Idina Menzel, Neil Patrick Harris lead 2014 Tony noms

Adele Dazeem, er, am sorry, Idina Menzel and Neil Patrick Harris lead this year's batch of Tony nominees for their respective performances in "If/Then" and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch". Idina's musical failed to snag a slot in the coveted Best Musical category but Neil's got a nod for Best Revival of a Musical.

Other notable musicals like "Bullets Over Broadway", "Rocky" and "The Bridges of Madison County" did not get nods in the Best Musical category but were nominated in other categories.

The Tonys will be handed out in June.

Full list below:

*Best Play
Act One
Author: James Lapine
Producers: Lincoln Center Theater, André Bishop, Adam Siegel, Hattie K. Jutagir
All The Way
Author: Robert Schenkkan
Producers: Jeffrey Richards, Louise Gund, Jerry Frankel, Stephanie P. McClelland, Double Gemini Productions, Rebecca Gold, Scott M. Delman, Barbara H. Freitag, Harvey Weinstein, Gene Korf, William Berlind, Caiola Productions, Gutterman Chernoff, Jam Theatricals, Gabrielle Palitz, Cheryl Wiesenfeld, Will Trice, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Repertory Theater
Casa Valentina
Author: Harvey Fierstein
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Barry Grove, Colin Callender, Robert Cole, Frederick Zollo, The Shubert Organization
Mothers and Sons
Author: Terrence McNally
Producers: Tom Kirdahy, Roy Furman, Paula Wagner & Debbie Bisno, Barbara Freitag & Loraine Alterman Boyle, Hunter Arnold, Paul Boskind, Ken Davenport, Lams Productions, Mark Lee & Ed Filipowski, Roberta Pereira/Brunish-Trinchero, Sanford Robertson, Tom Smedes & Peter Stern, Jack Thomas/Susan Dietz
Outside Mullingar
Author: John Patrick Shanley
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Barry Grove
*Best Musical
After Midnight
Producers: Scott Sanders Productions, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Furman, Candy Spelling, Starry Night Entertainment, Hal Newman, Allan S. Gordon/Adam S. Gordon, James L. Nederlander, Robert K. Kraft, Catherine and Fred Adler, Robert Appel, Jeffrey Bolton, Scott M. Delman, James Fantaci, Ted Liebowitz, Stephanie P. McClelland, Sandy Block, Carol Fineman, Marks-Moore-Turnbull Group, Stephen & Ruth Hendel, Tom Kirdahy
Producers: Disney Theatrical Productions, Thomas Schumacher
Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Producers: Paul Blake, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Jeffrey A. Sine, Richard A. Smith, Mike Bosner, Harriet N. Leve/Elaine Krauss, Terry Schnuck, Orin Wolf, Patty Baker/Good Productions, Roger Faxon, Larry Magid, Kit Seidel, Lawrence S. Toppall, Fakston Productions/Mary Solomon, William Court Cohen, John Gore, BarLor Productions, Matthew C. Blank, Tim Hogue, Joel Hyatt, Marianne Mills, Michael J. Moritz, Jr., StylesFour Productions, Brunish & Trinchero, Jeremiah J. Harris
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Producers: Joey Parnes, S.D. Wagner, John Johnson, 50 Church Street Productions, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Catherine & Fred Adler, Rhoda Herrick, Kathleen K. Johnson, Megan Savage, ShadowCatcher Entertainment, Ron Simons, True Love Productions, Jamie deRoy, Four Ladies & One Gent, John Arthur Pinckard, Greg Nobile, Stewart Lane & Bonnie Comley, Exeter Capital/Ted Snowdon, Ryan Hugh Mackey, Cricket-CTM Media/Mano-Horn Productions, Dennis Grimaldi/Margot Astrachan, Hello Entertainment/Jamie Bendell, Michael T. Cohen/Joe Sirola, Joseph & Carson Gleberman/William Megevick, Green State Productions, The Hartford Stage, The Old Globe
*Best Revival of a Play
The Cripple of Inishmaan
Producers: Michael Grandage Company, Arielle Tepper Madover, L.T.D. Productions, Stacey Mindich, Starry Night Entertainment, Scott M. Delman, Martin McCallum, Stephanie P. McClelland, Zeilinger Productions, The Shubert Organization
The Glass Menagerie
Producers: Jeffrey Richards, John N. Hart Jr., Jerry Frankel, Lou Spisto/Lucky VIII, INFINITY Stages, Scott M. Delman, Jam Theatricals, Mauro Taylor, Rebecca Gold, Michael Palitz, Charles E. Stone, Will Trice, GFour Productions, American Repertory Theater
A Raisin in the Sun
Producers: Scott Rudin, Roger Berlind, Eli Bush, Jon B. Platt, Scott M. Delman, Roy Furman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Ruth Hendel, Sonia Friedman/Tulchin Bartner, The Araca Group, Heni Koenigsberg, Daryl Roth, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Joey Parnes, S.D. Wagner, John Johnson
Twelfth Night
Producers: Sonia Friedman Productions, Scott Landis, Roger Berlind, Glass Half Full Productions/Just for Laughs Theatricals, 1001 Nights Productions, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Jane Bergère, Paula Marie Black, Rupert Gavin, Stephanie P. McClelland, Shakespeare's Globe Centre USA, Max Cooper, Tanya Link Productions, Shakespeare Road, Shakespeare's Globe
*Best Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Producers: David Binder, Jayne Baron Sherman, Barbara Whitman, Latitude Link, Patrick Catullo, Raise the Roof, Paula Marie Black, Colin Callender, Ruth Hendel, Sharon Karmazin, Martian Entertainment, Stacey Mindich, Eric Schnall, The Shubert Organization
Les Misérables
Producer: Cameron Mackintosh
Producers: Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Harold Wolpert, Julia C. Levy, Sydney Beers, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, David Mirvish, Barry and Fran Weissler, Elizabeth Armstrong, Mary Jo and Ted Shen
*Best Book of a Musical
Chad Beguelin
Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Douglas McGrath
Bullets Over Broadway
Woody Allen
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Robert L. Freedman
*Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin
The Bridges of Madison County
Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Music: Steven Lutvak
Lyrics: Robert L. Freedman & Steven Lutvak
Music: Tom Kitt
Lyrics: Brian Yorkey
*Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Samuel Barnett, Twelfth Night
Bryan Cranston, All The Way
Chris O'Dowd, Of Mice and Men
Mark Rylance, Richard III
Tony Shalhoub, Act One
*Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
LaTanya Richardson Jackson, A Raisin in the Sun
Cherry Jones, The Glass Menagerie
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
Estelle Parsons, The Velocity of Autumn
*Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Ramin Karimloo, Les Misérables
Andy Karl, Rocky
Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
*Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Mary Bridget Davies, A Night with Janis Joplin
Sutton Foster, Violet
Idina Menzel, If/Then
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Kelli O'Hara, The Bridges of Madison County
*Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Reed Birney, Casa Valentina
Paul Chahidi, Twelfth Night
Stephen Fry, Twelfth Night
Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night
Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie
*Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Sarah Greene, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun
Anika Noni Rose, A Raisin in the Sun
Mare Winningham, Casa Valentina
*Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Cabaret
Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway
Joshua Henry, Violet
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Jarrod Spector, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
*Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Linda Emond, Cabaret
Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Anika Larsen, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Adriane Lenox, After Midnight
Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
*Best Scenic Design of a Play
Beowulf Boritt, Act One
Bob Crowley, The Glass Menagerie
Es Devlin, Machinal
Christopher Oram, The Cripple of Inishmaan
*Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Julian Crouch, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Santo Loquasto, Bullets Over Broadway
*Best Costume Design of a Play
Jane Greenwood, Act One
Michael Krass, Machinal
Rita Ryack, Casa Valentina
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night
*Best Costume Design of a Musical
Linda Cho, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway
Arianne Phillips, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Isabel Toledo, After Midnight
*Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Jane Cox, Machinal
Natasha Katz, The Glass Menagerie
Japhy Weideman, Of Mice and Men
*Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Christopher Akerlind, Rocky
Howell Binkley, After Midnight
Donald Holder, The Bridges of Madison County
*Best Sound Design of a Play
Alex Baranowski, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
Dan Moses Schreier, Act One
Matt Tierney, Machinal
*Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski, After Midnight
Tim O'Heir, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Mick Potter, Les Misérables
Brian Ronan, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
*Best Direction of a Play
Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Michael Grandage, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun
John Tiffany, The Glass Menagerie
*Best Direction of a Musical
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Leigh Silverman, Violet
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
*Best Choreography
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Steven Hoggett & Kelly Devine, Rocky
Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway
*Best Orchestrations
Doug Besterman, Bullets Over Broadway
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Steve Sidwell, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Jonathan Tunick, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder


"Transit" earns 8 Gawad Urian noms

One of my favorite Filipino films in recent years received a commanding eight nominations from the leading critics group in the Philippines. Three Filipino films ("Death March", "Norte", "On the Job or OTJ") that debuted at last year's Cannes Film Festival also received multiple nominations.

Below is the full list of nominees to the 37th Gawad Urian. Winners will be announced in June.

Good luck to my favorite Hannah Espia and "Transit"!

Best Picture
Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Riddles of my Homecoming
Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti

Best Actor
Mark Gil (A Philipino Story)
Joel Torre (OTJ)
Mimi Juarenza (Quick Change)
Sid Lucero (Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan)
Ping Medina (Transit)
Jhong Hilario (Badil)
Alex Medina (Babagwa)

Best Actress
Nora Aunor (Mabuti)
Vilma Santos (Ekstra)
Angeli Bayani (Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan)
Cherie Gil (Sonata)
Eugene Domingo (Instant Mommy)
Rustica Carpio (Ano ang Kulay ng mga Nakalimutang Pangarap?)
Agot Isidro (Mga Anino ng Kahapon)
Vivian Velez (Bendor)
Lorna Tolentino (Burgos)
Teri Malvar (Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita)

Best Supporting Actor
Junjun Quintana (A Philippino Story)
Art Acuna (Kabisera)
John Arcilla (Metro Manila)
Joey Marquez (OTJ)
Yul Servo (Porno)
Carlo Aquino (Porno)
Victor Basa (Lauriana)
Cesar Montano (Alamat ni China Doll)
Archie Alemania (Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan)
Bor Ocampo (Dukit)

Best Supporting Actress
Angel Aquino (Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita)
Angel Aquino (Porno)
Mitch Smith (Angustia)
Ruby Ruiz (Ekstra)
Jasmine Curtis-Smith (Transit)
Raquel Villavicencio (Dukit)

Best Direction
Erik Matti (OTJ)
Lav Diaz (Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan)
Jeffrey Jeturian (Ekstra)
Peque Gallaga and Lorie Reyes (Sonata)
Arnel Mardoquio (Riddles of My Homecoming)
Hannah Espia (Transit)
Alvin Yapan (Mga Anino ng Kahapon)
Whammy Alcazaren (Islands)
Chito Rono (Badil)
Mes de Guzman (Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti)
Adolf Alix Jr. (Porno)
Bing Lao (Dukit)

Best Screenplay
Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Death March
Bing Lao (Dukit)

Best Production Design
Riddles of my Homecoming

Best Music
Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Riddles of My Homecoming

Best Cinematography
Riddles of My Homecoming
Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan

Best Editing
Riddles of My Homecoming
Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan

Best Sound
Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti
Death March

Natatanging Gawad Urian Award: Mike de Leon

Raymond De Asis Lo

Iran's "Please Do Not Disturb" to open Film Festival Flix

The 2011 Iranian film "Please Do Not Disturb" will open this season's Film Festival Flix series on May 8, 2014 at 7 in the evening. Laemmle NoHo 7 (address: 5240 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood) will host the premiere.

Written, produced and directed by noted filmmaker Mohsen Abdolvahab, "Please Do Not Disturb" is set in contemporary Tehran, the capital city of Iran, and portrays the city life in three distinctive episodes of sentiment, sensitivity and wit. In the first story, a young woman who has been beaten by her husband is about to file a restraining order, while her husband tries to talk her out of it in fear of career embarrassment. The next story is about a clergyman whose wallet and documents have been stolen and follows him as he tries to get the documents back from the thief. The last story is of an elderly couple alone in a building whose TV has broken and they are afraid of opening the door for the young repairman who has come to help them.

The film stars Baran Kosari, Afshin Hashemi, Hedayat Hasemi, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh, Mohsen Kazemi, and Hamed Behdad.

Tickets are available at the box office or at the fest's web page:

6:00PM: Red Carpet Photos and Pre-Event Cocktails at Michael Roud Photography.
7:30PM “Please Do Not Disturb” Screens
9:00PM: Q&A
9:20PM: After Party at Eclectic Wine Bar & Grille, 5156 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood.

Film Festival Flix has flipped the old distribution model to accommodate changing times and shifting viewer habits. In past years, distributors have used the internet to drive audiences to theaters. Film Festival Flix is using theatrical openings and a monthly nationwide theatrical premiere series to drive audiences to its virtual studio and distribution channels. And it’s working. Film Festival Flix’s monthly theatrical event series offers VIP passes, Q&A’s with filmmakers and social interaction with like-minded cinephiles in the comfort of local towns and cities nationwide.


Film Review: Drug War

HK actor Louis Koo (Timmy Choi) "Drug War"

I spent more than five hours last night watching and re-watching "Drug War", the riveting crime thriller from celebrated Hong Kong director Johnnie To. It’s soooo good!

Until now, I am still in complete awe of how the tone and energy of the movie was quickly established within the very first minute! There was no unnecessary character exposition, no unnecessary setup scenes. It’s a non-stop thrill-ride that delivers all the goods. From the first sequence to the explosive and unexpected finale, the action and suspense just would not let up. This is not a pretend thriller – this is one of the very best! I compare it to Korea’s "Cold Eyes" (which I saw at the Santa Barbara Fest recently) for its intensity and tight storytelling.

A movie is good when I am forced to hit replay as soon as the end credits start to roll up. A movie is great when after watching it the second time you are still fighting the urge to watch it the third time because otherwise you will be spending your next day at the office with embarrassing dark circles around your eyes. A movie is great when I can’t stop talking about it.

"Drug War" is available on DVD and Blu-ray now. Rent it, stream it, watch it.

Raymond De Asis Lo

30th LA Asian-Pacific Film Festival

The 30th edition of SoCal’s biggest film festival focusing on films from 22 countries in the Asia-Pacific region will kick off May 1st and will run through the 11th.

Still from "To Be Takei"
 Sundance hit documentary, “To Be Takei”, will be the opening night film. The film chronicles actor, artist, activist and icon George Takei’s life history with wit, grace and whimsy: from his days on the popular television series “Star Trek” to his civil rights and marriage equality advocacy.

The Festival Centerpiece presentation will be the road-trip comedy “Farah Goes Bang” from Meera Menon. The film follows a woman in her 20s who tries to lose her virginity while on the road campaigning for presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.  The film won for Menon the Nora Ephron Prize for groundbreaking woman filmmaker at the recent Tribeca Film Festival.

Closing out this year’s celebration is the Pan-Asian culinary/romantic drama “Final Recipe”, a Korean-Thai co-production starring Malaysian superstar Michelle Yeoh and directed by award winning filmmaker Gina Kim. The film is about a man who is determined to save his ailing grandfather’s restaurant with a victory on the top-rated Shanghai reality show “Final Recipe.” This is the latest feature from Kim, whose works have been spotlighted at the Film Festival since the year 2000.

The Festival will also pay a special tribute to Hollywood legends: Sessue Hayakawa and Tyrus Wong

Screenings will take place at various locations. Directors Guild of America will hold screenings during the Festival’s Opening Weekend. 

The Festival will also screen films at CGV Cinemas in LA’s Koreatown (May 2-8), at the Japanese American National Museum’s Tateuchi Democracy Forum in Little Tokyo (May 5-11), and at the historic Art Theatre in Long Beach on Saturday, May 10.

Official Selections:

The 2014 documentary competition line-up includes:
• 9-MAN by Ursula Liang
• CAMBODIAN SON by Masahiro Sugano
• FRED HO'S LAST YEAR by Steven De Castro
• JEEPNEY by Esy Casey
• LORDVILLE by Rea Tajiri
• STORIES FROM TOHOKU by Dianne Fukami and Eli Olson

The 2014 narrative competition line-up includes:
• BRAHMIN BULLS by Mahesh Pailoor
• CHU AND BLOSSOM by Charles Chu and Gavin Kelly
• CICADA by Dean Yamada
• FARAH GOES BANG by Meera Menon
• A LEADING MAN by Steven Kung

The 2014 international showcase line-up includes:
• 100 DAYS (Taiwan) by Henry Chan
• CONCRETE CLOUDS (Thailand) by Lee Chatametikool
• FIRESTORM (Hong Kong) by Alan Yuen
• HIDE & SEEK (South Korea) by Huh Jung
• ICE POISON (Taiwan/Myanmar) by Midi Z
• OBJECTS IN MIRROR (Iran) by Narges Abyar
• ONCE UPON A TIME IN VIETNAM (Vietnam) by Dustin Tri Nguyen
• THE PINKIE (Japan) by Lisa Takeba
• SAGARMATHA (Indonesia/India/Nepal) by Emil Heradi
• THUY (South Korea) by Kim Jae-han
• A VENGEFUL HEART (Vietnam) by Victor Vu

Bernard Palanca, Art Acuna "Kabisera"

The 2014 Festival’s national spotlight, “The New Face of Philippine Cinema” includes:
• BLUE BUSAMANTE by Miko Livelo
• DEVOTION by Alvin Yapan
• KABISERA by Alfonso “Borgy” Torre III
• REKORDER by Mikhail Red
• SHIFT by Siege Ledesma

The 2014 lineup of special presentations includes:
• AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS BY Stephen Dypiangco and Patrick Epino

For program information, a complete listing of sponsors and partners, and to purchase tickets, log on to or contact Visual Communications at (213) 680-4462 x59.  Tickets are on sale now.

Raymond De Asis Lo

Coverage: HBO's Silicon Valley

Below is the text of my story about my interview with Mike Judge last January. We talked about his new HBO comedy "Silicon Valley". For the online link to the story, click here:

MANILA, Philippines - There’s a new comedy from cult favorite Mike Judge (Office Space, Beavis & Butt-head and King of the Hill) that premiered on HBO Signature over the weekend. Aptly titled Silicon Valley, the series brings Mike’s irreverent brand of humor to that patch of real estate in Northern California where the head offices of such information technology giants as Apple, Oracle, Facebook and Google, among many others are located. It is also the area where more billionaires and millionaires have been created in the past decade more than any other cities in the United States (and perhaps the world, too!)

And, Silicon Valley is also the same area where one can find the largest concentration of nerds and geeks in the world, well, rich nerds and geeks, to be precise.

Silicon Valley, the HBO series, attempts to bring out the laughs out of this seemingly awkward fusion of incredible wealth and the unlikely bunch of people who would rather spend time working on their next inventions or their play stations rather than spending their money on lavish parties and all the typical things that the typical rich do.

The series is partly inspired by Mike’s own experiences working as a Silicon Valley engineer during the ’80s. Helping Mike with the writing is Alec Berg, the award-winning writer for Seinfeld and HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.

This writer saw a preview of the pilot episode recently and it’s an understatement to say that it is funny because it’s more than funny. The humor rings true and it never feels contrived nor condescending. Of course, there are people who will take issue with the choices Mike and Alec made in creating stereotypical characters, but, hey, this is a comedy and Mike Judge is not really known for his safe humor.

“I lived up there for a while and I know it very well,” Mike told this writer during our roundtable interview at the HBO headquarters in Santa Monica, California. “I’ve been wanting to do something like that for a while.”

“It occurred to me that a lot of these types of people like Paul Allen, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Wozniak, if they had been born 200 years ago, they probably would not be the richest people in the world or not even close. They will probably be well-paid by a university or navigational engineers or something and so it is interesting to me that seeing these types of personalities who in high school were not the alpha males and now they’re the richest people in the world but they are still socially awkward — that just seems a good area for comedy,” he added.

The story revolves around four friends who are all dreaming of creating that next big thing that will make them the next area millionaires. Richard (Thomas Middleditch) is an introverted computer programmer living in the Hacker Hostel start-up incubator along with his best friend, Big Head (Josh Brener), pompous Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) and dry-witted Dinesh (Kumail Nanjani). These social misfits live under the watch of Erlich (T.J. Miller), a self-satisfied dotcom millionaire who lets them stay in his house for free — as long as he gets a 10 percent stake in their projects.

“It’s a satire, yeah, probably,” Mike replied when asked how should the audience respond to the show. “It is what it is, I guess. A little bit of reflection (of the Silicon Valley inhabitants), I suppose.”

Mike revealed that they initially envisioned a dramedy series about the pitfalls of becoming an overnight millionaire in Silicon Valley but their ideas evolved after they came to know more people and after they were given a full series pick-up by HBO.

“The more research we did, the more funny things we started to discover about this world — some of it, I know already… There’s more money than there is in Hollywood but people aren’t really quite sure how to enjoy themselves with it.”

Their research also confirmed one nice fact about these dotcom millionaires: They live frugal and modest lifestyles. “Nobody drives a fancy car. Sandy Hill Road has a trillion dollar in investment money and it looks like nothing typical like an office park, nondescript.”

Silicon Valley will have eight episodes this season. This writer was not informed if it will follow the story arc introduced in the pilot episode but, nevertheless, it should be one fun series to follow. I know a friend (yes, it is you Christine Macalalad) who saw the pilot episode last week (the show started airing one week earlier in the US) and she was raving about it on Facebook for a couple of days.

In the Philippines, the series airs Sunday nights at 9 on HBO Signature. In the US, it airs Sundays on HBO after Game of Thrones and before Veep.

Raymond De Asis Lo

Review: Noah

Saw a late screening of the controversial film NOAH last night and I was surprised by how the movie still managed to disappoint me despite the low expectations i had going into it... Simply put, it's an ambitious epic but a spectacular failure.

In all fairness, the first half of the movie would have been thrilling if they did not frame it in the biblical setting and they did not reference Adam and Eve and the story of creation. It offered an interesting thesis on the story of the great flood which would have made more sense if it was a History channel documentary.

I also would have been less harsh if the movie's title was not "Noah"; if the movie's director was Michael Bay and not Darren Aronofsky; and if Emma Watson was not accorded preferential billing --- she was the weakest actor here!

I would have also been more inclined to encourage you to watch this movie and form your own opinion if it had a decent post-flood plot and not the typical case where the chief villain survives the flood and challenges Noah to a duel just before they discovered land.

Lastly, I would have likely applauded during the end credits because i liked the song used but i already decided that i hated the movie too much to even bother.

Writer/director Darren Aronofsky lost one admirer in me. But i think he will be able to redeem himself next time.

Disclosure: I am a catholic.

Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Raymond De Asis Lo

Cannes 2014 Official Line-up

Here's the 49 official films screening at Cannes. There are 18 Competition films and notably missing are films from China and Korea although both countries are represented well in the Un Certain Regard section. Australian filmmaker Jane Campion is head of jury this year.

Oh, I wish i could go to Cannes this year. :(

One day, someday.

List below:

1) "Grace of Monaco" (dir. Olivier Dahan, France-U.S.-Belgium-Italy) Nicole Kidman stars.

2) "The Captive" (dir. Atom Egoyan, Canada)
Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson

3) "Clouds of Sils Maria" (dir. Olivier Assayas, France-Switzerland-Germany)
Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloe Grace Moretz

4) "Foxcatcher" (dir. Bennett Miller, U.S.)

5) "Goodbye to Language 3D" (dir. Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland)

6) "The Homesman" (dir. Tommy Lee Jones, U.S.)
Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank

7) "Jimmy’s Hall" (dir. Ken Loach, U.K.-Ireland-France)

8) "Leviathan" (dir. Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia)

9) "Le Meraviglie" (dir. Alice Rohrwacher, Italy-Switzerland-Germany)

10) "Maps to the Stars" (dir. David Cronenberg, U.S.)

11) "Mommy" (dir. Xavier Dolan, France-Canada)

12) "Saint Laurent" (dir. Bertrand Bonello, France)

13) "The Search" (dir. Michel Hazanavicius, France)
Berenice Bejo, Annette Bening

14) "Still the Water" (dir. Naomi Kawase, Japan)

15) "Mr. Turner" (dir. Mike Leigh, U.K.)

16) "Timbuktu" (dir. Abderrahmane Sissako, France)

17) "Two Days, One Night" (dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium)
Marion Cotillard 

18) "Wild Tales" (dir. Damian Szifron, Argentina-Spain)

19) "Winter Sleep" (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey-Germany-France)

20) "Coming Home" (dir. Zhang Yimou, China)
21) "How to Train Your Dragon 2" (dir. Dean DeBlois, U.S.)
22) "Les Gens du Monde" (dir. Yves Jeuland, France)

23) "Party Girl" (dir. Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis, France)
24) "Amour Fou" (dir. Jessica Hausner, Austria-Luxembourg-Germany)
25) "Bird People" (dir. Pascale Ferran, France)
26) "The Blue Room" (dir. Mathieu Amalric, France)
27) "Charlie’s Country" (dir. Rolf de Heer, Australia)
28) "A Girl at My Door" (dir. July Jung, South Korea)
29) "Eleanor Rigby" (dir. Ned Benson, U.S.)
30) "Fantasia" (dir. Wang Chao, China)
31) "Force Majeure" (dir. Ruben Ostlund, Sweden)
32) "Harcheck Mi Headro" (dir. Keren Yedaya, Israel)
33) "Hermosa Juventud" (dir. Jaime Rosales, Spain)
34) "Incompresa" (dir. Asia Argento, Italy-France)
35) "Jauja" (dir. Lisandro Alonso, Denmark-U.S.-Argentina)
36) "Lost River" (dir. Ryan Gosling, U.S.)
37) "Run" (dir. Philippe Lacote, France-Ivory Coast)
38) "Salt of the Earth" (dir. Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, France-Italy-Brazil)
39) "Snow in Paradise" (dir. Andrew Hulme, U.K.)
40) "Titli" (dir. Kanu Behl, India)
41) "Xenia" (dir. Panos Koutras, Greece-France-Belgium)


42) "The Rover" (dir. David Michod, Australia)
43) "The Salvation" (dir. Kristian Levring, Denmark
44) "The Target" (dir. Yoon Hong-seung, South Korea)

45) "Bridges of Sarajevo" (dir. Aida Begic, Isild le Besco, Leonardo di Constanzo, Pedro Costa, Jean-Luc Godard, Kamen Kalev, Sergei Loznitsa, Vincenzo Marra, Ursula Meier, Vladimir Perisic, Cristi Puiu, Marc Recha, Angela Schanelec)
46) "Caricaturistes: Fantassins de la democratie" (dir. Stephanie Valloatto, France)
47) "Maidan" (dir. Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine)
48) "Red Army" (dir. Polsky Gabe, Russia)
49) "Silvered Water" (dir. Mohammed Oussama and Wiam Bedirxan, Syria-France)


Movies: March 2014 List

March was a slow month for me. (FYI - April is also proving to be another slow month - but i hope to catch up soon!)

I only saw 15 movies this month and more than half of them were on DVD but i am quite excited because i was able to finally get to see in full the controversial 1990s film "Kids" from notorious filmmaker Larry Clark.

I posted a quick review of "Kids" on my Facebook page and here's what i said about it:

"The movie has not lost its edge 19 years into its life. It is still shocking, disturbing and even disgusting but it is a timeless portrait of a culture in decline (or in transition, if you will.) If you are still wondering why the likes of Miley Cyrus can perform lewdly on live TV, this movie will provide you the answer -- and more! An important piece of American cinema! Watch it but be warned: It's not gonna be easy."

From one notorious 90s director to a contemporary provocateur, Lar Von Trier's latest film, the highly-controversial "Nymphomaniac" finally reached US shores and I was among those who watched it on its opening night. I have seen both volumes and I was not disappointed. It's a masterpiece!

And from the Philippines, I saw two new movies that surprised me for their bold (I am using the word in Filipino cinema setting) attempt at providing a fresh narrative style to their genres that have proven to be successful at luring local audiences to the cinema.

"When the Love is Gone", director Andoy Ranay's chic adaptation of Danny Zialcita's classic melodrama "Nagalit ang Buwan sa Haba ng Gabi"), is a mostly satisfying throwback to the glossy melodramas popularized by Viva Films in the 80s. This remake is a surprise treat! The production design and photography are splendid! The narrative understandably takes a lot of detour but it was skillfully told (well, mostly) and edited. If not for the lazy kidnapping device and the anticlimactic revelation close to the end of the movie, I would have enjoyed this movie more.

Another Filipino movie that I enjoyed was "Starting Over Again" (dir. Olivia Lamasan). It's a refreshing take on the romantic-comedy genre as the story is told from the perspective of the ex-girlfriend who is desperately trying to reconnect with her lost love. The usual villain, the current girlfriend, becomes the romantic heroine and the movie ends in an unconventional manner. However, the filmmakers decision to extend the movie and provide a happy ending to the ex-girlfriend ruined the true ending of the movie: When the leading man finally gets to propose to his "true" leading lady and gets the sweet "yes" that was denied him at the start of the movie. The cameos at the end were irritating and cost the movie to lose a star rating from me.

Here are the fifteen movies I saw this month:

The Deadly Game (UK) DVD - 1 Star
Fire With Fire (US) DVD - 1 Star
Prisoners of the Sun (Australia) DVD - 1 Star
Starting Over Again (Philippines) - 3 Stars (I would have given this a 4-star rating)
Disconnect (US) DVD - 2 1/2 Stars
El Mar (Spain) DVD - 3 1/2 Stars
Touch of Pink (Canada) DVD - 2 Stars
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (US) - 2 1/2 Stars
When the Love is Gone (Philippines) DVD  - 3 Stars
The Last Year (US) DVD  - 1 Star
Back Soon (US) DVD - 2 Stars
Eating Out (US) DVD - 3 Stars
Kids (US) DVD - 5 Stars
Muppets: Most Wanted (US) - 3 Stars
Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 (US/Denmark) 4 1/2 Stars

My favorite movie this month is "Nymphomaniac" because it delivered everything that it teased! The movie has all the hard-core sex and graphic nudity to embarrass just about anybody but Von Trier himself yet the movie never feels tasteless at all. Not a minute! What the audience gets is an almost spiritual examination of that interconnectivity between sex and depression, lust and love, death and freedom... It is profound, funny and is as informative as it is instructional. Truly a work of a mad genius!

Raymond De Asis Lo

Quick Review: The Grandmaster

Took me many months but I finally got to see Wong Kar Wai's latest masterpiece and, oh, what a glorious film it is!

"The Grandmaster" masterfully utilizes the legendary story of Ip Man, Bruce Lee's teacher, as a vehicle to tell the history of martial arts. It's rich, lustrous, detailed, elegant --- just magnificent! The film title is also an apt description of Wong Kar Wai himself. He is a grandmaster of cinema! His films have this power to captivate and hypnotize an audience.

The cast is outstanding, the fight sequences: amazing, the photography is simply breathtaking!

Watch it on DVD now.

Raymond De Asis Lo

Bong Joon-Ho's "Snowpiercer" to open 20th LA Film Festival

Hey fellow film buffs!

The 20th edition of the Los Angeles International Film Festival will take place on June 11 through June 19.

The festival is now taking in credential applications.

Yesterday, they also announced the movie they selected to open this year's fest. The opening night film is "Snowpiercer", the highly anticipated and acclaimed new film from Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho ("The Host", "Mother".)

Here's the full press release:

LOS ANGELES (April 1, 2014) – Today the Los Angeles Film Festival, presented by Film Independent in conjunction with Presenting Media Sponsor the Los Angeles Times and Host Partner L.A. LIVE, announced the North American Premiere of Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer as the opening night film, which will take place Wednesday, June 11. The film’s release is set for June 27th from RADiUS-TWC.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Los Angeles Film Festival showcases diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision in new American and international cinema and is produced by Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that also produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and Film Independent at LACMA Film Series. The 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival will screen a diverse slate of nearly 200 feature films, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 30 countries, along with signature programs such as the Filmmaker Retreat, Music in Film Nights at The GRAMMY Museum®, Poolside Chats, Master Classes and launching at this year’s festival is a special section called LA Muse focused on the city of Los Angeles as an inspiration for filmmakers and artists.

"Snowpiercer is a wild ride and a spectacular way to open the 20th Anniversary of the Los Angeles Film Festival which is dedicated to the visionary spirit of L.A. that inspires artists around the world," said Stephanie Allain, Festival Director.

"I’m thrilled to have Bong Joon-ho’s amazing Snowpiercer to kick off the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival," said David Ansen, Artistic Director for the Festival. "As fans of The Host and Mother know, Bong takes popular genres to a visionary new level. Here he puts us on a speeding train in a frozen post-apocalyptic future — in the company of Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Song Kang-ho, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, Jamie Bell and John Hurt — and treats us to a wild, funny and darkly provocative ride. You’ve never seen anything quite like it!"

According to RADiUS co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego: "We are thrilled Snowpiercer has been selected for the Los Angeles Film Festival’s coveted opening night slot. David and his team always curate a terrific slate and we look forward to kicking things off with Bong’s sci-fi masterpiece."

Film Independent Members enjoy pre-sale benefits beginning April 8 and passes will be available to the general public on April 22. The full line-up will be announced on Tuesday, May 6. In addition to access to screenings and events (even after they sell out), Festival passes provide access to a series of networking receptions and entry to the Filmmaker Lounge, where Festival pass holders can interact with Festival filmmakers and professionals in the film community. General admission tickets to individual films go on sale beginning May 20. Contact the Ticket Office for passes, tickets and event information by calling 866.FILM.FEST (866.345.6337) or visit The Festival Guide, the comprehensive source for all movie info, screenings, locations, and related events is produced by the Los Angeles Times. It will top the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, June 8 in Los Angeles and Orange County and be made available throughout downtown during the nine-day event.

The Los Angeles Film Festival programming team is comprised of Festival Director Stephanie Allain, Artistic Director David Ansen, Associate Director of Programming Doug Jones, Senior Programmer Maggie Mackay, Programmers Jenn Wilson, Drea Clark, Hebe Tabachnik and Jennifer Murphy as well as Guest Curators of LA Muse section Elvis Mitchell and Roya Rastegar.

End of Press Release

Raymond De Asis Lo

My Chris Evans Story

Here's my coverage of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" that was published yesterday on The Philippine Star. The online link is here:

My full story below. I also took a wide shot of the actual press conference to give my readers a better perspective of how the 40-minute event transpired.

On the panel: (L-R) Sebastian Stan, Chris Evans,
Scarlett Johannson, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Feige 

MANILA, Philippines - Forget all the news stories hinting that Chris Evans is retiring soon. The actor who gained worldwide fame portraying the most iconic and patriotic American superhero is not retiring from show business at all.

Want proof? He has an existing contract with Marvel and will likely star in a few more Avenger movies before we can all speculate about his future plans. But, then again, no actor ever retires — most specially, if one is a hot Hollywood superstar. The most they’d do is take a breather and return in no time.

But if you are a big fan and mighty worried that the handsome star is seriously considering a career outside of the movies, then you better head to the nearest cinema and catch him in Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, his most current movie — and one of the best-reviewed superhero movies since The Avengers.

This is Chris’ third outing as Captain America and he says he is proud of the success he’s had doing all the Avenger films. Chris played another superhero, Johnny Storm/Human Torch, in two mildly-successful Fantastic Four movies prior to donning the star-and-stripes cape and he naturally had fears of not being able to lure in Captain America fans to the cinemas.

“Had I not done the movies, it would have been the biggest mistake of my life,” Chris declared during a press conference two weeks ago in Los Angeles. “It really would have been the biggest regret to date and there are plenty.”

Three years ago, Chris had concerns about the multi-picture contract he signed with Marvel. He also thought that he might be typecast and would lose his treasured anonymity once the series becomes super successful. But, today, those are no longer his concerns.

“It’s changed everything for me. I mean not just what it’s enabled me to do outside of these movies, but it’s so comforting knowing that you’re making good movies. It would be a nightmare to be trapped in this contract and be making films that you’re not proud of but Marvel has the Midas Touch so every time you suit up, you know that you’re making something of quality. It’s rewarding on every level, so thank God I had the right people in my life pushing me to make the right decision.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier picks up after the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers. In this installment, Steve Rogers (a.k.a. Captain America) is now living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world when a new threat surfaces.

S.H.I.E.L.D., the organization that he works for comes under attack and he has to team up with Natasha Romanoff (a.k.a. Black Widow) and Sam Wilson (a.k.a. Falcon) to uncover a political conspiracy that threatens the world order while also battling a new enemy known only as the Winter Soldier.
This new entry to the Marvel superhero saga is a refreshing take on the genre. It offers an intriguing political subtext and works like a suspense thriller. It features a star-studded line-up, including Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier), Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson, who reprises his role as S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury.

The cast, with the exception of the great Robert Redford, was present at the press conference and all shared their excitement about the movie.

Anthony Mackie, who found fame as one of the embattled war vets in the Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, expressed the most direct endorsement of the movie and the whole Avenger franchise, for that matter, when he excitedly proclaimed that they are “quite busy making better (expletive) movies” in reference to a question to Marvel president, Kevin Feige, asking him how much influence he has on the two other superhero movies that are also opening in the next couple of months. (Kevin said the influence is very limited with the other studios.)

Samuel called out Anthony and Anthony was sorry after.

Anthony’s excitement was understandable. This is his first foray into blockbuster moviemaking and he makes a very good Falcon in the movie. His onscreen chemistry with Chris is also amazing!

“I’ve known Anthony for a while now,” Chris said. “This is our third movie together. When I first met Anthony, it actually wasn’t on a movie set. We got along very well. We’re very similar people. So, we hit it off very well… and so it was very easy having just kind of a repartee with him offset and I think that translates onset and it’s just, he’s — you can tell right now, the guy is life, he’s energy — you know, onset, in the press conference, that’s character. He just brings a certain type of spark that you need on film and you need off as well.”

Chris’ glowing description of Anthony drew a wild teasing from Scarlett, who just announced her pregnancy a few days prior to the press conference.

“Where did you meet, Chris?” she maliciously asked.

“(In) a library,” Chris quickly replied. And the room erupted in laughter.

Scarlett herself wasn’t spared from the “personal” questions. A journalist attempted to ask the stunning actress about her pregnancy before he was politely reminded to stick to the movie.

Here’s the full text of the exchange between the journalist and Scarlett — and also Chris.

Journalist: I have a question for Scarlett and Chris. Scarlett, back in September, you were on TV saying that your grandma called you because she read that you were pregnant…

Scarlett: Um-hmm. (A publicist quickly whispered into the ears of the embarrassed journalist.)

Journalist: And it wasn’t true! But I want to ask about the movie.

Scarlett: Yes.

Journalist: Do you picture — I mean both of you guys as a family, raising a little Captain America?

Scarlett: What a strange question! But I like your ability to think on your feet. 

Chris: No.

Scarlett: No!

Chris: Yeah. That was a contingency question. No, I don’t think that’s — that’s the dynamic of Cap and Black Widow.

Question dodged. Scarlett is currently dating a French journalist named Romain Dauriac.

And if Chris does decide to retire from the movies, it would most likely be due to questions like that.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is in theaters now.

Raymond De Asis Lo