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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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Sep 23, 2017

WRITER-DIRECTOR Darren Aronofsky is noted for his disturbing, surreal films. As a real auteur, he first gained fame in 1998 for the low-budget psychological thriller, “Pi”, a study in mental obsession, followed in 2000 by “Requiem for a Dream”, which gave an Oscar nomination to lead actress Ellen Burstyn.

His third film, “The Fountain” in 2006, about a man, Hugh Jackman, who resorts to time travel to save his loved one, got mixed reviews. In 2008, he gave Oscar nominations for Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler”. He finally made someone win the Oscar in 2010, Natalie Portman as best actress for “Black Swan”. In 2014, he did the Biblical epic, “Noah”, which became his most successful at the box office.

He now comes up with “Mother!”, a work more puzzling than anything he has done before. Local viewers who just want to be entertained by simple-minded romcoms will surely be turned off as Aronofsky seems quite determined to intentionally baffle and outrage his viewers. Surely, some folks will love it, but there are more viewers who’ll be apalled and hate it.

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ALEXANDER LEE of “My Korean Jagiya” is now a GMA Artist Center talent. He officially signed up with them last Thursday to be part of the Kapuso family and he’s very grateful. “It’s really an honor and I’m so happy to work with GMA,” he says. “It’s a dream come true for me to be a Kapuso. I really love working here in Manila. I’ve visited other places like Cebu, Davao and Naga City and The Philippines is really such a beautiful country with warm, friendly people. Everywhere I go now, they know me because of my role in ‘My Korean Jagiya’. In Bicol, 20,000 people watched our show in SM Naga and it’s so heartwarming for me and my co-stars who went there, Heart Evangelista and Edgar Allan Guzman.”

His mother and sister came to Manila to visit him. “I cannot go back to Korea even for a short visit because we tape here three times a week, so they were the ones who came over to visit me. They watch ‘My Korean Jagiya’ on the internet and they’re very proud of me. My mother also like my co-stars, especially Ricky Davao as the gay character called Tita Josie.”

Xander is thankful that he gets to record the Korean version of the show’s theme song originally written by Janno Gibbs. “It’s a beautiful song and I hope we can release it also in Korea someday,” he adds.

Today, Sunday, will be doing a free show with Heart, Valerie Montenegro, Jinri Park and Divine Aucina at Metrotown Mall in Tarlac City at 4 PM. And tomorrow, Monday, he will be the speical guest of Willie Revillame in “Wowowin”.
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BELA PADILLA is now a hyphenated celebrity as a writer-actress. She attended the presscon of Star Cinema’s “Last Night”, which opens on September 27, as the film’s scriptwriter. This is her first solo full script since she has co-writers before in her past scripts. How does it feel that something she wrote solo is now filmed by Star Cinema? “It’s a big honor that a script I wrote is now a film by Star Cinema,” she says. “Tapos directed pa by Joyce Bernal and starring Piolo and Toni. Watching them give life to something I created gives me a big thrill and feeling of accomplishment.”

Is the story of “Last Night” starring Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga about two people contemplating suicide based on something that happened to her in real life? “No, it’s not a true story. It’s purely fictional. I first thought of this two years ago then I gave it Direk Joyce Bernal.”

How did she become inclined to writing? “I really love reading. Our parents encouraged us more to read books than to play with toys. Kapag toys, limited lang ang puede mong bilihin. But when it’s books, you can buy all you can. So that’s how my imagination started working.”

She just came from a hit movie, “100 Tula Para kay Stella”, and we congratulated for she gave a really very good performance in the title role. So which is harder, acting or writing? “Kung artista ka, you only think of your own character. But when you are a writer, you have to think of all the characters in your story, kung paano mo sila bubuuin. I’m thankful to Direk Joyce Bernal, who’s my mentor, dahil hindi nila masyadong binago ang original script na sinulat ko. What they changed is the title. Ang original title ko kasi for this is ‘Last Chance’, but I think mas bagay na ang title na napili ni Direk Joyce, ‘Last Night’, which could mean kagabi, meaning the night before, or huling gabi, their last night sa mundong ibabaw kasi gusto mag-suicide nung characters nila.”

Will she eventually also venture into directing? “Yes, may ganong plano po. May project na akong napili for my directorial debut.”

Her ex-BF Neil Arce is a co-producer of the film under N2 Productions and for the first time, Neil joined the cast and crew of a movie he co-produced during the Q&A portion. This is something he didn’t do before as he chose then to maintain a low profile. How come he’s more visible now in “Last Night”?

“Kasi this is a very important movie for me, a passion project. Ang tagal namin itong hinintay ni Bela for the right casting,” says Neil.

Bela says they were still a couple when she wrote its script. “He helped me conceptualized the project. Siya ang kabatuhan ko ng ideas dito,” Bela adds.

It’s good they’re still in very good terms even if Neil is now more identified with his alleged new inamorata, Angel Locsin.

“Wala naman kaming pinag-awayan o ginawang masama sa isa’t isa,” Neil explains. “We’re both mature persons who can still have a good working relationship. At si Angel pa nga ang nagsabi sa amin to pitch the project sa Star Cinema after maikuwento ko sa kanya ang story. O ngayon, tapos na yung buong movie and the world is about to see it so we’re all excited.”
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Sep 22, 2017

DYLAN O’BRIEN first made waves on TV in “Teen Wolf”, then he was projected as a teen action star in “The Maze Runner” franchise. Now, he’s being built up as a young action star in “American Assassin”, based on Vince Flynn’s 2010 novel. If the film would be a big hit, then this will be a franchise like the James Bond or Jason Bourne flicks.

Dylan plays Mitch Rapp. The opening scenes shows him proposing marriage to his girlfriend on the beach in Ibiza when terrorists barge in and begin shooting innocent civilians with assault rifles. His girlfriend is shot to death while he himself is wounded.

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 CHANEL MORALES is the only cast member of “The Debutantes” who admits that she has a boyfriend. Her companions, Sue Ramirez, Michelle Vito, Miles Ocampo and Jane de Leon, all claim that they are currently loveless. Chanel used to be with TV5, a discovery of their Artista Academy talent search, and her boyfriend is Carl Guevarra, who she met when they were paired in “Wattpad Presents.”

“Two years na kami,” says Chanel. “So far so good, kahit busy kami, he finds a way para magkita kami kaya tumatagal ang aming relationship.”

But how come Carl’s relationship with ex-girlfriend Kris Bernal of GMA-7 didn’t last very long? “Naku, I cannot answer for that. Ang masasagot ko lang, yung kung anong meron kami ngayon ni Carl at sa’kin, okay siya. Na-meet na siya ng parents ko and they accept him. Nabisita na niya pati probinsiya namin, which is Bacolod. Everyday, we communicate, checking how each other is doing.”

Chanel is now managed by Arnold Vegafria who brought her to Regal and Mother Lily made her sign a contract with them. “Bale ito ang first project ko sa contract ko with Regal and I’m really enjoying working with them. Nag-train ako with a professional swimmer dito kasi my role is as a competitive swimmer. Sana, maging successful itong ‘The Debutantes’ para masundan nang marami pang ibang projects in the future.”

Didn’t she have a hard time on the set since all her co-stars are from Star Magic and she’s the only who comes from TV5? “Hindi naman. They’re all friendly during the shoot at nagkukuwentuhan kami. We’re not competing with each other.”
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TONI GONZAGA is happy to be reunited with Piolo Pascual in “Last Night”, directed by Joyce Bernal. They were last seen together in the 2014 megahit, “Starting Over Again”, directed by Olive Lamasan. “Last Night” is written by actress Bela Padilla. How is it different from their previous film?
“‘Last Night’ is edgier, darker, braver,” says Piolo. “It’s not your usual romantic-comedy but a more dangerous love story about two broken people at the lowest point in their lives who want to end their lives after a series of setbacks. Then they meet each other and that gives them hope.”

“Mas malalim ang story nito at ang pinanggagalingan at pinagdaraanan ng characters namin,” adds Toni. “Piolo is Mark and ako naman, si Carmina. I was named after the character of Dawn Zulueta in ‘Hihintayin Kita sa Langit’ dahil favorite yun ng mama ko. She thought it’s the end of her life, but actually, it’s just the beginning after she met Mark. It will show that you still have a reason to live, ang sarap pang mabuhay.”

Why is the title “Last Night”? “It actually has two meanings,” says Direk Joyce Bernal. “Puedeng last night, meaning kagabi. At puede ring huling gabi. Isa pang meaning is how they make the night last while they’re together. Kasi, basically, nangyari ito sa loob ng isang gabi lang na gusto na nilang tapusin ang lahat. May death-defying scene si Toni rito kasi tumalon siya sa Jones Bridge, pero sumabit yung damit niya at hindi siya tuluyang nahulog. Dumating si Piolo at tinulungan siya, not knowing it will be the start of their friendship that eventually blooms into love. The whole film was shot in Manila, with the hotel scenes shot at Luneta Hotel sa may Roxas Blvd.”

Piolo says the role of Mark is quite a big challenge for him. “I took a risk in playing this role kasi my identity as a person is totally different from Mark. We have totally different personalities and perspectives in life. Each time I do a scene, I have to get into his psyche and it’s not easy kasi nasa edge na siya ng buhay niya. I have to fully understand first the journey of this character so I can portray him convincingly.”

This is Toni‘s first film since she became a mother and her baby boy, Seve (for Severiano Eliott), will soon turn a year old on September 30. “Pinaghahandaan na namin ng husband ko ang 1st birthday party niya,” she says.

Where did they get the two names of Baby Seve? “Paul’s grandpa, the late Nestor de Villa, favorite golfer niya noong araw si Severiano Ballesteros and Paul likes that name. Ako naman, gusto ko yung pangalang Eliott from ‘E.T. Extraterrestrial’ ni Spielberg, so pinagsama na lang namin.”
Don’t miss Piolo and Toni in “Last Night” that opens in theaters on September 27,
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Sep 21, 2017

JEROME PONCE is not the original choice for the role of Enzo, Joshua Garcia’s hot-headed half brother in “The Good Son”, but Elmo Magalona, who begged off along with Janella Salvador. How did he get the role?  “I took the audition,” he says. “Actually, marami kami. Pinagawa ako ng eksena with Joshua, nagbatuhan kami ng linya. Siempre, I’m glad na ako ang napili. Maganda yung role kasi si Joshua ang good son, si Nash Aguas ang lonely son, at ako yung perfect son kasi I’m doing very good in school, tapos top athlete pa ako and I’m being groomed to be an executive sa company ng aming family.”

How is it being paired with ex-GF Elisse Joson? It’s said they had a bad breakup because Elisse’s parents didn’t approve of him. Being an only child, Elisse dutifully obeyed her parents and she’s now more identified with Mccoy de Leon who’s paired with her in “The Good Son”.

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HEART EVANGELISTA’s wedding scene with Alexander Lee in South Korea made loyal viewers of “My Korean Jagiya” squeal with glee. “Nakakakilig!” they all say in social media. “Heart as Gia achieved her fan girl dreams. Pero nakaka-suspense din kasi baka maagaw pa ni Valeen Montenegro si Alexander as Jun Ho mula sa kanya.”

Does she like her character as Gia? “Oo naman, nae-enjoy ko siya kasi lovable siya. Innocent, bubbly, laging good vibes kasi masayahin. Kahit broken hearted, nakangiti pa rin. Gusto ko yun, yung very positive siya. Ang ayoko sa kanya, masyado siyang hopia. Parang tatanga-tanga pagdating sa pag-ibig.”

Has Heart discovered anything new in Xander and their other Korean co-stars? “Ang tagal na naming nagte-taping, so kilala ko na sila, parang barkada na kami na comfortable sa isa’t isa.”

Is it true Jinri Park and David Kim really had a fling? “Niloloko ko nga sila. Kinukulit ko. Pareho kayong single, sabi ko, so mag-date na kayo. Umalis na si David, e. But he said babalik pa raw siya.” What’s the difference between Filipino and Korean actors? “Mas serious ang Koreans, more discipline. Minsan, when we invite Alexander sa house, he’d say, ‘Sorry, but I have to memorize my lines tonight for the taping.’ Lagi silang very well behaved. Siguro rin kasi they’re working a foreign country. Filipinos, in comparison, are more relaxed, hindi nagpapa-stress.”
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ANDREA TORRES is busy with “Alyas Robin Hood” and a new movie, “Meant to Beh, Ika-something na Utos”, but she doesn’t mind working everyday. “I really prayed na maging busy ako this year and my prayer was answered,” she says. “Sabi ko, ang sarap siguro kung araw-araw, nagtatrabaho ako. O ibinigay naman kaya wala akong reklamo kahit very tiring ang schedule ko.”

Solenn Heussaff has joined the cast of “Alyas Robin Hood”. Doesn’t she feel insecure with the positive comments that Solenn is getting as her rival over Dingdong Dantes in the show? “Bakit naman ako mai-insecure sa kanya? I don’t look at her as a rival kundi magtutulong-tulong kaming lahat na connected sa show para mas mapaganda ang programa at mas magustuhan kaming panoorin ng viewers. Hanga nga ako sa discipline niya kasi kahit pagod na sa taping, nakakapag-gym pa siya. Abangan nyo kasi marami kaming gagawing pasabog in the coming episodes of ‘Alyas Robin Hood’.”

Shooting “Meant to Beh” is a dream come true for her. “Kasi fan talaga ako ni Bossing Vic Sotto ever since. Noon, napapanood ko lang siya sa movies at sa TV, ngayon, kasama ko na sa pelikula kara para itong big accomplishment for me bilang isang artista. Bale ba, kasama pa namin si Ms. Dawn Zulueta, isa pang artistang hinahangaan ko kaya nai-starstruck ako sa kaya noong una. Buti na lang mamabait sila kaya naging comfortable ako agad sa set at mabait din ang director naming si Chris Martinez.”
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Sep 20, 2017

AFTER THE dissapointing film version of “The Dark Tower”, now comes another boring interpretation of a Stephen King book, “It” (not informational technology). Move over, Ronald McDonald, the clown in “It”, Pennywise, now eclipses you as a macabre screen presence who eat the arms of little children right in the opening sequence.

“It” was published in 1986, a very thick book of more than 1,000 pages, and was first made into a mini series on TV in 1990. This is the first big screen version. We just want to take note here that the best films of King is based on his non-horror works, like “The Green Mile”, “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Stand By Me”. The horror novels that also did well on screen are “Carrie” by Brian de Palma and “The Shining” by Stanley Kubrick.

“It” is a current big hit in the States so no doubt there will be a sequel. It’s dreadfully directed by Andy Muschietti, who did the awful and forgettable horror flick, “Mama” (2013). The story is set in the late 80s in the beautiful small town of Derry, Maine, which looks so idyllic with its small river with a covered wooden bridge ala-Madison County, old historic edifices and tree-lined streets.

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