MAX Collins no longer hides her relationship with Pancho Magno. At the presscon of “Someone to Watch Over Me”, writers were kidding her: “Nandito ang mother-in-law mo,” they say, referring to GMA executive Redgie Acuna Magno, the mother of Pancho. The show is about Alzheimer’s disease and when she was asked who she’d want to ask to watch over her if ever she gets afflicted with this ailment, she has no qualms in saying: “Siyempre, si Pancho.”
Max is glad that after playing a short special role in “Encantadia” as the ill-fated sister of Marian Rivera, she now gets a full length role on a primetime soap. She plays the third wheel in the relationship of Lovi Poe and Tom Rodriguez in “Someone to Watch Over Me”. So is she portrayed as a contravida?
“No, hindi naman,” she says. “Sa story kasi, after magka-Alzheimer’s disease si Tom as TJ, nabura 'yung memories niya about his own wife, played by Lovi as Joanna. Strangely, what he remembers is 'yung relationship niya with his first girlfriend, si Irene, at ako 'yun. So pinakiusapan ako ni Lovi na samahan muna sila sa bahay to give Tom company dahil ako lang ang naaalala niya. Hindi ko naman inaagaw si Tom from Lovi dahil si Lovi ang nag-request sa akin. The villain here is the Alzheimer’s disease, not me.”
She says this is her most daring show so far. “I have kissing scenes and love scenes with Tom. Our director, Maryo de los Reyes, ayaw niyang pinepeke at pauulit-ulit niya, so we try to be as realistic as possible.”
Won’t Pancho get jealous? “Matagal na rin kami, four years na this October, at nalaman kong mabait talaga siya. God-fearing, he brought me to Victory church, and he’s also very understanding. He knows part ito ng work namin as actors so naiintindihan niya, but he said na hindi na lang niya papanoorin 'yung love scenes so he won’t be affected at all.”
How about Tom’s GF, Carla Abellana? “We’re not close friends, pero nagbabatian naman kami when we see each other. She’s also professional and open-minded, so alam niyang trabaho lang ang ginagawa namin ni Tom. Di mas dapat na kay Tom siya magalit kasi may love scenes din si Tom with Lovi na walang boyfriend. E, ako, may boyfriend ako so careful din ako sa mga eksena with Tom.”
It’s good she no longer hides the real score between her and Pancho? “Nakakapagod, e. Noon, sinasabi pa naming we’re just exclusively dating. But now, we’re proud of our relationship kasi we’re important to each other. It’s better to be honest.”
Do they have any wedding plans? “As of now, that’s too early. I’m only 24. We’re taking it one day at a time. We want to focus muna on our careers, be sure stable na kami before we settle down. Darating din naman 'yun, pero sa tamang panahon.”
FINALLY, ROCCO ADMITS LOVI 'DUMPED' HIM
FOR the first time, Rocco Nacino talked about his breakup with Lovi Poe at the presscon of his concert, “Oh Boy”, with Derrick Monasterio, Aljur Abrenica and Jake Vargas. Although he didn’t state it directly, it became obvious that it was Lovi who dumped him and he was so surprised about it because they were doing good for two years. He admits it was difficult for him to move on at the start.
“Big help 'yung I was taping at that time for my role as Aquil in ‘Encantadia’ to forget what I was going through,” he says. “Alam ng mga kasamahan ko roon ang pinagdaraanan ko and they helped me to move on.”
Part of his moving on process is leaving the home of his parents and going solo in his own condo unit. “I told my family I want to experience being independent and so far, okay naman ako. Kung 'yung iba, gusto laging may kasama, ako naman, I want to be alone and focus on myself. At this point, naka-move on na ako and I’m getting better everyday.”
He and Lovi have not talked since then and he felt there was no formal closure as there are still questions left hanging in the air. “But if she’s happy that way, I’ll give it to her.”
Among his colleagues in the “Oh Boy” concert, he’s the only one without a solo album. But he’s really making a career out of singing and is preparing well for it by taking up voice lessons to improve his crooning. “I also plan to have my own solo album,” he says.
His music idols are Usher and Justin Timberlake, also Jay-R and Kris Lawrence. Will he go sexy in their Music Museum show? “May number kaming parang Magic Mike. We’ll wear outfits na madaling tanggalin. Ako, I will be a police officer.”
MOVIE REVIEW: FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS
THREE-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep will surely be nominated again as best actress for her mesmerizing title role performance in “Florence Foster Jenkins”, which you should watch right away as we don’t think it will last very long in our theaters. We watched it on its first screening to make sure we won’t miss it and there were only about 10 of us inside the theater. Her story has already been told in a play, a documentary and a biographical book. Now, it’s a full length period film.
Set in New York in the 1940s, this is based on the true story of a wealthy socialite who aspired to be an opera singer and gained an odd, unusual kind of success even if she really cannot sing. When she strains for high notes like a screeching banshee, she sounds like a piece of corrugated iron being torn in half that can puncture anyone’s eardrums.
Despite her awful singing voice, Florence comes out as someone charming and endearing on screen the way Meryl portrays her. She’s a passionate music lover and heartily supports the New York music scene, befriending music greats like the legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini. She actually reminds us of other people like her who are not really that gifted and talented, but still have some high aspirations for the arts.
The difference is that she has the money she inherited from her father to indulge in her own whimsical ambition. Too bad for her the karaoke was not yet invented during her time, or she would probably have just settled for that. Because she’s moneyed, she has sort formed her own fans club and fed them generously with her favorite potato salad served liberally in bathtubs.
She even has her own private club, the Verdi, where she stages her own shows, including one performance where she played an angel hanging from the ceiling while some men are having a hard time pulling her up as she’s quite fat. She gives recitals where the audience members are “hakotees” by her husband and her ultimate goal is to sing at the prestigious Carnegie Hall.
Meryl shows another astonishing chameleonic transformation as Florence, something like her similarly stunning performances as Margaret Thatcher, Julia Child, Lindy Chamberlain, Rikki Rendazzo, Miranda Priestly, among others. She truly nails the role, without ever going over the top. She makes Florence quite endearing as a not so gifted 76-year old woman who desperately wants to share her intense passion for music with other people. She is made to look older and fatter in the role, using a wig to cover her balding head. In the end credits, an actual recording of the real Florence is played and we see how successful Meryl is in aping the way Florence sings that badly.
British director Stephen Frears does a wonderful job in capturing the essence of Florence with the help of Meryl. This is not surprising since he has previously coaxed similarly excellent portrayals from Helen Mirren in “The Queen” (which won her an Oscar) and from Judy Dench in her acclaimed performance as the mom looking for her long lost son in the tearjerker “Philomena”.
Giving splendid support is an aging Hugh Grant as Florence’s doting second husband, St. Clair Bayfield (he should get an acting nomination at the very least), a mediocre Shakespearean actor who roots for Florence despite her limitations and protects her from her detractors, even if has his own lover living in a separate apartment (Rebecca Ferguson.)
Not to be outdone is Simon Helberg (the TV actor from “Big Bang Theory”) as Cosme McMoon, Florence’s shy but loyal pianist who accompanies her when she sings. At first, he has to stifle his laughter while listening to Florence’s horrible singing as an operatic soprano, but eventually, he cultivates some fondness for Florence as seen in their very poignant Chopin piano concerto duet where it’s clear they’ve already made a connection when the affectionate Florence visits him in his humble home.
The film is set in the last few months of Florence’s life and becomes quite sentimental towards the end. The scene where Bayfield puts her to bed, reciting some lines from Shakespeare like a lullaby, then carefully removing her wig and her lashes, is simply very touching. It’s clear that she is sick and it’s so poignant when we learn she got it from her first husband when she was only 18 years old.
The film never really makes fun of Florence. We get to know her more intimately even before her atrocious singing starts. By that time, we already know she’s really a kind and good-hearted person so we tend to sympathize with her, despite her bad singing. This film is definitely worth watching and is surely a great alternative in these days when we see nothing but sequels and superhero fantasy movies.