#manila

Submarine is a subtle charmer

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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.

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What happens in Last Vegas, should stay in Las Vegas

Director: Jon Turteltaub
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Cast:  Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Stenburgen

Nothing could be as heart-wrenching as seeing an amazing ensemble of award-winning actors trying to resuscitate a plot line that is as predictable as your next intake of medicine.

Maybe the producers of Last Vegas thought that by placing Oscar-winning actors in a supposed comedy, they could pull off box office success, regardless of having worn-out jokes and tired punch lines concerning Viagra, hip replacements, and body pains. But these respectable actors could only do so much and this movie, which could be seen as a GP version of the Hangover trilogy, has failed to deliver on its promise of being a comedy.

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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

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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.

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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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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
Director:
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?

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