Monday, January 16, 2012

Last Supper No. 3 (Veronica Velasco)

film poster

If fact truly is stranger than fiction, then “Las Supper No. 3” is a potent representation of such claim. It is a strangely relentless carnival of a film that holds the absurdist nature of life in quite a different way that the film’s narrative distortion, in its entirety, may present an exaggeratedly cavernous view of happenstance troubles but, in the end, shows the painfully funny idea that it just isn’t any farther from hard reality.

On one side, the film, directed by Veronica Velasco with comic gusto teetering on a desperate edge, is a fine fly on the wall-like exploration of the meticulousness of commercial productions. The painstakingly picture-perfect attempts in properly putting a toothpaste on a toothbrush, in choosing what t-shirt stain (for detergent products) would be ideal for both color and black and white televisions, and less significantly, in screening what Last Supper article would properly fit the wall of a corned beef commercial’s set.

And yet, ironically, it is from the latter that the film picks up the dirt and drives it head-on with legal bureaucracy, a hint of religion and pure hysteria. In the story, out of all the Last Supers that were screened, ranging from wooden depictions to tasseled ones, the one labeled as ‘Last Supper no. 1’ was ultimately chosen. But then apparently, a top frontrunner codenamed ‘Last Supper no. 3’ mysteriously and suddenly went missing. Sure, no problem, the production’s Assistant Designer named Wilson Nanawa would just pay the owners a fair sum of money. But there’s a catch: the owners are asking for a whopping 25,000 bucks. Initially, both parties agreed to a concessionary amount, but with matters unexplained like an unexpectedly bitter twist of fate, the affair eventually reaches the hall of justice, for no apparent reasons aside from the pure absurdity of it all, in a legal trial for the ages (*cough*).

From this point on, with simple solutions to resolve the situation thrown out of the window and any chances for meeting halfway dissolved into utter oblivion, the film then transforms from being a satire of commercial productions into a mishap-filled adventure of our kind-hearted and gullible protagonist, Wilson, that, in some ways, microcosmically resembles Jesus’ larger than life sacrifice in Jerusalem.

For a film filled with strong cameos by the likes of Ricky Davao, Liza Lorena, director Mark Meily, and particularly the great Maricel Soriano in a solid part and is supported by talented character actors such as Jojit Lorenzo (playing the advantageous ‘Last Supper no. 3’ owner, Gareth), comic impresario Beverly Salviejo in the role of Gareth’s mother and JM de Guzman as Wilson’s co-worker Andoy (who was also sued by Gareth for physical injuries), it is an impressive thing to see that the lead actor, Joey Paras who played Wilson Nanawa, never succumbed to pressure and never surrendered the spotlight to the immense talent that surrounds him, who was still able to come up with the best performance in the film.

Mixing sympathy for his characters’ almost surrealistic predicament and empathy for the ‘what if’ idea of letting us, the audience, think within Wilson’s shoes, Joey Paras capably internalized his character without going pretty much overboard, resulting with him performing effortlessly as the pitiful main character.

With an opening credits that evokes (at least for me) the one in “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” in a subtle sleight of parody (with its biblical imagery and hilariously-toned original song) and a final scene that is reminiscent of the legendary one in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, the film, as suggested by the aforementioned films, is part drama and part adventure that is invariably peppered with pleasurable amounts of comedy that strongly hold it all together in a tight screwball that pokes fun on fate and the craziness of life, goes on to watch Wilson’s life unravel in all the wrong places, and laughs at the senseless hilarity of it all. But knowing that the Last Supper no. 3 is, until now, still missing ever since the very creation of the wretched corned beef commercial, it still leaves an undeniably disturbing afterthought as to how such a trivial object can make up such a world of trouble.


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