Manila. 2009. Philippines. Directed by Raya Martin, Adolfo Alix, Jr. With Piolo Pascual, Alessandra de Rossi, Anita Linda, Rosanna Roces, Lav Diaz. In Filipino; English subtitles. 85 min.
Paying homage to a pair of Philippine film classics—Ishmael Bernal’s Manila by Night (1980) and Lino Brocka’s Jaguar (1979)—Raya Martin and Adolfo Alix, Jr.'s two-part work reconsiders the legacy of their forebears. In Martin’s first half, a young man grapples with drug addiction and his mother’s disappointment. In Alix’s section, a bodyguard who kills someone while protecting his boss is abandoned to fend for himself. The opening credits, amusingly, appear in between the two black-and-white halves, set against a curious full-color montage sequence showing champion of slow cinema Lav Diaz on an elaborate movie set directing a romantic drama titled City of Love. Similarly, the ending credits don’t end the film—a trick played on audience members who leave the theater prematurely. Heartthrob Piolo Pascual, who is also an executive producer on the film, shines as the main characters in both segments. Manila is a multigenerational dialogue on film, Philippine cinema, and Manila.