Just okay: Reviewing The Fault in Our Stars


Director: Josh Boone
Screenplay: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Natt Wolf, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe, Lotte Verbeek

(WARNING: Some spoilers ahead. Tread with caution if you haven’t read the book or watched the movie.)

The book was better than the movie.

There! I’ve said it. Don’t hate me.

The Fault In Our Stars, adapted from a novel written by John Green, follows the story of cancer-stricken teenager, Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley). She meets a cancer survivor, Augustus Waters, in a support group her parents forced her to attend because she is “depressed.” They fall in love in that way that will make you fall in love with them as well; the threats to their beautiful existence being cancer and the death it may bring, particularly in Hazel’s case, considering that she was very sick at the time, and Augustus was in remission. However, after amazing things have happened, Augustus tells Hazel that his PET scan “lit up like a Christmas tree,” this being the twist to the entire plot. It was Augustus who was dying, after all.




Submarine is a subtle charmer


Director: Richard Ayoade
Screenplay by: Richard Ayoade
Cast: Craign Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine, Sally Hawkins

I came to know about Submarine because I was (and still am) obsessed with Alex Turner and the Arctic Monkeys. I found out that there was this coming-of-age film with a soundtrack written entirely by Alex Turner during the pre-Suck It And See era; it signified the change in sound Arctic Monkeys was headed towards, from its indie rock garage band roots.



That Awkward Moment wasted its charms

Director: Tom Gormican
Writer: Tom Gormican
Cast: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas

Even Zac Efron’s abs could not save it.

Three friends find themselves in relationship conundrums and they try to decipher what to do next about it. Jason (Zac Efron) sits on a bench, apparently waiting for someone, and tells the story from the beginning. After learning that his wife is having an affair and wants to divorce him, Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) gets dragged into a bar by his friends, Jason and Daniel, to meet new people. Mikey meets a girl with glasses (Kate Simses) but doesn’t call her until the end of the movie, as he keeps trying to patch things up with his wife, Vera (Jessica Lucas). Daniel eventually falls for his wingwoman, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). And Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots), a writer. He commits a lot of what would be considered relationship mistakes, yet of course, she is the one he’s waiting for while sitting on that bench. All these become complicated when the three friends make a pact to remain single and help each other out during this time in their lives.



Wes Anderson’s grandest film yet: Reviewing The Grand Budapest Hotel

Director: Wes Anderson
Screenplay: Wes Anderson
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Tony Revolori, Léa Seydoux


I remember seeing the music video of Vampire Weekend’s Oxford Comma for the first time and thinking that it was reminiscent of the Wes Anderson aesthetic – the chapters, the way the camera pans from one scene to another for the entire duration of the video, and even the preppy outfits. The message of the song was revealed in the manner by which Wes Anderson would have told an audience of the story of one of his films; perhaps Wes Anderson’s quirky visuals and alternate realities are not just what constitute his approach to filmmaking, but something that has been established as a distinct brand of storytelling. But in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson takes this aesthetic to a whole new level, without sparing the plot of the movie from the revolutionary grandeur he took in his stride.


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


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.

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.


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


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.

Bridget Jones

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.


We Met The Mother, now what?

2 fangirls on the How I Met Your Mother series finale.

A: I think what was straight out disappointing with watching the HIMYM series finale was how disconnected it was to the entire series. The lifeblood of the show’s 9-year run was the development of these characters we’ve come to love, their journey into adulthood and how they triumph over their flaws as they mature. For one, we saw Barney become jaded with his sleazeball ways and realize that it is only one person he needed to be happy; we saw Robin choose to stay in New York in the name of love at the end of Season 5. Season 9 is a 23-episode long culmination of that as we saw Barney and Robin struggle to stay together and get married, despite their flaws and issues. And then there’s Ted in his journey to let the girl of his dream go and move on to be able to be with the right person. But the series finale sees to it that they all backslide, and it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. It feels like a con job.

J: It seems like the fans were cheated out of the entire thing. I mean, why build everything up to see it all come crashing down, when you have the choice not to do that in the first place?

Spoiler: Some of them didn't 'Last Forever'

Spoiler: Some of them didn't 'Last Forever'


Deconstructing the Perfect Romance: A Consolidated Review of Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight

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. Three of the best romantic films of the last decade that portray both the good and the bad in romance and love, in an ingenious package brimming with great chemistry and reasonable doses of reality are Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, and Before Midnight.

Before Sunrise
Director: Richard Linklater
Screenplay: Richard Linklater
Cinematography: Lee Daniel
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

Before Sunset
Director: Richard Linklater
Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Cinematography: Lee Daniel
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

Before Midnight
Richard Linklater
Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Cinematography: Christos Voudouris
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

Chance meetings in trains or other modes of transit seem to fit only in a fictional world. It is the perfect romantic set-up – strangers meet on board, fall in love instantly, and live a happier life than what the characters had that the audience was initially introduced to. That is, until the plot gets boring and the flaw of the whole situation betrays its premise. But that didn’t happen in the story of Jesse and Celine, the two lovers of the critically-acclaimed Before series. 

It all began with a meeting on a train between Jesse and Celine in Before Sunrise. It just seemed inevitable that something is bound to happen as the two of them toured parts of Vienna, because nothing really happens for the most of it. They just talk. With my horrendously and fatally limited attention span, I didn’t watch the movie in its entirety in just one sitting. After deciding to come back, there was something that glued my eyes to the screen, in hopeful anticipation of how their story will unfold. 

It was a myriad of things that made it work – great characterization, plot possibilities, the picturesque setting, and arguably the best of it all, the genuine manner with which the characters effortlessly delivered the dialogue with tense chemistry. It was the way the entire story was told, the unabashed realness of it all, and the fact that it didn’t treat its audience as a stupid bunch who would be satisfied with saccharine scenes that would induce twitterpattering (I made an effort to find the closest translation to what Filipinos would term as kilig). It made an effort to make the audience think and supply them with enough wit to stay until the end. Really, how many movies have been able to do that?