TFIOS: My Interview with Shailene Woodley

My story on TFIOS was published today and i am reprinting the text below. Here's the online link: http://www.philstar.com/entertainment/2014/06/01/1329638/fault-our-stars-greatest-love-story-10-years

Confession: I am listening to the audiobook version of the book now (Thank you, Rjay!) and I am having difficulty deciphering the numbers in my spreadsheets because i have been sobbing again on-and-off for the past couple of hours. I can't wait for June 6 to watch the movie again.

So, yes, i have seen the movie and it is my favorite movie of the year! I looove it!!!!


MANILA, Philippines - Listen up. You should clear your schedule this week. Why, you ask. Well, it’s because on June 4, a movie is set to open and this writer highly recommends that you watch it on the first day because you will spend the next days planning to watch it again!

This writer has seen the preview of Fox’s upcoming film The Fault in our Stars, back in early April and it’s been a long torturous many weeks waiting for the movie to open regularly in theaters so I can head back to the cinema and watch it again. And cry again. And, perhaps, watch it again just so I can be with two of my current favorite characters in movies (and in books).

At the exclusive screening held inside the Fox lot in Los Angeles, boxes of Kleenex were lined up by the entrance and every journalist who walked in was encouraged to get a couple of stacks because at the screening held earlier in the day people had nothing to wipe tears away from their faces.

It’s what I would advise to my readers as well. Bring lots when you watch it because it will make you cry. Good cry, I suppose. Many journalists I talked to likened it to the classic film Love Story while Entertainment Weekly declares it the greatest love story in 10 years.

The Fault in our Stars is based on the New York Times bestselling book by John Green and it tells the story of Hazel and Gus, two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on an unforgettable journey. What makes their love story amazing is the fact that they met and fell in love, while attending a cancer support group.

Yes, the movie is about two teenagers who try to defy the threat of death by falling hopelessly and magically in love with each other. It is not about cancer, it is not about dying, it is not even about death itself — it is about love.

Shailene Woodley, Hollywood’s breakout star of the year, plays Hazel in the movie and she, too, shares the same sentiment about the book.

"I read the script before I read the book and I was just sort of blown away not necessarily by being an actor reading a script but as a human being and being profoundly moved," she said of the story. "I immediately read the book and what I love about it is, it doesn’t victimize death and it doesn’t victimize cancer and it’s not a movie about cancer or a book about cancer. It’s a movie that celebrates life."

She also thought that the messages interwoven within the story were so vital and so important to put out into the world right now. "This world where so many crazy things are happening and these simple messages that both Hazel and Gus understood at such a young age due to their circumstances: That life is fleeting and that it’s not fair and nothing is guaranteed, and so to live a life based on fear or doubt or worry is just so pointless because as Hazel says, ‘Death is inevitable and oblivion is inevitable.’ And when it happens to you it’s one thing but it’s going to happen to you no matter what age you’re at. I just thought that there were so many beautiful messages that it completely changed who I was as a person when I read the book."

Shailene further shared that death was something that was always at the back of her mind when she was a teenager but it all changed when she did The Descendants with George Clooney some years back.

"When I was in Hawaii doing The Descendants, something happened that made me like sort of switch that attitude," she revealed. "After doing Fault…, it just reaffirms it. It’s like literally there’s no way to justify why we are here in this beautiful room at the Four Seasons and why there are women in India who have acid getting thrown at them and why there’s probably someone four streets down who is beating up his wife or her husband or what. There’s no way to justify life. There’s no way to justify whether 16 year olds are dying of cancer or let alone two year olds who are dying of cancer. And so to sit in life and to worry about and to look at death that’s something to be feared makes zero sense because it’s going to happen and it’s completely out of our control — 100 percent! There’s no way human beings can control death."

This writer was completely amazed at the level of maturity coming out of someone who is only 22 years old so I had to ask her again how old she really was. I also had to ask her where all this was coming from.

"I was raised by two psychologist parents," she revealed. "At a young age, empathy and compassion were very important in my household which I think a lot of people don’t learn until they are older so I got very lucky with that."

Through her parents, she also learned to harness the power that nature could bring to a person’s well-being.

"I spend a lot of time with nature and that may sound hippie but it’s true. The second that you get out of the crazy rat race of competition and trying to survive and you really just get down into the basics and it’s just you and nature, you are able to hear your own intuition. I wake up in the morning and I make my herbs and I make my tea at the Four Seasons or wherever I am. You bring the lifestyle of who you are. Just in the same way when you pack your toiletry bag, you bring the toothpaste you like or you bring whatever you like."

The beautiful actress has been making her own herbal drinks for many years now. She has been studying Herbology (study of plants for medicinal purposes) for four years. She doesn’t take any medicines if they are not plant-based. She’s a staunch environmentalist and a fully self-aware person.

She shared that the first thing she does when she wakes up is to say thank you. "I start my morning just meditating and at the end of the night, you like get it out of your mind before you go to sleep just running through the adventures of the day."

"We are alive that’s such a blessing to celebrate and be so grateful for. I just think that I embrace life whereas before I was half-spending so much time thinking about the future that you sort of forget about what’s actually happening right in front of you and that’s all you have, the moments, that’s the only thing that’s guaranteed."

Another thing that she is most thankful for is the fact that all her success in Hollywood now did not happen overnight.

"I’ve been really lucky that nothing was overnight. I’ve been doing this for 17 years and it took me 13 years to book a feature film and it was all slow," she shared. "I started commercials, then movie-of-the-weeks, then small TV roles, then bigger TV roles, then a TV series, then Sundance — it’s all been really slow. And I think that if it happened overnight, I would have quit immediately because all of the stuff like magazines and dress-ups for red carpets — as an adult it’s easy to rationalize it and understand it now but as a kid I would have been, like, ‘This is boring, I’m done.’"

And she had an interesting way to rationalize all the non-acting part of the acting profession. "The fun part as an actor is being on the movie set. It’s like a painter who paints his painting and then has to go to the street to sell the canvas. That’s not his favorite part but it’s so important to do. That’s part of the whole process."

With a blockbuster franchise in Divergent and critically-acclaimed performances in The Descendants and last year’s The Spectacular Now, Shailene is poised to follow the career trajectory of Jennifer Lawrence. And, after June, her star will only further ascend.

But she won’t allow herself to even think of that possibility. "I feel grateful that it all happened slowly," she remarked. "You are only in control of these moments right here."

Of course, we also tried to talk about her first love, because her movie is about that after all, but she was so sweet when she answered our initial question that when she hinted that she’s not willing to talk further, we honored her request.

"What I love about this book is that it’s not about cancer. It’s about teenagers discovering themselves and coming to age and falling in love for the first time — we can all relate to those themes. I didn’t really have any first love the way Hazel and Gus had at first love, no. That’s all I am willing to comment on," she said before breaking into a sweet smile.

Ansel Elgort, her co-star in the movie, is a relative Hollywood newcomer who previously played her brother in Divergent and who now plays her lover in The Fault in our Stars.

"One of the gifts of being an actor is you get to try out different colors and put on different masks all the time. We got really lucky the fact that we did Divergent before this movie because we became close in Divergent," she said. "He’s such a light and you’ll see it when you see him. He’s so pure. Everything is so new for him in a way because he is younger."

After we ended the interview, she hurriedly went looking for her shoes (which she took off at the start) and wished that we could all "go out and enjoy the sun."

XXX
Raymond De Asis Lo

Quick Review: "We Need to Talk About Kevin"

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Saw again last night Lynne Ramsay's 2011 Cannes entry, "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

I always had the DVD and has not seen the movie since I saw it more than three years ago but I decided to watch it again in the wake of that awful rampage in Santa Barbara over the weekend. Not that i wanted to diminish the horrific nature of the actual crime but I thought I needed to be consoled somehow by watching Tilda Swinton's Eva's travails again. (My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims.)

This psychological thriller is a masterful attempt to piece together the motivating factors behind such atrocious act. It also deftly examines the repercussions of such act to the perpetrator's surviving parent. A very difficult film to watch but it is nevertheless an important treatise on what ails society (and the family, for that matter) in the present.

The film is never meant to be timely but there's a specific resonance and significance watching this movie today given the lurid headlines dominating the news lately.

Watch this movie if you haven't yet. Rent it. Stream it. And let's all pray that the violence depicted in the film remain only in movies.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

XXX
Raymond De Asis Lo

LAFF2014 Diary: Must-see Films!

Got my official accreditation approval notice last night to this year's fest. I haven't checked the entire line-up yet but i have been steadily receiving messages and e-mails about certain movies screening in the festival that i should not miss.

Here are five of the films that are already on my ever-expanding list of movies to see.

*******************************************


EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL
Winner of FULL FRAME 2014 - GRAND JURY PRIZE - BEST DOCUMENTARY
Winner of FULL FRAME 2014 - FILMMAKER AWARD
Winner of DALLAS FILM FESTIVAL 2014 - SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Documentary Feature Los Angeles Premiere Summer Showcase
Directed By: Darius Clark Monroe
Producers: Jen Gatien, Spike Lee

About the film:
How does a 16 year-old honor student evolve into a bank robber? In EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL, filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe asks this very question—about himself. After seeing his mother and stepfather struggle to make ends meet while living outside of Houston, Texas, Monroe decided to help them by robbing a bank with two friends.

Returning to his neighborhood several years after the crime, Monroe creates an incredibly intimate and personal journey of reflection and forgiveness while examining lower class struggles, the desperation of a teen under pressure, and the emotional impact that rippled in the aftermath of that day.

Monroe interviews family members, close friends, mentors and those innocent bystanders who happened to be at the bank on that fateful day. Family and friends recount the stages of his transformation - going from a joyous childhood to the moment he realized the severity of his family’s financial problems, and how their struggles changed his outlook on society and his life as a whole. The people from the bank remember that day vividly, as he asks for their forgiveness 10 years after the act.

EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL is not only a story of a good kid gone bad, but also brings forth the issues of economic injustice, poverty, race, and the importance of family in a very moving and insightful way.

Festival screenings:
Thu, Jun 12th 7:00pm Regal Cinemas 12
Mon, Jun 16th 2:00pm Regal Cinemas 12

*******************************************


















LIMITED PARTNERSHIP
Documentary Feature World Premiere
Directed By: Thomas G. Miller
Producers: Kirk Marcolina, Karen Hori, David Ross

About the film:
LIMITED PARTNERSHIP is the 40-year love story between Filipino-American Richard Adams and his Australian husband, Tony Sullivan. In 1975, thanks to a courageous county clerk in Boulder, CO, Richard and Tony were one of the first same-sex couples to be legally married in the world. Richard immediately filed for a green card for Tony based on their marriage. But unlike most heterosexual married couples who easily file petitions and obtain green cards, Richard received a denial letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service stating, "You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots. " Outraged at the tone, tenor and politics of this letter and to prevent Tony’s impending deportation, the couple sued the U.S. government. This became the first federal lawsuit seeking equal treatment for a same-sex marriage in U.S. history.

LIMITED PARTNERSHIP celebrates Richard and Tony’s long path towards justice and citizenship as they challenge the traditional definitions of "spouse" and "family." This tenacious story of love, marriage and immigration equality is as precedent setting as it is little known…until now.

Festival Screening:
Sat, Jun 14th 2:25pm Regal Cinemas 8 Free Screening

***************************************************




















OUT IN THE NIGHT
Documentary Competition World Premiere
Directed By: blair dorosh-walther
Producers: blair dorosh-walther, Giovanna Chesler, Mridu Chandra, Yoruba Richen
Featuring: Renata Hill, Patreese Johnson, Terrain Dandridge, Venice Brown

About the film:
Taking us beyond the sensational "Attack of the Killer Lesbians" headlines, blair dorosh-walther's provocative documentary pulls back the curtain on a tragic miscarriage of justice. In New York City's West Village in 2006, four gay African-American women were brutally assaulted by a stranger whose unwanted sexual advances they'd just spurned. In defending themselves, they also unwittingly left themselves vulnerable to draconian prison sentences that wrested them from their supportive New Jersey families. dorosh-walther returns to the scene of their alleged crime, using security footage to condemn the deplorable conduct of unscrupulous reporters and callous police officers. With a deep compassion for its subjects tempering its outrage over the indignities they've suffered, the film poses a troubling question: How would have this unfolded had it been four straight white women instead?

Festival screenings:
Thu, Jun 12th 6:45pm Regal Cinemas 9
Mon, Jun 16th 4:15pm Regal Cinemas 14
 
*******************************************************************













EAT WITH ME
Narrative Feature World Premiere LA Muse Section
Directed By: David Au Written By: David Au
Producers: Joyce Liu-Countryman, Michelle Ehlen
Cast: Sharon Omi, Teddy Chen Culver, Nicole Sullivan, George Takei, Aidan Bristow, Jamila Alina, Ken Narasaki, Scott Keiji Takeda, Burt Grinstead

About the film:
Feeling invisible in her bland marriage, Emma moves in with her son, Elliot, into his downtown L.A. loft. Elliot, a young chef, is facing foreclosure on his lackluster Chinese restaurant--and he's gay. Emma's disapproval has made strangers of mother and son, but the two need each other now more than ever, as Emma explores her newfound freedom--with the encouragement of a saucy new friend--and Elliot confronts his fears of intimacy. Words may fail them, but they find a common language through food.

This auspicious directorial debut from David Au offers a fresh take on life, love and food in the heart of Los Angeles. This deliciously emotional and redemptive story is supported by an endearing cast led by Sharon Omi, Teddy Chen Culver, Nicole Sullivan and a cameo with Star Trek legend George Takei.

Festival screening:
Sun, Jun 15th 4:30pm Regal Cinemas 8
 
*******************************************************************


















I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY
Documentary Feature Los Angeles Premiere Grand Performances at California Plaza
Directed By: Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker
Featuring: Caroll Spinney, Frank Oz, Sonia Manzano, Jerry Nelson, Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado, Dr. Loretta Long, Joan Ganz Cooney
Producer: Clay Frost

About the film:
For over 40 years, Caroll Spinney has been the puppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Now, as his hand-picked successor waits to take over (as he's been waiting for the past 20 years), Spinney rejects retirement once again. It would mean saying goodbye to characters whom he loves like children, who represent two very different parts of who he is. Carroll can't say goodbye to Big Bird because he is Big Bird. In this touching documentary, comprised largely of highlights from his amazing, never-before-seen home videos, we gain incredible insight to Spinney's life, both past and present, and get an in-depth look at how he became the man who became the bird.

Festival screening:
Sat, Jun 14th 8:30pm California Plaza

*******************************************

See you at the festival. June 11 - 19!

XXX
Raymond Lo

Dances With Films: 7 Movies to watch!

This year's edition of Dances with Films will take place starting May 29th and will run until June 8th. All screenings will be held at the Chinese Mann Theatre (6801 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028).

Here are seven movies that are getting some buzz ahead of their festival screenings.


GASP (dir. Annika Kurnick)
GASP (World Premiere)
MONDAY, JUNE 2nd @ 7:15PM
At the invitation of the mysterious Elijah, the shy, bookish Molly travels to the tiny island of Little Neck for his annual party. When she arrives she finds that all the residents, other than a small, tightly knit group of Elijah's friends have left for winter. When Elijah doesn't materialize at his own party, his guests carry onin his honor, having a bacchanalian night fueled with booze and psychedelics, playing games and telling stories of their absent friend. As a storm threatens their night of fun, Molly experiences a surreal evening of emotional and sexual exploration she won't soon forget.

Writer / Director: Annika Kurnic
Producer: Adam Laupus
Cast: Elsa Carette, Geri-Nikole Love, Angela Gulner, Charlie Wilson, Ken Urbina, Jake Mann

 
Targeting (dir. Tarique Qayumi)
TARGETING
TUESDAY, JUNE 3rd @ 7:15PM
 
Mattie Ridgeway is a troubled career soldier who has just returned home from Afghanistan to her loving husband, Justin and their 7-year-old daughter, Cay. Coming home doesn't go well with Mattie and she's having a terrible time reacclimatizing, so she continuously seeks excuses to leave her home. On one of her outings she spots an Afghan man she recognizes, someone from her past. Baktoosh Nuri. She sees him exchanging money with a suspicious gas station clerk. Why is this man in the U.S.? Rather than deal with her own family, Mattie infiltrates Nuri’s life hoping to stop a terrorist threat in its tracks! Left alone to her own devices, Mattie obsessively reconstructs her basement into a secret torture cell. She kidnaps the Afghan looking for answers.

Will memories of Afghanistan forever torment her, or can she survive them to live a happy life with her family? Can she survive life in suburban America? Only Time and TARGETING will tell.

Writer / Director: Tarique Qayumi
Writers: Joey Patterson, Alan De La Rosa, Tarique Qayumi
Producers: Alan De La Rosa, Carlos Osorio, Tarique Qayumi
Cast: Tajana Prka, Bobby Naderi, Brooke J. Ferrell, Fereshta Kazemi, James O'Shea…

 
Missing Child (dir. Luke Sabis)
MISSING CHILD
(Los Angeles Premiere)

THURSDAY, JUNE 5th @ 2:45PM
Chinese Mann Theatre
6801 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
A drama/thriller about a young woman, Gia, who never knew her parents. Gia discovers she resembles an age-progressed photo of a child who went missing at an early age. She uncovers secrets and lies in an attempt to find closure to her own unsettled past. The film deals with issues such as child abuse, religious/spiritual identity and personal responsibility. It is an exploration of the dark side of human nature, where self-preservation and self-denial are violently intertwined.

Writers: Luke Sabis, Michael Barbuto
Producers: Luke Sabis, Charles Gorgano, Michael Barbuto
Cast: Kristen Ruhlin, Charles Gorgano, Luke Sabis
 

The Historian (dir. Miles Doleac)
THE HISTORIAN
(World Premiere)
THURSDAY, JUNE 5th @ 9:30PM

Fleeing a personal tragedy, Dr. Ben Rhodes (Miles Doleac) takes a job at a new university, in a department chaired by once-celebrated historian, Valerian Hadley (William Sadler), who now fights to rekindle his fading career while caring for an elderly father (John Cullum) whose health fades faster by the day. Both feel a duty to impart the lessons of the past, though they cannot seem to come to terms with their own personal histories. Further complicating matters is a promising but needy graduate student, Anna (Jillian Taylor), who worships one and is smitten with the other. This is a dark, funny, humane drama that puts academia under the microscope and finds a mirror of human nature at its best and worst.

Writer/Director: Miles Doleac
Producers: Miles Doleac, Mackenzie Westmoreland, Ryan H. Jackson, John Lawrence Doleac and Nate Meyer
Cast: William Sadler, Miles Doleac, Colin Cunningham, John Cullum, Jillian Taylor, Glynnis O'Connor, Leticia Jimenez
 
Sandcastles (dir. Clenet Verdi-Rose)
SANDCASTLES

SUNDAY, JUNE 8th at 5PM
A gritty and intricate tale around the cornfields of small-town Indiana: Noah and his poverty-stricken family wrestle with the mysterious return of his now mute sister Lauren, who was kidnapped and held captive for over a decade.




Director: Clen├ęt Verdi-Rose
Writer: Jordon Hodges
Producers: Jordon Hodges, Christopher Nickin
Cast: Jordon Hodges, Anne Winters, Randy Spence, Saxon Trainor, Daniella Grace, Scott Jemison and Clint Howard

 
A Man on the Edge (dir. Edward Lyons)
A MAN ON THE EDGE
(Shorts)
SATURDAY | MAY 31st @ 12:30PM
 
When a troubled man on a cliff top is on the verge of committing suicide, he is interrupted by a young vivacious woman. Through a series of heart wrenching flashbacks he reveals to her how he killed his wife. As he tries to come to terms with his grief, the Woman offers him hope in a manner he never expected.

Writer / Director: Edward Lyons
Producer: Nicole Adams
Cast: Tom O'Sullivan, Cheree Cassidy
 

Suparhearo (dir. Sean McCarthy)
SUPARHEARO: A TRUE TAIL BY CHANCE
(Shorts)
SUNDAY | JUNE 1st @ 5PM
Genius. Hero. Sophisticate. Lothario. Montgomery Von Chance III exemplifies absolutely none of these. The self proclaimed Superhero does, however, have a knack for allowing his delusions and incompetence to destroy everything in his life. Monty's 'hero's awakening' costs him his job, girlfriend, and family, yet through it all he follows his true bliss. Is he the ultimate dreamer, or the ultimate failure? Decide for yourself and take a chance on Chance in this tragicomic mockumentary.
 
Writer / Director: Sean McCarthy
Producers: Shawn Shaffie, Frankie Nasso, Marco Cerritos
Cast: Sean McCarthy, Iris Bahr

See you at the movies!

XXX
Raymond Lo

Film Review: "X-Men: DOFP"

The new X-Men movie is a reboot, a reset, a re-imagining, a complete revamp. And a return to the finest superhero narratives of all time!

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" is the direct sequel to X2. If not for the powerhouse cast that the X-Men series introduced in the films that came between X2 and this, I would be inclined to completely discard them but Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique and Hugh Jackman's Wolverine are the best things that ever happened to this franchise --- and Bryan Singer, of course!

This is the best film in the series and the best superhero movie since "The Avengers"!

The film won me completely over with two set pieces. The first one came early on and involved a newly introduced mutant who can move faster than sound. It was fine art in a genre piece. Amazing!

The second one was completely simple but finally healed the loss i felt when [Spoiler alert!] Jean Grey had to die when she sacrificed herself in X2. She is alive --- very much alive!!!

This is an excellent film. No massive obligatory cast/character reunion scenes but you are comforted with the thought that somehow Bryan Singer pulled off the promise of "X-2" --- the X-Men are united once again! Well, except for that after-credits scene that introduced another villain who i need help in identifying.

Rating: 5 Stars.

XXX
Raymond De Asis Lo

Cannes 2014: Winners!

The most prestigious film festival in the world has drawn to a close. The jury headed by Jane Campion ("The Piano", "Bright Star") has chosen the winners in tonight's suspenseful, glittering and star-studded presentation.

And the winners are ---

Short Film Palme d'Or: "Leidi"
Camera d'Or: "Party Girl"
Best Actor: Timothy Spall, "Mr Turner"

Timothy Spall, "Mr Turner"













Best Actress: Julianne Moore, "Maps to the Stars"
Best Screenplay: "Leviathan"
 
Best Screenplay, "Leviathan"















Jury Prize: TIE "Mommy" and "Goodbye to Language"

Xavier Dolan, "Mommy"
Jean-Luc Godard, "Goodbye to Language"


























Best Director: Bennett Miller, "Foxcatcher"


























Grand Prix: "The Wonders"

The Wonders - Alice Rohrwacher




Palme d'Or: "Winter Sleep"

Winter Sleep - Palme d'Or Winner
 Congratulations to the winners!

XXX
Raymond De Asis Lo

Cannes 2014: Hungary's "White God" is Un Certain Regard Winner

The Hungarian allegorical tale featuring a pack of dogs as lead stars won the Un Certain Regard prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

“White God,” described by the New York Times as "a fierce and beautiful Hungarian parable about a girl, her dog, and the uprising that’s sparked after they are separated" is the 6th film from director Kornel Mundruczo who describes the film as an allegory about the treatment of minorities and immigrants in Europe.

"Turist" (dir. Ruben Ostlund) won the jury prize.

The popular Un Certain Regard opening film " Party Girl" won an ensemble prize while the best actor prize was awarded to actor David Gulpilil for his role in "Charlie's Country" (dir. Rolf De Heer). Wim Wenders and Juliano Salgado shared a special prize for their film "Salt of the Earth."

The festival's top prizes including the much coveted Palme d'Or will be announced Sunday. 

Films in the running for the top prize include "Two Days, One Night", "Winter Sleep", "Wild Tales", "Leviathan" and Xavier Dolan's "Mommy".

xxx
Raymond De Asis Lo

Quick Reviews: "Godzilla", "Neighbors"


"Godzilla" delivers! It thrills, it entertains. Yes, it earned an applause from me, twice! Awesome cast. Impressive set design. The first great blockbuster film of the summer.

The movie returns to that traditional summer movie spectacle originated by Speilberg and the earlier films of Emmerich. The less is more approach is always effective to heighten the anticipation factor until the monster finally shows himself up gloriously bathed in daylight! The filmmaker studied the masters and made a terrific film.

I did not mind the lengthy setup. That's the reason why they cast those great actors in those roles because they know that the setup will take some time and the story needed compelling actors like Binoche, Cranston, Hawkins and Watanabe to take us through the first hour... If they had unknown actors playing those parts, you will have a B movie and half of the audience walking out of the theater.

Rating: 4 and 1/2 stars.

"Neighbors" meanwhile is my first candidate for the worst movie of the year. Why Seth Rogen's stoner comedies are so popular is not a question i ask anymore but if all the major characters in the movie are variations of his persona, then the movie deserves that honor. I did not walk out, i tried to finish the movie but just couldn't. Instead i finished 20 games of Words with Friends and played some Candy Crush -- and i had a relaxing 1 and 1/2 hr.

Rating: 1 Star because Lisa Kudrow appears in a cameo!

XXX
Raymond De Asis Lo

In Photos: 2014 Cannes Competition Films

The 2014 Cannes Film Festival is past its halfway mark and the current favorite to win the prestigious Palme d'Or is the the new film from Cannes favorite brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, "Two Days, One Night". We'll know by Sunday if this holds true. Other movies getting good buzz are "Foxcatcher", "Mr Turner", "Clouds of Sils Maria" and "Winter Sleep."








The Search



Timbuktu

Wild Tales



Leviathan

Winter Sleep




Saint Laurent


Mr Turner

XXX
Raymond Lo

Movies to watch at 20th LAFF

Here are four movies that will have their US/World premieres at next month's 20th Los Angeles Film Festival that may be worth looking out for.

"My Name is Salt"
Winner, Grand Jury Prize, International Madrid Documentary Festival
Winner, Grand Jury Prize, Hong Kong International Film Festival
Winner, Best First Appearance, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)

Festival Screening Dates:
Saturday, June 14 at 4:15PM - Regal Cinemas 14
Wednesday, June 18 at 6:45PM - Regal Cinemas 14

My Name is Salt
Synopsis: The saline desert of the Little Rann of Kutch, India extends endlessly – flat, grey, relentless. There is not a tree or blade of grass. But there is one thing in abundance: salt. Salt is everywhere, lying just beneath the cracked, baked surface of the earth. For eight months of every year, Chhanabhai and his family - along with thousands of others - labor under the blinding glare of the desert sun to extract delicate salt crystals from this desolate landscape. They have been doing this for generations.

The film documents an entire season of salt farming in this poetic and visually stunning meditation on hard work. "My Name is Salt" not only provides the audience with an incredible record of the effort it takes to produce this simple ingredient, but also quietly moves them to examine their own relationship with work.
Written and directed by Farida Pacha, the film is produced by Lutz Konermann and Farida Pacha for Leafbird Films with cinematography by Lutz Konermann, editing by Katharina Fiedler, and music by Marcel Vaid.

~~~~~~

"The Young Kieslowski"

Festival Screening Dates:
Saturday, June 14th, 9:30pm, Regal Cinemas 8
Tuesday, June 17th, 6:30pm, Regal Cinemas 11
The Young Kieslowski
Synopsis: Brian Kieslowski (19), a virgin and a science student at CalTech, knows the probability that a beautiful girl like Leslie Mallard (21), who's saving herself for marriage, would fall for him is infinitesimally small -- but on one very drunken night, the universe allows it to happen. Defying the odds for a second time, Mallard gets pregnant with twins after their first night together. When she tells him that she wants to keep the babies, he's too smitten with her to admit the truth: he's not ready to be a father. In a desperate attempt to continue dating her, he goes along with it, all the while hoping blindly that she'll come to her senses. Kieslowski oscillates between wishing he could be the man she wants him to be and praying that she'll reconsider, and as his hopes dwindle, he finds himself with only one possible ally: her manipulative bully of a father.
Written and Directed by Kerem Sanga, Produced by Danny Leiner, Seth Caplan, Ross Putman, David Hunter and Executive Produced by Ben Ross, Chris Colbert

~~~~~~~


"The Well"
Festival Screening Dates:
Thursday, June 12 at 9:15PM - Regal Cinemas 9
Tuesday, June 17 at 9:25PM - Regal Cinemas 12

The Well
Synopsis: At the edge of an expansive barren valley, all that remains of The Wallace Farm for Wayward Youth is a few hollowed-out husks of buildings. Seventeen-year-old Kendal (Haley Lu Richardson) can barely recall when the Oregon valley was still lush. It's been a decade since the last rainfall, and society at large has dried up and blown away. Kendal and the few others that remain barely scrape by, while dreaming of escape. When a greedy water baron lays claim to what little of the precious resource remains underground, Kendal must decide whether to run and hide or bravely fight for the few cherished people and things she has left.

In this finely crafted post-apocalyptic thriller, writer/director Tom Hammock keeps the action firmly grounded in an arid and gritty reality. Drawing on his experience as a production designer and graphic novelist, Hammock creates a convincing world ravaged by environmental disaster, where beliefs demand action and blood is spilled more easily than water.

"The Well" stars Haley Lu Richardson in a breakout role as a young woman with grit, smarts, and an incredible will to survive.

Directed by Tom Hammock ("You're Next", "The Guest", "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane") and written by Hammock and Jacob Forman. Produced byJacob Forman, Seth Caplan, and Chris Harding. Executive produced by Dante Federighi and Billy Federighi. With cinematography by Seamus Tierney, editing by Sarah Broshar and Adam Wingard, and music by Craig DeLeon. A Federighi Films Production.

~~~~~~

"Inner Demons"

Festival Screening Dates:
Friday, June 13 10:00PM - Regal Cinemas 9

Inner Demons
Synopsis: When the teenage daughter of a religious family transforms from A-student into heroin addict, her parents agree to allow a reality TV crew to stage an intervention and tape her recovery. What they don't know is that she has been taking drugs to deal with the unnatural, evil feelings growing inside her. When she agrees to rehab, with no drugs to suppress what's inside, the demon emerges.

A suspenseful and clever reinvention of both the found-footage and possession genres, Inner Demons expertly plays on our culture’s love of reality television. Director Seth Grossman, who worked as a producer on "Intervention," deftly guides the audience down a path where addiction is just a temporary cure for something much more evil.

"Inner Demons" is directed by Seth Grossman and written by Glenn Gers.

Starring Lara Vosburgh, Morgan McClellan, and Colleen McGrann. Film is produced by Robin Schorr and executive produced by Dan Seligmann and Chris Ferguson. With cinematography by Chapin Hall, editing byJeff Seibenick, and music by Adam Balazs. A Schorr Pictures Production

XXX
Raymond Lo

Favorite Movie: The Fault in Our Stars

Here are some priceless stills from the upcoming super blockbuster film -- and my first favorite film of the year!! -- "The Fault in our Stars".

The movie opens on June 6 in the US and June 4 in Asia. I have seen it and i am only holding back myself from putting out a full rave review because my stories and interviews from the junkets have not been published yet but otherwise you should be able to read between the lines.










XXX
Raymond De Asis Lo