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Urs Peter Halter
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Ngoc Dang Vu
Manh Hai Luong,
Vinh Khoa Ho,
Linh Son Nguyen
Can a 12-year old lad who wishes he were a girl navigate the mean streets of Manila? Maxi cooks, cleans, and sews for his father and older brothers who are petty criminals. He's sweet, clever and hardworking, at ease with being gay, pinning a flower in his hair, swinging his hips when he walks, vamping with friends. He's seen adults hug and kiss and he's watched romantic movies, so on the verge of puberty, he develops a crush on Victor, a kindly young cop. Maxi's heart and loyalties are on a collision course: Victor is investigating crimes that lead him to Maxi's family. In the land of the morning, is there a place for this child of the sun returning? Written by
Charming, mesmerizing story of a young transsexual boy and his devoted gangster family
Absolutely delightful film, its story centering around Maxi (Nathan Lopez), a beguiling 12 year old boy who wants to be a girl, and his various flirtations, including an unlikely one with a rookie cop on the neighborhood beat. Maxi's Dad and two older brothers are criminal lowlifes capable of very bad deeds, including murder, but they are entirely devoted to Maxi, who cooks and keeps house for them (Mom died a few years before). The feeling is mutual: as Maxi says, there may be a lot of crooked people around, but he's only got one Dad.
The film is chock full of arresting street scenes in metropolitan Manila, and intriguing tensions among the principals. It is most refreshing to see loving, tender feelings binding a marginal family together, rather than the usual melodramatic dysphoria that infects, but does not inform, many movies about the underclass. (This year's "Quinceañera" is another film that plays up the positive aspects of family life in L.A.'s Echo Park Mexican-American barrio.) An exotic, spellbinding, bounteous bouquet of a film. Won several awards at the Berlin and Cinemalaya Film Festivals, among others, and was nominated for the Grand Jury Award this year at Sundance. (In Filipino, Tagalog & English) My grades: 8.5/10, A- (Seen on 11/21/06)
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