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Rocketman builds on new music biopic

LONDON — With hit tunes, a plot about one of the world’s best known performers and flamboyant costumes, Rocketman brings Elton John’s story to the big screen, the latest musical biopic offering a concert-like experience at the cinema.

Darkly comic Parasite gets critics buzzing at Cannes Film Festival

CANNES, France — Parasite, a thriller that doubles up as a wickedly funny satire about class struggles, has upped the ante at the Cannes Film Festival, with South Korean director Bong Joon-ho emerging as an strong contender for an award after impressing critics.

Craig to have ankle surgery; Bond remains on schedule

LOS ANGELES — James Bond actor Daniel Craig will undergo ankle surgery after injuring himself while filming the spy franchise’s latest installment, but the movie remains on schedule for an April 2020 release, producers said on Wednesday.

Quietly, delicately breaking our heart

GIVE IT to master Filipino filmmaker Lamberto Avellana: he knows how to start a picture. Badjao had a horn blown to gather a village of house canoes, forming a seaborne village; Huk sa Bagong Pamumuhay began with a detonating grenade; Anak Dalita evoked Roberto Rossellini in neorealist mode, tracing the ruin of a church from its fractured belfry to the people teeming at the base of its crumbling walls. Kundiman ng Lahi (Folksong, 1959), Avellana’s last film for LVN studios, trumps them all I think: no blown horn, no explosives, no church ruins, just the monotonous thumping of a wood pestle milling rice in a mortar. An obvious symbol — we’re the rice, the husk (our innocence, our sensitivity) pounded out of us by the relentless pestle — but also a sexual one, the phallic pestle pounding into the accepting mortar, turning hard seed into tender food.

What to see this week

3 films to see on the week of May 24 — May 30, 2019

Survivor type

YET ANOTHER Lamberto Avellana film on Mike de Leon’s Citizen Jake vimeo site, this one arguably his most famous: Anak Dalita, or Child of Sorrow (1956).

A whole new version of ‘A Whole New World’

IN 1992, Filipino singer Lea Salonga, having just made a splash on Miss Saigon, got what many believed was a gig of a lifetime — a chance to sing what was sure to be a worldwide hit for a Disney animated movie. “A Whole New World” from Aladdin introduced her — or at least her voice — to a new generation of fans worldwide.

Will Smith brings own Genie to new Aladdin

LONDON — Hollywood star Will Smith was reluctant at first to play Genie in the live-action remake of Disney’s Aladdin as it meant following in the big footsteps of late comedian Robin Williams who voiced the character in the 1992 animated film.

Disney delays Avatar 2, sets dates for new Star Wars films

LOS ANGELES — Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday pushed back the release of James Cameron’s sequel to box-office champion Avatar by a year, to December 2021, and announced debut dates for new Star Wars films starting in December 2022.

Avengers: Endgame fastest film to hit $2 billion in the box...

LOS ANGELES — Disney’s Avengers: Endgame became the fastest film to gross $2 billion globally in just 11 days, crushing Avatar’s record of 47 days internationally. The Marvel juggernaut now stands as the second-biggest movie of all time with $2.188 billion worldwide.

Viva joins Lionsgate’s international film group

GLOBALGATE Entertainment, the local-language film consortium of American entertainment company Lionsgate, has added the Philippines’ Viva Communications, Inc. to its 13-country entertainment network which signal’s Viva’s strengthening efforts to make its productions available to the international market.

Five years later, sequel to Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa to screen...

IF Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa (2015) became a cult favorite because of its “rawness” as described by the film’s director, its sequel — which comes four years after the first — is anything but as Nestor Abrogena wanted to make Tayo sa Huling Buwan ng Taon, which opens in cinemas on May 8, something more than its predecessor.

Twilight rises again, this time as a concert tour

LOS ANGELES — Twilight is coming back from the dead with a live concert that will tour the world.

Avengers: Endgame shatters PHL box-office records

THE final film of Marvel’s Avengers Infinity saga, Avengers: Endgame, shattered Philippine box- office records as it posted P937.5 million over the four days since it opened on April 24, making it the film with the biggest opening weekend of all time.

Films on the impact of technology on modern life to be...

A COLLECTION of animated science fiction films which focus on the impact of technology on modern life and its political and ideological concerns is featured this month at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) Museum of Contemporary Art and Design.

World turns out for record Avengers: Endgame movie debut

LOS ANGELES — Fans around the globe packed movie theaters for the debut of Avengers: Endgame over the weekend, pushing total ticket sales for the Walt Disney Co. superhero spectacle to a stunning $1.2 billion and crushing records in dozens of countries.

Rom-com Hypothalamus is big winner at FAMAS awards

DWEIN BALTAZAR’S romantic comedy Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus bagged the Filipino Academy for Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) Awards’ top categories including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, beating Filipino auteur Lav Diaz’s rock opera Ang Panahon ng Halimaw for Best Picture and Best Director.

Brocka and Philippine electoral politics: Passions big and small

LINO BROCKA would have been 80 this April, if he hadn’t been killed in a car crash on May 21, 1991. He was only 52, and had directed around that many films too in the last two decades of his life, though his oeuvre also spanned TV and the legitimate stage, both as an actor and a director, and occasionally, even as a writer. His creative output is probably unequalled by any other Filipino artist in those fields. He was bluntly matter-of-fact about having to grind out five cinematic potboilers to subsidize each worthwhile passion project, such as Insiang (1976), the first Filipino film to be shown at the Cannes Directors Fortnight.

Tolkien film looks at the early years of the Lord of...

LONDON — J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical world of hobbits, elves, and orcs have won over fans around the world in the decades since The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings stories were published.

Superheroes and a king may set movie records for Disney

LOS ANGELES — The final chapter in a decade-long superhero saga and the remake of a big-screen classic could topple box-office records during a summer movie season expected to be dominated by Walt Disney Co.

Netflix, streaming services win Oscars cinema rule fight

IN A WIN for Netflix, Amazon, and other internet streaming services, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted not to change its rules for winning an Oscar, Hollywood’s top prize.

Superpsychocebu: God Bless This Trip

SUPERPSYCHOCEBU has been touted as the first Pinoy stoner film. It’s a wonder that it ever got made in a country with, notoriously, among the harshest penalties for marijuana possession and use. On the other hand, House Bill 180 on medical marijuana and the bill to revive the death penalty were passed practically together, one after the other. (The House approved the bill legalizing medical marijuana on Jan. 29 this year while the bill to resume capital punishment passed the House of Representatives in February 2017. Both stalled in the Senate. — Ed.)

Waterworld

THE FILM Badjao or The Sea Gypsies (1957) starts with an image of waves lapping onto shore, the divide between land and sea stretching diagonally across the screen. With his first frame Lamberto Avellana (collaborating with the great cinematographer Mike Accion) summarizes what the film will be all about: the tension between sand and surf, between people of differing loyalties, communities, ethnicities. A man standing beside a roof of dried palm raises his horn against a clouded sky and blows; cue the bombast (and lovely lilting melody) of Francisco Buencamino, Jr.’s theme music.

Contemporary art films the focus in Italian film fest

FOR ITS fourth year, the Moviemov Italian Film Festival is presenting a selection of art films at the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Cinematheque in Manila.

Fox PHL gambles on exorcism film

FOR ITS first foray into scripted entertainment, Fox Networks Group (FNG) Philippines, decided to take a gamble on Mark A. Meily’s Maledicto, a “character-driven horror film” about exorcism and a skeptical priest which is set to premiere on May 1 in cinemas nationwide.

The eagle has landed

HUNTING and deforestation are the two major causes of the decline in the number of Philippine eagles, said Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) Director for Research and Conservation Jayson Ibañez during the Q&A portion following a screening of the multi-awarded documentary Bird of Prey at Cine Adarna of the University of the Philippines recently.

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker sees return of emperor Palpatine

CHICAGO — The ninth film in the original Star Wars saga will be called The Rise of Skywalker, and will feature the return of the evil emperor Palpatine to threaten the young heroine Rey and the Resistance, Walt Disney Co. revealed on Friday.

Sex tape

JOSELITO ALTAREJOS’ Jino to Mari (Gino and Marie, 2019), about a pair of sex workers hired to do a Japanese porn film, is (to put it mildly) fairly explicit — about as explicit as a Filipino independent film probably gets nowadays without actually being porn.

Hollywood’s guessing game: Which Disney movie will top 2019?

BETWEEN high-priced coffees and sushi, movie executives meeting in Las Vegas last week had one heated argument: Which Disney film will be the year’s top blockbuster?

Netflix’s pursuit of Oscars may be antitrust issue

NETFLIX, Inc.’s pursuit of Academy Awards could become an antitrust issue.

Have fun like an Avenger in new exhibit

AN INTERACTIVE exhibit comes to SM malls as Marvel fans await the conclusion to a series of Avengers films.

Rebel yell

AVAILABLE ON filmmaker Mike de Leon’s Citizen Jake Vimeo site: Lamberto Avellana’s postwar drama Huk sa Bagong Pamumuhay (Huk in a New Life, 1953), about a wartime guerrilla who, out of desperation, joins communist forces seeking to overthrow the Filipino government. Produced by De Leon’s grandmother Doña Narcisa de Leon, it was unabashedly anticommunist pro-American propaganda, the third such effort by Doña Sisang’s LVN Studios. The print on this website — a not-especially-clear recording from a DVD — emphasizes the slant: some of the dialogue is in English, and much of the Filipino dialogue is overdubbed with English narration, reportedly by Avellana himself, carefully explaining the motivation of characters and significance of each scene: “If I had known then what Maxie (Joseph de Cordova) really represented, things might have been different.”

First 3 PPP festival films identified

THE Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) has announced the first three entries to this year’s Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP), which will be held from Sept. 13 to 19 in cinemas nationwide.

Dumbo reviews suggest live-action remakes don’t always fly

DUMBO, a live-action remake of Walt Disney Co.’s 1941 animated classic, hit theaters Friday, but many reviewers declared the film a snoozer even before it opened.

Films mark 80th year of Spanish Civil War’s end

ON APRIL 6, in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the end of the Spanish Civil War, Instituto Cervantes, in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain and the University of the Philippines Film Institute, will be holding “El fin de la Guerra Civil,” a mini film cycle featuring two movies set during the turbulent post-Civil war era in Spain.

iflix’ new original movie to be streamed on Twitter

ASIAN video-on-demand (VOD) service iflix has finally launched Mystified, the company’s first foray into creating original content from the Philippines, with a special arrangement for it to be streamed on Twitter tonight.

Breaking bad

STEVE MCQUEEN’s Widows is a sketch of urban corruption, a low-key indictment of racism and (a touch louder) misogyny, a rich character study. It’s also a hell of a crime pic.

Bring a hankie — heartwarming Dumbo movie may also bring tears

LONDON — Bring a hankie to the new movie version of Disney’s flying elephant tale Dumbo because it may be a little dark for some people.

Family business

HIROKAZU KORE-EDA’s latest film Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku, 2018) begins with as unremarkable an opening as possible: a father and his son enter a grocery, split up to walk down separate aisles. Only father and son keep throwing each other sidelong glances and hand signals; only son does a little finger twiddle that we’ll see from time to time; only when a clerk working nearby glances at son, the father walks up to block the clerk’s view while the son drops several packets of instant ramen into his backpack. Graceful bit of choreography, made casual by long practice, understated yet captivating in its intricacy.

Weinstein movie library gets new home under former MGM chief Barber

FILMS backed by disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, from The King’s Speech to Inglourious Basterds, have found a new home.

Ulan: The Shapes of Water

GENTLE sun-dappled rainfall is the benign form water takes for the child Maya (Elia Ilano) who lost her parents in a storm at sea. In Filipino folklore, this odd synchronicity of sunshine and rain is whimsically believed to happen during the weddings of tikbalang, those horse-headed creatures of our lower mythology who like to lead wayfarers astray. Do take note of the lovely cinematography and the thoughtful production design of this beautifully photographed film.

Bifocal

It isn’t as if the life of Vincent Van Gogh hasn’t been adapted for the big screen before. Lust for Life was Vincente Minnelli’s lustily melodramatic take (based on Irving Stone’s novel), with Kirk Douglas holding little back as he strained to suggest Vincent’s intensity; Robert Altman’s Vincent and Theo focused on the relationship between the Van Gogh brothers and their destructively parallel course; Maurice Pialat’s Van Gogh — easily the most unsentimental of the group — presents a harsh, uningratiating view of a harsh, uningratiating artist, avoiding the traditional highlights (including that ear thing) and focusing on more quotidian activities — Pialat doesn’t even make much effort to show the paintings, or approximate Vincent’s unmistakable style onscreen.

Porn stars, gravediggers, gay beauty queens, and drug addicts featured in...

THE Sinag Maynila International Film Festival is back for its fifth year, promising to present “diverse and compelling” film starting April 4 in select cinemas. This year’s festival will have five full-length feature films, 10 short films, and five documentaries.

Hello Kitty does Hollywood after years of film rights talks

ONE OF Japan’s most beloved cat cartoon characters is headed for Hollywood.