Monday, October 31, 2016

Movie Review: The Accountant

If we've been aquatinted with each other up to a certain point, you would probably know that I have this hate-hate relationship with Math. To prove a point, when I was in High School I was in a "numerically challenged" group, what a way to scar a teenager for life eh? 

My brain sort of shuts down when I hear or see numbers, unless of course it has anything to do with my financial status. 

Despite my lack of affinity for Math I still enjoyed Batfleck...errr...Ben Affleck's "The Accountant". 

Imagine Affleck bringing his skills as the caped crusader and becoming an accountant and mind you, this is not your run-of-the-mill  Certified Public Accountant but something different entirely. 

You see, as a child Ben Affleck's Christian Wolff (not his real name-of course) was diagnosed as having autism. He is wickedly good with puzzles and numbers, we're talking mad skills, god-like, a real honest to goodness mathematician. 

"He has more in common with Einsten and Mozart, than he does with us." Says an expert at the film's trailer. 

Indeed, while Christian Wolff is a math savant (a skill that if I had would probably have saved me from childhood trauma and teenage stress) -although he lacks the social skills for him to blend in to be considered "normal" (didn't we all at some point growing up?). This didn't sit well with his hard edged, cold hearted father, who is also conveniently in the army. He believes that Christan should not be cuddled and shielded because of his autism but rather should be exposed to what makes him uncomfortable (bright lights and loud music) -this plus intense training in martial arts should help Christian lead a "normal" life or at least get by as a high functioning individual with autism. 

The film does not follow a linear format as it uses flashbacks to unveil Christian's brutal training-err-upbringing (which his father ensured) then goes to the present storyline which shows the audience what a day in the life of " The Accountant" looks like. We see Christian helping a financially-troubled couple write off taxes and skillfully avoiding yet another blind date. 

The audience also sees Christian's other life, they know that he is no ordinary accountant, since he has an RV inside a storage unit stocked full with all sorts of guns and weapons, cold cash in different currencies, passports, rare and expensive art, gold bars and most importantly some really valuable comic books. 

He talks to an unknown woman who advises him to take a legitimate client to leave a clean trail. Wolff is then soon working as a consultant for "Living Robotics" where a bright young accounting clerk, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) -probably the only cheery and relatively "normal" character in the film reports some discrepancies in the books. 

While Christian plays a normal consultant by day, the audience is given a glimpse of what he really does and that is play accountant for different criminal organizations, from drug lords to mobsters. 

"Who survives this kind of clientele?" Asks Ray King (J.K. Simmons) the director of the Treasury Department Crime Enforcement Division, who blackmails...err..instructs a young treasury agent Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to find out the identity of "the Accountant". 

Turns out there is more going on in "Living Robotics" despite the seemingly good natured owner, Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow). Christian obsessively tries to uncover the secrets in "Living Robitics" all the while, King and Medina are getting dangerously close to finding out his true identity, oh and there's also an unknown assassin, Jon Bernthal who is trying to blow Christian's math-inclined head off. So yeah, there is definitely a lot going on. 

A big puzzle to solve with surprises and twists at every corner, "The Accountant" will keep you guessing until the very end. 

Ben Affleck is spot on in his portrayal of Christian Wolff, he is brilliant and obsessive as a mathematician yet awkward around other people, which shows Christian in a vulnerable light, making audiences warm up to him. 

7 out of 10. At times, the film may feel as if it is made up of many different genres, this is something that may or may not sit well with an audience member and some revelations may or may not be satisfying, it really depends on who's watching, the audience that I was a part of were engaged and engrossed. I was engaged and engrossed and I enjoyed it. 

It's interesting how movies can help you enjoy the things you otherwise would not (like, Math in my case) and with impressive performances from a stellar cast, a fast paced plot, an interesting puzzle to solve and action sequences straight out of Batman's own choreography (Indonessian martial arts-"pentjak sikat" -very refreshing and deadly efficient) what more can I ask for? 

"The Accountant" is in cinemas November 20.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros. 


Ben Affleck stars in Warner Bros.' action-thriller The Accountant as Christian Wolff, a specially trained assassin who happens to be a math savant suffering from Asperger's Syndrome. Director Gavin O’Connor knew that Christian should have an idiosyncratic fighting style, forged by his childhood training and his personal penchant for order.

O'Connor maintains, “I wanted to approach the action through character, with the thought being when Chris got into a situation that required violence, he would eliminate the threat as quickly and economically as possible. It’s math. It’s ‘How do I make my move and get them off the chessboard?’”

Conferring with stunt coordinators Sam Hargrave and Fernando Chien, the director explored various types of martial arts. Nothing quite fit the bill until they showed him an Indonesian method that is less widely known, called pentjak silat. “I immediately said, ‘I want that,” he recalls. “I’d never even heard ofsilat before, but it’s incredibly efficient, so it served our purpose in a very cinematic way. We honed in on that form and built the action around it.”

Hargrave and Chien, together with their stunt team, started training Affleck, keeping in mind O’Connor’s desire to mirror Chris’s persona in the action. Chien confirms, “His style needed to be almost surgical—very linear and direct. He wouldn’t bounce around like a boxer. We mainly focused on silat, but because of how dynamic Ben needed to be in his fights, we also taught him judo, jiu-jitsu…everything from the ground up, but extremely stylized.”

“This martial arts technique hasn’t been seen in too many movies before so it felt fresh and new,” Affleck says. “I loved the style, so I dove into training as hard as I could. I spent months ahead of filming learning elaborate fight choreography, which involved a lot of flips and throws. Performing almost all of the action myself was difficult and demanding, but, luckily, I had the benefit of some really strong coaches and stunt performers who came up with some cool and unique stuff for me to do. It was very intense, but when it all came together and was done right, it could be beautiful and elegant, even though it was brutal.”

Chien acknowledges that Affleck, who came into the film right after portraying Batman, was already in fighting shape—just not in the same way that Christian had to be. “For that film, he became really buff and muscular, but this character needed to be slick and more quick—very direct and explosive—so we did more martial arts conditioning with a lot of dynamic movements.”

Hargrove adds, “We had a small gym where we would go for about two hours a day. Fernando and I put him through his paces, making drills out of the choreography and having Ben practice them over and over again until every move became like second nature to him. We sometimes drove him to the point of exhaustion, but Ben never gave up. He put in the work and came back stronger every day.”

O’Connor observes, “Ben had to travel different paths in making sure we got both the physical and emotional aspects of the character right, which was vital. He was working out every day and getting all the choreography down because he was doing most of it himself. In just a short amount of time, he had to look like he’d been studying his entire life, so it was a crash course for him and I think he did an amazing job.”

Opening across the Philippines on Nov. 02, “The Accountant” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.


Action superstar Vin Diesel works under the direction of Oscar-winner Ang Lee for the first time in Columbia Pictures' emotionally charged film, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.

Based on the acclaimed bestselling novel by Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the film reveals what really happened to the squad – contrasting the realities of the war with America’s perceptions.

Diesel plays Shroom, one of Billy's sergeants during his tour of duty. “In Iraq, Shroom became one of Billy's best friends,” shares Joe Alwyn.

“Shroom is written as a Zen kind of soldier who feels things deeply,” observes producer Marc Platt. “He’s a leader, he’s a thinker and a philosopher and has a compassionate warmth about him but he’s no nonsense at the same time. He’s literally the heart and soul of this unit. When I thought about who you’d believe as a Zen philosopher and as a soldier, a big bear of a guy to a group of these Bravos, I thought of Vin Diesel. It was a perfect marriage of an actor and a role. And fortunately for all of us Vin is an actor who loves film and filmmakers, and one of his heroes is Ang Lee. I reached out to Vin and he reached back to me and he said thank you for making my dreams come true. We love having him in the movie and we love that he gets to play a character close to his soul.”

“Shroom’s a very interesting and challenging character in the movie, because he is the older, wiser soldier warrior within this group of kids,” notes producer Stephen Cornwell. “The challenge of the role is to provide that quality of leadership and the sense of mysticism, and Vin’s a perfect fit. He brings acting skills and a presence that really makes that character come alive, which is very important to establish and by choosing to play Shroom, Vin was looking to do something different and very challenging. We’ve come to a very remote place in the world to film the scenes that establish Shroom’s position with the Bravos, and I think that Vin and Ang are having a fantastic time working together.”

Vin Diesel's upcoming films include xXx: Return of Zander Cage, Fast & Furious 8 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Opening across the Philippines on November 09, “Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Movie Review: TROLLS

I have to be honest when I first saw the teaser trailer for Dreamworks' "Trolls" I wasn't so happy, you see I'm a 90's kid and I was already studying when the Trolls toys were a trend. My classmates and cousins had them, everyone did. The oftentimes naked Trolls had a blank stare through their black round eyes and a perpetually creepy smile that seemed to know your deepest darkest secrets. Of course it was their brightly colored coiffed hair which stood out as their defining trait. 

So to see this new breed of Trolls whose soft skin which was brightly colored (even shining in Guy Diamond's case) and came in different sizes and whose eyes were now expressive was a real surprise to me. But when the first official trailer came along I was already looking forward to seeing it-it was sooo funny! I was very happy when the original Trolls made a cameo in the film.  90's kids and those from Generation X should watch out for that. 

An extravagant musical of epic proportions Dreamworks' "Trolls" follows the story of the Trolls- a perpetually happy people who spend their whole day singing, dancing and hugging  hence the alarm every hour to remind them of "Hug Time". Then we have the Bergens, a race which could be described as being similar to Ogres, Bergens are a sad and miserable people who believe that the only way for them to be happy is by eating a Troll. Yes, I know it's morbid but aren't most fairy tales? The humor has some morbid tones which I think balances it out, it is the kind of humor which both kids and adults get.  

Poppy and Branch. 

After a hair raising (pun intended) escape twenty years ago, the Trolls are now Bergen-free and have been singing and dancing (and hugging) ever since. 

Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is throwing a big party to celebrate being free of the Bergens and while everybody seems on board with her plans for the biggest and loudest party, the ever cautious Branch (Justin Timberlake) doesn't think it's such a good idea. 

The ever cautious Branch believes that one day the Bergens will find them and resume their "Troll-eating practice", Branch is so convinced of this that he even has a bunker stocked with supplies to help him survive "Burgen Apocalypse" and while the other Trolls see him as a crazy "doomsday prepper" who doesn't sing or dance, Branch refuses Poppy's invite to her big party and sulks in his bunker, which is what save him from his greatest fear - a Burgen attack! 

While most of the Trolls escape, Poppy's friends are captured and she decides on saving them but what does an ever optimistic princess know about the wild and most importantly how does she plan on entering Burgen town unseen in order to rescue her friends? 

Poppy reaches out to Branch for help and after much convincing (Poppy can be very persistent) agrees to help her. 

What follows is a hilarious rescue mission with probably the best "Cinderella" spin with Zooey Deschanel playing a Burgen scullery maid looking for love. 

I was impressed with the underlying lesson in the film which teaches children (and adults) that what we perceive to be the only source of happiness is not the only way to be happy, there is no "pill" which you take that will instantly make you happy and that true happiness is inside all of us and sometimes all you need is someone to help you find it.

Featuring music from the 60's all the way to the 2010's plus some new originals (which was a big treat for a music geek like me) I swear, you will never look at "Total Eclipse of the Heart" the same way again-both kids and adults will surely be singing and dancing (and laughing and crying) until the end of the movie. 

My favorite animated film of the year (so far) I will be awarding this fresh, delightful musical adventure with a perfect 10. 

Dreamworks "Trolls" is in cinemas November 2! 

Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox. 

Friday, October 28, 2016


Warner Bros. Pictures has just launched the IMAX poster for its new fantasy adventure “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” The film opens in IMAX theaters and regular cinemas across the Philippineson Thursday, Nov. 17th.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” takes us to a new era in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, decades before Harry Potter and half a world away.

Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne stars in the central role of Magizoologist Newt Scamander, under the direction of David Yates, who helmed the last four “Harry Potter” blockbusters.

There are growing dangers in the wizarding world of 1926 New York. Something mysterious is leaving a path of destruction in the streets, threatening to expose the wizarding community to the Second Salemers, a fanatical faction of No-Majs (American for Muggles) bent on eradicating them. And the powerful, dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, after wreaking havoc in Europe, has slipped away…and is now nowhere to be found.

Unaware of the rising tensions, Newt Scamander arrives in the city nearing the end of a global excursion to research and rescue magical creatures, some of which are safeguarded in the magical hidden dimensions of his deceptively nondescript leather case. But potential disaster strikes when unsuspecting No-Maj Jacob Kowalski inadvertently lets some of Newt’s beasts loose in a city already on edge—a serious breach of the Statute of Secrecy that former Auror Tina Goldstein jumps on, seeing her chance to regain her post as an investigator. However, things take an ominous turn when Percival Graves, the enigmatic Director of Magical Security at MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), casts his suspicions on both Newt…and Tina.

Now allied, Newt and Tina, together with Tina’s sister, Queenie, and their new No-Maj friend, Jacob, form a band of unlikely heroes, who must recover Newt’s missing beasts before they come to harm. But the stakes are higher than these four outsiders—now branded fugitives—ever imagined, as their mission puts them on a collision course with dark forces that could push the wizarding and No-Maj worlds to the brink of war.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” also stars Katherine Waterston as Tina, Tony Award winner Dan Fogler as Jacob, Alison Sudol as Tina’s sister, Queenie, Ezra Miller as Credence, two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton as Mary Lou Barebone, Oscar winner Jon Voight as Henry Shaw, Sr., Carmen Ejogo as Seraphina Picquery, and Colin Farrell as Percival Graves.

The film marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, whose seven beloved Harry Potter books were adapted into the top-grossing film franchise of all time. Her script was inspired by the Hogwarts textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, written by her character Newt Scamander.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Heyday Films Production, a David Yates Film, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” The film will open nationwide November 17, 2016, in 2D and 3D in select theatres and IMAX, and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

© 2016 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved.

Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Publishing Rights © JKR.


Multi-talented actor and musician, Justin Timberlake who has won nine Grammys and numerous other awards leads an impressive voice cast and serves as executive music producer in the movie for all ages – “Trolls.”  

 Timberlake is in charge of the upbeat music of “Trolls” and has combined classics from Earth Wind & Fire, Simon & Garfunkel, Gorillaz and Cyndi Lauper, with original songs he wrote for the film, including the number one hit song ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling!’. Also starring in the film are Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Gwen Stefani, Zooey Deschanel and Russell Brand.

“Trolls” can be enjoyed by youngsters as a unique world rich with unforgettable characters, music, humor, adventure and color; as well as by adults, for whom the film’s overarching theme of the search for happiness will resonate long after the end credits have rolled.

Indeed, the Trolls’ all-singing, all-dancing, all-hugging world is all about happiness, which infuses every frame of the film.  “Trolls” explores how we treat others and, more importantly, how we treat ourselves.   Its emotion-charged message is that happiness comes from within, and can be a powerful and infectious force when it’s spread.  

With Justin’s Branch character, long after the Trolls’ liberation from Bergen captivity, he was the only one who continued to see the Bergens as a threat, but no one in town believed him.  Branch lives a discontented existence and is constantly preparing for the worst.   He’s lost his sense of joy and is flummoxed by the over-the-top positivity of the other Trolls.  Branch often wonders if he is the only sane Troll left.  Over the course of the film, he is challenged to let go of his past, even if that includes a dreaded burst of singing, dancing and hugging.

Branch represents our fears and how they can envelop us and prevent our inner happiness from blossoming.  Ever vigilant, he is consumed with exploring potential dangers and spends his life bracing for the worst instead of enjoying the present.   While some of his concerns are well-founded because there are very real dangers nearby, Branch must learn he has to keep living his life and not let fear win. 

"Branch isn’t much of a people person,” notes Justin Timberlake.  “He doesn’t sing, dance or hug, which makes him somewhat of an outcast—by his own choice—in the Troll community.  He’s a hardcore survivalist and a huge contrast to all the other Trolls. He doesn’t connect with anybody,” Timberlake continues.

Citing the character’s relatability, despite—or maybe, thanks to—his persistent negativity, Timberlake jokes that, “Branch is going to be the voice of every dad who sees Trolls."

 "Can’t Stop the Feeling,” written by Timberlake, Martin and Shellback, is a celebratory anthem that brings the Trolls and Bergens together.  The song is performed by Timberlake, Deschanel, Funches, Mintz-Plasse, Kendrick, Corden, Icona Pop, Stefani, Nayyar, and a chorus.  “It’s full of optimism, which carried over to its creation,” notes Timberlake, adding, “Writing it actually made me feel happy.”  Director Mike Mitchell adds that the song “sums up everything we wanted to do with the film.  It creates happiness when you hear it.

 “Trolls” opens November 2 in cinemas (also in 3D screens) nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros. 


Renowned actors Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell and talented young actor Lewis MacDougall star in the entrancing drama “A Monster Calls” based on the novel by Patrick Ness of the same title.

 Directed by acclaimed and award-winning J.A. Bayona, best known for his nightmare-inducing “The Orphanage” and the catastrophic “The Impossible,” his latest movie “A Monster Calls” is a deeply-felt coming-of-age story of a young boy who must come to terms with her mother’s impending death. 

 “A Monster Calls’” screenplay adaptation is by the book’s author, Patrick Ness. Mr. Ness wrote the novel from an original idea by the late Siobhan Dowd.  The story had originated with Dowd but she succumbed to cancer soon after starting it. Ness reflects, “Siobhan wrote magnificent books, ones that teenagers deeply responded to; A Monster Calls was to have been her fifth. She had an opening; 1,000 words; an idea for a structure; and a few characters.”

 Bayona feels that “the book speaks about death in a direct and darker way. For the film, I wanted to transcend what we know is coming – the death of Conor’s mother – and be able to fuse the boy’s need to draw with the strength of legacy. There is light at the end of the story, resulting from the idea that art heals. Patrick’s screenplay has added themes while still being faithful to the novel; in making the movie, there are some elements of the book that we have taken further.”

 Young lead actor Lewis MacDougall as Connor was brought to the production’s attention; he had only just finished filming his first movie, “Pan.” Ness was shown MacDougall’s audition video and saw that “he was such a find, so true and so focused. You could read everything on that face.”

 Academy Award nominated-actress Sigourney Weaver was sought for the role of Conor’s maternal grandmother. “I’m a huge admirer of Bayona’s earlier films; I found them so powerful,” she reveals. “In the book and in the script, Conor says she doesn’t really look like a grandmother, so that was a wonderful place for me to start!

 When Bayona saw Felicity Jones in her breakout role in “Like Crazy” – as her Academy Award-nominated portrayal in “The Theory of Everything” had not yet been screened – he knew he had found the actress to play the role as Lizzie, Connor’s mom.   Jones took her character to heart. She states, “Lizzie is a vibrant, active woman who has never stopped loving art. In her home, there are arts and crafts that reveal her creative spirit. She has loved being a mother to Conor, although she’s a little unconventional.”

 As part of Bayona’s approach, Neeson (who voices the Monster) worked alongside Lewis MacDougall so that both actors could share ownership of their scenes together. Neeson reflects, “I’ve worked with children who’ve been swamped by the industry, and they’ve lost a kind of childlike innocence. Lewis has all that intact. He’s still a real kid – but also a powerful young actor.”

 Further in the production, the director chose not to give his young lead the script page for the very last scene in “A Monster Calls,” so that MacDougall would be able to convey the most natural, authentic response as the events unfolded. “And that’s just what Lewis gifted us with,” says Bayona.


                “A Monster Calls” opens November 2 in cinemas nationwide from Pioneer Films.

Cadbury Dairy Milk: #FreeTheJoy Doctor Strange Screening

#FreeTheJoy indeed with these #CadburyChristmas flavors!

This week was a bit tough for me, given that I had four movie screenings for the wee and of course I still had to go to work after. 

So just imagine: 

Monday - "Doctor Strange" premiere at Mall of Asia (review here) then straight to work.  

Tuesday - "The Accountant" premiere at Glorietta, then work. (In case this is your first time reading a blog post, I work the night shift.) Upon getting home in the morning I wrote and published my movie review for "Doctor Strange" then I got a surprise invite to see "Trolls" for Wednesday evening at Robinson's Galleria and since my fellow movie bloggers all had praises for the film-I had to see it too! 

Even if it has been a tiring three days, I was still pumped out for Thursday because Cadbury Dairy Milk and Nuffnang were having a special screening of "Doctor Strange". I know, I know, I've already seen "Doctor Strange" but Paul hasn't and luckily it was his day off then, so we also had #DateNight and as I said in a previous post - I did realize that even if Paul and I are already married I still miss hanging out with him. Especially since we have different work schedules and rest days and as you already know, I had a pretty busy schedule this week. So I was definitely grateful for the opportunity to spend time with him and  get to do the things that we love -watch movies, geek out and enjoy chocolate!

No illusions here. Three screenings for Doctor Strange at Shang Cineplex. 

It was definitely a #FreeTheJoy moment as we got to enjoy the movie with lots of nerd talk between Paul and me since Paul did read some of the comics. 

We're also big fans of Cadbury Dairy Milk and we were also excited for their limited edition Christmas flavors! You can read more here  and of course Cadbury did not disappoint as they gave attendees special Cadbury Dairy Milk gift packs with the limited edition Christmas flavors - 

Black Forest 

French Vanilla

Chocolate Mousse

-it's definitely a #CadburyChristmas indeed! 

Paul had fun taking photos of the chocolate with our "Doctor Strange" poster! I guess you can say that the Doctor has chocolate on his mind! 

Thank you as always Cadbury and Nuffnang!


In Columbia Pictures' provocative science-fiction thriller Arrival, a mysterious spacecraft touches down across the globe, and an elite team - lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) - are brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers – and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity. Also starring Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.

“I've dreamed of doing science fiction since I was ten years old,” explains director Denis Villeneuve, who fell deeply in love with the short story Arrival is based upon, Ted Chiang’s ‘Story of Your Life.’ “It’s a genre that I feel has a lot of power and the tools to explore our reality in a very dynamic way.”

“After producers Dan Levine and Dan Cohen first contacted me about doing a movie,” says Chiang, “they sent me a DVD of Denis' film, Incendies (2010), to give me an idea of what they had in mind. That played a big part in my taking them seriously. If they had sent me a copy of a conventional Hollywood science-fiction movie, I probably would have ignored them. It wasn't until a few years later that Denis was actually attached to direct, but he was the director they had in mind from the beginning.”

Villeneuve approached Arrival differently for a number of reasons. Even though he thought ‘Story of Your Life’ was “fantastic material” he simply didn’t have time to write the screenplay because he was in the middle of shooting Prisoners (2013). “I had no time to write a screenplay,” says Villeneuve, “and, to be honest, I didn't know how to crack that short story because it's very intellectual, in a strong and beautiful way, but from a dramatic point of view it's a bit difficult to articulate because it's about process.”

Villeneuve left it with the producers, including executive producer and screenwriter Eric Heisserer, who had already been working on an adaptation of the short story from early on in the production process. “They came back a few months later with a screenplay written by Eric Heisserer that was surprisingly good,” says Villeneuve. “I say surprising because Eric was able to crack it and create a sense of tension and a drama inside of that process of translation.” Villeneuve was on board.

Heisserer was equally taken by Chiang’s story. “Ted’s short story gripped me in a way that very few stories do,” recounts Heisserer. “It wasn’t that I felt that the qualities of the story were inherently cinematic, but it gave me something that I hadn’t had in a long time. It fed my brain and my heart. It made me think and feel, and it treated me with a lot of respect as an intelligent reader. At the end of the day I felt it gave an optimistic message about humanity, and in turn about myself.”

“Eric and I didn't talk about the script as it was being written,” explains Chiang. “He pitched me his idea for the script early on in order to get me to grant permission. I should note that when I wrote the story, I never envisioned it being made into a film and I had difficulty imagining what a film adaptation of it would look like. When I heard Eric's pitch I was able to visualize the film he had in mind and I liked it, so I let him go ahead and write a script. After he had finished it, I read it and offered a few comments. Over the years the script has undergone some changes, but in most ways it's still what Eric originally pitched.”

Opening across the Philippines on Dec. 07, Arrival is distributed in the Philippines by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.


Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are dressed to kill in the international poster of Paramount Pictures' Allied, the World War II romantic thriller from Oscar-winning director, Robert Zemeckis.

Check out the poster below and watch the film when it opens nationwide on November 23.

Written by Steven Knight (“Eastern Promises,” “Locke”), the film stars Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Lizzy Kaplan and Matthew Goode.

“Allied” is the story of intelligence officer Max Vatan (Pitt), who in 1942 North Africa encounters French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard) on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Reunited in London, their relationship is threatened by the extreme pressures of the war.

“Allied” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people.

“Moana is the 16-year-old daughter of the chief of Motunui,” says director Ron Clements. “She’s athletic, nimble, compassionate and incredibly smart. She has a never-say-die attitude and a profound connection to the ocean.”

“So it’s troubling to her, to say the least, that her people don’t go beyond the reef surrounding their island,” adds director John Musker. “They stay within the confines of that reef, and Moana doesn’t really understand why.”

The story is inspired in part by the oral histories of the people and cultures of Oceania. Three thousand years ago, Polynesian voyagers, the greatest navigators in the world, voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering thousands of islands. But then, according to scholars, for approximately a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows exactly why. “Navigation is such a big part of Pacific culture,” says Musker. “The ancient Polynesians found their way across the seas without the use of modern instruments, using their knowledge of nature, the stars, the waves and the currents.”

Adds Clements, “We heard many times that the ocean doesn’t separate the islands, it connects them. Voyaging is a real source of pride for Pacific Islanders, a part of their identity. They were, and continue to be, some of the greatest explorers of all time. What they did was quite sophisticated, borderline miraculous.”

There are many theories, but no one is certain, about what may have led to this 1,000-year gap in exploration; this sparked the filmmakers’ imaginations. Says Musker, “In our story, our heroine, Moana, is at the heart of the rebirth of wayfinding.”

During her journey, Moana meets the mighty demigod Maui, a larger-than-life character who was inspired by multitudes of varied tales and legends about him throughout the Oceania region. Says Musker, “We were fascinated by the stories we read, the tales told to us by experts in the region. Maui was larger-than-life, a trickster and a shapeshifter. He could pull up whole islands from the sea with his fishhook; he had the power to slow down the sun. He is an incredible figure.”

Maui, who’s on his own journey of self-discovery, reluctantly guides Moana in her quest to become a master wayfinder and save her people. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

“It’s a story that takes place many, many years ago, but with a contemporary feel,” says producer Osnat Shurer. “Our hope as filmmakers has been to create a universal story that is also an homage to the beautiful people of the Pacific Islands who inspired us along this journey.”

Filmmakers cast newcomer Auli‘i Cravalho as the voice of Moana, and Dwayne Johnson lends his voice to demigod Maui. The voice cast also includes Jemaine Clement as Tamatoa, a self-absorbed, 50-foot crab ; Rachel House as Moana’s trusted Gramma Tala; Temuera Morrison as Moana’s no-nonsense father, Chief Tui; Alan Tudyk as the voice of dumb rooster Heihei; and Nicole Scherzinger voices Moana’s playful and strong-willed mother, Sina.

Helmed by Clements and Musker, the directing team behind “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin” “The Princess & the Frog,” and produced by Shurer (“Lifted,” “One Man Band”), “Moana” features music from a diverse and dynamic team that includes Tony®-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and multiple Tony-winning “Hamilton”), Grammy®-winning composer Mark Mancina (“Tarzan” “The Lion King”) and Opetaia FoaŹ»i (founder and lead singer of the world music award-winning band Te Vaka).

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 56th animated feature “Moana” sails into Philippine theaters on Nov. 30, 2016.

“Moana” is distributed in the Philippines by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures. Like us on Facebook, WaltDisneyStudiosPH; follow us on Twitter, @disney_phil; follow us on Instagram, and use the hashtag #MoanaPH.


Based on the acclaimed bestselling novel by Ben Fountain, TriStar Pictures presents Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, from three-time Oscar®-winning director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi).

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the film reveals what really happened to the squad – contrasting the realities of the war with America’s perceptions.

In his first major motion picture, Joe Alwyn plays Billy Lynn. Also starring are Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Makenzie Leigh, with Vin Diesel, and Steve Martin.

“The genesis of the novel,” says novelist Ben Fountain, “ began in 2004 during a Cowboys Thanksgiving Day football game. This was three weeks after the general election when George W. Bush had beaten Kerry. I felt like I didn’t understand my country. Then, we had a bunch of people over at our house for Thanksgiving. We had the game on. Halftime comes and I’m sitting on the sofa. And everybody else gets up, ‘cause nobody watches the halftime show. But I stayed and started watching the halftime show—I mean really looking at it. And it’s very much the way I write it in the book: a surreal, pretty psychotic mash-up of American patriotism, exceptionalism, popular music, soft-core porn and militarism: lots of soldiers standing on the field with American flags and fireworks. I thought, this is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. But everybody else was okay with it, the announcers on TV and everybody around, just another normal day in America. Since there were lots of soldiers in the field at that time, I wondered what it would be like to be a soldier who had been in combat who gets brought back to the US and dropped into this very artificial situation. What would that do to your head? I wanted the reader to feel like he or she is in Billy’s skin. And I think that’s what Ang’s trying to do too."

“Adapting the novel,” notes producer Stephen Cornwell, “was a big challenge. And like any adaptation, it evolved. One of the big questions was how to place Billy at the center of the story. How to find a way of creating this character whom, in the novel, engages the reader with his internal dialogue. How do you make that work cinematically? How do you place this character, his experiences, observations and point of view in the center of the story without resorting to narration, something we didn’t want to do. So as we adapted it, we went on a journey of trying to find the best way to express Billy’s point of view: how do you realize that first person experience in a cinematic context? How do you evolve cinematic language and the way we experience film in ways that allow us to get inside Billy’s head and go on this journey with him?”

Initially, it was Billy Lynn’s story that captivated director Ang Lee, his literal and emotional journey and the complicated juxtaposition of the glorification of returning war heroes and the horrific nature of the war they’ve fought. It was the kind of story that he thought lent itself to a new filmmaking approach he had been considering, one that could really connect the audience to Billy Lynn in an immersive, organic way, the cinematic equivalent of the first person, internal narrative of the book.

Ang Lee explains, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was a very compelling book. His observations of the absurdity of the over the top welcome home these warriors receive, the juxtaposition of this extravagant celebration of his heroism intercut with his battlefield service in Iraq, the irony of those two experiences side by side, it’s kind of an existential examination of what’s real and what’s not, there’s a sort of Zen quality to that comparison that fascinated me. I was attracted to the situation of the storytelling as well, the halftime show to celebrate the soldier in 2004 juxtaposed against the real battle – the drama, the conflict, a kind of coming of age story of a young soldier who has to sort it all out.”

Opening across the Philippines on November 09, “Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Movie Review: Doctor Strange (Non-Spoiler)

From the studio that brought you to the "Battle of New York", to the deepest depths of the "Galaxy" comes a "strange" new adventure which will challenge reality as you know it. 

World-renowned  neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange brilliantly portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch is arrogant and selfish. When he loses the use of his hands after a car accident, he seeks healing in a mysterious enclave known as the Kamar-Taj. He becomes a student of "The Ancient One" -who in practice and tradition dictate should be an elderly Asian male, and yet Tilda Swinton are none of these stereotypes and it is brilliant as it breaks such prejudiced roles. Under her tutelage, Strange becomes the "Karate Kid" to Swinton's "Mister Miyagi" and with the guidance of Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (who else but Benedict Wong) Strange becomes a sorcerer with great potential. 

Stephen Strange soon learns of the responsibilities of his new found colleagues and finds himself in a battle to save the world from powerful forces.    

A visual masterpiece filled with a kaleidoscope of images - totally worth seeing in IMAX. As if "Inception" was but a taste of what a city-literally folding into itself would look like, "Doctor Strange" takes it to a whole new level (and then some) all that while an epic battle unfolds.   

"Doctor Strange" is witty and subtle humor as Marvel seems to have the formula down to entertain you throughout the film. 

Cumberbatch is an effective actor, making you admire him for the brilliant doctor (and music nerd) that he is and hate him for being a selfish prick - he really is. 

It's hilarious to see him struggle in his studies to become a sorcerer, which is why you will celebrate with him when he succeeds. 

I love that Rachel McAdams is a quick thinking ER doctor (since I did graduate with a Nursing degree). It was good that the OR had so much action going on. 

Superhero origin movies tend to have a similar pattern and yet Marvel pushes the envelope and gives the audience a different experience for each film which they succeed in doing with "Doctor Strange" from the new opening sequence featuring their brand new logo, up until the end. 

I was thrilled at the news of Mads Mikkelsen being the film's antagonist and as a friend said, hopefully he will not be a "throwaway villain" unfortunately for these superhero origin movies the antagonist tends to be of the throwaway variety, a few like "Guardians of the Galaxy's" Lee Pace stands out and Mikkelsen comes in a close second. I especially enjoyed the Mister-Doctor" exchange between Strange and Mikkelsen's Kaecilius. 

I would love to be able to perform those spells, like being able to travel from one location to the next-and beat this god-forsaken traffic. 

Speaking of spells, the manner of how they are performed is nothing sort of magical as it is a stimulating light show as well. 

8 out of 10 "Doctor Strange" is a magic show of immerse proportions defying rules and restrictions and exploring the impossible. 

All photos are credited to Marvel Studios.