Kasal (Joselito Altarejos)
Kasal is a brutally honest depiction of a relationship in crisis that expertly situates the characters’ private troubles in a larger cultural milieu that’s still oppressive to non-heterosexual unions. It’s an age-old theme but Altarejos and writer Zig Dulay avoid the pitfalls of the typical Pinoy gay cinema by focusing not on sex but on the very real fears and anxieties of gay yuppies. The project calls for actors brave enough to expose onscreen their souls more than their skin, and Arnold Reyes and newcomer Oliver Aquino both give their all.
Separados (GB Sampedro)
Separados attempts a commentary on Pinoy masculinity by featuring stories of men in various stages of personal crises, but its understanding of gender dynamics is so out-of-whack, misogynistic even. The problem with relationship stories (the film is based on real stories of men) written solely from just one perspective (here, the male) is lack of insight. It’s describing a coin without looking at the other side. Thus, we get here varied stereotypes of problem women: the workaholic wife unable to achieve orgasm (so the man just walks out of the bedroom and the woman satisfies herself with a vibrator, and you wonder if neither are aware of a human act called TALKING, say, “Honey, do you want me to hold the vibrator for you?”), the abusive wife, the horny wife, the nagging wife, the clueless wife, the addict wife, all accused as the main reasons for the breakups. If these men never realize that marriage is more than just taking a wife – it’s a commitment that needs constant communication and fixing problems together – then that “redemptive” wedding at the end of the film is doomed to fail.
Children’s Show (Roderick Cabrido)
By making the fight scenes look and feel like they’re inspired by Van Damme kickboxing movies, complete with super slo-mos and thrilling drum beats, Cabrido unwittingly fetishizes the very violence and exploitation that the film ostensibly exposes.
Hustisya (Joel Lamangan)
Unlike Bing Lao, Ricky Lee has not adjusted his writing to more visual, more organic forms of storytelling, and Lamangan, stuck in the same template, does not help at all with his signature in-your-face, throw-everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink approach. Hustisya may be a tad more tolerable than the pair’s most recent efforts, but they’re really too venerable and experienced to be graded on a curve.