BOTH Julia Barretto and Rhian Ramos suffered setbacks in their burgeoning careers then because of some missteps they made. People didn’t like it when Julia filed a case in court disregarding her father Dennis Padilla’s real family name. Rhian fell in love with the wrong guys and it took a toll on her career.
Now, by the grace of God, both of them are given the opportunity (and the rare break) to have their own entries in the coming Metro Manila Filmfest where they not only play the leads but the title roles no less. Julia is in “Vince, Kath & James” directed by Ted Boborol while Rhian is in “Saving Sally” directed by Avid Liongoren.
Both of them carry their respective movie in their own shoulders, so to speak, since they don’t have big name leading men with them but newcomers. Julia is paired in this youthful love story with Joshua Garcia from PBB and Ronnie Alonte of Hashtags. Rhian is paired with a total unknown, Enzo Marcos, in a romantic comedy that is a combination of animation and live action.
Will these be the projects that will finally give the much-needed boost to their languishing careers? What do you think? Julia’s edge over Rhian is that her movie is backed up by ABS-CBN whose formidable machinery will no doubt give full blast promotions to boost public interest in her movie that has no well known stars.
Rhian and Julia’s projects will be up against the movies of Nora Aunor, Paolo Ballesteros, Eugene Domingo and these are not exactly formidable opponents at the box office. We all know what happened to Nora’s “Thy Womb” when it was entered in a past Metro Manila Filmfest after winning awards in Venice. And we all know winning an award abroad is no guarantee that people will flock to that movie, as shown by “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis” “Ma Rosa” and “Babaeng Humayo” early this year, so Paolo’s award in Tokyo for “Die Beautiful” won’t be enough of a surefire attraction for local moviegoers.
EUGENE UP TO REDEEM CINEMATIC APPEAL
AS for Eugene Domingo, “Babae sa Septic Tank 2” is her comeback on the big screen after she lost her enthusiasm for making movies when her last film, “Barber’s Tales”, which also gave her a best actress award in Tokyo, got a lukewarm reception at the box office. Her last Metro filmfest entries were also “mahina sa takilya”, “Instant Mommy” and “Kimmy Dora 3”. So as a whole, we can say the MMFF 2016 will be an even playing field for all the films and all the entries, even for those with no big stars at all like “Oro” with Joem Bascon, Irma Adlawan and Mercedes Cabral; “Seklusyon” with Dominic Roque, Ronnie Alonte, etc; and “Sunday Beauty Queen”, which is a documentary with no familiar stars at all. Let’s just wish good luck to all the entries!
ONE YOUNGER SINGER HAJJI FEELS INSECURE OF
DOESN’T Hajji Alejandro feel any insecurity about new and younger singers coming into the music scene? “No, at this point, we’re no longer threatened by new singers,” he says at the presscon of “The Best of OPM Hitmakers” concert where he’ll perform with Rico Puno, Rey Valera and Marco Sison. “We who’ve been here much ahead of them have already paid our dues. 'Yung mga dinaanan namin, daraanan pa lang nila. Sa isang batang singer lang ako na-insecure. 'Yung Rachel ba 'yun?”
Everyone laughs at his joke about his own daughter, Rachel Alejandro. “Actually, bonus na lang na after so many decades, narito pa rin kami nina Rico, Rey and Marco,” he adds. “This is a big blessing kasi marami sa aming contemporaries, wala, nag-shift na ng career o nag-abroad na. In this profession, you really can’t expect na forever kang namamayagpag kasi may mga bago talagang darating. So it’s important that you really love music and your craft, that you believe in yourself and have to persevere with your God-given talent para magtuloy-tuloy ka talaga dahil, sabi nga, hindi araw-araw ay Pasko. Nagpapasalamat na lang talaga kami na we’re still here, allowed to perform and do concerts of our own.”
“The Best of OPM Hitmakers” will be held at the Newport Theatre of the Performing Arts at Resorts World on December 9. Get your tickets now from Ticketworld.
MOVIE REVIEW: BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK
ANG Lee is the only Asian who has won the Oscar best director awards twice, for “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi”. Without any publicity, his latest work, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” was shown last week in local cinemas and, as may be expected, it was quickly withdrawn from cinemas due to lack of viewers. When we watched it in a local mall theater, there were less than ten people watching it, which is so “sayang”, because it’s a good film.
Based on the acclaimed best seller of the same title by Ben Fountain, the film is narrated by the eponymous hero, the 19-year old Billy Lynn (played by newcomer Joe Alwyn, who’s British). He has emerged as an overnight sensation, a hero soldier in Iraq, after he came to the rescue of his wounded superior, Sgt. Shroom (Vin Diesel), who eventually died. This was caught on a cellphone video and became viral.
As a reward, he and his fellow soldiers in his squad called Bravo are brought back home to be honored at the halftime show of the 2006 Thanksgiving Day football game in his native Texas’ Lone Star Dome. With them is a Hollywood producer/ agent, Albert (Chris Tucker, who has gained so much weight since “Rush Hour”), who says a possible movie deal might make them earn $100,000 each. The film happens in just a single day but, through flashbacks, we are shown what happened in Iraq and also, what Billy’s life with his family was before and after he fought in Iraq.
We learn that Billy became a soldier only to avoid jail time after his sister Kathryn (Kristen Stewart), who was badly injured and scarred in a terrible car crash, was suddenly dumped by her boyfriend, who he then assaulted. His sister now believes he no longer needs to return for another tour of duty in Iraq as he has already done his part.
Billy meets a beautiful cheerleader, Faison (Makenzie Leigh), and it looks like the start of a beautiful romance for them. But other people, like the football players, do not make a good connection with the soldiers and even felt antagonized when they won’t answer questions about hand-to-hand combat in detail and how it feels like to kill someone. Some guys even try to beat them up.
Also, the TV halftime producers just exploit them, asking them to put on their camouflage uniforms as a costume as it looks more battle ready on screen, when they’re just back up attraction to the performance of Destiny’s Child. Worse, the TV people use explosions and pyrotechnics on stage, not taking into consideration the fact that these young soldiers are still shell shocked from their recent harrowing war experiences.
The film satirically succeeds in showing that people so far away from the war lack a true understanding of the kind of trauma and sacrifices that soldiers have to go through while in the thick of battle. This movie is said to be shot using a new technology of ultra high frame rate of 120 frames per second to make it an immersive digital experience, but none of our cinemas have the projector to show it in this format so we got to watch it in the usual 24 frames.
Joe Alwyn gives a solid portrayal of the heroic soldier. He’s well supported by Vin Diesel as their ill-fated commander, a role so far from his unkillable character in the “Fast & Furious” franchise. Vin probably accepted this just to get the chance to work with a prestigious Oscar winning filmmaker like Ang Lee.
The same goes for Steve Martin, who’s also good in a supporting role as a Dallas bigwig who offers them a very cheap talent fee. Garrett Hedlund as Bravo’s hard ass lead officer also turns in a sterling performance, particularly when he takes down a Texas oil tycoon (Tim Blake Nelson). Kristen Stewart is touching as the scarred sister who tries her best to discourage Billy from returning to Iraq.