Monday, November 24, 2014

Objectifixation, Twenty

What a cool toy. “Armor-Up Baymax” is approximately 8 inches tall. Shinier than what I’m accustomed to, but a good figure, nonetheless. The armor can be assembled and removed easily. I’ll make Baymax interact with my other Marvel toys now. I’m interested in getting related figures, too. They’re cute, hehe. Thanks, Jay G and Bandai!  #belatedbday #bighero6

"Hulk smash Ultron-controlled Hulkbuster Iron Man!"
"I will destroy the Avengers using Stark's weapons, like Ra's Al Ghul used Batman's JLA protocols in 'Tower of Babel!'"

Grimm candy coffin. #morbidmuch #sweetsurrender #lipslikesugar (Thanks, Lhen!)

Thanos triumphant.

Meat! Thanks for the birthday steak, Mark P.

Ancient Buffy mag.
"Real love isn't brains, children. It's blood. It's blood screaming inside you to work its will." – Spike #lovesickvamp #nottwilight

Inquirer Entertainment's table is filled with goodies. Thanks, Stratworks friends, for the awesome surprise. 

"Star-Lord, I want to meet Rocket. Where is he?"
"Oh, I dunno, he's probably busy... saving civilians!"
(Thanks for the toy, Benedict!)

The mango cheesecake (left) that Resorts World gave me was fantastic, as well. The other stuff are stuff I brought.

"I detect signs of alcohol abuse, Mr. Stark."
"Shut up, Iron Giant!"

Fil-Am ‘The Voice’ contestant recalls learning time on US tilt

(Nov. 23, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

It’s Filipino,” said Fil-Am “The Voice” contestant Katriz Trinidad of her home in San Diego, during a recent phone interview.

Trinidad, 15, was eliminated from the seventh season of American talent tilt. A winner of 14 championships prior to the show, she was begged by singer-mentor Pharrell Williams in the fourth episode to join his team.
The teen singer described her family as “very close.” Her mom speaks to her in Filipino, which she understands. They eat Filipino dishes like lumpia, pancit and kare-kare.

During the interview, Trinidad expressed gratitude for the unwavering support of Filipino fans. Despite her elimination from the contest in a knockout round, she expressed optimism, and said she hoped to write her own songs eventually and tour as a performer.

What did you learn from joining, and from your time with Team Pharrell?
I went into it to win, make it really far. I realized that it’s not all about winning; it’s about the experience, too. And getting to work with Pharrell Williams, and (advisors) Taylor Swift and Alicia Keys is already a huge stepping stone for me. I mean, they’re [some of the biggest] people in the industry. I couldn’t be more thankful for learning so much from them.

How did you feel about your competitors?
Competing with Blessing (Offor) and DaNica (Shirey)–as you can see, they are extremely talented, so definitely, it was a huge challenge–I had to step up my game. DaNica definitely sings from the heart. And she’s just so experienced. She’s been doing this for many years.

Who are your biggest musical influences?
My biggest musical influences [are] Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Etta James.

When did you get interested in singing?
Actually, I never thought singing would be something I would [pursue]. My mom didn’t enroll me in singing classes when I was younger. But she did have my older sister take vocal lessons. One day, during her class in our house, I was sitting on the steps of the stairs and I started to hum. Her teacher said I had potential so my mom decided to enroll me, too. At the age of 5, I was performing in events. I started to compete at age 7.

What songs will you never get tired of singing?
“At Last” is one song that I truly love to sing. I’ve been singing that for many years. I was very familiar with the song before my blind audition. I sing “And I Am Telling You” for competitions, also “I Have Nothing”… those ballads.

What type of music do you wish to pursue now?
Before joining “The Voice” I thought I was more of a balladeer, but Pharrell said I had the potential to be more than that, to try [other types of] music. He said I just had to find the true feeling in every song and then really sing from the heart. I went with an idea of what I wanted to be. But I didn’t know the kind of artist I could be. I knew I loved to sing pop, R&B. Now I realize that soul, with a hint of jazz, is what I really want to do.

Do you have plans to perform in the Philippines?
A lot of my Twitter followers want me to perform there. That’s something that I truly want to do. Even if I didn’t get to [the finish line], I felt much love and support. Maybe I can give back and sing in a concert, hopefully soon.

(“The Voice” airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8:10 p.m. on AXN.)

‘Big Hero 6’: Boy and machine, team supreme

(Nov. 14, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

A cool reimagining of Marvel Comics characters, Disney’s animated “Big Hero 6” is relentlessly fun, action-packed, and uses a wide spectrum—it’s easily one of the studio’s most colorful films, and aptly so—a welcome addition to the flashy superhero “sub-genre” introduced by Pixar’s “The Incredibles” a decade ago.

At its core is the bond between a boy genius, Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) and his robot Baymax (Scott Adsit), originally a medical droid created by his older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney).

Hiro, a teen robotics expert, becomes one of the founders of a super-team, a gathering of unlikely and hesitant defenders hailing from the amalgamized city of San Fransokyo. Their connected “secret origin” leads them to a masked mystery villain wielding powerful technology.

“Big Hero 6” has an “Iron Giant”-meets-“How to Train Your Dragon” tone, but gives its unique take via adventurers Hiro and Baymax, who figure out each other’s differences and become justice-seeking protectors of the city.

The four other rookie heroes—Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), GoGo (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Fred (TJ Miller)—are similarly intelligent nerds and geeks who treat Hiro like a little brother.

Codirected by Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”), “Big Hero 6” attracts with glossy, shimmery visuals. The awkwardly named San Fransokyo is actually a sleek but homey melting pot. The “Amerasian” look helps provide a more creative backdrop; diverse and eclectic influences can be seen in the architecture, tech, and clothing.

Moreover, the drama and comedy make it easily enjoyable and accessible. The movie eschews two characters from the comics, mutant and “X-Men”-related characters Sunfire and Silver Samurai. And while those who knew “Big Hero 6” from the source material may miss those members, this re-interpretation is a sturdily built world, with fantastic imagery all its own.

Oh, there’s an extra scene—a rather silly but cute one—after the end credits, so you might want to stick around for that.

Hokey science, heart-tugging fiction

(Nov 13, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

No stranger to chaotic mindscapes and dreamscapes, filmmaker Christopher Nolan boldly traverses time and space with "Interstellar"--an ambitious if occasionally contrived, adventure about astronauts who leave a dying Earth in search of a habitable replacement planet.

“Interstellar” stars Matthew McConaughey, fresh from his indelible “True Detective” gig, as Cooper, a father who abruptly leaves his family to pilot a ship with a small crew: Abigail (Anne Hathaway), Romilly (David Gyasi), Doyle (Wes Bentley) and a big, box-like robot named TARS.

The mission, organized by Abigail’s scientist father (Michael Caine), brings the group to the farthest reaches of space, but the astronauts are still able to communicate with their loved ones back home.

However, the trip has unexpected variables, several surprises that tremendously affect the explorers.
Cowritten by Nolan and his brother, frequent collaborator Jonathan (“Prestige,” “The Dark Knight,” etc.), “Interstellar” clocks in at two hours and 49 minutes, a mind-bending space drama that tells, rather unevenly, a distinctly human story that raises existential questions.

It answers those questions, too, through the story of the everyman-explorer who discovers crucial truths about his place in the universe.

Thus, it feels like a couple of “Doctor Who” episodes compressed into one film—story-wise and in terms of emotion-tugging—but “Who” stories are considerably tighter especially with their signature time-travel story elements.

“Interstellar” has fantastical, showy scenarios, some of which bend existing rules of science to serve whatever’s required at the moment. Iffy or hokey aspects aside, the human element rightly stands out and keeps one transfixed—Cooper’s family drama is easy to identify with and keeps viewers accordingly invested.

“Interstellar” also manages to make full use of the talented cast—aside from the aforementioned actors, the film benefits from portrayals by Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck and Topher Grace.

There are some familiar Nolan tics, though. It gets a little numbing when Caine is heard repetitively as a voice reciting a poem. He’s a comforting presence, sure, but this technique got tiring in the “Batman” films, too.And then there’s a mentor figure withholding important, life-changing information, like in other Nolan films.

While it’s not as clever and original as it hopes to be, “Interstellar” wins you over with sheer attention to characters’ relationships and dynamics; ultimately, the film’s relatable components overpower its near-magical trappings and questionable parts.

Renewed focus on Anti-Camcording Act

(Nov. 10, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“Many Filipinos do not understand that piracy is stealing and it is a crime,” said Joji Alonso, legal counsel for the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council, in her opening remarks at a recent workshop on the Anti-Camcording Act in Taguig City.

“In 2010, a very important law was passed—Republic Act No. 10088, the Anti-Camcording Act of the Philippines,” Alonso noted. “There was a massive change. Our country was lifted off the international watch list—a small victory for the film industry. Last year, we were back on that list.”

Through the workshop, Alonso added, she and representatives of law enforcement agencies and film industry executives hoped to “make the camcording law a more effective deterrent against movie piracy.”

Another speaker, Police Director Benjamin Magalong of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), stressed that the event was aimed at reminding law enforcers and the public of the four-year-old law.

Magalong told the Inquirer that the CIDG worked closely with the Optical Media Board (OMB) in confiscating pirated video and audio materials: “There [is deputization]. Our operations are always in conjunction with the OMB’s. It [is] the lead agency.”

But, he said, “Our enforcement activities with the OMB involve only confiscation of pirated materials, nothing about camcording.”

He elaborated that such operations have not been as active, mainly because of the six-month suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman of OMB Chair Ronnie Ricketts in September for alleged “neglect of duty.”

High-profile, blockbuster movies, ‘X-Men,’ ‘Transformers’ [and] every single locally produced Filipino movie [are targeted],” he said. “We’ve had great support from the Philippine National Police, OMB and National Bureau of Investigation. The exhibitors, at their own cost, have increased security, produced trailers and signposts, and trained their own checkers to identify potential camcorders.”

Ingram added that the public’s attitude was generally helpful. “Yes, it’s typically [a few] bad eggs that spoil it for everybody else.”

In his speech prior to the workshop proper, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Metro Manila Film Festival Chair Francis Tolentino said the “landmark piece of legislation was hailed as a triumph for the film industry and a big blow to film piracy.”

However, years after the initial, dramatic decline of illegal camcording, the same old problem resurfaced, according to Tolentino: “What went wrong? Ningas-cogon? Were we, perhaps, so elated by early success, that we became complacent and soon dropped our guard? We must renew our commitment, collective will and resolve to fight this evil.”

A new trailer that discourages illegal camcording, starring Derek Ramsey and Kristoffer King, was unveiled at the event.

Copies of a handbook on RA 10088, with details on the law and corresponding police intervention procedures, were distributed to attendees and members of the press.

Rom-com cliches, cloying cutesies from 'A to Z'

(Nov. 10, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver  M. Pulumbarit

The new rom-com series “A to Z” is cloyingly cute, brimming with situations and characters that feel familiar—so familiar, that it’s like the “aww”-inducing love child of hit rom-com flicks.

That said, the saccharine romance of these factory-issue characters can be quite persuasive, thanks to decent storytelling and solid portrayals.

Created by Ben Queen (“Cars 2,” “Drive”), “A to Z” refers to lovers Andrew (Ben Feldman) and Zelda (Cristin Milioti). The series is a “comprehensive account of their relationship,” according to the narrator (Katey Sagal).

Titles are alphabetical (“A is for Acquaintances,” etc.), the chosen word corresponding to subject tackled, or at least mentioned, in the episode.

Andrew is a gushing romantic who works in a dating website; Zelda is a guarded, less-emotional person—unsurprisingly, she’s a lawyer who’s cynical about love. They make a connection, regardless, and start dating soon enough, intrigued by each other—it’s revealed in the first episode that they saw each other years prior, when she was in another relationship.

There’s a checklist of potential conflicts. Trust is a big deal; undisclosed matters get unearthed via the Internet, and so on. But whatever misunderstandings are presented, they almost always get resolved quickly and cleanly— it’s barely a half-hour show, and the rather formulaic story is stretched across segments.

Speaking of formulas, the main characters’ best friends Stu (Henry Zebrowski) and Lydia (Lenora Crichlow) share a romantic past, confoundingly, their more comical love-hate dynamic offsetting Andrew and Zelda’s more intimate rapport.

Feldman (“Living With Fran,” “Drop Dead Diva”) looks like Scott Baio’s doppelganger—it’s a little eerie, but he’s charming in his own way. There’s chemistry with Milioti (the mom from “How I Met Your Mother”), who makes the most clichĂ©d moments watchable, even interesting.

It could benefit from more quirky bits, like the Lea Thompson guest appearance and a “Back to the Future”-related gag in the first episode.

However, the show’s days are numbered—reports say that it was recently canceled, but that finished episodes will be aired. That’s not entirely unexpected, but the abrupt shortening may still show sides to it that aren’t sappy replicas of other cutesy rom-com stories. Here’s hoping.

(“A to Z” airs Mondays, 9:30 p.m. on ETC.)

Cable channel has new name, lines up original Filipino shows

(Nov. 3, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Formerly known as AXN Beyond, cable channel beTV metamorphosed into Sony Channel in mid-October, a change expected to bring in more viewers who recognize the brand, according to Hui Keng “HK” Ang, senior vice president of Sony Pictures Television Asia.

“The Sony Channel has been in Asia for a while,” Ang said at the recent launch in Makati. “It was first launched in Latin America about 15 years ago.”

Sony, he added, will be “female-skewing,” but clarified that it will still be male-inclusive—there are shows for male viewers in the current lineup as well.

Ang’s colleague Jennifer Doig, Sony’s executive director for marketing, English content and communications, elaborated that the name change was inevitable: “The Sony brand is very powerful, globally… we really felt that the timing was right to refresh beTV and let it evolve into Sony Channel. The power of [the brand] is [calculated to] appeal to a very demanding audience here in the Philippines.”

In the roster of new shows are American programs “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Madam Secretary” and “Manhattan Love Story.” According to Ang, Sony Channel will air new episodes shortly after their initial US telecasts.

Older shows in the lineup include “Millionaire Matchmaker,” “Minute to Win It” and “Nashville.”

“Content is the key,” Ang stressed. “Sony is going to be fully strengthened by more new shows.”

Ang, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the absence of some Sony channels in the Philippines. So far, he said, only Sony Channel, AXN and Animax are currently airing here.

“It’s not enough. In [other parts of] Asia, there are six [Sony] channels. There are a few other brands that we have not officially introduced in this market for various reasons. We’re working on that. But having strong English-content channels that complement each other for this market, where Hollywood content is very popular and well-accepted, [is unique].”

Like other general entertainment channels in the region, Sony Channel will create shows meant to appeal to, and feature Filipinos, according to Gidget Policarpio-Lao, director and business head of AXN Networks Philippines, Inc.

“It’s in the pipeline,” she said. “AXN, for example, has been doing [reality competition series] ‘Apprentice Asia’… we will do the same thing for Sony. We’re going to do local productions. We’re looking at reality programs and talk shows.”