Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Now it can be told: only intolerably violent acts of nature will prevent Brillante Mendoza’s Serbis from being mounted on Robinsons Malls’ (and, I gathered, Gateway’s) theaters today. I had to postpone writing this piece for quite a looooooong time since the unpredictability at which the film has been treading Philippine waters was spoiling the buzz it had generated overseas. As has been reported in multimedia, Serbis broke the drought of Pinoy competitors in the prestigious Cannes International Film Festival, but out of respect for Prof. Bing Lao and the youthful-looking Dante who wrote the screenplay and directed the movie, respectively, I will leave the readers to search online just how controversial the film became in France. Then, by giving an X-rating to Serbis’ poster showing Coco Martin receiving a simulated fellatio from an unidentifiable man, the censors—in true obscurantist fashion—delayed a cinematic orgasm due as early as last week. The trailer also received an X-rating for Coco and Mercedes Cabral’s intimate scene, for Jacklyn Jose’s walk in the dark and for a cigarette smoking scene (check the 1:51st second of Serbis’ trailer here and tell me if the boy in blue looks unmistakably familiar). Ultimately, the film itself was X-ed, until the creators submitted altered versions of all X-rated articles for the reassessment and eventual approval of the MTRCB.
So far, during this gay pride month, only one film loomed in the horizon and that’s Hugot which, I was informed, will have its extended run in Robinsons IndieSine until July 1. Congratulations, my dear friend Joni! Here’s the crown; I won’t give the trophy in the manner of Jerome Ebreo toward the ill-fated beauconera in your movie. Serbis was supposed to have its commercial run on the day Hugot first saw light—something that Joni and I prophetically talked about when Hugot bagged the June 18 slot in the theater. We were camping it out that, June being the Pride Month, Hugot will be shown commercially along with classic and contemporary Pinoy gay films like Tubog sa Ginto, Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, Macho Dancer, Burlesk King, Markova: Comfort Gay, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, Duda/Doubt, Sikil, Ang Lalaki sa Parola, among others. Suddenly, as if thunderstruck, we realized that Serbis might strike while the iron is hot by hitting the theaters on June 18. That will practically upstage Hugot because by comparison, Dante’s sexy movie about a family running a gay-frequented cinema in Pampanga is celebrated all over the news, hard copy or otherwise. Ever the optimistic dark horse, Joni was hopeful that his film will be noticed when people went their way to check what makes Serbis stir a hullabaloo of international proportions.
Then again, our censors have done what had to be done and Joni’s digital film about three boylets’ blogged stories went solo flight last week, with Serbis attempting to sustain its media steam just so it will still be well-received beginning today. Hugot’s extended run means it joins Serbis in romping off the Pride Month’s final week. Will they slug it out in the tills? Will it be a thespian battle for internationally-awarded actresses Gina Pareño and Ana Capri? Will gays lust over Coco Martin or over Jerome Ebreo? Given the plus and minuses of both films, your guess is as good as mine. For good measure, let’s watch both films and help resuscitate the Philippine movie industry.