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Lifestyle. Music. Film. TV. Freshly brewed.

Lana Del Rey’s “Lust For Life”

After the masterful and darkly cinematic Born To Die, Ultraviolet and Honeymoon, Lana Del Rey returns with a brand new record Lust For Life. Her smiley face on the cover signals a more sunshiny set of tracks and a shift towards the positive without losing her signature.

Collaborating with respectable music icons like Stevie Nicks, A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd and Sean Ono Lennon, Ms. Del Rey once again delights listeners with her vintage vocal and songwriting talent.

Here’s a track-by-track commentary based on my first listen of the entire album. Nothing beats the joy and pleasure of a first listening experience, and with Lust For Life, nostalgic surprises are everywhere to charm the ears.

  1. Love” – “Love” is a lovely opener that evokes the sensation of being in a quaint English garden on a late afternoon. The ascending chorus brings forward an uplifting vibe… like a spring awakening.
  2. “Lust For Life” (ft. The Weeknd) – If divine intimacy has a melody, this song would be it. A wonderfully recorded duet.
  3. “13 Beaches” – Very cinematic it could easily fill the end credits of a perfectly crafted noir film.
  4. “Cherry” – Dark, mysterious and moody. Classic Lana. It has a Hitchcockian vibe with a hint of danger and an unsolved puzzle. Favorite part of the lyrics? My cherries and wine, rosemary and thyme/And all of my peaches are ruined.
  5. “White Mustang” – Has a hypnotic quality, especially in the repetitive chorus. Super impactful.
  6. “Summer Bummer” (ft. A$AP Rocky & Playboi Carti) – It captures the feel of her first album Born To Die and has the making of a post-party jam in the summer. Great mix of haunting melodies, the rap, eerie moments and dope beats.
  7. “Groupie Love” (ft. A$AP Rocky) – Single-worthy. This song has the magic touch. Gets me in a nostalgic mode with its dreamy Bohemian flair. It’s like a love letter to the hippie days.
  8. “In My Feelings” – Another powerfully hypnotic tune. One of my favorite tracks from the record. It definitely got me in my feelings.
  9. Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind – Also single-worthy. A Coachella story told through music. Whimsical tune with a narrative quality in the lyrics.
  10. “God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It” – A special dedication to the beautiful ladies of America… and all females with an American heart and a fighting spirit.
  11. “When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing” – Given today’s political climate, this thought-provoking song from Lana is immensely needed. As emphasized in the lyrics, the best we can do is hold on to hope and strive for a happy ending.
  12. “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems” (ft. Stevie Nicks) – Two musical goddesses recording together results in a retro-inspired track that sounds amazing on both CD and vinyl.
  13. “Tomorrow Never Came” (ft. Sean Ono Lennon) – Simply timeless. A Beatles sound is to be expected. There’s a great degree of authenticity in it.
  14. “Heroin” – An exploration of a very dark subject matter. Flying to the moon again, dreaming about heroin… 
  15. “Change” – Very piano-driven. Perfect for a reflective moment. The lyrics grab your attention from the get go. After all, change is a powerful thing.
  16. “Get Free” – As a conclusion to the album, this track is a finely crafted epilogue. It’s like her commitment, and she’s doing it for all of us.
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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Craving an old school sci-fi flick? Agents Valerian and Laureline shall deliver. The electric duo in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets embark on an outer space mission that will leave you entertained as well as enthralled by the universe created in this high quality space opera.

Luc Besson has been one of my favorite directors since the Taxi trilogy and The Fifth Element, and now he’s back at it again with this ambitious film based on a retro comic featuring the adventures of Valerian and Laureline. A vast array of dominating colors are being laid out on the screen (from midnight blue and illuminating purple to the pastels that build the beach scenes), and the CGI effects are there to enhance the plot and not just visual tricks.

Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne surprisingly have a natural, out-of-this-world chemistry. Their constant banters strengthen their partnership and make for fast yet charming dialogues, but their respect for each other shows. Cara appears commanding here. For a model turned actress, she is one of the better ones, as she really delves into Laureline’s character, giving her that iconic persona. A scene stealing Rihanna plays a whimsical, wacky shape-shifting character named Bubble who teams up with Valerian at one point to figure out Laureline’s whereabouts. Bubble is simply lovable you can’t help but wish she gets a more positive ending. Filling in the role of the classic villain is Clive Owen, who’s very convincing in the way he acts.

An eclectic soundtrack features a range of tunes including David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” that gives the intro a cool retro vibe and Cara Delevingne’s relaxing yet catchy “I Feel Everything” plus impressive scores by Alexandre Desplat. Definitely one of the best!

Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is a galactic adventure in space worth following. A mix of Jupiter Ascending and Avatar, it’s very trippy and full of wonders, action and intriguing cast of characters! Take a trip to Alpha – the city of a thousand planets – with Valerian and Laureline and enjoy the ride!

Studio Ghibli Exhibition @ the Ritz Carlton

Welcome to the wonderful world of Ghibli, inspired by Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki and his collection of artsy animated films! The whimsical magic of Studio Ghibli is now within reach of Jakarta fans in the form of an exhibition at the Ritz Carlton – Pacific Place.

Iconic settings, pieces and characters from classics such as My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky are brought to life, ready for Instagram-worthy selfies. The 3D installations may still be in the works, but Ghibliland is looking marvelous at the moment. If you’re a lover of any of Mr. Miyazaki’s works, the Rp.300.000-Rp. 350.000 entrance fee is worth spending. Immerse yourself in the animated, fantastical realms like the ones captured in the following photos and “be a part of the scene”.

A merchandise store will greet you at the exit, boasting a variety of items like mini Totoro plush toys, notebooks, lunchboxes and folders featuring stills from your favorite Studio Ghibli movie. The only downside to these whimsical merch is the price tag. Most are overpriced, which is understandable given they’re original imports from the Ghibli Studio in Japan, but make sure you really love whichever product you decide on getting.

So what’s your favorite Ghibli movie? Sound off below. Mine is Kiki’s Delivery Service, ’cause witches and bakeries brew up a delicious plot. But I will always adore My Neighbor Totoro.

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The bakery from “Kiki’s Delivery Service”.

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Look who greets us at the ticket desk.

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Somehow I’m reminded of the opening scene in “Great Expectations”. PS. You can sit on the boat.

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From the iconic “Spirited Away”.

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Gotta own this folder. I heart bread and croissants.

Everyday They’re Out There Making “DuckTales”! Woo Hoo!

Life is like a hurricane here in Duckburg as the all-new revamped Disney hit show DuckTales premieres its very first episode on Disney XD. Coinciding with the lyrics of the catchy theme song, the series rewrites history by retelling the adventures of Scrooge McDuck (Doctor Who star David Tennant) and company the way Carl Barks has written them in the original graphic novels.

Great family dynamics among Scrooge, the triplets Huey, Louie and Dewey, and Donald, who is rightfully a regular now instead of his usual guest-starring roles in the previous TV version. A badass, quirky and proactive Webby brings a fresh twist to the lovely female companion to the boys, thanks to Garfunkel & Oates‘s Kate Miccucci and her whimsically commanding voice. Plus classic Launchpad is back to crash the airplane as always.

Here are some of my favorite moments and reveals from the 1-hour pilot episode (“Woo Hoo!”), which functions like a standard TV drama:

  • Scrooge riding a dragon Game of Thrones style!
  • The city of Atlantis! It’s definitely fascinating and the perfect way to start the series!
  • Huey, Louie and Dewey’s individual personalities are more distinguishable here. Gotta love adventurous Dewey and him making up his own theme song during the bridge-crossing (PS. It turns out actor Ben Schwartz did an improv on that, and the song got put on the scene).
  • Donald being a responsible, caring uncle to the trio and also the voice of reason on the show. This sweet side of Donald is what I’ve been longing to see, just like in the comics. Adults will find the Scrooge-Donald interactions interesting.
  • Flintheart Glomgold making his first grand appearance. SPOILER alert: Donald ended up working for Glomgold not knowing he’s Scrooge’s sworn enemy ’til Scrooge found out about it.
  • The cliffhanger at the end courtesy of Dewey.

Overall, the first episode of DuckTales 2017 exceeds my expectations and delivers tons of unexpected surprises. Top-notch animation too with the promise of adventure, mystery, action, and lighthearted comedy. Kudos to Frank Angones, Matt Youngberg and their team for bringing it back in a massive way.

DuckTales is definitely not your typical Disney show. There’s a grandness and cinematic quality to it that viewers of all ages can enjoy. It’s like a treasure chest full of endless gold. So if you haven’t already, come and join Uncle Scrooge, Donald, the boys, Webby, Launchpad and Mrs. Beakley on their exciting escapades! Who knows… you might solve a mystery!

 

 

Pop Con 2017: Photographic Highlights

New comics. Cosplays. Westero-inspired artworks. Anime merchandises. Fantastical delights. Here are pictures from Jakarta’s two-day Pop Con event at the Jakarta Convention Center that featured notable guests like Power Rangers star Walter Jones to groundbreaking stunt actors. As a ‘prelude’ to the upcoming Comic Con in October, Pop Con attracted a large number of visitors in fantasy fans and cosplay lovers from all over the city that it was a surefire success.

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The official Pop Con banner.

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“Children of Westeros” is a fanzine created for all die-hard “Game of Thrones” addicts. It sold out really fast.

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A cosplayer showed off his costume as a Transformer. He was a crowd favorite.

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This whimsical”La La Land” greeting card was a best seller. Glad I bought it before it sold out.

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Presenting a brand new medieval game called “Celestian Tales”. I purchased the soundtrack and character art to get inside the world of the story.

The Selection Stories: Here’s to America Singer!

It’s Sci-Fi and Fantasy Week according to Goodreads. So allow me to recommend one of the most whimsically bold fantasy reads I’ve ever had the privilege of enjoying in the world of YA fantasy… Kiera Cass’s The Selection, a trilogy that later expands into a five-book series, beginning with the adventures of one-of-a-kind heroine America Singer – a Five in an eight-caste system and, you guessed it, a singer – as she reluctantly enters a nationwide competition for the heart of Maxon Schreave – a One given his Royalty status – along with the other ladies of Illéa.

Of course, America would rather be with her soulmate Aspen Leger, but she joins the Selection anyway to save money for a married life with Aspen. What follows later is her unforgettable journey at court that makes all the novels worth savoring like a delectable chocolate cake.

At a glance, the glossy, enchanted covers make The Selection look like just another bland fantasy, despite their elegance. That was actually my initial opinion, but thankfully my BFF Cindy found it refreshing and encouraged me to give the series a shot. And she was right. I was so charmed that I ended up sticking with the series all the way to Eadlyn’s reign – featuring an all-male Selection full of smart, desirable guys and the first of its kind.

The Selection explores a variety of topics such as friendship, intelligent romance, female independence, Illéan history and family relationships. The whole explanation of the caste system gives the story a dystopian touch. You’ll meet a cast of characters that are varying in personalities, from the kind-hearted Prince Maxon to the determined Aspen but also complex ones like Celeste, who fits into the role of a mean girl really well but as the plot progresses, a deeper layer within her is revealed. Marlee as Miss Perfect who becomes fast friends with America also has a hidden life. Plus King Clarkson and Queen Amberly’s story are worth following, as are America’s three maids Anne, Lucy and Mary with their own subplots. Separate novellas are available as companions, providing us with the POVs of most of the cast (Maxon and Aspen in The Selection Stories and almost all integral characters in Happily Ever After that’s also filled with grand-looking sketches).

The delicious world of The Selection isn’t complete without America herself, who’s very much like Katniss Everdeen in the way she approaches everything. Even though she looks like a carbon copy of Katniss herself, I do enjoy the fire and drive in her character, and she never backs down from throwing a punch in defense of her friends and loved ones. Now that’s honorable!

Collect all of The Selection, The Elite, The One, The Heir and The Crown along with The Selection Stories and Happily Ever After and treat yourself to a royal feast. Here’s to America Singer!

Fun fact: The Selection was adapted into a pilot for the CW Network, but the show failed to get green-lighted. Hopefully it’ll see better days in the near future. It’s much too great and queenly not to make it on the silver (or big) screen.

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Marcella Purnama’s Debut Novel: “What I Wish I Had Known & Other Lessons You Learned in Your 20’s”

Are you a part of the 20-Something Club like I am? A high school senior who are looking forward to college? Or do you simply crave a nostalgic trip to that fast life in your 20’s? Then What I Wish I Had Known is the one non-fiction book you should pick up by debut author Marcella Purnama, who happens to be a friend of mine and fellow writer.

With a raw, simplistic style of writing that’s easily digestible like delicious croissants in the morning, Marcella offers a glimpse into her life as a University of Melbourne student, a writing intern and later a working professional before returning to Australia to pursue a Masters in writing and editing. All the chapters presented in the book highlight the major experiences in her academic adventures and career, from her first day of classes and exploration of a new city all the way to her blogging life (what a superstar!) and the offer she got to publish this gem of a novel. Slices of her relationship with her family and friends are also included with her dad providing most of the encouragement – and her mom being patient and hopeful despite all her doubts – as she set out on her own path towards her dream career that’s pretty much the opposite of her older sisters’ choices.

You can definitely get a sense of Marcella’s passion and natural talent for writing. She is blessed with a gift of storytelling and weaves her writing in a way that captivates the readers, inviting them to her wonderful world and sharing with them aspects of her life as a 20-something career woman. With the inclusion of quotes and references to pop culture like her association with Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games (how she wants to always be herself despite all the successes that will follow), the chapters hold a massive amount of intrigue. One of my favorite parts revolved around her presentation on how customers would flock towards online stores that sell the cheapest books, but a fellow student in that lecture room who worked at an independent bookstore got very vocal about people still wanting to grab the priciest copies if excellent service is offered. That was both entertaining and informative (personally, I’d still go with the cheapest price available).

As a Communication major, I find What I Wish I Had Known super relatable, even though my experiences in Melbourne have been different with an easier immersion into the local scene. However, you don’t need to be in Communication to be able to enjoy it. If you’re in senior high, then this book can serve as a window to your future, filled with insights that can help you plan ahead so you can make the most of your college and internship experiences. But if you’re no longer in your 20’s, there’s still something nostalgic out of it that makes you want to reminisce the good times. The truth is it’s always positive to approach life with a 20-something mind, as we don’t stop learning even if we’ve reached adulthood.

Make sure to pick up a copy of Marcella’s work at your nearest bookstore (or at Gramedia Online) and be inspired to reach your fullest potential. Visit Marcella on her official site and come say hi.

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Signed, sealed, delivered! My personalized copy of What I Wish I Had Known from Marcella herself.

Donald Duck’s Birthday!

Disney ducks always kick butt and go on the most exciting adventures, but my ultimate favorite is the one and only Donald. So it’s only fitting that a special dedication to him is made in honor of his birthday (and years of service in the Navy).

If you’ve been following the Carl Barks comics and TV shows like the original DuckTales and House of Mouse, it’s very clear that Donald is way more than just that quacky guy with an uncontrollable temper. He comes across as genuine and is very much a team player, especially in stories where he, Mickey and Goofy are a trio. It’s also shown in the comics that he’d go out of his way to make his darling Daisy happy while being a cool uncle for the triplets at the same time. And that performance he gave in The Three Musketeers film? Astounding, heartfelt and daring! From the original voice actor Clarence Nash to the current successor Tony Anselmo who Nash personally mentored, Donald’s character continues to evolve and in a positive direction.

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In The Three Musketeers.

Here’s to more Donald in the new DuckTales that’s set to premiere this summer on Disney XD! To celebrate his birthday, the team behind DuckTales presents a brand new short with Donald, Huey, Louie, Dewey, Webby and of course, the great Uncle Scrooge!

Hey, it’s all fun in this duck family, right? Happy Birthday, Don!

Me and My “West Side Story” Broadway Debut

Boy, boy, crazy boy, stay cool boy…
Got a rocket in your pocket…
Keep coolly cool, boy!

If you told me many moons ago that I was going to be part of a Broadway production, I would’ve laughed at that humor. Never in a million years have I dreamed of seeing my name and picture inside a Playbill. But then West Side Story came along.

Having been a fan of both the Broadway show and Academy Award-winning film, it was a privilege to be able to join the Jakarta Performing Arts Community on its West Side Story adventure (its 8th AND biggest production to date after the success of their previous shows like Burlesque, Fame and The Nightmare Before Christmas). With a global message about acceptance and tolerance, the timing couldn’t have been more right for this timeless musical to be introduced (and reintroduced) to different generations. And so we all made our debut on May 12th at one of Jakarta’s oldest theaters Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM), followed by 4 more shows until closing night on Sunday the 14th.

My time as one of the vocal coaches for the West Side Story cast has impacted my life and opened up a unique path in my music career to always strive to tell stories for the betterment of society through music and lyrics. Thanks Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents for being the ones to start it all and to all the cast and crews who I was honored to embark on this journey with.

For my international friends who didn’t get to see this, I have copies of the exclusive West Side Story program book for the first 3 names who contacted me to request one. 🙂 Shoot me an e-mail or tweet me to get yours. Or simply comment below. You might be one of the lucky ones. “Could be… Who knows…” 😉

E-mail: julesalveria@gmail.com
TWITTER: @JulesOfficial_

To learn more about JPAC, go check out http://www.jpacwestsidestory.com!

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