Monday, October 24, 2016

Patay na si Hesus (Victor Villanueva, QCinema 2016)

The rise in number of regional filmmakers has done wonders to the diversification of ideas and genres in the indie film scene. However, grant-giving bodies have mostly supported drama films. Cinemalaya’s slate for this year shows a pair of full-length film comedies. Cinema One Originals have consistently supported horror/science fiction/fantasy filmmakers but majority of the film finalists is still of the dramatic or romantic mold. Metro Manila Film Festival offers the widest selection of film genres. But, the quality of the films leaves much to be desired.

The deliciously hilarious Patay na si Hesus is a rare find.  It is a Cebuano film with tongue firmly on cheek. The icing on the cake is that it even passed the Bechtel test. I was flummoxed with this part of the citation handed out to the film. An online search on Bechtel test says that in order for a film to be a passer it must hurdle three components:  1) there must be two named female characters, 2) who talked with one another, 3) on any issue except men.

Male characters involved with females in the film are basically losers. That must be the main reason why they don’t get to be main topics of discussions. They are worthless nincompoops. The recently departed Hesus left his family for a woman. He eventually left her for another woman. Jay, second son of Hesus, refuses to attend his father's wake but eventually relents due to maternal pressure. The son, though, is also a loser.  He flunked the Engineering board exams twice and was found out to have called off his third board exam attempt.

On the other hand, the major female characters are strong, resilient, and a bit crazy.

A middle-aged mother, Iyay (Jaclyn Jose), hauls her Cebu-based family onto a multicab for an inter-island trip back to their ancestral house in Dumaguete City. Years of estrangement from her husband Hesus had deadened her emotions. Even her children are reluctant to see their late father. But, the tears eventually broke through for the dead. Tough luck for Hesus, the tears shed are not for him but for their dog named Hudas.

The dysfunctional family picked up the sister of Hesus on their way to Negros. The nun (Angelina Kanapi) provided some of the more outrageous laugh-out-loud scenes. A bad case of flatulence served as catalyst for her to throw caution to the wind. She sheds off her religious life and hitches a motorcycle ride to freedom. I also loved the hysterically funny scene wherein she showed her grief over the loss of her niece.

The very-much alive niece, Judith, is a tomboy. She copes with a domestic break-up by drinking alcohol with a group of men. The best visual gag of the film shows her raising her left arm exposing an exaggeratedly hairy armpit.

If there’s a comedy film that comes closest to the gross-out jokes and visual gags of Patay na si Hesus, it is the American film There’s Something About Mary. The sperm jokes are sick but outright comical. The dead dog jokes are wickedly humorous, too.

The laugh-a-thon film Patay na si Hesus won the Audience Choice Award and the Gender Sensitivity Award at the QCinema International Film Festival 2016.

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