Miss Universe August 2018 Hot Picks!

On December 17 (Bangkok Time), the most beautiful day in the Universe will be held at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.

via Miss Universe Facebook page.

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters will crown her successor for the Miss Universe crown. So without further ado, let me present to you my Top 15 for the month of August!

From Catriona’s Instagram

1. Philippines – Catriona Gray
Catriona’s main weapon heading to Bangkok this December is her gift of gab. She is without question one of the best communicators to ever represent the Philippines in Miss Universe. With her modelesque features, alluring beauty and her large fan base across the globe amassed after her 2016 Miss World stint, Catriona is definitely the one to beat at this point.

Tamaryn Green (mytvnews.co.za)

2. South Africa – Tamaryn Green
The pressure is on for Tamaryn this year and she’s expected to deliver after Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters mounted a campaign so strong last year that ended their 39-year Miss Universe title drought. Her background as a medical student would be an advantage for her to push a related advocacy. Her towering height and beautiful complexion will be hard to ignore, so there’s a high probability for her to come on top this edition of the pageant if she’s as strong-willed and as confident as Demi-Leigh.

Sarah Rose Summers (thegreatpageantcommunity.com)

3. United States – Sarah Rose Summers
Sarah Rose reminds me so much of Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo. They both have great and sunny personalities and it’s not hard to imagine her duplicating what Olivia did 6 years ago. Her beauty may not be as versatile but what she lacks in that aspect, she makes up with her larger-than-life personality. For now, she’s in a safe third place for me.

4. Canada – Marta Stepien
Marta is the beauty pageant contestant doppelgänger of Taylor Swift. She is one of the latest confirmed contestants having recently won her national pageant. She skyrocketed to the top 5 right away by here mere sex appeal alone and that’s says a lot about her. Marta may just duplicate her compatriot’s accomplishment in 2015 when Natalie Glebova took the title away from the Latina. Is Bangkok Canada’s lucky city?

5. Thailand – Sophida Kanchanarin
Sophida’s beauty is a polarizing one and she definitely has a big shoes to fill after Maria Poonlertlarp cracked the top 5 last year in Vegas. She may not be everyone’s cup of tea but for me, she’s a diamond in the rough. I’ve a feeling that she’ll shock everyone come pageant proper.

6. Venezuela – Sthefany Gutiérrez
Sthefany is the first contestant confirmed for this year’s pageant and like Sophida, she’s also got a lot to prove as her predecessor Keysi Sayago reached the final five last year. She’s been widely praised for her exotic beauty with her so-called ‘Pocahontas’ hair but I’m honestly still not convinced that she could duplicate or even surpassed Keysi’s feat last year. I still think though that she’s still one of the strongest candidates this year.

7. Ecuador – Virginia Limongi
If there is someone as polished as Catriona Gray, it would be Virginia Limongi. She reminds me so much of Sofia Vergara although she have to be careful because she tends to look old at times. I won’t put her this high but the hype around her is pretty convincing so for now, she definitely have her place on my hot picks.

8. Vietnam – H’Hen Niê
Vienam’s H’Hen Niê is definitely the Kaci Fennel of this edition. I’m not sure how well she would be received by the preliminary judges but given the right training and styling, I could see her going far in the competition.

9. Korea – Baek Ji-hyun
She’s one of the recent contestants to be confirmed and I am absolutely loving her. She’s giving me the Honey Lee vibe and if she continue to improve until December, I’m definitely seeing her usurping early favorites for the crown.

10. Brazil – Mayra Dias
I loved Mayra’s beauty because she reminds me of the Latina heavyweights of the early 2000’s. This may either be an advantage or a disadvantage for her depending on her styling come pageant season. She is definitely going to make it, beauty alone.

11. Australia – Francesca Hung
Chinese-Australian Francesca is a welcome change for an Aussie delegate in this edition. If you search online for her make-up less face, you’d see how gorgeous she is. She’s definitely going to be a hit in Thailand with her biracial beauty.

12. Japan – Yuumi Kato
I adore Yuumi Kato! I feel that she’s one of the strongest Asian delegates this year and if Japan will make it again into the Top 5, she should be able to make it happen.

13. Spain – Angela Ponce
I loved that she’s making history as the first transwoman to compete in Miss Universe but generally, I do not find her at par with the contestants I have on my top 10. Maybe they should change her styling? Or perhaps with less make-up? I mean, she is definitely going to be in the semis but how far do I think she can go? Uhm, for now – top 15 at the most.

14. Mexico – Andrea Toscano
Oh, I loved Andrea even though she look a bit pageant patty to me. Nothing wrong with that but I’d love for her to sport a pony or perhaps more extension. No to heavy make up and she’s good to go for the Evening Gown round.

15. Nicaragua – Adriana Paniagua
Adriana is a quality rep for Nicaragua. She looks a bit old at times but I feel that it’s only because of her styling. I also want to see her with straight hair and I think that would make her more ravishing.

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Have you met Dario Yazbek Bernal? #JuliandelaMora

You might have heard of the new Netflix craze The House of Flowers (Originally, La Case de las Flores) released just a couple of weeks back and gaining tons of fans from across the globe as we speak. In it, you may also be one of the enamored viewers with the very adorable Julian de la Mora played by Dario Yazbek Bernal. If you’re like me who’s completely unaware of this guy before this series, I gathered some info about him that may very well interest you aside from the current stalking that you’re probably doing now. Hah!

Dario Yazbek Bernal was born in 1990 in Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico. He is best known for his 2009 debut role Daniel y Ana, a film based on a true story about siblings kidnapped and forced to have sex with each other.

He is also the younger half-sibling of Mexican superstar Gael Garcia Bernal. He is the youngest amongst the three children of Mexican actress Patricia Bernal and Mexican cinematographer Sergio Yazbek.

Dario with older brother Gael Garcia Bernal. (photo by Ian Gavan)

His Vimeo profile says that he’s “working in film and music, MA in history and hating academia ever since. Currently living in a suitcase. Marriage material.”

He was also apparently in a band but this information would have to be confirmed.

So far, these are the only information I was able to gather online. Any additional information are very much welcomed. 🙂

Tell me about it, por favor!

Review: Netflix’s La Casa de Las Flores (The House of Flowers) Season 1

La Casa de Las Flores (The House of Flowers) is one of the latest original Netflix series offerings – a telenovela set in Mexico City which follows the lives of the de la Mora family members and their web of dramas that started when Roberta committed suicide by hanging herself inside the House of Flowers.

First, just who the heck is Roberta? At the pilot episode, it was revealed that she’s the mistress of the head of the family (Ernesto de la Mora played by Arturo Rios) whose lies he’d kept for years started catching up on him. The story is also conveniently narrated by Roberta herself, ala Desperate Housewives.

La Casa was marketed as a dramedy series with a twist. Yes, there are a lot of twists in it – mostly predictable twists. What it lacks, though in originality, it makes up for its charming cast and diverse characterizations.

There’s Virginia de la Mora (Verónica Castro) whose world turned upside down upon learning about the deceit of her husband and eldest daughter, her middle child’s black boyfriend and her youngest son’s homosexuality. It’s a full buffet for Virginia but as the ‘real’ patriarch of the de la Mora family, she’d make sure that no-one and nothing in the world would ever break them as a family.

Then there’s the eldest de la Mora sibling Paulina (Cecilia Suárez). Paulina cracks me up like no other with her accent. She’s the character that you’d either hate or love because she’s a total nutjob and a total badass too!

Elena (Aislinn Derbez), the middle child meanwhile came home to Mexico from taking her masters in New York to announce her engagement with her black boyfriend Dominique. Elena just seemed like the bimbo of the series until she found herself in a sticky situation with her almost half-brother Claudio (Lucas Velazquez). Claudio’s character creeps me out a bit, tbh.

And speaking of bimbo – we’ve the youngest, the unico hijo of the de la Mora familia cum fickle minded, bum-fuckboy but definitely super adorable Julian (Dario Yazbek Bernal). Julian is the sunshine of this series. He’s annoyingly charming and adorably frustrating. Add to the fact that he’s in the closet, has a sexual relationship with a girl and is in a secret relationship with their family’s financial advisor, Diego played by the tall, dark and handsome Juan Pablo Medina. Julian and Diego’s subplot seems to be winning the internet with their power couple good looks and Julian’s puppy-like persona in the series.

The show is definitely a step forward and a mostly unique subplot from the usual telenovelas we’re used to as the show embraces diversity like no other. It may sound a tad campy but it’s actually hella entertaining. Its humor isn’t slapstick nor subtle but it’s there glaring from each characters’ story arc. If you’re looking for something stress-free amidst the political mind-game online and on TV (who still watches TV?), then this show is definitely your best option.

Creator: Manolo Caro
Cast: Verónica Castro, Cecilia Suárez, Aislinn Derbez, Dario Yazbek Bernal, Sheryl Rubio, Paco León, Juan Pablo Medina, Arturo Ríos, Claudette Maille, Lucas Velazquez, Sawandi Wilson, Sofía Sisniega, Luis de la Rosa, David Ostrosky, Natasha Dupeyrón, Alexa de Landa

Film Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Lara Jean played by Lana Condor wrote love letters to all the boys she ever had a crush on since childhood but kept them in a box until her younger sister , Kitty stole the letters and sent them to the boys she apparently “loved.”

I’ve read a few chapters of the book a couple of years back but never had the energy to finish it not because it’s bad but it was just not my cup of tea. Now, after watching its film adaptation, it made me want to go back to the book and reread its entirety.

I’ve tremendously enjoyed the film. First, I loved the casting of Lana Condor as its protagonist Lara Jean. She’s very relatable and has a really good screen charisma. I could still recall when I was reading the book’s first few chapters, I was imagining Cho Chang (Katy Leung) playing Lara Jean. Lana was such a good choice for the role paired with Noah Centineo‘s super charming appeal. I so loved their chemistry!

Although Lara Jean’s character isn’t as dynamic as I expected her to be, I loved the subtle discovery of herself over the course of the film. As an aging millennial, I could easily relate to what she’s gone through what with her unrequited love and teenage longings.

The film may be full of clichés but it’s the good kind of clichés. It’s a movie targeted for the young ones if I may say but if you’re like me, you’d get a nice throwback feeling watching it.

Based on the novel of the same name by Jenny Han
Director: Susan Johnson
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Israel Broussard, Trezzo Mahoro, King Bach, Joey Pachecho, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, John Corbett, Madeleine Arthur, Emilija Baranac

Rating: 3/5

The ‘World’ Invasion of Katarina Rodriguez!

Katarina Rodriguez first gained popularity as a contestant in the second season of Asia’s Next Top Model in 2014 where she finished third next to fellow Filipina contestants Jodilly Pendre and eventual winner Sheena Liam of Malaysia.

Fast forward to 2017, Katarina joined the Binibining Pilipinas – the premiere beauty pageant in the country and easily became one of the contenders for the top plum – the Miss Universe Philippines. She still emerged victorious but as our representative for Miss Intercontinental 2017.

At the Miss Intercontinental 2017 edition held earlier this year in Egypt, she was touted to easily pick up our first title from said pageant but the stars are not in our favor as she settled for a runner-up finish next to Veronica Salas of Mexico. There was a bit of an outrage but like the true queen she is, Katarina easily pacified her fans with a very heartfelt post about her experience in Egypt.

from Katarina’s Instagram

Earlier this week, the screening of the Miss World Philippines 2018 was held in Manila and unsurprisingly, Katarina showed up as she’s been hinting for months that she’s still open to joining other pageants this year. This feisty model is now embarking on her journey towards the Blue Crown but it won’t be an easy one as she has to beat 39 other candidates first in order to set foot in China this December for the 2018 Miss World pageant.

via Katja’s Twitter

What are Katarina’s chances in finally snagging the top title this year? I adore this girl! I loved her fighting spirit and her positive disposition kahit mukha daw siyang maldita. Hahaha! I loved how she could easily socialize with everyone and I think that’d be one of her advantages in the national pageant and if the stars will align in her favor – hopefully towards her road to bring back the blue crown to the country!

Good luck Katja! Get it!

Film Review: 4th Man Out (2015)

On his 24th birthday, Adam comes out as gay to his three best friends – Chris (Parker Young), Nick (Chord Overstreet), and Ortu (Jon Gabrus). Naturally, the three freaked out but immediately reassured Adam that nothing is going to change between them.

The whole film actually seems to be about Adam finding a boyfriend and his male pals acted like Adam’s long lost fairy godmothers intent on finding a guy for him. They’re even more knowledgeable than Adam about the gay scene. Like seriously? There are a bunch of cringy moments in it and a number of funny scenes too. I still liked this movie. It is something that you could watch to combat boredom but it didn’t deliver its intended message. More like, the film didn’t actually have a message at all.

Director: Andrew Nackman
Cast: Evan Todd, Chord Overstreet, John Gabrus, Parker Young, Jennifer Damiano, Jordan Lane Price, Kate Flannery, 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Beach Rats (2017)

This film is like a Coldplay music video for me. It’s affecting and it’s melodious and by the end of it, it felt like you’re grasping for something. Beach Rats is so much like that. Its enigmatic lead Harris Dickinson is nothing short of spectacular playing a repressed youth from Brooklyn finding his sexuality and his place in the sun. It’s a rough environment for him and he’s got to fit the mold to survive.

The film was is so different from the young-adult LGBTQ+ stories with the usual arc of realizing their sexuality and coming out of the closet. In context it is almost the same but also different in the way Director Eliza Hittman explored the depth of a teenage longing for freedom, longing for identity and longing for self-expression.

The whole thing was like a loop with beautiful shots and grainy atmosphere. I enjoyed it immensely because I find it so realistic and Dickinson so effective. You can really see everything in his eyes – the fear, the excitement, his vulnerability. He’s someone to watch out for that’s for sure. I’m not sure if this would be most people’s cup of tea but it’s a good kind of film that doesn’t come very often in the genre.

Director: Eliza Hittman
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge, Neal Huff, Nicole Flyus, Frank Hakaj

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Handsome Devil (2016)

I absolutely adore this film! It’s very old school in a way but very refreshing at the same time as its story revolves around two gay schoolmates and the friendship between them that you won’t even mind that there’s not a single whip of romance in it and I loved it for that! Not every gay guys are out there are looking for their “one true love!” I also loved the fact that there’s nothing remotely sexual about it. It’s just about two high school boys trying to fit in or in Ned’s case, trying to get through high school.

At first though, I find it a bit Glee-ish but then it transitioned so fast when Ned, the bullied outsider and Conor, the star athlete transfer student started to interact with each other. They have such amazing chemistry and that it’s easier to root for both of them.

There’s a ‘scene’ here that I did not like in so many book characters and even most recently, from the movie Love, Simon when one of the characters outed the closeted character. It was not cringy at all here. It was actually heartbreaking because it felt like Ned did it out of necessity, being fed up with the bullying and the feeling that he’d finally have the upper hand just for once. It wasn’t right but at that moment, for him it must be some sort of vindication. As he was narrating the whole film, he said that this story is about his ‘most embarrassing moment’ ever. This must be that moment.

The conclusion was not exactly what I was expected because it felt a bit rushed but I appreciate the sort of a happy ending the movie has given us. Also, It’s just so good to know that a lot of LGBTQ+ films are now being produced for mainstream viewing!

Director: John Butler
Cast: Fionn O’Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, Andrew Scott, Moe Dunford, Michael McElhatton, Ruairi O’Connor, Ardal O’Hanlon, Mark Lavery, Jay Duffy, Jamie Hallahan

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Film Review: The Danish Girl (2015)

The Danish Girl is inspired by the true story of married Danish painters Einar and Gerda Wegener. When portrait artist Gerda Wegener as her husband Einar to stand in for a female model who couldn’t make it on time, it reveals her husband lifetime identification as a woman.

I just absolutely adore this film. The whole time, I was transfixed to Eddie Redmayne’s transformation into Lili Elbe’s character. His sublime performance as one of the pioneering transgender individuals is nothing short of amazing!

After Redmayne’s beyond amazing Oscar winning performance in The Theory of Everything, this I thought should’ve gotten him his second Oscar. Alas, he was pitted against THE Leonardo DiCaprio whose time to win has been long overdue and it would be a total injustice if DiCaprio’s equally incredible performance in The Revenant will be ignored yet again. If this was released last year, he could easily snatched the Best Actor trophy from Gary Oldman.

It is also undeniable that without Vikander’s affecting performance as Einar Wegener’s devoted wife, the whole vibe of the film won’t be as convincing! Her subtle intensity is what made Gerda’s character truly mesmerizing on screen.

The story felt as powerful today as when it was released a couple of years back, what with all the stories and media mileage the Transgender community is getting at the moment, one that I’m hoping will continue until such time everyone could just mind their own business.

Director: Tom Hooper
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Amber Heard, Sebastian Koch, Adrian Schiller, Emerald Fennell, Nicholas Woodeson, Pip Torrens, Henry Pettigrew

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Mamma Mia 2! Here We Go Again (2018)

The first film, Mamma Mia was an absolute delight! I’m a big Meryl Streep fan and I absolutely adore the storyline of the first installment which was released a decade ago. Can you believe that it has been 10 years? Doesn’t feel like it at all!

I was able to catch Mamma Mia 2! Here We Go Again during its first week of showing in Manila and I’m pretty surprised that aside from its expected demographics lining up for it, a lot of younger viewers were actually there to watch it. Imagine that!

This film would disappoint some, if not all of Meryl Streep fans because this is a Meryl-less Mamma Mia! Ugh. It was rather head scratching at first when it was revealed at the start of the film that her character, Donna died a year before. The heart of the first film just had a little scene (but definitely the highlight) at the end and that’s it. I’ll be glad to tell you though that it wasn’t so bad that they killed Meryl’s character – I mean, they need something to work on. Although, personally I wasn’t convinced that it was the best route.

The first good thing about this installment is the inclusion of more music from ABBA (obviously) that I’ve never heard before aside from the more popular ones like Fernando, I Have A Dream and Waterloo that were not part of the first film. I have to be honest though, ABBA was not my generation, hence, my lack of knowledge about their catalogue. Secondly is the casting of Lily James (Cinderella, 2015) as the young Donna. She’s an absolute delight on screen and I couldn’t think of any other actresses that could do the role justice. And then there’s Cher. I was giggling throughout her scenes because she’s such a fucking queen especially when she sang the iconic Fernando. That was one of the highlights for me.

There’s also a bunch of eye candies here! The young fathers of Sophie are just all so dreamy! I particularly liked the very charming Josh Dylan as the young Bill! But really, the casting was fantastic!

Overall, it wasn’t as enjoyable as the first film because I wanted more Meryl in it but you cannot fault the treatment of the film paying homage to ABBA and Meryl Streep’s character – a film filled with beautiful people and jaw-dropping musical productions!

Director: Ol Parker
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Julie Walters, Alexa Davies, Pierce Brosnan, Jeremy Irvine, Colin Firth, Hugh Skinner, Stella Skarsgård, Josh Dylan, Cher, Andy Garcia

Music: When I Kissed The Teacher, I Wonder (Departure), One of Us, Waterloo, Why Did It Have to Be Me?, I Have a Dream, Kisses of Fire, Andante, Andante, The Name of the Game, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Mamma Mia, Angel Eyes, Dancing Queen, I’ve Been Waiting For You, Fernando, My Love, My Life, Super Trouper, The Day Before You Came

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars