Two motion pictures that moved me of late are showing on different entertainment platforms: Mang Kanor, which streams on AQ Prime; and Latay that will be available in select cinemas on February 8.
In a nutshell, Mang Kanor, with seasoned actor Rez Cortez in the title role, tells the story of an abandoned kid, raised by a doting and loving adoptive mother, bullied because of how he looks.
Growing up, despite being in the police force, the bullying continues and Kanor longs for acceptance, security, and love.
Fast forward to the present, Mang Kanor now is a restaurateur and the love of his life appears in the person of a young miss named Sandra (Nika Madrid). The mature man, giddy, and gullible at the same time, thought that the young woman’s love is for real. When the reveal happens, devastation and depression hit the protagonist.
With his ability to forget the situation, he helps ladies with financial necessities in exchange for sexual favors. The trysts, he videotapes for posterity and for his eyes only. However, when his mobile phone was lost, the sexual congresses became public and this led to his arrest.
What makes Mang Kanor a moving experience is the manner in how Cortez infused his character with child-like innocence, especially in how he deals with romance and sexual adventures giving him the sense of satisfaction of finally getting that feeling of being wanted which he was deprived of the longest time. The seasoned actor employs a lot of sincerity, eyes speaking his wants and despair, and though he is not a saint, one gets to understand his “ordeal” and “rites of passage” as a man as his story unfolds.
A noteworthy mention is the stellar presence of Miranda, the love interest of Kanor and Emelyn Cruz, the best friend of Sandra, who knows what she wants, who she wants, and what to do to get him. Cruz has a comely presence and she fills the screen with her insouciance.
Mang Kanor reminds you of the earlier days of independent cinema. Brave, out-of-the-box storytelling, minimalist production values, timelines that make you wonder and quiver, but is anchored on the truthfulness of the performance of the stars who portrayed and gave life to their respective characters.
And yes, Rez Cortez truly deserves an above-the-title billing and a man/character where he invested the feels and emotional truth.
Ralston Jover’s Latay, from BG Productions International, presents the love and life story of Lorie (Lovi Poe) and Olan (Allan Dizon), which started as sugar and spice and all that is nice and romantic. Eventually, reality bites, and the once rosy and happy relationship becomes bitter, filled with anger and turmoil. As the wife bares her fangs and wrath, the husband, on the other hand, accepts the changes in their relationship because he clings to the feeling that he truly loves the woman and for him, the vow of “to love and to hold, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part” is a sacred vow.
A motion picture that highlights and shows a husband being battered, is not an easy watch. Trust the acting prowess of Poe and Dizon and you will feel and experience the power dynamics, the reasons for battery, and the slow decay and death of promises and romance.
Poe’s best scene in my book was the lengthy conversation with Dizon where she insults the very existence of Olan. Everything about her husband, she detests. The burning of pictures moment and the screen time she shares with her mother (Snooky Serna) performing it with aplomb and “agaw eksena” realness.
Dizon’s best scene was the screen time he had with Soliman Cruz as his father. He relates how much he wants to find his mother, the “pagsusumamo” moment with Lorie, and the boat ride that slowly reveals the sorry and dangerous state of Olan.
Latay is a morality tale that gives a crystal presentation of the Filipino saying “Ang pagmamahal hindi parang kanin na isusubo na pag mailuluwa pag napaso,” and that yes, love is always give and take, push and pull, up and down, and that too much of it, is never a good thing, and the gender of the person who has more power and control in a relationship, is immaterial.