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Noel Vera
Works at Businessworld
Attended Ateneo de Manila
Lives in Somewhere
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Noel Vera

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Taxi (Jafar Panahi)
D rive Jafar Pa hani's Taxi would be remarkable just for existing--it's the third f eature the filmmaker has done since the Iranian government prohibited  him fr om directing and writing for 20 years ( Aside from the ban he may or may not serve a 6 - year j...
Drive Jafar Pahani's Taxi would be remarkable just for existing--it's the third feature the filmmaker has done since the Iranian government prohibited him from directing and writing for 20 years (Aside from the ban he may or ...
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Noel Vera

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22nd Wedding Anniversary
"Where are we going?" "O out." "We've been driving for almost an hour. Is it in another state?" "Maybe." "There you go again. Sometimes I want to smack you." "Ow! Not when I'm driving." "Frederick, Maryland?" "You s...
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The Last Pinoy Action King (Andrew Leavold)
Meat and pot atoes Filipino film enthusiast and fled gling documentarian Andrew Leavold's The Last Pinoy Action King , his so phomore feature, doesn't have the bizarre vibe of his The Search for Weng-Weng --doesn't feature at its center a three -foot-plus s...
Meat and potatoes Filipino film enthusiast and fledgling documentarian Andrew Leavold's The Last Pinoy Action King, his sophomore feature, doesn't have the bizarre vibe of his The Search for Weng-Weng--doesn't feature at its ...
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Noel Vera

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Zack Snyder)
Bruce and Clark's excellent adventure  Let's get a minor issue out of the way first: Zack Snyder's latest atrocity is, well, atrocious--basically an adaptation (the fourth if you include Chr istopher Nolan's trilogy ) of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Retur...
Bruce and Clark's excellent adventure Let's get a minor issue out of the way first: Zack Snyder's latest atrocity is, well, atrocious--basically an adaptation (the fourth if you include Christopher Nolan's trilogy) of Fran...
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Hail Caesar! (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Caesar salad The Coen Brothers love em or hate em are consistent; they may hold limited appeal to some (to me in particular) but they're constantly enterprising, often inventive (though not as often as they like to think they are), occasionally intriguing a...
Caesar salad The Coen Brothers love em or hate em are consistent; they may hold limited appeal to some (to me in particular) but they're constantly enterprising, often inventive (though not as often as they like to think th...
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Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, 2016)
Animal house Disney's latest  (directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush, from a screenplay by Jared Bush and Phil Johnston, story by a menagerie of writers ) proposes an unlikely community where predator and prey live in uneasy harmony.  The burg...
Animal house Disney's latest (directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush, from a screenplay by Jared Bush and Phil Johnston, story by a menagerie of writers) proposes an unlikely community where predator and prey l...
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Have him in circles
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Noel Vera

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Superman III (Richard Lester)
Superman
v Superman   Trying to get the bad taste
of Zack
Snyder's latest out of my mouth I took a peek at arguably one of the worst if not the worst entry in
the franchise, Superman
III --y'know,
the one with Richard Pryor on skis flapping a pink cape. The...
Superman v Superman Trying to get the bad taste of Zack Snyder's latest out of my mouth I took a peek at arguably one of the worst if not the worst entry in the franchise, Superman III--y'know, the one with Richard Pryor o...
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Noel Vera

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10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg)
Bunker mentality How good is the first three-fourths of Dan Trachtenberg's supposed sequel to Matt Reeves' popular monster movie ? Let me put it this way: it makes one bitterly regret staying for the film's last fourth; it makes one forget the fitful clever...
Bunker mentality How good is the first three-fourths of Dan Trachtenberg's supposed sequel to Matt Reeves' popular monster movie? Let me put it this way: it makes one bitterly regret staying for the film's last fourth; it m...
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The No Plate Special: Spicy Caribbean food in the heart of Southwest PA
The No-Plate Special Said it before gonna say it again: this blog's all about find dining--the kind of eats where you're driving down a street, you pause before a sign, you park and walk right in (or likewise you're walking d...
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Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery, Lav Diaz)
Night o f th e living dead Lav Diaz's Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan is arguably Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment , into which is woven select threads of recent Filipino history (i.e. the Marcos dictatorship) ; his latest , Hele sa Hiwaga ng Hapis ( A Lull...
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Night of the living dead Lav Diaz's Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan is arguably Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, into which is woven select threads of recent Filipino history (i.e. the Marcos dictatorship); his latest, Hele ...
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Rawr the site won't let me post properly well let me try there.

Watched it a second time, I have to say its a lot "easier" to watch a second time around, in particular the first 3 hours of the movie benefit from it as you understand better the narrative hints that Lav Diaz uses to reference El Filibusterismo and weave it unto the revolutions of the time. Put simply, he more or less took the same route Jacques Rivette does with his films, it's a fantasy set in a world that, on the surface, resembles the real world. After a the third hour, once the mythical creatures come into the play, that is when I felt transported.
 
That said... I have to say I find the top-billed lead actors, John and Piolo, to be somewhat weaker as compared to the other cast in terms of pulling of their characters. I think they tended to stick out like a sore thumb, especially John-Lloyd as you wonder how he can remain so damned pristine through out (well ironed shirt, hair is well combed through out, really clean looking face, etc) he just stuck out in comparison to the other actors/actresses who were playing similar roles. Adding to that I never really saw this sort of intensity or internalizing of the role that I saw with the other characters, in particular Hazel and the three Tikbalang's or Qiroga's ladies. They never really convince me so to speak. Frankly, I was just looking forward for their particular narrative thread, whenever the episode came up, to end as I wanted to see more of Gregoria's group.
 
Moreover, I think that unlike his previous films I find there was less work to be done in terms of deciphering what the director wants to "say". In so much that he was more explicit about "history repeating itself" and the "youth is the answer" and "let go of hatred" in that its literally spelled out rather than teased upon, like we would his other films (think Norte as a recent example). I assume this was more because of what I said earlier, in that this feels like it was intended for a wider audience and was more of an introduction overall.
 
I don't see this as strong as his other films, e.g. Ebolusyon, Heremias, Florentino Hubaldo. It is still good, and I'd wholeheartedly recommend it, but I didn't feel as excited about this one.
 
As for what you mentioned as new devices, I'd actually argue that Diaz's use of lighting was more pronounced or better utilized in Norte where is plays such a pivotal role in communicating the state of the characters or bringing focus into them -- he was rather playful in using it there IMO.
 
I think the thing is, as I see with this film, pushing himself a bit more outside his comfort zone -- whereas as I see it this film more or less remains within that zone and arguably even moreso as it does appear this movie was meant to reach a larger audience (not that I have qualms against that). One thing I do particularly miss about his earlier works is the "western", as in the genre, that his earlier films have this air about them, Heremias in particular comes to mind. However, once he makes Death in the Land of Encantados, and it peaks in Siglo ng Pagluluwal, he starts to preempt the criticisms lodged against him, which I do think contain some good in them (just like Adrian Martin's for instance), and says he just wants to be pretentious that is a natural part of any artistic process.
 
I do agree with that but at the same time I feel that was when in particular his growth started to stifle itself, as it became too content with his comfort zone. That while its great his sticks to his guns, and admirably so we see it with this film, there is a double edge that he may be pardoning himself as well from trying daring to experiment a bit more with his form. From what I can see it is more his narrative that is changing, as it becomes more structured (Norte being a highlight of this) as compared to his earlier films. Whereas the form itself, the ability to "show" has slowed down. And between telling and showing I tend to prefer the latter, and this was a quality I particularly enjoyed with his earlier films.
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Noel Vera

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (Yuen Woo Ping, 2016)
Semi-crouching Tiger A mazing how under certain circumstances critics' reactions are so ridiculously uniform, so hilariously predictable down to specific complaints on specific titles . Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny  (2016) is the acknowl...
Semi-crouching Tiger Amazing how under certain circumstances critics' reactions are so ridiculously uniform, so hilariously predictable down to specific complaints on specific titles. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword o...
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Noel Vera

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Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)
Above the Law There's a point in Tom McCarthy's new film where brand new Boston Globe editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) insists that the target isn't a few bad priests, or even the powerful cardinal shielding said priests. "We're going after the system," ...
Above the Law There's a point in Tom McCarthy's new film where brand new Boston Globe editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) insists that the target isn't a few bad priests, or even the powerful cardinal shielding said priests...
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People
Have him in circles
67 people
Marcel Antonio's profile photo
liza macalandag's profile photo
Michael Scott's profile photo
joao miguel marques's profile photo
Mj Denila's profile photo
Shayne Zalameda's profile photo
vipul vivek's profile photo
Carlos Vera's profile photo
John Mark Calderon's profile photo
Education
  • Ateneo de Manila
    1988
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Introduction
From my introduction to Critic After Dark: A Review of Philippine Cinema:
 
Philippine cinema has its share of gold and manure, artists and poseurs; because the average Filipino film costs a little over US$250,000 (in 2004 currency) and is usually shot on a stretch of about twenty shooting days (or less), the manure is often more odious than what passes for commercial filmmaking in Hollywood nowadays; on the other hand, because budget and schedule are often so small and tight, the rare gold nugget found seems all the more impressive, bordering perhaps on the miraculous. Thanks to those nuggets, I still believe in miracles.

Blog: Critic After Dark
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    Film writing, present
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Noel Vera's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
10 great American sci-fi films of the 1950s
www.bfi.org.uk

In the 1950s, cold war paranoia and the fear of imminent destruction gave rise to an unparalleled wave of alien invasion movies and apocalyp