Lav Diaz – Ebolusyon ng isang pamilyang Pilipino AKA Evolution of a Filipino Family (2004)

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An intimate epic made with uncompromising and austere seriousness, Lav Diaz’s “Evolution of a Filipino Family” patiently and methodically observes the collapse and hopeful revival of a poor farming clan, meant to symbolize a nation’s history spanning 1971 to 1987. Ten-hour running time, radically slow pace and hyperminimalist mise en scene will excite international cinephiles at the most daring fests and showcases, which are the only conceivable venues outside of homevid. Continue reading

Lino Brocka – Orapronobis AKA Fight for Us (1989)

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Lino Brocka’s “Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa” (Three, Two, One, 1974) shows the filmmaker’s versatility in the short form, working with various writers.

The first segment, Tony Perez’s “Mga Hugis ng Pag-asa” (Faces of Hope) has Jay Ilagan play Noni, a drug addict struggling in a drug rehabilitation center. And while the segment is generally considered to be the weakest of the three, it does feature cinematographer Romy Vitug’s fine monochromatic camerawork, and the startling image of Ilagan being shaved of all his hair (a shockingly traumatic sight when I first saw it at the tender age of nine).
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Shinji Sômai – Shonben Rider AKA P.P. Rider (1983)

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P. P. Rider is a Japanese film dealing with three teenagers who set out to recover a kidnapped schoolmate. This capsule description, while accurate enough, makes the film sound rather like something Disney used to make to fill a couple spare weeks on his TV show. P. P. Rider isn’t that at all. It certainly wasn’t made for children.
Written by Leonard Schrader and his wife Chieko Schrader. Continue reading

Anocha Suwichakornpong – Dao khanong AKA By the Time It Gets Dark (2016)

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By the Time it Gets Dark encompasses multiple stories of Thailand whose connections are as spiritual as they are incidental. We meet a pair of actors whose paths take them in very different directions. We meet a young waitress serving breakfast at an idyllic country café, only to later find her employed in the busy dining room of a river cruise ship. And we meet a filmmaker interviewing an older woman whose life was transformed by the political activism of her student years and the Thammasat University massacre of 1976. Continue reading

Konstantin Lopushansky – Pisma myortvogo cheloveka AKA Letters from a Dead Man (1986)

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Letters from a Dead Man is another film that deals with the theme of the nuclear nightmare. It falls into a mini-genre of nuclear holocaust film along with others such as On the Beach (1959), Dr Strangelove or, How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Fail-Safe (1964), The War Game (1965) et al. But what makes Letters from a Dead Man unique in this case is that the treatment is one that comes from the opposite side of the Iron Curtain. Every single other treatment of the nuclear holocaust theme was made in the West and comes based on the speculation (or at least implication) of what would happen if the bombs falling were coming from the Soviet side; this is one which shows everything from the other perspective. In both cases though, the films are almost identical in their treatment of the subject matter and are certainly agreed upon what an horrific experience the nuclear holocaust would be. Letters perhaps comes without the sentimentalized approach of other contemporary views of the holocaust, as shown in The Day After (1983) and Testament (1983), which related the horrors to the effect on Middle America and the destruction of the family unit. Rather Letters comes closer to the celebrated pseudo-documentary The War Game in its almost unimaginably bleak depiction of the grim reality of a nuclear blast. Even more so it is most surprising to see a pre– i>glasnost film that comes from the heavily state-censored Soviet Union and yet manages to be so outspoken against the arms race and moreover rule by military. Continue reading