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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Honey, honey, the marvelous movie musical Mamma Mia! returns for a sequel a decade after its release, and it’s a such summer delight you’ll be singing “Andante, Andante” and floating away. In Here We Go Again, we sail back to the fictional island of Kalokairi, Greece and reunite with the original cast while welcoming a number of newcomers to Hotel Bella Donna.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is now in charge of Donna’s divine hotel, preparing for its reopening and inviting her three fathers Sam, Harry and Bill (still played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård) and mom’s best friends Tanya and Rosie (with Christine Baranski and Julie Walters reprising their roles) to come along while her husband Sky (Dominic Cooper) is learning about hotel business away in New York. As pregnancy is upon her, she reminisces about her mother with the help of Tanya and Rosie, and the film whimsically mixes present situations with flashbacks that feature young, wild and carefree Donna (magnetically portrayed by Lily James) and her adventures that led her to her first encounters with her three beaus.

Meryl Streep is still the heart and soul of the story, and though her presence is limited in this sequel (perhaps we can all pen a letter to the writers asking why they did what they did to Donna), the plot will always revolve around Donna, and Sophie is honoring her mother by keeping the family business running.

Props to the casting team for putting together a convincing group of young actors for the flashback scenes, from Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies who look and speak exactly like Baranski and Walters, to Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan as young Sam, Harry and Bill. Lily James steals the film as young Donna. Her presence is electric, and her larger-than-life persona makes it truly an iconic role for her. The way she channels Meryl/Donna is completely natural the audiences would be impressed.

With ABBA’s music being the force behind the Mamma Mia! universe, Here We Go Again does a marvelous job delivering the Swedish pop group’s more underrated hits, from “Andante, Andante” to “Fernando” (a major highlight within the film featuring Cher as Sophie’s grandmother Ruby and Andy Garcia as her former lover Fernando) while bringing in songs previously used in the original film like “Dancing Queen”, “Thank You for the Music”, “Waterloo” (a standout scene with young Harry and Donna), “The Name of the Game”, and “I Have a Dream”.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a great sequel and a wonderful addition to the first. It’s full of joy, electric acting, ABBA-licious tunes, endearing moments and Grecian magic.

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American Idol Season 1 (ABC)

ABC has brought back American Idol two years after its cancellation on FOX. The phenomenon that preceded other TV singing competitions is all-new and improved with fresh talents and a positive vibe. Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan – this first season’s trio of judges – not only have great dynamics, but also a strong, genuine interest in what each contestant bring. They pay close attention to all the singing and are very encouraging.

Given the super rushed schedule, tonight’s episode will wrap up the auditions segment, preparing the audiences for the Hollywood rounds tomorrow. To refresh, let’s take a look at some of the unforgettable auditions we have seen ever since the show’s March 11 premiere. Feel free to share your favorites too!

Does Idol deserve to stay another season? With such a positive direction, this competition serves as a reminder on the power of dreams, and dreams are always needed despite today’s grim political situations. So the answer would be yes. If you haven’t been tuning in, I encourage you to do so, and get ready to be inspired all over again. Spectacular talents and future stars await you.

LAINE HARDY

A high schooler with a cool, raspy voice and a bluesy rock sound? Laine’s got it. You can immediately spot that recording quality in his vocals. It’s only right that he’s topping the polls on various Idol forums and sites.

BRANDON DIAZ

This Berklee guy is definitely one of my top male voices. Very soulful. Turns out he was on The X Factor and that I’ve seen a few of his Youtube videos once like “Say Something”. I’m very interested in keeping up with his career on Idol and beyond.

GARRETT JACOBS

Another one of my favorite. Such a unique tone and so much potential. Great singer-songwriter vibe. While blues is very fitting for him, I can see him doing well covering modern male artists like Shawn Mendes and James Morrison.

MARCIO DONALDSON

Super inspiring. Powerful story and a voice that’s tender and compelling, Marcio is one to look for. There’s an honesty in the way he sings, and if he keeps it up in Hollywood, he could easily soar into the finals.

CATIE TURNER

This girl is truly an original. With an adorably quirky persona and her self-penned songs like 21st Century Machine, she’s definitely starting a revolution, and we’re all here for a lot of Catie records. She could be the one! #hashtagcatie

MADDIE POPPE

Whimsical with a relaxing tone, she’s got magic in her voice that’s reminiscent of Sara Bareilles. The ultimate female singer-songwriter in this competition, she will bring a lot of freshness to the stage.

AMELIA HAMMER HARRIS

Very retro! With a lot of funk and energy in her voice and a NYLON-inspired fashion, Amelia delivers a lot of excitement and is bound to shake up the competition. It also helps that she’s the daughter of a music icon Jack Hammer.

MARA JUSTINE

Very impressive! Haven’t seen her on America’s Got Talent but she seems ready now with her massive voice. Her expression and enthusiasm really show, and she’d make a commercial recording artist.

LAYLA SPRING

She has a delightful sound. Bringing her little sister Dixie along, there’s an immediate warmth in her that draws you in. While she could benefit with more experiences, she’s got potential. The voice is definitely there, and so is her charm.

 

CALEB HUTCHINSON

 

He comes across as unique for a country artist. It looks like he also has a magnetic personality. His sincerity and love for country music definitely shows when he performs.

Lady Bird

Lady Bird is a new classic in the modern cinematic universe. Greta Gerwig uses her fine powers in writing and directing to craft a simple, humorous yet compelling film that centers on Saoirse Ronan’s Christine McPherson, a senior student at a Catholic school in Sacramento, California, who yearns for a big, artistically rich life in the East Coast. Referring to herself as Lady Bird, the nickname given to her at birth by her nurse mother Marion McPherson (played by Laurie Metcalf), she views her surroundings from a very progressive angle, giving her that fiery, rebellious personality.

The quest for love, acceptance and everlasting friendship is a common plot in the everyday coming-of-age movies, but what makes Lady Bird a masterpiece is the unique insertion of whimsical tones followed by quirky humor that result in plenty of amusing, lighthearted moments like the many inside jokes Lady Bird shares with her best friend Jules (Beanie Feldstein) on a daily basis (their loyalty to each other serves as a powerful testament to female friendship) and the iconic drama club musical audition scenes (seeing Lady Bird tackle the lively Broadway classic “Everybody Says Don’t” is purely epic, knowing how accurate the lyrics are to her personal life). In addition to that, the plot is strongly character-driven with Lady Bird pushing the story forward as she embarks on a journey towards her high school graduation and to discover which East Coast college will accept her. Determined and fiery yet overly stubborn, she often has a row with the strongly opinionated Marion at home and continually lashes out against her, yet fails to realize that underneath it all, both mother and daughter have so much in common. Ronan and Metcalf were deserving of their Academy Awards nominations for a realistic portrayal of their characters with their all-out, energetic performances.

With such a strong film debut, Greta Gerwig has achieved the impossible by being only the fifth female director to have ever been nominated for Best Directing in the history of the Oscars, and the road can only go up from here. She has become an icon and inspiration for women directors and aspiring filmmakers who are just starting out, and Lady Bird will always soar high with its many accolades.

Now that the DVD and Blu-ray are available to buy, it’s the best time to pick up Lady Bird, especially since today is International Women’s Day, and films made by and starring powerful ladies that foster great female dynamics are always the ultimate treats. Click here for more info and follow @LadyBirdMovie on Twitter for updates.

 

#TimesUp at the 75th Golden Globes

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 10.31.27 AMOprah Winfrey. Photo Credit: Variety

BLL Ladies copyThe Big Little Lies ladies. Photo Credit: ABC

It’s 2018, and the annual Golden Globe Awards went into its 75th year with a fiery revolution in support of women across all industries, encouraging them to speak up in light of abuse, misrepresentation and all forms of mistreatment. The #TimesUp movement packed a lot of female punch, as stars and public figures – women and men – attended the event all decked in black as a sign of solidarity. Most of the wins and speeches on stage also reflected and acknowledged the need to continue pushing for equal opportunities for females in all aspects of their careers.

Speaking as a screenwriter, I stand by Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Chastain, Zoe Saldana, Natalie Portman, Dwayne Johnson, Ansel Elgort, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern, Evan Rachel Wood, and many other icons in the fight for lady power. May more opportunities open up for female writers, directors, engineers, coders, entrepreneurs, and other career fields from all backgrounds and from all over the world, for the world of storytelling and the entire workforce should always be diverse.

The 75th Golden Globe Awards presented us with tons of highlights. Feel free to list all your favorite moments. Here are mine:

  • All the Big Little Lies wins (congrats Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern) and the all-girl cast photos.
  • Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Laura Dern in the same room. The Fault in Our Stars nostalgia.
  • Queen Oprah’s all-inspiring, super important speech about hope and an inclusive future as she accepted the Cecille B. Demille award.
  • Both Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor winning brought a little Moulin Rouge magic. Viva Satine and Christian!
  • The Greatest Showman won Best Original Song with “This is Me”.
  • Barbra Streisand’s surprise appearance. I’d personally want Babs to make a triumphant return to film directing and acting. The last feature film she directed and starred in was the lovely Mirror Has Two Faces.
  • Saoirse Ronan and the Lady Bird appreciation. Director Greta Gerwig deserved a nomination for crafting a powerful female-driven film.

2017 Highlights, 2018 Greetings

It’s here, it’s now, it’s 2018. Well, almost. Before I start my annual New Years Eve movie When Harry Met Sally (been enjoying brunch with some good friends and a cozy family dinner), allow me to present a brief list of my 2017 highlights. You’re welcome to share yours as well.

Happy 2018! 😀 Here’s to another year full of opportunities and adventures for all of us. #DreamBig

FILMS

  • Loving Vincent
  • Baby Driver
  • The Beguiled
  • A United Kingdom
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin
  • Lady Bird
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Coco
  • The Greatest Showman
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle

TV SHOWS

  • Reign: The Final Season
  • The Crown
  • Big Little Lies
  • The Orville

MUSIC

  • What’s That Sound? – Haley Reinhart
  • Baby Driver Soundtrack – Various Artists
  • Anastasia Broadway Soundtrack – Christy Altomare & Cast
  • Meaning of Life – Kelly Clarkson
  • Glory Days: Platinum Edition – Little Mix
  • Robin Hood Soundtrack: Disney Legacy Collection – Various Artists

NOVELS

  • The Last Tudor – Phillipa Gregory
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – J.K. Rowling
  • All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  • The Land of Stories Series – Chris Colfer
  • Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
  • The Witches of New York – Ami McKay

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Universe @ The Forum

In celebration of the much-anticipated release of The Last Jedi, a massive Star Wars fest is being set up at The Forum and throughout the ground floor of Jakarta’s Kelapa Gading Mall, where hardcore fans are granted a free entrance to a galaxy far, far away with all the selfie areas, mini exhibits, and merchandises available for their enjoyment. Be a part of the action and get ready to jet off to the Star Wars universe once again! Be sure to catch the film as well. Photographic highlights from the event are displayed below.

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Hey there, BB-8!

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Battlefront II demo corner.

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Welcome to the Star Wars merch shop! 🙂

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Assorted notebooks.

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“Robin Hood” Merch

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Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly what a day! Or year, in this case, for Robin Hood merchandises are finally making rounds in 2017.

Robin Hood is undoubtedly one of Disney’s most underrated films. A fine treasure that not many of today’s generation have watched besides me and a select few. Released in 1973, this classic envisions the tale of Robin Hood and his merry men with an all-star cast of animals as these iconic characters, giving the story a unique, whimsical flair while still capturing the essence of the original plot – stealing from the rich and giving back to the poor – and also the well-known setting of Nottingham, which is greatly animated, including the divine-looking woodland of Sherwood Forest. Robin Hood is a foxy hero, Little John makes a fun yet smart sidekick, Maid Marian is lovely and a kind soul, Prince John is ‘the phony king of England’, and Lady Kluck entertains me. This movie easily makes my Top 5 Disney list, and I’m more than thrilled that its merchandises are starting to be released.

Let’s take a look at all the merry things available!

SOUNDTRACK

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For the first time ever, the official Robin Hood soundtrack has been added to the Disney Legacy soundtrack collection and is now available to get on Amazon, the Disney Music store and other retailers.

The music of Robin Hood adds cinematic nuances to the film, and in a non-Disney fashion, stays true to the folky roots of the legend by keeping every musical number raw and country-ish with a deep storytelling focus. “Love” is one of the best love themes to have ever been penned (and should’ve been as well-known as the usual standards like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”), and songs like “Oo-De-Lally” and “Not in Nottingham” have a distinctive country tone that are easy on the ears.

All the film tracks and instrumental scores can be found in the 2-disc soundtrack along with a few charming early demos.

FAIRYTALES & FOLKTALES MERCH

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Stunningly crafted as part of the Disney Designer Collection – the Fairytales & Folktales series – Robin Hood and Maid Marian’s timeless “Love” scene can be revisited in the form of an adorable coffee mug, limited edition figures finely displayed in a glass box, and a journal (sold individually and as part of the Disney Designer Collection journal set). There’s literally only one word to associate them with: “Love”!

SOFT TOYS

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The UK Disney Store posted this photo on Instagram. Disney plush collectors would want to own these.

CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT

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With a gorgeous little ornament like this one, your holiday season is bound to be merry. And bright!

Spot other fab Robin merch? Share your findings in the comments below and let all of Nottingham (and the entire Disney fandom) know. All together now… “Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly what a day”!

Photo Credits: Disney

“The Lion King” 2019 Film Cast

The circle of life will be revamped with an all-new cast for its 2019 cinematic version.

With The Lion King being Disney’s top masterpiece, die-hard fans were opposed to any form of remake, but after the new cast reveal that include quality names like Donald Glover, James Earl Jones (in a reprising role as Mufasa), Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, Alfre Woodard and Queen Beyonce Knowles as Nala, it’s safe to say this remake would not only be promising but also strongly recapture Simba’s story, vast African landscape and grand music.

As someone who has seen The Lion King over 80 times as a kid (and still a fan in my 20’s), bought tickets to the Broadway production, learned a bit of Swahili, looked up more of Lebo M’s musical works, and written fan fictions about it, I’m very open to this new interpretation of the Hamlet-based plot. It’d be thrilling to revisit Pride Rock and all its glory and to see the universe expand and reach a new generation. Now if only they’d feature some of the tracks used in the Broadway version like “Morning Report” and “Shadowland”…

#Epic

Notes on the 2017 Comic Con

In collaboration with the New York Comic Con, Indonesia Comic Con is back in full swing this weekend, delighting all fans of pop culture in the heart of metropolitan Jakarta.

Still located at the same venue as the previous years – Jakarta Convention Center in Senayan – this year’s Comic Con presents yet another variety of guest speakers and visiting artists, from actor Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett in Star Wars Episode II) to Japanese composer-producer TAM and famous cosplayer Angie. Comic books, Funko Pops and action figures of our favorite superheroes and film/TV characters dominate the merchandise booths, and the Star Wars shop offers a brand new collection of items from the upcoming film The Last Jedi. FOX and Indovision team up to bring The Walking Dead to the Comic Con in the form of a fun escape room that die-hard fans shouldn’t miss out on.

Now you might be facing the ultimate question: is it worth attending? That actually depends on what you’re expecting. If you’ve never been to a Comic Con before, then let this be a spectacular first experience for you. Are you a huge fan of any of the “guest stars”? Then you know you need a ticket to ride. Been there, done that? You might not find anything new, especially if you attended last year, unless you’re after the new Star Wars products. If you’re a merch hunter like me, it helps to know if your favorite movies, shows and comics are represented. Let this list be a guide to the characters you’ll be sure to encounter at most merchandise stands:

  • ALL Marvel & DC characters – they’re obviously a given
  • Major Star Wars characters
  • Harry Potter
  • Lego Ninjago
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Moana
  • Sailor Moon
  • Kingsman‘s Harry Hart & Eggsy Unwin (yesss!!!)
  • Game of Thrones
  • Totoro & characters from Hayao Miyazaki films
  • Gudetama
  • Hello Kitty
  • Transformers robots
  • Gundam
  • Woody, Jessie & Buzz Lightyear
  • Pocahontas
  • Cinderella
  • Elsa & Anna
  • Zelda
  • Power Rangers
  • Star Trek
  • The Orville

My adventures in pictures… Enjoy the gallery.

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