More on Philippine cinema

--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Damien Bona" <damienbona@y...> wrote:


I saw just a handful, including Manuel Silos's Blessings Of The Land which is so primitive and absurdly melodramatic in its portrayal of the hardships of a farming family - and its tragic oxen --as to be endearing.


It's very simply done, and perfect in its simplicity, I thought. Considered one of the best of the '50s films, though of course there's Gerardo de Leon's pictures, which I think are even better.


Made thirty-five years later. Mario O'Hara's Fatima Buen Story, is even more melodramatic. In fact, it's so extreme that one has to assume the hyper-stylization is purposeful, even if it's not clear to what purpose.


I can tell you that the filmmaker and his writer (Frank Rivera) thought the subject matter so grim and unappealing they decided to have a field day. I thought it was nicely over-the-top, but the lead performance by Kris Aquino (former President Corazon Aquino's daughter and the host of the talk show described below) was kind of weak. Wonderful supporting cast, though.


Jose Javier Reyes's Phil-American Boy starts well as a comedy of Filipino mores which captures the nuance of the culture well. But it deteriorates to stock melodrama, the stuff of TV movies and ends up pretty simple-minded.


Pretty much agree on this. Plus he's a writer-turned-director who's never developed a real eye. Capable of knocking off a script in three days, and there are peope who say "it shows, too."


But then there are the two Lino Brocka films I saw, which are just superb: You Have Been Weighed And Found Wanting and Mother, Sister, Daughter


Mario O'Hara wrote the script to this and plays the leper.


As a stylist who employs an acute visual sense and an understanding of the emotional connotations of various inanimate objects that populate his mise-en-scene, Brocka is the peer of Sirk and Minnelli.


I've heard him called that, with the additional proviso that he tells his story in noirish terms (at least with these early films, and especially with Manila in the Claws of Neon).


got to know Lino Brocka, who seems to have been a truly beloved man.


Sadly, Brocka was more caught up in the political movement than knowledgeable about what was going on, and he joined belatedly (about the time he was doing his best works, 1974 to 1976, he was on good terms with Marcos' daughter; this changed in the '80s). But he had a good heart.


By the way, for anyone wanting to start to understand Filipino culture which definitely has its extremes, I recommend watching "Good Morning, Kris" an Oprah-esque show starring Kris Aquino, which is shown on some international channels in the States. . To put its mildly, it is side show extreme. One episode was the damnedest thing I've ever seen - it was showcasing extremely handicapped people, and featured two young pinhead brothers, one of whom held tight onto his penis the whole time because he had to pee. The hook for their segment was "Boys Who Are Mistaken For Monkeys." There was also a retarded boy who was about three feet tall who spent his entire segment strumming a toy guitar.


I'd say she found her calling as a talk show host rather than as an actress.


On an altogether different intellectual level, I also recommend the works of writer Jessica Hagedorn


I don't know if this is available, but I also recommend Rey Ventura's "Underground in Japan" about the Filipino illegal alien community that lives in Tokyo. Excellent book, with high praise from Donald Richie:



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