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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

entry arrow6:51 PM | Siblings

Should I call this "a weekend of cinematic siblings -- a love/hate story"? Because it does feel that way, and with no deliberate design on my part.

But it was interesting to see Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories on a Saturday and then Cathy Garcia-Molina's Seven Sundays on a, well, Sunday -- and see two stories that perfectly parallel each other, and yet be so culturally distinct, be so colored by their own directorial sensibilities. [But let's not talk about the ending of Seven Sundays, a racist miscalculation disguised as a comic bit.] Both films feature adult siblings at odds with each other and yet still remain irrevocably bonded by blood. And then, when forced to be together because of a sick father, their unsaid recriminations boil over but depicted with sly humor and surprising tenderness. Tenderness is important.

From Baumbauch, my take-away was more philosophical, even artistic. From Molina, perhaps because she knows what makes a Filipino moviegoer tick, my take was more visceral, immediate, and emotional. By God, I tried hard to remain above it all, to disregard the conventional manipulations of this Star Cinema confection -- but I was truly a mess when the film was through with me. And I don't think I was alone in that regard: the theater I was in was filled with people suddenly made quiet with contemplation for their own familial misdeeds. (It's Ozu's Tokyo Story with more hope.)

For who among us there in the darkened theater could not identify in ways with the travails of the Bonifacio family onscreen? Who among us do not delude ourselves constantly into thinking we're too busy to see an aging parent at least for the weekend? Who among us do not harbor resentments for being ignored, for being belittled, for being "used" by kin? I finished The Meyerowitz Stories with the pleasure of having my brain stimulated. I finished Seven Sundays emotionally adrift, but in a good way, sending me off on a contemplative mood that made me ask what else I can do to make up for all the "pagkukulang" I have for the family.

Preferably over crispy pata, or Rebisco biscuits, to the soundtrack of Apo Hiking Society singing "Batang-Bata Ka Pa."

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