City After Dark (Manila by Night)

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Movie Info

This film was originally titled Manila by Night until, it is rumored, Imelda Marcos asked that the title be changed so as not to specifically malign "her city." The action in the film takes place in Manila, and involves various protagonists -- including the city itself -- in the lowest of human entrapments: drugs and vice. Homosexual sequences highlight an alternative lifestyle, and as the nightlife functions as an alter-ego for the busy, daytime streets. At the time of this movie's release, many Filipino viewers felt that this was one of the best movies their nation had produced. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi


Critic Reviews for City After Dark (Manila by Night)

All Critics (1)

  • A histrionic melodrama that plays out on an epic scale, it genuinely warrants comparisons to the great works of the Italian neorealists and Altman's Nashville.

    Sep 2, 2010 | Rating: 73/100 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for City After Dark (Manila by Night)

  • Sep 29, 2010
    Before our film industry has turned into the mainstream disappointment that it has been today, masters like Ishmael Bernal strengthen the industry's foundations, not by big-budget films that boasts of colorful, shallow nationalism, but supported its pillars with critical bravery, exploring the themes, subjects, and immoralities in a time of modernistic bondage of expressive sovereignty(Marcos era). I've always conditioned my mind that "Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag"is the best film to ever portray the eponymous capital of the Philippines. But witnessing this work for the first time, it has altered my perception of the Lino Brocka classic, and at the same time, "City After Dark", for me, has immediately entered the realms of being one of the "definitive" Filipino films at its highest auteuristic control. But do not get me wrong, "Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag" offered an unforgettably painful look of the city from the eyes of, putting it bluntly, an alienated 'promdi'. It's a film that steers raw emotions, and at times slipping into melodrama, but "City After Dark" may have been the opposite; it explores apathy in the midst of moral decadence. There's moments in this film where the characters asks each other artificial questions like "Do you really love me?", or "Will you really marry me?". they're not honest queries, but merely asked so to pass the time. And though same questions may have come from sincere hearts, it's beyond their grasp. Manila's too busy a city to provide secure answers.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer
  • Dec 23, 2009
    <img src="" width="450"> <b><i>Orestes Ojeda and Bernardo Bernardo, a hilarious scene from Ishmael Bernal's "City After Dark".</i></b> Quite a terrifying story of the modern world; Ishmael Bernal's undying tale about communal mundane perceptions of people. It's a paradox, both divine and human. Forget all the conservative sides, good acting, and cheerful storylines. Rather get acquainted with shaky cams, foul and colloquial language, all independent trademarks also used in today's Filipino filmmaking. It is a horror in a society bombarded with all kinds of humid ideas. It's empty with compassion, and rich with kinds of trash, the very factor that makes this film significant. It exposes the conspicuous evilness in the society. It generally aims to enlighten the corrupted thinking of the people. It's never stuck in just one particular topic, it's an abstract of different stories, different walks of life, but all having the same enigma; all in the same space and time. There's too much sexuality in this film - a good way to describe a society preoccupied with destructive vision; like the themes of more recent films including "Sin City" and "Serbis". You can't get enough of the director's aesthetics that simply elevates this film into an intense contour of fear. The use of eerie music is quite elegantly made. I remember some dogfights involving main characters that are shot and scored with a hype of pain. Alex (William Martinez) is a prodigal son, with his drug dependence like Henry Hill from "GoodFellas". He is strongly a very good deceiver, acting like a nice and shy kid at the beginning of the film. He gradually makes his parents believe that he uses his allowance for school matters; but later we discover his vices like drugs, clubbing, and his girlfriend Vanessa (Gina Alajar), who also is strayed morally. Pebrero (Orestes Ojeda), is a playboy, an occasional maniac, and a scam who has mutual relationships with Adelina (Alma Moreno), a nurse aka prostitute (or vise versa), and Baby (Lorna Tolentino), a waitress who came from the province. Pebrero is a taxi driver who is also known to be of a sex escort for a well-off gay Manay Sharon (Bernardo Bernardo). If you've seen Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal did their homosexual kisses onscreen, or Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Bruno), try seeing City After Dark, and be equally daunted by the fact thay they have done it in the past. That was the 80's, a golden era in the Philippine cinematic history. Bolder and more challenging films were out then; strategy or pure art? We care not, movie-going is a renounced privilege, that we often take for granted. In City After Dark, we get involved with the characters' habits, behaviors, and the way they think. I think one of the most effective Filipino films to make such achievement is Brilliante Mendoza's "Serbis". We often underestimate that film's crank ideas, but it's exploitation of the society's unyielding pain, a supple contrapment. Probably CIty After Dark's greatest element are both the comedy and the tragedy, both black and mutual, a mind-boggling relationship of two usually contradicting entities. The film is filled with countless unnoticed ironies and satires. It's a collection of stories, of people suffering from pain in a world full of enjoyments. Bernardo Bernardo's scene where he shouts and scream revealing his retirement from the world that gives him pain, is as powerful as Roderick Paulates's moment in "Ded na si Lolo" saying, "Ang gulo-gulo!" I wonder why they put gay people in those kind of scenes?
    quentin t Super Reviewer

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