Let the Culture War Rage

We're in deep trouble!

Irony plays a big element in these hapless yet quite hopeful social beings which originated from the tenants of the railways. It is a mixture of hysteria, paranoia that has outwardly corrupted the ethics of the known squalors of Philippine Society. Give them a crying statue of the Virgin Mother Mary, they will acquire faith. They will flagellate their selves within a given opportunity. Give them a few metal scraps, some tube and powder; without any difficulty they make a gun. It’s a free killing world. Yes it is.

Helen (Aiza Marquez) travels during Semana Santa (Lenten Season) to Southville. She wants to ensure a housing unit named under her Auntie Jessica (Ana Capri). When she arrives in the village, she was helped by Bro. Girlie, (Bo Vicencio) a faux faith healer. She soon visited the unit but was repelled by a group of gay syndicates, headed by Kirat (also played by Bo Vicencio). Then she stayed again for a little longer in the Chapel of Crying Virgin and assisted Bro. Girlie’s healing antics. Soon enough, Bro. Virgie’s father Mang Lazaro tries to rape Helen. This resorts her to stay in another house by two helpful brothers: Barok and Abel.

Ala Pobre, Ala Suerte is the third installment of the Ala Verde series. Unfortunately, I was not able to see the two previous films namely Ala Verde, Ala Pobre and Ala Suerte, Ala Muerte. It is advised to watch this film with caution. If you think that their lives in the railways are worse, you might be befuddled with how shoddier their lives has become in Southville. At times, the story’s progression is illogical. But boy, this film made me scurrying from my wee-wee break not to miss any of its sequences.

The story’s progression is flabbergasting. It is confidently maneuvered most especially with its bizarre scenarios. Helen’s character has instantly been in the swing of things with Bro. Girlie. When Helen moved to Abel’s house, she agreed without hesitation. Every scenario leads to a provocation. This in the end has justly been vindicated. You know, I have great admiration with how Santos has drawn a society with a great appeal of sordidness without loosening its artistic panache. Surprisingly, his experimental techniques are not amateurish. But rather it is a well-thought-of aesthetics in its entirety.

Bo Vicencio has made me applaud for his versatility. He played the character so well and so rich, this is the first time I clapped during its credits. As well as Carlo Migue’s demanding portrayal as a drug addict and pusher is very much admired. Despite his flaws, he was able to have a good rapport with a possible love pair with Helen. Ana Capri’s short performance has shown her range of emotions like rage, grief and repression. Aiza Marquez as the heroine Helen has weaved the story in a way that you will never get to notice that her mere presence is enough to have chaos.

At times we get too attached with our malevolent nature. It is a healthy exercise of how films must be. It is free flowing. It is willing to convey the lives of both innocent and culpable. We might not agree with how this works. The film lacks a clear course of action. But there is still a possibility of escape. Ala Pobre, Ala Suerte has delivered a just rendition of a society that has tarnished. It has not yet escaped its past’s bigotry. But it tries to move along and survive.

Charlie Koon's Rating:
Director's Trivia: (an excerpt taken from Cinemanila Pamphlet)
Briccio Santos is a European-schooled artist who has maintained a consistently adventurous and markedly experimentalist approach in the various mediums in which he has worked since he directed his full-length feature film Manikang Papel (Paper Doll) in 1970, when he first attempted to take up residence in the Philippines. Cavaliers of Wind (1994), his last major film project, was made in Moscow at the height of the revolution that had dislodged the Communist leadership in Russia and East Europe and had conveyed a sense of the Kafkaesque in the political upheavals of our time.


Anonymous said...

I saw it too but your review contained substantial insights,a very good review indeed of a film that potrayed a dimensional metaphor of philippine society thru, as you rightly described ' as free form.perhaps a path to liberation BRAVO!

Charlie Koon said...

thanks :)

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