Sunday ∗ 03 Jul 2011

too much Torre 2: on Sam’s twang

in 2006, and just the past week, Nestor Torre had the same complaint about Sam Milby, and the same conclusion. complaint: his lack of Filipino language skills. conclusion: his roles and acting are limited by it. in 2006 he said:

<…> Fil-Ams’ generally limited ability to speak Filipino drastically limits their roles to Balikbayan or rich-kid characters, of whom we’ve had much too many on our local screens. <…> That’s the sort of role Sam played in his recent film, and on his new TV series, he speaks in an awkward mix of English and Filipino yet again. — So much for thespic growth. <…>

in 2011 he says:

To make things worse, Sam adds his continuing difficulty with Tagalog to the movie’s insufficiencies. Yes, he’s “improved” in this regard, but improvement won’t do when competence is required. <…> So what is the actor to do—stop performing while he works really hard at finally surmounting his problem? Yes, that’s what the situation calls for, and as a professional actor, that’s what Sam needs to do, unless he wants to consign and resign himself to more years of playing shallow balikbayan types.

now i know Torre’s generally unhappy with the romantic-comedy, thinking it limits actors such as John Lloyd Cruz’s acting (yes, i will respond to that soon), but it might do him well to go through Sam’s filmography. for even when it is a rom-com, he began doing it better than most from the moment he did the fat guy in Jade Castro’s My Big Love. there also wasn’t much comedy in his character in I Love You Babe where he played an irritable architecture professor, and no comedy at all in And I Love You So where Sam in fact proved he could do a character with not a whole lot of cuteness.

Sam as fat guy Macky Angeles in My Big Love by Jade Castro

Sam as fat guy Macky Angeles in My Big Love by Jade Castro

now it isn’t clear to me which “shallow balikbayan types” Torre’s saying Sam has played, but there was complexity even in his characters as the policeman-wannabe in You Got Me and the US embassy consul in You Are The One. it might not have been as complex as Torre wanted them to be, but that might be a limitation of the genre more than anything else. a genre, we repeat, that he apparently doesn’t like much.

now of course Sam’s smile shouldn’t be a problem. except that for Torre, it is:

And in some of the drama’s challenging scenes, he is emotionally “present” and “committed,” unlike his previous starrers, where he just sort of winged it with his dark, good looks, a smile and a prayer. <…> Oh, yes, that smile—it’s one of the inappropriate visual “crutches” that weakens Sam’s latest portrayal. In dramas, cute smiles even if meant to demote bravery and supportive love are distractions—and even contradictions.

this begs the question: there are no cute smiles in a drama about cancer and dying?* or is it just Sam’s smile that we question? granted he praises Sam as “committed” and “present” here, in the same breath Torre says Sam winged it in his previous films. i’d like to know which ones, and how. because his Chris Panlilio resonates not at all with its darkness but with its free spiritedness, even when yes, he was the dark rocker dude there. his Chef Macky Cordova where he was put in a fat suit has yet to be attempted by any other actor in these shores and is still absolutely enjoyable.

Sam broods as Chris Panlilio in andiloveyouso directed by Laurenti Dyogi

Sam broods as Chris Panlilio in andiloveyouso directed by Laurenti Dyogi

in the end Torre fails at considering the kind of development that’s in Sam’s filmography, which would be fine were he NOT making conclusions and generalizations about Sam’s acting, were he just seeing him in light of this recent film and nothing else. Forever And A Day as he says was a storytelling failure. why drag Sam’s whole film career with it? and why suggest that he stop making movies altogether? that’s to simply look down on all the movies and all the work he’s done so far, yes? i’m the last person who will say Sam’s the best actor in these shores, but i will give him credit for roles, in rom-com and otherwise, that are undoubtedly his. without giving him that credit, all Torre does is criticism un-constructive, and where would we all be with that. 

*and while we’re on Forever And A Day, it’s unclear to me why Torre would think this a romantic-comedy when it so obviously wasn’t from the beginning, not when the main female protagonist was revealing so little about herself. had he seen much of the rom-coms we churn out, it would be clear to him that this was farthest from it from the start. too, he obviously didn’t see Chris Martinez’s beautiful glossy portrayal of a cancer patient’s last 100 days which would debunk his idea that medical conditions and gloss don’t go together. goodness.

Posted in: kalalakihan, kultura, middle class, pelikula, star creation

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