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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 15, 2019

ALFONSO CUARON is an acclaimed Mexican director whose breakout movie is “Y Tu Mama Tambien” in 2001, a road flick about two sexually obsessed young men that got several Oscar nominations. But before that, he has done more commercial projects in Hollywood like “A Little Princess” in 1995 and his own version of Dickens’ “Great Expectations” with Ethan Hawke in 1998 which he himself considers a failure. His other films include “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in 2004 and “Children of Men” in 2006. In 2013, he became the first Hispanic director to win the Oscar for “Gravity” starring Sandra Bullock.

Cuaron’s latest film, “Roma”, won him the best director award at the recent Golden Globes and the movie itself won the best foreign language film award. It was first shown at the Venice Filmfest last year and won the Golden Lion best picture award. It had a theatrical release then was shown streaming on Netflix. When you watch it, it immediately becomes apparent that it is the director’s ode to his own personal experiences while growing up in the Roma district of Mexico in 1969 to 1971.  Cuaron is the true auteur here as he also wrote, produced, lensed and edited “Roma”.
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LOOKS LIKE KRIS AQUINO has found her match in the Falcis brothers. She has had feuds before, but her adversaries then were no match to her, notably her ex-lovers. But this time, her opponents seem so ready, palaban and all fired up to spill all the beans about her.
As lawyer Jess Falcis proudly declared: “Don’t mess with two gay brothers who have the truth on their side!”

He fearlessly adds: “Ang problema sa mga lalaki niya noon, they’re straight, so hindi sila makasagot dahil sa konseptong men do not attack women. E, kami, hindi kami straight, so mas makakapagsalita kami. We will fight for our truth and we will vindicate our name.”

He insisted that his Kuya Nicko, who Kris sued for qualified theft, has not done anything wrong while he was working as an accountant for Kris C. Aquino Productions. He himself was sued by Kris for cyberlibel. Nicko says Kris even owes him P20 million for unpaid commissions. He has also revealed other secrets of Kris, like she felt so bad when she returned to ABS-CBN to do “I Love You, Hater”, but received a not so warm welcome as even her former managers were not around to be with her.

Well, we have to admit it’s really lukewarm, especially when compared to how stupendously they staged a red carpet welcome for Regine Velasquez.

Other issues have come up since then, but the latest development is the audio recording that’s now circulating between Kris and Nicko (Kris has admitted it’s her voice).

In the filched audio, the furious Kris says: “Huwag ka ng bumalik sa Pilipinas, nadinig mo. No, huwag, papapatay ka ng pamilya ko. You know what’s wrong with me? May lupus ako, Nicko! That’s why, gusto mong bumalik sa Pilipinas? Dare to step in the country and you will be dead!”

This is exactly the kind of scandalous story that is feasted on with so much gusto by gossip-hungry readers of entertainment columns. We don’t really know how this will end as of now, but as long as both Kris and Nicko and his lawyer brother are willing to talk some more, they can be sure na mas pagpipiyestahan pa sila nang husto online and in gossip columns.

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Jan 14, 2019


JULIE ANDREWS started appearing in stage musicals at London’s West End in 1948. She made her debut in Broadway in “The Boyfriend” in 1954 and popularized the role of Eliza Doolittle in Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” in 1956. When Warner Bros. made “My Fair Lady” into a movie, they bypassed her and got the more established film star Audrey Hepburn to play the lead role, using a ghost singer, Marni Nixon (who also sang for Deborah Kerr in “The King and I” and Nathalie Wood in “West Side Story”).

Most people sympathized with Julie, who was then tapped by Disney to play the title role of “Mary Poppins” after Walt Disney saw her performing on Broadway as Guinevere in “Camelot”. Both “My Fair Lady” and “Mary Poppins” were released in 1964. Julie won as Oscar best actress playing Mary Poppins, her very first movie. Audrey was not even nominated by the Oscar, but “My Fair Lady” won as best picture and the leading man, Rex Harrison, who popularized the role of Prof. Higgins on stage, won as best actor.

The next year, Julie shone even more in “The Sound of Music” as Maria (where she’s actually more deserving to win), but she didn’t win the Oscar, upstaged by another Julie (Christie, for “Darling”), but she did win the Golden Globe best actress award. “Mary Poppins” was turned by Cameron Mackintosh into a stage musical in 2004 and now, after 54 years, Disney has come up with a sequel in “Mary Poppins Returns”.

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LANI MERCADO is the perfect role model as the patient and supportive wife. Even her own husband, Bong Revilla, acknowledges this.

“Habang nasa Camp Crame ako for four years and a half, siya ang tumayong ina at ama ng aming tahanan,” says Bong. “Ibang klase siya. Nakita ko kung gaano niya ako kamahal dahil hindi niya ako iniwan sa lahat ng laban ko. Masasabi ko talagang hindi ako nagkamali na siya ang piliing maging asawa ko.”

 Despite the trials their family has faced, Lani remains so lovely, fresh and young looking. “Hindi biro ang pinagdaanan namin, talagang very stressful, but all throughout, hindi nawala ang pananalig ko sa Diyos na malalampasan namin lahat ng pagsubok,” she says. “Nang makalaya siya, sobra-sobra ang saya ko at pasasalamat sa Diyos. Parang nabunot ang sibat na nakatarak sa dibdib ko. Napulitika lang ang asawa ko after magdeklara siyang balak niyang tumakbo sa presidency.

"But God gives certain events in our lives for certain reasons. Pinatitibay lang siguro talaga kami as a family, kasi mas naging united kami, more than ever. I really told our children, we should give our total surrender sa Panginoon kasi we have no one to turn but God.

"Napakahirap pero nagpapasalamat akong nagawa kong itaguyod ang family namin habang wala si Bong. Now, I realize, more than ever, that the Lord is using to make us instruments in helping people, in touching their lives, especially the poor and the needy.”

This coming election, Lani will be busy campaigning for reelection as mayor of Bacoor. Their son Jolo will also for reelection as Cavite Vice Governor and their brother Strike Revilla as Bacoor representative. How about Bong? “Sana hindi na muna siya tatakbo. But sa surveys, laging number 7 or number 8 siya, so ibig sabihin naroon pa rin ang tiwala sa kanya ng mga tao.”
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Jan 13, 2019

BARBIE FORTEZA and Mika de la Cruz are amused that even if their new show, “Kara Mia”, has not yet started airing, it’s being talked about and there are already a lot of conflicting feedbacks about it. The story is about twins who share the same body. In front is the face of Barbie while at the back is the face of Mika. Some folks say it’s silly and ridiculous while others speak favorably and think that the concept is something unique and interesting.

The detractors say it just was copied from “Harry Potter”, where the face of the villain Voldemort was pasted at the back of the character called Professor Quirell. But the GMA-7 program manager in charge of “Kara Mia”, the always fashionable Hazel Abonita, says it’s actually based on a true story in India about twins born with a case of Disprosopus or craniofacial duplication, a congenital defect where two faces share one body.

There’s also a story that there’s a similar case that happened in Great Britain, but this has yet to be confirmed. So how did the two lead stars feel about it when they were first informed about the project?

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SINGKUWENTO International Film Festival is slated to be held from February 15 to 22 at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts or  NCCA, with Perry Escano as festival director. Perry has just finished a new movie, “Ang Sikreto ng Piso’, a family comedy based on actual events about the smuggling of Philippine peso coins in 2006, with Gelli de Belen, Ariel Rivera, Lou Veloso, Long Mejia, Beverly Salviejo, Ernie Garcia and Ricky Rivero, directed by Perry Escano.

There are five entries in the Singkuwento Filmfest. These are: “Kapayapaan sa Gitna ng Digmaan” - a historical drama by Nestor Malgapo, starring Richard Quan and Celine Talaver, about the experiences of a Japanese soldier and his Filipino wife during World War II.

“Playground, Dota o Ako?” - This is a drama directed by Dave Cecilio and Nelito Talavera, starring Rosanna Roces, Buboy Villar, Lance Raymundo, Marika Sasaki and Neptali Toribio. This is about an out-of school boy from the province who goes to Manila with a dream of becoming a professional dota player to earn enough money for the educational needs of his younger sister.

“Pur Laine” - a comedy-drama directed by Filipino-Canadian filmmaker Alexander Cruz who based in Quebec, Canada. This is the story of an old man who suddenly dies, leaving his most recent wife to sell the house and start a new life. But his daughter from a previous marriage appears and claims the house is hers and all hell breaks loose. This stars Christian Paolo Lat, Celestine Caravaggio, and Isabelle Lafonde.


“Rendezvous” - This is a fantasy drama-romance  directed by Marvin Gabas, starring Gina Pareño, Patani Daño, Jiana Aurigue, and Tonz Are. It is about a water creature named “balud”, a merman, who falls in love with a girl, Mira. It’s a sweet, charming fantasy movie combining hilarious fantasy scenes with dramatic tension.

“Promdi” - This is a drama about a young man who leaves his simple life in the province hoping to have a better life in the city. But in the big city, he finds out that the journey is not as easy as he thought it is. Written and directed by Charlotte Dianco, starring Kiko Estrada, Shaira Diaz, Afi Africa, Denise Canlas and Mosang.

Watch out for the list of screening dates and hours.
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Jan 12, 2019

SANYA LOPEZ is very thankful for the positive comments she’s getting for her portrayal of Margaret, the principled wife of Dennis Trillo who does not tolerate his illegal activities. Both Dennis and Dingdong Dantes, who play the title roles, are award-winning actors, but Sanya, although she has yet to win any acting award, is able to hold it on her own against her more seasoned co-stars.

She excels most especially in her dramatic scenes where she sheds copious tears, especially after her and Dennis’ son, Sammy (Euwen Aleta) died tragically.

“I’m really thankful to all those who message me and congratulate me for my effective performance,” she says. “Nakakatuwa talagang napapansin nila ang acting ko kahit na baguhan lang ako compared to my co-stars.”

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NETFLIX started operating in 1997 as a company that offers online streaming services of their films and TV shows on a subscription basis. As of 2018, it now has a total of 137 million subscribers worldwide, with 58 million of them in the U.S. alone. It clicked as it made good in its promise to offer original content. As of 2018, they already have 700 original series for their subscribers.

Their hit TV shows include “House of Cards” and “Narcos” (our favorites), “Daredevil” with Charlie Cox, “Stranger Things”, “The Haunting of Hill House”, “Riverdale”, “Black Mirror”. Among their movies are “Bright” with Will Smith, Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” that just won best foreign film in the Golden Globes, “The Outlaw King” starring Chris Pine and the current hit, “Bird Box” starring Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock.

“Bird Box” is a suspense-thriller based on the novel by Joseph Malerman and directed by Suzanne Bier (who did the award-winning drama series, “The Night Manager”, starring Tom Hiddleston). It will surely be compared to “A Quiet Place” where aliens have invaded our planet and they hunt humans by the sounds that we make. This time, anyone who merely looks at the predators will quickly lose his sanity and want to commit suicide, something like what happened in “The Happening” by M. Night Shayamalan.

The lead character is Malorie (Sandra) and the story starts in the present when Malorie tries to travel down the river two days away from where they are to find a safe refuge for herself and her two children who have no names but are simply called as Boy (Julian Edwards) and Girl (Viviene Blair). In flashbacks, the film goes back and forth between their voyage on the river and how the story started five years ago.

Sandra as Malorie is a painter who is pregnant and not yet ready to become a mother when the story starts. Her sister Jessica (Sarah Paulson) accompanies her to the doctor and they see in the news on TV that there seems to be an inexplicable epidemic in Europe where people are simply committing mass sucide, throwing the world into chaos.

On their way home from the hospital, the apocalipytic epidemic has reached their place. Jessica herself sees the creatures and crashes their car. We ourselves, the viewers, don’t really see the entities and this kind of menacing situation is in line with the philosophy of Alfred Hitchcock that what is not shown is more scary than what is.

Sandra manages to pull herself out of their wrecked vehicle and is saved by a kind woman, who unfortunately, quickly becomes a victim herself and is instantly killed. The woman’s husband (John Malkovich) resents Sandra who cost his wife’s life, but Sandra joins him and other survivors barricaded inside the home of its Asian owner (BD Wong). There are other people in the house, including the elderly Jacki Weaver, another pregnant young woman, Danielle McDonald, and the hunky African American, Trevante Rhodes of “Moonlight”.

The survivors die one by one, especially when a stranger (Tom Hollander) with his own ulterior motive is allowed to enter the house at the time that Sandra and Danielle are about to give birth to their respective babies. This is a very gripping sequence where several characters perish. Five years then quickly pass by and Sandra and the kids end up as the only ones who survived.

Sandra learns about the sanctuary down the river from a walkie talkie and decides to take the risk of taking the dangerous wild river boat ride. She and the two kids have to be blindfolded all throughout the journey so that they won’t see the seemingly supernatural and very powerful creatures.

How the story would unfold in a believable manner is tough to pull off but it succeeds in sustaining our interest for two hours. We become involved the moment Sandra tells the kids that they will take a boat trip that “will feel like it’ll go on forever. You must stay alert and you must never remove your blindfolds or I will hurt you. If you see, you die.”

There’s even a Sophie’s Choice kind of moment where she has to choose between the two kids but this is not pursued. The feeling of claustrophobia manages to absorb us and we find Sandra and the kids totally sympathetic. We root of them and want them to win in their horrible ordeal and fight for survival. There are scenes that unfold from the characters blindfolded perspective and this is where the sound design adds up to the tension and atmosphere of paranoia and terror, aided and abetted by the truly disquieting musical score. “Bird Box” is really worth a look.

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THERE WAS a time when the playdate right after the Manila Filmfest was much coveted by local producers. It’s not surprising that they’re all scrambling to show their new releases right after the festival because moviegoers are eager to watch new local films. But lately, this is no longer sadly the case.

The last movie that did well right after the filmfest was “Bride for Rent” from Star Cinema starring Kim Chiu and Xian Lim in 2014.  Right after that, all the films shown immediately after the festival didn’t do well at the box office, starting in 2015 with “Tragic Theatre” from Viva starring Andi Eigenmann which really did tragically at the tills and “Edsa Woolworth” where the entry of moviegoers was as slow as the traffic at Edsa, from Star Cinema starring Pokwang (but at least, that’s where she met her partner and dad of her baby, Lee O’Brien.)

This was followed in 2016 by “Lumayo Ka Man Sa Akin” from Viva and the viewers really obeyed the title, lumayo nga sila sa movie. To think this is a star studded trilogy led by Maricel Soriano and Herbert Bautista. In 2017, it’s the sexy action comedy from Star Cinema starring Jessy Mendiola and Coleen Garcia, “Extra Service”, which had no happy ending at all despite the offer of something extra.

Last year, the movie that opened right after the filmfest was Regal’s “Mama’s Girl” starring Sofia Andres and Diego Loyzaga, a movie that proved to be a jinx for both of them since they’re now both out of circulation. And this year, the movie that did the honors to continue this trend is “Boy Tokwa” starring Jose Manalo. As of this writing, it has been pulled out from several theaters while, in a few remaining mall theaters, it’s now being shown with limited screening hours, alternating with other movies that attract more viewers.

But what do you expect? The movie was hardly promoted. It seems they made the shooting of the movie a big secret and everyone was just surprised when, one week before the playdate, they suddenly had a presscon to announce its showing. What were they thinking? That is simply not enough time to promote a movie.

Before, during they heydays of Regal, we remember Mother Lily inviting us to the first shooting day of her new movies. This is to foster awareness early on that such a movie is in the process of being made. Now, when we interview today’s stars and ask them: do you have a new movie? Their answer is: “Meron po pero hindi pa raw puedeng i-announce ang details. Secret pa raw po.”

Ha ha ha! Isn’t that a big laugh? Instead of promoting their movie, they’re keeping it a secret. We cannot understand the logic, honestly. Then they’ll hold a presscon for the movie about a week or two just before its playdate. No wonder local films are flopping one after another. Simply because they’re being released in theaters with moviegoers hardly knowing that there is such a movie that has been made. Isn’t that the height of stupidity? You all deserve to flop!
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Jan 11, 2019

MOTHER LILY MONTEVERDE and Manay Ichu Maceda hosted lunch at Gloria Maris for the first encounter of Sen. Bong Revilla with the entertainment press since he gained his freedom last month. With him is his wife, Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado. Bong was so touched as Mother Lily played the song “There’s No Place Like Home” on the piano as he entered the function room.

In her welcome speech for Bong, Mother Lily said: “From the bottom of my heart, I am welcoming home a dear friend who we have missed so much. We are all friends in welcoming him again in our arms, someone who was not with us for reasons beyond our control or explanation. Bong Revilla, you are our dear friend and we are happy that you are back. There is no greater treasure than appreciating the blessing of friendship that has been given to us.”

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