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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

James Wan Begins Shooting Highly Anticipated “THE CONJURING 2”

Burbank, CA, September 28, 2015 – Principal photography has begun in Los Angeles on New Line Cinema’s “The Conjuring 2,” with James Wan (“Fast & Furious 7”) once again at the helm, following the record-breaking success of “The Conjuring.” The supernatural thriller brings to the screen another real case from the files of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Reprising their roles, Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga (“Up In the Air,” TV’s “Bates Motel”) and Patrick Wilson (the “Insidious” films), star as Lorraine and Ed Warren, who, in one of their most terrifying paranormal investigations, travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.

The film follows the phenomenal worldwide reception of Wan’s “The Conjuring,” which marked the largest opening ever for an original horror movie. The film went on to make more than $319 million worldwide and still remains the second highest grossing original horror movie of all time, second only to “The Exorcist.”

Rounding out the cast are Frances O’Connor (TV’s “The Missing”) as the single mom, with Madison Wolfe (TV’s “Zoo”) and newcomers Lauren Esposito, Patrick McAuley and Benjamin Haigh as her children; Maria Doyle Kennedy (TV’s “Orphan Black”); Simon Delaney (TV’s “Roy”); Franka Potente (TV’s “The Bridge”); and Simon McBurney (“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”).

In addition to directing the film, Wan wrote the screenplay with Carey Hayes & Chad Hayes, and David Leslie Johnson.

Peter Safran, Wan and Rob Cowan, who previously collaborated on “The Conjuring,” are producing.

Collaborating with Wan behind-the-scenes is Oscar-nominated director of photography Don Burgess (“Forrest Gump,” “42”). Reuniting with the director from “The Conjuring” are production designer Julie Berghoff, editor Kirk Morri, costume designer Kristin Burke, and composer Joseph Bishara.

Opening across the Philippines in June 2016, “The Conjuring 2” is a New Line Cinema presentation and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
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NINJA PARTY (Director’s Cut) Opens in Selected Cinemas Starting September 30

Jim Libirian Sinag Maynila entry Ninja Party will grace into selected cinemas starting today (September 30) and at the UP Film Center on October 5,6,13,14,21, 2015. Check out the R-18 version Red band trailer below: 

The version of NINJA PARTY shown during the Sinag Maynila Film Festival (SMFF) back in March 2015 was the Philippine version rated R-16 by the FDCP. Ninja Party won the SMFF People’s Choice i.e. it had the most number of tickets sold at that time. Now that the festival is over, viewers can now see the International version of Ninja Party that we’d like to call the Director’s Cut, rated R-18 by the FDCP---strictly For Adults Only. This film version has NEVER BEEN SCREENED in any cinema, except by the FDCP for film rating purposes.

The film stars Odette Khan, Annicka Dolonius, Julz Savard, Bea Galvez, Elora Españo, Teresa Loyzaga, Denise Marasigan, Japo Parceo and Mariz Reyes. 

Top female students of an elite Catholic high school discover their identities and sexualities amidst clashing values. Conflicts between themselves, their families, and their school force them to grow up and grow in friendship. They face slut­shaming when a rumor spreads about their participation in a secret orgy.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Martian: Movie Review

By: Lakwatsera Lovers 

"In your face, Neil Armstrong" one of the strong lines said by Mark Watney (Matt Damon) after being left out on Mars all by himself. He was presumed dead by his crew members after a fierce storm. Luckily, Mark survived but was left all alone with limited food. He must find a way to contact the Earth and tell them that he is still alive. Meanwhile at Earth, experts in NASA is planning to save him and bring him home. However, they must figure out a way to reach him sooner before he runs out of supplies.  

Finally, Ridley Scott redeemed himself after two disastrous films ( Exodus: Gods and Kings & The Counselor) and concentrated to bring a fresh fun film with The Martian. It is a mere combination of Castaway and Gravity with Matt Damon playing as a one man wrecking crew on the red planet. Matt Damon brings in his intellectual abilities into the character which shows determination in overcoming an almost impossible challenge. He makes Mark Watney a character to root for and a person with a good sense of humor. 

Story wise, The Martian kicks in with a blazing start and it never left the gas pedal all the way until it reaches the finish line. It is pure complete fun and excitement with thrilling bits each time Watney faces a major disaster. We just see him pulling a line, like "I'm going to have to science the shit out of this" to make the scene calm and lighter. Damon is surrounded by a caliber of brilliant actors like Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Sebastian Stan, Jeff Daniels, Kristine Wiig, Sean Bean, Kate Mara and Michael Peña that contributed well and done their part efficiently. 

Overall, The Martian is a fascinating spectacle that will definitely get stuck into your memory lane for quite a while. It is a groundbreaking sci-fi adventure that reinvents space into a new level.

Lakwatsera Lovers rates it 10 out of 10 stars 

Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox PH
Opens Tomorrow in cinemas nationwide

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New “CREED” Poster has a Father-and-Son Vibe

Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures have just unwrapped the teaser one-sheet art for the upcoming action-drama “Creed.”  Sporting a dominant father-and-son vibe, the new poster shows Sylvester Stallone (as Rocky) talking to Michael B. Jordan (as Adonish Johnson), as if saying the one-sheet’s slogan, “Your legacy is more than a name.”

Creed” explores a new chapter in the “Rocky” story and stars Academy Award nominee Sylvester Stallone in his iconic role.  The film also reunites director Ryan Coogler with his “Fruitvale Station” star Michael B. Jordan as the son of Apollo Creed.

In the film, Adonis Johnson (Jordan) never knew his famous father, world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa.

Once in the City of Brotherly Love, Adonis tracks Rocky (Stallone) down and asks him to be his trainer.  Despite his insistence that he is out of the fight game for good, Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo—the fierce rival who became his closest friend. Agreeing to take him on, Rocky trains the young fighter, even as the former champ is battling an opponent more deadly than any he faced in the ring.

With Rocky in his corner, it isn’t long before Adonis gets his own shot at the title…but can he develop not only the drive but also the heart of a true fighter, in time to get into the ring?

Opening across the Philippines on Dec. 09, 2015, “Creed” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
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Joel Edgerton Strikes a Deal With the Devil in “BLACK MASS”

Australian actor Joel Edgerton (“Exodus: Gods and Kings,” “The Great Gatsby”) plays an FBI agent who makes a pact with the devil, in Warner Bros. Pictures' new crime thriller, “Black Mass.”

Based on a true story, the film explores how a deal between ruthless gangster Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) and FBI Agent John Connolly (Edgerton) enabled Bulger to expand his criminal empire with complete impunity, as Connolly—blinded by his own ambition—shielded him from investigation, ignoring the rising body count.

I think John saw Whitey as a kind of renegade who had this rock star glow about him in the community,” explains Edgerton. “To him, there was a deeper connection—he knew the rock star and that rock star had treated him well. Once. I believe he went into the FBI with good intentions and had aspirations of being a great lawman. But on his home turf there was a very blurry line between crime and the law, and if the person you admired was on the other side of the law, it could lead to other aspirations. When you look at the seemingly boundless freedom with which criminals operate…I think he started to get a little intoxicated by that.”

Acting opposite Depp, Edgerton says, “What Johnny was able to do with his role—from the inside as well as the outside—was very special. I love working with actors who can make you think, ‘Okay, that’s definitely not him right now,’ and Johnny is certainly one of them. He became Whitey Bulger.”

Working with Joel was such a joy,” Depp reciprocates, “because you could throw anything at him and he’d knock it back. When you can have that sort of emotional ping pong with another actor and you recognize in them that they’re strong enough to take it, that’s beautiful. There wasn’t one scene Joel and I did together that he didn’t try new things or find a different way to go. He surprised me every time. He’s a great, great actor.”
Edgerton researched his part, exploring John Connolly’s motives and where they led him.

“John is an FBI agent who just came off a glossy arrest of a top Mafioso in New York and got a hero’s welcome when he came home. Now he sees an opportunity to be the guy who dismantles the Italian Mafia in Boston, and the way he’s going to do that is through his old childhood friend, namely Whitey Bulger. John successfully appeals to him to come on board as a top-echelon FBI informant. That’s where things start to get complicated because the deal he makes is: if Whitey can help the FBI take down the Cosa Nostra, then there will be a certain ‘turn-a-blind-eye’ approach from the Bureau toward any dealings Whitey is involved in…with the exception of murder.”

Connolly has already been seduced by success and the rewards that come with it, so, in his mind, the ends justify whatever means are necessary. Edgerton surmises, “I think John wants to be celebrated and admired by everybody. But unfortunately that takes him to some dark places. John becomes so enmeshed with Jimmy that he doesn’t realize how deep he’s gone, how dangerous the landscape has become, and how irretrievable his conscience is. His whole life becomes dismantled by this obsessive relationship and by this need to be constantly affirmed by a criminal.”

Cooper remarks, “Joel Edgerton had a very difficult part because John Connolly wears many different masks. With his wife he’s one thing; with Billy Bulger he’s another; with Whitey yet another; and, of course, he has a completely different mask when he’s around his FBI colleagues. Joel delivered such a nuanced performance, perfectly capturing Connolly’s bravado and his preening peacock confidence, but also his vulnerability and searing weaknesses, of which he had many. In fact, when the real Fred Wyshak, who had known Connolly for years, came to visit the set, he said Joel was ‘nailing everything about him in every way.’ He’s extraordinary.”

  Opening across the Philippines on October 21, “Black Mass” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
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Teen Actress Odeya Rush Takes on Ghouls, Zombies in “GOOSEBUMPS”

When Odeya Rush’s breakout movie “The Giver” opened last year, her brothers headed straight down to the cinema. They queued up and got their tickets and prepared for a night of fun. This might not sound all that surprising — until one considers the fact that they chose to watch “Let’s Be Cops,” a raucous comedy that opened against their sister’s movie. “My parents are supportive, of course, but my brothers like to make fun of me,” laughs the 18-year-old actress. “I make fun of them, too.”

When their sister’s next movie, Columbia Pictures' “Goosebumps” opens, however, her brothers will definitely be watching her on screen. Rush has six brothers, all of whom love the series of Goosebumps books by acclaimed children’s author R. L. Stine, and their sister is taking the lead female role in the movie adaptation, starring opposite Jack Black, Dylan Minnette and Ryan Lee. “They want to see the movie,” says Rush of her siblings.

Directed by Rob Letterman, “Goosebumps” casts Rush as Hannah, the daughter of a man who lives next door to the film’s young leading man, Zach (Minnette). As the story unfolds, it transpires that Hannah’s father is R. L. Stine (Black) and that the family’s house contains a dangerous secret: the creatures from the author’s stories are in fact real, and Stine protects his readers by keeping the monsters locked up in their books.

When Stine’s creations are accidentally released from their manuscripts, a crazy night of adventure ensues. It’s an exciting movie, replete with many of the famous monsters from the Goosebumps books.

The ghouls, or zombies, were the scariest things,” says Rush of the movie monsters. “They were like real life. These really amazing actors played them and they really got into character. Rob was like, ‘They are going to rise out of the ground and you are going to run down here and you are going to turn here,’ and I was like, ‘Okay, got it.’

But when they started slowly rising up, they began giving us these looks that I was not expecting. I was actually terrified. They were so really believable.”

She says that she scares easily. “I do get scared so easily. I like thrillers. That’s why I like this film, because it is thrilling. You don’t know what is going to happen next. That is the kind of movie I like. So, for example, I love `The Silence of the Lambs.' It was terrifying but thrilling at the same time. You don’t know what is going to happen next and you are watching on the edge of your seat.”

At just 18 years old, Rush is still making her way in Hollywood, though she has already shown great diversity with performances in the Disney film “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” the horror-thriller “We Are What We Are” and the comedy drama “See You in Valhalla.” Following her breakout performance in the sci-fi drama “The Giver,” which also featured Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, it appears she is set for big things. She recently shot her own short film, and she made sure that she learned as much as possible from those around her on “Goosebumps.”

I want to tell good stories,” she says. “I want to work with great directors because you don’t know how a movie is going to end up. I want to work with directors and actors who I can learn from. Once the movie is done you don’t have any control. So that’s important.”

On “Goosebumps” she learned a lot from her director and the movie’s main adult actor, the larger-than-life Jack Black. “I learned a lot about life,” she says of her experiences with Black. “I think the way he approaches life is great. When you talk with him, it is really freeing.”

He doesn’t take everything so seriously, which is a good approach to have and it created a good feeling for us on set. We weren’t super-nervous that we were going to mess up on set. If you messed something up on this movie you knew Jack was just going to laugh about it. We were all going to laugh about it and that makes you less nervous.”

She particularly enjoyed the fact that her character, Hannah, is not a damsel in distress. “With `Goosebumps,' Hannah is not the one being scared. In this movie, we are going against stereotypes. Hannah is the one telling Zach, ‘Do you want me to hold your hand?’ She is the one teasing him.

She is the adventurous and tough one and he is the more conservative one. People don’t always conform to stereotypes and that was one of the great things about `Goosebumps.' This whole film was a really great experience.”

  Opening across the Philippines in Oct. 21, 2015, “Goosebumps” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.
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Sam Smith's “WRITING'S ON THE WALL,” Theme Song to “SPECTRE” Out Now


Multi-platinum selling British artist Sam Smith has become the latest musician to record a James Bond theme song, for the forthcoming SPECTRE. “Writing’s On The Wall” was released Sept. 25 via Capitol Records and is available to purchase and stream now.

Writing’s On The Wall” was co-written by Sam Smith and fellow GRAMMY® Award winner Jimmy Napes. The track is awash with cascading orchestration and delicate keys, whilst Smith’s impeccable vocals elegantly glide above the instrumentation, strewn throughout with his effortless falsetto. It is the first James Bond theme song recorded by a British male solo artist since 1965.

On the SPECTRE theme song Smith comments: “This is one of the highlights of my career. I am honored to finally announce that I will be singing the next Bond theme song. I am so excited to be a part of this iconic British legacy and join an incredible line up of some of my biggest musical inspirations. I hope you all enjoy the song as much as I enjoyed making it.”

SPECTRE producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, said, “Sam and Jimmy have written the most inspirational song for `Spectre' and with Sam’s extraordinary vocal performance, ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ will surely be considered one of the greatest Bond songs of all time.”

Smith’s debut album “In The Lonely Hour” launched at No. 1 in the UK and bowed in at No. 2 in the US, and has since earned five No.1 UK singles, four GRAMMY Awards, three Brit Awards, six MOBO Awards, Q and an AMA Awards.

SPECTRE follows the release of SKYFALL, the biggest Bond film of all time, which took in $1.1 billion worldwide.

A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.

Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, questions Bond’s actions and challenges the relevance of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes). Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE. As the daughter of an assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot.

As Bond ventures towards the heart of SPECTRE, he learns of a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz.

Sam Mendes returns to direct SPECTRE, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as 007 for the fourth time. SPECTRE is produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, from a script by John Logan and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade.

Opening across the Philippines on Nov. 06, 2015, “Spectre” will be distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.
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Monday, September 28, 2015

Academy Award Winner Benicio Del Toro in Gripping Action Thriller “SICARIO”

Heinous crimes traverse the jagged line of the U.S. and Mexican border in an alarmingly escalating tempo that the intense thrilling action “Sicario” (meaning hitman) deals with, starring an impressive roster of actors including Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin.

At a time when the world is awash with the most pressing questions on drugs, terror, illegal immigration and corruption that has left people on both sides frightened and vigilant, “Sicario” explores the journey of an intelligence operation that pushes the rules to engage with those who don’t play by any.
It’s a movie about choices,” adds Benicio Del Toro, who dives into one of his most conflicted roles as the equal parts vengeful and tender hit man Alejandro.  “It’s tough to say whether any character in Sicario is truly good or bad. Do the means justify the ends?  What happens when go into a situation where you want to kill one guy and you kill 20 innocent people? You got the bad guy, but at what cost?”
The complex heart of “Sicario” is the film’s most unsettling character: Alejandro, played by Del Toro, who is at once a former courageous prosecutor grieving for his murdered family, Kate’s sympathetic guardian and a sicario in his own right, willing to cross any line to bring down the cartels who tore apart his life. 

Screenwriter Sheridan imagined Benicio Del Toro taking the role even as he was writing.  Fittingly, the charismatic Puerto Rican-born actor previously had won an Oscar for his indelible portrait of a different side of the drug war as a street-smart Tijuana policeman in Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic.”  Del Toro says that complexity gripped him.  The question that hit him hardest was whether Alejandro can truly live with the things he has done, or if he has accepted that the price he must pay is forever being an outsider to society.   “Alejandro used to be a prosecutor, and then his family was killed in the drug wars, so from those events, he became an assassin of drug lords of sorts.  But is he a bad guy?  I don’t know,” muses the actor.  “I wouldn’t say he made bad choices to get where he is, circumstances controlled by other human beings forced him to be who he is. He has been given this role of hit man for the US government, so he lives in this bloody, dark world.  He is willing to do it for his own reasons, but can he ever go back into society after what he has become?”  

Adds Iwanyk: “Benicio is one of those classic actors who tells you, `Give me fewer lines. I want to play this in my eyes. I want to play this in how I nod my head or how I look away.’  At times, his portrait of Alejandro is very quiet and internal but then he’ll suddenly be powerful and magnetic.  He’s really the heart and soul of this movie.”

Alejandro’s impenetrable exterior only seems to soften in the presence of Kate (Blunt).  The two are drawn together, if just for a fleeting moment, then wrenched apart in the course of the story.  “In a strange, subtle way, Kate starts falling for Alejandro and he starts falling for her. It is very carefully played by both actors,” says Iwanyk.  “As Kate discovers how broken this man is, and how that is manifested in more violence than she can fathom, our heart is broken for him and for ourselves, because we were invested in this man.” 

  Sicario” runs in theatres this October 7 in cinemas nationwide from Pioneer Films.   

Check out the film’s trailer here:

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Keanu Reeves Opens Door to Temptation in “KNOCK KNOCK”

Keanu Reeves stars in his latest sexy thrilling starrer in “Knock Knock” as a blissfully married man with two children who was lured by two very attractive women (played by Lorenza Izzo and  Ana de Armas) when they came knocking at his door when he was left alone at home.

Directed and written by Eli Roth known for his critically acclaimed and phenomenal works in thriller and horror genre such as “Cabin Fever” that went on to be Lionsgate’s highest grossing film on the year that it was released and the worldwide hit “Hostel,” “Knock Knock” is an erotic thriller that toys on the idea of trouble coming into one’s own home and unleashes Pandora’s box. 

With Knock Knock, I wanted to show just how fragile the world we spend a lifetime building actually is. What if you did everything right – you went to a good school, you dated nice people until you met the right person, you settled down, you built a good life for yourself…and still, you have the sinking feeling you’re missing out on something. What if you wanted to tempt fate just for one night thinking you could get away with it? I wanted the audience to sympathize with Evan, our main character, and to secretly make the same choices he would make. Evan tries to do the right thing, and yet, he can’t ever truly say no to these girls who show up at his door and seduce him. Evan constantly thinks he’s in control, and that’s his fatal flaw. People in their 40’s have no idea the damage one can cause with social media, because they’ve never had to think defensively in that way. Teenagers today have grown up with the threat of someone ruining your life over a picture or a text message, so as a result they know how to destroy someone. It’s a skill you have to develop as a teenager today, but it’s not one that would even be in a character like Evan’s consciousness,” explains Roth of the movie’s premise.

One of Hollywood’s most sought after leading men, Keanu Reeves currently has a box office draw of over $3.6 billion worldwide. Keanu recently completed production on four films, including the courtroom drama “The Whole Truth” starring opposite Renée Zellweger, “Daughter of God,” “The Neon Demon” and “The Bad Batch.”

Best known worldwide as Neo in the phenomenal “The Matrix” trilogy, Reeves’ long list of blockbuster hits also include “47 Ronin,” “Man of Tai Chi,” “John Wick,” “Speed,” “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” “Street Kings,” “The Lake House,” “Constantine,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” “Hardball,” “The Gift,” The Replacements,” “Sweet November,” “A Walk In The Clouds,” “Devil’s Advocate,” “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “Point Break.”

  Described by Eli Roth as ‘Fatal Attraction’ in the age of social media, “Knock Knock” opens this October 21 in theatres nationwide from OctoArts Films International 

Check out the trailer below:  

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Emma Watson Reveals Family's Crime in Psychological Thriller “REGRESSION”

Emma Watson, best known for her role in the highly successful film franchise “Harry Potter” playing Hermione Granger expands her range as an actress as she stars her most challenging role to-date in the psychological thriller “Regression” along with Ethan Hawke and “Harry Potter” alumnus David  Thewlis helmed by Academy Award Winner director Alejandro Amenábar (“The Sea Inside”).

Set in Minnesota circa 1990. Emma Watson’s character Angela Gray has found Angela has found peace and safety in religion after losing her mother in a car accident.  During a seminar at Reverend Beaumont’s church she breaks down and confesses that her father has abused her. With Detective Bruce Kenner’s (Hawke) help, she will overcome her isolation to become a key witness to solve the case.  When Kenner further investigates the case of Angela, who accuses her father, John Gray (David Dencik), of an unspeakable crime. When John unexpectedly and without recollection admits guilt, renowned psychologist Dr. Raines (David Thewlis) is brought in to help him relive his memories and what they discover unmasks a horrifying nationwide mystery.

She has grown up in a house with two addicts: her father is an alcoholic so is her grandmother. Her mother died when she was very young in a car accident. You get the sense from looking at her house where she grew up, that there has been a huge level of neglect in Angela’s life and that neglect is really what comes to inform her choices and how she sees the world, how she feels about the world, what options she thinks are available to her,” says Watson of her role.

The trigger in the story told by Regression is the accusation made by young Angela Gray, a shy teenager whose accusation sheds light upon conflicts that no one had dared to speak of before. “This is probably one of the hardest roles or characters that I've ever had to play”, continues Emma Watson. “Angela is someone who’s had a very difficult life. She has grown up in a house with two addicts; her father is an alcoholic so is her grandmother and her mother died when she was very young in a car accident. She has such a complicated history.”
Alejandro Amenábar had no doubts about who would make the perfect Angela Gray:  “Emma Watson is an extremely intelligent woman, she’s very talented and she understood the project perfectly.  When making a film like this one you need accomplices, people who understand what you’re trying to say.  She had very clear ideas when she arrived to start shooting.”

Regression is not a horror movie.  It’s about fear, about the fragility of the human mind, about how afraid we can get and how fear can keep us from thinking and seeing things clearly,” concludes director Amenábar. 

   Regression” opens October 14 in cinemas from Pioneer Films.

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Fil-Am Cinematographer Shoots Acclaimed “STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON”

Don't look now, but a Filipino-American contributed to the enormous critical and commercial success of Universal Pictures' “Straight Outta Compton,” which traces the rise of influential (and notorious) rap group N.W.A. The film's Director of Photography is none other than Oscar-nominated Fil-Am cinematographer Matthew Libatique, himself a life-long fan of hip-hop music.

Libatique describes to ICG (International Cinematographers Guild) Magazine, how he got involved with the film. “I was watching TV in a New York hotel room when I saw Ice Cube on Queen Latifah [the talk show], and she asked what he was doing next. When Cube said a film called `Straight Outta Compton,' I literally jumped up and grabbed the phone. For the first time in my career, I called my agent and said I really want that project.”

Fortunately for Libatique, he and “Compton” director, F. Gary Gray, shared the same agency. They met on Oscar day, 2014, to discuss the film, and eventually sealed the deal.
I remember telling Gary [in that first meeting] how I read a lot of comic books as a kid, and my favorites were always the origin stories – the ones that showed how Batman or Superman or the Green Lantern became who they are. That’s what `Straight Outta Compton' is – an origin story about people who ultimately become larger than life in the eyes of pop culture.”

Continues Libatique, “I know for me it’s one of the most passionate of projects I’ve ever done, because this music spoke to me like nothing else really has. And what was important, from my perspective as a cinematographer, was to get it absolutely right: to show who these superheroes were and where they came from.”

Still from ICG Magazine, "Libatique opted to shoot `Compton' on RED DRAGON, using re-housed vintage Kowa anamorphic lenses (occasionally swapping with spherical Zeiss Super Speeds to compensate for close-focus issues inside the recording-studio scenes.)," the piece says.

Libatique explains, “'Shooting anamorphic period is all about pulling back from that digital edge, particularly if you come from shooting film...We tried to keep the beginning of their stories as gritty as possible, using smoke and [for night scenes] changing out existing LED streetlights back to their original sodium vapor. That combination of the smoke, a dirty color palette and the anamorphic lenses introduces us to the first third of the story, before they make a record and go on tour.'”

That same expansive range of vision is what N.W.A. brought to the world with its take-no-prisoners view of South Los Angeles in the late 1980’s, and it speaks louder than ever to a new generation numbed by recent law-enforcement killings of young black men across the nation. Although both Gray and Libatique don’t deny `Straight Outta Compton' will inevitably have political and social overtones that mirror recent events, they insist the film’s themes of fame and fortune, poverty and unrest, loyalty, betrayal, and brotherhood among young men are timeless.”

Variety Reviewer Scott Foundas has taken notice of Libatique's exceptional work on “Straight Outta Compton,” writing, “The movie has been made in high but never overindulgent style, with Matthew Libatique’s richly textured widescreen camerawork deliberately avoiding shopworn images of South Central life while evoking a vivid sense of place...”

Matthew Libatique has forged a unique career over the past two decades. He began with the goal of becoming a music-video cinematographer because he was drawn to the potential of electronic image manipulation, but soon he was creating bold, innovative imagery for longer forms. Libatique has a long-standing professional relationship with director Darren Aronofsky, for whom the cinematographer scored an early breakthrough with “Pi,” a disturbing portrait shot in black-and-white 16mm. Libatique pushed the film emulsion to its limits and beyond to portray an unstable, deteriorating mind obsessed with numbers. “Pi” won the Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and Libatique was honored with an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his work; Libatique’s feature-film career was off and running.

Most recently, Libatique and Aronofsky worked together on “Noah,” their sixth collaboration. Libatique was nominated for an American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Award and an Academy Award® for “Black Swan,” also directed by Aronofsky. “Black Swan” was shot in Super 16, which is rare for an Oscar® nominee in the cinematography category. For his work on “Black Swan,” Libatique also received BAFTA, Critics Choice and the Independent Spirit Award nominations, to name a few.

Libatique’s other collaborations with Aronofsky include “Requiem for a Dream,” for which Libatique won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography, as well as nominations from the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Online Film Critics Society. Libatique also served as director of photography on Aronofsky’s “The Fountain,” they had first worked together on the short film “Protozoa” in 1993.

Libatique has ongoing collaborations with several directors, including Spike Lee, for whom he photographed “Miracle at St. Anna,” “She Hate Me” and “Inside Man,” Joel Schumacher, on “Tigerland” and “Phone Booth” and Jon Favreau, on “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2” and “Cowboys & Aliens.”

Distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures, “Straight Outta Compton” will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting September 30.

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Bradley Cooper Plays Rockstar Chef in “BURNT”

Four-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper once again displays his acting chops in this year’s mouth-watering and delectable movie “Burnt” where he stars as Chef Adam Jones who was once a rock star chef, had it all yet lost it along the way.   Awarded as a two-star Michelin talent with bad habits to match, the former enfant terrible of the Paris restaurant scene did everything different every time out, and only ever cared about the thrill of creating explosions of taste. To land his own kitchen and that third elusive Michelin star though, he’ll need the best of the best on his side, including the beautiful Helene (Sienna Miller).

In “Burnt,” a remarkably funny and emotional story about the love of food, the love between two people and the power of second chances, Jones moved to Paris at an early age of 16 and learned how to cook.  His natural flair for cooking led his career on a sizzling journey but lost it all because of his inability to deal with fame and success.  He soon rebuilds his life back and moves to London to restore his reputation and finally earn again  the most coveted Michelin stars.

Playing Chef is nothing new to Cooper who also previously played in the television series “Kitchen Confidential.” Moreso, he grew up cooking all the time with his grandmother, as revealed in his recent interviews.  “I worked for most of my life as a cook. When I was 15, I was a busboy at a Greek restaurant and then I worked as a prep cook through college. My mother's side is Italian, so I grew up cooking all the time with my grandmother.  Thank God the role was a chef, because I didn't have much time to prep. There's no stunt double. Everything in there I'm cooking,” Cooper shares.

  Burnt” opens October 28 in cinemas nationwide from Pioneer Films.

Trailer link here: 

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Origin Story of Peter  “PAN” For Today's Audiences

From director Joe Wright comes “Pan,” a live-action feature presenting a wholly original adventure about the beginnings of the beloved characters created by J.M. Barrie. The film stars Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard; Garrett Hedlund as James Hook; Oscar nominee Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily; newcomer Levi Miller as Peter; and Amanda Seyfried as Mary.

Peter is a mischievous 12-year-old boy with an irrepressible rebellious streak, but in the bleak London orphanage where he has lived his whole life those qualities do not exactly fly. Then one incredible night, Peter is whisked away from the orphanage and spirited off to a fantastical world of pirates, warriors and fairies called Neverland. There, he finds amazing adventures and fights life-or-death battles while trying to uncover the secret of his mother, who left him at the orphanage so long ago, and his rightful place in this magical land. Teamed with the warrior Tiger Lily and a new friend named James Hook, Peter must defeat the ruthless pirate Blackbeard to save Neverland and discover his true destiny—to become the hero who will forever be known as Peter Pan.

Though the character was created more than a century ago, Wright says, “This is Peter Pan for 2015, a complete reframing of the story as we all know and love it. It’s Peter’s origin story and a classic hero’s journey set in a big, beautiful, bold world.

I really just wanted to make an exciting, entertaining film, and have as good a time as possible doing it,” Wright conveys. “It’s a pleasure making a film for kids because you can free yourself of too much seriousness. It’s a mad world we’ve created, full of color and texture and strange, wonderful images that hopefully feel like they’ve come from a child’s imagination.”

With author J.M. Barrie’s classic tale as the primary inspiration behind the story, Wright says he embraced the author’s “sense of strangeness. It’s a very odd book. It doesn’t underestimate children’s intelligence; there are no ‘goodies’ or ‘baddies,’ everyone is flawed, even Peter. I loved the duplicity of all the characters.”

Jason Fuchs, who wrote the original screenplay, was taken by the character at an early age—an enthrallment that never left him. “When I was nine years old, I was on a Peter Pan ride with my dad and we got stuck in a flying pirate ship over a miniature London,” he recalls. “It was literally the best 25 minutes of my life, up there with LED stars twinkling above us and Peter and Wendy flying five feet away.”

Those moments engendered the youngster with questions he would spend years hoping to answer. “At the time, I kept asking my dad, ‘How did Peter get to Neverland?’ ‘Why can he fly?’ ‘How did he and Hook meet for the first time and why do they hate each other so much?’ I read the original book in search of answers, but found only hints, and I always thought it would be great to make a movie that told the full story, that answered at least some of the questions I had that day.”

I’d never read a script like Jason’s, and I’ve read a lot of scripts,” Wright says. “But this one had a heart to it that I hadn’t really found in others for movies of this scale. And I have a son, so I really wanted to make this movie for him.”

Drawing on a line in the book about Hook training under Blackbeard, Fuchs expanded the role of the infamous pirate, making him Peter’s prime nemesis in the script and Hook a younger, two-handed adventurer looking for a way out of Neverland who realizes Peter might just be the ticket.

To create the landscape he envisioned, Wright opted to build much of the world of “Pan” on practical sets, in order to provide not only a sense of realism for his actors, but, in an effort to reaffirm the childlike environs of Neverland and give them an actual playground to, well, play in. In England, the cavernous stages of Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden and hangars at Cardington Studios provided enough space to service everything from the bleak London orphanage to Blackbeard’s vast quarry to the Neverwood and the natives’ Tree Village, to two full-size pirate ships, a mermaid lagoon, and more.

Wright offers, “The scale of our sets allowed Neverland to feel real and our incredible cast to come to work every day ready to play pirates, warriors, adventurers—everything we do as kids in our own minds, but in a physical setting that makes it a real adventure, in a kind of 3D, kaleidoscopic world of color.”

  Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, October 8, “Pan” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
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