Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
NYAFF ’13: Aberya
Filipino-American boxer says he can take Pacquiao. Those are fighting words in the
Philippines. However, Lourd Villegas has
not come to spar. He is looking for
love, plus a little side action in Christian Linaban’s Aberya (trailer
which screens this afternoon as part of Manila
Chronicles, the Filipino cinema programming focus at this year’s New York Asian Film Festival.
came to his parents’ homeland looking for a bride. He thinks he may have found her, but he has
also lined up women for every other day of the week. He explains as much to viewers, but he is not
really talking to us. He is just in the
habit of narrating his life as if it were a film. One might logically assume he will be our
central protagonist, or at least our focal anti-hero. However, Linaban will fracture his narrative
and timeframe, giving us backstory on three other characters, whose fates will
intertwine with Villegas.
thinks Eden is the one. He is ready to
marry her, fully knowing the unemployed nurse has a weird pagan sex tape
floating around the internet. Of course,
his idea of commitment is rather problematic.
Angel is one of the women he would like to spend some quality time with
right now. The former nun has a dark
past—real, real dark. Through her dodgy
associations, she comes in contact with Mike, a politician’s prodigal son dealing
drugs and liberally sampling his designer wares. Having apparently read too much Aldous
Huxley, Mike is trying to warp time and reality through his special stock. In doing so, he may have attracted
Aberya is a dashed
difficult film to get one’s head around.
It is hard to tell whether Linaban is going for hipster irony,
cult-movie trippiness, or class-conscious tragedy. The wacked out, old school vintage low budget
1980’s look of Mike’s hallucinations further complicate such judgments.
least Aberya is definitely something,
bolstered by two genuinely intense performances from Will Devaughn and Iwa
Moto, as Villegas and his sort of fiancée, respectively. Charismatic screen presences, they develop
some intriguing chemistry together.
Devaughn is a particularly forceful, slowly getting under viewers’ skin
as he reveals the extent of Villegas’ egoism and his cynically nationalistic
Shot on-location throughout Cebu, Aberya nicely showcases the island’s local
sights and talent. Linaban’s DIY digital
cinematography consistently evokes mystery and passion, except during the film’s
not infrequent freak outs. Frankly
though, the highly sexualized Catholic imagery is more clichéd than shocking at
this point. A bit more discipline would
have strengthened the inconsistent film, but it still offers a chance to see
the up-and-coming cast go for broke quite admirably. Mostly recommended for adventurous fans of
Filipino cinema that can get away for a long lunch, Aberya screens this afternoon (7/1) at the Walter Reade Theater, as
a selection of the 2013 NYAFF.
Labels: Filipino Cinema, NYAFF '13