Movie Diary 10/30/2018

Manila in the Claws of Light (Lino Brocka, 1975). A great film, structured around the classic set-up of a young man from the country (Rafael “Bembol” Roco) who comes to Manila in search of his girlfriend, who has vanished there some months earlier. He drifts from thing to thing (including brutally exploitative construction work and gay prostitution) and meets people both kind and cruel. Brocka’s style is occasionally blunt to the point of crudeness (there are some 1970s zooms that will snap your neck) but the overall experience is an incredibly dense, first-hand picture of a city locked in a cycle of inequality.

Cast a Dark Shadow (Lewis Gilbert, 1955). A cheeky fortune-hunter (Dirk Bogarde) kills his older, wealthy wife (Mona Washbourne), only to discover she didn’t leave him all her money after all. He sets his cap for another pigeon (Margaret Lockwood), but she turns out to be cannier than expected; meanwhile, a stranger (Kay Walsh) turns up to further complicate things. The movie sounds like a shadowy thriller, and there are indeed shadows and thrills, but the overall attitude – led by Bogarde’s tendency to raise an eyebrow at the end of a scene, meant for maximum audience amusement – is irresistibly camp.

Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer, 2018). The Queen story, or the Freddie Mercury story, or some kind of plodding musical biopic. The obligatory “but Remi Malek is excellent” notices are indications that most reviewers don’t know how to assess acting. Kudos to the casting of Mike Myers as a craven record exec; he lifts the movie for a couple of scenes and provides an unexpected Wayne’s World in-joke. (full review 11/2)

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