Alex Gonzaga, Xian Lim’s ‘Love the Way U Lie’ to premiere on Netflix

This supposed-to-be entry to the first Summer Metro Manila Film Festival is now a Netflix Film!

With the help of a spunky, lonely-in-love psychic, a deceased wife tries to get her grieving husband to move on. In the process, sparks begin to fly. 

Love The Way U Lie stars Alex Gonzaga, Xian Lim, and Kylie Verzosa and is directed by RC delos Reyes. The film is part of Netflix’s diverse new lineup of 15 Filipino films, which include VIVA Films’ Once Before (Hindi Tayo Pwede) among others, available on the world’s leading streaming entertainment service in August and September. 

“It is an honor having our film be included as a Netflix Original and be shown across Asia. It is a huge opportunity not just for me but also for every Filipino filmmaker to continue creating quality films that can be shown to the world and that every Filipino can be proud of,” the director said.

Love The Way U Lie is available on Netflix on August 20.

About Netflix

Netflix is the world’s leading streaming entertainment service with 193 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.

‘Hanggang Kailan’ review: Finding love in goodbyes

Bona Fajardo puts the chemistry of Xian Lim and Louise delos Reyes
into something unexpected in the feel good film Hanggang Kailan .

Hanggang Kailan opens on the first day trip of Donnie (Xian) and Kath (Louise) in Saga, Japan, the two celebrating their second year anniversary while trying to think of a convenient solution to their forbidden love affair. After one passionate night, their relationship finally starts to crack as Kath is reminded of the impending doom of their relationship. So instead of looking forward to spending more years together, both Donnie and Kath agreed on having this trip as their last, despite having lingering feelings for each other. But before they completely part ways, both of them make a final effort to settle their issues. Needless to say, tears will be flowing and hearts will be breaking for the rest of the film.

Hanggang Kailan redefines the romance genre by showing a feel-good story set in the picturesque Japan, despite having a bittersweet themes on the grim ending of a relationship. At its core, the film is painful and heavy – it’s quite different from all those romantic films that we often patronize because the love of its characters and the difficulty of letting go heavily weighs on you. The film makes the viewer realize that with goodbyes, a person can only hold on to old memories and no longer create new ones. Throughout their four day trip, the film takes us to their process of letting go, with different memories and confessions encountered each day. What strikes the most is their ultimatum goodbye scene that is undeniably a tough pill to swallow for viewers. It leaves the viewers feeling pitiful and hopeful for the two characters who seem to find enough consolation in their agreement should they bump into each other again in the future.

The overall feel of the film is both pleasing and painful to the senses. It has an engaging mix of humor and drama that never loses sight on what it has to say about the tragic relationship portrayed. The casting also helps in making this film feel more watchable. Xian makes a likable screen presence by showing his vulnerability and weakness, most identified with his character’s dramatic breakdowns. Louise, on the other hand, might be your typical pretty go-getter but she’s also able to show her acting prowess from the rollercoaster of emotions that the script demands. Together, their chemistry blossoms in ways that the viewers won’t expect.

More than being a melodramatic love story, ‘Hanggang Kailan‘ takes you to a heartfelt and resonant experience of a couple ending their relationship on such a refreshing and positive note.

4 out of 5 stars

Now showing in cinemas nationwide, Hanggang Kailan is produced by VIVA Films, BluArt Productions and XL8. Directed by Bona Fajardo, and starring Xian Lim and Louise delos Reyes.

Xian Lim, Louise Delos Reyes paired for the first time via ‘Hanggang Kailan’

What if you had one last trip to be with the person you love before you end your relationship? How do you say goodbye?

VIVA Films, the producer of 100 Tula Para Kay Stella and Sid & Aya (Not a Love Story), in cooperation with BluArt Productions and XL8, continues to redefine the romance genre in Philippine cinema with its special pre-Valentine offering, “Hanggang Kailan?”

Xian Lim and Louise Delos Reyes star as Donnie and Kath, a couple who’s celebrating their second anniversary.  But instead of looking forward to more years together, they agree that this is going to be their last even though they are still very much in love.  

Before they totally go their separate ways, Donnie and Kath take a 4-day/3-night vacation in Saga, Japan.  Amidst picturesque landscapes, new memories will be made, hearts will break. And they’ve always known that this is bound to happen.

Bona Fajardo, the man behind noteworthy films such as I Found My Heart in Santa Fe, Kahit Ayaw Mo Na, and Iliw, is the director that brings this screenplay by Onay Sales to life.  In a past interview, director Fajardo had encouraged audiences to keep watching movies to discover stories to your liking.  “’Pag nagustuhan mo ang sine ituloy-tuloy mo na yan… kung ano ‘yong hinahanap mong ganda, kung anong istorya, nandiyan naman lahat ‘yan, makikita mo ‘yan.”

This is the first time for Xian and Louise to work together.  

Aiming for longevity in show business, the Kapuso-turned-Kapamilya actress says she’s willing to try different roles to keep honing her craft.  On TV, Louise was last seen in Asintado.  Her last movie project was Para sa Broken Hearted  (October 2018).  It’s interesting to see how her  team-up with the Chinito Heartthrob will bring out a side to her that her fans haven’t seen.  

Meanwhile, Xian’s involvement in this movie goes beyond acting. The XL8 mentioned above is his new venture.  Like Louise, Xian is not afraid to try new things.  Last year, he started his basketball career, playing for Mandaluyong El Tigre in MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League).  Around that time, he was also part of the box-office hit movie Miss Granny.  

“Hanggang Kailan?” opens in cinemas on February 6.

Box-office hit ‘Miss Granny’ breaches 100-million peso mark

The Philippine adaptation of ‘Miss Granny,’ starring Sarah Geronimo, James Reid, and Xian Lim, has breached the 100-million peso mark.

The social media channels of Viva Films made the announcement today, August 31.

‘Miss Granny’ opened strongly across the country in more than 220 cinemas on August 22.

Based on the South Korean film of the same title, ‘Miss Granny’ tells the story of a grandmother (played by Ms. Nova Villa) who regains her youthful appearance (as Sarah Geronimo).

Directed by Joyce Bernal, ‘Miss Granny’ also stars Boboy Garovillo, Nonie Buencamino, Lotlot De Leon, Kim Molina, Ataska Mercado, Danita Paner, Marissa Delgado, Kedebon Colim, Pio Balbuena, Angeli Bayani, Mara Lopez, and many more.

‘Miss Granny’ is now playing in more than 160 cinemas nationwide.

‘Miss Granny’ (2018) review: Sarah Geronimo’s performance makes this Pinoy remake triumphant

Bb. Joyce Bernal’s adaptation of ‘Miss Granny’ is a testament to Sarah Geronimo’s well-rounded artistry.

There’s a broad and classic appeal in films with body/age-swap premises (Big, Freaky Friday, 17 Again, 13 Going on 30) that they’re reincarnated time and again in cinema. Such concept is a perfect device for escapism—what would it feel like to be someone else, or in this case, a younger, more capable version of yourself. It does not need to be bogged down by the science behind it, the outcome, usually, is a gold mine for wacky comedy hijinks and deep philosophical revelations. The Filipino adaptation of Miss Granny radiates with the same amount of charm.

Miss Granny kicks off with a monologue from Fely Malabaño (Nova Villa), a cantankerous yet devoted woman in her twilight years. She poses the question, “How do you measure sadness?” implying to the audience that melancholy is a state of emotion that grows over time and is also present in old age. A sense of empathy is already established at this point so it doesn’t get too annoying when she acts rude to the people around her. She has grown to be a toxic energy in their household and that causes her daughter-in-law Annie (Lotlot De Leon) to be hospitalized. Now, his son Ramon (Nonie Buencamino) is faced in a difficult decision to temporarily send her mother to a retirement home while his wife recovers.

Nova Villa as Fely Malabaño. Photo via Viva Films.

Feeling more isolated than ever, Fely stumbles into a mysterious photo studio and decides to have her funeral photo taken in advance. The photographer teases that he will make her look fifty years younger and—voila!—she’s back in her 20’s again looking like the iconic Audrey Hepburn. She fittingly assumes the name Odrey De Leon and with it comes a new perspective in her life.

Good things fall into place as she pursues her dream of being a pop singer by joining his grandson Jeboy’s (James Reid) metal band. She revamps the band’s image by singing 70’s hits that surprisingly appeal more to the public, thereby gaining more love and admiration in the process. But like all fantasy stories, the magic must eventually come to an end.

The Malabaños performing ‘Rain’ (L-R): James Reid, Sarah Geronimo, Pio Balbuena, Kedebon Colim. Photo via Viva Films.

Where in some musicals, you can definitely pick which among the cast is an actor who can sing or vice versa, Sarah G excels in both aspects that she can carry the whole film by herself. Her strongest acting performance remains to be in The Breakup Playlist, but in here, she proves how much of a well-rounded artist she is. Equipped with copious amounts of charisma, good comic timing and dramatic chops, she owns the role of a conservative yet feisty Filipina. Of course, her character won’t work without the support of Ms. Nova Villa. Thankfully, the latter’s screen time was not reduced to an extended guest spot.

The musical performances (“Rain,” “Kiss Me, Kiss Me,” “Forbidden” and original song “Isa Pang Araw”) are all soulful and sensational—one of the benefits of having a world-class singer who can deftly add layers of emotions to every line of lyrics. The “Forbidden” performance in particular engraves to the heart as the film complements it with a montage of Odrey’s hardships in raising her son. It speaks to a universal audience.

Considering this is a remake, there’s an unspoken rule of bringing the adaptation to a higher standard, especially when it comes to its technical aspects. This is where Miss Granny falls short, particularly with its unfocused narrative and clunky editing. The sequencing comes off as jarring, revealing how unsystematic the plot actually is. It also tries hard with too much gags like the unnecessary ones towards the end where it clashes with more poignant themes in play.

Xian Lim as music producer Lawrence. Photo via Viva Films.

The film’s teaser poster flirts on the possibility of a love triangle which should make sense in the context of marketing, because romcoms sell locally. (Later on, the official poster revealed a stunning Sarah Geronimo shadowed by Ms. Nova Villa, suggesting the age-swap premise.) While there’s a decent connection established between Odrey and Jeboy, the love interest of music producer Lawrence (Xian Lim) never really came into fruition. He will be best remembered as the guy who Odrey attacks with a pair of fresh bangus. I’m not sure how much participation his character had in the original but his character doesn’t feel much integral to the story. Some could say that it would have been better if a B-list actor was cast in his place. Actually, the half-baked subplot gives the impression that there is a complete arc shot between Odrey and Lawrence, but late in the game, the director decided to go to a different direction. I can only guess.

Odrey surprisingly has the best chemistry with Fely’s steadfast secret admirer Bert (Boboy Garovillo) and his genuine love for her is just adorable. But the most remarkable moment will have to go to Buencamino’s dialogue with his now-young-again mother towards the end that should leave no dry eye in the theater.

Sarah Geronimo as Odrey De Leon. Photo via Viva Films.

Miss Granny may earn more points from the source material itself and Sarah Geronimo’s dedicated performance but this adaptation still makes a solid mark with its Filipino cultural touches, from sinigang to its adherence to familial piety over romantic endeavors. It has the right amount of conflict to earn its messages on parenthood, dreams and old age. Amid the narrative structure and editing issues, the film places its heart where it needs to be. And for that, this should generally work.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Directed by Bb. Joyce Bernal, written by Jinky Laurel. Based on the 2014 Korean film ‘Miss Granny’.
Cast: Sarah Geronimo, Xian Lim, James Reid, Nova Villa, Boboy Garovillo, Nonie Buencamino, Lotlot De Leon, Kim Molina, Ataska Mercado, Danita Paner, Marissa Delgado, Kedebon Colim, Pio Balbuena, Angeli Bayani, Mara Lopez, Jojit Lorenzo, and Arvic James Tan.
Run time: 113 minutes

Sarah Geronimo-starrer ‘Miss Granny’ grosses P77 million in 6 days

The Philippine adaptation of the hit South Korean film ‘Miss Granny’ has grossed P77 million since it opened in over 200 cinemas last Wednesday, August 22.

Viva Films announced that ‘Miss Granny’ earned more than P41 million in two consecutive days (Sunday and National Heroes’ Day).

Last Sunday, the Bb. Joyce Bernal-helmed film broke records with the highest single-day gross for a local movie released in 2018. It earned P21 million last August 26, according to a social media post by Viva.

A joint production of Viva Films and N2 Productions, the Pinoy remake of ‘Miss Granny’ also stars James Reid and Xian Lim.

Don’t miss the chance to catch the latest talk of the town! ‘Miss Granny’ is now playing in cinemas nationwide.

Pinoy version of ‘Miss Granny’ sets record as highest single-day gross for a local film in 2018

Viva Films has just announced that the Philippine adaptation of the hit South Korean film “Miss Granny” has set a new record as the highest single day gross for a local movie released in the Philippines in 2018.

The 21-million peso gross this Sunday, August 26, is a record-breaking feat for this movie about a grandmother (played by Ms. Nova Villa) who regains her youthful appearance (as Sarah Geronimo).

“Miss Granny” has breached 57-million pesos as gross sales in its opening weekend with strong ticket sales breaching the 57-million peso mark.

Directed by Joyce Bernal, and co-produced by Viva Films and N2 Productions, the Pinoy remake of “Miss Granny” also stars James Reid and Xian Lim.

Find out in cinemas nationwide why more and more people are raving about Sarah Geronimo’s superb performance in the certified blockbuster hit, “Miss Granny.”

Philippine remake of ‘Miss Granny is a box-office hit as it grosses this much in two days

Viva Films has just announced that the Philippine adaptation of “Miss Granny,” starring Sarah Geronimo, James Reid, Xian Lim, and Ms. Nova Villa, has earned P13.8 million in its box office gross.

Miss Granny earned P7.8 million on its opening day yesterday.

The lead cast of Miss Granny, together with director Bb. Joyce Bernal and the rest of the production team, had their victory party this August 24 at the Viva-owned restaurant, Botejyu, in Robinsons Galleria.

Check out our photos from the exclusive lunch of the Miss Granny team below:

“Miss Granny” is now showing across Philippine cinemas.

Sarah Geronimo is back on the big screen via Pinoy version of ‘Miss Granny’

After her successful concert tour in the US, and in celebration of her 15th anniversary in show business, Pop Royalty Sarah Geronimo is back on the big screen via VIVA Films’ newest release, the drama comedy, “MISS GRANNY.”

Co-starring with Multimedia Prince, James Reid and Kapamilya Heartthrob, Xian Lim under the able direction of certified hit maker Bb. Joyce Bernal, “MISS GRANNY” is based on the worldwide South Korean blockbuster film released in 2014.

Topbilled by Eun Kyung Shim and Moon He Na, the movie bagged several prestigious awards and has had similarly successful adaptations in China, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Germany and other countries.

Currently in the works are the English and Spanish language versions from Hollywood.

“MISS GRANNY” follows the magical tale of 70-year-old pensioner Fely (played by veteran actress, Nova Villa), who magically transforms back to her 20-year-old self as Audrey (portrayed by Sarah) after having her picture taken in a mysterious photo studio.

Fely is cranky and a control freak. Living together with her son’s family leads to the hospitalization of her daughter-in-law and her son wanting to throw her out of his place.

But she is a loving grandmother as well who gives all-out support to her grandson Jeboy’s  (James) dream of becoming a musician.

In an interview, Sarah admitted being challenged by the role in as much as her nuances and look had to conform with that of Fely’s character.

Said the singer-actress, “May tumutulong po sa akin na acting coach. Kasi, siyempre, ang nuances of a woman in her 70s, medyo iba sa galaw ng 20s. Siyempre, medyo matagal na iyong huling acting project ko, so challenging din for me.”

Sarah was last seen in the hit rom-com, “Finally Found Someone,” her reunion project with John Lloyd Cruz a year ago.

But she added she and the rest of the team had so much fun working on “MISS GRANNY,” which happens to be her first film with Direk Joyce.

She said, “Magaan lang po ang trabaho. Para po ito sa buong pamilya, para sa mga nangangarap. Itong istorya po ay dedicated to all the mothers out there. Pinapakita po nito iyong unconditional at fearless na pagmamahal ng isang ina sa kanyang anak. It’s also a dreamer’s story.”

Go weep, laugh, dance and sing with Sarah, James and Xian when this year’s highly anticipated film, “MISS GRANNY,” opens in theaters nationwide on August 22, only from VIVA Films.

MOVIE REVIEW: Everything About Her (2016)

Everything About Her Movie Review
2016, Philippines – Directed by Bb. Joyce Bernal

A successful mother who learns she has cancer, an estranged son who returns with his memories of feeling abandoned, and a career-driven girl who will serve as their bridge to patch things up. Sounds familiar? Everything About Her follows this set of characters but it sure manages to play its own notes to the tune of a rather familiar plot. The result is an enjoyable composition: one that is wary of its rhythm, one that stays true to a melody that has long since been easy for the ears for many Filipino moviegoers.

Directed by Bb. Joyce Bernal, Everything About Her tells the story of a real estate tycoon named Dr. Vivian Rabaya (Vilma Santos), a ferocious president and CEO of her own company who is too well-known and powerful to be shooed for her manners and foul language. The film opens with a showcase of Vilma’s character that calls to mind Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. Tension rises as far as the music is concerned, concluding that opening with Vivian losing her balance.

When she is told by her doctor that she is suffering from multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow identified for having several tumors), Vivian merely laughs it off by saying “It’s just cancer. I won’t become mad because of cancer.” The doctor tells her that normally a patient diagnosed with such illness has 29 months to live.

Enters Angel Locsin’s Jaica Domingo, a determined young lad who–despite her loud and oftentimes crass demeanor–cares a lot about her family and her work as a nurse. Jaica is recommended to Vivian by the hospital’s head doctor to be the rich woman’s private nurse. As expected, their relationship does not go along well at first until it nourishes into something grounded on affection—not just because it is basically a job but because Jaica has grown into being close to her employer. There is indispensible dedication when it comes to giving her all for Vivian.

Innate to Bernal as a filmmaker is her unmistakable grasp in comedy. On crucial points where comic relief might not be necessary, her cast carries out effectively—not just to call for laughter but to keep the audience drawn to these characters, their motivations as well as their individual dilemmas. It is just nice to laugh it all off and see how these characters react and clash with one another. Aside from the kinky Balenciaga scene (“Kunin mo na rin ang Balenciaga bag ko. Do’n ko gustong sumuka ulit”), notable is that one where Jaica, after getting confused with the text message from the hospital head doctor, mistakenly sends a hate text message to Vivian. “Di mo naman sinabing impakta ang potah!” is such a winning line (or at least a memorable one at that).

The other third of the film’s triumvirate is just as important. Xian Lim plays the role of Albert Mitra, the son who has since grieved over the thought that his mother abandoned him when she left him as a kid. Contacted by Jaica and having been informed that his mother is ill, he returns home and accepted the job offer as the engineer of the company’s latest project. They are not to tell his knowledge of the cancer. However, slip of the tongue cannot be avoided, and as it happens, things begin to collapse along with his sanity. Jaica is there to provide inspiration which would later on blossom into romantic love. The good part here is that it does not feel forced in any way.

Lim may not be at his most efficient here but there is a commendable degree of resolve in his acting. Hopefully, he could later on mature into a fruit ripe enough to be foraged. And with good materials like this one, he could be sharpened to his best.

Not to be dismissed, of course, is the importance of the supporting characters in the story. Unlike other Star Cinema movies, Everything About Her properly utilizes its supporting characters. Instead of turning them into stereotyped displays (best friend, omniscient family relative, and so on), they are indeed “support” to our main characters as they exhibit human behaviors and even stimuli to act or talk they way do. Adding colors to the interconnected lives of our protagonists are the characters played by Michael De Mesa, Nonie Buencamino, Khalil Ramos, Devon Seron, Alexa Ilacad, Jana Agoncillo, Vangie Labalan, Buboy Villar, Niña Dolino and Bart Guingona.

Everything About Her intently focuses on two family ties that have striking contrast. While Vivian is emotionally pained due to the detachment of her son, Jaica longs for her similarly estranged mother. Both of these conflicts are given the resolutions they deserve. The journey is just as throbbing as what the characters portray but there is ultimately the fulfilling factor that makes everything look positive afterwards. At first, Vivian and Jaica oppose their own poles, but as they discover each other, they get to learn the contents of their hearts however hurting the act could be. Santos and Locsin meets halfway at the same level of caliber that is equally remarkable and substantial. The film’s touching moments make it difficult to forget their chemistry, much more to realize that they are all out with their performances.

“Pag nagkakamali ba ang nanay, di mo na siya nanay? Pag binigo ka niya, nababawasan ba ang pagkananay niya? Nanay pa rin kami. Nanay niya pa rin ako.”

In spite of the predictability of the story right from the very beginning, the entire ride is memorable, granted how the story is weaved without compromise—without fear that the audience would not stay put. As it wants to stir up sadness towards its ends, it controls itself by giving into the tested formula of the outlet.  True enough, it works fine on that note. There is a stinging sensation at the end of the line but happy thoughts prevail and make use of its impact.

Before the last frame, Vivian cries, “But in the end, even if we die alone, we need other people.” As we hold onto her last words, there is really much to relate to in her story as there is much to believe in ourselves. Familial attachment is everything about her. And we are more than familiar with that.

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