WebWatch: Social and Video Craze

Last week, Comscore released its first public report on online usage in Singapore, revealing that locals spend Half of Online Time on Social and Entertainment Sites.  The report bore out what I’ve observed amongst family and friends, and even peers in the industry.

Take my own nucleus family for instance.  Our media consumption habit is a mirror of that survey, but I would have differentiated between the younger generation (below 18) and the working adults. The younger generation is readily exposed to such media and sites from a far younger age than previous generations.

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North & South: The Verdict

When Kristie decides to take up a cause, you can trust her to go all out for it. Just look at her crusading efforts and the converts she has made, and you can surely guess at the passion that stirs inside her heart. Why, if you need conviction, ask the readers whom she’s successfully persuaded to read Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas last year.

On the way

So, when she started crusading for readers and friends to give the BBC drama series North & South  a try, I decided to get the video and watch the series myself. Turns out all that swooning over le Armitage was no exaggeration and the series itself is every bit worth the lavish praises Kristie and her friends, and the many fan converts she’s made since the crusade began, had heaped on the story, plot development and the characters, and more!

From the first encounter between Margaret and John, I was drawn to the internal struggles and conflicting emotions fleeting across the heroine’s faces, and the quiet admiration shining through the eyes of the absolutely drool-worthy Armitage. As their inevitable attraction unfolds in the four-hour drama, I started cataloguing the intense looks and brooding glances which spoke volumes without John ever uttering the redeeming three words, and sometime after the second episode, I lost count and simply gave myself up to the thrill of ‘the look’ every time it happens.

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Howl's Moving Castle

Having heard only good reviews about this anime adapted by renowned Japanese moviemaker Hayao Miyazaki, I decided to watch it on video one Saturday afternoon. And I never regretted it.

Based on the novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, the animated Howl’s Moving Castle is a real visual treat overflowing with magic and romance, a combination that reeled me in like no other anime can.

Howl's Moving Castle

In this classic tale about courage and finding beauty beyond the physical, Sophie, a 19-year-old girl who believes she is plain, has resigned herself to a drab life in her family’s hat shop–until the Witch of the Waste transforms her into a 90-year-old woman. While searching for a way to break the Witch’s spell, she finds unexpected adventures and discovers her hidden potential in a magical environment–the castle of the title. Sophie’s honesty and determination win her some valuable new friends: Markl, Howl’s young apprentice; a jaunty scarecrow who’s really an enchanted prince from a neighbouring kingdom; Calcifer, a temperamental fire demon; and Heen, a hilarious, wheezing dog. She wins the heart of the dashing, irresponsible wizard Howl, and brings an end to an unnecessary and destructive war. For the blow-by-blow summary of the film, try looking up this wiki page.
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Pirates Rule Again!

Mailyn, you’re absolutely right! PoTC3: At World’s End rocks!!! The kids and I agree that movie 3 is the best ever. And we’re all looking forward to the next adventure of Jack Sparrow, Will and Elizabeth Turner.

potc3

You see, I am convinced that Captain Jack is going to contrive to find the Fountain/ Water of Life/ Youth and restore Will so that Elizabeth and he can have a happily ever after, as the ending clearly hints at that. He has a good heart underneath all that cunning and wile. I also believe there’s no way the producers are leaving things hanging the way it is, tearing apart the lovers just when they finally got back together. It’s going to be the height of cruelty, and I think this series is still too good a money spinner to let it die just like that.

Pirates Rule Again!

So, here’s a petition to Mr Jerry B and the Walt Disney bosses to present a satisfactory conclusion (and by that, I mean reunite Elizabeth with Will) in the fourth movie. I’ve already promised the daughter I’ll get the video when it’s released, so here’s a guaranteed fan and customer. Besides, the die-hard romantic in me just cannot live with the fact that the pair is destined to live apart meeting for one day only every ten years.  The Disney story-tellers have been creating happy ever after and making dreams come true for decades … I just won’t buy that they aren’t just as much an opimist as I am, so there!

Envisioning the Next Harry Movie

Having just finished watching Harry Potter movie DVDs one through four over the last three weekends with the kids, and re-reading Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince for the, I don’t know, fourth (?) time, I couldn’t help feeling excited about the next movie hitting the big screen this summer. Not to mention the thrill of receiving the last instalment, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows at the bookstore I pre-ordered with a couple of months from now.

Saphira Rocks! So does Charlotte!

I really really hope the director, Yates, put all the crucial points of this book into the movie. Of course, there’ll be cuts. This is after all the thickest book by far. The other night while I was surfing the web, I came across this fabulous movie tie-in site, Join Dumbledore’s Army, and thought it was a very, very clever marketing idea. It’s another good use of the social interactive nature of the web again. Bloody brilliant, I’d say!

Btw, if you’ve a moment, drop by Dan’s site – it’s very classy looking now and there’re news and interviews on all his new ventures.

Envisioning the Next Harry Movie Envisioning the Next Harry Movie

Anyway, that set me to thinking about the coming movie, and this is what I envision it should contain.

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Ugly is the New Beautiful in 2007

Having caught three episodes of Ugly Betty on local TV, I’m more than ready to put my stamp of approval on this quirky drama comedy about a plain-looking but intelligent, confident and resourceful young woman starting out on her career in the superficial world of high fashion publishing.

Ugly is the New Beautiful in 2007

What I dig about this show is the central character Betty Suarez’s big-hearted way of treating people, being nice to even those who’d hurt her deliberately with well-aimed remarks and snide insinuations at her fashion sense. She may not be coiffed and perfectly powdered, and dressed in haute couture, but I love her quirky and eclectic dress sense. It’s got her personality stamped all over it. The infectious thing about her is that she is passionate about what she believes in and when she’s brimming with ideas, she really goes out to champion them. Her indomitable spirit and optimism in the face of adversity (and trust me, there are plenty saboteurs out to see that she, and her boss, fails) are the stuff of human drama that I find lacking in some of today’s shows.

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Saphira Rocks! So does Charlotte!

Caught the movies Charlotte’s Web after Boxing Day and Eragon on New Year’s Day with the kids, and enjoyed both movies very much.

charlotte

Charlotte’s Web was poignant for me because of the beautiful message of friendship and selfless love of a little spider for a little pig who made the other farmyard dwellers see her beauty and talent for what it is: God’s miraculous creation. By the end of the movie, when Charlotte (voiced by Julia Roberts, who made the arachnid so human and generous in giving it made me cry) was dying, I was surreptitiously drying my eyes while the kids got ready to file out of the cinema with the neighbour’s kids. It’s a simple retelling of E B White’s famous children’s tale but it sure packs a powerful message in it. I recommend this for all moms, and am already watching out for the video. My kids enjoyed the show too, due in large part to the talking animals. My daughter caught the message of the story though, and for that I’m glad.

Spotted a few familiar voices, but didn’t realize that Robert Redford, Ophrah Winfrey, John Cleese, Reba McEntire and Kathy Bates played some of the farm characters until I checked out the movie website after the show. This is one show that will become a classic. Dakota Fanning’s charming portrayal of Fern tugs at your heart strings.

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