Archive for August, 2010

Blindsided: sa mata ng pitik

Posted in Cine Chichirya sa DZUP1602, comedy film, drama film, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry with tags on August 31, 2010 by leaflens

Or in short, my reviews of two current Philippine cinema releases: IN YOUR EYES and MAMARAZZI. Sabi nga ng isang Carlo J. Caparas film — God, save us! Chos. Teka, siya nga ba iyon?

Whatevssss!

IN YOUR EYES

d. Mac Alejandre

p. GMA Films-Viva Films

s. Keiko Aquino

c. Claudine Barretto, Richard Gutierrez, Anne Curtis

Pitch: Americanized older sister petitions younger sister who brings along boyfriend who, upon younger sister’s prodding, marries older sister for US citizenship only to fall in love with older sister which wreaks havoc in young sister’s life who turns out hating older sister and brings boyfriend back to Manila but they also split so she reunites with older sister and flies to the US for good, only to casually bump into ex-boyfriend who’s there legally now and tries to rekindle his thing with younger sister. O ha, one-sentence pitch, kaya mo iyon? Charut.

Catch: Lumang panutsa sa bagong palara. Er, siomai saves the day? Or bring chicha when you watch this. You’ll need the distraction.

Where do I begin, sabi nga ng isang movie theme song dati. I don’t know if current film scriptwriters don’t watch old, old, old, old, old movies, both local and foreign ones, especially local ones. I think it should be required of them that they watch old films so that they’ll know what has been done, to give them ideas and cues as to what they could rework with what has been done, so that they won’t end up repeating, concocting and cooking up and serving us tasteless and stale cinematic fare.

That is basically what this film made me and my girlfriend feel. She kept on saying that it’s just like DUBAI, Claudine’s earlier film in her former home studio, where she as the woman comes in between two brothers in a foreign land setting. But that’s the thing with scriptwriting in Philippine cinema. Just change the location of the original story, change the names or switch the genders of the characters and voila! You have a “new” story-script. And yes, they option and greenlight such projects even if they suspiciously sound and look like other existing works. Don’t believe me? Ahem, um, ask Lualhati Bautista na lang kaya? But I digress.

I was quite excited to see this film because of the trailer. I saw where they shot part of the American scenes — in Los Angeles, California — and I was curious to see how they would pull off shooting there. Plus of course I also wanted to reminisce about my recent summer trip there, where I was left alone to explore the Hollywood area on my own by my friend. Yes, I wanted to see how they would treat it, shoot it like a tourist or from a local’s point of view and such. I guess it’s the filmmaker in me that created that curiosity. But even with those scenes, I felt shortchanged since they really didn’t show much, plus a lot of this-is-in-America scenes were obviously shot here. And that would have been okay, but sometimes, halata siya, at pangit iyon. So that’s a failure of the PD, I think. Hay, production design na naman? You know what I think of that now. Read my previous reviews for more insights.

But what about the story? Hm, like I said, old fare cooked up anew. Lasang panis na, teh. Iyan ang masama. The marrying-for-citizenship storyline is as old as the OFW phenomenon, sobra. And then magkaka-inlab-an ang dalawang arranged marriage folks? Ngorkzzz. Wala na bang ibang conflict? Tumbling ‘yan kung biglang sa boylet nainlab ang character ni Richard, na pinangalanan nga pala nilang Storm (Ewan ko kung bakit – binagyo niya ang buhay ng magkapatid? Chaka kung iyon, ha!) o kaya sa girlash nainlab ang character ni Anne Curtis. Hm, I think I’d like that storyline better. Or biased lang ako.

But a bad script could sometimes be overlooked if the directing saves the day, or fantastic special effects and superb acting. Sadly, this film had none of those. I guess if Claudine was handled by another director, say Lino Brocka maybe (yes, this is wishful thinking), then we could have felt more heartfelt hugot ng emosyon ng character niya. Her crying scenes look so automatic, like she just turns them on and off as she sometimes does on TV dramas. Iba ang on-off switch ng acting, iba ‘yung iparamdam mo sa audience na malalim ang pinaghuhugutan niyan kaya kami mas maniniwalang dama talaga ng karakter mo ang nararamdaman sa eksena. And sorry pero hindi lang ako echoserang frog na namimintas dahil I also underwent acting lessons for one whole semester back in college. So yes, may pinaghuhugutan ang critique kong ito sa acting. And yes, 1.5 ang final grade ko dun, but I digress…

You’d also think that Anne Curtis could give something extra here, besides her usual pretty looks and sexy body, which they obviously wanted to flaunt by the way she was shot in this film. At oo, gets na naming endorser siya ng GSM Blue na tinungga niya sa bar kung saan na-pick up siya ni Storm. Pero teka, ‘yun nga palang pick-up line. I don’t know much about current heterosexual pick-up practices but my goddess, Storm’s pick-up line was so lame that I don’t know if it actually works on pretty girls like Anne. “Excuse me, do you know where Legaspi Village is?” sabi ni boylet. Tinuro naman ni girlash. Tapos alis si boylet, tapos sabay balik, at sabing “One more thing. Could I have your number? Just in case I get lost?” Kill me now! *tumbling tumbling tumbling* Oh wait, I already died, and landed on the nth circle of hell where people with bad pick-up lines are punished! But man, I ask you, does that work, with hetero women these days? Hetero women with Anne Curtis looks?  Kakaiba. I mean haller, I was also once a  heterosexual girl out in bars and I’ve heard better pick-up lines than that! Susmaryosep. Kalurkey.

So with their characterizations, you’d think that what was established with Anne’s character was someone who’s strong, who didn’t need a man to make it happen, as the Pussycat Dolls sang. E pucha pini-pick up nga sa bar, e. Tapos nang tanungin siya ni Storm about their status, “Paano tayo?” ang sagot ni girlash e “May tayo ba?” Tapos kelangan pang i-rattle off ang characterization niya while driving in a badly executed scene where Storm was driving a rugged jeep without a roof and Anne’s character suddenly sits on him as he drives. Talk about unsafe driving practices, to which he says “Ganyan ka ba talaga?” at sinagot ni girlash like reading out her character mapping “Ano, fun, independent, spontaneous?” or something to that effect. If you’re not familiar with a character map, eto ‘yung sheet kung saan nakalista ang characters sa script with matching descriptions, like:

Anne – 25 years old, Claudine’s younger sister, fun, sexy, spontaneous

Ganun. And then all of a sudden, she’s spewing lines reminiscent of early classic cinema’s “Ate, mamamatay ako ‘pag nawala siya sa akin…” “Ipalilibing kita!” She said something to this effect, which I really didn’t understand, because it didn’t match her character mapping of fun, independent, spontaneous as earlier mapped.

But I think Storm’s was the character that is the most badly-written, and even horribly executed. I know that for dramatic purposes, they heighten the actions. But if they did some research as to how Pinoys behave in the US, especially non-legal ones, they stay out of perceived trouble there. So that scene where Storm got an under-the-table job as a photo processor in a photo developing store, where he showed attitude towards his American boss, to the point of bumping into him, as in bodily contact, when he stormed out of there when he was fired, is not very realistic at all. They could have shown his frustration in another way, I think, and that wasn’t the best behavioral execution of all. The director could have called that one. Plus need I mention Richard’s tuod style of acting pa ba, where, at the height of the sisters’ drama of discovering the infidelity, he just fucking stood there??? Like he wasn’t part of it all??? And let the sisters mouth off??? Ang labo, potah.

And this brings me to this dangerous implication of women in cinema as propagated by this scene. How come the man is spared from sin? How come the women are the ones punished? I was surprised to see that this was scripted by a woman, but I guess she’s not as enlightened as we want her to be. Even when Anne’s character went home, tagging along Storm, the guy still lived with her for a year in utmost misery??? As if his jowa was punishing him for falling in love with her sister? Ang labo potah. Again, why do they have to make the women weak (that they needed a man like Claudine’s character) or vengeful (like Anne’s character hating her sister and latching on to the guy afterward). Pero teka, reality check, bakit hindi na lang hiwalayan ni Storm ang girlash pagbalik sa Manila? Kasal ba sila? Hindi naman, di ba? At saka kung kasal man, e payag naman si PNoy sa legal separation, a, huwag lang divorce. But I digress again.

Hay naku. There are several other things wrong with this film, but it’s just wrong for me to belabor over them without having lunch first. Or baka kelangan ko nang matawa.

Ay, matawa ba kamo? Then… oh well.

Here goes the other one…

MAMARAZZI

d. Joel Lamangan

p. Regal Films

s. Ricky Lee, Chris Violago

dop. Mo Zee

C. Eugene Domingo, John Lapus, Diether Ocampo and a host of slight cinema newbies whom you see to death naman in TV shows

Pitch: An unwed single mom mortician dotingly raises triplets who have individual issues but is bound by their insatiable curiosity of knowing who their father is. O parang ganun.

Catch: You know there’s something wrong with Eugene’s film when our common friends in the theater circles don’t publicize it to death on their Facebook accounts. Seriously. I’m just saying. Pansin ko lang naman, mga teh hehe.

I was actually surprised to see the trailer of this film, that our reigning comedy queen of Philippine cinema, theater-trained Eugene Domingo, was top-billing a comedy film financed by Regal Films. Now you know you have arrived when Mother Lily trusts you enough to give you such a project. And sadly, you also know you have arrived when you actually have to star in a badly written and horribly directed film reminiscent of badly written and horribly directed ’80s comedy films from the history of Philippine cinema, complete with an uncalled for song-and-dance number. Yes, even if it appears in a (day)dream sequence, it’s still uncalled for, plus it was done in utterly poor taste. I mean hey, if we were still in the ’80s and I saw this, I would accept it gladly, because during that time, it was kitsch-y “cool,” in a way. It had (quirky) character. It was pastiche. But it’s 2010, and I’m not willing to travel back in time to experience kitsch and pastiche like that anew.

But that’s the thing. I thought Philippine cinema already graduated from these kinds of portrayals, treatments and executions. I don’t know why they are trying to revive it like how Sarah Geronimo or whoever’s popular at the moment revive and revive and revive old pop songs.  I mean hello, we have dozens of uber-talented writers today, still alive, living in the present, who could write you newer songs or newer scripts or newer storylines. Why hark back to the oldies? Labo.

So now you know why Uge’s (Eugene’s nickname as called by her friends) theater friends didn’t publicize this that much. It’s crap. It’s unlike what they did with HERE COMES THE BRIDE but of course that might be biased because that one was penned and made by one of their own, too. But regardless of the bias, that film was good. (I reviewed that before, see my older posts. Pak!) But hey, come to think of it, if you gave MAMARAZZI kaya to Chris Martinez, what would happen? Hm, flashback ako bigla sa isang segment ng Sesame Street, a. What would happen if I prick this balloon with a pin…

Well, for one, I think the comedy would have been better written. I don’t know what they find funny in a mother uttering her dialogue when all of a sudden her skirt is torn off to reveal her floral undies, to the horror of her only son. Or her son won’t be obligated to utter the title of the film so it would somehow fit into the scheme of things, during that scene where she was trying to convince her son to ride on their hearse after he talked to the girl of his dreams. And then when he said “Mamarazzi,” the mother said “Ay, mamarazzi? Ano ‘yun? Bago ‘yun, a. Ay, gusto ko iyon, gusto ko iyon, ahihihi!” and then proceeded to dance like a crazy woman who had no iota of intelligence in her persona. Hay mahabagin…

We already discussed to death–habang namatay kami sa kabagutan–the women in comedy characters of Philippine cinema in our Friday night Cine Chichirya radio show last week, so I’ll spare that. But there’s one characterization I so wanted to discuss, because I believe it is disturbing and dangerous regarding how homosexuality and bisexuality are portrayed in this film.

John Lapuz’ character is a respectable gay barangay chairman or something. He is not the macho-acting type of gay man but not swishy either; just right and discreet, but a bit flirty in private quarters with his babylove (their term of endearment), Diether’s character. I don’t know what type of portrayal they intended with Diether, but the first time he is introduced, his buff bod was overly displayed as he bantered with his babylove, and he was sweet but he was also asking for money. So are we going back to the straight guy-who-hooks-up-with-gay-men-for-money storyline? Ano nga ‘yung sabi sa kanta ng Disney film? Tale as old as time… Kaloka. I don’t know why gay writers or directors continue to characterize and portray gay men in films this way. Why are they insisting on putting homosexuality down? This really baffles me to no end. Fine, granted that there are still set-ups like this, but then again, this is an old, old, old story.

And what happens to the gay man in this film? He “donates” his willing babylove to his single straight best friend so she could have her wish of being impregnated by someone — doesn’t matter who — before they take out her ovaries or something reproductive health-related like that. But what does babylove do? He goes to bed with her, sure, but also runs off after, robbing her of money to boot — which is later redeemed as money he used to help his sick grandmother. Yes, you can roll your eyes now in disbelief. My own suspension of disbelief in this film already ended after the first 10 minutes.

So both gay and single straight girl best friends lose the guy, only for babylove to reemerge later on which mars their friendship. Babylove says he realized his mistake, is sorry for the robbery, and wants to be an active father to the children of the mortician, whom he says he realized that he is in love with her pala. Jusme. So of course, gay bff gets mad at mortician. Hay jusko, need I say more? Nagtapos din ito sa kasalan — heterosexual na kasalan. Luhaan nung una ang becky pero nagpaubaya na rin sa bff at sa ex-babylove. Horrible.

Again, why do they continue to put their own kind down??? Why do they insist, even??? Hay. Ako ngang becky in spirit lang e offended na offended. Paano pa kaya ang mga tunay na becky??? Kalurkey.

Hay jusme. I don’t know. Mag-iisaw na nga lang muna ako, para mas masaya. O siya, bahala ka na. Babu!

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ang lihim ng usb…

Posted in digital film, Philippine Cinema, queer cinema on August 14, 2010 by leaflens

…or in short, mga pelikulang natagpuan sa usb flash drive ko na hiniram ng mga kaibigang saglit na gumamit nito, at may iniwan palang mga movie files hehe.

Isang gabing kakatapos lang namin manood ng movie file ng jowa ko, pinag-trip-an kong tignan ang mga california photos kong nasa usb drive ko pa pala, mga kuha ng kapatid ko na kinopya ko sa computer niya. Sa kakakalikot ng usb, nakita ko ang isang folder ng mga pelikulang akala ko noong una ay mga trailer lang. Ito ‘yung ilan sa mga pelikulang in-analyze ng mga kachokaran ko nang nagpunta kami sa New York para sa isang film studies conference. Lo and behold, mga full films pala sila, not just trailers. So I decided to watch one of them, and here is what I think of that one film.

ANG LIHIM NI ANTONIO

p. digital viva

d. jay altarejos

s. lex bonife

c. shamaine buencamino and a bunch of newbies

Pitch: A 15-year old son of an OFW father and an LGU health center nurse comes of age as he discovers his being gay, and the world of male homoeroticism and man-on-man sexcapades.

Catch: Kelangan ng script doctor. Loopholes galore.

I remember my superfriend X being scandalized one day as he came out of Cine Adarna after watching one of those digitally-made gay films shown there. I can’t remember if this was what he saw or the other film of this same creative tandem (or at least the director). It was something about having an underage gay boy perform sexual acts or something yata of that nature, at may frontal pa daw, meaning frontal nudity.

Well, kung ‘yun man ‘yun or ito ‘yun, pareho lang siguro ang kaganapan. I reall have nothing against nudity in film as long as the story calls for it naman. Since this film is about a young boy discovering his sexuality, I think the sex scenes and nudity are called for. There was one scene where he was peeping on his super-buff young uncle as the uncle took his nightly shower, and his uncle’s patotoy was shown on the screen. In another scene, the young boy grabbed his uncle’s patotoy and was hand-jerking it (um, tama ba ang term?) until he lowered his head to simulate the act of fellatio sa patotoy ni uncle. Again, during the hand job, uncle’s patotoy was shown on the screen. I think even the young boy’s patotoy was also shown in bits and pieces onscreen din, at least during some self-jerking scenes niya. Like there was one scene where his uncle left a used brief and the young boy just grabbed it, covered his head with the used brief (good grief!) and then started masturbating. Hm ano pa ba? Marami ring eksenang nakabukol galore lang ang patotoy ni buffed uncle sa kanyang white brief at nagmumura na itong gustong lumabas baga. At mangilang beses ding kinapkapan siya ng young man. And there was also a scene nga pala when the young man was shown having sex with his same-age barkada, na naglapat ang mga loins nila sa bed, missionary style. And then his uncle naman was also shown having sex with an elderly paying swishy gay man, na nakadapa sa kama habang hina-hump siya ni uncle na of course kita ang full exposure ng wepaks galore nila.

Ayun… ang sex scenes. dami ‘no? Ay, oo nga pala, ang kuwento. Kelangan pa bang magkomento sa kuwento? Hay, siya sige na nga.

I admire this film because of the boldness that it wants to show. Oo nga’t malibog ang mga becky lalo na’t raging hormones age pa ito. Called for naman ang mga sex scenes at patotoy-buyangyang or patotoy-pasilip/pabakat moda na in-enumerate ko sa taas. Ang hindi called for dito ay ang ilang storylines na pilit ipinilit sa mga karakter o sa mga eksena. Actually, ‘yun pa nga ang nakasira sa pelikula.

For instance, alam mo nang may ibang eklat na nangyayari sa OFW na asawa sa Dubai ng nurse nanay ng young man, dahil madalang tumawag, mag-text, umuwi o magpadala ng pera sa mag-ina niya. True enough, in the end, na-reveal na may iba nang family ang OFW dad sa Dubai. Pero sobrang nakakatawa ‘yung revelation scene — si nurse was on her way to the province and she just boarded a bus, then after a few seconds, she went down again, and “accidentally” bumped into someone she knows, na that someone is also working in Dubai at siya ang nagkuwento tungkol sa OFW husband eklat. Ang labo. Basta na lang nagkabanggan and then, reveal??? Tapos ang awkward pa ng execution, jusme.

Hindi lang ‘yan ang awkward sa pelikulang ito. Awkward din na pinipilit lagyan ng angst ang young man na “torn” siya sa bago niyang nadiskubreng sexuality. Haller, kung torn iyan, e bakit wala siyang pakundangan sa pagkapkap ng etits ng may etits??? At wala namang pinakitang eksenang torn siya. At paano natin nalamang torn siya? E kasi naririnig natin sa VO niya! Hanlabo. Ewan. Ang dami pang ganito ng film, mga elemento ng kuwento na basta na lang nilalaglag at pinipilit. Kaya minsan, mahahalata mo talaga kung ano ang inunang naiplanong gawin sa pelikula (ano fi? see second paragraph) at kung ano ang patchi-patchi na lang na inilagay para “ma-justify” ang mga unang naiplanong ilagay. Hay…

But I think my biggest beef against this film is its insistence on ending it on a violent tone. Bakit kailangang ma-butt rape ang young man against his will? At bakit kelangang makita ito ng nanay niyang nurse? At bakit kelangang humantong ang isang sexual awakening film sa isang brutal murder condemning the scorned woman and the abused young man? Hindi ko matanggap ang parts na ito. Here is your chance to liberate the gay sexual film and put it on a hgher level of discourse and with it, put it in a higher level of appreciation sana, aimed at both the gay community and the whole Filipino community at large. But no, you have to end it in a brutal murder scene where the opportunistic-to-the-gays person had to be killed brutally, and had to be violent to a younger gay man muna before that? Hay naku, sayang. Maraming magandang moments sana ang pelikula despite the many narrative loopholes sa development ng plot, pero nakakasira lalo ng appreciation ang ending. This is the type of film na you are already willing to overlook the loopholes because it’s showing something better sana, pero wit din pala. In the end, it’s not about the celebration of gayness pala kundi the condemnation of gayness pa rin. Hay naku. Olats. At ang mas nakakalungkot pa rito, mga becky ang gumawa nito. Nakakatakot at nakakabahala kasi nagdadagdag pa sila sa condemnation discourse against their own kind, something Philippine cinema doesn’t actually need anymore.

Hay, sayang. Buti na lang din pala at hindi sa big screen ko ito napanood. Oh well. There’s only one thing I could say — next!

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