Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Philippine Defense Squad

On Saturday, Roger Ebert wrote on his blog of seeing the Philippine film "Kinatay" at the Cannes Film Festival:
"There are few prospects more alarming than a director seized by an Idea. I don't mean an idea for a film, a story, a theme, a tone, any of those ideas. I'm thinking of a director whose Idea takes control of his film and pounds it into the ground and leaves the audience alienated and resentful. Such a director is Brillante Mendoza of the Philippines, and the victim of his Idea is his Official Selection at Cannes 2009, "Kinatay." 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."
Now, Ebert is the greatest movie critic in the world, past or present or future. His opinions are almost always right, and even when they're wrong he is still so insightful that his words are worth listening to.

But the moment I saw the word "Philippines" out of the corner of my eye, I could hear it coming. The inevitable rumbling of a massive chest-thumping army approaching from just over the horizon-- the Philippine Defense Squad.

Kinatay premiered in Cannes last weekend, and it's near impossible that any of these belligerents have actually seen the film in question. Not that it matters.

A sampling:
JOHN ROQUE:
"TO MR EBERT, I SUGGEST YOU SHOULD GO TO THE PHILIPPINES AND LEARN MORE OF OUR HISTORY AND CULTURE. [...] I CAN STAND WATCHING KINATAY HUNDRED TIMES THAN WATCHING SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE."
archie del mundo:
"Mr. Ebert, this review is so unfair and I almost want to cry...don't ever think of coming here for you are not welcome. [...] this is why American critics shouldn't be allowed to review international films (for Lord,forgive them, they dont know what they are doing) [...] Sorry Mr. Ebert, tough luck, when you attack something that bears our label, our nameplate - you're attacking the whole country as a whole - didnt LINGUISTICS teach you enough?"
To my relief, the squadron was composed of just a couple of dudes posting multiple times. It's characteristic of what happens every time though, but it's still embarrassing having the Philippines' endemic cultural oversensitivity exposed like an open wound. The backlash's backlash had done it's damage.

A professional film critic for over 40 years, Ebert said in response: "Until now I have not received a single message confusing a negative review of a film with a negative review of a country."

Daaaaamn.

5 comments:

  1. wow..talk about being unfair...you seemed to be fond of copying portions and portions of a bigger cake here...of course, if those lines you've just printed are just that...noting else in betweens - then I am the most onion-skinned punk in the entire planet...letz all move on, so tell me how does Mr. Ebert's ass taste like?

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  2. @Guru Amore, I've checked the comment thread and I don't see how Mike was unfair. I think he characterized the "Pinoy Pride" discussion there correctly. And the ass comment was uncalled for.

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  3. oh wow look at that butthurt guru.

    anyway, mike, you may want to check out jessica zafra's take on this.

    also, don't worry about ebert. he has engaged in a word war before related to the brown bunny and he knows how to handle the butthurt.

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  4. 媽媽說吃台灣綠蜂膠對身體很不錯的唷!

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