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Mar 122015
 

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This episode was all about the secret origins of Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and an emotional one at that. Ehramantraut was such a popular character on Breaking Bad, that it is so intriguing to finally get to see a bit of his backstory. Considering that we are still in prequel mode for Better Call Saul, this episode not only plants the seeds for the relationship between our titular character and Ehrmantraut, it offers us a glimpse into the latter’s soul that was previously unfathomable.

At the very end, when Ehrmantraut breaks down in front of his daughter-in-law over the fate of his son, it’s impossible not to feel the pain in his eyes and the helpless sense of regret. Quite possibly, the best in the series thus far.

Mar 112015
 

DD

80s comic book creators like Alan Moore and Frank Miller demonstrated that a dark and gritty take on superheroes was a highly viable artistic path. That this approach was also lucrative was proven by Christopher Nolan in his Dark Knight movie trilogy and to a lesser extent, The Man of Steel. And as much as Arrow has benefitted from this perspective as well, it is only now with Netflix’s adaptation of Marvel’s Daredevil will we be seeing the first proper dark and gritty superhero TV series. All episodes drop on 10th April, so check out the 2nd trailer in the meantime.

Mar 102015
 

TWDYsingapore

The folks at Symmetry Entertainment are bringing back This Will Destroy You, who were last on our shores in a sold-out show in 2013. The post-rock band is in demand with music supervisors of Hollywood films as well as award ceremonies like the Golden Globes and a TWDY show always promises fun, inspiration and intensity.

Event details: –

Date: 04/06/2015
Time: 8:00pm
Venue: Substation Theatre
Tickets: 60SGD (Standard)
70SGD (At the door)
twdy.peatix.com

Mar 102015
 

Confesstival-X-2ndGGC-poster

Here’s an update from The Grizzle Grind Crew!

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CONFESSTIVAL X #2ndGGC Anniversary [A *SCAPEmusic Programme]

Venue: *SCAPE The Ground Theatre (2 Orchard Link Singapore 237978)
Date: Sunday 5 April 2015
Time: 7:00pm
Admission: Free
Doors open at 6:00pm
Indie folk-pop act Gentle Bones will be celebrating with us on stage. Malaysia-crossover pop sensation Sleeq will make a special appearance! Malaysia’s biggest rapper Joe Flizzow will be throwing down his jams while Los Angeles’ top underground rapper Dumbfoundead will be rocking the stage as well!

Yeah, the 200 moshpit spots are redeemed. BUT you still should register cause we are giving out totebags with goodies from our partners JUICE, Nando’s and Fleshimp. The totebags are for the first 500 registered pax who showed up at the show.

Now here’s the fun part! In the 500 totebags, there will be the following:
a. 28 x Bronze Totebags (GGC T-shirt)
b. 20 x Silver Totebags (GGC T-shirt + GGC poster)
c. 1 x Gold Totebag (GGC T-shirt + GGC Poster + 1 Pioneer DDJ Wego MIDI Controller)
d. 2 x Platinum Totebags (GGC T-shirt + GGC Poster + 1 pair of stage view passes – where you and your friends get to watch the entire at the side of the stage!)

For exclusive entry into the moshpit/Meet & Greet session, Workshops and merch giveaways (#2ndGGC totebag), register at: www.scapers.sg/confesstival.

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Mar 102015
 

chappie

DIRECTED BY NEILL BLOMKAMP
WRITTEN BY NEILL BLOMKAMP AND TERRI TATCHELL
STARRING SHARLTO COPLEY, DEV PATEL, JOSE PABLO CANTILLO, HUGH JACKMAN AND SIGOURNEY WEAVER.

A movie about a sentient robot is nothing new, of course. To the credit of its director, Chappie starts out as a distinctive and unique take on the subject matter. Despite early lapses in logic – why is it so easy for rival engineers Deon Wilson (Patel) and Vincent Moore (Jackman) to mess around with their employer Tetravaal’s assets – there is a certain naive charm about Copley’s Chappie and its relationship with the colourful gangsters (Ninja, Yolandi and America). The sequences where Ninja and America teach Chappie to commit crimes is frankly hilarious.

But the moment Moore activates his diabolical plan, Blomkamp throws logic to the wind and the convenient plot devices stack up in the manner that was too prevalent on Blomkamp’s last movie, Elysium. The movie then no longer makes any sense – again the utter lack of security at Tetravaal is ridiculous – with the added silliness of the whole consciousness transfer being the last straw that reduces this initially promising scifi flick into a steaming pile of crap.

The thought of Blomkamp screwing around with the Aliens franchise next is an extremely disturbing one. Sigh.

Mar 102015
 

TheWalkingDead513-4

What’s going on? Why are our intrepid gang of survivors acting like the bad guys? How am I supposed to feel about Carol threatening a young child in order to conceal a secret? Are Rick and company totally unable to adapt to normal life and trust anyone now?

These questions and more will plague you as you try to understand the fundamental changes confronting our favourite characters on The Walking Dead. Despite the apparent peace and calm of Alexandria, Rick, Carol and Daryl are expecting the worst and are acting accordingly.

This will all end in tears. It is guaranteed.

Mar 092015
 

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This has happened. The cancellation was brought about by the organisers failing to obtain a Public Entertainment Licence for the event. Rumours are circulating that the police had concerns about possible drug abuse during FMFA based on the drug overdose deaths at last year’s event in Malaysia. Was this a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the authorities? Was this a message to FMFA that there was no place for the festival in the region in light of last year’s fatalities? Of course, no official explanations were given but from the perspective of the authorities, it is perhaps understandable that anyone granting the licence would be sweating on there being no repeat of last year’s tragedies.

Without any access to what went on behind the scenes, it seems a terrible waste of resources that the festival was allowed to market FMFA and sell tickets even though the licence was not yet obtained. Was there any dialogue at all between the two sides as to what could be done to achieve some level of comfort that the police would accept in order for the festival to proceed? Should the organisers have alerted ticket buyers to the possible risk of the festival being denied a licence? Moving forward what can be done to balance the needs of public safety and organisers’ commercial concerns?

Obviously, this is bad news for the FMFA organisers and the ticket buyers but in the bigger scheme of things what does it mean for organisers of large scale events in Singapore? Is this an isolated incident based purely on last year’s festival? Or is this emblematic of the a more conservative approach adopted by the authorities? Well, surely, there will be doubts in the minds of similar festival organisers about the viability of Singapore as a proper venue in the future.

So, one-off or a dangerous precedent? Hopefully the former but we shall have to wait and see…

Mar 082015
 

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Got to hand it to the folks behind 12 Monkeys – not only have they managed to deepen the emotional resonance of the characters in the series but they have continued to used the time travel plot device to heighten the dramatic tension well throughout. In recent weeks, the series has given due focus to the ‘present day’ scenario of 2043 and in this episode we are introduced to Colonel Foster, the leader of Spearhead (a military colony where Jones and Whitley once lived) who stands in the way of the repair of the time machine and the recovery of Cole from the past.

Yes, Cole was not killed – though the reason why is probably worth the price of admission – as was suggested in the previous episode. There is superb misdirection in this respect as Dr. Raily attempts to find out whether Cole survived the airstrike or whether he was successful in altering the future. What do you think?

Mar 072015
 

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Things come to a head in this episode as we move ever closer to the finale. The ambitious Amy makes her play against Michael – the result of which is discovered by Julia thirty years later! Amy also figures in negotiations with Sarah to secure the return of her immortal child (in one of the creepiest sequences thus far).

The Coast Guard returns to St. Germain with its officer-in-charge spouting cliches after cliche and the CDC team – now led by Alan – head out to get to the bottom of the pantagen, once and for all. Meanwhile, in the future, the plot gets more and more convoluted. Hopefully, the loose ends will tied up soon.

Mar 062015
 

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After the stress and the pressure of Olivia’s kidnapping, Scandal is brought down to earth with a hard bump with an episode that reflects the recent controversies in Ferguson and New York regarding the killing of unarmed African-American men by the police. Yes, it’s a relatively simple and un-convoluted plot but highly effective. By the end, the viewer will be brought to tears by the emotion of the message. A very strong episode, that does not need too much elaboration.

Mar 052015
 

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After the shocking (literally!) events of the mid-season finale, the Agents of SHIELD have to re-group and figure out how to move forward in light of Tripp’s death. Even as Skye is stuck in quarantine, Raina has been transformed into a spiky Inhuman (although she seems more like a typical Marvel Comic Mutant – Damn you, Fox) and is struggling to adapt to her new body and abilities. We are also given more information about Gordon, the teleporting Inhuman who will probably end up as Raina’s mentor.

As for Coulson, he takes lethal action against HYDRA as revenge for Tripp’s demise and it is ruthlessly effective, to say the least. Mac and Bobbi seem to have a shared secret (Are they HYDRA agents? That would be boring!) whilst Fitz helps Skye to keep her own transformation a secret from their SHIELD team mates. Interesting set ups for the conflicts to come. I do hope that more tie-ups with the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be seen in the coming episodes.

Mar 042015
 

HOC3-1

Much anticipated as it was, Season 3 of Netflix original series, House of Cards was a massive disappointment.

Having fought his way from Speaker to Vice-President to President, it was expected that our protagonist Frank Underwood would bring his own vicious brand of politics onto the biggest stage of all, with all the ensuing drama that implies. Instead, House of Cards 3 was somewhat hijacked by the writers to make Clare Underwood the protagonist and cast Frank Underwood as the villain in his own story. From the moment, she is appointed Ambassador to the UN (a preposterous wrong move that the series never quite recovers from), the writers rely too much on this crutch to generate the drama and conflict between the Underwoods.

All the usual obstacles to Frank’s ambitious machinations were nicely set up to create the appropriate tension and the guilty pleasures fans take in watching Frank succeed (by all means necessary) have always been the highlight of this series. But in the last three episodes, the series took an awful tangent with Clare totally acting out of character and somewhat upsetting all the expectations. To be honest, it was difficult to fathom Clare’s reasoning behind all her actions when compared to the character revealed in Season 1 & 2. Sure, Clare is fiercely independent and Machiavellian in her own right but what are the writers trying to say with her about-face? That women cannot be understood by men? That women are illogical and emotional and will act without just cause, if they did not feel right about something? All rather sexist, in my view.

And what about the whole Doug Stamper sub-plot? What the hell was that about? Again, a distraction and a confusing plot device that ultimately served no purpose. Worst thing about House of Cards 3 was that it ended with a whimper unlike the previous 2 seasons. After 13 episodes, one can only look back and conclude that the writers have run out of ideas and are stretching out the goodwill of the series for whatever it is worth.

*Sigh*

Mar 032015
 

BetterCallSaul105-1

Truth be told, this episode – “Alpine Shepherd Boy” – was a letdown after the highs of the previous episode. Neatly divided into three parts, the opening act finds Jimmy MacGill realising that getting folks calling him might necessarily mean a good thing as his client prospects tend to be disappointing. However, with the second act – of Chuck getting arrested by police and winding up in the hospital – Jimmy gets the hare-brained scheme to mark out a niche in ‘elder law’ and extends his marketing to the old folks home.

And the show would have ended nicely enough there but that final act with Mike Ehrmantraut seemed awkwardly tacked on. That said, the situation Mike finds himself is tailor-made for Jimmy to come in and save the day.

Mar 022015
 

TheWalkingDead512-4

Our gang of survivors begin to settle in at Alexandria but our favourite characters are waiting for the pin to drop. Who can blame them, after all the trauma that they have been through in the last five seasons? Halfway through this transitional episode Carl tells Rick that he is worried they would get ‘soft’ if they stayed in Alexandria and by the end, Rick is confident that being ‘soft’ is no longer a part of who they are and rather ominously declares that if the inhabitants of Alexandria are not good enough, then they would take over.

There are signs of tensions even in this superficially placid surroundings but one feels that Rick and company are well suited to handle any challenges and ironically, they might prove to be the biggest threat to the well-being and security of Alexandria.  A great turn of events and change of pace that as usual keep the proceedings intriguing. Kudos!

Mar 012015
 

SpotifyLogo

Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware of my obsession with British pop-rock, from The Beatles to the Who to the Kinks to the Stones and on and on and on…  Since the end of the 90s (and the demise of Britpop), I have always been hoping for a revival of British pop-rock (and I do not mean the post-punk revival like The xx! Ugh!!)

Well it’s now 20 years since the heyday of Britpop and surveying the British pop-rock scene in 2015, there appears to be a couple of promising acts that hopefully will make the grade to generate enough buzz for this particular brand of pop-rock to dominate once again. In fact, I have found 20 bands that fit the bill completely – check out my playlist below and do let me know if you have other recommendations?

… still there’s more … 

Mar 012015
 

12Monkeys107

Even as I find the leading actors utterly unremarkable (it is obvious they were cast purely for their good looks), I am enjoying Syfy’s re-imagining of 12 Monkeys for its proper exploration of time travel implications. Sure, even that is not perfect but one can appreciate the genuine effort. This episode seems to superficially wrap up the series (it does not of course, in reality) but it was intriguing the manner in which we were led to believe it was. The mechanics of time travel for James Cole (it is all past for him) and Cassandra Raily (living in real time) is that their shared experience may not be linear and that is the beauty of the story-telling. With the various changes in time that Cole is effecting, surely the question must arise is whether there is one timeline or are we witnessing the splintering of various alternate timelines. One suspects that the latter is a tad too sophisticated for a TV audience, even for a scifi drama series but wouldn’t it be nice?

Mar 012015
 

Helix207-2

The 2nd season of Helix has done very well in shifting focus on different characters and casting as protagonists and antagonists in equal measure depending on particular perspectives. Amongst Alan, Peter, Michael and Amy it was never clear who was the actual villain of the piece. But finally, the role has settled on Michael. Yes the placid, seemingly even-tempered cult leader is actually a 400 year old immortal, who has lost touch with his humanity decades ago and despite appearances to the contrary, appears to be aware of every single machination within his community. Enough to be constantly ahead of the game, so to speak. Rather masterful writing, I must say. Discovering the truth, the CDC team now have to thwart Michael as he executes his horrible endgame.

That all said, it is strange that Julia’s story seems to have fall out of the narrative almost completely. What happened in the 30 years later timeline? Will we get back to that? Too many questions in that respect. But definitely worth finding out!

Feb 282015
 

Nimoy

I grew up in the 60s and thus Star Trek was a massive influence on my love for science fiction and space opera. Leonard Nimoy in his role as Mr. Spock was instrumental in making Star Trek the iconic series it has become almost 50 years later. Nimoy passed away on 27th February at the age of 83. One of his final memorable roles was as Dr William Bell in Fringe, where even in his latter years, he was an imposing presence. He will never be forgotten.

Found this moving tribute at Youtube from The New York Times.

Live long and prosper, Mr Nimoy…

Feb 272015
 

Chappie poster

So… February was largely disappointing for new movies. Kingsman: The Secret Service was alright but Jupiter Ascending was abysmal. Sigh. Pray March will be better.

5th March

CHAPPIE
Directed by Neill Blomkamp.
Starring Hugh Jackman and Dev Patel.

Getting somewhat nervous about this one. Blomkamp did not do too well with Elysium and the idea of sentient robot is not exactly original, is it? Jackman is in it as well, as I generally do not like any movie he’s in. Ah well.

Continue reading »

Feb 272015
 

SpotifyLogo

What else was worth checking out in February? Here goes…

BLACKBERRY SMOKE – HOLDING ALL THE ROSES

An obvious choice. A real band playing real music. In this case, Southern Rock, country-folk and old time rock n roll make it simple. Recommended.

Continue reading »