My notes on Tupang Ligaw:
1. I really had no plans of watching this movie, but because of my great love for Sarah G., an R-16 rating that promised possible nudity, and just a little over one hour running time, I thought how bad could it be? (The answer was very.)
2. I hope that Matteo Guidicelli was a much better boyfriend than actor. Although he looked really good onscreen, his face barely registered any genuine emotion. His constant preening and difficulty in delivering his Filipino lines were just distracting. One scene involved a young kid aiming a loaded gun at him and he casually said, “Delikado ‘to, ok?” like he was just teaching him the dangers of tumbang preso. Can he just release a scandal, please?
3. Matteo played Abel Rosaryo and if his name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, he was the good son turned lost sheep out to seek revenge on the death of his prodigal brother at the hands of Paolo Contis’ Señor El Diablo (yup, this movie didn’t know the word subtlety) and his caricature goons. Oh, and said Diablo ruled Barrio Paraiso (ooh, at least it knew irony).
4. Barrio Paraiso was a stinkhole full of really nice people, so nice that the teens actually queued to buy their daily supply of drugs. The other characters in this forsaken town included a widowed prostitute (Ara Mina) and her young boy, an old haciendero with a borta caregiver fond of grey tank tops, and a cowboy hat-wearing priest. The said priest asked for Abel’s help because he was so concerned about his town’s current state (“Sana matulungan natin ang mga kabataan”). The next scene showed said teens…twerking. Miley Cyrus was the devil?
5. Señor El Diablo’s goons in the movie all carried machine guns that they never really used whenever Abel was around. They usually ended up pointing them at him, never firing (sayang ang bala?), and then just using them to make pukpok the bida. Seriously, these were the oppressors that ruled the poor barrio?
I bet Abel just spent a few hours watching Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon to prep for these fights. He actually put the late, great Fernando Poe, Jr. to shame by singlehandedly killing all goons in sight with his bare hands. I swear in one scene the said goons actually even lined up so that they could get punched one after the other.
6. The said R-16 rating proved to be a disappointment because it was mostly due to the constant throat-slitting. To be fair though, there were so many shots of Abel tucking the gun in the waistband of his jeans so we had more than enough glimpses of Matteo’s flawless belly. Such a tease!
7. Flashbacks galore. Every plot detail and motive needed one. I think the entire movie was actually half-flashbacks, half-action sequences.
And because the movie was so original, it had a scene where Matteo looked up at the high heavens, raised his arms, and let out a loud scream while the camera panned out for an aerial shot. (It was original because it didn’t rain.)
8. The shoddy production values were probably limited by the measly budget. The movie didn’t even bother with retakes. One scene had the camera on Matteo just waiting for his cue to speak (if that wasn’t bad enough, he still missed his cue). In another, he flipped a table out of anger but since it didn’t fully turn, he just flipped it again all in the same take.
The sound of a passing tricycle would be much louder than the actual conversation. Even a vase used in one scene was fake because it didn’t break when it was accidentally hit by a character.
The movie’s producer at least knew her priorities. She was addressed with a Ms. on the opening and closing credits. More importantly, she played a crucial role as Tiger Rose, uhm, actually her character had no bearing in the entire movie until a last minute explanation on one of the last few scenes. This reminded me so much of another producer (ahem, GMA Films) that had to be included as an extra in every scene of all her movies.
9. One of my favorite scenes here was when Ara Mina stepped out of her room that night with her boobs almost popping out of the plunging neckline of her skimpy bedazzled black dress (with matching floral clutch) and told Matteo that she was off to work and he still asked what kind of work she had.
Uh, I surely hope she wasn’t a call center agent (or worse, Team Leader).
I was already reaching for my inhaler by the time Ara replied, “Eh di sa beerhouse.”
10. Speaking of said beerhouse, the movie’s idea of being progressive was having a transgendered prostitute dance in a club full of presumably straight men. Good move for equal opportunity, right? And then the said transgender did a somersault before eating a live chicken. (Fear the wrath of the LGBT!)