Join the Boston Sunday Night Film Club this Sunday, Mar 1st at 7:30pm for Serbis at the Brattle Theatre . Look for Sean wearing a nametag in the theatre lobby about 15 minutes before the film. As always, after the film we will descend on a local establishment for dinner/drinks/discussion.
The visionary Filipino director Brillante Mendoza envisions a crumbling soft-core porn palace as an allegory for the labyrinthine socio-political history of the Philippines in this chaotic, colorful and engaging film. Multiple generations of the Pineda family live in and operate a run-down movie house, ironically named The Family, which shows dated sex films and offers a discreet meeting place for male hustlers and their patrons. As the members of the family and their employees go about their daily activities, we get a glimpse of how they suffer and deal with each otherÂ’s sins and vices. Preoccupied with their personal demons, the family seems oblivious that, inside their cinema, another kind of business is going on between the Â“serbisÂ” (service) boys and their customers.
Harking back to another Brattle favorite, Tsai Ming-LiangÂ’s Goodbye Dragon Inn, The Family Theatre is as much a character in the film as any human. Unlike TsaiÂ’s feature however, which depicted a cinema on its final, dismal day, SERBIS seethes with life Â– from the cranky employees, to the various marital problems reflected in all generations of the Pinedas, to the glimpses of explicit sex behind the scenes, to two mind-bending chase scenes through the maze-like guts of the cinema.