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.