Movie Reviews

Published on February 15th, 2020 | by Neil Jordan

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Quezon’s Game

Greetings & Salutations Everyone!

 

Since this is my first opportunity to say so, welcome to the year two-thousand and twenty.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr once said that history is a great teacher.

He was/is right. History reminds us of humanity’s triumphs and it’s failures. Of those who engaged in great misdeeds against their fellow human beings and those who either tried to stop them or turn the tides of fate against tyranny and oppression. The first film I get to share with you this year takes us back to the beginning of the Second World War. When the armies of Nazi Germany were marching across Europe leaving nothing but destruction and death in their wake. This story however is far from the battle fields of Europe. Today’s film for your consideration takes the viewer to the other side of the planet to the Philippines. Where one of the most pivotal figures in Philippine history, a leader who was already fighting to ensure that the people of his country had not only their independence but also a strong future, decided to take a stand and reach out to help the one group in Europe who was perhaps the most vulnerable at this time … the Jewish people.

 

‘Quezon’s Game’ is a Philippine historical dramatic biographical film directed by Matthew Rosen and written by Janice Y. Perez and Dean Rosen. The film stars Raymond Bagatsing, Rachel Alejandro, Kate Alejandrino, James Paoleli, Billy Ray Gallion, David Bianco, Audie Gemora, Tony Ahn, Miguel Faustmann, Natalia Moon, and Jennifer Blair-Bianco.

 

The year is 1938. Three years before the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. The Nazis are in control of Germany and have already begun their reign terror in Europe. On the other side of the world Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon (Bagatsing) is working to improve the lives of his fellow citizens while pushing towards securing the country’s independence from the United States. At this time, rumors about atrocities committed by the Nazis in Europe are starting to spread throughout the globe. When diplomatic and intelligence sources confirm that these events in Europe are actually taking place President Quezon, his military advisor Dwight D. Eisenhower (Bianco), the United States High Commissioner for the Philippines Paul V. McNutt (Paoleli), and other diplomatic figures decide to take a stand against Hitler. They attempt to devise a plan to bring thousands of Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria to the Philippines under the guise of seeking experienced professionals and experts to help construct the new Philippine capital city while defying critics in the Philippines and the United States whom have been swayed by bigotry and fascist propaganda. The situation becomes all the more critical when President Quezon realizes that his tuberculosis has relapsed and attempts to hide the fact from his wife Aurora (Alejandro) and their daughter Kate (Alejandrino).

 

As a student of history (who was well on his way to a doctorate before money ran out) I’m often shocked at what is NOT taught in schools. This film focuses not just on a pivotal moment in Philippine history or United States history but a moment in global history. A moment where an individual, President Quezon, stood at the apex of these events and decided to ‘stand up’ once more for what he thought was right. These events that crisscrossed and then ran parallel to each other SHOULD be taught in schools and should be more prominent in the history books. Films like this are needed to highlight these important events so that not only people learn about them but want to learn even more about these events and the people who took part in these important events in our past.

 

I found ‘Quezon’s Game’ to be quite intriguing. The way it was filmed, it was almost like I was watching a serious theater performance rather than a movie. The actors and actresses who portrayed the main characters each took their roles seriously. However, I found the soundtrack to be a bit distracting. It just didn’t seem to match the quality of the movie itself. The movie clocks in at 125 minutes. Just shy of two hours. I think they could’ve shaved between 5 and 10 minutes off of that. I’d give the film 3 and a half out of five stars. The historical events it depicts and the acting in the film make it worth watching.

 

On behalf of my fellows at ‘Skewed & Reviewed’, thanks for reading and we’ll see you at the movies

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