“Purok 7” and “Gaydar”

Since I missed this year’s Cinemalaya, I decided to catch some of the entries’ reruns last Saturday at the Quezon City Film Festival. I wouldn’t have known about it had my friend not invited me to go. It looked like it was extensively promoted only in Quezon City’s schools, since the crowd comprised mostly of chirpy grade school and high school students.

I enormously liked Purok 7 (“Purok Siyete”) because of its honest depiction of rural life. I love everything small-town, so I liked seeing on the screen the glowing sunsets and dusty farm roads. I liked the opening scene of the fiesta with the boisterous cheers and the smiling brown faces.

The film’s real gems, however, were its child actors. Whether it’s Diana (Krystle Valentino) daydreaming about her tisoy childhood crush, or Julian (Miggs Cuaderno) timidly asking his neighbors to buy the frogs he’d caught, every scene put a smile on my face. They were the sort of characters that really grew on you, and it was hard not to empathize with them.

miggs-purok

Miggs Cuaderno is a promising child actor.

While we often see onscreen the classic interweaving of the innocence of childhood and troubled family dynamics, the film nonetheless offered a very fresh lens, propping the plot against the idyll of a dirt-poor farming town. The film made me want to visit my grandparents in Santa Maria.

I wanted to stay for the screening of Transit. but my college friends were getting together in Maginhawa, so I decided to have dinner with them before catching the nine p.m. screening of Alvin Yapan’s Gaydar, whose only redeeming factor was the cute soundtrack sung by Kaleidoscope Eyes.

I don’t know if it was the very misleading synopsis on the film fest’s programme, or Pauleen Luna endlessly yapping about gay men, but the film fell short of my expectations. I hadn’t seen Ang Pagdadalaga ni Fe and Debosyon, but I’d heard favorable reviews about them and liked Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa enough to have expected something witty and funny and cute about Alvin Yapan’s latest project.

Gaydar was not so much about gaydar as it was about ambiguous characterizations and incredulous FX service arrangements. It would’ve been alright if Nick (Rafael Rosell) was actually gay, but it turned out he was just another sensitive, fashionable guy who helplessly fell in love with his office bff, Tina (Luna).

Tina, meanwhile, had always fallen for men who turned out to be silahis, so when she met Richard (Tom Rodriguez), the handsome driver of her new FX service, she took no chances and asked Nick to help her sniff Richard out.

What followed was an incoherent plot peppered with noisy dialogues. It also tried very hard to add depth to the plot by injecting it with Nick’s frequent asides about the “class divide” between him and Tina, as if he didn’t work in the same company and wore fashionable outfits every single day. And Richard pretending to be a poor driver when he actually owned the whole FX fleet in the terminal? Come on.

Everybody seemed to like the film anyway. I suspect most of them were still hung over Rodriguez, who, before the screening began, walked down the line to greet the screaming fans.

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