3 Best Movies to Watch by Sheenly Gener

Staff & contributors

Clocking in at just over four hours and shot in vivid color, Norte, the End of History stands not only as Filipino auteur Lav Diaz's best work since his earliest films, but as the easiest entry point into his unique filmography. Told on a sweeping yet intimate scale, the film has all the trademarks of Diaz's work: slow, lengthy shots; bursts of dense dialogue and philosophizing; and copious amounts of human despair and systemic corruption. As our three protagonists' souls (who rarely share the screen, if at all) are pushed to the limit after a terrible crime is committed, everything heads toward universal truths—the perseverance of love, and the inevitability of divine justice.

It can be difficult to recommend any film of this length and deliberate pace, but Norte remains a masterful example of how to use time itself to build a monumental story.

Genre: Crime, Drama

Actor: Angeli Bayani, Archie Alemania, Hazel Orencio, Kristine Kintana, Mae Paner, Mailes Kanapi, Moira Lang, Noel Sto. Domingo, Perry Dizon, Sheenly Gener, Sid Lucero, Soliman Cruz

Director: Lav Diaz

In the years since Fan Girl's original release in the Philippines, its ultimate message and execution has become polarizing: is it enough that the film shows the corruption of a parasocial relationship into an abusive one, without offering much hope? Is its vision of justice actually constructive or disappointingly limited? No matter where you fall, it's exciting that a movie can stir up these kinds of questions through a bizarre dynamic between characters, in a place that's clearly set somewhere between reality and delusion. The narrative is circular and frustrating for a reason—a constant push and pull as the titular fan girl keeps getting drawn back into the celebrity's orbit—and the film only grows more disturbing with each repetition.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Bea Alonzo, Camille Penaverde, Charlie Dizon, Gie Onida, Paulo Avelino, Sheenly Gener

Director: Antoinette Jadaone

Rating: PG-13

Bogged down by a platonic best friendship with a suspicious lack of communication and the repetitive use of tacky nicknames, Seasons never gains enough momentum to justify 108 minutes of uninteresting romance tropes. Carlo Aquino and Lovi Poe's chemistry is overshadowed by the glaring mound of unoriginal dialogue and drawn-out story. The lack of awareness and childish antics that culminate at the tail-end of a 15-year-long friendship are more disappointing than believable. With no external (or personal) struggles of their own, every sequence reinforces how flat and underdeveloped our leads are, as if they only engage with the world when close to, or thinking about, each other. Love-me/Love-me-not is never enough to carry the film.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Carlo Aquino, Lovi Poe, Sarah Edwards, Sheenly Gener

Director: Easy Ferrer