Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Jigz Recto's "Binatilyo" - A Caterwauling Fete (An Unpublished Post from 2012)

Vintage Blush? Well, this is an article we weren't able to publish for some reason, but this had an original post date of November 8, 2012 - 4 long years ago. It had Jao Mapa too. It was one of those pink films that flourished that time. I am sure some of the followers of this blog have missed the spunk and irreverence we've dedicated towards the exploitation and vapid film-making that proliferated back then. I didn't really care about the associated metrics, but when each post was being read by between 8,000 and 18,000 people, you realize that you must have done something right. After all, this is a text-heavy blogsite so I know that my readers aren't illiterates. They also have impeccable taste. Tee hee. So here goes.

TJ (Norris John) is infatuated with his classmate Karla (Lili Montelibano). But TJ isn't the school’s most popular student. In fact, he gets brickbats for his father Dading’s (Jao Mapa) effete ways: “malamya, malambot, kumekendeng”. A few days before Karla’s birthday, TJ gets a reprieve from Karla’s snootiness. If TJ can provide her with a new smart phone - as gift, of course - for her birthday, then he’s welcome to court her! Quite the opportunist, isn't she? So what’s a guy to do? His very own cell phone is ten years past its prime and held together by an adhesive.

At home, he badgers his impoverished, albeit hard-working parents for the fashionable gadget. Truth to tell, TJ’s foible is a vice his family can’t afford. But his attentive and persevering father works even harder and appropriates a good chunk of his earning, much to the consternation of TJ's mom  Elma (Angela Ruiz). The boy is getting impatient because Karla’s birthday is close by. TJ turns to his best friend (Winston de Dios, “Sulot“, “Rigodon”) who moonlights as an exotic dancer and hustler. Lulu (Lorraine Lopez), TJ’s classmate and overt admirer, is only too happy with this development. She wants a piece of TJ’s inches as much as she enjoys his best friend’s. Little did TJ realize that Lulu is a nefarious henchman’s girlfriend. This gets TJ into trouble.  

Karla’s birthday comes, but Dading’s hidden stash is confiscated by his wife. What’s a father to do? Will TJ ever find the acceptance from Karla? Will there be enough cellphones in the Philippines in time for the opportunist's birthday? I shiver.

TJ (Norris John) despises his father.

Director Jigz Recto once again weaves another unctuous and exceedingly mawkish mixbag of melodrama and Pink-leaning narrative. “Binatilyo” is, in fact, one of the most painful films to watch, reminiscent of the protracted scenes from “Dulas” and “Kasalo”, both directed by the same director.  These films stretch the dramatic scenes much longer than you can say "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis"

Just when you thought the protracted aria has been delivered, the emotive gravity resumes again with another set of caterwauling that burrows deep inside your head. I have been sensitized to these cinematic punishments, but this flick has tested my patience. I was this close to walking out. 

Clueless directors believe that they could milk their dramatic tableau by expanding their dramatic scenes. This isn't a case of “the longer, the better”, or is it? Norris, who isn't a tall guy, would surely not agree either. The boyish actor works hard and though he succeeds to personify the spoiled rotten juvenile, his characterization is hobbled by the non-expository ethos of his cinematic persona. It’s hard to swallow how a once-loving son has transmogrified into this insensitive brat. 

Elma and son TJ (Angela Ruiz and Norris John)


It’s quite apparent that the ministrations fueling the narrative are meant as deus ex machina. The inclusion of Lulu’s gun-toting beau and TJ’s best friend is perplexing. When prodigal TJ comes home, he learns that his father died looking for him (TJ saw him in a gay bar and thought that his father has come out of the closet when, in fact, he was there to work as a waiter so he could earn more money to buy a new phone for his son). He further learns of his mother’s ornery past: When she got pregnant, his boyfriend ditched her. Kind-hearted Dading comes to the rescue and assumes the responsibility as husband and father. This he did despite being as queer as a three dollar bill, so to speak.

After Elma’s confession, TJ gets a 30-minute crying spell. It was night time. The next day, he visits his father’s grave and another lachrymose caterwauling arises. You wonder where prodigal TJ went that he didn't even catch the loooong wake – and the burial. Did he maybe peddle his flesh overseas? Like Okinawa or Antananarivo, maybe? But he was just enjoying a staycation with his classmate. Why wasn't he told? But the most blatant antagony is the crux that fuels the story: What guy in his right mind would purchase a smart phone for a pompous girl who isn't even his girl friend yet? The story is riddled with holes the size of the supermoon.

The Pink element appears when, one night, a drunk TJ gives Winston’s a visit who then attends” to his friend's drunken stupor, undressing him and giving him a diligent, thorough, and refreshing sponge bath. Ayayay pag-ibig, coos Ara Mina. What are friends for, debah? By sunrise, TJ finds himself glisteningly speckless and exfoliated. 

Binatilyo” is one of the most excruciating flicks I’ve seen this year. It’s a “buwis buhay” experience. Someone deserves to be tied on a tree teeming with fire ants. Either that - or he deserves to be shipped somewhere where transport only comes once every 50 years. No... make it 70!

TJ daydreams of Karla (above) then rollings in the hay with Lulu.

Gay husband Dading and wife Elma.


Winston de Dios and Norris John
Norris John

Norris John


Read our feature Cinema Bravo and Web Criticism? :

#pinkfilm   #binatilyo  #norrisjohn   #jaomapa

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