Pages

11.01.2009

TENDER PREY

Kinatay (The Execution of P)
Directed by Brillante Ma. Mendoza
Written by Armando Lao














The heart of darkness Kinatay plumbs is a black hole we know, but couch in the cozy swaddle of urban legend, of things that happen to other people. Because confronting them without that measure of remove, without that deniability at arms' length, puts us too far out in harm’s way for comfort,makes us fair game.

But nearly everybody has a third person rogue cop story, or knows somebody who knows somebody who does, of men with guns and abductions in the night, of death squads and body parts in sackcloth, of devilish deeds done dirt cheap. I tend to cold sweat on impulse at the sight of checkpoints myself. I'm overreacting,sure, but none of that anxiety is mere caprice. Kinatay has night-thoughts to rummage through,alright. Enough verite to tap. Buttons to push.

But not agendas. Kinatay spews from firsthand moral outrage - - -Mendoza's, Lao's - - -but doesn't politicize nor exoticize nor even outrightly address it. It's apolitical. And amoral. And in a way that does little but thicken its soup of dread 'til we're choking on it, gasping for air. It's a closed-in half-lit morally blank world Coco Martin's rookie cop - - -and us along with him - - -is marooned in without coordinates,a world of permanent midnight and spatial displacement where malevolence is the hunch of a lieutenant's back and Hell, a nondescript spare room turned makeshift abbatoir.

And it's tone is of a chilling passivity that neither gets as nosy nor as horny as tortureporn ,which it sort of is, albeit wth the volume turned way way down, a real time abstraction if you will, a horror movie bereft not only of gory sensation - - -the controversial raping and torturing and beating and slaying and dismembering is a dimly-lit battery of master shots verging on unseeable- - - but also of ways out - - -an almost unbearable sequence during a detour to buy balut on a beer run and an even more unbearable one near the end when a cab gets a flat and the bravura van ride that knots coils in my gut still and that last shot and the harrowing pointlessness of it all. It's deadened and deadening.

The word "salvage" may have re-entered the vernacular freighted with an alarming new meaning but it's also freighted with an alarming currency that wears off the scald over time. Salvage victims are mostly nobodies anyway,other people. And who cares what perversities are visited on a haggard old whore ,moreso one who's dim enough to think she can dupe rogue cops of their drug loot? Repulsed. Desensitized. These are the emotional polarities of salvage. And these,too,are the emotional polarities of Kinatay. It can either burrow under your skin and breed cultures of unease. Or it can numb you into feeling nothing. Both, of course, is the desired effect.

8 comments:

GREETINGS BY ANTOINE DOINEL said...

Dodo, panalo tong blog mo. meron ka bang kopya ng Kinatay? at balak ko din interbyuhin natin si simon santos para sa isang article tungkol sa video48. anyways, will get backs to you soon! --ricky torre

chard bolisay said...

Deadened and deadening, right. But the desired effect is maybe something Brillante is not even aware of in the first place, or just me being skeptic (which in defense, I have seen coming upon seeing Lola, but that's another story). Glad you're back, Do, awaketh, and awaketh good.

dodo dayao said...

Used to be skeptic about Dante,too. But I think, despite his being a superstar, people tend to give him way too little credit. And vilify him out of line, as well. (Don't hate me because I'm beautiful . . .and I have a Cannes trophy on a shelf ,something like that) He may not be a good interview (and also not someone we get to have a drink with) but I've seen three of his films - - - Tirador, Serbis and this - - - and that's enough to convince me he's no slouch. And he's earned the luxury of one or two missteps (I haven't seen Lola yet but I'll take your word for it until I do). All our favorite directors have one or two of their own. Could be he isn't aware of the desired effect, as it were. But then, no artist ever is. :)

chard bolisay said...

to be fair with brillante, most of the people who pull him down had not seen his films. what the heck, crabs. well, missteps are fine, but grand missteps (personally, the political-personal distance) aren't. anyway, too much of me blabbering.

Oggs Cruz said...

Oh, Lola isn't that bad chard... Hehe. Welcome back Dodo!

dodo dayao said...

@Ricky: Salamat. Wala ako nito e. Sa UP ko napanood. Pero panalo yung interview kay Simon. Lapit lang sa min Video48 pati. Hehe. Sige textan.

dodo dayao said...

@Oggs: Salamat,Oggs. Nakabwelo din . . ..for now. Hehe.

dodo dayao said...

@Chard: Agree to disagree,then. (Not sure I get what "political-personal distance" means, though, sorry, engot e,hehe) Personally, I like what I've seen and if Manoro turns out to be as good as Oggs says, I might even turn out to be a fan. We'll see. As it is, I'm not prepared to dismiss him as a hack who has no clue what his films are. (Oh, and the big ones are often the ones who make the grand missteps - - -Woody Allen for example and Scorcese, who has made some "grand missteps" but I don't hate him as a filmmaker for it) And as a fan (of cinema, in general) I'm excited Brillante exists and is out there making movies. Just as I'm excited that Lav is and Raymond is and Raya is and Khavn is and John and Rox and Mes and Ray and Jeffrey and Rico and Richard Somes and whoever else. And I'm not necessarily waiting for any of them to fail. I say, screw the politics. It's everywhere , sure, even in art - - auction houses anyone? But as a fan, I only have time for the films. Politics can go shoot itself in the head. :)