Cody and Jessica won The Amazing Race Season 30. I would have preferred other teams to win.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2018 by vincentloy

A lot of things are ending. This month is ending soon and that means my holiday is finishing. The two trips for this month (one to Perth, Australia for my graduation and the recent one to Zhangjiajie, China for vacation) were over. The 15-days Chinese New Year festival is also ending when this month concludes. And ‘The Amazing Race Season 30′, the reality television show that I have been catching on recently has also ended. I suddenly felt ’empty’. There is nothing more for me to look forward to in entertainment / leisure . Now, I’m getting nervous as I’m about to welcome the next stage in my life which is getting a job. No more long holiday…

As mentioned earlier, I have just finished watching the latest season of ‘The Amazing Race’. This show has now entered the 30th season (I have been following this since several years ago on its earlier seasons). If you didn’t know about this TV show, it’s a reality game where 11 teams of two complete tasks on every episodes to move forward till the final leg to win US$ 1 million. In this Season 30, teams traveled to Iceland, Belgium, Morocco, France, Czech Republic, Zimbabwe, Bahrain, Thailand, Hong Kong and finally back to United States.

As I was not around for the past week, I covered the last 4 episodes in a row for ‘The Amazing Race Season 30’. It was fun but I was not that happy with the outcome.

Team Indy (Alex & Conor) were eliminated in the second last leg at Hong Kong. They were a great team to watch. They have been on the 1st position multiple times in the earlier legs but luck is not on their side in the 11th leg. This leaves Team Big Brother (Cody & Jessica), Team Yale (Henry & Evan) and Team Extreme (Kristi & Jane) to become the final three teams to compete in the crucial last leg (12th leg) in San Francisco, USA. I’m going to be straightforward in my words. I don’t like Jessica from Team Big Brother. She literally contributed nothing in most of the show and yet her team ended up winning the race. This is mostly due to contribution by her partner, Cody who is very physically fit and has huge advantage in most tasks that require physical strength. That is so unfair to other teams particularly Team Extreme and even Team Indy when each members are equally good and competitive. Jessica is very weak and complained a lot throughout the entire season when even she has to do nothing much. She depends mostly on Cody who is a monster and handled a lot of things pretty quickly. Luck is also on her side in the final task that requires some puzzle solving.

Team Yale came in second place. Many other teams do not like this pair. However, I find them pretty likable actually. Yes, I knew that Evan is a bit arrogant, always overpowering Henry who is soft at all times and being cold to other teams frequently. But I think that is sometime necessary as this is still a competition. Her way of doing things here are still bearable. I have to admit that Henry has to listen to her sometimes as he get to be blur and weak in certain critical moments (especially in the last task when he actually solved the puzzle first but didn’t get the examiner to check, and that has costed this team the win and the US$ 1 million). Team Extreme is nice (hard to see such competitive and strong all-female team) but they tend to get stressed easily and eventually came in third place finish. So for now, this season is over and I’m already hoping that the next season will start very soon. This reality game show is exciting most of the times.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Advertisements

9 days 7 nights Chinese New Year 2018 trip to Zhangjiajie, China

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2018 by vincentloy

I’m back to Malaysia after a lengthy holiday trip to Zhangjiajie, China with my parents during this year’s Chinese New Year festival. Today is already the 7th day of lunar new year and the CNY mood is no longer here. We went to the airport on 14th February for the trip and have returned this morning on 22nd February. So, that’s equivalent to 9 days and 7 nights. I have a wonderful time during the trip (visiting all the beautiful attractions in Zhangjiajie but disappointed by heavy mist that makes it impossible for us to view them clearly and take pictures, not falling ill at all in the whole trip and that’s quite a miracle, meeting awesome people in the tour group).

My advice to the people who are interested to visit Zhangjiajie in the future; avoid visiting the place in winter (like what we did). The mountains are all covered with thick mist and you hardly see anything. Frequent rain also hinder an anticipating wonderful experience visiting these attractions. Also avoid travelling during the busy Chinese New Year period (like what we did) as the crowd is super huge and unbearable at these tourist destinations. We wasted a lot of time just by queuing (or more accurately; squeezing) and in long bus journeys. Nevertheless, we still managed to see some beautiful places and had great time over there. The attractions are all marvelous and interesting. This trip is mostly viewing the natural landmarks, and I have to admit that I’m a bit bored after seeing similar stuff (rocks, mountains, rivers and cliffs again and again) in the later days of the trip.

This is my 4th time visiting China (had been to Hong Kong & Shenzhen in 2006, Beijing & Tianjin in 2009, and Yunnan in 2014). The public toilets are still poorly maintained (very smelly and dirty) while the mainland Chinese are mostly still having some discipline issues (cutting queue, behaving inappropriately, spitting everywhere, etc). These are what you will still experience when visiting China despite the huge growth the country has been seeing in recent decades. And one more thing; when you are going to China in a tour group, it is compulsory to visit some shopping stops (we covered tea, silk, foot massage and body health, and latex mattress).

Here are some of the pictures I have taken during the trip. Besides visiting Zhangjiajie, we also visited Changsha and Fenghuang (all in Hunan province):

Changsha Poetry Wall

Phoenix Ancient Town – highlight: stilted wooden buildings along a river, some famous buildings around here include Xiong Xiling (first Prime Minister of China) and Shen Congwen (famous Chinese writer) Former Residences.

Tianmen Mountain National Park – highlight: world’s longest cableway to reach the mountains, has glass walkway hanging over by the cliff, Tianmen Cave with 999 steps (closed during winter due to slippery steps).

Yuanjiajie Scenic Area – highlight: ‘Avatar’-like mountains, ‘First Bridge in the World’ (natural formation) – cannot see it at all due to misty weather, Bailong elevator – world’s highest outdoor elevator.

Zhangjiajie National Park – highlight: Ten-Mile Natural Gallery (seeing rock formations again).

Baofeng Lake

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon – highlight: Glass bridge (once the world’s longest glass-floor bridge).

Xibu Street

Charm Xiang Xi Cultural Show

Hunan Embroidery Hall

Tujia Sand Painting Gallery

Jiandu Museum, Changsha – highlight: collection of historical bamboo slips and wooden tablets dating back more than a thousand years ago.

Huangxing Street, Changsha – highlight: main shopping and entertainment district in Changsha, the 452 metres tall Changsha IFS Tower (tallest in the city, construction almost completed and had topped out, same height with KL’s Petronas Twin Towers) is near here.

That’s it for the highlight of my trip. Time for a rest at home after this exhausting yet wonderful trip (totally had a different experience here – visiting the attractions in Zhangjiajie on busy season is like being in a state of a running refugee).

(Copyrights reserved to all images in this post)

71st British Academy Film Awards: List of winners and my overall opinion on the final race to the Oscars.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2018 by vincentloy

The 71st British Academy Film Awards, or simply known as BAFTA took place on 16th February 2018 at London’s Royal Albert Hall. This is the fourth of the five major televised awards in recognizing the best of Hollywood films every year.
‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is the biggest winner with 5 wins including the coveted ‘Best Film’ prize. The film also won ‘Outstanding British Film’, completing the difficult feat of nailing both the best film prizes BAFTA offered. Its big win here reinforces its position as the Oscar frontrunner particularly in the best picture race where ‘The Shape of Water’ is another serious contender. After winning Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Screen Actors Guild for Best Cast for Motion Picture, and then this BAFTA for Best Film, ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ now is predicted to win Best Picture in the coming Oscars as well. The only major televised award it missed out is Critics’ Choice for Best Picture that went to ‘The Shape of Water’. I’m still hoping that ‘The Shape of Water’ will upset ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ in the Oscars.
As for the four acting categories, it is a lock. Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney can now safely practice their Oscar speech. There is no more competition. It is very unlikely that other nominees will win after they won all the major precursor awards leading up to the Oscars. James Ivory is sure to win ‘Adapted Screenplay’ in the Oscars too for ‘Call Me By Your Name’ while competition for ‘Original Screenplay’ remain heated with ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ and ‘Get Out’ battling each other. On the other hand, I’m 100% confident that ‘Coco’ will win Best Animated Feature in the Oscars without any further explanation required.
Leading with 13 nominations, ‘The Shape of Water’ is now expected to take only ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Production Design’ and ‘Best Original Score’. This movie deserves more in my opinion (including ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Actress’, etc) but it looks like no one can block the immense love to ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ from the industry people. On the other hand, it’s a pity that Timothee Chalamet lost the Rising Star Award to Daniel Kaluuya because the latter is a homegrown (definitely an advantage since this category is voted by the public). Timothee Chalamet definitely had a more stellar year (2017) in films (‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Call Me By Your Name’). ‘Blade Runner 2049’, ‘Baby Driver’, ‘Dunkirk’, ‘Phantom Thread’, ‘The Shape of Water’ and ‘Darkest Hour’ win in the remaining technical categories. Notable highlight here is ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ losing ‘Best Visual Effects’ to ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and this hurts its chance in the coming Oscars.
Here below is the full list of winners for the 71st British Academy Film Awards (2018):
Best Film
“Call Me By Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“The Shape Of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” *Winner
Outstanding British Film
“Darkest Hour”
“The Death Of Stalin”
“God’s Own Country”
“Lady Macbeth”
“Paddington 2”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” *Winner
Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer
“The Ghoul Gareth Tunley”
“I Am Not A Witch” *Winner
“Jawbone Johnny Harris (Writer/Producer), Thomas Napper (Director)
“Kingdom Of Us”
“Lady Macbeth”
Film Not In The English Language
“Elle”
“First They Killed My Father”
“The Handmaiden” *Winner
“Loveless”
“The Salesman”
Documentary
“City Of Ghosts”
“I Am Not Your Negro” *Winner
“Icarus”
“An Inconvenient Sequel”
“Jane”
Animated Film
“Coco” *Winner
“Loving Vincent”
“My Life As A Courgette”
Director
“Blade Runner 2049,” Denis Villeneuve
“Call Me By Your Name,” Luca Guadagnino
“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“The Shape Of Water,” Guillermo Del Toro *Winner
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin Mcdonagh
Original Screenplay
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“I, Tonya,” Steven Rogers
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“The Shape Of Water,” Guillermo Del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin Mcdonagh *Winner
Adapted Screenplay
“Call Me By Your Name,” James Ivory *Winner
“The Death Of Stalin,” Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, David Schneider
“Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool,” Matt Greenhalgh
“Molly’s Game,” Aaron Sorkin
“Paddington 2,” Simon Farnaby, Paul King
Leading Actress
Annette Bening, “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool”
“Frances Mcdormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” *Winner
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape Of Water”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Leading Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour” *Winner
Jamie Bell, “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool”
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”
Supporting Actress
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya” *Winner
Kristin Scott Thomas, “Darkest Hour”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape Of Water”
Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer, “All The Money In The World”
Hugh Grant, “Paddington 2”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” *Winner
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Original Music
“Blade Runner 2049”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Shape Of Water” *Winner
Cinematography
“Blade Runner 2049” *Winner
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk Hoyte”
“The Shape Of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Editing
“Baby Driver” *Winner
“Blade Runner 2049”
“Dunkirk Lee Smith”
“The Shape Of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
EE Rising Star Award (voted for by the public)
Daniel Kaluuya *Winner
Florence Pugh
Josh O’Connor
Tessa Thompson
Timothée Chalamet
Make Up & Hair
“Blade Runner 2049”
“Darkest Hour” *Winner
“I, Tonya”
“Victoria & Abdul”
“Wonder”
Costume Design
“Beauty and the Beast”
“Darkest Hour”
“I, Tonya”
“Phantom Thread” *Winner
“The Shape of Water”
Sound
“Baby Driver”
“Blade Runner 2049”
“Dunkirk” * Winner
“The Shape of Water”
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
Visual Effects
“Blade Runner 2049” *Winner
“Dunkirk”
“The Shape of Water”
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
“War for the Planet of the Apes”
(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Happy Chinese New Year! If you didn’t know, it’s the Year of Dog!

Posted in Miscellaneous on February 15, 2018 by vincentloy

Happy Chinese New Year!

It’s the time of the year again for you to return to your hometown, visit your relatives and friends, get ‘angpow’, toss ‘yee-sang’, have reunion dinner, eat all the delicious CNY biscuits and cookies, wear bright red clothing, hang lanterns and decorations, play fireworks or firecrackers, have a fun gambling time (cards, tiles, etc), watch some CNY movies or programmes on TV, enjoying lion dance performance, etc. As for me, it’s the time of the year again to go for a long vacation. I’m currently at Zhangjiajie, China for a lengthy 9 days 7 nights trip on this CNY break. Hence, I’m not able to do most of the usual CNY routines.

Chinese New Year is much more fun when you are a kid. I am reminded on how excited I am when this festival arrives. The whole family would wake up early. My parents will do some worshiping rituals. I will immediately wear new shirt and a family-inherited gold necklace (only wear it during CNY). I will grab some quick CNY snacks first before heading out to my grandmother’s home for a vegetarian lunch. After that, we will be going to some relatives’ homes and enjoy the snacks, chats and of course the ‘angpows’. The second day of CNY is much more interesting for me as we will be spending most of the day on my eldest aunt’s large home where all my other relatives on my mother’s side gathered there too. It was very happening with all the noises and laughters heard from the adults playing rummy and mahjong on upper floor while the kids play cards and other games (also watching TV) on ground floor, and lastly having dinner and playing with the fireworks together in the evening. All these excitement is gone when you are growing up and becoming an adult now. Hence, I opt for a vacation instead since this is the only time when my father can have a long holiday from his business.

This is the Year of Dog according to Chinese calendar. There are 12 animals representing the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. My father was born in Year of Dog as well (back in 1958) and that means he is turning 60 years old this year. Wow…I do not believe on superstitious stuff but I would still pay attention to what those feng shui masters will say about my zodiac sign and forecast of the year. I was born in Year of Goat and I realized that I would not be doing that well this year too (have been told the same for the past few years continuously but I’m still fine). My luck will only comes next year and will last for 5 straight years. Well, I’m looking forward to that but for now, I will just have a very neutral mindset about it. Just listen to those advice but don’t get too affected by them. It is still all up to you to decide your own life.

Happy Chinese New Year once again! May you and your family have a prosperous and a healthy new year ahead! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

Exciting Best Picture race for the upcoming 90th Oscars.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2018 by vincentloy

The 90th Academy Awards honouring the best of 2017 films will be held on 4th March 2018, which is less than a month from now. The voting will open on 20th February (2 days after the British Academy Film Awards, the BAFTA)  for all Academy members to cast their votes until 27th February. A number of major film communities (Gold Derby, Awards Circuit, Indiewire, etc), critics group and news reporters had revealed their Oscar predictions. I had also released my predictions in this post here alongside with the nomination list (https://vincentloy.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/nomination-list-for-the-90th-academy-awards/) about two weeks ago.

There have been many discussions out there on analyzing which film will win ‘Best Picture’, the last and most coveted prize of the Oscars’ evening. I too have my own thoughts on this topic after seeing some of those discussions and debates. This year’s race for ‘Best Picture’ is intense and exciting as there is no clear frontrunner at this stage unlike in previous years. Some pointed out that it will be a tight battle between ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ and ‘The Shape of Water’. This is reminiscent to the ‘Moonlight vs. La La Land’ last year, ‘Spotlight vs The Revenant’ in 2016, ‘Birdman vs Boyhood’ in 2015, and ’12 Years A Slave vs Gravity’ in 2014.

After looking at the 9 nominated films (I watched all of them) this year and seeing their performances in the past major precursor awards, I attempt to break them down into three tiers. The two films in the first tier has the most probability to win, while the four films in the second tier may have the chance to sneak in for the win, while the remaining three films in the third tier will be in a long shot for the win.

FIRST TIER

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water

Opinion: ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG). The movie had also won scores of awards in acting races (Frances McDormand in best actress and Sam Rockwell in best supporting actor). The disadvantages to the film are that it didn’t get a crucial director’s nomination in the Academy Awards and it is currently receiving several backlash and criticisms over Sam Rockwell’s racist character who tries to redeem himself at the end of the movie.

‘The Shape of Water’ won Best Picture at Critics’ Choice, and won top honours at Producers Guild Awards (PGA) and Directors Guild Awards (DGA). The movie also excelled in a lot of technical achievements, and hence collecting up to 13 nominations at the Academy Awards (film with highest number of Oscar nominations this year). The disadvantages to the film are that it did not manage to win anything at SAG (also not getting a nomination at all in the crucial Best Cast category) and that its premise of a woman falling in love with an amphibian may turn off some voters.

There are pros and cons to these two films. For right now, I think the Oscar for Best Picture will be handed to ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ while the Director prize will go to Guillermo del Toro for his work in ‘The Shape of Water’. The Academy always deliver a split here in recent years. In my personal opinion, I would prefer ‘The Shape of Water’ to take both the Best Picture and Best Director because I find it superior (much better) than ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’. I didn’t enjoy the latter at all. The preferential ballot by the Academy may also be helping ‘The Shape of Water’ as some voters may place ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ in the lower ranking of their best picture picks (that will seriously hurt its chance) due to its controversy and some who find it overrated. Yup…I find ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ over performed in the major precursor awards too. 

SECOND TIER

Lady Bird

Get Out

Dunkirk

Phantom Thread

Opinion: There is a possibility that the two films at the first tier above will cancel each other out and make way for one of these four films in this second tier that I have predicted. ‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Get Out’ are beloved by many critics group. However, they have not been receiving much love at the major televised awards. I myself didn’t have huge excitement for them too because I find ‘Lady Bird’ to be a very ordinary coming-of-age story of a high school female student while I think that ‘Get Out’ only managed to deliver a level above the typical horror flick which is still not deserving enough to get Best Picture win.

‘Dunkirk’ may stand a chance too but I find it overrated too. I don’t enjoy the movie and find it boring. There is literally not much drama at all in this war movie. As for ‘Phantom Thread’, it suddenly gained a lot of love from the Academy as proven by multiple number of nominations it received to everyone’s surprise. This period drama film that starred Daniel-Day Lewis (his final film) may sneak in to win in the end but the possibility at this point is still quite low. I find this movie boring too.

THIRD TIER

Call Me By Your Name

Darkest Hour

The Post

Opinion: ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is not getting much love from major precursor groups. However, it is receiving a lot of attention from online communities that comprise mostly of the younger generations that may have different takes with the older ones that form these major precursor groups as well as the Academy. Its queer love story may disturb many conservative voters. Remember back then when ‘Brokeback Mountain’ lost to ‘Crash’ for the Best Picture although everyone is rallying behind the former. Fortunately, the film is still receiving some Oscar nominations and is also a frontrunner to win ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’.

On the other hand, ‘Darkest Hour’ is certainly to pull off wins in ‘Best Actor’ (for Gary Oldman) and ‘Best Make-up and Hair-styling’  but is certainly not a best picture material to many. ‘The Post’ is first seen as a strong contender but loses all the momentum it needs in the major precursor awards. It didn’t win anything and has only two nominations at the Oscars (including Best Picture). I didn’t expect that this movie has under-performed to such level although it is directed by the mighty Steven Spielberg and starred the great Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep (nominated for best actress). So, it will be a long shot for either of these three films to win ‘Best Picture’. If it does, the world will be in shock. 

Conclusion…this year’s best picture race is certainly an intriguing one because there is no one clear frontrunner at all. All films in my first and second tier groups have their chance to win (6 of the 9 nominated films). However, the awards buzz is following more on ‘The Shape of Water’ followed by ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’. The former is now the frontrunner to win best picture according to Gold Derby and Awards Circuit predictions. ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is now losing some crucial momentum although standing up tall in the earlier major precursor awards. It still has a high chance of winning. I predict it to win but I would personally prefer ‘The Shape of Water’ as I’m very engaged and amazed by all the aspects in the latter from its story, performances, directing, production designs, score, etc. What do you think?

By the way, the Academy should just include one more nominee in the best picture race to round it up to 10 films easily. ‘I, Tonya’ should be in the list too. I’m really excited to know which film will prevail in the end…But before the Academy Awards, there will be one more major precursor that many will be paying attention to; the BAFTA (British Academy Film Awards) which is set to take place on 18th February 2018.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

Pyeongchang 2018 kicks off with eye-catching opening ceremony.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2018 by vincentloy

Pyeongchang 2018, the XXIII Olympic Winter Games is held from 9 to 25 February 2018 (some events being held on 8th and 9th prior to the opening ceremony). This international sporting event brought Pyeongchang, a once quiet town 180km from the capital Seoul, South Korea into spotlight. The games feature 102 events in fifteen sports disciplines. 2,952 athletes from 92 National Olympic Committees are slated to compete, including the debut of Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore.

Wow…I can’t wait to see how Malaysia will perform in this Winter Olympic Games. I don’t think Malaysia will win any medal since this is only the first time Malaysia is participating in Winter Olympics. We have only two athletes competing (Jeffrey Webb will compete in alpine skiing while Julian Yee will compete in figure skating). Although we have lack of experience (hard to get involved in any winter sports in Malaysia where no winter is observed), but I’m still wishing all the best to these two Malaysian athletes in Pyeongchang 2018.

Pyeongchang defeated Munich (Germany) and Annecy (France) back in 2011 to bid for the hosting job of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Previously, Pyeongchang had bid to host the 2010 and 2014 editions but lost out respectively to Vancouver and Sochi (Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics while Sochi hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics). Success is finally observed in the third time bidding. Third time a charm for Pyeongchang.

The opening ceremony was held yesterday’s evening at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, a stadium with 35 000 seating capacity purposely built for the games and will be demolished after the games ended. The Games were officially opened by President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in and the ceremony was also attended by Kim Yo-jong (representative of North Korea and sister of Kim Jong Un), Mike Pence (Vice President of USA), Shinzo Abe (Japanese Prime Minister), Antonio Guterres (United Nations Secretary General), Thomas Bach (President of International Olympic Committee), etc.

I didn’t watch the full ceremony but I do looked at the highlights of it from many news sources. Some of the major highlights of the ceremony include the marching of North and South Korea together in the athletes’ parade under a unified Korean flag, two men impersonating as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in the stadium and being kicked out, the world’s largest drone show in history during a performance segment of the ceremony, etc.

(Images in this post are from Vox at https://www.vox.com/2018/2/9/16995150/2018-winter-olympics-opening-ceremony-photos) 

Drama review for TVB’s ‘The Forgotten Valley’ (2018)

Posted in Miscellaneous on February 9, 2018 by vincentloy

‘The Forgotten Valley’ is a Hong Kong period drama that revolves on a remote village known as ‘Peace Valley’ where men hold power while the women are deemed as second grade individuals. Lau Kong portrays as the head village with four wives (portrayed by Rosanne Lui, Louisa So, Rebecca Zhu and Katy Kung). All things are in order (even the women are all being very obedient to the unfair village rules) until the return of the head village’s eldest son (portrayed by Raymond Wong) who came home from oversea with his new wife (portrayed by Grace Chan). Some paranormal incidents, kidnapping and village intrusion events lead up to a successful fight for women equality in the end. This 20-episode drama also starred Zoie Tam, Toby Chan, Willie Wai, Cilia Kung, Louis Yuen, Jess Sum, Max Cheung, etc.

This drama is released at a very right timing as many (Hollywood too) are heavily discussing on female empowerment issues recently. I believe that such village do exist in China back then with those unethical roles that diminish women’s position and rights. TVB is doing the right thing by creating a drama to make us aware that women should be treated equally as men.

‘The Forgotten Valley’ is a decent drama. I didn’t expect to see a good drama from TVB especially at the beginning of a year when usually lower quality dramas will be slotted in. It started off looking like a horror series, but it isn’t. Every episodes are quite intriguing and the fast-paced story development help making this drama pleasant to watch on every weekday’s night. Lau Kong is very convincing as the head village. He is one of the few veteran actor that I admired. I felt like he carried the drama more than Raymond Wong. Raymond is a good actor but I just couldn’t see him in first lead role (he is much more suited for second lead role). He portrayed his role well but I just don’t like his character especially in earlier episodes when he is being very coward and stays behind the arguments between his wife and his father (trying to ease quarrels but ended up not helping anything). Grace Chan…hmm, I can see that she has improved in her acting but still there is a huge room of improvement for her. Her extremely small figure and Westernized look just don’t fit into the context although her character is intended to be a Western-educated Chinese returning from the West. I will compare her with Sisley. Sisley has gone on to win people’s heart now with much more well-received and likable performances after heavy criticisms in the beginning of her acting career (just like Grace). But for Grace, she is still stuck somewhere.

The other cast did considerably good job too. Louisa So has her time in this drama despite the presence of so many other female characters in this drama. She is great as a protective mother and also as a scheming woman who is forced by Lau Kong to carry out some bad deeds. Rebecca Zhu…her character is very ordinary and I still cannot believe that she had just won ‘best supporting actress’ at the TVB Anniversary Awards 2017 for her mediocre role in ‘A General, A Scholar, And A Eunuch’ last year. She is no where near to that level and it can be proven from her easily forgotten presence here in this drama as well. Louis Yuen is doing well as the sneaky villain on the other hand. There are too many characters (especially the females) in this drama and so there is literally not much of character’s development for them. I felt that this series could be better with a few more episodes to accommodate for more back stories to some interesting characters that are left out most of the time.

Everything is too predictable. I am expecting for some really surprising twist to create some more dramas and to shake things up a bit but I’m left disappointed. The ending part is quite intense but it all leads to a boring happy ending as expected again. The ending also leaves out some unanswered plot holes (it’s too unbelievable for all men in the village to change their perception and treatment to women that quickly, how is the discovery of the gold ore going on in the end, etc). Anyway, this is still a pretty good drama to watch. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Forgotten Valley’ a total of 7.2.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)