Friday, September 22, 2017

Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh, 2017)

Low rent gold

Late in the film a news announcer dubbed the racetrack robbers the "Ocean 7-11" and I can't think of a better term to describe the picture: basically a Steven Soderbergh-directed heist movie complete with large cast and intricate plan, done in a thick West Virginia accent and for a considerably smaller budget.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Respeto (Treb Monteras II, 2017)


Film swaggers all pissed off all kissed off
Staggering while dragging a pair.
Has the grit of an 8 Mile ripoff at kickoff
Midway a Karate Kid flair.

Despite the borrowed feel borrowed beat
We confront a whole other creature
With its own look its own meat its own heat
Pitched like a hundred-five fever

Old man meets young buck shit out of luck
Old will teach young some wisdom:
Words that stun as if head had been struck*
Set to the young buck's rhythm

Cuz rap is no stranger to Philippine shores
We been battling for near a century**
The rhymes the pulse the lyrical wars
The fight to inflict verbal injury

But young buck too the old man fuel
Remind him of a past bad-scarred
The pains of living under Marcos rule
(The ghoul the cruel the redtipped tool)
The ghosts whose memories die hard

All swept aside by the new reality
This 'drug war' our mayor declared;
What's two lives in a fascist totality
(Insanity bestiality gory immorality)
Deaths 'tween generations shared?

This be a new exciting young punk
Aureate glow hard-rapping tempo
But its soul's straight out of '70s funk
Out of Mike and Mario Ishma and Lino***

Film has its flaws can't be denied****
But lands with a 'FUCK YOU!' thud
Speaks truth to power to arrogant pride
To the lust to spill our blood

*(Featuring samples from Bien Lumbera, Frank Rivera, Vim Nadera and other carnivora)

**(It's called Balagtasan, yo!)

***(Not so much the '70s as the '70s to '80s Martial Law films: Mike de Leon's Batch '81; Mario O'Hara's Bagong Hari; Ishmael Bernal's Manila by Night; Lino Brocka's Insiang)

****(Would a man with a gun stop if confronted? Wasn't the man attempting multiple EJKs (Extra Judicial Killings) at the finale the wrong man?*****)

*****(Meaning--those who plan to watch DON'T READ--shoulda been a cop not a drug dealer?******)

******(Still a worthwhile film)

First published in Businessworld 9.15.17

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Twin Peaks Season 3 Finale (David Lynch, 2017)

Cherchez la femme

(Warning: plot outline and narrative twists discussed in close detail)

In the first part of The Return finale co-writers Lynch and Frost assembles most of the series' characters (those left alive I mean) at the Peaks sheriff's station, lashes every (well most) storylines together in a single great gift-wrapped all-encompassing Christmas package of a resolution. In the second half Lynch takes that package stuffs it under the belly of the Trinity bomb and fires the device, sending everything up in a mushroom cloud spinning slowly against the dark New Mexico sky.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Ma' Rosa (Brilliante Mendoza, 2016)

Swap heads

Brillante Mendoza's latest feature executes the immersive handheld camera style of filmmaking as well as could be done despite the small production budget of a little over fifteen million pesos (roughly $300,000).

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Birdshot (Mikhail Red, 2016)


Mikhail Red's sophomore effort is a surprisingly assured film revolving around two mysteries: the disappearance of a busload of agrarian reform activists and the killing of a Philippine (popularly known as 'monkey-eating') eagle.

Actually the second isn't quite a mystery as we know who did it: a young girl named Maya (Mary Joy Apostol, also her second feature) who wanders into a nature preserve and unwittingly brings down the great bird. But why is the felony being prosecuted so vigorously by the police when they have other more urgent cases to resolve? Who is the mysterious red-shirted figure stalking Maya through forests and farm fields on occasion standing silent outside her house?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Tobe Hooper 1943 - 2017

He came he 'Saw he conquered

Tobe Hooper 1943 - 2017

The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre was shot for something like $350,000,which wouldn't even cover the makeup budget of the remake; they didn't even have the money to make a special effect 'saw so what you see for the entire film is a live and working chainsaw. Gunnar Hansen,who plays Leatherface says the 'saw started up every time and that sometimes he would work the saw just three inches from an actor's face looking through the tiny eyeholes of his Leatherface mask. I figure the fear you saw in their faces wasn't all acting. 

There was in fact one scene where he goes beserk with the 'saw (you see it in the film), and he could see through his tiny eyeholes the director of photography, one of the producers, and director Tobe Hooper running for their lives. 

One of my favorite stories that Hansen tells is of one of the characters who took ten hours to put his makeup on. After that ordeal he announced that he wasn't going to do that again, so he wanted all his scenes shot NOW, and then he's leaving for good.

So they shot round the clock for 27 hours to finish all his scenes, the most extensive of which was a dinner party in an enclosed room with an average temperature of 100 degrees indoors.

Everyone was broiling literally from the Texas heat, had gone without sleep for more than a day, and were under enormous pressure to finish the scene which was experiencing plenty of trouble, technical and otherwise. 

Gunnar Hansen confessed that several times he lost it. When someone yelled at him to "Kill the bitch (actress Marilyn Burns)," Hansen, thinking by this time that he really was Leatherface stood up and walked over, ready to really kill her.

Later in the same scene Burns' finger was to be cut by a knife. Hansen held a knife with its edge taped for safety, and a tube on the hidden side ready to spout blood. Only the fake blood had congealed and the tube wouldn't spout. 

After the umpteenth take with the blood not spouting Hansen turned around took the tape off,and on cue actually sliced Burns' finger open. Burns' horrific reaction to Hansen's cut wasn't acting either. 

Really there's an energy and force and--well, I hesitate to call it realism--to the original Texas Chain Saw that I don't think any remake reboot or rehash is ever going to match.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Salvage (Sherad Anthony Sanchez 2015)


Sherad Anthony Sanchez's Salvage (2015) takes its title from the common Filipino slang word for summary execution, which Pete Lacaba in his Manila Times column "Carabeef Lengua" explains: "It was during martial rule that salvaging came to acquire its present Filipino meaning. To salvage is to save things from a wreckage, but the visual similarity of the word to the Tagalog salbahe (naughty, abusive), which is itself derived from the Spanish salvaje (savage), inevitably led to the present denotation of salvaging as extrajudicial or summary execution of both criminal and subversive elements."

I remember a simpler explanation, though I can't remember where I got it nor find any documentary basis online: that the military is 'saving' or 'salvaging' the victim's soul from the evils of communism.