Monday, August 29, 2011

Private Nights & Wanted: Male Boarders - Cursory Tales in Exploitative Flicks

Pink flicks are making hay! The lamentable fact is that these works don’t even try to deliver that untrodden narrative anymore. We’ve heard and seen these stories populated by fresh faces with talent that meander between sixes and sevens. But the “bone of contention” (no pun intended) lies in the way these characters are served like expendable meat on our cinematic platter.

Vince Tan’sPrivate Nights” and Crisaldo Pablo’sWanted: Male Boarders” are as vacuous as they are exploitative. But one thing sets them apart from the dime-a-dozen gay-themed films these days: Both productions are topbilled by lead actors who aren’t just easy on the eyes - the former’s James Pinca and the latter’s Jakko/Nikko Jacinto, while obviously green, reveal adequately engaging performances, which makes watching Tan and Pablo’s befuddling homoerotic-fairyland flicks a bit more tolerable.

Pinca has the boy-next-door smoulder of JC de Vera. But in “Private Nights,” his promise is all but lost in the maze of his starrer’s beclouded story, cluttered further by Tan’s ineptness to tell a plausible tale. This makes his directorial debut, “Anton Tubero” apocryphal.


Dave (Pinca) is forced to work as a macho dancer after he leaves the home of his elder sister and her abusive husband Diego (Tony Lapena). Despite his aversion to homosexuals, he could only find a “profession” peopled by gay men and horny women. Interestingly, he also ignores the lusty gay-bar owner (Hanni Miller) who has the hots for him.

Life gets easier for Dave after he accepts the invitation of co-dancer Alvin (Jonas Gruet) to live with him in his well-furnished condominium unit. As it turns out, his supposedly 24-year-old colleague (he looks much older) yearns for more than just his brotherly camaraderie. In fact, Alvin lives an affluent lifestyle with a sex-starved flight attendant-girlfriend, but he gets himself hired in the same bar just the same to get close to the object of his desire. Huh?

Dave later finds out about Lapena’s “real” sexual orientation by accident when he catches the latter throwing a jealousy-fueled hissy fit with his boytoy (Dustin Jose) in the gay bar Dave works in. Tan makes this revelation confounding, however, by splicing in a flashback scene showing Dave getting raped by Diego - a truly dumbfounding moment of storytelling lunacy.
The movie wants to explore the dynamics in and economics of the gay-bar business, but it doesn’t really go beyond the surface. 

It merely finds an excuse for its put-upon actors to dangle their assets and shortcomings for all the world (and the movie's director and producers) to see. This peripheral off-tangent perception makes for a mundane tale.

You’ll also see a few of these actors (Lapena, Gruet, Jose) in Archie del Mundo’s well-intentioned (and better-crafted) “Taksikab,” but here, they’re just as dreadful as their exploitative movie. Lapena plays a contravida to the hilt, showing no insight at all about his badder-than-the-gay-devil character. He barks his lines as he contorts his facial muscles with a never-fading sneer. Think Romy Diaz without the latter’s wisdom or villainy charisma.


We expected more from Gruet, who showed some promise in “Taksikab.” Here, he plays his “closeted” character in an overtly effete manner. Worse, he is as vapid as the lines he's tasked to deliver. It doesn’t help that he flaunts all sorts of headgears from beginning to end to conceal his expeditiously receding hairline (or broadening bald spot) - name it, you’ll see him in caps, hats, hoods, bonnets, bandanas, scarves, etc. If they stretched the movie’s running time a little longer, we wouldn’t have been surprised to see him wear a Jewish yarmulkes, a Muslim taqiyah, a pope’s mitre, a king’s crown, a beret, a bowler hat, a kepi, a fez, a karakul, a turban or a fedora.

We hope the promising Pinca learns from his costars’ “shortcomings,” because, as Gruet and Lapena very well demonstrate in “Private Nights,” an “actor” is only as good as his last movie.

James Pinca smoulders as Dave.

Jakko Jacinto is also wasted in Crisaldo Pablo’s pathetic, exploitative fleshfest, “Wanted: Male Boarders,” where he plays the good-looking straight guy, Alvin, who eventually falls for the charm (and generosity) of self-assured “bisexual” call-center agent, Nate (Joeffrey Javier), who lives with him in the boarding house owned by Pining (Chamyto Aguedan).

Freshman Alvin, who’s from Laguna, thought he hit the jackpot when he found a cheap bed space in the metropolis (P500 a month, with the use of electricity and water on the house - beat that). He unearths a bombshell when he discovers that in this particular boarding house, the tenants’ pastime is - sex (and with one another)! No, Virginia, Chamyto insists that they’re all straight or bisexual men who are just looking for an easy diversion to shake off their melancholy or domestic ennui - but who are they kidding?

What’s hard to deny is the fact that the movie is used by the “prolific” Pablo as another excuse to “showcase” his coterie of “compliant” kanto boys (Francis Sienes, Rusty Adonis, Joshua Domingo) and some hunky men (Brix Jimenez) in various stages of undress and sexual activity.

This time, Pablo aesthetically realizes more of his gay fantasies by letting one of the boys “play” with a papaya (it's good for a skin that's constantly stretching and retracting), or showing the talentless starlets as they tinker with their bells when they’re turned on by porn, or having the “hungry” Chamyto eat his lunch as the supposedly “homophobic” Alvin slow-strips for him, or getting all of the boys in the shower with Jacinto! Director Pablo loves to tintinnabulate their bells indeed.

Jakko Jacinto as fresh-faced Alvin.

Jakko Jacinto and Joeffrey Javier

Of course, the piece de resistance has to be the sexual catharsis of Alvin when he finally (and all-too-willingly) shares Nate’s bed. Brilliant, right? Pablo has always been prone to this unimaginative tack without even integrating a narrative history that makes such couplings believable. Remember best friends Joash and Sieg who turned into bed mates at the end of “Manong Konstru”? Remember the “Luv U Tol” segment of “Dose, Trese, Katorse” where, once again best friends Sieg and Gene end up shagging each other, all without prior hint of romantic attraction in the story? Pablo is so transfixed with this magical idea that guys would just shag each other at the blink of an eye. None of them makes sense - a luminous testament of its makers’ storytelling acumen.

In the film, Pablo shamelessly peddles a supplement called MS Tablet for Men which works into a guy's libido (like Viagra) which we all know has the veracity of believing that the Arroyos are an honest political clan. Everyone who takes the tablet gets too horned up, thus the boarders all engage in pleasuring themselves at all times from dawn until dusk.
Here, Pablo lazily utilizes the same music we've heard a million times from his other clunkers. Moreover, you find his actors stop in mid-sentence, flustered and dazed, as they wait for Pablo (or his assistants) to feed them with their lines.

Fortunately, like Pinca, Jakko Jacinto is not just another pretty face - he actually shows some promise, and one that needs to be realized by someone better-equipped than Pablo as a director. Jacinto looks self-conscious in front of the camera but he’s never awkward, so we hope he does something substantial the next time around - and, please, stay as far away from Pablo and his bromidic effort.

As for Javier, there’s nothing in his performance that gives him away as an English-speaking, call center-trained guy, but then again, what do you expect from these pink-themed yarn? The director always loved to populate his stories with call center agents (he must have done so in half a dozen flicks), yet he continually employs amateurs who can’t even work their way around simple English phrases. They’re mere fodder for homo-fantasia, and nothing about them is credible, except for the fact that they’re merely churned out to get (mostly ugly) men to display their tiny peckers - and effectively demonstrate Pablo’s hopelessness as a filmmaker.


Please read our featured post on Cinema Bravo and why we sometimes feel nginig about the state of Web Criticism in this country:


lovespitlove said...

i so love your reviews... :) i promise to follow this blog
i hate seeing my 171 pesos wasted for these type of pink fims.
--pinca is OK but gruet,damn, he showers with a cap!!! what's wrong if his hair is receding? lol i forgot a 24 year old doesn't have receding hairlines.
---if not for fresh face jacinto, im not gonna waste my time with another crisaldo movie. his stories sucks big time. and chamyto aguedan is an eye sore. i pity everyone involved on his films. tsk tsk

Cathy Pena said...

Thanks, lovespit!

Don't you just love men who shower with caps on? LOL

lovespitlove said...


'just read your kubli review... and i just can't stop laughing... they should have named that film "iyak". and please accept my apologies for patronizing the "artistry of seeing flashes of male genitalia" on these film.

I hope everybody gets to read your reviews ^__*
More Power to you!

Cathy Pena said...

No apologies needed, lovespit. Wasnt flouting on people who watch movies riddled with the male genitalia.

I think it's human nature for people (guy or girl) to derive pleasure from seeing nudity. it's anybody's prerogative, actually.

What I was up against was some quarters who insist that some of such films are excellent works because they had gratuitous nudity. I sometimes read on other blogs - Ay maganda ang pelikulang yan. Maraming titi! Genitalia is and should never be a criteria that defines a good film!