Movie Review: Bwakaw

In the Nineties, one of the more popular basketball stars is power forward Nelson Asaytono. Nicknamed the Bull, the former Beerman is one hell of an offensive demon. He once tallied a back-to-back 40-point game performance in a heated All-Filipino Finals against then dominant team Alaska Milkmen. Some commentators swear, no other local baller has staged a shoot-the-lights-out performance before him in such a short span of time.There is another side to Nelson local hoops fans like me remember: Nelson the Ball Hog. He will take take the shot even if he is in a shooting funk.  Just a concrete example of a bwakaw.
  1. Since I refrained from looking at posters and trailers, I was pleasantly surprised to realize this film has an ensemble cast of mainstream actors. Roll call: Eddie Garcia, Armida Siguion-Reyna, Bibeth Orteza, Beveryly Salviejo,  Soxy Topacio, Rez Cortez, Luz Valdez, Allan Paule and Gardo Versoza. 
  2. The setting is familiar: San Pablo and Dolores. I live near San Pablo and though I cannot conclusively say it is a sad old city, it sure is rustic compare to other urban areas in Laguna. The there-is-nothing-to-do-let-us-sleep-at-eight habit still persists in some parts of our province. No wonder the eighty-year-old retiree character of Eddie Garcia prefers to still work in a post office even if he is not getting paid. And of all places, the post office. Nothing embodies a dying workplace  than a post office.
  3. The film tackles aging and loneliness and one the best thing about it is humor. Ironic.
  4. The bittersweet relationship of Rene and Alicia is a tale of love and deception, and ultimately, selfishness. However, considering homosexuality was not wholly accepted before, his character has no choice but to continue with the lie. Rene is not a bad person, just a bad lover. And just to make a point, a good friend. I don’ t think he visits Alicia out of guilt but as a testament to their friendship. Otherwise, she will not tell him to stop visiting her in the care center. That scene is one of the more poignant ones in the entire film.
  5. I never get tired of funeral jokes. It is not good to make fun of the dead but the numerous Filipino rituals make it ripe for comicsituations. There is a couple here that kept the audience in stitches. First, the scene-stealing turn of Soliman Cruz as a funeral agent about to close shop. I will not go on details but it will be hard to keep a straight face once the “summer sale” poster inside the funeral parlor flashes on screen. Second, a longer gag involving a coffin and a goofed conclusion. The ending is obvious but it is still hilarious. Some members of the audience were stomping their feet so I guess the joke worked. As for the funniest funeral joke in local cinema, I still go for Bella Flores in this film.
  6. There is a nagging feeling some people might feel disappointed because the lead character did not die. Insane but I had a bit of this so-called nagging feeling. But it ended better. Some old characters are not meant to die but rather with more time to reconnect with his friends and enemies or do a bit of house improvement. I do the curtain-changing, floor-polishing routine each time I feel horrible. The film is about a sad old man but his trials and triumphs are universal and cuts across age and gender. 
  7. Remember Uggie the Dog? The adorable canine in the Oscar-winning silent film The Artist has retired from acting. If he does not come back, we have to woof it up for Princess the Dog, the aspin who played Bwakaw. By all accounts, Princess took on a more demanding role. She shared scenes with a legend whose on-screen character is a bigger prick than a has-been silent film superstar. She seldom barked the whole time which was called for her character and I guess, a canine acting feat equivalent to underacting in human terms. She mastered the on-cue blinks whenever conversing with her co-actors, akin to the on-cue teardrop shot of dramatic performers. Some people in the audience thinks she should get recognition. I agree. And if Uggie the Dog dismisses these facts, Princess should fetch a poster of her film and point out the title, “Titular role so shut up, mutt.” I was tempted to add, she can also do a mean “play dead” act but might accuse me of spoiling things up.
  8. Speaking of dogs, the oft-repeated phrase about teaching old dos new tricks, is not applicable to Eddie Garcia. In his, I think, eighth decade in the business, he still teaches acting pups new tricks. Garcia has took on gay characters in his long career, both the closeted and the screaming kind. And in his latest starrer, his character Rene seems like the culmination of it all. Like this is how his past gay characters will eventually end up: bitter and alone in an old house with a pet dog, listing his will and testament and waiting for his time to meet his Maker. The man is part of the first and second golden ages of local cinema and is still entertaining the indie-digital generation. Damn. Icon. Legend.
  9. And in conclusion, I do feel am going to end up like Rene in real life, in terms of his zinging retorts. More like the Countess of Grantham, the acid-tongued matriarch character of Maggie Smith. I am going to be alone and fabulous. 


MOVIE TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ekTiaVlv-A

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