Tandem: The System That Could Not Be Bucked (Film Review)
It is important that with that oeuvre alone, one is able to establish one’s philosophy of art and the all-encompassing vision to govern one’s aesthetics and tactics of creative pursuit.
The film industry must always retain a soft spot for a newbie directing one’s first full-length feature. It is, after all, a way of preserving the craft and ensuring the perpetuation of the practice. Instead of being jealous and of posing as an obstruction to the emergent filmmaker, the industry must rather be welcoming, encouraging and nurturing.
For one’s part, a debuting director must not squander the opportunity one had been bestowed. All-out efforts must fully be exerted for one’s work to make a splash and get sufficient notice and attention. It is only once that a director gets to do one’s first feature.
The global network of film festivals is of a great aid to first-time directors. While there is no rule requiring them to penetrate the circuit, it would not hurt one to take the all-valuable initiative. Forget Cannes, Venice, Berlin and all others in the world’s roster of A-list film festivals. People who understand cinema don’t go there particularly for newbie output. The realistic route is for debuting filmmakers to concentrate on at least four international special-interest film festivals with respective main event focused on the new-breed director’s produce, namely, Rotterdam in The Netherlands; Bogota in Colombia; Thessaloniki in Greece and Marrakech in Morocco.
One would know that an upcoming director indeed has a bright future by merely making it in the prime competition of any of these four aforementioned festivals. In the case of the Philippines for developmental purposes, all first-time features must be mandated to take a shot at being entered to any one of these filmfests. By such, the country achieves a lot beginning with fair assessment of who actually deserves to break into the industry.
It is in this conjunction that King Palisoc’s Tandem can be appreciated. It has its own share of distinction with its international film festival stints prior to its selection for the New Wave section of the last Metro Manila Film Festival. It has now made the significant crossover with its current regular run in theaters across the country. One can only hope that enough audiences warm up to the film to sustain its full-week release. This should not be difficult with a scenario direct from headline news involving cases of tandems of criminal elements on motorbikes proliferating in the country’s metropolis.
One such riding in tandem who happens to be siblings is the subject of the film. This gives the film room for ample drama as it doubles as one’s-own brother’s-keeper yarn for just one more variation on an undying tale of Third World squalor with a full-blast testament of endemic corruption from among the lawless, all the way to the ranks of even those tasked to enforce the law.
The film thereby manages to prove its singular point that it is the corrupt in the law-enforcement agencies that actually breed and abet lawlessness and criminality. It’s another manifestation of the country’s socio-political culture and law-and-order predicament characterized by a crooked system that can never be bucked.
While there is a ring of truth in the given insight, something seems remiss especially in consideration of an activist cinema that must possess a compulsion to draw a bigger and less simplistic picture of the national situation. An excursion into film noir in a developing-world setting, after all, has far more requisites to fulfill to make it truly engaging and relevant to the very society it seeks to dissect.