Selasa, 7 Mei 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

The TV effect

Posted: 07 May 2013 04:00 PM PDT

The Spudniks discuss shows that shaped their lives.

SO we've decided to write about TV shows that have defined us as human beings. And while at first it seemed a simple topic, I've been mulling over it for quite some time now and I am still unsure.

Am I a product of what I have watched on television? I definitely remember a lot of programmes, and I remember that my life used to revolve around watching these shows – so I must have, at some level, been transformed or at least influenced by the plots, themes and characters.

Until today, we (my sisters, cousins and I) still giggle and wish each other good night the way everyone did on The Waltons (ending in a good and proper "Good night, John Boy"). How the life and trials of a 1930s American mountain family could have made me what I am today, I don't really know. But I do know I loved the show during my growing up years of six, seven and eight. Ditto Little House On The Prairie.

In fact, there were a string of family-themed programmes which gave me relief that I was not the only person in the world who had it tough dealing with my parents and siblings, like Family, Eight Is Enough, Family Ties, Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, Diff'rent Strokes and Charles In Charge. I worry about my kids sometimes because their equivalent for what was my Jetsons is The Simpsons and Family Guy. But who am I trying to kid? Next up on my list of shows to devour is Modern Family! Yes, I'm dysfunctional.

Then there were the space years – Space 1999, as I've mentioned before in this column, really blew me away.

I was about nine years old then. The British sci-fi series featuring Martin Landau heralded my entrance into the world of science fiction, and was my humble introduction to aliens and UFOs.

Then, during my early 20s, The X-Files kind of took over my television experience completely; and week after week it became an obsession to know more about paranormal phenomena, cryptids and mutants, with Mulder and Scully as my guides. Monsters and ghosts became part of my life – the likes of Eugene Tooms (a mutant capable of stretching and contorting his body) and the Jersey Devil (a feral cannibal type) became wildly fascinating.

I can fully appreciate now why my own children find Supernatural interesting (they carefully placed a trail of salt at the doorstep of their bedrooms at one stage ... you know, to keep the bad guys out). In fact, above my desktop computer at home, I still have a poster that says "I want to believe" – just like the one Mulder had in his office.

More recently, I was good and completely hooked to the Fringe series, which I guess, was in a way a worthy progression to my "paranormal progress". Yes, I'm also loony.

When it came to school life and growing up, I remember loving Sarah Jessica Parker in Square Pegs way back in the 1980s, and Fred Savage in The Wonder Years. And these days, it has become just such a joyous experience watching Community. My favourite on the show is Abed Nadir (portrayed by Danny Pudi), a coloured kid (of Palestinian Polish American parentage) who may – or may not – have Asperger's syndrome. Now, why didn't I ever have a collegemate like that? No worries, though. I'm only on Season Two, and with three more to go, Abed's surely on my list of potential new best buds. Anyone who can do a great impersonation of the Caped Crusader has to be!

Yes, I want to go back to school. – A.M.C.

* TELEVISION shows that defined moments in my life? Well, the earliest one I can think of was a children's show in the late 1970s and early 1980s called The Big Blue Marble.

It was a 30-minute programme which featured children from around the world each week, highlighting not only the way they live but also their culture and country.

It was interesting to see how a kid somewhere far, far away lived and what they wore, ate, how they spoke, what their houses looked like, etc.

Heck, I've lived in Klang and Petaling Jaya in Selangor, and even in Penang until I was 20. The most foreign place I've lived in was Singapore!

The best part of the show was the "pen pal" segment where viewers were encouraged to write in (the postal address was somewhere in California, United States). The show's producers would then pair you up with another child from another country with whom you could correspond.

I gained two friends through The Big Blue Marble's pen pal programme: Janne from Finland and Kerstin from the United States. These were the days before the Internet so correspondence was slow – I'd receive a letter every two months (or more) but it was always very exciting. The idea of being friends with someone from across the globe was just so cool.

I learnt a lot about Janne and Kerstin (who were both around my age) and I think it gave me a bigger perspective on life and it also made me realise that my English was pretty good (their tenses were all wrong!) and could spell a lot better than my American friend (he, he).

I was amazed at how – despite our differences – we had so much to talk about, without ever meeting! I complained about my life and they about theirs. It was like a scared, secret sisterhood. I kept in touch with Janne and Kerstin for five or six years and I do sometimes wonder where they are now or if I will ever bump into them.

In my youth, I'd like to say that edgy (at the time), decade-defining shows like Sex And The City or the very gritty and ultra-cool mafia series The Sopranos marked moments in my life, but nope, I wasn't ever that "cool", nor was my life that interesting. The X-Files, however, had a major impact on me, pushing boundaries of what I previously believed about paranormal activity and conspiracy theories. Seriously, I thank Chris Carter for getting me to question everything I had previously believed in.

One of my all-time favourite quotes in the show was from Agent Scully (Gillian Anderson): "Mulder if they dropped you off in the middle of the desert and told you that the truth was out there, you would ask them for a shovel." – S.I

Tweet (@MyStarTwo) us what shows defined your life, and if you know a Janne from Finland or Kerstin from the US, who used to be pen pals with a girl from Malaysia.

What’s cooking on TV?

Posted: 08 May 2013 04:06 AM PDT

A detective who's funny and celebrities who bicker around the kitchen sink – hey, it's only TV.

LOCAL TV channels did a good job in covering the 13th General Election last Sunday. Sure, there were some mistakes made by either field reporters or show hosts/anchors, but overall, the newsrooms did well in getting viewers all the information we needed.

Now, back to regular programming.

British investigative comedy Dirk Gently (ITV Choice) is a current favourite on this reviewer's list. It is based on the character Dirk Gently, a private investigator who owns Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, created by author Douglas Adams (he of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy fame).

Played by the funny Stephen Mangan, Gently is pretty much a bumbling "holistic" detective who solves cases based on the belief that everything is connected to one another. Because of this rather unorthodox method, he sometimes ends up in the most hilarious of situations, much to the chagrin of his sidekick Richard MacDuff (played by Darren Boyd).

Although the agency does get some big cases – mostly from eccentric clients or those who have tried all other means of solving their problems – they are few and far between. Last week's episode saw Gently's agency in a dire financial situation, a constant problem he can't ever seem to get rid of.

Dirk Gently received positive reviews when it premiered as a teaser episode in Britain way back in December 2010; this prompted ITV Studios to produce three more episodes (they were shown in 2012), which in British TV terms may be considered as a "full series". Unfortunately, positive reviews from critics did not manage to keep the series alive as Dirk Gently was not commissioned for a second season.

One show that's currently in its second year is MasterChef Selebriti Malaysia (Astro Ria). The show follows the blueprint of the original British MasterChef series, from the rules and regulations right down to its kitchen plan, which is actually quite nice. There are currently more than 30 countries with their own versions of MasterChef, but Malaysia and Australia (where the show is hugely popular) are the only ones that have a "celebrity" edition.

If you have ever seen MasterChef Malaysia before, you would know that the cooking standards of some of the contestants are ... well, let's just say they could be better. Much better.

The contestants themselves are not that exciting either and always don't seem to have anything interesting to say.

However, in MasterChef Selebriti (, things are lot more dramatic and the dishes look more appetising. The contestants are, after all, entertainers so each one of them knows how to work the cameras and make things more entertaining for viewers. The celebrities are also, perhaps, more exposed to other cultures and have travelled the world, so their knowledge of food is better.

Last year's series was won by Datuk Fazley Yaakob; it's difficult to pick the top three competitors yet from the current batch of celebrities – among them are Datuk Aznil Nawawi, Shanie Hisham, Radhi Razali, Rozita Che Wan, Norish Karman, Celina Khor, Michael Ang and Cat Farish – since the show just debuted on April 22.

Unfortunately, the judges for MasterChef Selebriti Malaysia are as dull as before. Chefs Zubir Md Zain and Moh Johari Edrus, who have been with the franchise since it began in 2011, have improved slightly in terms of their hosting skills but are still a little stiff.

Chef Adu Amran Hassan is a lot more animated and charismatic but doesn't seem to jive with the other two chefs.

Let's hope this will improve soon, or it's burnt toast for the show's future (cue lame joke sound effect).

Tweet (@MyStarTwo) us what you've been watching on television!


The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

Latin Fest At GSC

Posted: 06 Oct 2011 10:00 PM PDT

Fans of the international screen will get an extra bonus this month when 10 Latin American embassies get together to take part in the 10th Latin American Film Festival happening between October 20th to 23.

Jointly organized with Golden Screen Cinemas, the Latin American Film Festival will screen 12 films from 10 Latin American countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico and Peru. The movies will be shown in GSC International Screens in GSC Mid Valley, GSC Pavilion KL and GSC 1 Utama (New Wing).

Some of the titles include Moon Of Avellaneda (Argentina), A Paper Tiger (Columbia), Open Air (Venezuela), Giant (Uruguay) and Old House (Cuba).

Billy Bob Thornton's Daughter Gets 20 Years

Posted: 06 Oct 2011 10:00 PM PDT

The estranged daughter of Oscar-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton was sentenced in Florida Thursday to 20 years in prison for killing a child in her care.

Amanda Brumfield, 32, was convicted in Orlando in May of the aggravated manslaughter of Olivia Madison Garcia, the 1-year-old daughter of one of her close friends.

The child's mother, Heather Murphy, said after the sentencing that she was surprised at how long a prison term Brumfield received, but that it meant little to her.

''None of it satisfies me. It doesn't matter...I won't ever see Olivia again,'' Murphy told reporters.

Brumfield contended at trial that Olivia fell out of her playpen and hit her head in October 2008, but prosecutors argued the child's skull fracture and brain bleeding were no accident.

The jury acquitted Brumfield of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse charges.

Five-times married Thornton, whose former spouses include Angelina Jolie, has four children. Amanda Brumfield was the product of his first marriage in the 1970s.

Thornton's publicist, Arnold Robinson, told CNN after Brumfield's arrest that the actor was estranged from his daughter ''and has had no contact with her for quite some time.''

Thornton won an Oscar for his screenplay for the 1996 independent film Sling Blade.


Fencing Demo At Musketeers Special Screening

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 10:00 PM PDT

The Musketeers are back on the big screen. Starrring Milla Jovovich, Luke Evans, Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfayden, Ray Stevenson, Christoph Waltz and Orlando Bloom, The Three Musketeers opens in cinemas this month.

In conjunction of the release of the movie in Malaysia, GSC will be holding a special screening at its cinemas in Berjaya Times Square this 6th October.

eCentral, in partnership with GSC, will be handing out free tickets to the screening tomorrow at the lobby of Menara Star, Petaling Jaya. Those interested need only print out the contest page in the Highlight section of Redemption is on a first come, first served basis. There are 40 pairs of tickets up for grabs.

As part of their promotional activities, GSC will be holding a fencing demonstration by the Ampang Jaya Fencing Centre at GSC Maxx, Berjaya Times Square (10th Floor) beginning at 8pm on Thursday 6th October.


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Gas tanker truck explodes outside Mexico City, kills 22

Posted: 07 May 2013 08:43 PM PDT

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A gas tanker truck exploded on a highway north of Mexico City on Tuesday, killing at least 22 people and injuring more than 30 as a fireball tore through cars and homes.

Pablo Bedolla, mayor of the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec, said 22 people died in the blast that engulfed early morning traffic. Television footage showed burned-out vehicles and debris strewn all over the highway on the edge of the capital.

Part of a gas tanker truck lies in between two houses after its explosion in San Pedro Xalostoc, on the outskirts of Mexico City May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Part of a gas tanker truck lies in between two houses after its explosion in San Pedro Xalostoc, on the outskirts of Mexico City May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Local media reported that at least 10 of those killed were children.

"It was a ball of fire which exploded as though they'd put a spotlight in the whole window," resident Carlos Gonzalez Silva told Mexican radio. "We opened the door and it was like fire had blown through the whole of the garden."

Bedolla said the blast had injured more than 30 people and damaged 45. Emergency services in the State of Mexico, which abuts the capital, said 16 vehicles were hit by the explosion.

President Enrique Pena Nieto expressed his condolences.

Mexican radio station Formato 21 said a family of four, including two children aged 6 and 11, were among the dead.

In January, a massive blast at the headquarters of state oil giant Pemex in downtown Mexico City claimed dozens of lives.

Media reports said the gas tanker did not belong to Pemex. The state oil company said it would help in rescue efforts.

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Sandra Maler and Mohammad Zargham)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Authorities tried earlier to visit house where Ohio women found

Posted: 07 May 2013 08:39 PM PDT

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Three Ohio women newly freed from a decade-long kidnapping ordeal huddled privately with loved ones on Tuesday as police scoured the Cleveland house where the captives had been held for clues to how their confinement went unnoticed for so long.

Combination photo created from May 7, 2013 booking photos provided by the Cleveland Police Department show brothers Ariel (L-R), Onil and Pedro Castro. Cleveland Police Dept/Handout via Reuters

Combination photo created from May 7, 2013 booking photos provided by the Cleveland Police Department show brothers Ariel (L-R), Onil and Pedro Castro. Cleveland Police Dept/Handout via Reuters

Three brothers were arrested as suspects shortly after Monday evening's rescue of the women and are expected to be formally charged soon. One of them, Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver and owner of the house, was thought to live there alone.

Mayor Frank Johnson confirmed that Cleveland child welfare officials had paid a visit to the house in early 2004 because Castro had left a child on a school bus. But the ensuing inquiry found no criminal intent, officials said.

Otherwise, the mayor denied that authorities overlooked or failed to respond to suspicious activity at the two-story home since any of the three victims were reported as missing.

The women, believed to have been abducted separately from the surrounding neighbourhood and held prisoner for years, were found alive together by a neighbour alerted by cries for help coming from the house.

He broke through the door to rescue one of the women, Amanda Berry, whose 2003 disappearance as a teenager was widely publicized in the local media, and helped her place a frantic emergency call to authorities.

"Help me! I'm Amanda Berry. ... I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years and I'm here. I'm free now," Berry can be heard saying in a recording of the call released by police.

Found with Berry, now 27, was her 6-year-old daughter, conceived and born during her captivity, and two other women - Gina DeJesus, 23, who vanished at age 14 in 2004, and Michelle Knight, 32, who was 20 years old when she went missing in 2002.

Ariel Castro, 52, had been fired from his job last November because of lack of judgment, was arrested almost immediately. Two brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Casto, 50, were taken into custody a short time later.

Police have not said what role each man is suspected of playing in the case, but Berry named Ariel Castro in her 911 call as the man from whom she was trying to escape.

Initial euphoria in Cleveland's West Side over the women's rescue soon gave way to questions about why their captivity went undetected, despite what neighbours said were a number of suspicious or disturbing incidents at the house in the low-income community.


"We didn't search hard enough. She was right under our nose the whole time," said Angel Arroyo, a church pastor who had handed out flyers of DeJesus in the neighbourhood where she ultimately surfaced.

Aside from the school bus incident in 2004, city officials said a database search found no records of calls to the house or reports of anything amiss during the years in question.

"We have no indication that any of the neighbours, bystanders, witnesses or anyone else has ever called regarding any information, regarding activity that occurred at that house on Seymour Avenue," Mayor Johnson said at a news conference.

Israel Lugo, a neighbour, said he called police in November 2011 after his sister observed a girl at the house holding a baby and crying for help. He said police came and banged on the door several times but left when no one answered.

More recently, about eight months ago, Lugo said, his sister saw Ariel Castro park his school bus outside and take a large bag of fast food and several drinks inside.

"My sister said something's wrong ... That's when my mom called the police," he said. Lugo said police came and warned Castro not to park the bus in front of his house.

Neighbour Anthony Westry said a little girl could often be seen peering from the attic window of the Castro house.

"She was always looking out the window," he said. Castro would take her to the park to play very early in the morning, "not around the time you would take kids to play," he said.

Cleveland police, who have said they believe Berry, DeJesus and Knight were confined to the Castro house for their entire captivity, did not immediately respond to repeated requests for comment about reported calls from neighbours.

In the one acknowledged visit to the house by Children and Family Services officers in January 2004, more than a year after Knight disappeared and eight months after Berry went missing, no one answered the door, the mayor said.

They "knocked on the door but were unsuccessful in connection with making any contact with anyone inside that home," he said.

Police said Castro was interviewed extensively during the investigation regarding the child left on the bus, and that no criminal wrongdoing was found.


On Tuesday, FBI and other law enforcement officials searched the Castro house and other properties, according to police, who did not elaborate. The houses in the neighbourhood stand close together, typically separated only by a driveway. Two houses to one side of his home are boarded up.

After their rescue, the three women at the centre of the saga were taken to a local hospital, reunited with family and friends and released. As authorities pressed their investigation, the trio remained secluded with family members.

Cleveland FBI special agent Vicki Anderson told Reuters that federal agents were "taking care of the victims" to help shield them from the media onslaught, which has included news teams from around the world.

"If you don't believe in miracles, I suggest you think again," DeJesus' aunt Sandra Ruiz told reporters on Tuesday in comments on Cleveland TV.

"This is a miracle," Ruiz said. But she added: "Watch who your neighbour is because you never know."

Ruiz later emerged from the home of DeJesus' father to appeal to a throng of reporters to respect the family's privacy, saying, "Give us some breathing room."

The disappearances of Berry and DeJesus were well known in Cleveland, although Knight's case had attracted less attention, evidently because authorities and some relatives believed she had run away, a grandmother told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

An uncle of the Castro brothers has said members of their family and the DeJesus family "grew up together."

Born in Puerto Rico, Ariel Castro played bass in Latin music bands in the area. Records show he was divorced more than a decade ago and his ex-wife had since died. He is known to have at least one adult daughter and son.

On a Facebook page believed to be his, Castro said last month that he had just become a grandfather for a fifth time. Court records show he was arrested in 1993 on a domestic violence charge that was subsequently dismissed.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg, Greg McCune and Atossa Araxia Abrahamian; Writing by Steve Gorman and Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Grant McCool, Bernard Orr, Cynthia Johnston and Philip Barbara)

Related Stories:
Freed Ohio women will need privacy after ordeal - survivors

Factbox - Cleveland captive Amanda Berry's 911 call
Factbox - Three Cleveland women all went missing in same area

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Drought-stricken Panama orders power rationing, closes schools

Posted: 07 May 2013 08:38 PM PDT

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Panama on Tuesday ordered government offices and private businesses to slash their power consumption and temporarily closed schools in response to a drought that has sapped the country's hydroelectric energy supply.

Opening hours for government offices will be reduced, while supermarkets, bars, cinemas, restaurants, casinos and other night spots would have to close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Monday to Thursday, according to a statement from the president's office.

Private businesses in the tropical Central American nation will also be forced to cut air-conditioning use by four hours a day, beginning Wednesday. It's unclear how long the rationing will last, though government officials say they would reconsider on Sunday how soon they could re-open schools.

Panama, one of Latin America's fastest-growing economies, uses hydroelectric power to generate 60 percent of its electricity.

But reservoirs are now low after months without rain.

The Panama Canal, which transports about five percent of world trade, is unaffected by the power rationing because it produces its own energy, a spokeswoman said.

The drought has killed hundreds of cattle, damaged crops, and caused some $200 million in losses in Panama. The government on Tuesday declared a drought emergency in four provinces, representing about a third of the nation's territory.

(Reporting by Lomi Kriel; Editing by Paul Simao)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews

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The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews

Real Steel

Posted: 06 Oct 2011 10:00 PM PDT

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo, Kevin Durand, Anthony Mackie

In the near future, audience demands for spectator-sport carnage have grown so high that human fighters have been replaced with robots. On the understanding that, you know, robots can rip each other's limbs and heads off and there's no loss of life.

That is the simple notion behind the film's setting – the world of robot boxing – and I say "simple" because I don't buy the idea that people will be appeased by robot gladiators pounding each other into scrap outside of a Transformers movie.

'You can do it, you can beat this bigger, meaner opponent. C'mon! Eye of the Tiger, Rock, I mean Atom.'

There's a reason the word is "bloodthirsty" and not "oilthirsty".

Well, that quibble aside, Real Steel turned out to be pretty close to the Real Deal as far as fight flicks go.

While not in the same league as Warrior, this sci-fi-themed film works on several levels.

Its fight scenes have that whole Rocky underdog vibe going, the drama touches the heart without getting cloying, and there's a general sense of good humour maintained throughout the film that keeps even the tense moments from getting too intense.

Jackman puts in a winning performance as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up boxer who now ekes out a living managing robot boxers while searching for that one big payday that will have him set up for life.

The pursuit of this "dream" has left him in debt to numerous nasty types, and he's also losing all credibility with childhood friend and sometimes-landlady Bailey Tallet (Lilly), the daughter of his late boxing trainer and mentor.

'It says, "Warning, do not attach headset to ear until blue light goes off." Oh, damn.'

With so much going wrong … er, on in his life, can you blame Charlie for forgetting that he has a son? Of course you can, but who could pin an abandonment rap on Hugh Jackman for long? (Yeah, it's mostly Jackman's show, though he is matched every step of the way by his young co-star. And sometimes even outpunched.)

Anyway, Charlie ends up "caring" for 11-year-old Max (Goto) after the lad's mother dies, but the kid is just another meal ticket to him … initially.

Father and son, strangers at the outset, have a rough time at first but eventually bond over a sparring robot named Atom that Max rescues from the junk pile.

It dawns on them that Atom is no ordinary sparring robot – and soon, the little feller ("little" in comparison to the other metal behemoths he fights) is making waves on the robot boxing circuit.

The Kentons and Atom eventually catch the attention of the powerful Lemkova family, which manages the world champion 'bot, Zeus. Care to guess where Atom's fairytale run will lead them? Don't worry … you'll be absolutely right.

Real Steel is smart enough to declare that it's only "partly" based on the Richard Matheson short story Steel, which was previously made into a Twilight Zone episode back in the 1960s.

Smart, because the "partly" lets it play with the concept of robot boxing in ways that sticking faithfully to the source material would not allow.

'You take that back! I *do not* look like a #$&@*ing Michael Bay Transformer.'

While I still find it hard to believe that bloodthirsty people would get all stirred into a frenzy over robots (and not living beings) tearing each other apart, I will say that Real Steel does what it's here to do.

It gets us all fired up, puts on a good show for the yokels … er, moviegoers … and fades out with a "Yo, Adrian, I did it!" moment that undeniably shows that the Rocky movies, more than Matheson's story, inspired its filmmakers.

And still, this movie about a busted-up piece of junk helping to mend broken and nonexistent relationships has more heart than the last couple of movies with the Italian Stallion. I'd call that, um, Iron-y.


Posted: 04 Oct 2011 10:00 PM PDT

He ain't heavy ...

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Kevin Dunn, Kurt Angle

Fight films don't get much better than this tale about two brothers, Brendan and Tommy Conlon (Edgerton and Hardy respectively) – from a family fractured by the abuses of their alcoholic father Paddy (Nolte) – competing in a huge mixed martial arts tournament.

It's a basic, straightforward story complete with all the trappings, stock character types and situations of the genre.

But the way the tale is told is nothing short of riveting – Warrior will grab and hold your attention thanks to the brilliant storytelling.

'You're doing good, champ - after this I daresay you'll be able to take on Batman next. Oh ... you *are* taking him on next.'

It's the kind of movie that doesn't need to tell you everything about how its main characters got to the dark places they're at in the film.

Instead, it lets you piece things together from random bits of dialogue ("Must be hard finding a woman who can take a punch these days," Tommy tells Paddy, hinting at prior spousal abuse.) and the way the protagonists react to one another ... or even look at the photographs in a room.

Tommy is an ex-Marine with his eye on the US$5mil prize in an upcoming mixed martial-arts tournament. He enlists Paddy as his trainer, estranged as they are, and doesn't mince words with his dad: simply put, he has no interest in any father-son stuff – it's strictly business.

Brendan is a physics teacher, married with children, and he wants to have nothing to do with his father, either. Yet we also learn there's no love lost between the brothers as well.

'Considering my last screen husband went on to become Thor, I'd say you're looking good for the next Superman reboot, hon.'

Circumstances force Brendan – a former MMA fighter who left the cage to start a family – back into fighting. And yes, you don't need to be a veteran fight commentator to realise that the brothers will inevitably end up fighting in the same tournament (you just need to have watched the trailer, which gives away a big development in the story).

Yet with a film of Warrior's calibre, it's also the journey that is the reward – not just the well-staged fights that take place throughout and at the finish.

You really feel for the characters, even Paddy – for whatever sins in his past – as he contritely stumbles and mumbles on his own path to redemption.

And one scene where Tommy verbally tears his dad apart while nonchalantly sitting at a slot machine is as brutal as any of the cage fighting that goes on (the resulting effect it has on Paddy is devastating too).

'Hold your horses. I'm almost done with his back rub, then it'll be your turn, okay?'

Perhaps most unusually, Warrior manages to convey the conflicting emotions in its characters by setting the viewer up so that you aren't quite sure who to root for either.

By having two protagonists, it dumps traditional fight-flick clich├ęs on their collective bum – it's not Rocky vs Apollo/Clubber/Drago, or Ip Man vs The Twister, or James "Cinderella Man" Braddock vs the (movie version of) Max Baer.

You will most likely be as torn up over the movie's final fight as the characters themselves must be in their heart of hearts – just as you will no doubt feel the same flood of emotions at its climax.

Not just a great fight film, but a terrifically written, acted and put-together film that is one of the year's best.

Dream House

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 10:00 PM PDT

Sometimes it's better to skip movie trailers and just go in clueless. That way, you might be able to squeeze 90 minutes' worth of decent entertainment out of this thriller.

Much of the dramatic impact of Dream House is built around a central plot twist that was actually given away in the trailer – one of those "what were they thinking?" moments that movie studios seem doomed to relive every now and then.

'You can tell this scene isn't a rip-off from The Shining, 'cos one of us is *way* shorter than the other.'

(Worst offender: the trailer for the Harrison Ford-Michelle Pfeiffer thriller What Lies Beneath, which rendered the entire first half of the movie pointless.)

It could be argued that, hey, a movie doesn't rise and fall on the basis of just one twist (unless it's by that M. Night chap), but … it might, if that's about the biggest smack-you-in-the-gob moment that the plot has to offer.

'It's all right, honey. Your mother didn't mean to scare you with all those tales of Egyptian mummies and reincarnation. She just can't help herself sometimes.'

Anyway, that's for the individual viewer to decide. Getting back to the movie: Dream House refers to the new home of Will Atenton (Craig), who has just quit his job in the publishing industry to work on his novel.

With lots of time to spend with his wife Libby (Weisz) and two adorable daughters, Will hopes his new life will be … well, a dream compared to the rat race he's just left behind.

Too bad there's something not quite right about this "idyllic" new home. It turns out a family was murdered there! Soon after learning this, Will notices a mysterious figure spying on them, and suspects that his neighbours know more than they're letting on.

It isn't long before he learns the shattering truth, and the movie takes a sharp turn off the path which the viewer has been led down from the start.

This is where the whole thing could easily fall apart and the makers of Dream House then make two smart decisions.

First, they keep things happening fast enough so you don't have too much time to dwell on the familiarity of the "big surprise".

'I guess this isn't what my real estate agent had in mind when she advised me to invest in a hot property....'

Second, they don't stretch the movie out to the point that it wears out its welcome, wrapping everything up in just about 90 minutes.

On the down side, that makes the story's resolution seem too rushed and incomplete somehow, though the clues were there from early on if you think about it.

When you do think about it, the whole premise seems somewhat fragile and lightweight. It's typical of what happens when so-called "mainstream" moviemakers venture into the territory of the offbeat/unusual – the end result typically pales in the face of what anyone remotely familiar with the genre has seen before.

Ultimately this movie might end up better known for being the one where real-life lovebirds Craig and Weisz met (and indeed, their scenes together show some nice chemistry) than for any achievements of its own.

Too bad they didn't put that in the trailer.


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Matrix Concept to raise RM137.5m from IPO

Posted: 07 May 2013 06:49 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday May 8, 2013 MYT 9:49:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Matrix Concepts Holdings Bhd expects to raise RM137.5mil from its floatation exercise which includes the sale of 62.5 million new shares of RM2.20 each.

The Negeri Sembilan-based property developer said on Wednesday that of the 62.5 million new shares, 10 million units would be offered to the public, 43.69 million shares will be placed out and the remaining 8.8 million shares reserved for the elgible directors and employees.

Matrix Concepts, which is seeking a listing on the Main Market, also offered for sale 37.50 million shares of which 32.50 million units would be placed out to approved Bumiputera investors.

Another five million units would be placed out to selected investors.

According to its website, the group has to date, completed and sold 15,000 residential and commercial properties with a gross development value (GDV) of RM1.3bil.

The website said the group was embarking on two flagship developments, which would help power its growth over the next 10 to 15 years with a combined gross development value of about RM4bil.


Petronas makes foray into Brazil in US$850m deal

Posted: 07 May 2013 07:10 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday May 8, 2013 MYT 9:28:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday May 8, 2013 MYT 10:10:11 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Petroliam Nasional Bhd made its maiden foray into Brazil when its subsidiary purchased two oil and gas blocks off Rio de Janeiro state for US$850mil (RM2.6bil).

It said on Wednesday Petronas Brasil E&P Limitada had agreed to acquire OGX Petroleo e Gas SA's (OGX) interest in two offshore blocks in Brazil's Campos Basin.

Petronas Brasil will acquire 40% of OGX's interest respectively in Blocks BM-C-39 and BM-C-40 which are in the shallow waters 95km offshore Rio de Janeiro state and contain the Tubaro Martelo field which is being developed.

"The proposed acquisition, which is at the asset level, will mark Petronas' first entry into the exploration and production business in the country.

"Petronas views the acquisition as a highly attractive opportunity in terms of asset quality and for strategic future growth in Brazil," it said.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the exclusive financial advisor while Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr. e Quiroga Advogados is the legal advisor to Petronas on this transaction


KLCI may face resistance at 1,785

Posted: 07 May 2013 05:49 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday May 8, 2013 MYT 8:50:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Hwang DBS Vickers Research (HDBSVR) expects the FBM KLCI, which has surged 82 points or 4.8% over the past two days, could slow down on Wednesday.

"From a technical perspective, the benchmark index could face intermittent resistance at the 1,785 level," it said. HDBSVR said providing added buying support ahead is the sentiment boost from Wall Street. Positive vibes arising from global monetary stimulus and better corporate earnings lifted leading US equity barometers by between 0.1% and 0.6% last night. In terms of local corporate developments, Datasonic could see trading interest after it secured a RM18.7mil contract from the government for the MyKad printing.

HDBSVR said listed stockbrokers such as TA Securities Holdings would benefit from the prevailing strong trading activity, which stood at 2.3bil shares worth RM4.1bil on Tuesday.

The research house said its team was calling a Buy on Maybulk as the analyst expects the stock to be re-rated due to improving industry dynamics.



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Hasli aims to excel in Munich and get ISSF world rankings

Posted: 07 May 2013 04:39 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: A year-long absence from international competitions has seen Hasli Izwan Amir Hasan drop out of the International Shooting Sport Federation's (ISSF) world rankings.

The Malaysian has only competed in one international event – the H.H The Amir of Kuwait Grand Prix in March this year. Last year, he only featured in the Asian Shooting Championships in January. Then, he was ranked 35th in the world.

Hasli is now all pumped up to get himself back up there by accumulating valuable world ranking points at the ISSF World Cup in Munich, Germany, from May 23-30.

"I'm not chasing to be a winner... the most important thing right now is to get back in the rankings. I'm looking to shoot cleanly and consistently and be close to my personal best (548). Hopefully that can get me into the finals and I'll take it from there," said Hasli, who won a silver in the 25m rapid fire pistol in Kuwait.

"It was refreshing to compete in Kuwait and getting a taste of top class competition after a year's absence. I missed it so much ... I'm really looking forward to Munich."

The 36-year-old likened the international experience as next to none and is happy to be back competing overseas again after Malaysia gave the first two World Cup legs – Changwon, South Korea (April) and Georgia, the United States (May) – a miss.

With the 25m rapid fire pistol not included in this year's Myanmar SEA Games in December, Hasli is on a mission to make the most of the international tournaments this year. He has set his sights on competing in next year's Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

"When we compete locally and win, you feel that you are good. But the real test is out there and competing with the best shooters from around the world," said Hasli.

"That's the motivating factor that really drives me, to be able to prove myself against my rivals on the biggest stage," he added.

Maybank skipper Hairul eyes first title before he quits

Posted: 07 May 2013 04:40 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Maybank skipper Hairul Nizam Abdul Rani has one last mission before he calls it quits.

The 33-year-old Perak-born has played for the Tigers for 12 years but has never won a single title in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

And Hairul plans to end that spell this season.

Maybank are through to the semi-finals where they face Tenaga Nasional. The first leg is on Friday with the return leg on Sunday.

"It has been my dream to help Maybank win titles in the MHL. Unfortunately, we failed to do well in the knockout stage in all my years playing for them," said Hairul, who joined Maybank in 2001.

"This season could be my last in the MHL. And before I quit, I want to help Maybank reach the final and win the overall Cup," added Hairul.

For the record, Maybank's last success was the league title title in 1995. The last time Maybank won the overall crown was in 1994.

To add to Hairul's pain, he has yet to feature in the overall final. Maybank were ousted in the semi-finals on three occasions – 2004, 2011 and 2012.

"This will be my fourth appearance in the semi-finals. I dearly hope to clear this hurdle," said Hairul, who played football for Perak in the President's Cup and FAM Cup in 1999 before switching to hockey two years later.

In the league, Maybank finished second while Tenaga were placed third. The Tigers were thrashed 5-1 by Tenaga in the first round but they bounced back to win 4-3 in the second round.

"Tenaga are an experienced team. They also have skilful forward Faizal (Saari). He has scored 16 goals so far and is deadly with his penalty-corner flicks.

"He is the dangerman and we have to mark him closely.

"We also cannot afford to give away penalty corners cheaply," said Hairul.

Former Malaysia right-half Johari passes away

Posted: 07 May 2013 04:40 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's hockey fraternity lost another member, Johari Chua, who passed away due to blood cancer on Monday.

Johari, born as Chua Eng Wah, was 76. He came from a family of hockey players. Two of his brothers – defender Eng Cheng and forward Eng Kim – played for Malaysia at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He also had another brother Eng Chye, who played for Malaya against Pakistan and India in the mid 1950s.

Johari, a right-half, was best remembered for helping Malaysia win the bronze medal for the first time in the 1962 Asian Games. He later went on to coach the Malaysian women's team. Under him, Malaysia won the SEA Games gold medal in Jakarta in 1987 and in Kuala Lumpur in 1989.

Former international Datuk R. Yogeswaran said he was sad to learn of Johari's demise.

"I played alongside him in the Asian Games in 1962 and he was close to his team-mates. He always took care of his team-mates," recalled Yogeswaran, a former national coach and team manager.

Yogeswaran also revealed that Johari became a grandfather on Monday but passed away later in the day.

Lau Sau Foong, a former skipper of the national women's team, also paid tribute to Johari.

"He coached the national women's team from 1987-89. He was soft spoken but strict. And we used to call him coach Jo. To him, fitness was vital in sports and we were successful at the SEA Games," said Sau Foong.


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Baz Luhrmann takes on 'The Great Gatsby'

Posted: 06 May 2013 09:20 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It is hailed as "the great American novel," but so far The Great Gatsby has defied attempts by some of Hollywood's top filmmakers to bring its lyrically romantic story and tragic characters to cinematic life.

But that didn't faze director Baz Luhrmann.

Luhrmann (pic), known for his lavish productions, assembled a roster of stars led by Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire in the latest incarnation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's mournful ode to the carefree, hedonistic 1920s and its youthful, wealthy and self-absorbed denizens.

One of the year's most anticipated films, The Great Gatsby opens in U.S. theaters on Friday and has been accorded the prestigious opening-night slot at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15.

As far back as 1926, just a year after the book was published, Hollywood has tried to capture and project Fitzgerald's artful prose onto the silver screen. A 1949 version starring Alan Ladd focused on Gatsby's criminal connections and even took significant liberties with the ending.

The last effort, apart from a TV film, in 1974 featured Robert Redford and Mia Farrow atop the marquee. Critics slammed it as lifeless and lugubrious, and the box office was a dismal US$20.6 million.

Luhrmann aims to change its checkered history with a lush 3-D production rendered in his trademark eye-popping visual style that first dazzled fans in the surprise 2001 hit Moulin Rouge, which went on to win several Oscars.

But the challenges of adapting The Great Gatsby were mired in both its period source material and its cinematic failures.


Jay Gatsby is an enigmatic hero pining for a lost love in the person of the not always sympathetic Daisy Buchanan, played by Mulligan. The tragic love story is built around illusion, but illusion might well be said to be Luhrmann's stock-in-trade.

Due to budgetary restraints, the Australian director abandoned his plan to shoot in New York, where the book is set, and moved the entire production to his native country.

In the end, he said: "It was great plus. We felt that we could create this grand illusion."

Even so, the production was plagued by everything from rain-drenching weather to on-set accidents, one of which resulted in a concussion for Luhrmann and shut down filming while he recovered.

Early on, the filmmakers asked themselves how they could make the classic story, indelibly linked to the 1920s, "feel like it was about now," as producer Douglas Wick put it.

Luhrmann agreed that the challenge lay in making the story relevant for today's audiences, while respecting what DiCaprio called "American Shakespeare ... one of the most celebrated novels of all time."

"I wanted the film to feel like it would have felt to read Fitzgerald's novel in '25," Luhrmann told Reuters, noting that Fitzgerald infused his novel with African-American street music and coined the term "Jazz Age."

"It made ... the book extremely pop cultural, extremely of the moment. It summed up the crazed, intoxicating times," he said of that music, adding, "But it doesn't do it for you now."

Enter Jay-Z, who was executive producer of the soundtrack.

In what Luhrmann called "a great collaboration," Jay-Z brought to fruition his idea of translating jazz into hip hop, with the help of music from Beyonce, Bryan Ferry, Fergie, Lana Del Ray and

Despite the 21st century concept of filming the movie in 3-D and driven by contemporary music, Luhrmann remains confident that Gatsby's story is a timeless one. "It plays in any place at any time. And the central idea of Gatsby is universal," he said.


Even so, it can also be in the eye of the beholder, as DiCaprio said he discovered upon rereading the book as an adult.

"Everyone who reads it has their own interpretation of who these people are," the actor told reporters at a recent news conference, explaining how his own view on Gatsby had changed from his schoolboy impression of a great romantic, to one of a hollow figure of great sadness.

"It's incredibly nuanced, it's existential, and here at the center is this man that is incredibly hollow. He's searching for some sort of meaning in his life, and he's attached himself to this relic known as Daisy. She's a mirage," said DiCaprio.

"That's what's very difficult about making a movie about it. Everyone has their own personal attachment to this book and they feel like they know these characters on a very intimate level."

Maguire, as the movie's moral compass, Nick Carraway, reflected that even without updating, The Great Gatsby - which ends with the line "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" - remains timeless and cautionary.

"In a lot of ways this book predicted the great (1929) crash," he said. "It's a book that talks about great opulence and wealth in America ... and the idea that the future is endless, and that we can keep consuming and living the way we do without any consequences."

"We've encountered it again in our modern era, and it's something that we keep doing," Maguire said.

"And it's not just an American novel in that regard. It's something that's happening worldwide."

Catch The Great Gatsby on us. We're giving away free tickets to a special screening. Details here.

Free The Great Gatsby Tickets

Posted: 06 May 2013 08:45 PM PDT

Midwesterner Nick Carraway is lured into the lavish world of his neighbour, Jay Gatsby. Soon enough, however, Carraway will see through the cracks of Gatsby's nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.

The Great Gatsby with Leo DiCaprio opens in cinemas here on 16 May. We have 50 pairs of tickets to give away for a special screening on 15 May.

All you have to do is print this page and bring it along with you to our redemption table at GSC Mid Valley. Please see details below.

Please note that tickets will be given on a first come, first served basis. Each person will be given only one pair of tickets.

Redemption Details

Date: 15 May 2013 (Wednesday)

Time: 8.30pm

Venue: GSC Mid Valley

Screening Details

Date: 15 May 2013 (Wednesday)

Time: 9.30pm

Venue: GSC Mid Valley

Rules & Regulations

1. This redemption is open to all eCentral fans.

2. Print out the contest page and redeem it at the venue given in this article.

3. Each page entitles you to two movie tickets only. Each person is allowed to redeem only once.

4. Tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis.

5. Queue-jumping and reserving places in line during the redemption are strictly prohibited. The organizers reserve the right to refuse tickets to anyone found doing so.

6. Tickets are not exchangeable for cash.

7. This movie is not yet rated.. Movie ratings will strictly apply for this movie. The organizers reserve the right to refuse entry to the cinema hall to those not within the permitted age limit. No exceptions will be made at any time for any reason.

8. I hereby expressly consent to the collection, collation, use and/or disclosure of all my personal data by Star Publications (M) Berhad for the purposes of the The Great Gastby contest.

9. For enquiries, please e-mail

Paul Walker drives into trouble in his latest film Vehicle 19

Posted: 06 May 2013 05:03 PM PDT

There are plenty of things that can go wrong when hiring a rental car – hygiene being a big issue for most of us. For Michael (Paul Walker), however, things take a turn for the unusual when he finds a gun under the seat and a handphone in the glove compartment of the mini-van he hired. Worse, the phone rings and a stranger on the other end is not at all happy with Michael.

The odd events keep piling up when, stuck in a traffic jam, Michael finds another surprise in the car – an unconcious woman, bound and gagged. This is the scenario Michael – an ex-convict who wants no more trouble with the law – finds himself in in the film Vehicle 19. What he does next makes up for the content of the film.

With Vehicle 19, director/writer Mukunda Michael Dewil wanted to make Michael's internal journey just as exciting as what's happening around him. In the production notes, Dewill said: "I wanted to take (the audience) on a journey with a man who has to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles – and not just the external obstacles but the internal ones, the life-long bad habits, the conditioning, the embarrassing, weak parts of us." Actor Walker – who is probably best known for his role in the Fast & Furious franchise – took on the role because he likes playing guys who have all these bumps on the road, with seemingly no way out. The handsome actor said of his character: "He's screwed up a lot in life. I think a bit of a raincloud follows him around wherever he goes – no matter how hard he tries to do right, it always ends up wrong."

As a highly skilled driver, who races cars for a hobby, Walker did almost all of the driving in the film (precision steering, weaving in and out of traffic, sliding up on a curb and smashing through scaffolding).

About the only thing Walker left to the stunt drivers was flipping the car over on its side. But one thing that remained challenging for this experienced driver was filming in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Walker recalled: "There were sections where it called for empty roads and we'd block off alleyways, but there were a lot of times when I was driving in downtown Johannesburg in rush hour and I had (camera crew) crawling all over my van.

"I'm literally weaving in and out of traffic. I remember driving against oncoming traffic at a pretty high speed at one point and the gaps started out pretty wide but as you start finding the flow, it's a dance, you start getting closer and closer. You're avoiding head-on collisions by inches!

"Because the camera is on me, I have to act ... So I'm driving and acting simultaneously and the guys who are coming head on towards me see this panicked face and they're used to seeing cool, precise stunt drivers in my place.

"At one point, a couple of guys at the end said, 'Man, you really got into it, there were times when we thought we were going to hit you!' To me, that's the biggest compliment."

> Vehicle 19 opens in cinemas nationwide on May 9.


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