Millennial Traversals

Millennial Traversals
Millennial Traversals: Outliers, Juvenilia, & Quondam Popcult Blabbery is my first book of the new millennium, and like most contemporary claims, that one can be deconstructed at every point: the millennium’s no longer that new, I’ve done other books since 2000 (mostly as editor, but also as dissertation author), and…the present volume is not, or not yet, a book, at least in the printed dead-tree sense that my previous solo-authored ones were. Moreover, aside from my diss, I’ve never really written, much less published, an extensive monograph, which would be the type of book I’d prefer to uphold.[1] Although I expended conscious efforts to ensure that my previously published compilations had as much internal consistency as they could handle, they were still essentially anthologies, as this current one is; and maybe the distinction of Millennial Traversals is that its pretensions reside elsewhere, no longer in trying to appear like a deliberately planned and duly parsed product. My rationale for insisting that the present exercise is still part of the continuum provided by my previous volumes is simple (shaky maybe, but simple): The National Pastime, Fields of Vision, and Wages of Cinema all exist in revised and updated form on my archival blog, so Millennial Traversals merely skipped the paper-and-ink stage and got to be introduced to its readership in digital format.[2] (I’m still planning to have “publishable” PDF versions of all the texts I’ve mentioned here, but I can’t foresee right now how soon I’ll be able to work that out.) In this manner, virtually all my non-academic (and a few academic) film and culture articles will have been compiled in book form.

The positive aspects of creating a strictly open-access book revealed themselves in separate stages. I knew that I wouldn’t have to deal with publishers’ and editors’ and readers’ quirks, which for some reason assume creative dimensions when they confront popular culture material; that included the corollary advantage of having the longest manuscript text I ever compiled, nearly double (in terms of number of articles) that of The National Pastime, my previous longest book. When I cooked up a title, I realized I could formulate something that any sensible publisher (or her accountant) might faint upon hearing, and I could lump together anything I wanted without worrying about possible objections like why foreign films? why incomplete period coverage? why the shifts to other media and even to non-media? why the wide divergence in analytical approaches? I could improve on the texts at any time and place, although I do hope to minimize my tinkering once the manuscripts go public. I won’t need to strengthen an opening essay that I knew was too lame by my standards, since I felt when I was writing it that it just needed to be placed out there in order to temper, if not overturn, my very first book’s unexpectedly influential first essay. The foreign-film reviews still seem rather perfunctory, which was why I had no problem eliminating them from my earlier books – but they somehow assumed increasing usefulness the longer I kept at them. The local film reviews similarly dropped out from the pre-millennial books because of their uncertain significance in relation to the rest of my output, although they still could function as markers of an era; in Millennial Traversals they serve to indicate my interest in as wide a variety of film types as Philippine cinema makes available.

Thanks are owed to my previous book publishers (Ma. Karina A. Bolasco, Esther M. Pacheco, Laura L. Samson), my previous editors (Lulu Torres Reyes, Jo-Ann Maglipon, Patrick Campos, Clarissa David, Violeda A. Umali, Cristina del Carmen Pastor, Daisy Catherine L. Mandap, Benjamin Pimentel, Leloy Claudio, Bienvenido Lumbera, the late Raul Ingles, Caroline Hau, Flor Caagusan, Cristina S. Cristobal, Cathy Rose Garcia, Ricky Lo, Berroth Medenilla), and my current editorial assistant, Theo Pie. I had early associations with two still-thriving critics organizations, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Filipino Film Critics Circle) and the Young Critics Circle; despite my sometimes passionate declarations of differences with them, I will also be unable to deny that I drew some foundational strengths, sometimes by resisting their methods but also from following some of their then-sensible practices. To them I dedicate this “book,” such as it is, and for what it may be worth. [Cover design: Karl Fredrick M. Castro; cover pic: Tiyanak publicity still (dir. Peque Gallaga & Lorenzo A. Reyes; Regal Films, 1988); author’s pic: Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil. For larger image, please click on picture above.]


[1] Two years after this volume came out, a monograph I drafted for Arsenal Pulp Press’s Queer Film Classics, on Ishmael Bernal’s Manila by Night, was published.

[2] Another twist in the publication saga of Millennial Traversals is that it has come out in print form, via the University of Sto. Tomas’s UNITAS: Semi-Annual Peer-Reviewed International Online Journal of Advanced Research in Literature, Culture and Society. Part I is listed as Volume 88, No. 1 (May 2015), while Part II is Volume 89, No. 1 (May 2016). The links below will take you to the UNITAS open-access website, where the volumes have been uploaded.

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Contents of the Original Digital Edition
© 2015 by Joel David & Ámauteurish Publishing; All Rights Reserved

UNITAS 88.1 (May 2015)

First Closure

The Golden Ages of Philippine Cinema: A Critical Reassessment


Local Cinema 1980-89
Foreign Cinema 1980-89
Metro Manila Film Festival 1976-86
LGBTQ Filmfests
Pinoy Filmfests ca. 2013
Sonata (2013)
Lihis (2013)
Otso (2013)

Old-Millennium Pinoy Film Reviews I (Various Sources)

Birds of Omen
Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (1978)
Commercialism Triumphs Again
Bongga Ka ’Day (1980)
Effective Satire
Kontrobersyal (1981)
Oversimplifying Class Conflicts
Burgis (1981)
Naked Debut
Hubad na Gubat (1982)
A Halfway Sample
Maestro Bandido (1983)
Repression and Rebellion
Pedro Tunasan (1984)
Missed Opportunities
Dope Godfather (1984)
Mysterious Pleasure
Misteryo sa Tuwa (1984)
Historical Lessons
Virgin Forest (1985)

Old-Millennium Pinoy Film Reviews II (National Midweek & After)

Secret Love
Mga Lihim ng Kalapati (1987)
Grave Burden
Pasan Ko ang Daigdig (1987)
Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa (1987)
Huwag Mong Itanong Kung Bakit (1987)
Komiks without Pain
Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-ibig? (1987)
Balancing Acts
Hati Tayo sa Magdamag (1989)
Roño’s Rondos
Itanong Mo sa Buwan (1988)
Si Baleleng at ang Gintong Sirena (1989)
Film on Film
Big Flick in the Sky (1990)
Black & Blue & Red
Bayani (1992)

New-Millennium Pinoy Film Reviews

Heaven in Mind
Sabel (2004)
Domestic Worth
Serbis (2009)
Survivor’s Guilt
Boses (2009)
Sighs and Whispers
Biyaheng Lupa (2009)
On the Edge
On the Job (2013)
A Desire Named Oscar
Ilo Ilo (2013)
Metro Manila (2013)
Transit (2013)
Beyond Borders
Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (2014)
Antonio Luna’s Fall and Rise
Heneral Luna (2015)
Roads Less Traveled
Lakbay2Love (2016)
Ice with a Face
Ma’ Rosa (2016)

Foreign-Film Reviews I (Warm-Ups)

A Clockwork Yellow
The China Syndrome (1979)
Kramer vs. Women
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Brainless Love
Endless Love (1981)
Manila Event Short Take I
Ragtime (1981)
Manila Event Short Take II
Man of Iron (1981)
Epic Soapbox
The Mission (1986)
The Stuff of Dreams
Dreamscape (1984)
Bloody Fine
The Untouchables (1987)
The Devil to Pay
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Foreign-Film Reviews II (Exertions)

Form and Function
Silent Voice (a.k.a. Amazing Grace and Chuck; 1987)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Life after Life
Mississippi Burning (1989)
They Live (1988)
…And the First Shall Be the Last
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Soldier Blues
Casualties of War (1989)
Gloria in Excessus
Glory (1989)
Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Wet Noodles
I Come with the Rain (2009)
Two Guys, While Watching Avatar
Avatar (2009)
Hit in the (Multi)Plexus
Wan-deuk-i [Punch] (2011)

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UNITAS 89.1 (May 2016)

Non-Film Reviews

Adaptation Comes of Age
La Bohéme (1992)
Disorder & Constant Sorrow
Subversive Lives (2012)
The Novel Pinoy Novel
Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata (2011)
High Five
Gang of 5: Tales, Cuentos, Sanaysay (2012)

First Persons

Movie Worker
Love Was the Drug
The Dolphy Conundrum
The Carnal Moral of a Brutal Miracle
A National Artist We Deserve


Star Builders on Parade
The Fantasy World of Rey de la Cruz
Perseverance in a Neglected Dimension
The Critic as Creator
Critic in Academe


Big Hopes for Short Films
Levels of Independence
Sight & Sound 2002

Culture at Large

Kim Dae-jung & the Aquinos
Crescent Tense
Asian Casanovas
The Sins of the Fathers
A Benediction in the Offing

Foreign Scenes

Tarriance in Thailand
Empire of the (Risen) Sun
Small Worm, Big Apple
Unease in the Morning Calm


How to Become a Film Critic
Some Words on Film Awards
A Lover’s Polemic

Last Closure

Reflections on a National Pastime

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About Joel David

Teacher, scholar, & gadfly of film, media, & culture. [Photo of Kiehl courtesy of Danny Y. & Vanny P.] View all posts by Joel David

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