Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kinatay (Brillante Mendoza)

Brillante's 'Inferno'.

Film Review Archive (date seen: November 7, 2010)

"Kinatay" is one of my 'quiet' must-see films not just because of the Cannes directorial prize it has garnered, but also because of Brillante Mendoza's experimental style of filmmaking, which I reckon to be a refreshing touch to an industry pestered with endless recyclable ideas for movies to pass as 'blockbusters'.

For the initial sequences, Brillante never bothered for sound editing, but instead used the seemingly nuisance-like sounds (the assorted voices of people, jeepneys) to his advantage, transforming it with true verite' ability into an element to breath character into the film as a whole.

But as it gradually enters the realm (the reality of violence and corruption) of the theme which it is pointing to the entire time, "Kinatay's" whole visual and sound texture also becomes different; its realistically colorful display of everyday life in the slums which suggests some hints of momentary gayness turns into a symbolic descent into the netherworld of crimes and profanities (not even bothering about geographical correctness) filled with darkness and aural ambiguities.

Yet Brillante Mendoza's extreme inclination to portray psychological forebodings is also the film's major weakness. Though this might not be a problem for experienced film watchers, this particular slow build-up betrayed its main theme that when the film finally got to where it wanted to be, the audience may already be exhausted and disinterested that they may just accept the violent display merely as a "shock value", when it could have been taken in as a more profound inquiry into the moral consequences of violence. In some ways, this film reminds me of the main exposition of Coppola's "Apocalypse Now", only this time, there's no Kurtz to kill, but a morality to waste based on a decision ultimately driven by the short-lived promises of monetary gain.


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