In the dubious genre of erotica masquerading as instructional videos, the fourth M2M has reached a nadir in uselessness. The concept is corny – that we should use our senses in lovemaking (duh) – but the “tips” are worse: They seem to have been plucked from an idiot’s ass. You want to know how to use your sense of hearing? Play the piano while your partner bangs the drum.
Yet the most unforgivable atrocity of a video about the senses is that it’s not sensual. In the section about sight, we hardly see the two men’s bodies because they’re concealed in shadows in a cramped shower. The section about hearing (like the entire video) has no natural sound, only the overused score we’ve heard in past M2M products. The people behind this obviously didn’t want to spend much.
Which leaves us with the cult of the featured men. It’s great to see John Miller and Cedric Javier finally doing another sexy video, after their brief turns in Provoq and Pinoy Kamasutra respectively. While it would have been nice to see them back when their bodies were in better shape, they still pack sex appeal and it’s a treat to see them cavorting together. The rookiest of the troupe, Joseff Young, is the best performer. He has the enviable/unenviable task of licking chocolate syrup as it mixes with the cascading gallons of sweat on the body of Kristofer King. Paolo Rivero headlines the cast, but his participation is so tiny as to be negligible.
Talk about purging your demons through art. Felbert P. Go wrote, directed, and starred in this true story from his own life, about a man who falls in love with a young tricycle driver (Adrian Landicho) whom he discovers is actually a hustler for gay tricks. As his own lead actor, the director gets to have untrammeled sex with a bunch of trade-y men on screen, in what is becoming a microtrend in participative filmmaking, after Monti Parungao's controversial dalliances in his film Sagwan. But Hikbi works because it's confessional. It may be self-serving, but it's also brave.
Go has clearly borrowed from the aesthetics of maestro filmmaker Lav Diaz (who contributes to the music and makes a cameo as a troubadour): The movie is long -- nearly three hours -- and scenes are mounted in extended long takes with all the dry pauses and runarounds, so we may better observe the percolating anguish in the mode of John Cassavetes. When it's good, it's great. The scenes between Go and Landicho mutate into passive-aggressive fits, and I love it especially when the word "callboy" is repeatedly hurled like a dagger slur, because it's true and because it hurts to say it. In one potent scene in a motel room, the two taunt each other endlessly, knowing they also torment themselves, like sick preparation for the conjoining that follows. The sex between them in this movie is all-out, urgent, commited, and by the looks of it, real.
But the movie just as often falters. Go can be a miserable actor. His attempts at natural speech often come off as flubbing, and it seems to be contagious; The people around him get afflicted with the same sleepy non-commital drawl. The movie is ghastliest when he's supposedly so consumed by suffering that he explodes into grand gestures of loserness, tripping while chasing a trike or wailing to himself in the shower. The problem is not his pathetic situation, which is great drama, but Go's impersonation of it. He's a big baby who's stuck at outward woe-is-me, not enough of the fire from inside.
I rather wish the ending wasn't given away at the beginning of the film, but that trick accomplishes a masking effect: By anticipating the happy outcome, maybe we won't notice that a crucial bridge in the story is rickety. How exactly did Felbert begin to come to his senses? I also think what happens to him is kind of a sellout. He finds religion, talks down to his friend (who betrayed him) in a righteous manner, and accepts his role as a provider for a family that isn't his own. Was he really redeemed or did he simply move into another form of bondage? Maybe it all depends on peace of mind. Though I wish the film offered a better argument, at least it was a trainwreck that was continually interesting, sometimes amazing.
A collection of four short films about one-night stands among men with men, Ang Pinakamahabang Mga One Night Stand is good and bad, but still unified: Each story moves in a world after liberation -- where couples can have open relationships and agree to do threesomes, or sex with strangers is a solution to forget our problems. The spirit is progressive, but also somewhat removed from the rest of the world. There's nary a woman in the cast. I won't be surprised if those unfamiliar with the lifestyle will find themselves either lost or turned off. But there's a promotion of particular values going on here: In the sexually liberated world where sleeping around is accepted, the most important thing is how much we care for our fellow men.
"Wait, Waiter, Wait!", directed by Cris Pablo, is standard unimaginative erotica, in which two men meet in a bar and we simply wait for them to get it on. "Balot", directed by Harvey Estradough, at least has surprises. I can't tell which two men will finally end up together, and it climaxes in a silly, even gross, flirtation using the famous duck egg delicacy. "The Longest One Night Stand", which is actually an old one from 2006, directed by Eduardo Roy Jr., is domestic melodrama weighed down by the hero's self-pity. It stands out from the rest of the films in visual style, because it's the most belabored, and cloying.
The best of the bunch is "Tutok", also by Cris Pablo, which finds the lives of two friends threatened by so-called gay serial killers they met on the internet -- a scenario whipped up from news headlines. The short isn't always stellar technically, but it settles into a thrilling rhythm, with bursts of good humor. A word of caution for adventurous gay men is sneaked in, but what it does right is that it gets us to root for the good guys and delivers on upliftment. The effort is deserving of at least a B, but the entire set gets an average of...
Cast includes Marc Cortez, Topher Barreto, Christopher Canizares, and Justin De Leon.
As a pedicab driver whose baby face is offset by a shaved head and a light upper lip fuzz, Jay Aquitania is the kind of boy-man cutie that can hold the screen by just sitting still, puffing on a cigarette. Unfortunately, he’s only the latest in indiedom’s most overused type of lead character: deep in poverty yet possessing a philosopher’s temperament of pondering over life and death in voice-overs.
There are four, maybe more, strories in Padyak that function as mini-movies in different genres. A bloody crime thriller here, a children’s cooking show there, some tragedy, some romance, and more. It’s a conceit that might have looked clever in its written form, which won third place for screenplay at the 2008 Palanca Awards. But apart from an enjoyable gay prostitution act in which Bodjie Pascua dupes the pedicab driver into cheap sex and a madcap schizo showcase starring an explosive Baron Geisler that’s so weird it’s tantalizing, most of Padyak is a plodding uphill bore. We keep waiting for the thread that will bind the mess together, and when it arrives too late at the end, it turns out to be a flimsy statement: That our fate lies not in our hands, but in coincidence, or the writer.