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Stephen King’s “It” Tops North American Box Office for 2nd Weekend

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Following its record-breaking debut last week, American horror movie “It” continues to lead North American box office for the second weekend in a row with an estimated USD60 million in its second weekend.

Warner Bros. and New Line’s latest movie is based on renowned horror writer Stephen King’s 1986 novel of the same name. Directed by Andy Muschietti and made for around USD35 million, the movie tells the story of seven children in Derry, Maine, who are terrorized by the eponymous being.

“It” has brought in a whopping USD 218.7 million in box office sales after only 10 days in North American theaters. The movie also continues to break records overseas, earning USD60.3 million in 56 markets. This brings its international running cumulative to USD152.6 million and the worldwide tally to USD 371.3 million, according to studio figures collected by comScore.

Lionsgate’s “American Assassin” opened in the second place with an estimated USD14.8 million. The action thriller movie is an adaptation of Vince Flynn’s 2010 novel of the same name. The movie follows young CIA

black ops recruit Mitch Rapp, who helps a Cold War veteran try to stop the launching of a nuclear weapon in the Middle East.

Another newcomer, Paramount’s horror film “Mother!”, opened in the third place, with an estimated USD7.5 million.

Open Road Films’ romantic comedy “Home Again” landed in the fourth place with an estimated USD5.33 million in its second weekend.

Lionsgate’s action comedy film “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” dropped to the fifth place with an estimated USD3.55 million in its fifth weekend. (Xinhua)

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Psychological Zombie Thriller “The Cured” Opens February 28

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In a post-zombie era fuming with rage and controlled by fear, “The Cured” takes us to a world where zombies and humans can co-exist, a world where zombies can be humans again.

First screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the film stars Academy Award nominee Ellen Page (Juno) who plays Abbie in this psychological zombie-thriller that is sure to make you question how you think of zombies and the steps people in the society will take to reintegrate them into the normal.

“The Cured” is set in Ireland after 75% of the zombie-turning Maze virus was cured, Senan (Sam Keeley) is one of the zombie-turned-human who is set out to rebuild his life after returning to life. Senan’s sister-in-law Abbie (Page) is willing to give him a second chance. She lets him live with her and her young son despite the knowledge of Senan’s acts before the cure. But as an angry anti-cured movement burgeons in tandem with an increasingly radicalized pro-cured movement, Abbie is forced to question just how far her trust could go before it goes into oblivion.

Critics have praised the story for it’s different take on zombie movies, Heart and Mail gave “The Cured” a 4 out of 5, saying that the film was “Heartbreaking, compelling and terrifying, a quick way to re-examine our capacity for forgiveness, tolerance and above all, fear.”

The Hollywood Reporter sees it as a “clever concept that’s fairly well executed, if a tad contrived in spats, with tension that slowly boils to the surface as the zombies inevitably come back for a bite.”

As a filmmaker, “The Cured” director David Freyne’s passion has always been making smart genre films, with a particularly morbid fascination with zombies. “It is a genre that can, at its best, brilliantly reflect contemporary issues. Once I started thinking about what would happen if there were a cure to such a zombie infection, I couldn’t stop. What does it mean to be an ex-zombie? The idea of the cured being haunted with the memories of what they did while infected was terrifying and, above all, heartbreaking. The thought kept swirling in my mind: Would their families accept them? Can you ever truly become human again? The characters formed and then the world of the THE CURED built around it.,” Freyne explains.

The director began writing “The Cured” film as the bailouts and protests spread throughout Europe. There was and still is this intense mood of anger amongst the people, which fused with his writing. It was all about people suffering and being held responsible for things beyond their control, just as the cured are.

“For me the best genre films are those that are brilliant character pieces at their heart. Films like Alien, The Orphanage, Let the Right One In or Children of Men. It has always been my ambition to make films like these, which manage to be both tense genre pieces while reflecting the world we live in.  Ultimately THE CURED is about fear. It’s not just the fear of the infected or the fear of infection. It’s the fear of within, of what we are capable of when scared.

Get ready as “The Cured” finds itself scratching into Cinemas nationwide starting February 28, distributed by Axinite Digicinema.

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An Enthralling Escape to Fantasy in “The Shape of Water” on February 21 Nationwide

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“The Shape of Water” brings its audience into a mysterious government facility in Baltimore where, in the deepest recesses of the lab, an amphibious creature (played by Doug Jones) is being studied for its unusual abilities. As Agent Strickland (Michael Shannon) demands for it to be killed and autopsied, Dr. Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) insists that the creature’s secrets can only be revealed with a lighter touch.

But it’s the facility’s quietest employee who realises the truest connection to the creature. Mute cleaner Elisa (Sally Hawkins) feels a strange affinity with this mysterious visitor from the deep. And as the men in charge prevaricate, she resolves to release the creature from its captors, with the aid of her colleague Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her next door neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins).

The movie is directed by award winning director Guillermo Del Toro who is best renowned for his three inspired Spanish-language films that reinvent and upend the very notion of genre:  the multiple Oscar®-winning “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Cronos,” and “The Devil’s Backbone.”  Each is a vivid phantasmagoria navigating the moral and physical dangers of a world of corruption, authoritarianism and war.  His supernatural action epics are equally as inventive – “Blade II,” the “Hellboy” series, and “Pacific Rim,” as well as his gothic romance “Crimson Peak.”

THE SHAPE OF WATER follows in that tradition, but this time in socially divided 1960s America on the brink of nuclear war and sweeping cultural changes.  Del Toro weaves in the dizzying landscape of falling in love, as a lonely woman with a traumatic past discovers a love so overpowering it defies suspicion, fear and biology.

Del Toro opens his tale deep underwater. From there the entire film becomes an act of breathless submersion, plunging the audience into a 1960s world full of things we recognize – power, anger, intolerance; as well as loneliness, determination and sudden, electrifying connections – and one extraordinary creature we do not.  An inexplicable biological “asset” of the U.S. government, a mute cleaning woman, her loving best friends, Soviet spies and an audacious theft all flow into a singular romance that surges beyond all boundaries.

Within Del Toro’s storytelling, the themes of good and evil, innocence and menace, the historical and the eternal, beauty and monstrosity weave in and out of each other, revealing that no darkness can ever fully defeat the light.  Summarizes Del Toro:  “I like to make movies that are liberating, that say it’s okay to be whoever you are, and it seems that at this time, this is very pertinent.”  It was also paramount that there be an extraordinary collection of actors.

Exploring the idea of love and its barriers, internal and external, was paramount to Del Toro.  “I wanted to create a beautiful, elegant story about hope and redemption as an antidote to the cynicism of our times.  I wanted this story to take the form of a fairytale in that you have a humble human being who stumbles into something grander and more transcendental than anything else in her life.  And then I thought it would be a great idea to juxtapose that love against something as banal and evil as the hatred between nations, which is the Cold War, and the hatred between people due to race, color, ability and gender.”

The fact that the film’s two leads don’t speak, not conventionally anyway, only heightens the love story by stripping away the miscommunications that often stand between humans. “One thing about love is that it is so incredibly powerful, it doesn’t require words,” says Del Toro.

“The Shape of Water” opens February 21 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox.

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“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” Is a Must-See Film Before This Year’s Academy Awards – Now in Select Cinemas in Philippines

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A last stand erupts in director Martin McDonagh’s trip into small town America in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” as a mother is pushed to the edge by her daughter’s unsolved murder.  The film is the third from Martin McDonagh, the Irish playwright, screenwriter and director known for the hit thriller “In Bruges,” with its Oscar® nominated and BAFTA winning Screenplay, and the crime comedy “Seven Psychopaths.”

At the core of the movie is Mildred’s conflict with Ebbing’s Chief of Police.  “The story is a war between two people who are both to some degree in the right,” McDonagh notes, “and that’s where so much of the tension and drama arises.”  Those tensions become the exploration for what happens when rage can’t be calmed.  As the tension mounts, the film delves into themes of division, anger and moral reckoning.

Playing Mildred Hayes, who sets the events of THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI in motion, is Frances McDormand.  McDormand made her film debut in the Coen Brothers’ noir classic BLOOD SIMPLE and has gone on to a career that includes garnering the Triple Crown of Tony, Emmy and Oscar® awards.  With the character, McDormand explored a tradition long reserved for men:  the lone hero who defiantly stands off against a town.

McDormand made the force of Mildred’s grief central to her performance.  “Mildred is really not a hero,” McDormand points out.  “She’s a much more complicated person than that.  She’s been left by grief in a no man’s land, in a place of no return.  One of the things I latched onto as I was thinking about Mildred is that there is no word in most languages for the position she is in. If you lose a husband, you’re a widow; if you lose a parent, you’re an orphan.  But there is no word for a parent who has lost a child because it’s just not supposed to happen biologically.  It’s something beyond the capacity of language – and that’s where Mildred has been left, so she goes for broke.”

For McDonagh, the trajectory towards a scrap of light, however slim and hazy, was inevitable because that is what keeps him going.  “I think there’s something quite hopeful about the film in Mildred’s single-mindedness and also in Willoughby’s decency,” the writer-director concludes.  “The way Frances plays Mildred you are stirred, despite the dark, dark place she is coming from and all the unhicertainty that surrounds her war. I hope audiences will be moved and amused and maybe angry at times.  Mostly, I hope they’ll feel they were just told a rich and somewhat unexpected type of story.”

A 20th Century  Fox film, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is now showing in the following cinemas:  Century City, Commerce, Eastwood, Festival Mall, Fisher Mall, For a, Gateway, Shangri-La Mall, Vista Bataan, Vista Daang Hari, Vista Las Piñas, Vista Pampanga and Vista Sta. Rosa.

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Doug Jones Takes on the Shape of Sexy Male Amphibian in Award-Winning “The Shape of Water”

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Doug Jones has made a career out of playing monsters, ghouls and creatures of myth. The former contortionist is a legend in sci-fi, fantasy and horror circles for his unique ability to morph into roles as diverse as the Thin Clown in “Batman Returns,” Joey in “Men in Black 2” and the Silver Surfer in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.” He recently played a series regular on “Star Trek: Discovery,” as the alien being Lt. Saru.

He’s best known for his collaborations with Guillermo del Toro, which started in 1997 with “Mimic,” and continued with roles in “Hellboy” and “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” as Abe Sapien; “Pan’s Labyrinth,” as The Faun and The Pale Man; and most recently “The Strain” and “Crimson Peak.”

But their latest work together on “The Shape of Water” might be definitive. Jones’ amphibian creature is both the love interest and one of the principal leads of del Toro’s film, and it requires every tool in Jones’ arsenal to realise.   Set in the height of the Cold War and during the space race, “The Shape of Water” brings its audience into a mysterious government facility in Baltimore where, in the deepest recesses of the lab, an amphibious creature (Jones) is being studied for its unusual abilities. As Strickland (Michael Shannon), in charge of security, demands for it to be killed and autopsied, Dr. Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) insists that the creature’s secrets can only be revealed with a lighter touch.

But it’s the facility’s quietest employee who realises the truest connection to the creature. Mute cleaner Elisa (Sally Hawkins) feels a strange affinity with this mysterious visitor from the deep. And as the men in charge prevaricate, she resolves to release the creature from its captors, with the aid of her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her next door neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins).  Doug Jones, in the following short q&a expounds on creating a sexy fish man, and the fruitful journey he’s had with del Toro.

Q: Guillermo is also always incredible sympathetic to “monsters” in his films: he wants to show their good side.

A: Oh gosh, yes. He’s the most quotable man in the world, as you know. He’s always said, “There will always be a monster on my call sheet.” 11 times now that has been me. Yet he’s a brilliant visionary at the same time. He’s very grown up, but he’s never lost the child. That’s why you’ll see lots of child characters in his stories. Even in this story, in THE SHAPE OF WATER, the role of Elisa is very childlike. Sally Hawkins is channelling this beautiful childlike character that does have a very vulnerable side. He taps into that, a familiar place in all of us, with every character that he creates. He really does.

Q: Where does the physicality come from?

A: First of all, you look at the ecology, the ecosystem, you’ve got human and you’ve got fish. You have to combine the two somehow. This fish man is a bit more masculine, he’s more athletic even, I think. He’s more of a threat than other fish men I’ve played before. Especially with Strickland, he and I have a tete-a-tete a couple times where taunts me and I strike back.   They’ve taken me out of my habitat. I’m scared, and so I’m reacting like a caged tiger. It takes Sally’s character to tame me, we’re both wounded souls in some way.

Q: How do you feel the allegory of the story reflects the world we’re living in?

A: Another thing that Guillermo does love to do, he loves to buck authority when authority doesn’t know what it’s doing. That’s another theme you’ll see in a lot of his movies. In this case, we have the US government trying to beat the Russians to space, or whatever, whatever that era was doing. Again, he loves the underdog. I think that comes from a place in him, where so many of us and so many of his fans and the lovers of his work are underdogs in our own life.

 “The Shape of Water” opens February 21 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox.

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