10 items from 2013
A much-lauded director finally earns his stripes with this sensitive action thriller in Manila
Sean Ellis's first two features, Cashback and The Broken (the former expanded from an Oscar-nominated short) were self-regarding twaddle, so it's good to report that his third film pulls its creative finger out and starts to justify some of the praise poured too early upon the emergent film-maker.
Shooting with a tiny crew on the streets of Manila, with actors working in Tagalog (a language the director doesn't speak), Ellis pulls together a lean, character-based actioner set around the perilous profession of the security guard. Reining in his commercials-friendly gaze, Ellis takes his digital camera into the city's seedy enclaves; from the hostess bars where a young mother is forced to eke out a miserable living, to the backstreets through which her husband drives his armoured but still very vulnerable vehicle.
The elements may be familiar, »
- Mark Kermode
★★★☆☆ British director Sean Ellis (Cashback, The Broken) swaps the comfortable environs of good ol' Blighty for the mean streets of the Filipino capital with Metro Manila (2013), a sincere if somewhat inconsequential portrayal of one family's beleaguered existence within the sprawling metropolis. Clearly indebted to the cinema of Scorsese (amongst others), Ellis' latest is a significant leap forward in terms of the filmmaker's own personal development, effectively drawing its audience into a volatile world of corruption and violence where the strong prosper and the weak face a daily struggle to survive life in the city's slums.
Unable to support their two young daughters on the poverty-stricken rice terraces of the Philippines' Banaue Province, Oscar and Mai Ramirez (Jake Macapagal and Althea Vega) make the difficult decision to up sticks and relocate the family to the nation's capital. Upon arrival in Manila, the naive farmers-by-trade prove easy game for all manner of nefarious types, »
- CineVue UK
'In this country," says Sean Ellis, "our favourite word is no." Which is why, after making two feature films in the UK and being unable to drum up any interest in a third, the Brighton-born director decamped to the Philippines to shoot a character-based thriller in a country he had only visited once, in a language he didn't understand (Tagalog). The result is Metro Manila, one of the finest, under-the-radar surprises of the year: the story of a farmer named Oscar who, forced on to the streets of the Filipino capital after the price of rice drops, gets a job as an armoured-truck driver and generally falls into bad company, all so he can take care of his family.
"It was definitely a big adventure, »
- Damon Wise
John Arcilla and Jake Macapagal as Ong and Oscar in Sean Ellis' Metro Manila Metro Manila director Sean Ellis (Cashback, The Brøken) is just the latest British filmmaker to try his luck in a foreign language, with Gareth Evans' Indonesian set and scripted The Raid already set for an English language remake by Sony subsidiary Screen Gems. Now Ellis's drama/heist hybrid - co-scripted with Frank E Flowers - about a Oscar (Jake Macapagal) and his family, who migrate to Manila for work and find themselves preyed upon at every turn, is set for not just one but, possibly, several reworkings by Fox.
Speaking to him ahead of Metro Manila's release in the UK on September 20, the Brighton-born filmmaker said: "I think it's a great thing and Fox International has obviously seen potential in the remake and I can understand that because it's obviously a very universal story. »
- Amber Wilkinson
When heading to a film festival, you go in knowing that you can’t see anything, and knowing that in all likelihood, there’ll be at least one film you’ll regret not making room for. All of the good things I heard about Metro Manila at Sundance London this April gave me that feeling.
For an idea of why, check out Stefan’s five-star review here.
And with its UK release date on the horizon in a matter of weeks, we’ve got a new trailer to share.
Seeking a better life, Oscar Ramirez and his family decide to move from the poverty stricken rice fields of the Northern Philippine mountain ranges, and journey towards the capital mega city of Metro Manila. »
- Kenji Lloyd
Fox announced the deal at Cannes on Wednesday.
The story centers on a poor farmer who leads his family out of their impoverished life in the rice fields of the northern Philippines for a brighter future in the megacity Manila. In order to survive he must take the most dangerous job in the city, driving armored transports.
Ellis won an Oscar in 2005 for his short film “Cashback,” which he expanded into a feature. He also directed “The Broken,” which premiered at Sundance in 2008.
ICM Partners represents Ellis, and negotiated the deal on his behalf. »
- Dave McNary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Though many will be quick to make comparisons between this film and Gareth Evans’ slam-bang actioner The Raid, Metro Manila is in fact very much the inverse of that film. If Evans’ frantic video game-style movie compensated for its lack of substance with merciless, technically accomplished action, this third feature from Sean Ellis (Cashback, The Broken) goes the opposite way, eschewing relentless set-pieces in favour of well-drawn characters and compelling drama.
Oscar (Jake Macapagal) and Mai (Althea Vega) are a couple who, after being forced to sell their rice stock for one-fifth of its usual value, decide to move with their two children to Manila, with the hope that they can start a new, more prosperous life. After losing their savings through fraud and having to squat in an empty shack, things look up once Oscar gets work as an armoured-truck driver, making friends with his »
- Shaun Munro
A Better Life: Ellis’ Latest a Masterful Drama of Sacrifice
British director Sean Ellis brings us to the Philippines with his third feature film, Metro Manila, a bleak and often harrowing portrait of a family’s struggle to build a better life for themselves. Ellis first made headlines for his 2006 debut, romantic comedy Cashback, followed by the international led cast of his oblique 2008 horror film, The Broken, and his latest only proves he’s a filmmaker of varying and styles and techniques. Ellis, also serving as cinematographer for the first time, brings us a grim exercise set in the urban underbelly of Manila and it is as desperately moving as it is unpredictable.
When the price of rice drops significantly, poverty stricken Oscar Ramirez (Jake Macapagal) and wife Mia (Althea Vega) decide to move with their two children to Manila to see if they might have better luck in the urban metropolis. »
- Nicholas Bell
#5. Interior. Leather Bar
Who: While everyone may be familiar with actor/director James Franco, they not be as aware of the filmmaker he’s paired with to direct Interior. Leather Bar, Travis Mathews. With a background in documentary, Mathews professes to use this and his Masters in Counseling Psychology to make films that focus on gay men and intimacy. He already has a series of short films about gay men and bedrooms and a well received 2012 feature film, I Want Your Love to his name.
Where: Franco’s interview also features a clip, while Franco’s co-director posted the trailer on his vimeo channel.
When: Shot in Los Angeles, CA over the course of a day in July, 2012, produced by RabbitBandini Productions »
- Nicholas Bell
Haut et Court has taken the French distribution rights to Sean Ellis' thriller "Metro Manila" a couple weeks before the film's debut at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It centers on a destitute countryman in the Philippines who is sucked into a dangerous crime ring when he moves to the country's bustling capital, Manila. Haut et Court will release the film in France in May. No word yet on American distribution. Director Ellis is Oscar-nominated for his 2006 short film "Cashback," which he then went on to develop into a feature of the same title. He has also helmed BAFTA-nominated short "The Business Trip" and the feature-length thriller "The Broken," which premiered at Sundance in 2008. "Metro Manila" isn't the only film to get nabbed before its Sundance debut -- Ashton Kutcher-starrer "jOBS" was picked up January 3 by Open Road Films, with an American release planned for April. »
- Beth Hanna
10 items from 2013
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