Sunday, July 24, 2011

Zombading 1. A Movie Review

It was a cult mob last night, screaming, clapping at CCP’s main theater for the midnight showing of Zombading 1 (Patayin sa Shokot Si Remington).

We were the hard-core fans of Raymond Lee, come to see what had been tweeted and FB’ed and buzzed about for the past weeks. The title alone was a deviation of an already deviated subject. Something about gay Zombies.

We could feel the frisson from the cast and crew introduced on stage before the movie started. Raymond’s reputation precedes. Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Olivares, about a young gay boy who falls in love with a cop, showed seven years back, was totally raved locally, got incredible mileage and awards globally and ratcheted Cinemalaya, then a fledgling movie competition program into a beloved institution for film freaks.

In contrast to Maximo’s urban slum setting this movie is set in the province, and all of us displaced provincials get to see rolling hills, mature trees, fiestas, and a laid back life and clean air we know is good for us. In fact, Remington, the lead, is a young man who doesn’t want to move to the city for fear of lung cancer.

Remington as a young precocious fundie goes around identifying who’s bakla (gay) in his town and taunts them. Lots of angry bakla can’t hit the boy until he makes the mistake of encountering a grieving bakla widow in a cemetery. This queen turns out to be a witch and he curses the boy, telling him he’ll be queer when he grows up.

It’s 15 years later and the curse begins with Remington being chased by some hunky monster with a massive frizz who shaves all his body hair, including the pubic, makes him hanker for tight chick t-shirts, and makes him talk gay-speak fluently. And of course, what was once decent looking boy next door now acts, rolls his eyes and sashays like… uh, a full-fledged bakla.

While he’s morphing, there are the sub-plots. A series of killings going on in the town, all the victims, gay hairdressers. Their bodies found with too much make-up on, eyes still open and looking quite toasted. The police chief is Remington’s mom and along with her female side-kick officer and the woman mayor, seem to have, (eye-brows lift here) mannish dispositions.

Ah… we rollick and enjoy Remington’s liberation and at one point we are dancing with him as stars and fireworks and colors stream out of his cute bod. And then we’re all in his budding love story. He starts seeing his basketball mate and drinking buddy in a new light. There are sexually tense moments like up on a tree together gazing at a bucolic countryside or Remington clinging to his buddy driving a tricycle. And like most provincial boys, he is absolutely OK about Remington being gay and even makes the first move, boasting he’s no “virgin” to the scene. The seduction in the stairs and the first lips-to-lips elicited frenzied happy screaming in the theater. Our ultimate fantasy now on the big screen.

But, there’s still the matter of the serial killings and oh, yes, a girl who’s smitten with

Remington before he turned gay. This is the nuanced part, executed quite well. Gay Remington searches his feelings, articulates it as best he can with the girl and we can relate to it. Interestingly though, Remington bares his warm feelings for her, in English, and that gave it a detached, disingenuous and comical feeling. Well done.

So, who’ll score, fair maiden who won’t give up despite her boyfriend now in gayspeak hairdresser mode? Or basketball buddy who in the course of the film gets looking sexier and everyone’s fantasy.

Quizzically, Remington gives in to the girl and goes off looking for the widow who cast the bakla spell on him. There is a reunion and a violent tussle between the two. Who wins?

And will the killer of hairdressers get caught? I will leak it though that the zapped hairdressers become happy zombies in the end.

The love angle ending was not my ideal (this is though Zombading 1) but then again this movie, pure camp, satire and black comedy in part defies any programmed endings we hanker for in the few gay movies that come our way. Zombadings seems aimed at a younger gay subculture with its own language, humor and poignancy. Sentimentality and a one-on-one buildup of affection wasn’t on the script and, actually, didn’t belong.

Acting was both thumbs up, particularly the guy playing Remington, his buddy, his police mom and the widow witch. Direction was great. The provincial settings were marvelous and production quality high. Clearly a quantum jump from Maximo.

This zany movie has pushed the envelope quite a ways. It’s a must see! Coming to theaters in August!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A Travel Journal to Chengdu

I'm on a bus on Edsa headed north to Clark Airport. I'm off to Chengdu thanks to Air Asia. And this will be an ongoing account. No rumination, just straight from the hip and we'll see if it's as interesting as my thought pieces.

I can get a Philtranco bus here in Pasay just ten minutes from the house. It's 450 pesos (ten USD). It left exactly at 6:30 although their website said a six and a seven am departure. Need to tighten that up.

But here I am on EDSA which I usually drive on, now driven, doing well, no traffic and will have about three hours wait for the 12:05 flight. So far, the bus to the airport scheme is fine which has usually been the hesitation to getting a flight out of Clark.

As long as I have Globe Tattoo working and connected, this hour and a half trip isn't a hassle

The ticket lady in the bus hesitated. She apologized about asking. I asked what. Did I have a senior card?

This whole senior thing is new to me. I haven't gotten my senior card yet, probably out of denial or just not getting around to it. I was also struck by her question. For years people have always commented I was younger than my looks. Now the perception by others seem closer to reality. I told her I didn't but that I had a drivers license that showed my age. She looked at it without checking my face and gave me an 80 peso discount. Oh well, who's complaining?

Huge billboards of our Azkals soccer team with hunky bodies wearing only briefs. When the whole country was watching them win last week against Sri Lanka, we not only saw their skills but already had a fix on their bods.

I'll be boarding in an hour. Got to Clark about 2 hours and 15 min later.
Clark International Airport unfortunately is not up to snuff. We get off the bus and you see at a distance, all these scrapped airplanes and it looks like a junkyard. There's a mini store and got a bite but the flies were not enticing. I had asked for Globe prepaid card and the clerk tells me that he'll sell it if it's our "secret." Seems the competition is pissed that such a card is being sold and somehow has muscle power. Will report this to Globe.

Monday, July 04, 2011

One Irreverent and Funny Talk Coming Up!

What an absolutely great talk that was last Saturday July 2. It was important for me to describe the show since opening night was devoted solely to greeting guests and signing my book.

It's good to summarize the show in my head, become detached, see it from a larger perspective, talk out loud about the whys and the where for. In preparing for the show I realized how much writers like Walt Whitman, E. M. Forster and Margueritte Yourcenar, their writings, and their love lives had much to do with the making of this exhibit and the book.

So, the talk was packed with people and since there was much hearty applause, I will repeat the talk on July 23 and 30 2011. At 3:00 pm at Silverlens Gallery. See attachment.

Hope you can make it, see the photos on display, even the originals, and purchase a book which I will gladly sign. If you can't make either dates, the show is up till July 30. The gallery is close on Sundays.

Several gay friends and have brought their straight friends to the show (and vice versa) with the intention of coming out. They did, lots of happy tears, and the show has even another reason for its success.

See you there!