Posted: 22 Jun 2011 03:48 AM PDT
There's enough fluff and mystery in Pretty Little Liars to keep one entertained.
THE fact that Pretty Little Liars is a teen drama – based on Sara Shepard's book series – should be reason enough to trigger the "stay away" alarm in most of us. Personally, some of the shows that I have a strong dislike for are from this genre – 90210, Melrose Place, Kyle XY, Roswell and The Twilight Saga films. But to be fair, some of my all-time favourites are from this category as well – Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars and My So-Called Life.
However, unlike the three shows that gave us Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kristen Bell and Claire Danes respectively, Pretty Little Liars (PLL) features four actresses who have yet to make a convincing case for their talents.
Two of them wear the same expression to convey almost every emotion, and the other two just try too hard. Because of this – and so many other cliches along the way – it's not hard to find yourself snobbishly dismissing the show, especially when it comes to certain scenes. For example, a character gets hit by a speeding car but she lands ever so gracefully still looking like a gorgeous made-up doll (perfect hair and makeup, Barbie would be proud) and not a drop of blood anywhere. Ridiculous, right?
But, here's the thing. The ridiculousness makes for half the fun. PLL knows how to work the formula to gain the audience's attention. Besides the wonderful opening sequence – featuring an apt song titled Secret by The Pierces – PLL has a mystery character that turns the main characters' lives into a living hell. Now who wouldn't want to see pretty people in peril?
Sure, the storyline involving Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale), who has an affair with her English teacher – Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding) – is so tedious that it may bring out the violent tendencies in you (strangling both of them sounds good). Maybe their story is purposely awful so it becomes a sort of a cautionary tale for the teens. Similarly, although it's good, and a growing number of series are acknowledging the crossroads teenagers arrive at regarding their sexual orientation, it's hard to be on Emily Fields' side when she comes out of the closet. She never quite wins us over with her meek personality. Some of the fault lies with the actress, Shay Mitchell. As beautiful as she is, the girl does not have a handle on her character who is supposed to be brave but naive.
The other two, thankfully, are quite tolerable even if they fall into stereotype. Hanna (Ashley Benson) used to be fat, now she's the queen bee. Spencer Hasting (Troian Bellisario) is the girl with the brains; she also wears clothes that look way too adult.
Nonetheless, stick with the series and it starts to go to interesting places (although Aria's storyline never does). For one, PLL isn't hard to sit through as the fluff-y material allows you to just use half your brain power (which means you can get some housework done while following what's happening). And in between all those chores, when you do happen to steal a glance, you're almost bound to see an attractive person. I wonder if there's a sign outside the fictional town of Rosewood that says "Only pretty people can live here."
When a villanous character that goes by the name of "A" taunts the four girlfriends, we are happy to see them all panic. The only "A" they know, who knew all their secrets, is Alison, who went missing during one of the girls' slumber parties. Yet this "A" who text messages the four girls at the most inopportune times seems to know all their secrets. Is it Alison? Apparently not, as Alison's body is found later on. So now it's a guessing game as to who "A" is and who killed Alison. Since this is not a police procedural, clues are not of the highest priority. Obviously, there is only so much these pretty young things can figure out. Near the end of the season, we even get a villain wearing black gloves! Delicious.
PLL is far from perfect, but it can be a sinfully good guilty pleasure.
• Pretty Little Liars is aired every Monday on 8TV at 10.30pm.Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Posted: 22 Jun 2011 03:48 AM PDT
What goes around, comes around, and new black magic-inspired series Sijundai warns of the perils of this contentious art form.
BLACK magic is a questionable practice that has existed since time immemorial in nearly every culture in the world, and its use is more often than not, entrenched in matters of the heart. That's the message that new 20-episode drama series Sijundai is trying to convey.
"Sijundai" is a Minangkabau word which describes the black magic practice among the Minangkabau community in Sumatera, Indonesia.
Sijundai revolves around the lives of a family which is destroyed by black magic.
It tells the story of Sarah, who despite her father Amran's objection, still pursues her love for dancing by enrolling at a university.
There she meets Mega, a Sumateran, who captures her heart with his exceptional talents in playing the traditional musical instrument salung.
However, the new lovers face obstacles when Gema's former girlfriend Desi suddenly appears, creating chaos in their lives. Taking her deviant behaviour further, Desi – unknown to the lovers – uses black magic to separate Gema and Sarah for good.
Despite the controversial subject matter, established director Fairuz Loy finds directing the thriller series just another day at work.
According to Fairuz, the filming of the series – which boasts new faces such as Azam Pitt, Wan Sharmilla, Nabila Huda, Faralyna and Tasha Shilla – has been smooth sailing.
"Thankfully, everything has gone well so far," said the director, who also directed horror drama series Susuk for two seasons for TV3 in 2007.
"There are some similarities between Sijundai and Susuk as both are based on black magic practices among certain communities," said Fairuz whose other directorial credits include drama series Puteri Aurora Beradu, Ayyad, Jersi 9, Na O Mei, KL Menjerit The Series and 6 Progresif.
"What I'm trying to portray in Sijundai is how the practice is still being used by different generations.
"What I'm trying to do is to tell people, what goes around comes around. Amran used Sijundai to woo his wife and now, years later, his daughter Sarah is involved with a man who practices the same thing.
Fairuz said that he did encounter some strange things during the pre-production stage. "I think I'm okay when it comes to this kind of thing, you know, with my experience directing Susuk. However, when we were still doing some research on Sijundai, we encountered some strange things. For instance, when we listened to the mantra being recited, I got goose bumps. I cautioned the producer to be careful because the mantras we use are the original ones (used in real life).
"But so far so good, and I'm very happy with the young cast as they deliver their roles well," said Fairuz, adding that the team has completed nine episodes so far and is in the midst of filming the rest at various locations around the Klang Valley.
• Sijundai airs on TV3 from Mondays to Thursdays at 4pm.Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Posted: 22 Jun 2011 03:48 AM PDT
New TV series Dewa Cinta – which takes a charming love story and puts a potentially disturbing spin on it – displays a different side to actress Fasha Sandha.
FASHA Sandha needs little introduction, especially since her debut movie, 2003's thriller, Black Maria.
With more than 20 movies and drama series tucked under her belt, there's no denying the 27-year-old's star power, particularly after receiving the accolade of (again for the fourth year) "Most Popular Actress" in the annual roll-call event, Anugerah Bintang Popular, in April.
And the beautiful Fasha also has had more than her fair share of controversies in recent years where her private life is concerned. Now, putting all those indiscretions behind her, Fasha wants to focus on her career.
"I guess my secret (of being in the industry) is hard work, discipline and commitment," said the young lass, referring to how she has stayed strong in the fickle-minded movie fraternity.
"Since my first day in this industry, I have always reminded myself that this is the line that I've chosen and I'm not taking anything for granted," said Fasha during the launch of her new drama series, Dewa Cinta, last week.
"I'm here to earn a living and I realise that being highly disciplined and committed to my work is the only way forward." Hence, despite all the controversies, offers for her talents keep pouring in.
Her previous works include popular drama series like Samson Dan Delaila, Dia Atilia, Kasih ... Relaku Pujuk, Songket Cinta Bertenun Duka, Natasha, Natasha 2, Dengan Nama Cinta, Rumah Itu Duniaku, Mentari Jingga, Usia, Seiras, Sutera Maya, Spa Qistina, Duyung Aridinata and Chinta. Then there's the upcoming 5 Tahun 5 Minit, as well.
When asked about movies, Fasha said that she had to turn down offers to concentrate on her drama series.
"It's hard to turn down the movie offers but I don't want to be greedy, and I like to stay focused on one character at a time, be it drama or movie.
"Granted I have acted in several dramas lately. But seriously, I accepted the offer (of dramas) because all the characters give me a chance to try something new and different. Consequently, it has helped me develop my acting skills," said Fasha, whose movie credits include Skrip 7707, Cicakman, Cicakman 2: Planet Hitam, Cinta U-Turn, Evolusi KL Drift, Anak Halal, Nana Tanjung 2, 9 September, Cinta, Nana Tanjung and Gong.
"Besides, I also feel that my dramas have brought me closer to my fans, especially those who live outside the big cities.
The 24-episode Dewa Cinta is directed by Haris Fadzillah and features Iqram Dinzly, Aida Khalida, Nabila Huda, Bkay Nair and singer Black (of Mentor fame).
Here, fans can see a different side to Fasha, who is known for her goody two-shoes characters. Fasha plays the lead role of Dewi Junita Anastasia, or June, a rebel with a secret past.
"I think what really attracted me to Dewa Cinta is the strong storyline and how the character develops in the series.
"And get this, in Dewa Cinta, June is a singer/musician at a night club and to play her convincingly, I had to learn to play the guitar.
"I really have to thank Black for being so patient with me, teaching me how to play the instrument. If that's not enough, the fans will be able to see me singing for the first time ever. I performed Endless Love and Dewa Cinta. It was really exciting!"
Based on the best-selling novel of the same title by singer-turned-writer Dhila Hussein, Dewa Cinta is about Iqbal, an adopted son from a wealthy family who falls for older girl, June. Unfortunately for Iqbal, June is waiting for her boyfriend to return from abroad to pursue their dream of becoming musicians together.
Somehow, their friendship blossoms into romance as Iqbal and June find they share so much in common. However, the romance comes to a screeching halt when the lovers are dealt some tragic news.
• Dewa Cinta airs on TV3 from Mondays to Thursdays at 7pm.Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
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