Cine Critico Filipino

cinesensual x rotterdam

Covering an International Film Fest for the First Time

When I got accepted as an accredited press for the 50th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, my plan originally entailed writing a conventional review each for all the films I would be watching in two feature categories. Plans changed when I still haven’t got a groove on what I would write about a …

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Night of the Kings

IFFR 2021: Night of the Kings (Review)

Ivory Coast’s third submission to the Academy Awards’ Best International Feature Film category is like a fairy tale. But for a film that highlights an actual fairy tale story as the cream of its plot, Philippe Lacôte’s Night of the Kings (La Nuit des rois) works best when you focus on the ritual of storytelling rather than the …

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Lemongrass Girl

Lemongrass Girl (2021) and Ritualistic Restrictions

Dagupan City, Philippines — “Has anyone seen Piano?” Lemongrass Girl follows the story of a young production assistant named Piano who is assigned to plant lemongrass daily to prevent rain from disrupting their filming process. This ritual, reserved for virgins, is a common practice in Thailand, especially on film sets. While she takes on this …

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Elehiya x Sa Palad

Two Documentary Styles – In the Claws of Century Wanting and An Elegy to Forgetting

Jewel Maranan’s Sa Palad ng Dantaong Kulang (2017) is a documentary focusing on four separate families living in the port district of Tondo. In Palad, Maranan follows the families for years as she records their struggles trying to fight relocation up to the very moment when their homes are demolished. Kristoffer Brugada’s Elehiya sa Paglimot (2020) is also a documentary. …

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The Spectre of Brocka’s Maynila Still Haunts Us with Gasping for Air

Urban diaspora is a symptom of uneven development, especially in a country as archipelagic and disjointed as the Philippines. Fringe margins inaccessible to basic commodities often get lured to the big cities, hoping to fare well against thousands in a heavily congested space. Since releasing in 1975, Lino Brocka’s Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag set the …

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Charlie Kaufman is probably thinking of something in I’m Thinking of Ending Things. It’s not your fault if you can’t figure out what it is.

Picture this: a renowned filmmaker famous for making confusing films releases their newest work. And upon watching, you expectedly don’t know what the hell is going on.  Should the work of understanding and the blame of misunderstanding fall upon the viewer, who may lack necessary context of what they are watching? Or would the finger …

Charlie Kaufman is probably thinking of something in I’m Thinking of Ending Things. It’s not your fault if you can’t figure out what it is. Read More »

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The Form is the Message: The pitfalls of advocacy filmmaking and the CINEMALAYA 2020 Main Competition Shorts Films

There is a stage in the humble filmmaker’s career when they conflate advocacy and quality. And it’s an understandable situation. The education system, award-giving bodies, festivals, and other canon-making institutions have instilled the notion that ‘art should be political’, in a bid against the mainstream film industry driven solely by profit.  It’s a misguided mindset, …

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little-women-2019

Little Women (2019): Owning Your Story

Note: There are spoilers in this essay about Little Women (2019). In Greta Gerwig’s sophomore feature Little Women (2019), four sisters forge their own way during the American Civil War in the hopes of reasserting their agency and womanhood in a perilous time. It is an overwhelmingly warm love letter to sisterhood and family, but also a …

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syme-portraitofaladyonfire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019): Love, Art, and Continued Emancipation

NOTE: This article has spoilers. As soon as the Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons stopped playing, I sank into my chair, with tears in my eyes, and knew I had seen it – the kind of film that you will be lucky enough to witness and allow into your life. It reminded me of the time I …

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Aswang and A Thousand Cuts: Are documentaries enough?

What is the point of a documentary? Should it provide basic information to those uninformed or should it deepen the understanding of those informed? Should it stir the emotions of its audience or should it be purely rational in its approach?  All documentaries differ in technique – but all serve to realize one goal: to …

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sila-sila-2019

Sila-Sila (2019): Tackling the Gray in Queer Relationships

Note: This essay has spoilers. We open on Balete Drive. If you’ve ever watched Okatokat or Magandang Gabi, Bayan in your childhood, or read at least one entry of Pinoy Ghost Stories, you’ll know this place is the setting of many hauntings. Then, a car parks. In it, two characters sit, waiting, until it’s quiet enough to have sex (‘car fun’). In …

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carlo manatag filmography

Carlo Manatad’s Filmography: What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History Have you ever wondered what would happen if men weren’t in the picture? In the absurdity of this absence, what are we left with? In this freedom, what can women discover about themselves and the world around them? Carlo Francisco Manatad‘s three short …

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‘Plano (2004) and Salingpusa (2006): A Little Girl’s Plight

Is it lifting off or landing? The short film ‘Plano (2004) opens with the familiar sight and sound of an airplane overhead – untouchable in a cloudless sky towards a clear yet unknown destination. Then we cut to: a paper plane, now touching the dirt and gravel, is dragged aimlessly by a little girl. She is dressed …

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