3 Filipinos on lists of 2014’s best
Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz and actress Angeli Bayani made it in the “2014’s best” lineup drawn up by the blog whitetanktop.com, for their work in “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan,” which premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2013.
San Francisco-based blogger Kirk Michael related that he almost did not draft a “best of 2014” list “had I not spent a stray Sunday afternoon watching a four-hour Filipino film.”
He compared Bayani’s acting to Maria Falconetti’s in Carl Theodore Dreyer’s 1928 silent film, “The Passion of Joan of Arc.”
The critic wrote: “Bayani’s performance is so immense, I can’t even deal [with it]. Bayani hit that Falconetti level and may now ascend directly to heaven…rewatch ‘Joan of Arc,’ then stream ‘Norte’ and then give yourself a couple of weeks to recover.”
He gave “Norte” the No. 1 spot in his Top 12 films. “This is slow cinema so good that I didn’t need to check my cell phone; I didn’t need to urinate. [It] is not just the longest film on the list, but the most profound and, moment to moment, the most beautiful,” he said.
The blogger commended Larry Manda’s cinematography. “The digital camera is so crisp and bold you can’t believe there aren’t special effects involved. But it’s just the blockbuster of Diaz’s imagination…the payoffs keep coming. The gorgeous suffering; the epic accomplishment. Lav Diaz: No mediocre.”
“Norte” earlier landed on the “favorite films of 2014” list by Chicago Reader’s JR Jones and Ben Sachs.
“Norte” was No. 3 on Jones’ Top 10 list where Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” was No. 1 and Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne’s “Two Days, One Night” was No. 4.
Jones said of “Norte”: “This harrowing Filipino take on ‘Crime and Punishment’ runs for 250 minutes, but never feels slow mainly because [it’s] inherently suspenseful. Time works here as a vise, closing relentlessly on the characters as the wronged man reaches a state of moral purity and the killer gradually goes mad from remorse.”
Sachs chose another Filipino film for his “best of 2014” roster: Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s “Thy Womb,” which he posted in ninth place.
Sachs hailed “Thy Womb” as “a devastating critique of everyday misogyny in developing societies,” pointing out that Mendoza’s films are “commanding, visceral experiences, literally filled with blood, sweat and tears.”
He described Mendoza as “an old-school melodramatist with an acute sensitivity to the pulse of the moment” and lead star Nora Aunor as “one of the Philippines’ most admired actresses.”
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