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28 February 2011
Overall, a very good winners' list. The nominees who were pipped to win won, The Social Network & Inception won their fair share of grandoise awards. Florence Welch performed 127 Hours' A.R Rahman original, 'As I Rise'. Gwyneth Paltrow performs a number too, though I ain't sure what that is - haven't got around to watching the videos. True Grit, nominated in 10 categories, went home empty-handed. Alright, I shan't watch it then.Best Picture – “The King’s Speech” - Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
Actor in a Leading Role – Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”
Actor in a Supporting Role – Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
Actress in a Leading Role – Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
Actress in a Supporting Role – Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
Animated Feature Film – “Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich
Art Direction – “Alice in Wonderland” Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara
Cinematography – “Inception” Wally Pfister
Costume Design – “Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood
Director – “The King’s Speech” Tom Hooper
Film Editing – “The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter
Music (Original Score) – “The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Music (Original Song) – “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3″ Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
Sound Editing – “Inception” Richard King
Sound Mixing – “Inception” Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
Visual Effects – “Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
Adapted Screenplay – “The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Original Screenplay – “The King’s Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler
The episode started right where the season premiere left off - with Jet & Cord struggling with the code puzzle. They were obviously hours behind the other teams, but luck was on their side when the other teams had problems unscrambling the clue 'To Sail To Stop', which was referring to Sydney's Town Hall.
Zev & Justin joined forces with Kisha & Jen to locate the Town Hall ('Joining forces' basically meant that Justin just looked over Kisha's shoulder as she googled). Elsewhere, the three teams at the back of the pack (Gary/Mallory, Amanda/Kris, Ron/Christina) decided to merge their powers of uselessness to find the next clue.
In other dramatic news, Mel started grumbling of an acute pain in the leg ('I'll never make it!'). For a moment, I thought they would be withdrawing and I was rather happy at that prospect.
Jet & Cord seem to be epicly terrible these past two legs, probably because Sydney is a more urban setting. Nevertheless, they managed to catch up with everyone else, and the producers were nice enough to bridge the gap by packing the teams into 2 flights which were separated by half an hour.
All teams then reached the aboriginal outback of Australia, as they encountered the Detour. In Spirit World, the teams had to use traditional materials to create an Aboriginal ground mosaic, and then perform a dance intended to raise the ancestral spirits. In Natural World, they had spit out paint onto their hands to create stenciled images. The second task REALLY was much easier, but I guess the teams didn't want filth in their mouths. Amanda & Kris obviously didn't have a choice.
Ron & Christina are such a typical Asian father/daughter pairing - such a sight is endearing, but also gets on your nerves at the same time. With his stern-looking flip-up glasses and his tendency to mumble, "Just go ahead, be the artistic master," Ron was the perfect portrait of paternal passive-aggression. At one point, Christina switched languages and begged, "Use Chinese, please. Everyone's going to understand."
I really thought Kris & Amanda should have hussled in the detour, but when they ended their first detour in 10th position, chances of them staying another episode were very bleak... but I still had faith.
There wasn't much of a toss-up in standings during the Kangaroo task. The only part which I was very amazed at was Kent's chemistry knowledge. He actually knew what the elements 'Hg' and 'Bi' were. 'I got an A in chemistry," he explained, "Glad it finally came in handy."
Ron/Christina decided to bounce along with Gary/Mallory in attempts to outrace Amanda/Kris. They split ways after awhile though, as Ron thought Mallory was hysterical. She may be hysterical, but she's never wrong.
Both teams were eventually safe from elimination, and my pre-show favourites, Amanda & Kris, were the first to be cut from TAR18. HOW DISAPPOINTING.
It was stated at the start of this season that their "Unfinished Business" was their inability to complete a U-Turn. You could say that, by earning a U-Turn on the very first challenge of this season, they were being given a direct opportunity to right old wrongs, to fix history - though they failed with great success. The irony.
JET & CORD FTW NOW.
Labels: Amazing Race
27 February 2011
“Everyone has to uncover what our relation to our own mortality is; we have two choices: either go against it, or try to figure out a way around it like Tommy does.” - Director Mark Romanek
This Kazuo Ishiguro novel adaptation teaches us what it means to be human, and what inhumanities may be committed in the name of science. It is a treatise on mortality, on how frail humans cling to false hopes and happy rationales, desperately trying to distract themselves from the fate that eventually awaits us all.
The movie begins at an English boarding school called Hailsham, which was part of an alternate sci-fi universe in the 1970s. Ever so gradually did the school’s ostensible students discover that they were carefully nurtured clones who would die after donating their organs to long-lived residents of an England they were barely aware of.
It is fascinating (yet haunting depending on how you look at it) to watch the trio work their way through love, betrayal and reconciliation to a poignant peace with their fate.
Carey Mulligan lets us feel the emotions Kathy can’t express as she sits, alone on her bed, listening to an ancient cassette of songs by Judy Bridgewater. Things left unsaid only compound the tragic overtones of these seemingly joyless lives. Keira Knightley suggests Ruth’s fiery determination to not have her life’s course determined. And Andrew Garfield magnifies Tommy’s pliable innocence — a guy who isn’t quite as tuned in as Ruth or Kathy, the very embodiment of the hope that the film suggests is the one thing that keeps us going.
‘Never Let Me Go’ is such a meditative and delicate film that makes us consider our humanity, and theirs.
Labels: Movie Review
26 February 2011
The 16 castaways were shocked to see Russell Hantz, the notorious villain who thinks he’s darn good at this game, and Rob Mariano, 3-time Survivor veteran, arrive on the second helicopter to join them in this 18th instalment. The reception to each of them was mixed: Rob received a round of applause from the new castaways, while Russell was greeted with comments like ‘Oh no’ from Mike, the Iraq war veteran. Stephanie emerges as the black widow this season, setting her sights on forming an alliance with Russell, which she eventually does, in a 3-way alliance between herself, Russell, and Krista.
Rob picked the Ometepe orange buff comprising Andrea, Ashley, Francesca, Grant, Kristina, Matt, Natalie and Phillip, while Russell picked the Zapatera purple buff comprising tribemates David, Julie, Krista, Mike Ralph, Sarita, Steve and Stephanie.
Jeff then revealed to all the castaways that unlike prior seasons, they will not be out of the game once they are voted out. Instead they will go to Redemption Island where they will live alone until the next person is voted out. The two will then duel to see who stays on Redemption Island and who goes home. At a certain point in the game, the remaining person on Redemption Island will be able to rejoin the game for another chance at the million-dollar prize.
At Ometepe, Rob assumes his role as leader again, and he earned himself a fanboy in Matt, also known as Fabio 2.0. It is at this point in time that the supposed former federal agent, Phillip, starts getting really disliked by his tribemates. He orders Francesca (or he calls her Franschequa) to dig the hole in a correct way.
Kristina is a desperate player who decided to search in the craftsman box for a clue to the hidden immunity Idol. Rob obviously catches sight of that, and confides in Phillip. It wasn’t Boston Rob’s smartest move, as Phillip immediately spilled the beans to Kristina, who found the hidden immunity idol on Day 3. She, Francesca and Phillip (the outcast alliance) planned on voting Rob out first.
The first immunity challenge was a lop-sided one, with Russell leading Zapatera to victory.
Kristina’s brains start doing all the clockwork. She thinks that her 3-way alliance was good enough to eliminate Rob. Even Francesca had the intelligence to understand that Rob was a strong competitor and he’ll be a huge asset to the tribe in the early phases of the game.
Being the veteran of the game, Rob was able to sense things were not going right, and told his 6-man alliance that he suspected that Kristina may have the hidden immunity idol; therefore they should flush it out by splitting the votes between Kristina and Francesca.
It wasn’t smart on Kristina’s part to show Phillip her hidden idol, because that started a whole chain of destructive events at Tribal Council. Francesca mentioned that Boston Rob was probably going to be fine, and this disturbs Phillip, who called Francesca out on it in front of everyone. Kristina then called Phillip unstable, and being really unstable, Phillip exposed the whole plan.
Rob asked Kristina to give him her idol in order to keep herself safe in the game, but she refused. The 6-men alliance pushed on with their plan, and with Phillip giving his vote to Francesca, she was therefore the first person voted off.
The highlight of Episode 2 was the mounting tension between Ralph and Russell at Zapatera. Russell thinks Ralph is the ‘dumbest person on the face of the earth’, but the ‘dumbest person’ found the hidden idol ahead of Russell.
At Ometepe, Rob saw the attraction between Matt and Andrea. He sensed that wasn’t good, because he knew ‘how strong a pair can be in this game, like Amber and [himself]’. Pretty loll-able. He shared his plan with Natalie. At this point, it seems to me that Rob’s having control of his entire tribe.
The second immunity challenge was a close one, but once again, Zapatera wins. Here comes the game-changer: Matt tried to be a good sport and congratulated Zapatera for their win. Rob caught sight of that, and that surely was not going down in his books. ‘Matt’s trying to play the good Christian game and the social game and the end game on day friggin’ five. Wake up brother.’ Haha.
Back at Zapatera, Russell, being his usual loser self, stole the clue to the hidden idol, and refused to admit to Ralph that he stole the clue. Epic fail.
At tribal, Kristina played her idol. Phillip expressed his interest in defeating his ‘nemesis’, Francesca, in the duel on Redemption Island should he get voted off. Rob was pretty smart in commanding Phillip to vote for Kristina, with just a simple tap on Kristina’s shoulder. This made Phillip think that Rob’s alliance wanted Kristina out, when really, Boston Rob knew Kristina would use her idol, and therefore allow Matt to get majority of the votes and get sent to Redemption Island. This episode probably just informed the audience that not all Fabios can win this game.
Eleven former teams, including my favourites Amanda & Kris, and Jet & Cord, are taking another trip around the world for a second chance at US$1 million.
Phil gave us a short recap of who the returning teams are and how they lost their race. Some of their eliminations were downright amusing – The Globetrotters couldn’t decipher ‘KAFKA’ in Prague, Zev & Justin lost their passports in Cambodia, and Kisha & Jen got eliminated when they stopped for a bathroom break in China.
Instead of the conventional way of kicking off the race, where teams just dashed to their backpacks to retrieve their clues, the producers mixed things up. The first pair to win Leg 1 would win the ‘Express Pass’, which the teams can use to skip a task at any time during the race.
He then gave the teams the hint, ‘Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services’, and sent them to a field of beautifully crafted paper airplanes to bring him the answer ‘Qantas’. The first 8 teams with the correct answer would get on the first flight, with the other 3 flights leaving only 90 minutes later. What’s more, the last team would be U-turned, ie they got to complete both detours in the next Detour challenge.
Mel & Mike
Zev & Justin
Jet & Cord
Kent & Vyxsin
Ron & Christina
Flight Time & Big Easy
Margie & Luke
Jaime & Cara
FLIGHT 2 (LEAVES 90 MINUTES LATER)
Kisha & Jen
Gary & Mallory
Amanda & Kris [So disappointed with them – they were absolutely clueless.]
It didn’t matter though – the flight to Australia carrying the eight teams in the lead had to make an emergency landing in Honolulu, Hawaii, because a passenger had a heart attack. This catapulted the pre-flight losers to the top three.
The road block at Oceanworld required one team member to don a wet suit and find a compass in a tank containing 16-foot sharks. Using the compass, they had to decipher a string of nautical flags, which spelled a code which told them to find a commodore and recite the phrase ‘I am between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
Mallory sounds and behaves like a bimbo, but she actually is pretty smart, as she completed the puzzle first, after praying to Jesus for divine guidance as she usually does. Gary & Mallory were the first team to arrive at the race’s first pit stop, Shelly Beach. They got the ‘Express Pass’, but Mallory was thoroughly surprised to learn from Phil that the leg was not over.
Things don’t look too good for the cowboys, who were still stuck deciphering the flag puzzle when everyone else have already reached the pit stop.
“I’m not going to fulfil any stereotypes because we’re African-Americans, but no, we cannot swim.” – Kisha
“I’m from Oklahoma. I don’t do water. I don’t even take baths.” - Jet
1st: Gary & Mallory
2nd: Amanda & Kris
3rd: Kisha & Jen
4th: Zev & Justin
5th: Flight Time & Big Easy
6th: Jaime & Cara
7th: Margie & Luke
8th: Ron & Christina
9th: Mel & Mike
10th: Kent & Vyxsin [Kent totally smacked the Aussie surfer's ass!]
11th: Jet & Cord
You can view the debut episode here.
Labels: Amazing Race
AMERICAN IDOL 2011 - TOP 24GIRLS
Personal Favourites: Naima Adedapo, Lauren Alaina, Pia Toscano
(In order of call-out):Personal Favourites: Paul McDonald, Tim Halperin, Jacob Lusk, Brett Loewenstern
I loved her since her first audition. She delivers her songs with a powerful R&B voice (very India.Arie) and raw emotion. I didn’t like it when she chose the over-played ‘Put Your Record On’ as her final performance, as well as when she started sobbing before the verdict was announced to her. Absolute awkwardness when she mentioned ‘Fly Girl’ to J. Lo, and when Randy Jackson metaphorized her as a flower, wanting her to ‘bloom’.
I guess we needed to fill up those ‘girl with pretty blonde hair’ quota! I recall she had a decent performance where she was grinding her voice like a juice blender.
She looks like someone with potential. Very Ashanti-esque, in fact, she could probably pass off as Beyonce’s sister.
The Idol producers aren’t really giving her a lot of dignity by constantly introducing her as ‘MySpace’s Karen Rodriguez’. Apparently, she was handpicked by Idol producers who held an Idol competition on MySpace. She is a massive J Lo fan (both latinos), and she has already sung one of J Lo’s number for her audition. Who knows, she might pull off some acoustic version of ‘Waiting for Tonight’, or even ‘Let’s Get Loud’.
Other than having a cool name and screwing up the words to ‘I Hope You Dance’ last week, I have zilch a clue who she even is – and you’re telling me she’s the one of two black women in the Top 24? Disappointing.
She was the pretty girl who did an endearing duet with Tim Halperin. It was amusing how she tried to lift Seacrest and ended up have him land on her as she falls down.
She’ll be remembered for being the one with an interesting style of fashion – very over-the-top but it still works for her. I thought she was wailing a tad too much in her final performance, and when Steven Tyler announced the verdict that she was ‘coming through’, it took her quite a while to fully register what he was saying. Lag.
She played the lame trick on Seacrest which the judges played on her. ‘I’m sorry... but you’re going to be seeing a lot more of us this year!’ Really, that is just cliché much. I like her voice though.
I don’t blame her for those hideous outfits which she thinks are cute. She’s only 16 – it’s only right for the producers to promote her as Taylor Swift’s predecessor. If she heads the wrong direction, well... perhaps Kellie Pickler’s predecessor.
It’s surprising how a lot of pretty girls are making it into the Top 24 in this new judges’ era. She did amazing during the group performance with ‘Grenade’, and does an equally laudable job in her solo performances. I’m rooting for her!
She nabbed the last spot, thereby pissing off Jessica Cunningham, who auditioned 7 times before, and was rejected once again on her 25th birthday. It was very mean of the producers to pit Jessica against a 15-year old who made the cut on her FIRST attempt. Now that Thia’s in the voting rounds, I’m predicting a top 5 finish for her, given the votes from the Asian community. [For the record, Jasmine Trias placed fourth.]
(In order of call-out):
Clint Jun Gamboa
I do not care if he has a great voice. He has a loathsome personality with a weasel-like face (those glasses do not help). He’ll be remembered most for being the baddie who kicked Jacee Badeaux out of his group.
People found his down-syndrome hand movements disturbing during his Blackbird duet with Kendra Chantelle, but I really do like his voice. He gives me this Ray LaMontagne vibe which I absolutely love – all bearded, laidback and emotional. A pity he has such a surname though.
I liked him in the early phase of the show. Somehow, my interest in him is waning, because he’s just too pleasant a guy (he smiles non-stop) and his singing voice isn’t necessarily very unique. It’s good to have him around on the show, but not for long.
He is another of my favourite alongside McDonald, very contemporary and not full of himself, unlike most of the other guy contestants.
The deep-voiced kid country singer who keeps wanting to sing the same Josh Turner song (‘Baby, lock the doors and turn the lights down low.’) makes it to the Top 24. Like Ta-Tynisa, he forgot the words to ‘I Hope You Dance’, and got snarky subtitles (‘nuts of wonder’ LOL) across the screen as he tried to do some ad-lib subbing. John Wayne Schulz was sacrificed as a result of Scotty’s success due to their similar genres.
He sings really well in Spanish, and likes taking off his shirt. Other than that, I don’t see why he should’ve taken this spot over Colton Dixon, or Chris Medina.
The show has portrayed him to be an asshole. Well, every show needs a hard-headed Cher Lloyd with that little bit of swagger.
I remember his back story (car accident) more than I do his voice. Besides being a good-looking chap, he leaves little impression.
After being delivered the good news, he stood up and let whoop with a high note, then hopped, danced, ran and whooped some more. He was surely stoked when Randy Jackson called his rendition of ‘God Bless The Child’ the ‘single best performance ever on Idol’. He’s probably the one to watch – pure insanity.
Adam Lambert 2.0, with some Tourette’s syndrome to add. He’ll be those who does amazing at live shows, but I really hope he can get out of Lambert’s shadow and carve out something of his own.
As Randy puts it, Abrams is so talented, ‘it’s like three people in one’. He got so excited he accidentally knocked his chair off the stage.
He actually made it – I can’t believe the judges had that much faith in him as I did. I mean, they chose him over fattie Jacee, who’s like a hybrid of Bieber (cute cheeks, young boy) and Susan Boyle (social introvert who actually sings well) I didn’t think that would’ve been possible! But it did happen, and I’m so incredibly glad.
REJECTS (TOP 40)
John Wayne Schulz
25 February 2011
1) Lady Gaga – Born This Way
It is a rare thing to feel that a recording artist has delivered the record that is exactly what they intended as both a pure artistic statement and a commercial bullseye. ‘Born This Way’ is that type of record.
2) Jessie J – Price Tag (feat. B.o.B)
Jessie J’s laidback vibe and soulful sound, together with the catchy verses, make this track a very pop radio-friendly one.
3) Pink – Fuckin’ Perfect
This song is flled with heartfelt lyrics and has just enough edginess to move Pink away from bland middle of the road territory.
4) James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream
With "The Wilhelm Scream", Blake shrugs off the novelty of the song's namesake and zeroes in on the desperation of the original cry.
5) Radiohead – Lotus Flower
In contrast to the rest of the opaque and remote tracks, Lotus Flower comes across as plaintive and sensual.
6) Taio Cruz – Higher (feat. Kylie Minogue)
Taio’s usual minimalistic fashion complements well with the Europop synths and killer chorus (courtesy of Minogue’s falsetto).
7 ) Noah & The Whale – L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N
Although the complete lack of introspection comes as a shock at first after ‘The First Day of Spring’ which obsessed every aspect of Charlie Fink’s breakup with Laura Marling, this track offers the life lesson of moving forward.
8) Dr. Dre – I Need A Doctor (feat. Eminem & Skylar Grey)
Throw in Eminem’s conviction, and Skylar Grey’s strong hook, this song essentially works.
9) James Blake – Limit To Your Love
He turns Feist’s jaunty original into something tense and brooding, with his minimalist approach of a 3-second silence after every verse creating such incredible tension .
10) Kanye West – All Of The Lights
An outstanding track of his highly acclaimed album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, featuring Rihanna, Elly Jackson, Alicia Keys, Kid Cudi, John Legend and more.
11) Adele – Rumour Has It
The Ryan Tedder-produced "Rumour Has It" is the disc's most adventurous track, full of lovely hand claps.
12) Beady Eye – The Roller
‘The Roller’ survive its predictably dreadful lyrics to emerge as a pleasant enough old school rocker.
13) Diddy Dirty Money – Coming Home (feat. Skylar Grey)
"Coming Home" does not have the intensity of emotional impact of "Love the Way You Lie," but instead it delivers a warmth and sense of hope that is a good match with the festive season, during which it was released.
14) Nicki Minaj – Moment 4 Life (feat. Drake)
This triumphant and bold track is a refreshing reminder that Minaj can carry a song by herself.
15) Mumford & Sons – The Cave
If you need any more convincing that Mumford and Sons are an all conquering force in UK folk music, look no further.
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