By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Aratani Theatre @ JACCC
Oct 2, 2021
Dante Basco‘s wicked sense of humour, or love of his own family dynamic in The Fabulous Filipino Brothers, defines much of his life in the streets of Pittsburg, California. The question of how much was real life versus fictionalized has me wondering how this Wonder Years type of film came about. Or should that be Malcolm in the Middle? They’re definitely boyz n the hood, in the non-traditional New York sense, with a touch of hip hop in an excellent soundtrack that I hope gets an album release.
This slice of life comedy about four Filipino brothers is very likable. I want to be part of their pamilya. Between their independence and dependence, their stories look at different sides of dealing with life’s many hurdles. A lot of it deals with inter-personal relationships outside of the homestead. I doubt they are parodies of themselves, but Dante, Dionysio, Derek, and Darion Basco are distinct personalities, and it wonderfully gets played up through the eyes of a camera lens.
It seems their sister Arianna is the voice of reason. She’s the narrator, and she talks about her siblings with affection and worry.
The stories within a story take place with a wrapping narrative of someone getting married. We also have an introduction of Deo (Derek), the reliable brother in this motley group, Duke (Dante) who always have an ace in the hole, David (Dionysio) for humour and Danny Boy (Darion) as the broody one. He’s lost to his techno funk–music for the uninitiated–because he’s not willing to admit he has depression. Dante purposely leaves us guessing who the lead protagonist is as slowly intertwines the separate stories.
Eventually, even the audience is let into this family. We have to cheer as we learn who is the focus. Technically, they all are a little wiser after their latest misfit style adventure. I don’t know who deserves the credit for one particular Austin Powers raunchy craziness, but the cred goes to Dante at the end for pulling the zinger that had me rolling on the floor with laughter as the camera pulled out. The story written by the family team of Arianna, Dante, Darion and Dionysio Basco is well thought of, and I feel this film makes for an excellent way to close off the Los Angeles Pacific Asian Film Festival 2021 edition.
5 Stars out of 5