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Manila (Raya Martin and Adolfo Alix, Jr., 2009) August 18, 2009

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Cinemalaya, Indie Sine, Noypi.
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manila 1

Directed by Raya Martin and Adolfo Alix, Jr.
Cast: Piolo Pascual, Rosanna Roces, Jay Manalo, Alessandra de Rossi

This is not failure borne out of failure. Perhaps something envisioned with nothing but failure in mind. Hoped that failure would work. Hoped that failure would be understood. But failure is failure. The skin peels off and the others still see the next skin as failure. But does failure equate to Sitak? Or Lalamunan? Or Izza Ignacio? Not failures but geniuses in disguise, or failures of failures in disguise.

Origins reek of. Greatness. Immortality. Importance. Stark Vision. Both share the city, the other renamed after the First Lady’s ire on foreign image, the other entered Cannes and lost to Fosse and Kurosawa, but still. Origins reek of. What do origins seek? They never seek, never find anything, get the nothing out of everything and remain whole. Portraits of light without vision, dark with blood on tracks, dirt on every inch of the frame, spilt dreams, testicles and ovaries in a knot. Never look for escape. ‘Tis like asking where god is when you can’t see him. Nowhere. Now where?

Would it appear here, an hommage. A tribute slash eulogy of encumbered youths. Origins are the load it carries. The failure wearied. The failure produced. The failure befitted. Martin isn’t up for the challenge, goes around it, and concedes to failure. Bang. Has fun. Has fang. Has pun. Dreads it every second. Every piece fails to connect. Martin always has the defense of pointlessness. He turns the Light into lightlessness. Alix works it out and in and above and under and beyond. Faith, fate, fake. Looks good. Smells swell but too theatery. His Night owns a night of forgetfulness.

Narrowly pleased press are oversensitive. Overreacting, too. A wave of mutilation, nevertheless. But doesn’t every director owe everything to someone? Brocka to de Sica and Rocha? Bernal to Sartre? Méliès to the Lumiere? The Lumiere to Edison? Edison to Daguerre?

But Piolo is trapped in his own commercial. In his multivitamins. In his coffee. In his abs. In his skyscraper of cheekiness and silk bridges he built to the public, charms turned off to favor boldness, courage that identifies with defeat. It feels chemically derived. He greases himself with glamor. His idea of deglamorized is still in glamor. But you got to give the man some props. Reaching out is reaching less. Riching out and riching less.

Works and not. Textures. Contours. Colors. Planet pit. Not Bernal against Martin. Alix against Brocka neither. Pit Martin against Alix. Pit them. Pit Piolo against Himself. The battle of the pittest. It ain’t working as hommage – – – all but callous – – – and ain’t working alone – – – quite sinuous, but undeservedly. The Golden Rule never fails, Expecting is one way of hurting yourself. Or the only. The test is over. The experiment in failure bears the result. Yet, what is the sound of one hand clapping again?

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