Noel Vera

Noel Vera
Site:  criticafterdark

48 Oras (48 Hours, 1950) - Gerardo de Leon's great noir, about a man who has 48 hours to find the men who wronged him, before a bullet in his chest reaches his heart.

Abot Kamay ang Pangarap (Elena's Redemption, 1996) - Am I nuts? Possibly. But a list has got to have at least one out-there choice, and this is mine, and my reasons why I include in the post I linked to--basically, that no one has ever seen a film like this before, and hopefully we never will again.

Agila (1980) - In my book Eddie Romero's best work, this is epic filmmaking at its subtlest and most intelligent, with quietly lyrical cinematography by Mike De Leon, and an unusually nuanced performance by Da King of Philippine Cinema, Fernando Poe, Jr.
Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (The Legend of Julian Makabayan, 1979) - Celso Ad. Castillo's film about villagers retelling the story of their hero and the revolt he waged in the countryside.

Aliw (Pleasure, 1979) - Ishmael Bernal's caustic drama about kept mistresses.

Aliwan Paradise (Pleasure Paradise, 1993) - Mike de Leon's satire on the future of the Philippines and on Filipino game shows. Part of the omnibus film Southern Winds.

Altar (2007) - Rico Ilarde's most moving, most memorable movie mutation (to steal a phrase from Jonathan Rosenbaum)--an unholy cross between John Ford's The Quiet Man and Robert Wise's Audrey Rose. Unwholesome fun.

Anak Dalita (The Ruins, 1956) - Lamberto Avellana's neorealist drama about a man forced to participate in a smuggling ring, set in the postwar ruins of Manila.

Asedillo (1971) - Celso Ad. Castillo's gracefully proportioned action drama about a schoolteacher turned rebel leader. Cemented Filipino action star Fernando Poe Jr.'s persona as a champion of the poor and oppressed.

Babae sa Breakwater (Woman of the Breakwater, 2004) - Mario O'Hara's occasionally pungent, occasionally picaresque tale of two brothers and a young woman clinging literally to the edge of the city of Manila.

Babae sa Bubungang Lata (Woman on a Tin Roof, 1998) - Mario O'Hara's loving elegy to the glory that was once Philippine cinema, and scathing condemnation of the business it has since become.

Bagong Bayani (Unsung Heroine 1995) - Tikoy Aguiluz's masterpiece, a great docudrama about Flor Contemplacion, the domestic helper executed (wrongfully, some say) by the Singaporean government for the murder of a fellow Filipina.

Bagong Hari (The New King, 1986) - Mario O'Hara's great noir epic, about an assassin hired then betrayed by his powerful political bosses.

Bakit Bughaw ang Langit? (Why is the Sky Blue? 1981) - Mario O'Hara's poignant drama about the friendship between a young woman and a retarded man.

Batang West Side (West Side Avenue, 2001) - Lav Diaz's masterpiece, a five-hour film about an investigation into a young man's murder that gradually expands to become an investigation into the Filipino-American community.

Batch '81 (1982) - Mike de Leon's film turns the fraternity into a metaphor for the fascist Marcos regime.

Bayan Ko (My Country, 1985) - Lino Brocka's drama about labor unrest.

Bayani (Hero, 1992) - Raymond Red's beautifully photographed film about the 1898 revolution.

Bayaning Third World (Third World Hero, 2000) - Mike de Leon's brilliant Rizal film about the impossibility of making a Rizal film.

Bilanggo sa Dilim (Prisoner in the Dark, 1987) - Mike de Leon's only video feature to date, a personalized adaptation of John Fowles' chilling The Collector.

Biyaya ng Lupa (Blessings of the Land, 1959) - One of the most perfect Filipino films ever made, Manuel Silos' masterpiece about the lives of farmers and the changing of seasons, and lanzones--bushel after bushel of the ripest, juiciest, sweetest-looking lanzones you ever did see, enough to make your mouth water three times over.

Boatman (1984) - Tikoy Aguiluz's intense documentarylike drama about live sex performers.

Bona (1980) - Lino Brocka's valentine to movie love, about a young woman who chooses to become housemaid to an aspiring actor.

Broken Marriage (1983) - Ishmael Bernal's Naruselike drama about a failing marriage

Bulaklak ng City Jail (Flowers of the City Jail, 1985) - Mario O'Hara's noir melodrama about a pregnant woman in the Manila City Jail.

Burlesk Queen (Burlesque Queen, 1977) - Celso Ad. Castillo's lyrical masterpiece, ostensibly about the dying art of burlesque, but really about the beauty of all things worn-out and ravished.

City After Dark (1980) - Ishmael Bernal's masterpiece, an epic multi-narrative tale about the underbelly of Manila.

Condemned (1984) - One of the most perfect Filipino noir thrillers ever made, about a brother and sister struggling to survive on the streets of Manila.

Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino (Evolution of a Filipino Family, 2004)- Lav Diaz's 11 hour epic, about families living through recent Filipino history.

Eskapo (Escape, 1995) - Chito Rono's thriller about the attempted escape of two political prisoners from the clutches of the Marcos regime.

Fe, Esperanza, Caridad (1975) - Omnibus film includes a wonderfully lighthearted Lamberto Avellana comedy about a young wife's domestic troubles, and a memorably lurid Gerardo de Leon melodrama about a nun seduced by Satan.

El Filibusterismo (The Filibuster, 1962) - Gerardo de Leon's masterpiece of an adaptation of Jose Rizal's gothic revenge novel.

Genghis Khan (1950) - Manuel Conde's surprisingly engaging biopic of the Mongolian warrior, the first Filipino film (thanks to the support of critic James Agee) to be screened at the Venice Film Festival.

Hesus Rebolusyunaryo (Jesus the Revolutionary, 2002) - Lav Diaz's dystopian noir set five years in the future, when a man named Hesus takes on the ruling military junta.

Himala (Miracle, 1982) - Ishmael Bernal's most hallucinatory film, about a prophetess (Nora Aunor in her most famous role) in a small town devastated by drought.

Hindi Nahahati ang Langit (The Heavens Indivisible, 1985) - Mike De Leon's most commercially successful film, a surprisingly subtle adaptation of a popular komiks series about a wealthy man and his adopted sister.

Hinugot sa Langit (Snatched from Heaven, 1985) - Bernal's thoughtful take on the issue of abortion.

Ibulong Mo sa Hangin (Whisper to the Wind, 1966) - Gerardo de Leon's pulp horror masterpiece, about a proud old family afflicted with the curse of vampirism.

Ikaw ay Akin (You are Mine, 1978) - Ishmael Bernal melodrama featuring a rare co-appearance of the Philippines' two most popular actresses: Nora Aunor as a married woman and Vilma Santos as the husband's mistress.

Ina Ka ng Anak Mo (You Are the Mother of Your Child, 1979) - Lino Brocka's masterful melodrama, about a husband who falls in love with his mother-in-law.

Init sa Magdamag (Midnight Passion, 1983) - Filmmaker Laurice Guillen and writer Racquel Villavicencio's joint masterpiece, about a woman's sensual, self-destructive urges, is perhaps the most erotic Filipino film I know--and achieves this status without even a moment of nudity.

Insiang (1976) - Brocka's masterpiece, a noir drama about a daughter raped by her mother's lover.

Itim (The Rites of May, 1975) - Mike de Leon's first feature, an atmospheric tale of revenge from beyond the grave.

Jaguar (1979) - Excellent Brocka film noir, about a young man hired to be a rich man's bodyguard (or jaguar, reverse slang for the Spanish word "guardia").

Kakabakaba Ka Ba? (Will Your Heart Beat Faster? 1980) - Mike de Leon's wittily demented musical satire about Japanese yakuza, Chinese gangsters, bohemian hedonism, and the Catholic Church.
Kasal? (Marriage? 1980) - Laurice Guillen's debut film, about a young couple about to get married.

Kastilyong Buhangin (Sand Castle, 1980) - Mario O'Hara's melodrama about an aspiring singer and her ex-convict sweetheart, an exhilarating cross between George Cukor's A Star is Born and Ringo Lam's Prison on Fire.

Kisapmata (Blink of an Eye 1981) - Mike de Leon's masterpiece, a claustrophobic yet somehow comic tale of a man who marries into a dysfunctional family.

Kundiman ng Lahi (Song of a People, 1959) - Lamberto Avellana's drama about a young woman and her troubling sensuality.

Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising (Moments in a Stolen Dream, 1977) - Mike De Leon's introverted drama about a young man who falls in love with a married woman.

Laman (Flesh, 2002) - Maryo J. Delos Reyes' gritty noir, about the triangle that develops between a man, his wife, and his best friend.

Lihim ni Madonna (Secrets of Madonna, 1997) - Celso Ad. Castillo's surreal melodrama, about a deranged woman raising a child.

Lilet (1971) - Jawdropping late-period Gerardo de Leon psychodrama, about a woman's dysfunctional relationship with her family.

Magnifico (2003) - Maryo J. Delos Reyes and writer Michiko Yamamoto's gentle comedy about an idealistic young boy and his attempts to help both friend and family.

Ang Magpakailanman (Eternity, 1983) - Golden Palm winner Raymond Red's masterpiece, about the surreal and at times nightmarish adventures of a young man.

Maicling Pelicula Nang Ysang Indio Nacional (O Ang Mahabang Kalungkutan ng Katagalugan (A Short Film About the Indo Nacional (Or: the Prolonged Sorrow of the Filipinos), 2006) - Raya Martin's lyrically silent poem about the 1896 Philippine revolt.

Ang Maikling Buhay ng Apoy, Act 2, Scene 2: Suring at ang Kuk-ok (The Brief Life of Fire, Act 2, Scene 2: Suring and the Kuk-ok, 1997) - Auraeus Solito's magical animated short, about a young girl and her mythological friend

Manoro (The Teacher, 2006) - An early Brillante Mendoza feature, about a young Aeta girl who attempts to teach her friends and family to write their names on the electoral ballot, and easily his most evocative, effortlessly beautiful film

May Nagmamahal sa Iyo (Madonna and Child, 1996) - moving Marilou Diaz-Abaya drama about a woman searching for the child she put up for adoption.

Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Neon, 1975) - Brocka's best-known work, and one of the best visual portraits of Manila ever filmed

'Merika (America, 1984) - Gil Portes' drama about an immigrant (Nora Aunor), and her struggle to survive in the United States.

Minsan Lang Sila Bata (Children Only Once, 1996) - Ditsy Carolino and Nana Buxhani's great documentary about child labor.

Misteryo sa Tuwa (Joyful Mystery, 1984) - years before "A Simple Plan," Abbo de la Cruz's fable tells of three men who find a suitcase full of money.

The Moises Padilla Story (1961) - one of Gerardo de Leon's best films, about a man who dares to confront the established political order, is betrayed and destroyed.

Moral (1982) - Arguably Marilou Diaz Abaya and Ricky Lee's finest work, a comedy about the intertwining lives of four women.

Mortal (1975) - Mario O'Hara's surreal debut film, about a man recovering from mental illness.

Nena (1995) - Ike Jarlego Jr. and writer Lualhati Bautista's noir about a nightclub waitress raped while in prison.

Noli Me Tangere (1961) - Gerardo de Leon's great adaptation of Jose Rizal's groundbreaking novel.

Oliver (1983) - Nick Deocampo's masterpiece, a documentary about a gay nightclub performer with an especially lurid "Spider-man" act.

Orapronobis (Fight for Us, 1989) - Perhaps Lino Brocka's most intense political thriller, about the radicalization of a former priest.

Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, 2005) - Auraeus Solito and writer Michiko Yamamoto's affectionate portrait of a gay boy in love with an idealistic policeman.

Pagdating sa Dulo (At the Top, 1971) - Ishmael Bernal's astonishingly assured film debut, a sophisticated satire on the film industry.

Pagputi ng Uwak, Pagitim ng Tagak (When The Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black, 1978) - Celso Ad. Castillo's social-class drama about a romance between a poor boy and a rich girl, set against the Huk rebellion.

Pangarap ng Puso (Demons, 2000) - Mario O'Hara's genre-bending film about two lovers lost in a jungle of mythological, psychological, and political horrors.

Pila Balde (Fetch a Pail of Water, 1999) - Jeffrey Jeturian and writer Armando Lao's best work, a lightly humorous drama set in a squatter area.

Relasyon (The Affair, 1982) - Ishmael Bernal's kitchen-sink drama about a man and his mistress.

Sa North Diversion Road (On North Diversion Road, 2005) - Dennis Marasigan's adaptation of Tony Perez's classic play, about ten couples (nine of them married) driving up the North Diversion Highway, their widely divergent stories, their common humanity.

Salawahan (Capricious, 1979) - Ishmael Bernal's glittering sex comedy about a one-woman man and his playboy friend.

Salome (1981) - Laurice Guillen's drama about a young woman's murder of her rapist, and the contradictory stories behind the crime.

Sanda Wong (1955) - Gerardo de Leon's wonderful fantasy about the friendship between a young man and a notorious pirate.

Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo (Python in the Old Dome, 1952) - Great Gerardo de Leon fantasy, about a legendary bandit and his python-guarded treasure trove.

Scorpio Nights (1985) - Peque Gallaga's masterpiece is an expression of the nihilism and despair of Filipinos during the last years of the Marcos regime, and a great film.

Segurista (The Insurance Agent, 1996) - Tikoy Aguilzu's well-made noir thriller, about an insurance salesgirl by day, and a "guest relations officer" by night.

Serafin Geronimo: Kriminal ng Baryo Concepcion (Serafin Geronimo: Criminal of Baryo Concepcion, 1998) - Lav Diaz's ambitious film debut, about a Raskolnikov-like criminal struggling with his conscience.

Sisa (1951) - Gerardo de Leon's great revisionist film about one of Jose Rizal's most memorable characters, Sisa.

Sisa (Mario O'Hara, 1998) - Mario O'Hara's wildly imaginative remake of the Gerardo de Leon classic, where Rizal falls in love with his own literary creation.

Sister Stella L. (1984) - Mike De Leon's only overtly activist film, about the emerging political conscience of a nun.

Sugatang Puso (Wounded Heart, 2000) - Joey Reyes is known for his youth films, but I much prefer his dramas about the middle class--subtle, understated little chamber pieces of which this is I think one of the finest examples, with not a little flavor of Ozu in it.

Takaw Tukso (Temptation, 1986) - brilliant film from William Pascual and writer Armando Lao, about a quartet of lovers in an intensely Bergmanesque chamber drama.

Ang Tatay Kong Nanay (My Father the Mother, 1978) - Dolphy gives the performance of his career in Lino Brocka's film about a gay man raising a child.

Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa (Three, Two, One, 1975) - A Lino Brocka omnibus film that includes a man undergoing drug rehab, a slum girl who must choose between her American father and Filipina mother, and a lonely spinster and her sensual gardener.

Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God, 1976) - Mario O'Hara's epic tale of the love between a Filipina and a half-Japanese officer, arguably the greatest Filipino film ever made.

Temptation Island (1981) - great surreal camp romp by Joey Gosiengfiao, about beauty pageant contestants stranded on an island. Third-world Pedro Almodovar, only stranger and funnier.

Terror is a Man (1959) - Gerardo de Leon's small-scale yet intriguing take on H.G. Wells' classic The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (You Were Weighed and Found Wanting, 1974) - one of Lino Brocka's rare epics, a panoramic portrait of a small town.

Todo Todo Teros (2006) - John Torres moving confessional and paranoid spy drama, made completely out of snippets of poetry and found footage.

Tubog sa Ginto (Dipped in Gold, 1971) - Lino Brocka's adaptation of Mars Ravelo's "komiks" melodrama about a successful businessman trying to hide his homosexuality.

Turumba (1981) - Kidlat Tahimik's best work, about the exploitation of a small town by German investors.

Uhaw na Pag-ibig (Thirsty Love, 1983) - Vivid Mario O'Hara film noir, about a young woman turned prostitute.

Working Girls (1984) - Ishmael Bernal and writer Amado Lacuesta's biting comedy about shenanigans in a Makati City bank.