Crossing the Sea of Transience in Jade Castro’s Endo (2007) December 29, 2007Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Cinemalaya, Indie Sine, Noypi.
Written and directed by Jade Castro
Cast: Jason Abalos, Ina Feleo, Ricky Davao, Alchris Galura
Winner of Special Jury Prize in the 2007 Cinemalaya Film Festival
Through the vicissitudes of years, we have finally come to a strategic retreat – – a decision to recuperate after a period of stagnance and to rekindle the torch of diversity and freedom. And with this, I present to you our waving flag to claim our glory – – cheers.
A toast for 2007 – – raise those beers and lend your ears – – because this has been a great year for Philippine cinema. Digital filmmaking continues to flourish; bloggers actively write about local films, and even filmmakers themselves are open for discussions. Again, we are in the map of foreign film festivals. Increasing venues for screenings like Mogwai surface as alternative rendezvous among film addicts. And it is in such luck that our audience is responding quite well. Despite the rudimentary pitfalls of grant-funding festivals that support young filmmakers, not to mention similar faces we see almost every year, it still feels good to make films in the Philippines. I agree that we face a lot of problems – – but isn’t it much better than the way we were before, perhaps ten years ago? In the shadow of our forgotten ancestors, we have lived through our times like a group of sparrows in flight, bound by passion and idealism, and in our minds an attempt to land is never an option – – we are tireless. If John Torres’ Todo Todo Teros is 2006’s groundbreaking revelation, Jade Castro’s Endo, of all possible reasons, is undoubtedly this year’s crowning achievement – – the first cyberpop film of our generation – – worthy to be remembered and imitated, in a wave of blinding lights, guitar riffs, and space age synths – – it stands out.
Of course it is impossible to put everything in a two-hour film. The labor laws in our country are bombarded with numerous, idiotic issues neglected by the authorities, and even the status of contractual employees not getting chances for regularisation, not to mention their rights in the six-month contract, is just a small chunk of the struggle that our minimum-wage workers face. It is not a responsibility of the filmmaker to present all of these, which proves to be rather impossible and highly subjective, but in some cases the way that these issues are imparted, through parallelism and contrast, is more important. It is neither the director’s fault nor the writer’s to omit things that will not be necessary for the plot, because again – – my dear friends – – this is a film, not life, nor a slice of it.
Endo works like a splendid love song – – its lyrics are penned with utmost sensibility by Castro himself, full of painful humor and bleak realities that embrace his characters; its melody jives perfectly well with the words, it dances gracefully with their sufferings, it sways along their dreams, and it accompanies Leo and Tanya to the joys of reciprocated love. The overall arrangement exudes a nostalgic breeze of mirth – – so lighthearted, so buoyant it leaves a feeling of infinite sadness that stays without any sign of letting go.
Compared to other films in competition, Endo never attempts to dig profundity because it doesn’t need to. The film is full of life, of big hopes and small dreams, of miserable failures, of solitary strophes – – but everything in a nice, comfy shambles. In an interview, Castro mentions that he doesn’t want the people to intellectualise his film too much, but to enjoy it instead. Who says we can’t do both? It is difficult not to, especially if its catchy tune plays over and over in our heads like a month-long LSS.
I had a professor in the university who enjoys using our three-hour class in filibustering – – the hilarity of Lav Diaz’s artistry: coming up with excessively boring, unending films; the incredulity of Carlos Siguion-Reyna and Carlo J. Caparas’ films – – the massacres!; and his statement where I showed loads of resentment – – that Insiang fails as a film because Hilda Koronel was miscast as the title role.
If the basis of whether a film is a failure or not is merely for the reason that the actor’s looks, skin, or nose figure is inappropriate for her role, then that assertion, along with the person himself, is really stupid. Generalising a film based on a specific fault, which in turn is rather subjective, is an irresponsibility not only as a teacher but as a critic as well. Well I guess everything boils down to the golden rule of writing: To each his own, man.
Ina Feleo is gorgeous and she undoubtedly deserves praise. Contrary to stereotypical notions, and although it may sound crude, there are a lot of beautiful people in lower-class societies. For your information, they also save a small part of their savings to consume commercialism and attain the look of beauty dictated by filthy rich mannequin wives of crocodiles and dinosaurs. Feleo will go a long way, not because she is a daughter of two famous thespians, but because she is a rare breed – – her stare is electromagnetic and her talent is real – – someone who can really connect to an audience, effortlessly. On the other hand, I feel sorry for Jason Abalos if he still continues to cling to Star Cinema, anyway I always understand monetary issues, but this man is an awesome package – – a pity if it goes to waste.
Sōseki once said, It is not a very agreeable place to live in, this world of ours. True enough, we may be trapped in the worst of times after all. The issues raised in Endo encompass a world of struggle that we all share – – the decay of human purpose, the loss of any lasting affection, everything changes, everything evaporates and then forms a cloud of acid rain – – pours until the hardest rock melts in forgiveness – – the rainwater flows to the seas of immunity, showing how transient human relationships have become, in a world where emotions have become homogenous copycats of robotic feelings – – we are all flying to cyberspace my friends, hold on tight, not so fast Captain! we are now in Neptune’s orbit, what’s that huge rock we’re about to bump in? — we treat people the same way we treat objects, and we are on our way to the Pacific Ocean of Indifference, ostracising ourselves from Eros, and indeed if great films speak of their times – – oh times they are a-changin’ – – we all live and die in the same Möbius strip. * * * * *
If ever Jade Castro is reading this, I hope he sends me Endo’s soundtrack, if there’s one — I’m dying to take it to space.