Serbis is GreenCine Daily's FILM OF THE WEEK

a commentary

A little time before i put up a rerun on Edward Yang's YI YI: A One and A Two(2000) to anticipate the making of a one-page article for my English class paying tribute to Yang, I browsed upon GreenCine Daily's archives. This may have been a little too ordinary, alternating between Unspoken Cinema, Girish, Arbogast, and Critic After Dark, blogs composing half of my day the rest of the weekend to read. My archival cinephilic tendencies boomed to another level upon finding Senses of Cinema to be ultimately the best archival findings on scholarly cinema studies that i have found in the WORLD WIDE WEB.

To undermine the circumstances of putting an image with pornographic intent to this blog would be idiocy. However, my purpose is rather ironic(take note of that) because the point i want to establish is perhaps tantamount to that intent. Hence i put this picture at your own discretion.

Serbis(2008) by Briallante Mendoza might be his strongest film to date. Cannes, one of the highly respected international film festival where the world cinema meets annually to explore the scope of achievements in cinema and to honor pertinent films of the year, bestowed a Palme D' Or nomination to Serbis. This neorealist portrayal of a dysfucntional Filipino family living under a dilapidated but still functional adult movie house put some of Cannes critics into dissatisfaction and considered it "jarringly pornographic." This caused a little upheaval to the Film Festival last year.

For trivia my friends, and according to Philippine Daily Inquirer article found here, i quote:
"The Hollywood Reporter, through its critic, Maggie Lee, liked “Serbis,” the third Filipino film to make it to the competition category[Palme d' Or, that is], following “Jaguar” and “Bayan Ko: Kapit Sa Patalim,” by the late great Lino Brocka (whose 17th death anniversary we are observing this week). Some reviewers, while panning (to put it mildly) “Serbis,” praised the performance of the cast, especially Gina PareƱo. The veteran actress drew admiring words like “towering presence” and “beautifully cast.”
It's highly amiable for Philippine Cinema at large to get the reception like this. Given that mainstream Philippine cinema is grumbling, to some extent, for a legitimate position in contributing to the country's film culture(if there exist one), and the neglect of audiences due to it's prosthetic look influenced by Hollywood mainstream cinema: the beacon of light is grasped by the stronghold of independent filmmakers like the ubiquitous Brillante Mendoza to forge against what, and I quote,
"Clodualdo Del Mundo Jr. termed the "stench of commercialism." (Link here)
Is Serbis the key film to break for a Philippine New Wave? Or has there been any Philippine New Wave? Fascinating questions indeed, but the answer entirely lies on the fact that the security of culture is still politicized and mangled by the government's censorship on art-houses and cinema, except of course the blossoming of Cinemalaya, the only viable vehicle to drive Filipino film art to international success or maybe, a new wave.

Now the prospect is Serbis is GreenCine Daily's FILM OF THE WEEK. (Link here) Ahillis, the writer of the article made a proposition, and I quote:
"[...]has drawn quick parallels to the likewise run-down theater of Tsai Ming-liang's Goodbye, Dragon Inn -- which is to say, the similarities nearly end there. "
It is rather interesting that this utterly convalescing Mendoza feature received such a comparison to Tsai Ming-liang's film. Medoza is indeed prodigious to have reached this far, and this is not only based on other critics' perception but from an audience, and soon-to-be critic, like me. The strength of Serbis is its homage to cinema, via Mendoza's strategic capture of the movie theater. the film might have been shoot elsewhere like an abandon house, but this destroys the purpose of the film. The aspect that Serbis highly establishes cinema as part of its mise-en-scene sparks a provocative and critical tone putting Mendoza's status aligned with Tsai Ming-liang, a prominent figure of the Taiwanese Second Wave alongside with the master, Edward Yang, and the talented, Hou Hsiao-Hsien. It is indeed a very powerful tool to draw out contrasting images of cinema and the dysfunctional outlook of the family. Either that the adult cinema house may mirror the truth about life because of its light inside a bewildering darkness, or a mirror of the inner lives of the character, the purpose is to humanizes the film's pornographic and explicit ventures, a sort of contradiction.

This led me to return home and rerun Masahista(2005) to explore Mendoza further.