Numerous implicit and explicit homage to Filipino cinema, shot in monochrome, perceived as a crime thriller, proponent of 'slow cinema' and a great noir to boot. The most definitive film of Filipino New wave.
Shot in 8mm b&w this film certainly has a distinct look, there are some lovely shots - it really starts to shine in the second chapter. This film manages to overcome its simple story with the mood, the characters, music... Perhaps none of these elements alone are very unique, but the way they connect here creates something that lingers... The midtime credits disrupt the experience a bit. Quite memorable overall!
Manila shot in crisp b/w becomes a place of nocturnal vendettas (even if these involve the police) and destititue souls ostracized by their loved ones. Alix & Martin pay homage to social problems cinema and to the already established Philippino auteurs who launched this perspective. Finely acted, but with some not always so successful slow motions, it is punctuated by a reflexive third film, a 'lustre' on despair.
PC. Just recently, when rewatching Brocka, i was able to recall the immense dramatic capacity of a camera that inhabits real spaces of an atrocious labyrinthine dimension, building a "découpage" from inside. None of this here, only the display of an inability beyond the filmmaker (s) ego, as the ridiculous sequence in the dumpster, a mere space of one-dimensional videographic scenography, with no structure.
I think i like more the first section, because there is less of a narrative, it holds more on its dreamy atmosphere and somehow documentary aspect. The second part, the longest, is more conventional. Anyway, Raya Martin is an interesting filmmaker that can catch your attention with a low budget and not much of a story and that´s a good sign. I don´t know Lav Diaz enough but i see more potential in Martin´s films.
A wonderful homage to Lino Brocka's Jaguar and Ishmael Bernal's Manila By Night. Piolo Pascual's performance as William the drug addict in the day segment of this film is good but he truly shines in the night segment as Philip the loyal and hapless bodyguard to the son of a mayor. The gorgeous Alessandra de Rossi also does well here as the girlfriend of the mayor's son. Philippine cinema at its best, more please...
Could have been a companion piece for Brocka's Maynila: Sa Kuko ng Liwanag, in stark black and white. In a city where danger is a staple, life is disposable and religion is a mockery, Manila is a perfect set of dystopia.