Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sagwan



The open secret of gay trade among boatmen of Pagsanjan is the backdrop of the movie Sagwan. Oddly, an opening disclaimer tells us that this is pure fiction, implying gay sex tourism doesn’t actually happen in the beautiful innocent provinces of the Philippines – perhaps another concession to the moral guardians of cinema such as the MTRCB. The irony is that the milieu is the only aspect of the movie that feels true. The story and characters fashioned around it have a corny synthetic flavor.

We should be used to it by now. From miners in Baguio to snatchers in Quiapo to caretakers of lighthouses, many of our filmmakers are not very concerned about realistic depictions of people’s lives as they merely use the surface to project the usual gay fantasies. In Sagwan, when boatmen begin the day by gathering their boats in one place, we barely get the details of their routine, but we do get ample shots of their shirtless torsos. Am I complaining? Not really. It’s a genre of acquired taste: the unrealistic sexy movie. Just because there’s no substance doesn’t mean there’s no fun. Other genres are guilty of the same sin. Romantic comedies, for example, can have a completely deluded view of the corporate world, the advertising industry, rich and poor people, but get away with it. The gay erotic genre gets little justice from the mainstream public. Maybe there’s genre discrimination.

Ryan Dungo plays exactly the same role as that other Dungo in Binyag (Ran Domingo, formerly known as Randolph Dungo): a virgin hunk with an affinity for water whose relationship with a woman is hampered by his possible attraction for other men, in this case for his best friend, the most sought after hustler in the pond (Dennis Torres). As in Binyag, we hear his thoughts in voice-overs, and it’s predictably existential bullshit. The tag line – “How it feels matters more than who you’re with” – sounds like a nihilist credo, something a pervert might say to justify his seductions. It's an icky message, even for a liberal like me. But with awesomely composed sexual scenes, I almost believe it.

Director Monti Puno Parungao, who’s also the cinematographer, proves to be a wizard at conjuring heightened sexual tension. Even drunken banter where practically nothing happens between a bunch of hot guys and two trannies is gripping. The men here have similar-looking features, suggesting mixed races, from years of foreign tourists breeding with the locals. One of the highlights is a scene in which a customer asks the young boatman in his room (Erie Obsena) to show his armpits, while two other hunks peep from a window, pressed against each other. The scene is shot and edited with great precision that we’re sucked into its dizzying erotic charge. I haven’t recovered from it, to be honest. It makes me wonder what the filmmakers can do if they devoted the same attention to finding substance.

GRADE: B-

Related Links:
News: Ryan Dungo Reacts To X-Rating
Pics of "Cappuccino Boys"
Trailer

6 comments:

pinoyindiekuno said...

Hear! Hear!

"we hear his thoughts in voice-overs, and it’s predictably existential bullshit. The tag line – “How it feels matters more than who you’re with” – sounds like a nihilist credo, something a pervert might say to justify his seductions." - When heard that line, I just rolled my eyes, shook my head, and uttered "Duh, think again."

Anonymous said...

From Philippine Journal Feb 9, 2009

UP NO PLACE FOR GAY PORNO

by Mario E. Bautista

WE'RE alarmed because the UP Film Institute is fast getting the reputation of being a haven for pornographic films. Several uncut films with full frontal nudity and simulated sex acts, all gay oriented, are being shown there one after another. It's not within the jurisdiction of the MTRCB so they can show all the lewd films they want with impunity.

We're also against censorship but only if a film is artistically well done. Unfortunately for the UP Film Institute, most of the gay films they show are plain trash and have very little artistic value whatsoever. We're not homophobic, but even in the name of artistic freedom, most of these sleazy films don't deserve to be shown in the country's premiere state university. They're not artistic at all but mostly crude sexploitation flicks that cater mainly to the prurient interest of their gay patrons.

Sorry to say it but the UP Film Institute has really become an outlet for smut. Paging UP President Emerlinda Roman, can't a committee be formed to screen the gay films that they show and make sure that only those with artistic merits be allowed for exhibition? Garbage flicks should not be allowed at all to be shown there and besmirch UP's reputation as the country's top learning center. They should go to where they rightfully belong: the waste basket.




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Naku, mga bakla, nag-uumpisa nang magsalita ang ilang sektor laban sa lumalalang gay films. Even Manoling Morato commented against it sa Dial M show nya last Monday, Feb. 23, 2009.

Kaya, mga sisters, enjoy the gay films in UP while they last. I can sense na matatapos na ang maliligayang araw natin.

By the way, I think Mario E. Bautista, the respected Movie critic, wrote the above article after seeing "Sagwan" last February 5, 2009. Perhaps, after seeing "Sagwan", he decided he could not take anymore of these bold gay films! Kasalanan lahat ito ni Monti Parungao, director-actor of "Sagwan".

Anonymous said...

hay naku nawawala na ang novelty ng mga nota sa pelikulang pilipino. every week na lang may mga wannabees na nagpapakita ng mga nota sa UP theater! di na nakaka excite sa totoo lang... pwera na lang siguro kung si emilio ang magpakita ng notes. high school pa lang ako pantasya ko na sha.

Anonymous said...

cant wait for the dvd,

Mac Callister said...

im looking for a pirated copy of this LOL

or atleast a torrent copy hehe

Anonymous said...

Pinoy Soft Porn. There were no story at all. If this came out via dvd, jumping ahead is all you need to do. Its not even eye-candy, its like a meat market. This is not art, no story, no plot - not an indie film of any caliber. The new gay films being shown nowadays is a throwback to the time "titillating Films" of Seiko Films(1990's) - where the body parts of Rosanna Roces & others are thrown in your face. It was also an "acting vehicle" drama for the actress going bold. Unfortunately we did not get any good actress from those films.

So this is just a phase, maybe this time next year, we won't see this trash again. I do hope we have sensible gay films, were nudity or homoeroticism can still be obvious but with a good story line - ala Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla - its an obvious gay film, but it was fun to watch - with gratuitous nudity or if not ala Eating Out, everything about it scream gay. I think anything with Ricky Davao or Eric Quizon playing a gay character could be good - thoughts?