Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lucas Mercado's Imahinasyon - One Track Mind

Jeram (Luigi Romero) is haunted by a recurring dream about a wandering “diwata” – a fairy named Diana (Thea Alvarez) who’s as enchanting as she is beautiful. Her mirage has so besotted him that he roams around Manila hoping he would find her. He enlists the help of his best buddy Ruval (Oliver Lacson) who keeps reminding him to seek clues as to Diana’s whereabouts, “Maghanap ka ng mga palatandaan sa iyong panaginip para malaman natin ang lugar.” He then gathers his clues: lush vegetation, spring, bridge, and a lookout point where buildings are seen from a distance.

One day, Jeram and Ruval decide to head to the back roads of a town called “Punong Bato” where Jeram’s dreams lead him. He just knew this was where he was supposed to go. Jeram and Ruval brave the desolate nowhere, punctuated by trees and an idyllic falls. They eventually find the bridge and walk further until they had to rest up, sleeping under the sky. Later, they find a shanty where a hospitable couple welcomes them with wide open arms. We’re writers, they reason out to explain their presence. The couple, Ana and Angelo (Thea Alvarez and Derick Gonzaga), offers their humble dwelling. But Jeram couldn’t take his eyes off Ana who’s spitting image of the girl in his dreams. Has he found her?

When Angelo leaves for the farm, Ana seduces Jeram. She tells him that she knew of him (is she a clairvoyant?), but had to marry Angelo after the latter forced himself on her. Jeram tries to convince Ana to runaway with him but she refuses. She couldn’t leave Angelo because they’ve been sanctified by the church and marriage, to her, is sacred. So is a union predicated on sexual assault? How upstanding, right? Jeram is heartbroken, but acquiesces. They leave the woods where, after a nap, Jeram finds himself locked in romantic embrace with – hold your breath – Ruval, his best friend. From his immediate heartbreak, he gets an epiphany that he belongs to Ruval. Ain’t that a blast?

Best friends Ruval (Oliver Lacson) and our protagonist Jeram (Luigi Romero) look for  Diana along Ilog Pasig! 

Director Lucas Mercado (the purveyor of some of indie cinema’s most idiotic movies I generally call “Moron Cinema” simply because these films do not follow the tenets of common sense, don’t subscribe to logic or chronology, and are generally perplexed by their own design) is back!

Mercado, who's allegedly a physician by profession – que horror!, mines his incipient ideas and expounds on them by infusing his fixations with homosexuality and the mindless exposition of nubile male flesh! This one-track mind sets him apart from others because he blindly and randomly dwells on them in wild abandon, peppering his scenes with needless suggestions when they’re not wanted. This is found even in the most mundane scenes.


When Jeram tells his friend Ruval about Diana, the latter asks:”Baka naman lalaki si Diana!” which was answered with, “Kahit na anupaman siya, mamahalin ko siya! Ang pag-ibig walang pinipiling kasarian!” How ennobling, I was going to stand up and shout “encore”. This was a more fitting sentiment that deserved an ovation more than my forays at the Royal Albert Hall in London. While roaming the metropolis, Ruval would occasionally taunt Jeram with: “Hahalikan kita diyan, eh!” Then later: “Kung totohanin ko ba, kakalimutan mo na si Diana?” Didn’t I say one-track mind? J

Mercado once again hires his fly-by-night make-up artists, painting his stars (male stars, mostly) with livid red lipsticks even when they’re supposed to be sleeping in bed. What’s worse, he is fond of extreme close ups that highlight the pasty foundation and thick paints of these koloretes that somehow emasculate his actors in eternal states of bareness. Like his recent “Hiram na Ama”, he has them alternately donning skimpy white briefs or traffic-stopping incandescent red bikinis while frolicking in the batis

The actors are mostly limited by the director’s paltry skill to actually stage - or film - a scene. The blockings are all awkward. Their abecedarian facility are on full highlight, I shall forever take pity on these gentleman for having been exploited for the hormonal avocation of the director (who I believe is also the founding head of a cringe-worthy male beauty pageant). In fact, you feel like you’re watching science fiction instead of a dramatic yarn. This is mostly because the story is wanting of narrative fluidity or reason. When Jeram leaves Ana, he was dejected. After all, Ana was literally the "girl of his dreams" - and refused to run away with him. Hours later, he is seen canoodling with his best friend’s bratwurst. Jeram and Ruval were, after all, kindred spirit and soul mates. Diana turned into a guy? How quaint! Kaya pala fairy si Diana – she who so loved to play with magic wands! LOL


There are moments of extreme, albeit inadvertent hilarity. Whenever Jeram would tell Ruval about Diana and his dreams, the latter would send him back to sleep: "Matulog ka ulit! Maghanap ka ng palatandaan tapos sabihin mo sa akin!" Where on earth do you find hard clues from dreams except in Lucas Mercado's alternate world. In another scene, Jeram is seen sleeping with his reading glasses on. When he wakes up, he stretches his arms and removes them. When exactly does one put on a reading glass, when he's asleep? Ohgawd!

This time around, Mercado makes use of a skilled "nature" cinematographer, peppering his scenography with nature scenes, you inadvertently ask, does nature figure in Mercado’s story? A protracted “rape” scene between Ana and Angelo was mostly superimposed with the flow of the waterfall, and you’re left wondering why. I feel like I need to organize a film making workshop for Lucas Mercado, Cris Pablo, Paul Singh Cudail, G.A. Villafuerte, Darry dela Cruz and their cohorts just to help and teach these lost souls the basics of storytelling! After all, they’re honorable emeritus members of an enviable club called “How Not To Tell A Story”.

Thea Alvarez
 Is there enough genitalia “hanging” around this work? Not a lot, really. Luigi Romero, who’s more comfortable here than in “Hiram na Ama” and “Trabajador (Men@Work)”, displays a couple of shower scenes (come on, what’s a Pink Film without one, right?) while Oliver Lacson displays his shortcomings in another: the phone has to ring while he’s taking the shower. This is imperative! Otherwise, when he’s all clothed, the phone wouldn’t ring, debah? When it hangs, it rings!


Whatever happened to Ana and Angelo? You gotta sit back and hold your horses! Ana and Angelo were actually ghosts. (They were victims of a massacre! Imagine that!) But as a ghost, Angelo couldn’t father a child (a similar dilemma in “Hiram na Ama”) thus Ana had to appear in Jeram’s dream to lure the hapless young man into their spider’s web. Very E.B. White indeed. Why do ghosts need a child I wonder? I love babies, but a baby ghost? I have never heard of something this absurd. Nor have I heard of ghosts getting impregnated by a living soul. Surely, this spectacular tale goes straight to the books for its imagination!

No wonder they called this “Imahinasyon”. Lucas Mercado couldn’t resist his ferocious mental fabrication. He deserves a cage!

Thea Alvarez and Derick Gonzaga

Oliver Lacson and Luigi Romero in traffic-stopping briefs.

Oliver Lacson and Derick Gonzaga: Notice the heavy blush on and red lipstick.

Lacson, Alvarez, Romero and Gonzaga: Imagination or the lack of it.


Anonymous said...

WTH is with the poster?? HAHAHA it's like an amateur graphic artist did it while suffering from conjunctivitis

-jason laxamana

Cathy Pena said...

@ Jason:

You gotta believe me when I say that it's a much better poster than the one used in cinemas, but I forgot my phone when I watched so I couldn't photograph it. I found the one posted here from the net.

Conjunctivitis? That's so funny! It is the season for that, my tito told me. :)

Anonymous said...

^^ yeah I just suffered from one recently. hence, it was on my mind when I posted my comment haha