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Leftist Déjà Vu in John Torres’s Years When I Was A Child Outside (2008) June 24, 2008

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Indie Sine, Mogwai, Noypi.
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Filipino Title: Taon Noong Ako’y Anak sa Labas
Written and directed by John Torres
Cast: Donna Miranda, Ian Lomongo, Chico Pace, Mario Lim

It builds like a dream – – a dream that recognizes itself as a dream – – laconic, hazy, deceptive, controlling. The dream is alive; it moves, it breathes, it travels, it kills. Despite the loose structure of the film that tells a story that meanders like paramecia under microscope, there exists a virtual coherence – – something that it owes to the narrative voice – – Torres, the dreamer himself, sleepwalking, sleeptalking, sleepdiscombobulating, his words are in pain yet they are beautiful, his confession revolting yet compassionate, sublime and articulate. Calling his style poetic is a crime of heedless observation, a misnomer for an adjective that is not in the dictionary.

It builds a dream – – a dream that never happened, a dream that haunts the living, a dream that has no closure because the person dreaming it will never wake up – – of a child that remains ectopic all his life, his drifting relationship with his father, far and away from paternal sobriety that he longs for, their clouds forming shapes of sorrow and pity, their distance multiplied by more distance, and the loneliness between them that ferments, melts, and dries in time.

It is a dream – – a leftist dream, a firefighter’s dream, a mourner’s dream, a minotaur’s dream, a banshee’s dream, a unicorn’s dream, a dream of a man in his own dream in his own, own dream in his own, own, own dream and so on – – that eludes interpretation; it is a cowering testament to the expansion of cinema that Godard started to perforate in the 60s; more than forty years later, Torres now bears a torch that kindles with raw emotion, stories that refuse to tell themselves yet they burn one’s heart in fire once the arrow of loneliness passes through. Minutes become moments and moments become memories and memories become history.

When placed beside Todo Todo Teros, Years When I Was A Child Outside looks like the shrapnel – – the remnants of an explosion that collects every Filipino experience – – a failure that succeeds not to disappoint. Now look here: what I have in my hand is a fragment from that blast; caressing its pointed edges, it is whispering to me that John Torres’s films are not made in the present – – they belong either in the past or in the future. * * *

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