Édgar Ramírez and Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Durán

hands of stoneA week ago, I had the pleasure of participating in another round table with Édgar Ramírez, who was joined by legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán to talk about Ramírez’ role as Durán in Hands of Stone. The whole interview ended up being in Spanish, so I will do my very best to express our conversations here in English. (For those of you who would like to listen to it in Spanish, just click on the audio box below.)

Roberto Durán, Édgar Ramírez, Manos de Piedra, Hands of Stone, Jonathan Jakubowicz, Secuestro Express, Harvey Weinstein, Robert De Niro, Rubén Blades, Usher Raymond IV, Sugar Ray Leonard, Ana de Armas, Felicidad Iglesias Durán, Óscar Jaenada, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ellen Barkin, John Turturro, Angela Ortíz, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Vintage Roberto Durán (l)

Durán (Manos de piedra) rose from poverty to become a world-famous professional boxer. Known for his punching power, Duran won world championships in four weight classes (lightweight, welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight). Through many ups and downs, he has remained humble and proud to be a family man.

Roberto Durán, Édgar Ramírez, Manos de Piedra, Hands of Stone, Jonathan Jakubowicz, Secuestro Express, Harvey Weinstein, Robert De Niro, Rubén Blades, Usher Raymond IV, Sugar Ray Leonard, Ana de Armas, Felicidad Iglesias Durán, Óscar Jaenada, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ellen Barkin, John Turturro, Angela Ortíz, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

L-r: Rubén Blades, director Jonathan Jakubowicz and Robert De Niro

Hands of Stone is directed by Venezuelan-born writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz (Secuestro Express). During an interview, he said, “It was very hard to get this movie made” and “We were lucky to find independent financing, and Harvey Weinstein fell in love with it.” He talked about it at length a couple of months back to Remezcla. Click here to read more.

Film synopsis: At age 72, legendary trainer Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro) comes out of retirement to coach world-class Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán (Édgar Ramírez). Arcel becomes a mentor to the ferocious fighter, convincing him that winning ultimately comes down to strategy. After scoring knockout after knockout, Durán prepares for a bout against Sugar Ray Leonard, the undefeated lightweight champion. Five months later, on Nov. 25, 1980, the two titans meet for an infamous rematch that makes boxing history.

Roberto Durán, Édgar Ramírez, Manos de Piedra, Hands of Stone, Jonathan Jakubowicz, Secuestro Express, Harvey Weinstein, Robert De Niro, Rubén Blades, Usher Raymond IV, Sugar Ray Leonard, Ana de Armas, Felicidad Iglesias Durán, Óscar Jaenada, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ellen Barkin, John Turturro, Angela Ortíz, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Roberto Duran and Angela Ortiz
Photos: Jana Nascimento Nagase, Louis Love

The film’s other stars include Rubén Blades (Carlos Eleta), Usher Raymond IV (Sugar Ray Leonard), Ana de Armas (Felicidad Iglesias Durán), Óscar Jaenada, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ellen Barkin, and John Turturro.

As we all know, biographical pictures can be tricky to make and they are rarely perfect, but they can still be good. And that’s what I enjoyed about Hands of Stone. I admit I could be a bit biased, since I’m Panamanian and it’s a film about someone very dear to the Panamanian people.

The following is a little from our roundtable. It started when I showed Roberto Durán a photo of him and me, back in 1973. He was celebrating his championship and his visit to a Panamanian dance in Los Angeles. I was 17 in the picture.

Durán was asked about his relationship with Sugar Ray Leonard; he said they are very close, and that early on, Leonard was doing a film, and he called Durán, thinking he may have been upset with him. But he wasn’t upset at all, and he ended up chauffeuring Leonard around Panamá City. To this day, if Leonard calls Duran and asked him to do something for his foundation, Durán is there to support. “Really good friends,” he said. (He even had what we would call “a senior moment;” he lost track of what he was saying and Édgar Ramírez got him back on track. It had us all laughing.) Read the rest of this entry »

“The Blade of Jealousy” by Henry Ong in Los Angeles

The Blade of Jealousy, Henry OngJossara Jinaro, David Carreno, Eileen Galindo, Carlos Moreno Jr, Tracy Perez, Kapil Talwalkar, Denise BlasorWe don’t cover much live theater events, but once in a while we come across an interesting project; and this live reading of “The Blade of Jealousy” by Henry Ong at a Los Angeles area theater sounded interesting. And if you enjoy live theater, you should check it out and get to know more about playwright  Ong.The Blade of Jealousy, Henry OngJossara Jinaro, David Carreno, Eileen Galindo, Carlos Moreno Jr, Tracy Perez, Kapil Talwalkar, Denise Blasor

Here’s an excerpt of playwright Henry Ong notes:
Sometime last year, I was honored to be asked by theater doyen Jon Lawrence Rivera to participate in Golden Tongues, a Playwrights’ Arena/UCLA William Andrews Clark Memorial Library project. The aim of the annual project is to introduce audiences to the treasures of the Golden Age of Spanish theater. Participating Los Angeles playwrights are tasked with researching 16th- and 17th-century plays from Spain (between 1590 to 1681) and choosing one for adaptation in a modern context. As I pondered over which play to select, I was struck by the sheer volume and variety of Spanish Renaissance plays that had been written and produced during the Golden Age. Who knew! The number surpassed even those written during the English Renaissance (according to Wikipedia by a factor of four!). About ten thousand plays are estimated to have been written; the number of surviving plays is in the hundreds, a majority of which remain virtually untouched in terms of both production and scholarly analysis. Click here to read the rest of this piece.

“The Blade of Jealousy” by Henry Ong—August 29 at 7P. It all takes place at The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. You can RSVP by clicking here.

Meet the folks involved: director Denise Blasor and stage manager Jennifer Palumbo. The cast: Jossara Jinaro, David Carreno, Eileen Galindo, Carlos Moreno Jr, Tracy Perez, and Kapil Talwalkar. — A.O.

Narcos Season 2 Streaming September 2

Those of you who got hooked on season one, know how it ended. And now the hunt for Pablo Escobar is almost here. In fact, Netflix starts streaming new episodes on September 2. Now you can check out the trailer and start the conversation #WhoKilledPablo? Cast: Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal.Those of you who got hooked on season one, know how it ended. And now the hunt for Pablo Escobar is almost here. In fact, Netflix starts streaming new episodes on September 2.

Now you can check out the trailer and start the conversation, #WhoKilledPablo?

Cast: Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, and Pedro Pascal.

The Magic of LAIKA Studios

The Magic Of Laika, Coraline, Paranorman, Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings

The Magic Of Laika, Coraline, ParaNorman, Boxtrolls and Kubo and the Two Strings
©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Kubo and the Two Strings characters ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Kubo and the Two Strings characters
©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

The event took place at Universal Studios, where you can see in the video, that we got very close and personal with some of our favorite animated characters.

 

The Magic Of Laika, Coraline, Paranorman, Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

The Magic Of Laika with director/producer Travis Knight
©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

We had fun at the Magic Of Laika “from Coraline to KUBO”
©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

LAIKA, the acclaimed animation studio had their first-ever interactive event that featured an up-close look at the artistic detail

and imagination behind LAIKA’s groundbreaking ten-year filmmaking history, which also includes the Academy Award-nominated films Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012) and The Boxtrolls (2014).

The exhibition was only a weeklong, so we hope you’ll enjoy the video and images in this post. — A.O.

Yes! It’s Another Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur, Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro, Pilou Asbæk, Toby Kebbell, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Morgan Freeman, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

1925

Ben-Hur, Charlton Heston, Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro, Pilou Asbæk, Toby Kebbell, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Morgan Freeman, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

1959

Ben-Hur, Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro, Pilou Asbæk, Toby Kebbell, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Morgan Freeman, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

2016

There have been many reincarnations of Ben-Hur since the 1907 short to 2010 TV mini-series, from animation to live action. But the two best-known ones are the 1925 Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ that starred a Latino in the lead, Ramon Novarro, and many future Hollywood stars as extras (Janet Gaynor, John Gilbert, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, John, Lionel Barrymore, and many more) in the background. The second film is the better-known 1959 Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston. I’ve seen both of them and I do have to say, I enjoyed this new Ben-Hur more than the 1959 version.

Ben-Hur, Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro, Pilou Asbæk, Toby Kebbell, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Morgan Freeman, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Clockwise: Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro,
Pilou Asbæk, Toby Kebbell, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett
and Morgan Freeman. ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

This version is based more on author Lew Wallace’s original 1880 novel, “Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ” and this film is directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Wanted).

This Ben-Hur has a nostalgic feel for people of a certain age, who grew up watching big spectacular films that had nothing to do with CGI or green screens. And it’s also a film that you can take what you want from, an adventurous story about, love, deceit and redemption or for some, a religious calling for others.

Ben-Hur, Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro, Pilou Asbæk, Toby Kebbell, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Morgan Freeman, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Jack Huston

Ben-Hur, Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro, Pilou Asbæk, Toby Kebbell, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Morgan Freeman, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Boniadi & Santoro

For those of you not familiar with the story, here’s a bit of the synopsis: Ben-Hur is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption. Also starring Morgan Freeman, Rodrigo Santoro, and Pilou Asbæk.

Ben-Hur, Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro, Pilou Asbæk, Toby Kebbell, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Morgan Freeman, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Morgan Freeman

Ben-Hur, Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro, Pilou Asbæk, Toby Kebbell, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Morgan Freeman, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Asbæk & Kebbell

Ben-Hur, Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro, Pilou Asbæk, Toby Kebbell, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Morgan Freeman, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Downey & Burnett

We got to sit down with the above cast and producers, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. They all talked about their approaches to the roles they had to play, Morgan Freeman had us laughing from the beginning to the end. And now you can listen in, too.

We Loved Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings, Charlize Theron, Mathew McCoughey, Art Parkinson, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Charlize Theron, Mathew McCoughey and Art Parkinson
©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Kubo and the Two Strings is like watching a book come to life. I love folklore stories and this interpretation of a Japanese story flows so nicely. I applaud Laika Studios (Coraline, ParaNorman, Boxtrolls) for another wonderful animated feature.

Kubo and the Two Strings is Travis Knight’s directorial debut. He has said, “Stop-motion has this sort of weird, magical charm and energy that reminds us what it was like when we were kids, I still have that feeling to this day.” The voice actors are Charlize Theron, Mathew McCoughey, Art Parkinson, Brenda Vaccaro, Rooney MaraRalph Fiennes, and George Takei.

L-r: Travis Knight, Charlize Theron, Mathew McCoughey and Art Parkinson ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

L-r: Travis Knight, Charlize Theron, Mathew McCoughey and Art Parkinson
©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

KUBO PosterHere’s a little about the film: Kubo’s quest stretches far and wide through the mystical realm of the Vastlands. With his protectors Monkey and Beetle by his side, Kubo unlocks more of his powers at every challenge, racing toward an epic clash with the dark side of his magical family.

Director & Cast

Director & Cast

Kubo and The Two Strings is LAIKA’s most ambitious film to date—a stop motion samurai action film with an unprecedented scope.

We got to sit down with the director and a few of the actors, who spoke about their adventures making the film, which opens on August 19 in 2D and 3D. Now sit back and listen in on the conversation.

I can’t wait til the blu-ray comes out; I want it in my collection. — A.O.



Scare L.A. in Pictures

Andrew Jacobs, Angela Ortíz, Gabrielle Wals, Jorge Diaz, Wendy Pineda

L-r: Andrew Jacobs, Angela Ortíz, Gabrielle Wals, and Jorge Diaz
Photos: Wendy Pineda

Another first for me this year, I attended my first Scare L.A. festival and it was fun! It was interesting to see all the cosplay roaming the halls, talking to interesting people and checking out all the festival had to offer its attendees.

Executive producer Lora Ivanova, John Paul Medrano, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

T: Executive producer Lora Ivanova. C & b: John Paul Medrano and Elvira: Mistress of the Dark
©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

Frankenstein, Elvira Chocolates, Sweets Store, Executive producer Lora Ivanova, John Paul Medrano, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, ©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

This was the festival’s fourth year and I could see that it was more than just about Halloween; it’s everything about horror and haunts.

There were movie screenings, conferences, special classes, and much more. I had the pleasure of talking to executive producer and creator, Lora Ivanova and got a hint about next year’s event.

Andrew Jacobs, Gabrielle Walsh, Jorge Diaz, Actors, Paranormal: The Marked Ones, Lora Ivanova, Angela Ortíz, Ernie Alonzo of Haunted Orange County

Actors, Paranormal: The Marked Ones

Lora Ivanova, Angela Ortíz

Lora Ivanova

John Paul Medrano, Angela Ortíz

John Paul Medrano

I also spoke to actors John Paul Medrano (Las Vampirass), Andrew Jacobs, Gabrielle Walsh, Jorge Diaz (Paranormal: The Marked Ones), and Ernie Alonzo of Haunted Orange County.

And Elvira, Mistress of the Dark was the event host. Now listen in on our conversations. — A.O.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer

In theaters this December and we are excited!

You Better Watch Out:Bad Santa 2 is Coming to Town

Bad Santa 2, Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, Kathy BatesBad Santa 2 returns Academy Award-winner Billy Bob Thornton to the screen as America’s favorite anti-hero, Willie Soke; and joining him is, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, and Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy-winner Kathy Bates as Willie’s horror story of a mother, Sunny Soke.

Red Band Trailer, It’s A Wild One! In Theaters November 23.

Disney’s Pete’s Dragon Opens on Friday

petes_dragon_ver2

Robert Redford as Mr. Meacham

Robert Redford as Mr. Meacham

This Pete’s Dragon is nothing like the cherished 1977 film with Helen Reddy, Mickey Rooney, and Sean Marshall. This one is a reimagining of the movie by Disney, directed by David Lowery and starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, and Robert Redford.

A few goodies from New Zealand

A few goodies from New Zealand
©2016 Angela María Ortíz S.

The plot: for years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales…until she meets Pete (Fegley) and the adventures begin.

David Lowery

David Lowery

Bryce Dallas Howard

Bryce Dallas Howard

Oona Laurence, Oakes Fegley

Laurence & Fegley

We got to sit in on some great conversations with four of the stars and director of the film. They all gave us some fun anecdotes about doing the film, childhood favorites, and shooting in New Zealand. We were treated to some New Zealand goodies too! And now, you can sit back and listen in on the conversations.

Robert Redford

Robert Redford

I personally got lost in the fantasy of this film. And I think families will enjoy it.

Disney’s Pete’s Dragon opens in nationwide on August 12. — A.O.

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