Archive for the queer cinema Category

Queering the #Oscars2015 show

Posted in Oscars, POC Pinoy LGBT channel, queer cinema, queer issues in film on March 16, 2015 by leaflens

I don’t know about you but I wasn’t so happy with the Academy Awards this year. Aside from Neil Patrick Harris having some lame-o jokes na kailangan pang i-explain, the whole show did away with some of the add-ons that make the Oscars the Oscars in previous years. Like for instance, each award should have some good introductory number kyeme aside from the humorless humor intro spiels of presentors. Previous years had special numbers or features inserted in the categories to explain their nature. But yeah, alas, alam ko kokonti lang kaming mga adik sa Academy Awards ang makaka-getlak nitey.

Heniweys hemingway, that’s not the reason for this post. This is: my article post-Oscars on why we queers should kinda care about these things.

Here’s an excerpt:

Queering the Oscars: Why we should kinda care

And this is why we look at seemingly “shallow” avenues like cinema or the Oscars: because when these Hollywood dream factory-makers make films about LGBTs, we have to know how they craft such stories. Because those of us who will be consuming such products will digest these stories about us, infusing our own dreams with images that might scare us or strengthen us. Do we want to be frightened or do we want to be enlightened? What is the price of entertainment? The yearly Oscars race might be but one of the many races we could see the likes of us represented or neglected. But film’s popularity as a mass medium is very potent for spreading truths and lies about us, and cementing those truths or lies with awards will always be our concern – in any given field.”

To read the whole article, click here. I wrote the article as part of my monthly contributions for the Philippine Online Chronicles’ Pinoy LGBT section.

Needless to say, I was also underwhelmed by the wins and the nominated films. Wanted to do a lot of reviews but I didn’t feel like it na after watching the show. Oh well papel, maybe someday let’s see…

In the meantime, just relax and watch a movie na lang ulit tayo k. K.

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Queering the historic universe

Posted in bioflick, book to film, drama film, Oscars, queer cinema, queer issues in film, women's issues in film on February 23, 2015 by leaflens

Oscars 2015 rush started with this film for me. So here are a few thoughts. Queers, listen up!

imitation gameTHE IMITATION GAME

d. Morten Tyldum

s. Graham Moore from the book by Andrew Hodges

c. Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley

Pitch: A glimpse into the life of Alan Turing whom we might be neglecting as the dude who is credited for the creation of the basis of our modern-day computers. And yes, he is gay. 

Catch: You see the strengths and the weaknesses as you watch the film unfold. But you tend to overlook this unevenness because it has an engaging story.

As I wait for the actual Oscars 2015 live telecast as I write this, thought I’d jot down a few notes here about the films that I was actually catch and somehow moved me, in a way. This is one of them.

I know of Alan Turing from a few years back when I was searching for queer-identified people in history. Glad to learn that the modern day computer is somehow directly due to his work. But he is more known for being the genius code-breaker during the war against the Nazis, and he was a great asset of the UK during that time because of decoding how the Nazi communication machine worked. Until, of course, they slapped him with an indecency case, all because he was gay.

Yes, folks, in a first-world country such as the UK, abominations such as this happened. Gays were persecuted, and in Alan’s case, he was made to choose between serving time in prison, and taking hormonal therapy drugs to “alleviate his homosexual disease.” This was, of course, the 1950s, and no civil rights movements connected to sexuality was happening yet. Too bad Alan didn’t live to see this happen during the next decade, as he took his own life before the 1960s happened.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, sorry.  On to the film muna. Yes, this was indeed a moving film, queerness aside. The film chronicles Alan’s life during the time his neighbor reported a robbery in his home. Turns out to be a “booking gone wrong pala.” Yes, my dears, dahil kloseta nga ang lola mo, may-I-booking siya ng boys sa balur niya, or else tegi nga siya. But this one booking stole from his house kaya doon nagsimula ang gulo for him. When he didn’t want to press charges, a police dude got suspicious and decided to dig deeper, even searching for Alan’s wartime records na classified or absent for public consumption. So of course they picked him up and it was during the interrogation scene where the police learned of Alan’s great contribution to humanity. So the film used this sandwich-type of narrative wherein you split the present and they flashback to the past to tell the meaty palaman of the film, and then go back to the present to wrap up the sandwich.

The palaman is, of course, the meatier side of the story. This is where we learn of Alan’s journey from being a Cambridge professor up until his wartime recruitment nga. He belonged to an elite handful of cryptologists with just one job: to decode the Nazi Enigma machine so the allied forces could read the encrypted messages/communication of the Nazis. What a job eh?

As is the case with uber-brilliant people, they are, of course, anti-social. This didn’t bode well for our no-nonsense hero, who had to be tutored to have social graces by another genius woman — Joan Clarke, played brilliantly by Keira Knightley. It was surprisingly refreshing, finally, to have a woman acknowledged for her brains and not merely her beauty or her reproductive system. I like the character of this Ms. Clarke girl who became an unofficial but crucial part of Alan’s team later on. Of course we see the gender bias at the beginning, when Alan wanted to recruit more people and tested them via a timed crossword puzzle. That was really intellectually cute. And the men in charge couldn’t believe that a woman could have done such a feat. Kainis lang of course. Pero mas kainis yung muntik na niyang talikuran ang job just because as a woman, she is expected to stay home with her parents, find a husband, and have a baby. Hay, reproductive system function, oo. But it’s also so cute how Alan was able to “persuade” her to join the team. Ewan ko ba, basta ang daming intellectually cute moments ng film na ito hehe watch it to understand what I mean.

imitation keira

I am woman, hear me code! Sabi ni lola Keira hehe. Talagang behind a great queer man is a het girl. Historical fag hag lang ang peg lolz. I kid, I kid! Love you Keira!

 

The strength of the film is its pulse: the way it ticked and took us rhythmically from scene to scene, which is the good work of an alert director and a good editor making a tight script come to life. I just wished the cinematography was at par with these other aspects, but you can’t win ’em all, I guess. But this is a good enough combo for me: script-directing-editing. This film pulsed these so well, kaya feel mo yung edge-of-the-seat excitement as to how they’re scrambling for time and going against odds to have Alan’s decoding machine — nicknamed Christopher — work in time before snooty authorities pulled the plug. Of course the excellent acting of the cast worked well with these aspects of filmmaking kaya more edge sa seat ang peg teh! Lalo na when Christopher finally worked. And then another dilemma begins. Kaya tiri-tirintas na ang development ng drama na talagang hihilahin ang interes mo until it ended.

And then, within the flashback, we have another set of flashbacks concerning Alan’s childhood, especially his boarding school days where he was bullied in an all-boys school. And we see his only friend there named Christopher, who introduced him to a book of cryptology of sorts. Siyempre doon na-formulate ang queerness ni koya and we see that, but we also see his heart being broken there, because of what happened to Christopher. Kaya ang love of his life ay ginawa na lang niyang prototype ng modern-day computer natin. Kalerks, this.

This film will really break your heart several times, especially if you’re queer and you see all this happening just because he’s queer. But I didn’t like the way his queerness was inserted here in the beginning. Like we didn’t really see any hint of it except when he confessed later on that he is homosexual — first to his co-worker who turned out to be a double-agent/spy (so of course his homosexuality was used against him by this dude as blackmail material) and second to Ms. Clarke whom he was trying to “save” (i.e. pinapauwi ng parentals dahil single pa siya at malayo ang work daw) by offering her marriage. Nagtapatan naman sila na bekiloublanco si koya at tanggap ni ati yun, at hanggang fiance mode lang naman sila para lang manatili sa work si ati. Kaya lang, yun nga, this was all in talk. Walang masyadong scenes to show this, na sana they humanized Alan more in a way. But I guess they didn’t want to show that, or they didn’t find enough historical evidence to portray him as such. But this is also where you’ll see why Keira was nominated for a best supporting actress award: that turning point of confrontation nila ni Alan, when he was saying na he didn’t care for her at all, basta kasama lang siya sa work and all. That sampal and that pagpipigil ng another sampal and that look and that body language ni Keira at that moment, galing! It reminded me actually of another turning point scene ng isang Academy Award winner: si lola Kate Winslet during her courtroom scene sa THE READER when she was being questioned for her role during the Nazi occupation. Yung moment na hinampas niya yung mesa sa frustration in defending herself, galing!!! parang similar in effect sa aking yung two scenes na ito ng mga aleng ito na kras ko hehe. Winner kayo mga darling, ever.

Tapos nung bumalik na nga ang film sa present ulit, to wrap it up, we see Alan being slapped nga with the indecency case, turning into a recluse while on therapy drugs, and being visited  by Ms. Clarke. Good to see they remained friends naman pala, and that’s where they concluded the film, with notes saying na Alan took his own life chenes nga, but never forget that your computers today are the result of Turing Machines before. So there.

Yes, homophobes, a gay man's invention led to your modern day computer. Kung wala siya, wala 'yan.

Yes, homophobes, a gay man’s invention led to your modern day computer. Kung wala siya, wala ‘yan.

Hay, lungkot.  Nakakatuwa na finally, lumabas din ang buhay niya sa film nang ganito. Maganda naman ang portrayal and all. It’s another good notch to add to queer history, cinematic or not, basta history natin. We need to see more of our lives out there, see how we were treated, and see what we contributed to the world anyway even if we were being (mis)judged. Maybe this is indeed a reminder nga for us to not take our “queer freedoms” for granted today, but it’s also a reminder to celebrate them because somehow, we have (some of) them freedoms nga, in a way, which Alan never did.

Anyway watch watch watch. Happy siya, in a sad sorta way. Basta! Sana manalo ito ng award later. Fingers crossed.

 

[All photos swiped from the internet. Thanks to those who uploaded them.]

MMFF 2013: The queer overview

Posted in film festival, MMFF, Philippine Cinema, POC Pinoy LGBT channel, queer cinema, queer issues in film on December 31, 2013 by leaflens

Each year, I try to do a summary of the MMFF films and see how the LGBTQ community was mentioned, referred, treated or depicted in these films. It’s part of my duty as a contributing writer for the Pinoy LGBT channel of Phil. Online Chronicles.

This year, it’s quite amusing to note that there is one film with a very vocal queer component and of course there are openly out queer actors who are playing roles in some of these films. I’ve already said my piece about GIRL BOY BAKLA TOMBOY but I still mention it a bit in this summary. So I looked closely at the other films that mattered in this context, namely BOY GOLDEN, KIMMY DORA and PAGPAG.

I also included a bit of MY LITTLE BOSSINGS but I found that I should do a whole article about that, especially since Aiza Seguerra won an award for her role there. As to why it merits its own article, just read it here.

An excerpt of the queer overview:

mmff2013B_entriesSa taunang ritwal na nakasanayan na ng karamihan sa mga Pilipino tuwing panahon ng Pasko, muli na naman tayong makikisilip sa Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) para tingnan kung paano isinabuhay ang mga buhay-buhay ng ilang miyembro ng LGBTQ community sa pinilakang tabing. Dito din natin nasisilip kung paano tayo tinatrato o isinasaalang-alang ng mga manggagawa ng pelikulang Pilipino, kung ang trato ba ay makatao, katatawanan lamang o may konting progresibong pagbabagong nasisilip.

Read the rest of the article here.

Let this be your guide. Happy viewing!

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!

Have a gay day the “indie film” way yey!

Posted in children-young adult content, Cine Filipino, digital film, indie films, Philippine Cinema, queer cinema, queer issues in film, women's issues in film on September 26, 2013 by leaflens

September was a happy time for new film releases that are not made under the auspices of film production companies that either mangle brilliant scripts by letting them “be critiqued” by their lupon of creative consultants or don’t touch inanely written “template films” (read: nagawa mo na ‘yan last year direk and the year before and the year before…) by writer-directors who think they’re god’s gift to Philippine Cinema (I don’t know which god, though. Lucifer? God ba siya? Bad angel pala. Basta, kung sinuman boss niya, ‘yun.).

The first thing I’m talking about is this:

allmasters

The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) had a fest called Sineng Pambansa National Film Festival All Masters Edition where our living legends were given the greenlight to make films they wanted with concepts they believed in. I just wish these films could have ran longer since people had to catch different screening times and it’s difficult to sync that with one’s life. So I’m reviewing one film from that batch muna for now.

The second thing I’m talking about is this:

cine filipino

Yet another digital film festival grant-giving venture, this time from PLDT Smart Foundation and Unitel, a.k.a. Mr. Manny Pangilinan dude. Again, I wish they didn’t just screen for a week in select theaters where you will make habol the screening times again which, again, is hard to sync with one’s life. Just saying, hey. And I’m reviewing one film from that batch here din.

Queer focus for now.

lihisposterLIHIS (2013)

d. Joel Lamangan

s. Ricky Lee

dop. Mo Zee

c. Jake Cuenca, Joem Bascon, Lovi Poe, Isabelle Daza, Gloria Diaz

Pitch: Two male members of the New People’s Army (NPA) reinterpret norms and ideals by fighting for the country’s democracy while maintaining a sexual-romantic relationship. Gives new color to the chant “Maki-beki! ‘Wag ma-shokot!” we sometimes shout during pride marches hmm.

Catch: Not enough alindog shots of Lovi Poe my lust. I’m a lesbian eh — wrong market Jake and Joem! Just saying lol.

What I like about this film is the pumping scene. Scenes pala, plural. Malilibog ang mga neps na ‘to, pare. As in teh, wala pang 5 minutes into the film/exposition/Act I, may mega-pumping nang nagaganap sa dalawang boylet na matapang! You never know what happens in them boondocks, now, do you? Now we kinda do. Kidding.

What I really like about this film is that there’s some kind of tightness in the way the material was handled — well, overall, maybe, but there are a few kinks here and there, of course. The story is tight enough to stand, tight enough for the premise to be believable — that there could indeed be two “ordinary-looking” men with communist ideals and guns to have strong desires for each other. It was also presented in a matter-of-fact way, like the way other storylines could be presented — that hey, there’s this rebel dude and there’s this rebel guy and they want to fight for the country side by side while loving each other. Indeed, the treatment of the relationship was tender and loving, and none of that “I’m not gay” disclaimer shiz that was present in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN before. In here, the gayness need not be spelled out by the people who have homosexual desires  because they were obviously comfortable in their skins about their sexualities. In short, hindi issue sa kanila ang pagiging beki, teh. Mas isyu pa ‘yung baka matagpuan ng kalaban at mabaril sa engkuwentro.

Pagtapos ng barilan, espadahan naman! Yehessss LOL. Salamat sa mabait na nilalang na gumawa ng montage na ito. Pahiram ha.

Pagtapos ng barilan, espadahan naman! Yehessss LOL. Salamat sa mabait na nilalang na gumawa ng montage na ito. Pahiram ha.

But the heterosexual girl had an issue about the homosexuality, and this is where the first story kink comes in. Lovi Poe as that strong female NPA character had quite a few undeveloped angst storylines that got carried over in the adult version of her (read: When Lovi Poe grows up, she becomes Gloria Diaz pala. Puwede na rin; same kalidad ng alindog, once upon a time.) particularly her angst about “finding out” if her NPA crushie-turned-hubby (Joem’s NPA writer-intellectual character) is indeed gay or at least bi, and then having a fuss about it later in life. There were times when it seemed that her character was clueless about the relationship but then later on, it was also revealed that she knew about it in the first place. So why harbor the gay hate attitude later on, girl? That was kinda confusing for me, man. In the end, i just chalked it up to the character being proud, as in “nakukuha ko ang lahat ng gusto ko” kind of proud — including getting the man she desires, the gay man she desires pala. Ewan, labo ni ateh.

And then there’s another issue of having a kind of “cover-up” in the death of the two gay rebels. Her older version seemed to have some angst about people not knowing the real score about how the two died, or her doing a cover-up of the real story and shiz. This was tied up to her older version’s grown-up daughter’s (Isabelle Daza) quest of finding the real facts about what happened to that seemingly buried history of a massacre in a small town — the town where the two gay rebels supposedly died, and no one supposedly survived save for this kid who grew up and got stuck in a mental institution. Uh, yeah, if I lost you, sorry I got lost, too. These are the other kinks that needed to be ironed out in the film because I think it’s predominantly the gay storyline that got brainstormed better than the rest.

And yes, why wouldn’t it? It’s a quaint and novel premise that’s not seen in many popular culture forms. Gay NPAs, sankapa teh! That in itself sells the story without effort. Then pepper it with bits and pieces of historical situations then (Marcos era) and now (Noynoy era), and you got a political film, easy. And then show many pumping scenes and kilitian moments between the two handsome gay dues and weh, umupo ka na lang and let the film sell like beefcakes er hotcakes pala. Appeal to prurient interests? Check! Appeal to lovey-dovey marriage equality romantics? Check! Ma-appeal na leading men kissing each other? Check! Pasok sa banga na lahat. And never mind na lang if the pretty Miss Universe-looking (or former Miss Universe title holder) women are also in this film. I guess they’re the eye candy naman for the straights and the lezzies. And I admire them three women because they also gave good acting performances here, sans being framed in a maalindog way (which I still protest BTW but hey…).

Kinilig naman ako sa eksenang ito ng lambutchingan mode. Pero kelangan talagang naka-topless si Jake? Sige na nga...

Kinilig naman ako sa eksenang ito ng lambutchingan mode. Pero kelangan talagang naka-topless si Jake? Sige na nga…

Overall, it’s still a good quality queer film. The lighting was okay naman (except for my eternal angst about blue/uber-liwanag lighting in night scenes in Philippine cinema, but that’s another discourse) and the editing was also good. The directing is surprisingly good as well. Direk Joel is kind of a hit-and-miss director for me, depending on the material he’s handling. But this was surprisingly okay. Ricky’s script was also okay in his ang-bawa’t-karakter-ay-may-bubog kind of way (yet another discourse, saka na lang) which works well here, save for the kinks I mentioned na nga.

If this gets shown somewhere else, it’s still worth catching. So go catch.

*

chacha2ANG HULING CHA-CHA NI ANITA (2013)

d., s. Sigrid Bernardo

dop. Alma Dela Pena

c. Angel Aquino, Teri Malvar and a bunch of talented actors of all ages

Pitch: Tween girl from the province falls in crush with a returning pretty kababayan who has her own secrets to unravel.

Catch: A few kinks in the way some subplots introduced are ended or woven in the main narrative but we overlook it because Angel Aquino is so pretty to look at. Yes we’re biased that way, hey.

What I like about this film is that Angel Aquino is very pretty to look at. In a non-male gaze kind of way. Meaning I am a lesbian and I could look at the film and the shot makes me desire her. If you’re a man and you’re straight then you will also obviously lust after her because that is the default mode of the male gaze. If you’re gay and you like pretty things then you will like the way she was shot because she looked pretty. And if you’re a straight woman then you’ll probably look at her and wonder how she does her hair because it’s so pretty and you want yours to be that pretty, too. All angles — or gazes — covered pare, sankapa hihi. But of course there’s a good motivation behind the perspective, and it’s largely hinged at the main story it’s telling: the teen girl Anita’s developing crush on the prettiest girl in their town. So yes, the way she was shot, it works! Kudos to Alma for this. Plus the overall cinematography na rin, while we’re at it.

Alindog, thy name is Angel. Mas sexy if may itak, bow. LOL

Alindog, thy name is Angel. Mas sexy if may itak, bow. LOL

And I’m glad to see that their tandem is still alive, Alma and Sigrid. Together, they work well cinematically and it shows.  Sigrid’s handling of her own material is also good because it shows that she cares as a director how the scenes should come alive. This is evident in the way the children’s scenes were shot. Anita has two best friends and their barkada trio is a hoot to watch. Although sometimes, having written children’s narratives and directed children’s TV shows, I somehow lose my grip on my disbelief that these kids are real kids. I mean sure, we have bibo kids and we have bibo wunderkinds (like TV’s Ryzza Mae), but some of the dialogues of the kids are too bibo to be true for me. It’s one thing to keep it real in a bibo way, but it’s another to overdo it na kasi. Some are overdone in my opinion, but it’s still a small kink that could get shrugged off anyway.

The main narrative is okay naman. The main story is framed by the present time where we see Anita as a drill sergeant ba or something, basta someone who commands a platoon inside a military base or camp. A package of her mother’s main source of business, the tahong chips (Aha! Tahong talaga ha! I see what ya did there, ya dykes lol!) catapults the whole film into flashback mode to introduce us to Anita during her childhood, back when she was merely a typical teen rebel who misses her dead soldier father so much until she smartened up to win the attention of the love of her little life, Pilar. The whole film’s journey is hinged at the unraveling of why Pilar came back (supposedly to start over a life with an ex-bf who turns out to be Anita’s uncle) and what she does in the meantime (a former OFW physical therapist turned local hilot/massage person) and what she does towards the end of her own narrative (revealing plot dump after plot dump regarding her supposed pregnancy-cum-abortion or her supposed “skills” to “abort” and her main reason for leaving — which was being pregnant and surprise surprise kung sino pala ang nakajontis kay ati and such). Her narrative becomes a bit convoluted and confusing towards the end, which wasn’t helped very much by the dream-like interpretation of the ending sequence with the grown-up Anita coming back and passing by Pilar’s now-abandoned house (of course the cinematic clues lead us to conclude our own conclusions, mainly choosing whether Pilar left or died or whatnot, meaning kayo na bahala kung ano ang nais niyong kinahinatnan ng byuti ni Angel ditey).

So Pilar’s journey is being unraveled together with Anita’s own narrative about having a crush on her and making things work in order to get her little objectives met (mainly to earn enough money to afford a full body massage from Pilar and changing the way she looks to be more impressive). So in this part, we see this Ang Pagbibinata Ni Anita mode which was a happy development in the beginning since the discussion of sexuality was, once again, presented in a matter-of-fact way, meaning it’s okay to Anita and her friends and family that she is developing a crush on another woman. In short, hindi na naman isyu ang pagiging biyaning ni ati. Mas isyu pa ‘yung dapat makasali siya sa sagala at makasama sa pamilya niya sa kanilang yearly visit sa sayaw sa Obando thingie sa Bulacan, their province.

Ang Pagbibinata Ni Anita-batumbakal na taga-frisco. Charut! Kung may kapitbahay din ba akong ganyang kaganda eh di sana mas maaga tayong namulat sa katotohanan ng life, aney? LOL.

Ang Pagbibinata Ni Anita-batumbakal na taga-frisco. Charut! Kung may kapitbahay din ba akong ganyang kaganda eh di sana mas maaga tayong namulat sa katotohanan ng life, aney? But no. LOL.

And that treatment of queerness is what’s formidable in this material. I like the way that the film treats being a lesbian here, that’s it’s a non-issue — which is how it should be treated in real life anyway, hey. And this is what gives the film heart: to see Anita struggling with her crush, trying to court Anita in her own innocent adolescent way (culminating to a funny scene where she tries to pedal the bike where Pilar was riding in its sidecar — hilarous!) and trying to balance her crush and her family/friend “duties” and such. I could see why this kid won the best actress award for this festival since her portrayal is so real and honest, probably a refreshing thing on the big screen lately, huh. So never mind if she knocked out the Superstar in this category. Give chance to others, as we usually say when we played during our youth. Devah?

I just wish that the film was tightened more in terms of its other elements. Like the element of the dance and the cha-cha. While they were running motifs in the film, sometimes they pop out from out of nowhere just to be in that sequence, you know what I’m saying? Like that cha-cha scene in the market as Anita passes by to collect money for her mom’s business, and then she imagines Pilar appearing there and dancing with her. The other dance scenes were okay, like the one in the beginning where two secret lovers were canoodling with each other or even the way Anita’s mother was trying to exercise via dancing. But I’m still trying to figure out the main symbolism of the Obando dance since, in our culture, this is where you go to dance so that the heavens will grant you a child. I’m not sure why Pilar was spotted there towards the end or what’s the meaning of little Anita’s participation in this fertility dance fiesta. But if it’s in the general category of “dance-ask and you shall receive” then okay, I buy that, but what exactly did Anita want to achieve or ask for? As an adult, we see her commanding an army platoon in the beginning and in the end we see her reminiscing about Pilar which culminates into a dream-like sequence nga of adult Anita kissing Pilar (or at least a whiff of her image, an imagined image perhaps).  Is that what’s being asked — an imagined kiss, an imagined closure with a past crush-love? Not very clear, this. And it’s left at that.

The ending left me hanging, even if I loved 80 percent of the film. I wish it could have had more oomph since it gave the feeling of having loose ends towards the end. Perhaps give the adult Anita a lover, a happy support for her life, to maybe conclude and tie it up with the lessons she learned — if any — in the whole teenage flashback regarding her crush with Pilar.

Still, it’s a good film to watch overall. The acting, cinematography and directing will carry you well into the end. It’s also easier to forgive those few narrative lapses in such queer-positive films, actually. So I’m cool with that.

Congrats to the team for pulling this through, though. I wish there were more materials like this one. I’m glad this festival was supportive of queer-positive love-crush things, unlike other festivals we know. But that’s another plot altogether hihi.

Hashtag alam na!

 

 

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.

Queering Cinemalaya 2011

Posted in Cinemalaya, indie films, POC Pinoy LGBT channel, queer cinema on September 1, 2011 by leaflens

In the interim, here’s a recap of queer representations at the Cinemalaya 2011, an  article I wrote for POC Pinoy LGBT channel.

Independently-produced digital full-length films were showcased last July 2011 at the seventh Cinemalaya Film Festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) which were also shown at the University of the Philippines’ Cine Adarna theater inside the Diliman campus during the early part of August. Aside from the Cinemalaya film grantees, there were also different categories showcasing locally produced independent digital films, such as the 10 films featured under the NETPAC series, or the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema. There were also a few films outside of such categories which premiered during the said festival.

I was able to catch a few of these films and I was intrigued by the queer representations I saw in most of the films I saw. There were a few hits and misses but there were also quiet gems, while a few begged to be read as queer, in a manner of speaking.

Read the rest here.

 

Later na ang ibang film reviews. Yes, we will review again. Soon. Pahupain lang ang docu shoot ko, hane? Pagoda coldwave lotion pa lola niyo.

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