Monday, July 25, 2016

Star Trek Beyond (Justin Lin)

The past and the spurious

Trek is dead; long live Trek. Early in this latest movie Spock (Zachary Quinto playing the emo version) gazes at the picture of his dead alternate-universe self (the more equanimous Leonard Nimoy) and ponders mortality, the past, probably the future.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Dung-aw (Lino Brocka, 1975)

Refrains in a song

Lino Brocka's Dung-aw (Dirge, 1976), his musical adaptation of the life of Gabriela Silang is one of the less acclaimed and least seen of his films and possibly for a reason: Brocka doesn't quite have a knack for the genre. The drama swirls around this or that central figure and suddenly everyone pauses while the protagonist bursts into song; Armida Siguion-Reyna as firebrand revolutionary Gabriela Silang acquits herself well (even if you can tell she's lip-synching to a recording of her own voice) but the darkly handsome Mario Montenegro as her husband Diego (also using his own voice) can only manage a cautious warble (as he should). The result is certainly different but not the kind of inspiring historical re-enactment you (or Armida who also happens to be producer) probably had in mind. 

That said Mario O'Hara's script for the film takes what little is known of Silang and fashions a brief (seventy-five minutes long) sketch of her life--her beginnings as a woman of some means (she married into wealth, married again when her first husband died), her support of second husband Diego's decision to join the British against the Spaniards in the hopes of establishing a free northern province of Ilocos, her eventual takeover of Diego's leadership role in the rebellion when he is assassinated.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Daredevil Season 2 (Doug Petrie, Marco Ramirez)


(Warning: story and plot twists of the Netflix series discussed in detail)

Was Daredevil Season 2 an improvement over the first? Well yes and no.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Game of Thrones Season 6

Game set match

(Warning: surprise twists and plot details, of both series and novels, to be discussed)

Season 6 of Game of Thrones has just ended and--yeah. 

Friday, July 01, 2016

The Miracle of Morgan's Creek / Ordet

Two miracles

Warning: plot of both The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and Ordet discussed in close detail)

Maybe the funniest joke in Preston Sturges' classic comedy--about Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton wearing one of the most salacious monikers in all of cinema) who after a night of drunken partying with a band of soldiers finds herself pregnant--was that it got made in the first place, in 1944, under the supposedly watchful eyes of the Hays Office (and in fact they were watching: when the picture was being developed the Office approved of only ten of the script's pages). 

Film critic James Agee managed to upstage (or top) the joke, though, with his appreciative quip: "the Hays Office has either been hypnotized into a liberality for which it should be thanked, or has been raped in its sleep." 

I dearly love the film but do feel that both film and Agee's topper were topped in turn by the Office itself when it cautioned the filmmakers (sometime during script development) to depict the men as "normal, thoroughly fit American soldiers who have had an evening of clean fun."