Monday, January 24, 2011

Sandown Racecourse Tet Festival on Feb 5th, 6th

One of my favourite calender events of the year is the Sandown Racecourse Tet Festival - The biggest Vietnamese New Year Celebration in Melbourne. This year the event is held on February 5th and 6th, so note that down in your diaries.

I love this festival so much because it's so much fun! There are carnival rides, games where you can with the giant toys, live concerts, awesome vietnamese festival food and spectacular fireworks. It's a great event to go with your family and friends.

A lot of famous vietnamese singers were flown in to attend this major Tet festival! I was lucky to meet some of the artists which include Don Ho, Tran Thai Hoa, Thanh Bui.

This is a picture of Don Ho and I @Sandown Tet festival in 2009. The crowd just loved him!! He is the best live entertainer!

Sandown Tet Festival is awesome fun! Hope you guys go and try some yummy Vietnamese food.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Highlight of 2011 - The global launch of the new pan Asian girl group BLUSH

All of last year we were following the exciting and largest search for the next top girl group in Asia - Project Lotus. Project Lotus set out to find the best talent from Philippines, China, India, Japan and South Korea in open auditions around Asia. Thousands of girls applied and if you remember I also tried my luck. In my audition tape I did a mashup of Justin Bieber and Natalie Bassingthwaite, it was quite tragic and unsuprisingly I did not make it through to the next round. Unlike me, the other contestants were unbelievably talented! After months of gruelling training and eliminations the five group members have been unveiled! The group members are Angeli Flores from the Philippines, Victoria Chan from China, Alisha Budhrani from India, Natsuko Danjo from Japan, and Lee Ji-hae from South Korea. Their chosen group name is BLUSH!!! Quite a feminine name for the girls.

Project Lotus Executive Producer Jon Niermann says Blush will release their exciting debut single in May, right after the Project Lotus reality/competition TV show has finished airing. Blush will be the first Pan-Asian group that will be launched globally in both the US, Europe and Asian market. The girls sound has been described as sweet and edgy, I really can't wait for their debut!

What do you think of the BLUSH?

Grammy Award Winning producer Eiliot Kennedy who serves as the creative director-producer for Project Lotus said that no Auto-Tune will be used on the tracks and there won't be too many ballads on the CD.

Film Review: Morning Glory

In this comedy drama, the competitiveness and cut throat world of TV morning shows are explored. To top off this interesting basis for a chick flick, a dream cast that includes Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson, Ty Burrell and Jeff Goldblum. You can expect some pretty funny laughs in this film.

In the opening scene we meet protagonist Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) who got fired from her job at the local TV station. She feels down in the gutter with nothing, no job, no love, no nothing. Then miraculously (in feel good movies) her luck changes and she gets offered Executive Producer for the struggling morning show Daybreak. When she arrives at the show, no one takes her seriously or expects her to last long in the job because Executive Producers come and go as fast as you can count up to three. Of course, Becky is out to prove them wrong and she’s determined to turn this show in to a success.

Becky being the underdog you can’t help but rally for her throughout the movie. Sometimes her desperation to make the show a success makes her a wee bit annoying, but you do have to admire her passion for the show. What disappointed me most was Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford’s roles were not substantial and meaty enough in their frenemy co-anchor relationship. Diane and Harrison had some good comedic, but I would have liked them to head butt a bit more. Also Patrick Wilson’s character as the leading man Adam who woos Becky, did not get enough screen time either.

Don’t expect too much from this film, but it is a nice feel good movie to see with your gal pals. (3/5)

Hawaii Five-O set to hit our screens in 1 week

There has been so much hype about this TV action/drama show; critics are raving about it and certainly the promos for the show look enticing with such a handsome cast. Hawaii Five-O is not an original concept; it’s a remake of the 1968-1980’s series where the series follows an elite state police unit out to fight crime in exotic Hawaii. With these ingredients: handsome cast, Hawaii, beaches, action it’s bound to make entertaining TV. With all these remakes and reboots of TV series like Hawaii Five-O and Nikita… I wonder if they plan to re-do Baywatch? Hmmm…

Back to Hawaii Five-O, the impressive cast includes Aussie Alex O’Loughlin - Is it me or is it now a must for every US TV show to cast an Aussie in a leading role? (which is pretty cool). Examples: Simon Baker – The Mentalist, Toni Collette – United States of Tara, Rachel Griffiths – Brothers and sisters, Rose Byrne – Damages, Tammin Sursok – Pretty Little Liars.

Alex plays Lietenant Commander Steven who is in charge of the unit. Scott Caan (Ocean 11 movies) plays his partner Detective sergeant Danny Williams. Rounding off the team are Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) playing Police Officer Chin Ho Kelly and Grace Park playing Kono Kalakaua a newly police graduate. Did you know that Hawaii Five-O wanted to cast Maggie Q? But Nikita secured her first. Seems like Daniel Dae Kim can’t get off the island Hawaii! Lost was filmed there, now Hawaii Five-O. With this series going great guns, Daniel might be stuck on Hawaii for a number of years.

You can catch this exciting new series premiering on Channel 10 on January 30th 8:30.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Film Review "Paris Je T'Aime" - Paris, I love you too

What I love about short films is that all the fat is cut out and only the critical scenes and dialogue are left in the film. Paris, Je T’aime is a collection of 18 short films strung together to make a two hour feature film. The central theme explored in Paris Je T'aime is love, love in the most romantic city in the world, Paris. All sides of love are explored in this film: the beauty, jealousy, to the pain of losing a loved one and the fragility of young love. Each story is set in different arrondissements (districts in Paris). Paris just looks beautiful in this film, especially at night time when the city lights make the city glow.

Another fascinating feature of this film is the eclectic group of actors and directors from around the globe (France, Great Britain, Australia and United States) were involved. The impressive cast include Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafeo, Gerard Depardieu and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The talented directors include Wes Craven, The Coen brothers and Christopher Doyle. Each director or directing team had only five minutes to tell their story in their assigned arrondissements.

Each story had a different flavour, a different theme about love. The directors use their individual style of directing and story telling to make each story unique and memorable. The result is a colorful and varied collection of short films. Some stories show a special moment in a person’s life, others their life story with a narrative. Stories were explored in different perspectives from visitors to Paris to the locals from different ethnic backgrounds. Expressive Paris mimes, a cowboy and freaky vampires also make appearances in some stories, reflecting the diverse creativity of the people involved.

Credit must be given to the actors who did a great job at drawing the audience in to their world in the little time they had. The stories that stood out the most for me are the unusual ones, such as the ‘Son of the Mime’ because it was had so much delightful humor. Another is the vampire love story which stars Elijah Wood, the visual design and darkness of the story reminded me of the Sin City film.

Stories that intrigued me the most are the ‘moment in time’ stories, where in one scene, one conversation can reveal so much about a person or a couple like the ‘Oscar Wilde’ story which stars Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell, and the love story between a young French man and a young Muslim woman. On the other hand, some stories just left me confused and pondering the purpose of it. Since these were all short films and all the fat was cut out, each story had a lot of content to absorb and I found it draining after an hour and a half. Nonetheless it was a fascinating, insightful, enjoyable and sometimes mind boggling movie experience. And yes, Paris, I love you too. (5/5)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Utada's final interview before her break from the entertainment industry

In Utada's final TV interview before her hiatus, she opens up to Chris Peppler and talked candidly about her experiences and future plans. Utada is quite a twitterbug, it seems that she will stay connected with her fans during her hiatus. You can follower her here:

Chris [C]: “When did you start thinking about being an artist?”

Utada [U]: “I’ve always loved music, but I didn’t want to be an artist because both of my parents are artists, and they put so much passion into it, like selling a car to pay for the studio fee. They didn’t hesitate to spend money on music, even when they didn’t have an income. They could not rent a house because their income was unstable.

Witnessing those things as a child, I wanted a job with more stable income; I didn’t want to have an unstable life, in which you go up and down with your emotions, passions, and overall living. Therefore, I believed that I would provably go to school and get a job.

However, when I was around 12 or 13 years old, my parents suggested that I create my own song. Since I always loved to sing and I loved music, I started composing songs, playing my piano, and writing lyrics. Thanks to my parents, composing songs led to releasing CDs. When I think about my childhood, I used to hold the ‘Hikaru Show’ at home, sending invitations to my parents, and it was always my parents, me, and music together. So I think I was in the flow (to be an artist).”

[C]: “Let’s talk about your declaration for ‘human activity‘.”

[U]: “I believe that everyone only knows how you live your life, and you can only imagine how others live theirs. These past 2 years, I started noticing that I’ve been protected, and that I lived in such a small society. Although I’ve learned a lot, had many experiences, and gained some confidence as a professional artist over these 12 years, other things – such as living ability, being considerate of others’ feelings, knowing about people who are in different environment – those kind of things are what people experience naturally. But I was in an environment in which I did not have to experience things like that; it was like ‘ growing in a hothouse’.

I noticed that I might be an adult who would not be able to live without the agency or the manager.”

[C]: “What was the trigger to make you think this way?”

[U]: “I started visiting the countryside recently and felt the greatness of nature, how refreshing and important it is to go outside. I’ve developed an inclination to go outside more; I noticed that there was a potential for a new experience whenever I went outside, and that nothing would happen if I stayed inside of my house. So I tried to go outside at least once a day for something that wasn’t work-related, such as going for a short walk with my own legs.”

[C]: “Why did you choose live concerts as your last activity before you went on hiatus?”

[U]: “I held a tour in North America and in London during January and February of 2010. A tour at small live houses was something I’ve always wanted to do ever since I debuted.

Compared to other singers, I have less experience with live concerts. I feel that an artist should hold live concerts at smaller venues first, and then go on to bigger places; but in my case, it was the other way around. It was my first overseas tour, so a lot of people came over to my concerts, and I felt such a strong passion and love from them. It also made me feel that having live concerts are great, and that I want to sing more lives in Japan. I was the artist who spent more time at home on making music and singing at the studio, than holding live concerts. However, this feeling of wanting to sing in front of fans started growing on me. That’s how I decided to hold the live concerts.”

[C]: “How did you feel when you left the microphone on the stage, and walked the runway?”

[U]: “It felt refreshing at the live, and I was told by many people that the concert was filled with a mysterious and warm love. I was happy to hear that, because that feeling was in my heart. I was happy my heart was able to reach out to the audience through my songs and through my body.

These past 2 years, I’ve started thinking about ‘love’ for the first time. I never considered seriously what it meant to cherish or love something before, or maybe I just tried not to think about it on purpose because it’s scary. But this time, I was finally able to face it. I think before, I couldn’t afford to ‘tuck up’ others with my love, but at the concert, my fans were able to feel my love and how much I wanted to cherish them. I was also able to receive love in return from the audience. It was a very warm time, and the concert became very precious to me.”

[C]: ”How was to produce your own PV?” (talking about the PV for “Goodbye Happiness”)

[U]: “At first, I was going to have someone else do it, like I usually did, but there were some things I felt like ‘That’s not the same as my feeling now’, and it didn’t work out well even though I tried to explain it. Then I noticed that I’m the only person who could understand my current feelings, and that I won’t be able to make any music videos for a while [because of my hiatus]. Therefore, I decided to do everything I wanted to do. I also wanted to make myself do things which other directors wouldn’t ask me to do.

People tend to think that celebrities do or possess special things, but that’s not true. I wanted to show people that I’m just a regular woman, and I thought it would be meaningless if I make a video with myself merely acting the role of ‘Utada Hikaru’.”

[C]: “You are about to stop your activities as an artist for a while. What are you planning to do?”

[U]: “I think it does not matter what I will do, it’s more important on how I do things. The thing I want to do the most is to study with other people, and I want to volunteer overseas if I get the chance. I’m currently searching for that chance. I hope there would be something I could do, at a place where I can meet people in different environments, like in a nursing institution.

I will probably be making music and singing freely at home, because music is not all about business to me. But I will focus on the point of being a ‘Utada Hikaru’ who can take care of herself, and now have people there to support me. I think, in order for me to do so, I will finally understand how much people have done for me, and I also want to cherish time, myself, and the people around me.”

[C]: “Independence?”

[U]: “Yes, that’s it.”

(Transcript from Tokyo Hive)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

DVD REVIEW - Toy Story 3

Woody, Buzz, Mr Potato Head and the rest of the Toy Gang are back for the final instalment of the juggernaut Toy Story series. Like the previous two films, Toy Story 3 is an exceptional film, defying the odds that sequels and subsequent films usually suck. The beauty about Toy Story is retained in this third film; it’s adventurous, original, imaginative and fun. It guarantees to entertain all young and old family members.

New lively characters are introduced to us like the super stylish ‘Ken’ doll, the fuzzy bear ‘Lotso’ and the ladies spaceranger ‘Latino Buzz’? Ken’s attempt at wooing Barbie makes some hilarious scenes; watch out for Ken’s spectacular wardrobe changes!

When we catch up with the toys this time around, their beloved owner Andy is now a young man packing for college. The toys haven’t been played with for a number of years so their morale has plummeted. Andy can’t part with Woody so he decides to take Woody with him and store the other toys in the dreaded attic. However, Andy’s mom mistakenly throws the toys away, causing the toys to feel discarded and so they decide to escape and climb in a box that was to be donated to Sunnyside Daycare. Woody witnesses the whole event and trails them to explain that they weren’t meant to be thrown away, but the toys don’t believe him. The whole gang are now out in the scary real world at Sunnyside Daycare where they have much to learn. The question begs, will they go home to Andy where they will be forgotten in the attic, or stay at Sunnyside Daycare where the kids don’t love them like Andy once did? What a big dilemma for these small toys!

Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of sentiment in this final film and sometimes it is a wee bit corny. But it is quite a sweet and moving movie; it is bound to bring tears to your eyes. Toy Story 3 is a must see for animation fans. Hold on to your seats as we join Woody, Buzz and the gang for one last epic adventure. (5/5 Stars)

Happy New Year!!!!!

Hi Everyone! Happy New Year to you all! Hope this year brings you lots of joy, good luck and prosperity.

Chinese new year is around the corner (3rd of February) so Happy New Year again!! 2011 marks the year of the Rabbit (Chinese Horoscope) or Cat (Vietnamese Horoscope). Compared to 2010 (year of the Tiger), 2011 should be a bit more relaxed. Some celebrities born in the year of the cat/rabbit include Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp.

Here at CherriiPOP we're really excited about our show's second year! We've got lots planned this year so stay tuned!! Thank you for all the support! - Tam