Monday, November 24, 2014

Jigz Recto's "Katabi" - Of Stiffled Affections and Attention-Grabbing Bulges

Tom (Rafael Perez) and Jeff (Jigz Imperial) have known each other since they were kids. When Tom moves to the big city for work, Jeff follows suit. But life in the concrete jungle isn't easy so Tom invites his best friend to live with him. They do everything together: take their meals, share shower times and sleep in one bed.

One day, Jeff shares that Rhea (Nina Rossini), the girl next door, has agreed to become his girl friend. Would Tom want to meet her?

But the girl is a complex item in their equation. Rhea secretly flirts with straight-laced Tom who, one day, finally takes her bait and sleeps with the predatory girl. (Rhea, by the way, wants a luxurious watch similar to Jeff's prized possession. Such lofty ambition, debah?) This has put a strain on Jeff's relationship with Rhea.

She ends her commodious coupling with heart-broken Jeff who just borrowed P20,000 to get his girl the watch that she wanted. (She'd offer him heaven in exchange of riches; something that she's only too willing to impose on Tom without him asking. Go figure.)

When Jeff learns of Tom's concupiscent rendezvous with Rhea, the two friends quarrel. In tight white briefs, they engage in masculine fisticuffs, rolling on their small bed in errr, wild abandon. Accusations are thrown around - and Jeff finally kicks dear, dear Tom out of his house. Might as well. Tom's work is already suffering due to Jeff''s constant loans: the expensive gifts, the celebratory drinking sprees, etc.  Is this the end of their life long friendship? Guess.

Rafael Perez
Jigz Recto's "Katabi" is unexpectedly superior from his previous works, though this isn't in anyway an endorsement of his directorial acumen. Far from it. But this is ten notches better than his unenviable body of work characterized by bathetic stories that overly dramatize confrontations, stretched out for what seems like a dozen lifetimes. These were mawkish dregs of misplaced emotionality, interlocked with repeated shower scenes and peekaboo wonders, and acted by borderline wanna-be actors too clueless to delineate real emotions from make-believe. Moreover, these dramatic highlights are punctuated by persistently heavy-handed suspenseful music that go louder as situations progress.

Don't get me wrong. Shower scenes are still a staple in Recto flicks, but they've been moderated (blame the holier-than-thou  MTRCB for this very conservative trend of late). In one scene, the two friends bathe together; they "rub" each other's backs amid long, silent stares, broken by, "Nababakla ka na ata sa akin." These romantic coquetry create a few moments of unbridled sexual tension - that actually fizzle.

Such mood making is sustained after a drinking spree (Ugh. Didn't you expect?). When Jeff gets too inebriated to walk, Tom is only too glad to help. Jeff vomits on Tom's shirt while the latter takes his friend to bed, disrobes both their garments, until they're only donning their impeccably clean tight-and-white briefs. Tom then cleans his friend all over with a wet towel, every crevice diligently sponged. Meanwhile, the camera intermittently pans on Jeff's attention-grabbing bulge, you could probably use it as compass while it points north-east to pleasure first then switches south-west to joy. Jigz Imperial, it turns out, is directionally versatile. Incredible. Ooohlala!

Nina Rossini, playing the shrewd Rhea,  conveniently becomes a cinematic third wheel. But then this is a Jigz Recto movie where girls are third-class citizens and guys tintinnabulate their own bells. See Imperial rabidly sponge his privates (it must be exquisitely durrrty) as he makes several "dukot dukot" while intently bathing. It's almost an Olympic sports event at the rate he's doing it. Don't we just adore meticulously clean guys?  

Jigz Imperial is directionally versatile.

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