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Review: Serbis

Does not do justice to the premise
By GERALD PEARY  |  February 25, 2009
2.5 2.5 Stars

VIDEO: The trailer for Serbis

There couldn't be a more promising set-up for a movie than the one in Brillante Mendoza's film: a family-run gay-porno-movie theater. That might explain why this low-budget Philippine melodrama made it (improbably) into the Official Competition at Cannes 2008.

But despite some rowdy hardcore moments, Serbis is rarely wild enough, and certainly never funny enough, to do justice to the Almodovarian premise.

Mama Flor (Gina Pareno) presides over a crumbling cinema palace where her family eat their meals, her daughter is the ticket taker, her nephews are the projectionists, and her grandson rides his tricycle into the theater, peeking at male hookers. What nobody in the crowd notices: the X-rated films being shown are in gorgeous 35mm, wasted on cruisers on their knees.

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