Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gay movie titillates

The mind, that is. And the movie that I’m referring to is Jay, last year’s Best Full-length Feature Film at the Cinemalaya, a festival for independent movies. Last weekend I went to SM Megamall to catch an afternoon screening of this digital film and I was not disappointed.

For the record, movie-watching in Manila has become so expensive that really it will take a lot to get me to watch something on the big screen. Nowadays, I will only go see a film if a) it’s something that I really like (which is rare); b) it stars people I like; c) it or a cause related to it is something that I’d like to support; d) it came highly recommended by a credible person; and/or e) it’s free.

Anyway the last movie with a cause I supported was Aurora, another digital indie. Starring Rosanna Roces (who I love by the way,), Aurora is the story of a social worker abducted by Moslem rebels. Deep in the jungle, Aurora was raped by one of her abductors. Because of the rape scene, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) gave the film a double-X rating thereby making its commercial release impossible. According to the MTRCB, the scene was gratuitous reviving the enduring debate in Philippine Cinema on freedom of expression and the need to regulate it.

The producers, in a campaign for the movie, screened Aurora at the University of the Philippines Film Institute (UPFI) which is immune to MTRCB powers. So I went. As expected, the scene was benign. Would the movie have been the same without the scene? Definitely not. The solution is not to delete the scene but to get rid of the MTRCB altogether. I’ve never believed in censorship and agencies like the MTRCB have no right to tell me what is gratuitous sex or not. I’d like to be the judge of that, thank you very much. But I digress.

Back to Jay. It’s a movie that satisfies 4 out of the 5 criteria I mentioned above. It was obviously not free but it got my interest because critics have been commenting on how intelligent this film is. So I already liked it before even going to see it. As well, I like one of its stars, Coco Martin, a young actor who is being hailed as the King of Indies in the Philippines. He not only acts well he is very easy on the eyes. And of course it is an indie, which is all the more reason to support it.

Jay apparently is the feature-film debut of its writer, producer and director, Francis Pasion. Drawing from his experience working in TV, Pasion creates in Jay a biting commentary on how modern TV with its current obsession with “reality” manipulates the truth for effect.

Jay centers on two Jays, both gay. One is alive and is a TV producer (played by Baron Geisler) while the other is dead, a victim of a brutal murder. The movie chronicles how the former in his pursuit of a TV exclusive shamelessly maneuvers his way into the lives of the loved ones left by the latter. What follows is a satire on media ethics. See it when you can. 

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