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There are many reasons to love ON THE JOB, a police thriller of uncommon cinematic sophistication, not to mention a, based on a true story, about convicts in one of Manila’s toughest prisons who moonlight outside the walls as hitmen. It’s a story that starts out intriguing and builds exponentially from there as writer/director Erik Matti unspools a tale of corruption and idealism that rarely indulges in cliches, and when it does, finds a way to makes them work. In what is not one, but several strokes of genius, Matti uses breathtaking tracking shots that not only show off his skill as a filmmaker, but also as a storyteller, as the camera wends its way through prison corridors or restaurants adding as much to the narrative as the action or dialogue.
When I spoke to Matti by phone on September 23, 2013, I started with how he had come up this story, and I discovered that while the idea of convicts being used as hitmen on the outside is a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction premise, Matti’s discovery of it was one that was even moreso. We went on to talk about why ON THE JOB won’t be the Philippines’ Oscar ™ submission, the way violence is depicted in the film, and the magical way that Matti got those tracking shots that I’m still re-playing in my head.
To listen to my interview with Matti, click on the link (16:13) ON THE JOB — Eric Matti.