In the Tarantino era, when a machine gun (or a baseball bat) isn’t a weapon so much as a punch line, directors have a hell of a time getting moviegoers to feel violence. Any serious attempt to go even further, and make the viewer uncomfortably complicit in the ugly business unfolding onscreen, is likely to generate misinterpretation and outrage. That’s the case with veteran Filipino director Brillante Mendoza’s relentless, pitch-black parable of moral impotence in the face of unbridled cruelty. In Hardcore Manila: Kinatay, the same day a young man marries the mother of his baby, he accepts a job from an underworld pal. If only it were a doomed drug deal or botched stickup instead of the prolonged, excruciating, and gory abuse of a prostitute who owes money to the wrong people. Mendoza’s deeply felt critique of police corruption (our decent “hero” aspires to become a cop) and capitalism’s eat-or-be-eaten imperative earned him Best Director at Cannes a year ago, but also a ban at home and a mere handful of U.S. screenings. The latest in a steady stream of undistributed films by major international directors programmed without fanfare by curator Joel Shepard, Kinatay (Filipino for “slaughter”) won’t leave you laughing.
Sat., June 12, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., June 13, 4:30 p.m., 2010
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