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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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Jun 18, 2018

 
THE FIRST “Ocean’s 11”, a heist film, was made in 1960 starring the famous Rat Pack led by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. This was remade in 2001 as “Ocean’s Eleven” starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt. It was a hit so there was a sequel, “Ocean’s Twelve” in 2004, and another one in 2007, “Ocean’s Thirteen”.

Now comes “Ocean’s 8” and the germ of the story is really the same as the other heist films with con men aiming to pull intricate con job. The difference is this one has a female cast led by Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, the sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney.) The first Ocean movies were directed by Steven Soderbergh, who is now producer for “Ocean’s 8”, which is directed by Gary Ross (“Hunger Games”).

Just like “Ocean’s Eleven” which started with George Clooney being released from jail, this one starts with Debbie being released after five years behind bars. She then goes to visit her brother’s crypt and she says: “You better be in there.” This is a hint that he may not really be dead and if “Ocean’s 8” becomes a blockbuster, we won’t be surprised if they’d join forces later on in another movie.

Elliott Gould as Reuben from “Ocean’s Eleven” pops up in a cameo role and tells Debbie that Danny was aware that she’s been planning a new heist and discourages her to do it as she just might end up back in prison. The film ends with Debbie returning to the crypt, making a martini for herself and telling Danny: “You would have loved it.”

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KIKO ESTRADA is dead serious in his ambition to be recognized as a good actor rather than just as a rugged hunk. “Although I do pictorials and scenes showing me without any shirt on, my main concern is more about people recognizing me for my good acting,” he says. “And I’m happy that I’m being given projects where I get the chance to show that I can do different kinds of roles.”

Right now, he plays a wholesome role as Justin in the GMA-7 romantic comedy, “My Guitar Princess”, as the confidante of Julie Anne San Jose, who plays the title role. Julie doesn’t know he’s secretly in love with her. On the big screen, he’s one of the four leads in Regal Entertainment’s new youth oriented film, “Walwal”, that opens on June 27. But in another film, “My Stepmother’s Lover”, he does a nude love scene with Sunshine Cruz, his most daring movie to date.

Kiko’s paternal dad was the late George Estregan, who did a lot of sexy films. His dad, Gary Estrada, also went sexy but later forayed into politics, although he has not forgotten acting as he is now seen regularly on the hit GMA-7 afternoon soap, “The Stepdaughters”, where he plays the dad of Katrina Halili.

Kiko’s mom is former actress Cheska Diaz and his maternal grandfather was the famous contravida, the late Paquito Diaz. So you can say that acting is really in his blood. Although he grew up with his mom, he’s quite close to his dad and to his family now. Gary is married to Bernadette Allison and Kiko is close to her and his three half-sisters.

“I’m currently working with my mom in a movie, ‘Walwal’,” says Kiko. “So ang dream ko naman ngayon is makatrabaho rin ang dad ko as we haven’t worked together. Since we’re both with the Kapuso network, hindi naman siguro imposibleng mangyari ito in the near future.”

Her ex-GF Barbie Forteza has since found a new love in Jak Roberto, but Kiko says he has remained loveless since then. “It’s my choice. Mas gusto ko talagang mag-focus muna sa career ko. Maraming projects na dumarating and I want to give my best efforts and my undivided attention to them. I'm proud of 'Walwal' which gave me the chance to work with a respected writer-director like Joey Reyes. I learned so much from the experience with him guiding me in my role as an aimless young man who's a playboy at nagkaroon ng malaking problema sa buhay.”
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‘ESCOBAR: LOVING PABLO’ is a movie about Pablo Escobar, the world’s most notorious drug lord who started the infamous Medellin cartel in the 1980s. The film is based on the book of a journalist with whom he had a tempestuous affair, Virginia Vallejo, entitled “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar”, but this fim version includes details about the nefarious career and ultimate downfall of Escobar and his empire.

There have been many films on Escobar. There are several documentaries like “Finding Escobar’s Millions” (where two ex-CIA agents travel to search for the millions of dollars that Escobar buried underground all over Colombia), “Ciudadano Escobar” (a docu showing real footage of Escobar himself), “Sins of My Father” (a 2009 Argentine film on Escobar made with the help of his son who now lives in Argentina with a new name, Sebastian Marroquin), “The True Story of Killing Pablo” and “Killing Pablo” (docus both about the death of Escobar), “Reputations: Pablo Escobar, How Cocaine Conquered a Country” (another docu), “Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal” (a TV series made in Colombia), “Escobar: Paradise Lost” (a 2014 movie starring Benicio del Toro as Escobar) and the Netflix series with two seasons, “Narcos” (this for us is the most definitive).

Why is Escobar so infamous? Because his illegal drug trade turned his country into a narco state. Robert Mazur, the real life agent who helped track him down for five years and whose exploits were made into the film “The Infiltrator” starring Bryan Cranston, describes him as “a vindictive and coldblooded killer who thought little of sacrificing innocent lives in the pursuit of his world-beating ambitions.” He has no qualms in killing people and his own son later returned to Colombia to apologize to the sons of his dad’s most prominent victims: presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan and the Minister of Justice Rodrigo Lara Bonita.

Escobar is also mentioned in “American Made”, a movie on the life of Barry Seal, an airlane pilot
played by Tom Cruise, who transported cocaine for the Medellin cartel. Medellin has since been cleaned up and renovated. It is now said to be a tourist attraction.

As the world’s most powerful drug kingpin, Escobar made so much money he no longer knows where to stash them, which is also showed in “Narcos” with Escobar and his men shown putting millions of dollars inside drums that they bury underground. And he becomes so ruthless that he turned the Medellin region into a war zone where even kids are given guns and are rewarded with cold cash everytime they’ve killed a policeman or a soldier and they turn in their badges to the cartel.

If you think two seasons of Netflix’ detailed storytelling in “Narcos” would be too long for you, “Loving Pablo” as directed by Spanish filmmaker Fernando de Aranoa is something you can sit through in just two hours, spiced up with scenes of violence and torture and brutal assassinations. It’s a loud, lurid and pulpy biopic as it’s told by his glamorous TV journalist mistress in bullet points (with lots of bullet holes) starring no less than Spain’s real life first couple, Bardem and Cruz, both Oscar best supporting winners, as the leads.

Escobar gives Virginia suitcases full of cash and it seems that their relationship is really based more on material excess as we’re not given much insight about the more intimate aspects of their relationship. It would seem that Escobar got Virginia to help him in his foray into politics as a congressman. He wins as people look up to him as their Robin Hood, but is eventually ousted by political machinations that leads to a deadly power play and several massacres.

Virginia’s career was ultimately ruined by her association with Escobar and she is reduced into a pathetic bitch crying for desperate help in that scene in a pawnshop where armed men tried to attack her. This makes her seek the help of the USA’s DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), as represented by Agent Shepard (Peter Sarsgard), whose role is so limited compared to the role played by Boyd Holbrook in “Narcos” as the agent who acts as the narrator of the series, where Virginia was renamed as Valeria Velez.

Bardem seems enjoying chewing the scenery as the murderous carnal beast that the flabby Pablo is, often displaying his huge paunch and even agreeing to do a scene where he is shown running stark naked in the river, with all his rippling and flapping cellulites. This is after the helicopter raid staged by cops on his jungle lair and the DOM happened to just have made love to a very young teenage girl who was screaming in terror.

Cruz also does well as the increasingly terrorized Virginia who seeks asylum with the DEA. But actually, she deserves the fate that befell on her. After all, throughout her relationship with the drug lord, she never even showed having any kind of moral dilemma about what she was doing with him. The movie is a perfect reminder that you sow what you reap.
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KEN CHAN was originally introduced at the presscon of “The Cure” as just playing a short special participation role as Joshua, the doctor son of Jaclyn Jose. But it seems has role has since been lengthened as his team up with Arra San Agustin as Anna, the sister of Mark Herras proved appealing to the viewers.

“They have good on screen chemistry,” wrote a fan of their team up on social media. “Parehong very wholesome ang dating nila at malakas ang kanilang kilig factor.”

Their love story is one bright factor in the show's otherwise bleak background of a deadly epidemic spreading and contaminating everyone. This becomes an even greater source of hope when Arra tells Ken that she’s already pregnant with their first child, indicating the coming of a new life amidst all the dark and depressing conditions around them.

This serves as an inspiration for Ken to continue researching for the cure to the deadly virus that has infected a lot of the populace. More than ever, he’s now determined to help his mommy, Jaclyn as Dr. Evangeline Lazaro, to find the right remedy to counter the continually spreading disease.

Someone said in the internet that Ken’s character will definitely be killed after Arra gives birth to their baby, to make their love story more dramatic, more tragic. But of course, this early, the fans of their tandem are complaining. They say it will not be fair for Ken’s character to be killed now that he is about to become a father, and they threaten that they’ll stop watching the show if ever that would happen.
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Jun 16, 2018

‘THE AUTOPSY’ is originally titled “Autopsy of Jane Doe” and was originally released in the U.S. two years ago, but it’s only now that it's is shown in local theaters. It’s a fairly interesting horror flick about the corpse of a woman discovered by the police while investigating a crime scene in a small town in Virginia.

The woman is young and buried in the basement of a house, her body seemingly untouched by any kind of violence. She’s taken to the home of a father and son who are both coroners, Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and son Austin (Emile Hirsch.) Austin scraps his plan to go watch a movie with his girlfriend, Emma (Ophelia Lovibond), to help his dad do the autopsy right away, telling Emma he’ll just make it up to her.

As they examine the corpse, they notice that she has broken wrists and feet, but there’s no outward indication of this on her body. Her tongue has also been cut out and inside her throat, they pull out a cloth printed with ancient words. Then more mysterious things happen, like the lights dimming out and a sudden thunderstorm traps them inside their house where the morgue is located since being their town’s coroners has already been their family’s business for three generations.

The rest of the movie, after the opening scene that shows a gory crime where some people were shown cut to pieces, is entirely set inside the Tilden home. The morgue is a perfect creepy setting for terrifying things to happen and what hooks us more is to see the affable relationship between father and son that works beautifully.
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AI AI DE LAS ALAS hosted a special presscon for her wards, the Ex Battalion, who will have their first anniversary concert, titled “Kami ang EXB”, at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig (not Antipolo) on July 14. The group is composed of Bosxne1, Flow-G, Skuts Clee, Brando, Emcee Rhen and King Badger, who will each have the chance to do his own solo spot during the show.

“Actually, five years na kaming magkakasama pero underground pa kami noon sa hiphop scene,” they say. “What we’re celebrating in our concert is the first year since we went mainstream at magkaroon ng hit song nationwide, ‘Hayaan Mo Sila’, which registered 56 million hits on youtube.”

Their hit songs have since had more than 250 million music video views and about 750,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. And what changes have happened in their lives since they went mainstream?

“Marami,” they say. “We never expected kasi before na makikilala kami nang ganito. Noon, basta we’re just doing what we enjoy doing kahit underground. Pero mula nang makilala kami, nag-improve ang buhay namin. We’re not only earning better kundi natutuwa kami kasi kahit maliliit na bata, kinakanta yung kanta namin. Nagkaroon kami ng TV show. Nasa ‘Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko’ on GMA-7, two parts, tonight on June 17 and then on June 24. Tapos magkaka-movie na kami sa Viva. Maraming blessings.”

Since their concert has been announced about two weeks ago, ticket sales has been very fast and almost 50 percent has already been sold, mostly to kids and their parents who appreciate their music. So what will they show in their first big concert?

“Definitely, maraming pasabog, surprises,” they say. “Talagang pinaghahandaan namin yan.”

The concert’s director, GB Sampedro adds: “Definitely, hindi puede yung usual na pinapakita nila sa music videos and gigs nila. We will have new musical arrangements and full production numbers with their guest stars.”

Their guests include their manager, Concert Comedy Queen Ai Ai de las Alas, Asia’s Pop Sweetheart Julie Anne San Jose, rock band Silent Sanctuary, rapper Shanti Dope, plus more surprise guests. The show is produced by Four Lights Productions who produced the concerts before of Maja Salvador, MayWard, Kyla and Moira de la Torre.

Four Lights Head Marlon Vergara says: “This being a first anniversary concert, it’s going to be something big that their fans haven’t seen before. We handpicked the top acts in each genre, from rap and rock to pop and comedy, then put them all together in one sensational show. The concert will also highlight each ExB members rapping and singing prowess.”

And what will Ai Ai do in the show? “Secret. Basta abangan nyo dahil pasabog ang gagawin ko. Wholesome tayo rito kasi marami silang fans na mga bata.”

How come she recently posted a comment saying she’ll take a vacation from being their manager and she seems to have gotten mad at her wards? “Oo. Bilang mommy nila ako, pamilya ang turing ko sa kanila. At sa isang pamilya, lagi namang iba-iba ang ugali ng bawat isa at hindi maiiwasang magkaroon kayo ng mga tampuhan. E, hindi sila maayos nung araw na yun, e, so nagalit ako. Pero yung bakasyon ko, inabot lang ng 10 minutes. Nag-sorry agad sila sa akin at nagpadala ng flowers.”

The presscon for “Kami ang EXB” concert was held at Ai Ai’s own resto, Chang Ai Express, which used to be known as Ai Express. Why the name change? “E, kasi, sa internet, pag sine-search ng customers, ang lumalabas, yun pa ring dating Ai Express ko sa harap ng ABS-CBN na nagsara na. So para wala ng confusion, ginawa kong Chang Ai Express with new address dito na sa no. 62 Sgt. Esguerra, near corner Mother Ignacia.”

The “Kami ang EXB” concert is sponsored by RRJ with Frontrow, supported by Mountain Dew, Chang Ai Express and Sisters Sanitary Napkins and Pantyliners. You can get your tickets at Ticketnet.com.ph or call 911-5555 or Four Lights Productions at 0926-074-7776.
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Jun 15, 2018

WISH 107.5 FM conducted a recent singing contest called “Wishcovery: Your Road to Stardom Starts Here” and the winners have now signed exclusive two-year contracts with ABS-CBN’s music arm, Star Music, who’ll be releasing their debut album with 18 songs on Monday at the ABS-CBN store. The album will be launched via their first big concert titled “Wishful Journey” at the Araneta Coliseum this coming Tuesday, June 19, at 7 PM. Tickets are now on sale at Tickenet. com.ph.
The grand champion is Princess Sevillena, 24, who is from Makati, auditioned on line and later became a wild card winner. She got P2 million cash, a house and lot, a brand new car and she’ll be flying to New York in September for a makeover package from stylist Richie Rich.

Her runners up are Kimberly Baluzon, 1st runnerup from Daet winning P500,000; Louie Anne Culala, 2nd runner up with P300,000; Carmela Arriola from Batangas and Ace Bartolome from Cavite, 3rd and 4th runners up, got P100,000 each.

They were presented in a special presscon by ABS-CBN last Thursday and each of them gets to sing live their original song included in their album. Princess did “Pangarap Kong Bituin”, Kimberly did “Alam Ko Lang”, Louie did “Sana Ako”, Carmela did “Pangarap Kong Pag-ibig” and Ace did “Kaya Ko Ba” which can be a potential anthem for brokenhearted people. They also have a collaborative single titled “Patuloy and Pangarap” which is a perfect theme song for all newbies aspiring to hit it big in showbiz.

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GRETCHEN BARRETTO is getting positive feedback for admitting in an internet video that she is the mistress of Tonyboy Cojuangco. She says: “Mga kaibigan, you can accuse me of many things, nasty things, pwede n’yo akong sabihing malandi, I will accept it. Sasabihin n’yo akong baduy, bagong-yaman, I will accept it. Sasabihin nilang kabit, aaminin ko. For the past 23 or almost 24 years, opo, kabit po ako ni Tonyboy Cojuangco. I never denied it. If you threw that at me five years ago, maglulupasay po ako. Halos magpakamatay ako sa sakit sa aking dibdib ‘pag tinawag n’yo akong kabit. But right now, after 23 lovely years with my Tonyboy, you can call me kabit and I will tell you, I am happily his kabit, I am happily his mistress. I have a man who loves me unconditionally.”

Tonyboy remains legally married to his first wife Denise Yabut-Cojuangco. “Maybe I will never be marrying him. Maybe he will never marry me. Maybe I will never have that dream to walk down the aisle and have that fabulous gown. But who cares? I have a very flawed life, a flawed relationship, but I’m happy. It’s not perfect. He understands me fully, he loves me fully, and in his eyes, I can do no wrong. So, who am I to complain? Life isn’t perfect. Hey, here we live right now, it’s not heaven, you know. And I’m not the only one, you know, who lives an imperfect life.”

Of course, you can admire her for such honesty but bashers will not be bashers if they won’t criticize her. To this, Gretchen has a very positive attitude. In her “Hello, Bashers” videos, she doesn’t seem to care what they say and they can just eat their hearts out. After all, she’s still rich and beautiful and it’s as if she’s saying “Mamatay na lang kayo sa inggit.”
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Jun 14, 2018

IN ‘THE Curse of the Nun”, the spirit of a deranged nun harasses a young woman who wants to move to a new home. Now, in “Don’t Knock” (originally “Don’t Knock Twice”), it’s a wicked vengeful witch that sows havoc in this horror film. They release a cheapie cheapie horror flick in mall theaters every week and it’s obvious these flicks really have a market as they have some kind of staying power at the box office.

“Don’t Knock” is a British import that also doubles as a family drama. Jess (Katee Sackhoff) is a sculptor who used to be the wife of a lawyer, Ben (Javier Botet), but she became a drug addict, ruining her family and forcing her to give up her daughter for adoption. Nine years passed. She has recovered and is now married to a rich banker (Richard Mylan.)

Her daughter, Chloe (Lucy Boynton), is now a teenager who doesn’t listen to the warning of the movie’s title. Her boyfriend, Danny (Jordan Bolger), talks her into knocking twice on the front door of a decrepit abandoned house by the freeway that is said to be haunted by a witch. Soon after that, a not so scary spirit who walks on its hands and feet and croaks like a frog barges into Danny’s flat and gets him.

Chloe then experiences terrifying visions so she runs and seeks the help of her long lost mother. Looks like all it takes for a neglected daughter to forgive her mother for abandoning her is a missing boyfriend and an unspooky ghost. Mother and daughter get to bond but there is an insinuation that Jess is holding on to something more than we know as she has a tendency about getting things that are not her own.

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MIKAEL DAEZ shows that he is able to hold his own against the award-winning Edgar Alan Guzman in their intense confrontation scene in “The Stepdaughters”. The show’s last few episodes are so engrossing after Glydel Mercado as Luisa, Megan Young’s mom, was hit by a car and her younger sister got killed. Mikael as Francis discovers that Edgar Allan as Froilan has something to do with these incidents so he confronted Edgar for it and they have a heated altercation.

Everyone knows Edgar Allan has won acting awards for such films as “Ligo Na You, Lapit Na Me” and “Deadma Walking” so it’s no longer surprising for him to be able to deliver long dramatic lines effectively. But in fairness to Mikael, he also did well. As one viewer commented: “At least, hindi siya basta nagpalamon kay Edgar. Nagawa niyang tapatan ang intensity ng acting nito.”

And what is Mikael’s reaction to Megan’s statement that he doesn’t watch his kissing scenes with Katrina Halili in “The Stepdaughters”? “Well, e ganun din naman ako, so quits lang kami,” he says. “I also don’t watch when she has kissing scenes with orther actors. Mas mabuti na yung ganun, di ba?”

But do they inform each other and ask permission when they’re doing such scenes with other actors? It’s Megan who replies: “No need. Hindi na kailangang ipaalam pa sa isa’t isa kasi alam na naman naming part yun ng work ng isa’t isa. We just don’t watch na lang.”

They’ve been on for seven years now since they started going steady even before Megan became Miss World in 2013. But they still don’t have any plans of getting married soon. “”That can wait,” says Mikael. “We’re not in a hurry to have our own family. Paghahandaan muna naming mabuti yan.”
Another development in "The Stepdaughters" is the addition of Joyce Ching in the cast. She will be playing the role of Grace. Will she side with Megan as Mayumi or with Katrina as Isabelle? That's what you'll find out in the next few episodes of the toprating show.
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