Thursday, July 29, 2010

Halik sa Tubig - Of Cluttered Mess, Naughty Men and Spaced Out Goddeses

Kiro Baldemor, Orlando Sol and Marco Morales : Naughty triumvirate!

In Alejandro “Bong” Ramos’ “Halik sa Tubig” (Kiss in the Water), they start with an introduction about those “kwentong bayan” – which, let me tell you up front, are all hogwash. This particular small town lore is about a mythical earth goddess named Mercedita, a powerful wandering earth-bound diwata who watches over the brokenhearted of Binangonan, Rizal (she is territorial – LOL). In this story, we follow Ilo (Paolo Paraiso) who’s pining for the childhood sweetheart who left. Ten years into his search, he finds her married – and ill!

Ilo works as a caretaker of a fishpen, locally called “batilyo”; a job he shares with 3 other guys: Kain (Marco Morales), Pitong (Kiro Baldemor), and Andong (Orlando Sol). One fateful day, he finds a lady washed up amidst floating lilies. Her name – Mercedita. Is she or isn’t she?

Althea Vega is Mercedita

Director Ramos finally shows in his tacky story telling the limits of his capacity as a filmmaker. Good visuals don’t suffice. In fact, even color grading here is experimental at best. Some scenes they OD’ed with color saturation; someone was left unattended playing with his picassa or photo shop – or whatever it is that adjusts cinema colors. Paolo, in one of his rare lead roles (Deo Fajardo Jr.'s "Casa" and Adolf Alix Jr.'s "Imoral"), appears disheveled and uninteresting. He mopes all throughout the film; his character never left the single dimension that he’s in!

It’s actually the triumvirate – Morales, Sol and Baldemor – that’s given the spotlight as they get themselves into different fracas that would highlight their sexual stamina. Orlando Sol registers strongly on screen (and he gets to show his butt up close too) and Marco Morales does what he usually does in films: swears, gets high, shows his ass, and fornicates. Just a couple of years since he started, the strain of his lifestyle is prematurely starting to show. Kiro on the other hand does… damn, what did he do there? Jeff Luna makes a horizontal cameo too.

Ramos’ latest movie is a cluttered mess. At no point did we ever believe on the mythology at hand. Casting Althea Vega ("Walang Kawala", "Big Night") as Mercedita may be contributory to this. There was nothing in her bearing that suggested royalty or mysticism. In fact, if they muted the sound or spliced a few scenes out, I would surmise she's the ecdysiast from the beerhouse down the corner, then got herself accidentally entangled in a sea of water lilies. After all, which goddess in their moments of lucidity would swiftly strip down on top of a hill just to enjoy the fresh ocean breeze? Which goddess would succumb to smoking weeds after a few prods from drunken men? Which goddess carries gravity-friendly size 40 boobs? I rest my case!

There were moments of pure hilarity too. Such as when Mercedita gets raped and we see her curling her toes. She sure loved the misdeed. When the voice over relates the comeuppance of the three guys, the prose went from ponderous to comedic: “… hanggang mabalot ito sa kalibugan ng dagat!” and “at di nila mapigilan ang magparaos”. Ngi! Then as if to save the best for last, the avenging goddess - with Mercedita hanging on a nipa wall - casts a spell upon the baddies: a spell that had them fondling and cavorting with each other. It's a ridiculously meretricious menage a trios. Everytime Ramos loses narrative steam, he turns to tawdry and ill-conceived ménage a trois to redeem his dwindling think board. (See “Araro”.) Brilliant!

To resurrect Paolo’s fastly nondescript character from cinematic limbo, he is given an off-the-wall scene with a ghost for closure! How utterly silly!

Fresh faced Orlando Sol registers strongly on screen. He is part of the overhauled singing group "Masculados".

Orlando and his sequined briefs.


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