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Service (Serbis) (2008)

Cast: Gina Pareņo, Jacklyn Jose, Julio Diaz, more...
Director: Brillante Mendoza
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: E1 Entertainment
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Independent, Philippines
Running Time: 90 min.
Subtitles: English

A struggling family from the provinces discovers that morality can be both absolute and relative as they suffer each others' pains and vices while awaiting the court decision in the mother's charges of bigamy against her estranged husband. The Pineda family operates a ramshackle movie house specializing in second-run sex flicks: 58-year-old family matriarch Nanay Flor oversees the operation while trading shifts in the ticket booth with daughter Nayda, son-in-law Lando, and adopted daughter Jewel, and Nanay's nephews Alan and Ronald paint the billboards and run the projector respectively. It's been two long years since Nanay accused her estranged husband of bigamy, and today is the day that the judge will finally deliver the verdict. Now, as the usual service boys and gay hustlers start streaming in for the steamy double feature, Nanay attempts to get everything around the theater in order before heading off to the courthouse. It's not an easy task and the money is tight, so when a fleeing purse snatcher dashes into the theater with two policemen in hot pursuit, Nanay knows that this day will be as stressful and unpredictable as any other. ~ Jason Buchanan, AMG

GreenCine Daily DVD OF THE WEEK: Since its divisive reception at the Cannes and New York film festivals, the cavernous, dilapidated movie theater where most of Brillante Mendoza's perturbingly kicky, neo-realist melodramedy takes place has drawn quick parallels to the likewise run-down theater of Tsai Ming-liang's Goodbye, Dragon Inn -- which is to say, the similarities nearly end there. Both have queer cruising going on in the dark and blatantly symbolic qualities, but where Tsai's mythological theater itself is a nostalgic ode to filmmaking and filmgoing, the Angeles City X-rated movie house owned by the Pineda family in Serbis is the bigger-than-life stage for a familial microcosm of the poverty-stricken society outside. Perhaps Mendoza's film is better contextualized as the overlap between Tsai's and another NYFF 2008 film, the criminally undistributed Tony Manero, in terms of its similarly dysfunctional clan scraping by under one roof, only substituting Manero's violence for sex in an cultural area where harsh economics trump moral values. Sickly voyeuristic and still strangely humanist, Serbis allures like a scandalous soap opera, except there's not enough soap in the world to clean its grime away. Full article >>

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