Ever since the first use of the film camera by the French Lumière Brothers, the train has been a favourite subject – as a metaphor for progress, but also as a depiction of standing still, as at the beginning of Jet Leyco’s Ex Press. The young Filipino director started filming without a screenplay and juxtaposed documentary footage of the train as it travels in fits and starts through the jungle with fragments of thoughts and dreams.
Because the passing trains are regularly pelted with rubbish and stones by inhabitants of the shanties along the railway line, the railway company started up its own police force. One of the officers, the violent ‘Colonel’ Paliparan, abruptly resigned several years ago for mysterious reasons. His two sons try to find out why.
With a mixture of traditional and guerilla filmmaking, Leyco manages to create an idiosyncratic, sometimes even musical, atmosphere from the details and rhythms of apparently everyday scenes around the Filipino train as it thunders on. –Rotterdam