Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Review: Manila

Manila: Directed by Adolfo Alix, Jr. and Raya Martin. Cast: Piolo Pascual, Rossana Roces; Assunta de Rossi; Jay Manalo; Anita Linda; Jiro Manio; Marissa Delgado; William Martinez; Iza Calzado, et al.

The film is a homage of sorts to directors Ishmael Bernal and Lino Brocka. Different elements and characters from the movies of these directors in particular and mainly from Manila By Night/City After Dark by Bernal and Jaguar by Lino Brocka.

In a sense the movie is a three stories in a movie a film Tryptich of Bernal and Brocka's work. The original meaning of a Tryptich was a set of three panels or compartments side by side. Indeed the film had that feel to it.

The first panel drawn from Manila by Night/City After Dark - focused on the story of the drug addict's, Pascual, journey through the city. Shot in black and white. One is almost tempted to think that his is in a way another homage to a Brocka film: Manila sa Kuko ng Liwanag - its first shot were in black and white. Although it would seem that black and white film making is best seen in the works of Mike De Leon - who incidentally was the producer and cinematographer of Manila sa Kuko ng Liwanag. And the second panel also drawn from Manila by Night. This time from the story of the nurse, with Izza Calzado as the nurse. This shot in what seemed to be in shades of blues - similar to a cross processed slide film giving it a dreamy touch. This also doubles as the midway credits roll. Finally, the third is the color rendition of Jaguar - again with Pascual playing the main role first played by Philip Salvador.

Old fans of the film will probably be interested in seeing the film to see how the ensemble re-tooled these classic films. Its not as powerful as the original but it is an interesting romp.From the old film one cannot forget the impact of Charito Solis' penchant for being clean or attempting to be clean. An alcohol bottle always handy to clean the hands. This is probably what was missing in the film. Films from these eras carried with it strong iconic messages that linger in the mind - Solis obsession to cleanliness in City After Dark and Philip Salvador's plight in Jaguar or even Bembol Roco's face and fate at the end of Manila sa Kuko ng Liwanag.

Again, it is an interesting film ... well more than an interesting film. But if you do make sure to watch City After Dark, Manila sa Kuko ng Liwanag and (hopefully) Jaguar.

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