Thursday, January 14, 2021

Best and the rest of 2020

Best and the rest 2020

Yeah yeah yeah

Sick of essays mourning the disaster that was last year? Same.

Let's get with it.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Fan Girl (Antoinette Jadaone, 2020)

Fan service

Antoinette Jadaone's Fan Girl is a sneaky little comedy that starts off with a storyline planted firmly within familiar Jadaone territory (the constantly permeable membrane between showbiz fantasy and everyday reality a la Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay; the sad-funny interchanges that motor romantic comedies a la This Thing Called Tadhana). Jane (Charlie Dizon), who describes herself as real-life celebrity Paulo Avelino's 'number one fan,' skips afternoon class to attend a mall event promoting the star's latest movie; she manages to climb into the back of Paulo's pickup truck just as he drives away. 

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Bona (Lino Brocka, 1980

Bona: martyr or monster?

(Plot discussed in explicit detail; details of Bona's status outdated by over a decade)

Lino Brocka's Bona is possibly the least-seen of his major works, partly because the two remaining good prints of the picture had been squirreled away abroad (to the Cinematheque Francais and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art) while Filipinos back home had to content themselves with fading recollections and equally faded Betamax tapes. Everyone remembers how powerful the film was; no one can rightly say they've actually seen it, at least in recent years.

It's exciting news to learn that Cinema One with the help of the Cinematheque is broadcasting a clear new video copy of Bona, one with French subtitles. For a new generation of viewers--one barely able to recognize the name of Brocka--this is a chance to finally see a famed classic; for those who remember the film from its Metro Manila Film Festival run this is a chance to update (and possibly destroy--but that's the risk of any revival) their Beta-assisted memories with freshly minted images. Whichever you are, veteran or innocent, even twenty-six years later there's much in the film that can still shock and appall.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Kisapmata (Mike de Leon)

All in the family

(Restored and with English subtitles, available for a limited time (Dec. 19, 7 AM to 11 PM Manila time, or Dec. 18, 7 PM to 11 AM Eastern))

Kisapmata (Blink) starts off quietly enough, with Mila Carandang (Charo Santos) informing her parents Mang Dadong (Vic Silayan) and Adelina (Charito Solis) that she's getting married to Noel (Jay Ilagan). Harmless enough scene--only why does Mila look like she's about to set off a hand grenade in the living room and why does Adelina pad quietly to the kitchen to fetch an ice pack for Dadong's sudden migraine, flattening her body against the wall when passing his chair?

Little details like that don't just embellish Mike De Leon's film but define it, set a tone that De Leon sustains throughout, that of a horror comedy.

A horror comedy? But let me explain.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Mank (David Fincher, 2020)


Not here to bury Mank; I defer to Welles specialist Joseph McBride's demolition job which may be angry but also densely authoritatively detailed-- he knows of what he speaks. Me? Just here to put my two centavos in.

Friday, December 04, 2020

Midnight in a Perfect World (Dodo Dayao, 2020)

History made at night

I thought Violator-- Dodo Dayao's debut feature-- to be one of the most intriguing of recent horrors; think Kurosawa Kiyoshi doing a punk remake of Rio Bravo, with Hawks' sticks of dynamite swapped out for the apocalypse. Midnight in a Perfect World sees Dayao stepping up his game, this time proposing a semi-utopian society afflicted with both drug use and police fascism. 

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Best of 1998

1998: the good, the bad, and the ugly 

1998 is a good year for films, but the good weren’t the ones you’d expect, and  didn’t come from where you’d expect.