Friday, January 31, 2014

Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita (Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, CineFilipino 2013 Best Picture)

Do you remember the time you met someone, and firmly believed that the two of you are meant for one another? If you do, then this film might interest you.

A pre-teen girl named Anita (Teri Malvar) sees a new face in her village. Right then and there, she proudly proclaims that the newcomer is the one she'll marry.

Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita takes a sunny look at first love. Several times, we see a giddy Anita imagining her love dancing in front of her. The beloved is happy, cheerful, and full of zest like a passionate horse. Even in a crowded place, the beloved's eyes are fixed only on her. The charming smiles are meant only for her. These scenes perfectly capture the romantic longings of a girl deeply in love.

It doesn't matter that the beloved's name is Pilar. It might be Mariel or Robin. It might be Marian or DingDong. It doesn't matter that Anita is in love with another girl. What matters is, of all the people she meets in the world, the beloved is the only one who makes her truly alive.

The alluring Pilar (Angel Aquino) is not new to the village. It is just that Anita was too small to remember her. Rumors fly over Pilar's hasty return from Dubai, where she worked as a physical therapist. Issues are raised over her non-appearance during the wake of her father. One villager who is happy to see her is her ex-boyfriend.

The fragrance of blossoming love pervades through the whole village. The scent is so strong you'll probably smell it while watching the film. I smell aroma from summertime flowers. I smell a freshly-bathed person. I smell intoxicating love.

Love is like a long sought after baby. It might take awhile. It might take a long, long time. For some, they need to endure countless dances, processions, and novenas. It may still not be bestowed despite litany of prayers. But once given, nurture it with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul.

Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita is a lovely, likable, lithesome film peppered with winning performances from the ensemble. It took some time for the film to come into fruition. It is a good thing director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo held on passionately to her 'baby' project. Upon receiving a grant from CineFilipino, she showered her 'baby' with the best care and love she can give. Her 'baby,' in return, gave birth to a confetti of accolades and awards including Best Picture at the CineFilipino competition.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quick Change (Eduardo Roy Jr, Cinemalaya 2013)

In Quick Change, Mimi Juareza essays one of the best, boldest performances seen on local screens in 2013. Her character Dorina engages in the illicit world of underground cosmetic surgery. She is like a fairy godmother to legions of gay people wishing to be beautiful. 

With an injection here and there of contraband stuff, she molds her clients into an approximation of who they want to be. Sometimes, a client asks for the moon by wishing to be a fab celebrity such as Anne Curtis. Immediately, another fake cosmetic surgeon shoots down the idea and says bluntly, 'we are not magicians.'

They may not be magicians but they sure do produce several good illusionists. We see a bevy of pretty gays made up to look like celebrities. Amazingly, they do look like their dream pegs. The gay contestant winner in the film is, in reality, the winner of Eat Bulaga's beauty contest for gays. She says she is a Kim Chiu-look alike although she resembles more the Kapuso starlet, Jennylyn Mercado. Either peg, she is really beautiful.

Juareza is not that far behind. Curly or wet, her tresses complement her sweet face. She registers well on the screen. Her early scenes make me believe she is a woman. Her physical looks and demeanor suggest she is a woman. She is a woman until her towel drops to the floor.

The appendage between Dorina's legs shatters the illusion that she is a woman. Her ex-boyfriend left her for another tranny because of that appendage. It is not so much because she is gay or has a dick but that Dorina has a bigger one. The ex-boyfriend is so full of himself. He is proud to show off his dick to other guys with smaller dicks such as Dorina's nephew. But, his ego gets deflated when he sees a person with a bigger dick.

Another big thing possessed by Dorina is her heart. She cares and treats her nephew like her own child. I'm reminded of the Lino Brocka film Ang Tatay Kong Nanay. A flamboyant Dolphy drags along her son to her daily rackets and nightly passions. This time around, Dorina is Ang Tita Kong Nanay. She also tags along her nephew in her rounds.

The boy, along with the audience, gets exposed to the world of gay people. We get immersed into beauty contests. We enter the milieu of gay entertainers at the Manila Film Center. We see the bare bodies of Dorina's clients. We hear their reasons for enduring the pain of surgery and courting death. Yes, they know the dangers of illegal cosmetic surgery but they still come in droves.

There's pathos seeing a client drop by for her regular fix of beauty interventions. Along with the injections, maybe she wants to hear her doc's encouraging words. A little flattery goes a long way in uplifting the mood of the client. 

The filmmakers, Eduardo Roy Jr. and Bing Lao, did an excellent job of showing a sympathetic view of gays. Dorina, a charlatan alright, is herself a victim of fake beauty products. Her only fault is that she tried to help fellow gays fulfill their wishes and needs.