Archive for the comedy film Category

MMFF 2013: GIRL BOY BAKLA TOMBOY

Posted in comedy film, film festival, MMFF, Philippine Cinema, POC Pinoy LGBT channel, queer cinema, queer issues in film on December 27, 2013 by leaflens

Well, I’m not really sure if I will do a very thorough analysis of GIRL BOY BAKLA TOMBOY for this space like what I did with 10000 HOURS in my previous post — unless you want me to heheh. Hm esep-esep pa ko k.

But anyway, I already wrote something from a queer advocate’s point of view that was posted in the Pinoy LGBT channel of Philippine Online Chronicles so check it out there na lang muna, for starters.

An excerpt:

GBBT posterAng simple lang ng kuwento, kung tutuusin. Wala namang bago rito. Pero nakakabahala para sa mga tulad naming patuloy na itinataas ang LGBTQ pride dito sa Pilipinas kung hihimaying mabuti ang pelikulang ito at ang mga sinasabi niyang mensahe sa mga manonood.

Una, nabahala ako nang sinabi ni Girl ‘yung linyang “that fag twin brother” nung galit na siya sa pagtataray at pagpapahirap sa kanya ni Bakla. (Fag talaga? Ikaw na laking Amerika, di mo natutunang kapag sinabi mo ang fag ay mapapaaway ka?) At para gantihan ito, ang naisip ni Girl na gawin ay agawan ng love life si Bakla dahil sa analysis niya, sa totoong babae pa rin naman papanig ang isang straight na lalaki, kahit na parang nagkakaigihan sila ng Bakla niyang kakambal. Sa lahat naman ng paraan ng pagtira, talagang kailangang bumaba sa level ng straight girl vs. effeminate gay ang peg? Parang hindi ito nakakatuwa. Eto, dito tayo talo sa laro.

Read the whole article here. Basically, the article enumerates majority of  the reasons why I didn’t vote for this film to be on my shortlist sa aking jury duty sa MMFF Most Gender Sensitive Film Award last week.

I repeat: I didn’t vote for this film, k? As for my top 1 vote (or tie for top 2 rin pala), I’ll write the reviews of that in the coming days na lang, k? Suspense na lang kung ano sila at the moment hehe. K?

K.

P.S. So pinanood niyo na ‘yung 10000 HOURS? Anubeh! Gora watch!

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Pahabol to the year-end roast

Posted in Cine Filipino, comedy film, indie films, intercultural issues, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry on December 24, 2013 by leaflens

Glad I was able to catch the Ayala Mall theatrical run of a Cine Filipino entry before the country transforms into its MMFF mode. And I was just going to watch it purely for entertainment’s sake but I can’t let it pass without a proper review because I think the film — and what it tried to do — has to be commended for its merit.

So this is it, pancit. Gora.

turkeyANG TURKEY MAN AY PABO RIN (2013)

d. Randolf Longjas

s. Allan Habon

sc. Teresa Barrozo

c. Tuesday Vargas, Travis Kraft, Julia Clarete, Cai Cortez 

Pitch: A Pinay with a white American boyfriend happily struggle to find the middle ground of their cultures in the hopes of improving their relationship to attain their goal of going to the U.S.

Catch: Most jokes were concentrated on the first half of the film, leaving the second half a bit wanting, but still satisfying ’til the end anyway. So kebs.

And this is why I can’t just let this film pass without saying anything about it: MAGANDA KASI SIYA. It works very well for me because this is a comedy that’s not caricature, and that’s sooooooooo effin’ rare lately in Philippine cinema. I’m talking about the likes of this film and HERE COMES THE BRIDE, for instance, where the film presents a far-out storyline yet it’s believable enough pa rin to make you sincerely laugh. And you sincerely laugh because the comedy is not just shallow or slapstick but it’s quite a mix of both, but differentiated because it tries to have depth in delivery and content. Depth, as in lalim, or at least pinag-isipan ang pagpapatawa at hindi mababaw ang punchlines. You know what I’m saying?

Hindi ito katulad lang ng mga Vice Ganda comedies na siya lang ang nagdadala dahil sa stand-up comic timing/delivery niya ng lines (although those work in certain contexts din naman, like in PETRANG KABAYO). At lalong hindi ito tulad ng mga comedy ng Star Cinema or ng mga dinidirek ni Direk Wenn na parang wishy-washy material lang na mukhang sinulat lang in three days (if may script at all, na para kasing tumakbo lang with a sequence outline lang at shoot na agad!). ‘Yung ganitong mga pelikula, nakakatawa talaga dahil maganda ang materyal, magaling ang delivery ng actors, at maganda ang pagkakahabi ng mga eksena at shot. Yes, it really worked for me.

Of course there’s nothing new in the story, you might say. What’s another film about a white man coupling with a brown girl in our islands? Oo, talamak na nga ang ganitong pairing but even so, each generation has something new to contribute to this intercultural discourse. For as long as we can’t shake off our memory of our colonial history, we will certainly continue to talk about the byproducts of such history in our present. Part and parcel of being Filipino, I think, is to have this discourse out in the open, whether people see it negatively or positively. But I hope we could talk about it in a more enlightened way.

And in a way, this film did. Of course the obvious objective was to show naysayers that the brown girl was not only after the money from the white guy. That’s really the default thinking here, and decades of cultural opinion and practice will not shake off that initial impression. Really. Even if we try really hard. But the film is charming because it succeeds in talking about that impression, and even overcoming it, presenting new ways and perspectives of looking at it.

Ako man baffled sa "cultural" eklavu of eating carbs on carbs, namely pancit canton with rice! Hindi ka nag-iisa, dude! LOLZ.

Ako man baffled sa “cultural” eklavu of eating carbs on carbs, namely pancit canton with rice! Hindi ka nag-iisa, dude! LOLZ.

And the first perspective is this: have the white man speak good Tagalog. That’s really cute, even way cuter than half-Filipinos/half-some-other-country people who come here and speak baluktot Tagalog like they’re the cutest thing after newborn puppies. No, chaka ‘yun dude, speak it. And then of course another cute thing here is have the brown girl learn how to speak proper English without even referring to that dreaded term “nosebleed” because in this film, she doesn’t see her baluktot English as a sign of being dumb (which is what, to me, the concept of “nosebleed” suggests/dictates). And what’s even cuter is she’s open to improving her English diction, without even feeling sorry for herself or without feeling insecure. That scene in the bathroom where they do this as they brush their teeth, plus the one where he drills her with meta cards, man that’s just hilarious! (e.g. Where was I born? / Penis…penisvanya? Pencil…Pencilvania!) And it pays off because Tuesday and Travis have great onscreen comedic chemistry. It works.

Another “new” yet tricky contribution of the film to this discourse is where they meet. The film is basically about these two people who met online, in a website obviously designed for meet-ups like theirs, as they both sign up in a dating website called “kanolovespinay.com” or something like that. Of course these kinds of websites exist in real life. And yes, there have been couples who have successfully formed relationships using such sites. But to the judgmental offline world, this kind of pairing is still suspect just because they met in “non-traditional” means. It’s the whole intercultural judgment, but transferred online.

And in this day and age of world wide web connectivity, many people seek out relations of all sorts online, and that should already be a given, a thing not to be subjected to morality judgments. Sige nga, ano ang pinagkaiba nito sa nireto mo ang friend of a friend of a friend of a friend mo sa friend mo for a blind date? In this case, may kalayaang mamili ang mga magde-date ng kanilang type. And yes, I’ve actually met some women who have met white men in such spaces, boyfriends nila currently or they even married pa nga and have a family na, ganun. Yes, take a look around, take a closer look, and you’ll see that these kinds of pairings — borne out of real love connections — do exist.  And even if it’s viewed judgmentally pa rin, the film was able to laugh at the face of this kind of judgment. At first, the film was laughing along with the prejudice and the bigotry. Later, nakikitawa na tayo sa prublema nila. Later, kasama na natin silang tumatawa sa success na na-overcome nila sa kanilang struggles. And as the film wraps up, napapaisip tayo na oo nga naman, may mga ganitong totoo. At okay naman pala. And then we cheer them on in the end, because what they are are just like who we all are: humans who just want to be in a loving relationship, regardless of race, culture or language divides.

White Kano with brown Pinay who usually has a child or two borne out of wedlock or from a previous failed Pinoy relationship, as depicted here. A common image in our country but still bears new discourse.

White Kano with brown Pinay who usually has a child or two borne out of wedlock or from a previous failed Pinoy relationship, as depicted here. A common image in our country but still bears new discourse.

At bakit nga pala turkey-pabo ang peg? The storyline’s plot centered on the nearing of Thanksgiving Day and the Pinay’s struggles to find an elusive turkey in Manila for the celebration, to make her boyfriend happy. Tuesday Vargas is a gem here, kenkoy na kikay na may puso at nasasaktan din naman. In short, totoong tao, someone na posibleng mars mo sa opis o sa kapitbahay ganun, mga taong totoong puwedeng mag-exist in real life, nagawa nilang ipakita dito in a non-caricature/two-dimensional way. Patok pa lalo sa two best friends niyang kikay na kalog din, sina Cai Cortez at Julia Clarete, lalo na sa mga hirit nila na para lang naririnig ko sa tabi-tabi kapag nagsasama-sama kami ng friends ko o napapadaan ako at napapa-eavesdrop sa mga kenkoy na samahang barkada around town. Mga totoong tao, nakikita sa pelikula, malaki ang identification factor nito sa audience, kaya mas effective na nakakatawa sila, dahil nga hindi sila caricature. Take note of this, please, Star Cinema, Viva Films, Regal Films and other outfits that continue to dumb down Filipino audiences by showing us crass comedy year in and year out. Matalino ang audience oy, kaya taas-taasan niyo rin ang level ninyo please lang, k. K.

Having said that, we now end up giving this film our two thumbs up. I hope the filmmakers continue writing material and I hope they’re given more chances to show their craft to the audiences. The future of Philippine cinema is slowly being secured, thanks to such talents. Sana lang ‘wag lumobo ang mga ulo, hane?

K? K.

MMFF 2012: Sisterakas

Posted in comedy film, MMFF, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry on January 13, 2013 by leaflens

SISTERAKAS (2012)

sisterakasd. Wenn Deramas

p. Star Cinema

c. Ai-Ai delas Alas, Vice Ganda, Kris Aquino

Pitch: Half-siblings get separated and lead different lives. They meet again as clashing adults. Tapos may isang entity na sumisingit sa kuwento na wala namang rele. Si Kris Aquino ‘yun.

Catch: Halatang tinipid ang prod, and of course if it’s from Direk Wenn, there must be a DJ Durano in here!!! Lech.

 

‘Yung wala naman talaga akong balak pag-aksayahan ng pera ang pelikulang walang kuwenta sa akin dahil sa mga past works ng mga involved dito. Ilang beses na ba naming inokray nirebyu ang mga pelikula ni direk Wenn? Na di ko na talaga alam kung ano pa ang mga katuturan ng ilan sa kanila. Heniwey tapos andyan pa si Kristeta na ang huli pa yatang good performance niya ever ay ang ummmm hmmmm FATIMA BUEN STORY? Pinanganak ka na ba nung pinalabas ‘yun? Ewan ko ba. Hayst.

Anyway wala akong choice kundi panoorin ito kasi andito si Ate Ai-Ai at si Vice. Na sila lang naman talaga ang tumawid ng kuwento dito, na medyo lame-o na rin naman. Kebs na sa pagka lame-o, kasi produkto na naman ito malamang ng Star Cinema kind of meddling the story brainstorming. Been there been that! But anyway, may saysay sana ang kuwento in fairness kung ginawa na nilang uber-camp sana ito. ‘Yung todo na sa pagkaka-satire sana sa kung anuman ang sina-satire sana nila dito. Ibig sabihin, sana tinodo na nila ang pagkaka-lampoon nila sa kulturang ito ng fashyown-fashyown, sa katatawanan o humor, at kung anupaman.

Eh ang kaso, wala, typical movie story lang ito of rags to riches kuning then ex-rags turned riches now fights ex-riches turned rags. Or something. Actually, ni hindi nga klaro kung bakit imbey ang character ni Vice sa character ni Ai–Ai, ‘yung exacting revenge type of imbey na dahil pinabayaan nito daw ang nanay ni Vice noong bata pa sila eh napilay and such. Whatevs! Hindi klaro ang mga motibasyon ng karakter na gawin ang mga ginagawa nila sa buhay teh. Wafung itey.

Pero mas wafung ang istilo ng pagpapatawa nila. Kadalasan, self-referencing na naman ang moda ng mga taga-Star kung magsulat ng script. Meaning kung di mo alam kung ano ang mga lintek na TV shows ng mga artistang ito, kung di ko alam ang mga latest commercials nila (lalo na ‘yang lintek na rubadabango potang ‘yan) at kung di mo alam ang latest chismax sa mga love life nila (lalo na ‘yang lintek na hiwalayang James Yap na ‘yan), hindi ka matatawa sa karamihan ng real-life references ng mga jokes sa pelikulang ito. Same old same old, Star. Chakaness.

Pero I swear, kung wala ang mga hirit-banat ni Vice dito, waley itong film na itich. ‘Yung mga one-liner hirit niya na tulad ng nasa PETRANG KABAYO dati, ganun. Lintek, nakakatawa!!! ‘Yun lang ang keri dito, saka ‘yung pagpapatawa din ni lola Ai-Ai mo. ‘Yun lang. Kaya ‘yung character ni Kris dito, puwede nang itapon. Palitan na lang ng iba, tipid pa sa TF.

Speaking of tipid, ito rin ang isang imbey sa production mismo. Halatang tinipid nila ito. As in haller, may isang eksena dito na ‘yung potangenang PE tshirt nina Daniel Padilla ay potangenang plain white shirt lang na potangenang dinikitan lang ng potangenang sticker(!!!) ng school logo. Potangenah!  Ginagago niyo ba kami!??! Halata siya!!! Tengeneng trabahong tamad.

sisterakas pe2

That stupid PE tshirt. Yes isyu sa ‘kin ‘yan!

Hay naku. Tapos may mga linya pang obvious na self-mocking ang Kristeta sa mga maraming bagay patungkol sa kanya. Di kinaya ng powers ko ‘yung unang bungad niya na parang “this is worse than a Kris Aquino horror film” ba ‘yun or something? Leche, self-deprecating humor doesn’t become her. Huwag na muling subukang sulatin; nakamamatay.

Ewan. Labo. Hayst buti na lang talaga andun ‘yung humor ni Vice Ganda. For that, naisalba. As for naitawid, o siya sige, highest grossing film siya chenes. Kayo na. Kung gagawa kayo ng sequel, utang na loob paki-chugi na ‘yung character na walang silbi.

At bumili ng totoong potangenang PE tshirt! Lech.

Next!

of wrong timings and wasting time

Posted in comedy film, Hollywood dream factory, Philippine Cinema, sci-fi film on November 21, 2011 by leaflens

Cinema-watching, for me, is not really a waste of time as some people treat it. Kanya-kanyang habit lang iyan, I suppose. We all have our favorite ways of spending our time or we have techniques in wasting time. Walang basagan ng trip, ‘ika nga.

But it’s a totally different thing if a film wastes my time. Of course it’s not guaranteed that all films that look promising will make it worth your while. Some are truly time-wasters. But there are also those you will value for a long time.

Anyway enough segue. Here are two samples of how I spent my time one rainy evening in Cubao, while waiting for traffic to subside (which, in Metro Manila, is a loooong time).

Heniweyz…

PRAYBEYT BENJAMIN (2011)

d. Wenn Deramas

p. Star Cinema and Viva Films

c. Vice Ganda and a bunch of talents that appear as stringers in local cinema, meaning they string along as a cast of an ensemble to pad the story even if it’s not necessary

Pitch: an openly swishy gay man turns discreetly closeted, but not really, when he enters the military in order to represent his father and continue their heroic (read patriarchal) family lineage in combat

Catch: I sincerely hope the makers of this movie know that Goldie Hawn has a Private Benjamin film in the ’80s. If this is where they got the title, they need to buy a new pair of things needed in this industry, namely creativity and imagination.

I don’t know why I wasted my time watching this film. Maybe it’s out of curiosity. I like Vice Ganda’s humor which I saw on film for the first time in the PETRANG KABAYO remake. I found that totally funny even if it was ludicrous. But somehow, this time, this film doesn’t do it for me.

Sure, it’s a comedy not to be taken seriously, but lately, Philippine cinema doesn’t know how to do funny comedies anymore. They’re all crass, pander to the lowest of the low, full of cheap thrills for a few laughs. In short, we’ve lost the intelligent kinds of comedies. And I don’t mean lowbrow; what I mean is comedy that really makes us laugh because the humor is in the situation, and it’s not even pure slapstick. Something like that.

Sadly, this BENJAMIN film doesn’t cut it for me. Aside from having such a silly plot (simple doesn’t mean silly; this here is just plain pffft) of having the country under the rule of rebels who want to kill the top generals of the land that every misfit imaginable in crass cinema fare (don’t even get me started on characterizations) had to be drafted, the film carried very outdated views on being gay. Of course they milked this for whatever it’s worth, using it as a major plot device to heighten the dramatic irony of the plot, but it’s also dangerous because they’re propagating homophobia once again. I mean sure, the gay guy saves the day in the end, but to reflect deeper, quieter realities that discriminate against gay guys is just the pits.

What I’m talking about here is the fact that, in the end, the gay guy’s love interest — a hunky straight man (Derek Ramsay) — reveals that he has a girlfriend, and that girlfriend looks a lot like Benjamin (actually, it’s Vice dressed as a woman playing a woman). When Benjamin asked why his captain chose to be with this woman which looked like him instead of just choosing him, the captain answered “Because she’s a woman!” So dahil may keps and boobs ang babae, kahit kamukha siya ng gay guy, doon na ang het guy. How progressive. Please lang. Stop spreading this shit that LGBTQs are doomed because, in the end, the people they fall in love with will eventually end up with straight people din naman. How irritating.

What’s also irritating is the fact that the pa-macho lesbian is being promoted here. Not all lesbians are like that. This is also a step backward but hell, the pa-macho lesbian was more accepted in the military than the pa-girl gay man. Can you spell patriarchy? Sumasakit bangs ko sa pelikulang ito, sa totoo lang.

Another disappointing thing in this film is perhaps the humor. I don’t know if Vice Ganda is already overexposed on television, but I find the style waning na in punch. Or maybe that’s just me. With the ticket sales skyrocketing, I guess there are more people who enjoy his brand of comedy now more than ever. But that’s also cool. Maybe this part is just me. But that’s also why I’m worried, because as popular as this film is becoming, so is the spreading of discriminatory plot lines about gays and lesbians. Hay naku bakit pa ba ako naninibago? But the thing is, I sincerely hope that filmmakers become more responsible next time. It’s just sad because maybe they also carry the same prejudices in their body. I just hope they keep it to themselves na lang.

Anyway, win some, lose some. While that was such a freaking time-waster for me, this next one was not.

IN TIME (2011)

d., s. Andrew Niccol

dop. Roger Deakins

Costume design. Colleen Atwood

c. Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried

Pitch: In the not-so-distant future, people need time stamped on their being as currency to stay alive and buy things, but what happens if one gets an overload of time, and one runs out of time?

Catch: Nothing!!!!!! This film is plain awesome! Why wasn’t it hyped up!

And this is why I love this film: THE TRUMAN SHOW, GATTACA, S1M0NE, THE TERMINAL, LORD OF WAR. The dude who directed this film wrote all of those earlier films, which I happen to like a lot, especially THE TRUMAN SHOW and GATTACA. Are you freaking kidding me! Whoever could think up of such set-ups is plain brilliant for me.

Gosh, opening sequence pa lang, I already love the concept — people stop aging at 25 years. Once it kicks in, they are time-stamped, literally, on their arm, to reflect how much time they have remaining on earth. Once they reach 25, they’re given one more year lang. Thus, they have to work on it, like hard labor or stuff, and they get paid in time (haha gives a whole new meaning to working time and a half and such!). So of course they also use time to pay for stuff, like “How much is a bus fare?” “Two hours.” And if you didn’t have that much time, you’re doomed. Galing!!!! To use time as currency like that! Sheer genius.

I am completely blown away by such concepts because I always like concepts that play around with time, especially messing with it hehe or toying with it like in time travels and such. Plus I also have a similar concept in development (er, for years now) which also tells of playing with time just like this film. Grabe, I should finish writing that concept na! Hehe.

Anyway, I also liked the idea that people run out of time, literally, and they die if they do. The there’s also that concept of having people — Big Brother types — control how much time a person could trade around, kinda like oligarchs of time, to which Seyfried’s character belongs: the rich and the elite. Then we have Timberlake’s proletariat working class character who lives in a second-to-second kind of existence, because having one whole day’s worth is actually a luxury. This is where the concept of “I don’t have time” kicks in, especially when it’s taken both literally and figuratively, especially when Timberlake’s character Will Salas says that he doesn’t have time to fall in love or have a girlfriend. Oo nga naman, you’re dying and you have a girlfriend pa — time waster! Haha! Wagi lang.

Anyway, the premise and act one is interesting enough, but then here’s the inciting moment that changes everything: Will helps a stranger in a bar and in return, the stranger gives him a century. Yes, you can live forever in this concept since if you have much time on your hands, er, arm pala, then you’re set for life. But it also makes you suspicious because people can give each other time and people can also steal time from each other (by locking wrists).  Grabe, take away one’s time, literal! Sobrang benta ang concept na ito!

And then it gets complicated as Will crosses specific time zones where you have to pay for each boundary you cross, kind of like economic zones in a way, since you need more currency to pass through each one, the higher the zone, the higher the pay. So his goal is to reach the top zone where the rich people are (to discover how to redistribute the wealth–or time–which the stranger said the oligarchs are controlling), and one girl, Sylvia (Seyfried) notices it, also some of the workers in this rich zone. How could they tell that he doesn’t belong there? Because he moves too fast, always rushing as if he’s running out of time (which he is, in his lower class existence experience). But these rich people have lots and lots and lots of time on their hands, so they have time to take things slow, move slower, stuff like that. Wagi lang sa concept, teh!!! I tell you, I was so engrossed in this film’s details that I forgot to eat my obligatory chichirya hehehe. Yes, that’s how good this film is!

What I like about a film that has some sci-fi bent is the fact that it could tackle philosophical things like this on a practical basis. You know, without being highfalutin about concepts that make us stop and ponder or without being too melodramatic or cliche in approach (or appear as being “pa-profound” and hence “pa-deep”), such as having time, wasting time, and other more complicated things. And yes, being existential without being pa-profound lang. You know what I mean. S1M0NE revolved around manufactured existence, THE TRUMAN SHOW revolved around manipulated existence, THE TERMINAL revolved around an interrupted existence, and GATTACA revolved around a borrowed existence, and then IN TIME is about making one’s existence meaningful and relevant before time goes out. I mean my gosh, Niccol, can I sit down with you and have coffee while we chat about these things!!! Seriously!!! I am happy you exist! You are my man right now, my cinematic man. I can’t wait to discover what you’re going to write and film next. Grabe lang!

Anyway, enough fan girl mode-ing. I’ve never been excited about a film’s concept in a looooong time, so I have to celebrate these things in my own little cinematic way. What the hey. I hope they put this film back when the current (over)run of that film with that unsmiling girl with the sparkling undead boyfriend is over. I hope that’s tomorrow. Skipping that one! But please don’t miss this one. It’s really worth your time, I kid you not.

Go!

Awaaard si vakler dahil tegi sa logic

Posted in comedy film, digital film, indie films, Philippine Cinema, queer cinema on September 16, 2011 by leaflens

Or in short, here’s my review of the “independently-produced” movie still showing in commercial cinemas right now. Wagi in fairness sa longevity ha. Ikaw na, Remington! Chos.

ZOMBADINGS 1: PATAYIN SA SHOKOT SI REMINGTON (2011)

d. Jade Castro

p. Origin8

s. Raymond Lee, Michiko Yamamoto, Jade Castro

c. ayan read the poster obvious naman haller imbey ka

Pitch: A homophobic boy in Quezon province gets cursed to become gay when he grows up in a town where gays are being murdered and later turned into zombies until the boy-turned-teen’s curse gets lifted. Trust me, it’s really that convoluted.

Catch: It’s that convoluted. Did I already say that? It’s convoluted.

Yesterday, I accompanied one of my superfriends to watch a movie that has been running in cinemas since the end of last month even if I’ve already seen te film during the Cinemalaya closing last July. Not bad for a supposed independently-produced film, no? When I say “supposed,” it means the producers made this film outside the commercial mainstream studio systems that most — if not all — of them served at one point in their careers (or still currently serving it, actually, for some of them at least). I guess their sensibilities trickle down to the product they create, because it still reeks of commercial mainstream-ish fare. Let me elucidate.

The film is lost in its identity since it doesn’t know if it’s going to be campy or just a plain comedy. From what I discovered, the filmmaker said in a forum that they didn’t intend to make it camp. And this is where we hyperventilate. Kalurkey itey!

I don’t know if you trust the Wikipedia entry on it, but the first definition of camp there is “an aesthetic sensibility that regards something as appealing because of its bad taste and ironic value.”

Hmm may ganung factor? Maybe Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp” would help, as she wrote:

…the Camp sensibility is one that is alive in a double sense in which some things can be taken. But this is not the familiar split-level construction of a literal meaning, on the one hand, and a symbolic meaning, on the other. It is the difference, rather, between the thing as meaning something, anything, and the thing as pure artifice.”

Well, let’s just put it this way: Zombadings didn’t have that kind of camp sensibility to me because it felt more like it had a Star Cinema sensibility to it — a bad case of Star Cinema cookie-cutter formula pander-to-the-lowest-denominator type of comedy film which most of the time makes you want to slash your wrists because, even if it’s a comedy, IT AIN’T FUNNY. And since the director said nga in that forum that they just set out to do a comedy film, it gave me more shivers. As in. Chaka Khan ever.

Now why is a comedy film about gays being killed in a small town because they’re gay not funny? BECAUSE KILLING GAYS AREN’T FUNNY, PERIOD. (Or please educate yourself and read this article.) Regardless whether they get zapped by an out-of-this-world kinda-sci-fi-ish subplot of a thingamajig called the gaydar controlled by a macho man that would be later on revealed as a super-huge closeted homo, hmmm… perpetuating self-hatred, anyone? That’s project number one. Luz Valdez!

Project number two would be this: why is a comedy film about a straight guy cursed to be gay not funny? BECAUSE BEING GAY IS NOT A CURSE TO BE CURED FROM BY SHAMANS, DIVINITY EXPERTS, OR WHATNOT. We are gay because we are gay, people. And news flash, we love being gay, we’re proud to be gay, and we’re happy we’re gay — even if the rest of homophobic society isn’t happy for us. KEBS! We don’t mess with your life so don’t certainly mess with ours. Kajirita Jackson ha.

And why is a comedy film about a straight man turning effeminate gay not funny? BECAUSE NOT ALL GAYS ARE EFFEMINATE. There’s nothing wrong with the section of our populace who are effeminate, but the key word there is “section” meaning “not everyone” and hence do not generalize about us and most especially do not stereotype us as being just of one kind, as mainstream media has been doing for decades now. Like the rainbow flag we out and proudly wave during LGBTQ pride marches, we are a community of diverse people who come in all shapes and sizes, forms and content, so please, do not peg us to just merely one type and one type alone. Keribels?

Now the major major problem with this film is that we from the LGBTQ circles, those who know camp and could define it, who follow pop culture to a fault, who are academic/knowledgeable etc. etc. chenelyn boomboom (to quote my lesbian beki friend) about such issues regarding sexual orientation and gender identity or SOGI, we could very well distinguish if something is being literal or being symbolic, like what Sontag said. But if the film is not being camp, it surely will be taken on a mere literal level in the sense that the message people (who are not attuned to the issues and concerns surrounding the LGBTQ community) will get  is this: “See? [Parlor swishy] gays are doomed to die and become zombies because they’re a menace to society, so it’s good that this cursed-to-be-gay straight boy is being rescued by the girl of his dreams and his friends and family so he won’t be gay.” Of course I’m kidding about the being zombies part but what the hey, let’s just thrown it in na rin! For more!

Oh man. I don’t even know why this film was made the way it was made, given that I know the history of the producers and such, their backgrounds but most of all their own SOGI. Well yeah, I know, not all women are feminists and not all LGBTQs fight for equal rights but what they hey, they should have known better than to produce a film that not only reinforces general stereotypes about Filipino gays but also propagate such negative images of gays and gay behavior. And I haven’t even forgiven them for writing in the term “third sex” in the script, as uttered by one character. Yes, read about that specific rant here in my other article.

So is the film totally hopeless? I’d like to say so, but it really has its moments and it’s ironic that its moments are highlighted by non-gay scenes. It’s just purely hilarious whevener Eugene Domingo appears in the film as the grieving mother in rollerblades of the girl of Remington’s dreams. And I also like the way the latest gay lingo is incorporated there and propagated. Hey, I lurv the lingo! Read my articles about it here and here.

Hay naku. Anyway, there are still a gazillion things to say about this film but perhaps I will reserve my other thoughts for another time. For now, just relax and enjoy a movie — another movie, not this one.  And if ever they do take the title seriously, perhaps Zombadings 2 could be a better fare.

Taray lang ng lola mo.

Cinemalaya 2011: Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank

Posted in Cinemalaya, comedy film, digital film, films about filmmaking, indie films, Philippine film industry on August 9, 2011 by leaflens

Since I’m currently in the state of straddling the line between the poverty of creativity (poverty of creativity talaga!) of other people, I should add, and walking out of their spheres of influence (don’t wanna be affected/infected/deflected on) wala lang, let’s review this film. And maybe later, I’ll decode for you that cryptic opening haha.

But first, we go septic.

ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK

(THE WOMAN IN THE SEPTIC TANK)

d. Marlon Rivera

s. Chris Martinez

c. Eugene Domingo, Cai Cortez, JM de Guzman, Kean Cipriano

Pitch: Upper class Manila-based independent filmmakers plot out a film featuring poverty and urban squalor with the aim of joining prestigious film festivals abroad.

Catch: Inside jokes have limited humor for all.

I understand the hesitation of mainstream producers to create films and TV shows with the story and characters circling in the milieu of the media. They say that people who don’t work inside such industries, be it in the traditional or alternative media, won’t be able to relate to the problems, heartaches, headaches and victories that media-oriented people experience on a daily basis.

I disagree. Unless you make their story closer to “outsiders” in a way that they will be able to relate as an audience, then you’re fine. Take that Robert Redford-Michelle Pfeiffer 1996 starrer UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL where Pfeiffer started as a weather girl turned credible TV journalist and Redford was a veteran TV journalist helping her out. That one worked simply because their work was interwoven seamlessly with their personal lives. And we feel for them as they get promoted or if they get heartbroken. Add to that Celine Dion’s undying love song as theme “Because you loved me” (aminin, you like singing this sa videoke!) and voila! recipe for box-office ka-ching.

Now with SEPTIC TANK, I really, really, really love the concept of the film, simply because I myself share the same sentiment about filmmakers making films about poverty, urban squalor, dirty dingy crappy Manila, and all that garbage-in-yo’-face crap. In an earlier blog post/rant I posted about, oh, tagal na, maybe two-three years ago, I ranted about how such films have been cropping up like regularly since independent digitally shot full-length films revived the Filipino film industry last decade. Not that I’m not grateful, being from this industry, and being a cineaste. But sometimes, I want diversity. Yes, DIVERSITY.

And I guess that’s what the makers of SEPTIC TANK were also thinking. It’s basically a big critique of upper class independent filmmakers who use poverty as themes in their films simply because that image sells abroad, not because they want to make a statement about poverty in the Philippines, or not because they want to open up the people’s eyes to such issues in order for them to do something, to take action, to contribute to society, and all that advocacy pumping (in short, all the social realism stabs that our late greats were doing before, specifically our National Artists for Film Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal; and oh, how I miss them). But now, nada. Some films, sadly, are like that. And horror of all horrors, some filmmakers tend to think like that. And this is why the term “poverty porn films” cropped up in our existence within the last few years. And this is why I was also asked to speak about it as a guest in Jessica Soho’s GMA News TV channel 11 show Brigada last Monday, to discuss poverty porn. Sadly, since I was straddling nga that line with people suffering from the poverty of creativity hehe, I missed watching that segment. Oh well, somebody upload it online and tell me ha.

So anyway, in this film, we see an indie producer and filmmaker and a production assistant as they try to brainstorm a good poverty film concept and they poke fun at this poverty porn filmmaking “phenomenon” in all aspects — from the filmmakers having such shallow intentions (“Forget Cannes! Forget Venice! Pang-Oscars ito!”) to brainstorming the concept in coffee shops where they can go online with free wifi (“Gawin na lang kaya nating musical, set sa squatters area? Bago ‘yun!”) to casting indie-identified great thespians (“Gusto mo lang i-cast si Mercedes Cabral kasi crush mo ‘yun, e!” – Haha relate ako dito! Chos!) and of course poking fun at fellow indie filmmakers who have egos as big as the Payatas dumpsite because of their success in being poverty porn filmmakers (even poking fun at the entourage of such filmmakers, something that is so true talaga it really makes me roll my eyes).  So with all these, kudos to the filmmakers for showing us such things. Yes, in a way, it’s also being mean to such poverty porn films and filmmakers, but seriously, sometimes it’s *nice* to be mean ahehehe.

But after that, after the laughs, after the critique, what do you take home? Sadly, with SEPTIC TANK, nothing much, as well. And this is where it gets alienating for most, if not all, who have seen this and who do not inhabit this crazy yet wonderful world of media and filmmaking. It’s funny for me because I know the context, but if you don’t, then you’ll just get an unevenly paced comedy film where you will get hooked because Eugene Domingo is such a hoot here. If only for that, it’s a success but then again, the inside joke is not for everybody. And the film should have delivered a huge punchline after, the type that packs a wallop in terms of punctuating their statement about what it’s critiquing. Sadly, it didn’t.

But still, I recommend that you watch this. If you’re curious about how such indie filmmakers work — at least the pretentious upper class ones heheh — then watch this. And if only for Domingo, who won best actress for this role at the Cinemalaya awards night, just watch. I really like the way they reduced acting to three major categories, and the “TV Patrol category” is a hoot! Eugene, ikaw na! Basta, inside joke! Just watch this to see what I mean.

Then let’s discuss.

Isang bagsak: hagalpak, ligwak, wapak!

Posted in bioflick, book to film, comedy film, flashbacking, graphic novel/comics to film, Hollywood dream factory, Philippine Cinema on October 21, 2010 by leaflens

Or in short, here are a few movies I’ve seen in recent weeks. All in one go. Isang bagsak! May funny, may hindi, may ayos lang, merong swak. Pero all in all, iisa lang ang silbi nila sa akin — movies always save my life. In a manner of speaking. Ah basta!

Unahin natin ang may tatak-Academy Award, shall we? Well, at least the actor in the lead.

EAT PRAY LOVE

d. Ryan Murphy

story based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert

c. Julia Roberts

Pitch: New York writer gets fed up with romantic relationships and separates herself from the New World to go eat pasta and pizza in the Old World, meditate with one of the oldest  civilizations/religions of the world, and hies off to expat isle. Wala bitterocampo lang ang synopsis-writing ko kasi I haven’t been to Bali and Italy. India yes pero not to pray though nagpa-ayurvedic massage ako. Authentic!

Catch: Well, who do you see? I see Julia, not Elizabeth. Aye, there’s the rub.

If you will re-imagine this film to fit any of the other Julia movies, it might be an interesting mash-up.

Roll cam, shall we?

Seq. 1. Ext. By a beach in Bali. Sunset.

Julia stands in front of Javier Bardem who’s still ruggedly handsome even if he looks unkempt. Julia smiles her Julia-smile and speaks.

JULIA

I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to take me out to an island which an expat can buy but the locals can’t afford.

JAVIER

Ah mierda. Sorry, I thought you were Vicky. Or Cristina. Woody, what’s the next scene? I don’t like bitches. I mean beaches.

Seq. 2.   Ext. Streets of Italy. Morning.

Julia wanders around the narrow cobblestone streets on her first day in Italy, a few people scattered doing their businesses of the day. A dark-haired lean-looking Italian man in a scooter passes by and whistles at her.

ITALIAN MAN

Bella donna! (whistles) Kees meeh! Mwaaah!

Since Julia is still learning Italian, she frowns. She spots a huge-eyed blond woman also wandering around the streets following another woman, and stops her to ask.

JULIA

Uh, excuse me. You look like you’re American, so… W-what did that guy say to me, the one that whistled?

WOMAN

Oh, bella donna. Pretty woman. Kiss me. That’s what he said.

JULIA

Okay thanks. (to man) Not on the mouth! I don’t kiss on the mouth!

WOMAN

Hmp. Cinderfuckinrella.

JULIA

Excuse me, did you say something?

WOMAN

Nothing. I’m following that girl. Those that write letters. They seem to be sticking it to some wall of some building… addressed to someone named Juliet.

JULIA

Juliet? You mean Julia! I am Julia!

WOMAN

No, Juliet. Like Romeo and Juliet, duh.

JULIA

Wait, what set is this? We’re shooting Eat Pray Love, honey.

WOMAN

Excuse me, my name ain’t honey, it’s Amanda. We’re shooting Letters to Juliet here.

JULIA

Oh shut up and get your own street of Italy somewhere else, you tourist!

WOMAN

Oh shut up and do something else! This American-in-Italy shtick was already done, and in a better way, by Frances Mayes in Under The Tuscan Sun!

JULIA

Oh yeah? Well, I’m going to India!

Seq. 3. Int. Meditation place in India. Afternoon.

The hot afternoon wakes up Julia, who fell asleep during the group meditation. Richard from Texas who looks like James Taylor walks near her and nudges her.

JULIA

I… think I fell asleep.

RICHARD

Ya don’t say. Good thing you’re still neatly seated on that cushion on the floor despite dozing off. How’d you manage not to fall or tip over? Like ya got some sort of body balance thing or somethin’.

JULIA

They’re called boobs, Ed. I mean Richard from Texas who looks like James Taylor.

Okay iyan lang kaya ng powers ko hehe. Don’t let me go on. Aabot tayo hanggang MYSTIC PIZZA sige ka hehehe. At isasama ko ang STEEL MAGNOLIAS nakita mo.

And for local distributors, may suggestion ako. You could actually subtitle this as —

“Eat Pray Love”

Or, ano ba ang nais mo sa buhay, teh?

Okay end of review. Hehe.

Hay naku, ligwak. Wala, wala talaga akong napulot sa pelikulang ito. Siguro maganda ‘yung librong pinagbasehan. Makahanap nga sa Booksale.

Pero kebs dahil ito pa rin ang rerebyuhin namin bukas ng Biyernes sa aming CINE CHICHIRYA radio show. Listen to us. Live kami, via AM radio or streaming sa internet. Click here!

Buti pa sa isang pelikulang di ko inaakalang magugustuhan ko. May napulot akong isang golden nugget kahit di ko inaasahan.

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS

d. Oliver Stone

c. Michael Douglas, Shia Labeouf, Carey Mulligan

Pitch: Young dude who works in the stock exchange chorva gets his baptism of fire by interacting with his fiancee’s dad, the erstwhile Wall Street old dude. Oh man don’t talk to me about stock exchange and other economics/business/financial-related thingie because my eyes just glaze over, like I was zapped by a raygun. Pramis. Hence this synopsis.

Catch: I still don’t like that Labeouf dude. He can act better than Keanu pero ewan, may kulang e. Di ko shia bet.

Oliver still has that directorial touch. Imagine making me interested in a topic that usually makes my eyes glaze over.

Since this has been in the trailers rounds for like the longest time, I felt I had to watch it, just because. And since there was no good release the week I watched this, well, no choice.

But I’m glad I did. It was interesting. When I was in New York last March, the thought of stopping at the subway station marked “Wall Street” didn’t interest me as much as stopping at the subway station marked “Christopher Street” so I never really saw all those buildings and stuff, the subject and location of the old movie version of the same title but with Charlie Sheen in the lead with Douglas. And oh yeah, Sheen makes a cameo here. So did Oliver. Kakaiba ang mga boylet na ito, ‘no?

I still think this Shia guy is not all that, since he seems to be taking over a lot of good second-lead roles in Hollywood lately. My first protest was his being in the latest version of Spielberg’s classic INDIANA JONES line, where he seems to be channeling the coolness of an earlier second-lead young actor in an earlier Indiana Jones film named River Phoenix. He doesn’t compare. Hay, I miss River and his films during the ’80s tuloy. Now that’s real talent.

Siya, ilang saglit ng katahimikan. Magbigay-pugay sa maagang namatay…

That’s me in front of Johnny Depp’s club where River dropped dead from a drug overdose years ago.  (April 2010, along Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. Photo taken by my friend Hazel)

So imagine the agony in this film. But fresh out of AN EDUCATION is Carey Mulligan, who sports this really trendy bob cut, and don’t be surprised if my hair looks like that like tomorrow, okay? She just looks nice here. And yes, it was her character’s nagkaroon-ng-lamat relasyon with Shia’s character that produced that golden nugget I was telling you about. It just blew me away when, habang mega-crayola siya sa harap ng jowa, she said:

CAREY

We’re supposed to make each other feel safe. If not, what’s the point?

Sabay alis at hiwalay na sila ng jowa.

Can you say WAPAK!!!

Kill me now!!!!! *saksak sa puso* Hanep, right? But that illuminated the whole month of September for me, something EAT PRAY LOVE didn’t do. Hmp.

Wala, ‘yan lang ang review hehe.

Tawa naman diyan.

PETRANG KABAYO

d. Wenn Deramas

p. Viva Films

c. Vice Ganda

Pitch: Isang baklitang batang inampon ng hacienderang may kabayuhan ang lumaki bilang malditang baklita kaya pinarusahan siya ng diyosa ng mga kabayo para turuan ng leksiyon sa paggalang sa kapwa at pagmamahal nang tunay. Echos.

Catch: Kung wala si Vice Ganda dito, bagsak ito!

Vice Ganda, the host/judge of the near-noontime show Showtime on ABS-CBN, brings his stand-up comedy bar-sharpened wit and punchlines to make this sorry excuse of a remake of a very funny ’80s film come to life. If not, dead on arrival na ito sa first day-last day moda sa takilya.

As usual, the characters are based on the story originated by legendary comics writer Pablo S. Gomez, so you know it’s good. Well, at least the origins siguro. Or maybe it was the way this film was directed. The film really didn’t have clear-cut direction and it again harks back to the old days of ’80s pastiche and kitsch, sans the good storyline aided by the presence of Roderick Paulate. Na-miss ko naman bigla ang Tonight with Dick and Carmi days anubeh.

Pero winner lang ang lines ni Petra aka Vice. Puma-punchline, all the time.

Ama: Anak, patawarin mo ako.

Petra: Tawad? Sa palengke na lang uso ang tawad!

*

Julalay: Ser, ipapasok ko na ho ba itong mga papeles sa loob?

Petra: Hindi, ipapasok mo sila sa labas! Kaya nga ipapasok e, o, sa loob kasi. Sige nga, lumabas ka, at subukan mong ipasok sa labas!

*

Secretary: Sir, gusto niyo ng coffee?

Petra: Sige…

Secretary: Black coffee po?

Petra: Blue, kaya mo? Sige nga!

Actually marami pa ‘yan hehe. I don’t know why pero benta siya sa akin hahaha! Kasi siguro bakla rin akong may caustic wit. May ganung factor.

I’m mostly paraphrasing some but you get the drift hehe. Makes me think that the scriptwriter actually just wrote the lines of the other actors and then Vice’s dialogue lines are left blank para makapagsaksak siya ng sarili niyang brand ng witty but sarcastic retorts. Hm interactive scriptwriting kung ganun! Puwedeh!

Well other than that, I like the animation inserts of the comedic horse. And then I don’t like the way the discussion of Petra’s father hurting him because of his homosexuality was just dropped during the latter half of the film. Walang closure ang mga plot points at cause and effect chains here. Wala, deus ex machina lang karamihan. Na naitatawid ng punchlines nga. What did you expect?

Oh well. Siya sige, isa na lang.

For the tanderrifics!

RED

d.Robert Schwentke

story based on the DC Comics graphic novels

c. Bruce Willis, Mary Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman

Pitch: Retired extremely dangerous (hence RED) kinda oldish agents get roused from their quiet retirement when they become the targets of their seemingly old company (the CIA) under the covert bidding of a high government official.

Catch: Wala, cute siya. You know what to expect and it’s delivered to you, neatly packed in a sealed container.

It’s nice that they’re tapping more graphic novels and turning them into films. Even the not-so-popular titles I’ve picked up over the years in some book sales have good stories naman. E siyempre pina-sosyal lang naman na komiks ang graphic novels. Kinda like the old days of komiks in the Philippines during the ’80s where we all grew up reading them and, for some of the more imaginative and enthusiastic of us, devouring them. Ayus.

Dito, I like the way my favorite actors seem to gather together in a cool project that is reachable to audiences of today, whether young or old alike. Imagine Helen Mirren firing high-powered weapons while elegantly wearing a white dress. Sankapa!

Lavet, lola!

That made my night. Or John Malkovich in a rather one-dimensional but funny portrayal pa rin of a kinda-neurotic ex-agent, in contrast with the dapper gentleman agent of Morgan Freeman. Panalo ang casting. At hindi kailangan ng extra doses of testosterone to pull it off. Ahem, cough cough, EXPENDABLES ba kamo? Cough cough. But I digress.

And then there’s Mary-Louise Parker, a fixture of films of my youth since, discreetly, the films she has been in were touching upon–if not glossing over–some sapphic themes.

Like haller FRIED GREEN TOMATOES? Talagang nawala ang lesbianic subplot sa movie version ng book noh.

Or BOYS ON THE SIDE na siya pala ang kras ng tibamchi character ni Whoopi Goldberg. O devah sumubplot talaga ang ateh sa review na ito hehe. Wala lang. She’s just hovering over Hollywood, in TV and films, and I’m glad she’s surviving. Para lang may nag-iba sa fez ng lola mo now. Di ko mawari. Nose job? Pa-banat? Parang di nag-age, e. Oh well, good for her.

Maganda rin naman ang role niya dito. A necessary plot device to get the film going, which is typical of any male-female conflict-driven plot. The not-so-complicated espionage story was handled with a breeze by the director, who also directed THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE pala, and Jodie Foster my love’s FLIGHT PLAN. Puwedeh.

*

O siya, hanggang diyan na lang muna at magandang gabi. Hanggang sa susunod na sine. Kapag kaya na ulit ng powers.

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