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Serbis.2008.Brilliante Mendoza

January.25.2010

Can I just say that Brillante Mendoza’s work is really impressive? I never knew that we could come up with world class films. Despite this film unsuitable for our local mall cinemas, I am sure that foreign film enthusiasts accepted this movie wholeheartedly. I think Roger Ebert can agree on this one.

With the way the film was shown, it obviously followed, or patterned, those highly creative sex films such as Haneke’s La Pianiste, Von Trier’s The Idiots, and even Von Trier’s Antichrist. As those films mostly shown in Cannes, it was quite obvious that most directors kept on going to the edge or simply shock-value films. And it was the best way to show such films as it will be easy for you to identify crappy and art-worthy movies.

I’ve seen a lot of local films that gave us a view of the “dirty” part of Manila. You’ll be able to notice it outright. This time, there was a different tinge on what Mendoza provided to us. It was technically precise and the film looked great in a sense that hard-work was really provided. Simply put it this way, the “dirty” scenes looked clean, if ever there was such a term.

The acting was also great, given of course with a talented cast with the likes of Gina Pareno, Jacklyn Jose, Julio Diaz, and Coco Martin; let us also not forget the unknowns such as Mercedes Cabral.

The story followed the theme or the title Serbis, which is a Filipino slang for the English word Service. The word was well played all throughout the film; from the service provided by the local cinema to the sex workers inside the movie theater. While I was watching the film, it really occurred to me that somehow the scenarios portrayed in the film are true. People have to do everything just to eat, just to live, and just to survive. It may be dirty and morally abusing but life must go on and people must do what they think is right.

As said, the highlight of the film is the sex acts occurring inside the local cinema. It was a given actually, once a local cinema is showing R-rated flicks, then it was an information that there are sexual services provided inside. It doesn’t mean that the local cinema allows it but, as said again, it was for the survival of the people who doesn’t want to work hard for the money.

Various graphic scenes are shown, as spoilery as this can get, it doesn’t matter since it is a small warning if you’re still keen on watching this film. The tattoo’ed scene was the one with the transvestite giving a fellacio to one of the guys. It wasn’t that horrifying for me as Mendoza was smart enough to portray it with taste.

Again, despite its grim theme, I still laud and I am proud of this film as it was hailed outside of our country. It may look crap if ever it was shown in the Philippines but it was really meant to be an art film and not just one of those local trashy movies.

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