Music Madness

Stiff Neck

Behind one’s music, there is madness. Musical composers are sometimes mistaken as crazy people. Ariel (Coke Bolipata) is no different. His reclusive nature demeans every playful child in the shelter whenever they listen while he is playing the violin. His ardor for music might be too arrogant. Most of the times, his mood swings are outrageous. But beneath his cruel demeanor, he endures a past affair that haunts him endlessly even in his dreams.

The funny thing is I am more fascinated to talk about Ariel than Onyok (Julian Duque). Onyok is the mute child in the film. I always see to it that every time I make reviews, I watch it in theatres. For Boses, I screened it with the kids in Cultural Center of the Philippines. Based on my observation, I think they liked it.

Boses is the story of Onyok, a mute child that is constanly abused by his father Marcelo (Ricky Davao). His back is made to be a cigar ashtray. There are speculations that he became mute due to an object inserted in his mouth and infected his larynx. One night, a neighbor reported an incident to the authorities, leading Onyok to stay in a shelter headed by Amanda (Cherry Pie Picache). Despite Onyok’s reluctance in his new environment, he is enthralled with the eclectic resonance of Ariel’s violin exploits. Ariel is arrogant to almost everyone and Onyok is no exemption. But when Ariel realizes through his sister Amanda the traumatic events from Onyok, the two slowly develop a harmony in their passion for playing violin.

I might be baffled with how our culture works with this kind of abuses. In our Filipino Culture, we are well-acquainted to harsh disciplines. An intention does not really matter as these are prevailing methods in child discipline to most parents. I will not dwell too much on parental concerns. But another fascination I am inclined to perceive in films are film execution and outstanding technicalities. I have seen Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil’s Mga Pusang Gala (Stray Cats). I have to say that its technicalities in Boses, especially its photography, have been compromised a lot.

I got acquainted with Mozart and Schubert’s works also from films. Amadeus has been one of my favorite films directed by Milos Forman and based on Peter Shaffer’s play. Elfriede Jelenik’s Nobel Prize for Literature La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher) is directed by Michael Haneke. They are the two of my favorite composers. Boses did expand my musical knowledge through the composers Bartok, Haydn, Vivaldi, and Massenet. Their musical pieces range from emotions of sorrow, rage, and joy. In the end of the film, Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ endows with a symbolism of new life for the characters.

Froilan Medina and Rody Vera’s story screenplay deals with social problems in our country. Despite the story’s sensitivity in its subject matter, they were able to inject humor with our antagonists’ plight for redemption. Although I am not entirely overwhelmed with the story’s premeditated dealings with its subject matter, which is ironic in a way. Most of the Filipinos view films and expect stories’ contrivance in instilling values. I am not a moralist and I certainly have the opposite precognition. The end is pleasingly hopeful with a touch of cynicism not uncommon in critics. Although it is meritorious in a way since it brings a parcel of artistic awareness to a broader audience. Sometimes it’s the final avenue for aesthetic expression. Films use legendary albeit dead artists to uplift their works, but living artists and the present state of affairs of the art world need to be placed on the limelight as well. Films that portray living not-so-established artists take a risk, but it is a laudable one.

Boses brings about two talented violinists in our generation. Duque and Bolipata’s striking violin performances transcend a breath of fresh air. Their plight for a new beginning did materialize in the end. Life is so good. If this mirrors our society, I am sure everyone will be happy. Its undertaking of the harsh reality is a reminder of our imperfections. Yes, we Filipinos are always hopeful. We hope for a better life. The forgiveness we anticipate and the sympathetic nature of Filipinos will always succeed in the end. We might be healed, but it doesn’t mean that we will never be wounded again. Blame it on our supposed Filipino values.


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