Manila in the claws of light (Maynila: Sa mga kuko ng liwanag)

manila-posterFilipino Tagalog language mystery from 1975.
Starring: Hilda Koronel, Bembol Roco, Lou Salvador Jr.
Director: Lino Brocka
Writers: Edgardo Reyes, Clodualdo Del Mundo Jr.
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Julio travels from the countryside to Manila to search for his girlfriend who has moved there but has not written home for quite some time.

Reactions

The main part of the movie takes part in Manila where Julio tries to make a living and find time to look for his girlfriend. Julio is among the poorest in society and in order to survive he takes on a variety of jobs. We meet his friends and colleagues and see how they all try to get enough to eat and pay rent. The movie is about poverty and the lowest rungs of Manila society.

“Manila in the claws of light” is just as important as yesterday’s “A river called Titas“, but not equally good. It feels like Julio’s story is staged to have him travel through a variety of different disenfranchised groups and then have some character he meets explain how this or that particular group suffers and what laws could be amended or enforced in order to fix the problem.

“Manila in the claws of light” was not tested on the Bechdel test site, but I could not find any scenes where two named women talked to one another, so I put the movie on the fail test list. For more about the Bechdel test, read my post about women in movies.

Contemplations

The visual and audio of “Manila in the claws of light” is unimpressive, but that might be a consequence of a very low budget, and if that is the case, the movie is much more impressive. There are no problems with the audio or visuals of the movie that in any way disrupts the storytelling, unlike “A river called Titas” witch might be a natural movie to compare this one with. They both appear to be stories about poverty in the developing world told by people from these two poor regions. However, “A river called Titas” had much more impressive and professional footage, although in black and white, while “Manila in the claws of light” lacked the strange and overly long focus on an actors eyes during dramatic developments.

The story in “Manila in the claws of light” seems staged and a tad naive, but still important and it does reveal a several surprising difficulties in Filipino society. I was quite outraged by several injustices after watching the movie.

Judgement

I don’t regret watching “Manila in the claws of light”, and I hope at least some of the injustices the movie portrays were left behind in the 70’s. I will not watch the movie again.

Epilogue

I think it would be valuable for most adults to see this movie once in order to learn more about developing nations difficulties.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Manila in the claws of light” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

45 movies down. 320 to go.

If you want to get “Manila in the claws of light” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie other places too.

Tomorrow’s movie is “Waiting for Guffman”. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

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The Secret in their eyes (El secreto de sus ojos)

the-secret-in-their-eyes-posterArgentinian Spanish language romantic mystery from 2009.
Starring: Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago
Director: Juan José Campanella
Writers: Eduardo Sacheri, Juan José Campanella
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Retired police officer Benjamin Esposito decides to write a book about a case from early in his career that still bugs him. He contacts his former boss Irene Hastings to get her input on how he writes and his recollections of the case.

Reactions

One part of this story takes place in Argentine during the 70’s and we get a glimpse of several things that I associate with the country, like football, coffee, Isabel Peron and the dirty war.

We also get a little look at some things that I didn’t know about Argentina, like how all buildings seems to consist of a mess of rooms put together in unexpected ways. That might just be how this film reveals the space around characters, but it might also be how houses are built there. I haven’t been, so it would just be a guess, either way.

There also seems to be an unfamiliar way of organizing the employees of the justice department. Some are judges and some are police officers, without any familiar division between the two.

Contemplations

The story is in two parts; a modern tale of an aging police man trying to write a book about a case from early in his career, and the crime story from the 70’s he is writing.

First we meet the writer, Benjamin, as he attempts to begin his book, and he doesn’t seem to quite know where to begin, so we get bits and pieces of the older story as he tests multiple beginnings. He then meets with his former boss, Irene, to tell her that he is working on the book. She tells him to begin with the part that he remembers the best. After that we get the the rest of the old case story mostly in a linear fashion. This was an ingenious storytelling device, we get important parts of the story presented right away and we get to know our storyteller by what is most important to him. And it helped keep up the tension in this whodunit. It isn’t too often I am unfamiliar with the way a story is told, but this was a good surprise.

The acting is good, if a little exaggerated in a few scenes. The two main characters are specially well portrayed.

The imagery of what people look at and how, referenced in the title, could have been made cheap and turned the movie into a mimicry of a soap opera, but is done just simply and subtly enough to ring true.

The audio and visuals reflect the two times we see in the movie and accentuated the storytelling well.

Judgement

I enjoyed this murder mystery and how it casts a light on some sides of the human condition; maybe mostly love in this case.

Epilogue

I would recommend this movie to anyone adult. A good and romantic whodunit is nice entertainment for an evening. It could, in spite of the murder case, be a date movie, if both enjoy a crime story, that is.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “The secret in their eyes” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

40 movies down. 325 to go.

If you want to get “The secret in their eyes” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Selma“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Psycho

psycho-posterAmerican black and white psychological horror from 1960.
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Robert Bloch, Joseph Stefano
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Marion Crane steals 40 000$ from her boss and runs away. One night on the lam she checks in to Bates motel to get a nights rest.

Reactions

I thought many of the scenes in “Psycho” were quite meticulous and showed ordinary and practical events, such as unpacking or chatting. And still the scenes had a clear enough focus to not loose the tension in the story.  I was entertained through the whole movie, even though I at some point watched a woman eat some sandwiches.

I wonder how some of this movie was received in it’s time though. There was more naked skin and sexual content than I would have expected from this era. Not something we would react to today, but still surprising from 1960.

Contemplations

The sound was a very nice underscore of the rise and fall in tension. And the visuals were really fun with it’s use of mirrors and shadows. All the different ways of filming something through holes or mirrors was a nice way to break up scenes so they didn’t repeat a back and forth between characters too much and to let audiences see in new ways. It became part of this every day style where we saw what the characters saw.

The acting was superb, and specially Janet Leigh as Marion Crane and Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates were phenomenal. They had me at the edge of my seat the whole time.

The story was really good, even if it became clear what was going on quite early. Still I was excited to see what would happen next.

Judgement

“Psycho” was a really great movie that I would not mind watching again.

Epilogue

I would recommend “Psycho” to anyone over 18. It is a really exciting movie that didn’t feel dated even if it is 57 years old now.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Psycho” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

35 movies down. 330 to go.

If you want to get “Psycho” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Once upon a time in America“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Witness for the prosecution

witness-for-the-prosecution-posterAmerican black and white crime drama from 1957.
Starring: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton
Director: Billy Wilder
Writers: Agatha Christie, Billy Wilder, Harry Kurnitz, Lawrence B. Marcus
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

A middle aged man is accused of murder and he hires the best lawyer available.  The lawyer will hopefully have the health to see the court case through to the end.

Reactions

This is a classical murder mystery and it is a good one, mostly due to the acting and the funny, strange and flawed characters.

I had never seen Marlene Dietrich in anything before, but as most others I have heard the many stories about her (some of them are on her wikipedia page). Her screen presence did not disappoint.  Her beauty was special and captivating, the personality of her character came across quite clearly and her renowned status as a WW2 entertainer is even put to use in a scene. I like the movie just because I got to see this legend in action.

Contemplations

The cinematography and sound was suitable for a mostly courtroom drama, and did not stand out overly much.

The actors all had both comedic timing and dramatic talent witch made the shifts between funny and more serious moments natural. However the comedy was based on stereotypes and simple gags that made it seem somewhat old fashioned. It was funny though. At least as long as I chose to overlook the more dated elements.

The story was good and somewhat less superficial then what I expect from Agatha Christie. But all the quirks and strangeness of her more famous detectives, such as Miss Marple and Poirot, were delightfully present. After reading a few of her books (I believe, sometime in my teens), it seemed that I knew what one of her crime stories would contain; detective called in or on vacation, either impossible crime or seemingly none or endless amount of suspects, or at least a “whodunit”, a few minor observations buried on page 259 (or there about) and finally, the detective gathers everyone and slowly, oh so slowly, reveals the murderer. Even though this is an Agatha Christie story, do not expect the typical structure or progression. This is a courtroom drama, and not a “roaming detective” story.

Judgement

I liked this movie. There were some of the small annoyances that I have come to expect from a movie from this era, but it was a few hours well spent.

Epilogue

I would recommend “Witness for the prosecution” to a friend, and no qualifiers or caveats needed, except standard age restrictions. (In this case children under 13 should probably not see the movie.)

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Witness for the prosecution” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

33 movies down. 332 to go.

If you want to get “Witness for the prosecution” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Scarface“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.