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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Movie Reviews: The Gay Movie Shelter is Endearing!



When I was in my 30s, my brother and I would usually actively watch movies in gay film festivals here in Manila, Hong Kong and Bangkok.
It was our simple way of supporting the LGBT community, and really, a decade ago, it was still a bit subversive to be watching gay films in the open, even abroad. With so many paminta around, nobody wanted to be seen in public, watching a gay-themed film.
I have kinda stopped though nowadays, so it was a real pleasure when I watched this gay-themed movie called Shelter, which was released in the US in 2007.

Since most gay movies, especially the local ones are f*****ng depressing, it was quite refreshing to watch a gay movie where nobody dies in the end! And it helps that the lead is Aga Muhlach-cute! And he can act!
The script could easily be replicated here in Manila but the movie is set in southern California and because the movie has many beautiful shots of the place, parang I want to visit California na talaga in 2016, yun lang, I may need an international driver's license so I can drive around.
Anyhow, the movie is entertaining and any newbie gay person should easily relate to it. There are indeed many things that gay people have to consider before coming out and I really feel for them.
I just feel really lucky I did not have to endure many of those things. May advantages din if bakla ka na nung bata ka! Wala nang need to come out. It just makes one's life much easier.

Movie Review: Let the Right One In - Bleak, Cold, Lonely, Mysterious




Sweden is such a beautiful country, whether you go there in winter or summer. It is not crowded and public transport arrives like clockwork. The people can speak good English and I love ogling at the tall blonde boys, be they at the park, at the train station or at the swimming pool!
That is why I wonder why popular Swedish cinema is populated by really sick, really mentally sick, really lonely, really scary characters. Their cinema just doesn't reflect how beautiful their country is.
The American horror movie 'Let Me In' was my personal Best Film of 2010. It was probably the scariest movie I've seen since The Sixth Sense.
And then I learned that it was just a remake, and that the original was from Sweden and the title came from a Morrissey song, Let the Right One In.
The two movies are virtual mirror images of one another, as the American remake stayed almost 100% faithful to the original version. A few changes were made, but the atmosphere of dread, and cold, biting cold, and the degree of violence were very similar.
We watched the Swedish version of the movie on Christmas dawn, after we had our noche buena. Laura was the only one awake with me and I told her that it was one of the scariest movies I've ever seen - and she agreed with me soon as the end credits came up.
This is also one of the cleverest spins to a vampire story that I've ever seen. I assure you that as the end credits roll, there will be sick feeling in your stomach.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Champetre Part Deux








Thank God for giving me these friends!  I love hanging out with them so much!  Anyway, this year, we decided on celebrating our Christmas at Champetre in BGC and I was not disappointed.  The conversations we had was epic and the food did help to keep us all in a very happy mood!  I have been here before and I have no regret that we ate here again!

Yummy pa rin ang food!

Creepy Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Nightcrawler'




I remember that 'Nightcrawler' had its screening here in Manila last year but it quietly disappeared.
The movie eventually got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, because it really was one of the most original stories from last year's roster of films.
Too bad Jake Gyllenhaal was not in the 2015 Oscar Best Actor list but this year was really pretty crowded with fantastic performances from the guys.
Jake Gyllenhaal's character here is probably one of the creepiest leading men I have seen in years. Jake inhabits the character so well, you'd forget he was one-half of the M2M couple in The Brokeback Mountain. Wala talagang kaluluwa ang character niya dito.
We always talk about being ethical in our lives and free ourselves from greed, but Jake's character here is the most unethical and most greedy person you'd meet and he will do anything, even have someone killed, just to get what he wants. It's so chilling to watch him!
I've loved Rene Russo for ages and I think this is her best work ever! It does help that she's married to the director so she had first dibs on this role. This is a side that I've never seen her play, because like Jake's character, this woman will do anything for money, for ratings, to be ahead in the game.
I don't know much about journalism ethics and where to draw the line on what to show to the audience, but I believe most of the things she did here won't be acceptable practice in most US TV channels.
Or I might be wrong and they may be doing it already.
This movie has a 'European' style ending. The bad man wins so it was not very easy for me to switch the DVD and TV off knowing there was no redemption for the 'victimized' people in the end.......Huhuhu
So don't watch this when you've had a bad day, baka lalo pang mag-aggravate ang already bad mood mo!

Monday, December 14, 2015

My Brother's Very First Movie Appearance!







Mama texted me around midnight the other night and told me we had to go to the premiere of my brother's movie last night.
I initially told my brother I couldn't make it because I had two parties already, but I felt a bit guilty because he has always supported me when I started my business and in most of the fashion shows we produced.
Anyway, I think my friends naman would understand. How many times in a year nga naman do you appear in a movie?
I'm actually happy I went because it's always important to support your family in all their crazy dreams! He may not have said it aloud but I think he was very happy Mama and I, at least, were there.
We had a lot to say about his acting though, LOL! At least now, yung press release niya, talagang may nangyari na! Congrats sis!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Will The Oscars Honor the Black Experience?



The issue of color has lately been in the forefront of the major award bodies, especially in the acting academy. The SAG, which is the voting arm of the actors, has been under fire for the past few years now, for failing to include other races in the major awards.
Well, this year, that issue was emphatically addressed as two of the Best Ensemble Acting Nominees (their equivalent for Best Picture), were about the experiences of African-Americans and Africans themselves.
I was actually shocked but very pleased to see Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton in the SAG's Best Film Ensemble Acting award because it boosts the chances of these two films to get a coveted Oscar Best Picture nomination.
What's good about these movies is that they truly reflect the black man's experience and the issues they deal with - and it's also very rare for the acting guild to honor a group of black actors in a movie - so these 1-2 punch really shakes things up for the future of diversity in award nominations.
Idris Elba though, from Beasts of No Nation, is the only actor of color to get a SAG nomination. I hope his name pushes through to the more coveted Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
The acting guild has the largest population in the Academy and these films are acting-driven, so all the help is needed to ensure that either of the two get the #1 vote in the Oscar ballots, for them to snag an Oscar Best Picture nomination.
Since the awards are normally just icing on the cake, it is very important for Hollywood to tell the story of the many different faces of the American population - from the African-Americans, to the Latinos, to the Asian-Americans and the native Americans.
If the SAG nominations want to reflect diversity, there should be diverse movies about all the different races, otherwise, it will always be an all-white affair.

To Get an Oscar Nomination Becoming A Possibility for A Nine-Year Old


The Oscars have nominated children and teenagers in the past and the most recent one has been Quvenzhane Wallis, who was nine years old when she got nominated for Best Actress in the Beasts of the Southern Wild.
This year, it's the turn of a boy actor, of similar age, who has kept the award circuit buzzing. Jacob Tremblay just got nominated for a SAG Best Supporting Actor award and the buzz around him is so strong, some even consider him a forerunner in the Oscar Best Supporting Actor award.
It's because his role is so central the the movie he is in, Room, that many critics and award watchers won't be surprised if they do give the trophy to him on Oscar night.
The reviews of his acting and that of his mother in the movie, Brie Larson, are so good that if both of them win an Oscar, it wouldn't surprise pundits at all!
Well, Jacob has to get his name on the Oscar shortlist first and with this SAG nomination, his name would be on top of many of the actor's voting list.
The last young male person who was nominated for an Oscar that I can remember of is Haley Joel Osment for The Sixth Sense, and he was really unforgettable in that role. He really carried the movie!

Looks Like Leo Might Finally Win an Oscar!



This might be the year that Leonardo di Caprio will finally find out if his co-Hollywood elite A-list actors "really, really love" him!
And magpasalamat talaga sya that the Academy voted for Eddy Redmayne as Best Actor last year, because if Eddy didn't win, Eddy would be Leo's biggest competition for the Oscar this year, and the Academy pa naman have no qualms in giving the Best Actor trophy to men who play it gay or who dress up as women.
With a Best Actor nomination for The Revenant from the much bigger SAG voting population, he should easily be a shoo-in for a 6th Oscar Best Actor nod.
And with Matt Damon out of the SAG race (for The Martian), it really boosts his chances of winning both the SAG and the Oscar.
It also helps that no single actor has dominated this season's Best Actor race, unlike the last time he was nominated, where Matthew McConnaughey was a critic's darling and went on to sweep all the major awards (SAG, Golden Globe and the Oscars), while Leo's fans protested!
Among his other co-nominees are Johnny Depp, who also hasn't won an Oscar but has been nominated twice before, Michael Fassbender, who plays Steve Jobs.and the popular Breaking Bad actor, Bryan Cranston in Trumbo.
All the five guys in the list are all popular and well-loved so Leo has to campaign properly to make sure he gets the most votes from among they guys!
Also, it has been 22 years na since his first nomination in What's Eating Gilbert Grape! Napanuod ko pa yan sa isang SM cinema. And even at that young age, alam mo na talaga na this kid was going to be a huge movie star.
And Leo has certainly shown his potential. Should he prepare a speech na? Let's see how the Golden Globes vote naman.

Gustav Klimt's Painting: The Movie I Want to Watch from Among the SAG Nominees


When I scanned the SAG nominations, I immediately knew that this was the movie Vic and I would watch agad!
Admittedly, I was surprised that Helen Mirren got nominated for Best Actress for this film, Woman in Gold, because her name wasn't in the shortlist of any of the more popular critics.
Just goes to show that actors judge differently from movie critics..
Anyhow, the reason why Vic and I would most likely want to watch this movie is because we are, like millions of other people, big fans of Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer! Yes, that painting! We even have a similar replica of it in Vic's room! And Vic knows that story behind that painting and what happened to it after World War II.
Basically, that's the gist of the story of Woman in Gold.
Helen Mirren is the niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer and she fought the Austrian government for the right to possess what was really their family's painting which the Nazis stole from them.
That's basically what I know. The rest, I may have to watch the movie.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Lesbian and a Transgender: Front and Center in the 2016 Oscar Awards Season




The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) have released their nominations today and I'm really glad that they embraced two small movies which are very close to the heart of the LGBT community.
These SAG nominations should help these actors garner the more prestigious Oscar nominations - and with an Oscar nomination - these movies get the whole world talking about them and their unique stories.
I feel it's time people talk about the lives of gays and lesbians and transgenders. For these characters to take centerstage and to actually carry a film is a big step since 2005's Brokeback Mountain.
The last lesbian role I could think of that won the Oscar Best Actress was Charlize Theron in Monster. Cate Blanchett should be a shoo-in in the same category for the movie Carol, a girl-on-girl tale set in the 50s and well Cate and Rooney Mara, nominated for Best Supporting Actress don't really look like the stereotypical tibo we are used to. But this movie is set in the 1950s, so it's quite understandable.
Actors playing gay roles have won and been nominated many many times in the past. It's been one of the more sure ways to snag a nomination - if you do the role properly. William Hurt won the Oscar Best Actor for Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Dustin Hoffman dressed up as a woman in Tootsie and got a well-deserved nomination.
Well, the SAG nominated last year's Oscar winner Eddy Redmayne for Best Actor for The Danish Girl. New ingenue Alicia Vikander also got a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
So a transgender and a lesbian will be two of the talking points for the 2016 Oscar awards season. I really hope The Danish Girl and Carol make it to the Best Picture nominees.
Knowing how many gay people there are working in the Hollywood movie industry, I hope they rank either of the 2 as their number one choice, so it gives these two LGBT-themed movies more chances for a Best Picture nomination.

Ridley Scott Should Win 2016 Oscar Best Director Award


The 2016 Oscar season has just started as the National Board of Review released their best list for this year, and I'm pretty excited that finally Ridley Scott has a very big chance of snagging the Oscar Best Director award that he richly deserves.
I was a kid when I first saw Alien and I was so amazed and excited by it - and you can watch the film now - and you would say that with its special effects and pacing - that it's not a movie that was made in 1979! Also, it was one of the rare times in Hollywood, where the hero of an action sci-fi movie was a woman!!
And then he did Thelma and Louise when I was in college! You'd think a woman directed this movie but I was surprised to find out it was him! And then you can see the thread of how comfortable he is with directing women in a lead role - and strong women at that.
Then when I was working na, he did Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, in two succeeding years. I really thought he'd win it for Gladiator pero wala. Tapos, I don't really like macho war movies but I was moved by Black Hawk Down and when I checked the director - sya naman pala, no wonder you really care for the characters.
My brother saw The Martian (the movie Scott will most likely win an Oscar for) and my brother said it was a poorer version of Gravity - and I haven't seen it yet - he said the ending was too Hollywood-ish.
Anyway, the Academy rarely matches the movie to the director - like Martin Scorsese won for The Departed but not for Raging Bull or Goodfellas, which were more superior films. Sometimes, the award comes belatedly.
It would be interesting to see how the other influential critics vote but with the list now of movies and directors, I think he's the one who deserves to finally win na talaga.
He's getting old na, sayang naman kung posthumous ang award. Except for Steven Spielberg (he already has 2 Oscars for Best Director), most of the other prospective nominees are young - and they can wait for their turn,

Rooting for Jennifer Jason Leigh for Oscar Best Supporting Actress


Another big winner in the National Board of Review awards this year, and who I'm sure, will also figure big in the coming Oscar race, is 90s star Jennifer Jason Leigh.
And it does help that the movie she won for (The Hateful Eight) is directed by Quentin Tarantino! So that gives her more gravitas during voting time. Incidentally, the SAG will release its nominations next week, so if she's there, she'll have a good chance of making it into the final Oscar list.
In the gym, every time there is a female client who has some psychopath tendencies, I always tell my friends, "Oh, it's like that girl in Single White Female!. She looks pretty and pleasing on the outside, but is really psychotic on the inside!"
Well, today's generation wouldn't know that movie anymore but it was very popular in the 90s and Jennifer was that creepy girl! And she did a very good job scaring Bridget Fonda out of her wits with that role!
I really thought she'd go A-list. Interestingly though, she never faded from the background. I checked her IMDB and she had work year after year up to now! Talo nya pa si Halle Berry!
Just like last year's winner Patricia Arquette (a journeywoman actress whom I am a big fan of as well), I'm just happy that these mature actresses are finally getting their due after decades in the business.
It's still too early to say if Jennifer does win the Oscar but I hope she at least gets nominated.

Does Mad Max: The Fury Road Deserve an Oscar Best Picture Nomination?


Mad Max: The Fury Road was chosen by the National Board of Review as Best Film of 2015. I'm not surprised. The reviews for the movie has been very exceptional.
I am just waiting though, if the older and more staid voters of the Academy would vote for a film as brash as this for a slot in the Oscar Best Picture race.
I don't know the film's director George Miller and his filmography but it helps that Oscar winner Charlize Theron is here - and they are campaigning for her for a Best Supporting Actress nomination (which I think she can get because of her star wattage and her good reviews).
I've noticed that the Oscar voters always balances their choices with star wattage and voting for new faces. Kasi naman kung walang star wattage sa nominees, nobody will watch the awards.
And if Charlize does get nominated, the fashion houses of Paris and Milan will fight nail and claw to get her nod to dress her during Oscar night. She'd be a walking endorsement for the fashion house. (Unless of course she already has a tie-in with a big fashion brand - I wouldn't be surprised if she does.)
The film though should score big in the technical awards - Sound, Special Effects, Costume, Make-up. It's a dazzling, bleak and violent futuristic movie. Votes from the members of those technical academies can surely help the film snag a slot for Best Picture.

Hungary's Son of Saul vs. Our Own Heneral Luna


One thing that I think can happen during my lifetime is for a Filipino film to finally get an Oscar nomination. With the wealth of directing talent we now have here locally, and the widespread support that is given to indie films, with the right story and perfect timing, we might just get it.
Although many of you watched Heneral Luna, and it's our entry to this year's Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, one big problem is that the nominees which the National Board of Review voted for are already festival circuit favorites and have been doing the rounds since May this year.
Their winner, Son of Saul from Hungary, was in contention for the Palme D'Or and worse, it's a movie about the Holocaust! E ang dami kayang Jews sa Academy, shoo-in talaga siya to win for the award.
And interestingly, although I've seen many Holocaust movies during my lifetime, the treatment here, the story, and the scenes are original and just like my teacher in fashion design told me - all of us have a story to tell - like in this case, it's about the Holocaust - but each story would be different because we all come from different backgrounds and perspectives - and that would be the one that would differentiate our similar stories from all the rest.
Son of Saul though has been the top pick in many of the critics list for Best Foreign Film this year so Heneral Luna has a lot of PR and catching up to do just to make it to the shortlist and then the top five.
Another way to be noticed is to get an endorsement from an A-lister. It happened before with Elizabeth Taylor when she told everyone, "Oh watch this small movie Sling Blade" and voila, Billy Bob Thornton won an Oscar. Yun lang, that A-lister has to be very influential and he or she should really like your movie!
Frankly, our best chance can come from the Independent Spirit Awards which is given the day before the Oscars.

Raving About Philomena!


With all the brouhaha on my FB wall regarding that supposed slur against the Pope by this presidential candidate, I thought it wise to talk about this movie I watched a few days ago about how beautiful the Catholic faith really is, if we just take the hypocrisy, the condescension and that intolerant attitude that some Catholics have.
The movie is entitled Philomena and I don't think it was ever shown here in Manila. It got 4 Oscar nominations last year including Best Picture, Best Actress (Judi Dench, OMG, she's just amazing here!) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Steve Coogan who was also the actor here).
I will not tell na lang the plot kasi I don't want to give anything away. Basta just bring tissue paper with you, lalo na if you have kids na, and pay close attention to the dialogue. This is really one of the best scripts I've seen in recent times where the views of an atheist and a very resilient Catholic are included in daily conversation. The tit for tat is delicious!
Any true Catholic will see how beautiful Philomena's character reacted to all the abuse the Catholic church gave to her. There's a must-see confrontation scene towards the end that would make you really understand what the Catholic faith is all about.
I guess one reason why this movie could not be shown here is because of, again, the CBCP. The nuns here are portrayed as callous, monstrous even, but it's easy to judge now because we are in 2015, but the events happened in 1950s Ireland and the social situation then was so different from what we have today. Still, there was no excuse for the abuse.
Because of this movie, I also understood why there was almost no opposition to gay marriage when they voted in Catholic Ireland.
Marami kasing Pharisees and hypocrites sa Catholic church so ayun, they totally lost their credibility sa mga Irish. Who are they naman kasi to judge that gay people will go to hell when the things the Catholic Church has done to Irish children (sex abuse of children, slave treatment of unwed mothers) were even more the works of the devil!
Atheists will love how Steve Coogan does his role here and I'm also proud of how Judi Dench's Philomena parries him word by word, and mostly through her actions.
A true Catholic doesn't have to appear prayerful or go to church everyday. See how Philomena's resilience and struggle with her beliefs led to her redemption. It's a beautiful film about forgiveness and being more kind to oneself.
I easily cry in movies and with this one, sa gitna pa lang, when one major revelation was given, ayun iyak na, tapos another bombshell towards the ending, iyak pa some more.
This is a movie which should be perfect for Mother's Day as well.

Eats an Adventure: The Divine Pasta and Pizza at Fruili Trattoria







Our Maginhawa adventure continued this week as we decided to eat in Fruili Trattoria, a highly recommended Maginhawa resto by some of our FB friends.
What the resto lacked in fine table linens and fancy resto furniture was more than made up by the delicious pizza and pasta that we ate there. Our favorite was the one with blue cheese!
I don't know how they were able to price it that way considering that blue cheese is a bit pricey. You can really taste and smell it in the pizza, we ended up eating two whole blue cheese pizzas!
The angel hair pasta and the tuna pasta which was cooked carbonara style were just as tasty. The restaurant was full when we got there at 12 and it was still full when we left before 3PM!
It's actually pretty rare to find a restaurant these days that can have really good food and then have them at reasonable prices! We only paid around a thousand bucks yet we ate so much! You'd never get that deal if you went to a fancy Italian resto.
The pièce de résistance for me was the dessert we had. I forgot the name but it was this big scoop of ice cream which was very tasty - it was like an ice cream bun! It was creamy and sweet - just the way I want my ice cream to taste like.
Looking forward to our next resto adventure! I should temper my appetite though because I was so full after this hearty meal!