Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway are ex-lovers in ‘Serenity’

VIVA International Pictures and MVP Entertainment proudly present “Serenity”, a film filled with thought-provoking scenes that will give its viewers more sense of mystery than serenity. It opened in cinemas last February 13 and is now showing in Philippine cinemas.

Matthew McConaughey (Academy Award Best Actor for Dallas Buyers Club) plays Baker Dill, a fishing boat captain leading a quiet life in Plymouth Island until his ex-wife Karen shows up with what Matthew has described in an interview as ”a very indecent proposal” .   

Karen, played by Anne Hathaway (Academy Award Best Supporting Actress for Les Miserables), is now married to a multi-millionaire named Frank, played by Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, Terminator Genisys).  

Talking about her character, Hathaway says that she’s “in a desperate situation” because she is “trapped in a toxic and abusive marriage”.   She wants Baker to get rid of Frank by taking him out on a fishing tour and dropping him in the ocean for the sharks.  

Hathaway reveals that she and Baker “got together when Karen was quite young”.  They had a child, but he went to war and it tore their family apart.  “And so she has to figure out what she’s gonna do, being a single mom.  She finds this guy (Frank) who kinda reminds her of Dill.  He likes to fish. She starts to think like maybe she can build a life with him, and then he turns out to be her worst nightmare come true.”

Baker, who is now romancing Constance, a moneyed beauty of Plymouth Island, played by Diane Lane (Academy Award nominee for Unfaithful), is still trying to move on from his troubled past.  But can he truly turn his back on his ex-wife?  What will it take for him to forget about his conscience and help her out?

Director Steven Knight (Lock, Redemption), who also wrote the screenplay, attests that “Matthew is the best there is” when it comes to playing Baker Dill.  He explains that the character “doesn’t give of himself too readily, someone who’s closed in and I thought that was Matthew.  Because of the nature of the twist I want beautiful people…and he’s also beautiful.”   As a writer, two of Knight’s best known works are Seventh Son and The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

Serenity is McConaughey and Hathaway’s second movie together.  The first was Interstellar in 2014.  

Asked what drew them to do this movie, Matthew replies, “I saw a character that I could be very personal with, really find an identity that I can understand.”  It’s also a well-written story, plus Knight is a writer/director that he trusts.  

Hathaway agrees with McConaughey about the story being creative and extraordinary. “I got half-way through (reading) and I have no idea what’s going on, but I’m completely in and I just let it carry me away.  And I wind up in a place that was very different than I thought it was going to, but it was a place of feeling and intelligence and soulfulness.”  

Serenity was filmed in Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa.   

‘Ocean’s 8’ review: Stylish photocopy of ‘Ocean’s 11’ blueprint, with less swagger

Gary Ross’ Ocean’s 8 has a paint-by-numbers approach that checks all the boxes it needs for your standard Ocean’s heist, more with style but less with tension and swagger.

Diamonds and jewels aside, the biggest heist that Ocean’s 8 pulls off in this gender-bender spin-off is to replicate Ocean’s 11’s blueprint and present it with gloss and glitter. Brisk cinematography, split-screen transitions, pan and zoom effects, snappy jazz music—Ocean’s 8 has all the beat per beat elements it needs to make it feel like Steven Soderbergh’s. Well, almost. The intro itself is a rip-off from Ocean’s 11: Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the estranged sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney of the original trilogy), gets released from prison after a 5-year fraud sentence and immediately falls back to her old habits. What follows is an amusing scene of coyly stealing all sorts of merchandise in a department store while still looking great—you yourself will be tempted to do it. Duplicity runs in the family and this won’t be her last act of crime as a “newly-reformed” free woman.

Debbie reunites with her former partner in crime, Lou (Cate Blanchett)—the counterpart of Brad Pitt’s Rusty Stevens—and reveals to her the plan she’s been cooking up after all these years in solitary: an elaborate scheme to steal a $150 million Cartier diamond necklace which will be featured in the upcoming star-studded Met Gala in New York. To accomplish this, the two round up six more accomplices, each one with a particular skill set to offer: a speed jeweler Amita (Mindy Kaling), a suburban mom/smuggled goods hoarder Tammy (Sarah Paulson), a brilliant hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), a pickpocket Constance (Akwafina), and a heavily indebted fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter). The 8th member is actually an unwitting pawn – A-list celebrity Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), who will be the bearer of the said necklace during the event.

With its talented ensemble and breezy pacing, Ocean’s 8 is very watchable. It unfolds like any other “Ocean’s” film: assemble the team, plan the proceedings, execute the heist and unravel the twist, with some side missions, roadblocks and double-crosses to keep the viewers happy. On a visual level, this film features amazing costume designs that flourish each character’s personality. That is not something I usually pay attention to so that means they really excelled in that department.

Standing side by side with the previous Ocean‘s films, this latest, however, is short of suspense. There is an absence of a solid villain to ramp up the tension. The job itself seems lackluster. In Ocean’s 11, there’s Andy Garcia and the crew’s goal of robbing three casinos in the same night. Apart from an inept security, the closest thing we have here as an obstacle is James Corden’s fraud insurance investigator who does not show up until the third act. Still, his character comes out more as a comic relief posing little threat. Also, for the most part, the heist goes smooth sailing and scriptwriters Gary Ross (also the director) and Olivia Mitch could have inserted more hiccups to the story, thereby creating more drama. Sure, Debbie has an ulterior motive of exacting revenge against her former lover Claude Becker (Richard Armitage) but this one plays out a bit uninspired and not nearly as compelling as her eccentric crew who are slightly underutilized in favor of this subplot.

In terms of character depth, one can’t really expect much outside the character introductions and surface-level personas when the film’s main selling point is its cast and its complex heist. Bullock channels her “brother” Clooney’s savvy and effortless sense of trickery, albeit with less charm; Bonham-Carter sticks to her well-known neurotic, Burton-esque persona; Paulson does her conflicted mom act who’s missing the kick of being an outlaw; Kaling’s and Akwafina’s comedic chops could have been used more; Rihanna probably has the fewest lines but it’s interesting to see her play against her stereotype; and surprisingly, Blanchett’s subdued semi-androgynous character hardly registers. Outside the crew, Anne Hathaway pulls off her own heist and steals the show as a pampered Hollywood star who’s full of herself but at the same time crippled with insecurity. Her performance is animated, sarcastic and sexy all at once.

Like 2016’s female Ghostbusters reboot, the existence of Ocean’s 8 is primarily for feminist empowerment. Debbie explains to Lou at one point, “A ‘him’ gets noticed, a ‘her’ gets ignored. For once, we want to be ignored.” What most of them share is the sense of frustration from being a woman: Debbie resents her former lover, Amita is irked by her domineering mother, Paulson is bound to her obligations as a mom, etc. The film may succeed on that level but it stops aiming for greatness and settles for a paint-by-numbers approach.

In the end, Ocean’s 8’s heist gets convoluted enough to be entertaining but not too contrived to work in the confines of reality (ehem, Now You See Me films). Most importantly, the film satisfactorily explains it: there are few forgivable loopholes in logic that won’t materialize in your head until your ride back home. What the film terribly misses is the high-wired insanity and ingenuity it’s predecessor has to offer. Ocean’s 8 might have stolen Soderbergh’s blueprint, but not entirely the swagger.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Ocean’s 8 stars Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Awkwafina, Richard Armitage and James Corden. Directed by Gary Ross. Written by Gary Ross and Olivia Mitch. Runtime: 110 minutes.

Kick-ass ladies rob the Met Gala in ‘Ocean’s 8’

Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter. All of them team up in Warner Bros. Pictures’ new action adventure Ocean’s 8 in Phiippine cinemas June 13.

It’s been more than 10 years since an Ocean-led crew has conned their way to millions of dollars. Now a new gang is banding together to carry out the ultimate heist. But this time, it’s Debbie Ocean (Bullock) masterminding the plan, and she’ll only require eight supremely skilled women to pull it off.

Director/screenwriter Gary Ross says, “The outlaw trope has always been at the heart of American movies, but with few exceptions, those ‘outlaws’ have been men. I was intrigued with the idea of a group of kickass women laying claim to this genre that had always seemed off limits. Plus, I love heist movies—always have.”

Sandra Bullock offers, “This is a heist movie, and heist movies are always fun. How will they get away with whatever they are stealing and what antics will happen along the way? But what this movie is really about is these eight wonderfully complex, smart, funny women, who are going to take you on their own journey, and all the twists and turns that arise.”

Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, who has spent a little over five years devising an intricate plot to steal the Toussaint, Cartier’s one-of-a-kind diamond necklace, valued at 150 million dollars. And she plans to do it in the midst of one of the most-watched events of the year: The Met Gala.

In the tradition of the “Ocean’s” films, each member of the team brings her own specialty to the table. Ross offers, “I wasn’t just casting individual roles; I was putting together a band who all had to sound great together. It was exciting from the beginning.”

The opportunity to work with one another became a major draw for the actresses. Blanchett confirms, “When Gary and Steven started talking about the cast they were assembling, that was the absolute ‘why’ for me. It really is an amazing group of women, and it was just great to play with them.”

Hathaway says, “Making a movie is a certain kind of shared experience, but when it’s you plus seven other women, there is so much more common ground to start with. That created an effortlessness in working together that made it so much fun.”

“That spirit of collaboration extended throughout the entire production,” says Ross. “On set, there was this alchemy taking place between these eight tremendously creative women. Sometimes I would just take a step back and watch it all happen.”

About Ocean’s 8

Ocean’s 8 is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis star sci-fi black comedy ‘Colossal’

There is a monster in all of us.

Solar Pictures proudly presents its “biggest” offering for the year with Colossal, starring Hollywood’s brightest stars Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis with Dan Stevens.

The exciting fusion of science fiction, romance, and comedy movie tells the story of Gloria (Anne Hathaway), an out-of-work girl who, after getting kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend, is forced to leave her life in New York and move back to her hometown. When news reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, South Korea, Gloria gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this far-off phenomenon. As events begin to spin out of control, Gloria must determine why her seemingly insignificant existence has such a colossal effect on the fate of the world.

Varied reviews of the movie are aplenty but the best ones clearly stood out. Rated 4 out of 5 stars by Rotten Tomatoes, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone commented: “Nacho Vigalondo’s giant-creature-run-amuck fantasy is a brilliantly bizarre satire of gender politics, featuring Anne Hathaway in a funny, fierce, fully committed performance that demands to be seen.” Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post also commented: “In this observant, entertaining, wildly imaginative movie, just about everything has more than one meaning.”

Colossal is showing in cinemas starting May 17, 2017. Don’t miss out and join the conversation at #SheIsColossal and #ColossalSolarPictures.

‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ reunites star-studded cast

The colorful characters inhabiting Underland in Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass” are brought back to life by the all-star cast from the original “Alice in Wonderland.”

In “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” an all-new spectacular adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories, Alice returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter.

Johnny Depp (the Pirates of the Caribbean films) returns as Hatter Tarrant Hightopp, better known as the Mad Hatter, whom Alice finds more mad than usual upon her return to Underland. Desperate to find out what has happened to his family, he is out of his mind with grief when Alice first arrives.

Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables, The Devil Wears Prada) is back as Mirana, the mild mannered and kind White Queen and beautiful younger sister to the spiteful Red Queen. “One of the things I was excited about exploring in this film was the notion that Mirana is not all that perfect. She has some of her sister’s darkness in her veins but she keeps it very repressed,” says Hathaway. “We learn that while she is still on the good side, there is a lot more going on then we first realized.”

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Mia Wasikowska (Crimson Peak) is Alice Kingsleigh, the head-strong young woman raised in Victorian London who is a dreamer and a non-conformist. Now on the cusp of adulthood, she continues to struggle with balancing her inherent curiosity and conforming to other people’s expectations. “Alice is a great character because she’s very much her own person, and after returning from her travels where she was captain of her own ship has gained more confidence and is filled with a sense of inspiration and excitement,” says Wasikowska.

Iracebeth, the short-tempered Red Queen and former monarch of Underland who despises her younger sibling, Mirana, is played once again by Helena Bonham Carter (Cinderella) and Matt Lucas (Paddington) is back as the voices of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the tubby twin brothers who are childish and bicker constantly.

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Joining the cast are Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man) as Zanik Hightopp, the Mad Hatter’s conservative father, who holds his son to impossibly-high standards and Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) as the entity Time.

Alan Rickman (the Harry Potter films) returns as the voice of Absolem, the former blue caterpillar who is all-knowing and just a little pompous. Stephen Fry (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) once again provides the voice of Chessur, the Cheshire Cat, the cunning feline who is prone to grinning and disappearing. Michael Sheen (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2) is back as the voice of McTwisp, the White Rabbit, who continues to be preoccupied with punctuality.

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Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner) once again provides the voice of Bayard, the giant bloodhound who previously served under the Red Queen but is now an ally to Alice and her friends. Barbara Windsor (East Enders) returns as the voice of the fiercely loyal Dormouse, Mallymkun. Paul Whitehouse (Mortdecai) is back as the voice of Thackery, the anxious and tempermental March Hare who hosts the Hatter’s tea parties. Joining them is Matt Vogel (Muppets Most Wanted) as Wilkins, Time’s right-hand man. Wilkins keeps all the clocks in Times’ castle in working order and helps create a make-shift time machine to chase Alice across the ocean of time.

Opening in Philippine cinemas on July 6, 2016, Alice Through the Looking Glass is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.