#romance

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.

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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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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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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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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.

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.

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Veronica Mars is a one-way ticket to Neptune, and the ride is yet to stop

Directed by: Rob Thomas
Screenplay by: Rob Thomas and Dianne Ruggiero
Cast: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Krysten Ritter, Enricco Colantoni, Ryan Hansen, Chris Lowell, Percy Daggs III, Tina Majorino, Francis Capra

On many levels, it is a bit bizarre that a review for Veronica Mars movie is being reviewed, and by the MNL Film Club at that. For one, the movie itself didn’t premiere in Manila.

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For what it’s worth, Veronica Mars the series did air in one free TV channel in the country, although it was cancelled 7 years ago, and prematurely so. This was a time before the Internet served as a definitive guide to what’s cool and what’s not. And in a time before television shows were debated heatedly in dinner-time conversations, Veronica Mars aired stuff normally unheard of in a teen show — rape, racism, homosexuality, drugs — to put it mildly, it definitely was no Gilmore Girls. It did struggle to stay alive for 3 years before it went down, and it went down swinging. With DVDs, word of mouth, and internet streaming services, Veronica Mars felt more alive than before it went off-air.

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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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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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