The news that notorious film critic Philbert Dy is now on YouTube is a little confusing.
“He still reviews films,” my editor explains. “Except he now apparently does it in front of a camera.” We have a laugh about it, right before he asks me to write a review about Phil’s new web series. I’m not even told its name, but I find Phil on Films pretty easily nonetheless. I give it a click.
The first video opens in exactly the sort of place some people would expect Philbert Dy to dwell: an empty bar dimly lit in red, local craft beer on tap, more beer posters plastered on the wall. Perfect for getting into the mood to argue with someone on the internet.
“For the last ten years, I’ve been professionally writing movie reviews,” he says cheerily, on-camera. Graphics inform us he’s Philbert Dy, an out-of-work writer. “But nobody reads anymore, so now I’m on YouTube.”
Yep, I think. There he is.
“Nobody reads anymore” is something you’d hear Phil toss out every other week, back when we both worked in Rogue (rest in peace). This is especially true when you happened to share a desk with him for a full year, like I did. He’d be the first to show up at the office, clad in his signature blazer and shirt (to see him in anything else was the equivalent of a cryptid sighting). We’d say hello, and he’d go write at frankly ridiculous (and unfair) speeds.
Phil on Films is the hybrid of things we read from him at Rogue: his in-depth film reviews and This Week in Cinemas, which—as its name implies—gave an overview of what would be coming out in cinemas that week. The only real difference is that it’s on video and that you can actually see him now. As a result, each review is quick and bite-sized, and strangely, feels a lot more like a conversation. It’s as it says on the tin: It’s Phil talking about films. Simple camera-work, clear sound, with cuts from the films themselves to drive his points.
It’s not quite the way we’re used to people talking about them, be it on on half-baked blogs or overheard walking out of a cinema. Phil talks about what the films are actually about: what they were trying to achieve (such as Bato trying to make Bato dela Rosa look like an action star), whether they managed (it didn’t), and where they fit in the greater scheme of things (take a look at the country you live in). About Antoinette Jadaone’s Alone/Together, he discusses “Christine and the death of her ideals.” And in describing Peter Farrelly’s Green Book, he describes a film “that is ostensibly about addressing racial inequality in the United States is told so much from the perspective of its comedically reductive white guy main character.”
It’s intelligent, matter-of-fact opinion that can be borderline assholic. And you know what? In this format, it really works. What may be jarring to some is that Phil sounds exactly as he does in his articles. (Given that he has a funny habit of reading his sentences aloud as he writes, I can confirm.) He doesn’t pander, doesn’t sugarcoat, and most importantly, he doesn’t care what you think about what he thinks. The unflinching honesty can be both refreshing and grating, and your mileage may vary.
If you’re after meaty, bite-sized reviews, you’re in luck. If you’re looking to rant about the relevance of yet another guy handing out brutal opinions on films, you are also in luck.
“Feel free to leave a comment,” Phil waves at the end of the first episode. “We can argue on the internet, like all people do. Goodbye, internet.”
You can agree or disagree, or you might just want to argue the relevance of another guy on the Internet handing out his opinions. But the fact remains: you clicked; you asked for it.
Philbert Dy is on YouTube as Phil on Films.