MOVIE REVIEW: The Program (2015)

“The Program” Review
Directed by Stephen Frears
Screenplay by John Hodge, based on the book by David Walsh

Lance Armstrong was not a man known to many Filipinos due to the fact that even with the knowledge that a lot of our people indulge in biking as a sport, it’s not exactly a national pastime. In fact, biking is usually considered simply as a way to transport one’s self from Point A to Point B. But for those in the know, he was considered an icon. A hero. A God. Until he was proven as a fake and a cheat.

The Program relays the story of Lance Armstrong’s (played by an almost unrecognizable Ben Foster) rise from unlikely upstart to a reigning seven-time Le Tour de France champion.

The film itself was based off David Walsh’s (Chris O’Dowd) book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong, and rightly enough since Walsh was instrumental to opening everyone’s eyes to the truth that Lance is just too good to be true.

The film was fast-paced and did not mince words about Armstrong’s apparent will to not lose no matter what, at any cost. His speech about us being “the own authors of our own life story” and “going out there and writing the best damn story you can” is simply his own way of describing what he’s doing privately, in his own life, to succeed. If he can’t go public on what he is really doing, then why not make an inspirational speech out of it, right?

Assisting his meteoric rise to fame is sports doctor Michele Ferrari (Guillaume Canet), a doctor so excited and enthusiastic about “finally going far beyond the limits of physiology.” He serves as Armstrong and his team’s dealer of performance enhancing drugs, mainly EPO (Erythropoietin), a drug that increases oxygen-carrying capacity, thereby assisting the team with steep mountain climbs.

Also playing an important role on the film is Floyd Landis (Jesse Plemons), an ex-team mate of Armstrong’s who decided to come open about his doping and its prevalence in the sport of cycling. Being thrown under the bus by Armstrong after requesting to be included in his new team is also the catalyst to his confession, which led to Armstrong’s eventual downfall.

Lee Pace (Thranduil, The Hobbit) plays a small role as Armstrong’s agent and general manager of the U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling team. Dustin Hoffman also has a cameo and plays Bob Hamman, an American professional bridge player, which is a mostly forgettable character and does not really do much to enrich the story in itself.

Essentially, the film plays out like a cat-and-mouse chase, with Walsh doing his best to expose Armstrong as a fraud despite his very own colleagues going against him (due to pressure from Armstrong’s camp), and Armstrong playing the suave, calm, and composed master liar slithering his way into the hearts of people with his charm and appeal. And oh. Let’s not forget his cancer shield. Ever since he recovered from testicular cancer, he has used his recovery from the disease as a trump card against any attempt at his honor.

However imperfect the delivery, The Program still teaches viewers a lesson derived from Armstrong’s own personal life: Absolutely no one can stop you from getting what you want in life. But to get it through cheating? Like Lance said in one of his speeches, “It’s a long way down.”


WINNERS: 2016 PMPC Star Awards for Movies

The Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) has announced the winners and awardees for the 32nd Star Awards for Movies held on Sunday, March 6, 2016 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila in Pasay City.

The PMPC Star Awards honors the best Filipino movies, performers and stakeholders of 2015 for the mainstream and indie film categories.

Here is the complete list of winners at the 2016 PMPC Star Awards for Movies:

  • Movie Actress of the Year: Bea Alonzo (A Second Chance)
  • Movie Actor of the Year: Piolo Pascual (Silong) and Dennis Trillo (Felix Manalo)
  • Movie of the Year: Felix Manalo (Viva Films)
  • Indie Movie of the Year: Bambanti (Sinag Maynila and Centerstage Productions)
  • Movie Director of the Year: Joel Lamangan (Felix Manalo)
  • Indie Movie Director of the Year: Zig Dulay (Bambanti)
  • Movie Supporting Actor of the Year: Tirso Cruz III (Honor Thy Father)
  • Movie Supporting Actress of the Year: Alessandra De Rossi (Kid Kulafu)
  • Movie Child Performer of the Year: Micko Laurente (Bambanti)
  • New Movie Actress of the Year: Janella Salvador (Haunted Mansion)
  • New Movie Actor of the Year: Marlo Mortel (Haunted Mansion)
  • Movie Screenwriter of the Year: Michiko Yamamoto (Honor Thy Father)
  • Movie Editor of the Year: Jerrold Tarog (Heneral Luna)
  • Movie Production Designer of the Year: Edgar Martin Littaua, Joel Bilbao, and Danny Red (Felix Manalo)
  • Movie Musical Scorer of the Year: Jerrold Tarog (Heneral Luna)
  • Movie Sound Engineer of the Year: Mikko Quizon and Hit Productions (Heneral Luna)
  • Movie Original Theme Song of the Year: “Ang Sugo ng Diyos Mula Sa Mga Huling Araw”, Sarah Geronimo (Felix Manalo)
  • Movie Cinematographer of the Year: Ber Cruz (Honor Thy Father)
  • Indie Movie Screenwriter of the Year: Jun Robles Lana (Anino Sa Likod Ng Buwan)
  • Indie Movie Cinematographer of the Year: Ike Avellana (Apocalypse Child)
  • Indie Movie Editor of the Year: Benjamin Tolentino (Tandem)
  • Indie Movie Production Designer of the Year: Aped Santos (Bambanti)
  • Indie Movie Musical Scorer of the Year: Gauss Obenza (I Love You, Thank You)
  • Indie Movie Sound Engineer of the Year: Jess Carlos (Silong)
  • Indie Movie Original Theme Song of the Year: “Tulog Na” – lyrics by Zig Dulay, composed by Gian Gianan, interpreted by Alessandra de Rossi, from the movie Bambanti

Special Awards

  • Male Face of the Night: John Arcilla
  • Female Face of the Night: Bela Padilla
  • Darling of the Press: Dan Fernandez
  • Nora Aunor Ulirang Artista Lifetime Achievement Award: Ms. Amalia Fuentes
  • Ulirang Alagad Ng Pelikula Sa Likod Ng Kamera Lifetime Achievement Award: Mel Chionglo
  • Movie Loveteam of the Year: Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla (Crazy Beautiful You)
  • Posthumous Award for Entertainment Excellence: German Moreno