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Brutus, Ang Paglalakbay (Tara Illenberger, 2008) March 11, 2009

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Cinemalaya, Indie Sine, Noypi.


Written and directed by Tara Illenberger
Cast: Rhea Medina, Timothy Mabalot, Yul Servo, Ronnie Lazaro

If disgrace has a face, then it is worn by Brutus. Its insatiable ambition to cover numerous issues, from the budding romance of two young children, their neglected education, the illegal logging in rural communities, and the poverty in the province, to more pressing concerns such as the ongoing tension between the military and the armed rebels in the mountains and the civilians that get caught in the middle is admirable, if only they are not empty. One cannot help but be devastated by its world view, its simplification of life, and its shallowness despite its subject that screams of importance. Illenberger drowns her barely imperceptible narrative with details to wow us with depth and texture, but what it completely lacks are believability and significant criticism. There seems to be no effort to immerse in the lives of these people, or if she had, her film doesn’t show it. She doesn’t know them. She hasn’t even touched the crust of these issues, matters that are even more critical because this is a festival film, it should have been treated well, students and academicians are often required to see it. Thus, if we harbor on the intent, then what is there to argue? Should we always qualify its merits as an advocacy film? What complex dynamics is the Cinemalaya jury referring to? More so, should we deem it important only because it brings up social issues that are unfortunately misrepresented? From what it has consistently delivered from start to finish, Brutus feels like a mockery, something that always happens when an inept vision is poorly executed. This political narrowmindedness and cowardice is the last thing on earth that this country needs.



1. guilbert - March 18, 2009

fuck off.

2. Alexis - March 18, 2009

the commenter above doesn’t seem to share your sentiments, no chard? pay no mind, especially when they aren’t substantiating their response. i share your sentiments entirely. you’re the first i’ve read (perhaps i haven’t read enough) that’s called the film on this. it reminded me in a number of ways of ‘haw-ang’. have you seen that?

3. Richard Bolisay - March 19, 2009

he seems to like me a lot. hehe. haven’t seen Haw-ang. how was it? the thing is, somehow, i am looking for humor in this so-called advocacy films. they get drowned easily by their cause. but then i’m sure i would be accused of being a Benigni.

4. karen d. - August 21, 2009

watched this movie recently, decided to look it up.
Lo and behold!
as a teacher, bereft of your flighty artsy fartsyness and posturing, may i just say i quite enjoyed the film for what it was. and so did my students. i would wonder what kind of film you would recommend people to watch, sir.
i see it as a simple movie, i think it was made for the young. the way you dissect it seems rather unnecessary for me. But then again there will always be people who find joy in going against the flow. no matter what. i hope you enjoyed tapping away, dubious ambassador of good cinema.

I can quite predict the films you’d be tripping all over yourself to praise and spend your saliva blathering about.

As for me, I enjoyed brutus. It’s a movie, it may have too many stereotypes. But I think it was to render the roles simple. For the things that are made for children, that is where most people would begin. An apple is an apple is an apple.

5. Richard Bolisay - August 22, 2009

that’s what is terrible about it. you are happy that war is interpreted as simple? even if seen through the eyes of a child? shouldn’t we be more responsible in teaching them the values of complexity instead of simplifying to them the viciousness of violence to the point that it trivializes the most important things? teachers shouldn’t be up for the easy way out and miss the affronting details of its ideology, but then i guess i’m just blabbering again and being too artsy fartsy and posturing, which you said you are not.

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