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A drama that follows the travails of the Pineda family in the Filipino city of Angeles. Bigamy, unwanted pregnancy, possible incest and bothersome skin irritations are all part of their daily challenges, but the real "star" of the show is an enormous, dilapidated movie theater that doubles as family business and living space. At one time a prestige establishment, the theater now runs porn double bills and serves as a meeting ground for hustlers of every conceivable persuasion. The film captures the sordid, fetid atmosphere, interweaving various family subplots with the comings and goings of customers, thieves and even a runaway goat while enveloping the viewer in a maelstrom of sound, noise and continuous motion. Written by
Mendoza will pour in more of these pretty dirty stuff and guide us to an ending that doesn't seem like a real conclusion. We feel as if we just entered a tunnel of filth.
"I love you..."
The opening sequence of Brillante Mendoza's Serbis sets it all: the sex, the troubles, the creepy old cinema. And soon Mendoza will pour in more of these pretty dirty stuff and guide us to an ending that doesn't seem like a real conclusion. We feel as if we just entered a tunnel of filth and a cold shower would help.
Serbis is about a family living in an aging movie house. This cinema is their living and the family will bend their backs just to save it. In the middle, each member encounters conflicts that will test them. The grandmother hopes for a chance of winning a case against her own husband, the sons fight over a shirt, a female worker discovers her pregnancy, the mother trying to control everything and the youngest child witnessing it all. Everyone's got problems and Serbis tells us how they solved it in their own ways. In short, there is no plot... just conflicts and characters to be explored.
This Palme d'Or nominee is perhaps one of the darkest Filipino films ever made. Aside from that, it also showed off one of the best performances of a cast in the history of Filipino cinema. A list that boasted the sexy indie actors Gina Pareño, Jaclyn Jose, Coco Martin, Kristoffer King, Mercedes Cabral, Julio Diaz and Roxanne Jordan will really make Filipinos want to see it. What's most noteworthy is the camera-work. Serbis, along with 2007's Tirador, has Brillante Mendoza's most stunning imagery.
Serbis is a film that feels real, despite being undercooked and unfinished. Rarely do I see such a movie from my country's breezy show business. I'm very hungry for more.
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