WATCH: Story of a boy’s stolen life revealed in ‘The Goldfinch’ trailer

Warner Bros. Pictures and Amazon Studios have released the first trailer for their highly anticipated film adaptation of the globally acclaimed best-selling novel, “The Goldfinch.”

Check out the trailer below and watch “The Goldfinch” in Philippine cinemas this October.

The drama is directed by BAFTA Award winner John Crowley (“Brooklyn”) and features a multigenerational cast led by Ansel Elgort (“Baby Driver”) as Theo Decker and Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman (“The Hours,” “Big Little Lies”) as Mrs. Barbour.  

In the film, Theodore “Theo” Decker was 13 years old when his mother was killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The tragedy changes the course of his life, sending him on a stirring odyssey of grief and guilt, reinvention and redemption, and even love.  Through it all, he holds on to one tangible piece of hope from that terrible day…a painting of a tiny bird chained to its perch.  The Goldfinch.

The film also stars Oakes Fegley (“Pete’s Dragon”) as Young Theo, Aneurin Barnard (“Dunkirk”) as Boris, Finn Wolfhard (“Stranger Things,” “It”) as Young Boris, with Sarah Paulson (“The Post,” “American Crime Story”) as Xandra, Luke Wilson (“The Royal Tenenbaums”) as Larry, and Jeffrey Wright (“The Hunger Games” films) as Hobie.  

“The Goldfinch” is produced by Nina Jacobson (“The Hunger Games” films, “American Crime Story”) and Brad Simpson (“World War Z,” “American Crime Story”) under their Color Force banner.  Mari Jo Winkler-Ioffreda and Sue Kroll are serving as executive producers.  The screenplay is by Oscar nominee Peter Straughan (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”), based on the book by Donna Tartt, which spent 30 weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

“The Goldfinch” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company. #TheGoldfinch

‘Finding You’ review: All the feels in Easy Ferrer’s directorial debut

Easy Ferrer’s ‘Finding Youbrings a new energy to romantic films with relatable performances from Jane Oineza, Barbie Imperial, and Jerome Ponce.

Finding You is all about Nel (Jerome Ponce), who has hyperthymesia, a rare condition with extraordinary ability to remember personal experiences in detail. He knows everything that happened in his life, until one morning after he accidentally activated a ‘throwback’ app and found some old posts about something he posted but can’t seem to remember. He knew it was for a girl that he loved so much from the past but can’t remember which of his exes is the one. Together with his best friend Kit (Jane Oineza), they track down all the girls in his life to see if they can rekindle a romance and find ‘the one.’

Hyperthymesia may sound like a new term for everyone, but people with such condition exist in the real world. This is what makes ‘Finding You’ a much interesting love story. The main concept answers this question: what if you of all the people who can remember everything forgot ‘the one’? Easy Ferrer’s directorial debut brings in a romantic genre that plays with the concept of memory and unrequited love. It’s a very interesting take on friendship. It gave not just your typical romcom feels as this one will literally give you all the feels. It was overwhelming and relatable.

The film stars young actors and actresses that personify today’s fresh generation. The performance of Jerome Ponce proves he is now capable to have a lead role. His scenes were amazing from being a typical boy-next-door to an emotionally wrecked and conflicted person. Jane Oineza perfectly plays “that bubbly kind of best friend” that we all have in real life. Jerome and Jane already had a chemistry from their previous works, so it wasn’t a surprise that they still have the spark in this one.

What made the story much interesting is that they are backed up by supporting cast members like Barbie Imperial, Kate Alejandro, and Claire Ruiz who nailed their respective roles as the past girls in Nel’s life—some of whom may have little screen time but their roles made an impact in a realistically relatable way. Ferrer made sure that the cast will give their best in this one. Great choice of actors and actresses!  

It’s also a new energy to romance genre. The film starts well enough to make an impression on how Nel’s medical condition works. Then it sets up flashbacks and typical childhood-friends-turned-lovers type of tale. The first half is light and colorful in showing how friendship really works. Until it shows twists and heartbreaks that give audiences a pleasant surprise in unexpected ways. After the good feelings, here come that pinch of heartaches.

The soundtrack, featuring Munimuni’s song “Sa Hindi Pag-alala,” also adds to the emotional weight of the movie. The mood is good enough in presenting an unexpected, clever, twisty, and bittersweet heartbreaks. It’s not the usual kilig and hugot movie and I can say it’s the best of all the films with ‘feels’.

Suffice it to say that Finding You unexpectedly blew me away and I almost love everything about it. From its storyline to its characters, this film exceeds what fans would expect to see and feel. It stays true to its depiction of friendship and finding ‘the one’ as it reflects the real lives we live in, the actions we take, and how we are affected by people around us. This is something that fans can cherish as a fittingly new take on romantic films.

4 out of 5 stars
Directed by Easy Ferrer and produced by Regal Entertainment Inc, Finding You stars Jerome Ponce, Jane Oineza and Barbie Imperial, Kate Alejandrino, Claire Ruiz, Jon Lucas and Paeng Sudayan. Opens May 29 in PH cinemas.

Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ flies high with P212-M on opening weekend

Much like the movie’s thrilling magic carpet ride over the port city of Agrabah, Disney’s Aladdin, the live-action adaptation of its animated classic, flew high and soared above every other movie as it posted as the No. 1 film during its opening weekend.

Continuing Disney’s success in providing quality entertainment through live-action remakes, the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin and the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine opened in 494 cinemas nationwide last May 22 and raked in an impressive Php 212,197,892 (USD 4,014,776) on its first six days, making it the number one film over the weekend.

Film director and screenwriter Guy Ritchie lends his flair for fast-paced and exciting action to tell the adventures of the charming scoundrel Aladdin, played by Mena Massoud, and the beautiful and self-determined Princess Jasmine, played by Naomi Scott. Will Smith joins the cast as the larger-than-life Genie.

Aladdin is now showing in cinemas nationwide. Join the conversations online using #AladdinPH.  

About Aladdin

A thrilling and vibrant live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic, “Aladdin” is the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin, the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine and the Genie who may be the key to their future.

Directed by Guy Ritchie, who brings his singular flair for fast-paced, visceral action to the fictitious port city of Agrabah, “Aladdin” is written by John August and Ritchie based on Disney’s “Aladdin.” 

WATCH: Unholy night awaits in new ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ trailer

The sinister doll Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the Warrens’ home in the official trailer 2 of New Line Cinema’s “Annabelle Comes Home.”

Check out the trailer below and watch “Annabelle Comes Home” in Philippine cinemas on June 26.

“Annabelle Comes Home” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company. #AnnabelleComesHome

About “Annabelle Comes Home”

“Annabelle Comes Home” is the third installment of New Line Cinema’s hugely successful “Annabelle” films starring the infamous sinister doll from the “Conjuring” universe.  Gary Dauberman, the screenwriter of the “Annabelle” films, “IT” and “The Nun,” makes his directorial debut on the film, which is produced by Peter Safran (“Aquaman”), who has produced all the films in the “Conjuring” franchise, and “Conjuring” universe creator James Wan (“Aquaman”).

Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren bring the possessed doll to the locked artifacts room in their home, placing her “safely” behind sacred glass and enlisting a priest’s holy blessing.  But an unholy night of horror awaits as Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on a new target—the Warrens’ ten-year-old daughter, Judy, and her friends.

The film stars McKenna Grace (Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Captain Marvel”) as Judy; Madison Iseman (“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween”) as her babysitter, Mary Ellen; and Katie Sarife (TV’s “Youth and Consequences” and “Supernatural”) as troubled friend Daniela; with Patrick Wilson (“Aquaman,” “The Conjuring” and “Insidious” films) and Vera Farmiga (“The Conjuring” films, upcoming “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” TV’s “Bates Motel”) reprising their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren.

QCinema Film Festival 2019 announces six short film entries

The QCinema Film Festival (QCinema) prepares for another year of showcasing Filipino talent, announcing its new set of grantees. Running from October 13-22, 2019, QCinema has chosen six short films from emerging local filmmakers for its QCShorts Competition.

QCinema has grown to become one of the most anticipated film festivals in the country. Now on its 7th year, the festival has curated six short films boasting a diverse selection, with different themes emphasizing on the creativity and originality of the chosen filmmakers.

These short films are the following:

  • Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss by Sonny Calvento
  • Here, Here by Joanna Marian Cesario
  • Isang Daa’t Isang Mariposa by Norvin De Los Santos
  • Judy Free by Che Tagyamon
  • SPID by Alejo Barbaza and Mervine Aquino
  • TOKWIFI by Carla Pulido Ocampo

Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss tells the story of a salesgirl who discovers the ultimate secret to regularization.

Here, Here is about Koi, a 22-year-old who returns and refamiliarizes himself with his home years after a foreign extraction company began its mining operations. 

In Isang Daa’t Isang Mariposa, a100-year-old pious and pragmatic Lola Perla visits her ex-lover’s son to bail him out of jail to dance with her in exchange for the money after claiming the P100,000 award from the government for centenaries.

Judy Free is about a young girl and her father. Her reality is intruded when her father suddenly comes home as an animated doodle figure after being away for almost a decade.

SPID tells the story of a retiring hitman in the midst of a global epidemic that causes a delay of sight from sound who must honor one last mission: to eliminate the city’s biggest suppliers of spud, a potent drug that syncs one’s senses.

TOKWIFI focuses on a 1950s mestiza star who is trapped inside a television that fell from the sky, dreaming up of a romantic romp on the rice terraces, with a Bontok Igorot man who does not know how to kiss.

The competition grantees this year has been given a production grant of P200,000 while retaining exclusive rights to their films. These filmmakers will compete for the Audience Choice Award for Short Film, QC Shorts Jury Prize, and Best Short Film.

Aside from the QCShorts Competition, the Asian Next Wave Competition and RainbowQC will also feature works from local and international filmmakers.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/QCinemaPH/ for more details.

‘Kuwaresma’ review: Erik Matti’s arthouse horror features delusions of grandeur

Kuwaresma has style and powerhouse performances to spare but its plot crumbles under the weight of its ambitions.

Erik Matti’s latest avenue for arthouse horror, Kuwaresma, is pure aesthetic all the way through. It has style to spare – from its grim production values to its elegant camerawork, the unsettling atmosphere is already palpable within its first minutes. From a visual standpoint, the horror components may be familiar, but it’s sophisticated execution makes it worthy of a double-take. In here, the decrepit ancestral house serves as a symbolical backdrop of the many skeletons that the film aims to uncover. Individually, the associated subtexts make their impacts. Collectively, however, it’s a struggle as the film bites more so than it can chew.

Set in a distant looking 80’s Baguio, a young college lad Luis Fajardo (Kent Gonzales) returns to his patriarchal driven household upon the untimely death of his sister Manuela (Pam Gonzales). Both his parents Arturo (John Arcilla) and Rebecca (Sharon Cuneta) simply say that she’s inflicted with a terminal disease which forced her to commit suicide out of despair. But as far as horror mysteries go, we know that it’s not true. The mournings soon turn into hauntings and Luis is eventually confronted with dark family secrets and malevolent forces that inhabit within the walls of their house. Unlike Matti’s Seklusyon, there’s not much religious superstition fanfare going on here. The film’s title (Lent in english) has a slim relevance to the plot, save for the fact that Manuela is buried during the lenten week, a time when it said that the devil has the greatest potential to tempt mankind.

Tapping into the spiritual realm. Kent Gonzales (Luis) and Guila Alvarez (Salve) performs a ritual.

For one, Kuwaresma could have benefited from a more active protagonist. It’s a tough job to stand toe to toe among two veteran actors and newcomer Gonzales does fine in displaying the confusion and resentment required for the role. His character, however, only kicks into his senses by the second act. In the meantime, the film takes its baby steps in unraveling the secret by favoring on long drawn spooky sequences which contribute little to propel the plot. “What’s outside is inside. Never go inside,” Guila Alvarez’s psychic character offers Luis a vague warning. She seems like a rational person but why can’t she be more direct on what she’s trying to say? For theatrical purpose I guess.

The Fajardo family dines in awkward silence in ‘Kuwaresma.’

With little crumbs of information to lead the way, Kuwaresma can feel dragging. The intense musical scoring and sound design, infused with eccentric foreign chants tend to annoy at some point. Thankfully, the amount of jumpscare is justified to show overall restraint. In one remarkable dinner scene, the horror is merely mirrored through camera pans and facial expressions. Standard scares aside, there’s a lot of themes to be mined from the dysfunctional family in question. The film takes jabs at different forms of delusions of grandeur – how childhood traumas can suppress one’s memory and alter one’s perception. It also works as a commentary on the dangers of apathy in a time of crisis, on abusive relationships, on misogyny and toxic masculinity (albeit the supernatural element involved waters down this effect). As a portrait of family split by a tragedy, there’s an unbearable tension that haunts you for a moment.

Dark secrets hide beneath the Fajardo’s family history.

Matti and co-screenwriter Katski Flores’s show hints of thoughtfulness in their screenplay best exemplified by the oblivious hints peppered along the way, but not enough focus is given to where it mattered the most. As Kuwaresma dives into a crazy third act, the narrative gets dumped with hammy expositions and big reveals – one of which feels unnecessary and unconvincing from a logical standpoint. Counting in the film’s deliberate willingness to leave some questions unanswered, the conclusion leaves you more bewildered than frightened.

If anything else, Kuwaresma remains to be a fantastic display of powerhouse performances. Cuneta blends into the background as a timid mother who gets to take control by the third act. At times she feels overqualified as her presence tends to tip the genre to a melodramatic territory, but nevertheless, her acting prowess is what will attract viewers in the first place. The real showstopper here is the great John Arcilla who terrifyingly portrays his character’s unhinged descent into madness, with so much grit and intimidation that he literally starts to drool in one scene. It’s a fiery performance that rivals Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in The Shining.

John Arcilla (Arturo) personifies the devil in ‘Kuwaresma.’

As Matti’s playground for his clever practical effects and filmmaking skills, Kuwaresma is a fascinating piece of art. For a haunting family tale, however, it tries to be many things at once that the narrative crumbles under the weight of ambitions. It’s not entirely a bad film especially if you’re into edgy and sensational work. Just don’t expect for a logical conclusion.

3 out of 5 stars
Directed by Erik Matti, written by Katski Flores and Erik Matti, ‘Kuwaresma’ stars Sharon Cuneta, Arturo Fajardo, Kent Gonzales, Guila Alvarez, Pam Gonzales and Jovit Moya. Run time: 118 minutes. R-13.

Filming underway on ‘Tenet,’ new film from Christopher Nolan

Filming has begun on Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Tenet,” being directed by Christopher Nolan.  

“Tenet,” which is being filmed on location across seven countries, is an action epic evolving from the world of international espionage.

Nolan is directing from his own original screenplay, utilizing a mixture of IMAX® and 70mm film to bring the story to the screen.  

The international ensemble cast is led by John David Washington and also stars Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Clémence Poésy, with Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh.  

The film is being produced by Nolan and Emma Thomas.  Thomas Hayslip is serving as executive producer.

Nolan’s behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema, production designer Nathan Crowley, editor Jennifer Lame, costume designer Jeffrey Kurland, and visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson.  The score is being composed by Ludwig Göransson.

Warner Bros. Pictures is distributing “Tenet” worldwide and has slated the film for a July 17, 2020 release.  

Deep bond between families, pets in ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’

Illumination’s tenth animated feature, The Secret Life of Pets 2, is the highly anticipated sequel to the 2016 comedic blockbuster that had the biggest opening weekend ever for an original film, animated or otherwise.

Packed with Illumination’s signature irreverence and subversive humor, this new chapter explores the emotional lives of our pets, the deep bond between them and the families that love them, and answers the question that has long intrigued every pet owner: What are your pets really doing when you’re not at home?

Almost immediately following the success of The Secret Life of Pets, which broke box-office records and earned more than $875 million worldwide, Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri, his producing partner Janet Healy, returning screenwriter Brian Lynch and returning director Chris Renaud began to explore ideas for the next chapter in the lives of the characters they had created.

The question facing them now was how to best evolve and expand the world of Pets in a way that felt fresh, inventive, exciting and authentic. “When you start to craft a sequel, the goal is to tell a story that brings the audience back together with the characters that they love but then have discovery within that film for new story lines, new character development and new characters,” Meledandri says. “Audiences, when they come to this film, can’t wait to see these characters that they love again, and they can’t wait to see what these characters are up to when no one’s around. That core premise has such strength, and we embraced that, but we also wanted to create a story that would become a step forward in the lives of these characters and one that would be compelling to all audiences, even those who hadn’t seen the first movie.”

Indelible, relatable and sweetly flawed characters form the foundation of all of Illumination’s storytelling, and The Secret Life of Pets 2 is no exception. Together, Meledandri and his top creative team zeroed in on exploring the secret emotional lives of our pets, our unconditional love for them and they for us. “One of the really charming elements of Pets 2 is this relationship that we have with our pets that actually goes two ways,” Meledandri says. “Not only are we taking care of our pets, but our pets are actually taking care of us as well.” Sometimes a little too well. One of the major themes of the film is the idea of helicopter parenting and the impact that has on both the parent and the child being parented.

“Brian Lynch, Chris Meledandri and I were kicking around ideas surrounding the dynamic between pets and kids,” Renaud says. “We realized a great direction to go with the story was seeing the relationship between a kid and their pet blossom and develop into real love.”

The filmmakers also sought to make Pets 2 even funnier than the first film. Three of the returning characters—Terrier Max (Patton Oswalt), Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate) and rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart)—all find themselves in situations that push them far outside their comfort zones, providing the filmmakers, and the cast, with ample opportunities to find the humor in Max’s neuroses, Gidget’s undercover cat operation, and Snowball’s delusions of superhero grandeur. Just as important, beneath the laughs lies a strong beating heart that will resonate with all audiences. Max, as the emotional center of the film, struggles to find the courage to let Liam, a little boy whom he had come to love beyond all expectation, grow up.

For Meledandri, the film is a testament to the powerful connection between us and the animals that share our lives. “At its core, we all go through life seeking unconditional love, and it can be really hard to find that from another human being,” Meledandri says. “But it’s so easy for our pets to give it to us. It’s so deeply comforting, that bond that we make with our pets.”

In Philippine cinemas June 5, The Secret Life of Pets 2 is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.  #TheSecretLifeOfPets2

‘Aladdin’ review: Classic tale brings pure nostalgia

Director Guy Ritchie creatively helms an enjoyable retelling of a classic Disney film that takes us to a whole new world of Aladdin.

Aladdin is a live-action remake of Disney’s 1992 animated film of the same name. It tells the story of a kindhearted, thieving street urchin, Aladdin (Mena Massoud), who falls in love with Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) of Agrabah. He is ordered by nefarious sorcerer Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), the Grand Vizier, to bring the magical lamp which wields the powerful Genie (Will Smith) who can grant three wishes to whoever holds it. Now it is upon Aladdin to get the love of his life and stop Jafar’s evil intentions.

This adaptation is a thrilling and nostalgic nod to one of Disney’s animated classics. It’s a childhood dream come true. It’s beautifully directed by Guy Ritchie who takes us to a whole new world. With a perfect mix of then and now, it elicits nostalgia especially to viewers who have grown with Aladdin. It could even be considered as Disney’s best live action remake overall.

With so much heart in it, this reiteration is as magical as the first one. The songs on its own provide pure eargasm, from the song “A Whole New World” to its new original, “Speechless,” written by Pasek & Paul (‘La La Land’).

Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud in ‘Aladdin’

It really is a whole new world for Disney. With a lot of issues going around with its marketing and Will Smith’s take on the role of Genie, Guy Ritchie paves the way for a fun-filled adaptation.

No one could have played the Genie better than Smith in this adaptation. He is surprisingly entertaining and funny. He owns the character through his hilarious quips and chemistry with his master, Aladdin. Smith alone can make you smile throughout.

Mena Massoud on the titular role is charismatic with such angelic voice that sounds just like the animated Aladdin—most especially when he sings the opening number “One Jump Ahead.” His connection to Naomi Scott is indeed on-point as they anchor the entire film.

Scott as Princess Jasmine is a beautiful choice for the role. She is an amazing singer, a little bit better than Emma Watson portraying Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

As for Marwan Kenzari who played Jafar, it comes off as a bit of an unfulfilled impression, but the way his background is pictured here would make you appreciate his character more.

Oh, great one who summons me, I stand by my oath: loyalty to wishes three!

The tale of Aladdin is obviously familiar. There may be a few changes which thankfully “fixes” some irrelevant scenes from the cartoon. These additions adversely affect the length of the film. Despite it all, it appears the good aspects and creativity of the film outweigh issues to make way for an enjoyable blockbuster. It is an amazing film—so vibrant, so colorful. A pure nostalgic experience everyone must see.

4.5 out of 5 stars
Directed by Guy Ritchie. The film stars Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, and Numan Acar.

WATCH: ‘Once upon a Time… in Hollywood’ reveals brand new trailer

In this town, it can all change…like that. Watch the brand new trailer of Columbia Pictures’ Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, the 9th film by Quentin Tarantino.

In Philippine cinemas August 28, Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.  #OnceUponATimeInHollywood

About Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore.   The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.  

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is produced by David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh and Quentin Tarantino. The cast is led by Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie.