GEEK OUT! BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

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Background
Not the sequel to Man of Steel (2013) but according to director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen), the outright launch of the DC Cinematic Universe (DCU) with the first appearance of Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman (Henry Cavill) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) together in the same movie. Key question is whether the movie itself can justify the slew of DCU films coming up in the pipeline, and in particular, Justice League (2017).

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GEEK OUT! DEADPOOL

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Alright, let me get it out there right off the bat. I have never liked Deadpool. Mainly because… Rob Liefeld. Same reason I never liked Cable. Gimmicky characters without substance. Breaking the fourth wall by itself isn’t enough to mask the fact that Deadpool is a poor rip-off of Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke.

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GEEK OUT! FINALLY. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS [SPOILERS]

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So much to say, too much to unload. Considering the sheer level of hype poured down on this movie, it’s fair to accept that it was never ever going to live up to the hype. I probably need to watch again to absorb all the nuances but basically, what I feel is that The Force Awakens is either a Star Wars reboot or a fan-made tribute or eye candy searching desperately for a story or perhaps all of the above.

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GEEK OUT! THE EXPANSE LIVES UP TO ITS NAME!

The Expanse 001

Scifi TV geeks have been waiting for a long time for a series that matches the epic sweep of Babylon 5 or Battlestar Galactica. Thus, when it was announced that Syfy was adapting James SA Corey’s Expanse series, there was palpable excitement amongst geeks that perhaps the wait was over. Based on the pilot, there is enough evidence that The Expanse may have a shot at emulating the greatness of the aforementioned series.

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CHARLIE LIM’S TIME/SPACE IS A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE OF SINGAPORE ROCK. AND IT’S LOOKING GOOD. DAMN GOOD.

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There is no sense of the where and when listening to Singapore singer-songwriter Charlie Lim‘s double EP Time/Space. It simply is.

The music of Time/Space is the honest expression of a young man coming to terms with life issues and a burgeoning musical talent. Taken as a whole – 8 tracks and two bookends – Time/Space is a polaroid shot of where Charlie is, and from an artistic perspective, it is looking very very good.

From the outset, with the ragtime-infused “Blah Blah Blues”, it’s clear that Charlie is not interested in cliches and limitations on his music but will go wherever his muse takes him.

“I tend to make my mountains out of molehills” he sings plaintively before he vamps on the chorus – “Itʼs not that hard to sing about being hurt/
Itʼs kind of lucrative to write a love song/Because everybody else just canʼt get enough” – an ironic comment perhaps about his own persona?

Personally, Charlie always hits home with his ballads – wonderful melanges of folk, soul & indie pop that never fail to send chills down spine. “Choices” is the first one – where Charlie’s sweet larynx combines with guitar patterns and trademark cutting lyrics – “I can take complication/If I can comprehend/But I can’t deal with ignorance/Even if you think it’s bliss” – to produce an overwhelming emotional resonance.

This leads us to Charlie’s magnum opus “Bitter” – the rollercoaster ride of ‘feels’ as Charlie shares some of the most poignant lyrics – “Was I trying to cash in the fantasy without the reality check?”, “Embrace the silence when thereʼs nothing left/You got no room for demons when youʼre self-possessed” and of course, ” Was I spoilt for love/Have you had enough/Wait out the danger/You donʼt have to ask/This maudlin moment/Will soon come to pass”. Sheer bloody genius.

Incredibly, Charlie offers two potential “Bitter”-killers, so to speak, here with “Light Breaks In” and “I Only Tell the Truth”.

The former is a early 70s folk-inflected stunner where Charlie slays with guitar and voice. And when the string sections moves in, I challenge you not to feel that lump in the throat moment before the tears well up. Fuckin’ gorgeous with sentiments to match – “Pour out all your sorrow/Were you waiting for a sign/Only breathing just a little/And calling it a life”. Beautiful.

The latter is the closing track and yet again is another melancholy masterpiece as you listen to the airplane pilot giving instructions for landing. Wonderfully arranged and primed for the kill once Charlie gets to the heart-breaking chorus – “But I won’t catch you if you let go/I’ll pick apart the things you let fold/If that’s what you want I guess we’ll move on/I’m sorry” – and for anyone who has lived through the death of a relationship, these words take on massive proportions. For me personally, I have broken down more than a few times when feeling the intensity of the emotions that Charlie is conveying here. All too real. And when the “Outro” hits, its hard to describe as the sad lonely piano plays out to the sound of children.

But then, it’s over, and I press play again and let the magic of Charlie Lim wash over me once more.

Time/Space will be released on June 6th at the House of Riot concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall. Tickets available from SISTIC

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

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The Sound of Music (Marina Bay Sands)
Review by Gavin Low

I remember learning songs like ‘Do Re Mi’ and ‘Edelweiss’ during music lessons in primary school, and one day, our music teacher told us to catch the film version of The Sound of Music on TV. That was how I was introduced to Maria, played by Dame Julie Andrews, and the Von Trapp family. I remembered it being quite a magical moment when the Von Trapp children burst into songs like ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ and ‘My Favourite Things’.

It was then with trepidation and anticipation that I watched the stage version of The Sound of Music, currently showing at the MBS Mastercard Theatre. I know that the stage version is quite different from the beloved film that we have all grown so fond of. Gladly, I have a great time, and even break into childish excitement when Maria and the Von Trapp children break into my childhood songs.

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BAYBEATS 2014: DAY THREE

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Inevitably for me, Day Three of most year’s Baybeats tend to be a little anti-climatic. After the hustle and bustle of the first two days, fatigue sets in and it has not been uncommon for me to sometimes entirely miss Day Three. So with that in mind, I decided to focus on the performances going on at the Chillout Stage (the Concourse) and found the experience thoroughly enlightening!

Pitch Feather delivered high gloss renditions of its excellent debut album – Mountains and Tides – singer Alberta Leong has an appealing voice that embellishes the band’s luscious take on 70s folk music that very quickly endeared them to the rapt audience. Considering this was the band’s very first live performance, there were nerves and a couple of errors but nothing fatal. Would love to see Pitch Feather develop further in the local indie scene.

.gif provide a polar opposite to Pitch Feather’s rustic warm tones with an electro-pop set that once again showcased the vocal talents of Weish. It was instructional as usual to see Weish construct ambient sounds from her vocals to utilize backings for the songs. Far from being cold constructs, the songs seemed vaguely personal as colours and shapes filled the room (figuratively, of course).

Pixel Apartment (aka Jordan Chia) was a sheer delight – both soulfully and intellectually. Operating his one man band (complete with video!) with the main focus on grand piano, Jordan provided a pleasing set which showcased his skills with electronics as well as songwriting. That said, perhaps the high point was Jordan’s wonderful cover of “What Sarah Said” (Death Cab for Cutie) sympathetically played on the piano. Yet another local musician with loads of talent!

And that was Day Three for me. Well satisfied with the slate of promising local musicians enough to believe that the future of the Singapore indie music scene is indeed bright! Thanks again to all the cool people I ran into today and once again to the Esplanade for putting together another first rate Baybeats Festival!

… still there’s more … 

MUSIC MATTERS LIVE 2012

Kate Miller-Heidke by Glenn Taubenfeld

Review by CJ Ang

For what it was worth, Music Matters Live 2012 was extravagant, and spectacular like fireworks on display.

In local, Singaporean context, it is a free three-days music event in conjunction with Gaming Matters and Digital Matters, it is like a musical discovery journey out amongst the 8 participating venues in the urban, nightspot jungle of Clarke Quay (my workplace)!

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KILLER ELITE

My first impression of this film (based on the title) was that it was a remake of the 1975 film. It’s not.

In fact, Killer Elite is based on the 1991 novel The Feather Men by Sir Ranulph Fiennes which deals with the SAS involvement during the Dhofar rebellion in Oman in 1972. Set in 1980, Danny Bryce (Jason Statham) and Hunter (De Niro) are mercenaries who get involved in a job to assassinate three former-SAS operatives for a deposed Omani sheikh. This puts Bryce in direct conflict with Spike Logan (Clive Owen) the head enforcer of The Feather Men, a secret society of ex-SAS operatives who protect former SAS members.

And that is the gist of it. Don’t expect anything more than good old-fashioned action as two hard men go toe in toe to achieve their ends. There are no heroes or villains here as both protagonists seem to have ‘valid’ motivations for all the killing that goes on. If that is all possible. The attempts to humanize Bryce and Logan work for the most part but the plot relating to The Feather Men and the British government’s involvement in Oman comes across muddied and confusing. Although the scene where Bryce, Owen and the spook are three-way battling is intriguing.

There is a happy ending of sorts, which is rather convenient, but fairly satisfying. Although there is that nagging suspicion that the producers will wring out a sequel if the box office numbers justify. Hopefully not.

EMBRACE THEM GHOSTS

Embrace Them Ghosts EP Launch

Definitely not recommended if one has two important meetings on the next day, which is the scenario in my case. However, despite that, why the hell not go for a showcase of hardcore, heavy metal rock, featuring five bands that demonstrate how to have a good rock & roll time on a Thursday night, post-work? Let me hear ya say, hell yeah!

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THE NEXT THREE DAYS

THE NEXT THREE DAYS Directed by Paul Haggis Screenplay by Paul Haggis

Starring – Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Ty Sympkins, Olivia Wilde, Brian Dennehy, Lennie James, Helen Carey and Liam Neeson.

Let me just say that I’m not a fan of remakes but Paul Haggis at the reins of this one, made me give it a chance.

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MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS 2010

Let me just preface this review by stating categorically that I have a perverse fascination with award shows, it’s almost like watching aliens from outer space, or something. Ah, pop celebrities!

This year, I received a special invitation to watch a live screening of the VMA at the office of MTVAsia with really nice catered breakfast (not to mention the taxi that got me there) Only things that were missing were the booze and the lap dancers. Heh!

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JEFF LARSON

JEFF LARSON Left of a Dream (Red Bell)

Larson is a veritable master at evoking the silky smooth sounds of the early 70s West Coast rock scene viz. latter-day Byrds, Crosby Stills & Nash, America, James Taylor, Neil Young and the Eagles. Which basically means that Larson is adept at mining the rich vein of country-folk Americana that delivers twang and soul with an easy vibe.

This spanking new album is no different and finds Larson is prime form, chockful of melancholy tunes and wistful lyrics, the perfect soundtrack to the dead of night when the world is quiet and thoughtful. With sparkling production values and pristine instrumental performances, Left of a Dream may be the epitome of the classic Californian rock approach.

Highly recommended.