Monday, September 19, 2022

Kung Wala Nang Mga Alon (When the Waves are Gone, Lav Diaz, 2022)

Vengeance is mined

Lav Diaz's Kapag Wala Nang Mga Alon (When the Waves are Gone) premiered out-of-competition at the 2022 Venice Film Festival to muted if appreciative applause. If the acclaim isn't as loud, that may be because the film isn't as epically proportioned as A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery or as politically incendiary as The Halt or Season of the Devil. What it is tho is Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo told only as Diaz can: leisurely paced, crudely recorded (on severely monochrome Kodak 16 mm), with absolutely no music whatsoever (all onscreen singing or dancing performed a capella).

And it's a revenge story.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Three Thousand Years of Longing (George Miller, 2022)

I dream of Djinnie

George Miller's Three Thousand Years of Longing isn't exactly an action extravaganza like Mad Max: Fury Road-- but then Miller isn't exactly an action filmmaker, or isn't only an action filmmaker. He's done medical dramas (Lorenzo's Oil), children's films (Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet), bizarre literary adaptations (The Witches of Eastwick); he's done arguably the best episode of The Twilight Zone ever filmed (a remake of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"). His forays into fantasy and horror are at least as interesting for the distinct ways they handle special effects (Babe: Pig in the City looks and feels like Maurice Sendak high on mushrooms) as for what they have to say (the fantasy and especially the horror genre being arguably better at addressing our anxieties than mere action flicks). 

Thursday, September 08, 2022

House of the Dragon and Rings of Power (HBO Max and Amazon series)

Rings and dragons

First two episodes of Rings of Power and it's like I'm back-- back to Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, back to Middle Earth and Sauron and elves and dwarves and Hobbits (Harfoots here), to the books I read in high school, again in college, a third time this past few years. 

How do I feel? Ugh. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Memories of a Love Story (Joselito Altarejos, 2022)

View master

Early in Joselito Altarejos' Memories of a Love Story Eric (Oliver Aquino) and Jericho (Migs Almendras) lock gazes, and you hear a k-tchak! as the camera cuts to flashback. Annoying sound, but gradually you realize what Altarejos is trying to evoke: the clack of a View-Master stereopticon shifting from one photograph to the next, offering you-- in three-dimensional imagery, no less-- a glimpse into a brightly colored forever frozen past. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

12 Weeks (Anna Isabelle Matutina, 2022)

Three months

Anna Isabelle Matutina's debut feature 12 Weeks is powerful both for what it says and doesn't say. It's a laser-focused look at a woman (Max Eigenmann as Alice), firmly in charge of her life and career, suddenly blindsided by the fact that she's pregnant at 40-- what she feels, what she (implicitly) thinks, what she faces in terms of social and practical challenges in the Philippines, where abortion is illegal.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Isang Salaysay ng Karahasang Pilipino (a Tale of Filipino Violence, 2022)

Marcos, revisited

How many ways can Lav Diaz take on the Marcos dictatorship? As early as Batang West Side (West Side Avenue 2001) where a lead character admits to a dark relationship with the regime, the director has presented that period in Philippine history as a kind of collective trauma, a recurring nightmare we are all still struggling to awaken from. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

24/7 (The Sandman, Jamie Childs) Television

Diner time

So now we have it: a fairly big-budgeted adaptation of Neil Gaiman's celebrated fantasy series. Beautifully cast, ingeniously reworked, adequately directed.