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Pier Paolo Pasolini
Edoardo Di Giovanni,
Interweaving footage from the director's three visits to North Korea with songs, spectacle, popular cinema and archival footage, Songs from the North takes a different look at this ... See full summary »
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One night in 1996, Australian cult video store owner-turned-guerrilla filmmaker Andrew Leavold dreamt he was in the Philippines directing a documentary about Weng Weng, the long-dead Filipino midget James Bond. Ten years later, he's actually in Manila making a deal with the forces of chaos and following his two-decade obsession to its logical conclusion. It's just the beginning of a very strange adventure, and as fate would have it, it's all captured on film. Armed only with a Mini-DV camera and with a head full of gloriously bad B-movies, Leavold fearlessly leaps into the trenches of the Philippines' once thriving film industry and allows blind chance and serendipity to point the way. He discovers a schizophrenic Asia-cum-America dotted with shopping malls and a scale model of Hollywood now a disaster zone, symptomatic of a country attempting to claw its way out of its post-colonial malaise, yet curiously on the verge of a digital filmmaking revolution. As for Weng Weng: he remains ... Written by
Perhaps you're like me and were only aware of the midget Weng Weng from funny programs of shorts at festivals. To be fair, I've never seen a complete movie of this little guy playing a James Bond-type spy in a few 70s Fillipino movies. Beforehand, I found the little excerpts of his work hilarious and ridiculous so why not a documentary about this obscure, forgotten "star". This documentary told me everything I wanted to know about Weng Weng and more. It mostly takes place in the Philippines and interviews a lot of his co-workers of the time. It also tries to solve the mysteries of where he came from, what he was like and what happened to him. It also has plenty of footage, some never seen before, of Weng Weng in action so it could be worth watching just for that. All is not fun and funny as we learn more about his life and fate. It's also amazing when the director manages to hang around with and interview a very famous Filipino who I thought was dead. I thought the documentary was in danger of being derailed at that point by spending almost too long with that surprise guest star, but it eventually got back on track. Don't worry about not understanding the sometimes thick accents, because everything that needs to be subtitled is subtitled. I was pleasantly surprised overall and I think almost anyone with an interest in B-movies might enjoy this.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Very good)
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