Monday, October 1, 2012

Alejandro "Bong" Ramos' Butas 2 - Confused Perspectives & Succulent Visuals

In an unfinished house made of concrete, infidelity is played out by Jiggo (Ace Castro of "Lamog") and his father’s mistress, Pia (Mocha Uson). Pia just recently arrived from a two-week Asian holiday with Jiggo’s influential father, the owner of the house. Their clandestine rendezvous is being documented by Jiggo’s video camera. The only other witness to their affair is Andoy (Rufert John Lirio), the bashful caretaker whose other vice is peeping through holes while Jiggo and Pia lollop from getting high to relishing their endless sexual games.

Jiggo is restless, willful and determined, but his ambition’s been mostly off tangent. In fact, he’s been indecisively jumping from one collegiate course to the next: from aeronautics to engineering – now he’s into films; something that has frustrated Jiggo’s father no end. Pia, on the other hand, is a former model who has succumbed to the lure of financial security offered by Jiggo’s dad. But Pia hasn’t been the good girl. She keeps hopping from one indiscretion to the next. To avoid getting spotted by her benefactor’s people, she navigates the bowels of Binangonan wearing a flurry of disguises. Meanwhile, youthful but destitute Andoy is mostly ignored by Jiggo and Pia. The soft spoken caretaker plays out his fantasies sneaking around the tenement’s crude corners, diligently spying on the sexually charged couple.

Jiggo’s recording of his concupiscent rendezvous with Pia isn’t all that whimsical or innocent. He has plans for the footages; something that would earn him money. And he couldn't care less if others get hurt along the way.

Director Alejandro “Bong” Ramos utilizes the same narrative element of the first “Butas” with Marco Morales and Gwen Garci. In fact, “Butas 2” is a retelling of sorts. Ramos ambitiously tries to up the ante by giving the viewer three perspectives: Jiggo’s, Pia’s and Andoy’s. Thus the scenarios are repeated several times from the point of view of our three protagonists. While it’s a refreshing style, the novelty soon wears off because Ramos soon recklessly transposes these perspectives. In fact, it’s easy to discern wayward perspectives. Suddenly, there were more than three perspectives and the whole exercise becomes a tedious predilection. The gimmickry will initially call your attention, but it soon becomes clear that the story’s too flimsy to be compelling. Besides, we have seen this story before, populated by different actors. The story is further hobbled by characters that the story could have done away with: the DVD pirate Obet (Alvin Duckert) and his girl friend Miranda (Jhoy Ortiz).


There are narrative facets that hook you like when Jiggo discusses how there are more stories that we don’t see: “May dalawang mukha ang butas – ang naninilip at ang sinisilipan.” Pia then interjects, “Gusto ko ako ang sinisilipan” – because the life of the voyeur is a sad one. It is an interesting thought. However, at some point you notice these thoughts to be wantonly moving away from the premise. Voyeurism has always been a shady part of our psyche and we're forever intrigued by what we're not supposed to see. Director David Lynch ("Twin Peaks", ""Blue Velvet", "Wild at Heart") once said, "We want to know secrets and we want to know what goes on behind those windows.There's an entertainment value to it. I think people are fascinated by that; by being able to see into a world they couldn't visit." To others, it's a sense of empowerment. There's God Complex in knowing what others do when they thought people weren't looking.

Ramos “Butas 2” boasts of several full frontals that would have you blush. Ace Castro proudly displays his considerable appendage in full, well-lit scenes, as does Alvin Duckert (in a shower scene with Jhoy Ortiz where he’s the only one doing the full monty - he doesn't even have qualms facing the camera; such a dirty dirty boy). Alvin isn't shy parading his half-Swedish falukorv (click the link below to find out what it is) in half a dozen Pink Films. Newbie Rufert John Lirio exudes innocence, thus when Jiggo playfully films him taking (yet another) shower, you feel sorry for Andoy whose most challenging scenes were his self pleasuring moments. Oohlala indeed. Even Marklen Trinidad has a surprising scene borne out of an exigent need to pepper Ramos’ cinematic canvas with as much nudity. Ramos makes G.A. Villafuerte’s films seem like Walt Disney movies.

Mocha Uson is a captivating femme fatale. What’s more, like Duckert, she isn’t shy displaying her bits-and-pieces. Unfortunately, her role doesn’t give her much thespic grit to munch on. She's merely meant to be ogled at; and not derive emotive inspirations from. But let’s hope she succeeds to crossover to mainstream cinema instead of wallowing in godawful flicks like Z Lokman’sSeksing Masahista”.

The visuals in “Butas 2” are a joy to watch because of the film’s crystal clarity (with Jepoy Tarnate’s cinematography). Ramos further experiments with angles and views that you hardly experience in the films of Crisaldo Pablo, GA Villafuerte, Lucas Mercado, Cleo Paglinawan, Paul Singh Cudail, Edz Espiritu and other purveyors of cheap, shoddy sex flicks. Having said all that, Ramos’ weakness is in the exposition of his narrative. He eventually turns aimless. The concluding scenes in the movie feel uninspired as though they belong to a different story. Rough plot transitions occur when film makers need to suddenly complete their projects. With a rather gaunt story, “Butas 2” could have benefitted from judicious editing. Too bad they forgot to patch the holes.  

Why would a "straight" man film his naked caretaker? Sure gives you wayward ideas.

Alvin Duckert as Obet and Rufert John Lirio as Andoy find something they could sell.

Dexter Castro as Jiggo
Mocha Uson as Pia

Rufert John Lirio as Andoy

Alvin Duckert and Marklen Trinidad want you to smell their arms.

Mocha Uson is the femme fatale Pia.

Mocha Uson

Rufert John Lirio

Rufert John Lirio peeps through a hole.
Rufert John Lirio, Mocha Uson and Dexter Castro


Please read our featured post on Cinema Bravo and why Web Criticism isn't always about good writing:


Anonymous said...

what's the better voyeurism film? BUTAS or BOSO?


Cathy Pena said...


No contest there. Jon Red's "Boso".

But the texture and leanings of both films are poles apart. While "Boso" gears on exposing the female anatomy and the psychology of voyeurism, "Butas 2" is oriented towards the Pink Market. I find that this gives the two films very distinct difference. Somehow, Pink leanings imbue inferior artistry. This is sad because it shouldn't be the case. :(

Melanie said...

Napanood ko 'to nung premiere night sa UP. Hhhhmmm... Hhhhmmm... Hhhmmmm... Ilang beses inulit-ulit ang mga eksena. Nahilo tuloy ako. Feeling ko, peg ng pelikulang ito ang Salome ni Gina Alajar.

Cathy Pena said...


So true. Nakakahilo at nakakalito kasi yung perspective na paulit ulit na nagpapalit until you're wondering from whose perspective the story's playing. As for "Salome", hmmm interesting thought. :)

Melanie said...

Butas 1 with Gwen, Marco and Allen was a success. I was also at the premiere of that movie sa UP. Punong-puno ang Cine Adarna. Sad to say eh kabaligtaran 'yan ng Butas 2. Though very similar ang story ng dalawa, IMHO eh mas maganda yung Butas 1 kasi hindi ganun karaming beses inulit-ulit ang eksena.

I commend Mocha sa performance niya pero dahil sa lackluster ng mga co-actors niya, namgmukha tuloy siyang OA which is hindi naman.

Just so you know, Dodie Dizon was my World Lit professor back in college :)

Cathy Pena said...


Dodie Dizon was a bit "stagey" for Butas 2, don't you think? It's always been the trademark performing crutch of stage actors, i.e. to churn out big thespic strokes once in cinema.

I'd have loved to watch director's cuts in UP but, though I live in QC, UP Diliman is kinda out of the way... In that regard, you're fortunate to see some films in their "unbastardized" glory far removed from the archaic eyes and standard of the MTRCB.