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28 July 2013

Mikhail Red’s “Rekorder” (Review): “The New Breed of Voyeurs and the Wolves"

Mikhail Red’s “Rekorder” is a kaleidoscope.  Instead of following the usual story narrative, Red employs seemingly random shots of the city at night to move the story forward.  Red bombards our eyes with familiar night scenes of our beloved and hated city.  Manila being photographed at night is not a novel idea.  Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal have successfully done this in their films and nothing much has changed in the metropolis since “Manila sa Kuko ng Liwanag” in the 1970s and “Manila By Night” in the 1980s.  In a way, “Rekorder” is Red’s homage to the best films in the golden age of Philippine cinema. 

Arvin Viola’s cinematography is outstanding, capturing the pulsating lights of the city.   In some scenes, the metropolis resembles a first world city; in others, the city looked bleak and ominous.   The photography (along with the music, the editing, the production design and the actors’ performances) is actually another running screenplay on top of the textual one.  “Rekorder” is probably the most complete film in this year’s festival.  

However, underneath the obvious cinematic acrobatic show, Red as the ringmaster is not just being artsy; he does have a point.  How can you expect the public to report a crime when the police collectively behave like wolves out to devour even those who try to help.  The scene when Maven is driven in a police car as a police chief discusses hitting a mad dog on the street sums up Red's point. Brilliant.

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In an age when devices such as cell phones and tablets have cameras, everyone can be a potential short film director. Although, short cell phones videos have yet to be declared a separate new film genre, the proliferation of such videos on YouTube is a sign of our times.  The classical director, as represented by Maven (Ronnie Quizon), may become obsolete. Most importantly, the new instant directors of our age are soulless.  They capture the inane, the violent, the comical, the perverted, and the mundane without an ideology. The new breed of directors is the perfect voyeur: looking without examining and recording without editing.  They are the most dangerous artists of all.  Looking at some of the recent entries in art film festivals, it is now obvious to me that some new directors are just into filmmaking for vanity’s sake.   The Philippines may never have our Sergei Eisenstein. The likes of Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal may never resurface. This is now the Me Generation, “selfies” in the new film form,  the poor is disposable and the police are the wolves.

4/5
PERFORMANCE
Ronnie Quizon’s performance is inspired.  The actor has certainly done his homework.  His character design is precise: the hair, the eye bags, the bodyweight, the kind of shirt he wears, the type of bag he carries, the way he walks, and stands, and the inflection of his voice. All these help layer a defeatist idealist. Even without revealing much about his character’s past, his character weariness is justifiable.  Maven habitually videotapes the city at night.  Nothing escapes his lens: the rich, the poor, the mundane, the spectacular, and the beautiful to the scenic to the repulsive.  In the process, Maven has become the city: tired, hopeless, damaged, defeated and indifferent.  I recommend that Quizon conduct a free workshop on character designing to many new young stars. If I had money, I would pay for it.


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CINEMALAYA 2013 REVIEW SERIES

NEW BREED Film Reviews
Nuwebe
* The Diplomat Hotel (watched but no review)

DIRECTORS SHOWCASE Film Reviews
* Ekstra
* Liars
* Porno
* Sana Dati

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