moviereview

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 sideshows steal the act in Rio 2

Directed by: Carlos Saldanha
Screenplay by: Don Rhymer, Carlos Saldanha
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jamie Foxx, Andy Garcia, Leslie Mann, Jemaine Clement, Rodrigo Santoro, Jake T. Austin, Amandla Stenberg, Kristin Chenoweth, Bruno Mars.

There are film sequels and then there are film sequels. There are movies that are part of a continuity – inevitable chapters that rightfully exist; there are movies that exist because film-making is a profitable business, and exploiting the lowest common denominator will surely bring home the money shot, including milking a story that’s already been bought and sold. It’s contemptible, indeed; it’s a tragic hollywood affair. Rio 2 is certainly far from that. After all, we’re only at round 2, while Rocky knocked out at 8. The lack of originality is forgivable, but it’s brazen borrowing of cliche is almost disappointing.

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The story itself is lackluster. It was Adam Sandler’s Meet The Parents meets Disney’s Tarzan, only it’s in 3D and Elton John wasn’t singing. Rio 2 got a bird version of Bruno Mars instead, starring as blue macaw Jewel’s (played by Anne Hathaway) childhood friend. Apparently, Jewel and Blu’s (Jesse Eisenberg) brood of birds aren’t the only remaining blue macaws on the planet, and they embarked on a mission to find the rest of the flock. (more…)

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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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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Lessons in History and Parenting: A Review of Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Director: Rob Minkoff
Screenplay: Craig Wright
Cast: Ty Burrell, Stephen Colbert, Stanley Tucci, Leslie Mann 

Some animated movies were made only to attract a horde of children audience and rake millions at the box office. Before seeing Mr. Peabody and Sherman, I have the nagging feeling that it’s just one of those movies.  

Thank goodness it was not.

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The film starts by introducing Mr. Peabody, who unlike any other dog, is intellectual and human-like in a lot of ways. And by that, I mean he can stand upright, speak different languages, play musical instruments, argue in court by himself, and bartend. Sounds silly, eh? That’s not the end of it. Because Mr. Peabody is so bright, he is supposedly responsible for the invention of various groundbreaking items such as alternative energy resources, the fist bump, and Zumba and the Wayback Machine, a big red time machine carefully ensconced in his futuristic house.

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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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