Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Crisaldo Pablo's Masukista - Deviancy in Amateur Exposition

While taking a leisurely walk in the woods, Clyde (Joeffrey Javier) witnesses a young man being sodomized. Amidst constant violent thrusts, Clyde hears Neil’s (Christian Cruz) whimpering. So he jumps to the rescue and takes the vulnerable lad home where Neil is welcomed with palpable affection. Clyde, in fact, has been celibate for the past 5 years, but feels he connects with Neil. That night, the couple consummate their mutual attraction. The following day, Clyde finds himself alone. Neil has left a video saying goodbye: “Di mawawala sa isip ko ang hugis ng iyong mukha.” (Was it triangular, rhomboid or octagon? I wonder.) Neil needs to sort out his relationship with his boyfriend Dex (Charles Delgado), the same guy Clyde saw at the woodland with Neil.

But little did Clyde realize that he’d see Neil once again – right in front of his doorstep. The new couple enjoys their blissful moments together. Clyde, who manages a tutorial center, even takes Neil to work; introducing him to friends. But something’s amiss. Neil gets unbelievably clumsy, succeeding to drop plates and glasses; spill coffee on office reports, etc. And every time these happen, the latter would taunt Clyde to physically hurt him as punishment. Soon it becomes clear: Neil derives infinite sexual pleasure from extreme pain, humiliation and rough sex. To accommodate his lover’s whim, Clyde seeks the help of Dex (Charles Delgado), Neil’s former boyfriend, who manages a sadomasochism (S&M) club. He needs to understand more about Neil’s deviant fixation with pain. On the home front, Neil has been pushing the limits of their increasingly violent games. Though Clyde acquiesces, warning bells alarm. Will they find salvation in Neil’s violence-riddled sexual games? Or will conditions down spiral into the ultimate tragedy?

Director Crisaldo Pablo’sMasukista” valiantly tackles a subject matter that deserves discourse. After all, this sexual deviation exists. How do we deal with it? Do we accommodate these aberrant proclivities? Where do we seek help? Unfortunately, Crisaldo Pablo isn’t the right person to confront the issue. In his case, this testy situation becomes more hazardous than empowering because he delves into it like a noose awaiting its owner’s head.

Like most Crisaldo Pablo flicks, the writing is imprudent and sketchy, you’re better off reading about this topic from, say, Wikipedia. Here’s a guy (newbie Christian Cruz) who speaks in the most egregious monotones, yet when Clyde’s friends apologize for calling him “tanga” and “clumsy”, he suddenly turns into an Einstein: “Na aappreciate ko ang pagiging reactive nyo, at ang dynamics ng reaction nyo.” Huh? Then suddenly, the two dimwits reply with the most vomit-inducing: “Wala ba ‘yang kapintasan?” referring to this baby-faced, albeit cachectic guy they earlier called moron. And what’s the “dynamics of a reaction?” Is that some inscrutable Freudian psychological mumbo jumbo that needs figuring out? Then let’s not forget how, after 3 dozens of films, you still hear lines dictated to his actors with no compulsion to diligently memorize a written script (if indeed there’s one). A 10-minute rehearsal prior to a “cinematic take” would do wonders for Pablo’s fledgling amateur show. Is it really too tedious to allow your actors to memorize and rehearse their lines first before shooting a scene?     

Clyde (Joeffrey Javier) saves Neil (Christian Cruz, left) from sexual battery by taking him home  then sharing his shower. How's that for "extending a hand to the needy"?

Joeffrey Javier as Clyde, Christian Cruz as Neil


During Clyde’s tour to the S&M Club handled by Dex, rules were given: 1) You have to strip naked when you’re walking the club’s hallways; 2) When you’re tying up your partner's limbs, make sure you don’t compromise the blood supply; 3) When you’re hitting your partner, avoid blood vessels; 4) Use safety terms to moderate the infliction of pain, i.e. red to stop, green to go ahead, and so on. I am not even aware that such club exists in the country, and if it does, is it even legal? After all, if pleasure factories like those seedy massage parlors (used as prostitution fronts) were illegal, how much more for establishments that inflict pain and condone violence? Moreover, endorsing such clubs in your middling exposition gives it an iota of validity, thus condoning a deviant behavior that needs to be addressed medically. As for rule number 4, while we’re at it, why not just say “stop” when you’re hurting already? What if you said “purple” and your partner perceives this color code as continuous lashing until you’re purple? Then that’s one purple eggplant hanging down a harness, isn’t it? J

Except for Charles Delgado, who’s mostly a comfortable actor, the performances are god-awful. Joeffrey Javier disappoints mostly because his delivery mimics R2D2. At least George Lucas’ robots don’t buckle. In a scene where he was dressing down his staff, he explodes: “ Hindi n’yo ba naiisip na baka kontra sa image natin ang pag aadvertise niyo? Isipin nyo ang salitang ‘cheap’ at baka isipin nilang cheap tayo” – It took him awhile to finish this line because he had to tumble and roll down between phrases. Now imagine what if you made him say: “Ang relo ni Leroy Rolex”! He won’t make it until kingdom come, surely. What happened, Joeffrey? He was doing so well in Eduardo Roy’sBahay Bata” and he was alright in Zig Dulay’sHuling Halik”! Well, two words – Crisaldo Pablo! He inspires the worst in his actors, giving them the veneer of idiocy.


Newcomer Christian Cruz, on the other hand, alarms. Sure, he has the face of an angel, but he is exceedingly gaunt, he could fly off if you suddenly sneeze! His arm is a fourth of Joeffrey’s thighs; his eyes sunken so deep, you could place marbles in the socket and they’d run around the orbit like sungka pieces! This boy has to be fed fast before he expires from kwashiorkor! How was he as Neil, the titular masochist? If Joeffrey was robotic, it would be a disservice to robots to call him the same. He is as clueless with his lines as he is with his role. I was anxious seeing him disrobe (which he did with gusto), taking showers, getting sodomized and gang raped, etc. Cruz looked so fragile, you’d be scared to hold him tightly or he might break from osteoporotic fracture. Seeing him move around in his hyposthenic state is alarming. Does he have an active tuberculous lesion? Do people actually feed him? Can’t the DSWD help?


Another source of annoyance is this horrible music, repeated ad nauseam: Isha’sSikretong Pangarap” and the throaty dirge (yup, a funeral song), “Kung Gusto Mo Akong Makuha”! The pitch is set too low so that the vocal quality sounds like it’s scraping a concrete bottom. Oh god, I had nightmares with these awful songs playing like a virulent soundtrack! As for Romy Guinoo’s ballad, “Bukas Muli”, we’ve heard this song several times in many of Pablo’s past ouvres. He keeps recycling these tracks until we’re blue! This once again underlines the mind set of this producer-director. Crisaldo Pablo’s artistic acumen has virtually receded into levels I cannot even define. His cinematic discourses have become too elementary, it’s almost unfair to even call it an exposition. Isn’t this truly sad?   

Charles Delgado as Dex, Neil's former lover and the manager of an S&M Club.

Dex teaches Clyde the rules of the game.

Neil derives pleasure from pain.

Gang banging the willing.

Joeffrey Javier - Back to zero!

Charles Delgado

Christian Cruz and Joeffrey Javier have the chemistry of inert substances.

Charles Delgado smiles like the boy (who willingly disrobes) next door.

Charles Delgado, Karl Matthew and Mico Madrid

Good looking Karl Matthew is wasted in any Crisaldo Pablo film. At least he had lines in  GA Villafuerte's "Kapa".

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