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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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Aug 22, 2017

‘THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD’ will remind you of those buddy cops movie before, like “48 Hours” of Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy that was such a big hit it even had a sequel, “Another 48 Hours”, or Jackie Chan and Chris Rock in the “Rush Hour” series and Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the “Lethal Weapon” series.

Now comes Ryan Reynolds teaming up with Samuel L. Jackson in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”. He plays Michael Bryce, once a top private bodyguard whose reputation suffered when a Japanese gun runner he’s supposed to protect died from sniper fire. He then gets a call from his ex-inamorata, Amelia (Elodie Yung, Elektra in “Daredevil”), an interpol agent who asks him to escort a notorious hitman, Darius Kincaide (Samuel L. Jackson), from England to the Netherlands.

Darius is meant to be a vital witness at the International Court in the Hague against the ruthless dictator of Belarus, Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman, speaking with a Russian accent), whose henchmen have already killed the members of Amelia’s convoy and only she and Darius survived so they’re now hiding in a safehouse.

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ALEXANDER LEE has nothing but good words for GMA-7 and his co-stars in “My Korean Jagiya”. “GMA-7 gives me and my other Korean co-stars VIP treatment while we’re here in Manila for the taping of our show,” he says. “They pay for our accommodations, our transportation and all our other needs while we are here. Our co-stars, from Heart Evangelista to our director, Mark Reyes, they’re all very friendly and very hospitable. So we cannot complain at all. We’re very happy to be given the chance to work here in Manila. We really love and enjoy our stay here.”

So what does he think of the dreaded Manila heavy traffic? “We’ve been trying to avoid it and so far, so good. They’ve taken us around Manila and we’re lucky we haven’t seen the worst of the traffic situation here. They also took me to Davao to help promote ‘My Korean Jagiya’ there in a mall show and we had a nice experience.”

Did he leave a girlfriend in Korea? “No. I have none at the moment. I have had girlfriends before but eventually, we broke up because I’m a workaholic. You see, my career is really my priority and I want to be very stable before I make a serious commitment in a relationship because dating takes a lot of time, money, energy, so I want to work first and build up my career. And I’m happy that this new door opened for me to work here in Manila.”

How did he feel when he was told he’d be doing a show in Manila? “When my manager told someone is interested in me, I asked, what station? He said, GMA, and I said, Oh, I know GMA. That was because when I was a member of U Kiss, we had a concert here and we promoted it in ‘Party Pilipinas’ and in ‘Walang Tulugan’ of Kuya Germs, who was very nice to us, so I really felt sad when I was told that he had passed away.”

He’s happy that the first episodes of “My Korean Jagiya” did well at the ratings and his wish now is for it to be a big, big hit with local televiewers. “So I can stay here longer because I really love it here. And I wish we could also get the chance to show it in Korea.”

Meantime, Alexander is very pleased that his video with Heart on GMA Facebook has had more than one million hits. This is the video where Heart is shown teaching him how to speak Filipino words correctly. A lot of viewers found it so very funny.
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LOVI POE’s contemporaries are mostly married by now. Is she also contemplating on walking down the aisle soon with her foreigner BF, Chris Johnson? “Nope, ni hindi namin napag-uusapan yan,” she says. “I’m not ready to settle down. Enjoy pa ako being single. I don’t want any restrictions na masasakal ako.”

She denies any insinuation that they’re living in whenever Chris is in town, “I won’t be comfortable with that. Unang-una, sanay akong ako lang sa bahay. Also, his projects and businesses are in other countries. When he comes here, he doesn’t stay with me at all.”

Lovi is feeling quite nervous as her new movie, “Woke Up Like This”, opens in theaters today. “Siempre, kinakabahan ako kasi first comedy ko ito. Mas sanay sa akin ang viewers na umiiyak ako sa drama. Very big challenge sa’kin ang ‘Woke Up Like This’ kasi first time kong lumabas na kikay at komikera. But with the help of my leading man, Vhong Navarro, and our director, Joel Ferrer, confident akong naitawid ko naman ng tama ang role ko as a top model na naging lalaki after magkapalit kami ni Vhong ng katawan. Riot talaga ang mga eksena namin and if you want to forget your problems and have a good laugh, this movie is for you.”

To promote “Woke Up Like This”, Lovi was able to cross over to ABS-CBN and plug her movie in the late evening talk show of Boy Abunda and in the morning show, “Magandang Buhay”. After this comedy, she’s back doing a drama in “The Significant Other” with Tom Rodriguez and Erich Gonzales and in a new movie with comebacking director Tikoy Aguiluz.
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Aug 21, 2017

THE FIRST CineFilipino Filmfest was held in 2013 and its biggest winner was “Huling Chacha ni Anita”, the sexual awakening of a lesbian girl played by Terry Malvar who won the best actress award. It was directed by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo and it opened doors for her since she has since become a blockbuster director with “Kita-Kita”.

The filmfest stopped for a while and was resumed last year. The most prominent entries were “Star na si Van Damme Stallone” that is now an entry in the current Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, “Sakaling Hindi Makarating” starring Alessandra de Rossi which had a theatrical release, and “First Sem” that won awards abroad for Lotlot de Leon.

Now, they’ve just announced the 8 finalists for the next Cine Filipino, which will be shown in theaters in March, 2018. Director Joey Reyes heads the selection committee and he hosted the announcement with Unitel head Madonna Tarrayo. This year, they have not only the MVP Group but also Cignal Entertainment as their partner. “Cignal has a lot of platforms that can give more venues for the filmmakers to screen their work later,” says Madonna.

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DIRECTOR JOEL (a contraction of John Elbert) Ferrer is an indie film director whose comedy about indecisions, “Baka Siguro Yata” starring Cherie Gil and Ricky Davao, won the audience award in Cinema One Filmfest two years ago and the best actor award for newcomer Dino Pastrano.

He also co-wrote the script of another Cinema One entry, “Blue Bustamante”, and directed the QCinema film about the coming of age of two high school students, “Hello World”. He has directed episodes of “Wattpad Presents” for TV5 and Jasmine Curtis Smith’s digital show about a vampire, “Forever Sucks”.

He’s now given the chance to direct his first mainstream rom-com, Regal’s “Woke Up Like This”, starring Vhong Navarro and Lovi Poe to open in theaters this Wednesday. So how is it directing big stars like Vhong and Lovi?  “At first, nakaka-intimidate,” he says. “But they prove to be very cooperative. Nakakapanibago rin kasi, sa indie, konti lang kami sa set, pero dito, about 200 people kami sa shooting. Medyo nakakagulat pero after a while, nasanay rin ako. I tried to involve everyone to be part of the process. Kami nina Vhong and Lovi, before we shoot a scene, I consult on their own ideas about how best to do the scene. Mas napapadali ang work ko kasi it becomes collaborative, lalo na kay Lovi kasi first time niya to do comedy, but it’s exciting to work with her kasi she’s willing to take risks. Marami siyang gugulatin dito as she’ll show na, kung gaano siya kagaling sa comedy, ganun din siya kahusay sa drama. Pareho sila rito ni Vhong na very successful. Si Vhong as a basketball player, si Lovi as a model, but both of them have become arrogant, selfish, kaya an old man, si Lou Veloso, pinagpalit sila ng katawan. Riot ang mga eksena nila na babae si Vhong at lalaki si Lovi. Sasakit ang tiyan nyo sa katatawa.”
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DENNIS TRILLO’s character, Gabriel, in “Mulawin Vs. Ravena”, is originally a Ravena but he now becomes a Mulawin ally. The Mulawins eventually choose him to be their king after Derrick Monasterio as Almiro was betrayed by Kiko Estrada as Rafael. This is the latest twist in the action-packed telefantasya which is on its last four weeks.

Meantime, Derrick Monasterio got the surprise of his life when he celebrated his recent birthday with school children and he found out that most of them want to be Almiro wannabes. “Nagka-goose bumps talaga ako when they told me na idol nila si Almiro at gusto nilang maging katulad niya,” he says. “Dahil dito, naging mas inspired akong pagbutihin ang pagganap ko bilang Almiro kasi ang dami palang mga batang nananood sa amin. Maski ang fight scenes namin sa show, talagang pinagbubutihan ko and I do them myself without a double dahil ayokong dayain ang viewers. Abangan ninyo kasi mas marami pang intense fight scenes ang magaganap sa ‘Mulawin Vs. Ravena’ sa susunod na episodes.”
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 JOSHUA GARCIA and Julia Barretto are back together in each other’s arms in “Love You to the Stars and Back” so fans of their JoshLia love team have reason to rejoice. This is the followup project to their first outing in “Vince, Kath, James”, the sleeper hit in the Metro Filmfest last year. This time, they play Caloy, a boy who’s stricken with cancer, and Mika, a socially akward girl who believes in aliens and dreams of being abducted by them.

Because Joshua plays a sick boy, some folks are saying the story is culled from the Hollywood flick about cancer patients who fall in love, “The Fault in Our Stars”, but the director, Antoinette Jadaone, says the story of “Love You to the Stars and Back” is actually very different.

“Hindi maaalis na mag-isip sila ng ganoon because of the cancer factor but the characters played by Joshua and Julia in our movie have a totally different journey and which is more of a road trip,” she adds. “Yung first meeting pa lang nila, ibang-iba na. Nagkakilala sila when they both answer the call of nature sa talahiban on the roadside. Nagkagulatan sila at nasagasaan ni Julia ang paa ni Joshua and eventually, naging friends sila. Tapos, Julia here believes so hard in the existence of aliens and she’ll try hard to make Joshua believe na hindi impossible ang aliens. But the real point of the movie is masarap magmahal, pero mahirap. At kahit na masaktan ka, masarap pa rin.”

What’s her experience in working with Julia and Joshua? “I’m very happy and satisfied na sila ang gumanap sa sinulat kong characters na sina Caloy at Mika kasi they both give sincere and sensitive performances. Ang personal problems ng dalawang kabataang ito sa story is not the usual problems encountered by most teenagers and yet they come out totally believable in their roles. Matindi rin ang chemistry nila on screen kaya yung love element in the story, very natural lang na lumalabas from them. Very collaborative din sila kasi while shooting, I usually ask them kung ano ang take nila sa eksena, and they give their own suggestions para maging comfortable sila in their interpretations of the characters na sinulat ko. At nagtutulungan sila in motivating each other para mas mapaganda ang bawat eksena nila. Their acting comes from within, so when you watch them on screen, you feel na they really inhabit the characters of Caloy and Mika. I can no longer imagine any other actors playing these roles.”

“Love You to the Stars and Back” also stars Cherry Pie Picache, Carmina Villaroel, Ariel Rivera, Maricar Reyes, Edgar Allan Guzman and Eda Nolan. It will open in theaters nationwide on August 30, with the song “Torete” as its theme song. After this, Joshua will go solo as he plays the title role in Dreamscape’s production of the new TV drama, “The Good Son”, which was formerly titled “Kung Kailangan Mo Ako”. The story is about a dad, Albert Martinez, who has a secret second family. Also in the show are McCoy de Leon, Elisse Joson, Jerome Ponce, Nash Aguas and Eula Valdes, directed by Manny Palo.
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Aug 20, 2017

TO BE honest, we didn’t like Mikhail Red’s first movie, “Rekorder” (2013), a film about an alienated film pirate that was not able to fully articulate what it wanted to say. His second work, “Birdshot”, is definitely a much better realized work, even technically. The film starts with a father, Diego (Ku Aquino), teaching his teenage daughter, Maya (Mary Joy Apostol), how to handle a gun and shoot properly.

They live in an isolated hut in the middle of cornfields in the mountains and Diego wants Maya to learn how to protect herself in case something happens to him. They live near a sanctuary for the Philippine eagle or haribon, a protected species. Later, Maya takes the gun into the sanctuary and shoots a haribon.

Some farmers are supposed to go to Manila to air their complaints and grievances about the hacienda where they live and work. They never get to the city and two small town cops are assigned to search for them, Mendoza (John Arcilla) and Domingo (Arnold Reyes.) Domingo is a neophyte cop and still idealistic, in contrast to the more jaded Mendoza. He lives with his wife (Elora Espano) and their first baby.

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EDU MANZANO’s last primetime soap was ‘Bridges of Love’ at ABS-CBN. He’s now doing “Alyas Robin Hood” on GMA and he says he has long been missing doing action scenes.

“Ang dami ko ring ginawang action movies noong araw, whether as bida or as kontrabida like ‘Alyas Boy Kano’, ‘Task Force Habagat’, ‘Contreras’,” he says. “Mahirap gumawa ng action, be it sa TV or sa movies. Kasi mas magastos siya kaysa sa drama, lalo na kapag may explosions, car chase scenes na winawasak ang mga kotse and gunfights na kailangan ng mga baril at gunshot effects. Matagal i-set up. Pero nakaka-miss din pala, kaya heto, natuwa naman ako nangmapasama ko sa ‘Alyas Robin Hood’.”

He plays the role of Sen. Emilio Albano, a politician who seems to be very good to the poor, doing a lot of charity works, but is actually a scheming and corrupt public servant. So he’s back to being a villain?

“Yes, na-miss ko rin. Ang sarap magkontrabida, pero mahirap din kasi ang main responsibility mo is paguwapuhin yung bida. Complicated yung role ko kasi magkakaroon ng twists and revelations sa character ko. May nakaraan pala kami rito ni Jaclyn Jose, ang mother ng bidang si Dingdong Dantes. Anak-anakan ko rito si Ruru Madrid, pero may twist din sa character niya.”
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IYA VILLANIA is delighted to play Heart Evangelista’s best friend in “My Korean Jagiya” that stars airing this Monday night to replace “I Heart Davao”. They are the only members of the cast who were sent to Seoul, Korea to shoot some important scenes on location. She admits she was nervous at first because she and Heart are not really that close, so how will they be convincing to play best friends?

“Nagkasama na kami before sa ‘Sunday All Stars’ at sa MYX but hindi kami nagkaroon ng chance na magchikahan nang mahaba,” she says. “Pero nawala yung nerbiyos ko kasi naging comfortable kami agad sa isa’t isa while we were doing the shoot in Korea. She’s easy to get along with and now, I’m thankful to get the chance to know her better. Makuwento pala siya. Kung noon, hindi ko make-claim na magkaibigan kami, after ‘My Korean Jagiya’, I can honestly say na we’re now very good friends. Naging at ease ako agad with her. Nakakapag-pump nga ako sa harap niya. Kasi I feed our baby with my own breast milk so I have to pump. Sabi niya, natatakot daw siya, e wala pa siyang baby. But I told her she will learn as she goes along.”

So how is it working with the Korean members of the cast? “Noong una, siempre, nagkakahiyaan pa kaming mag-usap. But si Alexander Lee, yung leading man ni Heart, sa first taping day pa lang namin in Nami Island, he was even the one to approach us first and said hi. Pinakilala ang sarili niya. Si David Kim, wala siyang eksena that day, but he came to the set para makipagkilala sa amin. Sobrang bait nila.”

Iya said the Korean actors, including Michelle Oh and Jerry Lee, said they’re happy working with Pinoys. “Sa kanila raw, sa set, walang standby area at pag wala silang take, they just stay in their cars. Unlike dito sa atin, nagse-setup ng air conditioned tents where the stars can stay, rest and feel more comfortable. Generally, very reserved sila, very polite.”

How’s her husband Drew Arellano and their son, Primo? “They’re both doing fine. Our baby is celebrating his first birthday on August 30 and we are preparing for that. We’re hands on parents ni Drew at wala kaming yaya. Palitan kami sa pag-aalaga sa kanya kaya sobrang attached sa amin.”
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