Saturday, April 21, 2007

Delirious Liaisons

Lured by the prospect of Krispy Kreme and unrestricted, home-brewed coffee we guardedly ambled into the flat of our common friend for the habitual weekend DVD screening assembly. The dramatis personae of our motley crew include an editor (female, straight), her fiancée (male, straight), an advertising creative director (male, straight. Check that, straight-acting), a merger and acquisition financial analyst slash investment banker slash Satan’s stock broker (male, straight), a fashion editor (female, straight), an industrial designer (male, gay), a model (male, pansexual) and me the single confused bisexual (who according to judgmental snots is in deep denial. Charming folks, these snots).

We were greeted at the door of his swanky condo and we should have taken cue of the maniacal enthusiasm pasted on his face and fled while we had the opportunity. This particular friend is a painter (fence, kitchen and roof jobs accepted), art director, graphic designer and one-time model who survived four major ex girlfriends before gargling on expired Kool-Aid and now lives with a hunky international pilot he bumped into (literally) in Nuvo. But that’s another HBO late-night drama of its own for another day.

Someone passed our friend in question a copy of Duda, (a pinoy gay film which is eventually the nucleus of this rambling discourse). Having very recently held a precious copy, our warped amigo chose it to be his selection for our bi-weekly DVD session.

Let me give a background about our outlandish mob of friends have started this informal DVD orgy for almost two years as a legitimate excuse to get together, endure each other, freeload on home-cooked food, trade insults, gossips and body fluids. Kidding on the body fluids bit, of course. The rule is that every session should be rotated among the respective digs of all involved, with the host picking two movies as compulsory viewing and the unspoken rule to lace apéritifs with cyanide in case someone makes a snarky remark on the host’s lapses in tastes.

So anyway, Duda.

The movie is a languid exercise into the human condition. Particularly the pandering homocentric, masochistic, self-humiliating consequence of being, aiiieee!, in love. Let’s toss tact out for a moment and begin with a sour note. I want to smack this movie for not deserving the vulnerable sincerity of the protagonist Cris’(Andoy Ranay) acting chops. His earnest sensitivity is overwhelmed by the lurid over-eagerness of the film to cram in multiple negligible characters/co-narrators concurrently making pithy, disdainful comments on the ill-starred relationship-by-convenience between him and his lover Eric (Paolo Gabriel).

Duda, without any doubt, will get you waived off ten years in purgatory detention. You’ll suffer enough and in no time frantically scan the credits for someone to sue for damages. The narrative is tortuously convoluted with a league of minor characters trying to shove each other out of the frame. The script is clunky, indulgently tacky, and on most parts give you dialogues enough to make your crotch recede into a concave crater as your scrotum crawl in. Sample for instance this immortal line delivered without any hint of mad irony: “I would do anything just to experience love.”

Pure cinema. Your donuts and coffee will likely congest your throat or exit your nostrils.

Cris Pablo’s digital opus cannot be faulted for attempting to portray the delirious pains of having to endure a tumultuous relationship, the meddling of concerned friends, the heroic daily struggles of gay people and their respective values and preoccupations. But fifteen minutes into Duda your soles fall into mild cramps until your lower body fall into coma and lose all sensations.

While two people in our group inspect their cuticles I am howling with glee. This is as purple as it gets. I gather from the mishmash of accounts of the characters (and that omniscient unidentified (until the end) master narrator), that Cris, an investigative TV director is shacking in with Eric, a TV production crew whose declarations of love for his partner is as convincing as the remorseful campaign speeches of Tessie Aquino Oreta. They’re supposed to be living together in pure unadulterated bliss but I doubted it because whenever they kiss onscreen they give me an impression of two squirrels quick-smooching a carcinogenic livewire. It’s a movie, for crying out loud! Kiss like real people and not as if you’re a kingfisher dipping its beak swiftly to test if the pond is radioactive!

Among other telltale clues that their relationship is headed towards Doomville is their selection of apartment palette. I figure a relationship will not amount to eternity if you choose to paint your room canary yellow one side and maroon the other side. A faded hospital green for bed sheets will automatically tell you one of them will eventually dip his wang elsewhere.

And Erik did. Rising to the challenge of the flaccid script, he engaged in sneaky dalliances racking Cris with insane jealousy and rabid doubts. Cris, understandably, goes berserk—like Ivana Trump when she first saw the stains on the couch—and begins tapping the messages and calls in Erik’s cell phone.

Cris later eyeballs his beau’s paramour, bring the unsuspecting twerp back to their nest, get him naked and all worked up and says “May lover na ako.” Conveniently handing the mortified trick a photo album of their happy days.

That’s one wasted boner, if you ask me.

What’s more puzzling than the choices of wall color is Erik’s options of flings and lovers. Maybe he is an honorary member of Boners Without Borders and on a charitable spree because the guys he forks behind Cris’ back are not really upgrade materials. Maybe he’s educating us with insights on the concept of trading down? Among his most glaring conquest is Von, a flaming Chinoy, a bum waiting for migration visa who doesn’t give a toss about humping a cheating boyfriend and when confronted recaps his moral philosophy by declaring “I’m a Christian” without bursting into fits of giggles.

Warped, ironic joke until you realize the film is not being sardonic.

The relationship ripened into unendurable bouts of nagging, confrontations, plea-bargaining, and scores of short-lived reconciliations delivered in abundant monotones you’d want to dive in the plasma screen and yell at everyone to get a grip and repaint their sink a less gaudy color in consideration of the welfare of tortured audeinces.

“Mahal mo ba ako?” Erik demands of Cris after being jilted by a non-responsive fling.”

“Mahal na mahal kita, Erik” Cris quivers with such intensity possible only if he’s tossed into a giant freezer. “Mahal na mahal kita.”

At this point you want to scream and do homicide.

Not only are the lead characters inflicted with deep-seated, scarring issues but they seem to inhabit entirely different bad episodes of Maalaala Mo Kaya strung together by Boy Abunda if he inhaled powdered Valium. Which is a shame because Andoy Ranay and Paolo Gabriel deliver the chops on certain scenes. You'd be moved by the pathetic desperation in the eyes of Ranay, intoxicated with anger, love and fear of loss. Gabriel is effective when furious, and despicable when sweet-talking his way in to purchase survival, and briefly believable as a shocked and vulnerable yound man when he got slammed on the wall in one scene.

The ridiculously fun part is that silly cameos abound in this flick. There’s Rey Pumaloy whose one probable and restrained acting moment is weighed down by a really gluey melodramatic flashback. I think Rey is great but for all our sakes, keep your shirt and underwear on.

John Lapus, screeches with relish as the talk show diva clad in gaudy ensembles and colors so bright you’d have migraine. Then there’s Larry Burns, who, like Victor Basa, is an alumni of Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Annual 69 Bachelors, comically and effectively denting the credible reputation and judgments of that magazine’s editors.

I find the “broadcasted” talk show confrontations ripe with hilarity. In which all the characters go on-camera, looking like sedated parakeets, to slap each other with snide remarks and vicarious disclosures, which prompted the teary-eyed snot-nosed and convulsive meltdown of Larry Burns as he whimpers “Tinukso niya (Erik) akooooh!” While the melodrama escalates we are treated with a Dali-meets-Bride-of-Chuckie moment in a flashback of Burns in ill-fitting suit and bow tie being wolfed by Eric in a veiled wedding gown with sequins enough to blind Liberace.
My vote for the most spontaneous moment goes to that wickedly funny road trip when the flaming gay Lloyd (Jojo Nones) flicked his cigarette in a jar being clutched by snoring Rey Pumaloy which contains the ashes of his deceased lover.

Duda is sheer entertainment if you have the gift of combustible reserves of lunacy and the appetite for ironic absurdity. Since I am equally warped I had a hysterical blast watching the movie.

It’s like overdosing on cheesecake and a massive hernia.


Antigonic said...

I would love to watch this film! Hahahaha

indigo snow said...

Oh please do! and reccomend it to people you really hate! hehe