Festival Diary: SBIFF 2014

SBIFF or Santa Barbara International Film Festival (http://sbiff.org/) kicked off yesterday and will run until February 9th. It is the 29th edition of the festival. Yay! I am driving tomorrow morning to the seaside town and spend the next two days traveling the world again with the filmmakers as my guide.

Oscar frontrunner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) will be feted tomorrow night and I hope I can make it. Filipino festival favorite "Transit" (dir. Hannah Espia) will be screened during the festival along with Singapore's acclaimed film "Ilo Ilo" (dir. Anthony Chen). Fun times ahead.

Below are the movies that i have penciled and hope to catch during my two day trip.

29th SBIFF Screen Grab.

Eastern Boys (8:30 AM)
Mount Joy (10:20 AM)
Sam (1:00 PM)
Cold Eyes (4:40 PM)
Night Has Settled (7:00 PM)
The Gambler (10:10 PM)


Barefoot (11:00 AM)
Clownwise (1:20 PM)
Late Spring (4:00 PM)
Warren (7:00 PM)

Don't ask me anything about the movies as I haven't seen the program yet. I hope they are all good! I am particularly looking forward to watching "Barefoot" - it stars Evan Rachel Wood who, i think, is a remarkably underrated actress!

Raymond Lo

My Selfies With "The Monuments Men"

Clockwise: Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett,
Bill Murray, John Goodman
"The Monuments Men" will open next Friday, February 7, in the US and on Feb. 12th in the Philippines but before that here's a collection of selfies i took with the stars during the junket held in Beverly Hills recently.

My coverage story will come out soon in The Philippine Star (www.philstar.com) and there's a review embargo so i cannot tell you much about the movie or what i thought of it until after its premiere in Berlin.

I don't normally take selfies with the stars i interview (we need to maintain certain professional decorum, you know) but that day, with the permission of the organizers, this writer and many of us harangued the stars for selfies. They all obliged although, as you will notice, i am not quite adept at taking selfies yet. I hope to learn and take better selfies next time.

Raymond Lo


The Fault in our Stars
...Or what we all know as "The Fault in our Stars". The trailer went online today and i have seen it over twenty times already!!!

I just adore this movie (or book!) so i filched below details and info from the YouTube account of Fox.



Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them -- and us -- on an unforgettable journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, based upon the number-one bestselling novel by John Green, explores the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.

The Fault In Our Stars | Official Trailer | 20th Century FOX http://www.youtube.com/user/FoxMovies

"Alone Yet Not Alone" - Oscar Nominee No More

We are still over a month away from the March 2 Oscar ceremony but the news about the Oscars continue to keep coming. Most are related to Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity's late surge in guilds but today's announcement rescinding the best song nomination for the secular film "Alone Yet Not Alone" due to what the AMPAS deemed as unfair campaigning rocked the industry. This withdrawal of nomination is not unprecedented but has not occured in over 20 years.

Lesson learned, i suppose. Personally, the nomination did come as a surprise although after i listened to the song i thought it was actually good and worthy of the nomination. The added story of the singer's physical disability just heightened my admiration for the song. But "Let it Go" from Disney's "FROZEN" will win! You can bet your bottom dollar on it!

Here's the official press release from the Academy:

BEVERLY HILLS, CA — On Tuesday night, the Academy’s Board of Governors voted to rescind the Original Song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” music by Bruce Broughton and lyric by Dennis Spiegel. The decision was prompted by the discovery that Broughton, a former Governor and current Music Branch executive committee member, had emailed membe...rs of the branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period.

"No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President.

The Board determined that Broughton’s actions were inconsistent with the Academy’s promotional regulations, which provide, among other terms, that “it is the Academy's goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner. If any campaign activity is determined by the Board of Governors to work in opposition to that goal, whether or not anticipated by these regulations, the Board of Governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process.”

An additional nominee in the Original Song category will not be named. The remaining nominees in the category are:

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams

“Let It Go” from “Frozen” Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“The Moon Song” from “Her” Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze

“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson

Raymond De Asis Lo

SFFLA 2014 Diary, Final Day

While the Grammys was on yesterday, I was happily watching four great features and one very funny Oscar-nominated live-action short called "Why Do I Have to Do Everything?" -- the entire theater was laughing non-stop for nearly 10 minutes -- at the 15th Scandinavian Film Fest being held at the WGA Theater.

I missed the Swedish film "Reliance" (dir. William Olsson) in the morning because I spent the previous night watching Rafael Nadal’s finals match at the Australian Open. He lost, sadly.
Clockwise: Conversations on Serious Topics,
Two Lives, The Shooter, We Are the Best!
The first movie I saw was this poignant Lithuanian quasi-documentary "Conversations On Serious Topics" (dir. Giedre Beinoriute) which features interviews with 12 kids (some in foster care, some orphans, some with disabilities) and they all take on questions about love, loneliness, dreams and their concept of faith, marriage and divorce. It’s a brisk 65-minute minimalist film. Arresting and quite revealing!

My 2nd film was Denmark's "The Shooter" (dir. Annette K. Olesen), a sleek film that has all the hallmarks of a polished Hollywood thriller. The score and editing are impressive!

Georg Maas with the author
My 3rd film was Germany's entry to this years's Oscars "Two Lives" (dir. Georg Maas) and it was a suspenseful drama about a woman who is hiding a terrible secret about her identity... Great perfs! The director had an interesting Q&A after and he fielded questions about the inspiration of the film, the real-life stories from which he based his film, the authenticity of the location, and the poetic ending. Afterwards, I had a picture with him in the lobby. Not a selfie, though.

Georg Maas, James Koenig
My favorite film yesterday was Lukas Moodyson's award-winning, buoyant and celebratory "We Are the Best!" It is a film about 3 girls who formed a punk band despite being told that punk was dead! A lovely film that pulsates with life and youthful exuberance! This one earned the biggest applause from me!

Yesterday was the Fest’s final day. It was my first year attending and I was so impressed by the film selections and the organized and congenial atmosphere of the festival. Kudos to festival founder/director James Koenig for a great event!

Raymond Lo

SFFLA 2014 Diary

I saw four films today at the Scandinavian Film Festval held at the WGA! I saw 3 great dramas and 1 bad horror movie.

My favorite is the Swedish "Call Girl" (dir. Mikael Marcimain) -- a true account of the lurid and explosive sex scandal that rocked Sweden involving the highest officials of the government during the late 70s. It's easily the most accomplished of the four, filmmaking-wise, that is.

I also enjoyed the the curiously titled "Mother, I Love You" (dir. Janis Nords) from Latvia -- a heartwarming drama about a boy who is struggling with his relationship with his mom and his tendency to solve his juvenile mistakes with equally juvenile solutions... 

Finland's "The Disciple" (dir. Ulrika Bengtsin), set in an island during the late '30s, is an allegorical tale of a family's suffering from the abusive treatment of their patriarch -- the film's photography is so beautiful and painterly!

Iceland's "Frost" (dir. Reynir Lyngdal) is my least favorite of the four movies. It is another variation of that lazy found footage genre that, to its credit, managed to elicit considerable thrills but failed to deliver the suspense it tried so hard to build --- halfway through the movie, i was wishing for Olaf or Elsa to show up and belt those memorable "Frozen" songs! The location where they shot the movie is breathtaking however.

SFFLA runs until today January 26th. It runs annually during winter.

Raymond Lo

Welcome Accidental Readers

I know you got here by accident. Thank you and Welcome. I hope you will come back later for exciting stories, news, reviews of my (and hopefully yours, too) favorite stars, movies, songs, plays and musicals. I will be writing mostly about movies as it is my ultimate passion but i will occasionally dabble as well in things about life (and love, hopefully my own) and all its challenges and excitements... I hope to be your acquaintance and friend as I embark on this new journey of online journalism...

Oh, I have to introduce myself.

I am Raymond De Asis Lo. I have been writing about Hollywood for more than 8 years and i have more than 100 published stories, interviews and reviews. You can check them out by going to www.philstar.com (it is the online page of The Philippines Star, one of the top, if not the top, newspapers in the Philippines.) You can search for my full name when you reach the website and there you will find the stories i have written.

This blog is my attempt to supplement my published articles with anecdotes and short stories from my various activities as a hollywood correspondent and a film enthusiast.

I watch as much as 125 movies a year and i plan to make it at least 200 after a friend I recently made told me that he saw 600+ movies in 2013! That really made me so envious. Positively, of course.

There is another blog I started and kept for some years called "The World is Yellow" --- it has fallen victim to my own neglect and is now pretty much a big mess. You can still check it out but i intend to make this one a better and improved version of it. I hope to keep the content of this journal current, relevant and substantive.

Thank you for indulging me with this rather lengthy introduction. I hope to see you around and please do post your comments and suggestions on ways to improve this page. All positive feedback, i hope...

Raymond De Asis Lo