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Memory play

MICHAEL Almereyda’s Marjorie Prime (2017) adapts Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer-nominated play to the big screen in a small way, and it’s marvelous. Eighty-five year old Marjorie (Lois Smith, who played the role in two previous stage productions) suffers the initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s; to help her deal with the memory loss, her daughter Tess (Geena Davis) and son-in-law Jon (Tim Robbins) have installed a “Prime” — a hologram-projected Artificial Intelligence (AI) — representing Marjorie’s husband Walter (Jon Hamm) when he was a relatively young 40.

Crazy rich a**hole

IF WE’RE TALKING lighthearted romantic fare involving pretty prosperous Asians, I don’t see why we need to go all the way to Hollywood when Hong Kong has been doing perfectly fine for years.

Bullet in the head

BACK in the mid-1990s I found myself hooked on a particularly intense habit: Johnnie To movies. I’d seen A Hero Never Dies and The Barefoot Kid (his one period martial-arts film) and had been digging through various DVDs ever since, hoping to find more.

Last holdout

PAUL SCHRADER’s latest feature First Reformed — his 23rd directing job — is a tiny feature shot around Brooklyn and Queens in only 20 days, on a budget of roughly three and a half million dollars. It’s also arguably his best work to date, or if not his best then somewhere up there.

This is not an open letter to the Cinema Evaluation Board...

TO THE Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB);

Mother’s ghosts

MARIO O’HARA passed on in 2012. His niece Janice O’Hara chose one of his scripts (rewritten extensively by her father Jerry O’Hara) to be her debut feature (Sundalong Kanin [Rice Soldiers, 2014]), arguably one of the best of 2014. Janice died two years later, leaving us that one film, compelling us to ask: is there some kind of curse on this family that blesses them with filmmaking and storytelling talent, but relatively fragile lives?

You will never really cohere

LYNNE RAMSAY’s films as narrative features are, to put it mildly, problematic: they rarely unfold in the approved straightforward manner; are elliptical to the point of obscure; are dark violent disturbing.

Gods and monsters

By Noel Vera DVD Princess Mononoke Directed by Hayao Miyazaki Rerelease (Warning: article does not summarize the film’s story — there are websites for that — and goes into...

Silk purse

HAVE TO admit this straight out: I know nothing about fashion or clothes. I’d repeat that in Andrew Sach’s approximation of a Basque accent but for the record and to get it out of the way when it comes to couture and textile and clothing design I know nothing. Nada.

Unhinged

THE BEST part of Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane is easily the first half — when unwary businesswoman Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy from The Crown) is suddenly committed to a mental ward for suicidal ideation.

Caged

JOHN FOWLES’ debut novel The Collector has been adapted several times for theater, stage, and big screen, most notably by William Wyler, later by Mike de Leon for a 1986 feature — Bilanggo sa Dilim (Prisoner in the Dark), shot on video.

A space prodigy

THE FIRST TIME I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey it was in a basement, in a projected 35 mm print. I was maybe 10 or 12 years old, had heard about the film, and was eager to watch.

Home is where the harm is

THE TRUE HORROR in Ari Aster’s Hereditary doesn’t come so much from demoniac forces as they do from human frailty and the cruel chaotic confusion of life.

Citizen me

MIKE DE LEON’s first film in — has it been 18 years? — has to be an event; the latest from one of our finest filmmakers, in the same league as Lino Brocka, Mario O’Hara, Ishmael Bernal, Celso Ad. Castillo. If it’s arguably the weakest feature he’s done to date (hopefully not his last) it still stands head and shoulders above most anything out there today, Filipino or Hollywood.

Citizen me

By Noel Vera Movie Review Citizen Jake Directed by Mike de Leon Mike de Leon’s first film in — has it been 18 years? — has to be...

Four by three

PLAYING CATCHUP: In the ever-changing landscape of World Cinema, what happened to Hong Kong’s “heroic bloodshed” movement -- those action filmmakers who featured slow motion, balletic action sequences, guns pointed at each others’ faces?

Rock the Devil

NOT LONG AFTER Brillante Mendoza’s Amo (which takes its cue from Respeto’s rap-driven score) we have Lav Diaz’s take on the Duterte regime. Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil, 2018) is no small-scale response: 234 minutes long, some six minutes short of four hours. And it’s a musical.

Tocino

By Noel Vera Video Review Porco Rosso Directed by Hayao Miyazaki DVD HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S Porco Rosso started out as a manga for a modeling magazine, was turned into a...

Best superhero movie of the year

By Noel Vera Video Review Psychokinesis (Yeom-Iyeok) Directed by Yeon Sang-ho Netflix I KNOW, I know, I know, I know — if you’re sick of the genre as I...

Who’s the boss?

By Noel Vera Video Review Amo Directed by Brillante Mendoza Netflix WHEN streaming giant Netflix announced that it would be showing pro-Duterte filmmaker Brillante Mendoza mini-series shot and set...

Origins

By Noel Vera DVD Review Professor Marston and the Wonder Women Directed by Angela Robinson PATTY JENKINS’s Wonder Woman makes no reference at all to the subject — partly...

Wargames

Movie Review Ready Player One Directed by Steven Spielberg By Noel Vera ADAPTED from Ernest Cline’s best-seller, Ready Player One is Steven Spielberg returning to form as entertainer...

Affliction

By Noel Vera Television Annihilation Netflix METEOR flashes across the sky, strikes base of lighthouse; Special Forces husband presents himself to his wife after an absence of two...

Ironed

By Noel Vera Movie Review A Wrinkle in Time Directed by Ava DuVernay WORD IS OUT: Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic piece of children’s literature A...

Catholic school girls in trouble

By Noel Vera Movie Review Lady Bird Directed by Greta Gerwin HAVE TO admit that taking on actress-turned-filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s second feature gave me pause. Not my favorite...

The drowned world

By Noel Vera Movie Review The Shape of Water Directed by Guillermo del Toro GUILLERMO DEL TORO’s latest film begins with a world already underwater — fish fluttering...

Dies in darkness

By Noel Vera Movie Review The Post Directed by Steven Spielberg STEVEN SPIELBERG’s latest film may be — thanks to the timing and historical context in which it...

Inbred

Movie Review Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Directed by Martin McDonagh By Noel Vera MARTIN MCDONAGH? Much-honored playwright and to be fair I’ve yet to see any of...

Small scale

Movie Review Downsizing Directed by Alexander Payne By Noel Vera ALEXANDER PAYNE’S new film Downsizing is a slyer comic take on Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels than the Jack...

Comin’ around again

By Noel Vera Video Review A Ghost Story Written and directed by David Lowery I’M NOT a fan of David Lowery’s Pete’s Dragon -- in retrospect the picture...

Best of 2017

By Noel Vera WHAT I’VE SEEN OF 2017 with maybe three exceptions was good not great — which possibly reflects more on me and my...

Long live the…

Video Review The Death of Louis XIV Directed by Albert Serra By Noel Vera ALBERT SERRA’S The Death of Louis XIV shares at first glance the same status...

Double jeopardy

Television Doctor Who Christmas Special By Noel Vera IT’S THE 13TH Doctor Who Christmas Special; it’s the 12th Doctor meets the 1st (or, as he prefers to...

The lame Jedi

By Noel Vera Movie Review Star Wars: The Last Jedi Directed by Rian Johnson (WARNING: plot twists and overall narrative discussed in explicit detail.) YOU THOUGHT The Force Awakens...

Dirt poor

By Noel Vera Video Mudbound Directed by Dees Rees DEES REES’s Mudbound (2017), adapted from the novel by Hillary Jordan, tells the story of two families -- one...

Death on the rail

By Noel B. Vera Movie Review Murder on the Orient Express Directed by Kenneth Branagh Screenplay by Michael Green, based on the novel by Agatha Christie 114 minutes THERE’S ARGUABLY not a...

Predator

By Noel Vera DVD Review Lolita Directed by Stanley Kubrick (Warning: novel and film’s overall story and narrative twists discussed in close detail) NABOKOV’s Lolita — about a middle-aged...

The premature burial

By Noel Vera Video Review A Quiet Passion Directed by Terence Davies IF YOU ATTEMPT something often enough once in a while you’ll get it right. The biopic...

Misbegotten

By Noel Vera Video Review Begotten Directed by E. Elias Merhige E. ELIAS MERHIGE’s Begotten has sprouted a few legends since it emerged in the 1990s -- how...

Martyred

By Noel Vera Video Review Martyrs Directed by Pascal Laugier (Warning: plot and narrative twists discussed in explicit detail) PASCAL LAUGIER’s 2008 horror film Martyrs deserves respect for taking...

Carneval

Video Trouble Every Day Directed by Claire Denis Available on YouTube By Noel Vera LIKE A MAESTRO poised to perform Claire Denis begins her 2001 genre film Trouble Every...

A boy’s best friend

By Noel Vera MOVIE REVIEW mother! Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Warning: overall narrative and plot twists discussed in explicit detail) CALL IT Rosemary’s Baby with a strong dose of...

Cherchez la femme

By Noel Vera Television Review Finale of Twin Peaks: The Return (Warning: plot outline and narrative twists discussed in close detail) IN THE FIRST PART of the finale...

Wheel fast

MOVIE REVIEW Baby Driver Directed by Edgar Wright By Noel Vera Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is like a little go-cart that whizzes by lickety-split; the action scenes...

Love is a mostly pondered thing

MOVIE REVIEW Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising Directed by Mike de Leon By Noel Vera (Warning: plot and narrative twists discussed in detail) Trust Mike de Leon not to pursue...