Friday, October 11, 2019

Filipino Palette: Insiang (Spoilers!)

'No one can help me but myself.'
I think now is the time to start talking more about Philippine cinema and those who contributed to it. These days, Philippine cinema mainly consists of comedy, and sometimes even rehashed plots from other dramas but has slowly and fortunately made way for original filmmakers to make films worth talking about. This is going to be my first entry in a new series called Filipino Palette where I will be talking about films made locally and my first entry is going to be about 1976's Insiang which was the first Filipino film shown at the Cannes Film Festival and directed by the late Lino Brocka starring Hilda Koronel, Mona Lisa, Rez Cortez, Marlon Ramirez, Ruel Vernal and Nina LorenzoInsiang (Hilda Koronel) is a young woman living in the slums of Tondo, Manila with her mother Tonya (Mona Lisa), outside their small shack she is seen as the object of attention to men, and catches the unwanted attention of her mother's much younger boyfriend Dado (Ruel Vernal), a butcher and the alpha male of the slums who charms his way into her and her mother's life. Insiang feels lonely despite being surrounded by people everyday but she has allies in her best friend Ludy (Nina Lorenzo), who runs a sari-sari store in the slums with her family, Insiang's aimless boyfriend Bebot (Rez Cortez) a mechanic and gambler and Nanding (Marlon Ramirez), Ludy's younger brother who admires her from afar but all are powerless against Dado's hold on the slums and Insiang.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Western Wednesday: True Grit (1969)

'Fill your hands you son of a bitch!'
True Grit is one of my favorite western stories ever told and although I loved the Coen Brothers 2010 remake and having never read the book by Charles Portis it left an everlasting impression on me. This version stars John Wayne, Kim DarbyGlen Campbell as our unlikely trio, directed by Henry Hathaway and produced by Hal B. Wallis. Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) arrives at Fort Smith to take her father's body back home to Yell County but ends up staying to settle her father's affairs, and sets out to find the man who killed him she hires the unorthodox U.S. Marshal Reuben 'Rooster' Cogburn (John Wayne), but the presence of the Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Glen Campbell) who is also in search of her father's killer Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey), for committing a different crime complicates things. Cogburn and La Boeuf plan to ditch Mattie but she catches up and is permitted to ride along. Together the unlikely trio goes deep into Native-American territory to find Chaney and Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall) and his gang.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Joker

There is no punchline. 
I can't recall another film that's received a lot of heat before it came out due to the main character being a very popular villain in pop culture like the Joker.  I have no doubts that once the audiences see it over the weekend it'll get everyone talking about it especially those like me who were reserving their judgement until the film came out. Media outlets have already given out warnings that the film is dangerous and might influence certain groups of people to start mass shootings. To be frank, the talk around the film since before it came out made me feel like I've already seen it because of all the controversy surrounding it. People's fears are justifiable but one can't help but feel that this applies more to American audiences because of their history in mass shootings. Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Douglas Hodges and Dante Periera-Olson and directed by Todd Phillips. A failed stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) walks the streets of Gotham City looking for connection, bullied and rejected Fleck slowly descends into madness and murder which ushers in his ascension as Gotham's Clown Prince of Crime.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Top 5 Anticipated Films Coming Out in Late-2019


We're finally in the second half of 2019 and as disappointed as I am at the films that came out this year at least we have a few anticipated films coming out soon. So far in the first half of 2019 we've been subjected to highlights of the year such as Avengers: Endgame but later this year is where the ball really gets rolling as well as the variety of films that's about to come out soon. I've been looking forward to some of these anticipated films for a very long time, and also some have gone under the radar but became part of my list.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Midnight Special: Sunset Boulevard

'I am BIG; it's the pictures that got small.'
Sunset Boulevard marks my first venture into Billy Wilder's work since I've heard from many film fans of his reputation. The film also written by Wilder had players like Gloria Swanson, William Holden and Erich von Stroheim. It tells the story of an aging film star of the silent era; Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) who forms an uneasy relationship with a desperate screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden), Desmond is looking to make a comeback in the film industry and asks Gillis to re-write the script of her comeback feature. Gillis, desperate for money and a break reluctantly accepts and soon becomes Desmond's confidant and kept man but when he starts seeing one of Paramount's readers she becomes jealous and paranoid. Erich von Stroheim plays Desmond's former husband Max von Mayerling who returned to her to become her butler who still sends her fan letters to make her believe she still has fans. This was very well-made for a film of it's time, and I put it up there with In A Lonely Place as one of those films where the studio took a chance on making a film that doesn't sugar coat the flaws of its characters or their actions. This is easily one of older Hollywood films that have made it's way to my top 100 films of all time.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Parasite

A comedy of errors you say?
It's been a long time since we've had a film as well crafted, engaging, darkly hilarious and meticulous as Parasite directed by Bong Joon-ho and even won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The film tells the story of the Kim family who's misfortunes take a sudden turn for the better when a friend of family's son Min (Park Seo-joon) pays the family an unannounced visit and gifts them a large rock that is said to grant material wealth to families before breaking the news to his friend Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) that he will be studying abroad and suggest that Ki-woo take over his job as an English tutor to the daughter of the wealthy Park family. Ki-woo reluctantly accepts despite not having studied at university, he forges his academic records before arriving at the Park residence for the interview. When Mrs. Park (Cho Yeo-jung) says she doesn't need any documents since Ki-woo was already recommended by Min in the first place she asks to observe he's teaching style while she observes. On his way out of the house and approved as her daughter Da-hye's (Jung Ji-so) new tutor she shows Ki-woo a painting by her young son Da-song (Jung Hyun-joon), it turns out that Mrs. Park is also in search of an art tutor for Da-song and Ki-woo tells her that he knows of an art tutor 'Jessica' who was a classmate of his cousin and can get children into good art schools. The next day, 'Jessica' arrives in the form of Ki-jung (Park So-dam), Ki-woo's sister. Soon, the Kims hatch a plan to get the other members of the household staff fired and replacing them with their parents.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Midsommar

Dani! May Queen!
Midsommar is the latest film by director Ari Aster who gained everyone's attention in 2017's Hereditary and produced once again by A24. The film tells the story of a young American couple who are on the brink of a break-up but remains together when Dani (Florence Pugh) suffers the loss of her parents and her sister's suicide. Christian (Jack Reynor), Dani's boyfriend and anthropology student decides to go on a trip to Sweden with his friends Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Mark (Will Poulter) where Pelle's small commune is about to hold their once-in-a-lifetime fabled mid-summer festival. The idyllic summer getaway takes a turn for the worse when the festival increasingly becomes violent and disturbing. Whenever we speak of horror we immediately think of supernatural forces attacking us from the outside like Hereditary which Aster says is absolutely a horror but in the Midsommar trailers we are led to believe that the terror lies within the Hårga cult that lives in the rural Swedish village but once we view the film, the real horror is Dani and Christian's relationship. Dani often worries herself about what Christian thinks or that's she's leaning too much on him when he never really showed any vulnerability in their relationship, predictably it's Dani who apologizes to her boyfriend for the most part while Christian uses their relationship as an excuse as to why he doesn't have his anthropology thesis set in stone.