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08 November 2013

Chris Martinez’s "Status: It's Complicated" (Review): "Passable Comedy Minus the..."

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Chris Martinez’s remake of Ishmael Bernal’s “Salawahan” is a passable comedy minus the ludicrousness and intentional irony.  Like Martinez’s remake of Joey Gosiengfiao’s “Temptation Island,” you will like “Status: It’s Complicated” if you did not watch the original. 

This time around, Matt Ranillo III’s role is played by Jake Cuenca. Jay Ilagan’s role is played by Paulo Avelino; Sandy Andolong’s role is played by Solenn Heussaff; Rio Locsin’s role is played by Maja Salvador and the legendary Rita Gomez’s ’s role is played by the equally competent Eugene Domingo.  As an added bonus, Bernal’s version had the scene stealing Rene Requiestas before he became a big comedic star.

As always, Eugene Domingo dominated the screen and she owned the funniest moments of the film.  The rest of the cast managed satisfactorily mostly because of the catchy and witty fast pace repartee.  “Status: It’s Complicated” is still an enjoyable movie but it fails to recreate Bernal’s intelligent and campy humor. 


In the original 1979 movie, Manny (Matt Ranillo III) and Gerry (Jay Ilagan) are two bachelors who had different notions about women and relationship.  What made Bernal’s character more interestingly comical and ironic was that Ranillo and Ilagan hinted on their characters’ latent homosexuality, (just a hint under Bernal’s clever direction).

In Martinez’s remake, that fine line between heterosexuality and homosexuality is absent and even if Bernal’s original “gay” dialogues were retained, the irony is diffused.  Matt Ranillo III was also handsome but he used his good looks to profess his vanity and his self-mockery.  His funny posing in the film made him equally loveable, culpable and funny, just like Mike Myers in “Austin Powers.”

The fast banter between characters also failed to match the performances of the original cast. In Bernal’s version, the words shot from the actor’s mouth like precisely timed bullets, which propelled the intelligent humor of the film. In Martinez’s remake, some of the actors simply delivered the lines fast without understanding the humor in the words. The nuances of the lines are sometimes non-existent.  

Bernal is equally competent in drama and comedy, and in “Salawahan,” he was making a statement about men, women, masculinity, heterosexuality and Filipino pragmatism in both relationship and society.  He did this in the most ludicrous way. “Salawahan” was made under the Marcos Dictatorship so the “staged artificial reality” of the film was also a statement on its own.  I suppose a contemporary version of “Salawahan” will inevitably lose the original intent of the film because we live in a different time. 

In my opinion, Bernal’s “Salawahan,” and other noteworthy sex comedies of the 70s and early 80s may be compared to the early Spanish screwball comedies that produced the likes of Pedro Almadovar’s “Labyrinth of Passion” (Laberinto de Pasiones, 1982) and Manuel Gómez Pereira’s “Why Do They Call It Love When They Mean Sex?” (¿Por qué lo llaman amor cuando quieren decir sexo?, 1993). Yes, let’s drop name shall we (critic’s self mockery intended.)

3/5
Image created using Bitstrips
In retrospect, I have to thank one cable channel in the early 2000s for showing some of the best comedies in the 1970s.  Back then, intelligence and humor are like the two blades of a dagger being thrust by a director with a message.

Bottom line, watch "Status: It's Complicated," especially if you love Eugene Domingo. It is still worth your money, but perhaps, the film is not part of the evolution of Filipino comedy films. This is just a sincere tribute to the comedic genius of Ishmael Bernal.


P.S.
One of the best lines in Bernal’s “Salawahan” is “the monkey business” line, which is absent in Martinez’s remake.  I guess it is only appropriate. I cannot imagine how anyone could deliver that line better than how Rita Gomez did.

REBYU SA FILIPINO


Ang remake ni Chris Martinez ng "Salawahan" ni Ishmael Bernal ay isang mabuti-buti na komedya bawas ang pagkalukaret at sinasadyang kabalintunaan. Tulad ng remake ni Martinez ng “Temptation Island” ni Joey Gosiengfiao, magugustuhan mo ang “Status: It’s Complicated” kung hindi mo napanood ang orihinal.

Sa bagong bersyon, ang papel ni Matt Ranillo III ay ginampanan ni Jake Cuenca. Ang papel ni Jay Iagan ay ginampanan ni Paulo Avelino; ang kay Sandy Andolong naman ay ginampanan ni Solenn Heussaff; si Maja Salvador ang gumanap sa papel ni Rio Locsin at ang karakter ng maalamat na si Rita Gomez ay ginampanan ng sinhusay na si Eugene Domingo. Bilang karagdagang bonus, sa bersyon ni Bernal, tinampok din ang mapagnakaw na eksenang si Rene Requiestas, bago siya naging isang sikat na komedyante.

Tulad ng nakasanayan, dominado ni Eugene Domingo ang pinilakang tabing at inangkin niya ang pinakanakakatawang sandali ng pelikula. Ang nalalabing miyembro ng cast ay kasiya-siya rin ang pagganap dahil lamang sa mga mabibilis na kawili-wili at mapagbirong pakli. Ang “Status: It’s Complicated” ay isa pa rin kasiya-siyang pelikula ngunit nabigo ito para muling likhain ang matalino at mala-campy na pagpapatawa ni Bernal .

Sa orihinal na 1979 na pelikula, si Manny (Matt Ranillo III) at si Gerry (Jay Ilagan) ay dalawang binatang may ibang pananaw tungkol sa mga babae at relasyon.  Ang nakakatawa at tumbalik sa mga karakter ni Bernal ay padaplis lamang ang pagpapahiwatig nila Ranillo at Ilagan sa pagiging “tagong bakla” ng kanilang karakter, (padaplis lamang sa matalinong direksyon ni Bernal).

Sa remake ni Martinez, ang manipis na linya na namamagitan sa heterosexualidad at homosexualidad ay nawala at kahit nanatili ang mga orihinal na salitaang “bading,” ang kabalintunaan ay numipis. Makisig din si Matt Ranillo III ngunit ginamit niya ang kanyang kaguwapuhan upang ilantad ang kanyang pagkabanidoso at sariling pangungutya.  Naging kaibig-ibig, karapat-dapat sisihin at nakakatawa si Ranillo dahil sa kanyang kagiliw-giliw na mga postura sa pelikula, tulad ng ginawa ni Mike Myers bilang "Austin Powers."

Nabigo rin pantayan ng mga bagong cast ang mga mabibilis na pagbibiro ng mga karakter ng mga orihinal na cast. Sa bersyon ni Bernal, mahahalintudlad ang mga salita ng mga aktor sa mga balang eksatong tumitira mula sa mga bibig, at ito ang nagbubunsod sa matalinong katatawanan ng pelikula.  Sa remake ni Martinez, mabilis lamang binigkas ng ilan sa mga aktor ang mga linya nang walang pag-unawa kung ano ang nakakatawa sa mga salita. Nawala ang mga pananarinari ng mga linya.
                           
Pantay ang husay ni Bernal sa drama at komedya, at sa "Salawahan," nagpahayag siya ng mensahe tungkol sa usapin tungkol sa mga lalaki, babae, pagkalalaki, heterosexualidad at ang  pragmatismo o pagiging praktikal ng mga Pilipino sa relasyon at lipunan. Ginawa niya ito sa pinaka nakakatawang paraan. Ginawa ang "Salawahan" sa ilalim ng diktadurang Marcos kung kaya ang "itinanghal na artipisyal na katotohanan" ng pelikula isa rin matuturing mensahe ng pelikula.  Marahil, hindi maiiwasang mawala ang orihinal na layunin ng “Salawahan” kapag ito ay sinalin sa kontemporaryong bersyon dahil nabubuhay na tayo sa ibang panahon.

Suma-tutal, panoorin ang “Status: It’s Complicated,” lalung-lalo na kung fan kayo ni Eugene Domingo. Sulit din ang bayad ninyo, ngunit marahil, hindi bahagi ng ebolusyon ng pelikulang Pilipinong komedya ang pelikulang nasabi. Ito lamang ay isang taos-pusong pagkilala sa kagiliw-giliw na henyo ni Ishmael Bernal.

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