Movies: May 2014 List

This post is weeks late. Apologies.

May was a slow month for me. Got busy at my day job (deadlines, lots of it!) but i still had time to go to the multiplex and watch a few of the early summer blockbusters that Hollywood is offering this year.

I liked "Godzilla". I posted this quick review in my FB page: "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.

There was a movie that I disliked, however. And here's a copy of the quick review i posted in my FB page about Seth Rogen's latest hit:

"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!

Honestly, Seth Rogen knows his audience well. Even tyrants like the North Korean dictator follows his career! Sadly, I am not one of his target audience.

Below are the movies I watched during the month of May 2014.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (US) DVD 4 ½ Stars
Transcendence (US) 2 Stars
Heaven is for Real (US) 3 ½ Stars
The Other Woman (US) 3 Stars
Lust, Caution (US/China) DVD 4 ½ Stars
Vengeance (France/HK) DVD 4 Stars
A Complicated Story (HK) DVD 3 Stars
Cold War (HK) DVD 4 ½ Stars
Firestorm (HK) DVD 3 ½ Stars
Godzilla (US) 4 Stars
Neighbors (US) 1 Star
Mamma Mia  (US) DVD 4 ½ Stars
(500) Days of Summer (US) DVD 5 Stars
X-Men: DoFP (US) 5 Stars
We Need to Talk About Kevin (UK) DVD 4 ½ Stars

It should be noted that I spent most of the month watching some of my old favorites. I must have seen "[500] Days of Summer" more than 20 times now. "Mamma Mia" more than 10. This month, I also rediscovered the movies of HK director Johnnie To --- his "Drug War" is one of the most thrilling action films I've seen in a long time.

My favorite film this month is the new installment in the X-Men series, "X-Men: Days of Future Past". I thought Bryan Singer's reboot was perfection! My full review is here:

You will love my June 2014 list.

Raymond De Asis Lo

Deliver Us From Evil: My Olivia Munn Interview

My junket interview with Olivia Munn came out in today's issue of The Philippine Star. The online edition can be found at this link:

Below is the text of my story.

MANILA, Philippines - When Olivia Munn joined us for our roundtable interview, she carried with her a bag of Skittles and she munched on the tiny sour candies like she was trying to keep herself awake. And she looked cute doing it. The beautiful 33-year-old actress is finally doing Hollywood roundtables 10 years into her career in the business. She has finally made it!

She was bubbly and very friendly during the junket. She was telling everyone how at age 14 she had her first boyfriend who happened to be Filipino and how she learned to speak bad Tagalog words and how she came to love Filipino food. But during our actual interview, she related a far more interesting experience she recently had with the paranormal at her new house.

“In my house where I live in now, there’s a lot of stuff that happens, a lot of activity,” she casually revealed.

This writer and the three Latin American journalists with me in the roundtable were initially incredulous but as the actress continued on with her creepy story, we all found ourselves increasingly scared and completely silent, just allowing her to tell the story.

“I made friends with a medium who told me about the things in my house and what’s going on there that no one would have known, except me, and she told me about the things going on in my house — that there are, like, good spirits in my house.”

“Just last week,” she continued, “ I was sitting in my bed and I didn’t know why the front door opened completely wide. I have security cameras so I looked at the security camera that looks at the front door and you see that out of nowhere the door completely opens! And I have these sensors that say front door, back door when you open the door and it was, like, ‘front door’ and I am like, ‘Huh!?’ instantly and I could see no one had come in! I go look right away just to make sure and you can see that it just opens up.”

“Last night, I was watching TV and I know I heard this (she made a clapping sound) and I got up, I looked at my boyfriend (Olivia is currently dating football superstar Aaron Rodgers) and I was like, ‘Did you, did you hear that?’ So I went to take a look and there was a pan that was on a countertop that was now on the floor and there was nothing that would have made it fall.”

So is she looking for a new house now?

“No, I love it! That’s the thing. I want them to come! It’s exciting!

“The medium said different people have the ability to connect but definitely, in my house, things have happened. It used to be like you hear the door jiggling or when I am in the shower you just feel a wind move around in the shower — it’s very strange, like a wind that gusts right over you.”

Our conversation topic veered naturally to the paranormal because Olivia is starring in Deliver Us From Evil, the frightening new film from Screen Gems, based on the true-life experiences of a New York City cop whose series of encounters with the supernatural tested his belief in God and opened his eyes to the capacity of evil to sow bad things in our society. Yes, what ups the scare factor in the movie is the fact that everything about it happened in real life.

Australian superstar Eric Bana plays the NYPD cop, Ralph Sarchie, in the supernatural thriller that brings together the dynamic talents of director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) and mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean, Bad Boys, Armageddon, Black Hawk Down). Acclaimed Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez also stars as Joe Mendoza, a renegade Catholic priest hunting down demons in the city.

In the movie, Olivia plays Ralph’s strong-willed wife, Jen, who assisted her and corresponded with her via e-mail when she was preparing for her role.

“In the movie, where I am seen through Ralph Sarchie’s eyes, it is really important for the audience to see what he has to lose and so I had to create a really great family home base for him,” she said. “I based her off through a lot of women I know whose husbands are in the military or are police officers or firefighters and they put themselves on the line every day. It was really important for me to depict her in a realistic way that I see women who are very supportive of their husbands.”

Olivia’s previous high-profile role was in Magic Mike and she expressed her excitement getting the part of Jen. “I felt like I won a radio contest! This is the kind of character I haven’t played before. I grew up in a military family and the one thing that you have to know being married to a cop or a soldier is to be really understanding of the things that they have to go through.”

Olivia’s former stepfather was a military man and she spent her growing up years in US military bases all over the world (she met her Filipino boyfriend in Japan) and she has nothing but respect for those serving in the military and their partners who sacrifice a lot along with their husbands or wives. The military experience plays a pivotal part in Deliver Us From Evil.

“It’s really important for us to take care of our soldiers, especially the ones who come back from war. We need to take care of them when they come back home. We need a better system, better financial aid, better mental health aid for them.”

Deliver Us From Evil opens in theaters on July 2. See it and prepare to be scared.

Raymond De Asis Lo

Meet our 271 new Oscar voters!

Technically, not yet. The invitations to become members of one of the most coveted and exclusive organizations in the world were sent today. The invitees still have to decide whether they will accept the invitations or not. I do not think anyone would decline. Can i take the place of anyone who's crazy enough to do so, dear Academy?

The 2014 invitees are:


Barkhad Abdi – "Captain Phillips"
Clancy Brown – "The Hurricane," "The Shawshank Redeption"
Paul Dano – "12 Years a Slave," "Prisoners"
Michael Fassbender – "12 Years a Slave," "Shame"
Ben Foster – "Lone Survivor," "Ain’t Them Bodies Saints"
Beth Grant – "The Artist," "No Country for Old Men"
Clark Gregg – "Much Ado about Nothing," "Marvel’s The Avengers"
Sally Hawkins – "Blue Jasmine," "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Josh Hutcherson – "The Hunger Games," "The Kids Are All Right"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – "Enough Said," "Planes"
Kelly Macdonald – "Brave," "No Country for Old Men"
Mads Mikkelsen – "The Hunt," "Casino Royale"
Joel McKinnon Miller – "Super 8," "The Truman Show"
Cillian Murphy – "The Dark Knight Rises," "Inception"
Lupita Nyong'o – "Non-Stop," "12 Years a Slave"
Rob Riggle – "21 Jump Street," "The Hangover"
Chris Rock – "Grown Ups 2," "Madagascar"
June Squibb – "Nebraska," "About Schmidt"
Jason Statham – "Parker," "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels"
David Strathairn – "Lincoln," "Good Night, and Good Luck."

Casting Directors

Douglas Aibel – "The Grand Budapest Hotel," "The Immigrant"
Simone Bär – "The Monuments Men," "The Book Thief"
Kerry Barden – "August: Osage County," "Dallas Buyers Club"
Nikki Barrett – "The Railway Man," "The Great Gatsby"
Mark Bennett – "Drinking Buddies," "Zero Dark Thirty"
Risa Bramon Garcia – "Speed," "Wall Street" 
Michelle Guish – "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," "Nanny McPhee"
Billy Hopkins – "Lee Daniels’ The Butler," "Disconnect"
Ros Hubbard – "Romeo & Juliet," "The Mummy"
Allison Jones – "The Way, Way Back," "The Heat"
Christine King – "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," "Star
            Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith"
Beatrice Kruger – "To Rome with Love," "The American"
Marci Liroff – "Mean Girls," "Pretty in Pink"
Debbie McWilliams – "Skyfall," "Quantum of Solace"
Joseph Middleton – "TheTwilight Saga: New Moon," "Legally Blonde"
Robi Reed – "For Colored Girls," "Do the Right Thing"
Kevin Reher – "Monsters University," "Finding Nemo"
Paul Schnee – "August: Osage County," "Dallas Buyers Club"
Gail Stevens – "Zero Dark Thirty," "Slumdog Millionaire"
Lucinda Syson – "Gravity," "Fast and & Furious 6"
Fiona Weir – "J. Edgar," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"
Ronnie Yeskel – "The Sessions," "Atlas Shrugged Part 1"

Sean Bobbitt – "12 Years a Slave," "The Place beyond the Pines"
Philippe Le Sourd – "The Grandmaster," "Seven Pounds"
James Neihouse – "Hubble 3D," "Nascar: The IMAX Experience"
Masanobu Takayanagi – "Out of the Furnace," "Silver Linings Playbook"
Bradford Young – "Ain’t Them Bodies Saints," "Pariah"

Costume Designers 

William Chang Suk Ping – "The Grandmaster," "In the Mood for Love"
Pascaline Chavanne – "Renoir," "Augustine"
Daniela Ciancio – "The Great Beauty," "Il Divo"
Frank L. Fleming – "Draft Day," "Monster’s Ball" 
Maurizio Millenotti – "Hamlet," "Otello"
Beatrix Aruna Pasztor – "Great Expectations," "Good Will Hunting"
Karyn Wagner – "Lovelace," "The Green Mile"


William Arnold – "Lovelace," "Crazy, Stupid, Love."
K.K. Barrett – "Her," "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
Susan Benjamin – "Saving Mr. Banks," "The Blind Side"
Bill Boes – "The Smurfs 2," "Fantastic Four"
Tony Fanning – "Contraband," "War of the Worlds"
Robert Greenfield – "Priest," "Almost Famous"
Marcia Hinds – "I Spy," "The Public Eye"
Sonja Brisbane Klaus – "Prometheus," "Robin Hood"
David S. Lazan – "Flight," "American Beauty"
Diane Lederman – "Lee Daniels’ The Butler," "Tower Heist"
Heather Loeffler – "American Hustle," "Silver Linings Playbook"
Christa Munro – "Jack Reacher," "Erin Brockovich"
Andy Nicholson – "Gravity," "The Host" 
Adam Stockhausen – "12 Years a Slave," "Moonrise Kingdom"


Hany Abu-Assad – "Omar," "Paradise Now"
Jay Duplass – "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," "Cyrus"
Mark Duplass – "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," "Cyrus"
David Gordon Green – "Joe," "Pineapple Express"
Gavin O’Connor – "Warrior," "Miracle"
Gina Prince-Bythewood – "The Secret Life of Bees," "Love and Basketball"
Paolo Sorrentino – "The Great Beauty," "This Must Be the Place"
Jean-Marc Vallée – "Dallas Buyers Club," "Young Victoria" 
Felix van Groeningen – "The Broken Circle Breakdown," "The Misfortunates"
Denis Villeneuve – "Prisoners," "Incendies"
Thomas Vinterberg – "The Hunt," "The Celebration"


Malcolm Clarke – "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life," "Prisoner of Paradise"
Dan Cogan – "How to Survive a Plague," "The Queen of Versailles"
Kief Davidson – "Open Heart," "Kassim the Dream"
Dan Geller – "The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden," "Ballets Russes"
Dayna Goldfine – "The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden," "Ballets Russes"
Julie Goldman – "God Loves Uganda," "Gideon’s Army"
Sam Green – "Utopia in Four Movements," "The Weather Underground"
Gary Hustwit – "Urbanized," "Helvetica"
Eugene Jarecki – "The House I Live In," "Why We Fight"
Brian Johnson – "Anita," "Buena Vista Social Club"
Ross Kauffman – "E-Team," "Born into Brothels"
Morgan Neville – "20 Feet from Stardom," "Troubadours"
Matthew J. O'Neill – "Redemption," "China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan
Rithy Panh – "The Missing Picture," "S-21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine"
Lucy Massie Phenix – "Regret to Inform," "Word Is Out"
Enat Sidi – "Detropia," "Jesus Camp"
Molly Thompson – "The Unknown Known," "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer"
Cynthia Wade – "Mondays at Racine," "Freeheld"


Adrian Alperovich 
Sean Bailey 
Len Blavatnik
Nicholas Carpou
Nancy Carson
Charles S. Cohen
Jason Constantine
Peter Cramer
William Kyle Davies
Christopher Floyd
David Garrett
David Hollis
Tomas Jegeus
Michelle Raimo Kouyate
Anthony James Marcoly
Hiroyasu Matsuoka
Kim Roth
John Sloss

Film Editors

Alan Baumgarten – "American Hustle," "Gangster Squad"
Alan Edward Bell – "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," "The Amazing Spider-Man"
Dorian Harris – "The Magic of Belle Isle," "The Mod Squad"
Sabrina Plisco – "The Smurfs 2," "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow"
Tatiana S. Riegel – "Million Dollar Arm," "The Way, Way Back"
Julie Rogers – "Wreck-It Ralph," "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl"
Mark Sanger – "Gravity"
Joan Sobel – "Admission," "A Single Man"
Crispin Struthers – "American Hustle," "Silver Linings Playbook"
Tracey Wadmore-Smith – "About Last Night," "Death at a Funeral"
Joe Walker – "12 Years a Slave," "Shame"
John Wilson – "The Book Thief," "Billy Elliot"

Makeup Artists and Hairstylists

Vivian Baker – "Oz The Great and Powerful," "Conviction"
Adruitha Lee – "Dallas Buyers Club," "12 Years a Slave" 
Robin Mathews – "Dallas Buyers Club," "The Runaways"
Anne Morgan – "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," "A Little Bit of Heaven"
Gloria Pasqua-Casny – "The Lone Ranger," "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"


Peter Becker
Jeff Dashnaw 
Kenneth L. Halsband
Jody Levin
Tom MacDougall
Chuck Picerni, Jr.
Spiro Razatos 
Mic Rodgers
Kevin J. Yeaman


Kristen Anderson-Lopez – "Frozen," "Winnie the Pooh"
Stanley Clarke – "The Best Man Holiday," "Boyz N the Hood"
Earl Ghaffari – "Frozen," "Wreck-It Ralph"
Steve Jablonsky – "Lone Survivor," "Ender’s Game"
Robert Lopez – "Frozen," "Winnie the Pooh"
Steven Price – "Gravity," "The World’s End"
Tony Renis – "Hidden Moon," "Quest for Camelot"
Angie Rubin – "Pitch Perfect," "Sex and the City"
Buck Sanders – "Warm Bodies," "The Hurt Locker"
Charles Strouse – "All Dogs Go to Heaven," "Annie"
Eddie Vedder – "Eat Pray Love," "Into the Wild"
Pharrell Williams – "Despicable Me 2," "Fast & Furious"


Jason Blumenthal – "Hope Springs," "Seven Pounds"
Dana Brunetti – "Captain Phillips," "The Social Network"
Megan Ellison – "American Hustle," "Her"
Sean Furst – "Daybreakers," "The Cooler"
Nicola Giuliano – "The Great Beauty," "This Must Be the Place"
Preston Holmes – "Waist Deep," "Tupac: Resurrection"
Lynette M. Howell – "The Place beyond the Pines," "Blue Valentine"
Anthony Katagas – "12 Years a Slave," "Killing Them Softly"
Alix Madigan – "Girl Most Likely," "Winter’s Bone"
Paul Mezey – "The Girl," "Maria Full of Grace"
Stephen Nemeth – "The Sessions," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"
Tracey Seaward – "Philomena," "The Queen"
John H. Williams – "Space Chimps," "Shrek 2"

Public Relations

Larry Angrisani
Nancy Bannister
Christine Batista
Karen Hermelin
Marisa McGrath Liston
David Magdael
Steven Raphael
Bettina R. Sherick
Dani Weinstein

Short Films and Feature Animation

Didier Brunner – "Ernest & Celestine," "The Triplets of Belleville"
Scott Clark – "Monsters University," "Up"
Pierre Coffin – "Despicable Me 2," "Despicable Me"
Esteban Crespo – "Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)," "Lala"
Peter Del Vecho – "Frozen," "The Princess and the Frog"
Kirk DeMicco – "The Croods," "Space Chimps"
Doug Frankel – "Brave," "WALL-E"
Mark Gill – "The Voorman Problem," "Full Time"
David A. S. James – "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," "Megamind"
Fabrice Joubert – "Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax," "French Roast"
Jean-Claude Kalache – "Up," "Cars"
Jason Katz – "Toy Story 3," "Finding Nemo"
Jennifer Lee – "Frozen," "Wreck-It Ralph"
Baldwin Li – "The Voorman Problem," "Full Time"
Nathan Loofbourrow – "Puss in Boots," "How to Train Your Dragon"
Lauren MacMullan – "Get a Horse!," "Wreck-It Ralph"
Tom McGrath –  "Megamind," "Madagascar"
Dorothy McKim – "Get a Horse!," "Meet the Robinsons"
Hayao Miyazaki – "The Wind Rises," "Spirited Away"
Ricky Nierva – "Monsters University," "Up"
Chris Renaud – "Despicable Me 2," "Despicable Me"
Benjamin Renner – "Ernest & Celestine," "A Mouse’s Tale (La Queue de la Souris)"
Michael Rose – "Chico & Rita," "The Gruffalo"
Toshio Suzuki – "The Wind Rises," "Howl’s Moving Castle"
Selma Vilhunen – "Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitta? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?),"
"The Crossroads"  
Anders Walter – "Helium," "9 Meter"
Laurent Witz – "Mr. Hublot," "Renart the Fox"


Niv Adiri – "Gravity," "The Book Thief"
Christopher Benstead – "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," "Gravity"
Steve Boeddeker – "All Is Lost," "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Beau Borders – "Million Dollar Arm," "Lone Survivor"
David Brownlow – "Lone Survivor," "The Book of Eli"
Chris Burdon – "Captain Phillips," "Philomena"
Brent Burge – "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected
André Fenley – "How to Train Your Dragon 2," "All Is Lost"
Glenn Freemantle – "Gravity," "Slumdog Millionaire"
Greg Hedgepath – "Frozen," "The Incredible Hulk"
Craig Henighan – "Noah," "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
Tony Johnson – "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," "Avatar"
Laurent M. Kossayan – "Red Riding Hood," "Public Enemies"
Thomas L. Lalley – "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," "Star Trek Into Darkness"
Ai-Ling Lee – "Godzilla," "300: Rise of an Empire"
Stephen Morris – "Monsters University," "Fruitvale Station"
Jeremy Peirson – "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," "Looper"
Mike Prestwood Smith – "Divergent," "Captain Phillips"
Alan Rankin – "Iron Man 3," "Star Trek"
Oliver Tarney – "Captain Phillips," "Philomena"
Chris Ward – "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Visual Effects

Gary Brozenich – "The Lone Ranger," "Wrath of the Titans"
Everett Burrell – "Grudge Match," "Pan’s Labyrinth"
Marc Chu – "Noah," "Marvel’s The Avengers"
David Fletcher – "Sabotage," "Prisoners"
Swen Gillberg – "Ender’s Game," "Jack the Giant Slayer"
Paul Graff – "The Wolf of Wall Street," "Identity Thief"
Alex Henning – "Star Trek Into Darkness," "Hugo" 
Evan Jacobs – "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," "Olympus Has Fallen"
Chris Lawrence – "Edge of Tomorrow," "Gravity" 
Eric Leven – "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2," "The Twilight Saga: Breaking
            Dawn Part 1"
Steven Messing – "Godzilla," "Oz The Great and Powerful"
Ben Matthew Morris – "Lincoln," "The Golden Compass"
Jake Morrison – "Thor: The Dark World," "Marvel’s The Avengers"
Eric Reynolds – "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," "The Hunger Games: 
            Catching Fire"
David Shirk – "Gravity," "Elysium"
Patrick Tubach – "Star Trek Into Darkness," "Marvel’s The Avengers"
Bruno Van Zeebroeck – "Lone Survivor," "Public Enemies"
Tim Webber – "Gravity," "The Dark Knight"
Harold Weed – "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," "Star Trek"


Chantal Akerman – "A Couch in New York," "Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 
            1080 Bruxelles"
Olivier Assayas – "Summer Hours," "Irma Vep"
Craig Borten – "Dallas Buyers Club"
Scott Z. Burns – "Side Effects," "Contagion"
Jean-Claude Carrière – "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," "The Discreet Charm of
the Bourgeoisie"
Steve Coogan – "Philomena," "The Parole Officer"
Claire Denis – "White Material," "Beau Travail"
Larry Gross – "We Don’t Live Here Anymore," "48 Hrs."
Mathieu Kassovitz – "Babylon A.D.," "Hate (La Haine)"
Diane Kurys – "For a Woman," "Entre Nous"
Bob Nelson – "Nebraska"
Scott Neustadter – "The Spectacular Now," "(500) Days of Summer"
Jeff Pope – "Philomena," "Pierrepoint – The Last Hangman"
John Ridley – "12 Years a Slave," "Undercover Brother"
Paul Rudnick – "In & Out," "Jeffrey"
Eric Warren Singer – "American Hustle," "The International"
Melisa Wallack – "Dallas Buyers Club," "Mirror Mirror"
Michael H. Weber – "The Spectacular Now," "(500) Days of Summer"
Terence Winter – "The Wolf of Wall Street," "Get Rich or Die Tryin'"


Matt Del Piano
Joe Funicello
Robert Hohman
Paul Christopher Hook
David Kramer
Joel Lubin
David Pringle
Melanie Ramsayer
Beth Swofford
Meredith Wechter


Raymond Lo

Two movies not to miss this July 2014!

Here are two movies not to miss this July. I have been looking forward to Richar Linklater's "Boyhood" since its buzzy premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival and now it's finally opening! Another movie opening is a half-century old but whose influence in pop culture remains strong to this day. "A Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles have been restored and will be released in theaters, woohoo! Below are more information about the two movies.


Sundance sensation and Richard Linklater’s latest masterpiece "Boyhood" will finally open in Los Angeles on July 11, 2014. Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, "Boyhood" is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (featuring a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane,) who literally grows up on screen before our eyes.

Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette star as Mason's parents while newcomer Lorelei Linklater play his sister Samantha. The movie charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has done before. We get snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between… Set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue, "Boyhood" is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. It's impossible not to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey.

Released by IFC Films, the movie opens on July 11, 2014 in Los Angeles at the following theaters: Arclight Cinemas on Sunset in Hollywood and at The Landmark on Pico in West LA.


Who doesn’t know the Beatles?

American audiences will once again meet the Beatles through their first movie.

Backstory: Just one month after they exploded onto the U.S. scene with their Ed Sullivan appearance, John, Paul, George, and Ringo began working on a project that would bring their revolutionary talent to the big screen.

"A Hard Day's Night," in which the bandmates play wily, exuberant versions of themselves, captured the astonishing moment when they officially became the singular, irreverent idols of their generation and changed music forever. Directed with raucous, anything-goes verve by Richard Lester and featuring a slew of iconic pop anthems, including the title track, "Can't Buy Me Love," "I Should Have Known Better," and "If I Fell," A Hard Day's Night, which reconceived the movie musical and exerted an incalculable influence on the music video, is one of the most deliriously entertaining movies of all time.

This re-release is part of the 50th anniversary of the movie. The restoration used the latest in digital restoration technology. The Criterion Collection was able to restore "A Hard Day's Night" from the 35mm original camera negative, which, though incomplete, was in excellent condition. The missing material was taken from two original interpositives. The image was scanned in 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanner to retain the character of the film's original printing stock without any generational loss, and the raw data was carefully treated using a variety of digital tools to remove dirt, scratches, flicker, and other damage. The final result was approved by director Richard Lester, and is in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.75:1.

The movie opens July 4th Nationwide and will screen at the The Cinefamily in Los Angeles beginning Friday, July 4th through Thursday, July 10th.

Raymond Lo

LAFF2014: Film Reviews: "The Well", "A Thousand Times Goodnight", "The Road Within"

Los Angeles Film Festival Diary
Wednesday, June 18, 2015

"The Well"

"The Well" is an apocalyptic thriller set in a barren Oregon valley where water has become scarce. The valley has been without rain for over ten years and the once fertile land is slowly becoming a desert. The main protagonist is 17-yr-old Kendal (Haley Lu Richardson), who is the only healthy surviving occupant of a compound that once belonged to The Wallace Farm for Wayward Youth. The entire valley has been claimed by a sinister man who kills the old and the sick but keeps the young alive as part of his militia. This man is keen on killing anyone "stealing" water from his valley. Kendal has been successful at evading capture and survives by skillfully hiding a well inside an abandoned barn while tending to his sick boyfriend who is suffering from a kidney disease.

The film has enough atmosphere of dread but it doesn't fully rise to the promise of its subject matter. There is not enough and consistent suspense to fully engage the audience and the climactic combat feels forced unfortunately. Most of the characters are not fully developed and they seem to just pop in and out of the narrative whenever convenient. The presence of the little boy that Kendal is providing daily ration of water and his significance to the narrative (besides adding tension to the story) is somewhat lost to me, too.

This movie is probably designed to attract the midnight crowd but I don't think they will find the movie any different than how i find it. The photography is impressive.

Rating; 2 Stars

"The Road Within"

This movie can be easily described as a road movie that doesn't seem to go anywhere. It is bursting with endearing and winning performances from the three main protagonists. Robert Sheehan, Dev Patel and Zooey Kravits play young adults suffering from certain kinds of health challenges. Robert plays someone with a severe case of Tourette syndrome, Dev is obsessive-compulsive while Kravitz plays an anorexic woman who is just one heart attack away from dying.

The three meet in a rehabilitation facility and circumstances lead them to steal a car and drive to California to see the ocean. Their road trip is not without challenges. They fight, a couple fall in love and another realizes the potential of him finally getting well if he just takes that one extra step.

I wish I could say that i completely loved the movie. There was something missing in the movie. It is funny but not the kind that warms your heart. What is good about it is that it deals with serious mental and health issues lightheartedly without becoming offensive.

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

"A Thousand Times Goodnight"

We have all seen many pictures taken from war zones all over the world. The images we saw have moved us, some even compelled us to take some action. But have you ever wondered about the lives of the photo journalists who have risked their lives documenting those wars and taking those pictures so that the world learns of what's going on elsewhere? This movie tries to answer that question.

Juliette Binoche is Rebecca. She is a celebrated war photographer who also happens to be a wife and a mother of two girls. The movie tries to take us in to the domestic turmoil that Rebecca's job causes their family. Her husband is on the verge of giving up on the marriage while her eldest daughter can't seem to move on from the trauma brought by an incident that almost took her life.

The movie plays like a domestic drama but keeps the audience continuously reminded that there is a bigger conflict outside of this particular home that needs more attention. But how do you choose between your family and your vocation? Would you sacrifice your safety for the sake of bringing justice to the oppressed? Or, would you sacrifice your family for the same reason? Conversely, would you turn your back on the world just because your family fears for your life?

The movie is bookended by two powerful scenes set in Afghanistan. The scenes are similar but the power evoked by each scene is different. The opening scenes introduces us to the character of Rebecca while the closing sequence introduces us to her tortured soul --- and we all leave the theater shattered and broken with no confident answers to the question we raised. There's a silver lining, however, Juliette Binoche's terrific performance!

Rating: 4 Stars

Raymond Lo 

LAFF 2014 Winners!

The 20th Los Angeles Film Festival concluded today with the announcement of the winners. I am happy that one of the outstanding movies I saw, "Walking Under Water," received an award. I did not get to see the rest of the winning films and I hope to catch them soon - in regular theaters, i hope.

Below are the winners. Congratulations!

Los Angeles Film Festival 2014 Winners


Best International Feature: SOMEONE YOU LOVE
Best Music Video: TURN DOWN FOR WHAT
Best Documentary Feature: MEET THE PATELS
Best Narrative Feature: THE YOUNG KIESLOWSKI


Best Animated/Experimental Short Film: BUTTER LAMP
Best Narrative Short: THE RUNAWAY
Best Documentary Short: THE QUEEN

Documentary Jury Award: STRAY DOG
Honorable Documentary Jury Award: WALKING UNDER WATER
Narrative Jury Award: MAN FROM RENO
Special Jury Award for Cast: RECOMMENDED BY ENRIQUE

The festival will officially close with the premiere of Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the hit Broadway musical "Jersey Boys."

LAFF2014 Diary. Film Review: "Giuseppe Makes a Movie"

Los Angeles Film Festival Diary

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Giuseppe Makes a Movie
I was running late yesterday afternoon and couldn’t find a parking spot quickly – I had to wait for 7PM just so I can park along Olympic, which meant that I would be late to the 6:45PM screening of "Someone You Love". And I was. But it was, I suppose, one of those moments of serendipity. There are great movies at every film festivals that get lost in the mix and you don’t get to see them at all. Fortunately, last night was a different story because I think I saw the finest film screening at the festival this year!

There are movies that are so unpretentious, so honest, and so raw that you just can’t help but champion it. "Giuseppe Makes a Movie" is one of those movies. It’s been nearly 24 hours since I saw it but I still can’t stop myself from thinking about it. I have been telling my friends about it, tweeted and retweeted and I still can’t help myself from heaping it praise after praise to any friends who would care to listen.

Perhaps I was moved by Giuseppe’s unyielding passion for the movies or the filmmaker’s sincere and respectful tribute to him and his love of moviemaking. Or perhaps both, I don’t know. But what I know is I loved what I saw and what I experienced. It’s funny, gross, weird, bad – nearly everything that would normally offend me but for some reason did not.

"Giuseppe Makes a Movie" is Adam Rifkin’s documentary about Giuseppe Andrews as he was about to make his 30th feature. Giuseppe is a former child actor who just loves the movies. He is passionate about the films of Bunuel, Fassbinder, etc. and it is his dream to make a full-length movie in two days for only a thousand dollars budget. The documentary tracks those two days of unintended hilarity. If you can measure the amount of laughter the movie generated at its screening last night, you would think you are watching one of those widely-marketed comedies of James Franco (but this one is way better, FYI) instead of watching a movie shot in VHS.

What makes the movie successful is the subject character himself. He may appear weird or off-balance but you cannot doubt his sincerity and unbridled passion for the movies. He knows nobody’s going to be watching his movies outside of his crew but he doesn't care. A poet do not necessarily write a poem for the world to read, right? His supportive father is his producer and all-around crew while his girlfriend acts as his driver and occasional actress. His cast is mostly made up of his kind neighbors and his homeless friends. Their small community is not what one would traditionally associate with filmmaking but you cannot deny that their hearts are set on making a movie with Giuseppe at the helm and there’s no denying that. And we are fortunate that a group of "professional" filmmakers found the inspiration to document them in a movie and we are all now applauding them.

Rating: 5 Stars

August 20, 2015 Update:

I am so excited to learn that "Giuseppe..." is scheduled to be screened at the NuArt theater in Los Angeles in October! A sign of good things for this wonderful film!

See the trailer here: Warning [NSFW]

Raymond Lo

LAFF 2014. Film Reviews: "The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest", "Starred UP"

Los Angeles Film Festival Diary
Monday, June 16, 2014

Saw two films at the LAFF yesterday. And I loved both. Both dealt with stories about men in prison. One was a documentary called "The Life and Mind of Mark Defriest" – my favorite film at this year’s festival, so far, and another was this Irish feature film called "Starred Up", which was a tough film to watch but an excellent film nonetheless.

"The Life and Mind of Mark Defriest"

I have featured "The Life and Mind of Mark Defriest" (dir. Gabriel London) among the movies to watch at this year’s fest and I was not wrong. It is a gripping and frustrating piece of cinema. The film tells the story of Mark Defriest, whose initial brush with the law resulted in him being locked up for more than half his life now. He has been in jail since 1981 with no chance of ever getting out. He is infamous for his daring and creative escapes from prison and his tendency to disobey the rules inside the prison. The film tries to get inside his mind and mine some information that could somewhat explain why someone whose initial "crime" was "stealing" some tools that his father willed to him would end up in a state prison alongside the likes of Ted Bundy and other notorious criminals. His story is both frustrating and heartbreaking. The penal system is in place so that thr public can be protected from criminals but sometimes the rules that were meticulously crafted works against the very individual it is supposed to protect. Mark’s case is an aberration. The system could have helped him years ago if he was only diagnosed correctly. He could have been one of the most brilliant artists of our time, he could have become somebody but instead he is languishing in jail with little hope of ever gaining freedom.

The filmmaking in "Mark Defriest" is astounding. The animation combined with archival footage make for an incredible, riveting and eye-opening cinematic experience.

Rating: 5 Stars

"Starred Up"

The opening sequence of "Starred Up" reminds one of the opening scenes of "A Prophet." But the similarities end there. Whereas "A Prophet" chronicled the rise of a gangster, "Starred Up" gives us a rare look into the life of a young violent offender transitioning into adulthood. This film from Irish filmmaker David MacKenzie is a tough one to watch. I would describe the narrative approach as lighthearted if only because the movie offers some laughs that somewhat mitigates the violence that threatens to erupt anytime. The film is set inside a prison and the audience would somewhat feel the isolation and frustration of being inside one while watching the movie. It does not look down into the criminals but instead humanizes them and makes them as relatable as possible to us. I am not sure if I should reveal here the central story but I would rather not. But I would cite the outstanding performances turned in by the cast specially the anguished performance of newcomer Jack O’Connell.

If I have one minor criticism about the movie it would be the lack of subtitles because the accents are sometimes too difficult to decipher and it somewhat lessens the audience's ability to grasp what's going on.

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Raymond Lo

LAFF2014. Film Reviews: "The Liberator", "The Overnighters", "Walking Under Water"

Los Angeles Film Festival Diary
Sunday, June 15, 2014

I missed the first four days of the LA Film Festival because of some personal matters that i had to attend to. (I am interviewing for a new day job!)

So, I went yesterday and saw three films. One was a feature film about the heroic life of Venezuela's national hero Simon Bolivar and two documentaries.
The cast of "The Liberator" introducing the film at its
LAFF screening last night.

"The Liberator" is an excellent biopic about Bolivar and features an outstanding performance by Edgar Ramirez and a truly memorable score by Venezuela's pride Gustavo Dudamel! The film chronicles the life of Bolivar from his privileged childhood to his revolutionary struggles to liberate South America from the Spaniards. It's both an epic and an intimate look at a hero that is not as popular as his modern-day Latin American equivalents but whose achievements far surpass that of many. 

Rating: 5 Stars

The author with "The Overnighters" director Jessy Moss

"The Overnighters" is a remarkable American documentary about a pastor who housed the homeless migrants searching for jobs in an oil town in North Dakota. The filmmaker shot the film over 18 months with zero crew to assist him. Amazing! The documentary also had a surprising conclusion that somewhat detracts from the main subject but offers a glimpse into the fortuitous possibilities of documentary filmmaking.

3 Stars 

"Walking Under Water" is a fascinating docu-drama about the disappearing culture of the Badjao tribe in the islands of Borneo. The underwater photography is splendid and the film powerful. Some scenes call to mind Dante Mendoza's "Thy Womb" but this movie has a far better scope, resonates more and feels more authentic.

4 ½ Stars

On first glance, it would seem that the three films I saw share nothing in common but i like to find some common thread in the movies i watch on the same day (call it festival programming, I suppose) and I like to make a narrative of the films and try to rationalize why each one complements the other. And I found one:

The films are about people waging to varying degrees a battle against seemingly insurmountable odds.

In "The Overnightert", the jobless and homeless are fighting for their dignity. In "Walking Under Water", the Badjao people are fighting for their identity. And in "The Liberator", the oppressed are fighting for liberty.

In that regard, I invite you all to consider helping the young protagonist of "Walking Under Water" in securing a bright future for himself. Please help. Thanks.

Raymond Lo

2014 Tony Winners

I did not get to watch last night's Tonys in its entirety. I missed Adele Dazeem's performance but i was able to catch Neal Patrick Harris bring the house down with his Hedwig performance - i wish i was in NY now and holding a ticket to the show. I wonder if he is still part of the cast, though.

Here are last night's big winners!


Musical: "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder"
Book of a Musical: Robert L. Freedman, "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder"
Original Score: Jason Robert Brown, "The Bridges of Madison County"
Musical Revival: "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Actor, Musical: Neil Patrick Harris, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Actress, Musical: Jessie Mueller, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"
Featured Actor, Musical: James Monroe Iglehart, "Aladdin"
Featured Actress, Musical: Lena Hall, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Direction, Musical: Darko Tresnjak, "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder"
Choreography: Warren Carlyle, "After Midnight"
Orchestrations: Jason Robert Brown, "The Bridges of Madison County"
Scenic Design, Musical: Christopher Barreca, "Rocky"
Costume Design, Musical: Linda Cho, "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder"
Lighting Design, Musical: Kevin Adams, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Sound Design, Musical: Brian Ronan, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"

Play: "All the Way"
Play Revival: "A Raisin in the Sun"
Actor, Play: Bryan Cranston, "All the Way"
Actress, Play: Audra McDonald, "Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill"
Featured Actor, Play: Mark Rylance, "Twelfth Night"
Featured Actress, Play: Sophie Okonedo, "A Raisin in the Sun"
Direction, Play: Kenny Leon, "A Raisin in the Sun"
Scenic Design, Play: Beowulf Boritt, "Act One"
Costume Design, Play: Jenny Tiramani, "Twelfth Night"
Lighting Design, Play: Natasha Katz, "The Glass Menagerie"
Sound Design, Play: Steve Canyon Kennedy, "Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill"


Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater:
Jane Greenwood

Regional Theater Award:
Signature Theater, New York

Isabelle Stevenson Award:
Rosie O’Donnell

Tony Honors for Excellence:
Joseph P. Benincasa
Joan Marcus
Charlotte Wilcox

Raymond Lo

LAFF 2014: 2 LGBT Themed Movies Not to Miss!

OutFest is still over a month away but it sure feels like movie buffs are going to get a preview of the type of movie selections to be had next month with two of the LGBT themed movies that are premiering at next week's Los Angeles Film Festival.

The first movie "Love is Strange" is an Australian fictional story about two men in love while the other, "Limited Partnership", is a powerful documentary about the gay couple who trailblazed the gay marriage rights advocacy in America.

Here are the two movies. Make sure you include them in your must-watch list.

This film by Thomas G. Miler 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.

During a lifetime filled with legal challenges, Richard and Tony figured out how to maintain their sense of humor, justice and whenever possible, their privacy. Their personal tale parallels the history of the LGBT marriage and immigration equality movements, from the couple signing their marriage license in Colorado, to the historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage in June 2013. 
"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 a precedent-setting as it is little know until now.

The movie will hold its World Premiere at the festival (it will also screen at next month's OutFest) on Saturday, June 14, 2014, 2:25PM at the Regal Cinemas LA Live.


In "Love is Strange", Ben and George have lived and loved together for 39 years when they are finally allowed to marry. Surrounded by family and friends in their beloved New York City apartment, their wedding is a joyous event. But when the Catholic School where George works as a music teacher finds out, he loses his job, and soon after they have to give up their apartment and are forced to live apart, moving in with family and friends, whose own complicated lives are strained by houseguests who never seem to leave.

John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play Ben and George, and the chemistry between them is palpable and deeply felt. Poignant and perceptive, with a sterling cast that includes Marisa Tomei and Cheyenne Jackson, Ira Sach's luminous film is a quiet revelation: a beautiful, multi-generational ode to love, family and the wonders and pitfalls of big city life.

The Gala Screening for this movie will be held on Thursday, June 12, 2014, 7:30PM at LACMA's Leo S. Bing Theatre.

If you don't see any parallels in these two films, I failed to communicate with you.

See you at the festival!

Raymond De Asis Lo

LAFF 2014 Coverage: "They Came Together"

The 20th Los Angeles Film Festival starts in 5 days. If you are planning to attend the festival, you should have made your list of movies to watch by now. If you check the other posts I made to this blog in recent days, I have featured several titles that may be of interest to you. Surely, we cannot watch all the programmed movies so it is best to make a list. And you should do it now! :)

Anyways, Film Independent announced today a new inclusion to the line-up. The festival will now include
Lionsgate’s They Came Together in the Summer Showcase section. The movie originally premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

They Came Together
is directed by David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer, Wanderlust, Role Models) and features a massive all-star cast, among them, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Max Greenfield, Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Jason Mantzoukas, Melanie Lynskey, Ed Helms, Michael Ian Black, Michael Murphy, Kenan Thompson, Jack McBrayer, Ken Marino, Teyonah Parris, Zandy Hartig, Noureen DeWulf, Michaela Watkins, Randall Park and Erinn Hayes.

In this send up of the Hollywood romantic comedy, Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler star as a Manhattan couple who meet (cute, of course) on Halloween, both dressed as Ben Franklin. It’s hate at first sight, then love at second, then the obligatory complications, including his sexy ex and her psychotic one. Can the girl who runs a little candy store called Upper Sweet Side stay in love with a man who works for a big candy corporation that wants to run her out of business?

The film screens on Monday, June 16 at 8:00 pm with an encore screening on Thursday, June 19 at 2PM. Commercially, will release the film simultaneously in theaters and On Demand on June 27.

The reviews to this movie are amazing. But i don't need any reviews to make me go watch the movie. I only need one name: Amy Poehler, and i am in.

See you at the festival!

Raymond De Asis Lo