Now Showing (2008) is one of the landmark films of contemporary Philippine Cinema. It bridges numerous visual styles from the leading local stylists: the found footage approach of John Torres, the neorealist aesthetics of Brillante Mendoza and the interminable shot lengths of Lav Diaz. In a somewhat ambitious scale, Raya Martin evokes a tribute to the craft of filmmaking in its trajectory towards maturity.

Now Showing is one of Raya's rare masterpieces that emulates not only his confidence as the leading visionary in the Philippine New Wave, but also his tenacity to create something personal. In contrast to his monumental Maicling pelicula nañg ysañg Indio Nacional (Short Film About the Indio Nacional or the Prolonged Sorrow of the Filipinos, 2005), which uses silent filmmaking aesthetics to deliver a rhetorical point of view about Philippine history with a political bent, Now Showing shows his interest on projecting his emotional currency as a filmmaker. With striking originality in both form and content, Martin re-creates the transition of pre-cinema paralleling the coming-of-age story of a young girl named Rita, named after the famous Hollywood star Rita Hayworth. From Rita's childhood to her late adolescent years, Martin traces her growth using a unique stylistic experimentation of different video formats to denote different modes of filmmaking: from home-video to amateur and finally to professional filmmaking.

In one of the interviews from Director's Fortnight during Cannes Film Festival last 2008, Martin suggests that the film can be viewed not only as experimental bent but also as a film about life. The adornment of simple linear structure creates a sense of sincerity from Martin. He edited it with an audience in mind. Plainly narrated from Rita's childhood days of playful candidness to the death of her father, it is sliced by a insert of an old Filipino film Tunay na Ina (1939) about a mother-daughter relationship. It continues through her adolescent years as she works as a vendor of counterfeit DVDs. It ends with her final act as a woman struggling from her mistakes after being impregnated pre-maritally by her boyfriend. Rita's descent from her innocent childhood days to her messy adolescent years somewhat ironically overlaps the change of lighting in the film. Her childhood days are mostly night scenes and only the last sequence, when Rita runs away from home, that the light of day can be seen. This ironic temperament of the film displaces it from the outward historical mode Martin uses in his previous works. Now Showing is an inward search of oneself, not only of Rita, but Martin as a filmmaker.

Its unusual sound design, where small moments in the film are muted, presents are perceptual tension eliminating the sentimental overture it might imbibed. This adherence to non-conventional strategy presents new motivations for the viewer especially its lack of scoring in most part of the film. It adds to the plasticity Martin has envisioned the film to be, a film deeply indebted to his memories, which is, in its own nature, plastic and transforming, mundane but overwhelmingly nostalgic.

In its pluralized state, Martin's independent voice has not only helped in crafting a great film, but has furthered the experimental spirit of the growing Philippine independent cinema. In its revolt against the American hegemony that the Philippine culture has endured for many years, the Philippine independent cinema, along with Martin, forges new pathways, new devices, new visions to re-institute the idea of a nation. It begins within oneself, like Rita, when one rebels against the fastidiousness of her own culture; thereby defining oneself. Finally, one can see the light of day.