On Khavn dela Cruz's "Alipato"

by Richard Bolisay


▶︎ Only Khavn can do something like Alipato, and in fact only he is doing something like it, only he seems to be so firm on pushing violence on-screen to the point of seeming to glorify it, but he doesn’t, he doesn’t glorify it — what he does is come to the violence of real life as close as possible, to walk into it and carry it to an audience, to present this violence as violence, not as drama or narrative or story, but violence: bloody, disturbing, mad, and cruel, ruthless, unsparing, and soulless, and the effect of seeing it, to one’s surprise, is horrible but not particularly shocking, terrifying but not particularly ugly, the effect of being exposed to it, if this is even possible, is illuminating, the realization that poverty is the worst form of violence, how poverty can be understood only by those who live in it, a two-year-old boy smoking a cigarette, toddlers rejoicing while robbing a grocery store and killing people, a pregnant woman being fucked, an old woman getting fucked, a black goat walking around a corpse, dead bodies lying on dirty ground, squealing pigs being slaughtered, poor people being identified only by their graves, and it doesn’t stop at depiction, sometimes it escapes chaos only to enter another chaos, like the brutally beautiful animation of Rox Lee, and that’s when the art admits it can only do so much, an admission that art is not and can never be the answer to anything. When asked why Alipato is set in the future when all this violence is clearly happening in the present, Khavn replies: “The past, the present, the future are all the same,” and really: how comforting is that. ***


Richard Bolisay is a film critic. This piece was previously published on his site Lilok Pelikula under "Dispatches from Cinemalaya 2017 (Part 1)," August 8 2017.

EMAIL: gaslightph@gmail.com.

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