Monday, December 14, 2009

Foolish Academy

Granted that I am an atheist in the Grand Church of Serendipity I may have to rethink my belief very soon because of Auteur Cris Pablo’s calibrated sense of synchronicity. It is as if his tuning fork is hotwired to my Blog Suicide Nerve and for some inexplicable reason he always manages to unleash a new opus precisely at the time when my so-called blogging tendency screeches to an abrupt coma. He is my fortuitous hero, as necessary as electroshock, caffeine and violent tropical cyclones which are the only legal means to tear Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino billboards off EDSA. So! Crisaldo Pablo, I am hugely indebted; so are the three imaginary fans of my drivels who will be happy to erect tasteful shrines in their respective rooms in your honor, because it would mean this blog will not be permanently consigned into the gaping online black hole.

I just had my essential Cris Pablo Opus fix and I am pleased to report that I had a blast although in the interest of fairness I will put into record that my circulatory system doesn’t agree with me—forty minutes into the movie my brain threatened to leak off my ears and I cannot feel both my legs. But I have such faith in our beloved Auteur’s competence and my fortitude is rewarded with dreadful acting, hyper-camp, and conversational inflections that can only exist in Cher’s Do You Believe In Love if played in lethargic speed.

The Opus of Interest in this issue of LoudCloud Drivel From Hell is Campus Crush.

Cris, I have handful questions: Is it so difficult to stalk Simon Atkins and offer him a part while he’s lining up for latte in the neighborhood Starbucks? How challenging would it have been to study hypnosis and while Chris Tiu was still a Balls-clutching sophomore swing a pendulum in his face and give us something to justify the title? Considering what I just saw, isn’t Campus Crash a little more appropriate?

I am asking because all the characters playing the parts of campus heartthrobs have Star Mall-variety highlights, love handles, beer guts and skin textures that will induce spontaneous orgasms in Vicky Belo knowing these young men will fill the quota in subsidizing her next boyfriend’s Porsche.

Anyway, Campus Crash—I am sorry, I didn’t mean to be caustic about this—Campus Crush even, is about barely legal boys populating a preppy school. If one has to judge from their uniforms then Oh Lord, I am no Hamish Bowles or The Sartorialist, or in any stretch of imagination, Andre Leon Talley but for the love of everything Holy let me ask again: Who designed those uniforms?! In my perverse imaginings my idea of Horny Preppy would be Ralph Lauren designing for Bel Ami freshmen but nothing ever prepared me for grey argyle-patterned vests, purple ties, puff short sleeves for men and pleated, baggy brown trousers inspired by repeated viewings of MC Hammer’s Can’t Touch This video. Also I have been holding my breath all throughout the movie, fearing for the school crest to fall off the vest because they appear like paper stickers printed in deskjets and slapped in the chest areas.

Cris, the uniforms alone are worth the ticket price! Thank you!

And let’s also not dwell on this blessed academy’s facilities. If you have affluent young gay students who can afford to bribe fellow students with iPhones and laptops for blowjobs how come you can’t afford to hire decent maintenance staff? There were brittle leaves that haven’t been raked since 1995, a lawn populated by weeds sharing Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s birthday and goats grazing in the running track oval. Where is the janitor? Was he fired or is he in the boiler room servicing horny young brats?

The campus crushies are a wild band of ill-shaped boys who had a fraternity-like mission to do something noble for the campus’ Gender Equality Week: they will have sex with assorted losers as an act of goodwill. Whoever among the heartthrobs swaps bodily fluids with the grand loser among losers wins the betting pool. I am sorry, but is this trend catching up in in either University of Asia and the Pacific or Ateneo? I’d say it should be, if the school administrators care deeply about stuffing the bottom line!

Campus Crush elevated Cris Pablo from local indie moviedom’s digital visionary to Utopian Philosopher, hormonally speaking. It’s like Horndogs Without Borders! Or Greenpeace merging with Make-A-Wish while colliding with Oprah and a spool of pubic hair! And I defy anyone to challenge Jobert Sucaldito in thinking that this idea is insane!

At the heart of Campus Crush is this timid, smart nerd who, in my warped view, is much cuter than the object of his nocturnal erections. He is so convinced he is a loser and I wanted to yell at him to get a grip, find a comb and a tube of Ponds facial wash. Timid Twink diligently does his crush and best friend’s academic work, admires from a distant, keeps to himself and carry on with quiet dignity that I was half expecting Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales to show up and hand him a notice for instant beatification. He wears nerdy glasses and has such a good heart that whenever he and his flamingly swishy best friend do the people watching routine he would always raise a “Perfect” scorecard regardless of whether the one that passes by is good looking or a human equivalent of a can opener. Is anyone buying this? Is there a person this kind and meek? Does he really have a loving heart or is just someone in dire need for an appointment to an optometrist to update the grade of his spectacles?

Timid Twink’s ultimate crush is of course the Campus Crush who lives alone in a mansion filled with ornate sofa carvings and theater variety draperies. It is an interior concept not so stranger in the life of Ricky Reyes and April Boy Regino. CC is supposed to be really lonely inside because his parents are always away and to show his profound sadness he strips naked as he climbs up the staircase while the image of the blessed Santo Niño looks on in the stairway niche. CC grew fond of Timid Twink but his sincerity and intent was questionable because really, would you never doubt a potential date that made it his mission to be the walking equivalent of a pawnshop? Given his pair of clunky earrings, necklace and bracelet band he’s either channeling Mr.T or advertising his folks’ mining trade.

Then there’s the pyrotechnic of a flaming best friend who single-handedly regaled the movie with campy verbal fireworks and in the process salvaged the unsuspecting audience from irreversible blackout.

Between Timid Guy, the out-of shape “heartthrobs”, the flaming best friend and repeated exposure to ill-fitting, graphic-print super-skimpy swimming gears I’m already too drunk with absurdity to care how the movie progressed or figure out what the true plot is! I was busy howling in ridiculous glee. Cris Pablo, you are a gem, and I truly mean it. It is my fondest hope that your Artistic Vision of Hunk For Losers would be passed into law by congress as rather apt replacement for ROTC because if that happens, only then we can truly achieve genuine world peace.

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Catch a screening of
Campus Crush It's currently showing in Robinsons Cinemas.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Twink Quartet In Slum Minor Movement Zero

Well-cultivated sense of irony, a warped sense of proportion and a taste for absurdity are three bare minimum requirements to truly enjoy Cris Pablo’s latest opus, Boylets. Given the auteur’s credentials it is illogical to enter the theater in search of profundity, thought-provoking dissertations or cineaste-centric treatises. Your film-going pleasure will be amplified if all you have to do is avoid snacking on polvoron while watching the movie, deposit your common sense in a hallway locker, and suspend all realities and levelheaded expectations. To truly grasp the Cris Pablo Cinematic Vision think of junk food floating in intoxicating marinade of formaldehyde and botox.



This is why I anticipate and love every new offering by the tireless auteur who, for all our sheer pleasure, shouldn’t retire as long as there are multitalentless actors out there who remain undiscovered.

Don’t look at me to thoroughly explain the plot. Figuring it out in its entirety would be like asking me to explain Quantum Physics in less than three sentences. All I know is Boylets would be what would come out if you produce a lackadaisical Bel Ami film for poor people.

From what I gather (before my cerebral cortex slid to coma is that) there exists a quartet of friends, three of which are so poor they alternate between petty crimes and providing sexual joys to a handful of fags whose assorted kinks and bizarre fetishes would make Caligula look like Sixth Grade home room viewing material. Only in Cris Pablo’s universe would you see horny gay men so repulsive it will drive our hero/poster boy for smart gays Danton Remoto give the possibility of a celibate straight life a second thought. But I deviate.

One of the characters is a caring son whose mother is deteriorating and ailing and since they are dirt poor, cannot afford medical attention. The scene where he is feeding her measly rice soaked in bullion of cheap chicken soup was distressing to look at. It can easily be the entire redeeming thing of this movie but is not sufficient to save this outlandish oeuvre. This is the brief affecting spark where Pablo's humanity is revealed.

The other character is a passenger tricycle owner that despite living in a crime and larceny-prone ghetto remains naive. (Except for one episode of a stolen tire), he parks his tricycle unmanned for extended period of time and, in this unique universe, the thing never gets car-napped at all.

The third dude is a caretaker of a slum rental property and his burning desire is to go to the province and discover his familial roots.

The other non-poor twink character is so smitten with the slum property caretaker/SPC (it’s difficult to tell them apart because the four leads seem to have a classified competition to outrank Orlando Bloom’s Legolas by being facially immobile and the first one to show a daintiest hint of emotion loses) that he is so obsessed in making SPC happy in order to rethink the plan of going to the province in search of his lost relatives. So Non-poor twink does a lot of chivalrous acts: he talks to the SPC’s ex girlfriend for her to profess her undying love; scours seedy theaters in search for SPC’s mother who abandoned him and now adopts a job whose income is derived from giving lewd theatergoers head jobs; he buys SPC his dream gift of a bicycle and cooks him spaghetti on the eve of his birthday and departure—all done in the great hopefulness that the provincial sojourn will be reconsidered if not altogether canceled.

The quartet gives us a glimpse of how it is to be young, restless and breathtaking untalented. Like the shining acting prowess of head-job giving mother they dazzle us with a vast repertoire of intense emotions consisting of a pout, a grimace, rapid blinking and if you pay close attention, drawn out period of vacant stares.

And the dialogues! The caring son delivers what appears to be random non-sequiturs isntead of a semblance of coherent dialogue. Consider these lines delivered in a breathless monotone after he got expelled from the vehicle (during the drag race equivalent involving wretched tricycles), and upon regaining consciousness after his head hit the hard concrete: “Para ako’ng ibon. Madami na ako’ng atraso sayo. Happy Birthday!” (I’m like a bird. I have many faults to you. Happy Birthday!”

Or this precious negotiating gem of a dialogue:

Twink (looking for a regular client: Nasaan si (insert name of client whose name escaped me)? (Where is name of regular client?)
Unprepossessing Fag Roommate of Regular Client: Wala siye eh. Next time text ka muna bago ka pumunta ha. (He’s not around. Next time please send a text message before dropping by)
Twink: Ikaw na lang gusto mo? (How about you, want to blow me?)
Unprepossessing Fag: Di ako pwede may singaw ako ngayon eh. (I have canker sores, sorry.)
Twink: Eh di tirahin na lang kita sa puwet! (How about I butt-fuck you?)
Unprepossessing Fag: May almoranas rin ako ngayon eh! (I also have hemorrhoids right now.)

Oh, joy! Pure cinema!

Then there’s this brilliant counter-argument of a sour fag when one of the twinks refused to reciprocate a blowjob:

“Mas masarap sumubo ang mga straight kasi hindi sila insecure sa kanilang pagkalalaki!”
(Straight men give better blowjobs because they are secure with their masculity!”)

Thank you Cris Pablo! I’ll commit this pearl to memory because this would be a handy, persuasive line around Colin Farrel!

Useless to overemphasize but this is why I love Boylets. It provides the kind of window into the Human Condition—the kind of window that non-mental-institution-bound patients would rather have padlocked for the general populace’s sake.

I have deep respect for Pablo’s tenacity—He never gives up, and that's admirable. He persists on convincing us that prostitution is the direct consequence of unspeakable neediness. He spins a narrative exploring destitution and sexuality and he is the only indie auteur I have seen so far whose profound understanding of abject poverty doesn’t end in shooting scenes in shanties and slums. He truly understands that poverty goes beyond dire living conditions; that poverty is all about loose sandos, oversize jersey shorts and Orocan furniture.

The film is an enjoyably deranged excursion into a sexual bubble planet—a digital excuse of a flick to get post-pubescent actors to shed their Hanford briefs and flash their pubes. Contrary to critical cries I'd say Boylets is not one dimensional. It is half-dimensional. And I want supersize coke and a bucket of buttered popcorn to go with it!






(Catch Boylets in Robinsons Cinemas now on its second week of screening!)

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Biscuits And Heartbreaks

Compassion is one elevated form of human sentiments. It is transcendent in the sense that you step out of selfishness and supplant your emotions into rooting for the welfare of another person. This may not be the core thesis of Ang Laro Ng Buhay Ni Juan but for some accidental reasons it just did that: this unusually poignant film makes you discover your hidden well of empathy and you surface from the screening astonished, startled and stirred.

Altarejos + Bonife along with Peping Salonga are back in vigorous form. With the recent head-scratching turn in Little Boy Big Boy they seem to have taken a momentary breath and here decided to resume making significant films utilizing their key strengths—that is penning well-thought out narrative, sincere dialogues and sexually provocative propositions. Although the central sex scenes in ALNBNJ are still charged (and even then it makes you wonder how much graphic footage got snipped by the charming folks at MTRCB) they seem to have taken a backseat to make the story, the acting and deft direction rule.

ALNBNJ is a far-reaching, affecting chronicle. It reels in the viewer into following the pivotal day in the life of its protagonist Juan aka Erwin (Ray An Dulay), a live (gay)sex performer who is making a crucial decision in his life: to leave the daily grind of seedy carnal routine in favor of beckonings of a sick mother and a simple provincial life.

Like thousands of other similar stories out there Juan arrived in the city in search of better things and months and months of struggle found him committing man to man action in an underground sleazy bar. Though he appears neither apologetic nor resentful of his fate, he is also not happy of his squandered potential—only the fading, laminated diploma hanging precariously on the dilapidated wall of his ramshackled pigeonhole of a room reminds him of once a promise of a decent life. Typical story for those who have seen scads of equally-sleazy indie movies lately but what made the story entirely his own is his quiet dignity: he never moans, complains or bitches about his ill fate; he forge on the daily struggle with courage and determined detachment.

He is not alone in this foul existence and he is very aware of it: There’s the scene where a destitute neighbor borrowed thirty pesos to buy a scoop of rice only to get bumped by a running street urchin sending every grain on the pavement and getting soaked by the murky canal water. She didn’t erupt into a wild melodramatic sob; she just tried to scoop what she can possibly retrieve, desperately trying to salvage every precious grain. In the catastrophic bar scene (you struggle to neutralize a lump in your throat as) you witness scattered, broken biscuits intended for homecoming present being picked one by one from the floor. It kills you. It breaks your heart. It makes you forget you went into the theater in the hope of looking at raging hard-on of the cast, only to be won over by shimmering raw talents who are in complete command of the role they inhabit.

Adept direction and a subtle script brought out the indisputable talent of Dulay into prominence. Whereas in the past Dulay’s acting aptitude glimmers but get eclipsed (because of the minority of his roles) ALNBNJ is his opportunity and he convinces us that you'll watch this movie not because of raging erections but because of hard-won talent. Even the minor casts approach their characters with precision and humanity they seem not to regurgitate a script but tossing out lines like spontaneous snippet of their daily dialogues.

Somewhere in the course of the film I wondered: Is it just me or the movie has an intriguing argument to make? The case being: Living in squalid condition, striving to live on and finding your way through brutalities of life are discouraging but not reasons to stop caring. Flashes of kindnesses are randomly injected to make this claim tangible: a sympathetic bar owner (essayed with candid, comic glee by Bonife himself who matter-of-factly declares “Kayong mga gays, bisexual, straight curious, straight tripper o ano man ang tawag ninyo sa sarili ninyo isa lang ang ipinunta natin dito: Burat!” Classic!), a benevolent police member of the NBI raid squad, a neighbor who would willingly split her meager meal all seem like rare likelihoods but one cannot deny their uncommon existence either.

Another interesting aspect is the underlying, semi-subversive stand essayed in the movie by putting an accent on the brand of people and forces that prey on the haplessness, desperation, misfortune and plain bad luck of individuals who are careworn and plainly, vainly trying as damned hard to claim a right to live for at least another day.

All throughout these tormenting moments ALNBNJ keeps itself in check: it is careful not to slide into sensationalism or petty melodrama. It never attempts to mine shallow sympathies on the plight and adverse conditions of its characters. It doesn’t rhapsodize the sexual scenes instead use them as natural progressions of the story. Thankfully Altarejos, Bonife and Salonga didn’t rehearse the rampant, cheap indie formula of “I Am So Desperate So I Am A Hooker” route but instead moulds its characters with willpower and fortitude. In so doing the movie and characters make our empathy spontaneous and potent.

ALSBNJ is honest and, despite the pitiable moments, is strangely kindhearted with acute understanding of a struggling soul’s tendencies and motivations. It is a well-crafted oeuvre and treats the widely familiar plot/flawed characters with delicate respect and legitimate deference. It openly tells a blunt story that will resonate with anyone who at one point in his life was driven to misery and anguish and how the viciousness and cruelty of other people (and life in general) will squeeze out that last remaining ounce of hope in you until you are rendered beaten, cynical and emotionally empty.

This is where I applaud and commend Altarejos + Bonife + Salonga. Ang Laro Ng Buhay Ni Juan is like a bittersweet, hand-written love letter designed to wound you. And it does wound you. It rouses your humanity into sudden wakefulness.

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Ang Laro Ng Buhay Ni Juan is currently screening at Robinsons Mall Cinemas (Galleria/Manila. Please check other theater listings). Do support this worthwhile indie movie as a way of encouraging more neat materials to come to life and hit the screens!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Slumdog Male-O-Mares

Cinemas are abuzz with independent films recently offering wide-ranging persuasive propositions that I’d like to view as stick-the-middle-finger-up-the-nostrils-of-Mother-Lily mockery. With the exception of Brillante Mendoza’s incurable stage of Auteuritis Extremis—a terminal syndrome marked by a director’s inability to use a tripod or a steady hand—local independent movies are getting better and better. Be it the craft in storytelling, the stark realism, the convincing narratives, the indies are getting more compelling with skewed perspectives and provocative ideas not beaten to a quivering pulp by the bland-headed executives of ABS-CBN/GMA Films.

Eponymous Pipo is not one of those movies and I wondered what kind of parent would name her son something that, when pronounced (pee poo), gives a disagreeable image of combined liquid waste and solid excrement. Later it became apparent: given the back draft of the movie it dawned to me that the name seems apt because all throughout the film I avoid staring too long at waterlogged backyards of floating shanties in the slums out of fear that something would surface from the murky waters that would make me lose interest for three consecutive dinners.


Pipo (Tyrone Perez) is a story of a reluctant hustler. We see him at the crossroad of his life when the call for familial responsibility outweighs the mandate of decency. Pipo’s best buddy, Mark (Marco Morales), a seasoned hustler/online sex performer, have been pressuring him to do an orgy scene for a dubious B-Movie. In this B-Movie Pipo is required to have sex with the very willing Mark and Mark’s live-in slash cybersex partner (who happens to be the kind of girl Pipo have a soft spot for). This is the cinematic equivalent of a fantasy breeding in the mind of bi-curious FHM magazine readers whose best buddy and his girlfriend are reason enough to digress from heterosexuality for a moment.

To milk out our communal sympathy it is essayed that the Pipo is a gallant brother and judicious son who would do great lengths to help the family he loves. He is a handsome chap concerned with the welfare of those he loves whose only crime is sporting a hurried Ricky Reyes buzz cut. His second crime would be not flashing his pubes or his dick onscreen, which is a grave misdemeanor if you have to consider the loud gripes of four fags seated behind me. (To appease this agitation, and as if on cue, Marco Morales yanked his briefs down thereby thwarting a likelihood of disgruntled riots by hormone-crazed viewers who would otherwise feel shortchanged).

Being the eldest child, Pipo is conflicted over trading his wang for moolah. The pressing needs of living, sacrce food, electricity and the litany of school necessities of his younger siblings torment him to no end. His mom struggles tremendously to make ends wave at each other by selling fish in neighborhood slum areas.

This is the main thesis of the movie: Poverty is the Autobahn to prostitution.

How many times have we seen or read about this argument before? The movie stakes this issue as if prostitution is the exclusive career of slum dwellers. (A concept my condo-dwelling, high-maintenance hoe neighbor would easily debunk. But a condo-dwelling whore is less cinematic, therefore not a saleable film concept?) Whenever I see a movie that says Look At Him He’s So Destitute He Has No Choice But Rent His Balls I begin to feel like I am being punished for not finishing my overpriced soup at Italiannis.

Of course a radical aleck would certainly point out: The way prostitution is viewed in this country is such a terrible thing. The hypocrisy is such that one thanks his lucky stars every day for not having to auction his penis. So what if someone is getting paid for sex? He’s not robbing you of your money, he’s giving you the pleasure and what is so bad about that? Isn’t every job in every antiseptic office a form of whoring, too?

The Philippines has no absolute claim on this “Poverty shortcut to Prostitution” complex. Colombia, Brazil and India have bazillion tales of poverty as reason for commercial sex and their hustlers look like they leapt out of GQ or wandered in from casting call of Dior Homme whereas our local movie’s version offers a sad coterie of folks spotted at D’Mall and slapped them with acting contracts. You go to Las Vegas, Berlin or Amsterdam and you’d meet jolly chaps who seem like they are having a lot of fun doing something they do exceptionally for cash. No histrionics, no pseudophilosophical bullshit. It just is: a job that pays so you might as well embrace and love it.

And here are my other questions: is it imperative that all the independent gay movies coming out in the past two years would require a filthy slum or a super seedy bar to illustrate a gay piece? Would a poignant gay story cannot be told without getting intimate with fifth generation E. Coli/Salmonella co-leasing dilapidated housing and soggy alleys? Are slums the new Petri dishes of homosexuality?

Aside from those mind-boggling questions I must say Pipo is not necessarily a reasonable piece of distraction. The direction was not entirely faulty and you can sense commitment and sensitivity but it appears strewn. The tale is not spectacular, nor does it offer fresh insights on the predicaments of prostitutes or the triumph of the human spirit but it has a candid perseverance that attempts to win you over. Tyrone Perez labors to convey the turmoil and acceptance of his fate with a visible struggling grasp of material. Marco Morales delivers his role with lackluster candor though certain instances in the movie there were glints that he can be convincing with fitting and challenging roles in the future.

Pipo is a cinematic manhole (no pun intended). On one hand you’ll avoid looking under the lid for the darkness and grime. The other hand seduces you into a different kind of mirror where you’d see a sullied version of humanity stare back with unflinching eyes.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Le Cum des Garçons

Ill supply of unique title seems to be the emerging trend among independent movies. Altarejos+Bonife triggered the wave with Little Boy Big Boy and now we have Boy by Solito Aureaus and Boylets by Cris Pablo. If the trailer is any indication Boylets seems poised to bring home the Cheedar Cheese Championship hands down, guaranteed to launch projectile/nostril-spurting of soda among moviegoers. Naturally I would brave the lines to watch it for the promise of sheer ludicrous, campy fun. Being a demented and devoted follower of Pablo’s autership I am hugely convinced that If It’s From Pablo It Must Be A Riot. He is the 21st century minor clone of Joey Gosengfiao and Elwood Perez manifested by his deep understanding of the public’s need for cinematic ridiculousness narrated with pubic hair.

I have repeatedly postponed writing about Little Boy Big Boy. I was convinced I’d be unable to come up with something sensible. LBBB was by far the least inflammatory among the body of provocative works we have learned to anticipate from Altarejos and Bonife. Though it’s not terrible piece I wouldn’t proclaim it a triumph either. I thought of not writing about it at all and opted to wait out till Ang Laro ng Buhay ni Juan hits the theaters but Boy and Boylets arrived and the troika seems to be an interesting thing to pursue.

Don’t get me wrong: LBBB was somewhat clever, the direction was earnest but I felt the very strength which was hallmark of Altarejos and Bonife backfired this time: that is the ability to cast unproven actors to inhabit roles and surprise everyone by delivering spectacular performances. In LBBB the two lead stars were visibly struggling and even the kid star lacked the charisma that comes off easily among children. The girl playmate of the kid emerged to be the saving grace and the cameo of Bonife as the diva slash high priestess facilitator in the grand orgy scene reeled the movie from static dullness.

Interestingly, and I maybe looking for a fish where there is none, the orgy scene provides unintentional revelation and critique on the brutal discrimination within the gay community. You have no business joining orgies if you are fat or unattractive or too swishy, more so if you can’t handle dismissal or rejection. Coming from a work of dynamic duo who steadfastly promote tolerance and equal rights and have used the cinema as medium for wider appreciation of gay culture makes it all the more ironic though it cuts through and drive a point.

LBBB clearly is not intended for fags itching for a quick fix. It is a story that just needed to be told. Unfussy, earnest, wry. It screwed your carnal expectations and, serves you right.

***

Consider Solito Aureaus’ Boy as Snow White’s celluloid love letter to gay twinks everywhere. It is a sweeping letter, throbbing with hormonal tension, pulsating with anticipation and yearning. It is the teenage daybreak to the pleasures and struggles of stumbling into incomprehensible, intense affection - affection so potent it hits you like a quick kick in the head, the ribcage and the crotch, all at the same time.

Fans of Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros) would meet this latest work with a sense of familiarity. With this new opus, it's apparent that teenage angst is the province Aureaus know very well. Boy is gleefully treading this recognizable terrain, this tricky path of honeyed agony mixed with exhilaration of being confronted, for the first time, with the kind of gravity that snatches you from self-satisfaction and sends you spinning into an orbit of desire and persistent pining for someone who seems to be beyond your reach. It is that tender, naive spot that will strike a chord with anyone who has ever rooted for another person who appears incapable of reciprocating your burning infatuation in equal measure.

It tells of the story of aspiring poet, Boy (Aeious Asin), a Barely Legal creative writing student whose freshly-scrubbed appearance belies the murky stirrings of his gonads. He wandered into a gay bar and was instantly smitten by the star dancer Aries (Aries Pena) writhing onstage. Aries moves like his choreography were either inspired by observing mating rituals of scorpions or he's keen on plagiarizing floor exercises of yoga instructors and Olympic gymnasts. This is the kind of choreography that you will be advised against by people behind Anlene.

Boy has charms in spades. It charms you into sharing the conflicting emotions of its protagonists. It charms you into easy empathy by providing a human window into the plights of sex workers. It charms you into believing, like that Snow White chorus line “Someday your prince will come”, and sweep you off your feet. It charms you into discarding cynicism and jadedness and for one moment convinces you to revisit the wide-eyed aspiration that love IS possible. It charms you the most that the acting of Asin and Pena were inspired, graceful, subtle, as they tossed out gestures and dialogues that make you wish you are either delivering them or the recipient thereof.

Various movie scenes ricocheted in my head while watching Boy. There’s that Jerry Maguire moment of talking to a fish (or was it the peek behind the aquarium moment in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo+Juliet?), there’s that La Pieta gesture of Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard (which prompted unanimous gasps and sighs from love-soaked members in the audience) and the fantasy scene at the gay bar evoked the sequence in that teenage gay flick Were The World Mine. While the Stripper-meets-cute-client-and-fall-for-him vibe made me recall the funny misadventures of two dudes in Trick.

Though I must declare my soft spot for Boy - and believe me I thoroughly enjoyed the movie- I must register minor dissent towards how Aureaus seem to view coming of age like cotton candy handed out easily. In both Maximo and Boy, Auereaus appears to approach gay stirrings with down-cushioned mittens. Though I will not go the lengths of calling it fancy autism it’s noteworthy that Maximo's slum-hardened, tough guy father and siblings coddle him like a pampered princess (a far cry from what would happen in reality if you get caught staring at Bench billboards by your maton older brother). In Boy, Asin has a very accepting mother who didn’t launch into melodramatic hysteria (like most mothers would) upon walking into her sleeping son’s room and (finding him with cum all over his belly/or that crucial scene of) discovering him in bed blissfully asleep with a call boy in a cloud of post-coital haze.

Questions: How many of these ideal relatives exist out there? Where do these kind of people live? And how come no one I know rarely is in acquaintance with any of them? Is this wishful thinking to encourage everyone to dive for the open lifestyle? How many strippers out there would be instantly forge endearment with clients?

If the answers to these questions are not easy to come by in real life, in a way, does it give young gay people a false sense of hope? And all it takes is visit to Little Boy Big Boy’s orgy scene or opening an account in ferociously dismissive PlanetRomeo/ManJam, or a rather bad encounter with con hustlers for a sobering dose of reality?

Then there’s the glowing press fuss about how the movie shed a new light on the quandaries of sex workers and how they are given human dimensions in the movie. Laudable effort indeed, but this not a novel perspective. The Prostitute-Are-Humans-Too essays have been explored many times over in varying degrees of treatment and accomplishments and although in Boy Aries delivered this insight with great panache and restraint it is hardly a groundbreaking proposition.

Auereaus is a gifted, sensitive auteur. He has very confident command of his materials and point of view and he has deep reserves of sympathy for his characters and audience. He skates the delicate line between gentleness and perspective-changing without subjecting you to a moralist preamble. He is also possessed of that deft ability to infuse a dose of high-art (poetry reading/interpretative dancing/poetic monologues, anyone?) and keeping things in check to prevent a downhill into pretentiousness.

Boy is rich in breath-taking textures, mood, emotion and metaphors. It is a cinematic reminder of youthful delinquency and the very first encounter with tenderness remembered in vivid details. It makes you dream.

And you thought you have forgotten how.


*****
*****


(Coming up Pipo. AND Boylets.)

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Volunteer Brigands

Losing humor is a rare occasion for me but tonight I so wanted to be The Grinch who wishes he brought an Uzi.

I decided to go to the Mega Tent at the DepEd complex, a few of blocks from where I live, to participate in the Human Chain project. If you are the exceptional species who was immune to the viral Facebook infection let me explain. The Human Chain was an initiative calling on volunteers to help distribute relief goods to typhoon evacuees currently housed at The Ultra. Some five hundred families sleeping on the cold concrete floor of the oversize gymnasium needed help. Volunteers will fall in line and pass on packed goods from the Mega Tent to The Ultra, recreating the human equivalent of the Great Wall. Think analog conveyor belt with hands.

Anyway the Facebook call was somewhat ominous. It said “Wear Green.”

I work in the creative industry and green means something else. On the metaphorical note it could mean life, hope, a newbie or soiled thoughts.

In this case it meant mingling with well-scrubbed, well-fed, folks with accented twangs, and cute beyond belief citizens of a certain university infamous for having Parking as the most difficult academic course. (Hello high school life, Misterheuge!)

I was in awe. People who would ordinarily consider lifting a broom beneath their dignity or doing menial jobs a fate one stoplight away from oppression or death were busily packing goods, animatedly bantering, not minding inhaling the CO2s of many jologs sweating, laboring next to them in the crowd. If this is not the closest thing to World Peace, I dunno what is.

So what got my goat?

The fucking grandstanders.

While majority of the well-intentioned Green People were frantically working along plebeians, a number of Green Dorks seem to have wandered in by mistake. Instead of toiling for the sake of others they were busy like, talking, like, you know, while busily preening, like with their friends, posing along neatly organized bags of goodies making peace signs and smiling like demented versions of Spongebob Fancypants!

I didn’t see some of them lift a finger to help; the only fingers they own that were busy were the ones glued to the shutters of iPhones and digital cams.

I wished I had access to a megaphone so I can yell: “This is not fucking Disneyland!”

What a bunch of retards. There is no doubt those images are gonna clog facebook later along captions on how they helped packed those goodies.

Huy poseurs, mahiya naman kayo! You are ruining the profound intentions of people with genuine motive to help. You are giving non-Green gawkers more ammunition against you by acting like bratty layabouts.

The Human Chain had a good turn out and excellent achievement. It restored our collective faith in human capacity for empathy/sympathy and for one moment you forget demographic divides for a common goal. According to the organizer it started as a joke but to the amazement of everyone, it snowballed into a tremendous response in the time of needs of others. Kudos to you people! This rotten country needs more of you!

All it takes is a few charming folks to foul the mood. I shudder thinking of the very likelihood that those PseudoVolunteers will end up running for public office.

Before that happens give me an Uzi.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Redemption Schlong

Ditching a blogging habit was not what I intended but somehow slid off to. I never knew the put down review of a book “Once you’ve put it down, it’s difficult to pick it up again” would take resonance in this case. Then I happen to have feisty online friends like Doc Ian and Misterheuge who do not understand the concept of leaving people at peace. They needled me to post something, in alternating degrees of coercion, witty tirades and mild threats. Though I have been debating for weeks whether to finally kick the non-update lapse by posting alternative point of view on indie mavericks’ Altarejos+Bonife recent effort, Little Boy Big Boy. I must say the urge to kick start a blog resurrection wasn’t as tantalizing enough as creating a Manjam account or combing Burgos street for cleavage and tease. I will definitely write an overdue post about Little Boy Big Boy soon. However, the movie that salvaged me from blog coma stars what I thought was the worthy torch bearer of Ice Cube’s acting in Anaconda.

Bayaw (pronounced bah-yao, meaning Brother-In-Law) is the movie, and just the sound of the word is enough to make me erupt into hearty snickers. Mention the word in breathy utterances and you’d have Seiko Films materials complete with Kenny G soundtrack, bad fashion and campy dialogues. Naturally these things appeal to me and, as you already know reading my past entries, I have the fixation for absurdity.

Then I got the revelation of my life. Janvier Daily can act! This is the kind of thing you get when you sign up for volunteer work thinking you’d be toiling with Falcon or Bel Ami hopefuls only to find out they can be conversant on Sartre, Freud or Newton and can make Jeff Koons and Kurt Andersen look like lumbering amateurs. Hyperbole? Sure. If you want safe blandness go memorize Apples Aberin’s fashion critiques at Project Runway Season Two. (I wonder why her name is not hyphenated anymore. Whatever happened to Sadhwani?)

Bayaw, (insert snicker here) is a fun flick. The movie poster of Janvier reminds me of the shivering wreck in Trainspotting plus a cigarette and a scowl. The story revolves around the in-laws on the run. It is a curiously working jumble of the Thai film Bangkok Love Story, the French flick Base Moi which is carnage and sex maturity of Thelma and Loise, and the breathless sprint of Run Lola Run.

Paolo Rivero plays the role of Nilo Vergara, a brooding, ruggedly handsome mildly corrupt policeman who was discharged from service after being framed for a drug buy-bust operation. Janvier Daily plays Rhennan, his brother-in-law, a street bum in baggy cargo whose higher calling is to become the Michelangelo and Steve Wynn of spider fight gambling. Their fates are bonded interminably after a physical tussle with Paolo’s nagging, cheating wife, leading to her alleged accidental death.

Pursued by the shockingly efficient police force, they dodge arrest, sowing petty crimes, mayhem and murder in their wake, undoubtedly to honor the legacy of Andrew Cunanan. Complicating things, Janvier has a cute male stalker (Andrew Miguel) who follows their trail, blackmailing and ultimately assisting them in snatching purses. He has the hots for Janvier and has a sneaky agenda. To emphasize that this movie is thick on the gay slant he tries to score a fuck with both steamy leads and I don't blame him. Who wouldn’t?

Being on the lam drives the in-laws on the edge and the tension was so palpable that while hiding in a rundown hostel, they turned on the TV and beheld porn. Terribly tense and horny Paolo demanded a head job by pointing a gun on Janvier’s temple. The scene, though appeals to the fantasies of many, is somewhat droll. Excuse me, Paolo, but if you are THAT attractive, would it really be necessary to hold someone at gunpoint to score a blowjob? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to just show up at Manjam or PlanetRomeo grand eyeballs? When Paolo did the same stunt on the cute stalker rouge, I thought that gun-pointing for head-job is becoming a ridiculous trend. Paolo, in the future, should you need to get off, the gun would be superfluous. Why terrorize someone when you can have hundreds of much-willing fluffers just by wearing the movie’s police costume and spamming the blog postings of SGLover on the fetish forums of PinoyG4M.com?

To disclose the motivations of the two leads it is mandatory that they get caught. The interrogator was fun to watch because under the unflattering fluorescent lamp he is what would happen if Manoling Morato goes straight but is not quite ready to let go of his Lyna Face Cream.

One thing should be established: This movie is Javier Daily’s redemption. It is as if he studied the restraint of Julio Diaz in the recent indie outings and took notes while upping the ante by flashing his schlong so as to remind everyone that his new found acting maturity comes with a really big bonus. In the scene where he was given a bath by the obsessed stalker I can hear popcorn kernels dislodging the throats of excitable guys in the audience and many screaming types suppressed a wild shriek by sucking deeply on their oversize Slurpees. The pivotal confrontation scene between the husband and wife where he took a drastic move was so intense I now officially strip him of The Ice Cube statue I naively awarded him in Roxxxane. All this guy needs is good material and a capable director.

Needless to say I loved Bayaw. It is a wild romp of crime, mayhem and surprising tenderness. Paolo was a disheveled dreamboat who has the sturdy acting chops that prevents the whole material going downhill into cheesiness. The plot is neither ground-breaking nor very fresh but it sure is compelling. Monti Parungao’s direction was confident and the cast committed to hold the movie together by delivering more than respectable performances. It is the kind of escapism that is worthwhile to watch. Or imagine. In this vein let me say:

Brooding, ruggedly handsome single policemen out there, I can run and I have a sister.

Read More......

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shoot Them Hazardous Big Birds Perching On Billboards

Buwayahman, thank you for pointing a stream of unsuspecting bloghoppers my way, also for sharing my amused incredulity over Bench’s Bleak Is Back campaign, but most importantly for sharing this link, which, after reading it makes me feel good about living in a country where a hard working (pun semi intended) Public Works Secretary selflessly multitask as an MTRCB vigilante, a quack bishop, an urban traffic specialist, a cognitive behavior authority, an ethical guardian and alert defender of humanity’s crusade against hormonal urges. No words can convey my deep admiration to Secretary Ebdane that in order to compensate on this inadequacy I seek inspiration at Bangbus.com.

I am sure Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane is a fine, God-fearing, conscientious public official who took it upon himself to protect us from our irresponsible ways such as possibly enjoying a crotch shot of Marc Nelson in barely-there briefs too much. Though I will say that Dingdong Dantes as a celestial figure with brushed on tan and airbrushed crotch is a hilarious proposition I must say that to some people it represents a wish Santa will be too cranky to grant come Christmas. In the economics-fueled mind of Ben Chan, this makes a lot of sense. The more people see Dingdong’s dong the more the Bench cash register dings.

“Seriously,” David Sedaris once remarked in one of his public talks when he visited Manila. “There is an actual person named Dingdong?”

Which triggers a semi-philosophical question: What kind of mother would allow her daughter to go to the prom with a guy named Ding Dong without getting alarmed or cracking up?

Would you date a guy named Ding Dong?

But I am digressing.

Much as I might admire the dedicated valiance of Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, I will go on record to say that I am conflicted: if there should be a moral standard prohibiting everything obscene then how come our fine secretary is not making much of a ruckus over being publicly plied with Boy Abunda’s nostrils? Is Abunda's flaming nostrils considered Obscene Lite compared to, say, Rafael Rosell's equally flaming bulge? Which is more sinful? Kris Aquino selling products she doesn't patronize or Katrina Halili's cleavage in yet another Bench outdoor tease?

Shouldn’t a mere mention of Boy Abunda and billboard under the same breath a violation of human rights?

But before you, moralists out there take your machetes out allow me to meditate on that Inquirer piece.

Ebdane has ordered billboard owners to remove the “sexy” ads, saying they distract and slow down motorists, including him.

“They themselves know that some of these billboards are sexually suggestive. They (outdoor advertisers) should voluntarily remove these billboards,” he said.


Sexually suggestive? When our very beloved and outspoken president once said her sex life “IS healthy” during on-air interview no one took issue even if that banter of a statement ripped across our collective consciousness and possibly would be a basis of the rise in classified enrollment in a private academy training emotionally scarred assassins. The entire legislative body going all worked up because some beauty surgeon videotaped his exploits broadcasted during evening news where school kids are given assignments to watch for the next day’s news report in class. What is that then, sexually subtle?

He claimed that sexy advertisements contribute to the worsening of the traffic situation in Metro Manila, already one of the worst in Asia.

Yes, let’s blame the billboards and leave MMDA and corrupt traffic enforcers blameless.

Ebdane noted that these billboards make motorists lose their focus on the road.

We can remedy this. Only Jesus Saves! billboard will be allowed and people would rather stare on asphalt ahead.

DPWH Director for Planning Service Melvin Navarro said that for drivers, a split-second look at the billboards could lead to an accident.

Indeed. While we're at it let’s have Mr. Navarro’s cranium scanned for permanent damage.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bleak Is Back


Surely, you have noticed it. How can you not when traffic conditions in this city would have it that you’d sooner finish Proust’s Remembrance Of Things Past than gain a yard forward in EDSA on a Monday evening? And let's not even linger on the tortures of Friday evenings, which is the ideal time of the week to realize your tardy nervous breakdown. That, or your instant induction to Homicidals Anonymous.

Anyway, I’m drifting far from the main mutton of this entry.

Surely you have noticed Bench’s Black To School billboard along EDSA, somewhere in the neighborhood of Estrella and Buendia. It features hip hop star JayR, beckoning you towards carnal thoughts, with a sly smile and not a stitch more than a black leather jacket and white underwear.

I craned my neck hundreds of feet upwards, making a fine impression of Linda Blair the first time I spot it while speeding off to an appointment in Makati. It was a sight to behold and I am not talking in terms of hormonal considerations.

It was a sight to behold because whoever thought of that idea must be licking hallucinogenic perspirations off exotic frogs’ backs. It was beyond cheeseball. It’s a scream!

Back to school terms in Manila coincides with the rainy season, which coincides with the western nations celebrating summer, which if you meditate upon the disparity, is the equivalent of a climate time warp that proves God has a sense of humor. Or, as steadfast Environmentalists would sternly point out, it’s another infallible proof that Ben Chan must have a naughty fetish to have finally come to terms with publicly.

Leather in a tropical country is beyond bravery. Bench is beyond brave, obviously. Bench must be the only global brand I know who refuse to acknowledge the fact that humans have sweat glands.

Since this is a “Black to School” campaign I am naturally giving it more thought than necessary.

“Black to School” is an attempt at wordplay but in this campaign it has the same wit as George Bush buying a dildo. Why didn’t they just made is easy by declaring “Bleak Is Back” and save everyone the trouble?

(Another possibility: "Blank is Back" in reference to the concept.)

And I am interested to know: Which school would have a black leather jacket, an exposed abdomen and plain underwear as standard academic uniform because I’m anticipating long lines in front of its admissions office!

The concept, art direction and execution points into one speculative route: This kind of uniform can only exist in an elite Prep School where the Director of Student Services took inspiration from a scholarly thesis on Tom Of Finland with complementary extensive research in the archives of Bel Ami Online.

This is a very enticing proposition until I realized another aspect of the Black To School Billboard: the crotch was airbrushed that makes me wonder if instead of a penis JayR found the crotch area as ideal storage for one miniature pillow. Or could it be that this is due to the materials innovation made possible by collaboration with Tempur –Pedic to meet the standards of MTRCB, PANA and approvals of the clergy?

Bench used to convey advertising pieces that make you aspire or dream. This is no longer the case with the label lately, I am not giddy to report. "Black To School" makes this more apparent with its simple mission: cardiac arrest from laughter.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Outrated

Mark, editor and publisher at Outrate messaged me, seeking permission to re-post my insane review of Cris Pablo's Moreno. I hope this won't encourage people to poke their eyes with red-hot forks after they rent the DVD and watch it.

I told him that as a matter of habit i mock movies with glee but do try to encourage people to support the worthy ones. He replied thusly:

"Poking fun at lousy movies and encouraging people to see the good ones is what Outrate exists for!"

Check out Outrate! It's a relief to know someone shares this breed of neurosis!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Dog Daze


"Over a dog!" Jack Nicholson sobs in As Good As It Gets. "Over an ugly dog!"

I find myself becoming sympathetic to his obsessive-compulsive, mean-spirited character because as bibliophilic luck would have it a very thin book would send my insecurity into an all-time high. I was reading Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog and I was stunned.

This seemingly effortless book has visceral effect on me despite its breezy nature. Its comic innocence coats the unadorned profundity and general marvel that only a child-at-heart can truly grasp. Not exactly superior to the almost reverential regard I place on Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Le Petit Prince and Jose Saramago’s Tale of The Unknown Island but Love That Dog sweeps me into the great, sweet pleasure of having discovered it. It’s nothing short of a gem.

It’s the unfussy but totally charismatic story of Jack, the little boy whose awakening towards the strange magnetism of writing poetry is gently nudge with positive encouragement by Miss Stretchberry, his teacher. The book (as previously noted) is digestible in one coffee break, written in an interesting way that would probably happen if you compound Anne Frank and E.E. Cummings into a less mischievous version of Calvin ( of Calvin & Hobbes). It has that hypnotic feel-good quality that warms over the jadedness of even hardcore cynics (present blogger included).

Take for instance the first entry:

September 13

I don’t want to
because boys
don’t write poetry.

Girls do.


Or his take on The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams:

September 17

I don’t understand
the poem about
the red wheelbarrow
and the white chickens
and why so much
depends upon
them.

If that is a poem
about the red wheelbarrow
and the white chickens
then any words
can be a poem.

You’ve just got to

make
short
lines.

His almost-naïve wit is disarming. Take for instance his reaction to Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost:

October 17

What was up with
the snowy woods poem
you read today?

Why doesn’t the person just
keep going if he’s got
so many miles to go
before he sleeps?

And why do I have to tell more
about the blue car
splattered with mud
speeding down the road?

I don’t want to
write about that blue car
that had miles to go
before it slept,
so many miles to go
in such a hurry.

I was chuckling like a maniac when I read his understanding of The Pasture by Robert Frost:

January 10

I really really really
did NOT get
the pasture poem
you read today.

I mean:
somebody’s going out
to the pasture
to clean the spring
and to get
the tottery calf
while he’s out there
and he isn’t going
to be gone long
and he wants YOU
(who is YOU)
to come too.

I mean REALLY.

And you said that

Mr. Robert Frost
who wrote
about the pasture
as the one
who wrote about
those snowy woods
and the miles to go
before he sleeps—
well!

I think Mr Robert Frost
has a little
too
much
time
on his
hands.

Kirkus Reviews called this compact treasure “A really special triumph” and I nod like a deranged woodpecker in absolute assent. This miniature tome defused my skepticism and I am wide eyed in amazement.

My ultimate, special triumph, is owning this book, courtesy of Booksale.

At forty five bucks it's practically a precious gift, if I ever see one!


= = =


A sampling of my recent Booksale loot:

01. The intelligent, compelling, lucid Kiss & Tell from the beautiful mind of Alain de Botton. Seventy five bucks.

02. The eloquent, tender and beguiling Floating In My Mother’s Palm by one of my favorite contemporary fiction authors, Ursula Hegi. Forty five bucks

03. The amply comical slash savage tragicomedy in Things We Do For Love by playwright/director/actor Alan Aykbourn. Twenty bucks.

Instead of paying my electricity bills I hoarded books which will make me the least favorite human being by Meralco inspectors, who will undoubtedly disconnect my power next week with mad glee.

I’ll be living in darkness but my mind will be glowing every time I put each volume down.

Read More......

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gallerina Doubts God And Other Tales Of Artistic Missteps

Deducting a title from dusty pillars of books fencing my bedside was something I was hell-bent of accomplishing these past few days. If you have been occasionally drifting here in my blog you'll, by now, be aware that I belong to that anomalous subspecies of human beings with narcotic impetus to hoard books, stack them like soon-to-be-forgotten bricks in one corner of the room to soak dust until boredom hits and the urge to read them become the only alternative to serial killing.

Recent hoarding spree includes copies of A.A. Gill’s The Angry Island, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Roddy Doyle’s Oh Play That Thing and the title I devoured in one sitting, Danielle Ganek’s Lulu Meets God And Doubts Him.

Lulu is a glossy, stylish, smart, brisk, (often hilariously) wry send up to Manhattan’s nutty Art Scene, populated by snooty “gallerinas” (bratty, gorgeous gallery assistants), dubious but high-powered art dealers, ravenous collectors and egotistical artists who fuel the psychosis of Art Lust.

It’s a challenge to put it down. You’re immediately siphoned into the riotous circus of characters nonchalantly trading greed, ambition, power, fame and fortune, making you wonder whether there is a special cell in hell allocated to people who would declare, say, a bucket of brittle cow dung high concept magnum opus. There were no cow dung in the book of course, and I write this in hyperbolic sense, but personally having once worked in a gallery of a museum (and having been exposed to the kind of personalities lucidly described in the book) it is not far from being the neighborhood of really happening.

Tucked in the middle of the debauched tale are ponderings that will ring true regardless whether one is working in the creative industry or not. The sardonic protagonist, an atypical gallerina who cultivates a hidden path to being a bonafide painter herself, mulls over while attempting a self portrait:

There’s something in my eyes when I look at them in the mirror, what is that? Not doubt. More like insecurity. I want to convey an expression of what’s it like to be twenty-eight, knowing you’re a grown up but wondering what you’re supposed to be when you grow up. I want to capture what it looks like when you start to realize you have to let go of your dreams.

She robbed many of us of our very own familiar sentiments.

~ ~ ~

While we are dipping in the subject of art books allow me to take this sudden/short-lived vacation from being a complete zit and urge you to check out Preview Magazine’s stunning book of collaboration titled Preview Art.

I am not the target audience of the fashion/style rag nor am I an ardent follower of their monthly lunacy but I am very much impressed by what they have accomplished with this project.

Preview Art explores the intersection of avant-garde fashion and contemporary art in one spectacular compendium. The Philippines’ progressive crop of multitalented artists convenes alongside inventive local fashion designers, documented through cutting edge styling, art direction and photography.

This Fashion+Art concept is not exclusively original to Preview as we have throughout the years looked at groundbreaking efforts at Visionaire, Spoon, Self Service, Tank, Wad even Paper and i-D magazines. Even locally-published bi-annual Imagine magazine pushes the boundaries in this variety of exploration.

Nevertheless this is a creditable, worthwhile endeavor for Preview Magazine as it coincides with the publication of their one hundred fiftieth editions. Instead of producing self-congratulatory circle jerks for their accomplishments (through reprinting their best past works) they refused to regurgitate their archives and did the most inspired thing: publishing a striking volume that surveys the visionary practitioners in the artistic disciplines, highlighting the most innovative, conceptual approaches. The cutting edge soft-bound effort divulges a sort of foretaste to where Philippine Creative Psyche is heading when encouraged. That is a very smart thing to do.

Noticeable nonetheless is Preview Art’s “The Usual Suspects” decisions. The (majority, if not all of) designers, stylists, photographer/s and artists featured are already big names or semi-established brand names in the scene. Don't get me wrong; I admire many of those names and their works. If I may register a slight regret, this project could have been a very impactful, landmark platform to catapult obscure but prodigiously gifted, or serve as a pool for brilliant undiscovered or emerging creative individuals into prominence, or at least in the appreciative radar of the mainstream. This could have been a good route if Preview wishes to assert its claim as THE progressive seer—THE Forward Thinker among local style rags.

Regardless of this minor lapse nothing can alter the fact that Preview Art accomplished a striking momentum in curating works into a tome of distinctive voices. Through its high styled-high art convergence we get a refreshing glimpse: That Pinoy creativity is not only thriving, it is throbbing with dynamism and excitement.

Well done Preview Magazine! For your birthday I wish you’d be a maverick and abolish “Black Is Back” in your coverlines!

Read More......

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bobby Eusebio! You Naughty, Naughty Boy!

Getting a community tax certificate at the Pasig City Hall, though not entirely an experience comparable to a brief detention in fifth level of Hell (or Auschwitz), is something strikingly similar to masochism that you emerge from it more sympathetic to Holy Week flagellants. Having no patience compounds the lovely experience, especially when you are handed a waiting number 585 and the counter is still serving number 23. There is no scientific/statistical evidence yet but you suspect the act of getting cedula is a prime recruitment tool for rebel and separatist groups. After fifteen minutes of shifting your weight in those welded airport chairs you begin nursing violent thoughts. Amplifying your growing homicidal tendencies will be the ceiling-mounted televisions bookending opposite ends of the hall, showing the painful, unwatchable noontime duel of equally-brainless dreck popularly known as Eat Bulaga and Wowowee. Twenty minutes of these lunchtime genius and you'll catch yourself plotting to wipe out Camp Crame, The Congress, The Senate and the entire local chapter of Lady Gaga Fans Club.

Ages later you're nothing but a quivering heap of mutated protoplasm. You regroup your scattered sanity and get the hell out.

On the way home you spot the City slogan emblazoned boldly on the tacky pedestrian overpass. It yells:

SIGE PA...PASIG! SIGE PA!*

You suddenly feel dirty.





* More, Pasig! More! (This is the decent/Rated GP translation)

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Summer Flyer Designed During An Eclipse

Ignore the ugly design. Join the pretty fun it promises.( I am NOT responsible for this acid trip design. A Blog friend requested I post this and threatens to self-destruct if I don't. So, there).


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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dialogue Straight Out Of A Gosengfiao Script

Seated next to me in a cybercafé is an ultra-aggressive salesman from a Pyramid/Networking company involved in indeterminate products slash foreign exchange. He was explaining how the schemes work to a posse of loud women who seemed to be new recruits, or as I fondly call them, suckers.

I tried to zone out their networking twaddle but it was hard to ignore one of the women’s three-hued garish eye shadow/s, in shades that would make the pantone swatch book/the rainbow bright characters/the teletubbies/Elton John/Bob Mackie/Liberace’s closet look neutral.

“Ikaw, SIR!” he suddenly turned to me (which made me jump a little) with the mad enthusiasm not seen outside Oprah/Wheel Of Fortune/Televised Evanglism. “Baka gusto ninyo sumideline!” (How about you, sir?! Would you be interested to make a quick buck?”)

Even a frozen Rice-A-Roni would have a better judgment not to ever attempt declining a networking salesman’s behest. They thrive on rejection. As a sales mantra would have it: “Selling begins when the client says no!”

Or the way I would decode it: “If they decline, the fools, bring out the Holy Book and begin quoting from the Book of Revelations until they are wracked with guilt and terror that their brains melt into a gooey muck and start oozing out of their nostrils!”

Idiot that I am, in my scatterbrained state, politely but foolishly uttered a tepid “No, thank you.”

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Sensing a golden chance to dazzle his lady friends of his convincing genius, and, the potential of an economic reward of converting me into a slavering cash cow/downline he latched on my disinterest/rejection like fungal infection that refuses to go away.

“Ayaw mo yumaman?!” (Don’t you want to be rich?!) he exclaimed in a mix of shock, awe and disbelief.

Look, I may be a bonafide zit online but in real life I try to be polite and respectful of people trying to have a crack at a living. So I half-smiled and shook my head.

Naturally this incensed the resolve of the salesman, who by now is fully enraptured in an evangelical mission to convert my disbelieving refusal and embrace the untold wealth awaiting me in the grand altar of pyramid scams, errr schemes.

“Bakit?!” (Why?!)

Now I was struggling to phrase a difficult decision to refuse an equally-pesky client request and the salesman's hell-bent in not giving me a slice of quiet or a semblance of personal space.

“I am very busy, I have no time.” I said without tearing away my focus on my typing.

“Ayaw mo kumita ng MORE THAN TWENTY THOUSAND a month?!” (Are you refusing potential 20K earning in a month?” His eyes flashed like the Mephistopheles in Faustus.

Wickedness crept into my warped mind.

I stopped typing, faced him, stared, smiled with the menacing glee of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, and hissed:

“I earn more than that per hour!”

A lie, obviously. But peace was restored between us.

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So It’s No Longer A Dirty Word?

Bisexuals are regarded as odd subspecies in the self-loathing gay-o-sphere. Not only erroneously misunderstood but the mere mention of the B word divides even equal rights-seeking gaylandia into two fierce camps: The first camp dismisses bisexuality as one stoplight away from full blown fruitcakehood ergo the one who claims to be occupying that gray zone is in the state of deep denial, pretentious, hypocritical.

The second camp reflexively frowns on the bi word with a mix of skepticism, trivializing/mild hostility, snide suspicion and open disdain.

The poor Bis of the world! Overtly vilified for daring to enjoy both worlds!

(Personally I don't give a toss about how snarky folks view the B word. Think whatever you want about the B word, brand me whatever convenient adjective your narrow mind can come up with, but nothing will change the fact that coitus with the feminine breed can be equally enjoyable as an occasional bromance. Just don’t sum me up with your insular way of thinking because I do not meddle with who or what you fuck either.)

Not that the B kind needs validation but the species is teetering into becoming a
trend. The Daily Beast argues the coolness of having it both ways and as a sort-of-expected consequence the smarty-snarks at Gawker reacted with automatic wisecracks and jovial lampoon.

Does this mean the B word is officially laundered? Or should we revisit that orientation-bending gray zone David Bowie glamorized as pansexuality and declare it the new black?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oral Pleasure Awaits A Zac Efron Clone!

Scatterbrain infection is still upon me, rendering me incompetent in the blogging department. So as not to fling this feeble blog into the permanent depths of passing black holes I’d feed it a steady supply of random things. This policy is of course the blogging equivalent of eating LuckyMe instant noodles: filling yet empty. Or staring at the shirtless Zac Efron: compelling yet intangible.

So!

For this edition of LoudCloud I’ll share recent stuff I hoarded to gather dust by my bedside.

01. Philip Roth – The Great American Novel
02. Richard Russo – Straight Man
03. Martin Amis – Success
04. Richard Dooling – Bet Your Life
05. Douglas Coupland – The Gum Thief
06. Armistead Maupin – Michael Tolliver Lives
07. Don Dellilo - Falling Man

In case words fail to arouse you here are a few tracks to subsist on:










The Evil Panda offers an incentive: he'll enthusiastically extend oral pleasure to those who can guess all the titles and artists and the albums these stuff were pilfered from.*

Start googling. Meanwhile Evil Panda is being busy paralyzing his gag reflex.





(* subject to Vatican approval, of course. Only applicable to those who look like the aforementioned shirtless Efron)

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Yet Another Dispatch From The Limbo

Crawling out of the limbo is what I have been struggling on for a while. No, wait, that's a tad melodramatic. It's beyond cheesy I caught myself rolling my own eyeballs while typing that first sentence. Someone should kick me in the face. The impact might jolt my dormant snark back into circulation.

Sad to report that I have nothing much to report here. Hold on, that's not entirely true. I have lots of things to whine about, so much it would guarantee your instant migraine. In this regard you might want to thank your lucky stars that I cannot seem to commit my bent thoughts into a proper, coherent entry. This forfeits you the calamity of enduring any of it.

So what to do in times like this?

Distracting pesky voyeurs (like that evil panda) would be a very good trick. Here are a few choice digressions.

  • 01. Marlon Brando, he, of lust worthy genetic configuration and prodigious talent, has a photograph fellating a friend that resurfaced online. It was chronicled in Brando Unzipped and he didn't deny it, dismissing it as something not to be taken seriously because it was taken as a joke in a party. Regardless, that blasted photo didn't erode my respect for his talent one bit.
  • 02. After Fabien Baron's sudden departure from Interview Magazine (after spinning the magazine from stagnancy with this very bold cover), graphic wunderkinds MM Paris took reigns. I have been avidly following the Baron/MM musical chair game that spanned across collaborations from Calvin Klein Jeans, Arena Homme+, Vogue Paris and now, Interview. Twinky video poster boy Zac Efron is MM's launching cover.
  • 03. Speaking of Wunderkinds, the indie dynamos, Altajeros + Bonife tandem is threatening local movielandia with another collaboration. (I reviewed one of their works here.) I haven't been in the movie theater lately but I'll line up for this one when it hits the screens. If my hunches are to be believed, this collaboration will hopefully pump much needed combustion in the comatose pinoy movies considering the steady plague of dumb and dumbest flicks yawning onscreen.

A scab-ridden, crabby kitten.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Strangely Sterile Thoughts At Jesus’ Funeral

Concentration was such a struggle. The heat was merciless at lunchtime when the readings (and insightful reflections) on the Seven Last Words commenced and having skipped breakfast and lunch entirely made the three hour ritual challenging.

As the priests reflect on the Savior’s dying words my consciousness kept on detaching itself from the church proceedings like an aimless juvenile delinquent and hopscotched freely toward less sacred (but not evil/profane either) cubicles cluttering my scattered mind.

The same thing happened when I joined the Good Friday procession which bisected a nearby posh, gated village, interrupting the steady flow of traffic in the busy intersection of the central city district where I live. I attempted to join the public recitation of the Holy Rosary but kept getting distracted by abrupt modification in pacing of the three teenagers of varying degrees of devastating cuteness in front of me. I theorized that they were siblings and cousins and like me, their attention span must be somewhere else, which I assumed to be dwelling on abstained games of DotA or World Of Warcraft. They don’t seem to be concentrating either, and they carry off the air of casualness that made the whole religious rite seem like a requisite college thesis that needs to be done without due respect to enraptured interest or depth and commitment for the exercise. Had this been a day outside the Holy Triduum, my contaminated mind would be nursing thoughts that would lewdly float towards the sets of twinky videos, but strangely, no, my usually-hyperactive imagination favorably chose an antiseptic hide.

I wasn’t thinking corrupt thoughts or anything lewd, which, now that I am typing this, seems like a major improvement.

Which gives you, Evil Panda, something to remark on.

:: :: ::

P.S. On a more virtuous note, Easter Sunday is the most important Sunday in the entire Christian calendar. Do make an effort to attend church rites in recognition of God’s mercy and kindness (or an act of gratitude) for having Jesus redeem us all, aberrant humans.

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