“We think about sex obsessively except during the act, when our minds tend to wander,” observed the poet Howard Nemerov. In Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s rowdy melodrama “Serbis,” mind meets groin in a Filipino family’s rundown Manila cinema, where straight porn is exhibited to a largely gay clientele and sex seems like the only obsession. As in movies like Tsai Ming-Liang’s “Goodbye, Dragon Inn” (2003) or Jacques Nolot’s “Porn Theater” (2002), figures scurry like ghosts, ghosts in search of ritual and repetition in the reflected light of the screen. But in “Serbis,” unfurling in the confines and expanses of the comically named “Family Theatre,” Mendoza pushes the amount of sex and meta to a bracing extreme, often comic, sometimes wince-making (the lancing of a boil, let’s say). You could also invoke John Waters and Almodóvar, or “Cinema Paradiso,” but the rude, unabashed vitality is Mendoza’s own. As the matriarch of the family and the edifice Gina Pareño gives a roaring performance. The goat’s not half-bad, either. 93m. (Ray Pride)
“Serbis” opens Friday at Landmark Century.