Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Movies, 91-94


91. Tangerine (dir. Sean S. Baker)

"Tangerine" moves like a whirling dervish, except it's the least bit religious. It wouldn't even make it to a mosque, because the faithful would definitely stone it unconscious at the square. It's the foul-mouthed market vendor you wouldn't want to cross swords with, the neighbor who'd ring your door at one in the morning and barge into the kitchen with a half-empty bottle of vodka. It's unsparingly crass and  unapologetically vulgar. And it's very, very good--one of the year' most joyous surprises.

Two transgender Black women--emphasis on the gender and race, because the dialogue wouldn't work as well in any other context--roam the more licentious side of Los Angeles on Christmas Eve in search of a girl. That's basically the plot, which culminates in a hilarious congregation of peculiar characters at a Donut Time. "You should apologize for taking her to a fucked-up hairdresser!" shouts one character during that climactic scene. It's all the kabaklaan and kaNegrohan at play, something I believe Filipino audiences today, myself included, would have a greater appreciation of, what with the likes of Vice Ganda, "Kalokalike," "Your Voice Sounds Familiar" and Kris Aquino dominating our screens. (Scratch that last one; the bitch has been around forever; she's essentially a timeless icon.)

"Tangerine" doesn't need class; it spits at the very notion of it. It also doesn't ask for your sympathy; it only wants your calm interest, if not attention. Most importantly, it looks at its subjects from a refreshing, no-big-deal perspective. It only wants, like all great movies do, to tell a good story. It is an accomplished work of art that needs to be remembered. 

92. Mia Madre (dir. Nanni Moretti)

"Mia Madre" will make you ask serious questions about your relationship with your mother. When was the last time you talked to her, called her, hugged her tight, kissed her on the cheek, told her you love her? Or are you taking her, the very fact that she's still alive, capable of providing for you, always there when you need her, for granted? This film can get unabashedly sentimental, but what the hell, I found myself in tears during more moments than I care to admit (and those who know me well know that I don't shed tears easily). And because of that, I strongly recommend--no, I insist--you watch this film, and when it's done, grab the phone or the nearest vehicle and reach out to your mom. Go to her or call her, and tell her you love her, and that she's everything to you. After that, reflect on how lucky you are that she's healthy and will no doubt still be around the next day. Consider yourself very, very lucky.

93. Goodnight Mommy (dirs. Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala)

I was ready to give up on this film. I thought it's going to be about aliens. Or clones. And then it started getting macabre, and that upped my interest. And then the twist came, and I was like, dammit, I didn't see that coming at all. Or maybe that's just me, one who's terrible at guessing twists, and so enjoys mind-blowing shizzles such as this.

94. The Tribe (dir. Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy)

This is original "Spring Awakening" meets Deaf West's "Spring Awakening" meets the first "Godfather" meets Quentin Tarantino when he was still a teenager (probably). It's all in sign language, and that can be a hurdle at the start, but once you get the rhythm of it all, everything starts to get interesting. How do you bash a head? Let "The Tribes" teach you the ways.

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