I don’t think Rakenrol is that good, but instead I think it’s one of those things that’s better than good. You know, like fishballs from the street and not from those franchised booths at the mall. It’s probably bad, but don’t listen to those who tell you it is. What’s more important is how you love it, how you believe it moves you, how it’s your personal lord and savior. I had a religious experience in the theater. I became fully convinced that this movie was made for me.
I was always envious how American kids had films like Almost Famous, Detroit Rock City, or even Rockstar, School of Rock and Scott Pilgrim. They had films that a kid who loves music can get into, be inspired by, emulate. They had films that showed love for rock & roll. I envied Japan who had films like Beck: MCS (even if it sucked), Detroit Metal City (LOL), Nana, and Solanin. Even if some of these films pissed on their source material, there was some kid with a guitar who would eat all this up. I was that kid, and I never had my rock film.
I saw Rakenrol maybe 20 years too late; but I do think seeing it at 34 is perhaps better than at 24. Why?
Here’s how I imagine myself responding to this film at different ages:
At 14: OH MY GOD, I’M GOING TO TELL XXXXXX XXXXXXX I LOVE HER AND FORM A ROCK BAND AND BE A ROCK STAR. THIS FILM IS THE BEST THING EVER.
At 24: Pfffft. Such a simplistic fairy-tale with a bittersweet tinge shoehorned in for some cred. Might as well let Ely Buendia give a voice-over for the ending. Such hipster BS.
At 34: OH MY GOD, WHERE HAS THIS FILM BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! IT’S LIKE MARTIAL LAW BABIES ALL OVER AGAIN (“Boss, payb handred”), ONLY WITH ROCK!
Hyperbole, but truthful. Rakenrol I think, is the same. Simplistic in parts, exaggerated in parts, but rings true for someone like me who dreamt of rock n’ roll, making music, making someone fall in love with you with your songwriting throughout my adolescence. My tastes in music changed over time, but indeed there was a time that I brought a guitar to school every day; that I had a garage band, had a recording at a studio, went to gigs, and identified myself as a ‘rocker.’
The film had the signature moments I believe that are part of Filipino adolescence: that conversation you have with your friends figuring out the different Tagalog words for different kinds of body hair and what gets caught on them; being friendzoned and given “that talk” and all its cringe-worthy phrasing; becoming all anti-establishment; getting told by your girlfriend she’s pregnant; being into screaming vocals; being emo (though we had different terms for it back then). I love it that it’s this film that put these things out, that a rock n’ roll film did it. I can’t explain it further than if you were into rock n’ roll as a punk kid, you’d get it.
And if you do, it’s so rewarding.
Kids, you don’t know how lucky you are; watch this film. Jaded post-adolescents, get over yourselves: this film is you and you fap to this. And for us who have two fingers left clinging onto the ledge of youth, this film is for us too. We get to rock a little bit, remember our silly selves, remember love.
Gusto ko rin sabihin na ang karaniwang mambabasa ng blog na ito ay mga dayuhan, pero muntik ko nang kaligtaan na ang pinaka-angkop na pagpuri na aking mabibigay sa pelikulang ito ay tawagin itong ASTIG. Pwera-(hyper)bola, tawa ako ng tawa, sabay pahikbi-hikbi din.