itself.
If there's only one thing where the filmmakers missed the mark, as Sheryl said it, it's "Air Supply." It's rather unfortunate that a film as great as this used a cover version of the Australian duo's old hit 'Two Less Lonely People In The World" instead of an original Filipino song. The country has an abundance of amazing composers, producers, singers, and bands like Cheats, Ben & Ben, Sandwich, Imago, Moonstar 88, IV of Spades, Ransom Collective, Ciudad, Moira Dela Torre, Dragonfly Collector, and Autotelic that can provide the perfect song for this remarkable film.
It's also fascinating to point out that the film contains dialogue spoken in four different languages: Tagalog, Japanese, English, and Visayan. So it was funny that when we started the movie, we turned off the automatic English subtitles since we are fluent in Tagalog. But then, when the characters started speaking in Japanese and Visayan, we turned it back on.
I am very impressed with how Netflix and Amazon added a lot of foreign content into their streaming services in the past year. There's a lot of Korean dramas like Goblin: The Great & Lonely God, Animé, classic kung fu flicks, Filipino westerns, and great content from the middle east as well. These platforms have truly become global and that's a big win for subscribers.
Anyway, if you happen to chance upon Kita Kita on Netflix, do not hesitate to see it. It's a beautiful story that's well produced, acted, and directed.