Noel Vera

Critic After Dark: a Review of Philippine Cinema
Critic After Dark

100 Best Filipino Films

  • The Affair (1982) .. Ishmael Bernal
    Ishmael Bernal's kitchen-sink drama about a man and his mistress.
  • Agila (1980) .. Eddie Romero
    Eddie Romero's epic about a man named Daniel Agila (Fernando Poe, Jr.) and his eventful odyssey through Philippine history. With masterfully understated cinematography by Mike de Leon.
  • Aliw (1979) .. Ishmael Bernal
    Ishmael Bernal's caustic drama about kept mistresses.
  • Aliwan Paradise (1993) .. Mike de Leon
    Mike de Leon's satire on the future of the Philippines and on Filipino game shows. Part of the omnibus film "Southern Winds."
  • America (1984) .. Gil Portes
    Gil Portes' drama about an immigrant (Nora Aunor), and her struggle to survive in the United States.
  • Asedillo (1971) .. Celso Ad. Castillo
    Celso Ad. Castillo's action drama about a schoolteacher turned rebel leader. Cemented action star Fernando Poe Jr.'s persona as a champion of the poor and oppressed.
  • At the Top (1971) .. Ishmael Bernal
    Ishmael Bernal's astonishingly assured film debut, a sophisticated satire on the film industry.
  • Batch '81 (1982) .. Mike de Leon
    Mike de Leon's film on fraternities as a metaphor for the fascism of the Marcos
  • Blessings of the Land (1959) .. Manuel Conde
    One of the most perfect Filipino films ever made, Manuel Conde's masterpiece about the lives of farmers and the changing of seasons.
  • Blink of an Eye (1981) .. Mike de Leon
    Mike de Leon's masterpiece, a claustrophobic yet somehow comic tale of a man who marries into a dysfunctional family.
  • The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (2005) .. Auraeus Solito
    Auraeus Solito and writer Michiko Yamamoto's affectionate portrait of a gay boy in love with an idealistic policeman.
  • Boatman (1984) .. Tikoy Aguiluz
    Tikoy Aguiluz's intense documentarylike drama about live-sex workers.
  • Bona (1980) .. Lino Brocka
    Lino Brocka's valentine to movie love, about a young woman who chooses to become housemaid to an aspiring actor.
  • The Brief Life of Fire, Act 2, Scene 2: Suring and the Kuk-ok (1997) .. Auraeus Solito
    Auraeus Solito's magical animated short, about a young girl and her mythological friend
  • Broken Marriage (1983) .. Ishmael Bernal
    Ishmael Bernal's drama about a failing marriage.
  • Burlesque Queen (1977) .. Celso Ad. Castillo
    Celso Ad. Castillo's lyrical masterpiece, ostensibly about the dying art of burlesque, but really about the beauty of the worn-out and ravished.
  • Capricious (1979) .. Ishmael Bernal
    Ishmael Bernal's glittering sex comedy about a one-woman man and his playboy friend.
  • The Captive Virgins (1977) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's flawed yet fascinating epic about the oppression of women in a patriarchal family.
  • Child of Sorrow (1956) .. Lamberto Avellana
    Lamberto Avellana's neorealist drama about a man forced to participate in a smuggling ring, set in the postwar ruins of Manila.
  • Children Only Once (1996) .. Ditsy Carolino & Nana Buxhani
    Ditsy Carolino and Nana Buxhani's great documentary about child labor.
  • Condemned (1984) .. Mario O'Hara
    One of the most perfect Filipino noir thrillers ever made, about a brother and sister struggling to live in the streets of Manila.
  • Dead Sure (1996) .. Tikoy Aguilzu
    Tikoy Aguilzu's well-made erotic noir thriller, about an insurance salesgirl by day, and a "guest relations officer" by night.
  • Demons (2000) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's genre-bending film about two lovers lost in a jungle of mythological, psychological, and political horrors.
  • Dipped in Gold (1971) .. Lino Brocka
    Lino Brocka's adaptation of Mars Ravelo's "komiks" melodrama about a successful businessman trying to hide his homosexuality.
  • Eskapo (1995) .. Chito Rono
    Chito Rono's thriller about the attempted escape of two political prisoners from the Marcos
  • Eternity (1983) .. Raymond Red
    Cannes winner Raymond Red's masterpiece, about the surreal and at times nightmarish adventures of a young man.
  • Evolution of a Filipino Family (2004) .. Lav Diaz
    Lav Diaz's 11 hour epic, about families living through recent Filipino history.
  • Fe, Esperanza, Caridad (1975) .. Lamberto Avellana, Gerardo de Leon, & Cirio H. Santiago
    Omnibus film including lighthearted Lamberto Avellana comedy about a young wife's domestic troubles, and lurid Gerardo de Leon melodrama about a nun seduced by Satan.
  • Fetch a Pail of Water (1999) .. Jeffrey Jeturian
    Jeffrey Jeturian and writer Armando Lao's best work, a lightly humorous drama set in a squatter area.
  • Fight for Us (1989) .. Lino Brocka
    Perhaps Lino Brocka's most intense political thriller, about the radicalization of a former priest.
  • The Filibuster (1962) .. Gerardo de Leon
    Gerardo de Leon's masterpiece of an adaptation of Jose Rizal's gothic revenge novel.
  • Flesh (2002) .. Maryo J. Delos Reyes
    Maryo J. Delos Reyes' gritty erotic noir, about the triangle that develops between a man, his wife, and his best friend.
  • Flowers of the City Jail (1985) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's noir melodrama about a pregnant woman in the Manila City Jail.
  • Forty Eight Hours (1950) .. Gerardo de Leon
    Gerardo de Leon's great noir, about a man who has 48 hours to find the men who wronged him, before a bullet in his chest reaches his heart.
  • Genghis Khan (1950) .. Manuel Conde
    Manuel Conde's surprisingly engaging biopic of the Mongolian warrior, the first Filipino film (thanks to the support of critic James Agee) to be screened at the Venice Film Festival.
  • The Heavens Indivisible (1985) .. Mike de Leon
    Mike De Leon's most commercially successful film, a surprisingly personal adaptation of a popular komiks series about a wealthy man and his adopted sister.
  • Hero (1992) .. Raymond Red
    Raymond Red's beautifully photographed film about the 1898 revolution.
  • Insiang (1976) .. Lino Brocka
    Brocka's masterpiece, a noir drama about a daughter raped by her mother's lover.
  • Jaguar (1979) .. Lino Brocka
    Excellent Brocka film noir, about a young man hired to be a rich man's bodyguard (or "jaguar," reverse slang for the Spanish word "guardia").
  • Jesus the Revolutionary (2002) .. Lav Diaz
    Lav Diaz's dystopian noir set five years in the future, where a man named Hesus takes on the ruling military junta.
  • Joyful Mystery (1984) .. Abbo de la Cruz
    Years before Sam Raimi's "A Simple Plan," Abbo de la Cruz's fable about three men who find a suitcase full of money.
  • The Last Wish (1995) .. Tikoy Aguiluz
    Tikoy Aguiluz's great docudrama about Flor Contemplacion, the domestic helper executed by the Singaporean government for the murder of a fellow Filipina.
  • The Legend of Julian Makabayan (1979) .. Celso Ad. Castillo
    Celso Ad. Castillo's film about villagers retelling the story of their hero and the revolt he waged in the countryside.
  • Lilet (1971) .. Gerardo de Leon
    Jawdropping late-period Gerardo de Leon psychodrama, about a woman's dysfunctional relationship with her family.
  • Madonna and Child (1996) .. Marilou Diaz-Abaya
    moving Marilou Diaz-Abaya drama about a woman searching for the child she put up for adoption.
  • Magnifico (2003) .. Maryo J. Delos Reyes
    Maryo J. Delos Reyes and writer Michiko Yamamoto's gentle comedy about an idealistic young boy and his attempts to help both friend and family.
  • Manila by Night (1980) .. Ishmael Bernal
    Ishmael Bernal's masterpiece, an epic multi-narrative tale about the underbelly of Manila.
  • Manila: In the Claws of Darkness (1975) .. Lino Brocka
    Brocka's best-known work, and one of the best visual portraits of Manila ever filmed.
  • Marriage? 1980) .. Laurice Guillen
    Laurice Guillen's debut film, about a young couple about to get married.
  • Midnight Passion (1983) .. Laurice Guillen
    Great erotic thriller about one woman's sensual yet self-destructive urges.
  • Miracle (1982) .. Ishmael Bernal
    Ishmael Bernal's most hallucinatory film, about a prophetess (Nora Aunor in her most famous role) in a small town devastated by drought.
  • The Moises Padilla Story (1961) .. Gerardo de Leon
    One of Gerardo de Leon's best films, about a man who dares to confront the established political order and is destroyed.
  • Moments in a Stolen Dream (1977) .. Mike de Leon
    Mike De Leon's introverted drama about a young man who falls in love with a married woman.
  • Monster in a Jar (1986) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's horror short, about an ancient evil trapped in an enormous jar. Part of the omnibus film "Halimaw."
  • Moral (1982) .. Marilou Diaz Abaya
    Arguably Marilou Diaz Abaya and Ricky Lee's finest work, a comedy about the intertwining lives of four women.
  • Mortal (1975) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's surreal debut film, about a man recovering from mental illness.
  • My Country (1985) .. Lino Brocka
    Lino Brocka's drama about labor unrest.
  • My Father the Mother (1978) .. Lino Brocka
    Dolphy gives the performance of his career in Lino Brocka's film about a gay man raising a child.
  • Nena (1995) .. Ike Jarlego Jr.
    Ike Jarlego Jr. and writer Lualhati Bautista's noir about a nightclub waitress raped while in prison.
  • The New King (1986) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's great noir epic, about an assassin hired then betrayed by his powerful political bosses.
  • Noli Me Tangere (1961) .. Gerardo de Leon
    Gerardo de Leon's great adaptation of Jose Rizal's groundbreaking novel.
  • Oliver (1983) .. Nick Deocampo
    Nick Deocampo's masterpiece, a documentary about a gay nightclub performer with an especially lurid "Spider-man" act.
  • On North Diversion Road (2005) .. Dennis Marasigan
    Dennis Marasigan's adaptation of Tony Perez's classic play, about ten couples (nine of them married) driving up the North Diversion Highway, their widely divergent stories, their common humanity.
  • Prisoner in the Dark (1987) .. Mike de Leon
    Mike de Leon's only video feature to date, an adaptation of John Fowles' chilling "The Collector."
  • Python in the Old Dome (1952) .. Gerardo de Leon
    Great Gerardo de Leon fantasy, about a legendary bandit and his python-guarded treasure trove.
  • The Rites of May (1975) .. Mike de Leon
    Mike de Leon's first feature, an atmospheric tale of revenge from beyond the grave.
  • Rizal in Dapitan (1997) .. Tikoy Aguiluz
    Tikoy Aguiluz's documentarylike film about Jose Rizal's stay in theisland of Dapitan.
  • Salome (1981) .. Laurice Guillen
    Laurice Guillen's erotic drama about a young woman's murder of her rapist, and the contradictory stories behind the crime.
  • Sand Castle (1980) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's melodrama about an aspiring singer and her convict sweetheart, an exhilarating cross between George Cukor's "A Star is Born" and Ringo Lam's "Prison on Fire."
  • Sanda Wong (1955) .. Gerardo de Leon
    Gerardo de Leon's wonderful fantasy about the friendship between a young man and a notorious pirate.
  • Santiago (1970) .. Lino Brocka
    Lino Brocka's only war film, and only collaboration with Fernando Poe, Jr. His characterization of Poe's hero as an outcast in a small town prefigures his use of a similar figure
    in Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang, made four years later.
  • Scorpio Nights (1985) .. Peque Gallaga
    Peque Gallaga's masterpiece is an expression of the nihilism and despair of Filipinos during the last years of the Marcos regime, and a great erotic film.
  • Secrets of Madonna (1997) .. Celso Ad. Castillo
    Celso Ad. Castillo's surreal melodrama, about a deranged woman raising a child.
  • Serafin Geronimo: Criminal of Baryo Concepcion (1998) .. Lav Diaz
    Lav Diaz's ambitious film debut, about a Raskolnikov-like criminal struggling with his
  • A Short Film About the Indo Nacional, Or: the Prolonged Sorrow of the Filipinos (2006) .. Raya Martin
    Raya artin's lyrically silent poem about the 1896 Philippine revolt.
  • Sisa (1951) .. Gerardo de Leon
    Gerardo de Leon's great revisionist film about one of Jose Rizal's most memorable characters, Sisa.
  • Sisa (1998) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's wildly imaginative remake of the Gerardo de Leon classic, where Rizal falls in love with his own literary creation.
  • Snatched from Heaven (1985) .. Ishmael Bernal
    Bernal's thoughtful take on the issue of abortion.
  • Song of a People (1959) .. Lamberto Avellana
    Lamberto Avellana's drama about a young woman and her troubling sensuality.
  • The Teacher (2006) .. Brillante Mendoza
    To my mind Cannes winner Brillante Mendoza's masterpiece, a gentle cinema verite exploration of tribal ethnic groups and the Filipino election process.
  • Temptation (1986) .. William Pascual
    Brilliant film from William Pascual and writer Armando Lao, about a quartet of lovers in an erotic chamber drama.
  • Temptation Island (1981) .. Joey Gosengfiao
    Great surreal camp romp by Joey Gosengfiao, about beauty pageant contestants stranded on an island. Third-world Pedro Almodovar, only stranger and funnier.
  • Terror Is a Man (1959) .. Gerardo de Leon
    Gerardo de Leon's small-scale yet intriguing take on H.G. Wells' classic The Island of Dr. Moreau.
  • Third World Hero (2000) .. Mike de Leon
    Mike de Leon's brilliant Rizal film about the impossibility of making a Rizal film.
  • Thirsty Love (1983) .. Mario O'Hara
    Vivid Mario O'Hara film noir, about a young woman turned prostitute.
  • Three, Two, One (1975) .. Lino Brocka
    A Lino Brocka omnibus film that includes a story about drug rehab, a slum girl who must choose between her American father or Filipina mother, and a
    gothic drama about a lonely spinster and her sensual gardener.
  • Three Years Without God (1976) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's epic tale of the love between a Filipina and a half-Japanese officer, arguably the greatest Filipino film ever made.
  • Todo, Todo, Teros (2006) .. John Torres
    John Torres moving confessional and paranoid spy drama, made completely out of snippets of poetry and found footage.
  • Turumba (1981) .. Kidlat Tahimik
    Kidlat Tahimik's best work, about the exploitation of a small town by German investors.
  • West Side Avenue (2001) .. Lav Diaz
    Lav Diaz's masterpiece, a five-hour film about an investigation into a young man's murder that expands to become an investigation into the Filipino-American community.
  • When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black (1978) .. Celso Ad. Castillo
    Celso Ad. Castillo's social-class drama about a romance between a poor boy and a rich
    girl, set against the Huk rebellion.
  • Whisper to the Wind (1966) .. Gerardo de Leon
    Gerardo de Leon's pulp horror masterpiece, about a proud old family afflicted with the curse of vampirism.
  • Why is the Sky Blue? (1981) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's poignant drama about the friendship between a young woman and a retarded man.
  • Will Your Heart Beat Faster? 1980) .. Mike de Leon
    Mike de Leon's musical satire about Japanese yakuza, Chinese gangsters, bohemian hedonism, and the Catholic Church.
  • Woman of the Breakwater (2004) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's occasionally pungent, occasionally picaresque tale of two brothers and a young woman clinging literally to the edge of the city of Manila.
  • Woman on a Tin Roof (1998) .. Mario O'Hara
    Mario O'Hara's loving elegy to the glory that was once Philippine cinema, and scathing condemnation of the business it has since become.
  • Working Girls (1984) .. Ishmael Bernal
    Ishmael Bernal and writer Amado Lacuesta's biting comedy about shenanigans in a Makati City bank.
  • You are Mine (1978) .. Ishmael Bernal
    Ishmael Bernal melodrama featuring a rare co-appearance of the Philippines' two most popular actresses: Nora Aunor as a married woman and Vilma Santos as the husband's mistress.
  • You Are the Mother of Your Child (1979) .. Lino Brocka
    Lino Brocka's masterful melodrama, about a husband who falls in love with his mother-in-law.
  • You Were Weighed and Found Wanting (1974) .. Lino Brocka
    One of Lino Brocka's rare epics, a panoramic portrait of a small town.

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