Friday, December 29, 2023

Becky & Badette

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Bestfriends Becky (Eugene Domingo) and Badette (Pokwang) were voted most likely to succeed when they graduated from high school, but despite their own share of talents, life has not been kind to either one of them. Now middle aged and still living with their moms one floor above a gay bar, the two are hesitant to go to their class reunion knowing they have nothing to be proud of. After class bully Nirvana (Agot Isidro) convinces them to come, she hatches a plot to make fun of them at the party. Being their usual selves, the duo comes up with an impromptu skit pretending to be lesbian lovers, just for show. As the video of their fake public confession becomes a viral hit around which many lesbians decide to rally, the two BFFs are suddenly inundated with opportunities that dramatically turn their lives around. As they enjoy their new status as the country’s prime lesbian power couple, their lie stares them in the face demanding for authenticity. Will they give in?

Thursday, December 28, 2023

GomBurZa

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A brewing turf war for the control of the prosperous Antipolo parish pits Spain-born friars against their local born secular counterparts. Leading the charge for the Filipino clergy is Pedro Pelaez (Piolo Pascual), the liberal diocesan administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila. When he is fatally buried under the rubble in the wake of the great earthquake of Manila in 1863, his advocacy is continued by his apprentice Jose Burgos (Cedrick Juan), who instigates reforms by instilling nationalist values in his students’ minds, among them Paciano Rizal Mercado (Elijah Canlas) and Felipe Buencamino (Tommy Alejandrino). Aided by the elder Mariano Gomez (Dante Rivero), Burgos becomes the primary target of the friars. As the tides turn brought upon by the arrival of a conservative governor general, Gomez, Burgos, and gambler Jacinto Zamora (Enchong Dee) are falsely charged with mutiny and end up condemned to death via garrote. Witnessed by a young Jose Rizal, their death serves as the inspiration for his novel El Filibusterismo, dedicated to three martyr priests dubbed as GomBurZa.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Firefly

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As he prepares to receive a literary award, children’s book author Antonio Alvaro (Dingdong Dantes) is grilled by an inquisitive journalist investigating claims of alleged plagiarism. To prove his innocence, he recounts his childhood as a scrawny kid everyone referred to as Tonton (Euwenn Mikaell), back when his world revolved around his grand auntie Linda (Cherry Pie Picache) and his mother Elay (Alessandra de Rossi) as well as her stories about a mystical island of fireflies. Forced to find the island on his own using her clues and a colorful map he himself drew, the young Tonton relies on the kindness of strangers along the way. Reluctant at first, ex-convict Louie (Epy Quizon), heartbroken teenager Billy (Miguel Tanfelix), and scammer Erika (Ysabel Ortega) all end up helping the young boy as he ventures out into the unknown to prove to everyone and to himself that the island does exist.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Broken Hearts Trip

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Reality show host Alfred (Christian Bables) spearheads a new TV show, putting together an ensemble of broken hearted gays to compete for a one million peso prize by completing challenges set all around the country. Mark (Petite) is left to take care of his boyfriend’s daughter after he abandons them. Ali (Marvin Yap) loses his restaurant and basically everything in his life after his foreigner boyfriend ditches him for another guy, sending him on a downward spiral. Bernie Varga (Iyah Mina) is a gay beauty pageant veteran who has never won a crown and is caught in a love triangle with his boyfriend and the boyfriend’s pregnant girlfriend. Alex (Andoy Ranay) is a go-getter executive who is scammed by his boylet, the total  amounting to five million pesos. Has-been matinee idol Jason (Teejay Marquez) aims to use the exposure to regain his career after falling out of grace for being outed against his will.

Monday, December 25, 2023

When I Met You in Tokyo

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OFWs Azon (Vilma Santos) and Joey (Christopher de Leon) meet in Tokyo in not so ideal circumstances, starting off with mutual animosity. She has been working in Japan for quite some time already but it seems as though her efforts are for naught as her younger brother Marlon (Gabby Eigenmann) spends all her remittances on gambling. He, on the other hand, is annulled from his wife Susan (Gina Alajar) and finds it hard to forgive her for leaving him for another man even after all this time. As Azon and Joey continue to bump into each other almost everywhere and share their personal problems with one another, they find a reason to start anew. Encouraged by their respective friends to give each other a chance, they end up seeing each other in a different light. Thus begins a late romance, perhaps what she would like to refer to as a “soulmate”.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Saltburn

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Socially-awkward Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) gets into Oxford on a scholarship and immediately feels out of place in a crowd of privileged peers. He is quickly smitten with co-freshmen Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), towards whom the entire college appears to gravitate. He falls into his orbit through a random act of kindness and next thing he knows, they are suddenly operating within the same social circle. Receiving news of his father’s passing, Oliver is consoled by his newfound friend and invited to their massive estate called Saltburn to unwind for the summer. There Oliver meets Felix’s eccentric family: his father Sir James (Richard E. Grant); his mother Lady Elspeth (Rosamund Pike); his “sexually incontinent” sister Venetia (Alison Oliver) as well as his poor American cousin Farleigh Start (Archie Madekwe) who constantly bullies him. Amused and bemused by the barrage of opulence, Oliver starts to charm his way into the family dynamics, but can he really force his way into a world where he obviously does not belong?

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Maestro

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"A work of art does not answer questions, it provokes them; and its essential meaning is in the tension between the contradictory answers." 70-year-old Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper) looks back at his life as a conductor and composer which leads him all back to his wife. 1943. Felicia Montealegre Cohn (Carey Mulligan) meets Lenny at a party right after his conducting debut at the New York Philharmonic taking over for a conductor who got ill. Despite knowledge of his sexual orientation, the two hit it off right away and form a relationship. By the mid-50’s, they would become a fixture in New York’s high society scene: him as a successful conductor; her as a Broadway actress. Soon they welcome three children and face the challenges of married life. Despite staying married to one another, they begin to pursue separate lives but are brought back together when she is diagnosed with lung cancer.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

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Dr. Stephen Shin (Randall Park), a marine biologist obsessed with Atlantis, leads an Antarctic expedition for David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) where they stumble upon the remains of Necrus, the lost 7th kingdom of Atlantis led by a tyrannical ruler who made a vow to come back from the dead. They stumble upon a mythical black trident that links its wielder to the lost civilization and grants supernatural strength, which Kane plans to use to exact vengeance on Aquaman (Jason Momoa). His mining of Orichalcum, a substance that can be weaponized to accelerate global warming, poses a risk to both land and sea-dwellers, prompting Arthur to leave his now busy life as father and king to pursue the enemy. He breaks his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) out of his desert prison to team up so they can defeat Black Manta, but can he really trust the former king of Atlantis who wants nothing more than his demise for usurping his throne?

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Tabing Ilog the Musical (PETA)

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A group of friends vow to return to their childhood town of San Juan but never do. Conservative barrio lass Eds (Jhoanna Robles) wants to be a teacher despite her mother prodding her to opt for something more practical. Her boyfriend Rovic (JL Toreliza) is sweet and all but is secretly romancing other girls nearby. Badong (Jude Hinumdum) is running for a councillor position. Amboy James (Kobie Brown) is at odds with his mother regarding his potential relocation to Cebu. He gets a surprise visit from schoolmate Andoy (Omar Udin) who might have feelings for him. George (Andi Abaya) hands out crystal bracelets for good vibes and wants to lead the group on a spiritual journey. Her ex-boyfriend Fonzy (Vino Mabalot) is still avoiding all of them after their break up while his sister Corrine (Miah Canton) gets a surprise pregnancy scare. Will the death of a teacher bring the gang back together or is it about time to just call it quits?

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Yu Yu Hakusho - Episode 5


Episode 5
As the sinkhole gets larger and releases more Yokai, Koenma leverages the human world’s safety on a bet with Sakyo, knowing the temporary barrier he has put in place wouldn’t last. While Kuwabara gets to hurt the older Toguro with his spirit sword, the latter's body reforming capabilities are just too hard to defeat and he ends up chasing the trio all the way to the main arena where his younger brother and Yusuke are engaged in a battle. Hiei and Kurama arrive a bit earlier to turn that duel into a three-against-one, but are easily overpowered given their weakened condition. The older Toguro summarizes the relationship between his brother and Master Genkai as well as narrates her death through a puppet show. Annoyed, his brother sends him flying far away, presumably with no chance of reforming this time around. As the younger Toguro gives Kuwabara a seemingly fatal blow and zeroes in on Keiko and Yukina to unleash Yusuke’s potential, he finally releases his inherited spirit wave orb, putting an end to his enemy. Yukina heals Kuwabara and they all head back to the mainland.

Yu Yu Hakusho - Episode 4


Episode 4
The reason for their invitation to the island becomes clear, as the quartet are informed about Sakyo’s intention of putting them in a mini tournament with some Yokai for the delight of bored gazillionaires in search of an otherworldly gladiator good time. Should they win, Yusuke gets to be reunited with Keiko; Hiei with his sister Yukina (Ai Mikami). Along the way, Kurama is ambushed by Karasu (Hiroya Shimizu) and his bombs, forcing him to unleash his white fox form. Even though his Yokai form doesn’t prove to be enough, Kurama defeats the enemy with a clever plant seeding technique. Hiei squares off with a giant axe wielding Yokai called Bui whom he beats with his black dragon technique after they get bored sword/axe fighting. Kuwabara runs into Keiko and falls in love at first sight with Yukina. As the trio find a way to safety, they are chased by a bloodthirsty Yokai and then cornered by the older Toguro. Meanwhile, Yusuke finds himself in the main arena and comes face to face with the younger Toguro.

Yu Yu Hakusho - Episode 3


Episode 3
Sakyo airlifts his business partner and the captive maiden, Hiei's sister, to his lair on Kubikukuri Island where he holds a fight club of Yokai for bored filthy rich people to bet on. He introduces him to the Toguro Brothers (Kenichi Takito & Go Ayano) who he promises will take care of his pursuers. Yusuke’s confrontation with Hiei ends in humiliation; the latter no longer exerting any effort to fight the former who is clearly inferior. As such, Botan takes him to Master Genkai (Meiko Kaji) to train, with Kuwabara inviting himself and tagging along. Kuwabara managing to unleash his spirit sword through sheer grit and determination inspires Yusuke to enhance his spirit gun before Genkai passes on her spirit wave orb to him. As the two leave after their training, the younger Toguro brother, an old ally of Genkai, comes over to finish her off. Keiko is abducted by the older Toguro, forcing Yusuke to team up with Hiei, Kurama, and Kuwabara as they are invited over to Sakyo’s island for unknown reasons.

Yu Yu Hakusho - Episode 2


Episode 2
Three dangerous objects from the spirit world are stolen by three Yokai. Unable to master his spirit gun, Yusuke faces Goki, the first one who holds an orb that consumes the souls of human children, with a disadvantage. He ends up defeating him as his concern for the kid he died for finally triggers his power. The second one, red-haired Kurama (Jun Shison), leads him to a hospital where he intends to use the mirror of darkness that grants wishes to save his dying human mother, in exchange for his life. Yusuke intervenes and offers half of his life force, gaining Kurama’s trust in the process. The third, Hiei (Kanata Hongo) utilizes the dagger they stole to pry open his third eye, which he uses to find a young maiden who sheds tears of ice being held hostage by Sakyo’s business associate. Yusuke’s rival and frenemy Kuwabara (Shuhei Uesugi) follows him around and bugs him, apparently knowing all about the Yokai and being able to see Botan despite her not being visible to the ordinary human eye.

Yu Yu Hakusho - Episode 1


Episode 1
A giant sinkhole linking the human and demon worlds emerges in the middle of the city within the property of rich casino mogul Sakyo (Goro Inagaki). Roundworm monsters fly out and infect random individuals including a driver who ends up running his truck into a pedestrian road. Cocky 17-year-old troublemaker Yusuke Urameshi (Takumi Kitamura) leaps in front of the vehicle without hesitation, saving a little boy before getting dragged to his death. His selfless act is seen as an anomaly by the spirit world, where his spirit guide Botan (Kotone Furukawa) takes him to meet her boss Koenma (Keita Machida), who offers him a deal to give his life back in exchange for being a spirit detective. Initially reluctant, he agrees in order to save his childhood friend Keiko (Sei Shiraishi) who rushes into his burning house to save his newly revived body. He succeeds in his first mission, that of saving a classmate infected with the Roundworm monster, a feat too simple compared to the challenges that lie ahead.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Red, White & Royal Blue

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US presidential son Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez) and spare to the British throne Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine) share the same amount of rabid animosity towards one another which culminates in a royal scandal as they end up on the floor with a GBP 75,000 wedding cake on them. As damage control, President Ellen Claremont (Uma Thurman) sends her son flying back to London on a series of media appearances with the prince to save her reelection bid and pledges of support from the current UK administration. As the two lads go through the motions, they begin to get to know each other better, with one drunk kiss enough to fan the flames of concealed desires they didn’t know existed. As the two become more intimate with one another, they are hit with their very own realities and the realization that a queer royal love story might not really end well given the circumstances surrounding their respective lives.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Leave the World Behind

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Bored couple Clay (Ethan Hawke) and Amanda Sanford (Julia Roberts) decide to take a break and rent a snazzy beachside home to get away from their miserable daily reality. The kids, Archie (Charlie Evans) and Rose (Farrah Mackenzie), seem to be enjoying the experience until weird things start to happen. An oil tanker almost rams them as it goes aground at a public beach. And then, without warning, the owner of the house G.H. Scott (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha’la) drop by and ask to stay with them after the city suffers a massive blackout and internet disruption. As more strange things begin to occur, like planes falling off from the sky into the sea and Tesla cars on auto-drive playing bump cars on their own, the group begin to speculate that the country might be in the midst of a terrorist attack using misinformation and technological upheaval to turn citizens against one another and provoke a civil war. In short, destroy ‘Merica from within.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

May December

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Actress Elizabeth Berry (Natalie Portman) drives to Savannah, Georgia on a mission: to interview Gracie Atherton-Yoo (Julianne Moore) whom she will be portraying in an indie movie. Her arrival becomes the talk of the town due to the rather scandalous storyline involved. Two decades ago, Gracie was caught having sexual relations with a thirteen-year old boy. That boy Joe (Charles Melton) is now married to her and they have three children, the eldest of which was born in prison while she was serving her sentence for their illicit affair. As Elizabeth goes through her field research, the past does not remain buried as she considers every detail to be of utmost importance for her preparation. The question is, how far is she willing to go to nail down Gracie as a character, and will Gracie actually allow her to get too close for comfort to the detriment of her now, seemingly, peaceful family life?

Friday, December 1, 2023

Shake, Rattle & Roll Extreme

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After almost a decade of hiatus since the last installment, the sixteenth film in the Shake, Rattle & Roll franchise, entitled Extreme, misses the horror slot at the Metro Manila Film Festival and is instead released early for everyone to enjoy. Staying true to tradition, you are served three segments not related to one another, each clocking in at less than an hour. For this latest revival, the three storylines focus on typical horror fare, in respective order: the Devil, Cannibalism, and Zombies.

GLITCH. 1993. A child in California is enticed by a TV show featuring a goat named Gary. It doesn’t take long before a malevolent entity begins to terrorize the lone adult in her household. Fast forward to present day Manila, six-year-old Lyka (Jewel Milag) feels unloved by her half-brother Patrick (Miggs Cuaderno) and neglected by her mother Ingrid (Iza Calzado). She finds refuge in an online TV show featuring a talking goat named Gary, which her nanny Hasmin (Donna Cariaga) quickly IDs as a modern-day incarnation of the demon Baal.

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