Cinemalaya’s highest-grossing film, ‘Liway,’ gets nationwide release

After a very successful premiere at the 2018 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, the film “Liway” begins its commercial run in cinemas across the country on October 10. Quantum Films is the distributor of this stirring motion picture. The story, which is set during Martial Law, is about a young mother who uses storytelling to protect her young son from the painful realities of prison life.

The movie is based on director Kip Oebanda’s experiences as he was growing up inside the prison camp where his parents were detained. It features rousing performances by Glaiza de Castro as Inday/Kumander Liway, Dominic Roco, Soliman Cruz, Joel Saracho, Nico Antonio, Sue Prado, Paolo O’hara, Ebong Joson, Gerry Cornejo, Diana Alferez, Julie Bautista, Pau Benitez, Liway Gabo, She Maala, Renante Bustamante, with Vance Larena, Upeng Galang-Fernandez, and Khalil Ramos in a very special role. Child actor Kenken Nuyad plays Inday’s son, Dakip. The screenplay is written by Kip Oebanda and Zig Dulay. The movie is produced by VY/AC Productions and Exquisite Aspect Ventures.

“My childhood memories were full of laughter and love coupled with the daily routines of prison life,” Oebanda writes in his director’s notes. “Within the barb wired walls and the cramped, small room, I learned to read, write and speak.” Although the young Kip was thrown into a place that was certainly unfit for a child, he learned to cope. Oebanda says, “My parents, to the best of their ability, tried to keep me healthy and happy. By all accounts and in the small flashes of my memory, it was a happy childhood.”

“Liway” presents through the poignant relationship of mother and child, the struggles of those who fought for freedom during Martial Law. “Beyond a deeply personal story of people who refuse to remain as victims, it brings the audience to the emotional journey and sacrifices that freedom requires,” Oebanda elaborates.

Lead actress Glaiza de Castro hopes that the film’s subject and message can motivate the youth to examine the Martial Law period. She says, “(Sana) magiging kahalo na ng mga gagawin natin sa hinaharap. Magigiging inspirasyon… ugat ng diskusyon.” Producer Alemberg Ang affirms, “To preserve the lessons of the past, we must tap both the hearts and minds, particularly of the younger generations who may not have lived through the era.”

The reaction so far has been nothing short of “electrifying.” Thanks to good reviews and strong word-of-mouth, “Liway” is turning out to be the Martial Law movie of this generation. The story truly resonates with the people. Throughout the Cinemalaya 2018 festival, “Liway” played to SRO audiences wherever it was shown, eventually becoming the Audience Choice winner AND the highest-grossing Cinemalaya film in the festival’s 14-year history. At almost every screening, those who watched were stirred to tears, standing ovations, and even patriotic chanting.

So don’t be left out. Find out why everyone is raving about “Liway.” Catch it when it opens in theaters nationwide on October 10. Interested parties may organize block screenings; for more information, please visit the Liway Facebook page.

‘Peppermint’ review: Jennifer Garner is one fierce, angry momma

After a decade of ‘mom roles’, the former Alias star still has it in her bones in Pierre Morel’s action thriller ‘Peppermint.’

Looking at Jennifer Garner’s IMDB page, it’s apparent that the action heroine has been pinned to a decade of nondescript maternal roles since 2007’s The Kingdom. Fans (including me) are itching to see her back to her element and this year, Taken director Pierre Morel creates a vehicle for that. The action-thriller is titled Peppermint – an ice cream flavor that only gets mentioned once in the film. It may seem irrelevant, but the sweet menthol candy actually works as a metaphor to Garner’s character as well as her dichotomous acting career.

She perfectly fits the profile of North Riley, a soccer mom turned into a justice-seeking vigilante. If Liam Neeson’s daughter in Taken gets kidnapped and nearly gets sold in sex trade, in Peppermint, North’s daughter and husband gets brutally gunned down by a gang of thugs working for a Mexican drug cartel. Despite Riley being the star witness, the corrupt justice system sets the culprits free and even deems her as mentally unstable. Garner gives it all during a humiliating and soul-crushing courtroom scene and from that point on, you already give your stamp of approval to all the macabre things she’ll do five years later.

Jennifer Garner is back with a vengeance in ‘Peppermint.’ Photo via Lakeshore Entertainment and Viva International Pictures.

Call it a rip-off all you want but the main selling point of this film is to remind people that Garner can kick ass. And it doesn’t seem like she got rusty at all – she’s physically and emotionally at peak here. Peppermint does not focus on her supposed metamorphosis – her disappearance and training years are all summed up in one throwaway line – so the film can go right away for the jugular. The narrative jump and Riley’s transition into a lean killing machine can be sudden but with Garner selling the idea of a one-woman army so effectively, you’ll quickly get used to it. You know how these revenge stories work so let’s get into the bloody action shall we?

The ensuing skirmish is mostly composed of routinary shootouts and personally, I would love to see more hand to hand combat because that is Garner’s forte. One sequence happens at a piñata store and Morel can’t be bothered to inject more ingenuity in his proceedings. It still gets ultra-violent for maximum visceral impact, but in a genre headlined by John Wick’s elegantly-staged combats or Die Hard’s ambitious use of firepower, nothing here ends up truly remarkable. Actually, the estrogen element that comes along is what gives this film a slight edge.

It’s not all soulless vendetta and the film hasn’t completely lost touch of Riley’s humanity. Along the way, she meddles with a drunk, deadbeat dad to teach him a lesson – just like what Robert McCall of The Equalizer films would do.

Jennifer Garner delivers retribution in ‘Peppermint.’ Photo via Lakeshore Entertainment and Viva International Pictures.

Peppermint walks on a tricky tightrope of revenge stories. Most of the time, the resulting protagonist in this sub-genre is an anti-hero but you wouldn’t want a story that celebrates the immorality of its character nor a subplot that purely demonizes the villains to gain sympathy. North is a victim forced into action but the film conveniently reduces the villains to cardboard characters in an attempt to tip the scales of justice towards her favor.

The inherent disturbing subtext can be off-putting to some as the film goes against its own morals. Riley, in the beginning, tells her daughter not to go around punching bullies but now that she has nothing left to lose, she resorts to a killing spree. Ultimately, righteousness is based on what the majority thinks is right and not necessarily what is actually right. And there’s the film’s gray area that can’t please everyone.

Peppermint won’t score points for originality. I can only imagine what’s going on with writer Chad St. John’s head while conceiving its premise: ‘The Punisher and John Wick wants to have their justice, so why moms can’t have theirs?’ Hence, the birth of this film. Garner sure deserves a better material but considering that she delivers a standout performance worthy of recognition, better action roles are hopefully on their way soon.

3 out of 5 stars

Directed by Pierre Morel and written by Chad St. John, ‘Peppermint‘ stars Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Richard Cabral, Annie Ilonzeh, Juan Pablo Raba, Tyson Ritter, Pell James, Jeff Hephner, Chris Johnson, Kyla Drew, Cailey Fleming, Michael Reventar
Run time: 102 minutes

‘Night School’ review: Potentially squeaks out passing grade

Malcolm D. Lee’s Night School smartly puts the talents of Tiffany Haddish to her reliable co-star Kevin Hart.

Kevin Hart playing the lead in Night School will surely elicit a fun time filled with cheeky jokes and great laughs. But setting aside the hilarity, the film subtly focuses on broad important issues in education like race and religion bias, the consequences of unaddressed learning disabilities, and the need for sensitive teachers and administrators. Night School is more than just a passing grade.

The movie talks about Teddy (Kevin Hart), a salesman that lives beyond his financial means who inevitably comes to a realization that in life, there are truly no shortcuts. After a series of unfortunate events, including his failed attempt to impress his beautiful, self-sufficient fiancée Lisa (Megalyn Echikunawoke), he decides to finally get his high school G.E.D. There he meets Carrie (Tiffany Haddish), a no-nonsense, hardworking yet underpaid teacher who won’t tolerate any form of slacking or cheating. She may have an unorthodox and unique approach to teaching, but underneath all of it is a big heart for her students.

Teddy’s classmates come from different backgrounds and are likewise impacted by their different life choices. There’s the housewife who believes she’s still blessed despite having ungrateful kids and an overbearing husband. There’s the pretty hipster who’s only attending classes to avoid being sent by her parents to juvenile detention. There’s the wannabe dental hygienist who can’t properly pronounce his profession title. There’s the enlightened, “woke” brother who’s a know-it-all. There’s the prison inmate who studies via Skype. And then, there’s the father who’s at odds with his son and thinks about giving up on school. Night School has a dynamic ensemble to entertain you throughout.

The film lives up to the expectation of being funny but it also has its serious moments which would come handy in real life. It presents the attitude of indifference that many parents have when interacting with other students who learn differently. Teacher Carrie, on the other hand, is not afraid to go the extra mile in getting the best out of her students. She may indulge with excessive cursing and wrestling/choking methods to encourage student participation, but her genuine intentions triumphs over.

Night School is actually a film about second chances. A high school dropout comes back to education in an attempt to make things right, the film telling that it is never late to start over again. Teddy’s emotional speech in the end teems with the humor and life realizations. Director Malcolm D. Lee squeaks out a passing grade by using education as a fun tool that gives plenty of takeaways.

3 out of 5 stars

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee starring Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle, Taran Killam, Romany Malco, Keith David, and Loretta Devine.
Run time: 111 minutes

Watch ‘Call Me By Your Name’ in this film concert with The Manila Symphony Orchestra

Set during an idyllic ‘80s Italian summer, the heartrending coming-of-age film Call Me By Your Name has left millions overwhelmed. Based on the novel by André Aciman, directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by James Ivory, it has received awards for Best Adapted Screenplay from the Academy, BAFTA, Writers Guild, and Critics’ Choice.

The story centers around two young men falling in love but explores so much more. It is a story about first love, lust, innocence, and loss. The film stars Timothée Chalamet as Elio, a precocious 17-year-old whose world is forever changed when he meets a slightly older doctoral student, Oliver (played by Armie Hammer). Twenty-two-year-old Chalamet received rave reviews and industry accolades for his outstanding performance, winning the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead and the Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor.

This critically acclaimed film had an all-too-brief, limited commercial run in the Philippines. That is why CC:Concepts is excited to offer an opportunity for audiences to enjoy this cinematic masterpiece by presenting Call Me By Your Name In Concert with The Manila Symphony Orchestra on the 28th of October, 8PM at Samsung Hall, SM Aura. Early bird tickets have sold out in less than 24 hours. Regular tickets are now available on TicketWorld.

Film concerts feature full-length movies with their soundtracks performed live by a full-piece orchestra. There have been similar screenings of Gladiator at The Colosseum in Rome, Star Wars: A New Hope at The Royal Albert Hall in London, and The Godfather at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in New York, to name a few. Filipinos will have the chance to experience the movie for the first time, with the soundtrack performed live by The Manila Symphony Orchestra.

Call Me By Your Name: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features the compositions of Ryuichi Sakamoto, John Adams, Erik Satie, Johann Sebastian Bach and Maurice Ravel. It also includes songs by The Psychedelic Furs, Franco Battiato, Giorgio Moroder, Loredana Bertè, Bandolero, Joe Esposito, F.R. David, and Sufjan Stevens whose original song “Mystery Love” was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Samsung Hall, the official venue of Call Me By Your Name In Concert, sets the stage for unparalleled entertainment. Nestled in the prime location of the Fort, Taguig City, the hall sits atop of the SM Aura Premier. The state-of-the-art venue covers over 1,000 square meters with retractable seats that can accommodate up to 1,000 guests. Samsung Hall completes the offerings of SM Aura Premier: the upscale mall that delivers the best in art, food, entertainment, and retail.

CC:Concepts presents Call Me By Your Name In Concert with The Manila Symphony Orchestra. Showing on the 28th of October, 8PM at Samsung Hall, SM Aura. Early bird tickets have sold out in less than 24 hours. Regular tickets are priced at Php 2,700, now available on TicketWorld. Prices are exclusive of ticket charges. For inquiries, email


Established in 2016, after 25 events, the producers of the music event brand UNKNWN, are expanding. CC:Concepts is set to bring diverse live entertainment experiences to Manila. With a debut show of Call Me By Your Name In Concert with The Manila Symphony Orchestra, expect other event announcements soon.

The son steps up to the challenge in new trailer for ‘Creed II’

Witness a boxing match for the ages. Check out the brand new trailer of Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Creed II” and watch the film in Philippine cinemas November 28.

In “Creed II,” life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. “Creed II” is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.

Directed by Steven Caple Jr., written by Sylvester Stallone and Cheo Hodari Coker (“Luke Cage”) and taking direct inspiration from Ryan Coogler‘s 2015 “Creed,” ”Creed II” will see Michael B. Jordan return as Adonis Johnson, son of Apollo Creed, to continue his training under Rocky Balboa (Stallone) in order to prep for what’s sure to be a brutal fight against Vitor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Tessa Thompson also returns as Adonis’ love interest, Bianca, and Coogler is on board as an executive producer.

“Creed II” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Sophie Turner is a girl on fire in first teaser for ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’

20th Century Fox unleashes the rise of one of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men universe in “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” starring Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Alexandra Shipp, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Evan Peters and Kodi Smit-McPhee, written and directed by Simon Kinberg.

In “X-Men: Dark Phoenix”, the X-Men face their most formidable and powerful foe: one of their own, their family, Jean Grey (Turner). During a rescue mission in space, Jean is nearly killed when she is hit by a mysterious cosmic force. Once she returns home, this force not only makes her infinitely more powerful, but far more unstable. Wrestling with this new entity inside her, Jean unleashes her powers in ways she can neither understand nor contain. With Jean spiraling out of control, and hurting the ones she loves most, she begins to unravel the very fabric that holds the X-Men together. Now, with this family falling apart, they must find a way to unite – not only to save Jean’s soul, but also to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world as they fight aliens who wish to weaponize Jean’s force and rule the galaxy.

“X-Men: Dark Phoenix” opens February 6, 2019 in Philippine cinemas nationwide.


‘The Nun’ crosses $300 million worldwide at the box office

New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “The Nun” crossed another milestone, surpassing $300 million at the global box office, it was announced today by Ron Sanders, Warner Bros.’ President of Worldwide Theatrical Distribution and Home Entertainment.

Through Tuesday, the film has taken in an estimated $102.4 million domestically. It has also been #1 at the international box office for three consecutive weekends, taking in an estimated $199.7 million, for a worldwide total of $302.1 million and counting.

It continues to generate strong returns in Latin America and Mexico, as well as the U.S. Hispanic markets, where the popularity of star Demian Bichir is a major draw. In addition, “The Nun” just opened at the top of the box office in a number of markets, including France, Italy, Russia and Korea.

It currently ranks as the highest-grossing horror film of all time in twelve markets, including the Philippines (where it has grossed a whopping P287.5 million and still counting), Indonesia, Brazil, Romania and UAE; the biggest-grossing film in the “Conjuring” universe in more than 30 markets; and the highest grossing Warner Bros. Pictures release for the year in 26 markets, including the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Romania, Poland and Sweden. The combined gross for the “Conjuring” universe—the top-grossing horror franchise in cinema history—now stands at more than $1.5 billion.

In making the announcement, Sanders said, “This success further demonstrates the extraordinary scope and appeal of James Wan’s “Conjuring” universe. We again want to congratulate director Corin Hardy and the cast, led by Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga, and all the talented people who worked on the film who love to scare audiences and do it so well.”

From director Corin Hardy (“The Hallow”) comes “The Nun,” exploring another dark corner of “The Conjuring” universe. The terrifying film delves into the shocking origin of the demonic Nun Valak, who first made her evil presence known in “The Conjuring 2.” The film is produced by James Wan (“The Conjuring” films, upcoming “Aquaman”) and Peter Safran (“The Conjuring” franchise).

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of a nun, as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.

“The Nun” stars Oscar nominee Demian Bichir (“A Better Life”) as Father Burke, Taissa Farmiga (TV’s “American Horror Story”) as Sister Irene, and Jonas Bloquet (“Elle”) as local villager Frenchie. The cast also includes Charlotte Hope (TV’s “Game of Thrones”) as the abbey’s Sister Victoria, Ingrid Bisu (“Toni Erdmann”) as Sister Oana, and Bonnie Aarons, reprising her role from “The Conjuring 2” as the title character.

Hardy directed “The Nun” from a screenplay by Gary Dauberman (“IT,” the “Annabelle” films), story by James Wan & Dauberman. Richard Brener, Walter Hamada, Dave Neustadter, Dauberman, Michael Clear and Todd Williams served as executive producers.

New Line Cinema presents an Atomic Monster / Safran Company production, “The Nun.” Still playing in Philippine cinemas, “The Nun” is being distributed in theatres and IMAX by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Chito S. Roño’s ‘Signal Rock’ is PH’s Foreign Language Film entry to Oscars 2019

Chito S. Roño’s ‘Signal Rock’ has been selected by the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) as the Philippine entry to the Foreign Language Film category of the 2019 Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars.

This was confirmed by the production team of CSR Films PH and its distributor Regal Entertainment on Wednesday, September 26.

‘Signal Rock’ premiered at the recent Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino where it earned the Critic’s Choice and Special Jury Awards. It also got four international film festival invitations.

The story revolves around Intoy (Christian Bables), who lives in an impoverished fishing island, taking care of his parents, while waiting for his sister Vicky, an overseas Filipino worker, send them money. Just like many women in the island, Vicky has flown to a foreign land, and married a foreigner, as a practical way to help their families back in the Philippines. Since Intoy lives in a remote area, getting in touch with Vicky through a mobile phone is a constant struggle. The only way to get through a call to Vicky is to get a good signal by scrambling on the strange rock formations on the island.

But the better life they hope for goes down the drain when Vicky, together with her daughter, flees her husband, who turns out to be abusive. This leaves Intoy, poor but with a gift of gab, to be resourceful and come up with a master plan to help his sister and his niece from their adversity. Intoy steps up to become the hope of the family to protect its members get them safely.

‘Signal Rock’ stars Christian Bables, Elora Españo, Mara Lopez, Francis Magundayao, and the veterans actors Daria Ramirez, Arnold Reyes, Nanding Josef, Archie Adamos, Sue Prado, JayR Versales, Keana Reeves, Julia Chua, Kokoy De Santos, Jomari Angeles, Ruby Ruiz, Mon Confiado, Ces Quesada, Lee O’Brian, Dido Dela Paz and many more.

READ MORE: ‘Signal Rock’: First collab of master director Chito Roño, Best Supporting actor Christian Bables

The 91st Academy Awards will be held in California in March 2019.

Return to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’ final trailer

The Wizarding World you know, the story you don’t. Watch the Final Trailer for Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” below and watch the film in Philippine cinemas November 15.

Following the launch of the final trailer, Warner Bros. has also revealed the nine new character posters which may be checked out below.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company. Join the conversation online and use the hashtags #WandsReady and #FantasticBeasts

About “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”

Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is the second of five all new adventures in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World™.

At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

The film features an ensemble cast led by Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Carmen Ejogo, Poppy Corby-Tuech, with Jude Law and Johnny Depp.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is directed by David Yates, from a screenplay by J.K. Rowling. The film is produced by David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves and Lionel Wigram. Tim Lewis, Neil Blair, Rick Senat and Danny Cohen serve as executive producers.

Mend your broken hearts via ‘Exes Baggage’ with Angelica Panganiban, Carlo Aquino

Would you take a chance on someone new when you’ve just had your heart broken? Ready your tissues as SM Cinema features the much awaited reunion movie of real life ex-lovers Carlo Aquino and Angelica Panganiban, Exes Baggage.

Fans of CarGel can see one of the biggest 90’s love teams once again after their last project together in 2014. While the two are still good friends in real life, their supporters cannot wait to witness their undeniable chemistry on the big screen.

Directed by Dan Villegas, Exes Baggage tells the story of two individuals who find each other in a time of heartbreak and healing. Pia (Angelica Panganiban) and Nix (Carlo Aquino), both recently having their hearts broken, instantly feel a connection when they meet at a bar. This connection quickly turns into a relationship. But are they ready for another commitment when wounds from their previous relationships have yet to heal?

Catch Exes Baggage in SM Cinema branches nationwide starting September 26, 2018. Book your tickets through the website, or download the SM Cinema mobile app. You may also follow /SMCinema on Facebook and @SM_Cinema on Instagram for updates!