Thursday, September 22, 2011

SALT FOR SVANETIA (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1930)

Long before world audiences sat up and took notice of such masterpieces as The Cranes Are Flying (1957) and I Am Cuba (1964), Mikhail Kalatozov was cutting cinematic teeth at the fringes of Soviet Union cinema as a creator of documentaries. His work was, literally, film practice at the margins, fashioning out pieces from his Georgian homeland, a satellite far-flung from Moscow and the hubs of the socialist empire. Salt for Svanetia, shot in the late 1920s, was one such documentary that should have announced him as a director to be reckoned with.

An early, important piece in the genre of ethnographic film, Salt for Svanetia employs the paradigm formulated by Robert Flaherty with Nanook of the North (1922) and antedates the thematic explorations of Luis Bunuel’s Las Hurdes (1933). The scenario that Kalatozov presents is a Soviet Union still in its infancy, consolidating and laying down the foundations of a new order. Kalatozov’s film provides a valuable if slightly fictionalized document that chronicles the hardscrabble life in Svanetia and the outskirts of the Ushkul region in the Caucasus Mountains just as socialization and modernization were at its doorstep.

Kalatozov draws on Flaherty’s example of recreating, and not exclusively observing, the pertinent social, economic and cultural goings-on in Svanetia. Very early on, it displays a prodigious signature that seems to owe a debt to his contemporary Eisenstein. This finds particular expression in distinctive stylization: the camera tilts obliquely and the subjects are endowed with unnatural expressions and postures; a stylistic sensibility that shaped I Am Cuba, made nearly 40 years later. 

 In the out-of-the-way regions of Svanetia, life is unrelentingly difficult. In the summers, marauding landowners from neighboring lands swoop down on the villages and take away what little they have. If not for sentinel towers, Svanetians are readily vulnerable targets with few defenses. In the winters, life is no less arduous. Barley and other crops are buried under snowfall, and must be prematurely harvested. Apropos of the title, what is most valuable to the villagers of Svanetia, however, is salt. It is particularly in short supply in winters, so scarce that menfolk must trek across the snowy slopes of treacherous, avalanche-prone mountains en route to remote civilization in order to obtain it.

Aside from the pointed jabs at a feudal backwardness, religion and superstition come in for critiques in Kalatozov’s documentary. In one telling episode towards the end, the happy moment of childbirth while someone is being buried is instead dramatized as a bad omen. Demonized almost as a witch, an expectant woman is turned out of the village, lelft to labor unattended in barren dirt. She gives birth, but the newborn is left to the tender mercies of nature: most poetitcally, a dog foraging for a salt lick. The image of this mother fertilizing her child’s grave with milk drawn straight from her breast is powerful and indelible. There are images, however, of happier moments of quiet dignity too; for instance, the array of uniquely shaggy hairstyles of Svanetians and the illustration of native self-sufficiency in how each artifact such as woolen clothes are hard-won and painstakingly produced.

In 1936, Kalatozov would begin pursuing his craft outside his comfort zone and his Georgian roots. He would be equal to the job, although his efforts would seemingly pay off quite belatedly. In 1957, he would fashion, arguably, his best masterpiece, The Cranes Are Flying, an indictment of war that would go on to win the Golden Palm at Cannes. Seven years later, Kalatozov would craft another unqualified masterpiece in I Am Cuba, a paean to the newly socialized country of Cuba, bringing the filmmaker full circle to his documentary beginnings.      

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BREATHER (Khavn de la Cruz, 2011)

A filial tribute. A tone poem. A meditation on life and death. Breather stands as one of Khavn de la Cruz's most virtuosic works to date, commendable in the way it works on so many levels.

As a piece of portrait, it is a touching ode to Leonardo de la Cruz, the filmmaker’s late father, dead earlier this year of lung cancer at the age of 65. What is noteworthy is how Khavn has distilled the memory of his father, as it were, barely two months after the latter's demise. As a personal meditation, Breather is dark but not unrelieved by poetry on the mysteries of life, existence and mortality. As an artistic statement, Breather invites to be read as a furtive declaration of fatigue setting in. After 31 feature films in 12 hyperproductive years of film practice, Khavn, too, needs some breathing space.
Breather, however, belies this. It is hyperkinetic filmmaking, a mash-up of sound, image and poetry. Edited chaotically and mosaically, it allegorizes the mindscape, the thought processes, of a man trying to reconcile himself to life and its inexplicable mysteries. This man, his father and the world around them seem to embody distinct life principles. His father appears to represent the joy of life despite adversity. His words and his manner caught by Khavn’s handheld camera lack the bitterness of someone about to die. Staring at the imminent death of his father, Khavn is the opposite – inconsolable, all gloom and doom. The world is not stopping for either of them in its inexorable cycle of life.

Through a recitation of poetry, however, Khavn tries to find some kind of solace and sublimation. This enables him to hedge on his private grief by concealment in the poetry of others. Not one continuous text, the poetry has the effect of disjunction and fragmentation. Intoned by the filmmaker in voice-over, the verses seem inspired disparately, written by different authors. From time to time, a line of relevant verse pops out – something that has to do with the dark nature of existence, angst, bitterness, gloom – but we never stitch them together into one fabric. The important thing for the filmmaker, it seems, is to convey a dark tonality.
The most memorable passages of Breather-- the heart and the rock, as it were -- remain the footages featuring the father. Grace defines him. He dances in the teeth of death, literally. It takes a noble character to allow himself to be documented while he struggles for breath and sustains apparent pain; it takes a gracious father to be asked by his son with probing but groping questions. If Khavn hides behind poetry, the father is plainspoken. If Khavn uses his camera not just to document, but as a crutch to approach the father, the father, very composed and calm, is eloquent and obliging. This way, even though Khavn began to shoot belatedly, a month before the father’s eventual death, Breather succeeds at its portraiture. This limited time, however, meant a limited perspective: a hagiographic one.
Perhaps it all begins and ends with one word: bereavement. When the father is out of the frame, it is unmistakable elegy. The screen seems one cauldron of visual noise, the images fragment, blur, and superimpose on one another. When faces and music of friends and family bubble up, they are almost hallucinatory, celebratory. Life goes on, despite grief. As Khavn wraps up his 31st film in a dozen years, Breather seems to represent a gravitation to chaos, a seeming antithesis at a crucial point of his film practice. Where does Khavn go from here? What next? The man alone has the answer.The years are young; his horror vacui will fill the void in his life with worthy things soon enough.

Tagalog title: Pahinga

Friday, September 9, 2011

Towards A Personal Canon

 A list of my cinematic touchstones. 

Warning: It can get counter-canonical, but it's intended that way. An alternative.


The Cameraman's Revenge (Ladislaw Starewicz, 1912)
Fantomas (Louis Feuillade, 1913)
Ingeborg Holm (Victor Sjostrom, 1913)]
Cabiria (Giovanni Pastrone, 1914)
Les Vampires (Louis Feuillade, 1915)
Der Golem (Henrik Galeen/Paul Wegener, 1915)
Judex (Louis Feuillade, 1916)
The Dying Swan (Yevgeni Bauer, 1917)
True Heart Susie (D. W. Griffith, 1919)
The Oyster Princess (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919)
Father Sergius (Yakov Protazanov, 1919)
Die Puppe (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919)
Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919)


Souls on The Road (Minoru Murata, 1921)
Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (Fritz Lang, 1922)
La Roue (Abel Gance, 1923)
The Smiling Madame Beudet (Germaine Dulac, 1923)
Die Niebelungen (Fritz Lang, 1924)
L’Inhumaine (Marcel L’Herbier, 1924)
Strike (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
The Joyless Street (G.W. Pabst, 1925)
Menilmontant (Dmitri Kirsanoff, 1926)
A Page of Madness (Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1926)
By The Law (Lev Kuleshov, 1926)
La Glace A Trois Faces (Jean Epstein, 1927)
Napoleon (Abel Gance, 1927)
The Seashell and the Clergyman (Germaine Dulac, 1928)
Zvenigora (Alexander Dovzhenko, 1928)
The Man with The Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
Finis Terrae (Jean Epstein, 1929)


Salt for Svanetia (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1930)
Enthusiasm (Dziga Vertov, 1931)
Road to Life (Nikolai Ekk, 1931)
The Murderer Dimitri Karamazov (Fyodor Otsep, 1931)
Boudu Saved From Drowning (Jean Renoir, 1932)
Ganga Bruta (Humberto Mauro, 1933)
L'Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934)
Man of Aran (Robert Flaherty, 1934)
Happiness (Alexander Medvedkin, 1935)
By the Bluest of Seas (Boris Barnet, 1936)
Rose Hobart (Joseph Cornell, 1936)
The Only Son (Yasujiro Ozu, 1936)
Story of the Late Chrysanthemums (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1939)


Ornamental Hairpin (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1941)
Aniki Bobo (Manoel de Oliveira, 1942)
Day of Wrath (Carl Dreyer, 1943)
Fires Were Started (Humphrey Jennings, 1943)
Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)
Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein, 1944-1946)
Paisa (Roberto Rossellini,1946)
Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin, 1947)
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, 1948)
La Terra Trema (Luchino Visconti, 1948)
Jour de Fete (Jacques Tati, 1949)
Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949)


The Young and the Damned (Luis Bunuel, 1950)
Venom and Eternity (Isidore Isou, 1951)
Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952)
Voyage to Italy (Roberto Rossellini, 1953)
Bienvenido Mister Marshall (Luis Garcia Berlanga, 1953)
Sound of the Mountain (Mikio Naruse, 1954)
Lola Montes (Max Ophuls, 1955)
Tales of The Taira Clan (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1955)
Floating Clouds (Mikio Naruse, 1955)
Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)
A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 1956)
Antcipation of the Night (Stan Brakhage, 1958)
Moi, Un Noir (Jean Rouch, 1958)
Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati, 1958)
India (Roberto Rossellini, 1959)
The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, 1959)


Triptico Elemental de Espana (Jose Val del Omar, 1960)
Pour La Suite du Monde (Michel Brault/Pierre Perrault, 1963)
Muriel (Alain Resnais, 1963)
I Am Twenty (Marlen Khutsiev, 1964)
Mass for the Dakota Sioux (Bruce Baillie, 1964)
Beppie (Johan van der Keuken, 1965)
Red Angel (Yasuzo Masumura, 1966)
Unsere Afrikareise (Peter Kubelka, 1966)
Marketa Lazarova (Frantisek Vlacil, 1967)
No Passage Through Fire (Gleb Panfilov, 1968)
Nostra Signora dei Turchi (Carmelo Bene, 1968)
The Hour of the Furnaces (Fernando E. Solanas, 1968)
Tres Tristes Tigres (Raoul Ruiz, 1968)
Memories of Underdevelopment (Tomas Gutierez Alea, 1968)
Reconstruction (Lucian Pintilie, 1968)
79 Primaveras and Other Shorts (Santiago Alvarez, 1969)
A Gentle Woman (Robert Bresson, 1969)
Antonio Das Mortes (Glauber Rocha, 1969)
Bhuvan Shome (Mrnal Sen, 1969)
Eros Plus Massacre (Yoshishige Yoshida, 1969)
Macunaima (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, 1969)


La Region Centrale (Michael Snow, 1970)
Eden and After (Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1970)
The Man Who Left his Will on Film (Nagisa Oshima, 1970)
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Jaromil Jires, 1970)
The Hart of London (Jack Chambers, 1970)
Days and Nights in the Forest (Satyajit Ray, 1970)
Umut (Yilmaz Guney, 1970)
The Death of Maria Malibran (Werner Schroeter, 1972)
Red Psalm (Miklos Jancso, 1972)
Touki Bouki (Djibril Diop Mambety, 1973)
A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
Mes Petites Amoureuses  (Jean Eustache, 1974)
Still Life (Sohrab Shahid Saless, 1974)
Jeanne Dielman (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
Welfare (Frederick Wiseman, 1975)
India Song (Marguerite Duras, 1975)
Adoption (Marta Meszaros, 1975)
One Hundred Days After Childhood (Sergei Solovyov, 1975)
Four Seasons (Artavazd Peleshian, 1975)
Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders, 1976)
Le Fond de L'air est Rouge (Chris Marker, 1977)
Hitler: A Film From Germany (Hans-Jurgen Syberberg, 1978)
Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
A Few Days in the Life of Oblomov (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1979)


Berlin Alexanderplatz (R.W. Fassbinder, 1980)
The Subjective Factor (Helke Sander, 1980)
Crac (Frederic Back, 1981)
Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1981)
Too Early, Too Late (Daniele Huillet/Jean-Marie Straub, 1982)
Three Crowns of a Sailor (Raoul Ruiz, 1983)
In The White City (Alain Tanner, 1983)
Monanieba (Tengiz Abuladze, 1984)
Les Favoris de la Lune (Otar Iosseliani, 1985)
Parade of The Planets (Vadim Abdrashitov, 1986)
O Melissokomos (Theo Angelopoulos, 1986)
Yeelen (Souleymane Cisse, 1987)
A Tale of the Wind (Joris Ivens, 1988)
Camp de Thiaroye (Ousmane Sembene, 1988)
The Hoary Legends of the Caucasus (Sergei Parajanov, 1988)
Alice (Jan Svankmajer, 1988)
The Eye Above The Well (Johan van der Keuken, 1988)
Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies, 1988)
Images of the World and the Inscription of War (Harun Farocki, 1989)
Recollections of the Yellow House (Joao Cesar Monteiro, 1989)
Sitting on a Branch, Enjoying Myself (Juraj Jakubisko, 1989)
The Days of Eclipse (Alexander Sokurov, 1989)


Aesthenic Syndrome (Kira Muratova,1990)
And Life Goes On (Abbas Kiarostami, 1991)
The Suspended Step of The Stork (Theo Angelopoulos, 1991)
El Sol del Membrillo (Victor Erice, 1992)
La Chasse Aux Papillons (Otar Iosseliani, 1992)
Ladoni (Artour Aristakisian, 1993)
Caro Diario (Nanni Moretti, 1994)
Satantango (Bela Tarr, 1994)
Silences of the Palace (Moufida Tlatli, 1994)
Deseret (James Benning, 1995)
Spiritual Voices (Alexander Sokurov, 1995)
A Moment of Innocence (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1996)
A Casa (Sharunas Bartas, 1997)
Masumiyet (Zeki Demirkubuz, 1997)
Tren de Sombras (Jose Luis Guerin, 1997)
Khrustalyov, Get the Car! (Aleksei German, 1998)
Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1998)
Rosetta (Jean Pierre/Luc Dardenne, 1999)
Histoire(s) du Cinema (Jean Luc Godard, 1988-1999)
L'Humanite (Bruno Dumont, 1999)


As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionaly I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (Jonas Mekas, 2000)
The Isle (Kim Ki-duk, 2000)
The Gleaners and I (Agnes Varda, 2000)
What Time is It There? (Tsai Ming-Liang, 2001)
Klassenfahrt (Henner Winckler, 2002)
Corpus Callosum (Michael Snow, 2002)
Uzak (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2002)
Crimson Gold (Jafar Panahi, 2003)
Star Spangled to Death (Ken Jacobs, 2004)
Los Muertos (Lisandro Alonso, 2004)
Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (Peter Tscherkassky, 2005)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005)
Les Amants Reguliers (Philippe Garrel, 2005)
The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (Quay Brothers, 2005)
Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa, 2006)
Todo Todo Teros (John Torres, 2006)
Syndromes and A Century (Apitchatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
Death in the Land of Encantos (Lav Diaz, 2007)
My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, 2007)
Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
Now Showing (Raya Martin, 2008)
Melancholia (Lav Diaz, 2008)
A Prophet (Jacques Audiard, 2009)

Sources include:

24 Frames  (a book series focusing on national cinemas)
Essential Cinema - On The Necessity of Film Canons (Jonathan Rosenbaum)
Film - The Critic's Choice (edited by Geoff Andrew)
A Century of Films - Derek Malcolm's Personal Best (Derek Malcolm)
They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
Cahiers du Cinema
Sight and Sound
Foreign Affairs (edited by Kathy Schulz Huffhines)
The A List- 100 Essential Films (edited by Jay Carr)
Film History - An Introduction (Kristin Thompson/David Bordwell)
A History of Narrative Film (David A. Cook)


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MAPANG-AKIT (John Torres, 2011)

As a child, John Torres was a shy and timid figure. Rather than play and mix with kids his age, he kept himself at a respectful distance. Rather than join and converse with them, he would remain just close enough to read their speaking lips. This way, Torres would listen in, and from the few words and phrases picked up, he would reconstruct conversations and devise his own stories. That's how, Torres reveals, his instinct for narrative got an early start and has been honed ever since. From his first feature film, Todo Todo Teros, onwards, this affinity for spinning tales has served the filmmaker in good stead.  
In his fourth feature to date, "a long short film” that runs at roughly 40 minutes, Torres again regales us with his lip-reading abilities. Mapang-akit puts words in the mouths of villagers in Laruja, Antique, as it were, and delivers a story populated by aswangs and elementals. The result is a hauntingly arresting work, mysterious in its resonances of folklore, and often idyllic in its portrait of the ways of life in a sleepy village.
The story, in the fictive matrix of Torres, is spare, but ingenious. It concerns an unassimilated settler named Anita, an elderly woman from Negros suspected of being an aswang. Her otherworldly beauty, her dispassion in men, and her seemingly uncanny good fortune are all taken against her. The death of a villager named Milo, the suitor of a certain Elena from Negros, a supposed relative of Anita, only serves to fuel the rumors. Though it is simplicity itself, such a story has remained strong for a long, long time, a residue of regionalism once encouraged to serve colonial rule.   
The beguiling beauty of Mapang-akit lies in its almost ethnographic regard for the sleepy village the filmmakers used as location and how it is dreamily shot. Because Torres’s co-cinematographer, Che Villanueva, happened to be shooting in familiar territory – the village of her relatives – the camerawork radiates a presence akin to that of a villager: total and unobtrusive. There are few, if any, self-conscious stares at the camera. In turn, the camera takes in everything and follows around the villagers in their laidback chores and activities: un-husking coconuts, partaking of afternoon popsicles, conversing about the dead.       
A little bit of controversy now hounds Torres after the revelation of his aesthetic style of inventing dialogue, how anthropologically and even legally it may violate the moral rights of his unwitting cast, how his methods might verge on exploitation, more so in the light of his admission that consent of his subjects was not obtained as to how the filmed material would be put to use. It must be said, however, that Mapang-akit is fiction, and although it had its origins in documentary, it is now beyond actuality. Even documentaries, it bears noting, are not immune to artistic latitude: they are, not uncommonly, staged and fictionalized. Nanook never took exception to recreations of bygone practices like seal and walrus fishing. In documentaries like Land of Silence and Darkness (1971), it is well-known how Werner Herzog made up lines for his willing, smiling subjects. Cinema, it bears repeating, is a dream factory, a fiction factory.


John Torres writes to clarify an ambiguous portion in my review, regarding where consent of his subjects was obtained, and not obtained: 
"I had their (the villagers) consent to shoot from up close and at a distance for a film that we were making. They weren't made to act so maybe for them and for others, this would mean it's a straight-up documentary based on process.
It ends up another creature, with them speaking different lines. I don't have their consent when I heard things beyond the words they spoke, but I'm excited to go back and show them the film."
My response:  
I have revised the unclarity. When I said "consent of the subjects was never obtained" I did intend to mean how it is worded now: that the villagers were not informed of the fictive treatment the filmed footages would undergo. I was writing from the point of view of someone who might find this problematic. But that is not my own position: I refute the issue subsequently from my own perspective as someone who thinks it is verging on the preposterous to criminalize authorial freedom. It simply goes against the whole idea of art as a whole.     
John is by no means a fly-by-night artist: He has expressed willingness to return to Antique and show his film to the village where he shot Mapang-akit.    
It is intriguing how the village will react to the finished film, but I have a feeling their response will be one of happy amusement. Gone are the days when cameras stole souls.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

BALAY DAKU (Jan Philippe V. Carpio, 2002)

This house is huge, indeed. Home to the Gonzales clan, sugar barons of Bacolod City, this dwelling, however, should come with a caveat: few of its spaces welcome the outsider. Each room seems a hermetic cocoon, a seemingly padded cell of confinement and isolation. There is an empty and hollow air that hangs in the living room. In its immensity and capaciousness, this communal space evokes the dead interiors of a museum. True enough, we are made to see multifarious curios and artifacts adorning the wide walls and expansive floors. From the same walls are portraits of dead ancestors looking down coldly, inhospitably.
Yet make no mistake about it. The foregoing is no preamble to a traditional family melodrama. Balay Daku, the feature debut of director Jan Philippe Carpio and quite possibly the first regional film ever produced in the country, steers clear of the histrionically draining trappings of this genre to claim a category all its own. With light, bracing humor and mock seriousness, Carpio’s film teases and exposes the excesses of the landed upper class in a smart and artful manner. We inhabit the house most tellingly through the eyes of Stella, a stranger to this surroundings, a woman newly married to Julio, a scion of this family being groomed to take over the family's hacienda. Soon enough, transition into this provincial setting becomes suffocating and filled with such strange tensions for the newcomer that she blurts out, “Are there ghosts in this house?”
In Carpio’s film, the spectres are not of the paranormal kind, but characters ostensibly deranged and trapped by the ennui and isolation of their class and social position. The matriarch, Inday Carmen, rules the home with stern presence, but alone in her inner sanctum, she weeps in her sleep, self-suffocating, self-imprisoned for an indeterminate reason. Her eldest son, Boy, seems just as bedevilled, but his problems are more over-determined. He runs the hacienda almost singlehandedly and yet without the assurance of tenure. In love and romance, his life is just as problematic: he is continually spurned by Isabela, who is younger brother Julio’s jilted lover. What rankles in the mind of this older brother is just that: sibling animosity. And yet there is little, explicit vitriol. Or little sounds like it.
Friction and tension are negotiated by the Gonzaleses through the vocality of language, in particular the Ilonggo tongue. The verbal tussles between Stella and Julio are not too grating on the nerves, but register as lovers’ quarrels, paradoxically romantic and humorous, albeit shading into violence. Class differences melt away between Stella and the housemaid Lore whenever they talk and switch signs. Inday Carmen’s peremptory pronouncements are resonant as much through timbre of voice as the tonalities of language. The orality of voice finds expression, too, in many telephone conversations that pepper the proceedings.
Carpio’s affinity for dialogue and its dynamics finds a correlative in the sweet and dulcet tones of his mother tongue. If Tako, another of the director’s films, demonstrated the lacerating properties of language, Balay Daku enunciates a seemingly more singsong infliction of hurts.  Either way, it seems Carpio has cast his lot with the likes of Sang-Soo Hong and John Cassavetes, experts at the snarl and growl of dialogue, and yet not too distant to Rohmer, whose ear for ingenious conversation is just as meticulous.  
In this connection, it is worth noting how Balay Daku does bear, among other benchmarks, the brand of the French New Wave. The attention to dialogue can be attributable to Rohmer; the formal experiments (e.g. the elliptical editing) to Godard; the capricious energy and flights of fancy to Rivette. What remains indubitable, however, is how Carpio adroitly merges the influences of cinematic modernism and achieves what he has set out to do: a damning, damaging, but well-sublimated portrait of the rich.            
If Balay Daku ends on a conciliatory tone, the image of a fused family, we know enough not to trust it. We know that this could all be an impasse. We still hear the ironic laughter that has started to echo in this house. Maybe a new generation is on its way. Maybe not. The words trail away as we recede from the gates, that house is huge, a shorthand for our disdain.