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. 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Cinemalaya 2021

Baker's dozen

Cinemalaya 2021 is the first in the longest while I've seen all of a Filipino film festival's competition entries, and that mainly because they're shorts (all available on KTX.PH). I've heard disappointment from some corners--apparently this was how Cinemalaya 2020 went and I understand how they feel but 1) I don't really consider shorts necessarily inferior to features (as with short stories vs. novels each form has its virtues and vices) and 2) I've been so hungry for new Filipino work that for me this was a sprawling table of tapas (in the Spanish not Filipino breakfast sense) featuring a wide array of flavors.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Heremias: Unang Aklat - Ang Alamat ng Prinsesang Bayawak (Heremias: Book One - The Legend of the Lizard Princess, Lav Diaz, 2006)

A prophet in his own land

Lav Diaz's Heremias (2006) is 540 minutes long, an hour shy of the length of Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino (Evolution of a Filipino Family, 2004), presently the record holder of the title 'longest single Filipino feature'--but then this picture is only part one, subtitled (or so I'm told) Book 1 - The Legend of the Lizard Princess. Ebolusyon spanned a broad canvas, featuring not just the story of two families (rice farmers in Tarlac, firewood gatherers aspiring to become gold miners in the Benguet Province) but the recent history of the Philippines as represented in a series of documentary footage, from Marcos' declaration of martial law in 1972 to the EDSA Revolt in 1986 to the massacre of farmers on Mendiola Bridge in 1987. Along the way Diaz stuffed the film with all kinds of conceits, from film critic Gino Dormiendo playing Lino Brocka in a series of televised interviews, to a plot to assassinate Brocka (?!), to a series of hilariously melodramatic radio broadcasts that the families listen to weekly, with religious fervor, as if at Sunday Mass. Heremias is different--the odyssey of a man (Ronnie Lazaro) from his village to the city and back; more, it's his journey from a state of innocence to knowledge, disillusionment, guilt.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Mitchell Leisen (Death Takes a Holiday (1939), Midnight (1939), Kitty (1945), To Each His Own (1946), No Man of Her Own (1950))

Rich Mitch

I'd been meaning to see more Guy Madden films before they leave the Criterion Channel on July 31, but somehow got sidetracked by Death Takes a Holiday. I mean--Fredric March as The Grim Reaper? I know Madden is an important experimental filmmaker with a high reputation and what films I've seen (Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary; The Saddest Music in the World; Archangel) reveal a cineliterate talent with a taste for silent film exuberance and, in the case of Dracula, the influence of Gerardo de Leon's The Blood Drinkers--but morbid romances are impossible to resist. Besides there's a cadaverous quality to March--his performance here suggesting an antediluvian theatrical style irretrievably lost--that makes him the perfect Death.