Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) - 4K restoration

Wait till your father gets

--on the occasion of the film's 4k restoration

"(N)othing is so frightening as a labyrinth with no center" Jorge Luis Borges, quoting GK Chesterton*

Stanley Kubrick, reportedly dismayed by the poor boxoffice of Barry Lyndon, decided his next project would be a horror film; he skimmed through the opening pages of a stack of books (tossing aside those that failed to hold his attention) settled on Stephen King's The Shining, about a haunted hotel that turns an alcoholic father against his wife and telepathic son.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Lapu-Lapu (Lamberto Avellana, 1955)

Comic book hero

(Another LVN Film, available on Mike De Leon's Citizen Jake vimeo website)

Lamberto Avellana's Lapu-Lapu (1955) is about as straightforward a biopic as you can get about the famed Mactan warrior, other than the fact that this was adapted from Francisco Coching's highly romanticized (to put it mildly) komiks serial.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Pag-asa (Hope, Lamberto Avellana, 1951)

Cinderella story

(Yet another Lamberto Avellana film (Pag-asa or Hope, 1951) available on Mike de Leon's Citizen Jake vimeo site--this one of decent clarity, with English subtitles)

Mike de Leon, in passing: "Huk, despite the propaganda, in my opinion, remains one of the best Avellana films. Along with Pag-asa."

Which piqued my curiosity (Pag-asa?); which compelled me to look the film up. Turns out it's a gem--arguably the most likable of Avellana's films, or at least of those readily available for viewing.

Celing (Priscilla Cellona) and younger brother Piding (Ike Jarlego Jr.) arrive at the mansion of Don Paco (Paco Zamora) with a letter: their father has died and entrusted them to his care. Care however means in the hands of Don Paco's wife Dona Esperanza (Naty Bernardo) who slaps Piding and yanks Celing's hair and threatens to send the boy to Lulumboy. Later Piding sneaks out of bed to pack, in preparation for running away; Celing catches him in the act, and he explains why the threat of Lulumboy terrifies him so: "They'll cut off my tongue, my nose, and my ears!"

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Kundiman ng Lahi (Folksong, Lamberto Avellana, 1959)

Country girl

(Again, a film from LVN studios, available (without subtitles, alas) on Mike de Leon's Citizen Jake vimeo website)

Give it to master Filipino filmmaker Lamberto Avellana: he knows how to start a picture. Badjao had a horn blown to gather a village of house canoes, forming a seaborne village; Huk sa Bagong Pamumuhay began with a detonating grenade; Anak Dalita evoked Roberto Rossellini in neorealist mode, tracing the ruin of a church from the tip of its fractured belfry to the people teeming at the base of its crumbling walls. Kundiman ng Lahi (Folksong, 1959), Avellana's last film for LVN studios, trumps them all I think: no blown horn, no explosives, no church ruins, just the monotonous thumping of a wood pestle milling rice in a mortar. An obvious symbol--we're grain, our husk (our innocence, our sensitivity) stripped off of us to a relentless beat--but also a sexual one, the phallic pestle pounding into the concave mortar, turning hard seed into tender food.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Anak Dalita (Child of Sorrow, Lamberto Avellana, 1956)

Survivor type

Yet another Lamberto Avellana film on Mike de Leon's Citizen Jake vimeo site, this one arguably his most famous: Anak Dalita, or Child of Sorrow (1956)

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Fifteen Filipino films

(Thanks to Video 48 for some of the pictures)

Fifteen Filipino films

My old list.

Pinoy Rebyu's list

This can be neither comprehensive nor complete. We've lost so many of our films to vinegar syndrome, to New Year celebrations, to general apathy and neglect; a kind of accelerating cultural Alzheimer's, a tragedy I would argue comparable to many recent disasters only instead of lives lost we're losing our sense of self. This is a mere sample a sketch--a glimpse if you like--of what I believe are the finest Filipino films I've managed to see to date.

A film is composed of many elements--dialogue, sound, music, color, movement, the shape and texture of people's hands eyes faces. Of all these elements I'd say the most expressive are the last three--but that's me saying so, an assertion just dying to be contradicted (ask Michael Powell, or Robert Bresson).

And a list (any man's list, which I consider superior to any aggregate) is ultimately futile, is a man's way of insisting on his priorities biases (occasionally hopefully) insights.

I love futile gestures.

This for better or worse is mine.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Badjao (The Sea Gypsies, Lamberto Avellana, 1957)


Yet another of Lamberto Avellana's LVN films, available at Mike de Leon's Vimeo site:

The film starts with an image of waves lapping onto shore, the divide between land and sea stretching diagonally across the screen. With the first frame Avellana (collaborating with the great cinematographer Mike Accion) sums up the film: the tension between sand and surf, between people of differing loyalties, communities, ethnicities. A man standing beside a roof of dried palm raises his horn against clouded sky and blows; cue the bombast (and lovely lilting melody) of Francisco Buencamino Jr.'s theme music.