Kristen Stewart hunts ghosts in psychological thriller ‘Personal Shopper’

Kristen Stewart stars in the hair-raising horror drama “Personal Shopper” as an American in Paris working as a model’s assistant while trying to contact the spirit of her dead twin brother.

The film’s director, Oliver Assayas won as Best Director for his work in the film in last year’s Cannes Film Festival. From the same festival within the same year that Philippines’ Jaclyn Jose also won as Best Actress for her role in “Ma’Rosa.”

From the acclaimed movie “Clouds of Sils Maria,” director Assayas and Stewart are reunited in “Personal Shopper” where Stewart displays a mysterious and darker character who struggles to repress grief while trying to move on after her brother’s death.

From his recent win at the film festival, Assayas shared his award with all of his crew, “To say that I’m moved is putting it mildly. Cannes has given me so much, and has rewarded me this year with a prize that I’m sharing with a filmmaker I admire: Cristian Mungiu. Directing a film is a collective endeavour. I feel I’ve created a group that is being awarded the prize; a whole family with whom I developed a cinematographic language.”

In a review by Guy Lodge (Time Out), the writer praised Stewart for her performance, “Amid all the shifting mirrored surfaces and hazy ambiguities of Olivier Assayas’s bewitching, brazenly unconventional ghost story, this much can be said with certainty: Kristen Stewart has become one hell of an actress.”

Along with Kristen Stewart, “Personal Shopper” also has an impressive supporting cast that includes Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Anders Danielsen Lie, Ty Olwin, Hammou Graïa and Benjamin Biolay.

“Personal Shopper” opens February 15, 2016 in cinemas from Pioneer Films.

WATCH: Hugh Jackman is back in action in new ‘Logan: The Wolverine’ trailer

20th Century Fox has just released Trailer #2 of the most anticipated movie this year “Logan: The Wolverine” featuring a thrilling series of action-packed scenes and intense moments introducing a young mutant girl, Laura (played by Dafne Keen), who possesses the same powerful claw and strength like The Wolverine. Laura, as seen in the trailer is being protected by Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) from groups of armed men wanting to take her.

Directed by James Mangold, “Logan: The Wolverine” will open in Philippine cinemas nationwide on March 1 (Wednesday) from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

Vin Diesel is back to break every rule in ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’

In 2002, then emerging actor Vin Diesel starred in the action-thriller xXx which became a blockbuster, grossing over $350M worldwide. Diesel played Xander Cage, the first recruit to the ultra-secret xXx spy program, alongside Samuel L. Jackson as Gibbons, the program’s leader. Now, Diesel breathes new life into the franchise with xXx: Return of Xander Cage — a project fans have been demanding for nearly a decade.

For the action superstar, it was a nothing short of a homecoming. “There’s a need to re-visit this type of hero archetype,” says Diesel. “Xander is, in some ways, the reluctant hero, the anti-hero. It’s something that I’ve always felt like I owned. I always felt like, sooner or later, I’ll have to return to this character and right the wrongs of the past,” he says.

The xXx concept has always been and still is, about one bad-ass hero, able to handle everything in his way with a charm and humor no other secret agent has ever possessed. “We were very conscious of the status quo of spy films at the time of the first xXx. We had all the log lines that said, ‘It’s not your daddy’s secret agent’ or ‘a new breed of secret agent,’” Diesel says. “The shaping of xXx at its time, was that the heroes were white males who have a military background and they weren’t necessarily representative of the global audience. All of a sudden along came Xander Cage, who was anti-establishment and looked nothing like James Bond or Jason Bourne. He really was something wholly new and fresh,” says Diesel.

While the world has changed dramatically since the first film, undertones present in the original xXx, from the post 9/11 era, are still relevant today. “Production talks began for the first film pre-9/11,” says Diesel. “After 9/11 we realized that there could be a time or circumstance that would force a seemingly uncaring person to be patriotic. Our film was a call to action was born out of that.” Xander Cage was your rebel with a cause and that theme is echoed in his return.

“Xander is a person that society could write off as unimportant or of no value because of the type of music he listens to and we were saying that any of us could be heroic and patriotic if something feels as unjust as the plot proposed in the first xXx,” says Diesel. The xXx franchise is proving to be even more relevant to today’s market because of what’s going on globally. It’s taken a serious issue – government conspiracy and global destruction – and made it into a fun, save-the-world type of film.

The third explosive chapter of the blockbuster franchise that redefined the spy thriller, xXx: Return of Xander Cage finds extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage coming out of self-imposed exile and on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments.

Directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is packed with the series’ signature deadpan wit and bad-ass attitude, raising the bar on extreme action with some of the most mind-blowing stunts to ever be caught on film.

Now playing across the Philippines, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Jackie Chan-starrer ‘Kung Fu Yoga’ hits Philippine cinemas

Gear up for a high-octane, adrenaline-pumping action-adventure for the whole family as Star Cinema releases Kung Fu Yoga starring legendary Asian action superstar Jackie Chan.

Directed by renowned Hong Kong film director, producer, action choreographer, screenwriter, and philanthropist Stanley Tong, who first directed Jackie Chan in Police Story 3: Super Cop in 1992, Kung Fu Yoga marks the much-awaited reunion between Chan and Tong since their mega-blockbuster collaboration in Chinese Zodiac 12 (CZ12) back in 2012.

Kung Fu Yoga is centered on the exploits of Chinese archeology professor Jack (Chan) who teams up with beautiful Indian professor Ashmita and assistant Kyra to locate lost Magadha treasure. The team travel across Asia, Europe and the Middle East as they dodge one obstacle after the other until they are ultimately led to a remote mountain temple in India where they will use a rare diamond as a key to unlock the real treasure that will culminate their quest.

During their Dubai press conference, director Stanley Tong revealed that they employed 70 super sports car during the car chase in the streets of Dubai, amounting to US $30M. The said scenes feature luxury brands including Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini, Bentley, and Ferrari.

It is also director Tong who has always been interested to India’s culture. He integrated traditional Indian magic tricks, including the rope trick and the levitation into the action choreography.

A scene in Iceland made Jackie Chan dived into the water beneath the ice cave, he then stayed underwater for hours at a sub-zero temperature to achieve the best effect of the scene.

With an illustrious career that spans more than five decades, Chan was honored by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences an honorary Oscar for his extraordinary achievements in film at the 8th Annual Governors Awards ceremony last November 2016 and Kung Fu Yoga marks his very first full-length feature film this 2017.

The movie features an international cast that highlights some of Asia’s most talented and accomplished actors led by Hong Kong actor and singer Aarif Rahman, who was catapulted to stardom after winning Best New Performer and Best Original Song at the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards in 2010, for his superb performance in the critically acclaimed drama Echoes Of The Rainbow; and three of Bollywood’s biggest stars: Amyra Dastur, who is considered today as the fresh face of Bollywood; former Indian beauty queen and now rising Bollywood star Disha Patani; and character actor Sonu Sood. Who is a household name in India who has done 70 movies, Chinese multi-media star and Korean pop band “EXO” member Zhang Yixing and China’s “Most Beautiful Yoga Instructor” MuQi MiYa are also featured in the movie in unforgettable supporting roles.

Follow the journey Jack and his incredible team and discover what dangers and treasures await them in this gargantuan action movie that will open 2017.

Distributed by Star Cinema, Kung Fu Yoga hits Philippine cinemas nationwide starting February 1, 2017.

‘Split’ brings M. Night Shyamalan back to fine form: critics

With a 78 percent Fresh rating at reviews-aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, Universal Pictures’ new suspense thriller Split starring James McAvoy has undeniably marked the official comeback story of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan.

As critic John DeFore writes in The Hollywood Reporter, “genre fans should embrace what is arguably the director’s most satisfying picture since The Sixth Sense. In some quarters, it will generate talk of a comeback for a filmmaker who has suffered both critical drubbing and box-office humiliation over the past decade.”

Peter Debruge agrees in his review in Variety. He shares, Spit is “A welcome return to form from Shyamalan whose unhinged new mind-bender is a worthy extension of his early work.

“Rest assured, there are plenty of proper twists to follow, none more unexpected than the fact that Shyamalan himself has managed to get his groove back after a slew of increasingly atrocious misfires,” Debruge continues. “To be fair, it’s hard to imagine any writer/director sustaining a career based almost entirely on surprising audiences. And though he lost us for a while there, by trading on ingenuity rather than big-budget special effects, Shyamalan has created a tense, frequently outrageous companion piece to one of his earliest and best movies.

“Ultimately, Split belongs to McAvoy, who has ample scenery to chew, but doesn’t stop there — he practically swallows the camera with his tiger-like teeth. With his head shaved, the actor conveys his transformations through body language, facial expression, and accent…While Shyamalan is basically making up rules for dissociative identity disorder as he goes along, the condition has afforded McAvoy the role of his career.”

Film reviewer Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian, assures, “It’s important to say that Split doesn’t hinge on a twist ending. It is a full and satisfying film that, if you stopped watching 18 seconds before the conclusion, would still suit as a juicy bit of smart horror.”

Finally, Haley Foutch of Collider, declares, “Ladies and gentlemen, M. Night Shyamalan has officially caught his second wind. Last year’s The Visit surprised audiences with a delightfully twisted spin and with Split, Shyamalan has reaffirmed his status as B-Movie extraordinaire.”

In Split, though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

Split reunites Shyamalan with producer Jason Blum, who produced the filmmaker’s latest commercial and critical success, The Visit.

Opening across the Philippines on January 18, 2017, Split is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

‘Godzilla’ meets ‘The Ring’ in new monster movie ‘Gremlin’

Emmy Award-winning director, Ryan Bellgardt’s (Army of Frankenstein) upcoming creature feature Gremlin has invaded Philippine cinemas after its premiere at the 2016 American Film Market in Santa Monica last month.

Described as Godzilla meets The Ring, Gremlin boasts top of the line computer generated effects from some of the best in the game, as well as vibrant, slick direction from Bellgardt from an original story.

High Octane Pictures President, Galen Christy says, “We are so proud to be working with Ryan and his incredible team again on bringing Gremlin to the marketplace. This film is so unique and wild that I know viewers are going to go insane for it as there’s truly nothing like it out there!”

Four years after Army of Frankensteins, and six after his directorial debut with the TV Movie Two Movie Guys’ Intergalactic Holiday Showdown, director Ryan Bellgardt is back at what he does best, working on a horror film. He’s also the President and Creative Director of Boiling Point Media, a production company based out of Oklahoma City. He’s an Emmy winning director with many local television, music video and corporate video credits, and in 2012, he co-founded Six Stitches Entertainmnt, in association with Boiling Point Media, and with filmmakers Josh McKamie and Andy Swanson. Together, they produced their first full length feature film “Army of Frankensteins.”

Two years after the murder of his 10-year-old son, Adam Thatcher receives a mysterious box from a relative containing a terrible secret, a creature that will brutally kill everyone he cares about one by one.

The only way to release himself from the curse is to give the box to someone he loves, continuing the never ending circulation of this ancient evil. As the ominous timer on the box counts down to its end, Adam can only imagine the horrors that await. Does he give the box away to save his family, or face his own demise while unleashing a powerful terror on the rest of humanity? He can’t destroy it. He can’t escape it. He can only give it to someone he loves.

“Gremlin” is now playing in Philippine cinemas, rated R-13 by the MTRCB and locally distributed by Rafaella Films International.

Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan topbill animated film ‘Ballerina’

Ballerina is a 3D computer-animated musical fantasy adventure about following your dreams, with an all-star voice cast that includes Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler and Carly Rae Jepsen, directed by Eric Summer.

Paris, 1884. A recently orphaned girl arrives in Paris from Brittany. Felicie Milliner is 11 and has no money but one big, passionate dream: to become a dancer. Dancing is what makes her feel alive and connects her to her late parents. With nothing left to lose, Felicie takes a big risk: she “borrows” a spoiled brat’s identity and enters the Opera Ballet School. But how long can she be someone else? Mentored by the tough and mysterious cleaner, Odette, Felicie learns that talent is not enough – it takes hard work to be better than her ruthless, conniving fellow students. That and friendship. And when Felicie meets the inventive, exhausting and charismatic Victor she gets a soul mate. He also has a dream: becoming a famous inventor. Together, despite their constant banter, they both encourage each other to reach for the stars. After losing herself on the way, Felicie will emerge with a new found self-belief, love and a new home. She will also be a true ballerina.

Opening across the Philippines on January 18, 2017, Ballerina is released and distributed by Captive Cinema.

‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’ caps biggest game-based film franchise

Writer, director, producer and franchise veteran Paul W.S. Anderson returns to helm Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, the sixth and final installment in the most successful video game film franchise ever.

The improbable beginning of Paul W.S. Anderson’s fantastically successful, franchised motion picture adaptation of the Resident Evil video game reads like a Hollywood ending. Producer, Jeremy Bolt, who has worked with Anderson for 25 years and including all the Resident Evil editions, recalls, “Back in 2002 we had just made a movie for Warner Bros. called Soldiers, which did not perform as well as we’d hoped. So I went back to England and made a couple of small films, and Paul holed up in his house in Venice Beach where he played video games for 6 months. Out of the blue he called to say ‘I’ve been playing the game Resident Evil and we have got to get the film rights.”

Since then, Resident Evil has grown to become one of the most successful game-to-movie franchises in the history of cinema, the first five installments in the franchise having grossed in excess of $1 billion worldwide and earning consistent No. 1 openings at the box-office. Thrilling fans of Capcom’s original video game and action/sci-fi movie audiences alike, the movie franchise has built up a hardcore fan base in the millions and reputation of its own over the 14 years that it has enthralled audiences with cutting edge action and a continually novel approach to the sci-fi/action genre.

Milla Jovovich stars in Screen Gems’ RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER.

Bolt opines about the global success of the series. “I think it’s the combination of style action and horror. It isn’t a straight horror movie and it isn’t a traditional zombie movie. It has a fantastical, and Sci-Fi element. I think Paul introducing the character of Alice made it different to the game so that when you go see one of these movies you don’t just have to be a fan of the game to enjoy it, you get something extra which is the character of Alice. I think also we have a good villain in the evil and all-powerful Umbrella Corporation, it’s always a good villain to have that and totally relatable in the modern world.”

Jovovich shares her ideas as to why audiences have been so enthralled with Resident Evil, “I like to believe that people respond to honesty, passion and fun. When we started we didn’t expect this Resident Evil movie to become a franchise, we did it because we loved the video game. Every film has become a labor of love and fun, experiencing more and more in this crazy, amazing, sci-fi world. I think everybody involved just really has a great time doing it. I think audiences respond to that energy and enthusiasm.”

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter picks up immediately after the events in Resident Evil: Retribution, in which Alice is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began – The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse.

Director Paul W.S. Anderson on the set of Screen Gems' RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson on the set of Screen Gems’ RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER.

Among the diverse group of acting talent are returning stars, Milla Jovovich reprising her starring role as Alice, Ali Larter (Resident Evil: Afterlife), as Claire Redfield, Shawn Roberts (Resident Evil: Afterlife), as Albert Wesker, and Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Resident Evil: Extinction) in the role of Dr. Alexander Isaacs, and newcomers to the franchise include Ruby Rose (xXx: Return of Xander Cage), Irish actor Eoin Macken (The Night Shift), Japanese television personality and model, Rola, as Cobalt, South Korean actor, Lee Joon-Gi (My Girl) as Commando, British actor, Fraser James (Law & Order), with Latin American actor, William Levy (Addicted).

Opening across the Philippines on February 1, 2017, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is distributed by Columbia Pictures, the local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

‘Arrival’ gets nine British Academy Award nominations

Columbia Pictures’ provocative science-fiction thriller Arrival continues its illustrious awards season run as the Denis Villeneuve film has just scored nine British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.

It also landed Best Adapted Screenplay nod for screenwriter Eric Heisserer and Best Actress for lead star Amy Adams.

arrival-movie-amy-adams

Rounding out the categories Arrival got nominated for are Music, Cinematography, Editing, Sound and Special Visual Effects. The winners will be known on February 12, 2017.

In Arrival, a mysterious spacecraft touches down across the globe, and an elite team – lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Adams) – are brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers – and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.

Also starring Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker, Arrival is based upon the acclaimed short story by Ted Chiang titled Story of Your Life.

Opening across the Philippines on February 15, 2017, Arrival is distributed in the Philippines by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

‘Hacksaw Ridge’ tells of real-life soldiers who saved lives unarmed

From the Oscar-winning director of Braveheart comes Hacksaw Ridge, the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun.

He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon, as he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. As an army medic, he single-handedly evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers and was wounded by a grenade and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Directed by Mel Gibson from a screenplay by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight, Hacksaw Ridge stars Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Luke Bracey and Sam Worthington.

An unwavering Seventh Day Adventist, Desmond Doss was living in Virginia when he voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army. He had no interest in fighting, but rather Doss wanted to serve as a “non-combatant” medic. It was not a path with which the military was familiar, but Doss persisted. Skinny, vegetarian and unwilling to train on Saturdays let alone carry a gun, Doss was initially ridiculed and abused by his compatriots – who, convinced he would be a dangerous liability in the foxholes with them, tried every which way they could to drive him out of the army. But Doss persisted all the way to Okinawa, where his unit was ordered to take part in the near-impossible capture of the massive Maeda Escarpment – aka Hacksaw Ridge. Atop this steep, looming 400-foot cliff lay heavily fortified machine-gun nests, booby traps and Japanese soldiers in caves who vowed to fight to the end.

It was there that Doss demonstrated that he was made not only of principle but also rare courage. Facing a desperate assault of heavy fire, Doss refused to seek cover. When his battalion was ordered to retreat, he alone remained behind and ran repeatedly into the kill zone, with nothing but his convictions, to drag to safety an estimated 75 badly injured men who were destined to die had he not intervened.

Doss would go on to receive the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman in October of 1945, with a citation that drew attention to “outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions.” It was then that the journey to bring Doss’ story to the screen began. Those who heard what Doss had achieved and understood how unusual it was (there have since been only two other conscientious objectors awarded the Medal of Honor) immediately saw that that it was a potent and provocative story. But it would be another half century before it became a reality – in part because Doss chose to lead a quiet, humble life without the notoriety a film would bring.

But now with a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan and Australian writer Andrew Knight (The Water Diviner), as well as a highly accomplished team led by Academy Award® nominated director Mel Gibson, Doss’s unsung story would at last be told as only 21st Century filmmaking could. It would be not only a story of what men endured on Okinawa, but of the loved ones back home who shaped and bolstered Desmond Doss’ belief.

Producer Bill Mechanic, explains: “Desmond never wanted to sell his life rights, he didn’t want to popularize himself, feeling that that would be a contradiction to who he was. It wasn’t until late in his life that people convinced him that it was time to tell the story so that it would live on.”

Doss passed away at the age of 87 in March 2006. Several years before that, filmmaker Terry Benedict had received his blessing to begin producing a documentary about Doss, The Conscientious Objector, and secured the life rights to his story. Feeling the time was also right to explore bringing Doss’ story to motion picture audiences as a multi-layered drama, Benedict approached producer David Permut, who in turn approached Mechanic, who was thrilled to become involved.

Mechanic says: “I always saw this story as being about a man who has very strong beliefs — which are then tested in an absolute hell that he comes out of even stronger.”

Opening across the Philippines on February 22, 2017, Hacksaw Ridge will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.