Top List

Revisiting life’s heartbreaks in Forrest Gump

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With film adaptations of popular young adult novels coming one after another, we once again experience the two-edged power of the page and of the screen. But there’s more to book-to-screens beyond imaginary worlds, exciting action, and young love. This May, we dig deeper into a favorite theme in literature and film — coming-of-age. Grab some tissue because here are some book-to-screens that would break your hearts and make you cry.


Director: Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay: Eric Roth, based on Forrest Gump by Winston Groom
Cast: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, and Sally Field

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We all have regarded Forrest Gump (1994) as the kind of movie to watch with our families on a fine Sunday morning — touching, heartfelt, and inspiring. And much has been said about the film’s heartwarming screenplay and Tom Hanks’ impeccable performance as the iconic protagonist (let the six Oscars speak to you). But a second (or third or fourth) look at this film would make us realize that Forrest’s life is a reminder that life has its fair share of happiness and heartbreaks. Anyway, as what Forrest’s momma always said, “Life [is] like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

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Why Mean Girls Matters: A Fan Manifesto

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Director: Mark Waters
Screenplay: Tina Fey
Cast:  Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jonathan Bennett, Daniel Franzese

Mean Girls…How do we begin to explain Mean Girls? In all its flawlessness, it needs no validation: it is the quintessential high school movie; the queen bee, if you must. And if you don’t know it, you’ve been living under a rock, or homeschooled by your research zoologist parents while spending your formative years in Africa. The wisecracks (say crack again? CRACK) has punched our hearts for 10 years now, and it’s still awesome.

Yes. Yes it is.

Yes. Yes it is.

And yes, I’ve packed 5 movie references in that first paragraph, and I’m unrepentant about it.

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Ferris Buller’s Day Off is a YOLO film for the ages

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Director: John Hughes
Screenplay: John Hughes
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, Alan Ruck, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey

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The 1986 hit teen film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off proves that contrary to popular belief, our generation did not create the You Only Live Once consciousness, or simply YOLO as we fondly call it nowadays. Truth is, ‘80s people are doing YOLO before YOLO was actually cool.

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10 Things About “10 Things I Hate About You” That I Absolutely Love

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Director: Gil Junger
Screenplay: Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew
Starring: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, Larry Miller, Andrew Keegan, Gabrielle Union, David Krumholtz, and Susan May Pratt

What do you get when you cross 16th-century literature with all the fuzz, cliques, and whirling complexity that is high school? Well, we got a film that gave an upbeat treatment to a literary gem, “10 Things I Hate About You” (1999). We have to admit that fifteen years later, we still doth loveth thy flick (I had a hard time composing that), and let us count the ways:

1.  It’s a modern retelling of a Shakespeare classic.

The film is actually based on one of William Shakespeare’s great comedies, The Taming of the Shrew — the shrew being Katarina “Kat” Stratford (played by Julia Stiles; based on Katerina Minola, the titular shrew from the play), a headstrong, opinionated, and unpopular student at Padua (yes, it’s the setting of the original play) High School. On the other hand, her younger sister, Bianca (played by Larisa Oleynik; based on, surprise, Bianca Minola) is hot, popular, and eagerly wants to date. Following their father’s rule that Bianca would be allowed to date only if Kat is in a relationship, Cameron (Jospeh Gordon-Levitt), who wants to date Bianca, invites Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) into a plan — date and “tame” Kat in order for Cameron to date Bianca (Cameron and Patrick are based on the characters of Lucentio and Petruchio, respectively).

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What has become of high school stereotypes? Revisiting The Breakfast Club

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Director: John Hughes
Screenplay: John Hughes
Cinematography: Thomas Del Ruth
Cast: Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez

What hasn’t been said about The Breakfast Club? It is the quintessential high school film that effectively translated the inner turmoil of a high school teen into a glorious 97-minute story that everyone can understand and relate to. It is the precursor of teen movies, taking its root in the successful formula: that is to deconstruct the archetypal roles seen in high school. More recent teen movies, such as Pitch Perfect and Easy A, pay homage to this movie, and who can blame them? The glory of the high school movie genre began with The Breakfast Club.

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The premise is simple: five high school students went to school on a Saturday to serve detention, namely Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), the Brain; Andy Clark (Emilio Estevez), the Athlete; Bender (Judd Nelson), the Criminal; Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy), the Basket Case; and Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald), the Princess. They are all kept in a room, and considering their different backgrounds (in high school, it was more like a caste system), they didn’t get along with each other so well. The audience is given a glimpse into each one’s quirks, most of which were compatible with their own social labels – nothing surprising there. The dandruff scene is comedy gold. But what made the movie an essential high school movie is how it played with the stereotypes, not just with deconstruction, but also with how one stereotype interacted with another. Locked in one room from 7 AM to 4 PM, will they all come out alive? The alternative of their pulling a Battle Royale might be epic, too, now that I think about it, but what happened in that room, and how they changed each other is more significant.

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Bridget Jones’ Diary accurately depicted the plight of the modern thirty-something before twenty-something lists were a thing


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Director:
Sharon Maguire
Screenplay: Helen Fielding
Cast: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant

While Bridget Jones’ Diary may be a bit of a guilty pleasure, that doesn’t make it any less true that the film was actually a good one, and that it produced an iconic kick-ass heroine.

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Yes, that’s right. Bridget Jones, who smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish, and dresses like her mother, is one kick-ass female.

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Sci-fi is for women too: A consolidated review of the Alien series*

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This March, it’s all about girls girls girls, as MNL Film Club celebrates films with femme fatales, and not just of the noir variety. They are sassy and smart, and they will punch you in the face it will feel awesome. Above all, they’re females who laugh and cry, who may be vindictive, or insecure or shy, sword-wielding and ass-kicking or just downright crazy: they’re realistic portrayals of women in an art form where women are fetishized and highly objectified.

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A science-fiction movie with a female actress in the lead role did not seem possible at all until Alien was released back in 1979 and its sequel, Aliens, in 1986.

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The movies narrate the story of Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley as she flies in outer space and kills the extra-terrestrial beings that invade her spaceship. In the Ridley Scott-directed movie Alien, Ripley had to face unidentified creatures which accidentally got into her ship and slaughtered her other crew members, one of which by the way, is an android posing as a human being. Ripley and her crew learned that the aliens need human bodies in order for them to reproduce. The crew members scrambled to their feet to save themselves, but unfortunately for them, the situation went from bad to worse. To cut the long story short, after all her comrades have perished, Ripley activated the ship’s self-destruct feature which killed all aliens in the ship but one, and narrowly escaped via a small space shuttle where she will stay for 57 long years.

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The flower that blooms in adversity: Mulan revisited

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Directors: Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook
Screenplay: Rita Hsiao, Philip LaZebnik, Chris Sanders, Eugenia Bostwick-Singer, and Raymond Singer
Story: Robert D. San Souci
Featuring the Voices of: Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, BD Wong, Miguel Ferrer, Harvey Fierstein, Beth Fowler, George Takei, and Pat Morita

If you are in search for ladies in ball gowns and romantic adventures, imperial China is definitely not the place to be. However, aside from the innate uniqueness of this great civilization, we find a powerful narrative that provides redefinitions of strength, capability, and womanhood beyond established norms and conventions. And because MNL Film Club celebrates the fiercest females on the big screen, this kickass character is a definite inclusion – she’s so kickass that she defeated a troop of a thousand horsemen single-handedly. She is Mulan.

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Mulan (1998) is based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, a young woman (presented in the film as the fictional Fa Mulan) who impersonated a male soldier to save her elderly father from a military conscription following an attack on China by invading Huns. Running away from home, Mulan embarks on a journey where she eventually defeated the Huns, saved the empire, and more importantly, found her true strength and purpose.

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Kickassery Beyond Kung Fu: A Feminist Retrospective on Kill Bill

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This March, it’s all about girls girls girls, as MNL Film Club celebrates films with femme fatales, and not just of the noir variety. They are sassy and smart, and they will punch you in the face it will feel awesome. Above all, they’re females who laugh and cry, who may be vindictive, or insecure or shy, sword-wielding and ass-kicking or just downright crazy: they’re realistic portrayals of women in an art form where women are fetishized and highly objectified.

We’re kicking it off with Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2, Quentin Tarantino’s sensational hits in 2003 and 2004, and which forever immortalized Uma Thurman in Bruce Lee’s yellow track suit.

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Sonny Chiba, Vivica A. Fox, Gordon Liu, Julie Dreyfus

This is not the first movie to feature gun-toting and sword-slashing women, and this is certainly not the last. The idea of an avenging woman on a righteous rampage of revenge, either after being raped or abused, has not only been perenially duplicated, but also oftenly criticized. Many movies fetishize the unstoppable female who slaughter her oppressors in skintight and revealing clothing while sexualizing the violence previously inflicted on these women. None of these are present in Kill Bill, however, and the rampage of revenge is all of the glorious and awesome kind.
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Any movie by Tarrantino guarantees guts and gore, and these are overly abundant in Kill Bill, especially the first installment. The movie opens with Beatrix Kiddo, aka The Bride, on her most vulnerable: with her face puffed, cut, and bleeding, almost pleading for her life to be spared; on the next scene, we learn she was repeatedly raped while her body was in comatose for the last 4 years. Initially, all of these are cringeworthy facts to deal with, but her resolve to make the people responsible for her demise pay was a cathartic experience to Kiddo and the movie audience as well. In this regard, there is no sexism at all. Any fan of Tarantino would recognize that the quick justice in the form of bloodshed is characteristic in any of his movies, male or female villains alike. Each Deadly Viper is skilled in their chosen style, and almost each of them presents a good fight.

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More than just two kissing cowboys: Reviewing Brokeback Mountain

Here at MNL Film Club, we review movies past and present. We’ll try to give you the coolest throwbacks since Doc Brown, on monthly thematic dosages. This February, we give you the Most Romantic Movies of the Past Decade. We took this matter seriously, and rest assured, the team argued gruellingly (nevertheless, no MNL Film Club writer was harmed in the writing of this piece) to present four of the most noteworthy romantic movies of the 2000s.

This, of course, begged the question: what is romance? The delineation between this genre and those others more popularly consumed is blurry and undefined. We took the high road and put it simply as that which features love. More importantly, romance is an exploration of love; it captures love at its most picturesque moments, and it exposes the ugly undersides of its aftermaths. An example of which is the tragically beautiful (or beautifully tragic) love story of two cowboys chronicled in Brokeback Mountain.

Director: Ang Lee
Screenplay: Larry McMurty Diana Ossana
Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto
Cast: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway

TRUTH: The idea of one full-length film about the love story of two gay (closeted) cowboys did not sound possible until Brokeback Mountain came out in 2005.

The movie tells the story of two cowboys, Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist (played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, respectively) who were brought together to herd sheep in an isolated part of Wyoming for a certain period of time. The two (who were presumably “straight” at the start of the film) eventually developed a relationship which began from, yup, you guessed it right: sex. After finishing their job, the two separated and went on with their lives. But it seems that true love won’t be stopped as the two found a way to continue with their clandestine rendezvous and dalliance despite having their own families. The cowboys faced a lot of problems throughout the course of the story but none is as devastating as when Ennis found out that Jack was brutally murdered and must, therefore, endure the pain of losing his one true love.

As far as romantic queer films are concerned, Brokeback Mountain is close to perfection precisely because it isn’t a half-baked movie filled with gratuitous sex scenes that do nothing but to perpetuate cringe-inducing gay stereotypes and movie tropes.

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