A WRITER TRAPPED WITHIN HIS TRUTH
Film critics say that they’re objective and disconnected to whatever meat there is on the grill, but for me, it isn’t true at all because everyone has his prejudices, preferences and blind spots. The best way to get by one’s biases is possibly the only way to deal with them, ironically. Talking about prejudices, I was faced with two Filipino sex films. One had profound characterization that the other lacks. One was tamed and the other; vulgar, raw, exciting and will make you pant and kneel.
“You grasp your armrest while the lovers screw under God’s nose; you hold your breath while they reel on the brink of dangerous. Sex takes on the air of exciting boldness, of rebellion. They’re literally fucking in the face of death itself.” This is what this phase is introducing - words in rhythm, compelling, tasteful and hard core but both films were able to offer, amid the graveness of sex scenes, justice – to instill in peoples’ minds the fundamental nature of policy, discrimination and Filipino culture.
Peque Gallaga’s Scorpio Nights is stapled on triangular love – customary in any Filipino household, and yet his work of art is twisted in many aspects. The story is about a student who’s staying on a decaying apartment and below his room lived a security guard and next of kin. A peephole detaches the two worlds – not different though. Everything happened because of lust and consciousness of an impatient, young mind towards sex.
It’s an audacious premise, a coup de theatre that, if you can accept it, prepares you for more audacious stuff to follow. Almost the entire film was set in one place and somehow, in that cramped little space, Gallaga’s prodigious visual imagination exploded. He threw in every camera move and lighting trick he possibly knew. I loved how the camera almost never wandered outside the gate of the premise because it brought this focus on the microcosmic lives of the people inside. He staged every sexual encounter like a stunt or an action sequence where no sex act was too perverse, no visual touch too baroque or excessive. He directs with an astonishing urgency. I’d also like to mention the scene where the wife was giving up her ghost and Orestes started weeping while into her profundity. That’s maybe the subtlest bit of storytelling Peque has done to insert a good drama. Although there we’re some kitschy sequence in the film (the rain shots with lovers in cellophane, complete with Jaime Fabregas’ tacky music), it still fed my hunger for truth and awareness and curiosity.
Albeit the pornographic elements (noise of physical and sexual portrayal of greediness on flesh), the film was pure in intention and purpose. Even without the cops rummaging around radical students, it was able to arouse my understanding on history and capture the quintessence about the last days of Marcos’ military rule - from the crumbling high-rise complex, repressing and claustrophobic atmosphere of the entresuelo, the singular possessiveness of the dwellers on basketball, cats meowing, alcohol, sex and nothing else.
But what struck me then, and more so now, is the gay character that casually cavorts with his lover in front of everyone. He was shown with neither ridicule nor condescension- just another human being struggling in that same darkness of society’s cruelty and square- mindedness.
Uncovering of the title’s idea was creatively established when he said these lines,
“Anong kinalaman ng edad sa sakit ng ulo? Aba! Malapit na pala ang birthday mo. Scorpio ka nga pala kaya ka pala malibog. Scorpio rin ang nakatira sa baba. Makamandag ang Scorpio kaya ingat ka! Baka ikaw ang malason ng kamandag mo!”
Erik Matti’s rendering of the second film is frankly inventive compared from the first one. Everyone may not be fixated with the sex scenes, yet no one can readily notice the basketball court and what the sport means in the movie. Watching the movie means looking at the hidden nuances. Though the vision was present, the film resembled a two-hour tedious running time and was mildly kinky where the original was harrowingly perverse. You might just call the sequel, Scorpio Lite.Although the story line lacks substance, its actors were superb. Albert Martinez to name was able to portray two different roles apart – from meticulous to dangerous and compulsive.