Thursday, December 01, 2016

Martial Law Movies


Martial Law Movies

Rodrigo Duterte on former president Ferdinand Marcos (italics mine): "President Marcos was a president for so long and he was a soldier. So that’s about it. Whether or not he performed worse or better, there is no study, there is no movie about it. It’s just the challenges and allegations of the other side which [are] not enough"

Well then!

For studies let me recommend a few titles: Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines by Albert F. Celoza; The Marcos Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave; and The Conjugal Dictatorship, by Primitivo Mijares, who worked for Marcos, turned against him, disappeared shortly after the book was published. 

In literature there's Lualhati Bautista's Dekada '70; Emmanuel Lacaba's Salvaged Prose and Salvaged Poems; and Ninotchka Rosca's State of War.

And more, much more; I'm only citing titles I'm familiar with.

As for movies--in ascending order, my incomplete unobjective totally off-the-cuff list of titles that do in fact deal with the Martial Law Era.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God, Mario O'Hara, 1976)

(For the digitally restored print of the film that premiered at the Cinema One Originals Festival, Further screenings: 11.19 Sat 12.30 PM Greenhills 1; 11.21 Mon 12.30 PM Gateway 1 and 9.55 PM Glorietta1; 11.23 Wed 7.30 PM UP Film Center; 12.2 Fri 5 PM UP Film Center)

Lost girl

I first saw Mario O'Hara's Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God) in the 1996 Pelikula at Lipunan (Film and Society) festival two decades after its initial commercial run and was convinced it was the finest Filipino film ever made. Sitting down to watch the picture two decades later I have to approach carefully, gingerly, like with an old friend who has long since dropped out of sight: Has it lost its power? Has its edges dulled with familiarity and time? Does this World War 2 drama still speak to us--to me--with eloquence and force?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Doctor Strange (Scott Derrickson)

Middling Strange

Scott Derrickson's new fantasy is the latest stone added to the intimidating wall that Marvel and Disney are presently constructing (in this case Marvel producing, Disney distributing) and as far as bricks go this one isn't too different: a bit quadrilateral, a little inert, a tad dense.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Neon Demon (Nicholas Winding Refn)

Model student
Nicholas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon provokes as many questions as it does responses: is it a horror thriller? An existential comedy? A condemnation of the LA fashion scene or a stylization and glamorization? Feminist or misogynist? Part fantasy or part sick fevered dream?

I say all of the above and none; if anything I'd call it a somewhat exaggerated contemporary documentary on modern-day Los Angeles, a timely rectal temperature reading if you like of the City of Angels, with the thermometer thickly smothered beforehand in a hallucinogenic lubricant. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Apocalypse Child (Mario Cornejo)

Beach boys

Critics fault Mario Cornejo's Apocalypse Child for its formless almost motionless script, as if the premise (that Ford (Sid Lucero) is the bastard child of Francis Ford Coppola, conceived when the director was filming Apocalypse Now in Baler, Aurora Province), its development and resolution, were the raison d'etre for the film.

I disagree. In my book the premise is just an excuse for some lovely filmmaking, with a cast of attractive actors giving relaxed performances in one of the most beautiful seaside spots in the world. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman)

Fast & furious
I remember one night picking up a copy of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice--waded unenthusiastically through the pages wondering what was the author's appeal, why anyone would care about the machinations and intricacies of 18th century English society. Then somehow somewhere along the way--I think about the time of Darcy's spectacularly wrongheaded proposal to Elizabeth--I got hooked; finished the book some time in the early morning. That Austen, she moves fast when the mood hits you.

Never mind the surprise at learning that Whit Stillman is a superb fit for the writer; if anyone bothered to look (myself included) we might have noticed the filmmaker's longstanding admiration for the writer,* both author and filmmaker's brittle sense of humor, their always precise description of society's labyrinthine clockwork. Superb fit? Inevitable, when seen through 20/20 hindsight. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Snowden

Out of joint 

Call Tim Burton's latest his idea of an X-Men movie--a group of super-powered mutants aliens whatever, this time children hiding from a hostile world.