Sunday, October 2, 2011

Paul Singh Cudail's Sulot - When Planting Camote Becomes an Option

Allen (Ralph Louie) is a relatively successful guy. He lives in a furnished home (his parents moved to Canada and he can fly anytime he wants to join them), and has disposable cash to spare. He rents out a room for his buddy Dondie (Winston de Dios, photo below). Problem is, Dondie hasn’t been paying. The latter’s short on cash, “Pero kung gusto mo,” cajoles the indignant Dondie, “Pumasok ka sa kuwarto ko.” (If you want, come inside my room.) So he does!

Meanwhile, Robie (Alex Madrid) is having a bad day. After leaving his job (as waiter) in Sta. Cruz, he’s homeward bound “sa probinsya”, but before that happens, fate serves him a double whammy. Not only is his borrowed motorbike stolen, his bag’s snatched and his wallet’s mulcted! But things are looking up when, that same day, he runs into Allen, a high school classmate. Allen invites Robie home where he lends him P5,000.

Later that day, Allen finds Robie comfortably sitting in his living room. Robie’s decided to stay for a few days until he’s figured out a few things. They share a bed together. That night, Allen fights temptations to fondle his old friend. He finds Dondie downstairs and once again, tintinnabulate his non-paying boarder’s bells, unaware that Robie’s peeping from above.

In the morning, Allen offers Robie a job at the bank where he works as a loan external service provider, aka loan officer. He’s offered the same position to Dondie who’s already building a house of his own. Desperate Robie wants more so he devises a plan that would have Allen lending him more (Robie has to pay for the stolen bike), but his ruse was unearthed when Robie inadvertently leaves his cellphone in the room. Moreover, Robie and Dondie managed to steal (thus “sulot”) Allen’s account – an approveable loan worth P2 million pesos! This would guarantee the conniving duo a commission of P100,000. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Allen has latched on to their scheme.

Director Paul Singh Cudail has been writing these revolting pink film scripts in the last couple of years. Is he better as a director now that he has carte blanche, i.e. full discretionary control over his own script (“Tiyo Pablo”, “Lagpas”) ? Turns out he is as clueless as a megman as he is as a writer, and even more so! He even has trouble delineating a timeline between scenes so that events that should take place 2 weeks hence feels like a continuation of a previous scene. His actors are left to their own devices that you would notice their tentative movements.

Let’s take, for example, the scene where Robie loses his bike on the street. When he learns of this, he runs after the thief. He stands on the road and looks as though his bubblegum has been nicked! The gravity of the situation doesn’t register much on his face. In fact, it’s the same facies he wears when he eventually meets his old friend Allen. And before we even proceed, did he actually forget to tell his friend that he’s been robbed 3 times over? Wouldn’t it be easier to wheedle help and sympathy if you told your friend of your moments of extreme idiocy, nay misfortune? Of course he doesn’t, but he nevertheless imposes his presence by freeloading off his friend!

Now I understand that the Pink Film industry has been proudly peddling what I’d call “Moron Cinema” in the last 3 years or so, but something has to be said about the mind set of these exploitative film makers (Crisaldo Pablo: check! Monti Parungao: check! Lucas Mercado: check!) Is it too much to ask to use your thinking cap when you’re telling a story? You have an audience who pays P170 for these inanities. The least you can do is make sense, tell legible narrative strains – even if you can’t help but showcase the “short” in the shortcomings of your actors!


And yes, Winston de Dios shows, once again, that he’s king of the bathing scenes. He’s been very generous in fearlessly soaping away his “jewels” in Lucas Mercado’sRigodon” (he must have had half a dozen frontals: in bathrooms, bedrooms, lakes, waterfalls, forest). He isn’t bashful here either. But I am telling you, the male appendage isn’t a perky anatomical protuberance when in contact with water and soap. Thus, most that you see is a shy infant lathered and foamed like he’s been wallowing in a muddy puddle! Durrty durrty child, indeed! Let’s wash that baby away! LOL . What's funnier, his bathroom scenes look exactly similar to his “Rigodon” scenes!

Alex Madrid, who plays Robie, wears a single facial expression for the whole 70 minute duration of the flick, he might as well wear a mask to rest his stern and morose expression! Yup, he has the body – it’s well sculpted, and I could probably discern an 8-pack, but you just know that there are hundreds of gym buffs out there! He shows off his shrunken jewel in another full-frontal scene too, but “raisins” can’t be flattering, right? Furthermore, the term “artistahin” doesn’t exactly refer to the physical frame, but the “face” – the “look”! And that doesn’t check out here! When we’re denied a legible story, execution, production value and cinematic sanity, we're left with the thought that there's a “handsome face” to save the day! But that doesn't happen here either! This drought of physical beauty is starting to worry me!

Ralph Louie plays banker Allen who never sets foot in a bank! In fact, we’re never near any financial institution, except Allen’s dresser, where he just enveigles cash from some magic door! It’s funny how Louie reminds me of Edz Espiritu’sTiyo Pablo” (scripted by Cudail himself). In fact I thought this was the same actor (of course, he wasn’t; that was Martin Cortes).

And since when were waiters readily qualified for a banking position? Moreover, I didn’t realize that loan officers earn so much by doing so little. He just submits requirements and voila, he's already capable of building a house (like Robie)! Imagine that! Isn't this getting very educational by the minute? Do you know how easy it is to loan 2 million bucks? Listen and learn: “Send me his date of birth,” quipped Allen, “… so I can do a car check!” Peanuts, right? Using collateral that’s worth under a million for a two million loan. Such resplendent idea, I am stumped!


One of the things that the production took note of was its music score. There’s not a lot of canned music here, but they have succeeded in utilizing some of the most bizarre, peculiar electronica soundtrack that transported me to the realm of science fiction. I could swear, I half expected Allen’s butt to open into an all-consuming black hole and teleport his shower-loving boarders! Gives me the creeps!

Sometimes you wonder why planting camote (sweet potato, batata) isn’t a more productive endeavor for people like Mr. Paul Singh Cudail!

Don't you?

I was also wondering why the production used "inverted color" for their poster (above, topmost poster) - why mere silhouettes of their 3 characters? Simple! Because the guys on the poster aren't any of the 3 guys in the film! (Thanks to the inverting property of "Paint"!)They can't even afford an appropriate poster, now isn't that hilarious? 


Anonymous said...

"Moron Films" LOL! Coudn't agree more. Great review :)

Cathy Pena said...

Thanks. It is appropriate, isn't it? LOL

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