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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Of Broken Records and Promises

Eloisa May P. Hernandez

It was a record-breaking year for Philippine cinema in the box-office. Star Cinema’s No Other Woman starring Anne Curtis, Derek Ramsey, and Cristine Reyes generated buzz among the Filipino audience, replete with one-liners and quotable quotes enriching, or diminishing, the lexicon of many teenagers. What the film lacked in profundity, it made up for in the box-office income – it grossed 278.39 million pesos[1] setting the record at that time as the highest grossing Philippine film of all time. It did not hold that record for long. Barely a month later, Star Cinema’s The Unkabogable Praybeyt Benjamin starring Vice Ganda earned 331.61 million pesos[2] and broke the record previously held by No Other Woman, making it the highest grossing Philippine film of all time.[3] What does it say about us Filipinos as a film audience that the highest grossing Philippine film of all time is a grossly humorless and unintelligent portrayal of gay men in the military? Certainly, it is time to strengthen film literacy in the country.

The number of regular commercially released films in 2011 totaled 29, including seven films released during the annual Metro Manila Film Festival. Of the 22 films released before the MMFF, Star Cinema/ABS-CBN Film Productions produced 13 (with a few collaborations with VIVA Entertainment, APT Entertainment, etc.) while GMA Films made four (two collaborations with Regal Films), Regal Films did two films and VIVA Entertainment had one. The dominance of the media conglomerates and mainstream film companies is apparent with only one film produced by an artist-run moviemaking company, Origin8 Media. The record-breaking box-office year for Star Cinema/ABS-CBN conceals the fact that the films produced in 2011, especially the independently produced, did not do as well at the box office and had abbreviated runs in the cinema complexes often replaced by Hollywood blockbusters.  Only Zombadings and Ang Babae sa Septic Tank fared relatively well at the box-office.

In addition to the films released regularly, many films, mostly digitally produced, were screened in several film festivals. Cinema Rehiyon showed 5 films while Cinema One Originals featured 10 films; Cinemanila International Film Festival screened 7 films (4 Digital Lokal plus films by Lav Diaz, Raya Martin and John Torres). Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival showed 22 films (9 films in the New Breed section, 4 in Directors Showcase, 8 in Netpac Competition and the opening film). Of the eight shortlisted films by the Young Critics Circle Film Desk for 2011, five are from Cinemalaya[4]. Even the MMFF had a New Wave section with 5 films including Haruo, YCC Film Desk’s Best Film for the year. Boosting the number of films shown in the Philippines in 2011 are the more than 50 digital films shown in various movie houses and alternative spaces. Some were part of film festivals and were picked up for regular release.

Last year displayed indicators of the diffusion of digital cinema in the Philippines.  Allen and Gomery posit, “The process of diffusion begins once the technology begins to receive widespread use within an industry” (115).  Digitally produced films have outnumbered 35mm since 2005 with several film festivals and competitions funding and showcasing them such as Cinemalaya, Cinema One Originals, .mov and Cinemanila’s Digital Lokal. Though not yet widespread, mainstream film companies such as GMA Films have already produced films such as Yam Laranas’ The Road using the Red Mysterium X camera, edited in HD, mastered on 2K and while it was transferred to 35mm for its Philippine release, it was shown internationally on Digital 2K format.  There is an increasing number of digitally produced films and cinema complexes equipped with digital projectors. There is also a marked increase in the participation in local and international film festivals of digitally produced films.  Award-giving bodies have also recognized numerous digitally produced films through the years. In fact, all the eight shortlisted films by the Young Critics Circle Film Desk this year are digitally produced.

The introduction of the digital technology in Philippine cinema in 1999 addressed problems in film production; it made filmmaking cheaper and more accessible. The more daunting challenge now is in distribution and exhibition. Several alternative venues for screening films have closed shop such as Robinson’s Galleria IndieSine (in 2010) and Mogwai Cinematheque (in August 2011). The Internet in the Philippines remains slow and unstable, preventing filmmakers from using the Web as a major platform for distribution and exhibition (such as live streaming, pay per view, paid downloads, etc.). Filmmakers and producers need to device alternatives to mainstream modes of distribution and exhibition so that digital cinema can finally fulfill the promise of accessibility.

The records broken in 2011 at the box-office by films from the media conglomerates and mainstream film production companies sound hollow if one considers the fact that these films offer nothing new and radical in terms of ideas and nothing transformative in terms of ideology. As former YCC Chair Dr. Eli Guieb said in his report last year, “dati naman nang maraming basura buhat sa sektor na ito.” And what of the so-called “independent” films? Most of their films are “digital adult romance” and “digital same-sex romance.” Dr. Guieb says, “Marahil, ang mas higit na kailangang pagtuunan ng pansin ay ang nawalang pangako ng mga independent films na, ayon sa mga apologist nito, ay siyang nagbibigay ng bagong pag-asa sa industriya ng pelikula sa bansa.” Where is the promise of more liberative and transformative “indie” films? The prognosis on the state of Philippine cinema sounds like a broken record.

Fortunately, there are still promising films and filmmakers in 2011.  The YCC Film Desk had to adroitly sift through the more than 100 films shown in cinema houses, film festivals, and alternative venues in the Philippines in 2011, to arrive at an initial long list of 35 films and narrowed down to 8 short-listed films. Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay stages a critique of Philippine cinema and its star system in an entertaining fashion. Bisperas is a deft portrayal of a family victimized by robbery during Christmas Eve, and the inner workings, internal conflict, and power play among the family members. Tirso Cruz III and Raquel Villavicencio lead the ensemble in a performance tour de force.

For the first time in 22 years of the YCC Film Desk’s existence, six different films won in the six categories. Diana Zubiri’s portrayal of a nurse in the country’s busiest maternity hospital is transcendent in the film Bahay Bata. Her quiet, sensitive yet powerful performance conveys her empathy for the expectant mothers while she walks around the corridors of Fabella Hospital carrying a personal burden and moral dilemma. Rody Vera’s screenplay for Niño is an intelligent, penetrating, nuanced, and layered telling of the fall of an elite family and/in their grand house. The decadence could not conceal the decay consuming the architecture and family. Señorita is an attempt at portraying corruption in the local government level through the eyes of a high-class transvestite prostitute who acts as finance manager of a mayoral candidate as well as surrogate mother to a young boy. In Teoriya, we bare witness to a journey as a man searches for the grave of his father, searches for his identity, and searches for a past in hopes of knowing, reconciling, and forgiving. Delicately shot, the film does not merely show us the journey, it makes us feel we are part of it – we are with him through his travails and discoveries. Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa glides in the use of dance as a metaphor and as a plot element, a confluence of literature, pedagogy, music, dance, theater and sexuality. The film receives the Best Sound and Aural Orchestration award but it is in the silences where the film is most poignant. At the heart of the film is love – love for art, poetry, dance, music, and love for life. Love for everything that is important and essential to survive the travails of daily life. It is not a perfect film, but the object of love never is.

The YCC Film Desk’s Best Film for the year is Haruo, a film by Adolf Alix that portrays an ex-Yakuza’s attempt to escape his past by living an anonymous life in the populous and hurried city of Manila. The title “Haruo” means “springtime man” in Japanese – the quest for atonement, for forgiveness, for a new life – a promise of a new beginning for the eponymous character. Sadly, that promise will be unfulfilled – Haruo’s past catches up on him. Alix triumphs in incorporating several Japanese motifs in the film such as the haiku and ikebana while following Haruo’s almost silent and invisible life in the environs of Manila. Haruo is an example of Philippine cinema being inflected by a different aesthetic, a promise of Philippine cinema becoming global.

Notes

[1] No Other Woman earned more than The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 

[2] The Unkabogable Praybeyt Benjamin earned more than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part Two)

[3] according to records of http://www.boxofficemojo.com

[4] Marlon Rivera’s Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, a Cinemalaya film, was distributed by Star Cinema and had a good run at the box-office earning 30.27 million.

Bibliography

Allen, Robert C. and Douglas Gomery. Film History: Theory and Practice.  New York : McGraw-Hill, 1985.

Guieb, Eulalio R. III. Paglipad, pag-iwas, paglayo, paglisan: Pagpapakatao sa di-makataong lipunan. 21st Annual Circle Citations for Distinguished Achievement in Film, December 2011.

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Posted by on 28/06/2012 in Philippine Film

 

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Home that is Prison

Tessa Maria Guazon

Embattled domesticity

The films Niño and Bisperas speak of troubled domesticity and map this state within the spatial materiality of home. In them, we witness the crumbling structure of the social unit that is the modern family. The former enacts one entrapped by longing for an illustrious past and the latter depicts another whose ties are threatened by lies.

Tense silence reigns in the home-worlds of Bisperas and Niño as characters tether in the limbo of longing. In Bisperas it is an avowed hope for a renewed future where mistakes are redeemed, while it is nostalgia for a life of refinement and excess in Niño. The families housed in these worlds confront the onslaught of time and decay that is its companion.

Home speaks. By turns witness and burden, home is refuge that is not always all-embracing. Its welcome is deceptive because at times, it can be bosom that chokes.  In ways not often obvious, this best describes our fraught relations with family and the uncertain ties constantly negotiated within the home.

The house is not only space where narrative unfolds; it is itself a central character in moving these film narratives forward. In Niño, a crumbling ancestral home is silent witness to its inhabitants’ recollections, their scrambling for scraps left over from a way of life long gone. The modest, subdivision bungalow of Bisperas suffers a looting and its bowels upturned, the house reveals secrets long harboured, mutely accepted but dangerously transformed once spoken of.

Relations characterized by material space are embodiments of these filial ties, those that free and incarcerate. This is the space the essay plots and maps. This review posits the houses of Bisperas and Niño as “rhetorical space”. In Roxanne Mountford’s terms this space is the “the geography of (a) communicative event”, which when considered in film is made more complex by the multiple layers of space cinema is able to construct.[1] This space includes arrangements that may be “material and cultural, whether intended or fortuitous”.[2] Historical by nature, rhetorical spaces represent in physical form relationships and ideas.[3] These understandings of space are complicated by the character of film. The houses as mise-en-scene exist materially but narrative endows them with another form of rhetoric.

This rhetorical space extends beyond the limits of the film frame as the narratives find and construct resonant ideas among audiences. Film endows rhetorical space with multiple meanings and transforms it into a highly charged location of utterance. Thus, geography construed within film language is best mapped within the frames constructed by narrative and cinematic device as well as larger social landscapes where these spaces belong.

Nostalgia and deceit

We meet the Aguinaldo family in a Christmas Eve procession, the panunuluyan that commemorates Mary and Joseph’s search for an inn to stay. The family is depicted against this backdrop, a community of more or less known neighbours whose fickle relations with each other are played out on the street. Salud the wife dotes on her granddaughter Steph who for the first time spends the holidays in Manila. Ara the middle child takes family photos but ends limping on blistered foot. Mio, closet gay and youngest of the brood, slips away to meet his lover, while Diane the eldest child seems oblivious to all else except her daughter. The latter works as a nurse in the US and is home for the Christmas holidays. The procession ends in church where they join Ramon head of the family, a lay minister.

They drive through the city which is a place both old and new to Diane’s eyes. Ensconced in the comfort of their sedan, the family seems no less ordinary. Shrouded by a sheer, almost meditative quiet, their thoughts during the ride home are aired and spoken for by the blast of an evening radio talk program.

All look forward to their Christmas Eve dinner (the Noche Buena) but find a home strangely unlighted. Gate ajar and door locks pried loose, they soon discover their house looted. We are again acquainted with the family in this anxious manner. As they giddily scan their rooms and discover what is lost, petty fights erupt and hurtful blame ensues.

In their accounting of possessions thieved, cargo boxes, passports, computer, cameras, jewellery, clothes gone we are cleverly led to that most valued and threatened lost by this family – trust. Salud finds the land titles gone. This discovery causes a ripple of anxiety amongst the women of the family. Ramon seems unflustered by it. Ara confronts him in quiet rage, asking whether he had pawned the titles yet again. He retorts with indignation, bristling at the way his children regard him with distrust.

Noche Buena turns nasty as they embark on a heated exchange that threatens to bring back old ghosts, especially Ramon’s gambling streak. We discover Diane bravely putting up a front, hiding at best the fact that she singly supports a growing daughter and a jobless husband. Salud loses her steely control in this broiling spat.

Enflamed she waves a carving knife before them and declares the US trip meant as Diane‘s birthday gift an impossibility because indeed “there is no money and passports are lost!”. Struggling to keep the veneer of this ideal family together, Salud regains composure and tidies up the house altar, the family portraits, and the lighted Christmas tree.

They attend Christmas sermon next day seemingly having forgotten the tribulations of the night before. The Aguinaldos carry on as they were. We expect the film to end on this tawdry note but Mio spots a man wearing his Ateneo University jacket. Thinking him to be one of the thieves, Mio tries to catch him but loses him in the crowd streaming out of church. There are more secrets to unfold within their lives but Salud once again reigns over them with maddening resolve and stoic tolerance.

The family home bears this defeat – defective plumbing, a flickering patio light, a well worn kitchen. Diane screeches in alarm when she finds the ground floor toilet overflowing with faeces (from the thieves no less) and the flush not working. Ara is rankled when her father and Mio insist turning the faulty patio light on. Like a warning sign the defective bulb is symptom of the ruin that threatens this middle class family. This ruin is a mute, roiling emptiness that engulfs a home whose hearth is fed by silent, crackling resentment.

The kitchen like Salud is beaten, worn by the countless meals needed to nourish family and guests. Indeed, the kitchen is where Salud regains her composure after learning the rental money she had entrusted Mio is also stolen. This is the same place where she gathers courage to speak defiantly and here, we discover who guards the family against collapse. Like the house, Salud is pious sentinel and quiet presence. Yet like her a faded beauty aged by life’s pains, the house struggles against the burden of secrets and decay.

Rout is sealed for the once-powerful Lopez-Aranda family as they eke out a living inside the crumbling confines of the Villa Los Reyes Magos. The family had to resort to letting spare rooms to student boarders. This, Merced’s job and Celia’s occasional voice lessons help the family thrive. The house’s serpentine columns, wood plank- and Spanish-tiled floors attest to its faded grandeur. Majority of the scenes are shot in the dining area and adjoining balcony that stretches through the perimeter of the house.

Once the star of the Philippine opera Celia now sings her arias to her fatally ill brother, Gaspar, once Congressman whose bets in local politics had lost when Marcos ran for presidency. His recollections run the gamut of boxing, politics, and parties until overcome with the forgetfulness induced by drugs. Celia wades through this villa of lost hopes reliving alongside her brother the grand balls the family once hosted. She hankers over choices made in the past and dreams of fixing the garden and the house gate.

Merced, Celia’s daughter tries her best to hold the family together and assiduously works on their toe line finances. She lives with a lover, a female nursing student whom she introduces as the boarder and for whom she provides. All is disrupted when brother Mombic arrives. He is to leave for a job in Dubai and forcibly thrusts the care of his son Antony to both Merced and Celia. All these are unspoken of and propriety demands that they remain heavily guarded secrets, however.

Antony explores the house in play, with curiosity second-nature to a child. On his first dinner, illustrious people who once dined at the same table were mentioned in succession. He acquaints himself with the house’s occupants by smell – Banang the loyal maid who smells of kitchen fumes, his grandmother of roses, both Aunt Merced and her lover musty like closets. He slips into rooms, witnessing evening ministrations and rituals. He peers through antiquated china cabinets, looks over balconies, and runs through the garden. He is fascinated with altars and the figure of the child Jesus who saved his father from an early death due to meningitis. Believing the Santo Niño (the Child Jesus) will bring about a second miracle Celia dresses him up like the saint figure, all to Mombic’s distress.

The family stands to lose the villa, as Celia had long given up her rights to the house. They fear Gaspar’s imminent death as well as the decision of his daughter Raquel to sell the house. Yet like the doomed fate of this once-illustrious family, the house is destined lost to them. Raquel arrives from the US and ushers a string of connivances and intrigues. Old wounds and secrets threaten to be let loose. We discover Mombic and Raquel drawn together by incestuous attraction as when they were in their youth. Yet all these are trumped by Reinhardt’s (Raquel’s son from her third husband) admission of his sexuality.

In the end, everybody prepares for an inevitable leaving – Gaspar to life beyond, Celia, Merced and grandson Antony to a modest condominium unit, Mombic to a far-off place, Raquel to the US. Her son leaves the fray of the family and seeks his destiny in Manila. To the rest, destiny becomes either severed or tied to the concept of home. Raquel has no attachment to one hardened as she is by life in the States. Mombic only knows perpetual striving after a string of failures and Celia more attached than anybody else to family history which she sees entwined with the house. Merced remains the family’s stolid ground because it is only she who accepts this eventuality with sacrifice and resolve.

The house’s elegant furniture is overcome by the emptiness that pervades Villa los Reyes Magos. The utter gloom of its interiors and its overgrown garden are images of neglect. In the tertulia Celia organizes in the end, the balcony, a space both inside and beyond, takes her back to the past. Here she sings a moving aria, a lament to faded youth and glory. As when the film had begun, she grieves for the past and yearns for refuge, “comfort to a weary soul”.

The balcony is warmed by clear light and here she breathes the fresh garden air. Antony incredulously dressed as the child Jesus runs after a white butterfly in the garden, which like the house has long presaged the fall of the family. A miracle after all is long due coming.

Uncertain Peace (and uneasy endings)

The home in Bisperas, house No. 9 along a main avenue just beyond Liwayway Street in Quezon City holds the narrative faultlessly together. Jeturian provides the locus of the narrative wholly. By starting with the procession inside the subdivision, he lets us into the world where the story of the Aguinaldos unfolds. He maps their strained relationships within a communal setting and shows how much of these tensions are kept from the public eye.

Jeturian succeeds to show that indeed the home, the self and the community collapse into each other. Yet because of the pervasive centrality of ideals of family, of “blood being thicker than water” we endure the stifling coagulations of family more often than wanted.

Loy Arcenas on the other hand depicts Villa Los Reyes Magos a world unto itself. We are given little clue as to its location. We glimpse an old Manila street during Raquel’s arrival but the scenes mostly unfold within the house interiors, much like the rooms that ring hollow of memories slipping swiftly by.

The house in Niño is grave and silent like the crypt that awaits Gaspar and old age where even memory can be wrested from Celia. Much of the home exists in the recollections of Celia and Gaspar and for the generation after, it is only pawn to secure a future. Despite its ornate presence, the villa is like a ghost, immaterial except to those whose opiate memories help it survive. In many ways, this personification of the house in Niño is both weakness and strength. We long to witness the house but it is only after much contemplation that we realize that its deliberate, material absence bespeaks the fate of the remaining generations of the Lopez-Arandas.

In both families, women suffer in quiet grace and in so many instances become one with the house. Stifled by home, they represent ambivalence when confronted with the question of their presence in a precipitously disintegrating family. It is disheartening for the films to end with a seeming resignation, a mute acceptance of circumstance.

The houses in both films bide forestalled time. Yet this temporality clashes with the underlying current of their narratives. In Bisperas the house is transfixed in time as its spaces are violated by thieves. The film characters however thrive within an urgency that demands time to move forward, to arrive at redemption perhaps. In Niño on the other hand, the house embodies a headlong fall into the void of decay and the family struggles to yoke time to a past to stop its course. These temporal tensions render these films interesting and thus, it is disappointing to have them punctured by endings made crude by their predictable nature. The narratives collapse with the expectant tone of their closing.

To my mind, films that attempt to flesh out issues closest to heart benefit from ambivalence most. Isn’t it that human relationships embody this fragile balance, often unpredictable? In struggles with fate’s invisible hand, it is the spirit in ordeals of persistence and survival that keens, trudges, and strains. An ending more enigmatic, more probing, less confining could have perhaps elevated the narratives of Bisperas and Niño to such understanding.

Notes


[1] Mountford, Roxanne. 2001: 42

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

Bibliography

Bruno, Giuliana.The Architects of Time: Reel Duration from Warhol to Tsai Ming Liang” in Public Intimacy: Architecture and the Visual Arts. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007. 189-213.

Mountford, Roxanne. Winter 2001. “On Gender and Rhetorical Space” in Rhetoric Society Quarterly 31:1, 41-71.

 
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Posted by on 28/06/2012 in Film Review

 

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Ang Nawawala at Nag-aapuhap sa pelikulang Bisperas

Jema M. Pamintuan

Ang paggalaw ng kamera at pagprisinta ng mga pananaw mula sa lente nito ang isa sa mga birtud ng pelikulang Bisperas, sa direksyon ni Jeffrey Jeturian. Magugunita rito ang husay ng paggamit ng kamera sa isa pang pelikulang idinirehe ni Jeturian, ang Kubrador, na nagmapa ng paglalakad ng pangunahing tauhan sa komunidad bilang pagsubaybay sa pangangalap nito ng mga taya sa huweteng. Ang kamera ang nagtanghal kung paanong memoryado ng tauhan ang pasikut-sikot ng bayan, na paglao’y biglang naging alanganin ang alaalang ito at naligaw ang tauhan, gaya ng alanganin ding kalagayan at temperamento ng pinasukang hanapbuhay at mga linsad na transaksyong sangkot dito. Pinapatnubayan ng kamera, ng galaw at fokus nito, kung saan at paano titingin ang manonood, kung ano ang hahanapin sa pelikula.

Sa Bisperas, materyal ang galaw ng kamera sa pamamaraan kung paano sinuyod ng pamilya Aguinaldo ang kabuuan ng kanilang tahanan pagkatapos itong nilooban. Kagagaling lamang ng mag-anak sa prusisyon kaakibat ng ritwal ng panunuluyan, bilang pagdiriwang sa bisperas ng Pasko. Habang nasa loob ng sasakyan ang mag-anak pauwi ng kanilang tahanan, ang nakaambang tila walang katapusang paghahalughog at paghahanap, at ang paggunita sa mga bagay na nawawala, ay pinangunahan ng pag-awit ng batang apo ng mag-asawang Ramon (Tirso Cruz III) at Salud (Raquel Villavicencio). “Pasko na, sinta ko, hinahanap kita”— ay ilang linya mula sa tanyag na awitin ng pangungulila ng persona sa kaniyang minamahal sa panahon ng kapaskuhan. Pagkapasok ng kanilang sasakyan sa gate, nagsimula na ang pagtatanghal sa mga imaheng iba, kakatwa, at maligalig sa paningin at ekspektasyon ng mag-anak–mula sa nadistrungkang nakasanayang gayak ng tahanan (nakapatay ang inaasahang bukás na mga ilaw) hanggang sa nakaplano na nilang noche buena.

Iginiya at isinalaysay ng galaw ng kamera ang paraan ng pag-uusisa at paghahanap ng sagot sa bugtong ng nangyaring panloloob sa tahanan: ano ang mga bagay na unang hinanap, ano ang mga hindi nakita, saan unang pumunta ang mga tauhan, ano ang mga nakita na nakapagpaalala at nag-udyok sa tauhang hanapin pa ang ibang bagay, ano ang maaaring ipalagay na pinahahalagahan ng tauhan kung kaya iyon ang kaniyang unang hinanap. Sa pamamagitan ng mabisang disenyong pamproduksyon ng pelikula, malayang nakagalaw ang kamera sa kabuuan ng bahay bilang paglalahad ng posibleng naratibo at proseso ng panloloob.

Una munang itinanghal ng kamera ang imahen ng tahanan pagkatapos itong malooban, ang magulo at nakasabog na mga gamit dito. Inihahain nito ang pangunang ekspektasyon sa atin bilang mga manonood, na ito ang problema ng pelikula. Pagkapasok ng pintuan, tumambad kay Ramon ang nakatumbang Christmas tree. Kumuha ng golf club si Ramon bilang sandata, malinaw na ang/ang mga taong nanloob ang kaniyang hinahanap. Mula sala, umakyat sa hagdanan si Ramon, tiningnan ang silid sa unang palapag, saka tumungo sa ikalawang palapag at pumasok sa lahat ng silid dito, sa silid nilang mag-asawa, hanggang sa silid ng mga anak. Nang maliwanag na wala ngang tao, bunsod na rin ng sambit ng kaniyang kasambahay, “Wala namang tao,” tinawag na niya ang mag-anak upang pumasok sa loob ng bahay.

Sa mga sumunod na eksena, ikinuwento ng kamera ang mga nakatanghal sa paningin (tulad ng kasilyas na dinumihan ng nanloob), gayundin, ang mga nawawala sa paningin (gaya ng pagkain para sa noche buena na binawasan ng/ng mga magnanakaw) ng bawat tauhan.  Sa gitna ng kalat, dumi, at gulo ng mga gamit, hinanap ang mga maipapalagay na pinahahalagahan ng mga tauhan—simula sa kamera at cellphone ni Ramon, mga alahas at passport ni Salud, mga titulo ng lupa, ang macbook ng kanilang anak na si Ara (Julia Clarete), ang pera sa drawer ng bunsong anak na si Mio (Edgar Allan Guzman), ang balikbayan box ng panganay na anak na si Diane (Jennifer Sevilla). May hinanap bang natuklasang naroon?—tanging reading glasses lamang ni Salud, ang bagay na kailangan niya upang mabasa ang mga natirang dokumento at kumpirmahin ang pagkawala ng mga titulo ng lupa.

Isa sa posibleng aasahan ng manonood ay ang pagdadala sa kaniya ng kamera tungo sa mga ebidensya ng krimen, upang malutas ito, at mabigyan ng maayos na konklusyon ang pelikula. Sa halip, ibinigay ng kamera ang komprontasyon ng mga tauhang nagsumbatan dahil sa mga nawalang kagamitan, na lalong nagpakapal sa nauna nang kinilalang suliranin ng panloloob sa tahanan. Ang proseso ng paghahanap ng nawawala ay kaugnay ng proseso rin ng pag-aalaala. Bawat gamit na hinanap, at lunang pinanggalingan ng gamit na iyon, ay nanganak ng sigalot sa pagitan ng mga tauhang biglang nakagunita ng atraso at kakulangan sa kanila ng kaanak. Mula sa mga hinanakit at argumento, higit pang lumitaw at natuklasan kung ano ang mga gamit na nawawala, gayundin, anong mga bilin at gawaing ipinagkatiwala ang hindi nagampanan ng mga miyembro ng pamilya.

Ang kaguluhan ng makalat na lunan ay katumbas ng nagtutunggaling personalidad ng mga tauhan, dahil sa salansan ng mga damdaming naipon at noon lamang naipahayag, gaya ng mga nakakahong dokumentong pinakatagu-tago at ngayo’y ibinulatlat at inuusisa. Ang nakaugaliang hindi pagbabalik ng gamit ni Mio kay Ara, ang hindi naidepositong pera na iniutos ni Salud sa anak na si Mio, ang malalim na pagdududa nina Salud at Ara sa katapatan ni Ramon hinggil sa nawawalang titulo ng lupa, ang mga naitanim na sentimyento ni Ramon tungkol sa pangingibang-bansa, pag-aasawa, at di pagpapadala ng pera ni Diane–ang mga ito ang naging sentral na konsepto ng paghahanap sa pelikula. Ang tiwala, at ang pangako ng mabisang komunikasyon na inirereklamong iniwang nakatiwangwang lamang ng mga tauhan, ang ngayo’y higit na hinahalungkat ng mga ito sa isa’t isa.

Sa gitna ng mga hindi naresolbang damdamin, at mga nakasanayan nang dapat gawin, o mga paalalang nakaligtaan, gaya ng pag-double lock ng pinto (bukod pa sa perang hindi naideposito at macbook na hindi ibinalik kaagad), ang tanging pagdaraos ng noche buena na lamang ang gawain na maaaring isakatuparan nang maayos.

Sa eksenang ito ng pagtatangkang ipagpatuloy ang pagdiriwang ng Pasko sa kabila ng pisikal, emosyonal at mental na pinsala sa mga tauhan, ipinakita na ng kamera ang maayos na tahanan—nakatayo na muli ang Christmas tree, ginayakan ng nakapulupot ditong Christmas lights, kumpleto sa tunog pamasko na mula sa mga ilaw. Nakahanda na ang noche buena, nakaayos ang mesa, inanyayahang maupo na rito ang mag-anak para kumain, ipinaalala pa ang muntik nang makaligtaang paghahain ng hamon. Subalit naroon pa rin ang ligalig ng naunang imahen—mga damdaming nahalughog at hindi pa natitiklop ng mahusay na pakikipag-ugnayan, ng pagpapaubaya, at pag-unawa. Tigib ng rubdob ang noche buena, taal ang  transpormasyon sa tinginan ng mga tauhan kumpara noong sila’y kalmado lamang habang nasa prusisyon ng panunuluyan. Mainam ang timpla at gradasyon mula pagtitiim-bagang hanggang hysteria sa hapag-kainan. Bagaman nagpakita ng matinding emosyon, nakapa pa rin kay Salud ang pagsisikap na ipagpatuloy ang ritwal at selebrasyon, na animo’y sa kaniya nakatalaga ang pagtatahi at pagsasaayos ng nalamog na mga ugnayan sa pamilya. Gaya ng naunang mga pamamaraan ng pagpapanatili sa kaayusan ng tahanan, pansamantala munang ililigpit at muling isasalansan sa isang eskaparate ang magkakasalungat na pananaw, ang magkakabanggang tinginan, ang nag-aalangang pakiramdaman, sa pamilyang iyon. Si Salud ang nagbigay ng payapang wakas sa gabing iyon, ang nangunang magligpit ng mga pinagkainan, nag-ayos ng mga bakas ng pinsala ng panloloob, nagpatay ng ilaw, at nagpaalala kay Mio ng pagsisimba kinabukasan, pagkat iba umano ang misa sa bisperas, sa misa sa araw ng Pasko.

Kagaya ng ritwal ng panunuluyan, ng paghahanap ng tahanang masisilungan ng mga tauhan nito, batbat ang pelikula ng mga pananda ng paghahanap, hindi lamang ng mga bagay na nawawala. May malinaw na preokupasyon sa mga ritwal, o ang posibilidad ng paggamit sa diwa ng ritwal upang magbigay kaganapan at saysay sa buhay at pagdanas ng mga tauhan. Ang mga regular na fixture ng Pasko ay naroon—ang pagbebenta ng puto bumbong, ang mga kandilang hawak ng mga deboto habang nagpuprusisyon, ang pag-awit ng mga linya mula sa iskrip ng panunuluyan, ang mga dekorasyong pamasko sa mga tahanan ng komunidad na pinagdausan ng panunuluyan. Kasama rin ang mga nakasanayan nang paalalang nakapaloob sa kabuuang pagdiriwang, ang pangangailangang kumilos nang maayos kapag nasa loob ng simbahan, tulad halimbawa ng pagpuna ni Salud kay Mio na tanggalin nito ang suot na sombrero, at kay Ara, na isuot nito nang maayos ang sapatos kahit napaltusan ito ng paa. Bagaman may malaking lubak sa gitna ng pagdiriwang ng ritwal ng Pasko, yaon ngang nangyaring panloloob, naipasok pa rin ang noche buena, at ang pagsisimba sa araw ng Pasko. Sa mga ritwal, nakasanayang gawain, paalala, at bilin, iniaankla ng mga tauhan ang paghahanap ng sarili, at paghahanap ng ugnayan ng sarili sa kapwa, anuman ang hubog o kompigurasyon ng ugnayang iyon.

 
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Posted by on 28/06/2012 in Film Review

 

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The Peregrine Son

Jaime Oscar M. Salazar

Having lately gotten wind of the news that his father, Mario, had passed away, Jimmuel Apostol II returns to his hometown in order to seek out the grave and pay his final respects to a man from whom he has long been geographically distant and emotionally estranged. What looks at the outset to be a simple errand burgeons into the convoluted quest with which Teoriya, the first full-length feature by Zurich Chan, is concerned with tracing—one that has Jimmuel take a roughly northeasterly route across the Zamboanga peninsula over a number of days, from Zamboanga City all the way to Zamboanga Sibugay. The reason for this is that no one, with the possible exception of his blood relatives, whom he refuses to consult, appears able to tell him precisely when his parent—likely the only one he had grown up with, because he never mentions his mother – had died or where the body had been laid to rest.

It must be admitted that a film underpinned by such a premise requires from the audience no small degree of willingness to suspend disbelief, considering that death is one of the occasions around—as well as against—which human beings, at every known moment of history in every corner of the world, have conceived and built elaborate communal rituals, which are crucial to fortifying the bonds between and among the members of the affected family, clan, or other social group, and bringing back for the living a sense of control over an unsettling, if inevitable, experience. Within the first 15 minutes of the movie, Jimmuel is seen discussing the contents of his father’s will with a lawyer, who is also his godfather: as obvious a sign as any that, even if Mario had expired far away from kith and kin, his dying had set into motion a flurry of medical, mortuary, religious, and legal activities carried out by sundry personnel, many, if not all, of whom might reasonably be expected to make and maintain records.

Granted that his godfather is as clueless as he is—though surely the executor of an estate would have seen a copy of the death certificate, at the very least?—the fact that Jimmuel does not attempt—does not even think—to approach a single doctor, funeral home manager, memorial park administrator, priest, or government functionary for assistance, instead deciding to go from cemetery to cemetery in order to comb through one tomb after another, hoping to discover the place where Mario was buried, is a choice that, in beginning, bewilders. (To his credit, Jimmuel does track down Mong, one of his father’s closest friends and colleagues, but when Mong turns out to be in the grip of a mental illness, persistently confusing Jimmuel with his deceased associate, Jimmuel seems to give up on following a commonsensical trajectory to solving his personal mystery, preferring to tread the path of most resistance, as it were.)

The perplexity only increases when one considers that, for the past ten years, Jimmuel has been in Manila, ostensibly thriving in the advertising industry—from all accounts, a cutthroat world that prizes and promotes those who work with speed, creativity, and ruthlessness. Precisely what his job involves is not specified, but the relative profitability of his career is revealed most plainly by the size and the furnishings of his hotel suite, which features, among others, a living room and a king-sized bed.

It is his choice of temporary shelter, an exceedingly extravagant one in view of the circumstances of his return to his place of birth, that first suggests something significant about him—something that will be reinforced throughout the film: while, for him, the memory of Mario may be “the most sacred of memories”[1], Jimmuel is not so much a Crisóstomo Ibarra, whose search for Don Rafael’s remains spurs him to decisive, even dangerous action, as the parabolic prodigal son—an epithet his own godfather invokes—whose feelings toward his father and everything that his father represents constitute an intricate knot from which clear imperatives are grueling to extricate.

As the English historian Theodore Zeldin points out, “few people can extract solutions to their problems from their roots”, especially given what is known about roots today: besides serving as anchors, they also produce hormones, and therefore people “should not assume that roots give nothing but stability: they could say that roots also create moods”[2]. It is on mood, rather than event, that the film wagers its artistic energy, persuasively configuring out of Zamboanga spaces within which a grief-stricken Jimmuel wanders in a state of errancy, guided in part by the entries in the journal of his father, in life a medical representative who had traveled everywhere in Mindanao to ply pharmaceuticals.

Although he apparently feels compelled to accomplish his goal, he also displays uncertainty as to his readiness to come upon Mario’s grave, such that he is willing enough to be diverted, no matter how briefly, from doing so. In addition to assuming the painstaking task of examining sepulcher upon sepulcher in the cemetery of every town he stops at, Jimmuel spends time with a number of strangers that he meets along the way, often to droll effect, as in the case of a strangely equipped hijacker who waylays him one night. It is these same strangers who render his roaming about productive, in that his encounters with them propel him to stay the course instead of drifting off the track.

Teoriya is suffused with the strength of Jimmuel’s ambivalence, which owes not only to the noteworthy performance of Alfred Vargas in the lead role, but also to the laudable cinematography and visual design by director of photography Dexter dela Peña, assistant cinematographer Mark Leaster Regondola, and production designer Paul Alfonse Marquez. Marked by spare dialogue and frequent silences, the movie is well-served by strong sequences that are vivid and picturesque without lapsing into gratuitous prettiness, being chiefly composed with a cool, somber palette.

The reluctance to take responsibility and the yearning to escape that drive Jimmuel’s meandering—perhaps a symptom of denial, one of the stages in the model of grief that was developed by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, which is the subject of an amusing allusion near the start of film, where one scene shows an “inspirational book” written by Charlemagne Alejandro, the protagonist from Chan’s short film Boca—are presaged by the opening shot: that of an airplane soaring through slate-blue air over a graveyard dappled with shadows, just before it lands at the Zamboanga International Airport. Unlike the departed over which he flies, Jimmuel is merely a transient presence here: his stay of limited duration, and his stake a nebulous one.

Many scenes reveal the distance that Jimmuel covers as he moves into, out of, or across the frame—whether several steps or a few kilometers—underscoring the amount of effort involved in changing position, in following a path, in initiating action. Recurring images of the horizon, of trees thrusting up into heaven, and of the sky at various times of the day all bolster the impression that what Jimmuel—an ineffectual, tentative man distressed by his quest—fervently craves is reprieve, is transcendence, though he also recognizes the impossibility of satisfying such a desire.

Where a more conventional work might fall back on the familiar notion of the presumably redemptive power of a difficult journey, particularly one undertaken for the purpose of discharging a filial duty, the film equivocates, resisting facile sentimentality, and choosing to intimate rather than to impose meaning—a strategy fully realized in the character of Jimmuel, who is at once rudderless and resolute with regard to his mission. Ultimately, his search has less to do with the fulfillment of an obligation than with a confrontation with memory, which is both adhesive and solvent in the process of cultivating and constructing a sense of self—a confrontation, Teoriya suggests, that is necessarily arduous and ardently necessary.

Notes

[1] José Rizal, Noli Me Tangere (New York: Penguin Books, 2006), trans. Harold Augenbraum, 231.

[2] Theodore Zeldin, An Intimate History of Humanity (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1994), 50.

Bibliography

Rizal, Jose.  Noli Me Tangere. Trans. Harold Augenbraum. New York: Penguin Books, 2006.

Zeldin, Theodore. An Intimate History of Humanity. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 1994.

 
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Posted by on 28/06/2012 in Film Review

 

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Sa paghahanap sa patay, natagpuan ay buhay: Etnograpiya ng sarili, lugar at mga ugnayang panlipunan sa Teoriya

Eulalio R. Guieb III

Paanong sisingilin ng anak ang mga pagkukulang ng ama?  Paanong ipahihiwatig ng ama na hindi niya sadya ang kaniyang mga pagkukulang sa anak?  Paanong aalalahanin ng anak ang katiting na gunitang pinagsamahan nilang mag-ama?  Paanong mamahalin ng ama ang anak na hiwalay at inihiwalay sa tinagurian niyang ‘angkla ng buhay’ – ang pamilya?  Paanong mamahalin ang ama na nawalan ng angkla sa buhay?  Paanong magmamahal ang ama na nawalan ng angkla sa buhay?  Paanong tatayo sa buhay ang anak na tumiwalag sa angkla ng buhay?  Paano sasabihin ng ama sa anak at ng anak sa ama na mahal nila ang isa’t isa sa gitna ng malalaking pagkukulang at malalawak na guwang ng pagkakatiwalag sa isa’t isa?  Paanong mamaalam sa isa’t isa nang hindi nagtatagpo?  Paanong magtatagpo ang mga kaluluwang permanente nang pinaghiwalay ng kamatayan subalit patuloy na nabubuhay sa mga pilas at pilat ng gunita?

Hinimay ng pelikulang Teoriya ni Zurich Chan ang mga tanong na ito.  Kinilatis nito ang mga buhaghag na damdamin at natitibag subalit lagi’t laging pinatatatag na mga ugnayang panlipunan – kabilang ang mga ugnayang pampamilya – sa payak na sinematikong rendisyon ng naratibo.  Inugat nito ang ontolohiya ng sarili, pamilya at lipunan sa epistemolohiya ng lugar.  Isinagawa ito ng pelikula hindi lamang sa pamamagitan ng mga dialogo, kundi higit sa naratibo ng mga imahe, sa texto ng mga nagtatagpong kahulugan ng mga imahe.

Pagsisiyasat sa sarili – sa mga lugar: Sa pagitan ng nag-aagaw na pag-alis at pag-uwi

Sa proseso ng pagsiyasat sa mga saloobin ng mga tauhan ng Teoriya ay nagawang bigyan ng matino at matalinong explorasyon ng pelikula ang etnograpiya ng sarili, lugar at mga damdamin sa sarili at lugar na humuhubog ng mga ugnayang panlipunan, na sa bandang huli ay nagbibigay-hugis rin sa identidad ng sarili at lugar.  Kinilatis ng pelikula ang mga tauhang naghahanap ng kahulugan ng kanilang mga kakulangan, o naniningil sa mga kakulangan, o kapwa humihingi at nagbibigay ng mga pampuno sa mga kakulangan ng sarili at kapwa.  Hahantong ang explorasyon ng pelikula sa mga damdaming ito sa paglalatag ng mga dikotomiya – at resolusyon ng dikotomiya – ng paglisan at pananatili o ng pag-alis at pagbalik – mga engkuwentrong bunsod ng nayuyugyog na mga angkla ng relasyon.

Sa kauna-unahang imahe pa lamang ay iniharap na sa atin ng Teoriya ang pangunahin nitong tesis: ang tunggalian ng mosyon (galaw) at istasis (paghinto).  Lumilipad ang isang maingay na eroplano sa ibabaw ng isang tahimik na sementeryo.  Nakatanghod sa mainit na panahon ang tahimik at maliit na buwan.  Ironiya at kontrast na agad ang nililikha ng imahe.  Inilalahad na agad ang interpelasyon ng magkasalungat subalit magkatuwang na relasyon ng mosyon at istasis.  Mababasa sa unang imaheng ito ang mga idea ng pag-alis, pagdating, pagyao, pagbabalik at – higit sa lahat – ng pananatili.  Kasabay ng mga konseptong ito ay binuhay ng imaheng ito ang magkasabay na existence ng araw at buwan, sinasadya man ito ng pelikula o hindi.

Malalaman natin sa pagdaloy ng pelikula na ang isa sa mga sakay ng eroplano ay isang binatang umuwi sa Zamboanga – ang lugar ng kaniyang pamilya.  May anak na tumiwalag sa pamilya na ngayon ay nagbabalik (mosyon ng pag-alis at pagbalik, subalit kung mananatili sa iniwang lugar ay isang malaking katanungan) upang hanapin ang puntod ng yumaong ama (kontradiksyon ng pagyao sa buhay subalit pananatili ng katawan sa isang tiyak subalit di-batid na lugar at pananatili ng lahat ng gunita sa isip at puso ng anak).  Ironikal na hindi dumating ang anak sa burol ng ama, subalit ngayon ay ironikal na nagbabalik upang hanapin ang puntod ng ama.

Ang pelikula ay kuwento ng pananatili sa lugar laban sa paglayo sa lugar.  Inilahad ito ng pelikula sa mga imahe sa maraming interseksyon ng paghahanap at paggalugad ng mga tauhan sa maraming bagay na nawala, o inakalang nawala at nawawala.  Halimbawa, mababatid natin na bumalik ang anak hindi para umuwi, dahil unang-una, ayon sa kaniyang sarili mismo, ay wala naman na talaga siyang uuwian, wala naman na talagang siyang inuwian.  Bumalik siya sa Zamboanga, subalit sa isang hotel siya tumuloy, hindi sa sariling bahay.  Pero sa pagpapatuloy ng pelikula ay mauunawaan natin na maituturing pa ring umuwi ang anak sa lugar: umuwi siya hindi pa marahil para sa ama kundi para pa sa kaniyang sarili.  Sa huling suma, ang pagbabalik ay pag-uwi sa sarili – sa inunan – anuman ang indikasyon ng pisikal na inuwian.

Tulad rin ito ng ginawang desisyon ng yumaong ama na galugarin ang kabuluhan ng buhay at sarili sa iba’t ibang lugar na kaniyang napupuntahan dulot ng kaniyang trabaho bilang medical representative.  Dadalhin ang ama ng mga pagbibiyaheng ito sa salimuot ng sariling loob.  Huhubugin siya ng pisikal na lugar na tatagos sa kaniyang internal landscape, na siya rin namang humuhubog ng katangian ng pisikal na lugar.  Nabubuhay sa kontradiksyon ng buhay at kamatayan ang mga lugar na kaniyang pinanggalingan at pinupuntahan.  Nabubuhay ang Tuwangan sa gitna ng rebelyon.  Sa Sidangan siya nabuhay subalit dito minasaker ang kaniyang pamilya – ang angkla ng kaniyang buhay.  Nawalan ng angkla ang kaniyang buhay sa sariling lugar kung saan siya naging tao.  Matatagpuan ng anak ang ama sa Ipil, kung saan siya nakalibing – isang lugar na nabubuhay rin sa gitna ng rebelyon at iba’t ibang uri ng pang-uusig politikal.

Sa mga ganitong kondisyon ay malinaw na hindi istatiko ang lugar: binubuhay ng lugar ang tao, binubuhay ng tao ang lugar, at nabubuo ang kahulugan ng mundo sa interaksyon ng buháy na tao at lugar at interseksyon ng pinapatay o namatay na tao at lugar.

Paghahanap sa puntod: Pagbibiyahe sa loob ng sarili at sa loob ng maraming kapwa

Dadalhin ang dumating na anak ng kaniyang paghahanap sa puntod ng yumaong ama sa iba’t ibang lugar at mga di-inaasahang pakikisalamuha sa iba’t ibang tauhang may kani-kanila ring isyu ng buhay at kamatayan – mga isyung may tiyak na pinaglulugaran, mga lugar at isyung nauna nang hinarap ng ama.  Pagkatapos ihabilin ng abogado ng pamilya ang dalawang bagay na minana sa ama – ang kanilang lumang bahay na alam mong hindi na magtatagal at isang kakarag-karag na kotse na alam mong hindi na rin magtatagal – ay susundan ng anak ang mga lugar na pinuntahan ng ama.  Sa mahabang panahong pagkakahiwalay sa bahay ay buháy na buháy pa rin sa gunita ng anak ang naging hidwaan nilang mag-ama na hahantong sa tuluyan nang pagputol ng anak sa kurdong umbilikal na nag-uugnay sa kaniya sa kaniyang pinagmulan.  At naroroon pa rin ang mga maliliit ngunit mahahalagang sikreto ng buhay – tulad halimbawa sa pagkabatid pa rin ng anak kung saan nakatago ang susi ng pinto para makapasok sa loob ng bahay.  Hindi ganap, kung gayon, ang pagkakaputol ng nagbabalik na tila estranghero sa lugar sa kurdong umbilikal ng nilisang ugat.  At susundan ng anak ang mga lugar na binanggit ng ama sa kaniyang diary na isa rin sa mga iniwan sa kaniya ng ama.

Matatagpuan ng anak ang kaniyang sarili sa lumang bahay ng matalik na kaibigan ng ama – na ikinulong na lamang ang sarili sa loob ng inugatang bahay na binubuhay na lamang ng mga gunita.  Tulad ng bahay ng ama, namamatay na rin ang bahay ng kaibigan ng ama.  Nawawala ang pisikal na buhay, subalit mayaman ang bahay sa maraming gunita ng buhay.  Paanong sasabihing patay ang bahay na punong-puno ng gunita?  Paanong lilisanin – o bakit hindi dapat lisanin – ang bahay na nililisan na ng buhay subalit nabubuhay – o patuloy na binubuhay – sa pundasyon ng mga iniimbak na gunita?  Malinaw na inihatid sa atin ng pelikula ang mga konseptong ito sa mga imaheng ikinulob (o di ipinakita subalit ipinaramdam) ng kamera at disenyong biswal.

Bubulabugin ang kaniyang paghahanap sa puntod ng ama ng isang magnanakaw na hindi marunong magnakaw, na magtuturo sa kaniya – nang hindi nababatid ng magnanakaw – na gagawin ng ama, tulad ng isang ina, ang lahat para sa kaniyang mga anak.

Matatagpuan rin ng anak ang lumang bahay sa Sidangan, na nilalapastangan na ng mga kabataang walang muwang sa halaga ng gunita.  Nasa pangangalaga ng isang di-pa-naman-katandaang babae ang dahan-dahan nang nagigiba at nasisirang bahay, isang pinaglumaang bahay na kabebenta lamang sa isang pamilyang umaasang masasalba pa ang buo-pa-namang bahay.  Kinilala ng babae ang estrangherong binata sa pisikalidad ng ama.  Ang matanda ang tipo ng taong hindi mawawaan kung paanong nangyayaring hindi nababatid ng anak ang libingan ng ama.  Sa gitna ng mga pagkaguho, may mga tumatangan pa rin sa mga pundasyon ng lahat ng mga bagay na patungo sa pagkaguho, tulad ng pagtangan sa luma ng isang bagong pamilya, tulad ng pagtangan ng matandang babae sa gunita ng pisikalidad ng mga naging kakilala.

Tulad ng magnanakaw na walang muwang sa pagnanakaw at mga nilalang na nananatili o naghahanap o nagbabantay ng bahay, ganito rin ang pagkamulat na ituturo sa kaniya ng isang pamilyang binubuhay ng isang nagbalik na babaeng overseas Filipino worker (OFW).  Isang accountant ang babaeng ito na nagtrabaho sa Malaysia upang matustusan ang mga pangangailangan ng pamilya.  Subalit nagdesisyong umuwi ng OFW matapos mamatay ng kaniyang ina upang higit na maharap ang obligasyon sa ama at sa mga batugang kapatid na lalaki.  Umuwi siya, kahit tila hindi dapat.  Subalit umuwi siya dahil ginusto rin niya – dahil kailangan ng loob niya ang kaniyang pamilya, isang pangangailangang sa pakiwari niya ay pamilya lamang ang makapagbibigay, sa gitna ng napakaraming pagkukulang at limitasyon ng kaniyang pamilya.  Paanong magmahal ng mga limitasyon?  Paanong magmahal ng mga limitasyon nang may pagkukusa?  Paanong yayakapin ng pagkukusa ang mga limitasyon?  Minsan, tila mas trahedya ang lumisan, at may kagampan sa pananatili.

At nang matagpuan na ng anak ang libingan ng ama – pagkatapos ng pagtatangka sa iba pang mga sementeryo – ay nasabi rin niya ang noon pa ay gusto na niyang sabihin sa ama: “Putang-ina mo, Pa.”  Ibinulalas niya ito sa ritwal ng pagmamahal nilang mag-ama: paghahalik ng kanilang mga noo na madalas nilang gawing mag-ama noong siya ay bata pa.  Nakahalik ang noo ng binata sa puntod ng ama.  Naghahalinhinan sa sinkroniko ng mga galit at hinaing – mga payapa o pinayapang hinampo – ang mga patuloy na binubuhay, maláy man o di málay, na expresyon o ritwal ng pagmamahal sa kadugo, sa lahat ng mga bagay na lumisan at nilisan, sa lahat ng mga bagay na inilibing at binubuhay, sa lahat ng mga bagay na puwede pa, o dapat sana, o puwede sana, o puwede dapat.

Sa kabuuan ng mga biyahe: Pagbubuo ng lugar ng sarili

Sa kabuuan ng biyaheng ito ay gamit ng anak ang kakarag-karag na kotseng ipinamana sa kaniya ng yumaong ama.  Sa kabuuang biyaheng ito ay suot ng anak ang lumang damit ng ama na natagpuan niya sa aparador ng bahay ng kaibigan ng ama.  Sa madaling salita, pisikal na buháy ang ama sa lahat ng pagbibiyahe ng bumalik na anak.  Dadalhin ng mga pisikal na extensyon ng lumisang ama ang paggalugad ng lumisang anak sa kaibuturan ng sarili – ang pagkakatagpo ng anak sa kaniyang sarili at ang pagkakatagpo ng anak sa mga iniwang sarili ng ama.  Muli, ang lahat ng ito ay ikinuwento at binigyang-kahulugan sa sabayang ayunan at salungatan ng mga imahe.

Sa kabuuan rin ng biyaheng ito ay natutunan ng binata na iwanan sa biyahe ang mga bagahe ng isang urbanisadong tao, mga bagay na hindi kailangan sa paghahanap sa inunan – na siyang laging babanggitin sa kaniya ng isang kampeon sa marathon na tuwina’y nakakasalubong niya sa maraming yugto ng kaniyang paglalakbay: sa airport noong siya ay umuwi, sa pagtirik ng kaniyang kotse sa gitna ng parang, sa muling pagtirik ng kotse sa iba pang lugar, at sa huling pagkatanto sa kahulugan ng paggalugad sa Zamboanga.  Sa lahat ng ito, pansamantala lamang ang pagtatagpo ng dalawa, at maghihiwalay rin, magkaiba ng mga tatahaking landas, maaaring magkaiba ng mga layunin sa pagtakbo o paglayo o paglapit sa pagkatanto, subalit kailangang magpatuloy sa pagtakbo, dahil tila trahedya ang paghinto.

Muli, sa kabuuan ng paglalakbay ng binata, bibigyan siya ng mga gunita ng kaniyang mga nakasalamuha: pinagsamahang kabataan ng matalik na kaibigan ng ama sa gitna ng kawalan ng koneksyon ng matanda sa kasalukuyang panahon; gulay buhat sa magnanakaw sa gitna ng kawalan nito ng pagkain; ang kalinga sa kaniya sa maliit na bahay ng pamilyang binubuhay ng bumalik na OFW (kahit na sa simula ay may pagtatangkang linlangin siya ng isa sa mga kapatid na lalaki ng OFW); at ang pinagparayang halik ng OFW sa gitna ng kasalukuyan nitong kawalan ng pag-ibig ng lalaki (liban sa hindi matatawarang pagmamahal niya at pagmamahal sa kaniya ng pamilyang puro lalaki).  At nang maaksidente ang binata sa biyahe, kakalingain siya ng isang pamilyadong doktor sa sarili nitong bahay (na kaniya ring klinika), at ipahihiwatig sa atin ng pelikula na ang doktor na ito ay sarili niyang kapatid na kailanman ay hindi niya nakita at nakilala, na kailanman man ay hindi rin siya nakita at nakilala – liban sa pagkakatulad ng kanilang pangalan at apelyido, at sa alaala ng mga gamit ng ama, tulad ng kakarag-karag na kotse at sa lugar kung saan inilibing ang kanilang ama, sa lugar kung saan nabuhay, namatay at patuloy na nabubuhay ang mga miyembro ng hiwa-hiwalay, nagkakahiwalay, pinaghihiwalay ngunit magkakarugtong na pamilya – sa pisikal man o sa gunita.   Ang lahat ng tao, bagay, lugar at karanasan na kaniyang nakasalamuha sa paggalugad sa puntod ng ama ang siyang magiging angkla ng kaniyang nabagong pananaw sa buhay o nosyon ng pagkatao ng sarili. Sa bagong lugar siya nagkaroon ng bagong angkla sa buhay.

Explorasyon ng pananatili: Elipsis ng mga paghantong at pagkatanto

Sa pangkalahatan, ang Teoriya ay explorasyon ng mga hinagpis at kagampan ng pananatili at pag-alis, ng mga inakalang istatiko at ng mga inakalang dumadaloy.  Punong-puno ang pelikula ng mga buhay, bahay, lugar at sariling nangungulila sa nakaraan at sa mga posibilidad ng ngayon, nangungulila hindi lang sa panahon kundi maging sa lugar na binubuhay o pinapatay ng panahon.  Hindi istatiko ang lugar.  Patuloy itong hinuhubog ng mga nilalang nito, kahit patay na ang mga ito.  Madalas, gunita ng mga patay ang bumubuhay sa lugar.  Maging lugar ng mga patay ay inaaruga ng mga buháy.  Paanong mabuhay sa mga ganitong pangungulila?  Paanong mabuhay sa pagitan ng duyan at hukay?  Paanong manulay sa buhay at kamatayan nang hindi binabagabag ng mga di-naging-makataong pakikitungo sa pamilya at kapwa?

Tulad ng sinabi ng kaniyang ama at ng kaniyang mga nakasalamuha, nakakatakot mawala sa gunita ng mga iniwan, nakakatakot mawalan ng lugar.  Ang gunita ay isa ring lugar.  Nakakatakot basta-basta na lang mawala sa mundo – tulad ng mga yumayaong kaluluwa, nalulumang bahay, ginigiyerang lugar, minamasaker na mamamayan.  Tulad rin ng binatang tauhan na hindi maiwan-iwan ang modernidad ng pansamantalang iniwang lunsod upang balikan ang mga bagahe ng kontemporaneong kamatayan at paglisan, ng mga katiyakan ng mga pagyao, ng mga agam-agam sa pagbabalik, ng masakit subalit niyayakap na pananatili sa isang buháy na lugar, kahit gunita na lamang ang lugar na ito.

Sa lahat ng bagay na ito, lagi’t laging may mga ispesipikong lugar ng interaksyon at interseksyon na tumatagos sa pagbubuo ng pagkakakilanlan sa sarili, sa kapwa, sa lipunan – kapwa sa loob at labas ng sarili, kapwa at lipunan.

Ang Teoriya, sa madaling sabi, ay elaborasyon ng pananatili.  Mahirap desisyonan ang pag-alis, at mas mahirap desisyonan ang pagbalik.  Subalit pinakamahirap desisyonan ang pananatili.

 
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Posted by on 28/06/2012 in Film Review

 

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No Springtime in Manila

JPaul S. Manzanilla

Haruo tells a story of a man deserting a crime syndicate but finds himself inescapably bound up with it. From Manila to Tokyo and back again, Haruo’s plight represents inimitable connections of violence and crime, trauma and memory, sacrifice and salvation, all in a sublimated rendition of a man’s personal quest for expiation.

Tadano Hayoshi recruited Monica, a pretty street vendor, for work in Japan. Forced to become a sex entertainer, Monica refused the sexual advances of Tadano’s yakuza fellows but was raped after Tadano’s unsuccessful defense of her. Tadano and Monica escaped and went back to the Philippines. One day, Tadano returned to their residence and found Monica murdered, doubtless by his yakuza fellows. He put her in a drum, covered her with sand, and disposed of the body.

Tadano, now Haruo, lives a normal and unobtrusive life as an itinerant food vendor. He rarely talks to people but is very kind and even gives free meals to a child and a beggar. We now have an unlikely immigrant: poor, plain, and too quiet as to be almost mute. Living in one of the ancient districts of Manila, Tadano is embedded in a milieu of remarkable people. The prostitute Edna, delicately portrayed by Rosanna Roces, gets attracted to the silent and mysterious Haruo, who is distracted by his past. Aling Lydia, who lives with her two grandchildren, is presumably suffering from mental illness. Popoy persistently sells various goods (rubber shoes, denim jeans, longanisa, luxury watch) of dubious provenance. The house in which Haruo rents a room is an old, big, and previously grand abode now with partitioned spaces for numerous occupants. The raid of illegal drug pushers conducted in the house demonstrates the kind of people who inhabit the place: impoverished inhabitants of the city, petty criminals, like Popoy who seems to source his goods from theft, and migrants seeking temporary refuge and anonymity. The last set includes our protagonist.

Just as Haruo is trying to live a peaceful life in obscurity, the world of crime seems to catch up with him. He falls in love with Michelle, who suspiciously lives with her cousin in one of the big house’s rooms. One time, a group of men tries to abduct Michelle and Haruo comes in to rescue and thrashes (albeit in awkward, still-to-be-improved fight scenes) all of them in martial arts fashion. The encounter inevitably reveals his tattoos of yakuza vintage. Haruo is now being hounded by the media. And so Michelle has to leave the place because she’s a star witness of a top-level graft and corruption case hiding from powerful people out to take her life; the man who pretends to be her cousin is a police protector whom she accuses of being in cahoots with the criminals. Haruo rescues a woman for the second time around and flees a criminal syndicate once again; he identifies himself as Tadano Hayashi and recounts his past to Michelle. But his yakuza brothers found him, after being tipped off by Popoy who, all along, is spying on Haruo. The yakuza persuades him to return the money he has taken and to reunite with the group. When he refuses, they kill Michelle. Enraged, Haruo fights back and kills them. He is stabbed by Popoy, disclosing complicity, only to kill him in return.

The film’s excellent cinematography captures our character’s movement away from the world of crime only to be pulled back into it. There is a scene where the old railways of Manila are shown as Haruo is traveling to another side of the city. This moment of pure movement, when nothing yet is definitive concerning Haruo’s (literal and lifelong) direction, deftly mesmerizes one’s vision. In another, a stunning view of two characters on a bridge crossing the Pasig River submits the misery of abandonment as Edna cries while Haruo diffidently commiserates with her. This is the time when Edna’s nephew, who has almost become her son, is probably taken back by her sister. Edna and Haruo, then, share the same plight; both are penitent characters who are unfairly deprived of loved ones with whom they could amend their fate.

Conceivably the cause of Haruo’s silence is the unspeakable crime he was complicit with when he brought Monica to Tokyo resulting in prostitution and murder upon return to Manila, and his sealing of Monica’s dead body in a drum. This sin haunts Haruo and precludes the possibility of a normal life. Every time, he atones for his crime by being kind to the poor and helping a victim of robbery. His fatal attraction to young women coupled with a desire to salvage them from a life of destitution and danger only leads to a life of more danger. Haruo’s existence is a never-ending story of menace and the impossibility of escape: from crime, from reforming one’s character, from unrequited love, from responsibility. In one telling incident, the policeman interviewing the thief whom Haruo has apprehended and brought to authorities asks “Ilang taon…?” (How many years…) referring not to the age of the criminal but to how many years he, the thief, has been involved in crime. The question could also be asked of Haruo. The man he helped warned him that he should be cautious as it is foreigners like him who are targets of criminals. This points out his situation as an alien, that is, indubitably marked and Monica’s situation as an alien in Japan who had become target of the sex industry.

A smoldering question in the film is how Haruo – literally “spring time man” – works out his trauma, both as victim and perpetrator, in the violent death of the woman he loved. Dominick LaCapra, in commenting on recent study of perpetrators of profoundly traumatic events, says that “[i]t is also important to recognize both that the perpetrator may be traumatized by extreme acts and that he or she may transfigure trauma into the sublime, the regenerative, or the sacred” (78). The sublime gains paramount importance here. It is a thing which cannot be represented in strictly concrete forms, albeit often assuming aesthetic manner.[1] Haruo’s pain is deeply felt, but unspoken. Silence keeps him from disclosing himself but also prevents him from relating significantly to other people. Our main character, therefore, is in a bind and, owing to a sacrificial disposition, he inevitably exposes himself and reinstates his criminal past. Forever struggling to renew himself, Haruo realizes that there is no spring time in his life. This fact is subtly signified by a petal that falls from a flower, when he is on the verge of redeeming another woman. It is autumn, once again. Haikus by the renowned poet Matsuo Basho suggest intuition of time and nature’s struggles within it. The last one is very telling: “The winds of autumn/Blow: yet still green/The chestnut husks.” Even in the fall, Haruo, like a chestnut, husks so that his essential goodness may come into fruition.

Such sublime efforts lead us to a burdened viewing, one that probes Tadano’s moral predicament. Analyzing the political uses of the sublime in late nineteenth to twentieth century Japan through its figuration in the aesthetic, Alan Tansman argues on its actual implications that go beyond the aesthetic: “While the sublime moment is aesthetically constructed, it contains existential force, for it depicts a moment when the self is broken down and infused with a higher form of consciousness” (135). This “higher form of consciousness” is palpably social because “[w]hat we feel links us with society” (135). Tansman studied evocations of the sublime through novels and political tracts at various historical moments in Japan: national identity in modernizing Japan of the 1880s and 1890s, fascism in the imperial 1930s, and the antinuclear campaign of the post-war era (144-145). In Haruo’s example, the sublime may intimate the individual’s fraught relation to others by means of working through his trauma. Only a retelling of his crime and a painstaking examination of it can deliver closure and set him free and ensure that he does not commit the same mistake once again. Tadano’s mere leaving the yakuza could only imperil his rescue of another being who, like him, is running away from the law and its dialectical opposite – crime. The kind of social de-linking that Haruo begets because of his unutterable sins is quintessentially sublime, according to Kant: “we have to note the fact that isolation from all society is looked upon as something sublime, provided it rests upon ideas which disregard all sensible interest. To be self-sufficing, and so not to stand in need of society, yet without being unsociable, i.e. without shunning it is something approaching the sublime—a remark applicable to all superiority to wants” (129).

There are matters that are instructive for readers who would want to delve into questions of heroism and renewal in this film. Scenes that flash back and forward into Haruo’s present arbitrate the repeated—because imprisoned—nature not only of his crime, but his character. Ikebana, the Japanese art of floral arrangement, serves not as a display in the unadorned room of the protagonist, but as embodiment of the temperance which he struggles to achieve for himself. In that small, suffocating quarter, Haruo regenerates for a new life. Aestheticization of violence raises its moral import. While scenes of fighting the villains may glorify righteous retribution, the sight of a brutally murdered Monica and the equally brutal killing of Michelle may tend to eulogize the women’s contained agency. Could salvation be attained through an individual act of escape and/or speaking truth to wicked power, or through a rescue by a man actively involved in the crime that precisely enslaves the two women? In such case, Haruo’s struggle is credible: only one who is deeply embedded in sin has the redemptive potential to atone for it.

Haruo’s final act commands respect and all the more makes him all-too human, because he chose to risk life over the steady course of death. Perhaps, this is the most sublime undertaking of all.

Note

[1] “The sublime may be described in this way: It is an object (of nature) the representation of which determines the mind to regard the elevation of nature beyond our reach as equivalent to a presentation of ideas.” Kant, Immanuel. “Critique of Aesthetic Judgement.” The Critique of Judgement. Trans. James Creed Meredith. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1952. 119.

Bibliography

Kant, Immanuel. “Critique of Aesthetic Judgement.” The Critique of Judgement. Trans. James

Creed Meredith. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952 [1790]. 41-246.

LaCapra, Dominick. “’Traumatropisms’: From Trauma via Witnessing to the Sublime?” History and Its Limits: Human, Animal, Violence. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2009. 59-89.

Tansman, Alan. “Saburaimu/Sublime: A Japanese Word and Its Political Afterlife” Words in Motion: Toward a Global Lexicon. Eds. Carol Gluck and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2009. 129-147.

 
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Posted by on 28/06/2012 in Film Review

 

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The Desire Triangle

Skilty Labastilla

Alvin Yapan, a professor of Philippine literature at the Ateneo, has emerged over the last few years as a filmmaker with promising talent and a unique creative vision. Before he ventured into filmmaking, he was an award-winning fictionist. The first film he made was Rolyo (2007), a short feature about a farming family in Bicol (where he hails) that uses film negatives to scare away birds from the rice fields. He then directed two feature-length entries for Cinemalaya: Huling Pasada (2008, co-directed with Paul Sta. Ana), a mystery-drama about a novelist whose life is paralleled with those of her fictional characters, and Ang Panggagahasa kay Fe (2009), about a battered wife who finds solace from all her misery in an unlikely source: a non-human creature that is a common figure in Philippine folklore. Yapan then went on to film Gayuma (2011), a coming-of-age yarn set in Bicol and featured the Sto. Niño as a key character, as well as Panibugho (2011), a short film about a rural painter and his muse – an enigmatic river swan. Except for Huling Pasada (which was written by his co-director), Yapan wrote all of the above-mentioned films.

His latest feature, Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (2011), returns to the urban setting of Huling Pasada to tell the story of two university boys in Manila, Marlon (Paulo Avelino) and Dennis (Rocco Nacino), who catch the eye of their middle-aged literature professor Karen (Jean Garcia). Aside from teaching literature, Karen also teaches dance on the side, in a studio she rents, where Dennis is a teaching assistant. Marlon harbours a crush on Karen, and he reckons one way to get close to her is to enrol in one of her dance classes. He then enlists Dennis to teach him the basics so he would not be embarrassed during dance lessons with Karen.

What follows is a love triangle so delectably charming that you would not want the movie to end. Unfortunately it does, and abruptly so, with the movie clocking in at a brisk 75 minutes. Once the film credits roll, you will be transfixed on your seat, figuring out how to process the film and immediately wishing to see the film all over again. The feeling you get after watching it is the same one you get after reading a good poem. You remember the cadence, the breaths, the pauses, the silences. You remember the sound of your soul stirring, sighing of satisfaction.

A big part of the movie’s appeal is Yapan’s idea to use poems written by Filipino feminists, set to music to accompany the dance routines in the movie, as well as to move the narrative forward. Listening to the songs makes you wish that all pop songs were as poetic, or, conversely, that all poems be turned into songs.

The opening scene finds Karen in front of a university class reading aloud Ruth Mabanglo’s “Kinukumutan Ka ng Aking Titig” with the following first stanza:

“Kinukumutan ka ng aking titig –                           [“I cover you with my gaze
Isang siyudad ng pag-ibig:                                    A city of love
Dilim na binabagtas ng mga hipo,                         Darkness traversed with touches
Liwanag na kaakibat ng mga pangako.                  Light accompanied by promises
Nililiyo ako ng mga haplos,                                   I reel around with caresses
Binubura ng mga alaala.                                       Memories wipe me out
Ay, tila ugat akong nabubunot,                             Oh, I am a root ripped out
Umaangat,                                                          Levitating
Lumilipad,                                                           Flying
Mga mata’y nag-uulap.”                                        Eyes clouding over.”]

While these lines are being read, the film cuts to scenes that introduce Karen as a dance instructor (performing a solo in the studio as her students look on), Marlon as her smitten student (stalking Karen in his car as she rides a jeep, gazing at her as she walks by a campus corridor), and Dennis as Marlon’s classmate and Karen’s dancing assistant instructor (who notices Marlon gazing at Karen).

Yapan skilfully utilizes the said poem and those of other feminist poets (Rebecca Añonuevo, Ophelia Dimalanta, Merlinda Bobis, Joi Barrios, and Benilda Santos) to tell what essentially is a young man’s coming-of-age story. When Marlon decides to hire Dennis to teach him dance lessons in private, he did not realize this would be the beginning of his sexual maturity. The first dance tutorial is fraught with unease and awkwardness. Since pair dances are always assumed to be performed by two people of the opposite sex: one is expected to lead (the more masculine, dominant) while the other expects to be led (the more feminine, passive), two dancers of the same sex would be tantamount to dancing with two left feet.

Marlon, being the non-dancer, has to first assume the feminine part. With not a little hesitation, he asks Dennis what would turn out to be a loaded question: “Kailangan ba may lalaki at may babae?” (“Should it always involve a man and a woman?”) It seems like an innocuous question to ask, especially in the context of dance. But a few sequences later, one will realize that Marlon might have asked the same question in the context of relationships in general: does love have to be shared only by two people of the opposite sex? In the very last scene, Marlon himself will answer that question.

In fact, that seemingly off-the-cuff query is not the only one that appears to have a deeper meaning. In the scene where Marlon first rehearses with a female dance student in the studio, with the camera focused on Dennis as he was changing into dance shoes, Marlon asks his partner, “Kailangan ba talaga straight?” (“Does it have to be straight?”), perhaps referring to the position of his arm or leg during a certain step. But, as with the first question, it is an ironic one, perchance thrown at a heteronormative society by someone who is on the cusp of discovering the fluidity of his own sexuality.

When Karen embarrasses Marlon in front of the whole dance class by telling him he did not have to impress her by asking Dennis to teach him in advance, it makes him furious at Dennis for breaking his trust, when in fact it was Karen who figured everything out by herself. To patch things up, she hires the two students to help her in choreographing a cotillion and, later, to audition for a play she’s directing, Humadapnon, an Ilonggo epic. This gives the boys plenty of opportunity to bond by rehearsing and interpreting the meaning of their audition piece: Benilda Santos’ “Ang Sabi Ko sa Iyo”, a sexually suggestive and ambiguous poem set to music.

Karen is so impressed by their audition that she casts both as leads: Marlon as Humadapnon, a proud king, and Dennis as Sunmasakay, a beautiful woman masquerading as a man to save Humadapnon from the hordes of women tempting him to marry them. During rehearsals, Karen asks the two what the deal is with them, aware that the two share a special relationship. Marlon, still in denial of his feelings, brushes aside her question and confides that he really was after her. Karen, of course, sees through everything, and tells him that he does not have to overthink things, that he, in essence, should not walk back to the beginning of the tunnel just because he thinks that the flicker of light he sees at the end would be too real, too much, to handle. In the next scene, to prove to Dennis (but more to himself) that there is really nothing going on between them, Marlon pays Dennis for his services, which the latter naturally rejects.

Literary critic René Girard argues that desire for a certain object is always provoked by the desire of another person for this same object. In the film, the object is Karen. Although Dennis does not romantically desire Karen, Marlon desires Dennis’ closeness to her, so he uses him as a mediator so that he, too, will be as close to Karen. Through the object, one is drawn to the mediator. In fact, it is the mediator who is sought all along.

It is only in the final performance of the play, as Humadapnon and Sunmasakay are locked in a final embrace, where Marlon would acknowledge his true feelings for Dennis, signified by that enigmatic teardrop that only Dennis can see. And that teardrop indeed is a waterfall. It would convey a message better than any word could.

It is not at all surprising that feminist writing is closely tied with queer discourses since they share the same goal: to challenge the traditional patriarchal social system that dominates the world. In fact, feminist research is the wellspring of all gender studies today, including queer and masculinity studies. That is the reason why the gender concept has been traditionally linked to women’s issues, and why it is not a stretch to come up with a queer reading of most works of feminist writers.
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The film is not without its flaws. There are some scenes that feel a tad false, such as Karen’s dressing down of Marlon in front of everyone (I felt it would be more realistic if she talked to him in private: Marlon would still feel betrayed), the cotillion argument between Marlon and Dennis, the poetry reading in the car, and the gossiping students under the tree. But these are mere quibbles if set against the film’s many virtues: its unique story, a sensitive direction and excellent technical support (particularly its music, photography, and editing), and the commendable performances of the three main actors.

Bibliography

René Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure. Trans. Yvonne Freccero. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1966.

 
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Posted by on 26/06/2012 in Film Review

 

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