When you perform an internet search on your favorite engine with the keywords “John Sayles” the results usually point you to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) or Wikipedia providing valuable information on this accomplished independent filmmaker. He loves weaving stories with a variety of flawed but interesting characters in a “Social Film Drama” setting. This is why John Sayles is the obvious choice and perfect fit for his latest film project AMIGO.
In many of his films Sayles introduces a community to us as its base. Then he fills it with various characters representing specific groups and their interests. The story kicks into gear when some form of conflict weaves its way in resulting in a hostile atmosphere. A lone single character remains at the center of the political tension attempting to bring the community back as a whole. In his 1987 film MATEWAN, a union organizer works tirelessly to form a union between striking coal miners and the current scabs hired by the oppressive mining company in 1920’s West Virginia. In the 1996 LONE STAR, the sheriff of a Texas-Mexico border town must solve a forty year old mystery that may tarnish the legendary reputation of his father, also a sheriff, and abandoning the goodwill he’s built up between various groups of the community. Finally to John’s most current project, AMIGO, the story centers on village mayor in the Philippines, Rafael, who receives plenty of pressure from a U.S. military officer to assist the American soldiers while maintaining relationships with his brother, the head of the opposition guerrilla forces, and people he serves in the village.
In the end I very happy a master storyteller like Sayles chose to write a fictional story based on true historical events of the Philippine-American War. It’s a part of U.S. History that rarely discussed in schools across the country.
What’s your favorite movie by John Sayles and why?