Thursday, September 29, 2022

Ang Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo (The Python in the Old Dome, Gerardo de Leon, 1955)

Phallic symbol

Gerardo de Leon's Ang Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo tells the story of an outsized man: Tulume (Jose Padilla Jr.), former farmer turned bandit when the Spanish Guardia Civil (Civil Guards) kill his wife (this during the years of Spanish rule). Now he's leader of his own gang, with a bounty of thousands on his head.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Kapag Wala Nang Mga Alon (When the Waves are Gone, Lav Diaz, 2022)

Vengeance is mined

Lav Diaz's Kapag Wala Nang Mga Alon (When the Waves are Gone) premiered out-of-competition at the 2022 Venice Film Festival to muted if appreciative applause. If the acclaim isn't as loud, that may be because the film isn't as epically proportioned as A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery or as politically incendiary as The Halt or Season of the Devil. What it is tho is Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo told only as Diaz can: leisurely paced, crudely recorded (on severely monochrome Kodak 16 mm), with absolutely no music whatsoever (all onscreen singing or dancing performed a capella).

And it's a revenge story.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Three Thousand Years of Longing (George Miller, 2022)

I dream of Djinnie

George Miller's Three Thousand Years of Longing isn't exactly an action extravaganza like Mad Max: Fury Road-- but then Miller isn't exactly an action filmmaker, or isn't only an action filmmaker. He's done medical dramas (Lorenzo's Oil), children's films (Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet), bizarre literary adaptations (The Witches of Eastwick); he's done arguably the best episode of The Twilight Zone ever filmed (a remake of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"). His forays into fantasy and horror are at least as interesting for the distinct ways they handle special effects (Babe: Pig in the City looks and feels like Maurice Sendak high on mushrooms) as for what they have to say (the fantasy and especially the horror genre being arguably better at addressing our anxieties than mere action flicks). 

Thursday, September 08, 2022

House of the Dragon and Rings of Power (HBO Max and Amazon series)

Rings and dragons

First two episodes of Rings of Power and it's like I'm back-- back to Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, back to Middle Earth and Sauron and elves and dwarves and Hobbits (Harfoots here), to the books I read in high school, again in college, a third time this past few years. 

How do I feel? Ugh.