Thursday, August 2, 2012

Han Salazar's Adam's Apple: Kakagat Ka Ba? - Biting Temptation

Sherman Diaz and Jigs Garcia (Jay Enriquez and Iman Rivera) share a seemingly blissful three-year relationship. While hard working Sherman works as a garment store clerk, impetuous Jigs awaits for two things: a nursing board exam and a Canadian visa. When impressible Kiko (Rei-Jan Reinoso) moves in next door, Jigs starts getting ideas about their bedroom proclivities. After all, both Sherman and Jigs are uncompromising “tops”.  And isn’t it convenient that the next-door minor seems like a compliant ally who harbors a crush on Jigs’ affable lover? Though Sherman initially balked at the idea, Jigs eventually prevails. But Sherman warns it’s going to be their “first and last time” with Kiko, he tells both guys. But for Kiko, the ball just started rolling and he falls deeper in love. Moreover, Kiko’s presence stirs green-eyed monsters in Jigs. Trouble is, Kiko has turned suicidal one time Sherman drove him away. Humans are, after all, creatures of emotions, not just instinct and sexual impulses. One cannot completely engage in sex absolutely devoid of emotion. That’s what separates us from beasts.

But the call of the flesh is sometimes irresistible even for lovers. Jigs gets caught sodomizing Kiko when Sherman was supposed to be away. Another eventful day, Sherman surrenders to the seductive lure of former housemate Joel (Jeff Luna), not realizing that 1) his freeloading lover is stealing money from his stash; 2) he was being set-up and videotaped by Jigs. Once Sherman learns of the ruse, there’s nothing left to do but part ways. These turn of events downspirals into an act of violence that turns the lives of our protagonists upside down. Is there still a future worth waiting for Sherman and Jigs together? What becomes of Kiko? Will Arnold (Drigo Padil), Sherman’s long time friend and co-worker, successfully insinuate his affection into Sherman’s heart? 

Sherman and Jigs

Rei-Jan Reinoso is the impressionable minor Kiko.

The film isn’t completely devoid of merit in terms of narrative content. How would one face deception, which is a valid concern especially among same-sex relationships (men, gay or otherwise, are by nature polygamous)? In which adulterous demeanor do you amplify fortitude or offer forgiveness? Director Han Salazar offers middling answers, simply because his story telling is as inept as his film making skill. It doesn't offer viable answers. Salazar is further scuffed by his predilection to show off his actors’ “assets” so while high-profile Pink Film directors like G.A. Villafuerte (this talentless director scours the radio, late TV and social media to promote his vomit-inducing films) always fails to “deliver the goods”, Salazar successfully offers full frontal scenes from Enriquez, Rivera and Reinoso (and they’re not just blink-and-you-miss moments). In short, the raison d’etre of this genre flick is actually fulfilled. Is this exploitative? How can anyone argue otherwise?

Jay Enriquez and Iman Rivera aren’t bad for newcomers, but they offer perfunctory more than inspired performances. It’s actually Rei-Jan Reinoso who’s able to impart a sense of subservience to his “curious and infatuated minor” role. Earlier publicity items claim that he was a mere minor when they filmed this, thus its alleged dilemma with the MTRCB, but I guess this was just an interest-generating rumor. The genre’s audience would lap it up knowing it had issues at the censor’s board. However, I’ve seen links showing Rei-Jan as a doting father to his real life child. This should make him not quite the innocent that he is perceived to be, right?

Jeff Luna, playing Joel, shows a smudge of improvement in delivery – and this is good news. Pink Films' "it-boy" is finally moving forward. In fact, Jeff isn’t as monotonous here as he was in his previous films. But his side story (he’s cash strapped, thus cannot afford a placement fee for his job application in KSA) is rather an “intervening item” in a fledgling narrative. In one scene, Jeff is shown storming away from his girlfriend. He was livid with anger because his overseas application was forfeited when his girlfriend (Jesica Ruiz) clandestinely reveals to Jeff’s employers that she is pregnant! Why would that even matter? It’s not like Jeff and Jesica were married in the story. More importantly, the company was hiring Jeff, not Jesica!
Director Han Salazar (“4some”, “Fling”) would do well with a better script. He may also fare better with less exploitative tack. Haven't we had enough of flicks that paint the contemporary world as one filled with horned out guys who -jeepers! - all turn out homosexual? It’s about time Salazar takes full advantage of his learnings from past assistant directorial stints - “Dekada ‘70”, “Feng Shui”, “Minsan Pa”, etc. Hasn't he learned anything from Chito Rono? If he doesn’t improve in his next project, then it’s high time he dig himself a cave and stay there as long as I'm paying my own admission fees. That should make this world a better place. Obviously.

Sherman fantasizes about Joel.

Then Joel shows up to seduce Sherman.

Jay Enriquez as Sherman and Drigo Padil as Joel's friend and co-worker.

Jay Enriquez is Sherman

Iman Rivera is Jigs


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Anonymous said...

Im just curious, what are chito rono's best works?

I've seen feng shui, distracting, as any kris aquino starrer would be.
Dekada 70, feels standard and it didnt't move me as reading the book
Itanong mo sa buwan is charming, but could be because of its age.


Cathy Pena said...

@ Juan:

Hmmm. Interesting question. But Chito Rono's works have always been tight and well thought of, without being too compromisingly commercial.

It is hard to point out his "best work" but - in MY list - the following should represent it adequately: "Private Show" (with Jaclyn Jose); "Eskapo" with Christopher de Leon and Richard Gomez; "Feng Shui" (inspite of Kris Aquino) is unforgettable; "Dekada 70" was relevant and still is.

My top pick should be "Laro sa Baga" with Carlos Morales, Angel Aquino and Monique Wilson.