Thursday, December 27, 2018

Roma (Alfonso Cuaron, 2018)

Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo
Domesticated helper

Alfonso Cuaron's Roma is yes one of the most beautiful-looking films of the year.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018)

Poster image


So get this--black man becomes first black police officer in a large largely white town (the "Jackie Robinson of the Colorado Springs police force" as his superior puts it). He's consigned to the records room, requests a transfer to undercover; sees a recruitment ad for the KKK, dials the number, gets an unexpected voice at the other end, improvises a racist rant, is invited to join the group.

Sounds like one of the more outrageous skits dreamed up for the short-lived if memorable In Living Color--but it's a true story, based on Ron Stallworth's autobiographical account Black Klansman.  

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Three Years Without God (Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos, Mario O'Hara)

Two women

Last October my mother died.

Which to the world at large may not mean much. But it was with her in mind that I saw the digitally restored version of Mario O'Hara's Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God, 1976), recently released on iTunes.

Not an inappropriate choice. I was in a dark mood and the film--well the title says it all: three years so awful the people felt abandoned by God. 

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Wichita (Jacques Tourneur, 1955)

A good man with a gun

(Yet another film on the soon-to-vanish (Nov. 29) Filmstruck--in this case easily found on other venues (Google Play and iTunes) but difficult to find in Cinemascope; even Turner Classic Movies resorted to showing the cropped pan-and-scan version. Filmstruck presents the film in its original aspect ratio, and if ever the term 'quietly glorious' applied to a picture it applies to this. Again the plea: make the site (or one like it) available again--and available to other countries!

Say the name 'Jacques Tourneur' and the first word that comes to mind for most folks is 'horror' (the second possibly 'cat'). Tourneur has been directing since 1931 (mainly shorts) finally made a splash in the early '40s working for producer Val Lewton in Cat People (lowbudget, eerily beautiful) and I Walked With a Zombie (despite the pulpy title, my favorite adaptation of Jane Eyre). Say his name and the word 'westerns' rarely pops up--but his westerns do in fact represent some of his finest most memorable work.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

To Be or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)

Springtime for Hitler

(Another in a series of tributes to the lamentable closing of Filmstruck, which not only shows rare films (Robert Bresson's The Trial of Joan of Arc) but also Hollywood classics--a comedy which if anything is still relevant today

Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be opened to mixed reviews and so-so box office. A comedy that poked fun at Nazism and Adolf Hitler? At a time when fascism threatened to swallow the world (Pearl Harbor happened a few months before)?

Casablanca was released later that same year to better acclaim and boxoffice; Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator came out two years earlier to good business, despite being banned in parts of Europe and Latin America. Regarding this film Bosley Crowther in The New York Times harumphed: "To say it is callous and macabre is understating the case."

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Trial of Joan of Arc (Proces de Jeanne d'Arc, Robert Bresson)

Joan unornamented

(Robert Bresson's film is available for streaming on Filmstruck, which will shut down by November 29; is still available though less readily on Amazon; should ideally be on a streaming service accessible everywhere including the Philippines (Filmstruck is confined to the USA) but alas isn't.)

The first film to come to mind viewing this stony ground of a picture is Carl Th. Dreyer's silent film, a series of gigantic closeups shuffled through at speed, arguably the most revered and the best-known version of the story.

Robert Bresson's response? "Grotesque buffooneries."

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Halloween (David Gordon Green, 2018)

Mommy direst

Part of what makes Halloween (2018) remarkable: the return of John Carpenter (helped with the music score); the return of Nick Castle (provided the heavy breathing and at one point actually plays masked killer Michael Myers); the return of Jamie Lee Curtis (reprising the role that made her famous, Laurie Strode). But for me what really sets this sequel apart from the ten other sequels reboots remakes and so on is a new name: David Gordon Green.

Friday, October 26, 2018

First Man (Damien Chazelle)

Huston we have a problem

You need to keep reminding yourself: Damien Chazelle's adaptation of James Hansen's biographical book First Man is not The Right Stuff and astronaut Neil Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling) is no Chuck Yeager nor was it--or he--meant to be. Question: does it still manage to stand on its own four radically redesigned fins?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Star is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

Star wars

There are as of this writing five count em five different versions of the story, of an ambitious young artist in love with a declining old star: George Cukor's What Price Hollywood? (1932) where film director Max Carey (Lowell Sherman) takes an interest in aspiring actress Mary Evans (Constance Bennett), based on a story by Adela Rogers St. John and Louis Stevens; William Wellman's A Star is Born (1937) where film star Norman Maine (Fredric March) spots aspiring actress Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor); Cukor's 1954 A Star is Born--for many the definitive version--where James Mason as Maine hooks up with Judy Garland as Blodgett; Frank Pierson's 1976 A Star is Born where Kris Kristofferson's John Norman Howard jumpstarts the career of Barbra Streisand's Esther Hoffman; and of course Bradley Cooper's spanking new version, with Cooper's Jackson Maine discovering Lady Gaga's Ally in a drag bar.

So which one's best? Well lemme tell you:

Thursday, October 11, 2018

My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)

Monster, Inc.

(CAUTION: plot and narrative twists--which aren't all that much and anyway aren't the heart of the film--to be discussed in explicit detail!)

Hard to believe Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro was seen as a too-risky project, and had to be double-featured in its original commercial run with Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies, an adaptation of a well-known World War 2 short story. Both made a modest profit (the former earning $6.1 million in Japan and Europe according to Wikipedia) but Totoro went on to become a family favorite, earning $265 million home video sales in Japan and the USA (again according to Wiki--sometimes you wonder at their figures). Totoro has since grown into a small but persistent cultural phenomenon: Studio Ghibli (which produced the film) adopted the creature as its corporate logo; a Japanese astronomer named an asteroid 10160 Totoro; biologists have dubbed a Vietnamese velvet worm Eoperipatus totoro; and I've spotted stuffed toys being sold in Rotterdam stores.

Totoro is considered a family-friendly delight, purest sunshine and cheer. Some fans though make the case that the picture is darker than it seems, that despite the animator's reputation for creating epic adventures like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke this little production is his true masterpiece.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda, 2017)

Memory play

Michael Almereyda's Marjorie Prime (2017) adapts Jordan Harrison's Pulitzer-nominated play to the big screen in a small way and it's marvelous. Eighty-five year old Marjorie (Lois Smith, who played the role in two previous stage productions) suffers the initial symptoms of Alzheimer's; to help her deal with the memory loss her daughter Tess (Geena Davis) and son-in-law Jon (Tim Robbins) have installed a 'Prime'--a hologram-projected artificial intelligence--representing Marjorie's husband Walter (Jon Hamm) when he was a relatively young forty to talk to Marjorie, record her stories, remind her of any memories she might have forgotten, keep her company, give her all-around emotional support.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I Live in Fear (Akira Kurosawa), Europa '51 (Roberto Rossellini)

The impossible dream

(Warning: narrative details and plot twists explicitly discussed

Fantasy double feature: Akira Kurosawa's I Live in Fear (1955) and Roberto Rossellini's Europa '51 (1952) both ask the question: how should we deal with the man who holds extreme views on life? Humor him or condemn him? Or--unsettling thought--listen to what he has to say?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Don't Go Breaking My Heart (Johnnie To, Wai Ka-fai)

Crazy Rich A**hole

If we're talking lighthearted romantic fare involving insanely prosperous Asians I don't see why we need to go all the way to Hollywood when Hong Kong has been doing fine for years. 

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Loving You (Mou mei san tamm, Johnnie To, 1995)

Bullet in the head

Back in the mid-90s found myself hooked on a particularly intense habit: Johnnie To movies. I'd seen A Hero Never Dies and The Barefoot Kid (his one period martial-arts film) had been digging through various DVDs ever since, hoping to find more. 

Found this: Loving You (Mou mei san taam, 1995) what To considers his first real directing job (he'd made his first feature in 1980; by the time he did this he had some sixteen films under his belt). A crime flick with an inordinate focus on a failing marriage, a marriage melodrama with a terrifically tense confrontation thirty minutes in--I mean how would you handle being pinned in an alleyway by a villain on a fire escape, gun pointed down at you? He'd already fired a shot at your head and in the confusion the bullet had somehow missed its mark. Then your nose starts bleeding. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

First Reformed (Paul Schrader)

Last holdout

Paul Schrader's First Reformed--his twenty-third directing job--is a tiny feature shot around Brooklyn and Queens in only twenty days, on a budget of roughly three and a half million dollars. Arguably his best work to date--or if not his best then somewhere up there.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Balangiga: Howling Wilderness (Khavn)

This is Not an Open Letter to the Cinema Evaluation Board (on their decision to give Balangiga: Howling Wilderness a zero rating)

To the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB);

This is not to be an attack on the board members--whoever you may be, as only Doy Del Mundo has actually affixed his name to the summation of comments on the film, for which I salute his candor.

This is not to be a coldly reasoned rigorously logical argument. 

This is not to be an emotional appeal to the better angels of your nature. 

This is not to be a grammatically punctuationally correct think piece. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Mamang (Denise O'Hara)

A boy's best friend

Filipino filmmaker Mario O'Hara passed on in 2012. His niece Janice O'Hara chose one of his scripts (rewritten extensively by father Jerry O'Hara) to be her debut feature (Sundalong Kanin (Rice Soldiers) arguably one of the best of 2014). Janice died two years later leaving us the one film, compelling us to ask: is there some kind of curse on this family that blesses them with filmmaking and storytelling talent, but relatively fragile lives?

Now Janice's twin sister Denise--who helped produce Sundalong Kanin--has dared that so-called curse by writing and directing her own debut feature.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)

You will never really cohere

Lynne Ramsay's films as narrative features are to put it mildly problematic: they rarely unfold in the approved straightforward manner; are elliptical to the point of obscure; are dark violent disturbing.

And yet and yet and yet

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997)

Gods and monsters

(Warning: article does not summarize the film's story--there are websites for that--but does go into detailed discussion of plot and narrative twists)

Call Princess Mononoke (Mononoke Hime, 1997) Studio Ghibli's biggest production to date; call it an attempted sequel to the 1984 Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, spinning out of control and grown to monstrous proportions; call it Hayao Miyazaki's attempt to directly take on Akira Kurosawa's jidaigeki films, in particular Seven Samurai. The animation outfit would go on to bigger efforts monetarily speaking but in terms of sweep complexity ambition this may be their greatest accomplishment.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Silk purse

Have to admit this straight out: know nothing about fashion or clothes. I'd repeat that in Andrew Sach's approximation of a Basque accent but for the record and to get it out of the way when it comes to couture and textile and clothing design I know nothing. Nada. 

Imagine my relief when Paul Thomas Anderson declares that his latest feature Phantom Thread isn't about fashion either; it's about obsession, about an artist's insistence on the primacy of his work, and a woman's need for space and significance (In relation to a man? Knotty question), about the constant struggle within a man to be either an inspired creative mind or a total pain in the ass. Probably a combination of or variation on both. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Unsane (Steven Soderbergh)


The best part of Steven Soderbergh's Unsane is easily the first half--when unwary businesswoman Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy from The Crown) is suddenly committed to a mental ward for unbecoming thoughts about suicidal ideation.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Bilanggo sa Dilim (Prisoner in the Dark, Mike de Leon, 1986)


John Fowles' debut novel The Collector has been adapted several times for theater stage and big screen, most notably by William Wyler, later by Mike de Leon for a 1986 feature--Bilanggo sa Dilim (Prisoner in the Dark) shot on video.

Comparing the two productions can be instructive: Wyler's is a smoothly executed Hollywood production with a fairly gripping finale; de Leon's feels more subdued, understated, unnervingly autobiographical. 

Thursday, July 05, 2018

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)

A space prodigy

The first time I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey was in a basement, in a projected 35 mm print. I was maybe ten twelve years old, had heard about the film, and was eager to watch.

Bored me out of my skull.

Seeing it again and again over the decades is like coming to know an old friend. You weren't impressed at first but you learn to appreciate his better qualities, and your growing admiration has become part of your youth adolescence adulthood. 

Now that you've seen him in full splendor--projected from a 70 mm print in all its unrestored glory, with flickers and scratches and cigarette burns and all--you realize you hardly knew him, or still have much to learn.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Hereditary (Ari Aster)

Home is where the harm is

The true horror in Ari Aster's Hereditary doesn't come so much from daemoniac forces as they do from human frailty and the cruel chaotic confusion of life.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Faust (Fritz Bennewitz)

Beat the Devil

First published in the Manila Chronicle 12/14/94

With the passing of Lino Brocka, Mario O'Hara is one of a shrinking handful of Philippine film directors whose films are worth getting excited about. Lino has already made his masterpieces; one disadvantage to being dead is that there are no more works forthcoming.

In films such as Condemned and Bulaklak sa City Jail Mr. O'Hara has proven that he can elicit memorable performances and excellent ensemble acting from Dan Alvaro, Nora Aunor, Maya Valdez, Zenaida Amador; even genial German Moreno gave a chilling turn as prison warden in Bulaklak. I will stick my neck out and say that he is Brocka's superior in visual style, as witness the dark gloriously film-noir look of Bagong Hari or the claustrophobic squalor in City Jail. As late as last year with Johnny Tinoso and the Proud Beauty he was still doing fascinating work: while the first half of the film is a mess of underfunded special effects and poorly imagined art direction, the second half is one of the more enchanting fantasies made that year, local or foreign. It was more hip and sophisticated than Disney's Beauty and the Beast and fully realized the complexities of the Nick Joaquin short story it was based on.

One more thing about O'Hara's career: it is difficult it is agony to choose between his acting and his directing. He is a brilliant director but is a just as brilliant if not more so actor. Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang is one of Brocka's more ambitious films (his best some say). O'Hara has the supporting role of a leper who lives in the outskirts of the village near a cemetery; his companion is a woman driven insane by a forced abortion, played by Lolita Rodriguez. Their roles are hoary old cliches that stink to high heaven of sickly sweet sentiment--or should: O'Hara and Ms. Rodriguez perform with sublime simplicity, treading the thin line between bathos and comedy. The result is a tender portrait of small-town outcasts; the film is a starring vehicle for Christopher De Leon (who fares well) but it's O'Hara and Rodriguez who stay with you.

 O'Hara has made a few appearances since (he was memorable in Brocka's Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa as a malevolent gardener out to seduce a repressed widow, again played by Lolita Rodriguez--what is it about the two that the chemistry between them is so potent?). He has gone into directing, resulting in the films already mentioned (for which I am grateful), and has done work on stage.

Which brings us to O'Hara's Mephistopheles in the PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) production of Faust. In England Shakespeare wrote among many plays Henry ll to Vll, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear; Germany has Goethe who wrote Faust. It took him sixty years and almost as long for modern audiences to sit through; PETA is doing only the first part but still--ambitious.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Manhunt (John Woo); Three (Johnnie To); Sky on Fire, Wild City (Ringo Lam)

Four by three

Playing catchup: in the everchanging landscape of World Cinema, what happened to Hong Kong's 'heroic bloodshed' movement--those action filmmakers who featured slow motion, balletic action sequences, guns pointed at each others' faces? 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Citizen Jake (Mike de Leon)

Citizen me

Mike de Leon's first film in--has it been eighteen years?--has to be an event; the latest from one of our finest filmmakers, in the same league as Lino Brocka, Mario O'Hara, Ishmael Bernal, Celso Ad. Castillo. If it's arguably the weakest feature he's done to date (hopefully not his last) it still stands head and shoulders above most anything out there today, Filipino or Hollywood. 

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil, Lav Diaz, 2018)

Rock the Devil

Not long after Brillante Mendoza's Amo (which takes its cue from Respeto's rap-driven score) we have Lav Diaz's take on the Duterte regime. Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil, 2018) is no small-scale response: two hundred and thirty-four minutes long, some six minutes short of four hours. And it's a musical.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Porco Rosso (Hayao Miyazaki, 1992)


Hayao Miyazaki's Porco Rosso started out as a manga for a modeling magazine turned into a short for Japan Airlines grew and grew and grew into his sixth animated feature--easily his oddest and most personal film.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Psychokinesis (Yeom-Iyeok, Yeon Sang-ho, 2018)

Best superhero movie of the year

I know I know I know I know--if you're sick of the genre as I am you probably don't want to hear about yet another super-powered protagonist, let alone the first ever to come out of South Korea. 

Yet I think Yeon Sang-ho's Psychokinesis (Yeom-Iyeok, 2018) is different. Or different enough to be worth a look.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Amo (Brillante Mendoza, 2018)

Who's the boss?

When Netflix announced that it was airing pro-Duterte filmmaker Brillante Mendoza mini-series (produced by TV5 Network), the intention was made clear from the get-go: to present "the other side of the coin" (as Mendoza states in an interview) of the drug war: "Yes, it (the drug war) is necessary for the Philippines--not only for the Philippines but also other countries afflicted with the drug problem." 

When interviewed by The Telegraph Mendoza's response (after the outraged response to his statement) was more measured: "This series will show the two sides of the coin," he says (italics mine). "The message is that we should all understand that there is a (drugs) situation in the Philippines…and now the government has really got very tough about it." He adds "I’m not saying that it should be addressed in the way that this government is dealing with it. But people tend to criticise and to give their opinions without even going deeper into the issue."

At least one human rights group has already voiced its opinion: The International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) on hearing Netflix's declaration that the series is a "bold and suspenseful show that has the potential of capturing thrill-seeking audiences worldwide" has replied in an open letter: "This is a humanitarian crisis, not entertainment fodder."

The series itself? Well let me tell you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Superman 2 (Richard Lester, Richard Donner, 1980)

Margot Kidder 1948 - 2018 

Supermen two

(Story and plot twists of Superman II discussed  in close detail)

Thanks to the influence of the huge Hollywood superproduction that is Man of Steel (which I happen to despise) I was finally motivated to watch the Richard Donner cut of Superman II, and while I concede the technical superiority (the effects, music and overall tone have more of an organic whole) I do think the existence of this version only confirms what made Lester's version so memorable.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Breadwinner (Nora Twomey, 2017)

Tale spin

Nora Twomey's The Breadwinner (adapted from the children's novel by Deborah Ellis) is a gorgeous tapestry of a film, about a young girl and her family eking out a meager life in Taliban-run Kabul, in Afghanistan.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Laman (Flesh, Maryo De Los Reyes)

Belated tribute to Maryo J. de los Reyes (1952 - 2018)

Crazy for the flesh

When I first saw Maryo J. de los Reyes' Laman (Flesh) some sixteen years ago I thought it 'pretty good.' Some sixteen years later (has it been sixteen years?) it seems more than just good it's arguably some of the best work Maryo J. has ever done.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka, Isao Takahata, 1988)

Child's play

Some years back for history class I showed my students Isao Takahata's Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies, 1988), about a brother and his younger sister--Seita and little Setsuko--struggling to survive in wartime Japan (warning: film's story discussed in close detail).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Pom Poko (The Racoon War, Isao Takahata, 1994)

Tribute to Isao Takahata (1935 - 2018)

Guerrilla warfare

Isao Takahata's Pom Poko (The Raccoon War, 1994) begins with a little song where children call on the tanuki (Japanese raccoon dogs) to come play and the tanuki reply that they can't--they're too busy eating pickled plums. The film goes on to outline the dogs' plight: land developers want to convert the forest of Tama Hills into suburbs--the same forest the tanukis have lived in for countless generations.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (Angela Robinson)


Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman makes no reference at all to the subject--partly I suspect because the multi-million dollar production is meant to earn that crucial PG-13 rating pulling in as many kids as permissible and still have Warner Brothers' DC Comics-style dark edgy feel. Which means no mention of the 'B' word (rhymes with 'suffrage') or the 'L' word (rhymes with 'primrose'--if you like 'thespian'), definitely no scenes with Gal Gadot uttering the superheroine's most infamous exclamation: "Suffering Sappho!" 

Enter Angela Robinson with golden lasso in one hand and Amazonian sword in the other slashing through the bull: Wonder Woman was the product of William Moulton Marston, drawing inspiration from his wife Elizabeth and student Olive Byrne (daughter of Ethel Byrne a famous feminist). He wasn't shy about his intentions in creating the character either: "Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world."

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg)


Adapted from Ernest Cline's bestseller, Ready Player One is Steven Spielberg's return to form as entertainer, in my book his finest incarnation. Which when you think about it isn't saying a lot, but is saying something. 

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Insiang (Lino Brocka, 1976)

Insiang: one unhappy family 

(WARNING: Plot twists and story discussed in explicit detail)

Lino Brocka opens Insiang (1976) with the closeup of a pig stabbed in the throat, blood pouring as if out of a spigot. We see row upon row of headless carcasses, bellies split open from neck to crotch, pink skin not unlike a human corpse. The film's cinematographer, the great Conrado Baltazar, captures the haze heat stink and noise of a busy slaughterhouse like no one else before or since.

An amazing beginning, with image foreshadowing the slaughter to come. The image is also a challenge: "Violence on flesh is nothing compared to the violence that can be inflicted on heart and mind." The slaughterhouse scene strikes a particular note, its message loud and clear: "the worst is yet to come." 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Annihilation (Alex Garland)


Meteor flashes across the sky strikes base of lighthouse; Special Forces husband presents himself to wife after an absence of two years; heavily armed scientific expedition walks into the light-and-time distorting perimeter of a jungle afflicted by a mysterious alien force, the twelfth such effort after the previous eleven (save for one notable survivor--the aforementioned Special Forces soldier) failed to return. 

Ladies and gentlemen welcome to Alex Garland's second feature--a loose adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer's novel that is if anything more bizarre and ruinously ambitious than his first (the wicked sexy Ex Machina).

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time (Ava DuVernay)


Word is out: Ava DuVernay's adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's classic piece of children's literature has provoked critically mixed reviews, has reportedly underperformed at the box office. The Disney magic, so spectacularly validated with Ryan Coogler's critically and commercially beloved Black Panther seems with this production to have stumbled, big-time. 

The movie itself? Well--

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)

Catholic school girls in trouble

Have to admit that taking on actress-turned-filmmaker Greta Gerwig's second feature gave me pause. Not my favorite genre (the bildungsroman) nor was the milieu familiar (Sacramento, California)--tempted to throw up my hands say 'not my cup of tea!' and leave it at that.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Best of 2017

Best of 2017

What I've seen of 2017 with maybe three exceptions was good not great--which possibly reflects more on me and my viewing efforts  than on the year--but who can refrain from making year-end lists? I can't. I didn't.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

The Post (Steven Spielberg)

Dies in darkness

Steven Spielberg's latest film may be--thanks to the timing and historical context in which it appears--the most important of his career.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro)

The drowned world

Guillermo del Toro's latest begins with a world already underwater--fish fluttering down a carpeted hallway, chairs and tables spinning in slow motion, a lamp and alarm clock settling gradually down to arrange themselves on a side table while the princess--head wrapped in a sleep mask--sinks into her couch. Then the alarm rings jerking Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) out of her gentle greenlit dream. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin MacDonagh))


Martin McDonagh? Much-honored playwright and to be honest I've yet to see any of his theater work, but the movies--

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Magnifico (2003, Maryo J. de los Reyes)

Belated tribute to filmmaker Maryo J. de los Reyes: thoughts on one of his most highly regarded works

It's a wonderful life
Maryo J. de los Reyes' Magnifico is something fairly new in recent Philippine cinema: a wholesome family picture that's actually quite good. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)


And what of Luca Guadagnino's Call Me by Your Name, his adaptation of Andre Aciman's novel from a screenplay by James Ivory? I mean: two beautiful men, an Italian villa, a sundrenched summer in Lombardy, Italy--what's not to like?