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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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Dec 1, 2021


                                                     CINDY MIRANDA

                                           KYLIE VERSOZA

VIVAMAX is launching so many new stars to make sure they have their regular weekly supply of fresh content. 

Among the many stars they’re giving one project after another, two of the most promising for us as competent actresses are Cindy Miranda and Kylie Versoza, both former beauty queens. 

Cindy has had four releases so far: “Adan”, “Nerissa”, “House Tour” and “My Husband, My Lover”.

 Kylie has also had four releases: “The Housemaid”, “Bekis on the Run”, the series “Parang Kayo Pero Hindi”, and “My Husband, My Lover”. She also did a cameo as Sharon Cuneta’s daughter in “Revirginized”.

Both Cindy and Kylie look good on screen. Cindy is more the sweet type, mas bagay na tipong inaapi. Kylie is the more steely, hard edged type of beauty, tipong supladita, palaban. 

That’s why she’s so perfect in her role in Star Cinema's “Kasal” as a girl who won’t hesitate to mess up anyone’s life.

Cindy is memorable as the lesbian lover in “Adan” (for which she got an acting nomination), as the mysterious woman who gets revenge on the men who oppressed her in "Nerisa", and as the slow-witted but feisty vlogger who gets away with the crimes she did in “House Tour”.  

Cindy manages to shine even if the movies she star in are far from being perfect.

Kylie did well in the title role of “The Housemaid” even if she’s lovelier and classier looking than her “amo” in the film. In “Bekis on the Run”, she convincing as a lonely girl who willingly tags along with the guy who robs their company. 

In “Parang Tayo”, she also does well in the familiar role of a woman torn between two lovers, Marco Gumabao and Xian Lim. 

Now, the two of them have been cast together in “My Husband, My Lover”. The movie starts with Kylie as Alice. We see her in a mango farm with Dennis (Adrian Alandy) and we think he is her husband. 

But then, she leaves and goes home to her husband, Noel (Marco Gumabao), who’s younger, hotter, handsomer and very considerate so you’d wonder why she still needs a lover. 

Well, wala lang. Alice just wants to have her cake and eat it too. When Noel learns about Alice’s philandering, they separate. Noel finds Loida (Cindy) who seems to be a better performer in bed and obviously wants to please him. 

But they need a new complication. Noel and Alice meet again and whaddaya know, they have to make true the film’s title, so now, Noel, Alice’s ex-husband, becomes her lover and they meet clandestinely in hotels.

Loida, a lawyer, learns about it, informs Dennis, then tells Dennis they should get even by sharing the same bed themselves. Dennis is not difficult to convince and complies. 

Things get even more complicated in this game of musical chairs. The infidelities portrayed here are aeons away from the love triangle films so popular in the 60s and 70s spawned by “Sapagkat Kami’y Tao Lamang”. 

Actually, th better title for this film would be “Sapagkat Kami’y Pokpok Lamang”. The machinations in the plotting are mere flimsy excuses for lots of salacious bedscenes and exhange of partners. 

The common denominator is that these women are sluts, as Cindy said in one scene: “Puki mo swapang”. Whatever happened to the sanctity of marital vows? 

We’re sure members of the Legion of Mary will have fits when they watch this movie that is obviously made for sinful viewers. 

Well, anyway, our topic concerns Cindy and Kylie so let’s go back to them. In fairness to them, they both do well even in their most dramatic scenes with Marco and Adrian.

But it’s Kylie’s tough luck that Cindy is given the more attention-getting role. As the articulate lawyer who won’t give up easily, she really fights for Noel and certainly won’t just take things sitting down.

 She confronts everyone and Cindy manages to excel in all her scenes, delivering her lines with the right mixture of sarcasm and petulance, sneering with derision when the scene calls for it. 

Not everyone can do such scenes persuasively, but she did it with so much elan. Move over, Cherie Gil.

We believe Cindy has the capability to tackle more serious roles but right now, she’s mired with Vivamax, the home of erotic films aimed to titillate repressed viewers. 

So she might show good acting here and there but in the end, she will first and foremost be required to bare her body, do nude scenes and graphic sex scenes which are the selling factors in most Vivamax features, and forever be identified as a bold sexpot.  

The same goes for all the other nubile nymphets that are now a dime a dozen on streaming channels who say this is just a stepping stone for them. “Huwag na po kayong umasa.”

 Sex sells and that’s it. 

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CURRENTLY SHOWING IN local theaters is one of the biggest worldwide hits of 2021, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”. 

Based on the Marvel Comics character Shang-Chi, it’s one of the two big Hollywood action flicks with an Asian cast shown this year. 

The other one was “Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins”, starring Harry Golding of “Crazy Rich Asians”, shot mostly in Japan. Too bad it’s a flop. 

On the other hand, “Shang-Chi”, the first Marvel movie with a Chinese-American superhero, has made $430 million worldwide so far. 

We didn’t expect anything when we watched it because, frankly, we’re tired of superhero flicks, a genre so saturated now with it proliferating even on TV series. 

The last decade was dominated by such movies, notably “The Avengers” franchise, and we felt like it’s already coming out of our ears. 

But our son and apo enjoyed it, so we also watched it. And boy, would we have regretted it if we snubbed the movie. 

The 25th film in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), Shang-Chi is the eldest of two kids of Wenwu (Tony Leung, Chinese films royalty), who owns the mystical ten rings that give him super powers. 

He also owns the Ten Rings organization that is so powerful it can topple governments. 

While looking for the mythical village called Ta Lo (no one wins there, lahat ta lo), he meets the fairy in a magical forest, Ying Li (Fala Chen), who falls in love with him and chooses to leave their village to live with him. 

They have a son, Shang-Chi, and a daughter, Xialing. Wenwu chooses to live in peace but his foes, the Iron Gang, murder his wife and he is forced to fight the gang members. 

He trains Shang-Chi in the martial arts then sends a teenage Shang-Chi to kill the leader of the Iron Gang. The boy runs away to San Francisco and assumes a new name, Shaun. 

We meet him again as a young man (Simu Liu, a Chinese Canadian actor and stuntman born in China but grew up in Ontario ) working as a hotel parking valet with his friend Katy (Awkwafina, “Ocean’s 8”, “Crazy Rich Asians”), who has no inkling who he really is. 

While inside a bus, goons attack Shaun and Katy is surprised to see him being such an adept and fierce fighter. The thugs get from him a pendant he inherited from his mother. 

He then flies to Macau to look for his sister Xialing (Menger Zhang) who’s wearing the other half of the pendant. At first, Xialing is hostile to him for running away and leaving her alone with their dad. 

But soon, their dad Wenwu arrives and takes them all to his lair. They learn that their pendants show a map going to Ta Lo where Wenwu believes their mom is held captive as he can hear her voice calling him. 

As may be expected, the film’s climax happens in Ta Lo that exists in another dimension with its own unique and peculiar animals and mythical creatures. 

Shang-Chi meets his aunt, Ying Nan (Michelle Yeoh), sister of their mom who tells him that his dad wants to free an evil dragon and its cohorts that all consume souls of people. 

It is this evil dragon who makes it appear to Wenwu that his wife is still alive, so he would open the gates that has sealed in the dragon for thousands of years. 

Wenwu attacks Shang-Chi and company using the power of the ten rings. This becomes a showdown between father and son. 

The evil dragon is freed but a huge snake called the Great Protector helps Shang-Chi and company. 

The CGI work in this climactic scene are really a flashy extravaganza of visual effects that should be seen on a big theatre screen. 

A bit over the top but you will still be awed by all the spectacle and root for Shang-Chi and his allies.

 Looks like they already have an inkling that the film will be a hit as they have shot two end credit scene previews. 

First, Shang-Chi and Katy meet Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), who tell them the ten rings have other uses. 

In the second preview scene, we see Xialing training new men and women who look like they’ll be the next villains in a sequel of “Shang Chi”, which means it will be brother vs. sister. 

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, a young man seeking his own place in the sun while trying to elude his past controlled by his dad, makes a strong debut for a new hero. 

He’s not the traditional Hollywood handsome actor but he’s reeking with charisma and agility in the awesomely choreographed fight scenes (inside the bus and on stilts/scaffolding on the side of a building in Macau) with vividly fluid camera work.

The seemingly effortless stunt and action choreography are done by Australian martial arts expert, Brad Allan, a protege of Jackie Chan. 

He died at the young age of 48 of an unspecified illness just last August before the movie was released and you’d see in the credits that the film is dedicated to him. He has another completed film, “The King’s Men” which is coming soon.

Acclaimed Chinese icon Tony Leung (we will always remember him in Wong Kar Wai’s “In the Mood for Love”) is just perfect as Wenwu, quietly exuding the menacing malevolence he gets from the powerful ten rings. 

We’re surprised at the importance given to Awkwafina as Katy, the friend of Shang-Chi (no romantic feelings between them) who is thrust into a world totally different from what she grew up in San Francisco. 

She not only provides comic relief but figures in many important scenes and even gets to shoot the dragon in its most vulnerable part, its throat.

 Another surprise in the movie is “Gandhi” Oscar best actor Ben Kingsley in a supporting role as an actor who played the Mandarin and is abducted by the Ten Rings to be their court jester. He has a cute mythical pet, an animal with no face. 

This is surely one of the best superhero origin movies ever. “Black Panther” broadened Marvel’s roster of superheroes with an all African-American cast. “Shang-Chi” does it this time for Asians. 

What makes it different is the family dynamics involving parents and children and the element of going back to one’s roots to understand who you really are. 

And thanks to co-writer and director Daniel Cretton (who’s Hawaiian, “Just Mercy”), the film also junks the stereotype representation of Asians in Hollywood movies speaking comically with pronounced accents and successfully mixes classic Chinese martial arts movies with blockbuster superhero-action flicks. 

And now, you can wait for more MCU movies: “Spider Man 3” this month, “Doctor Strange 2” in March, “Thor 4’’ in May, “Black Panther 2” in July and “Captain Marvel 2” in November.

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Nov 30, 2021


WE FIRST noticed Olivia Cooke as Emma in the TV series “Bates Motel” (a prequel to the movie “Psycho”) which ran from 2013-2017 and we got watch all its episodes. 

She also did several films like “Me & Earl & The Dying Girl”, “Ouija”, “Ready Player One” and “Sound of Metal”. She’s also in “House of the Dragon”, the upcoming prequel to “Game of Thrones”.

She’s actually a British actress and now, she’s back in Ireland doing a heist-comedy film, “Pixie”, where she plays the title role and her perky performance alone is reason enough to watch the movie.

 “Pixie” will remind you of other hilarious heist films like “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, “True Romance” and “Snatch”. 

The movie starts with two blokes going to a church to get a stash of illegal drugs from priests. We gather they got the tip from Pixie herself and one of them is seriously in love with her and willing to do anything for her. 

This episode ends with a lot of killings and one of the blokes kills his friend out of jealousy when he learns his friend is having an affair with Pixie.

Pixie’s dream is to escape from Sligo, their suffocating small town, and start a new life in San Francisco, California.  

In a bar, she meets two young men who immediately get so infatuated with her, Frank (Ben Hardy of “The Voyeurs”) and Harland (Daryl McCormack). They follow her into her house and the film becomes a comedy of errors. We don’t want to share most details as it’ll be a sure spoiler. 

Suffice it to say that the newly minted trio of Pixie and amateur accomplices, Frank and Harland, become partners in crime who try to swindle their way to success when there are grave threats from criminal gangs strewn along their way. 

They end up with a big bag full of drugs and they don’t have an inkling on how to deal with their ill gotten loot. 

The film becomes an exciting road trip as they try to sell the drugs, with Pixie even opening the eyes of Frank and Harland about the possibilities of relating better with their families, even sharing her views with them on love and sexuality.

Pixie is the stepdaughter of a local Irish crime lord, Dermot O’Brien (Colm Meaney), who with her older brother (Turlough Convery) who envies her and hates her guts, start pursuing her and her friends relentslly to get the drugs back. 

Also after their necks is a deadly and ruthless hired assassin. 

Then there’s a group of deadly gun-toting gangster priests and nuns led by Alec Baldwin as Fr. Hector McGratth, who also want to get the stash for themselves as it’s really meant for them originally. 

As may be expected, the film offers a high body count, with lots of violent graphic death scenes and bloody shootouts.  

Despite all the violence, Director Barnaby Thompson manages to stay on the right side of witty and quirky, making “Pixie” quite a charming joyride that pays tribute to action-comedy directors like Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino, starting with its opening caption in the opening credits: “Once Upon a Time in the West... Of Ireland”. 

And the cinematography does feature beautiful scenery of the Irish rolling countryside.

The film is meant to be a showcase for Cooke’s engaging and goofy effervescence that fully embraces even the film’s absurdity. 

And no one among the other cast members manages to steal the limelight from her. Hardy and McCormack manage to hold their own as her trusting sidekicks but, in the end, they get the shock of their lives when they discover that she still manages to put one over them for the film’s final twist.

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Nov 29, 2021

ROCCO NACINO just renewed his contract as a Kapuso. 

He was merely the 3rd placer in Starstruck5 in 2010, but he’s now a bigger star than the winner, Steven Silva, who has faded away, and Enzo Pineda, who moved to ABS-CBN where his career sadly didn’t prosper. 

So there must really be a prize for being a loyal Kapuso. Look at other Starstruck winners who left GMA, Martin Escudero and Aljur Abrenica. 

Rocco is much more fortunate than them as he has a current hit drama series on primetime, “To Have and to Hold”.

“I am just truly thankful to GMA for supporting my career all these years,” he says at the solo presscon hosted for him. “This year, I’m particularly lucky kasi usually one soap a year lang kami. 

"But this year, they included me sa ‘Owe My Love’ ni Lovi Poe. I thought yun na yon, but then, heto, they have me play the male lead in ‘To Have and To Hold’ and it’s now my most successful show with me playing the lead role on primetime.”

The lead role of Gavin, the guy torn between Max Collins and Carla Abellana in the story, was originally meant for Derek Ramsay, who must now be regretting that he let go of such a plum role. 

“I guess I should thank Derek, but I really felt nice when he said he is happy na sa akin napunta ang role ng Gavin. 

"But I understand him na ayaw niyang mag-lock in taping kasi marami siyang kasama sa bahay, like his parents, and he might be the carrier of the virus sa kanila. 

"So blessing talaga na sa akin napunta ang ‘To Have and to Hold’ which is now one of the toprating Kapuso shows on GMA Telebabad at tumatak talaga siya sa viewers.”

The show is a success because he has great dramatic chemistry with both Max Collins as his wife and Carla Abellana as his the new girl in his life. How is it working with them? 

“I’ve worked with both of them before. but this is the first time na naka-lock in taping kami,” he says. 

“So since we’re all staying in the same place, there was much opportunity for us to talk a lot, dissect our roles and plan how to attack our important scenes together.”

He says he had no inkling the show would be such a big hit. 

“Obviously, the viewers can really relate with the story of Gavin, kasi the story revolves primarily on him. 

"I really immersed myself in the role and I didn’t realize how deep I’ve gone into him kasi nadadala ko siya even after the take. 

"I’d have to detox after each taping to be able to get back to what I really am."

He is so thankful to Max and Carla for collaborating with him. 

“Our scenes are mostly so intense. Ngayon lang ako nagpakita ng ganung katinding galit sa isang scene namin ni Max na ang tagal kinunan bago nabuo. 

"We were so absorbed into our characters that our director, Don Michael Perez, told us to relax muna kasi grabe ang bilis naming pumasok sa characters namin. 

"And I really want to thank Direk and our writers kasi I collaborate with them. Tinatanong ko sila kung tama ba yung dialogue ng character ko and they help me change it para mas gumanda. 

"Now, even the comments of viewers on social about the show are all very encouraging.”

He’ll be celebrating his first wedding anniversary with wife Melissa Gohing in January. So how is married life so far? 

“It’s wonderful. It’s a new chapter in our lives. May times, naninibago pa rin kami and we’re still doing lots of learning, but the period of adjustment is more good than bad.” 

What will he say is his wife’s most endearing qualities? 

“Melissa is Ilongga and you know what they say about Ilonggas, they’re malambing. And it’s true, I can attest to that. She is very thoughtful. 

I can feel yung pag-aalaga niya sa akin lalo na pag may lock in taping ako. She prepares my things at kumpleto ang listahan niya. She also keeps on reminding me what I need to do sa location.” 

What about starting their own family? 

“Actually gusto ko na ring magka-baby. But may priorities pa kaming dapat gawin before that next stage in our life so we want to plan it muna. 

"Everyone says pagdating ng baby, our lives will change totally so we’ll now enjoy muna our time together. 

"Isa pa, pinagaganda pa namin ang house namin kasi when we moved there, naabutan kami ng pandemic. So we make improvements, like now, may sarili na kaming sauna. So far, it’s been a fun ride for us.” 

Rocco also has his own vlog and he’s glad that his entries about home improvement tips click well with his followers. 

“And remember, I’m a registered nurse so ngayong pandemic, nagagamit ko yun in reminding people about health protocols to make sure we all won’t be infected by the virus. 

"Sa family ko nga, ako mismo ang nagswa-swab sa kanila. In my spare time, I have also been writing my own concepts for future shows and if the creative group is willing to listen, i can pitch to them some of my ideas.”

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OGIE ALCASID revealed in the presscon of “Christmas with the Stars” that he got into a freak accident while hosting ‘Showtime” recently. 

He was doing a segment ala-Squid Game where he is strapped high up in the air when the cable holding him snapped and he fell into the floor 12 feet below. 

“Yes po, nahulog ako,” he says. “But i’m okay. May pa-stunt kasi kami, pero naputol yung what’s holding me so ayun, nagkasugat ako, pasa-pasa. 

"They were telling me magpa-MRI ako, but there were no fractures naman and also, the show must go on kaya tinuloy ko pa rin ang performance ko.”

“Christmas with the Stars” is a Yuletide concert hosted by Ogie Alcasid and Ian Veneracion with various OPM stars performing for the benefit of the Independent Production Workers Group, in cooperation with the Ortigas malls. 

These are the people who work with them in concerts and other live performances who are affected by the pandemic and had no income for almost two years. 

The show has an impressive list of very talented performers who are all willing to help: Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, Dingdong Avanzado, Christian Bautista, Poppert Bernadas, Noel Cabangon, Ryan Cayabyab Singers, Jose Mari Chan, The Company, RJ Dela Fuente, Krystle, Moira Lacambra, Kuh Ledesma, Gian Magdangal, Lara Maigue, Lani Misalucha, Martin Nievera, Randy Santiago, Aicelle Santos, Gary Valenciano and National Artist Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, as directed by Paolo Valenciano.

This will be shown streaming on Dec. 11 7 pm at KTX. 

“Sana suportahan nyo kami for this worthwhile show to help these jobless workers economically, especially this Christmas season,” says Ogie. “This is really a Christmas show aimed to help the workers sa live entertainment circuit dahil tinamaan talaga sila ng pandemic.”

To get free tickets for the show, here’s what should do: 

1. Register for the Christmas With The Stars Online Concert via the Ortigas Malls website from November 13 until December 10, 2021.

2. Download the Ortigas Malls App and register for the Ortigas Community Card. Customers must be registered for the Ortigas Community Card.  

3. Submit a single or accumulated receipt worth Php 1,000 from any Ortigas Mall establishment via the Ortigas Malls Christmas With The Stars Google Form (www.ortigasmalls.com) with a screenshot of your Ortigas Community Card Membership ID from November 4 until December 10, 2021.

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MAJA SALVADOR and her BF Rambo Nunez are very open about their lovelife so Maja was asked if, like so many other showbiz couples who tied the knot lately, are she and Rambo are planning to walk down the aisle anytime soon since they are even business partners in their talent management agency, Crown Artists. 

“Dapat yata, siya ang sumagot sa ganyang tanong,” she says. 

“HInihintay ko pa yung ring na sinlaki ng door knob ang bato para ipamana sa akin ni Manang Rhea Tan of Beautederm. Kapag ipinamana na niya sa’kin, baka ako pa ang lumuhod kay Rambo. 

"But yes, napag-uusapan naman namin yan, pero ultimately, si God po ang magde-decide kung kailan ang tamang panahon para sa amin. Darating din tayo dyan. Hindi naman ako maramot sa press tungkol sa ganyan.” 

Ms. Rei Tan says at this point: “Kapag ikinasal sila, sasagutin ko yung reception.” 

Maja is very happy to be the newest endorser of Beautederm for their Reiko and Kenzen Health Booster formulated to help you good health and lasting energy for a healthy lifestyle. 

“Ako po’y sobrang grateful na kahit sa panahon ng pandemia, kinuha ko ng Beautederm family so I’m very happy ako to endorse their products na talagang kailangan natin ngayon for our protection.” 

Maja says she’s really been using Beautederm products for some years now.  “Two years ago, nag-video call si Manang Rhea sa’kin, nag-Ilokano kaagad. She said, Uy Bebeng, napintas na mga Ilokana, di ba? 

"So, ayu’n naka-connect agad. And nandun ‘yung feeling ko na darating siguro ‘yung time na magiging member din ako ng Beautederm family kahit ang dami ng babies ni Manang Rhea Tan. 

"I think hinanapan niya ako kunsaan talaga ako perfect sa mga product niya at nakita niya sa video calls namin na ang hyper ko, so now, may energy boosters ako and I really love those health boosting supplements.”

“Yes, two years na po kaming nagbi-video call at matagal ko na siyang gustong kunin,” says Ms. Rei Tan. “Maja is Maja, best actress ‘yan, magaling sumayaw manang-mana sa Manang niya. At gusto ko ng ganu’n.”

So what are her and Rambo’s plans for the coming holiday season? 

“My mom now lives in Canada after she married a Canadian citizen so gusto ko sanang dalawin namin siya ni Rambo this Christmas and New Year. We applied for a Canadian visa kaso matagal daw ang processing. 

"We’re waiting pero kapag first week ng December at hindi pa approved, baka sa U.S. na lang kami magkita-kita kasi ayaw niyang umuwi ng Pilipinas at maiwanan ng matagal ang trabaho niya roon. Sayang daw ang kikitain niya.” 

But isn’t she nominated as best actress in the Asian Academy Creative Awards to be held in Singapore this December? She got her nomination for her TV5 show hit show, “Nña Niño”. 

“Yes, I’m excited nga, but there’s no need to go to Singapore kasi virtual lang naman ang awards night. But I really want to thank them for the nomination. 

"Meantime, I feel truly blessed to  be a brand ambassador of REIKO and KENZEN Beautéderm Health Boosters, the perfect set of supplements that are ideal for my lifestyle. I am a firm believer of balance – there’s a time to work and a time to unwind and have fun. 

"But what is constant in my life is my conscious effort to stay healthy. Health is one of the most important aspects in my life that I really take the time to focus on every day. 

"This is the reason why I am taking charge of my health with REIKO and KENZEN Beautéderm Health Boosters, the perfect supplements for me. I am encouraging everyone to make this line of health boosters a part of their daily lifestyle for that added boost of strength and vigor.”

For more information about REIKO and KENSEN Beautéderm Health Boosters and exciting updates on Maja Salvador and Beautéderm, follow @beautédermcorporation on Instagram and TikTok; and @beautedermcorp on Twitter; like Beautéderm on Facebook; and subscribe to Beautéderm TV on YouTube.

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Nov 28, 2021


VIEWERS who expect “Spencer”, currently shown in local theaters, to be the usual biopic about Princess Diana will surely be disappointed as it isn’t concerned with showing the events in her life that we already know. 

Instead, it presents a very incisive, layered portrait of her private persona and mental health.

 Director Pablo Larrain is a Chilean filmmaker who got an Oscar foreign film nomination for his film “No” and later produced the first Chilean film to win an Oscar, “A Fantastic Woman”. 

He went to Hollywood to do a filmbio on Jackie Kennedy and just did the Stephen King TV series “Lisey’s Story” starring Julianne Moore. He calls his Spencer “a fable”.

It focuses only on three days in the life of Diana Spencer: Christmas Eve of 1991, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas which they call Boxing Day in England. 

By this time, Diana’s marriage to Charles has already been strained by his brazen affair with Camilla Parker Bowles so the film doesn’t even go into that.

 If you want a juicier and more expansive film bio, then watch previous films made about her even on TV like the documentary “Diana in Her Own Words” in 2017, “Lady Diana” a film made in 2013 with Naomi Watts in the title role,

 “The Story of Princess Diana” on Amazon, “Diana: Her True Story” a TV film in 1993, and so many more, even “The Crown, Season 4”. 

“Spencer” (first time a film uses her family name to distinguish it from all past films with Diana in its title) takes a lot of liberties in telling those pivotal three days in the life of the late Princess. 

We don’t know how true are the imagined situations portrayed in it. Don’t expect a fast-paced florid drama full of confrontations and tears as this one is so stylized and paced very leisurely. 

Most of the time, the camera is just focused on Diana, following her as she walks around the palace and its grounds, going to the royal kitchen to eat secretly because she’s so hungry in the middle of the night.

 Highly stylized, it’s a fictionalized presentation on the psychological crisis that Diana went through. 

The acting is very quiet. You don’t see Diana screaming or getting hysterical. It’s all layered. 

At the Christmas Day mass, she sees Charles’ paramour. She never verbalizes it, but you can see her tortured feelings registered all over her as the photographers swarm on them for the usual family photos. 

The film is more of a intimate portrait that uses many metaphors and this will surely alienate viewers who refuse to think. 

Pleasing the ordinary moviegoer is not its priority. It starts with Diana (Kristen Stewart) driving around Norfolk to look for the Sandringham Estate where the royal family spends its Christmas holidays. 

She gets into a pub, surprising everyone, to announce that she doesn’t know where she is and that she is lost. 

You get the feeling that she’s actually avoiding to go to Sandringham, but then she meets the royal chef on the road and she notices that she is actually in a place that used to be her childhood home with a familiar scarecrow on its grounds. 

At the Christmas Eve dinner she wears a pearl necklace that Charles gave her and when she sees him on the dinner table, she feels suffocated that the necklace breaks and the pearls fall into her soup and she eats them. 

Later on, you’d realize that she is just hallucinating.  

In her room, they plant a book on Anne Boleyn, the queen who was beheaded, as some sort of warning to her, and she starts having visions of Anne’s ghost talking to her. 

Diana and Charles are not shown talking but when she finally talks to them about their sons, they are separated by a huge pool table that signifies the yawning gap between them. 

Queen Elizabeth has minimal speaking lines. The other royals have no speaking lines at all. 

The aim of the film is for us to give our total sympathy to Diana, the people’s princess, who is actually tormented by the British royal family. 

The House of Windsor surely won’t win any sympathizers for the way they treated her. 

Even the people working for them keep a strict ring around Diana and pressure her to conform to the protocols and pressures of royal life, just forget her own needs for the sake of the country. 

The film explains why she becomes the Queen’s rebellious daughter in law, before Megan Markle. 

On Christmas night, Diana visits Park House, her childhood home,  recalls her happy memories as a girl, shown in flashbacks. 

For a while, she seems to be thinking of throwing herself down the stairs but Anne Boleyn’s ghost stops her and, instead, she finally rips apart the pearl necklace from Charles as a symbol of her breaking away from him. 

The next day, she decides to get her sons back and they head to London where they sing “All I Need is a Miracle” in their Porsche convertible. 

Diana finally feels free. The next year, her separation from Charles is officially announced. 

Kristen Stewart is lionized for her portrayal of Diana and now we know why. We remember her as the child actress who played Jodie Foster’s feisty daughter in “Panic Room” then she gained stardom in the “Twilight” films where she gave lackluster performances. 

Obviously, she really studied and prepared for the role of Diana. If you’ve seen video footages of the late princess, she succeeds in capturing the voice and mannerisms down pat, with anguish and frustration so palpable in her line deliveries that reek of misery. 

Even her accent is on point, considering she’s American. 

Some monarchy sympathizers might think she is just being insubordinate when they even gave her a fairy tale wedding, but they didn’t see the toll Charles’ dalliance with Camilla took on her mental stability, even causing eating disorders. 

She became lonely and hungers for friendship, but even that is taken away from her when Charles gets rid of her favorite dresser, Maggie (Sally Hawkes), and sends her back to London. 

The film itself is handsomely mounted, with enchanting cinematography, impressive locations and costumes, and a fine jazzy score that banks mostly on piano and violin. 

The production design shows how British royals require hordes of servants, cooks, servers every time they have breakfast, lunch or dinner, plus private dressers and so many security people, all paid by British taxpayers no doubt. 

Among Stewart’s co-stars only Timothy Spall and Sally Hawkins make an impression. Spall stands out as the dedicated ex-military servant of the palace who is programmed like a robot and obeys everything they say without any objection. 

Hawkins (“Shape of Water”) is the voice of reason who tells Diana to fight back. All the rest are forgettable.

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                       SHIDO ROXAS with 'NELIA' film producer ATTY. ALDWIN ALEGRE

SHIDO ROXAS is ending 2021 with two movies he did being shown in theaters consecutively.

 Opening on December 15 is “Caught in the Act”, directed by Perry Escano. And on December 25, an official entry in the annual Metro-Manila Filmfest is “Nelia”, directed by Lester Dimaranan. 

“I play very challenging roles in both films,” he says. “In ‘Caught in the Act’, I play an unscrupulous businessman na boyfriend ni Karel Marquez, a teacher. 

"Her students are Joaquin Domagoso and Andi Abaya who invent an app that helps cops to apprehend criminals. May pagka-villain ang role ko but there will be redemption later.” 

What about in “Nelia”? 

“Maganda rin ang role ko as a doctor in a hospital where mysterious deaths are happening,” he replies. “As Dr. Enrico Josan, I will try to help find out what’s causing the death of our patients. 

"The title role of Nelia is played by Winwyn Marquez, a nurse who is a mystery kasi hindi mo malaman kung mabait ba siya or siya yung killer.” 

“Nelia” is the first debut film of their director and produced by a first time producer also, Atty. Aldwin Alegre. 

“The shoot is very memorable for me kasi inabot kami roon ng lockdown last March. Mabait yung character ko but he has a wild side. We shot in an actual hospital in Gapan, Nueva Ecija. Alagang-alaga kami ng producer namin doon.”

How is their neophyte director? 

“Direk Lester is new, but he’s okay, he knows what he’s doing. Just like Direk Perry Escano in ‘Caught in the Act’, chill lang sila sa set. Very cool. 

"Also with us in the movie 'Nelia' are Raymond Bagatsing as another doctor and Ali Forbes who’s also a nurse and gives a very daring performance here. Marami siyiang gugulatin dito.” 

Is it true he’s being asked to do butt exposure in the movie but he declined? 

“Yes. Okay lang naman sa’kin kung maganda talaga ang role at ako talaga yung bida. I’m being projected as a sexy actor but I really want to do more serious roles.”  

As a guest in “Wish Ko Lang” some months ago, he played Christopher de Leon’s ill fated lover and in his wake scene, his throat is seen swallowing when he’s supposed to be already dead. 

This scene was recorded by netizens and it went viral. 

“Yes, I was then in our farm in Laguna taking care of my goats and chickens and I had no inkling it’s trending all over the internet na pala. 

"Friends just forwarded them to me. Actually, ako mismo, hindi ko napansing napalunok pala ako. Well, it’s amusing, naging comic relief. Mahirap pong magpatay-patayan.”  

Aside from his farm, Shido has another business, The Swab Doctor that offers RT-PCR Covid swab test with fast results. You can contact it @thewabdoctor.ph. 

By the way, how is it working with Winwyn as Nelia? 

“This is our second time kasi we worked before sa TV series na ‘Beauty Queen’. She’s fun to work with, kantyawan, lokohan kami sa set. She’s very good in this movie as the title role character.” 

Does he know that she’s rumored to be pregnant? 

“No, I don’t know. We text every now and then but first time kong narinig yan. But we will have a grand presscon soon and she said she will be present there so you can ask there her if the rumor is true.”

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Nov 27, 2021


MARK DE LA CRUZ is one of GMA Network’s top young directors. 

He started his directing career in 2006 with a short film, “Misteryo ng Hapis”, then went on to become an assistant then full director of shows like “Marimar” (Megan Young version), “Asawa Ko, Karibal Ko” and “The Better Woman”. He also directs for the weekly drama show “Magpakailanman”.

He’s currently directing the hit primetime show, “I Left My Heart in Sorsogon” whose story gets more and more intriguing and exciting as the narrative goes on so it's not surprising the ratings continue to escalate nightly. 

“I am so thankful that this show was given to me,” he says. 

“I started as a director sa GMA with Heart herself as the star of ‘Legacy’ so reunion namin ito,” he says. “I enjoy working with her kasi very collaborative kami. I always ask her kung okay ba sa kanya ang gagawin naming eksena to make sure she’s comfortable. 

"In ‘I Left My Heart in Sorsogon’, she’s not only the lead star but she also acted as our host since her husband is the governor of the province. We showed in 'I Left My Heart' how beautiful Sorsogon is. Also their delicious native foods, like their kakanin called kuping na ang sarap talaga. Masarap ang kuping.”

But he concedes that doing lock in taping for the show is very tiring. 

“Mahirap kasi nga ang layo ng location. We have to bring the entire cast and crew sa Sorsogon na 14 hours ang biyahe. Pero masaya naman kasi we are all in the same bus na may sariling restroom so as not to break the bubble for our own protection.”

He wants to thank Gov. Chiz and his people for being so hospitable. 

“The Sorsogon government not only helped us maintain our safe bubble para sure na hindi makapasok ang ibang tao sa location but inasikaso nila talaga kami nang husto. 

"Maraming mahirap na eksena kasi malalayo ang locations. From our hotel you have to travel pa ng mga two hours before you get there. But sa pagtutulungan ng lahat at magandang pagsasamahan ng cast and crew, I’m proud na naitawid naman namin nang maayos ang buong lock in taping.”

He is so happy that the show has been getting high ratings and good reviews since it started airing. 

“The story naman kasi is maganda talaga at okay ang pagkakasulat. Tapos, binigyang buhay pa ng magagaling na artista. In fairness, lahat sila mahusay in their respective roles. 

"Tapos, we really made an effort to show their most beautiful places, like Pagoriran kunsaan kita mo ang Mayon Volcano in the background. 

"Sabi ko talaga, after this taping, balak kong bumalik doon nang hindi ako nagtatrabaho, but I will just enjoy the beauty of the province kasi maganda talaga ang Sorsogon.”

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                            SAAB AGGABAO AS THE HORNY BOSS IN 'EVA'



ASIDE FROM Angeli Khang who plays the title role, there are three new sexpots who will heat up the screen in Vivamax’ special Yuletide presentation for randy viewers, “Eva”. 

These are Saab Aggabao, Quinn Carillo and Angelica Cervantes who all had their baptism of fire doing passionate sex scenes.

Saab is first introduced in “Pornstar 2: Pangalawang Putok” and she now plays a bigger role in “Eva”. 

“Sa ‘Pornstar 2’, parang patikim lang ang ginawa ko, pasilip-silip lang,” she says. “Hindi kasing-sexy nito. Dito sa ‘Eva’, grabehan, talaga. 

"Sobrang palaban yung character ko, puede sa babae, puede sa lalaki. May threesome ako with Angeli Khang and Marco Gomez sa iisang kama. Pero okay at comfortable naman ako sa mga kasama ko, so nagawa namin nang tama.” 

Her co-stars say she’s the life of the party on the set, with everyone saying she made the set so happy. Sab started laughing so loud. 

“Sorry, di ko mapigilan ang tawa. Naalala ko kasi yung isang eksena namin. Yes, behind the scenes, masaya kami. Nairaos naming lahat. Thanks to our director, si Direk Jeffrey Hidalgo, nae-explain niyang mabuti ang point ng bawat eksena. 

"Siya yung director na nakita kong chill lang. Siya pa yung nagsasabi, magdamit naman kayo in between takes, kami naman ang nagsasabi, ayaw namin, mainit, aalisin din naman uli mamaya. Hahahaha!”. 

Quinn Carillo has played supporting roles in her past films, like in ‘Silab’ and ‘Shoot Shoot Di Kita Titigilan’. 

“Puro kikay-kikay ang roles ko roon and in real life, kikay din naman ako,” she says. “So bago talaga ang role ko sa ‘Eva’ as a lesbian, a transman. Kilos lalaki ako and I did something na ngayon ko talaga nagawa in all my life, make love with another woman.”

Her bedmate is also a newbie, Angelica Cervantes. 

“Sobrang kaba ko before the take, sabi ko kay Direk Jeffrey, bahala ka na kasi ngayon ko lang gagawin ito. But sobrang ingat naman ni Direk so nung take na, I just let go. 

"Kay Direk kasi, hindi ka mahihiya. He makes you feel he’s welcome to suggestions and he explains in detail what he needs sa sex scenes, so I really trusted him and his staff. It’s fun to work with them.”

 Angelica Cervantes also had her doubts but she plunged in with her eyes close. 

“Nag-aalangan talaga  ako nung una, kapa kapa pa. But my first bedscene was with Saab Aggabao at inalalayan niya ako. Siya ang nagdala ng eksena. First time ko gumawa ng ganito at mabuti na lang na lahat sila, okay katrabaho. 

"Nabinyagan ako ng sobra. Very memorable ang buong experience for me kasi we did things we don’t normally we do with other people. Abangan nyo at magbabaga talaga ang screen nyo.”

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