Philippines

Brillante Mendoza – Serbis AKA Service (2008)

Plot:
A drama that follows the travails of the Pineda family in the Filipino city of Angeles. Bigamy, unwanted pregnancy, possible incest and bothersome skin irritations are all part of their daily challenges, but the real “star” of the show is an enormous, dilapidated movie theater that doubles as family business and living space. At one time a prestige establishment, the theater now runs porn double bills and serves as a meeting ground for hustlers of every conceivable persuasion. The film captures the sordid, fetid atmosphere, interweaving various family subplots with the comings and goings of customers, thieves and even a runaway goat while enveloping the viewer in a maelstrom of sound, noise and continuous motion. Read More »

Brillante Mendoza – Tirador AKA Slingshot (2007)

Quote:
About a month after the Holy Week, a major national election will take place. What future does it hold for a motley group of TIRADORS–local slang for petty thieves—whose daily survival depends on fast fingers and yearly atonement on divine grace? The tiradors all live in an old dilapidated tenement building in the slums of QUIAPO, a busy business district of Manila where they ply their trade. Read More »

Brillante Mendoza – Foster Child (2007)

Quote:
Ostensibly a fiction film about a foster mother (Cherry Pie Picache) in the outskirts of Manila spending her last day with her latest foster child (Kier Segundo), Foster Child is actually a home movie tour de force. It takes a Dziga Vertov or Hou Hsiao-Hsien to make sense out of every aspect of quotidian living, and so Foster Child is merely content with a strong sense of cluttered, bustling place: children running everywhere, playing everywhere, peeing everywhere, and parents wrangling them together for dinner, dances, school, appointments, and trips around the neighborhood. Like Cristian Mungiu did in his recent 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Brillante Mendoza attempts to take the camera from the opening shot of Touch of Evil to quotidian life in the slums. Read More »

Lav Diaz – Burger Boys (1999)

Description:
“There’s not much written about this film online, there are interviews in which Lav actually mentions this film, but that’s it, perhaps, no one has taken actual interest on this. I have written a paper about this for a film theory class, but I’m afraid its something that I can’t have posted online, haha, reading back, its kind of shitty. Read More »

Lav Diaz – Heremias aka Heremias, Book One (2006)

Review:
Ox-driven carts full of native crafts line up at a concrete road. We painfully await each and every one of the caravans to finish their diagonal descent and disappear from Lav Diaz’s immobile frame. Ten minutes has passed by, then another fifteen of the same scene of nomadic crafts merchants travelling from one end of the screen to another. The amount of time forces you to observe the surroundings of the traveling group: You delight at the clouds who also move slowly from right to left, the wild grass swaying in relaxed abandon, the majestic view from atop the hill. Before you know it, you share with these crafts merchants the pristine value of time: since you have so much of it. At night, you listen to their songs over a bonfire, their tales of girlfriends throwing away their vows of love to leave with a Japanese man, their worries that their little ones might catch a fever. Diaz pleads you to take a few hours to immerse yourself with their lifestyle; it’s not exactly a harsh request as Diaz rewards you with beautiful scenery — the still scenes may be likened to black and white post cards of rural life in the Philippines. Read More »

Lav Diaz – Kagadanan sa banwaan ning mga engkanto AKA Death in the Land of Encantos (2007)

A Filipino poet named Benjamin Agusan (Roeder Camanag) is the hapless native who returns to his hometown Padang to witness the aftermath of the super typhoon. For the past seven years, Benjamin had been living in an old town called Kaluga in Russia. With his grant and residency, he taught and conducted workshops in a university. The poet published two books of sadness and longing in the process. In Russia, Benjamin was able to shoot video collages, fell in love with a Slavic beauty, buried a son, and almost went mad. He came back to bury his dead-father, mother, sister and a lover. He came back to face Mount Mayon, the raging beauty and muse of his youth. He came home to confront the country that he so loved and hated, the Philippines. He came back to die in the land of his birth. He wanders around the obliterated village meeting old friends and lovers. Read More »

Lav Diaz – Melancholia (2008)

Melancholia (Lav Diaz, 2008)

Lav Diaz’s Melancholia is an eight-hour meditation of sorts on the maddening persistence of sadness in this world, can logically be divided into three parts and an epilogue. The first part details the experiences in Sagada of Julian (Perry Dizon), Alberta (Angeli Bayani) and Rina (Malaya Cruz) as they refashion themselves into different drastic identities as part of the radical process that Julian created in order for them to cope with the losses of their loved ones. The second part is set in Manila, with Julian and Alberta living their real lives and addressing the scenarios and situations that accompany their melancholic predicament. Read More »