REVIEWS

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Updates and scoops to upcoming films this year.. and beyond!

TOP 5

A monthly series in this site wherein the geek dish out his TOP 5 films/awesomeness of something or someone.

Oscar-Winning 'Birdman' Returning To PH Cinemas Starting March 4

Birdman” – this year’s big winner at the Oscars that bagged the Best Picture Award which also won the Best Director Award (Alejandro G. Iñárritu), Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) and Best Original Screenplay Award (by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., Armando Bo) will have a return engagement in (Phils.) cinemas this March 4.

The widely acclaimed and celebrated “Birdman,” Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s black comedy features Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) hopes that by spearheading an ambitious new Broadway play he will, among other things, revive his moribund career. In many ways, it is a deeply foolhardy move – but the former cinema superhero has high hopes that this creative gambit will legitimize him as an artist and prove to everyone – and himself – that he is not just a Hollywood has-been.

With the play’s opening night looming, Riggan’s lead actor is injured by a freak accident during rehearsals and needs to be replaced quickly. At the suggestion of lead actress Lesley (Naomi Watts) and the urging of his best friend and producer Jake (Zach Galifianakis), Riggan reluctantly hires Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) – a loose cannon who is guaranteed to sell tickets and get the play a rave review.  As he preps for the stage debut, he must deal with his girlfriend and co-star Laura (Andrea Riseborough), his fresh-from-rehab daughter and personal assistant Sam (Emma Stone), as well as his ex-wife Sylvia (Amy Ryan), who appears every so often to check-in with the intent to stabilize things.

Iñárritu notes that elements of Riggan’s story resonated with him, particularly the ephemeral nature of success and the question of relevance. “I was interested in exploring the battles with the ego, the idea that no matter how successful you are, whether in money or recognition, it’s always an illusion. It’s temporary. When you are chasing the things you think you want and empower the people to validate you, when you finally get them, you soon find an impermanence in that joy.”

From 20th Century Fox to be “Birdman” will return to the big screen at the following cinemas: Robinson’s Ermita, Robinson’s Galleria, Metro East, Gateway, Powerplant and Greenhills.   Follow 20th Century Fox (Philippines) at Facebook for more updates.
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TOP 5: Easter Eggs on 'Better Call Saul'!

Fans of 'Breaking Bad' come in dissecting every single frame of its newly released spin-off 'Better Call Saul' for easter eggs. It is inevitable, considering showrunners Vince Gilligan and the crew are known for sneaking in references and callbacks for future episodes in 'Breaking Bad'. Having said that, it's not an actual surprise to see few of those for 'Better Call Saul'. The show stars Bob Odenkirk reprising his B.B. role as Saul Goodman, and focuses the character's dark times when he was just a guy named Jimmy McGill before he became the sleazy attorney we already knew of him.

I listed 5 of the best Easter eggs of the show, and reminder this is just for the first three episodes. SPOILERS of course.

5. Jimmy's Address Sounds Familiar..
Yep, Juan Tabo Blvd. The same road as Walter White's ex-lab partner Gale Boetticher lived... and died. 

4. A Nod To Heisenberg
The same Heisenberg jacket and hat is seen hanging near the metal detector. It might not be the exact hat and jacket, but i'm sure Vince Gilligan is winking at the audience once this scene started playing..

3. That phone number is real.
Tuco's partner Nacho wrote a phone number on Jimmy's match box. If you call it, it will lead you to Nacho's actual voice mail. Tight!

2. Cinnabon in Omaha
If you didn't recall, Saul once mentioned to Walt that when he disappeared there's a chance he will be a manager of a Cinnabon outlet in Omaha. 
It's a random statement, but it certainly did happen!
1. Nail Salon
On the earlier season of Breaking Bad, Saul suggested to Walt and Skyler that a nail salon will be a great venue for money laundering. As it turns out, little Jimmy once set his earlier lawyer office... in a nail salon. 

Other notable Easter Eggs. (Because I just can't post five of these...)

Breaking metal. What's the fuzz about inanimate metal objects to take out frustrations..










The Moustache of Sorrow in a Pilot Episode.
The red key fob
and lastly..

The future car.
Saul coincidentally (intentionally?) parked right next Cadillac DeVille, which in fact is the same model he is driving in Breaking Bad.

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'Crazy, Stupid, Love' Directors Back With 'Focus'

Directors Glenn Ficarra & John Requa (“Crazy, Stupid, Love”) are back with Warner Bros. Pictures' new con artist movie “Focus” starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Rodrigo Santoro (the “300” films) and Gerald McRaney (TV’s “House of Cards”).

In the film, Nicky (Smith) is a seasoned master of misdirection who becomes romantically involved with novice con artist Jess (Robbie). As he’s teaching her the tricks of the trade, she gets too close for comfort and he abruptly breaks it off. Three years later, the former flame—now an accomplished femme fatale—shows up in Buenos Aires in the middle of the high stakes racecar circuit. In the midst of Nicky’s latest, very dangerous scheme, she throws his plans for a loop…and the consummate con man off his game.

In the following interview, the directors talk about deception coexisting with love and what castmembers Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Rodrigo Santoro impressively brought to the film.

Question: This is your second film involving the world of con artists and sleight-of-hand, after “I Love You Phillip Morris.” What about it fascinates you and inspired you to make “Focus”?
Glenn Ficarra: Cons are about trust, but they’re on opposite sides of the trust spectrum—one is when you earn false trust and the other requires absolute trust—so the question is: can they coexist?

John Requa: Can you find true love and trust in this world and this currency of lies. We got really interested in exploring that concept in a movie about four years ago. We would call it ‘The Con Artist Love Story.’ No matter what else we were doing, we kept playing with it, and it evolved into this notion of having the first part of the movie being about a rookie con artist falling in love with a pro, and the second half about them coming back together when she’s not a rookie anymore.

Q: In “Focus,” the rookie is Jess, played by Margot Robbie, and the pro is Nicky, played by Will Smith.
Glenn Ficarra: Yes, Nicky is the dominant force in the first half of the movie, and Jess takes that role in the second half. They each have their hands on the control stick in different parts of the film, so you see the story from two different perspectives.

Q: Can you talk about the title, “Focus,” and how that idea is woven into the film?

Glenn Ficarra: The movie is about con artists and their ability to draw focus away from a crime towards something else, and we explore that on a number of levels. On the simple level of pickpocketing, how do you distract someone and pull a wallet or watch out of their pocket? But, in a larger sense, how do you make someone think that one thing is happening, when, in fact, another thing has already happened? On the emotional level as well: how can you use prewiring of the human brain for love to manipulate and use someone? So, that notion of focus was central to everything we’re exploring, big and small, in this story.

Q: What was it like to work with Will on this film?

Glenn Ficarra: He’s a joy. He’s a really good person, ever-interesting, ever-hungry—he’s always on the hunt to win.

John Requa: Transcendent. Not only is he a tremendous actor and incredibly professional, he’s a lot of fun. He’s like a big brother.

Q: What qualities does Will bring to the character of Nicky?

Glenn Ficarra: It’s the idea that the Will Smith we all know is this charismatic, smiling, nice guy. That’s so easy for him to embody in a character, but what if it was all an act? That really appealed to us, the idea of having that quality unfold in the first half of the movie as just something he turned on whenever it was convenient. Then, as you watch Nicky unravel over the course of the second half of the movie, you still love him, even when though he does some bad things.

John Requa: This is essentially a movie about two criminals—these fast and charming people who you’ll love even though they’re doing crimes. It’s tricky stuff, but Will and Margot fit the bill.

Q: What was it about Margot Robbie that resonated with you for the role of Jess?

John Requa: We auditioned a lot of incredibly talented women, and she came in and she just blew our socks off. Everybody. She walked out of the room and that was it. We knew our job was finished and that’s good. Hopefully she would say yes. [Laughs] It was nothing more complex than that. She blew us away.
Glenn Ficarra: And the chemistry between Margot and Will was so clear. It was undeniable. As John said, we auditioned a lot of women and started specifying types—she should do this and she should do that—and ultimately we said, ‘Look, let’s just get the best person for the part and take it from there.’

Q: You’ve previously worked with Rodrigo Santoro on “I Love You Phillip Morris.” Did you always have him in mind to play Garriga?
John Requa: Yeah, from the very beginning.

Glenn Ficarra: We didn’t want a kind of mustache-twirling Spaniard, and Rodrigo is just so welcoming and real. He’s an excellent actor, and he rarely gets to be funny, so we thought it would be fun to see him in this role.

Opening across the Philippine on February 25, 2015, “Focus” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.

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Eddie Redmayne, Bound For Oscar Glory As Stephen Hawking?

He already won Best Actor prizes in the recent British Academy, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards. That's why Eddie Redmayne is considered to be the favorite to win the Oscar next week for his riveting performance as astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in Universal Pictures' inspiring biopic “The Theory of Everything.”

To be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting Feb. 25, “The Theory of Everything” is nominated five times in this year's Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress (Felicity Jones) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

In the film, once a healthy, active young man, Hawking received an earth-shattering diagnosis at 21 years of age. With Jane (Jones) fighting tirelessly by his side, Stephen embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of – time. Together, they defy impossible odds, breaking new ground in medicine and science, and achieving more than they could ever have dreamed.

Producer Lisa Bruce notes on their leading man, "Eddie had a relentless intensity from day one. It was truly amazing to watch his evolution as he captured the many layers of both the Stephen we think we know as well as the man behind the image."

Redmayne remarks, "When I read the script I was astonished at what this man has experienced, and done, since 1963. It was one of the most inspiring things I'd ever read. Stephen Hawking is an icon of hope.

"But this movie is also about the human being behind the icon,” the actor continues. “When we meet him in this story, he is 21, and so vibrant and athletic. He goes on to live a full life with a twinkle in his eye, and continues to do so. There are different sides to him: the wit, the brilliance, the stubbornness...I got the impression that he had a rock star personality."
In further researching the subjects' lives, Redmayne learned that the professor came from a solidly intellectual family, while Jane Wilde's decision to pursue an academic career was still considered a brave choice for a woman back in the 1960s. "They were very different people, both extraordinary yet polar opposites," he says. "The idea of two human beings completing one another and defying all the odds I found compelling and oh, was it romantic!"

The challenge of the physical demands required to play Stephen Hawking loomed large. As Redmayne's friend and co-star Charlie Cox said when Redmayne told him about the role, "You have no option but to give it 3,000%."

Accordingly, Redmayne parsed even the smallest details on the man he would be portraying. He notes, "Jane discusses in her book how Stephen had incredibly expressive eyebrows. That was something I spent months in front of a mirror working on.
"When I met Stephen, I noticed how 'yes' is sort of a smile and 'no' is almost a grimace, yet they only manifest in a couple of the facial muscles for him, so I learned how to isolate those."

Redmayne adds, "The production surrounded me with an extraordinary team. Director James Marsh encouraged everyone to collaborate, and gave me the freedom to work closely with the different departments. One of the great thrills of doing this role was working with people who are at the top of their game. We were all of us taking on something we'd never done before which was quite special."
Vocal coach Julia Wilson Dickson and movement director Alex Reynolds were brought in early on by the filmmakers to work with Redmayne. Reynolds coordinated with the actor just how the various degenerative stages of motor neuron disease would be fully expressed on screen as called for in the script.

Redmayne obtained permission to visit MND patients both at a clinic and at home. He explains, "I felt I had the responsibility of portraying this as a real condition." The actor counted himself as fortunate to be able to meet with Stephen as well, and straight away "apologized to Professor Hawking for having chosen to study art history."
Since there is no existing documentation of Stephen in the early stages of deterioration, Redmayne and Reynolds consulted with a doctor who specialized in motor neuron disease to more precisely chart the progression. Redmayne also shared the research with Wilson Dickson. To carry the findings over for the 48 day shoot, Redmayne created a climbing numbers chart that would gauge how advanced the MND was in a particular scene a method which proved invaluable since, like most feature films, “The Theory of Everything” was not shot in sequence.

"Eddie prepared for months, to be ready to give multiple levels of performance," marvels producer and screenwriter Anthony McCarten. "He had to be aware on any given day for a scene, 'Is this stage four of my voice?' 'Does this mean stage three of my body?'

"He would go from 'a 4.3 day' for one day's work to, for a scene set 10 years earlier and filming the next day, 'a 2.7 day.' Each day required all of his talent, discipline, and intelligence."

Marsh availed himself of the chart as "a sacred text, because it demonstrated what was possible and not possible for Stephen at a moment in time. This had a big impact on how [director of photography] Benoit Delhomme shot a scene, and on how we framed it.

"We were sensitive to Eddie's ability to engage the audience with no more than just a cast of his eyes and a small shift of the body. This is not easy for an actor to pull off, and it came at a physical cost to him. Every day he was in some sort of stress position that he had to maintain for hours at a stretch, while still projecting and making the character emerge out of the disability."

McCarten states, "Watching Eddie day after day on the shoot, I would see not him but rather Stephen Hawking."

Marsh concludes, "As impressive as the technical elements of Eddie's performance are, that he brings it all to emotional life is even more so."

“The Theory of Everything” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.



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First Splice of Footage and Still For 'Spectre' Reveals Goggled Bond in the Snow

James Bond fans may now watch the exciting first footage of “Spectre” from Austria after the jump featuring behind the scenes action with cast Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista and director Sam Mendes. In addition, the first “Spectre” image of Craig as Bond has also been released, showing the British spy donning snow googles and a gun.

Associate Producer, Gregg Wilson says “We have to deliver an amazing sequence and this is going to be one of the major action sequences of the movie, a jewel in the crown so to speak. It’s going to be spectacular and Austria seemed to offer everything that we needed to pull it off.”

Production Designer Dennis Gassner adds, “The thing that Sam and I talked about was how we are going to top `Skyfall', it’s going to be `Spectre' and so far it’s a great start. I think that we are going to continue the history of the Bond films, making things that are exciting for the audience to look at and what could be more exciting than to be on top of the world.”

Spectre” also stars Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci and Andrew Scott.

In the film, a cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

James Bond is the longest running, and one of the most successful franchises of all time, with twenty-three films produced and the twenty-fourth about to go in to production. Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli succeeded Albert R 'Cubby' Broccoli and have produced the past seven Bond films together, including the highly successful Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. All of the James Bond films have been made in collaboration with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios or United Artists, its predecessor.

Opening across the Philippines on Nov. 06, 2015, “Spectre” will be distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service (Film Review)

“Manners maketh men”, says Colin Firth after being offended in a bar. He slowly locked the doors and windows, and formally introduced a fight. All of a sudden, he shields himself with a bulletproof umbrella from a gunshot and stings one of his opponents. And proceeds with his unfinished drink afterwards. At this point of the movie, Matthew Vaughn introduces us of how this film will become for the next minutes: extremely violent yet irresistibly and ridiculously tasty. ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, doesn’t only use over-the-top violence as part of the thrill—but of the fun aspect of the experience. I have never smiled so much while watching a movie as I had with this.

The movie centers on an elite, well-funded secret-spy organization Kingsman that consists of a group of sharp-dressed, suave and well-trained gentlemen and targets terrorists around the globe. When one of their comrades died because of a failed mission, the team looks out for a replacement to his chair. Teenager Eggsy comes in the list, a son of a former Kingsman and a turned rebel on the influence of “petty crime”, drugs and alcohol. But all of that will be erased as Eggsy on the course of the movie tries to learn the importance of manner and become a full-blown gentleman just like every other Kingsman has.
Kingsman’ was really, really, really good. If there’s a film that defines the word ‘fun’, this is one. It honors the classic spy films, with Samuel L. Jackson doing his best, exaggerated Bond villain. Jackson also comes with a sharp-footed henchwoman whose sole job is to kick-ass. This movie is a throwback to those Bond films, with several nods to the quirky moments of the franchise, and at the same time parodies it. 
Colin Firth is the perfect actor for this role. He was great in the movie, and oh boy those action sequences. A key moment of the movie (which for sure will be very controversial soon) involves a massacre at a church; Colin Firth steps in the fight and performed his own stunts in multiple long shots. Another notable actor is Taron Egerton, which I know we’ll see in more films. Egerton knows how to be physically presentable and intensely bad-ass. 
Director Matthew Vaughn really knows how to make fun. The ‘Kick-Ass’ movies are outrageously offensive; ‘X-Men: First Class’ is stylish great.  ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is somewhat in the middle—though it’s extremely vulgar, Vaughn’s stylistic and manic approach  squeezed the fun out of it—easily making it as the best film this year has to offer so far.

The geek rates it 9/10!

‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ opens February 18 in cinemas and IMAX locally distributed by 20th Century Fox!
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Paddington (Film Review)

'Paddington' is the kind of family movie that used to be more popular few decades ago. I mean there are more movies like this today, but they often get even lazier by relying too much on the cuteness of the talking animals and having uninspired humor and forced pop culture references (e.g. 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' movies.) Paddington is refreshing for just being loyal to its own magic. It fully embraces its weird but quirky personality, and yet provides the right amount of heart in the end. It's nothing transcendent to the genre, but this is a better example of a movie that is best treated for the whole family.
The film aims to relive the classic appeal of this type of movies. It does hold the same formula, like how the family slowly earns their love to the friendly creature they discovered, and the plot involves a lot of crazy antics, plus the villain is terribly campy who apparently belongs in a cartoon. But the movie never underestimates itself into a mediocre fare and instead finds creative ways to move through its story. It takes place in a delightful world that perfectly fits in their constant absurdity. It shows a lot of imaginative visuals and comically thrilling set pieces. But this frantic lightheartedness doesn't betray its center. Paddington doesn't get the warm welcome he expected in his first visit in London, until the people around him learn what kind of a bear he truly is. It gets a little predictable, but that clear message of acceptance is delivered with sincerity, even from the very start, which makes it quite nice anyway.

The local version has Xian Lim voicing Paddington Bear instead of Ben Whishaw. The vocal performance is okay, though it sometimes feels a little less heartfelt in his line deliveries. It's much more intriguing to know what kind of warmth Whishaw provided in the original version. The actors onscreen brought plenty of charm in its playfulness: even with the earnestness that defines the strict father, Hugh Bonneville is committed to be silly in some of the character's comedic scenes. And Nicole Kidman is appropriately over-the-top as the main villain.
People might think that 'Paddington' is kind of dated, at glance, but the filmmakers have real love to the material and this genre, thus make it work in this context. Even with its childish cartoon-like madness, it never tones itself down, and instead makes something truly fun out of those silliness. Again, it never really break any grounds, but it's such a heartwarming little film, giving you a real reason why you should love this character, other than just being another cute talking animal.

'Paddington' is now showing in cinemas nationwide locally distributed by Captive Cinema!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mirzel Torres is an avid moviegoer and watches anything that caught his attention. You can see him roam in cinema houses every week, and read his reviews on his blog.
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Model Sofia Boutella Plays Bad-Ass Henchman in 'Kingsman: The Secret Service'

Model turned actress Sofia Boutella who has graced catwalks, appeared in music videos and danced on Madonna’s tour, has slowly been making the move to film and was thrilled to land a significant role alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Firth in “Kingsman: The Secret Service".

Directed by blockbuster filmmaker Matthew Vaughn who is also known for his astute judgement in casting new and upcoming actors for lead notable roles casts Boutella as the unbeatable henchman of a villain against an elite group of spies in “Kingsman: The Secret Service".

Kingsman is an elite organization of operatives working outside of the government. Martial in style, they are an altruistic unit that gets things done.  “They’re the good guys,” says Colin Firth, who plays Harry, whose Kingsman name is Galahad, named after the Arthurian legend. “We’re living in an age in which we’re very suspicious of our institutions and our governments. Whatever trust we’ve once had has been undermined, so I think it’s interesting to explore the idea that there is an organization with pure motives.”

Firth, who takes on the role of Harry, feels responsible for the death of Eggsy’s father, and that he owes the man a debt. When a Kingsman agent is killed, the organization looks for a new recruit. When Harry sees that his fallen comrade’s son, Eggsy, is on a fast track to disaster in the way he’s growing up, Harry rises to the challenge of seeing if he can save the boy. That’s partly guilt, but he wants to see if he can mold Eggsy into Kingsman material.
Every good spy needs a suitably evil villain, and in Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine, the genre may well have discovered its most maniacal antagonist. A billionaire genius, whose plan to “save the world” involves wiping out the human race, Valentine is forged in the mold of classic spy movie bad guys. But the tech-savvy entrepreneur is also inspired by the world’s newest superpowers: the CEOs of giant media conglomerates and tech behemoths.

A classic villain needs an unforgettable henchman, and Valentine has Gazelle (Boutella), a beautiful, super-smart double amputee with deadly running blades. She’s a killing machine. “She’s called Gazelle because she’s in total control of her legs,” explains Sofia Boutella, who takes on the role. “Gazelle wears prosthetics that, when she’s fighting, unleash razor sharp blades, which makes her very dangerous.”
"It was a trip,” she says. “I used to dance, but I stopped two and a half years ago, and I’ve since done many auditions, with much waiting and struggling. To wake up one day and get this part – which just came out of nowhere – was mind-blowing to me. I feel blessed to be a part of the film.”  Working with Samuel L. Jackson was one of the highlights for Boutella. “He’s so impressive,” she explains. “Sam has such a big energy and I was drawn into it. I admire him so much. On the first day of rehearsal I was just staring. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s my turn to speak now, sorry!’”  She notes the stunt training for the film was intense. “They taught me Thai boxing, Taekwondo, and how to work with cables. Gazelle uses her legs to kill, so I had to learn different types of kicks. I’d never done anything like it before.”

A post-Valentine’s group-date movie, 'Kingsman: The Secret Service' opens February 18 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.


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