THE LOOKOUT (Afi Africa, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Lookout:

1. It must be true that one couldn’t really appreciate good films without experiencing the bad. In effect, Cinemalaya also wouldn’t be complete and considered an annual triumph if not for misguided, execrable fare like Amor Y Muerte, Asintado, The Diplomat Hotel, or last year’s infamous Ang Guro Kong ‘Di Marunong Magbasa.

Keeping up with tradition, this year’s festival delivered another knockout clunker so inane (insane?) that it should be deemed a cult classic twenty years from now. It had the makings of the worst (read: best, but actually worst) kind of Elwood Perez film that I even wondered if the name Afi Africa was just a pseudoynm of the said director (fact check: no, completely different person).

A gay hired killer out to seek revenge on his childhood abusers? Compelling stuff. The terrible execution though made this one a hilariously campy “film mwah” (I missed you, Belinda Bright!).

2. The opening scene alone that revealed the highlights of the movie was a sure sign of impending doom, er… I meant the tremendous enjoyment that this one would bring. It reminded me of the flash cuts used in my favorite TV series that I actually expected to the hear the words “Previously on Scandal…” as soon as it started.

3. Why was this movie rated PG when the first fifteen minutes alone featured a graphic anal sex scene? It also included oral sex, a threesome in a tub, a lengthy rape scene, gratuitous nudity, and excessive violence and profanity. How did this elude the prudes of MTRCB?

I wouldn’t be complaining if I wasn’t seated two rows behind a boy (barely ten) who had to hear the line “Tangina nakikipagkangkangan ako!”. Somebody should be made accountable for this. (FYI, I watched this again on a different day and it still had the same rating. I asked the cinema personnel and they said they couldn’t do anything to restrict younger viewers.)

4. I made the right decision of staying away from the good seats (crowd) because I just couldn’t control my laughter in several odd moments. In one scene, George/Timothy/Lester (Andres Vasquez, a budget Wendell Ramos) started his voiceover with “Ito ang The Kingdom…” referring to a high-end, exclusive membership club where rich patrons could buy any of the topless boys in a swimming pool (Did they stay there all day waiting for customers? Imagine the pruning and shrinkage!). He was offered a drink (“Zhenk yhu zho match!”) and then proceeded to select (“Dat guy ober der”) Travis (Jay Garcia, as a human goat), who actually had a slo-mo shot of him coming out of the water like he was shooting one of those Instagram Vitamin Sea pictures. G/T/L then stretched his arms wide open while slowly saying “Welcahhhm to mayhhhh layhhhf!” and at that point I was already crying because my appendix shot out of my ass.

In another, a group of government operatives were discussing the crime scene and Grace/Monica (Elle Ramirez) went through an entire litany of bullet trajectories and how the killer made an elaborate setup to mislead the investigators. Their leader (Efren Reyes, Jr.) then asked “So may identity na kayo ng assailant?” to which a constipated-looking G/M replied, “Unfortunately sir, no.” Bwahahahaha! If only this was a satire on the current state of our nation.

Also, don’t even get me started on that “Tao o ibon? *flipped coin* Kiss mo ako sa leeg” scene. My nebulizer’s not ready.

5. I hadn’t even touched on these words of wisdom that I had difficulty transcribing because I was just cracking up really hard. Some examples:

• On the power of words: 

“Ang ‘I LOVE YOU’ ay mula sa puso. Ang ‘MAHAL KITA’ ay mula sa puso tagos hanggang kaluluwa.” 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

(Don’t get me wrong. This actually made a lot of sense given that words in the vernacular would have more impact, but you really needed to hear the clunky delivery to understand why people spontaneously laughed during this scene.)

• On the sanctity of body parts:

“Ang labi ko ay para lamang sa babaeng mamahalin ko at ang pwet ko ay bilang respeto sa pagkatao ko at pagkalalaki ko.”

• On mutualism in relationships:

“Sa tingin mo gusto ko na chupain kita at kantutin mo ako?”

• On Melanie Marquez as a literary genius:

“Ang tao ay parang libro. Hindi mo napipili ng dahil lang sa cover kundi dahil sa laman nito.”

• On love computations:

“Alam mo ba ang ibig sabihin ng mahalaga? Mahal + alaga.”

6. To be fair, I really liked the dingy setting of G/T/L’s apartment with his room overlooking the LRT.

Yayo Aguila (as the abused mother) also had some fine moments whenever she wasn’t required to overact like crazy.

7. Even after watching this twice, these were some of my burning questions:

• Why did Rez Cortez’s abusive character have to be raped by two twinks? Would it really have served as a punishment for him considering that he was a child molester?

• Where could we buy those voice changers used here as an app in a Nokia phone? (“Sino ka?” “Isang kaibigan. O pwede ring kaaway.” HAHAHAHAHA!)

• If the movie wanted a big reveal regarding the identities of the siblings, why did they have to own matching little black booklets?

• Was the excessive fascination with removing/putting on underwear done by several characters a symbolism for something? Did G/T/L really have to take a shower wearing black briefs? I thought he had no “quangs showing his body”?

• What were the tilted shots for? Was this an homage to American Horror Story?

• What was the purpose of G/T/L saving that crying young girl? Was it to show that a ruthless killer like him had a soft spot, too? But whatever happened to that girl after the said scene?

8. Overheard after the screening: “Ang tulis ni Travis natuhog ang magkapatid!” HAHAHAHAHA!

9. That ending!! I couldn’t wait for part 2 to learn more about Jeffrey Santos’ character who showed up at the very last minute just to dramatically unzip his hoodie and give a sinister look, like he was in possession of the diary that contained the deepest, darkest secrets of Mara Clara.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Cinemalaya 2017 Scorecard

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I wasn’t surprised that the general consensus on this year’s line-up was that of disappointment. One friend made a joke that Cinemalaya seemed to be a festival of diminishing returns. Majority of the selections this year would have a tough time disproving that thought.

Luckily though, there would always be a gem (or two) that’d restore your faith and make you believe that even with a limited budget and lack of big stars, our talented local indie filmmakers could create quality films that deserved our continued support.

Here’s my #Cinemalaya2017 festival scorecard:

Best Feature-Length Film

1. KIKO BOKSINGERO (Thop Nazareno) – ★★★★★

2. RESPETO (Alberto Monteras II) – ★★★★☆

3. NABUBULOK (Sonny Calvento) – ★★★☆☆
4. BAGAHE (Zig Dulay) – ★★★☆☆

5. BACONAUA (Joseph Israel Laban) – ★★☆☆☆
6. SA GABING NANAHIMIK ANG MGA KULIGLIG (Iar Arondaing) – ★★☆☆☆
7. ANG PAMILYANG HINDI LUMULUHA (Mes de Guzman) – ★★☆☆☆

8. REQUITED (Nerissa Picadizo) – ★☆☆☆☆
9. ANG GURO KONG ‘DI MARUNONG MAGBASA (Perry Escaño) – ★☆☆☆☆

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

1. NOEL COMIA, JR. (Kiko Boksingero)
2. ABRA (Respeto)

*Special Mention: RONWALDO MARTIN (Sorry for the Inconvenience)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

1. ANGELI BAYANI (Bagahe)
2. GINA ALAJAR (Nabubulok)
3. ELORA ESPAÑO (Baconaua)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

1. DIDO DELA PAZ (Respeto)
2. YUL SERVO (Kiko Boksingero)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

1. YAYO AGUILA (Kiko Boksingero)
2. CHAI FONACIER (Respeto)
3. MOI BIEN (Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha)
4. THERESE MALVAR (Baconaua)
5. RACQUEL VILLAVICENCIO (Bagahe)

Best Short Film

1. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE (Carl Adrian Chavez) – ★★★★☆

2. HILOM (P.R. Patindol) – ★★★☆☆
3. MARIA (JP Habac) – ★★★☆☆
4. FATIMA MARIE TORRES AND THE INVASION OF SPACE SHUTTLE PINAS 25 (Carlo Francisco) – ★★★☆☆
5. LOLA LOLENG (Che Tagyamon) – ★★★☆☆

6. NAKAW (Arvin Belarmino, Noel Escondo) – ★★☆☆☆
7. BAWOD (TM Malones) – ★★☆☆☆
8. ISLABODAN (Juan Carlo Tarobal) – ★★☆☆☆
9. JUANA AND THE SACRED SHORES (Antonne Santiago) – ★★☆☆☆
10. ALIENS ATA (Glenn Barit) – ★★☆☆☆
11. MANONG NG PA-ALING (E. del Mundo) – ★★☆☆☆

12. NAKAUWI NA (Marvin Cabangunay, Jaynus Olaivar) – ★☆☆☆☆

Until next year!!