Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Other Planet


On Aleksei German's Hard To Be A God (2013)

German's adaptation of Strugatskys' Hard To Be a God creates not just a new world, but a whole new planet. While supposedly set in the authors' own Noon Universe, the film seems to defy its precondition and struggles to have himself born. It is not just a world with different set of culture (but similar to Earth's), but rather a very different body itself where "earthling common sense" would never apply. Alien might be the correct term for this.

It starts with a narrator, like most classic sci-fi films, trying to draft a background for you or like reading the back synopsis of a paperback novel: the film happens in a planet far from Earth but 800 years behind ours in the development of its civilization. A world "trapped" in the "Middle Ages". A team of scientists and historians from Earth were sent to this planet to help develop its civilization, until its citizens started to kill those "wise men". Once Don Ramata is introduced, nothing of the introduction gave much to explain what really is happening here. As much as the comfort of similarities are there: the Middle Age setting and all, it still resists to give you the comfort of sameness and would rather have you integrate in it.

The film sucks you into its world and provides a space for you to be a part of it. Images are strikingly clear but has an attitude of a "home movie" : people moving around blocking the camera, people looking into the camera, people talking into the camera - talking to you - and everyone acts like you are not different. You are now a participant and not just an audience: an accomplice, if you may, of the crimes that are going to happen.

Being the quiet accomplice that we are, we witness days in life of a Don Rumata the God (or technically a "Demi-God" since he's only half god as the narration and Rumata's introduction of himself say), his daily exploits on murder and other peculiar activities (is that shit they wiping on their faces?). The frame follows Rumata wherever, smoothly and comfortably gliding. The trips takes us to spectacles of punishment: from scaffolds, to machineries of punishment and hanging bodies on noose. Ramata exposes you to images of violence and anarchy, even German's choice of (absence of) color is violent as it blurs the identity of objects present on each frame: you'd never distinguish shit from mud or bile.

This kind of realization of a completely imagined world is the film's most notable accomplishment. German staged a world visually same but feels very different, very alien. Unlike most sci-fi who'd rather bring back to Earth the Other Planets, Hard to be a God distanced it self from the similarity.

It is only near the last scenes when it initiated an event very similar to Earth's: a war. Near the end, as the screen transits from a bloodstained frame, we witness a foggy, rainy morning with dead bodies piled up: the aftermath. I find it disturbing that it took the film to show me an image of such death just for me to reach some comfort of familiarity.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Wirdo lang, nakita ko tong video na ito tapos naalala ko lahat ng sinasabi ng mga tao sa twing may mangyayaring ganito.

"Ingat ka".

Nakakapagtaka. Kanino ako magiingat? Sa "masasamang loob " daw.

Na tila ba talagang mas nangaghahari talaga ang "masasama".

Na tila ba, tanggap na ng lahat na natural ang maging masama. Para lang yang kapag sinabihang mag-ingat sa gubat,o sa paglalakad sa bangin, delikado.

Para bang hindi na tayo panatag at kailangan na lang mag-ingat palagi, kahit sa sariling pamamahay at kahit natutulog.

Monday, January 27, 2014

All in the Family

On Uchōten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family) (and partly, on mythology and reading)

I've been on this practice on seeing things not from beyond but from within the surface and context for a while now whenever I watch something. I just stopped assuming what's beyond the narrative because it becomes ridiculous most of the time. Of course, I'm not to say that whatever my interpretation might be on a certain work is the actual meaning of it, it is only a reading, like how some academic old men would say. And, no, I didn't grew up, I never matured, though I really hope I would, I'm just trying how these old men do things and see if I could get something out of it. You could say that I'm a very gullible child.

To start off with this practice on writing, I'll read this series that I have recently finished.

One thing I've noticed on Uchoten Kazoku (Trans: The Eccentric Family) is it's reference to the father figure in the story. The flow of the narrative itself always find its way back to the father, the affected people's past in relation with the father's fate, and what have they become after.

It is told thru the perspective of Yasaburo, one of the children of Shimogamo Tanuki (Raccoon Dog) family which was once a great family helmed by their father's legacy, Souichiro, who has become legendary after he saved a Tengu (a mythical dog in Japanese legend, sometimes also considered a god) then becomes a nise-emon (head of the Tanuki population) later on before facing his fate on a hotpot one christmas party held by a group of humans called the Friday Fellows.

Everything was set as if diversity of identities were a natural state of things: Humans, Tanukis and Tengus are allowed to live together provided that they are to occupy a certain space allotted for them by some ancient law. Though, this doesn't really prohibit them to interact with each other, as the story suggests, the world go round through these interactions. Among the three creatures co-existing, the Tanukis seems to be on the marginalized side: often saw as idiots by the mystically superior Tengus who can fly and can control elements, and was threatened to be eaten by humans during christmas or new year. It isn't surprising that the Tanukis band up and form some sort of coalition and choose a leader to protect and mediate with these other entities.

Set in the season of the election of the new Nise-emon, we see Shimogamo's eldest sibling face the challenge of being elected, being in constant change of words and violence between his uncle, Soun Ebisugawa, and their families. Making each other's predicament quite chaotic as the narrative flows. What makes me interested is that, among these contant exchange of violence and words is an ongoing story-telling of what Souichiro was and what really has happened to him. Like a detective story. More accurately, he's not present but lives within the discourse, as one of my professors would say.

Beyond entertainment, Uchoten Kazoku doesn't really say something new, it just made class conflict more obvious, which is kind of impressive. The use of mythical creatures to make a clear (hyperreal even) distinction of the diversity of society itself and how are we really affect each other's lives. In the mix of the Tanuki Politics, the Tengus' pride and the greed of humans, it is only befitting that it would end in a chaotic manner. Violence seem to solve and protect what each and every one of them creatures hold dear.

Interesting turning point in the narrative is Yasaburo's fondness of Benten (or Satomi Suzuki), a human trained to be a tengu by Professor Akadama (or Yakushibo Nyoigatake), an influential but often drunk Tengu. It might even be an infatuation. Benten also happen to be a part of the Friday fellows: this and his fondness of her affect every action and turn of course that Yasaburo has taken during each and every conflict. Yasaburo became what the father never was, someone to overcome Benten's gaze. In this manner, each and every children of the Shimogamo tried to fill in what the father has left off.

Everything that had happen led to reliving, remembering, reconstructing, even resurrecting Souichiro. As some old pervert would say: all in the name of the father. (I'll try not to specify any other scene as it would be criminal to spoil too much.)

Though the point of view came clearly from one of the marginalized side, the end won't say much of who won the conflict, or who supposed to win. It stepped out of it's mystical realm and grasped reality that it isn't black and white, conflicts might branch out to more conflict, though the intensity differ probably, depends on the immediate root of the conflict. One thing clear here, is that Yasaburo never really wanted to solve anything, as his character suggest, he's actually a kind of liberal who takes all sides of the game and make use of whatever each and everyone's "good" quality. He's one with no ideological leaning but if threatened, will stand up for the ones he protect. Kind of like the typical person, slash the Tanuki part, who just wants to live in peace. It's actually a kind of thinking that could be deemed as dangerous in the ongoing discourse on class struggles, but aren't the repressed class, who most of them who talk of this discourse, the same way as Yasaburo? When was the last time that I've read of humans being treated not as a subject, an object, or material but a human in a discourse?

Myths often represent what humans lack, but in this case, mythical creatures tried to overexpose human complexity thru their petty conflicts being solved to a showcase of their respective mythical powers. A myth which is very human in essence: eccentric, weird, violent, chaotic and at times, lovely, charming, and kind of cute. This might be why most thinkers often subject humans in a textual treatment: they're too complex to understand; we might as well just read them and speculate. Such are the boundaries of ideology, or might just be, a manifestation of our idiot blood.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lost in Time

Lost in time, as in nawala sa oras.

Sa taas ay dalawang lo-res scan ng mga still na nabili ko sa Cubao Expo nung hinihintay kong magka-tao sa studio ni sir Banal nung miyerkules. Nalaman ko na lang na sa UP pala kami magkaklase after 1 hour. Kamusta naman ang nawala sa oras at nakuha pang magliwaliw sa expo.

Medyo bihira na ako makakita ng mga ganyang stills, dati, meron kami niyan nung lumabas yung Batang X. kaso di ko na alam kung saan napunta. Mas gugustuhin ko sanang poster ng Hesus Rebolusyonaryo na lang ang nabili ko kesa ang mga ito, pero, ok na rin itong kolektibol. Medyo malinis pa at pwede pang ipagyabang ng unti. Haha.

Madalas magkakaroon ka ng impulse na humanap ng mga katulad na memorabilia kung sakaling makahanap ka nito sa isang lugar, tulad nuong lumakas ang impulse ko maghalungkat sa Booksale nang makakita ng Discipline and Punish ni Foucault. Baka bumalik ako sa Expo sa mga susunod na buwan para sa mga ganito, though, mukhang nakita ko na ata lahat ng interesanteng ganito at hindi ko tiyak din kung nadaragdagan ang mga ganito.

Nakatutuwa doon, may mga stills ng pelikulang di ko alam, may mga stills na walang title pero obvious na either Okay Ka Fairy Ko o Oki-Doki-Dok!. Medyo nostalgic. Weird ang Cubao Expo, para siyang pinaghalong nakaraan at kasalukuyan.Para siyang yung mga katulad nitong thrift shops sa may bandang Cubao din kung saan nagbebenta sila ng mga gamit na inayawan ng mga Kano, pero iba ang Expo. May mga shop doon na dedicated lamang sa mga "modern cultural artifacts" na malamang sa malamang sa Pilipinas (o sa Maynila) lang meron, mga lumang album (mapa-vinyl, 8-track, 4-track, o cassette), lumang libro, magazine, kamera, at iba pa. Hindi ganoon kaluma, madalas mula panahon ni Marcos hanggang early 2000's. Interesante yung mga bagay lalo yung mga dyaryo at lumang showbiz magazine, lalo yung mga 90's. Pag binubulatlat ko, feeling ko may mga napagiwanan pa rin ako at hindi alam na tsismis noon. Nakakatuwa rin na nakita ko ulit si Lindsay Custodio, kahit sa picture lang.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Isang maikling pangangamusta ilang oras matapos ang huling pagkikita

(not sure if pic is related or not)

8:08. Katatapos lang magwalis ulit sa bahay. Medyo makalat, kamukha pa rin ang bahay kung papaano natin iniwan kanina nung hinatid kita sa opisina mo. Tisyu para sa sipon, bungkos ng sinerox na papel na makapal, mga libro tungkol kay Freud at Lacan, at dalawang 1001 series. Di ko pa rin inaayos ang mga bagay bagay dito. Bukas ang radyo. Morning show sa 89.9. Pinag-iisipan ko ngayon kung papaano ko mapagbibigyang saysay itong mga babasahin sa isyu ng gender at cinema, o di kaya manuod na lang ako ng pinakabagong episode ng Ippo. May klase mamaya. Paunahin ko na lang yung tatlo ko pang kaklase. bahala na mamaya. Ikaw ang mas naaalala ko ngayon. Tulad ng ibang mga araw na ikaw lagi ang mas naiisip ko pag di ka nakikita.

Kausap ko ulit ang sarili ko. Paulit ulit, paano magkakaroon ng saysay ang mga ito nang hindi pilit. Kung papaano mababasa ang mga itinuturing na teksto habang hindi ito itinuturing na teksto. Pero ulit, nawawala ako, ikaw ang naiisip ko.

Unti ka na naman kasi kumain nitong huli. Alam kong dala ng sakit mo, o ng "impeksyon", to be more specific. Di pa naman ganap na sakit. Nag-aalala ako kung nakakain ka na ba, o kung napagod ka ba sa araw mo, o kung natutulog ka ba sa oras. Inom ka ng maraming tubig, ha.

Magpapa-check-up ka pala ngayon sinabi mo. Pasensya ka na kung di ako makakasama ngayon. Pasensya ka na rin kung di ko ginagawa yung mga bagay na dapat kong gawin, tulad ng pagbibigay kahulugan sa ideolohiya at cinema, o sa cinema mismo. Pwede nating sabihing nasa proseso ako, o bahagi ang prokrastasyong ito ng proseso. Pero, you know better, excuse lang ito. Pasensya ka na sa katamaran ko. Na sana sa mga oras na ito, kasama sana kita sa clinic at unang makaririnig kung anong plano ngayon upang lunasan ang karamdaman mo. Makasama sana sa prosesong pagdadaanan mo. Maging bahagi ng kung ano mang maaari mo pang pagdaanan.

Pasensya ka na ulit. Mukhang manonood na lang talaga ako ng Ippo, o ng Kuroko, at ipagdarasal na sana hindi ka na masyado mapagastos at gumaling na agad. Na-miss ko na yung mga pagkain natin ng chichirya ng sabay. Nakalulungkot nitong huli na di ko na makuhang kumain din ng mga dati nating kinatutuwaang kainin, masarap ang isang bag na malaking Chippy, pero mas masarap yung pagkain nun kapag kaagaw ka, at may kasisihan kung magkaubusan.

(ngayon lang, tumugtog yung "Chasing Cars" ng Snow Patrol sa radyo. akalain mo nga naman.)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Para sa iyo, Para sa akin.

Just in case that I actually have readers, I apologize.

For not updating regularly. For not writing well if I do update this blog. Nasukat ko na na hanggang dito na lang siguro malamang yung kaya kong gawin pagdating sa pagsusulat. Gusto ko pa rin, kahit na di talaga ako kagalingan. Wala naman akong alam gawin bukod sa tumunganga at magmahal kundi ang magsulat (at dumaldal pa pala).

Just in case that I actually have readers, here's how's Kawts Kamote is going to be like from this point on.

I will still not update regularly. No surprises. It's really hard to do things other than work when you don't even have that much time to sleep. Mas gusto ko pa rin matulog. Pero gusto ko pa rin magsulat. So, I'll post things. Kahit random shit lang siguro. Will make this an actual blog instead, alam mo ibig sabihin nun. Minsan na lang siguro ang lengthy posts at opinyon. (pwede na rin palang reminder sa sarili itong post na ito.)

Mas madalas na pala ako makakapagpost siguro ng tungkol sa Anime. Mas madali siguro para sa akin yun. Mas madalas naman ako manuod ng Anime, kesa sine. Baka bihira na rin ako makapanuod ng sine, o kung manonood naman ako ng pelikula, baka dito na lang din sa bahay. Marami masyadong mga pangyayari na nagtulak sa akin na maging ganito. Di ko alam kung hanggang kelan. Bukod sa maraming tanong na umiikot sa utak ko ngayon, malaking usapin kung kaya ko pa bang ma-afford ang lifestyle ko last year. Going back to the couch, kumbaga.

Just in case that I actually have readers, maraming salamat.

Either intentionally, or random visitor, salamat pa rin. 2014 na. Nakakatuwa, magli-limang taon ko na palang ginagawa ito. Sana naman kahit papaano, may narating. Salamat.

Siya nga pala, kahit na nakagawa ako ng listahan ko ng top films nuong 2013, di ako magpopost dito ngayong taon, pwede niyo naman siya siguro makita sa paglabas ng resulta ng Pinoy Rebyu at CINEPHILES! poll (mas malamang sa Pinoy Rebyu, di ko alam kung maglalabas ng individual ballots si Adrian ngayon para sa CINEPHILES!). Pasensya na rin kung sakaling meron talagang nag-aabang.