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Film Review: ‘Dark Is the Night’

Film Review: ‘Dark Is the Night’
The casualties of being guilty before proven innocent come across loud and clear in “Dark Is the Night,” veteran independent filmmaker Adolfo Alix Jr.’s condemnation of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Initially predictable, showing nothing that the news hasn’t already reported, the film gains credibility as it demonstrates how drugs permeate ordinary lives in the Philippines, and hence cannot be eradicated by some quick fix. Nevertheless, seen alongside the heady experimentalism of younger compatriots, such as the politically charged hip-hop musical “Respeto,” Alix’s direction looks stuck in the dreary realism of Filipino slum movies in vogue a decade ago. Nevertheless, given its topical subject, the film should enjoy small-scale distribution in Europe via French art-house co-producer Swift Prods.

Last year, Brilliante Mendoza’s Cannes entry “Ma’ Rosa” exposed his country’s drug problem by showing how “ice” or crystal meth can be bought at mom-and-pop stores, and how police
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Review: Thy Womb (Sinapupunan)

Note: 'Thy Womb' is the Philippines' hopeful entry for the Golden Globe Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. U.S. : None Yet. International Sales Agent: Solar Entertainment Corporation

Giving birth to a child is a defining moment in every woman’s life. It represents the fulfillment of a biological purpose. It is also the promise of hope in a new being. Each society across the globe infuses the miracle of motherhood with its own particularities, but there is a unanimous appreciation and respect towards mothers as symbols of prosperity and keepers of a continuous cycle of life. Ironically in Brillante Mendoza’s film Thy Womb, the protagonist, a midwife unable to bear a child for her husband, decides to find him a fit woman to deliver him an heir. With immersive filmmaking and a breathtaking setting, this slice of life feature transcends mere ethnography to bring to the screen an augmented and visceral vision of reality.

Few words are ever spoken by Shaleha (Nora Aunor ), but her expressive eyes convey a religious peace and a love that knows no boundaries. Knowing that her partner Bangas-An (Bembol Roco) is reluctant to adopt a child and aware that her infertility won’t let her satisfy that necessity, she takes matters into her own hands. What she needs is simply a surrogate mother, someone who can provide him with such joy. Nonetheless, in this Bajau Muslim island community there are rules to abide by, and finding a mother for her husband’s child essentially means searching for a new wife. Lacking any sort of jealousy or selfishness Shaleha’s unconditional love motivates her to help him find the right young lady. Not only must they obtain permission from the woman’s family but they are required to raise a sizable amount of money and goods as dowry. Together they sell fish, trade, borrow and scrap as much as they can until they are able to afford Bangas-An's new wife.

Rendered to help others become mothers but never getting that opportunity herself, Shaleha is a character fueled by faith and not tormented by the poising nature of human desire. Played by acclaimed actress Nora Aunor, she carries the film through its many passages and depictions of the Bajau’s lifestyle. Nurturing and assertive she is indeed a woman more than capable of caring for a child, but the cards she has been dealt require her to act with selflessness. Naturalistic and minimal her performance resonates even in the silent and humble poetry that permeate the images.

Relying upon a basic storyline, the magic of the film lies in its design. Form is more relevant here than any twist and turns in the plot. Arranged with an eclectic cinematic grammar, the director incorporates aerial shots of the sea gypsy community combined with underwater sequences, slow motion observational shots, and seemingly traditional filmmaking that are always in motion, never static. The camera is alive, it moves around this world with grace. It is also completely conspicuous making the viewer aware of its presence. Mendoza places his characters in the real world and films them, which creates a sort of raw fiction that is neither entirely scripted or fully documentarian. Still, for all the experimental elements he includes, Mendoza made a film about tradition that simultaneously inspires a sense of discovery. Via its postcard-worthy landscapes and all-consuming spirituality, Thy Womb is a film that revels in its apparent simplicity, which makes for a compelling and revelatory piece. It lets outsiders intrude into a place undamaged by modernity and functioning in harmony despite being surrounded by external turmoil.
See full article at Sydney's Buzz »

Tiff 2013. Impressions: Part I

  • MUBI
Here I am at the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time, searching for where I fit in as both a spectator and a writer. In addition to being a third wheel of sorts representing this publication, as Daniel Kasman and Fernando C. Croce have revived their lovely “Correspondences” series that debuted at last year’s edition, I am also navigating the massive programming without the privilege of accreditation. I find myself in a not so unfamiliar position, purchasing tickets, budgeting my schedule instead of merely assembling it; after all, it was only just over a year ago that I was accredited at a festival for the first time. So, as I said, I’m searching, for an angle (and tickets!).

What follows is a reworking of the “Impressions” format I used at the Berlinale earlier this year, which allows me to share brief snapshots of initial reactions to the films,
See full article at MUBI »

Review: Brillante Mendoza's Thy Womb Is A Fascinating Look Into Nature, Culture And Humanity

Thy Womb opens with a woman giving birth. Shaleha (Nora Aunor), a midwife, accompanied by her husband Bangas-an (Bembol Roco), assists the soon-to-be-mother in delivering her child. Shaleha then routinely requests for the baby's umbilical cord. She brings the keepsake from the afternoon home, hangs it alongside all the other cords she has collected from the many mothers she helped. The hanging cords in her home are ostensibly a record of her noble profession. Ironically, it also serves as a painful reminder of the one nagging imperfection of her marriage with her husband, which is her inability to bear children for him. Nature has fated her with infertility. However, her culture has given her the opportunity to remedy it. By finding another suitable wife for...

[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
See full article at Screen Anarchy »

Thy Womb | Tiff 2012 Review

Womb Doom: Mendoza Gives Us Another Poverty Stricken Filipino Narrative

Quickly assuming the stature of one of the most important directors from the Philippines, Brillante Mendoza churns out another macabre narrative of the hard knock lives from his native land with the effective Thy Womb. Working at break neck speed and putting out several shorts and a title or two a year, he’s earned a prolific reputation after a 2009 Cannes win for Best Director for the infamous Kinatay, and then followed that up with a starring role for the one and only Isabelle Huppert. But he switches gears a bit for this latest story, leaving behind a violence that dictates the narrative arc to tell a meditatively tragic tale, one which simmers gracefully to its abrupt finale.

An older, childless Muslim couple, Bangas-An (Bembol Roco) and Shalena (Naura Aunor) share a quiet, yet enjoyable life together in a small,
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

A Peter Weir Retrospective

Flickering Myth presents a detailed look at the work of internationally renowned Australian filmmaker Peter Weir...

Articles

Weir Did He Go? Flickering Myth Welcomes Back Peter Weir

Trevor Hogg introduces the Peter Weir Blogathon.

A Weir View: A Peter Weir Profile

Trevor Hogg profiles the career of director Peter Weir in a two-part article from 2009.

Saoirse Ronan, Jim Sturgess and Peter Weir on The Way Back

Actors Saoirse Ronan and Jim Sturgess and director Peter Weir discuss The Way Back.

Master and Commander: Peter Weir Returns with The Way Back

Trevor Hogg discusses the making of The Way Back.

Exclusive Interviews...

Picture Perfect: A conversation with cinematographer Russell Boyd

Cutting Edge: A conversation with film editor Lee Smith

The Weir Way: Russell Boyd and Lee Smith Talk About Peter Weir

Career Retrospective...

The Cars That Ate Paris, 1974.

Starring John Meillon, Terry Camilleri, Kevin Miles, Rick Scully, Max Gillies and Bruce Spence.
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

Cinemalaya 2011: Fable Of The Fish Review

Adolfo Alix, Jr.'s Isda (Fable of the Fish) appears to be just another movie set in the overexploited slums of Manila. Lina (Cherry Pie Picache) and Miguel (Bembol Roco), a childless couple despite several years of being married who have just relocated from the province to the city to change their fate, arrive at the slums just in time to witness an unsurprising altercation between a slum dweller and the police, which is expectedly spiced by rowdy and overly involved onlookers. Unstirred by the unexpected but commonplace boisterous welcome of their new home, the couple settle in. Miguel finds a job in the nearby ice plant. Lina stays at home, taking care of the children of her neighbors if she's not helping her husband...
See full article at Screen Anarchy »

‘Amigo’ (Aug. 19)

Directed/Written by: John Sayles

Starring: Joel Torre, Garret Dillahunt, Chris Cooper, DJ Qualls, Rio Locsin, Ronnie Lazaro, Bembol Roco, Yul Vázquez, Jemi Paretas and Dane DeHaan

Sayles scripts and directs this period drama set during the Philippine-American War at the turn of the last century. In the remote region of San Isidro, U.S. military forces have been assigned to protect and pacify an area with strong community ties to guerillas hiding out in the surrounding jungle. Stuck together while the powers that be hash things out, the Americans and Filipinos come to an uneasy coexistence. (Variance Films)

Read our review.

Photo courtesy Variance Films

<< “Conan the Barbarian”

“Final Destination 5″ >> << Back to Summer Movie Preview 2011 >> Search Terms Leading to This Post: shari solanis, dane dehaan
See full article at Moving Pictures Magazine »

‘Amigo’ (Aug. 19)

Directed/Written by: John Sayles

Starring: Joel Torre, Garret Dillahunt, Chris Cooper, DJ Qualls, Rio Locsin, Ronnie Lazaro, Bembol Roco, Yul Vázquez, Jemi Paretas and Dane DeHaan

Sayles scripts and directs this period drama set during the Philippine-American War at the turn of the last century. In the remote region of San Isidro, U.S. military forces have been assigned to protect and pacify an area with strong community ties to guerillas hiding out in the surrounding jungle. Stuck together while the powers that be hash things out, the Americans and Filipinos come to an uneasy coexistence. (Variance Films)

Read our review.

Photo courtesy Variance Films

<< “Conan the Barbarian”

“Final Destination 5″ >> << Back to Summer Movie Preview 2011 >> Search Terms Leading to This Post: shari solanis, dane dehaan
See full article at Moving Pictures Network »

Peter Weir Retrospective: The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

Trevor Hogg continues his Peter Weir retrospective with a look at the director's fifth feature and final Australian film...

The Year of Living Dangerously, 1982.

Directed by Peter Weir.

Starring Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Murphy, Linda Hunt, Bill Kerr, Noel Ferrier and Bembol Roco.

Synopsis:

In 1965, Indonesia is embroiled in a civil war between President Sukarno’s government and communist revolutionaries. Amidst the country’s social and political unrest, newly arrived Australian correspondent Guy Hamilton wanders aimlessly until he meets the enigmatic freelance cameraman and photographer Billy Kwan. When a piece of highly classified information is told in confidence to him, Hamilton must decide which is more important - the trust of his friends or the story of his career.

An audacious casting decision by internationally respected director Peter Weir resulted in The Year of Living Dangerously achieving a special place in Oscar history. When Linda Hunt (Billy Kwan) received
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

Friendly Fire For Sayles' "Amigo"

  • SneakPeek
Sneak Peek the first teaser poster supporting the upcoming Philippines-lensed feature "Amigo" (aka "Brother From Another Country") from director John Sayles.

"...An American invasion of a foreign country. A battle for hearts and minds. A pacification programme to quell an insurgency. Guerrilla warfare. Firefights. American filmmaker John Sayles winds the clock back to 1900 and the Us occupation of the Philippines in his new film, 'Amigo', finding parallels behind this event in history and current events in Iraq and Afghanistan..."

Written/directed by Sayles for producer Maggie Renzi, "Amigo" cast includes Garret Dillahunt, Joel Torre, Chris Cooper, DJ Qualls, Yul Vazquez, Rio Locsin, Ronnie Lazaro, Bembol Roco, Lucas Neff, James Parks, Dane DeHaan, Stephen Taylor, Bill Tangradi, Jemi Paretas and Brian Lee Franklin.

Click the images to enlarge...
See full article at SneakPeek »

See also

Credited With | External Sites