Monday, January 14, 2013

Antonio Mercader's Galaw - Muddled Thoughts

As earlier promised, I am posting one of the most popular titles (based on page reads and number of visits from their "blank pages") for our hundreds of Pink Film readers. This was initially scheduled for a December 1, 2012 posting. Is this movie any good? I'd lie if I say it is. It features some of the hottest names in the genre. Director Angelo Mercader is a discombobulated soul at best. Read on.


Simon (Glenn de Luna) braves Manila all the way from Gumaca, Quezon. Upon reaching the choleric byways of the city, Simon meets and makes a deal with Paolo (Brad Laurente) who sells stolen cellphones. You see, Simon needs to buy a new phone. Moreover, he's selling his brother's expensive necklace. Upon delivery of the gadget, Simon unknowingly accepts a "treat" from Paolo who offers a bottle of soda spiked with a sleeping pill. Simon succumbs to the scheme. When he wakes up, he's lying on the ground divested of a few things. He's lost his wallet, a pair of shoes, and the prized necklace. Amazingly, he gets to keep his cell phone which is an act of benevolence from the baddies, debah? Otherwise, Paolo must have missed the phone. Simon vows for vengeance - and he won't stop until he gets everything back.

Meanwhile, a third character named Jonathan (Jeff Luna) shows up in Paolo's house. Jonathan enjoys intimate moments with Paolo. He is also attracted to his young and handsome roommate (TJ Alonzo) who intermittently services him for a massage. Owing to their salubrious association, Jonathan becomes party to Paolo's schemes; the one who got Simon in trouble.

One day, Simon finds the boarding house owned by Paolo. He pretends he's someone else; a guy named Jake. And as though cast under a hypnotic spell, Paolo doesn't recognize Simon who becomes the new boarder. A case of Attention Deficit Disorder, perhaps? When the time was right, Simon eventually confronts Paolo, sequestering him inside a room, then threatening to annihilate the cell phone thief - with real loud, albeit vein-popping shouts - if he doesn't return the loot. Will Simon be able to retrieve the things he lost?

Director Angelo Mercader must have been in a fog when he conceived "Galaw" (Move) because almost every twist in his narrative is characterized by absurdity. There's Jeff Luna's Jonathan whose every move is dictated by his carnality so he drifts around fantasizing about his next sexual rendezvous. He doesn't do anything but lurk around Paolo's. Glenn de Luna, also known as Luigi Romero in gag-worthy Lucas Mercado flicks, mentions that he works for a call center. He was sent by his company to errr... sell a necklace? Buy a cell phone? Perform a shower scene? Gumaca is far just for mere showers.

"Nakita kitang pinapanood mo si Jake," Paolo tells Jonathan.
Which makes you think: Quezon must be a bustling metropolis teeming with call centers; something I wasn't aware of until now.

What's funnier is how Simon needed to travel to Manila just to buy a stolen phone so it suits him well to get bamboozled by the same seller. Don't they have cell phone shops in Gumaca that he had to endure 140 kilometers of travel, not to mention spend a considerable sum on bus fare? To exact his revenge, Simon needed to relocate and stay in Paolo's boarding house. Over a P20,000 necklace? There are less painful ways. He can report to the barangay, for starters. These narrative sketches don't add up at all.

Glenn de Luna headlines this astonishing piece. While he does a wee bit better than his previous flicks, these triumphs aren't much to crow about. In a scene when he finally confronts Brad/Paolo, he manhandles his beefy landlord. Laurente could easily flex his muscle because Glenn is several stones leaner, lighter than Brad. Yet the latter just stares at Glenn as though bitten and paralyzed by a venomous snake. The whole scene is truly a beholding piece of asininity.

TJ Alonzo, in his film debut, looks lost, but so would you if your character is a caricature of something that's hard to describe. What the heck is he doing here? I had been looking forward to seeing TJ on screen because, let's face it, this young man is quite a looker. But then his raison d'etre starts and ends when he starts canoodling with Jeff Luna for a massage session. When he begins kissing Luna all over his torso, you could see Alonzo trying hard not to land his kisses. He doesn't do well mimicking this. It was a painful watch. Poor boy!

If you consider it punishment to follow the story, your agony is further compounded by bad audio. You strain to hear some of the lines and you actually miss a few things. Director Mercader is too inept to clean his narrative as well as his film making skills. But what do you expect from a former setman of films like "Pasukob" (Ai Ai delas Alas, Rufa Mae Quinto). He probably got his on-the-job film making education from Wenn Deramas. And serously now, what can anyone learn from Deramas? Telling a story is a matter of common sense. And it's a a no-show here. This is why a little knowledge is dangerous. Because props men tend to believe that they can direct movies after mere observation.
What's a Pink Film without a shower scene, right? Glenn de Luna (as Simon/Jake soaps away like there's no tomorrow.
Paolo (Brad Laurente) senses something.
TJ's kisses land in midair.
Right after his bed scenes with TJ Alonzo, Jeff Luna is suddenly seen sharing his bed with Paolo. Did I miss a frame? Is the editor in the building?

Simon drinks a apiked cola.

Glenn de Luna formerly Luigi Romero

TJ Alonzo: Isn't he adorable?
TJ Alonzo in one of photographer Vic Fabe's best works. Visit his site at Mr. Fabe also has photo magazines bearing his name available at bookstores. Hmmm I may grab a copy soon if my BFF Kyle doesn't get his first. :)


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