Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Because I was sooo busy the past two weeks (and I got sick last week, the inevitable breakdown of the body after several days of lack of sleep), I decided to do a back-to-back indie-fest today.


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Who Got Hugot?

If anybody out there got what the film Hugot was about, please explain it to the filmmakers. They need your help pronto.

I do not consider myself the sharpest critical mind when it comes to films—I often get to hear someone else’s more discerning views on a movie. But Hugot made me feel like an idiot. I guess I really am, given the following which is my take on the movie.

It starts with a guy typing something on a laptop (or I think that’s how I remember the first scene). Then the movie jumps to the story of two student activists passing by a yuppie on a pedestrian overpass at night—and then one of the students collapse in exhaustion. And then comes one of the most surreal sequences I’ve ever seen. In several badly cast, badly acted, badly directed, badly edited and badly paced sequences, two guys parade around in their white briefs for no reason at all. They both have this air of “we’re doing something arty and important” mixed with a whiff of “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing” in their performances. They show off a fair amount of atrocious acting and bilbil-ous bodies. One of them even displays his lack of shame and dance skills in a pashmina-accessoried performance. It is creepy to behold.

Then the movie shifts to a young hooligan whose brother was hospitalized after an accident. In need of money, he first turns to--drinking with his buddies. Then he whacks a gay beauty contest winner on the head with the trophy so that he can steal the prize money. Finally he has beer and videoke in a gay cop’s house; later on it’s the gay cop’s turn to use hooligan’s “microphone”.

The movie ping-pongs back and forth to the apartment of the yuppie; there he also happens to have Anna Capri as his overacting, “I’m-just-lending-my-name-to-this-project” friend. Together they entice the student activists into a game of strip Q-&-A. Then the yuppie’s poor maid gets dragged into the game, eventually stripping down into her panties and showing massive double-breast exposure. Then much later on the two students are making out with her! Why? I have no idea. Did that really happened, or was that just a hallucination? Heck, at this point I’m wondering if, as a viewer, I hallucinated that scene!

And then it ends. A little kid turns out to be—hmmm, now I’m not so sure—the blogger at the start of the movie. Why? And more importantly, what for? Truly, Hugot is an assault on the senses and sensibilities. It took all my willpower not to throw my bottle of mineral water at the screen.

Serbis Is Serviceable

To be fair, I did not feel like tossing a bottle at the screen for this one. Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s Serbis received mixed reviews in Cannes. After watching it, I’m not surprised. The acting over-all is top-notch, and the cinematography is excellent. But if you ask me what the movie is about, this is my answer: It’s a pointless movie about a bunch of nobodies going nowhere.

And it’s also a great excuse to expose twice Coco Martin’s asstonishingly beautiful behind. The make-up on his ass should be cited for Best Performance By A Bronzer. Unfortunately Mendoza wasn’t contented to go loco over Coco.

He also managed to make veteran actress Gina Pareño agree to a bathing scene. For her nude scene she was shot from behind, so that the viewers were treated to a full view of her back’s folds and flab. A courageous act on Pareño’s part, but was it necessary? That scene showed her character being naked and vulnerable, but in almost every scene she was in, her nakedness and vulnerability showed, even when fully clothed. (Maybe it has something to do with her line about wishing life were as simple as picking clothes off the line—some are dry, some are wet, some are still damp. So what happens when you have nothing to pick? You end up crying while taking a bath with a tabo and having the international audience of Cannes see all the folds in your back so that they can murmur to one another, “What a courageous actress!”)

To be fair, Pareño’s acting here was far better than her performance in Ploning—there, her scenery-devouring histrionics was capable of sinking the MV Princess of the Stars had it ventured near the shores of Palawan. Maybe Mendoza wanted to give Pareño her Meryl-Streep-stripping-in-Bridges-Of-Madison-County moment.

Sound design and sound engineering were terrible. No wonder several reviews cited the “noise level” of the movie. Too bad, given that visually the movie was quite a feast for the eyes.

Ultimately I had a hard time figuring out what the filmmaker wanted to say in this film. Maybe he wants the movie to be as aimless as the characters in the film. No wait! In the end Coco Martin’s character takes flight, going against the flow of a religious precession to go… where? Oh I know! He’s going to Manila to be a sex-servicing male masseur. Good lord, this is the prequel to Masahista.

* * * * *

That makes two inscrutable indie films in one day. Is that what an indie film is, inscrutable? Indie-maintindihan?

Haaay naku, indie ko na gusto ‘to, ha!


fried-neurons said...



I am bilbil-ous. boohoohoo

Kai Santorino said...

tsk tsk... quite disappointing for serbis. prolly still worth watching because of coco's cute butt

Misterhubs said...

I guess that's what happens when directors choose to be artsy-fartsy instead of just telling us a good story.

Marcus: Bading Down Under said...

Sayang! Jaws is part of the Hugot production pa naman...

chris said...

Halatang minadali yung movie para sa Cannes, parang di na siya na-edit ng maayos. Actually, MTRCB lang ata nakapag-edit ng movie. Storywise, walang substance. And those people looking at the camera in the background, very amateurish. Ganda sana ng material. (critic daw ba hehehe)

Antonio's Secret is miles better.

mrs.j said...

i agree with the serbis movie.. sumakit ang ulo ko.. sobra..

pero again i love the sinampay scene of gina p! hay.. sayang