Saturday, June 30, 2007

Suffer The Shmuck

Option Paralysis hit me. But, eventually, declining my friend Nicodemus’ invitation to the Preview Magazine Best Dressed bash at Embassy in favor of watching Cris Pablo’s new digital opus, Moreno, is one of those complicated, conflicting life choices that in the end makes you want to have wished for raw root canal as an alternative. That or on the spot euthanasia.

I chose hitting the Cineplex because as a recurring theme in Chris Pablo’s movies would put it: humans should prefer masochism if given a choice. Clearly I am a terminal masochist because I sat through the entire film. That’s how dedicated I am. That’s how disturbed I am. Though for the record I should insist on profit participation just for sitting still.

Chris Pablo is a heartfelt, intense filmmaker. His movies have the passionate earnestness of someone determined to find a dropped contact lens. You try hard to root for the movie, anticipating for a moment of revelation that will wipe out all the agony of enduring it; you want to be open-minded and give it a chance to grow on you. Then you read the end credits while a disgruntled flaming fag in the audience moan “Yun lang?!” then adds a snorty “Walang kwenta!”

Obviously the peeved fruitcake bought the tickets in high-ceilinged expectation of seeing attractive hunks bonk each other into kingdom come. Or at least, copius supply of pandering, gratuitous nudity. When the movie exercised moderation on these aspects I wanted to point at the horny hag and explode into a maniacal: bwahahahahahahah!

As my feminist friend would have succinctly put it: Belat, you horny toad!

Moreno recycles the auteur’s fixation with masochism. Like his previous flick, Duda, the protagonist is a documentary director who lives with a philandering lover whom he inexplicably also cannot ditch. Excuse me, Cris, but aren’t you plagiarizing the life of Gretchen Baretto in reverse?

Cris’ lover (whose name escaped me, therefore shall be referred in a substitute name) is a skinhead, bronzed schmuck who is the unchallenged Donald Trump of negotiating maximum allowable terms in carrying out blatant infidelity.

“Three days ako sa kanya,” he bargains. “Four days sayo.”

You gotta admire the temerity.

At one point Cris somehow redeemed himself from being an utter doormat, and in one shining moment burst into a look of someone who has had it. He glares and scowls “Isama mo ako!” He wanted to bonk whomever the lover forks.

Now there's a progressive type of pseudorelationship!

“Paano kung ayaw ng ka-sex ko sayo?” Donald Trump protests.

Cris pouts, stomps his feet, pegs both hands on his waist and invokes the spoiled brattiness of Paris Hilton. No, I’m making that one up.

Donald Trump relents in a strict condition that if and when Cris decides to have extracurricular sex he should also jump in the hormonal salad, thereby proving that contemporary gay relationships are out of hand.

Then Donald Trump tossed in a fat, acne-ridden girl in the pot.

Hahahahaha! What a gem! While collective groans of disgust floated among the nauseated gay audience I think I chuckled my lungs out.

I don’t find the idea of having sex with a girl revolting at all but must we, the paying audience, be subjected to the trauma of extreme close up of facial features that remind us of the lunar surface? Shouldn’t we be encouraged to file class action lawsuit for torment and psychological damage? Is this a wickedly sly conditioning method for bisexuals to abstain from having sex with females? Shouldn’t feminists’ protest of women being portrayed as unsolicited, nuisance sexual cohort?

But you haven’t witnessed Donald Trump’s best gambit yet. On the night of Cris' departure to document the plight of Muslim women subjected to arranged marriages in Mindanao, he organized a bash. He whipped up home-made spaghetti, printed three continuous-feed banners. “Happy Birthday!” then “Happy Anniversary!” then “Happy Trip!”

“In case makalimutan ko,” DT soulfully says to Cris while installing birthday balloons and pointing at them banners, “Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! Happy Trip!”

How thoughtful of Cris Pablo to think of the visually-impaired members of the audience. Classic!

DT then sensually goads Cris to a slow dance and offered to fix themselves a glass of wine while they are waiting for their friends and guests. He quickly careened to the kitchen and laced Cris’ drink with sleeping powder, an act which prompted the alert fag in the audience to remark, “Ayyyy! Ano yan, Vetsin?!”

Then DT gave Cris a head job and in a matter of sloppy split-seconds Cris lost consciousness only to awaken to an orgy in progress involving all their friends and guest with DT leading the pack in flagrante delicto.

I will not spoil the plot but Cris proceeded to Mindanao to film the project. His boss for the project is the ST siren Ynez Veneracion, who, in the film is an NGO Head committed to effecting change in a Muslim culture (where women have no choice as to who to marry, and often suffer as a result thereof). To signal that this is not the usual Ynez Venerazion fare, she conceals her edible cleavage—which is a bummer—and wears nerdy eyeglasses, which is very creditable for a Starlet With A Ph.D. look. Ynez’ facial complexion is extra-smooth that makes you wonder: If she’s personally exiled in the far-flung province for five years how come she’s so luminous like she’s on regular Diamond Peel maintenance. And how come, if the area is so remote she’s sporting subtle highlights like she just emerged from the tony chairs of Franck Provost? Significantly, how come no one had the presence of mind to ship Muslim women DVD copies of Liberated 2; Huwag; Magagandang Hayop; GRO; Masarap, Masakit Ang Magmahal; Selda; or Babae Sa Dalampasigan? This is of course not to show them mistreated women what they’re missing sex-wise, but to make them feel better that hey, at least, their pubic region are not open for public viewing?

But here’s the welcome revelation: Ynez delivers! No, I’m not being sarcastic or ironic. She acts with characteristic restraint I forgot all about the cleavage and got mesmerized every time she’s tossing her lines. This is where Cris Pablo’s strength lies: he can assign roles to certain actors with surprising precision and achieve a believable rendering of a certain character. Even DT’s acting chops are evident, though unpolished; you know the glint of a douchebag relishing his unapologetic brazenness is there. Then there’s Cris who - though emanating sincerity and tortured gravity - looks like he’s sleepwalking on valium overdose.

Another revelation is the many quandaries of Muslim women, which are so unnerving it makes you want to jump and torch your bra. (The auteur have a knack of making great film premises, plots and characterizations and regrettably watch it disintegrate like a rapid deflation of a raging turgid shaft). It makes you want to be good and help out, then you realize you’re in a Cris Pablo movie so you calm yourself and reach for a handful of popcorn and a slurp of soda.

Like what happened in Duda, Cris Pablo regurgitated the Multiple Narrator Syndrome in Moreno, and, given how negligibly one-dimensional they are, you just wish you have a remote control to the projector room and just fast-forward and pause to the nudity.

Many cranky people on the audience complained of the ill-supply of torrid scenes and lingering penis exposure. I wish I can sympathize with their deprivation.

I’m not worried about getting embarrassed standing up with a boner. I am very worried I can’t stand at all: I’ve lost all sensation and locomotors functions from the waist down on the first fifteen minutes. Which is a tedious cinematic way to conclude my previous option paralysis.

However take it from me: Spread the good news! Encourage long-suffering owls to watch the film: Moreno is a brave two-hour triumphant cure for insomnia.


Anonymous said...

hi there! thanks for taking the time and suffering to see our movie MORENO... thanks for writing about it too... kakainis yung mahabang docu sa bandang huli ano? that was added to lift the "x" rating to "r-18"... i know its our fault that no matter how many good footage of coverage we have of our movies, we are guilty of editing it in only three weeks unlike the rest of the indies who make their editing schedule run at least 30 days para mapaganda pa... hehehe, i enjoyed reading your critique... will consider in our next project... take care!

cris pablo

loudcloud said...

hello cris!

no, no, you are mistaken: the documentary aspect of the movie was quite riveting. it kind of makes you want to have this messiah complex and save all these suffering women. you have interesting concepts and very intriguing characterizations, i just somehow cannot reconcile why somewhere in the movie things start to untangle and all the great stuff get diluted. i thoroughly like the idea of you twisting the expectation of a moviegoer and flash something else than gratuitous nudity.

i hope it's not 100% autobiographical? because if it is, id be intrimitido and say kick the abusive dude towards the ditch and dazzle us with another flick!

on second thought, can we really argue with affection? it never listens to logic. it's a tenacious bitch!

good luck and cheers to your new movie!