'Empire and Memory' At the Guggenheim Museum February 17 through March 13
Subtitled "Repercussions and Evocations of the 1899 Philippine-American War," this lively program comprises Hollywood features as well as Filipino docs, narrative and experimental films that explore the often-troubled relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines. The most entertaining period piece is veteran director Eddie Romero's picaresque As We Were (1976), which follows a peasant boy through the revolution, a witness to the end of Spanish colonial rule and the onset of the American occupation. Set a few wars later, in a Manila slum, Lino Brocka's Dalawa (1976) is an intense drama with allegorical overtones, about the attempts of an ex-GI and his wife to adopt the teenage mestiza daughter the man had abandoned. In Sin City Diary (1992), Rachel Rivera treats analogous material in doc format. Her compelling film is about prostitutes who worked near the U.S. naval base at Subic Bay, where a healthy share of the juvenile population seems to have been fathered by long-departed American servicemen. The revelation is an ambitious large-scale fiction film, Pegue Gallaga's Oro, Plata, Mata (1983), which traces the disintegration of a wealthy landed family of hacienderos during World War II. Sweeping and uneven, but often brilliant, it alternately evokes Gone With the Wind and 2000 Maniacs.