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.)


datu/the wilted prune said...

GIFT! :-w

MisterHeuge said...

This review is making me watch these films against my will. Ugh. =P

datu/the wilted prune said...

@MisterHeuge against your will ka dyan. >:)

loudcloud said...

@ datu :P :p :p hahahaha.

@ misteheuge: dali watch and review them! hahaha