Sunday, May 22, 2005

Deception

Darn, I was close to tears while watching George Lucas’ Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. It’s true what they say, that it’s a great movie despite its flaws. I’m compelled to say, though, that the nostalgia factor figured in largely, especially as Lucas nicely set the transitions between episodes three and four. So what if Darth Vader sounded mechanical after hearing of Padme’s death? So what if we get an overdose of 3D-generated cityscapes? So what if some of the dialogue was as campy as camp queen Jar Jar? And so what if the entire production design suddenly went retro towards the end of the film?...

SCENE: Sith Lord and Darth Vader looking at the Death Star being constructed.

Sith Lord (thinking): The Death Star! Lovely, lovely thing!

Darth Vader (thinking): Pucharagis! Ibig sabihin diyan pumunta ang budget natin?? ‘Yung mga control panels dito sa bridge, parang may mga light bulb sa ilalim!

I loved the saber fights involving the Jedi with Dooku and Palpatine. There’s something way cool about elderly people doing fight scenes, even if Lucas did use stunt doubles and CG trickery. Grievous was an interesting character, too, a cartoon you could chuckle at but fear at the same time.

Call me stupid, but among all the Star Wars films, it was Episode III that I understood from beginning to end. Maybe it’s because it’s closer to today’s headlines, or maybe because there seemed to be less characters running around. All those millions of Star Wars action figures of old—it’s amazing how anyone can keep track of them.

This whole deceit thing going in Revenge of the Sith was well played out, in that easy-to-ingest Flintstones chewables sort of way. Pretty straightforward, classic good-and-evil stuff. I’m not too convinced, though, of Anakin’s supposedly strong affections towards Padme. I chose not to see Episode II, so I wasn’t able to observe the build-up. Also, his questioning the Jedi Council for appointing him without the 'master' add-on was hollow, or pitchy as Randy Jackson would put it.

But if you’re looking for true deception, there’s Jeffrey Jeturian’s Bikini Open.

(Ganda ng segue, ‘no?)

Jeturian calls Bikini Open a mock-umentary, and the mockery extends its tendrils from the delightful performance of Cherrie Pie Picache, who serves as the anti-hero of this Seiko shot-on-digital flick. Picache plays the host of a television magazine show desperate for ratings, who decides to cover the backstage events of the Bikini King and Queen 2005 modeling competition.

Despite the onstage glamour and onslaught of wonderfully-crafted curves and bulges (courtesy of Francine Prieto, Alfred Vargas, Diana Zubiri, Rafael Rosell, et al.), Jeturian paints a humorous yet unflattering portrait of trash entertainment under the guise of serious public service journalism. Pichache’s high-profile television personality makes sure she gets all the juice, from bittersweet to outright bitter, as she invades the private lives of the contestants in the name of the truth.

Here are these gorgeous contestants, unafraid to parade their God-given wares in front of an audience, and yet manifest the shame when their off-stage tragedies are revealed. Zubiri makes a fine turn in her performance, ably supported by Marissa Delgado, when Picache makes a surprise visit to her derelict residence.

The film is mostly about revelation, though the revelations aren’t any more shocking or controversial than what you’d expect from Kontrobersyal or Imbestigador. But Jeturian, along with screenwriter Chris Martinez, injects enough dark humor to keep things interesting and, sometimes, thought-provoking. He offers no substantial denouement, which should be expected of films like this. The deception is still happening, the film suggests, so you won’t get a solid ending.

Given that this is a Seiko film, you'd half-expect some breast exposure or doses of butt shots, but there aren't any that's worth the price of admission. And that may be the biggest deception of all.

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