There’s no denying the sizzling sexiness of the cast: Janvier Daily, with his nextdoor casualness, whose chunky frame can barely contain his loose-fitting clothes, and Paolo Rivero, with his icy gravity, are brothers-in-law who become fugitives after the murder of the sister/wife who binds them. Playing third wheel is fresh-faced Andrew Miguel as a precocious youngster who mysteriously pops up wherever the two men go.
Director Monti Parungao, from a script he wrote based on the story by producer Danio Caw, proves himself (again) to be a confident sensualist, as if we already didn’t know that from his controversial debut film Sagwan or the hit videos he made for Viva Digital, such as Provoq and Hubad. The most evocative scenes in Bayaw depict straight men doing gay things yet still retain their masculinity, such as early on when Daily receives a blowjob from a parlorista for gambling money, and especially in a highlight forced sex between the brothers-in-law after getting turned on by straight porn inside a motel. There’s a prison brawl with butt-baring naked men and a shower duet which gives us a glimpse of Daily’s impressive frontal. Ostensibly, Bayaw maps the slippery nature of male sexuality, and Parungao, who’s also the cinematographer, matches it with dreamy camerawork and a lot of editing bells and whistles.
But alas, he’s still a faulty dramatist. The stylistic embellishments could barely mask the lack of logic or coherence. The characters don’t have internal lives, so they’re never really given a chance to be human. They clunk along as caricatures of themselves. As such, Bayaw is a crime mystery that couldn’t get me enough to care, and damn near stressful to watch.
It’s the gayest hit movie of the year, except that the person in drag is a woman (Eugene Domingo), playing twins: an evil vamp and a virgin dimwit. She’s surrounded by hot men – Dingdong Dantes in nerd chic, Zanjoe Marudo in farmer chic, Baron Geisler in badass lawyer chic, Ariel Ureta in grey-haired dying dad chic – and she chews quasi-sophisticate one-liners like the second coming of Joey Gosiengfiao. (“You can take the dog out of the squatters but you can’t take the squatters out of the dog!”) It’s only as funny as your taste will allow, which is to say, best leave your brain at the door and pull your inner queen out of the closet, the one that appreciates baked salmon and deadpan household help. Not since Roderick Paulate has an actor thrown herself into a stunt performance as expertly as Domingo. She’s so exuberant and nuanced, it’s easy to accept the blah premise – something about conglomerate shares and kidnapping – or the blah emotional message – that sisters must love each other because they’re sisters. Director Joyce Bernal’s brand of gonzo slapstick combines well with screenwriter Chris Martinez’s plotty queer farce, but this is really a triumph for (1) independent cinema, because new player Spring Films risked a big budget – with special effects! – and beat the giant media networks that withheld support and theatres that refused screening until after it already became a hit, and (2) for great caution-to-the-wind comedy.
So according to Cosmopolitan magazine, this year’s hottest bachelors are all greasy and/or sweaty. Who cares about individual personalities anymore? They’re all models, groomed to fit the bad boy sex appeal concept. Maybe that’s the statement: To be hot nowadays, you must be dangerous, or at least know how to hold a cue stick or a motorbike. If you’re one of those who pipe about the inclusion of so-called non-wholesome elements (Bold stars? Callboys? Aren’t they in the list every year?), consider that maybe it’s all part of the masterplan of naughtiness, or the editors only care about bodies anyway. Besides, could anything be more shameless than to cast kids as fantasy objects? Everyone is young-looking (no one below 30), if not downright barely legal – Gerald Anderson on the cover! Aljur Abrenica looks like he got beaten up! And because most of us will never really get to date any of them, let’s rate the photo spread for the piece of erotica that it is: It’s great.
The game show, adapted from Japan's Brain Wall, has a concept that's genius in its silly physical inventiveness: Players must try to fit their bodies through a hole in the wall to avoid falling into a pool of water. The Philippine version on GMA Network ups the fun by hiring Ogie Alcasid and Michael V. as hosts in drag -- spoiled brat Angelina and her hardworking nanny Yaya, respectively -- characters they popularized in the gag show Bubble Gang. Every episode (weekdays) is a well-written comedy sketch. The gender bender gets even more ticklish whenever the perpetually smiling and perpetually shirtless lifeguard Edouard (Edouard George) -- who never speaks -- is summoned as the ultimate unrequited crush. Add to that, contestants in bodysuits -- sometimes they're hunky celebrities -- and you've got the gayest (as in happiest) diversion on afternoon TV right now.
You may get lost while watching Strictly Confidential: It's largely a documentary, but there are also poetry readings and abstracted images of naked men. It certainly experiments with form. But, like Director Jowee Morel's previous docu-whatever, When a Gay Man Loves, Strictly Confidential attempts to paint too broad a canvas of homosexuality that it ends up with no focus and little depth. The title doesn't even apply.
The experiment flops because of the details. Those queer poems? Could've been read better. Those expert interviews? They often make hasty generalizations about gay men, passing them off as facts. Those naked men? Twisted and discolored, they don't look sensual, exactly, and it's hard to tell what they're doing. The private parts are slapped with black boxes, but that one's probably the work of the MTRCB yet again. There are supposedly 28 naked men here, including a bunch called "The Game Boys": Jhay-Ar Sta. Maria, Brew Bondoc, Chito Gaspar, Rodel Moreno, Richard Miles, Warren Medina and Avi Avila.
However, some ideas in Strictly Confidential clearly come from a positive place. There's an almost gradeschool level approach to its lessons, carefully explaining as if to people who don't know anything about gay men or gay sex -- are there people who are as clueless anymore? -- and advocating the use of the politically correct term "MSM" or "men having sex with men" and also safe sex. So even if Strictly Confidential is messy video-making, it could still save a life or two.
"The more films I saw, specifically local independent films, the more I wanted to see. The deeper I got, the more responsibility I felt, the stronger the need to do something, to share that which I found beautiful. Writing in English, I never felt much of a need to write about foreign (non-Filipino) movies... It is important for people to write about their own cinemas and not let it be left to those outside to dictate what matters." --Alexis Tioseco