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Crossing the Sea of Transience in Jade Castro’s Endo (2007) December 29, 2007

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Cinemalaya, Indie Sine, Noypi.
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endo-pic-final-2.jpg

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.

Fade in.

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.

Chorus.

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.

Bridge.

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.

Coda.

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.

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Comments»

1. jade - January 2, 2008

hi chard,

yep i’m reading this! thanks for the honor, pleasant surprise.

we don’t have the soundtrack on cd, but you might want to check out the upcoming album by ang bandang shirley. owel alvero composed endo’s score and most of the songs in the movie will appear in their album, to be released early 2008. you’ll love them.

also google eggboy and the canadian artist mark geary, who each contributed a song for the movie.

2. lilokpelikula - January 3, 2008

yo jade, thanks for dropping by. :D

i’ve seen ang bandang shirley in a gig — and they’re quite interesting. i’ll make sure to check that album out. thanks for the recommendations. the score is very instrumental in your film, especially in setting up the atmosphere of vulnerability.

3. John Santos - January 4, 2008

“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.”

Well, since we’re speaking in pop form here, Adorno (see “On Jazz”) and Jacques Rivette (see “Of Abjection”) would probably vehemently disagree with the assertion that taking a work’s aspect to mean something significant to the whole could be considered irresponsible. In fact, both would argue that what defines “great art” (whatever that is) is the ability of singular components to both stand apart from and influence how the work is taken as a whole. One element, minuscule as it may be, reveals the world of the work and and the world created by the work both in being singular and in being part of a composition. True, maybe it is irresponsible not to bring the element back to its context and view the work as a whole, but in doing so we not only must recognize the context but most importantly recognize the being of the element which in existing, creates the context. True, it may be irresponsible to not like a crooked nose, a soft skin, or small eyes, but these reveal a story and a world that ultimately affects an art form as invested in creating worlds as film. The features of a face, a shot, or a scene, just in being themselves, reveal the world of a film, its mores, its priorities. To ignore this is at best careless and, as Rivette argues, at worse immoral.

4. lilokpelikula - January 5, 2008

Both points are valid — if you would agree. Considering Rivette’s point then, viewing cinema poses a complex burden to its audience, such a heavy load on their shoulders to note details that comprise the entirety of the film itself. Again — nothing’s wrong with that. And realistically-speaking, I quite sympathise to the type of moviegoer who hates too much thinking, overreading, and rationalising to the point of paranoia, after seeing a film. But for me, what’s more important is the general look of the film — the feeling it gives me after seeing it — i love to nitpick and i love to tolerate myself and other people in doing it, but at the end of everything, I suppose it is tough not to like a film just because of a single, mismatched detail — and basing it on context, and pardon me for generalising, the viewing public is more inclined to forgive than to overread.

5. straycat260@lycos.com - March 25, 2008

Paumanhin, napanuod ko din ang Endo pero average lang sa akin ang dating. Paumanhin kay Direk Jade, pero maganda yung tema ng pelikula. Ok din yung kwento. Magaling din yung mga artista. Sa kabuuan maayos naman parang mayron lang kulang. Opinyon ko lang.

6. Richard Bolisay - March 27, 2008

Nauunawaan ko na syempre iba’t iba talaga ang opinyon ng mga tao sa isang pelikula. Oks lang un! Mas ayus nga e. Mas masayang argumento. Para sa akin, Endo ang pinakamagandang pelikula na naprodyus so far ng Cinemalaya.

7. straycat260 - March 28, 2008

Hindi ang Endo talaga ang pinakamagandang naiprodyus ng Cinemalaya. Sorry talaga. Isa sa mga average film sa akin ito. Hindi pangit, maganda pero hindi the best. Nakulangan kasi ako na hindi ko maipaliwanag ang pagiging kulang. Yun bang parang lumabas ka ng sinehan na parang lumabas ka lang. Walang kakintalan. Naalala ko pa nga yung kaibigan ko na kasama ko na nanuod, natulog sa maraming parte ng kwento. Pero dahil ok naman sa akin ang pelikula, explain naman ako ng strength ng pelikula nung nagtatalo naman kami.

Napag-uusapan na lang naman ang pinakamagandang naprodyus. Ang Batad sa Paang Palay, ang para sa akin ang pinakamaganda..

8. Richard Bolisay - April 6, 2008

haha – – sobrang subjective nito straycat. kasi minsan ganun yung mga gusto ko sa pelikula. yung may hinahanap-hanap ka, tapos ikaw na bilang manunuod ang bahalang magpuno. kumbaga hindi binibigay sayo lahat. aktibo ka sa pagbuo ng kahulugan ng pelikula. ganun. yung batad, ayun, hindi tayo magkakasundo. bukod kay alchris, na tingin ko malaki ang hinaharap sa mundo ng pag-arte kesa sa kanyang kapatid na nasa industriya rin, at magaling din siya sa endo, wala na akong ibang nagustuhan sa batad. nakakahinayang lang. mas malakas pa ung hype kesa sa pelikula. peace! hehe. :D

9. straycat260 - April 7, 2008

Wala ka namang pupunin sa Endo, hantad yung gustong iparating ng direktor. Yung nga ang kulang sa Endo e yung parang di ka kasali pag tapos na yung istorya. Walang ngang kakintalan.

Iba-iba nga siguro tayo ng pananaw kasi yung Batad na mas maraming nagsasabing mahusay na nangunguna na ako para sayo average lang. Dami kayang linya dun sa Batad na di ko makalimutan. Sabi ni Gina Alajar “Anak, hindi nagbabago ang buhay ang isip lang ng tao ang nagbabago” Yun ang mga hinahanap kong tatak.
Nung nagkasapatos na alchris, nadapa siya sabi nung religous leader nila “sabi nga nila ang anumang hiniram kung hindi masikip,maluwang” malalalim yun tumatalakay yun sa pananaw ng mga Pinoy sa pagkiling sa panghihiram sa dayuhan. E sa endo, wala akong mapiga bukod sa isyu ng end of contract sa trabaho.


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