Temptation Island (Joey Gosiengfiao) ***1/2 - This is considered a camp classic in Filipino cinema. Four beauty pageant contestants and their respective entourage get shipwrecked in a desert island. This film feels a bit like a Russ Meyer movie with generous sprinklings of Federico Fellini, Luis Bunuel and Alejandro Jodorowsky and it's quite terrific. There are plenty of twisted, over-the-top, surreal and hilarious moments (including an unforgettable sequence involving the song "Somewhere"). It's actually less racy than I thought it would be. Sure, there are naughty bits involving scantily clad women but they're relatively mild. But still, the beautiful photography coupled with the campy humor makes it fun to watch still. There are moments of bad acting but it adds to the camp quality of the piece.
Amigo (John Sayles) ***1/2 - This is John Sayles' latest film and it's about one of the more, little-known wars in both American AND Filipino history (I think we only mention this in passing during our history lessons). It's the turn of the century and after the Philippines was liberated from Spain, in comes the Americans. This is a fictitious story about a small rural Filipino village and head of village (Joel Torre) that find themselves in a crossfire between insurgents and the American troops wanting to introduce democracy to the country. Although Sayles often gets a bit preachy and more than a little heavy-handed, the extremely talented American and Filipino ensemble group of actors deliver great performances (especially Torre, Dillahunt, Locsin and DeHaan) and he does a great job of humanzing every side. It's not a perfect film but it's still a very worthy effort.