Monday, December 12, 2016

5 Reasons Why You Should Watch 2016 MMFF

Oh boy the Metro Manila Film Festival never fails to gather controversies. This year it’s about (labelled) independent outscoring mainstream movie filmmakers. Incidentally, there’s also no particular one intended for kids.  Despite of these, there many reasons to watch and support the 8 selected entries of 2016 MMFF movies.

It’s the change that will benefit the Philippine film industry!

I, myself, like to watch feel good movies especially romantic and family oriented comedies.  It’s natural because every day we’re exhausted of daily works. We all need breather from serious matters, right? However watching films is not only pang-aliw, it also offer many benefits both for moviegoers and filmmakers. It's not just a guilty pleasure, but  an investment if a movie provokes you to think and do something better in your life. 

Let me explain futher the possible implications of changes in 2016 MMFF: 

1.       Variety is very good - In investing diversification and black swan are reasonable steps to secure profit. It’s because if one investment (company) doesn’t perform well, the other investments will cover your losses.  In the film industry, not all moviegoers are into popularity of artists or rom-com. That’s why if they want to watch drama, horror, fantasy, animated or others they most likely go for Hollywood movies. In 2016 MMFF entries it’s not about limitation and division, instead about variety.  We can still produce romantic story naman pero puwedeng animated, horror, action or suspense thriller.  Kaya naman curios akong mapanood ang Saving Sally because its unique features (animation with real actors). Nalala ko tuloy ang RPG Metanoia na kasama sa 2010 MMFF.

2.        We encourage local actors to become world-class talents.  IMHO, TV and Movie Personalities who don’t hone their skills because they’re popular anyway should not be called talents and actors. But of course, how come others will strive to improve their talents if they don’t have outlets to showcase their efforts anyway?

Sorry to tell but it seems “arts” now are only defined greatly by idolism, fanaticism, and commercialism. Eh may lumalaki ang ulo at nagiging complacent sa ganyan.  This is also why I commended actors na tsina-challenge ang sarili like Enrique Gil in Paul Soriano's Dukot . They tried to do something else na beyond sa comfort zone ni Quen.

3.       A number of producers/filmmakers/ movie companies will grow and create jobs.  When I was a kid, I didn’t mind film credits before or after a movie. What important was if the story had beautiful story or not.  Puwedeng dagdag factor if I know the actors and IMHO, ganun pa rin naman ang mga bata.  They don’t bother if it’s Studio Ghibli, Pixar, Warner Brothers, or Walt Disney behind a movie basta okay at saka nila magiging favorite ang film after manood.   Ilan na nga lang ba ang alam nating production company ngayon? Isa pa naman sa magandang outfit noon ang di ko alam kung gumawa pa ang Unitel Pictures na gumawa ng Crying Ladies ( 2003 MMFF), Santa Santita, at  La Visa Loca etc.)


4.       To end the division between independent and mainstream – I don’t deny that I have also something with independent films.  I tend to expect less in the cinematography and other technicalities (alam mo yung akala mo docu lang ng reality show yung kuha). However, I expect more when it comes to acting, story, and direction.  It’s like there’s certain ambiance that independent filmmakers can do that either a limitation or artistic feel.  Eh hello, a film is more sensible and worthy if it has beautiful story and superb actors, than mere cool effects.
 If 2016 MMFF can break the wall between mainstream and indie film especially in the eyes of the audience, then
·         Most likely small players will earn more and upgrade their film equipment. 
·         No discrimination, but equal treatments and opportunities not only for the filmmakers, but also actors
·         More films to watch

5.       Do you know what happen if only few run an industry? Monopoly and mediocrity!  If the big players become greedy they tend to do power tripping, exploitation, dictators of what or what not whether that those are good or bad, and condition the audience that their mediocre products is their only choice.

Pipila ka ba sa sinehan para makapanood lang ng kung anong available na movie o manonood ka kasi maganda ang palabas?

Note:  This is post is not a rant or against the mainstream, it’s just a sentiment and plea to my fellow audience. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Why singers like Sarah Geronimo deserved showbiz break?

Sarah Geronimo was only 14-year old when she named as the grand champion of Star For a Night in 2003. Since then, the singer-actress is unstoppable doing left and right commitments, not to mention bagging numerous awards. Incidentally, she decided not to come back as a coach in the ABS-CBN’s The Voice Kids Season 3 and backed out in the big concert event MTV Music Evolution.

It was Sarah’s manager and Viva Entertainment honcho Vic del Rosario who revealed that he granted the 28-year star a two-month showbiz break. Geronimo’s fans did not deprive though, she’s still appearing in ASAP and she renewed her contract with ABS-CBN last April. Rumor has it, she will do a new show after her break. So, this is post was a recap and why popular singers like the  Popstar Princess need work hiatus often?
PR Photo 

To take care of their health

The three-time Guillermo-Mendoza Box Office Queen withdrew her participation in MTV Music Evolution due to unspecified illness. 
“We are disappointed that due to medical reasons, @JustSarahG can't perform at #MTVMusicEvo. We wish her a fast recovery. Health comes first!” The MTV Asia’s announcement on Twitter last May 25.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Sarah explained that her official vacation break starts this July to August.  She said it’s more of resting and relaxing, but may entail out of the country travels. 
 “Okay naman [ako ngayon]. Hindi naman po siya malalang sakit. Hindi na lang po ako magbibigay ng details pero inaayos naman po,” Sarah said in her interview with Kapamilya News. “Kailangan lang i-improve yung health. Kailangan lang bigyan ng atensyon kung bakit nahihirapan sa ganito, or sa ganyan.”

Whatever illness the singer-actress had, performers like her really need to be very health conscious.  Doing concerts and regular gigs are not jokes, artists have erratic schedules, sleeping deprivations, and extreme physical exhaustion just to deliver high-energy performances.  In 2008, Pupil frontman Ely Buendia collapsed at the back stage of Eraserheads’ reunion concert at the Fort Bonifacio Open Field in Taguig City, apparently due to his heart disease, stress, and fatigue.  

Singers are also prone to lose their golden voices as what happened to Julie Andrews. The award-winning singer of The Sound of Music fame never regain her singing voice after an operation that removed her non-cancerous throat nodules. Reportedly, DivineDiva Zsa Zsa Padilla also experienced nodules in her vocal chords, but luckily recuperated. 
PR Photo

 To avoid burn out and Grow [More] as an Artist  

Bagging accolades here and abroad, it’s safe to say that Sarah has nothing to prove anymore. However improving her artistry is also something she’s looking forward to do always. By the way, she won in 10th International Singing Contest: The Global Sound for her song “Kilometro” last year.

"Sasabihin ko lang na gusto ko lang pong bumalik sa ASAP, talagang 'yung mag-concentrate naman sa growth ko bilang artist. Kasi I feel na bilang coach, parang lagi ko nga pong sinasabi na role-playing talaga 'yung pagiging coach,” Sarah’s reasoning why she decided to pass her seat in The Voice Kids in her interview with ABS-CBN News. "Yung para bang alam ko lahat, kapag nagbibigay ako ng opinion, para bang ang galing-galing ko. Medyo naghe-hesitate pa rin po ako doon."

Complacency, slow, and stagnancy are also career-killers for artists. These days success in music scene is not only about how to breakthrough, but how to keep your star power through innovations or reinventions. If you fail, either you push aside due to stiff competitions and slowly fading without you knowing. Remember the singer behind Saranggola ni Pepe and Mamang Sorbetero? That’s Celeste Legaspi, who was still at the peak of her career when she decided to go work hiatus from the music scene because of lack of challenge.

“I quit simply because I was no longer challenged by what I was doing. Everything was starting to be routine,” the 66-year old OPM icon said in an interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer. Meantime, weakening creativity process was also the reason why the prolific solid group APO Hiking Society decided to disband in 2010.

Arguably, among her contemporaries Sarah is one of the very few performers who can perform gracefully ala- Gary Valenciano.  In fact, her latest album, launched December 2015, The Great Unknown showcases her versatile singing prowess. Sarah is so young to retire soon!  By the way, Sarah also one of the very few stars who can admit this…

“Alam naman po ng lahat 'yon, na nalilinya tayo sa isang genre ng pelikula, ang rom-com. Dumating yung point na iniisip ko na... pinag-iisipan ko pong maging aktres,” the movie and TV celebrity, who paired with Piolo Pascual in The Breakup Playlist, shared.
PR Photo: Won't Last a Day Without You

Work-Life Balance 

Artists  have lives outside their careers including Sarah who is usually described by her co-stars as bubbly, and sweet. She’s also well-known for being responsible and loving daughter.  Going back to her humble beginnings, Sarah admitted that almost all her life she’s into music to support her family. She said once that her motivation to join contests before was because they were financially broke to the point that couldn’t even no money to buy food.  As the breadwinner, Sarah provides comfortable life for her family in her more than 14 years showbiz.

Good thing, she’s also blooming and happy with her relationship with her beau Matteo Guidecilli. On the other hand, she’s also revealed before that she wanted to study again. She took Associate in Arts degree at UP Open University, but need to stop due to her busy schedules.

Maybe two months is long break for most celebrities, but for genuine showbiz gem like Sarah it’s a must and much deserved.     
PR Photo: Globe

Monday, November 7, 2016

5 Reasons of Kim Chiu’s staying power

A lot of young stars come and go before and after Kim Chiu emerged as the first winner of Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition. Yes, in beauty and talent she’s comparable to other actresses. But why she manages to stay in the business for more than a decade already? Here are the five possible reasons why Chinita Princess has bright staying power.

1.       Meaty projects that mostly hit and successful - In showbiz there are different measures to gauge an artist’s star factor.  It could be about number of awards, legion of fans, top rating shows, and hit movies. (So please don’t understatement actors in flop, but internationally-acclaimed independent movies). Judging from her Instagram posts alone, Kim gets awards every now and then from various award-giving bodies. Maybe she still not recognized by reputable institutions such as Urian, Luna Awards, and others. But for me, receiving awards from GMMSF (Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation Box-Office Entertainment Awards) several times is something.  

Besides the figures,  I personally believe she’s a lucky girl to do meaty projects such as Sana Maulit Muli (out-of-the-box storyline),  My Binondo Girl (dramedy), Ina Kapatd Anak, Ikaw Lamang (with Coco Martin), and Story of Us. Of all, Ikaw Lamang was the only one I finished to watch.  In movies, I was able to saw her Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo, Bride for Rent, Etiquette for the Mistresses, and All You Need is Pag-ibig. The latter was less successful, but  has meaningful story and featured KimXi’s versatility.  For now, it’s my wish that Dir. Paul Soriano produces an indie film starring Kim Chiu like what he did with Enrique Gil (Dukot), Maja Salvador (Thelma), and Buboy Villar (Kid Kulafu).

PR Photo for My Binondo Girl  

2.       Good Working Attitude – They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity.  I disagree.  Bad publicity crashes positive appeals of numerous TV and Movie personalities. However, there are solutions for that: one is "massive damage control" of the talent manager and secondly, defenses of co-workers. In fact, many great actors are gone now in the limelight because of the negative attitudes that eventually kill their careers.  Based on what I read about Kim, her co-actors praise her professionalism and thirst for learning. She’s humble and yet, willing to take risks and adapt to different stuff. If you ask me good working attitude is one of the great ingredients of career longevity, not the superb talent alone.

3.       Social media presence - Kim is one of the local celebrities who’s active on social media.  Though this can break or hurt, but being reachable online also boost her exposure.  Fans don’t have to wait for the next news (negative or positive) just to know her latest gigs.  In a seminar about digital marketing, I found out that advertisers also rate their endorsers according to numbers and kinds of posts of their endorsers. Of course followers and number of shares also count in the metrics.

Kimerald  (PR photo for Shake Rattle and Roll 10) 

4.       A Barbie doll - The young actress from Cebu was named Chinese Cutie in PBB and in 2010, Yes Magazine recognized her as the number one among 100 Most Beautiful Stars.  Besides her physical features (if I am correct only her and Heart Evangelista who are known Chinita beauties), Kim is also popular for her fashion sense.   She’s always someone to watch for in Star Magic Ball, Bench Fashion Show, and other similar events. Besides these, I learned in an episode of Kris TV before that she’s co-owner of a fashion boutique with designers – businessmen such as Pepsi Herrera.

5.       Room for improvement –   To date, Kim is into acting, dancing, singing, and hosting. Despite of those variety and awards, some people still  commenting on her talents. I agree.  Actually it’s not something negative, but like a “click button” that you want to see her more to see what more she can offer.  She’s easy to deal with, doable, and relatable knowing she’s a work in progress.  It’s unlike with a totally talented artist who’s because already known for his or her talent,  nawawala ang X factor.   Parang if he or she wins, okay and if not, sige maiba naman. On the other hand, there are stars who are counting years na in showbiz but still no improvement.   So I guess,  being underdog and underrated have charms also. 

Note:  I am aware of the other issues about Kim and I am not saying she's very good or perfect. I am just sharing my sentiment about her staying power :)  

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Avisala Sang’gres of Encantadia, Telefantasya

For quite a while, the trend in the Philippine TV revolve around dramas and love teams. It’s very few that we see different flavors and stories that will tickle our imaginations.  Well, with the requel (retelling sequel) of Encantadia the wait is indeed over. It's one of the most successful shows and Filipino Fantasy series a decade ago.
Francis Libiran designed the mesmerizing gowns of four Sang'gres  

Encantadia 2016 is considered as a requel or reteling sequel of its 2005 version.  If we remember that show, which top billed by Sunshine Dizon, Diana Zuburi, Karylle, and Iza Calzado; it brought a mind-blowing production. It led us to a fantasy world where places of Hathoria, Adamya, Sapiro, and Lireo existed. Each kingdom had appealing characters and feels thanks to creative geniuses of behind the show like directors Mike Reyes and scriptwriter Suzette Doctolero. Doctolero is also the creator of other top rated Kapuso shows such as My Husband’s Lover, Indio, The Rich Man’s Daughter, and Amaya.
Kylie Padilla as Amihan , the protector of Jewel of Air

Bring back the telefantasya!

More than ten years ago, fantasy series were the in thing in the primetime and called either “Telefantasya” or “Fantaserye” depending on which network. ABS-CBN called Marina [starring Claudine Barretto] and Krystala [of Judy Ann Santos] as Fantaserye and GMA categorized Mulawin [Angel Locsin and Richard Gutierrez] and Darna [Angel Locsin] as telefantasya.  These came before Encantadia, but this series and its prequel Etheria and sequel Encantadia: Pag-ibig Hanggang Wakas proved there’s more to explore. In fact, its story, designs, and creatures which perhaps were not even existed in Pinoy comics and books before.

If it came out powerful at that time, this 2016 it's also a game-changer with modern touch, and different elements.  By the way, the language used in Encantadia is "Enchant" and the royal gowns of Sang’gre [means royal blood] are designs of well-known Filipino Fashion Designer Francis Libiran.  
Glaiza de Castro as Pirena

New Challenges, New Face

The four lucky ladies to reprise roles of four Sang’gres are  Kylie Padilla as Amihan, keeper of the Jewel of Air; Gabbi Garcia as Alena, keeper of the Jewel of Water; Sanya Lopez as Danaya, keeper of the Jewel of Earth; and Glaiza de Castro as Pirena, keeper of the Jewel of Fire. They all went through auditions, look tests, and rigorous training to nail their respective characters.

Notice that except Gabbi Garcia [whom paired with Ruru Madrid in some projects and here], the other three don’t have perennial love teams.  What exciting about it?  There’s strong possibility that the series don’t only tackle cliché love problems, but also diverse issues such as leadership, importance of family, repentance, humility, and passion.  Ruru is the modern Ybarro, which originally played by Dingdong Dantes.

Glaiza is considered veteran among the four with her years in showbiz and number of projects. If in her most recent past projects she’s usually played supporting or villainous roles, the 28-year old versatile actress already top billed shows such as Grazilda and Kaputol ng Isang Awit. Same with Kylie, who experienced starring roles through The Good Daughter and Adarna. Another edge of Kylie is her innate sporty trait and being a longtime Muay Thai practitioner. Indeed, Robin Padilla’s daughter is suit to play a warrior princess. 
Gabby Lopez as Alena

Meantime, playing Danaya reintroduced Diana’s career in different market since she’s popular doing adult films. Today's Danaya Sanya is maybe the biggest star in the making because of this character. The 19-year old stunner is the freshest face compare to her co-stars and so far known in her stints in Walang Tulugan with the Master Showman and The Half-Sisters.

Encantadia also features Kapuso Primetime King and Queen Dingdong Dantes [Raquim] and Marian Rivera [Ynang Reyna Minea], John Arcilla [Hagorn], Rocco Nacino [Aquil], Mikee Quintos [Lira], Kate Valdez [Mira], Migo Adacer [Anthony], Pancho Magno [Hitano], and Solenn Heussaff [Cassiopeia].  
Sanya Lopez as Danaya

Photos by: GMA Network

Thursday, October 20, 2016

5 Memorable defunct Pinoy TV Shows

Taong 2008 nang halong may conscious effort at biglang nawala ang gana ko ng panonood ng TV. Hindi kasama rito yung panonood ko ng pelikula sa TV at hindi rin big sabihin ay ni tumingin ay di ko ginawa.  Ito iyong tipong religiously kong sinusubaybayan hanggang sa matapos.  So, in memory of my old self before October 2008 ay ito ang 5 defunct Pinoy TV Shows na meaningful and memorable for me:

Batibot.  Ang kabataan ko ay binigyang saya at kulay ng panonood ko ng anime. Subalit, kung may ilang children's televesion series na nahalo ay isa na roon ang Batibot na iyon. Sa paniwala ko ay malaking bagay ang nagawa ng programang ito dahil marami sa mga una kong natutunan na moral lesson, kwento, at salita ay mula rito. Dito ko nalaman ang Alamat ng Pinya, kung paano nakakarating sa mga gripo ang tubig, ang pagiging pala-kaibigan at pagiging organisado. Sing
“ Pagsama-samahin ang magkapareho,
ang magkakatulad ay ating igrupo.
Kay sayang libangan, kay daling gawin
Ang magkapareho, pagsamahin natin” 
(Nai-type ko ito base sa memorya ko ha!)

G-Mik. Ang totoo n’yan ay halos pinapanood ko lahat ng youth-oriented shows na magustuhan ko. Walang pinipiling network, huwag lang magkakatapat ng oras. Napanood ko ang TGIS, Gimik, K2BU, Click, Joyride, Growing Up, 5 and Up, SCQ Reload: OK Ako!, Tabing-Ilog, Let’s Go, at marami pang iba.   Ang pinaka-favorite ko rin na American Show ay youth-oriented show – Dawson’s Creek starring James Van Der Beek, Michelle Williams, Joshua Jackson, and Katie Holmes.   So balik tayo sa G-Mik at bakit hindi pa Tabing Ilog? Dati gustong-gusto ko si Camille Prats kasi nakakaarte s’ya at magaling sumayaw. Nagustuhan ko rin iyong love triangle niya with Stefano Mori and Miko Samson.  Pero sa relevance at pagka-meaty ng stories, siguro mas okay ang Tabing-Ilog at Click.  Kilig-kiligan lang talaga hehehe.

Keep on Dancing.  Kaya ko nagugustuhan ang gaya ni Camille Prats ay dahil mahilig din talaga ako magsayaw. Dahil mahilig naman ang nanay ko sa ballroom dancing ay napapanood ako ng Eezy Dancing noon na ang  host ay sina Dayanara Tores at Charlene Gonzales ( hmmm  may common denominators). Tapos lumipat si Charlene sa ABS-CBN, s'ya na ang lead host ng Keep on Dancing kung saan co-host naman sina Franco Laurel, Troy Montero, at Marc Nelson. Mas nasasakyan ko ang Keep On Dancing kasi mas alive iyong set up ng stage saka iyong dance moves. Although iisa din ata ang main dancers ng Eezy at KOD – ang VIP ni Maribeth Bechara.  Sa ibang banda, gusto ko rin ang StarDance (Hosted by Vanessa del Bianco at Marvin Agustin), at U Can Dance hosted by Derek Ramsay at Iya Villania. Pero ang alam kong nauna sa celebrity dance challenge ay Shall We Dance ni Congressman Lucy Torres.

Tatak Pilipino.  Noong bata ako ang pacifier ko ay TV. Iiwan lang ako sa harap ng TV tahimik na  mundo. At sa dami ng pinapanood ko ay pasok ang Tatak Pilipino hosted by Jim Paredes ( ng Apo Hiking Society) at Gel Santos-Relos. Sa mura kong edad noon ay walang nakaimpluwensya sa akin na panoorin ito basta nagustuhan ko lang, (I feel proud ngayon ah).   Habang naglalaro yung mga ate at kuya ko sa labas ng kung anu-ano ay nanood ako ng isang cultural magazine show habang nasa kuna ako hehe. Pero maganda itong show na ito wala pa akong nakita katulad na nakakaenganyong panoorin kahit ng mga bata.

Okay Ka Fairy Ko – Marami ng nagawang sitcom si Bossing Vic Sotto pero ito pa rin gusto ko. Siguro dahil nakalakhan ko na lang din at ito ang isa unang taste ko ng fantaserye.

Kung mapapansin halos mula sa Kapamilya Network shows yung mga nabanggit ko. Maka-Dos kasi pamilya ko lalo na noon pero nanood pa rin naman kami ng mga palabas sa Siete pero ang mga natatandaan ko ay puro news at foreign shows.  Kung pag-uusapan natin anime at Asian Dramas marami akong mababangit. Isa pa’y running “na” o “pa” ang mga gusto kong shows sa channel 7 gaya ng Encantadia, Ang Pinaka, Powerhouse, Bubble Gang, at iba pa. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Best Taiwanese Actress Ariel Lin

The phenomenon of Meteor Garden made ways to introduce Taiwanese stars and dramas in the Philippines. However it’s Ariel Lin who keeps me watching series from Taiwan up to now.  IMHO, her acting prowess transcends and she's  one of the, if not, the Best Taiwanese Actress.  

Although aired more than three years ago, it’s only recently that I had an opportunity to watch Prince Lan Ling starring William Feng or Feng Shao Feng (in the titular role), Ariel, and Daniel Chan (Emperor Yuwen Yong). It’s a C-Drama pala, but had multi-racial lead stars. Daniel is a Hong Kong singer-actor and William is a Chinese drama artist. George Hu (Prince of An De) is like Ariel, a Taiwanese star.  I will write separate post for my review for this show, but I want to inform you that Ariel gave touching performance here. I almost cried (which is very rare) in the scenes when Yang Xue Wu (Ariel) felt neglected by her beloved husband and had to pick between her grandmother and  Prince Lan Ling Wang.
It’s almost the same feeling, I had when I watched They Kiss Again episode 11.  The feeling that you could relate to her suffering although you’re totally different from the character she's portraying. I also admit that when I watch other foreign series I often find it hard to understand impacts or messages of shows because of the barriers (culture, expression, etc.) However, with Ariel effective portrayals those barriers gone.  I will rewrite one by one my old reviews, but to inform you I already saw It Started With A Kiss , Love or Bread,  Love Contract ( with Mike He), Fairy from Wonderland (with Hu Ge) and Tokyo Juliet (Wu Chun).

It Started With a Kiss, the first sequel of They Kiss Again, catapulted Ariel to stardom. For me, this series is also one of the best TV shows based on manga in terms of directorial interpretation, script, and acting.  ITWK also established Ariel’s tandem with Joe Cheng. Until now, their fans clamor for their new collaborations after their last one - Love or Bread. Although to be honest, I don’t like that drama. I will elaborate why, soon, on my post about that show.

On the other hand, I don’t see In Time With You yetI am excited to watch this drama because this is the reason why Ariel got her second Golden Bell Best Actress Award.  Furthermore, I already saw her other projects with Bolin Chen (her leading man in this series) – Love Sick and Go Lala Go! 2.  The latter film also made a way to pair her again with Vic Zhou (of F4).  "Again" because Ariel Lin already worked with Vic in his Make a Wish music video (2002).


Trivia you might not know that I know:

  •          If only there were no problems happened on Skip Beat project, Ariel was supposedly top billed it with Jerry Yan (yes of F4). They were the original choices, but soon Jerry left the project. And after another production delay Ariel also followed him.  In replace of Skip Beat, she accepted In Time With You which became a top rated and award-winning show. If she didn't drop out Skip Beat (aka Extravagant Challenge), perhaps she would work again with Super Junior members Si Won and Donghae.

  •          If not for a TV show, at least Ariel worked with them  through her Firefly music video

  •       I am not totally sure, but there was a time that Ariel allegedly made a statement that she wanted to have a break or stop acting. This came after she rumoredly had a serious health concern, heart break, and toxic schedule.  Thank God she overcomes her personal struggles and continue to work. She’s indeed a precious jewel of Taiwan’s Entertainment Industry

  •      I also read somewhere (here? if you want to dig more) that she had an issue with Mike He and they supposedly to collaborate again after Love Contract (possibly Devil Beside You, but some forums suggest it’s Why Why Love). As we all know. the last two shows emerged fine thanks to He’s hit love team with Rainie Yang.  Rainie Yang and Ariel are good friends in real life, while Mike and Ariel’s perennial love team Joe Cheng are buddies. This issue remain just rumors, because Ariel's camp never clarified nor say something about. Sorry, but it’s my wish that Ariel and Mike will have another project someday.  They have good rapport in Love Contract, it’s just that show had too tragic to bear story.

  •          Besides her acting stints, I admire how Ariel value her education. I like the idea that she had out of the box college course (Korean Major) and received Master of Arts (MA) in Acting from University of London.  

Anyhow, I am happy for Ariel’s love life and may her wishes come true , baby? More shows and movies! 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Review: Wedding starring Jang Nara, Ryu Si-Wwon

In 2007, ABS-CBN aired Wedding starring Ryu Si Won and Jang Nara (JN). JN has become my favorite Korean actress because of her strong quirky roles and amusing romantic-comedy dramas such as Successful Story of a Bright Girl, and My Love Patzzi.  What’s the difference of the Wedding? It’s a straight drama and about married life,which is far from the other two  Korean Drama. Is it because of Ryu Si Won’s influence?

 (Note: I discovered and watched first the Wedding before C-drama MyBratty Princess).


One of the first factors I like about Wedding were not about the story.  I like the light and happy beat of it's OBB “Its Alright," which also sung by JN. The cinematography was also fantastic especially the outdoor locations and the fashionable outfits of Lee Se-na (JN) and her clique Oh Soo-Ji (Kong Hyun-Joo) and Cha Eun-Hee (Kim Min-Joo).

Cast / Acting.  

Maybe it’s my first time to see Jang Nara in a serious drama that’s why  I’m confused whether she gave justice to her role or not. However, there were many instances that she finely portrayed her childish character Lee Se-na in thought-provoking scenes.  I like her JN's acting when Lee Se-na decided to divorce, and charm her husband Han Seung-Woo (Ryu Si-won).

On the other hand, Jang Nara effectively reinvented her look in the series. She’s no more the boyish type, but a pure, girly, and hopeless romantic lady.  I like the colors of her outfits that were usually modern and youthful. Those complemented her mission to offer something new to the audience.  Furthermore, her total make-over package fitted perfectly to passive and career-man Han Seung-woo of Ryu Si Won.  Although I think he’s been typecast or doing the same acting style, Ryu Si Won portrayed well his character.  You’ll respect Han Seung-woo's ability and ethics, though you’ll also feel that he’s ignorant or insensitive.  Based on their physical looks, Ryu Si Won looks like an ahjussi for JN initially. However, as you continue watching the show, the look or whatever differences vanish because he’s a good actor.  

 Sometimes I understand Myung Se-bin's Shin Yoon-soo, but  most of the time, I ignored her  and it felt like that I am bad for judging her. It’s because she’s a modest woman, but confused and weak in her love life. Who doesn’t feel weak and lost when in love, right? On top of this, she also raised to control her feelings for Han Seung-woo. Then, when there were opportunities for them, they’re not in-sync. Cruel love!  Of course if you’re Team Lee Se-na, Shin Yoon-soo's struggles were immaterial and annoying.  As for Lee Hyun-woo playing Seo Jin-hee, this is another typecast role for him. It’s because he’s again the ideal man, but only ends up as a part of the love triangle or square (watch Rootop Room Cat, Dal-ja's Spring, and Oh My Lady).

By the way, I like the supporting cast/ characters particularly Lee Se-na’s BFFs  (Oh Soo-Ji  played by Kong Hyun-Joo) and Cha Eun-Hee of Kim Min-Joo) and. parents  (Lee Jung-Il played by Kang Seok-Woo and   Sung Hye-Rim of  Na Young-Hee). 

Story/ Direction:  

  • ·         Because I couldn’t stand a lady (Jang Nara) courting a guy (except: my favorite Ariel Lin’s Yuan Xiang Qin in It Started With A Kiss) persistently, I skipped episode 4 and 5. Plus the fact, they looked boring.
  •   I don’t like most of the dialogues especially the lead characters were always unnecessarily and repetitively apologetic. You always hear lines such as “this is all my fault” or “I’m sorry.” 
  • ·         As whole, Wedding’s story is ideal to watch for those planning, getting, and wishing to get married. The show would make you realize that in marriage, it’s not only about love or being with someone. It also recognizing your partner’s past, present, and future.  
Note: Originally written on May 1, 2009

Friday, October 7, 2016

Review: Mischievous Princess of Jang Nara, Alec Su

Prior to Wedding, I believed Jang Nara’s turf was only romantic comedy dramas because of  Successful Story of a Bright Girl and my favorite My Love Patzzi.  Here in Chinese series Mischievous Princess (or My Bratty Princess), she offered flavorful comedy acting, perhaps because this was also an epic drama and she teamed up with Alec Su and Lu Xing.  

To be honest, I am not fan of epic dramas and I watched this series because of Jang Nara. I also know Alec Su only in Love at the Aegean Sea (with Chae Rim) so beside these two the rests of the cast were unfamiliar for me.


Acting and characters

Compare to her portrayal in the Bright Girl and My Love Patzz,  Mischievous Princess (MP) wasn't so amusing for me.  As Little Lobster or Situ Jing, who dressed up and pretended as man to act as ala- Robinhood to her legion, she's entertaining but not outstanding. I giggled when Emperor Zhu Yun (Su) found out that she’s a woman. However, those only few factors that made this character different.  Thus if you're a fan of playful Jang Nara, then MP is a must-see series for you. If not then watch her other shows.

To clarify, I am not saying that this 33-episode (in China it's 36) epic series is unimpressive. It’s long and yet entertaining to watch as it's a light epic drama. As Emperor Zhu Yun, Su was a regal, wise, and handsome. Though there were times that he acted like nonsense and unrealistic, his character was the ideal king.  I have few favorite Emperor's scenes like when he felt closer with Little Lobster. Though, as mentioned, my favorite one was when he discovered that Senior General Situ Qing Yun’s second child was a girl.

As members of royal family; Gu Yong Fei (Empress Dowager), Alec SuBao Lei (Princess An Ning), and Kou Zhen Hai (King of Yunnan); played well their characters.  The only annoying part of Empress Dowager’s character was she favored whatever her niece Wen Mei Er (Chen Xiu Li )’s bratty sentiments. I mean one is enough, but following orders from someone when you’re the authority is questionable mindset.  Aside from this issue, Gu Yong Fei and Chen Xiu Li had effective villainous acting.  

Script and direction 

In terms of drama, feel-good vibes, romance, and twists - MP is amusing. It taught few meaningful lessons that worth to remember. An example of those is Emperor Zhu Yun’s realization about his stoic lifestyle. It would remind us that living in a castle is not all fun. Commoners may have happier dispositions because of their simple problems and fewer restrictions.

However, if you really want to enjoy MP set your expectations lower than usual. It have some loopholes that may distract you.  Few of those are Catherine Hung’s character, the mysterious teacher of Little Lobster. She always had plans and empty promises. The problem here is not only about her messy story line, but also the execution of her scenes. She always mentioned about her comrades, maybe about 300, but you wouldn’t see those ninjas and allies in the entire show.  It’s only her, her right hand, and friends of Little Lobster.  On the other hand, it’s not only her who had few followers, even the Emperor also. When he attacked Yunnan’s Kingdom he only had about 10 soldiers in his line.

Meantinme, the love affair of Jia Nan(Lin Jiang Guo) and Wen Qiang (Gao Lu) also had a great exposure in MP. It had impact because Jia Nan is Jing Er older brother, while Wen Qiang is one of the daughters of  power-tripper Prime Minister Wen Zhang (Wang Gang). In a way, it’s a creative way to make the three lead work together at the background.  On the other side, if you want to concentrate on romance and drama action among the three leads, then Jia Nan and Wen Qiang’s ill-fated love story is burdensome for you.

Aired in 2005, Mischievous Princess was one of the projects of Jang Nara in penetrating China.   That time, Lu Xing was only 31 years old, while Alec Su was 36. Surprisingly, the former looked older than  Su but they’re both handsome in the show.  As for Nara, I don’t know if she will do similar show like this in the future so it’s amusing to see MP.

Note: I originally wrote this review on April 27, 2009

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Movie Review, Reflection: Bridget Jones’s Baby starring Renee Zelleweger

The film series that I watched religiously in theaters were Harry Potter (except Goblet of Fire), Spider-Man (starring Tobey Maguire), and Kill Bill (Uma Thurman).  What I always forget is I also complete Bridget Jones’s Diary series top billed by Renee Zellweger.  I only realized this personal fact after I saw the long overdue Bridget Jones’ Baby (2016), which is the follow up of Bridget Jones’s Diary: Edge of Reason (2004)See the gap?

I was too young when the first two installments were released in theaters. I like those films because of the British accents, funny scenes, leading men, and the titular character of Bridget. Now I appreciate this film series (adapted from the novel series of Helen Fielding) more because it has character-driven and enjoyable romantic-comedy approaches, but full of sense. 

What remains intact in Bridget Jones’s 3rd installment

Bridget Jones’s Baby serves the same feel that I love about this film series, but with matured vibe. I still feel how romantic it is to be with someone you love. How happy it is to finally experience that you're in  a smooth sailing relationship.  And when all your fears become joys and courage in your life. 

Honestly, it’s hard not to be affected with Zellweger’s controversial look. I grow up watching her particularly in the films The Bachelor, Chicago, and Miss Potter. I miss her chubby face and curvaceous body, but you know what? As soon as you already immersed  in the world of Bridget Jones, the issue doesn't make sense. After all Renee is still Renee who embodies Bridget effectively. In fact, her look fits well with the character’s maturity (43-years old in the story).   

The differences of Bridget Jones’s Baby   

·         Patrick Dempsey as Jack Quant - I admit I don’t read the novel series so I am not aware of Jack so surprise-surprise! Compare to Daniel Cleaver (played by Hugh Grant and who’s allegedly dead in the film), Jack is an ideal man  who you’d like to be your partner and father of your baby.  He’s rich, witty, charming, and responsible. It’s insane to dump him for someone else.

      Dempsey plays well the character, however it’s something that doesn't standout. I guess, it’s because of the too-good-to-be-true persona of Jack or I always see him in goody-goody laid back roles (Sweet Home Alabama, Enchanted, and Valentine’s Day).

·         The fun sides of Being Single – Obviously, the whole film series features the struggles of being single and the fear of becoming spinster. However, this installment brings the idea that being unattached makes you enjoy meeting new people and discover other things in life. It also helps you to realize the love that you desire and its implications in your individuality.

·         Bridget Jones is also career-oriented-  It’s only now that I realize, Bridget is also a career-woman. Perhaps I was young then to notice this side of her or because it's overshadowed by the love triangle (Daniel- Bridget- Marc). Now, I appreciate this film more because it shows women at work. How they try their best to perform their duties by being adaptable and dynamic despite of their struggles.  

       I like Bridget's line "maybe when my boy is old enough to understand, integrity will be fashionable again." It’s for her young new boss who believes crazes and interesting issues overpowers old formula of news reporting.   In general, I agree with this topic because office politics, changes, and desperate needs are parts of any jobs. However, there’s something you can’t really embrace because it’s against your values. In the end, if you accept your limitations (like age and beliefs), then you know where you can draw strengths and start your way to success.   

·         On motherhood – the only unbelievable part of this movie is the confusion of who’s the father of Bridget’s baby.  In this aspect, Marc Darcy (Colin Firth)’s reaction is the sole realistic thing you can get. But despite of the roller coaster ride of the love triangle among the leads, you still feel the happiness of motherhood. Two of my favorite scenes are when Bridget hears her baby's heartbeat and when people believe that Jack and Marc are in a relationship. By the way, Emma Thompson is very cool as a doctor here.

The imperfect side of ideal man Marc Darcy – Although Marc Darcy has a stoic face and unconventional taste, he’s one of the interesting and charming movie male characters I know.  In this film, you’ll not only understand Marc’s issues with Bridget. You’ll also sympathize with Bridget’s desperation to cope up with him. You know, there are features of your man that makes him who he is or makes him extraordinary. However, those also the reasons why it’s hard to have a romantic relationship with him.   In case of Marc, he always travels and busy with his career as a barrister.  I can feel Bridget’s love and frustration on him.

 Overall, Bridget Jones’s Baby brings the light, romance, and inspiration that I love about it. It also wins in bringing new insights and perspectives when it comes to womanhood, love, and triumph in life.  Sulit!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Filipino adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher at the Power Mac Center this October

Search about American literature and it’s impossible that you would not encounter Edgar Allan Poe and his works. The prolific literary icon is known for his mind-boggling poets and short stories that includes “The Fall of the House of Usher  published in 1839.”  This year, a Filipino adaptation of it entitled #14 Leandro Road  is what  Theater House of Black will offer on October 7 and 8 at the Power Mac Center Spotlight in Circuit Makati.

Review based on sample run of 14th Leandro Road’s… 

Sa Sikat Studio Inc., napanood ko ang kalahati ng show kung saan kasama sina Harry David (Ed), Migui Moreno (creepy Rudy), Gry Gimena (crazy Anton), Marife Necessito (Dra. Lita Dumas), Pewee O’Hara (Donya Victorina), at May Bayot (Consuelo). Doon maraming ideya ang tumatakbo sa aking isipan kaya maganda itong panoorin.

       Aaminin ko na mas kilala ko si Edgar Allan Poe bilang poet at noong high school ko pa s’ya napag-aralan kaya hindi ko na maalala ang tungkol sa “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Kaya itong #14 Leandro Road ay nagbigay sa akin ng glimpse of Poe’s type of stories.  Kung estudyante ka, watching this play will also help you to understand macabre (disturbing story) and Gothic literature/ plays.  Tandaan na naiiba ang atake sa film at TV, kumpara sa teatro kaya interesante itong show.

Aaminin ko rin na matagal na akong 'di nakakapanood ng theater play, ang last ko ay Zsa Zsa Zaturnah ni Eula Valdez at Joey Paras. Bakit ko binabanggit? Hindi ako familiar sa mga theater actors na napanood ko even  Madam Pewee O’ Hara na sa panood ko pa lang ay mukhang batikan na nga.  Maganda ito in a way kasi fresh at mahuhusgahan ko ang kanilang acting base sa kanilang pagganap at hindi dahil sa kanilang reputasyon.

The standout parts

1   Play Script – hindi ko natanong kung sino ang playwright ng #14 Leandro Road at kung gaano ito ka-faithful sa orihinal (pero baka sina K.H. Dizon at Direk Jay Crisostomo IV). Pero para sa akin panalo ang dialogues at scene/ stage instructions.   Ilan sa nagustuhan kong linya (hindi ako sure kung eksaksto ang natandaan ko) ay ang mga ito:

o   Bakit ang hirap pag-usapan ng kamatayan, totoo naman ito.” Ito ang tsika ni Anton kay  Ed na asiwa na pag-usapan ang topic. 

o   Isang kahangalan ang pagsambit sa  mga bagay na hindi mo pinaniniwalan.” Sinabi ni Rudy kay Ed tungkol sa mga bagay-bagay sa bahay nila.  I agree sa kanya dahil sa ibang banda ay nag-iiwan ka ng bahagi ng iyong sarili sa ginagamit mong bagay. Halimbawa ay ang librong ipinasa mo sa ibang tao, kuwaderno na iyong sinulatan, o upuan na matagal mong ginamit.

Samantala,  maayos din ang pagkaka-establish  sa character nina Dra. Dumas (remember kalahati pa lang ang napanood ko), Donya Victorina, at Anton.  At the back of my mind ay gusto kong sabihin “Kaya hindi gumagaling si Anton may sapak din itong tumitingin sa kanya.” Hehehe!

Sa stage instruction – gusto ko iyong malikhain pagpasok at paglabas ng mga Matatandang Laperal. Kung paanong ang kanilang presensya ay matindi ang epekto sa mga nakakababatang Laperal.  Dito mas makikita ang galing ng playwright kung paano instruction blocking, pangyayari sa scenes at ibabatong linya. Siempre may say din dito ang director. Nakalimutan ko iyong pinakagusto kong part, pero kasama roon si Donya Victorina, Rudy, at Ed.  Ang naalala ko na maganda ay iyong  may “pinasayaw at binabaston,” ang “Ed’s tonight private conversation with Anton,” at alin ang mas sipa “whisky o lapad” ;)

2.       Acting of theater actors- lahat naman ay nakapag-deliver and nag-contribute, but nevertheless noticeable talaga na batikan si Pewee O’ Hara. Nandoon yung impact na “I am Donya Victorina and this is me.” Malinis na hindi OA at UA, kundi klarong in character siya.

On the other hand, na-explain ni Direk Jay Crisostomo IV na magkakaiba iyong pinanggalingan ng mga actors so may dynamics.  Dito naklaro sa akin kung bakit may something kay Marife Necessito at Gry Gimena. I don’t feel na umaarte sila sa stage as theater actors parang casual na napapadaan lang sila as Dra. Dumas at Anton.  Yung Anton ni Gry, parang dati mo lang talagang kakilala na nawala sa katinuan o nasapian. Saka in fairness sa kanya parang physically demanding iyong role.  Ito naman kay Marife ay may comedic timing.

Okay din naman sina Migui, Harry, at May.  Physically demanding din ang Rudy ni Migui. Lumalabas ang challenge sa kanya kapag may moment sila ni Pewee O’Hara o nag-aagawan ang realidad at kabaliwan sa kanyang pagtao.  Consistency naman ang maipapakita ni Harry, bahala ka kung magugustuhan mo o hindi ang kanyang pagganap. Subalit, siya iyong tipong pinangangatawanan ang kanyang ginagampanang karakter. Wala pa akong masabi masyado kay May Bayot, bukod sa maganda ang kanyang tinig. Kung tama ako baka may connect s’ya kay Asia’s Nightingale Lani Misalucha.
Harry David as Ed

Samantala, ang alternate cast ay kinabibilangan ni Mosang (creepy Pilar), Alex Leyva (crazy Anna), at Particia Ismael (weird Dra. Lita Dumas). 

3The theme/ genre of the play - Ilan na nga ba ang napanood ko na play na may Gothic o macabre na tema?  Wala akong maalala. At ang challenge sa ganitong genre ay pagpapakita ng fantasy/ imaginary creatures. Hindi naman ito TV at film na malalapatan ng visual effects sa post production dahil on the spot kailangan maipakita sa anumang paraan sa audience ang nakaka-disturb na mga scenes. Kaya ang basic edge ng the #14 Leandro Road ay genre nga nito.

Why I Recommend it?

Direk Jay Crisostomo IV and JC Salud of Theater House of Black 
  •            An adaption of the art work of a well-known unconventional literary artist Edgar Allan Poe. Thus, good for students and literature enthusiasts

  •         The venue is at the heart of an accessible business district

  •        The dates are perfect weekend treats and art appreciation time

  •      It's time to watch an all Filipino Production with veteran and fresh Theater Artists. 

1Note: Star Powerhouse is one of the media partners of Theater House of Black for #14 Leandro Road