The Lover (dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1992)

            The Lover (dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1992)  is not the typical epic historical romance in the same way as Gone With the Wind might be but it plays on the same elements. While the plot of this well-worn genre revolves around the loss of innocence—which is often an allegory for the colonial experience—and of having… Continue reading The Lover (dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1992)

Children of Srikandi (2012)

Scene from Children of Srikandi. Photo: Angelikalevi.net Director: Laura Coppens (concept) and Children of Srikandi collective. George McT Kahin wrote in his Introduction to Benedict Anderson’s Mythology and the Tolerance of the Javanese (1965) that “anyone interested in contemporary Indonesia, its organization and social and political articulation... comes to realize that in order to achieve… Continue reading Children of Srikandi (2012)

(The Eye, dir. Pang & Pang, 2008)

Angelica Lee as Wong Kar Mun in The Eye (2008) Photo: IMDB. com Traumas and wounds become embodied indexes of a nation’s technological and cultural transformation in the film, The Eye (2008). The horror story centers on 20-year old Wong Kar Mun, a Hong kong classical violinist who undergoes an eye cornea transplant. Regaining her… Continue reading (The Eye, dir. Pang & Pang, 2008)

Mae Nak (dir. Pimpaka Towira, 1992)

Still from Mae Nak by Pimpaka Towira, dir., Mae Nak, VHS, 1997 Images of devotion form the nexus of Thai religions and social life. As shown by Justin McDaniel’s ethnography on the shrines of Mae Nak, a well-known Thai female ghost based on a mother who dies in childbirth during the reign of King Rama… Continue reading Mae Nak (dir. Pimpaka Towira, 1992)

Nang Nak (dir. Nonzee Nimibutr, 1999)

Inthira Charoenpura and Winai Kraibutr in Nang Nak (1999) Photo: IMDB.com Nak’s glorious appearance on the world stage made it “possible to 'think' the nation”[1] and to perceive the present as a continuation of a historical past. Nang Nak was among the first blockbuster ghost films to circulate in Southeast Asia at the turn of… Continue reading Nang Nak (dir. Nonzee Nimibutr, 1999)

Resistant Spectatorship

Eva Noblezada as Kim, a 17-year old Vietnamese orphan, sings a wedding song for Chris, an American G.I. played by Alistair Brammer in the 2014 recording of the West end production Miss Saigon. Manthia Diawara’s critique of black characters in D.W. Griffin’s Birth of a Nation and Eddie Murphy’s cop movies serves as a template… Continue reading Resistant Spectatorship

Catherine Deneuve as an ageing film diva

The Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda won the Cannes Palme d'or in 2018 with his film "Shoplifters" about a family of thieves. The following year, the master of family drama made his first film outside of Japan: "La Vérité" with Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke. I was immediately impressed by the first appearance of… Continue reading Catherine Deneuve as an ageing film diva

Kung ako’y mahal mo (Gregorio Fernandez, 1960)

Kung Ako’y Mahal Mo (If You Love Me) is a charming romance melodrama with an incredulous narrative plot. I know all melodramas require some stretching of your suspension of disbelief but this one takes the prize. Ramon (Nestor de Villa) is a car mechanic who hears a cry for help from Lydia (Charito Solis). Ramon… Continue reading Kung ako’y mahal mo (Gregorio Fernandez, 1960)

Azimat (Rolf Bayer, 1958)

I discovered a wonderful website that archives film locations in Singapore called http://www.sgfilmlocations.com. Browsing through the copious material, I found a rarely-seen 1958 movie called Azimat or Seal of Solomon, written and directed by Rolf Bayer, who did the screenplay for iconic postwar Filipino film, Anak Dalita. The movie stars Pancho Magalona and Tita Duran… Continue reading Azimat (Rolf Bayer, 1958)

Sulat galing sa Praga (Angga Dwimas Sasongko, 2016)

Nasa kalagitnaan ng magastos na diborsyo si Larasati (Julie Estelle) at kailangan niyang makipag-ayos sa naghihingalo niyang ina, si Sulastri (Widyawati). Bagama't hindi naging maganda ang kanilang relasyon mag-ina, ipinamana nito sa kanya ang lahat ng kanyang ari-arian sa kondisyon na ideliber niya ang kahon ng mga sulat kay Jaya (Tio Pakusadewo), isang matandang janitor… Continue reading Sulat galing sa Praga (Angga Dwimas Sasongko, 2016)

Portrait of a lady on fire (Celine Sciamma, 2019)

Marianne must cross the rough seas when she is summoned by a countess (Valeria Golino) who would like to have a portrait of her daughter, Heloise. The portrait will be sent to Heloise's fiancé, an Italian aristocrat, as a confirmation of their arranged marriage. Hoping to save their crumbling estate or move back to an… Continue reading Portrait of a lady on fire (Celine Sciamma, 2019)

Crash Landing on You (Lee Jeong-hyo, 2020)

Over the spring break I was able to catch up with trends on social media and watched smash-hit K-drama Crash Landing on You (CLOY), a Netflix series directed by Lee Jeong-hyo, starring Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin, Kim Jung-hyun, and Seo Ji-hye. The hilarious plot begins with Seri, a South Korean chaebol heiress and influencer (think… Continue reading Crash Landing on You (Lee Jeong-hyo, 2020)

Cain at Abel (Lino Brocka, 1982)

Sometimes the third world film-maker finds himself before an illiterate public, swamped by American, Egyptian or Indian serials, and karate films, and he has to go through all this, it is this material that he has to work on, to extract from it the elements of a people who are still missing (Lino Brocka). (Gilles… Continue reading Cain at Abel (Lino Brocka, 1982)

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer (2015)

Viet Thanh Nguyen's novel begins The Sympathizer with a riddle “I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man with two faces”. What is he? Might we ask. The line was spoken by a double agent working for the North Vietnamese Communists as well as for the United States during and shortly after the… Continue reading Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer (2015)

Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

Ari Aster's debut feature Hereditary was celebrated as if one had reinvented slice bread. I was skeptical but he was someone who had something interesting to say. He was able to articulate that interesting thing in Midsommar. The horror genre was being reinvented; a good thing but its not slice bread. The promotion materials made… Continue reading Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

Sister Stella L. (Mike De Leon, 1984)

Enlightenment is not a badge, but a wound. Mike De Leon tells of the transformation of a charity worker nun into a politically active front-line soldier. Mike De Leon is next to Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal in the line of master directors of the second golden age of Filipino cinema. Compared to his colleagues,… Continue reading Sister Stella L. (Mike De Leon, 1984)

In the mood for love (Wong Kar-Wai, 2000)

In the Mood for Love. 2000. Hong Kong. Directed by Wong Kar Wai. With Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung Man Yuk. 35mm. In Cantonese; English subtitles. 98 min. Hong Kong 1962: Ambitious newspaper editor Chow (Tony Leung Ka Fai) and shy secretary Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) are among the many immigrants who have fled to… Continue reading In the mood for love (Wong Kar-Wai, 2000)