When Andrew (the yummy Marc Jacob) catches his lover (Zach Urdaneta) with another man, we begin to doubt if his experiences -- such as seeing ghosts in the house -- are real or imagined, or the effects of his cocaine habit, or manifestations of his sexually abused past. Not exactly in that order. Presented in a wild jumble of time jumps, the film indeed confuses, and succeeds in dragging us down a hole with nowhere to go. It's a bad trip.
The garish mishmashing functions to hide how bad the scenes are on their own. Latak is basically a whine-o-rama about a dull guy with barbie doll friends he can't trust and a boyfriend problem. That all the talky agony is suggested to be connected to being molested as a child by a priest is an outrageous cheat, because it doesn't really explain why the dude and his friends are such a pill. The lesbian frisking is hotter than the gay sex, which we barely see. The only scenes with the tiniest pleasures are the ones with the cute cop (Ram Galura, unconvincing as an officer) who makes advances at our guy, and sure, the brief frontal exposures.
Writer-Director-Producer Jowee Morel has been making films with a kind of derring-do that throws everything into the pot until the mixture turns to goop. (When a Gay Man Loves, Strictly Confidential) He's yet to prove it makes his films more meaningful -- or entertaining. I wish he'd focus.
This collection of shorts lampoons well-known fairy tales for a gay sexual angle, mostly played for laughs. In a revision on Cinderella, the slave princess, her stepmother, and stepsister are all bitchy fags who want to boink the handsome prince. The gay Rampelstiltskin is out to claim no infant, but the hero's boyfriend. Beauty and the Beast becomes Bayot and the Beast. Funny? You bet. But the real surprise are the "moral lessons": modern and subversive takes on love and relationships. For example, the prince is turned off by divas-in-waiting, so take a good look at yourself if you are. Implicitly, like the politically correct fairy tale books, these clips are saying we would do better to imbibe more progressive values than the outdated lore of our forefathers.
Less effective are the shorts based on myths that aren't obvious targets for roasting -- one is a version on Filipino elementals that play with people who get lost in the forest (nice try, though), another is a riff on nighttime street spirits (a story that's near unintelligible).
But it's the production values that suck most glaringly. The tacky fairy tale design looks like a bad school play, and with the undisciplined filming, would be embarassing even for YouTube. Campy shouldn't be synonymous with cheap. How fantastic this could have been with a little more effort. Queer Fairy Tales gets by on wit -- and okay, sex, too. Actors include Jef Tabason, Bobby Reyes, Sam Corpuz, Richard Lopez, Danilo Lee, Marcus Gutierrez, and Rusty Adonis. Produced by Queeriosity Video Project.
November is turning out to be an abundant month in erotic direct-to-video movies. Queeriosity Video Project releases Kabalintunaan, Boarders Ni Kuya, Mga Lalaki Sa Dilim, and this week, Freshboys. Videoflick offers Sophomore. New makers Mango Tree Videos launches Summer Boys, available at Hilom and Queeriosity Palace, and hits regular outlets next week. I've seen the videos, and although my reviews can't keep up with the volume, I will say right now they're generally better than the usual crap. Collectors will have plenty to spend for this month. For the casual buyer, take your pick.
Everyone had an opinion on Freshman, whether they’ve actually seen the video or not. The follow-up Sophomore one-ups its predecessor, as if to address the protests. There are not one but two featured models – Will Sandejas (Sikil) and Froilan Moreno (Kalakal) – which makes room for more sexual scenarios. Both guys dangle their privates – Your wishes have been heard! – at first shyly, then later aggressively. For extra usefulness, the entire gig is built as an instructional on how to get sexy on the beach. (Sample tip: Go topless. What?) In fact, SophoMore couldn’t be farther from Freshman conceptually, and the only continuity is in the title – and the creepy voice-over.
But the most special added ingredient is the sensuality of Will Sandejas. Here’s a guy who knows how to utilize his body for maximum visual effect, the mark of an actor in control. When he pleasures his partner with his lips and tongue and his gracefully arched positions, the heat burns a hole through the screen. I wish I could say the same for Froilan Moreno, who must’ve been asked to play coy but instead comes off as play-pretending. But he also does some wonderful things with his mouth and hands. The romancing in SophoMore is pretty darn real. You want nipple-sucking? You got nipple-sucking! It couldn’t have been easy with all that clingy sand. Props to the guys. When Junior comes out, can I be the third guy?
The concept – four artforms as demonstrated by four naked men – proves that messy is sexy. In “Bodypaint”, we barely see the guy in full, but the camera lovingly traces the brush as it caresses his skin, nipples, pubes, branding its path in color. Few softcore videos are ever as tactile, and that is Four Art’s Sake’s delirious erotic surprise.
The high point is “Pottery”, in which a guy soils himself increasingly as the shorts and briefs come off. The clay pot he’s shaping looks like literal shit, but see, the point is that the art is in the creation, not the product, and in the inherent sexiness of the process. The naked male body is also art, because by the time the segments are over, the body and the artwork intermingle as one, inseparable from each other.
The ridiculous voice-over cheapens the affair, but also adds to the campy flavor. This video’s got balls (literally), and in the case of “Canvas”, a little bit more. “Photography” is the most ordinary of the lot, with a model striking poses by a brook, but even that isn’t so bad.
So is it art? It’s inspired.
The DVD contains no extra features. The cast and crew are uncredited, but my bet is that that's Ralph Darell Mateo on the cover.
It's been a while since our movies tackled the Filipino performer's dream to fly to Japan. If I Love Dreamguyz is to be believed, Japan is once again a viable career destination for handsome young dancers. As an update, not one person in the movie ponders the possibility of prostitution or illegal recruitment (you know, those very 90's concerns). Not once do the guys even rehearse with their shirts off. It's all wholesome-legit, except for a shady networking scam thrown into the plot, again to keep it modern, although it doesn't really tie up.
Just about everything else in the movie feels like regurgitated bullshit, down to the racial stereotypes and butchered Nihongo. It's not a pop musical. The two dance numbers are edited to indistinction, and what's left to see makes us disbelieve they're actual dancers in a troupe. It's not quite a barkada youth flick, although a beach vacation portion in the middle has the whole gang strip to their butts and run to the sea. In the hands of Director Joel Lamangan, from a story by Manny Valera and screenplay by Enrique Ramos (the same team that made DMV's two previous films, Walang Kawala and Heavenly Touch), Dreamguyz is a soap opera of the stupidest kind.
I realize the key to Lamangan's continuous popularity as a director is that he strips his movies of any potential complexity. That means despite different life stories for five different dancers, they behave in exactly the same way all the time, so that we may clearly see the simple path the movie takes: dreamers' optimism crashing down to hard reality. When the guys hear their names called for the final casting, they cheer and giggle in the same note. Then they're angry. Then troubled. Talk about group unity. In scenes, they're lumped together like one boring mass. Lamangan again directs with eyes closed. His films are plotty by necessity, because they burrow through to the end, even when the brain objects. It's schematic, not cinematic.
Too bad, because the guys make great eye candies. Marco Morales, the reliable frontal nudity actor, is on board, but the sexiest role goes to Jay L Dizon, a guy whose heart swings between his girlfriend and guy rival-turned-pal (Morales). We see him make love to both. He even flaunts a brief bulge in a phone sex conversation. Jao Mapa, straining into a tiresome high pitch as a gay manager, makes love with Sherwin Ordonez, as his lover. Survivor alum Rob Sy pops up conveniently but illogically as a thug nuisance. There's a threesome between Mhyco Antonio and his two women. Miggy Chavez rounds up the group as an abused teen. With these stories, the movie really should have been more colorful and nuanced. The shiniest performance belongs to a woman. As the conflicted girlfriend, Nina Jose defies the drabness to create someone who actually feels human. Let's give these beautiful people a better movie please.
Master of gay horror, Canadian filmmaker David Decoteau, was recently in the Philippines shooting his latest, a kung-fu movie called Body Blow. According to his website, production wrapped recently, and it airs on Here TV early next year. I'm hoping it gets a local release, but it almost surely won't. Any other excited fans here? Anybody know anything else about the shoot or the Filipino actors and crew involved? From the looks of that behind-the-scenes photo, the movie is a sure blast.