‘Ghostbusters’ taps comedy chops of Chris Hemsworth

One of the most sought after actors in Hollywood today, Chris Hemsworth (“Thor” and “The Avengers” series) takes on the role of receptionist Kevin, a clueless man with a sweet simple attitude that both charms and confounds his female bosses to no end, in Columbia Pictures’ new action-adventure “Ghostbusters.”

“Ghostbusters” makes its long-awaited return, rebooted with a cast of hilarious new characters. Thirty years after the beloved original franchise took the world by storm, director Paul Feig brings his fresh take to the supernatural comedy, joined by some of the funniest actors working today – Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth.

Once the Ghostbusters go into business for themselves, they need a little help out front. And what better help could they ask for than an attractive, dim-witted receptionist. Kevin might be a few apples shy of a barrel but he’s good-natured and sweet, and when the chips are down, he’s another Ghostbuster at heart – another misfit who finds a home.

For the role, director Paul Feig tapped the unexpected comedy chops of Chris Hemsworth. And even though his co-stars are comedy pros, they were impressed by his skill. “He’s one of the best improvisers I’ve ever worked with,” says Melissa McCarthy. “That completely threw me, because we were doing 18-minute takes during the interview scene and he was never thrown. He was saying some of the strangest stuff, completely in character – we had to hold for four minutes while Kristen and I tried to stop crying with laughter. He even started singing once, and I had to stop him… I guess he’s just bionic.”

“Kevin is a big, dumb puppy dog,” says Hemsworth of his character. “He’s full of enthusiasm and ambition, but he’s completely naïve and looks at the world from a very, very different angle than everybody else. It’s fun to play someone who is completely unaware.”

“We made Kevin into a loveable kind of lunkhead who has gotten by on his looks, but he earnestly wants to be part of the group,” says Feig. “It takes him a while to figure things out – Kevin’s a little slow on the uptake – but once he gets it, he gets it. Chris turned him into a three-dimensional, hilarious character.”

Just how clueless is Kevin? Check out his glasses. “From the start, I wanted to wear glasses, and Paul was cool with that. But the problem was, the lenses were reflecting the lights, so we took out the lenses – as if no one would notice. And then, midway through, I started scratching my eye, and Melissa started to laugh and said, ‘You’ve got to do that again – and I’ll try not to laugh.’ And the more we thought about it, the more we thought it was perfect – the lenses kept getting dirty, so he took them out. That’s a great, practical response, but only if you look at the world from a different angle from everyone else. He’s quite unique.”

Opening in Philippine cinemas on Friday, July 15, 2016, “Ghostbusters” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Shark lurks in ‘The Shallows’ main poster

The international main poster art of Columbia Pictures’ new, edge-of-your-seat thriller “The Shallows” starring Blake Lively has been released by the studio, ominously showing the dangers that await star Blake Lively.

In the taut thriller “The Shallows,” Nancy Adams (Lively) is surfing on a secluded beach when she finds herself in the feeding ground of a great white shark. Though she is stranded only two hundred yards from shore, survival proves to be the ultimate test of wills, requiring all of Nancy’s ingenuity, resourcefulness, and fortitude.

The film is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (“Unknown,” “Non-Stop”) from a screenplay by Anthony Jaswinski (“Vanishing on 7th Street”), and produced by Lynn Harris (“Blade: Trinity”) and Matti Leshem. Executive Producers are Doug Merrifield (“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”) and Jaume Collet-Serra.

Opening across the Philippines on August 10, 2016, “The Shallows” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. #FearTheShallows

Netherlands embassy, Dakila launch Dutch-Filipino filmfest

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands has recently launched a partnership with DAKILA, an organization of artists and advocates building a movement of heroism towards social transformation, through a Dutch-Filipino film festival happening from May to October around key cities in the Philippines.

The film festival is part of the celebration of  Netherlands’ 65 years of diplomatic relations and 150 years of consular ties with the Philippines entitled “Inspire Innovation: Leading Sustainable Innovations toward a Progressive World”.

The films will highlight the two nations’ commitment to promoting human rights and the development of sustainable innovations to help resolve global challenges.

Photo shows Jaco Beerends, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands during the launch.

MOVIE REVIEW: London Has Fallen (2016)

“LONDON HAS FALLEN” REVIEW
DIRECTED BY BABAK NAJAFI
STORY BY CREIGHTON ROTHENBERGER AND KATRIN BENEDIKT

“Prepare for Bloody Hell.” Not exactly original. Or witty. But the imagery and the line would already give you an idea what to expect, more so if you were able to watch the first film.

London has Fallen is the sequel to Olympus has Fallen, which was shown three years ago. In the first film, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) a disgraced Secret Service agent, single-handedly (unbelievably and against all odds) saves the life of the President of the United States Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) after the latter gets taken hostage by a North Korean guerrilla led by wanted terrorist Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune). If you think that was enough, they used the same formula on the sequel and made it bigger, badder, and a whole lot messier.

The story begins with news reports about terror attacks instigated by Pakistani arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul) in key cities around the globe to increase the demand and fuel the sales of his weapons merchandise. Highlight on this are the SAF 44 reports and the gloomy mention of the Philippines as a terrorized country. While attending his daughter’s wedding, the intimate event gets bombed by a U.S. drone, with him as the target. His daughter and other innocent people die in the bombing, and thus foreshadowed the obvious outcome of what happened.

A few years after the incident, it’s shown that Mike has been reinstated to lead agent status with the U.S. Secret Service. He has a pregnant wife and a happy life. His near-perfect life gets interrupted once more when the British Prime Minister has died under dodgy circumstances with the funeral requiring the attendance of the world’s most powerful leaders. Mike and the Director of Secret Service Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) are both wary of Benjamin’s decision to attend the funeral due to lack of proper preparation (since a gathering as big as this one is considered a logistical nightmare and every world leader has his or her own security personnel). However, Asher decides to push through with it anyhow due to the fact that the U.K. is the United States’ biggest ally.

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As expected, explosions start left and right, with world leaders slowly (but surely, and in a very grandiose manner) dying one after the other. Nobody is prepared for what has been happening. Everything seems to be elaborate and well executed. The enemy are disguised as policemen, Queen’s guards, paramedics, and soldiers. No one could be trusted. In fact, if Banning didn’t deliberately move up Asher’s schedule, he would’ve gone kaput. Nada. Gone. (Good thing he got Banning back in service.)

Essentially, the film involves a lot of running around the streets of London, and also includes cringe-worthy footage of Westminster Abbey being blown up (regardless of it being CGI). If you love historical architecture, then you would know how it feels to see the destruction of these structures.

With the introduction of a member of the female gender who would play a supposedly strong, capable woman in MI6 Agent Jacquelin Marshall (Charlotte Riley), the story could have been pushed in a more compelling angle. Well, if she played a bigger role, then this would not be a problem at all. Were she not a trusted contact of Banning that helped with spiriting the president away, she wouldn’t really have much of a part in the film. She barely have a presence, mostly forgettable. Truly a shame in that. 

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Gerard Butler as per usual played the role like he always does: gruff, tough, and bad-ass. He’s basically a walking ball of testosterone, and has the ability to make an action-flick quite enjoyable, if not intellectually stimulating. He dons the character of an American that’s trying hard to sound American. The accent is still very noticeable but can still be taken any day compared to a certain American cop with an Austrian accent… (Holy crap, Arnold Schwarzenegger. How you got away with it all, no one will never know.)

And as previously mentioned, the writers took a very formulaic approach to the story. Just like in Olympus Has Fallen, President Asher once again gets taken hostage (this time, though, due to a very personal reason. As Barkawi said in the film, “Vengeance must always be profound and absolute.”), Vice President Allan Trumbull (former Speaker of the House is promoted to VP after the apparent death of his predecessor), once again, for the love of God, became the acting president, and ONCE AGAIN talks directly to the main villain of the film and gets delivered with these EXACT same lines: “Their blood is on your hands.” Really? Really?! Two films in a row? The exact same lines?!

At the end of the day, London Has Fallen is not exactly a film that you will remember and cherish years from now, but if you’re in it for the action and the edge-of-your-seat suspense, then it’s definitely that.

London Has Fallen is now showing in cinemas nationwide from Multivision Pictures Enterntainment Philippines as distributed by Viva International Pictures.

Oscars 2016: Full list, Academy Awards winners

The winners of Oscars 2016 were announced at the 88th Academy Awards ceremony as presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) on February 28, 2016 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Actor Chris Rock hosted the show for the second time, having previously hosted the 77th ceremony in 2005.

Here is the list of winners for the 88th Academy Awards:

Best picture:
WINNER: “Spotlight”
“The Big Short”
“Bridge of Spies”
“Brooklyn”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Room”

Best actor in a leading role:
WINNER: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

Best actress in a leading role:
WINNER: Brie Larson, “Room”
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”

Best director:
WINNER: Alejandro Iñárritu, “The Revenant”
Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”
George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”
Adam McKay, “The Big Short”

Best actor in a supporting role:
WINNER: Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”
Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”
Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Best actress in a supporting role:
WINNER: Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
Rooney Mara, “Carol”
Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”
Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”

Best animated feature film:
WINNER: “Inside Out”
“Anomalisa”
“Boy and the World”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“When Marnie Was There”

Best foreign language film:
WINNER: Son of Saul”
“Embrace of the Serpent”
“Mustang”
“Theeb”
“A War”

Best adapted screenplay:
WINNER:
“The Big Short,” Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
“Brooklyn,” Nick Hornby
“Carol,” Phyllis Nagy
“The Martian,” Drew Goddard
“Room,” Emma Donoghue

Best original screenplay:
WINNER:
“Spotlight,” written by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy
“Bridge of Spies,” written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
“Ex Machina,” written by Alex Garland
“Inside Out,” screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
“Straight Outta Compton,” screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; story by S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

Best original score:
WINNER: “The Hateful Eight,” Ennio Morricone
“Bridge of Spies,” Thomas Newman
“Carol,” Carter Burwell
“Sicario,” Jóhann Jóhannsson
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” John Williams

Best cinematography:
WINNER: “The Revenant,” Emmanuel Lubezki
“Carol,” Ed Lachman
“The Hateful Eight,” Robert Richardson
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” John Seale
“Sicario,” Roger Deakins

Best production design:
WINNER: “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration:  Lisa Thompson
“Bridge of Spies,” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich
“The Danish Girl,” Production Design: Eve Stewart ; Set Decoration: Michael Standish
“The Martian,” Production Design: Arthur Max ;Set Decoration: Celia Bobak
“The Revenant,” Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy

Best visual effects:
WINNER:
“Ex Machina,” Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams
“The Martian,” Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
“The Revenant,” Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould

Best original song:
WINNER: “Writing’s on the Wall,” “Spectre,” Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith
“Earned It,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio
“Manta Ray,” “Racing Extinction,” Music by J. Ralph; Lyric by Antony Hegarty
“Simple Song 3,” “Youth,” Music and Lyric by David Lang
“Til it Happens to You,” “The Hunting Ground,” Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga

Best documentary feature:
WINNER:
“Amy”
“Cartel Land”
“The Look of Silence”
“What Happened, Miss Simone?”
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Best costume design:
WINNER: “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Jenny Beavan
“Carol,” Sandy Powell
“Cinderella,” Sandy Powell
“The Danish Girl,” Paco Delgado
“The Revenant,” Jacqueline West

Best makeup and hairstyling:
WINNER:
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared,” Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
“The Revenant,” Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini

Best live action short film:
WINNER: “Stutterer”
“Ave Maria”
“Day One”
“Everything Will Be Okay”
“Shok”

Best animated short film:
WINNER:
“Bear Story”
“Prologue”
“Sanjay’s Super Team”
“We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”
“World of Tomorrow

Best documentary short subject:
WINNER: “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”
“Body Team 12”
“Chau, beyond the Lines”
“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”
“Lasy Day of Freedom”

Best film editing:
WINNER: “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Margaret Sixel
“The Big Short,” Hank Corwin
“The Revenant,” Stephen Mirrione
“Spotlight,” Tom McArdle
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

Best sound mixing:
WINNER: “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
“Bridge of Spies,” Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin
“The Martian,” Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
“The Revenant,” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

Best sound editing:
WINNER:
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Mark Mangini and David White
“The Martian,” Oliver Tarney
“The Revenant,” Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
“Sicario,” Alan Robert Murray
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Matthew Wood and David Acord

Rebel Wilson plays party animal in ‘How to Be Single’

Fresh from reprising her breakout role as fan-favorite Fat Amy in the smash comedy “Pitch Perfect 2,” Rebel Wilson now stars opposite Dakota Johnson in New Line Cinema’s “How to Be Single.”

Based on the book by Liz Tucillo (TV’s “Sex & the City,” “He’s Just Not That Into You”), the film follows a host of singles at various stages of—and with varying opinions on—the single state.

Wilson plays the aggressively spirited Robin, who makes it her mission to not only show her new co-worker Alice (Johnson) the ropes at the office, but after business hours as well. “Robin really loves being single and wants everyone else to love it as much as she does,” Johnson offers. “Alice, on her own for the first time, figures she might as well learn from the master.”

Wilson took a no-holds-barred approach to her character. “Robin is the eternally single girl who knows who she is and what she wants, is super independent and has the best life you could have in the best city in the world. She goes out partying, drinks a lot, has one-night stands, and doesn’t carry any of the baggage that a relationship can bring.”

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In fact, when we first see Robin, she’s at the top of her game. “She’s at one of New York’s hottest clubs, dancing up a storm,” Wilson notes. The production brought in Wilson’s close friend Aakomon Jones, who choreographed her in “Pitch Perfect,” to give Robin all the right moves for her entrance. “AJ choreographed a little dance for me and we did it about 50 times that day, just for that one opening shot. It was so much fun,” she adds.

Upon meeting Alice, Robin is determined to show her the way of the single life—her way. “Robin literally teaches her how to be single—how to get drinks for free in a bar, where to hook up with someone at work, when to text back the guy you slept with the night before… All the tricks in her book,” Wilson notes.

On set, Wilson definitely brings the fun. “I’m a huge fan of Rebel’s,” director Christian Ditter declares. “I think everything she does is hysterically funny, and she brought so much to the table, so many ideas and great improv. We always did a few scripted takes, of course, but then I said to her, ‘Okay, surprise me,’ and a lot of what she did is in the film, because she’s so inventive and such a comedy genius. I was afraid we’d have to digitally stabilize all of her takes because the camera operator was laughing so hard!”

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“Rebel is magnificent; she’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met,” Johnson raves. “She’s extremely heartfelt, but can then turn around and easily riff on the most ridiculous subjects. It was really amazing working with her.”

The feeling was mutual for Wilson. “I loved working with Dakota. We have such different energies and are such different physical types; we’re almost like a classic comedy duo.”

Because Ditter loved the way the two women played off each other, Wilson recalls, “We added a lot of outrageous physical comedy—nothing was too crazy for him. Christian really enjoys that stuff and trusted us to go with it, so we did. He was incredibly supportive of our ideas and we got up to some great mischief, Dakota and I.”

Producer John Rickard states, “Rebel is really at the forefront of pop culture and redefining what it means to be a comedy star. Whenever she’s on set, you really can’t take your eyes off her—you don’t want to miss what she might do or say next, and that translates to the screen. And Rebel and Dakota together? Lightning in a bottle.”

Wilson will next be seen starring in Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Brothers Grimsby,” which also stars Penelope Cruz and Mark Strong.

Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, February 11, 2016, “How to Be Single” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Zac Efron, Robert De Niro star in buddy road trip comedy ‘Dirty Grandpa’

Zac Efron and Robert De Niro go on a wild familial bonding in “Dirty Grandpa,” where Edron plays young, buttoned-up, conservative lawyer Jason Kelly who is in the final stages of preparation for a picture-perfect wedding to his seemingly ideal fiancée Meredith Goldstein (Julianne Hough) when Jason’s beloved paternal grandmother passes. Though it’s the week before his big day, everyone’s concerned for Grandpa Dick (Robert De Niro), suddenly alone for the first time after 40 years of marriage.

After the funeral, Dick asks if Jason can drive him to Florida the following day, where he can grieve in the solace of their beloved getaway home. Knowing that Dick’s license has been suspended – and with the promise that he’ll be back the next day – Jason reluctantly agrees.

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Once the trip begins, Grandpa’s true agenda emerges and it’s decidedly not one of him moping silently in a car. Between the golf detour, the cigar chomping, hard-drinking, and the Daytona Beach detour that goes completely off the rails, Jason quickly learns that the grandpa he knows and loves is not exactly the man he thought he was. Yet the pair’s crazy, debauched and revealing road trip will also help Jason come to grips with who he is too, which may be an even bigger surprise. With these very different blood relatives, learning something about how life should be lived turns out to be a two-way street.

For the role of Jason, Dick’s conservative and uptight grandson tricked into serving as co-pilot to Dick’s last effort at youth-grabbing wish fulfillment, the script was sent to actor Zac Efron, whose recent foray into the comedy realm with Neighbors proved to be a huge success. Efron found the script shocking, smart, and hilarious and was all-in, particularly when presented with the possibility of working with the incomparable Robert De Niro.

“It’s every guy’s dream to work with Bob De Niro,” says Efron. “I was really curious how we would work together. He’s been doing this for so long, he’s such an icon, yet I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do a role like this. The day I heard this could potentially happen, every antenna went up. It was like, ‘Could I even work with this guy?’ Our histories are so different! There’s Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, and then there’s me, High School Musical!”

Efron continues, “being such a big fan, it was an opportunity to learn from one of the absolute greatest actors that’s ever lived. He’s such a presence on camera – formidable and dramatic and real – that when he applies all those talents and skill to comedy, the screen just blows up. I would break constantly because the stuff that would come out of his mouth was insane. Then the movie ended up being really cool, so it was a double win.”

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Zac Efron notes that as packed with laughs as it is, the undercurrent of family bonding and self-expression in Dirty Grandpa gives the comedy a richer texture. “At the end of the day, the movie is about family coming back together, and about being set free,” says Efron. “It’s a story of growth and happiness. It’s just that the road there is ridiculously funny and chaotic.”

Guaranteed to be a boundless, wild ride, Dirty Grandpa is sure to not disappoint, either as a raucous laugh-getter or a compelling, inspiring story of two men seeking different types of fulfillment. Says director Dan Mazer, “All road trips lead somewhere. But in this case, it’s a destination of understanding, growth and bonding that points the way forward for both Dick and Jason, who come to realize how much they had to learn from each other. There may not be many dignified moments on their journey, but the ultimate indignity is tolerating a life you don’t want, and that’s where Jason grows the most from hanging out with his one-of-a-kind Dirty Grandpa.”

“Dirty Grandpa” opens this February 3, 2016 in cinemas from Pioneer Films.

Japan’s infamous suicide ‘Forest’ now subject of new horror film

Rising with terrifying grandeur at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan, the legendary real-life Aokigahara Forest is the suspense-filled setting of Columbia Pictures’ new supernatural thriller “The Forest.”

In the film, a young American woman, Sara (Natalie Dormer), journeys to the Aokigahara Forest in search of her twin sister, who has mysteriously disappeared. In the company of expatriate Aiden (Taylor Kinney), Sara enters the forest having been well warned to “stay on the path.” Determined to discover the truth about her sister’s fate, Sara will have to face the angry and tormented souls of the dead that prey on anyone who dares come near them. These malevolent spirits lying in wait for Sara at every turn will plunge her into a frightening darkness from which she must fight to save herself.

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Aokigahara is a forest that lies at the base of Mount Fuji, less than 100 miles west of Tokyo. Locally, it is also known under the name of Jukai (“Sea of Trees”) because of its very high density of trees.

It is a unique forest in many ways; there is barely any wildlife in here, thus it is very quiet, making it a popular destination among locals. However, this quietness hides a more macabre side of it as the Aokigahara is the number one suicide spot for Japanese.

Its quietness has attracted people to consider it haunted, and there are plenty of Japanese who would not dare to enter the forest. This resulted in even more myths surrounding Aokigahara.

But even if you are not attracted to ghost stories, the truth is, the place has a special feeling to it.

When you enter it, there are signs in both Japanese and English preventing people against suicide. One sign at the entrance reads: “Your life is something precious that was given to you by your parents” while another one states “Meditate on your parents, siblings and your children once more. Do not be troubled alone.” The exact number of suicides committed here in a year is unknown as the police discontinued publishing this data. The last time it was made public was in 2003, when 105 confirmed suicides took place.

However, it is believed that annually more people die here, but their corpses are never found in the thick forest.

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It is hard to make a profile of the average person who commits suicide in the forest, but they are usually males between 40 and 50 years, and the biggest month for suicides is March, possibly because March is the end of the fiscal year in Japan. So many people come from all over Japan to end their stressful lives here as they feel it’s is the perfect location in which to breathe their last.

It is baffling why there is such a high rate in the country but it has something to do with the Japanese psyche and that many Japanese men feel rejected when retrenched. Some of them had held important positions in their respective companies, including that of chief executive officers.

Unable to face their families and loved ones, they perhaps, in the manner of the samurai warriors of the past, felt that suicide is one way to atone for their failures.

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The Aokigahara has not always attracted hundreds of people wishing to end their lives. While there is some evidence that suggests that as far as the 19th century, it was a place where Japanese carried their elders to die of starvation (a practice called ubasute), it became popular after the 1960’s when a novel by famed author Seichō Matsumoto was published. In this novel called “Tower of Waves”, a couple commit suicide in the Aokigahara forest. Another book from 1993, “The Complete Manual of Suicide” by Wataru Tsurumi added to the fuel and increased suicide rates. The author described the Aokigahara as the perfect place to commit suicide and even described which parts of the forests are less circulated so the bodies cannot be found later on.

An annual body sweep is organized before the holiday season in which the found dead bodies are removed and, where possible, identified. (Source: http://www.aokigaharaforest.com)

Opening across the Philippines on Feb. 17, 2016, “The Forest” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

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WATCH: ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ catapults new trailer

The delightful characters from the beloved – and addicting – mobile game app come to life in the new trailer for Columbia Pictures’ “The Angry Birds Movie.” The trailer may be viewed below.

In the 3D animated comedy, “The Angry Birds Movie,” we’ll finally find out why the birds are so angry.

The movie takes us to an island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds – or almost entirely. In this paradise, Red (Jason Sudeikis, “Horrible Bosses”), a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck (Josh Gad in his first animated role since “Frozen”), and the volatile Bomb (Danny McBride, “This is the End”) have always been outsiders. But when the island is visited by mysterious green piggies, it’s up to these unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to.

Chuck (Josh Gad) and Red (Jason Sudeikis) on the beach in Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animation's ANGRY BIRDS.
Chuck (Josh Gad) and Red (Jason Sudeikis) on the beach in Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animation’s ANGRY BIRDS.

Featuring a hilarious, all-star voice cast that includes Bill Hader (“Inside Out”), Maya Rudolph (“Bridesmaids”), and Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”), as well as Keegan-Michael Key (“Pitch Perfect 2”), Kate McKinnon (upcoming “Ghostbusters”), Tony Hale (“Veep”), Ike Barinholtz (“Neighbors”), Hannibal Buress (“Broad City”), Jillian Bell (“22 Jump Street”), Danielle Brooks (“Orange is the New Black”), Latin music sensation Romeo Santos, and YouTube stars Smosh (Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla), the Columbia Pictures/Rovio Entertainment film is directed by Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis, produced by John Cohen and Catherine Winder, screenplay by Jon Vitti, and executive produced by Mikael Hed and David Maisel.

Opening across the Philippines on May 11, 2016, “Angry Birds” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Alicia Vikander shines with Oscar-worthy performance in ‘The Danish Girl’

One of the most promising actors of her generation, Alicia Vikander has been a talent to watch in cinema in 2015, gaining international recognition, one film after another. After receiving acting prizes from several critics groups for her breakout role in “Ex Machina,” Vikander starts 2016 in style – copping her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her poignant performance in Universal Pictures’ controversial drama, “The Danish Girl.”

The film is the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, portrayed respectively by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) and Alicia Vikander, directed by Academy Award winner Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech,” “Les Misérables”).

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In 1926 in Copenhagen, artist Einar Wegener is married to Gerda Wegener and is revered for landscape paintings. Gerda is also an artist, less renowned but steadily working as a portraitist of prominent citizens. Theirs is a strong and loving marriage, yet personal and professional epiphanies have eluded them both.

That all begins to change one day when, on deadline for a portrait, Gerda asks her husband to fill in for a model by putting on a dress so that she can finish the painting. The experience is transformative, as Einar soon realizes that being Lili is an expression of her truest self, and she begins living her life as a woman. Gerda unexpectedly finds that she has a new muse, and renewed creative ferment. But the couple soon brush up against society’s disapproval.

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Vikander walked the fine line between the real Gerda and the version of Gerda in the novel on which the movie is based. “Both myself and Eddie — and everyone involved — really took on a good job trying to adapt the book,” assures the actress. “But then to be able to go back and actually dig in, to try to find as much information about these two people, that was the real treasure for us. I love the art and all the photographs that we found. It was a direct axis to see those very ahead-of-their-time women that both Lili and Gerda were.

“We tried to read as much as we could,” adds Vikander, “but because it’s a hundred years back, you realize that there’s quite a lot of ambiguity in some of the information. We don’t have any record of people who knew them, but you can meet people who’ve gone through a similar thing in life.”

Vikander continues, “We got an enormous help from wonderfully generous people from the transgender community. Maybe more from me playing Gerda, I was introduced to people who wanted to open up with their personal stories and experiences from friends or loved ones or family members or someone who has gone through this. That was very much an eye-opener for me. Even though all those stories are all very different journeys and experiences, I felt like they all wanted to share with me that feeling of — like Gerda — wanting to be support for the person that you love more than anything. They were happy to see that Gerda was involved in this film and this story because sometimes it’s tough — people forgot that they were in a transition as much as their loved one.

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As much as “The Danish Girl” is a serious movie, there is such a fun rapport between Vikander and Redmayne. “Eddie is down-to-earth, funny, and always honest,” narrates the actress. “Even though we work long hours and it is a very tough subject and it’s a lot of very emotional big scenes, he always brings such energy to set and such humor. He just always pushed me to do my very, very best. I always felt like I had to step up and give him that. But he’s extremely generous, and we had a lot of fun.”

“The Danish Girl” is vying for four Academy Awards, namely Best Actor (Redmayne), Best Supporting Actress, Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.

At the recently-concluded Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Original Score.

To be shown exclusively at select Ayala Malls Cinemas (Glorietta 4, TriNoma, Market! Market! & Fairview Terraces) starting February 3, 2016, “The Danish Girl” is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.