Saturday, February 22, 2014

G.A. Villafuerte's Pilyo - Of Unflattering Appendages and Perfect Roles

Cocoy (Ace Toledo) leaves the province to stay with the De Guias for a month. What welcomes him is a household wrapped in its own troubles. Dominic (JM Martinez) and his wife Lena (Renee Gozon) are preoccupied with problems at work. Zero (JM Christophers), Dominic’s brother, is in a turbulent relationship with his perfidious lover Terrence (Kael Reyes). Meanwhile, Cherry (Kin Chai), Zero’s friend, just broke up with Nathan (Roldan Torres), Dominic’s officemate.

Trust the young Cocoy to comfortably insinuate himself in their domestic strife. He nurses Cherry’s broken heart and secretly accommodates Terrence’s sexual advances. Moreover, in his drunken stupor, he imposes himself to Zero who’s all too willing to share his errr… shortcomings. Oh how they merrily roll along.

One day, Zero and Cherry catch Terrence manhandling Cocoy’s ultra delectable joystick, and all hell break loose. What becomes of our naughty protagonist?

Like most G.A. Villafuerte  movies, the protagonist carries a polysemous sexuality, as ambiguous as the situations that Villafuerte concocts for his trivial plots. 

In the past, some of his characters – a gardener, plumber, student, call center agent, teacher , etc.– enjoy sexual dalliance with the opposite sex then just as easily shift their preference with the blink of an eye. No side stories. There is, in fact, no real sense of truth where sexuality is concerned; just caricatures from the writer’s excruciatingly limited insight on storytelling.

While it is true that the new millennium has ushered an age of sexual liberation, most individuals have well defined sexual preference or gender identification. In "Pilyo", our protagonist Cocoy shows no sign of "gayness" - not in any manner or persuasion, thus when he hooks up with Cherry, there were no surprises. But when he suddenly locked lips with Terrence without a hint of tension, you knew you were dealing with a fantastical flight of fancy. In fact, he even set Zero up to have sex with him. This was how Villafuerte interprets "pilyo" - and "naughty" suddenly meant "sexual ambiguity". To Villafuerte's mind, the earth-shaking dilemma is, and I quote, "Maaamin na ba niyang siya ay pilyo?" Have you ever heard of a more insipid predicament? To stretch his emaciated plot, he peppers his scenes with an array of shower scenes: 3 (or 4) in this movie, including one that has scarred me for life.

Renee Gozon and JM Martinez play Mr. & Mrs. De Guia - and nothing much really.

The scene in question: Frustrated Cherry drowns out her sorrow by showering it off. She grimaces and sobs as though this was her ticket to the next Urian derby, while she soaps her naked body. What we witnessed before us was the ugliest whimpering we've ever seen in Philippine Cinema coupled with several seconds of the smallest mounds of female breasts to have graced the silver screen. I thought we were traipsing on pedophilous territory. Heck, Ace Toledo has bigger man-boobs. The point being: if one has to showcase a physical appendage for a perving audience, there’d be more positive feedback if you showed something that has “fully grown”. Same point in a shower scene involving JM Christophers (playing Zero) who bravely faced the camera for a split second to display what could be a misplaced “thumb”? If you can’t get a legible story on screen, then a director might as well highlight the flattering “tidbits” of his stars, right? 

Now why are we discussing appendages? Simple. There’s nothing meritorious about the story, the performances or the film making prowess. The scenes are carelessly shot, you’d hear dogs barking loudly during confrontations. How about a camera that suddenly tilts? Or goes out of frame? In a make-out scene involving Cocoy and Zero, you’d suddenly catch someone remove a stool at the foot of the bed while the couple lip lock. These are easily remediable matters if the director really cared about his end product.


Another scene has a very stiff Francis Cariaso, a make-up artist who constantly moonlights as an actor in Villafuerte flicks. He even played the stiffest ghost we've seen in Villafuerte's "Ghost Lover". In "Pilyo", Cariaso plays a punctilious office boss who does nothing but shout. Trouble is, Cariaso cannot act if his life depended on it. He is so stony, mechanical, impliable and awkward that it’s palpably painful to look at him. I had bruxism watching Cariaso. If he stayed longer than his given screen time, he’d disintegrate into pieces. Now why would any director want a ham portray any character in his films?

I know a role perfect for Cariaso – as bit player (think Vilma Santos in “Ekstra”) for a story that requires bodies placed inside coffins. He would be perfect for it. He’d make the perfect rigor mortis!      

Zero (JM Christophers) and lover Terrence (Kael Reyes)

JM Christophers does his GA Villafuerte rite of passage - the "shower scene"! ;)
Kin Chai going for Famas gold!

Ace Toledo in his first title role.


SimplyManilaAdmin said...

Buti naatim mo pa tong tapusin

Cathy Pena said...

I know, but I keep thinking about this blog. How can I write about it if I don't see it through? :( Let's just say, it has become part of the "job". :)