Wilted Passion

Whip Me Harder

We can’t argue that Room 213 is to some extent, a well photographed film. The visual structure is striking; the color milieu is gleaming and the backdrop of Old Manila is as well gorgeous. How I wish visual style and aesthetics is the only thing perceived in films to make it the leading light. On the other hand, the story structure is unremarkable. Although the film resorted to use some noir elements, justifying the nonlinearity and scene recurrences. But it’s more of concealment of a frail narrative.

The Architect (Allen Dizon) has grown cold and has been overtly suspicious of his wife, The Photographer (Gwen Garci). It is a result of an adulterous act the wife committed. On their first decade as a married couple, a recent project was assigned to The Architect in an abandoned building in Manila. The Architect is engrossed with the confinements of the building and has formed a plan. The recurring events made its way to acquaint us to two more characters: The Devotee (Maricar dela Fuente) a necrophiliac and The Accomplice (Tyron Perez) a seemingly ordinary guy.

The erotic part is on the film’s manipulation of the characters, pairing them off with each other. The Architect and The Photographer engaged themselves in sadomasochism. Despite being a couple, it still brings about some voyeuristic tinges and dream fantasies. Glamour Photography is one passion of The Photographer. The Devotee as her subject, the secret liaison at first leads to a lesbian intimacy. The Accomplice is also entangled in a simulated threesome act between the two women. The eroticism is primarily signified by the abandoned building. The old building heightened the palpable dormancy in passion.

The exploration of the theme is a flourishing subject matter. I do commend the film for not appearing comical with all those ropes tied around, hanging upside down and characters leaping into cross gender role-play. But does it mean that all couples are subjected to this kind of activity when passion is growing cold? Or is the film literal? The answer might be plausible in the context of eroticism and film. Eroticism in Room 213 has dissolved the rational world but it’s ephemeral; thus transcending of pain is subjective. On the contrary, a film has a logical amalgamation of eroticism and film writing. Or probably the film is adequate to show more of its artistic qualities visually. Obviously, Sicat love to astonish and bemuse the audience with obscure sexual adventurism, regardless of whether real people actually do it or not. It has become an aesthetic all its own.

The narrative, especially the use of dialogue might be indicted of mere rhetorical frippery. One good case is the voice-over narration. Aren’t The Photographer’s actions exactly those which she is narrating? Some scenes are stylish, but they lack urgency. At times, it looks like it just fills up the cracks. The repetitive schemes must have a purported purpose. But I have to say that its premise and closure have strong points. In the end it becomes a reflection of our repressed sensibilities. Freedom from sex is I think true liberation.

Room 213 has promising technical expertise to show off (except for the uneven film ratio). It is not surprising to know that the director Keith Sicat is also a painter and a photographer for profession. There are lots of details that I admire in the film. I have noticed that the actors wear bizarre outfits and it is alluring. The walls are painted with eye-catching illustrations and I bet it is the work of Sicat. The musical scoring purported to use kundiman, ethnic/tribal accompaniments, and the western style of music is exquisite. But I have doubts with its narrative. It seems that at one point, the story is lacking and needs more expansion. It must also level with how technically proficient the film is. But if you will ask me, is the film erotic? My answer is, not quite. Or let’s say is the depiction of eroticism thought provoking? Yes, given that the building was there.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Mag-ingat ka sa...Kulam

Mag-ingat ka sa...Kulam is written and directed by Jun Lana. This is about a married woman played by Judy Ann Santos who starts behaving unpredictably as she recovers from a car accident. It also stars Dennis Trillo, TJ Trinidad, Mart Escudero, Kris Bernal, and Sharlene San Pedro.
Mag-ingat ka sa...Kulam opens October 1, 2008 in theaters nationwide.


The Common Denominator

Just for fun!!! :) Persona


Half-Romantic, Half-Derisive

Let Me Be Your Hero

If sincerity, ideation, and passion for writing are the basis of a film’s triumph, I will praise Eddie Romero and his tandem Rica Arevalo’s endeavor in retailing a story which is nearly conceived as a taboo even in our generation. Unfortunately, I was not even half-impressed with the film itself. Teach Me to Love makes me feel giddy when it comes to its storytelling. Its camera works is not even minimalist, rather it is dull. I am baffled if this really is directed by Eddie Romero – who is a National Artist for film by the way. Teach Me to Love is an utterly boring film.

The synopsis and the trailer of the film found in most sites tells roughly of the entire movie, (except for its last scene). I would fairly talk about the film’s incoherence and dialogues that lead to mockery. The film started with a flashback until the climax and another flashback from its remaining scenes. Anyway, the story structure is disjointed and is confusing. It did try to develop the characters until they get older, but it is still simply lame and awful to see.

There are too many elements in the film that look like frivolous distractions to what is supposed to be focused on. Mark (Nathan Lopez) has a huge crush on her Physics teacher Connie (Maui Taylor). It’s supposed to be sparkling romance between a teacher and a student, but it was not able to solidify to be able to back-up its climactic moment. Yes, its efforts to confound their personal backgrounds are admirable but it looks contrived. For more than a decade of Mark’s existence, is it only now that he would apprehend his mother’s affair with another woman? Surely at this point in time, they have patched major issues in the past. Connie is having an affair with a married man. The wife has doubts with her husband’s fidelity after seeing a jewelry receipt. She actually hired at some point in time (we don’t know when) a detective to grab hold of her husband’s adulterous acts through photos. Based on the story’s progression, the incident in the photos happened before the wife has doubts. Okay, if she has doubts before which is obvious, the confrontation scene might likely happen earlier. The point is all the scenarios happen at one fell swoop. This makes the story become truly muddled. We have to be reminded of the plot, not to be too occupied on the complexities of their characters. And it has a lot of loopholes. Even with the aid of the flashbacks, I can’t consider the film as nonlinear as those two flashbacks is conspicuously chronological - which is why it is a concern.

The dialogues in the film are leading to incomprehensibility. It is at times redundant and contradictory. The dialogues sometimes start with a doubt, as if the writer is at that time also asking what he is suppose to write down. Almost all the characters sound mediocre in their lines, except for Elsa (Sharmaine Buencamino), mother of Mark, whose lines are I think quite natural. Buencamino is the only one who gave a fine performance in her minor portrayal. The appearance of Lopez after seven years is idiotic. Taylor looks like she reincarnated her role in Torotot, with the same expressions and appearance. Alberto (Ricky Davao) is entirely out of place in his lines, his passions, and sounds unimpressive as a lawyer.

Teach Me to Love tries to capture the theme of love so most people could easily relate. But its obsession in character layering and complexity just adds confusion; loosing focus on it’s supposed plot. The dialogues have a messy reasoning and at times I can’t help myself cackle for the wrong reasons. Its execution is a complete mockery of its theme. Eddie Romero who attained the title as National Artist in Film will always be respected. His past works will forever have the impenetrable vitality and artistic clout. The efforts in making the film less pretentiously artistic and more accessible to the everyday human soul is adequate. But Teach Me to Love is just not groundbreaking. It is a direct indication of where we are heading. If a National Artist can’t make a superior film, then who will be enthused.

Charlie Koon's Rating:


Room 213

Room 213 follows the tenuous relationship between an architect and his photographer wife. Having lost any emotional connection with each other over 10 years of marriage, they start to take extreme measures in the hopes to rekindle their passion.
Room 213 is directed by Keith Sicat and will be screened at Robinsons Movieworld starting September 24, 2008.
*the above picture is not the official poster

Teach Me to Love

Teach Me to Love is National Artist for Film Eddie Romero's second digital film after last year's Faces of Love. Starring Maui Taylor and Nathan Lopez, the story explores the boundaries of love and sexual awakening between a high school student and his teacher.
Teach Me to Love will have its regular screening from September 24-30, 2008 at Robinson's Indiesine.

Goes with the Flow

Oh Prince Charming, where art thou? ü

Venice. Savona. Rome. Pisa. Barcelona. Tunisia. Genoa. Napoli. Palma de Mallorca. Florence. Marseilles. These foreign places are used as backdrops for the film’s setting. That’s a bit generous for around two hundred bucks price admission. I.T.A.L.Y. (I Trust and Love You) is a plushy film, sustained by its splendid technical execution, and has a story that approaches a lighter touch on real-life drama. The fact that I had a nice time watching this film, viewing it is not in any way insulting.

I was sure that from the moment the opening credits are revealed, this is a lavish film production. Its rich visuals are engaging; appealing to be a good film appetizer. I rarely see local films that make tremendous efforts for such opening credits. Actually, I am as well cautious not to be overwhelmed with its grandiose setting and supposed to be impressive technicalities without giving complete attention to the film story/script. I appreciate Senedy Que’s clever writing approach and prudence in handling tailor-fitted characters. The story goes on as it is suppose to with minor understandable flaws.

Eager to meet her destiny, Destiny (Jolina Magdangal) seeks advice from a dubious fortune-teller for possible signs about the man in her dream. The fortune-teller vehemently gives her three vague and ludicrous signs that her prince charming will manifest. She notifies everything in her slum book. Along came a job offering for a cruise ship as a housekeeper, which without hesitation, she grabs due to financial problems. On her voyage, she willfully searches for the ‘destiny guy’ amongst the ship crew and passengers. Then she meets Paolo, (Dennis Trillo) a handsome mysterious guy that manifests two of the supposed signs. The last one - she will have to glance first at Paolo’s butt!

Let’s not kid ourselves; this film is made to entertain. It is evident with the director’s strides in technical excellence. With our country’s current financial instability, some people go to movie houses not to think, but to be amused and relaxed. But personally and in principle, I prefer thinking. On the contrary, an entertainment film such as I.T.A.L.Y. is rather a good form of diversion, a sort of stabilizer. I.T.A.L.Y. in consideration is smartly handled and its technical proficiency is enough reason to admire it. But I am daunted with the film’s appeal though. Even if I liked it, (I think the film is cute) there is a lesser audience as compared to most recent romcom flicks. Has it lost the hypnotic charisma it should possess and has somewhat transformed into a piece shameful trash an inevitability in formula films, hence the caustic indignation from most film critics. We want films to evolve, not to produce a static mold that the viewers will never be tired of. It does not exist. A movie must cater to the changing demography? Not quite. But I have something to say, Jolina Magdangal is in the industry for more than fifteen years. She has not yet shed off her virginal, uncorrupted, undefiled image.

Trillo has most of the dramatic sequences in the film and his acting is quite pleasing. He still manifests the matinee idol appeal expected from him. There is an undertoned love angle in the film between Rhian Ramos and Mark Herras. Ramos as Phoebe is inherently beautiful – she somewhat resembles the French actress Roxanne Mesquida. Herras fits his character well. The farce comedy element in the film relies heavily on pop culture parody and to some extent used slapstick for humorous effect. Eugene Domingo as Lovely and Rufa Mae Quinto as Stella excelled in this department. Their good command in shambles and travestry is not insulting even if it is nonsensical (on Stella’s part). As long as you like comedy, and you laughed your hearts out, their performance must be equally lauded for their precision. And yeah, I caught myself laughing for silly matters – forgive me.

I personally commend films which know a lot about film development. I.T.A.L.Y. is technically superior. It is diverse in musical scoring. The sound design is splendid (hardly ever seen dubbed parts). The story is unique with its proud demeanor in adopting farce comedy alongside the romantic overtones. Objectively speaking, the director Mark Reyes nailed it. But their main star, Magdangal, has her appeal diminished and was overshadowed by her contemporaries. She must rationalize the true essence of being an actress which involves higher risks. I sense that it is not mainly the producers or Magdangal’s manager that prevents her from developing roles in more robust direction, rather Jolina Magdangal alone. So, better watch out.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Time to Teach

In her despair

How can I be cruel with this film? Even I had a hard time finding this little twitty creature in cinemas. Most of the theatres have stopped running the film reel after the first screening – the poor thing. Ay Ayeng is a film directed by Eduardo Palmos which he also wrote the screenplay in collaboration with Liza Lazaro. It was adopted from the novel “Maestra Ester” by Abdon Noviza. The mere presence of the film’s star Heart Evangelista might have helped redeem its flop status locally. Honestly, the film is not entirely a disappointment despite the fact that there is a perceptible limp of flaws in it.

The film premiered in Hawaii and gained a good reception among fellow Filipinos. Now with its screening in Manila, I’m lock, stock and barrel bemused with its promotion. Where are Heart’s solid fanatics? I interviewed the sales lady in the cinema asking her why it was panned out that early. Translated in English, she said: “Sir, no one watched, although the film was good. What's more, Heart was raped in the film!” She admitted having a glimpse of the film and liked it.

Karen (Sheena Joy) returns from Hawaii to her hometown in Mountain Province in the northern part of Luzon. She traces back her roots and wishes to meet her childhood friend Ayeng (Heart Evangelista). Consequently, Ayeng is compelled to comeback to the mountain due to lack of resources for her studies in the city. The entire village supports her dreams to become a teacher but with the arrival of the soldiers headed by Gallo (John Arcilla), the villagers are prohibited to send money. Ayeng is determined to render her acquired skills by teaching the children and women. But the soldiers are bothered with her whereabouts, provoking her to leave the mountain.

The film Ay Ayeng was adopted from a novel, which I may say is powerful in written form. Surely, the novel wants to expose social problems in a certain demography such as lack of education, land grabbing, military abuses and violence against women and children. But, the film had trouble translating the novel within film perspectives and boundaries. I am certain that this literary piece might be provocative at the time it was made. Exposing it decades later will not induce an effect that it fervently wants to convey. Is it just the timing? Although their issues might still exist in present date, but they are mostly tackled in television documentaries, having a higher likelihood of exposure amongst the public.

I admire Evangelista’s courage to play an offbeat character. Although she is conscious most of the time, part of it was dedicated on fixing her hair; still she manages to convince me she is indeed Ayeng. Her exotic eyes and filipina looking appeal may really pass for a mountain lass. She is indeed the star of this film. Jao Mapa as Sadek has minor scenes. Nevertheless, he effectively delivers the true nature of his character. Maria Isabel Lopez as Umay is likewise in her finest form to show her range as a trained actress. Sheena Joy might look awkward in the entire film, but she is supposed to be an outsider. Her first acting foray as Karen might not be her best, but at least, she might have made Fil-Ams in Hawaii laud her for her engagement in the film. But the other non-actors are a real pain in the ass. Most of the villagers are not motivated to act well. Which actually shows the importance of extra’s in the success of the film.

Ay Ayeng is provocative in its own little way. The film is bound to expose something more relevant and contemporary, but it had difficulty doing so. Perhaps it is us who might also not comprehend. In reality, we are bound to live in a land of futility. We are aware of problems that we strongly take no notice of. Ay Ayeng tries to raise people’s consciousness on social problems and to take pride of our Filipino identity. The film agrees that the film itself could not address the predicaments we Filipinos are mostly aware of. But with Ayeng's plight
, I certainly understand.

Charlie Koon's Rating:



I.T.A.L.Y. (I Trust And Love You) is a romantic comedy film starring Jolina Magdangal, Dennis Trillo and Rufa Mae Quinto, produced and will be distributed by GMA Films.Directed by Mark Reyes, I.T.A.L.Y. will open in cinemas nationwide starting September 17, 2008.


Ay Ayeng

Ay Ayeng is a film which tackles the indigenous life of the Ifugaos in the hinterlands of Mountain Province starring Heart Evangelista.
According to Eduardo Palmos, the director of the movie, the story of "Ay Ayeng" was inspired by the life of Macli-ing Dulag, a tribal leader during the Marcos dictatorship who fought against the destruction of Chico Dam.

Ay Ayeng is shown in theatres starting September 10, 2008.

ShowBiz Nest: Heart Evangelista's Movie "Ay, Ayeng"


A Quick Quack

I heart you...?

Seeing this film in its dreadful form, it’s partly rational not to review it. But two reasons I still consider are: it is written and directed by Cris Pablo and it is the only local film released this week. Quicktrip let’s say, is like a story of a duck - a hideous duck. They don’t have to make sense but just to quack. Quack at the contemptible gay lifestyles. Quack with pointless motivation. Ducks are often found in children’s story. And I found a duck-story I like. She is Jemima, a puddle duck. She is an inept and stupid duck. Even if she’s a duck, she has a clear purpose – she wants to lay her eggs without them being taken away. Quicktrip in comparison has a clear-cut purpose – to quack perpetually.

Cris Pablo is one of the pioneers of digital filmmaking particularly with his feature film Duda (Doubt). It was released five years ago and is the only film I have seen from his entire body of work. Unfortunately, it’s annoying how he mobilizes his story materials. He just makes a variation from his previous work (the ideas gathered are not actually good), then bits and pieces are stitched together albeit haphazardly once more and voila – it is marketed as a ‘new-fangled’ film. Conversely, Quicktrip is a hyped nonsensical queer film that promises to bestow the audience a sexually evoking tale of two men and how these men uphold their libido (until the story’s climax) amidst poor living conditions. Isn’t that weird?

Pablo might have improved in the film’s technical department, but it’s not adequate to make the film passable. Even the development of the lead character is not sufficient to back-up the film’s story. The progression of Cris (Topher Barreto) is undersized by the enormous worthlessness of the film’s message. Pablo surely wants to make a point. But Pablo’s personal stance on gay subject matters is not effectively employed and rather made the film’s message misconstrued. And it is important to note that sometimes a movie is not just a medium to express one’s personal stance.

In general, a person regardless of gender, race or sexuality has this tendency to be affected by the things they could personally relate with. In this case, Quicktrip is made to be sentimental and maneuvers a perception of how pitiful the gays are. Obvious enough, Cris will increase the sympathy of the audience. Even the slightest progression of Cris’ character is already an achievement?

Quicktrip might probably know a lot of gay underground life. But films are highly regarded as an art form. Quicktrip has no vision in retailing a true story that would be prolific once it has been conveyed into a film. It only made the overtly sympathetic (not to mention self-indulgent) Cris into a position of insignificance. The films’ epilogue is like an allusion to Britney Spear’s ‘Stronger’. Yes, the pop icon’s music video is like the upshot of Quicktrip. (Sing the refrain and you’ll know)

Quicktrip is nothing progressive. I might be an outsider, harshly saying all these things, but films are not made to have prescription - prying only to a certain social class or gender. Films regardless of the subject matter, if it is well made, will be considered as good films. I will not be surprised if the target audience might have shown certain compassion since Pablo has already a huge gay-cult following. But does it help gays as a whole, or is its perspective detrimental, propagating the stereotype of rampant homosexual promiscuity and superficiality. If they were pleased with self-containment, then it’s fine. But to appease you all: Ducks are better eaten than heard.
Charlie Koon's Rating:

Positive Review: The Bakla Review

Making a Good First Impression

Mamma Mia!

For The First Time is surprisingly entertaining and skillfully photographed. Despise it in any way, but that’s how formula films go. It’s not entirely a person’s fault that they are: a. somewhat allergic to romantic melodramas, b. without any doubt bursting with bitterness, or c. purely weird.

Pia (KC Concepcion) works as the head of the Marketing Department of her father’s Real Estate Business. We see an uphill struggle on her part to please her father Santi (Philip Salvador). She will often be affronted by her father with how ineffectual she is. Despite the demands to achieve excellence, she still goes after her brother’s advice to take her planned vacation. Pia is accompanied by her waggish nanny Josie (Candy Pangilinan).

From the restless dekko of Manila, the film shifted to the breathtaking views in Greece. Greece is dazzling. The white painted veneers of the old houses contrasts its cerulean sea shore are photographed well. Pia and Josie meet Benjo (Nor Domingo), Josie’s pen pal. Then, they reside at the pavilion of Benjo’s boss, Seth (Richard Gutierrez). Flashback - Seth broke-up with three of Pia’s friends. He is dubbed as the number one playboy back in the Metro. And the two finally meet. Pia is annoyed by the awkward situation and she hurriedly leaves. Since its peak season, she has no other choice but to swallow her pride and go back. Seth convinces Pia to be her chaperone and tour her around the island. She agrees with the aid of a weird contract made from scratch paper: he will not court her.

Gutierrez manifests the genes of his father’s matinee idol appeal. Likewise, Concepcion’s parents were both endearing decades ago, that is why their daughter looks alluring all the same. It is evident that their team-up is impeccable. The acting is quite fine. It corresponds to their high society stature, so it’s easy for them to present as they are. But Gutierrez must avoid this superfluous mannerism. He has locked this rubbish toothpick to his mouth in the entire Greece development. It is utterly distracting. Concepcion has these intense drama sequences that are not polished. She has this tendency to squash her dialogues and it makes her look anxious. Or is it possible to limit the dubbing parts to merely long shots, or aerial shots? It’s just despicable to see medium range shots to close-ups, more so long takes that were dubbed. Continuity is very important in films. I remember one scene in Greece where Pia, Josie and Benjo are conversing in the veranda. The raw dialogues are not bad. It sounds sincere. It captures the precise mood in that minute.

The supporting casts are also good. Salvador as Pia’s dominating father has the abilities to restrain his emotion. There are intricate moments that he was able to carefully control his compassion towards her daughter. The comical duo of Pangilinan and Domingo were laudably fine. They have this uncanny ability to precisely shift serious to crazy moments.

The film story has a tendency to miss small details that are quite important. They are running a Real Estate Company and the ideas considered marketable are not wholly profitable in real life. They must be aware that some audience has a background in Marketing. Its minor, but every part is leading to the plot. But if we go back to the main objective which is to entertain, this movie does successfully. That is admirable in its own way, especially in these hard times when people just wish to receive just compensation for the money they pay.

Certainly, the entire movie is endearing to watch. It’s not corny. We see swanky young adults falling in love. Their faults, bruises and struggles were not overstated. It is pleasing that the director and actors’ strive to improve on their craft. The sad truth is romantic formula movies are often frowned upon. Nevertheless, For the First Time is surprising as it delivers a cleverly made romantic movie.

Charlie Koon's Rating:



Quicktrip is directed by Cris Pablo that tells the story of two bisexuals named Cris and Andro.
Quicktrip is being shown at Indiesine, Robinsons Galleria, started last September 3, 2008.


No Mercy

Little Drummer Boy

Tambolista is a film directed by Adolfo Alix Jr. It is dark, immoral, and brutal. It’s as if the lids of hell where left open showering humanity with evil deeds and grave purposes.

The main character is Jason (Jiro Manio). He dreams of having his own drum set. He lives in a filthy town in Manila. Despite being deprived of wealth, he is eager to be a drummer and saves money to buy his own drum set. But a sudden turn of events cajoled him to lend the money to his brother Billy (Coco Martin). Billy needs money for his girlfriend’s abortion. Flash-forward - the other character is Paolo, (Sid Lucero) a friend of Billy. He is a homeless hustler, a petty criminal. He used to reside with an old matron. But things changed when the husband returned. He was forced to leave the house. He suddenly asks Billy to stay in their house for a few days. He had known of the siblings need for money. He right away schemes a plan... plan that they will forever regret in life.

Black and white films are one of the best styles for me. It is blaring with beauty and it transcends firm mystery. And the film is noirish. Unfortunately this gets the least of my favor from Alix’s entire filmography. I remember the works of the talented Brocka and Bernal which elegantly captured the morbid situation of humanity. In comparison, Tambolista looks like a fragment from previous works. Its usage in contemporary films will lead to sheer retrogression.

Manio and Martin are established independent actors. They don’t fail to surprise and amaze me. Although I am not impressed with Lucero’s acting skills. Obvious enough, his character is so wicked; portraying it literally evil is so one-dimensional. Paolo is a fellow victim of inhumanity; so a little charm might help to perk up the role’s intricate personality. The veteran actress Anita Linda as the dominant grandmother is simply stunning. She curses every other word. It’s so rare to hear a well-respected actress in a disgraceful act.

Tambolista in the English language means drummer. I too, once liked to be a drummer. Drums were like the musical instrument of egotism. The execution of this instrument is crucial as this involves genuine skills to play it with ease. Lack of familiarity might lead only to aggravation of noise. Again, Tambolista is the least I like from the works of this promising Filipino director. But
the fine acting is enough reason why you shouldn’t dare miss to see.

Charlie Koon's Rating:


Living from the Inside Out

Dance Dance Dance

Ambiguous but precise
Well versed on the law of motion
And the masters of myriad of images

- Guerilla is like a Poet by Jose Ma. Sison

This just might be a film that you’re anxious to see. But first, you must be aware that this is a film. Second, the film you will see is trying to make a film. Just like God’s Commandments: it’s basic, simple, and as easy as ABC.

Years When I Was a Child Outside is a film by John Torres. For me, it’s a fascinating film to see as it tries to make a documentary regarding the filmmakers own father, Rodolfo Torres. It’s a humble film. As the film thoroughly progresses, the voice of a tormented soul is heard. “The voices seem to explode”. Sison’s poem might be enough to explain it. And the voice - is the filmmaker itself. He communicates his personal thoughts, childhood memories, but most importantly, the disaster in his life: when his father admitted that he has another family.

While Torres was making a documentary during the typhoon Milenyo, he shifted his camera outside their house. The imagery of the film is a great deal of moving poetry. Subconsciously, you’re indulged. Then he tries to capture his sleeping father. The camera zooms. It shows the body of his father in close-up: head, feet, palm, chest, and belly. During his isolation, he decides to make a film. He uses his father’s body as an inspiration for themes: family, love, truth, and life.

Then small vignettes of chronicling stories unfold. First, there is a long sequence of a Moro Dance. It’s a rite of passage. The father insists his timorous son to dance. Then we get to see a love story, shot conceivably in black and white. It tracks a couple walking in the park while hearing love sonatas and poems of devotion. In reality, the conversation was more diverse. Then he also interviews Jose Ma. Sison. He sings Guerilla is like a Poet. Towards the end, he talks about how Manang Betty, their maid, taught him ABC. “B is for Bicycle. The one riding the bicycle is your father’s child outside”, as she pointed to the child in the street.

Years When I Was a Child Outside expands mind. It precisely captured countless images with relevance to its subject matter. It is distinct in its observation. The film might seem artificial and even a waste of time as it always shifts the subject of discussion. However, it was able to give a better insight into valuable issues – well perhaps not for us, but for the director. We are aware that he’s attempting to make a film. He even makes a film about Jesus. Although the film has its own shortcomings: there is a tendency to imagine its own significance. The filmmaker’s insistence of him being different and difficult to understand is preposterous. It’s a contradiction to the film’s precision and sensitivity.

I bet the film was heavily inspired by the French New Wave Movement. It’s a personal stance, rebellion perhaps as the film rejects the traditional cinema structure. The style – voice in particular - has a depth of character. Its courage to speak words of love, hatred, and utmost devotion to his Catholic Faith is seamless. It has its moments of vividness, but for how long will it be sustained?

Years When I was a child Outside is about making a film. It has already elicited in its myriad of lush scenarios, blossoming images and poetry. The film’s appeal is not selective. As the film is hoping that in time, people will say, oh this film is also about us.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

All's Fair in Love and War

Boys Talk
I would rather not get furious about the film as this would be a victory for the film. I suppose the film’s genre is not merely neo-noir style. Rather, a hybrid of neo-noir and neo-realism – a silly combination. I remember way back in college, we had the usual drinking sessions. We would mix up alcoholic drinks. We were curious of the experience. We weren’t after the delightful flavor. In place of such, we would concoct a monster mix of stupidity. Obviously it tastes awful. And the aftermath is sickening! Torotot has a similar effect.

Right after a few sequences of the film, its neo-noir style becomes evident. Usually in noir films, it has a convoluted storyline, dark contrast and mostly cynical characters. Torotot is told in flashbacks and flash-forwards, so I would rather convey the film in simple descriptions. Filled with existential bitterness, Gabby (Baron Geisler) is frantic on the sudden coldness his wife Marie (Maui Taylor) demonstrates. Marie occasionally resists having sex with him. Instead, she diverts all her time to work as a veterinarian, and caring for her pet dogs. Then we are introduced to Darwin (Andrew Schimmer), a dog trainer. Gabby is hastily jealous of him. One night, they had an argument which resulted to Marie leaving the house. She stayed at Darwin’s pad. Gabby turns to his best bud Leo (Yul Servo) to ease his frustration and temper. Fast-forward – when Leo informed Gabby that he saw Darwin and Marie together, he spied at Marie’s whereabouts and caught them having raunchy sex in Marie’s clinic. “Destierro” as its alternate title suggests its legal repercussion.

Leo on the other hand had a similar fate with Gabby. His spouse Rita (Precious Adona) is an ordinary housewife. Rita is despondent due to her husband’s stumpy libido. As Marie’s friend, she suggested Rita to do something exciting which she promptly ignores. Things changed after Marie’s death. Then, Leo notices that his wife is hooked with her prayer services. Rita is having smutty sexual encounters with Gaston (Anton Bernardo), a fellow brother in faith. Leo had known the whole thing from Gaston’s wife (Maricar de Mesa). He schemes on doing the same thing Gabby did.

The irony in the film is well presented - at least the idea of it. But when it tackled the legal system, the story becomes an entire mess. Legal system based on reality must be accurate up to the smallest detail. Even the disintegration of the Philippine Legal System was not credibly assessed in the film. The pessimistic view of the real legal system is not entirely chauvinistic as what the film has shown. If it is noirish, then it’s fine. But in reality, our legal system has other factors of its flawed conduct; it is also corrupt, biased and defensive. In the film, it is apparent that Marie came from a well-off family and yet there is no defense council on her behalf? The entire case just went through in a couple of days or weeks. If the film would not want to be indicted of imprecision then it might not have tackled the legalities of such a crime.

The characters Gabby and Leo were the total losers in this film. While Marie and Rita were having the usual girl-talk, they would counteract the previous claims of their husbands’ machismo; Gabby has a thumb size dick and Leo suffers from pre-mature ejaculation. It is also humorous that the guys have their freaky boy-talk while pampering in a facial salon and having a hair color treatment. Rita’s fetishes are riveting; she satisfies her sexual frustration by damping frozen bacon all over her body and sniffing salaciously on soiled briefs. These were just a few aspects of the film that is quite redeeming (if not utterly sick). The last part of the film entirely collapses. The plot was too manipulative. If it’s heading there, it will go smoothly. But it did not transcend in the film, to my dismay.

Sometimes, what men lack in actuality, they make up for in influence. Torotot is a story of incongruity that needs to be rehashed. It failed to neatly replicate the legalities being presented. It might consider that not all tabloid headlines are fascinating story material. Sometimes, it’s adequate to show the irony or demonstrate a synesthetic metaphor. Otherwise, it is simpler to go back to fiction.
Charlie Koon's Rating:
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