Friday, November 30, 2012

Slumber Party (2012)

The year 2010 is notable for a number of reasons. The Manila Police District took the heat for the Rizal Park hostage-taking incident and Venus Raj placed fourth in Miss U. These two events shaped writer/director Emmanuel Dela Cruz's insanely funny movie, Slumber Party. Expect lots of screaming, a tense hostage drama and a glittery DIY beauty pageant.

Set on the eve of the Miss Universe competition, close friends Phi, Elle and Jhana decide to do a "vigil." That "vigil" includes applying a fairly generous amount of makeup, wearing evening gowns, and doing a mock competition called "Kamuning's Next Top Model."

The punchlines are relentless in Slumber Party. Its quick wit, sharp dialogue and rollicking slapstick are endearing. It helps that the film is buoyed by a wonderful ensemble of committed actors. Markki Stroem is perfect as the arrogant clotheshorse Elle, scene-stealer Niño Muhlach makes an engaging, iron-willed Kapitana and funny man Archie Alemania (Jhana) gives a side-splitting performance as the movie's resident free-loader. Long after the end credits roll down, you'll remember his lip-smacking pout and micro mini shorts.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Les Misérables (2012)

As the release date of Tom Hooper's onscreen adaptation of Cameron Mackintosh's mega musical draws near, here are 10 things you need to know before belting along Anne Hathaway's gut-wrenching showstopper, "I Dreamed a Dream."

1. All the songs in the film were sung live during filming. The cast wore earpieces which played live piano accompaniment. Orchestral music was added later during post production.

2. A new song not originally in the musical was added in the movie. Composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg, "Suddenly" tells how Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) took care of Cosette after rescuing her from the Thénardiers.

3. This is director Tom Hooper and Helena Bonham Carter's second film. They first worked together in The King's Speech (2010)

4. Anne Hathaway had her hair cut short for her role as Fantine. The latter originally has blonde locks. In the film adaptation, Hathaway is nowhere near blonde.

5. Samantha Barks plays the love-struck Éponine, the very same role she had in the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables (2010).

6. This is English stage actor Eddie Redmayne's (Marius Pontmercy) breakthrough movie. Expect his career to skyrocket next year.

7. Colm Wilkinson, who originated the role of Jean Valjean in the West End and Broadway, has a minor role as the Bishop of Digne. Tony-winning actress Frances Ruffelle (the original Éponine in Broadway and West End) will have a cameo as a prostitute.

8. Character actors Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter play the Thénardiers. They previously worked together in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007).

9. Keep your eyes peeled for cameos by producer Cameron Mackintosh and composer Claude-Michel Schönberg.

10. Don't expect the cast's singing to be as good as the original Broadway and West End recordings. Hugh Jackman is no Colm Wilkinson.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013)

After the fluffy Alice in Wonderland (2010), Disney turns its eyes to the The Wizard of Oz. James Franco stars as Oscar Diggs with Rachel Weisz as the Wicked Witch of the East. 

It's going to be one long amusement ride—every bit as fake and CGI-heavy as Alice. Here's hoping Spider-Man director Sam Raimi injects a much needed tonic to Disney's pedestrian. overwrought movie. 

Oz: The Great and Powerful hits theaters March 2013.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Man of Steel (2013)

I grew up playing with Superman toys. Superman had bad taste in clothing then. His skin-tight costume looked like something someone would wear in the gym.

The Zack Snyder film hitting theaters next year features a dapper Man of Steel. The costume has been revamped with wrist guards and embossed lines along the waist.

Purists will be disappointed. Superman's iconic red underpants is nowhere to be seen. In an effort to make Superman look Kryptonian, the producers ditched it. Wearing undies, after all, is something only Earthlings would do.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Teaser Posters for The Wolverine and Stoker

The boundaries of design are converging. Movie posters are looking more and more like book covers and art pieces.  

Wolverine takes its cue from traditional oriental paintings. The Japanese-inspired insignia in the lower left corner is clever and the red/black contrast is perfect.  

Stoker is all whimsy. Fine details abound, enclosing Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska like a black wreath. It's so organic you wouldn't notice the numerous plot clues jammed in the poster: a black coffin, a spade, a grand piano, a spider. a skull, and God knows what else. It doesn't look like a movie poster and that makes it all the more memorable. If Tim Burton and Björk had a love child, this is how it would look like.