Wednesday, October 13, 2021

No Time to Die (Cary Joji Fukunaga, 2021)


Time enough for love

(Plot twists and story discussed in explicit detail)

Latest of a longrunning franchise, last to feature latest Bond Daniel Craig. Best of the lot tho I'm not a fan of of the series from Roger Moore onwards. Craig I'll admit is one of the better actors in the role, second to Connery (who didn't do his best work in this series). I trust I make myself clear as mud. 

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Pedro Penduko (Gerardo de Leon, 1954)


The legend begins

Legendary komiks writer-artist Francisco Coching's best-known work first saw light of day in Liwayway Magazine; its first of many incarnations on the big screen was this, Gerardo 'Gerry' de Leon's homespun folksy Pedro Penduko done the same year (if web sources can be trusted). 

De Leon is one of the few great filmmakers who dabbled in comics (others include--off the top of my head--Robert Altman, Mario Bava, Lino Brocka, Celso Ad. Castillo (who did a remake starring Ramon Zamora in 1973), Ishmael Bernal, Lamberto Avellana). The previous year de Leon had also adapted Mars Ravelo's Dyesebel, and while I generally agree with Martin Scorsese's jab at the Marvel Cinematic Universe I do think some comic-book adaptations are cinema--you just have to decide which. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0: Thrice Upon a Time (Hideaki Anno, 2021


End of everything

(Details of plot twists and narrative discussed in detail)

I remember my initial reaction to Neon Genesis Evangelion, from TV series to expanded film versions, ending with the assertion that Anno has "some growing up to do". I take back my dismissive attitude towards the TV finale--no matter how experimental End of Evangelion became (and it admittedly got pretty experimental with money to burn, a tribute to the financial success of the series) that finale only proved how truly radical the series was, almost entirely by accident (a combination of cost and time overruns plus Anno's own indecisiveness as to form)--I mean, an intricate narrative involving mechas that ends with neither mechas nor narrative but a group session in a high school gym? It wasn't fair to viewers (Who shot Kaji? Why kidnap Kozo? What happened to NERV, or for that matter the rest of humanity?) but definitely wasn't run-of-the-mill.  

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Malignant (James Wan, 2021)


Malingering

(Warning: plot twists and story discussed in explicit and gory detail)

James Wan's Malignant promises more than it delivers: a Dario Argentoish giallo that morphs into Cronenbergian body horror that turns, rather wanly, into life-affirming feminism. Three-fourths of the way through there's a supposedly wild twist but really nothing we haven't seen before, from The X-Files' episode "Humbug" to George Romero's The Dark Half to Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall to--if we consider this a variant on the doppelganger genre--Dostoevsky's The Double to Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Candyman (Nia DaCosta, 2021)


Call me by your name

The script of Nia DaCosta's Candyman is problematic, to put it mildly. It seeks to repurpose a pop gothic figure under a more politically correct ideology; it seeks to deliver a more hopeful overall message that acknowledges current racial tensions, while still administering intense doses of gore not to mention satire to a (presumably) bloodthirsty audience. 

Does it work? Tell you what I think:

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Best of 2001


A film odyssey

The search for cinema in 2001 started out with one of the less admirable, Yam Llaranas’ Balahibong Pusa (Pussy Hairs), an unwholesome mix of MTV, San Miguel Beer commercials, and Mike de Leon’s Kisapmata. It was screened side-by-side with Gil Portes’ Gatas sa Dibdib ng Kaaway (In the Bosom of the Enemy), a passably crafted (meaning it didn’t look like a San Miguel Beer commercial) love triangle between a woman, a guerilla, and a Japanese officer in World War 2.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)


In the Mode for Love

In Wong Kar Wai's latest In the Mood for Love Tony Leung plays Mr. Chow, Maggie Cheung plays Mrs. Chan. He's a newspaper reporter; she's a secretary. They're both married and suspect their respective spouses are having affairs; it's when they learn that Mrs. Chow is having an affair with Mr. Chan that their eyes finally turn to each other, in mutual hurt and longingA neat premise, neat enough to make you sit up and want to know what happens next.