Sunday, August 11, 2013

Weekly Round-Up (8/4/13 - 8/10/13)

Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett) ***1/2 - A black man works in a slaughterhouse to support his family and make ends meet. That's it. The most remarkable thing about this film is how unremarkable the lead character is. The film simply chronicles his life and the lives of his family and neighbors in a typical lower-middle-class (to put it very nicely) neighborhood during the '70s. It's a fascinating look into the lives of African-Americans during that time period but it still feels remarkably relevant and resonant to this day.

Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Neon) (Lino Brocka) **** - I actually saw this film in college years ago. Enough time has passed that I feel that I have to actually review this film. This is of course one of the Philippines' most famous films (it's the only Filipino film in the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book) and widely regarded as one of the best Filipino films ever made. It's not QUITE my favorite but it's in my Top 10. The version I saw is a brand-new fully restored print (made possible in part by Martin Scorsese) and it was BEAUTIFUL to look at. So much better than the scratchy, somewhat blurry VHS we had to make do in my college class. For those of you who don't know the plot, it's about a young man from the rural areas who comes to capital city of Manila to look for and win back his childhood sweetheart. It's a tragic love story which brings to light the many struggles of the less fortunate in my country which sadly is still prevalent to this day. It's got great performances. It might be a little heavy-handed and preachy but that's to be expected but the filmmaking is still impeccable. It's a must-see for all Filipinos and for all lovers of cinema as well.

Valley of the Dolls (Mark Robson) **1/2 - This film wants to have its cake and eat it too. It's clearly a rather trashy, campy soap opera that's a bit naughty (for its time) but it also seems to want to be taken seriously as a drama. It's about three women struggling the ups and downs of show business: the sex, the booze, the drugs. It's pretty racy and shocking at the time but fairly tame now (It could get away with a PG-13, quite frankly). It's a tad overlong and the drama is kind of blah. There are fun, campy bits but they come and go. It's gorgeously shot and designed though. Entertaining and watchable but not a must-see.

1 comment:

YeamieWaffles said...

I'm not too sure if I'd enjoy the first film since not too much seems to happen but it got a good rating so it might be worth watching. Great round-up as usual buddy, that goes without saying.