For My Filipino Peeps! Back-to-Back Movie Reviews of "Noy" and "Sa 'Yo Lamang" 

For my segments shown in Balitang America every Friday on The Filipino Channel, I made special movie reviews for "Noy" and "Sa 'Yo Lamang."

First, let's talk about "Noy." It's the Philippines entry for the Best Foreign Language Film competition at the Academy Awards. Will this Filipino independent film make the short list? One thing is for sure, Coco Martin heads an impressive ensemble cast. Take a look at my review:

Now, let's talk about "Sa 'Yo Lamang" starring Lorna Tolentino, Christopher de Leon, and once again, Coco Martin. It's directed by the award-winning Laurice Guillen ("Tanging Yaman") and it is Star Cinema's offering for its 17th year anniversary. Did I enjoy the film? Take a look:

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Watch My "Morning Glory" Movie Review 

Here's my review of "Morning Glory." For my written movie review of the film, please click here.

Here's more info on "Morning Glory"

When hard-working TV producer Becky Fuller is fired from a local news program, her career begins to look as bleak as her hapless love life. Stumbling into a job at "Daybreak" (the last-place national morning news show), Becky decides to revitalize the show by bringing on legendary TV anchor Mike Pomeroy. Unfortunately, Pomeroy refuses to cover morning show staples like celebrity gossip, weather, fashion and crafts - let alone work with his new co-host, Colleen Peck, a former beauty queen and longtime morning show personality who is more than happy covering morning "news." As Mike and Colleen clash, first behind the scenes and then on the air, Becky's blossoming love affair with fellow producer, Adam Bennett begins to unravel - and soon Becky is struggling to save her relationship, her reputation, her job and ultimately, the show itself.

Cast and Credits
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson
Directed by: Roger Michell
Produced by: Sherryl Clark, Guy Riedel, J.J. Abrams

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Nine New Cast Members for "The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made!" 

Jack Black, Donald Glover (Community), Jane Lynch (Glee), Danny Trejo (Machete), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family), John Krasinski (The Office), Ed Helms (The Hangover), Lady Gaga (yes Lady Gaga!), and Paul Rudd are joining The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made!

According to Production Weekly via Collider, Black, Rudd, and Glover have joined the cast but there are no roles attached with them yet. Lady Gaga will be starring as...herself, and part of her entourage will be Helms, Krasinski, and Stonestreet.

Lynch will play a prison guard and Trejo will be one of her prisoners. But wait there's more! Zach Galifianakis will star as Hobo Jo.

Jason Segel heads the cast for director James Bobin. Segel wrote the script with Nicholas Stoller.

"The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made" will open Christmas Day of 2011.

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Arrivederci Signor Dino De Laurentiis! 

When I was a kid, I devoured the kitschy fun of producer Dino De Laurentiis' films such as the 1976 "King Kong" remake. His name got branded in my feeble mind. When you see his "Dino De Laurentiis Presents" before a trailer, you know that film would be fun!

So the death of the Oscar-winning Italian film producer saddened me. The Italian media was reporting that Laurentiis, who gave the world nearly 500 films including "La Strada," "Serpico," and "Three Days of the Condor" died in Los Angeles. He was 91.

Here's a lengthy but absolutely wonderful snap shot of Laurentiis' life written by John Gallagher from film reference:

One of the most colorful, prolific, and successful producers in the contemporary motion picture business, Dino De Laurentiis has proven his entrepreneurial skills time and again, growing from an independent Italian producer into an international conglomerate. His product, from low-budget neorealist works to multimillion dollar spectacles, has always stressed entertainment value, and no matter what the era, he has managed to overcome the exigencies of the fickle motion picture industry to produce consistently crowd-pleasing fare. In the 1950s and 1960s it was the epic; in the 1970s and 1980s a flow of Charles Bronson and Arnold Schwarzenegger action movies, and a series of Stephen King horror shows. De Laurentiis has been a popular media figure with his flamboyant personality and high profile; very much a mogul in the tradition of Samuel Goldwyn, he maintains a strong degree of production value with talented directors, actors, writers, and technicians. What other producer, for example, has produced films by Fellini, Bergman, Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, Vidor, Huston, Lumet, Forman, Altman, Friedkin, Pollack, Cimino, and Cronenberg, to name but a few? Their films bear the De Laurentiis imprimatur; at the same time, he has shown his fondness for such impersonal, reliable directorial technicians as Richard Fleischer, John Guillermin, and Michael Winner on many of his bread-andbutter pictures.

De Laurentiis attended the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome at the age of 16, then gained practical filmmaking experience in the Italian film industry as an actor, prop man, assistant director, and unit manager. By the age of 20, he had produced his first major film, L'amore canta , then organized Realcine in Turin in order to arrange financing for his productions. World War II disrupted his progress, and Realcine was destroyed during the war. De Laurentiis was at the heart of the postwar neorealism movement in Italy, helping to revitalize the Italian cinema. He scored his first international success with Giuseppe de Santis's Bitter Rice , a stark drama of the women who work the rice fields of the Po Valley, starring Silvana Mangano (whom De Laurentiis married shortly thereafter). The producer solidified his status when he formed the Ponti-De Laurentiis Production Company with Carlo Ponti in the early 1950s.

Together, De Laurentiis and Ponti produced films by Roberto Rossellini ( Europa '51 ), Vittorio De Sica ( Gold of Naples ), and Federico Fellini ( La strada ). Europa '51 , starring Rossellini's wife Ingrid Bergman, was a bleak disappointment, typical of the Rossellini-Bergman films, but it did give the producers the prestige of a former Hollywood star. They had much better fortune with De Sica and Fellini— Gold of Naples is an exceptional anthology of four vignettes dealing with Neapolitan life, while La strada has become a classic of world cinema, a beautiful and affecting drama of a loutish circus performer and the young woman he abuses, brilliantly directed by Fellini and acted by Anthony Quinn and Giulietta Massina. La strada won De Laurentiis and Ponti an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, and worldwide recognition as the preeminent producers in Italy.

De Laurentiis realized the box-office appeal of epics during the 1950s, when small-screen television began stealing motion picture audiences. Another advantage was attracting big-name stars to increase the size of their potential audience, and with this in mind Ponti and De Laurentiis produced two gargantuan spectacles, Mario Camerini's Ulysses , starring Kirk Douglas and Silvana Mangano, and King Vidor's War and Peace with Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn. Ulysses , indirectly based on Homer's saga of ancient Greece, sold on the strength of Douglas's marquee value; it is a tedious, talky picture. War and Peace was more successful, with the Tolstoy novel condensed into two hours and 30 minutes, marked by vivid imagery of the Napoleonic Wars, and King Vidor's eye for character and landscape.

De Laurentiis and Ponti went their separate ways after these films, and De Laurentiis created a new independent production company. Nights of Cabiria , a Fellini film about a wistful prostitute (played by Massina), won De Laurentiis another Best Foreign Film Oscar, and later served as the basis for the Broadway musical and film Sweet Charity. Although he still produced Italian movies such as Cabiria and Mario Monicelli's The Great War , a comedy-drama set during World War I, De Laurentiis continued with a policy of U.S.-Italo co-productions, frequently releasing in America through Paramount, filming in Italy with English-speaking stars and directors. In the early 1960s, he constructed a vast studio complex outside Rome and used it as a base of operations for production, as well as leasing it to other independents. In addition to such steamy dramas as Martin Ritt's Five Branded Women and René Clément's This Angry Age , De Laurentiis made money from epics such as Richard Fleischer's Barabbas and particularly from The Bible . . . in the Beginning , directed by John Huston with an all-star cast reverently recreating the great tales of the Old Testament. De Laurentiis had another prestigious blockbuster with Franco Zeffirelli's adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. For once the Shakespeare tragedy was correctly cast with teenagers in the leads, and the picture struck a chord with the rebellious young generation of the late 1960s.

De Laurentiis moved to America in the early 1970s, after Italy imposed tight tax restrictions on the film industry. Since then his career has expanded rapidly. He continued to support individualistic filmmakers such as Fellini ( Casanova ) and Ingmar Bergman ( Face to Face , The Serpent's Egg ), and experienced noble failures with Robert Altman's Buffalo Bill and the Indians and William Friedkin's The Brink's Job , but began to rely more and more on sure-fire mass appeal material. A series of Charles Bronson action films— The Valachi Papers , The Stone Killer , and Death Wish —were huge moneymakers, and employed a graphic, streetwise realism. Although De Laurentiis still made important films such as Sidney Lumet's Serpico . (the true story of New York police corruption), Sydney Pollack's CIA thriller Three Days of the Condor, Don Siegel's The Shootist , (a nostalgic Western and John Wayne's last movie), and Milos Forman's impressive turn-of-the-century epic Ragtime , he found it profitable to exploit more popular genres.

For a time in the 1970s, it seemed as though the producer was dedicated to such overwrought kitsch as Mandingo , Orca , and Hurricane. Of these only Mandingo was a resounding box-office hit, spawning a sequel, Drum. While he had enjoyed a science-fiction success with Roger Vadim's sexy Barbarella , De Laurentiis's other sci-fi films, Flash Gordon and David Lynch's $50 million Dune did not perform well. Much stronger were the Conan films; Robert E. Howard's classic sword and sorcery adventures were faithfully transmitted to the screen with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role. John Milius directed Conan the Barbarian; Richard Fleischer handled the inferior sequel Conan the Destroyer , as well as a related adventure, Red Sonja. After a well-mounted remake of The Bounty with Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian and Anthony Hopkins as Captain Bligh under Roger Donaldson's direction, De Laurentiis opened new studios in Wilmington, North Carolina. In 1985 he acquired Embassy Pictures and formed De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, a new distribution and production company, making many of its films at the North Carolina studios. Again, there was a familiar pattern to the De Laurentiis product, with prestigious films ( Crimes of the Heart ), epics ( Tai-Pan ), action movies ( Desperate Hours ), and occasionally the offbeat ( Blue Velvet ). Horror pictures have been the mainstay of De Laurentiis's output in recent years, especially the successful Stephen King movies— The Dead Zone , Firestarter , Cat's Eye , Silver Bullet , and Maximum Overdrive. De Laurentiis has seemingly beat the system by surviving as an independent producer for 50 years, capping his career with a thriving distribution company. It is no surprise. For 50 years, De Laurentiis has been making movies, not just deals, and his prodigious body of work is rare indeed in today's film industry. Few producers possess his sense of daring—he was the only producer to hire Michael Cimino, for example, after the Heaven's Gate debacle, and their film, Year of the Dragon , helped Cimino back on his feet—or his sense of showmanship, whether promoting the sublime or the banal.

In commemoration of his passing, I'm in the mood to see "King Kong" again when I get home tonight. For now, let's watch the original trailer:

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Why Jim Carrey is Leaving "Three Stooges" 

The Farrelly brothers' dream of making a big-screen project of the "Three Stooges" may just be a dream. Let's follow the production's trajectory shall we?

First, it was announced that the Farrelly brothers would embark on their "Three Stooges" film back in November of 2008. Then, in March of '09, the dream cast was revealed -- Sean Penn would play Larry, Jim Carrey as Curly, and Benicio del Toro as Moe! Then in June of that year, Penn threw a wrench when he quit the project.

Not to mention the film's distributor would be the beleaguered MGM.

So now, Carrey is the one saying goodbye to the "Three Stooges." In an interview with MTV News, the actor said "I think it's dead," then quickly added, "It's dead at least with me."

His reason? He'd have a hard time gaining weight! That's not a problem for most of us though right? :tongue

The actor continued, "For me, I don't really want to do anything halfway, and I don't feel like a fat suit does it...I started experimenting with it a little bit, and I gained 35, 40 pounds. I wanted to gain another 30, 40. When you're [Robert] De Niro in your 20s or early 30s, you can kind of come back from that. It's a tough thing to come back from when you're upwards of 30. Your body can't carry it or you can have a cardiac arrest.

Below is the video of Carrey's interview with MTV News:

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