Friday, October 17, 2014

Film Capsule: Lav Diaz's Batang West Side (2001)

Batang West Side (2001)
Directed by Lav Diaz

Already intently interested in the intersection of moral malaise and conflicted criminality by the time of this early-millennium triumph, the uncompromising Filipino filmmaker would, with his fourth and first epic-length feature, once and for all establish a narrative model which he has since refined and recalibrated via various historical epochs. Set in suburban New Jersey, the film excavates in exacting detail the fallout from a murder of a Filipino-American youth and the psychological toll it takes on a detective whose own past triggers a reckoning with an immigrant culture’s capacity for violence. With its elaborately integrated flashback structure and ambiguously motivated protagonist, this classically paced, five-plus-hour procedural is at once more akin to the serialized television which was then taking hold in American home entertainment than the durational cinema which would soon make Diaz’s name, as well as a spiritual and political predecessor to the director’s recent, highly acclaimed Norte, the End of History. (Oct 19, 1pm at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's monthly Diaz series) [The L]

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