Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mario O'Hara's 'Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos' (1976) and Lino Brocka's 'Bona' (1980) now on DVD!

Majayjay Church in Laguna, where key scene from Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos were shot

Not a big fan of Christmas--didn't bother putting up a tree this year and if you ever got a gift from me, it was probably a book (tough luck). 'Tis the time of year I keep my head low, keep a tighter hold on my hard-earned money than usual, keep hoping New Year arrives before I snap. And woe to whoever greets me "Merry Christmas!"--I stare till he begins to wonder if he had a hole on his forehead, and then reply "I don't really celebrate Christmas, but hope you have a happier new year than this one, at least.").

Yep, I'm just brimming with Christmas spirit, and if you ever, ever suggest that I'm too much of a Scrooge and therefore should lighten up, you can take your partridge-infested pear tree and stuff it up where Santa would be afraid to go.

All that said, there are times in this accursed season when I find myself actually thankful for something--this is one of those times. A DVD release, in effect--two of them: Mario O'Hara's Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God, 1976) and Lino Brocka's Bona (1980).

Both feature Filipina film actess Nora Aunor at her very finest; both represent the two filmmakers at their very best--represent, in my opinion, Filipino cinema at its very best.

Mind you, I haven't actually seen these DVDs: can't vouch for the video transfer quality, or the quality of the source material. I don't know if there are any extra features (probably not), or subtitles (most likely not)--but this is mainly nit-picking; the DVDs are out and I for one am grateful.

Here are articles I wrote, for Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos, and for Bona respectively. Enjoy!

25 comments:

Dan Sallitt said...

Looks as if there are no English subtitles on the O'Hara - do you know for sure?

Dominic K. Laeno said...

Oh, neato, I can watch these; thanks for the heads up...

That said, I'm still waiting for my other crap to arrive from CineFilipino; it is taking quite a while, even though 3 of the 5 DVDs were supposedly shipped some time ago (I'm assuming they still can't find Insiang and Ang Tatay Kong Nanay in the warehouse... which is still a strange problem to have, if you ask me).

But, yes...

I'll get to these ASAP; I'm surprisingly strapped this month since I've opted to pick up 2 Shohei Imamura movies at Amazon (Dr. Akagi and The Eel)... on the other hand, maybe I should opt to get them used?

rex baylon said...

thanks for the heads up about the new dvd releases Mr. Vera. From your review Bona looks to be a very interesting film. It seems to have shades of Almodovar, possibly something akin to the film Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, but obviously still retaining Brocka's personal stamp on the material.

Noel Vera said...

"It seems to have shades of Almodovar"

Tell you the truth, I kind of think Almodovar is a touch overrated. If you check out Joey Gosengfiao's Temptation Island, it's wilder and stranger and funnier than anything Almodovar has done, only done at a fraction of the latter's budgets.

Noel Vera said...

If I had to choose, I'd pick the Filipino films, Dom. I think Imamura's great and all, but it's easy to get his films, well easier, and everyone knows him. I imagine Filipino films are a whole new world for you.

Noel Vera said...

Dan I'm about 90% sure there's no subs. And there's the issue of framing--when the films were screened in New York on some kind of--I don't know if they were burned DVDs or whatever--the aspect ratio was cropped, as if for TV. I don't know if the aspect ratio's been preserved for the DVD release, if they used the same DVD or whatever they used for the New York screening.

rex baylon said...

Mr. Vera after reading your reply to my comment I immediately went on Youtube to see if someone had possibly uploaded Temptation Island onto the site. To my disappointment they had not, but I did find a 10 minute preview for the film, and although I couldn't understand everything the actors were saying I was cracking up laughing when the beauty contests, trapped on the island, were warming themselves by a fire and the model in the red bathing suit comments on how they have no water, no food, so they should just dance, but after awhile the playful dancing devolves into a catfight. Having seen only a tiny fraction of the entire film I do have to say that it is funnier and genuinely campier than most of Almodovar's output. Although I am a fan of Live Flesh, Bad Education, and Volver I do sometimes find the strained seriousness of Talk To Her or the manufactured camp of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown difficult to digest.

Noel Vera said...

I think Temptation Island is on kabayancentral's website. You can google it, or look for the link in my 'Filipino films on DVD' post, link on the left column.

I'm not a big fan of serious Almodovar; I prefer his earlier movies, when he was funnier. Bitchier too.

Dominic K. Laeno said...

The problem I'm having with "The Eel" and "Dr. Akagi" is that they are VERY Out of Print at this point and are getting excessively harder to find; a new copy of THE EEL at AMAZON is like $50 for some reason.

On the other hand, AnimEigo (a DVD company that release anime here in the states), re-released Imamura's BLACK RAIN recently (which I really really liked)... so maybe they'll possibly do more re-releases?

I sure hope so; it was a really well-produced DVD... especially for the price.

That said... uh... plans have changed: I ran out of money this month since I got a new drawing tablet (it's pretty nice, so I don't feel shafted... I mean, between spending $200 on Blu-rays and this, I guess this is better).

I'll probably try to get all my Filipino movie buying done next month...

(yeah, it looks good... no good anime coming out next month [in fact, that hasn't really been many for several, but old habits die hard], so I'm all clear to get everything I wanna see; like I said: I'll be working my way through your list, so thanks for all these heads up)

Noel Vera said...

Blue Ray? Tablets? I prefer to spend my money on titles, not tech (and I rent when I can), but that's me.

Dominic K. Laeno said...

Well, I really like the tablet (the lines I draw are a lot smoother than my old one, plus the nibs are replaceable and I like how it feels when I glide the stylus around)...

As for Blu-Ray (I already have a player... my PS3, which isn't even used for games anymore), admittedly, they release a lot of shit on it (which may be a good thing, or bad thing... I'm not sure)...

But it's still nice owning stuff on it anyway; PUBLIC ENEMIES and MIAMI VICE look REALLY REALLY good, for starters.

Steve said...

Hi Noel. Do you know where I can get a copy of 'Bayan Ko' on DVD (can be any region)? Thanks! Steve

Noel Vera said...

Dom, I thought Miami and Public were some of the best films of their respective years, but no, I can wait for the Blu-Ray myself.

Steve, I don't know where it's available. It can be seen in Cinema One, on the Filipino Channel (which I think is available on Dish Network) that's your best bet.

Dominic K. Laeno said...

In all honesty, you probably should wait; the stuff is still really expensive right now (though, amusingly, I remember getting THE AVIATOR on BD for like $10; that was a good buy), even if you fish around for cheaper prices online (plus, you'd need a good HDTV to take advantage of BD anyway... like, the initial costs are expensive enough as it is... then you have the $30-retail price for new BDs)...

But, yeah, I'm kind of a compulsive buyer, so it makes sense that I would latch onto the new-fangled whatever, even though I have no idea what the hell I'm doing...

Josef said...

Got both DVD's today. There are no subs for both, same goes for chapter stops. The only thing the DVD's have is the film itself and a photo gallery.

In terms of quality its well... servicable, heavy digital artifacts so you can see some pixelation. Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos is happily not the sepia restored version but I will note there is some jutters or unstable images, especially when it cuts to an edit with the image going from slightly down to up akin to what happens when you try to take a photo of your TV as it runs using a bad camera. Bona doesn't have that problem, just artifacts are more pronounced due to the bigger mass of people onscreen though I do wonder whether it is on the proper aspect ratio since the people look kinda well fat...

I would rate it by say comparison lower than say the Insiang or Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang DVD's. But a notch better than say Himala. Still the compression for the films are weak, I can't vouch as well for Bona but Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos definitely has weaker compression since I've managed to procure my own copy from a source and the image is definitely better on my DVDR than the DVD I just got. Eitherway its not as if anyone was expecting pristine quality, its at least servicable.

Anonymous said...

BTW just to clarify something neither of these DVD's are CineFilipino its from a totally different brand altogether. Ivorysomething (name eludes me right now).

Noel Vera said...

Thanks for the info, Josef. Personally I think CineFilipino puts out good product. Glad to see this is watchable, though I wish it at least had subs.

Josef said...

I watched Bona for the first time today was quite taken aback at how intense the film becomes, as it gradually unmasks the sleaze ball nature of Gardo as well as the boiling realization of Bona that climaxes well at the ending. Quite strong stuff, still sorting thoughts out. But whats interesting, seeing as I've read the blurbs of critics on the back of the DVD comparing her to Guilliete Massina and the boy from bicycle thieves, is that while Bona is in the periphery of the relationship she still remains strong (much like many of the women in the film). That I do think comparison between her and those other characters may not be apt since Bona, and I've noticed many of Lino's women, may be getting the short end but they're certainly strong. Strong enough that they'd fight back.

In any case I will have to be a debbie downer, well mayber. I was wrong there is subs on the Bona DVD but they're not english. They're burned in French subs. So for better or for worse you've got french subs, if you've got french friends or friends who can understand french I guess you can recommend this to them. Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos has no subs at all, but it does seem the weird jutters with motion as I've noted.

Noel Vera said...

Thanks for the input. Pretty much expected that there's no subs. Pretty much expected there's no subs--it's really for overseas Filipinos, not the international market. We need another, better release.

Deogracias said...

Hi Noel I thought you are writing a book on Mario O' Hara entitled The Quiet Man?

Noel Vera said...

Haven't started! Life keeps getting in the way.

Deogracias said...

Where can we buy your book Critic After Dark? We can't find any copies here?

Noel Vera said...

There's a link to a webpage on my blog links. You can order online from that webpage. I'm afraid there are no more copies being sold locally.

rickybooboo said...

Noel,

I'm in the process of updating my novel, Impostor. Would like to talk to you about using your outrageously creative review as a Forward to this edition. If you would, please send me an email so we can talk.

Richard Beymer
aka Spaceman George
rickybooboo@hotmail.com

Noel Vera said...

Sure!

TopOfBlogs [Valid Atom 1.0] blogville.us BlogCatalog http://globeofblogs.com/buttons/globe_blogs.gif