Sunday, June 27, 2010

On Jean Reno, L'immortel, L'Eternel, and (Hmm), Jose Garcia Villa

Two Sundays ago, I was waiting in line in a moviehouse at EDSA Shangrila. A couple of days before that I read about an ongoing French film festival and I thought about checking it out. Since the event advertises "Free Admission", I guessed that the moviehouse will fill up fast, so I showed up about 40 minutes prior to the 3 o'clock pm film screening.

"We can only accommodate 25 free admissions", the male receptionist announced, "please fall in line." It was such a wait for a movie that I was not sure if I will like or not. Patience, I said to myself, at least Jean Reno is in the film.

Ten minutes past 3. The smell of impatience was in the air. The receptionist then made a grave announcement.

"The theater is already full because many VIPs turned up unexpectedly. We can only admit 10 people."

I was 11th in the line. What infuriating luck.

While most of the disenfranchised left, I went to the receptionist and stated my case. It is not fair for me to wait in line for more than 30 minutes only to be told that I cannot be admitted. When the receptionist defended that we were late, I was gripped with a sudden impulse to snap at him ... good thing I bit my tongue before I could lash out.

In my greatest effort to be cool, I reasoned: "How could possibly say that we are late when we were here 40 minutes before the screening?"

A few more words from me and I got what I wanted.

Receptionist: "We can allow five more. Just five people." I was the first to get in.

(Damn, I thought. Had I learned about this earlier, I would have found a way to get myself a VIP ticket and not through all these hassle as if I am a beggar. But, never mind. I was finally inside the theater.)


Photo from this site.

The movie that was the root of my troubles was the Jean Reno starrer, 22 Bullets, aka L'immortel. This was released in early 2010 amidst mixed reviews. The story, in a nutshell, is about Charly Mattei (Jean Reno), an aging mafia guy in Marseille who was gunned down with 22 bullets but somehow managed to live and exact his revenge. People used to fantastic Hollywood slickly executed fight scenes and car chases may not find this film to their liking. (I sure liked the Audis in the film.)

I am not exactly planning to write a review. Suffice to say that I think the movie is just fine, with the characters well-played (and, it cannot be helped, I have a soft spot for Reno), and the violent scenes adequate, and I am a fan of French films, but honestly, this is not a movie worth waiting for 40 minutes.

For some reason, as I was watching the film, something kept on popping in my head: The concept of "eternel" and "l'Eternel".


Photo from this site.

It was probably because "l'immortel" rhymes with "l'Eternel". It was probably because of something else. The movie often alluded to the concept of right and wrong, of morality and accountability. Religious allusions were replete as well, and whether this was deliberate or not, they sure provided a good backdrop to the issues aforementioned.

Someone once told me that, in the French language, "eternel" is to be distinguished from "l'Eternel". The word "eternel" literally translates to "eternal". "L'Eternel" is referred to what in English is called "God", thus the capital letter "E". For some reasons I did not get to clear this one up in detail.

Maybe sometime, I will have that chance ... in another lifetime, perhaps?


The concept of eternity is one of the many things that I am fascinated with.

Apparently, so is Jose Garcia Villa, arguably one of the best Filipino poets to have ever lived. (Thanks to Lenn for the Jose Garcia Villa book that I received many weeks ago.)

As he, too, was gripped by ideations of God, Villa wrote poems that tackled God's immortality and humanity at the same time. There is one poem that I really like: it illustrates a very striking, almost blasphemous, but intensely brilliant, juxtaposition of God and Man amidst the backdrop of time.

Now I will tell you the Future
Of God. The future of God is

Man. God aspired before and
Failed. Jesus was too much

God. Since God is moving
Towards Man, and Man is moving

Towards God - they must meet
Sometime. O but God is always

A Failure! That Time is the
End of the world. When God

And Man do meet - they will
Be so bitter they will not speak.

I have reason to believe that Villa had a word with God, not just hello but a mouthful, many times in his life. Like Jean Reno's character Charly Mattei. Like many people I know ... myself included ....

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