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The Immigrant is an artistically-created modern tragedy

Director: James Gray
Writers: James Gray & Richard Menello
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, & Jeremy Renner

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The twenties is a time that has a special place in American history — it is the decade when America experienced economic growth and this subsequently led to higher standards of living, flourishing of culture, and rapid social transformation. This period dubbed as “The Roaring Twenties” cemented the United States’ prominence and had ultimately reified what is known as “the American dream” — the dream that many people in the world still aspire.

At the same time, however, this period also witnessed a drastic downward shift in the social and moral disposition of the American people, epitomized by the yearning to defy the Prohibition and laws which restricted the influx of immigrants into the country. It is in this tumultuous setting that a powerful narrative is breathed into yet another excellent period piece — James Gray’s The Immigrant (2013).

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Reading Transcendence’s virtual (dis)reality

Director: Wally Pfister
Screenplay: Jack Paglen
Cast: Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Cole Hauser, and Paul Bettany

A science-fiction film starring Johnny Depp (and also [the] Morgan Freeman) with Christopher Nolan as executive producer and a script included in the 2012 edition of The Black List (which, by the way, is a list of the best unproduced scripts handpicked by film executives) would have definitely sounded brilliant and full of potential. However, we all come to realize that once in a while, even blockbuster elements lead to lackluster results. Transcendence had it all, or so we thought.

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When adaptation becomes too daunting: Divergent in review

Director: Neil Burger
Screenplay: Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor, based on Divergent by Veronica Roth
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q, and Kate Winslet

Giving life to the pages of today’s quintessential works of literature on screen is a challenge for filmmakers. Making screen adaptations good enough to please both the discriminating taste of followers and the expectations of the public is another. In this convoluted process, the latest book-to-screen film Divergent seemed to have lost its way out.

The first in Veronica Roth’s young adult trilogy, Divergent takes us to futuristic Chicago, wherein society is organized into factions according to each person’s personality and aptitude. Each faction is supposed to represent virtues that would prevent another great war: peace (Amity), intelligence (Erudite), honesty (Candor), selflessness (Abnegation), and bravery (Dauntless). Beatrice Prior, born an Abnegation, chose to join Dauntless (where she becomes Tris) as she and all the other kids turned sixteen. But before she chose her new faction, the results of Beatrice’s aptitude test, which was administered in order to supposedly help young citizens in their decision, were inconclusive; therefore, she is Divergent — and Divergents are seen as a threat to the faction system and the prevailing status quo.

 

(Yahoo! Movies)

(Yahoo! Movies)

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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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