There are reportedly 12 full frontal exposures of Marco Morales in the movie Butas. If you’re watching in its current theatrical run, don’t bother counting. Most of it has been blurred by the filmmakers as a concession to the MTRCB (Movie and Television Review and Classification Board), which is really just a long name for "Censors". Too bad, because the movie kind of needed the money shots. Economically shot in one dilapidated house with only three actors (plus a few supports), the talky, gimmicky drama doesn’t sustain interest on its own. I wonder if the director, Bong Ramos, was aware that by botching intermittent parts of his film, it ended up disengaging.
There’s still a prevailing notion that story is the most important aspect of a movie. But a sex film without the sex is like a musical without the songs and dances. Sure, you might still understand the story, but is it still an experience? The next time you watch a historical drama, try blurring out the fancy costumes. Or the lingering panoramic views in a travel destination movie. (They don’t add to the story anyway.) The film is likely to seem cheaper and more boring.
Which is what becomes of Butas. A man plots to end his wife’s affair by murder. He first spies on the lovers through peepholes in the ceilings. (Scorpio Nights is proving to be the most influential erotic film in Philippine cinema.) The movie gets even more postmodern halfway, as we watch a video record of the same event that exposes the truth of what happened – sort of a hidden video sex scandal by way of Blair Witch Project. The most clever thing about the movie is how many plot turns it creates with such a limited setup. But ultimately, this is a familiar sin story with an unsurprisingly conservative core: Do any of our infidelity movies ever end in anything other than renewed marital devotion?
As the husband, veteran hunk Allen Dizon keeps his clothes on, but Marco Morales and Gwen Garci are game. They even each have an emotional breakdown in the buff. I’d call it exploitation if they both weren’t such smart actors. I wonder how they feel about the censors deeming their naked dramatic turns unworthy to view. Let’s hope the home video release does them – and us – justice.