Feeling Charmed by The Way He Looks

From my own personal observations and from what I have seen so far, pink movies usually have tragic or sad endings.  It usually has too much or prolonged erotic scenes, it is fully packed with emotional wallop and it’s either too heavy or too flamboyant in terms of plot and characters. Everything seems too extreme making gay movies too cinematic.

Glad to note that all of these observations about a gay movie are not present in the Brazilian feature length film entitled The Way He Looks (original title: Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho) directed by Daniel Ribeiro.

the way he looks

About two or three years ago, I saw on YouTube the short film version of this movie where it was adapted and directed by the same director.  That is why when YouTube recommended on its page the full length movie’s trailer I initially got confused.  I was telling myself I already saw that adorable film but the images of the movie and the appearances of the characters seem to have changed.  I thought the teaser was a continuation of the short film version and that the characters have grown a bit.  Out of curiosity, I searched for the film online.  I only realized that the director did a re-make of the short film into a new full length movie after I have clicked and searched YouTube.

Luckily for me but unfortunately for filmmaker Ribeiro, the full length version is available on YouTube.  This enabled me to watch and appreciate the beauty and excellence of the film.  Everything about this movie (both the short and the full-length versions) though simply expressed and executed, seem so brilliant – the light, lovable and innocent quality of the storyline, the captivating fineness of the actors, the distinction of the editing and production design and of course the cleverness of the director.

Even the endearing soundtrack is so merit-worthy.  I am now so in love with the song ‘There’s Too Much Love’ by Belle & Sebastian.  My favorite scene in the film includes the playing of this song!  For me it was not the light kissing scene that is the most tender and most charming part of the movie.  Rather it was when Gabriel was teaching the blind Leo how to dance while ‘There’s Too Much Love’ tune is playing.

Another appealing and impressive things about the movie is that it is not just about young gay romance.  It is also about delightful family relationship, super friendship, boosting of self-worth and the quest for independence.

This movie deserves to be released commercially here in the Philippines.  And if it does, expect me to be queuing at the box office and I would definitely be the first person in line.

Libre ko kayo pag pinalabas yan dito sa ‘Pinas.

Kasal by Joselito Altarejos

kasal movie poster captured from cinemalaya 2014 website

kasal movie poster captured from cinemalaya 2014 website

My two most favorite scenes in the movie Kasal (The Commitment) directed by Joselito Altarejos are the dialogue-less squabble scene of the two main characters in the middle of a green-lush alleyway in which instead of spoken dialogues, a sweet Tagalog love/wedding song is being played and the passionate love making scene that features the two main characters along with the old-timer veteran Filipina actress Boots Anson Roa.

I loved the long-shot dialogue-less quarrel scene because even though you could not hear what the characters are articulating you can actually see and feel from afar what they are saying.  This one is a truly magical achievement for the director who was able to capture such a rare feat.  Very seldom in a Filipino-made film that I have seen this.  Usually in a Filipino movie, for a message to be conveyed it needs to be overtly spoken and for an emotion to be felt the main character should be shot close up.

The other impressive scene was the pink love-making part of the movie.  Aside from the challenging erotic calisthenic-demands for the actors, the scene was further made difficult because a film clip of the well-respected and morally-right veteran actress Boots Anson Roa is being flashed and projected directly onto their skin.  It’s like having sex with someone while your senior citizen elementary school religion teacher is closely watching.  How on earth can you attain the ecstasy and worldly bliss?  Thus, kudos to the director who was able to think and execute something as unique as this.

the young bride (photo taken from cinemalaya 2014 website)

the young bride (photo taken from cinemalaya 2014 website)

Aside from these two richly flavored scenes in the film, Kasal (wedding in English) was able to highlight various dynamics about marriage, love, commitment and family.  And what is so impressive about it is that these dynamics were navigated in an incredibly solid and cohesive manner.  The impressive story also depicts the irony of a happy wedding celebration which can actually be the reason for sadness, struggles and troubles by those involved by it.  The story and scenes were so close-to-reality viewers inside the theater were expressing their unconcealed elated reaction while the movie is running.

Though the main characters did not end up being together as an item and that the ending was rather sad, you nevertheless will feel – if you would just deeply contemplate – that the lead characters in the story will be just fine in the future.  And that is another remarkable achievement of this film.  The ending was a sad silent pause yet still pleasant.

Now I can say that I already have a favorite Altarejos film.  I had some problems with the technical aspect of the movie most especially the dubbing.  But all these were easily erased by the trueness and sincerity of the story as well as the impressive execution by that of the superb director.

Kasal (The Commitment) is a finalist and an official entry in the Director’s Showcase category of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2014.

Ay howp it wins…