A couple of years back, the bus that I was riding home from Laguna to Makati got held up by 10 armed men. Up to this day, I still find it hard to believe that it did happen; because not only was it the most terrifying 5 hour bus ride of my entire life but the whole thing happened like it was lifted straight from the movies.
That day, I remembered doing everything I do not usually do: going home late in the afternoon, taking the bus home and not staying for the festivities of our university. Straight from my 5pm class, I just took my bag, decided I want to go home and hopped on a bus 5 minutes later. Around 40 minutes into the ride, as the bus passed by the police check point and headed to the open high way, 2 men ran up front and started to shout and wave their guns at us. More men subsequently stood up, holding knives as they took our money and other valuables. Everything happened so fast that I could not do anything but hand them my bag and everything else I had. I looked around and saw disbelief on the faces of the other passengers. Some passengers were even laughing and looking for a camera, like the whole event was being shot for a gag show or something. As the minutes passed, it became clear to all of us that this was not a joke. One by one, the passengers grew quiet as the robbers started to force the men to the aisle and leave us women in our seats. As the robbers continued to shout and hurl curses at us, some started to cry, begging them not to hurt any of us. During this time, I felt like my body was going numb, I was scared, I was too afraid to even move or breathe heavily, I was crying as silently as possible because my head was filled with images of us being blown up to bits, beaten or left dead by the side of the road. I was anticipating for the worst yet I was hoping to get out of there alive.
Brillante Mendoza’s Kinatay (Butchered) reminded me of that long and grisly ride into the night. This movie won several awards back in 2009:
62nd Cannes International Film Festival, Best Director: Brillante Mendoza, “Kinatay”
42nd Sitges International Festival of Fantastic Cinema of Catalonia, Spain, Best Original Soundtrack: Teresa Barrozo, “Kinatay”
42nd Sitges International Festival of Fantastic Cinema of Catalonia, Spain, Best Director: Brillante Mendoza, “Kinatay”
Although many critics do not like this movie, for example Roger Ebert:
Here is a film that forces me to apologize to Vincent Gallo for calling “The Brown Bunny” the worst film in the history of the Cannes Film Festival… You mark my words. There will be critics who fancy themselves theoreticians, who will defend this unbearable experience, and lecture those plebians like me who missed the whole Idea. I will remain serene while my ignorance is excoriated. I am a human being with relatively reasonable tastes. And in that role, not in the role of film critic, I declare that there may not be ten people in the world who will buy a ticket to this movie and feel the money was well spent.
Or that Mendoza received boos during the awards night, I can say with much certainty that this movie is well worth your money and your time.
For a synopsis of the movie, go here.
The movie may not be as bloody as one would expect but the long anticipatory ride of Peping (Coco Martin) inside a van with a crying, gagged and beat up junkie (Isabel Lopez) and several ruthless men is just enough to cause you anxiety and discomfort throughout the movie. And for me, Mendoza did that well. Critics can always say what they want but for me, I just love the simplicity of the movie and how it makes you feel relieved that its Peping and not you who has to keep his fear hidden from the other men. I loved how Peping seemed dazed and helpless during his ordeal and how he became frustrated when he wanted to escape the men. Everything was raw and dark and very minimal. Its very close to reality for me since butchered or dismembered victims often show up here in the country and reach the news.
Kinatay may not be as grand (shot as an independent movie after all) and as gruesome as you would think but IT IS WORTH SPENDING YOUR MONEY AND TIME ON.