Photo: Brillante Mendoza and his cast at the Q&A following the screening. Ah UP, don’t ever change. Where else can you go to a movie premiere where the host denounces the attempted curtailment of academic freedom, condemns media repression and reiterates calls for the resignation of the president?
I don’t know what the enraged critics saw. Kinatay is not as horrendously violent, gruesome, or sexually explicit as their reviews have led us to believe. What the hell were they watching? This cannot be the same movie. Are they so delicate that they canâ€™t watch this, or are we so jaded that nothing shocks us anymore? Kinatay is rigorous, disciplined, and yes, subdued.
The censors didn’t even bother to X it: Brillante Mendoza’s movie received an R-18 rating (Granted, there was pressure from the film and academic communities). You can barely see what’s going on, you only hear it and your brain fills in the horror. The rape scene is not titillating, the murder is not thrilling, the butchery not exciting at all. This is not entertainment, nor is it supposed to be; this is a challenge to your complacency. There are long stretches in which nothing seems to be happening and you donâ€™t know whatâ€™s going onâ€”just like life!
Mendoza does not dramatize the atrocities, and this is how it should be. Traditional action movies are the real offenders. Brutality is NOT fun to watch. Killing is NOT cool. The fact that such ugliness takes place in real life makes the viewing more interesting but it is immaterial. The work speaks for itself.
You can read Kinatay as social commentary but it is mainly a personal horror movie: one manâ€™s descent into hell. Kinatay is an Idea successfully executed as Cinema. Open your mind.