New clip deepens mystery of Jennifer Lawrence’s thriller ‘mother!’

From the director of the Oscar-winning Black Swan comes Paramount Pictures’ upcoming horror thriller, mother! starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Check out the new footage from the film below and watch mother! in Philippine cinemas September 20, 2017.

In the film, Mother (Lawrence) and Him (Javier Bardem) live in a seemingly idyllic existence in a secluded paradise. But the couple’s relationship is tested when man (Ed Harris) and woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrive at their home uninvited. Answering that knock disrupts their tranquil existence and as more and more guests arrive, mother is forced to revisit everything she knows about love, devotion and sacrifice.

Paramount Pictures presents a Protozoa Production of a film by Academy Award® nominated director, Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream): Academy Award® winning actress Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) and Academy Award® winning actor Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) in “mother!” co-starring Academy Award® nominee Ed Harris (The Truman show) and Academy Award® nominee Michelle Pfeiffer (The Fabulous Baker Boys).

Costume designer is Academy Award® nominee Danny Glicker (Milk) and editor is Academy Award® nominee Andrew Weisblum (Black Swan). Production designer is Philip Messina (The Hunger Games). The director of photography is the Academy Award® nominee Matthew Libatique (Black Swan). Executive Producers are Jeff Waxman, Josh Stern and Mark Heyman. Produced by Scott Franklin and Ari Handel, the film is written and directed by Darren Aronofsky.

mother! is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

MOVIE REVIEW: Patay Na si Hesus (2017)

Filled with a dynamic ensemble of quirky, off-beat characters and an unapologetic screenplay possessing subtle hints of satire and over the top humor, Victor Villanueva’s Patay na si Hesus proves to be one of the year’s revelations.

Set in Cebu, heavily written in the laid-back, homey diphthongs of the Visayan language, the film follows the story of Iyay (Jaclyn Jose) together with her 3 sons (no more inside jokes) – Jude (Chai Fonacier), Jay (Melde Montañez) and Hubert (Vincent Viado) on their way to their father’s wake in Dumaguete.

75% of the film is a literal road trip, where spaces and infrastructures play a big role in the growth and development of the characters, recognizing Michael Foucault’s theory on geocriticism where all of the characters are transgressive to their surroundings. It started in Cebu City where the setting is almost too contrived as the environment of the characters are paraded with shooting flyovers, buildings and concrete; thus, the characters are still cold — almost impossible to really know them other than their hard exteriors. Slowly, the urbanization wears off and the family van goes to more rural areas, where the greenness of the fields and the blueness of the sea are visible; the characters are now more relaxed, gradually shedding off their layers of veneers. This is very much transparent to the character of Linda (Mailes Kanapi) who was once confined in the portals of the church as a nun, but is now free in the rawness of the wild, feeling herself being one with nature as she takes a dump, strips off her clothes, feels the breeze in the open window of the car. The film now establishes that, as the car enters the space of a more organic environment, the looser their emotions become. One by one, their personal issues spew out, and we now learn the rationale behind every character. Finally, the family arrives at the most raw, most grounded setting: seeing the dead. The characters no longer hold back; their veneers are completely gone. Iyay, as the matriarch, with a stone cold front as a display of strength, finally melts and explains to her children that she is, after all, vulnerable to the fact that she took away the chance of their children having a father.

The general story of the film is a juxtaposition of thin and sharp; as slim as paper sheet, but can simply papercut you in a beat with its unexpected humor of black comedy and bits of sociopolitical and religious satire. The humor is so awkward, but it’s just so good. It makes you cringe, but for all surprisingly good reasons.

Moreover, the screenplay is playful to the characters as it is playful to the audience, too. It showers so many undertones, it’s almost open to everyone’s interpretation. “Patay na si Hesus” can be a religious commentary on how today’s people respond to the crucifixion of Christ. Notice how every character’s behavior vary when they are mandated by their mother to go to their father’s wake, where age, gender and social status determine their reactions. Iyay, as the matriarch and the oldest one, the most traditional, is the most eager to go and see Hesus for the last time. Jude, on the other hand, is the educated, rational one, who thinks that going is the right thing to do. Jay, as the naive, penniless, jobless one, is the most stubborn to go. This is a sociopolitical commentary on our own behavior when it comes to our response when religion practices arise; that could simply transpire in acts like going to church, etc. Traditional people see it as something mandatory; educated people see it as a form of respecting the household beliefs; whilst, the ignorant would simply see it as an unnecessary practice. On the other hand, Patay na si Hesus can literally just mean that their father is dead. Playful.

See everyone’s fascination with Hudas, the dog? And the irony of naming a prized, adorable little shih tzu after a most rebellious apostle, in a movie named after Jesus Christ. The undertones of the screenplay become witty when one realizes that the entire concept of the film is a journey towards Christ, but moments in between, temptations and misfortunes are met. Most notably, when Hubert, Iyay’s eldest with Down Syndrome, is led to the wrong path and becomes lost on the road. What’s interesting is Hudas was with him during those moments. And perhaps the most apparent — the ending — when Hudas dies, the entire family gives this long scene of emotional meltdown, but shows absolutely nothing when they saw the dead body of Hesus. If we break it down technically, it is irony of having the emotional attachment to an animal (Hudas), versus the apathy and indifference to their own father (Hesus). This, perhaps, is a commentary on how detached the world is to religion today, and how slanderous and blasphemous acts in our culture are more celebrated than actual faith and spirituality. Then, the camera becomes steady, contrasting the people who followed the casket of Hesus were wearing white; the ones weeping for Hudas were wearing black. Religious satire? Maybe. But as playful as it is, it could be just an ordinary dog very much attached to the family for being physically present and more involved in their dynamics, in comparison to the relationship of their father, which pales in a distance, after having a tarnished reputation to his ex-wife and children. After all, one of the major themes of the film (if you opt to see it literally) is emotional connections, where blood often does not matter. For example, how Jude is very much attached to her girlfriend’s daughter and is quite established in the story that she loves her as her own, even though they are not related.

Moreover, it comes to no surprise that Jaclyn Jose has, once again, delivered a very easy, effortless performance amidst a chaotic setting of firecracker characters and lunatic narrative, which I find quite stellar. The balance of her realist performance in the middle of the film’s post-modernist elements is something only a seasoned pro could do. Moreover, the rest of the cast blended beautifully in place like a meticulous painting by a mad artist. The acting ensemble is crazy good.

The only negative critique I could give is perhaps the haphazard editing of the film. You may convince yourself that it may be intentional (being an independent movie), but at the end of the day, rough edges can only give you rough edges. It wasn’t smooth, and the clunky transitions and awkward mise-en-scenes are quite amateur-ish to my liking.

Overall, Patay na si Hesus is so lightweight and thin, but its layers are deeply microscopic, only magnified by the audience to decipher, which makes it debatable. It is volatile and crude, and it shows no remorse for the acts it portrays, which gives credit to a very brave direction by Victor Villanueva. There simply is no other film like this in Philippine cinema in recent memory.

4.25 out of 5 stars

Cannes filmfest winner ‘The Beguiled’ opens exclusively at Greenbelt 1, Trinoma

MANILA, August 30, 2017 – Last May, Sofia Coppola was crowned best director by the jury at the 70th International Cannes Film Festival for her atmospheric thriller, The Beguiled. It’s the first time in 56 years that a woman has taken the top honor.

Now, Manila audiences can finally watch Coppola’s critically acclaimed gem as The Beguiled opens exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Greenbelt 1 & Trinoma) on September 6, 2017.

Adapted from the novel by Thomas Cullinan, The Beguiled is a sexually charged tale that unfolds during the Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school. Its sheltered young women take in an injured enemy soldier (Colin Farrell). As they provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries, and taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.

Sofia Coppola is reunited with two of her favorite leading ladies, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, and directs for the first time Golden Globe Award winner Colin Farrell and Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman. These screen veterans are backed up by an ensemble of teenage actresses who are making their marks in the industry.

Laced with elements of a taut psychological thriller, the tale unfolds in 1864 – three years into the Civil War – and is tightly concentrated in and around a Southern girls’ boarding school in Virginia where a wounded Union soldier takes refuge.

Intrigued by the story of the 1971 film The Beguiled, directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood, Coppola wanted to explore the theme of women isolated during the Civil War. In writing the screenplay adaptation, she went back to the book to tell the story from the female characters’ perspective for her film.

“So The Beguiled would be a reinterpretation,” she says, “the premise is loaded because power dynamics between men and women are universal. There’s always a mystery between men and women.”

The women’s wartime lives at the school are, as the story begins, heavily ritualized. Elle Fanning notes, “They get up, they work in the garden at a certain time. There’s prayer, playing music, French lessons, dinner and bedtime. Until, everything gets shaken up; they take in the wounded soldier, and selfishness sets in.”

Producer Anne Ross concludes, “It’s rare that you see a story about women during wartime, and about how they interact with each other; in The Beguiled, Sofia is exploring both their camaraderie and their isolation.”

The Beguiled is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Horror film ‘It’ knows what you’re afraid of

Whether it’s a monster under your bed, what lies in the dark, or a creature lurking in the shadows, there is no escaping your greatest fear in New Line Cinema’s upcoming horror thriller IT (in Philippine cinemas September 7).

Bringing Stephen King’s seminal bestseller to the big screen for the first time, acclaimed director Andy Muschietti says, “Fear is universal; it’s something we can all relate to. And what could be more terrifying than something that doesn’t just attack you, but attacks you with what frightens you most?”

The enigmatically short title refers to the story’s central villain, an ancient shapeshifter that takes the form of its victims’ deepest fears and comes out of hibernation every 27 years to feed on the most vulnerable residents of Derry, Maine: the children. This time, however, seven young outcasts, who dub themselves “the Losers’ Club,” will band together to do battle with the mysterious being they call by the all-encompassing pronoun: It. But It goes by another name…a name that has become iconic in the annals of horror: Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

First published in 1986, IT became an instant classic and the top-selling book of that year. Captivating readers for more than three decades, the perennial bestseller continues to be counted among the best and most influential works of the undisputed master of literary horror, inspiring numerous film and television projects in the years that have followed.

That was certainly true for the filmmaker at the helm of the movie. “I am a big fan of Stephen King, who was my favorite author growing up, so IT was a dream project for me,” Muschietti states. “As someone who loves making scary movies, I have always been fascinated by fear, and probably the time when you’re the most terrified is when you’re a child watching your first horror movie. It’s a feeling you won’t have again for the rest of your life, so it’s become a bit of a chimeric quest for me to bring that sensation back. That helps me create because I believe you can only scare other people with what scares you, too.”

There is another layer to the story that is trademark Stephen King. There is arguably no writer who is better at juxtaposing unmitigated horror with the experience of growing up—and perhaps never more perfectly than in the tender coming-of-age tale at the heart of IT. Producer Seth Grahame-Smith emphasizes, “We knew from the very beginning of this process that IT was more than just a horror story and the movie had to reflect the different tones of the novel. It’s set at a certain time in these young characters’ lives when they are truly coming of age, so we wanted the film to capture the charm of those character-driven moments, but in turn be utterly petrifying.”

Andy Muschietti’s sister and creative partner, producer Barbara Muschietti, credits the screenwriters with finding that balance. “Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman were able to capture the touching facets of friendship between the Losers’ Club and even a brush with the first love of adolescence. But make no mistake: you are going to be scared,” she smiles.

The terror of “IT” is embodied in the malevolent clown, Pennywise—devourer of children, connoisseur of fear. Bill Skarsgård, who took on the villainous role, says, “I was very familiar with IT and the character of Pennywise growing up. The way I look at it, he needs children to believe in what they’re seeing and to be afraid in order to consume them because fear seasons the flesh. To me, as a kid and even now, that is the most frightening concept ever.”

Representing the Losers’ Club, actor Jaeden Lieberher says, “It’s definitely about overcoming fear because if the kids aren’t afraid of Pennywise, they have a chance of beating him. But it’s really scary watching all the bad things that are happening to them.”

Lieberher plays the de facto leader of the group, Bill Denbrough. The ensemble of young actors rounding out the club are: Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier; Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh; Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak; Wyatt Oleff as Stanley Uris; Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom; and Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon.

A presentation of New Line Cinema, IT will be released worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Entertainment Company.

‘Train to Busan’ director finishes filming superhero comedy film ‘Psychokinesis’

After the global success of his first live-action film “Train to Busan,” writer and director Yeon Sang-Ho is already up for his follow-up film,“Psychokinesis.”

Dubbed as a superhero comedy movie, “Psychokinesis” is about an ordinary man who accidentally obtains superpowers and uses them to help his daughter and the people around them.

The filming has wrapped up last August 6, 2017 in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, South Korea. It took about four months to film the said film that started April 17, 2017.

The film stars A-list Korean actors including Ryu Seung-ryong (“Miracle in Cell No. 7”) and Shim Eun-kyung (“Miss Granny”), who were the voice acting leads from Yeon Sang-Ho’s previous animated film “Seoul Station.” The film also stars Park Jung-min (“Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet”) and “Train to Busan” star Jung Yu-mi.

“Psychokinesis” is slated to open in Philippine cinemas in 2018, to be distributed by Rafaella Films International.

WATCH: Cross the line in new ‘Flatliners’ trailer

Dare to cross the line in the new trailer of Columbia Pictures’ new suspense thriller Flatliners starring Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna and James Norton.

Check out the trailer below and watch Flatliners in Philippine cinemas September 29, 2017.

In the film, five medical students embark on a daring and dangerous experiment to gain insight into the mystery of what lies beyond the confines of life. The bold adventure begins when they trigger near-death experiences by stopping their hearts for short periods of time. As their trials become more perilous, each must confront the sins from their past while facing the paranormal consequences of journeying to the other side.

Flatliners is directed by Niels Arden Oplev, from a screenplay by Ben Ripley, story by Peter Filardi.

Flatliners is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

James Corden lends voice to Hi-5 in ‘The Emoji Movie’

British comedian James Corden (Into the Woods) lends his voice to Hi-5, an open-face palm Emoji ready to give you a Hi-5 at any time, in Sony Pictures Animation’s new comedy The Emoji Movie.

His favorite catchphrase? “Hi-Five!”

In the film, Hi-5’s a big ham, brimming over with exuberant confidence. He used to be a Favorite, a highly respected celebrity. But recently Hi-5 has been usurped by a new Favorite… Fist Bump Emoji. Hi-5 can’t stand the rejection and just wants to be popular again. But his adventure with Gene – an Emoji which has EVERY expression instead of just one — makes Hi-5 realize that it’s more important to have one true friend than it is to be popular.

“Hi-5 is a fading rock star who wants to get back on top,” says director-writer Tony Leondis. “He hopes that by going on this journey with Gene he can be popular again. What he learns along the way is that having one real friend is more important than having ten thousand likes.”

James Corden gave the filmmakers a hand in bringing the character to life. “He’s such a talent. A brilliant actor and writer. When I saw the play ‘One Man, Two Guvnors,’ I was blown away and really wanted to work with him someday,” Leondis says. “Hi-5 is the wild card – you never know what he’s going to do or say. He’s always throwing curveballs into the equation. And no one is better at that than James.”

“Hi-5 used to be one of the favorites, but as time has gone by, Alex has forgotten about Hi-5, and he started using Fist Bump,” says Corden. “He feels like he’s been forgotten, and he’s convinced that if Alex could just see him again on the Favorites board, Alex would remember how great Hi-5 is and start using him again.”

Corden was drawn to the story and the way it created a hidden world behind the popular icons. “You can punctuate any moment with a great emoji,” he says. “In the film these are characters with spirits, and souls, and hearts, and minds with something very, very real at stake for all of them.”

“I thought it sounded quite charming – these things that you use in your life all the time have a personality, something to lose, and real friendships,” concludes Corden. “That felt very fun to me.”

Now showing across the Philippines, The Emoji Movie is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

MOVIE REVIEW: Bar Boys (2017)

A film that tackles the dynamics of friendship and family towards the pursuit of one’s ambition, Kip Oebanda’s Bar Boys stirs both humor and curiosity in bringing forth the works of a courtroom drama in a behind-the-scenes black comedy.

Bar Boys follows the journey of a barkada — Torran (Rocco Nacino), Chris (Enzo Pineda), Erik (Carlo Aquino) and Josh (Kean Cipriano) — whose lives evolve from simple egotistical computer games, to their life battles of family, love affairs, internal rivalries, and peer pressure towards their trajectory on fulfilling their dreams as lawyers.

For a film to discuss a subject as heavy (and occasionally mundane to commoners like me) as life in law school, Bar Boys is a surprisingly fun treat for all audiences where one’s familiarity to legal jargons doesn’t matter. It embraces itself as a youth-oriented film than a legal docu-drama, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it shows.

The film heavily relies on archetypes — Enzo Pineda as the rich, upper class kid; Rocco Nacino as the kid who knows-it-all; Carlo Aquino as the humble, impoverished one; and Kean Cipriano as the underdog who holds on to their friendship amidst all. The overly sketched out, borderline-cliché, predictable characterizations is almost drowning, with some making hasty decisions without being established as to why so, particularly with the characters of Chris (Pineda) and Josh (Cipriano).

Enzo Pineda’s character (Chris) is a tad underwritten, emphasizing on nothing but his sophisticated facade, tainted relationship with his father and being a career-obsessed boyfriend who takes his girlfriend for granted. By the end of the film, his character then makes crucial decisions that didn’t quite match as to how he was established in the first place, as if watching two completely different characters without the justification of a proper psychological transformation from act one to act two. Moreover, Pineda had his great moments of intense, emotional monologues, but it’s almost impossible to unsee his awkward moments, perhaps from being a newcomer in a sea of de caliber, seasoned talents.

Kean Cipriano’s character (Josh), on the other hand, is the breath of fresh air. That being said, he spent so little time on screen that it felt like a missed opportunity for his character not be thoroughly used, especially in showing contrast to his own deviant world versus his friends’ academic, career-driven mindset. He could have been a great foil character that could show a veracious night and day, especially with Cipriano’s adorably candid performance.

On the contrary, Carlo Aquino and Rocco Nacino (as Erik and Torran respectively) rises to the occasion, as both actors completely steal the show with nothing but effortlessly powerful performances on different tones and hues. They are the redeeming features of the ensemble’s imperfections.

Although I thought the first act of the film gave very little to almost zero insight as to how it really is being a law student aside from the stereotypical evil professors and too-cool-for-school fraternities, act two nailed everything right off the bat. The previous sitcom-ish storyline started to become rich and thick, where all the characters start to finally reach out to the audience with their intellectual and emotional substance in a deeper and more nuanced level, and not just a set of cartoonish four-piece we’ve been seeing since the 1990s.
Overall, Bar Boys is both a hit and a miss; its intentions are genuine, but suffers a bumpy setback with how the characters are written and formulated. Nevertheless, I’d still recommend this film for its last 40 minutes of smart show with a surprising originality to say the least.


4 out of 5 stars

WINNERS: FAP’s Luna Awards 2017

The awards night of Film Academy of the Philippines’ 35th Luna Awards was held Saturday night at Resorts World Manila in Pasay City.

Here is the complete list of winners.

Best Picture: Die Beautiful
Best Direction:
Jun Lana, Die Beautiful
Best Actor: Bembol Roco, Pauwi Na
Best Actress: Hasmine Killip, Pamilya Ordinaryo
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bables, Die Beautiful
Best Supporting Actress: Chai Fonacier, Patay Na Si Hesus
Best Screenplay: Rody Vera, Die Beautiful
Best Cinematography: Lee Briones-Meily, Ignacio de Loyola
Best Production Design: Leo Velasco, Jr., Ignacio de Loyola
Best Editing: Benjamin Gonzales Tolentino, Die Beautiful
Best Musical Score: Ryan Cayabyab, Ignacio de Loyola
Best Sound: Albert Michael Idioma, Ignacio de Loyola

Golden Reel Award: Eddie Garcia
Fernando Poe Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award: Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista
Manuel De Leon Award for Exemplary Achievements Award: Des Bautista
Lamberto Avellana Memorial Awards: Bibsy Carballo, Mario O’Hara, Lolita Rodriguez

‘Edge of Tomorrow’ director reunites with Tom Cruise for ‘American Made’

Director Doug Liman reunites with his Edge of Tomorrow star, Tom Cruise, in Universal Pictures’ American Made, based on the outrageous (and real) exploits of a hustler and pilot unexpectedly recruited by the CIA to run one of the biggest covert operations in U.S. History.

(Watch the trailer for American Made at below.)

Liman, who refers to the film as “a fun lie based on a true story,” offers that he has long appreciated stories of improbable heroes working against the system. “Barry Seal, our lead character, took America for an unbelievable ride,” reveals the filmmaker. “Interpreting his story has the makings for an entertaining film that is equal parts satire, suspense and comedy—and always surprising.”

Liman loved the fact that, while so many films have been made about people being run over by the government, Seal’s story was one of someone “who screwed over the White House. Barry is a zealot-like character who really did cross paths with so many household names from the ’80s—ranging from Ronald Reagan and Manuel Noriega to Bill Clinton and Oliver North.”

The quintessential American success story, Seal was recruited for surveillance activities on communist activities in Central America, and ultimately to deliver weapons to rebels in that area who were fighting communists. The U.S. war on drugs and the war on communism had two fronts, and Seal knew them equally well.

“He was a real opportunist, and he had an empty airplane on the way back,” continues the director. “If it absolutely had to be there overnight and it was illegal, Barry Seal was your guy. Since he was conducting illegal operations with the CIA’s help, he could get in and out of the country undetected. Well, there was no point flying back with an empty airplane, so Barry thought he might as well bring drugs back with it. So he ended up working for both the U.S. government and for the Colombian drug cartel at the same time, and unbeknownst to the other. He played both sides, and became fabulously wealthy while he was doing it. Still, it was never about the money for Barry. It was about the excitement, the challenge and all about the flying.”

Pilots themselves, Cruise and Liman gravitated toward the human elements in Barry’s life, as Barry tries desperately to keep a normal family in the midst of challenging choices. He is crazy about his wife, Lucy, and will do whatever it takes to keep her and their kids happy. Their marriage is passionate, but practical. Of course, these characters are inspired by members of the Seal family; but, just like with any film, the team would take a great deal of creative license in telling the story.

For Tom Cruise, this longtime labor of love wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Liman. Of his director, he reflects: “Doug brings a unique humanity to his films. He comes up with ideas as we’re working, and the friendship that we have allows us to trust one another—where we’re willing to try anything. We push each other, and he’s someone who wants to make great films and to entertain an audience.

Opening across the Philippines on September 13, 2017, American Made is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.