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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.
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Jan 21, 2020

snooky serna, barbie forteza, kate valdez, dina bonnevie

barbie forteza for photo op

BARBIE FORTEZA is now tagged as GMA-7’s Primetime Princess because most of her shows are topraters. Even her recent guesting in “Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko” with Dennis Trillo rated very high. She’s now back on primetime starting this Monday in “Anak ni Waray vs. Anak ni Biday”, where she plays the role of Snooky Serna.

While she is in Leyte, she saves a girl, Kate Valdez, from falling off the San Juanico Bridge. They quickly become good friends, without knowing that her mom Snooky and Kate’s mom, Dina Bonnevie, are mortal enemies. It will also later turn out that they are half sisters, as both Snooky as Amy and Dina as Susie both fell in love with the same man, Jay Manalo as Joaquin.

This is the first time she and Kate get to work with each other. How is it? “We bonded well right away,” she says. “Before taping started, we had a familiarity workshop for us to get to know each other better, kasi nga first project namin ito at lagi kaming magkaeksena.

"Doon pa lang, nag-open na agad siya sa akin at ang dami ko nang nalaman tungkol sa kanya. After that, nag-shoot kami on location sa Tacloban nga in Leyte and later, sa Paoay and other towns in Ilocos so lalong gumanda ang bonding namin. We’re close friends now.”

She plays Ginalyn, a Waray, while Kate as Caitlyn is an Ilocana.

“Nag-aral ako ng Warat dialect dito at si Kate naman, ng Ilocano. We also learned more about their culture and their family life. Nakakatuwa kasi parehong matapang ang mga taga-Leyte and Ilocos. My role is very empowering kasi palaban si Ginalyn at hindi siya basta magpapatalo.”

In the story, they will later on compete for the attention of one guy, Migo Adecer as Cocoy.

Also in the cast are Teresa Loyzaga as Dorcas, Jay’s scheming cousin who would like to steal his family’s riches from him; Faith da Silva as Agatha, Teresa’s bratty daughter who’d be contravida to both Barbie and Kate; Jean Saburit as Vanessa, Migo’s mother; Tanya Montenegro as Glenda, Snooky’s cousin and confidante; and Celia Rodriguez as Zenaida’s, Dina’s controlling and meddlesome mother who makes Snooky’s life a living hell.

“Anak ni Waray vs. Anak ni Biday” is directed by Mark Sicat de la Cruz, who says he intentionally didn’t watch the original 1984 Regal movie of the same title, directed by the late Maryo J. de los Reyes.

“Magkaiba naman kasi ang treatment ng movie at ng teleserye,” he says. “The movie is more of a comedy and itong version namin, maraming dramatic scenes na nag-ugat sa conflict nina Snooky at Dina noong mga bata pa sila, as played by Max Collins and Lovi Poe.

"May comic scenes din involving Barbie and Kate, but as you can see, mas matindi ang dramatic conflict sa TV series dahil it will turn out nga na magkapatid pala sila and later on, there is an even bigger twist in the story na ikagugulantang ng lahat so, abangan nyo.”

Barbie is happy to be back on a primetime series and she’s really on a roll as both her career and her love life are doing well. Everyone knows she’s been on with Jak Roberto for two years and the latest scuttlebutt is they are now officially engaged. How true?

“Naku, hindi. Ang babata pa namin to seriously think of that. As of now, we’re just enjoying being together. Hindi kami nagmamadali,” says Barbie.

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Jan 20, 2020

kristen stewart with captain lucien

KRISTEN STEWART’s last movie in 2019 was a big flop, the reboot of “Charlie’s Angels”. Her first movie for 2020 is another box office loser, “Underwater”, a sci-fi movie set 36,000 feet under the sea. Maybe she should fire her agent for giving her two consecutive duds.

Kristen plays Nora in “Underwater”, a mechanical engineer working in a drilling research laboratory, the Kepler Station, deep in the Marianas Trench. 

She is all alone in the opening scene, thinking about a ponderous relationship in a voice over naration, when the underwater rig starts to leak, then explodes and collapses all around her. She runs to save herself and, on her way out, meets two colleagues, Mamodoe Athie and TJ Miller.

Later on, they meet their captain, Lucien (Vincent Cassel) and two more crew members Emily (Jessica Henwick, the pretty Asian actress from the Netflix Marvel series, “Iron Fist”) and Smith (John Gallagher.)

Somehow, we get to care for these people’s safety even if we don’t really know much about them and we also don’t have any clue as to what caused the disastrous explosions in their deep sea operations.

Much of what we know about the laboratory facility is what we read from newspaper headlines and documents that were shown in an earlier montage sequence during the opening credits.

It’s just like they give you some bullet points and you, the viewer, are expected to connect the dots by yourself when all hell breaks loose and you can start playing the game in movies like this guessing as to which of he remaining survivors will die first.

To survive, the remaining characters have to walk a mile on the ocean floor to get to another station where they hope to access some escape pods that will lead them to safety. Along the way, they get attacked by some nebulous creatures.

Some look like giant squids or octopus, but with more tentacles, and some look humanoid but very menacing. Obviously, they’re meant to be unknown species living down the depths of the ocean that we humans have yet to meet and fully identify. They’re just waiting there to give Jules Vernes and his 20,000 leagues a run for their money.

The movie will actually remind you of Ridley Scott’s 1979 landmark sci-fi films, “Alien”, only it’s not set in outerspace (where “no one can hear you scream”) but deep down under the sea, but with no Arielle singing “Part of Your World”.

In predictable fashion, we know that Kristen will eventually lose her companions, one by one, until she becomes like Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in “Alien”, an apha female aggressively confronting their foes sexily in just her bra and panties.

The movie is directed by William Eubank, who earlier did the creepy sci-fi film about alien abduction, “The Signal”. Now, his new work is submerged under water and he succeeds in creating a sinister claustrophobic atsmophere but the way he executes so many scenes seems so inept.

A lot of scenes are darkly lit and looks so murky and unclear on screen, so he often just resorts to jump scares and a jolting sound design to create more tension.

We don’t know if this is deliberate since they lacked the right budget to come up with better CGI and clearer cinematography, but the effect is so discombobulating as there are scenes so incoherent that you cannot really figure out what’s happening on screen and what causes the death of some characters.

Add to this the fact that they’re all waring those bulky diving suits that make them look like astronauts who sauntered in from “Apollo 11 (“yes, Houston, we have a problem.”)

In fairness to Kristen, her star presence as the anchor holds the film together and brings some much needed energy to what’s going on. But just like in “Charlie’s Angel”, she has a palpable very butch element in her, even if she looks so sexy in the scenes where she’s scantily clad.

With this water-logged yawner and “Charlie’s Angel”, it looks like she wants to cultivate more the image of an action hero than the sweet young heroine she did in the highly successful “Twilight” franchise.

But she and the audience both deserve a better movie. Her co-stars didn’t get to do anything much and, as maybe expected, just like the movie, they all sink underwater.
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Jan 19, 2020


‘THE GRUDGE’ is originally a Japanese horror movie, “Ju On” or “The Curse”, made in 2000, two years after the first Japanese horror hit, “The Ring”.  “Ju On” was remade in Hollywood in 2004 as “The Grudge”, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and it followed the storyline of the original Japanese flick. It was a hit so there is a sequel in 2006 and a part 3 in 2009.

Now, 11 years later, we get another reboot, not a sequel to the past “Grudge” movies. But it continues on the silly supernatural nonsense premise of the first three movies: that when someone dies in a powerful rage, a curse is born. Then when a living person meets it, it follows him and will never let him go until he’s afflicted with hallucinations and even insanity that will drive the victim to kill even his loved ones.

The new “Grudge” actually has several narrative strands but it centers on a female cop, Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough who we best remember from “Battle of the Sexes”), who moves with her son Burke to the Pennsylvania town called Cross River, where mysterious deaths have happened.

She sees the rotting corpse of a woman in the woods and she learns that the woman, Lorna (Jackie Weaver), is from the house in 44 Reyburn Drive.

She goes to the house and discovers the corpse of a man, William (Frankie Faison), whose wife, Faith (Lin Shaye of the “Insidious” franchise), looks mad and is taken to the hospital. While she is investigating the case, she gets haunted by the Landers family.

In flashbacks, we are told what happened to three families affected by the grudge in the movie. Fiona Landers (Tara Westwood), a nurse in Japan, returns to her home in 44 Reyburn Drive in Pennsylvania in 2004 and is reunited with her husband Sam (David Brown) and their daughter Melinda (Zoe Fish.)

She didn’t know that a ghost from Japan has followed her, causing her to kill her husband and child and later on kill herself.

Two cops investigate what happened, Goodman (Demian Bichir, “The Nun”) and Wilson (William Sadler.) Goodman refuses to enter the house but Wilson did and sees Fiona’s ghost. He loses his sanity and is taken to a mental hospital, where he later gouges his own eyes so he won’t see the ghosts anymore.

The next family affected is the Spencer family. Peter (John Cho), a real estate agent, and his pregnant wife, Nina (Betty Gilpin), learn that their baby might be born with a genetic defect. Peter goes to 44 Reyburn Drive to sell it but meets the ghost of the child Melinda and gets possessed, killing his own wife then himself.

The third family is the similarly ill-fated Mathesons, Faith and William.  After they moved into the house, Faith, who’s already terminally sick, loses her sanity and William calls in a suicide expert, Lorna (Jackie Weaver), who sees the ghost, tries to run away after she sees Faith killing William, but is haunted by a ghost while driving, causing her to crash, killing her.

Muldoon, to save herself and her son, then goes to the dreaded house and burns it. But has she stopped the grudge from harming her? Of course, this kind of horror films always have a surprise twist in their ending, just when you think the lead character has already been saved from danger.

The movie has its share of the usual jump scares, which all failed to scare us because writer-director Nicholas Pesce appears to just be giving us viewers a sample of different scary short stories. But the problem is that one cannot really commit to them or really care for any of its characters.

The usual tropes we see in other horror flicks are also employed here, like shadowy entities suddenly popping up in the dark or a chillingly foreboding atmosphere in a seemingly oppressive and decaying house. But us old fogeys in the horror genre are already familiar with such ploys, so only those newbies who have not really seen that many scary films would find them effective.

In fairness to the ensemble cast, most of the actors are quite good, but it’s all very generic, ho-hum. No wonder it didn’t do that well in the U.S. box office, so the attempt to resuscitate the franchise didn’t click and we doubt if they’d still come up with yet another dreary sequel.
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Jan 18, 2020

jennifer  hudson as grizabella in CATS

francesca hayward as VICTORIA

dame judi dench as OLD DEUTERONOMY

‘CATS’ is one of the most successful stage musicals in history. Andrew Lloyd Webber composed it based on the 1939 poems of T.S. Eliot in “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” that describes various kinds of cats. It has ran for more than 30 years and is currently the 4th longest running Broadway and West End show.

Actually, the appeal of the show to people who flock to it is a mystery to us (just like Starbucks) as it doesn’t really have a truly involving storyline.

Now, Tom Hooper, director of Oscar-winning hit films “The King’s Speech”, “Danish Girl” and “Les Miserables”, comes up with the Hollywood film version that has been ruthlessly vilified by most critics. It took us sometime before we finally got to see it but we’re glad it’s now extended on its second week in several theaters.

“Cats” is a sung-through musical about a tribe of felines known as the Jellicle Cats and how they make the Jellicle choice, deciding which cat will be lifted to the Heaviside Layer to get a new life. It then becomes a talent show where various cats do audition numbers to qualify.

It is all really very theatrical, so it’s hard to translate it into film, but Hooper did try his best and made lots of changes in his own screen version to make it a movie and not just a filmed staged play.

First, Old Deuteronomy, the leader of the tribe of the Jellicle Cats, used to be portrayed by male actors, like Ken Page (who starred in the first filmed version shot in a London theatre and released directly to video) and our very own Junix Inocian who did it in 2001 after he made a name for himself in West End as the Engineer in “Miss Saigon”.

Now, he is made a female played by Dame Judi Dench no less. It’s innovative, all right, but we don’t think Hooper made the right decision as Dench croaks her songs and not really sing it, just like Ian McKellen did as Gus, the Theater Cat.

 As she sung the final song on Trafalgar Square about a cat not being a dog, sa totoo lang, kami ang parang hirap na hirap para sa kanya. We know she and Sir Ian are respected names who can lend prestige to any film production, but they’re not really that wise a choice as singers.

The running time has also been drastically reduced. On stage, it runs for nearly three hours and even the first filmed version (which was released directly to video and which we saw in the U.S. with Elaine Page singing “Memory” as Grizabella) was more than two hours. The new film is only about one hour and 40 minutes as many song numbers have been justifiably condensed.

The movie is also not just confined on stage but is taken out, so we Mr. Skimbleshanks (Steven Macrae) doing his showstopping tap dance number on the railway (we can see the Big Ben from afar) and there’s also a scene showing Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots and James Corden as Bustopher Jones on a barge on the Thames River after they were kidnapped by the villain, Macavity, who wants to be the chosen one.

His character is also introduced early on and is given more exposure to give the actually very thin storyline more conflict. He also abducts Old Deuteronomy and makes her walk the plank to drown in the Thames, to force her to choose him.

But the self-doubting magician Mister Mistofelees (Laurie Davidson) manages to save her in another showstopping sequence.

The biggest change is in making a white kitten named Victoria (played by talented newcomer Francesca Hayward) as the lead character. She is dumped by her owners into an alley inside a sack and gets introduced to a strange new world.

She’s a prima ballerina from the Royal Ballet and there’s a sequence where she is shown dancing around the room and the camera just follows her in one long lyrical take and her fluid, lithe, graceful moves are just a sheer delight to watch.

Sorry to say that Taylor Swift fails to impress us in the very minor role of Macavity’s gun moll, Bombalurina, whose only song number pays tribute to her scheming boss.

Jennifer Hudson scores better as Grizabella, the former glamour cat now avoided by other cats because of her shady past, but her rendition of the show’s most famous song, ‘Memory’, is not as impressive as what she did with “And I Am Telling You” in her Oscar-winning performance in “Dreamgirls”.

And sorry to JHud, each time she sings “Memory”, Victoria comes up to also sing “Beautiful Ghosts” (“All that I wanted is to be wanted”), the new song originally composed for the film version.

Honestly, we remember our own Dulce singing “Memory” on TV with a much more compelling build up (specially when she hit the high notes in “Touch meeeee”) and bombastic finish.

Still and all, we find the movie fairly entertaining with its superb production design and infectious dancing. Most haters say they feel that the creature design and anthromorphic look of the cats are weird, combining cat suits with CGI special effects to make them humanoid cats.

But why take the movie so seriously when cats don’t really talk, sing and dance in real life, so be willing to suspend some of your disbelief. We actually like their undulating tails when they move.

The movie is certainly not purr-fect, but it’s not a total cat-astrophe. It’s no “Sound of Music” or “Mamma Mia”, but we wish folks have given it more chance and not just quickly tore it into shreds. Maybe, they are just more dog persons. Meow!!!

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rachelle ann go with husband martin spies

RACHELLE ANN GO is currently in town to do a Valentine concert. She has just wrapped up work for the hit long-running West End musical, “Hamilton”, and she will go back later in March to London to be part of “Les Miserables” where she will play the role of Fantine.

Rachelle is happily married to her businessman husband, Martin Spies, and they now have their own two-bedroom house in London.

“It’s a simple house but just perfect for the two of us, with a small garden,” she says. “My husband loves to grill food and he says the garden is ideal for grilling, so yun ang pinili niya for the two of us.”

Martin is still at work in London but he will be coming over to Manila to watch her Valentine show. How does she feel now that her friend, Sarah Geronimo (they are both grand winners in Viva’s search for a star, Sarah in 2003 and Rachelle in 2004), is also officially engaged to Matteo Guidicelli?

“Of course, I’m very happy for both of them. Sarah knows that, as she is one of my closest friends in showbiz. Even when I was still in London, updated ako sa mga nangyayari sa kanya and I wish them ni Matteo all the best. We’ve already seen each other at buong araw kaming nagchikahan.

"She asked for some advice tungkol sa pag-aasawa at marami akong nai-share sa kanya based on my own experience sa marriage ako. I told her mahirap ang marriage but it is so beautiful if you’d choose the right partner in life. Ako, masayang-masaya ako sa married life ko.”

This Sunday, Rachelle will also be the special guest headlining GMA-7’s blockbuster noontime show, “All Out Sundays”. She will do the fabulous opening number with top Kapuso stars in honor of the Sinulog Festival and the feast of the Senor Sto. Nino.

Then Alden Richards and Julie Anne San Jose will also set the stage on fire with their hot dance number.  Move and groove with the Comedy Concert Queen Aiai delas Alas as she does the “Banana Chacha” dance craze together with Angel Guardian and Kisses Delavin!

Also joining them to promote their upcoming movie, “D Ninang”, are Kelvin Miranda and Kiray Celis. Your favorite biriteras Aicelle Santos, Golden CaƱedo, Thea Astley and Julie Anne San Jose will belt out 4 powerful songs in Four The Win!

Listen and dance to the hottest playlist on Press Play featuring kapuso teenstars Kyline Alcantara, Joaquin Domagoso, Mavy and Cassy Legazpi, the All-Out Q.T.s Kim, Carl, Vince, Abdul and Radson plus kapuso singers Garrett Bolden, Jong Madaliday with kapuso heartthrob Rayver Cruz and the birthday boy Ken Chan!

Pinoy international artists Rachelle Ann Go, Aicelle Santos, Mark Bautista and Christian Bautista will also join forces in one world class performance. Love is in the air, as Super Tekla chooses his duet partner in the ultra “kilig” dating game “Sing-Kilig” with hosts Ken Chan and Rita Daniela! 

It’s Team Waray versus Team Biday! The cast of the new GMA Primetime series Anak ni Waray versus Anak ni Biday, Barbie Forteza, Snooky Serna and Migo Adecer will face Kate Valdez, Jay Manalo and Dina Bonnevie in an all-out fun pinoy games in Familympics hosted by Alden Richards and Julie Ann San Jose!

Rayver Cruz, Migo Adecer and Miguel Tanfelix will rule the dance floor in an electrifying dance showdown! Join Derrick Monasterio, Gabbi Garcia, Jeremiah Tiangco, Shayne Sava, Nef Medina and Rita Daniella as they treat you in an acoustic jamming session! 

Will Rico and Winnie finally settle their differences? Will Choi and Bebe’s relationship blossom? Find out this sunday in the continuation of the hilarious and exciting musical comedy skit “Tapsikret” starring Paolo Contis, Glaiza de Castro, Boobay, Super Tekla, Amazing Betong, Kim de Leon, Lexi Gonzales, Kakai Bautista and Aicelle Santos! 

All that and more in your newest afternoon “tambayan” All-Out Sundays on GMA-7, 12 noon!

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ANAK NI WARAY VS. ANAK NI BIDAY caST - from left to right: kate valdez, barbie forteza, jay manalo, celia rodriguez, teresa loyzaga, dina bonnevie, snooky serna

snooky and barbie versus kate and dina

cast of the original movie: maricel, nida, gloria, snooky

GMA TELEBABAD’s hit action-drama, “Beautiful Justice”, will have its final telecast this coming week and they will have Cherie Gil as their special guest star. She will play the role of Diorella and viewers don’t know yet if she’s an ally or a foe of the show’s lead stars: Yasmien Kurdi, Bea Binene and Gabbi Garcia.

“Pasabog ang character na ginagampanan ni Ms. Cherie so don’t miss the last few episode of ‘Beautiful Justice’ dahil it’s full of exciting twists and surprises” says Yasmien. “The final episodes are full of big, slambang action sequences so don’t fail to watch it.”

Replacing “Beautiful Justice” on January 27 is the combination of drama and romance in “Anak ni Waray Vs Anak ni Biday”. Waray will be played by Dina Bonnevie and her “anak” is Kate Valdez while Biday will be played by Snooky Serna and her anak is played by Barbie Forteza.

The original movie of “Anak ni Waray vs. Anak ni Biday” was produced by Regal Films in 1984 and starred in by the late Nida Blanca and the enduring Gloria Romero, who’s still active until now, as the two mothers.

Nida did the hit LVN Pictures comedy “Waray-Waray” in 1954 that cultivated her image as a tomboyish gamin who’s so feisty she fights even tough guys bigger than her.

She was paired with her perennial ka-love team then, the late Nestor de Villa, who’s one of the best looking matinee idol heartthrobs in local cinema.

You can watch “Waray-Waray” for free. You can access it on Vimeo (along with many other LVN classics complete with their Bollywood like song-and-dance sequences), and see how lovable the late Nida is. The movie spawned the now classic hit song “Waray-Waray”, with music by Juan Silos Jr. and lyrics by Levi Celerio that was later covered by American singer Eartha Kitt.

Gloria did the hit Sampaguita Pictures comedy, “Dalagang Ilocana”, also in 1954. It won for Gloria her first FAMAS best actress award playing the role of the cigar-smoking Manang Biday. The daughter of Gloria in “Anak ni Waray vs. Anak ni Biday” then was Snooky while the daughter of Nida was Maricel Soriano.

It would have been nice if Maricel would play the Nida Blanca role now, but she’s already a Kapamilya, so GMA-7 cannot get her and they got Dina Bonnevie instead.

They’ve also changed the story. It starts as a lofe triangle drama, with the young Dina played by Lovi Poe and the young Snooky played by Max Collins. They’ll both be girl friends of Jason Abalos, who becomes the father of their daughters. So in this version, the “anak ni Waray” and “anak ni Biday” turn out to be half sisters, with Jason later to be played by Jay Manalo.

GMA-7 is really a beehive of non-stop activity these days. They’ve also lined up more new shows, like “Descendants of the Sun” with Dingdong Dantes and Jennylyn Mercado to replace “The Gift” and “Love of My Life” with Rhian Ramos, Coney Reyes and Carla Abellana to replace “One of the Baes” in February.

For their Afternoon Prime, “Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit” with Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, Mylene Dizon and Kyline Alcantara, directed by Laurice Guillen, will replace “Madrasta” of Arra San Agustin and Juancho Trivino that will end in three weeks.

Other new shows lined up are “Sanggang Dikit” with real life sweethearts Derek Ramsay and Andrea Torres, “The Seed of Love” with Glaiza de Castro, Valerie Concepcion and Mikael Daez, “Legal Wives” with Dennis Trillo paired with three actresses no less and “Babawiin ang Lahat” with Carmina Villaroel, Pauline Mendoza, Kristoffer Martin, David Licauco and John Estrada.

Watch out for all these exciting new shows from the Kapuso Network.

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Jan 16, 2020

sam rockwell as the lawyer, kathy bates as the mother and paul walter hauser as RICHARD JEWELL

AS A FILMMAKER, Clint Eastwood has a solid filmography with two Oscar-winning films, “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby”, for which he was also nominated as best actor.

He now comes up with “Richard Jewell”, based on the true story of an American security guard who was hailed as a hero in the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in July, 1996, when he discovered a backpack containing three bombs planted by terrorists on the Centennial Olympic Park grounds. 

He alerted the cops and helped in evacuating the people in the area  before the bombs exploded and saved many people from harm. He was initially regarded a hero but was later considered a prime suspect, erroneously accused of setting up the bomb himself due to sloppy police work and needlessly crucified by a sensational media coverage.

He was subjected to a trial by media and, even though he was never really charged, this took a toll on his personal and professional life. He was eventually exonerated and the real bomber was later found.

Ten years later, the State of Georgia publicly thanked him for saving people’s lives in the Olympics. Jewell passed a year later at the age of only 44 due to heart disease and diabetes.

Told in a conventional linear manner based on an article in Vanity Fair, we first see Richard (Paul Walter Hauser) as a college security guard who is overly zealous in doing his job and accosts some students drinking in their room, so the dean urged him to resign. This dean will later be instrumental in implicating him and discrediting him as a false hero. 

He then gets to work with AT&T, a sponsor of the Olympics, and he’s assigned to be a guard in the Olympic Park. His discovery of the bombs makes him a celebrity and he even gets to be interviewed on TV.  But his fame won’t last as an FBI agent, Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm), is assigned to investigate him because there are cases of alleged heroes on site who later on turn out be actually the ones to have caused the disaster.

Tom has been hitting on a a female journalist, Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), who seduces him and, to get into her good graces, he gives her the name of Richard Jewell as a suspect.  Kathy then turns the table on Jewell, writing that he fits the profile of the lone bomber. She becomes a celebrity in their own office and her officemates give her a standing ovation.

Richard's life sort of implodes, but he decides to fight back with the help of a lawyer friend he has known for a long time, Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell, who’s also in “Jojo Rabbit” and he’s great in both films).

As a filmmaker, Eastwood has dealt with his concepts of heroism and villainy in various works, clearly distinguishing between good and bad.  The bad guys here are clearly the careless FBI agent and the irresponsible reporter who quickly spread lies about Richard.  The frenzy that followed nearly crushed Richard and Eastwood as a director is clearly siding with him in this unfortunate tale of media irresponsibility.

The journalist here and those who also picked up her story are the exact opposites of the do-gooding writers in “Spotlight” and “The Post”. They’re just pesky biased reporters who just want to eat Jewell alive and the repugnant Kathy even ambushes Watson in his own car trying to get information from him.

The avalanche of negative publicity generated by the insinuations, without any regard for actual facts, made the hero suddenly the villain. It will take several months before Richard’s name is eventually cleared.

Hauser, who we first saw in an amusing supporting role as the idiotic henchman of Tonya Harding’s husband in “I, Tonya”, is well cast as Richard. He is effective as the fat and bullied doormat, a mama’s boy who wants validation as a law enforcer, so nice and solicitous even to the FBI guys who torment him. Watson tells him he just doesn’t know how to get angry and he says he’s just trying to do the right thing.

The film reminds us of “John Denver Trending” which is also about an injustice and how people can be so judgmental without knowing the whole story. This is also reminiscent of the award-winning TV series, “Unbelievable”, where a girl was raped and the cops forced her to admit that she just made up the story.

Kathy Bates plays Richard’s mom, Barbara, and she gets her Oscar moment in that scene where she gets to talk to press blaming the media for portraying her son as the bad guy when he is innocent. She’s now nominated as best supporting actress.

Clint is one of today’s most prolific filmmakers, making all sorts of films, including rivetting characters studies like “Sully” with Tom Hanks, “J. Edgar Hoover” with Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Mule” where he played the title role, “American Sniper” with Bradley Cooper and true-to-life drama and action flicks like “Invictus” (about Nelson Mandela and rugby) and “15:17 to Paris” (about three friends who thwarted a terrorist attack inside a train).

He’s not always successful, like in his film version of the Broadway hit “Jersey Boys” and his film about the afterlife “Hereafter”, but you can be sure that his films are still eminently watchable.

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jc santos & bela padilla in ON VODKA, BEERS AND REGRETS

director irene villamor, bela and JC

BELA PADILLA and JC Santos are together again after they did two consecutive hits, “100 Tula Para Kay Stella” and “The Day After Valentine”, both directed by Jason Paul Laxamana. They were also together in the Metro filmfest topgrosser, “Miracle Cell No. 7”, but they don’t play romantic lovers.

“Lolo ko siya roon in his role as Mambo at malaki ang age gap niya sa akin sa role ko as Yesha,” says Bela at the presscon of their latest collaboration, “On Vodka, Beers and Regrets”, a pre-Valentine presentation where they are directed for the first time by Irene Villamor of such acclaimed films as “Sid & Aya” and “Ulan”.

The trailer says it’s a movie “na lakas-tama”. And it’s full of emotional “hugot” lines that young viewers who are full of angst can easily relate with. For instance, in one scene JC tells Bela: “Gusto kitang mahalin, Jane, araw-araw, pero nahihirapan na ako. Kailangan mo ng tulong, at hindi ako yun.”

But in another scene, he tells her: “Alam mo kung anong okay sa’yo, hindi mo alam na okay ka. Sobrang okay ka.”
Obviously they once again play tormented characters, like what they’ve portrayed in their previous two movies which both didn’t have a happy ending as they didn’t end up with each other. Will they have a happy ending this time?

“That’s what people ask us, magkakatuluyan ba kayo rito?” says JC. “Baka naman, for a change. But siempre, hindi naman puede i-reveal, baka di nyo na panoorin, so panoorin nyo na lang for you to know the answer.”

In the story, Bela plays Jane, a former movie star who, after some setbacks in her career and personal life, has now become an alcoholic. This is reminiscent of her role in “Mananita” where she’s a depressed female soldier shown guzzling beer by the bottle.

“Full of angst ang character ko rito at kakaiba ang psyche niya kasi she started as a child star, then she got involved in a sex video that ruined her career, then she meets JC as Francis, a musician who genuinely cares for her,” says Bela.

Why is the title “On Vodka, Beers and Regrets”? “Kasi vodka is my drink of choice,” says Direk Irene Villamor. “Noong bata pa ako, beer. E si Bela nga rito, she copes with her problems with the help of alcohol and may regrets siya sa nangyari sa buhay niya.”

In real life, does Bela have any regret at all? “Ako, no regrets, kasi kapag nagmahal ako, binibigay ko nang todo-todo. Pero kapag natapos ako sa isang relasyon, tapos na talaga ako. Move on na.”

Bela has really become one of Viva’s prized stars. After “Mananita”, “Miracle in Cell No. 7” and now, “On Vodka, Beers and Regrets”, she’s now shooting a new movie, “Spellbound”, with another of Viva’s prized actors, Marco Gumabao.

Meantime, don’t miss “On Vodka, Beers and Regrets” when it opens in theaters on February 5, with premiere night at SM Megamall on February 3.

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ALDEN RICHARDS is one of the stars affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano. 

He has a restaurant, Concha’s Cafe in The Ciff area at Tagaytay overlooking Taal Lake and it’s very popular among tourists who love to eat there as it offers a good scenic and panoramic view of the volcano down below. It's now closed temporarily while Taal is raging.

He has other branches of Concha’s Cafe in Silang, Cavite and in Tagaytay Highlands (and another one in Sct. Madrinan in the Morato Area where our Wednesday Club members eat regularly) and they’re also affected by the Taal ashfall, but not as bad as the one fronting the Tagaytay ridge itself in The Cliff which suffered from rain with mud so they have to do a big clean up of the whole place.

As of now, they don’t know yet as to when the ashfall and muddy rains would stop as predictions say Taal’s eruption can last for several days or even weeks.

Alden says he and his family just continue to pray for all the safety of the people in Taal and the surrounding areas, specially those who are working in their restaurants that are directly affected by Taal’s tantrums.

But life goes on for Alden as he continues to do tapings for his primetime show on GMA-7, “The Gift”, which has gotten more engrossing now that Alden as Sep has moved to the province to avoid the conflicts brought about by his mom Jean Garcia’s family, but Jean still succeeded in tracing his whereabouts and won’t leave him in peace.

Also, Alden is happy that his new weekend noontime show, “All Out Sundays”, is doing very well in the ratings game.

“Kaya nga lahat kami ng kasama show, we’re all inspired na mas pagandahin lahat ng aming production numbers to make sure na mas marami pang viewers ang susubaybay sa amin every Sunday,” he adds.
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KYLINE ALCANTARA is happy to be a regular in GMA-7’s newest weekend noontime show, “All Out Sundays”, as it gives her the chance to sing and dance in fabulous musical numbers.

Some folks are quick to observe that she is reunited with Miguel Tanfelix, who was linked to her when they were doing “Kambal Karibal”, with Miguel’s ka-love team, Bianca Umali, in turn being linked to Ruru Madrid.

“Wala namang problema kung ipareha ako kay Miguel sa dance numbers namin in ‘All Out Sunday’ kasi never namang naging kami,” she says. “Never siyang nanligaw sa akin. At saka, marami kaming magkakasamang sumasayaw sa show, like Mavy Legaspi, Joaquin Domagoso, Shayne Sava and Lexi Gonzales.”

So they don’t feel awkward being together after they were linked to each other then?

“No, okay kami kasi we are both professionals and we’re just doing what they ask us to do as part of our jobs with GMA. We’re not being paired naman as a love team or anything. May bago akong show, ‘Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit’ at hindi siya kasali roon.

"Honestly, wala po akong time para sa love life kasi mas tutok talaga ako sa trabaho. Kaya mas gusto ko ring wala akong permanent na ka-love team para mas makilala ako on my own.”

She’s so excited with “Bilangin ang Bituin” as she gets to co-star with Nora Aunor who plays her grandma, with Mylene Dizon and Zoren Legaspi as her parents.

“Nakaka-excite but, at the same time, nakakanerbiyos din kasi puro magagaling silang artista and then, our director, is Laurice Guillen pa, one of the best in the industry. Kaya I make sure I always come to the set prepared para hindi ako mapahiya sa kanilang lahat.

"Marami kaming mabibigat na eksenang drama and I hope I’ll do justice to my role kasi, kung hindi ko gagalingan, baka lamunin lang nila ako sa eksena.

"And I’m happy na I’m doing serious drama rito sa ‘Bilangin ang Bitiun’ but on weekends, viewers naman will see me singing and dancing in ‘All Out Sundays’. I really can’t ask for more.”

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