Monday, June 25, 2012

Edz Espiritu's Hubo - Stupid as Stupid Gets

People should have been duly warned about Director Edz Espiritu’s return to commercial cinema in his latest offering “Hubo” (Naked). But then most catastrophes come unannounced like the tsunamis of Indonesia, the earthquakes of Turkey and the lethal landslides of the south. They creep in like the rancid thief in the night. This film is no different.

Arkey (Arkey Munoz) is a highly respected painter with a lucrative stature in the industry. One day, he is contracted by a high-paying client for his next obra. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a subject who could enveigle the same artistic inspiration he once enjoyed with now-wife Adriana. With the help of his business associate and confidant (Jobben Bello), he meets Lance (Lance Lopez of “Anton Tubero”), the cash-strapped brother of Ian (Jeremy Ian) who is Jobben’s lover. Sparks fly when Lance shows off his well sculpted body - and Arkey’s quandary turns into artistic euphoria. “Nakikita ko sa kanya ang isang obra,” remarks Jobben as they ogle at Lance’s half naked body. “Turuan ninyo ako,” Lance quips. “Madali lang yun, mag po-pose ka lang ng hubo’t hubad – walang malisya!” informs Arkey who, by this time, has got his tongue wagging and salivating below his umbilicus.

During their first session, Lance turns into the perfect mannequin – the Machete of the new millennium, if you must. He also meets Arkey’s voluptuous wife Adriana (Adriana Gomez) who’s been married to the artist for 5 years. Unknown to Lance, Adriana has endured their cold marital bed with her disinterested husband, she might as well turn into an icicle. You don’t exactly wonder why they remain childless. But the day Lance shows up, Arkey gets his libido back. Adriana is happy, but something unsettles the temperamental artist.

One day, Arkey unravels his dilemma to his friend Jobben:  “Magmula nung makatrabaho ko si Lance, parang gusto kong makipagtalik sa lalaki.” Jobben offers a solution: a tryst with a discreet rentboy (Mikho Madrid) and a pocketful of aphrodisiac which tends to further saturate the already murky waters. After all, why give a horned out guy Viagra? This barely makes sense. Moreover, Arkey is married; what’s the logic of peddling a male hustler to a guy who’s in a moral quandary? It’s like dousing gasoline on a flicker of light.

But things turn to a head when Arkey is enshrouded by a baffling sense of paranoia and jealousy geared towards Adrianna and Lance. Are they having an affair? What becomes of Arkey’s pent up desire for Lance?

In what could easily be one of the year's silliest, funniest, most mindless ouvre, director Espiritu once again exhibits his stark cluelessness with his craft. And if the opening scenes are an indication, you would readily discern the sound of your cinema admission flushing down the drain - right down to the lattrine filled with excreta. He labels this as "A Master piece film by..." Isn't he even aware that "masterpiece" is a compound word?  Master piece? Is it like "Master bate"? Could "master" be the adjective of "piece"? This is certainly a first.


This movie boasts of a gazillion inanities. When the job was offered to Arkey, they were beset with a huge problem - the absence of a model who shall pose naked before the esteemed painter! So we see them brood around waiting for nothing. Haven't they ever heard of auditions? Or go-sees? Jobben once again offers brilliant suggestions: "Punta tayo sa Pampanga!" Haha. What's in Pampanga that isn't found in the great metropolis of Manila? Or the backroads of Bukidnon, Marinduque, Basilan , Negros, or the Babuyan Islands? Jeez! When this didn't pan out, he offers a more horrific solution: "gay bar!" I almost fell off my seat! What idiot can't find a model for a highly respected painter ("a legend" is how they refer to him) that he had to scour gaybars for?

The film is also riddled with cringe-worthy and homophobic lines:

After enjoying a lay on the hay with his boytoy Ian, Jobben tells the latter: "Sana mahalin mo ako ng buong buo kahit ganito ang kalagayan ko." Is he inflicted with an infectious, incurable disease?

Arkey would say: "Di ko nga alam kung ano ang pagkatao ko." As though having feelings for another guy makes him a monster of unknown DNA series. :)


Now brace yourselves for the arcane as Arkey theatrically espouses on his nature: "Ang obra ng katawan ko ang humuhubog ng pagkatao ko. Ang obra ang pilit kong inililihim." Huh? And he further delivers his gibberish to underline the fact that his homosexuality is such a detestable condition. It should, in fact, be kept hidden at all cost. Isn't it ironic that a Pink Film sees homosexuality as a deplorable, gag-inducing condition? The same film that has so blatantly displayed Lance Lopez and Jeremy Ian's considerable inches in a couple of 5-second flashes (Lance takes his briefs off in front of Adrianna; Jeremy soaps his body as his appendage hangs like a half mast flag).

Espiritu exploits his actors further by displaying them in poster size full frontal nudes displayed in Arkey's work room - and if you don't blink, you would definitely appreciate the "length" that these actors underwent to accomplish their roles. Yes, Ian Felix Alquiros' photographic genius (of the naked form) is on full display but then that's beside the point.


Espiritu's cinematic bewilderment is on display in a series of scenes that come off like drugged out spectacles. After canoodling with callboy Mikho (he is Mico in one film, Mickho in another, then Mikho here - go figure), Arkey comes home and finds wife Adrianna kissing Lance. He gets to his studio and waits for Lance, then tells him that this third session would be their last! "Ayoko ng makita ang pagmumukha mo rito," he tells his model.  The next scene has him storming off and out the gate where he meets the newly arrived Lance. Huh? Wasn't Lance inside his studio? They even exchange pleasantries. "Saan ka pupunta?" "Bibili lang ako ng supplies." How easily he forgets that he just fired him. Next scene has Lance arriving again for his 3rd third session? Are we expecting triplets here? This time, Arkey finds Lance and Adrianna going at it like rabbits. After all, he laced their drinks with the same aphrodisiac given to him by Jobben. But it begs the question: why would you set up your wife and your model for a fast shag?

The succeeding scenes are painful to watch. He orders Adriana to get the rope: "Lyu-ped! Lyu-ped! Kunin mo ang lyu-ped, Adriana!" Arkey sounds like he has a huge appendage stuck down his throat so "lubid" sounds "lyu-ped". Adriana ties Lance to a chair, then Arkey subsequently ties down his wife. He then begins to touch Lance, flicking his pert nipples, then (goodness!) fellating him until Lance spurts a dash of milky substance on his 8-pack abdomen. All throughout this inspired ordeal, we see Arkey cry, shout, growl, scowls, huffs and frets like a raving confused lunatic. Was he jealous? Was he having schizophrenic attacks? How else do you explain the distinct change of emotions and affect? Arkey Munoz seems to have been given the notion that bawling his heart out is excellent acting, but what we experience is a protracted annoyance to a dog whose bark doesn't really bite as rabidly as the noise he creates. If you hated Arkey Munoz in Edz Espiritu's "Masikip sa Tatlo" - one of the most horrendous films to come out from last year, you would easily hate him more in this cinematic vomitus.    

Arkey, the painter, rubs oil on Lance's sculpted chest, specifically lingering on his nipples.

How are the performances? Lance Lopez may have successfully passed muster in "Anton Tubero", but in "Hubo", his smoldering look is lost in a single facial expression that highlights how under-directed he is. He wears this generic facial expression - that never waxes and wanes - which is such a waste of a strong screen presence. After all, you cannot merely coast on an arresting presence, lest you want to be exiled to cinematic limbo. On his first nude session with the painter, Lance looks nonplussed while the painter languidly rubs oil over his body (talk about that special touch), specifically lingering and flicking his left nipple in wild abandon. That should have elicited a different emotion. Well, it didn't. He was as stolid and lethargic. He reminded me of Derek Ramsey, the smoldering igneous rock. Only inanimate objects - like the igneous rock - fail to show emotions. Are Lance and Derek rocks?

Adriana Gomez sashays into the screen like she's walking the catwalk. To be fair, her aura provides a breath of fresh air. She looks classy and moves like a queen, albeit in constant heat. Otherwise, she is not made to do much except gaze longingly at hubby Arkey and model Lance. She has a very revealing shower scene, flabby buttocks, pert breasts, and shaved frontals in full view. Adriana's advantage is that she bears a glimmer of sophistication which is a far cry from second-tier sex nymphets that populate these Pink Films. We earlier saw her in "Ang Lihim ng mga Nympha" (our review coming soon). She might as well be one of those classy Hot Babes of the 90's. Yun nga lang, when she showers, she doesn't wet her hair. This exposes her to dandruff and head lice, debah? Ouch.

Jobben Bello could have been a decent supporting character. Unfortunately, he sees himself as part of the major action and fashions himself as the uber-thespian. In fact, when Arkey drops by his place to seek emotional refuge, we see Jobben shed his tears so unabashedly - even before Arkey tells him what his problem was. Cry me an ocean talaga! He goes the same thespic route when Arkey calls him after having tied down Adriana and Lance. Jobben does a Vilma Santos-style "ngarag" schtick a la "Relasyon". With tears dripping down his adequately fed cheeks, unties their ropes, writes a cheque for Lance and mumbles the gibberish "mata sa mata, laman sa laman", then even gets Lance to sign a "receipt". All sense of urgency briskly dissipates during this cheque-signing session. Haha.

Bello even enjoys a couple more theatrical scenes: one had him caressing Lance's nude portrait while he cries to the heavens, saying, "Sinira ko ang buhay mo, Lance." You would think that Lance was dismembered or killed! The other has him saying goodbye to lover Ian who tells him: "Minahal kita ng buong buo." Huh? Bello should learn how to temper his moments if he wants to be an effective supporting character instead of fashioning himself as anything other than a support. Otherwise, he comes off annoying and irritating much like the rest of this atrocity. He should take lessons from Cris Pablo's comic muse, Chamyto Aguedan. With Aguedan, you don't feel like throwing rotten tomato at the screen. Bello, on the other hand, inspires such proclivities.

Jeremy Ian doesn't do much although he has a spotlight shower scene. Did you expect anything less? Yes, Jeremy, we know you have "gifts". Unfortunately, not where his performance or delivery is concerned. He spews his lines in robotic, staccato convention - not unlike a 6 year old tasked to deliver her "Little Red Riding Hood" lines. At least the latter has the verve. The same is true with Mikho Madrid who has an accent as thick as a Victor Hugo novel.

The film making crew is as bad. We have a cinematographer (Ipe Alvarez) whose gimmicky idea of fast zoom ins and zoom outs are as exasperating as his actors. You don't understand this rankling style at all. What's worse, most of the scenes are laced with a schizopheric sound and music (by Tony Cortez) who shifts from a suspenseful musical strain to a sax music, then to a ballad as gag-inducing as Air Supply's "Goodbye" - all in a 15 minute scene. He doesn't understand the specific emotional content of the moment so he lathers them with 3 to 4 genres of music. Ano ba talaga, kuya? More succinctly, what planet do these creatures come from?

The film opens with a premise written by someone in dire need of grammar lessons: "You are a respected legend, how will you admit that you are a gay?" Please don't laugh yet. Reserve that for the statement written at the end of the film: "Yes, I was born this way!" Move over, Lady Gaga! After having been embarrassed of his sexual orientation all throughout the narrative, the writer shifts gear with this Gay Empowerment hurrah! I was ready to chant: "Don't be a drag, just be a queen. Whether you're broke or evergreen. You're black, white, beige, chola descent. You're Lebanese. You're orient!"

Lastly, after Adriana whispers something to Lance ("Mahal kita, Lance... pero hiwalay na muna tayo."), we eventually find them riding away together. Now tell me Edz Espiritu isn't a confused being? The appropriate adjective is really in the title.

Arkey daydreams of a soiree with Lance.

Jobben and loverboy Ian

Ian Felix Alquiros' photographic nudes on full display in the movie.

Lance arrives for his 3rd session, yet earlier, he was already fired! They forgot? LOL

Adriana Gomez, Arkey Munoz and Lance Lopez

Lance Lopez

Lance Lopez

Adriana Gomez

Adriana Gomez

Adriana Gomez


Anonymous said...

"punta tayo sa pampanga"

this was said most probably because Pampanga is known to be a hotspot for handsome hunks. In short, they abound. I have no data to prove that except the fact that, for example, when I bring friends from Manila to Pampanga for the first time, one of the things that they never fail to observe is the abundance of beautiful girls (artistahin) and hunky men.

yeah, that is what Pampanga is (or Kapampangans are) ALSO known for.

anyway, this pampanga thing aside, yeah, from the looks of it, this is another trashy queer film the sole purpose of which is to gratify the repressed needs of unthinking gay individuals

-jason lax

Cathy Pena said...

@ Jason:

I honestly didn't know about beauty dripping over the beauty cup in Pampanga. I thought it would be places like Cebu, Zamboanga and the metropolis of course. Maybe I should visit Pampanga to confirm this. :)

Lance I think is from Pampanga so that could be contributory.

Re: trashy. Good adjective, but there's a couple more that suits this flick: exploitative and delusional. :)

Anonymous said...

^^ oh please do. :D Angeles City/Metro Clark area would be a nice start.