IF there’s someone who greatly benefitted from being part of the “Encantadia 2016” cast, it’s no one else but newcomer Sanya Lopez. From being a virtual unknown, she suddenly gained fame playing the role of Danaya in GMA7’s hit primetime show.
Whereas her other co-stars get sporadic negative criticism every now and then, the response of viewers and netizens to Sanya on social media are all favorable. Most people think she is quite a revelation in this breakthrough role for her. “Nakakatuwa nga kasi before the show started airing, I got a lot of bashing at ano raw ba ang K ko, sa dinami-dami rami ng ibang Kapuso stars, para mapasama sa mga Sang’gre,” she says. “Now, I feel vindicated that after mapanood nila ako sa first few months ng ‘Encantadia’, it seems maraming na-surprise at napatunayan ko sa kanila may kakayahan naman ako sa pag-arte.”
And not only that, we heard that Regal Entertainment is now interested in signing Sanya up to an exclusive movie contract since Mother Lily certainly knows how to spot a potential star when she sees one. Sanya’s love life also became more interesting now that she’s being linked to Rocco Nacino, who plays Aquil, her love interest in “Encantadia”. They make regular exchanges in their respective Twitter accounts that fans find intriguing since they seem to be like flirting with each other. Well, there’s nothing bad about that since Sanya has no boyfriend while Rocco has been loveless since Lovi Poe broke up with him.
PINOY CHEF MAKES IT TO ‘ASIAN FOOD HERO’ TOP 4
DON’T look now but a young Pinoy chef is currently one of the Top 4 finalists of the show “Asian Food Hero” shown on the Asian Food Channel, Singapore’s leading food-centered channel shown in the Asia Pacific region. He is Anton Amoncio, who’s turning 28 on December 12. He sent his entry online, his version of tinolang manok with native chicken, malunggay and watermelon instead of papaya. There were hundreds of entries and 10 semi-finalists were called back for the second round. He then sent his version of adobong manok sa gata and made it to the final 4.
An only child, he learned how to cook at 8 years old, inspired by his own maternal grandmother. “My mom used to work in Singapore so I was left with my dad and my lola,” he says. “While my lola cooks, I’d watch her and started by helping her out in the kitchen. The first dish I cooked at 8 is bagoong rice. My mom was shocked when she learned I was cooking as people say it’s for girls. So I repressed my passion to cook and, in college, I enrolled at St. Benilde taking up music production. But I wasn’t able to finish it and eventually transferred to Center for Culinary Arts to master the art of cooking.”
After finishing his culinary course, he worked for a while at Purple Feet Resto in Makati then, at the age of 24, put up his own restaurant, Antojos, where he offers traditional dishes with a new twist, first in San Juan then in Banawe St. “But I’ve closed it as the location is not good,” he says. “People are always complaining of heavy traffic there. We’ll reopen soon in a better location in Makati.”
Since then, he has hosted many cooking portions on TV, like “Kitchen Hirit” in “Unang Hirit” where he had fun working with hosts Suzi Abrera and Susan Enriquez. He was also featured in “Gandang Ricky Reyes”, “ANC Mornings” and “Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho”.
“Many people think being a chef is a glamorous job but it’s really a lot of hard work,” he says. “When I’m in the kitchen, you won’t recognize me. Ilang beses na akong natalsikan ng mainit na mantika sa mukha and once, muntik nang masunog ang eyebrows ko. But I love cooking, it’s my passion.”
Anton has the good looks of a heartthrob so it’s not surprising he has a lot of fans who’ll pray for him when he goes to Singapore on October 18 to compete in the finals of “Asian Food Hero”. “I will be cooking on camera a dish good for 120 people who will serve as the judges. This is the 5th year of the show and all the past winners are women. I’m competing with two boys and one girl. One is from Thailand and the other two are from Malaysia.”
Hopefully, this year, the winner will be a male. And it will be a Filipino. So let’s all pray and root for Chef Anton.
MOVIE REVIEW: CAFE SOCIETY
WOODY Allen is now 80 years old and still very active as a prolific filmmaker, just like Clint Eastwood, another octogenarian. He started as a stand up comic in a career that now spans six decades. He then branched out to writing and directing, starting with slapstick comedies like “Take the Money and Run” before doing more serious drama comedies like “Annie Hall”, “Manhattan”, “Hannah and Her Sisters”, and “Blue Jasmine” for which Cate Blanchett won her best actress Oscar. Allen himself has won four Oscars, three for best screenplay and one for best director.
His latest work, “Cafe Society”, was shown without any promotion so it’s not surprising that there were only four of us inside the moviehouse when we watched it at SM North Edsa on its opening day. If you’re an Allen fan, you’ll enjoy it as it’s Woody Allen through and through. Jesse Eisenberg (whose performance as Mark Zuckerberg in “Social Network” we enjoyed so much) gets to redeem himself in “Cafe Society” after his pathetic oafish performance as the Joker in “Batman v Superman”.
Set in the 1930, the film starts (with Allen himself doing the voiceover narration) in a Hollywood pool party with hotshot talent agent Phil Stern (Steve Carell) getting a call from his older sister, Rose (Jeannie Berlin), telling him that her youngest child, Bobby Dorfman (Jesse), is going to Hollywood to try his luck and would Phil please help him find a job. Bobby belongs to a Jewish family based in The Bronx, New York City.
We are also introduced to Bobby’s siblings. His sister Evelyn (Sari Lennick) is married to a wimpy academician, Leonard (Stephen Kunken). An older brother, Ben (Corey Stoll, usually bald in the TV series he did like “House of Cards” and “Homeland”, but is shown here having a becoming full head of hair), grew up to be a criminal and gangster. Jesse as Bobby seems to be Allen’s alter ego.
It took three weeks before his uncle finally found the time to see him in person. He becomes an errand boy and, during weekends, Phil asks his pretty secretary, Veronica (Kristen Stewart), nicknamed Vonnie, to tour Bobby around Hollywood and they visit the palatial homes of movie stars like Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor in what seems to be a homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood. In the process, Bobby is smitten with Vonnie but she tells him that she already has a boyfriend.
There’s a twist in this which, of course, we cannot give away so as not to spoil your viewing pleasure. Suffice it to say that Bobby returns to New York and becomes the manager of a nightclub owned by his gangster brother. Under him, the club becomes very popular and draws businessmen, artists and politicians.
Bobby then finds romance with a beautiful divorced socialite, also named Veronica (Blake Lively, looking so fresh and chic after she defeated the shark in ‘The Shallows’), and they have a child. Everything seems to have fallen into its right place, until one night, the first Veronica suddenly returns into Bobby’s life and they both realize that they haven’t really gotten over each other.
Allen is obviously so fascinated about the past as can be seen in many of his films that wallow in nostalgia: “The Purple Rose of Cairo” (set in New Jersey also in the 1930s), “Midnight in Paris” (partly set in the 1920s), “A Midsummer Night’s Sexy Comedy” (set in the 1900s), “Radio Days” (set in 1930s and 40s), “Sweet and Lowdown” (set in the 1930s), “Magic in the Moonlight” (set in the 1920s).
What’s nice about Allen’s films, aside from its smart and witty dialogue, is that they usually run for only an hour and a half, and yet so many things happen in the course of the fast-paced storytelling. And yet, there is always that undertone of cynicism about life and human beings, suggesting that life has not cogent meaning and people are never truly satisfied, as exemplified by Bobby and Vonnie in “Cafe Society”, and by the other characters introduced in the nightclub. As we often hear his characters say in his movies, life is written by “a sadistic comedy writer”.
“Cafe Society” is handsomely mounted, mainly because of the elegant production design by Santo Loquasto (who has won both the Tony and Oscar Awards for his works) and the amazing cinematography of the legendary Vittorio Storaro (who won Oscars for “Apocalypse Now”, “Reds”, “The Last Emperor”). The opening party scene alone is breathtaking, showing the blue waters of a swimming pool and the blue sky as the sun is about to set, reflecting a golden hue on the faces of the formally clad guests. All throughout, they paint a wonderful portrait of Hollywood and New York in the 1930s.
Allen’s work with his actors is always effective, which is why a number of actors have been nominated or have won awards for appearing in his films. Here, the whole ensemble does a fine job, with Eisenberg, Stewart and Lively all excelling in their respective roles. This is the third film together of Eisenberg and Stewart, after “Adventureland” and “American Ultra”, and this is their best so far. Also excelling are Steve Carell as Uncle Phil and Corey Stoll as the crime lord brother, which is reminiscent of Joaquin Phoenix’s somewhat similar role in Allen’s last film before this, “Irrational Man”.
We particularly like the film’s final scene, which is as beautifully compelling as the pool party opening scene. It’s New Year’s eve and as they greet the coming of the new year with great merriment, we see the two leads with a wistful look of yearning on their faces, clearly pining for the what if’s, the what-might-have-beens and the one that got away instead of being happy for what they already have. As a prostitute character in the film prophetically states: “The only love that lasts is unrequited love”.