The delightfully unforgiving experience of People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose by John Torres (2016)

July 12, 2017

 

People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose by John Torres (Philippines) is one of the most phenomenal films I've seen this year. Even as I told John Torres I had no damn clue what was going on (and had absolutely no background knowledge of the film's conceit(s) nor of Celso Ad Castillo's unreleased film, I was stunned in my seat for the first 30 minutes - at the scratchy images, at the almost senseless compatibility of recorded dialogue and images, and even at my own incomprehension.

 

As my body begin to settle in the seat - and never truly did for the rest of the time in the cinema - and my mind tried to catch up with the speculated twists and turns of Celso's film in Torres' film that played out in various genres (elements of coming of age story, dramatics of gangster shootouts, self-reflexive 'there is a war going on, well a war film anyway but still a war, bitch!!!!' setup, naughty priests of B-grade movies etc), I thought I had reached some level of unenlightened enlightenment right there in the theatre:

 

What was this film?! Why did it make me feel the way so?! This tingling feeling of excitement in my fingers! (Okay, maybe it was my recent allergy to soap that was making my hands itchy) Am I - finally - beginning to appreciate and be entirely (un)comfortable watching experimental film?! How can this film send such shockwaves through my body?! What is going on?!?!

 

These layers upon layers of a hybrid film-docu onto history onto speculation, into the interior lives of the actors and the topographies of the island - explored in parts and darkness by three seemingly random girls traipsing around and giggling like Internet starlets discovering fire or old media for the first time - and the unforgiving sea - that's also a 'neutral ground' for characters livid in their confusion and at each other - still obfuscate me, yet I wander (and wonder) among the unseen pages of Torres' film diary. 

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