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MY TOP 3 FILIPINO FILMS
1. Himala (1982)- dir. Ishmael Bernal
2. Anak (2000) - dir. Rory Quintos
3. Karnal (1983) - dir. Marilou Diaz-Abaya
MY TOP 3 FOREIGN FILMS
1. Frida (2002) - dir. Julie Taymor, USA
2. Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2 (2003, 2004) - dir. Quentin Tarantino, USA
3. Tree of Life - dir. Terence Malick, USA
Kusina - a film with heart
Kusina - a film with heart / rating 7:10 --- Caught this one at Cinemalaya 2016. No expectations at all, although I somehow knew it would be a quality film because of the leading actress (Judy Ann Santos, an icon of Filipino film and TV).
The film starts off in the early 1940s, in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the invasion of Japanese forces. We meet a young Juanita, who is doted upon by her grandmother and learns the art of cooking (Filipino cooking - with all of its gorgeous textures and meals - see: pinakbet, adobo, ginataan, etc.). Cooking becomes a metaphor for love and loving. Cooking becomes Juanita's tool to connect with the people around her - her father, her grandmother, her husband, her kids. As tragedy and heartbreak mar her life as she courses through womanhood and the history of the country itself (no spoilers here), cooking becomes her refuge.
Albeit for some technical misgivings (sound, lighting, etc.), "Kusina" does its best with adapting the screenplay (Palanca award 2006) to film, presenting it in black box theater form - the setting is the kitchen throughout the whole film.
Worth the watch.
Oldboy: A Wild Ride
OLDBOY (Park 2003) was the director's ticket to Hollywood praise, receiving attention from famed director Quentin Tarantino, another man known for his love for vengeance-filled films glorified in their gore and gravitas (see: Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2, Inglourious Basterds). Set in modern Korea, the story of "Oldboy" stretches for more than 30 years, its main seed germinating from a secret rendezvous and an eventual rumor spreading in a small-town Catholic high school. The protagonist, Oh Dae- su, becomes the unwitting victim, locked up in a barren condominium apartment for a span of 15 years, literally growing old within its walls, and witnessing world events (i.e. the independence of Hongkong, the death of Princess Diana, the fall of the Twin Towers) through a rickety television set.
As Oh Dae-su is suddenly released, vengeance is the first thing on his mind, yet strange devices (a cellphone, a bugged shoe) leave him paranoid and ultimately lead him to his nemesis: a much more youthful- looking Lee Woo-jin (perhaps an antithesis to Dae-su's "oldness"?). In his journey to avenge himself and destroy Woo-jin, he finds out things in himself that for 15 years lay dormant in his corporal self: that he could pin down and kill an army of gangsters, that he still has the capacity for love (and sex), that his memories have stayed with him and eventually surface with enough motivation.
"Oldboy" deals with a multitude of taboo topics: the hidden extent of human cruelty and control, incest (brother to sister, father to daughter--dynamics that become extremely important as we uncover the truths of the film), violence, a culture that defies privacy but revels in isolation. "Oldboy", as much as it is a commentary on the darkest aspects of being human, is a powerful tale of redemption for a man who literally loses everything and comes out a survivor.