Wednesday, 29 November 2017

'Once Upon a Time in Canada' Chapter 28.

It’s over! Holy shit, it’s over! I have just found a job and will be starting on 28th November. The job is being a Sales Photographer for a New Zealand company called Magic Memories (ironic) at one of the most Canadian places in Canada – the CN Tower. The job came just in the nick of time when I was about to even remotely consider giving up, packing my bags, and heading back home. But I’m saved!

I don’t even know what to say. This is insane, and somehow I’m employed! I’m going to be very happy again. I spent months endlessly job-hunting like a maniac with no life and it’s finally over. Sure, I might lose this job and not last as long as I would hope. But I’m no longer unemployed.

The whole time after I had my interview and received the offer, I was celebrating. I imagined what this moment would be like. I figured I’d jump up and down for a bit, cheer and scream on the top of my lungs, maybe flip off the ground (or maybe not considering highly likely I’ll injure or kill myself), and that’s what happened. When I got the email, I jumped up and down a bit, cheered and screamed on the top of my lungs, but I didn’t flip off the ground because I didn’t want to injure or die before my new job. I did this for several minutes. I finally settled down and got down to preparing for the new job.

The day finally came. It occurred to me: Now that I might live, I have to be more careful about not losing my job as I did with Disney. How do I make sure I keep my job? There’s no simple answer… but then again, the answer is obviously just don’t do anything stupid. I’ve got some important things to keep in mind and to do when I finally start. Time to get to work!

Also, see Chapters 27 and 29.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

'Once Upon a Time in Canada' Chapter 27.

I am just really hoping we’d capture some good photos of the Cavalcade of Lights Festival with my photography group despite the freezing climate. Why does that matter? Well, I’ll tell ya… If we didn’t get good, or even decent, pictures by the end of the night, then we suffered our freezing asses for nothing, especially when it was also raining. It’s kind of harder when it comes to capturing good images in the freezing and raining cold when it’s not exactly to capture a good image period. But that’s the main challenge for any photographer, whether amateur or professional.

The Cavalcade of Lights Festival was our, especially my, test to see whether or not we, especially I, can capture some good images whilst freezing my ass off. In the first hour, no action. Nothing. But there’s still hope. Any number of things could interfere with us achieving our goal. But a true photographer never gives up and does whatever it takes to get what we want. So we just need the right moments and conditions to give us the chance. Also, the rain was starting to wain down. Hopefully, it’ll stay that way for the rest of the night and make it easier for us to get some great shots. It’s already almost two hours at this point, so the time is drawing near. So… great!

The show finally gave us the chance when it began. And it was beautiful, vibrant and exciting colours filled the snowy night sky, with plenty of opportunities for us to capture some great shots. Maybe it’s one of the few times, as a photographer, where I just succeeded in getting what I want, and still with enough time to enjoy the show as a spectator. By the end of the show, we just packed up our stuff, and headed for the Duke of Richmond for some nice, warm meals and drinks.

Also, see Chapters 26 and 28.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Film Review: "Justice League" (2017).

"You can't save the world alone." But the Justice League can. This superhero film directed by Zack Snyder, written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, based on the DC Comics superhero team of the same name. The film is the fifth instalment in the DC Extended Universe. Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne, with Diana Prince, must now face an even greater threat. Together, they work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes - it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

In April 2014, it was announced that Snyder would be directing the film with a script by David S. Goyer. In July, Warner Bros. was reportedly courting Terrio to rewrite the script, after having been impressed with his rewrite of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In October 2014, Warner Bros. originally announced that the film would be released in two parts, with Part One releasing on November 17, 2017, and Part Two on June 14, 2019. Snyder would direct both films. However, in June 2016, Snyder announced that both films would be two stand-alone stories. In July 2015, EW revealed that Terrio had completed the script for Justice League Part One. By June 2016, Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, and Amy Adams were all confirmed to reprise their roles. Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, and J. K. Simmons were all added to the cast. With a budget of $275 million, Principal photography commenced in April 2016 and ended in October 2016. Locations included Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, England, as well as London, Scotland, Los Angeles and Djúpavík, Iceland. In May 2017, extensive reshoots took place in London and Los Angeles, with an additional budget of $25 million. Snyder hired Joss Whedon to write scenes for the reshoots. In the same month, Snyder left the project following the death of his daughter. Whedon then took over the reshoots and the remainder of post-production. Snyder received sole director credit for the film, with Whedon receiving a screenplay credit in post. In addition, Danny Elfman took over from Junkie XL to score the film. Due to the running time backlash of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. demanded the film come under 2 hours. The final running time for Justice League is 120 minutes. Making the film the shortest DCEU film to date.

It features an ensemble cast that includes Affleck, Cavill, Gadot, Miller, Momoa, Fisher, Irons, Adams, Lane, Simmons and Ciarán Hinds. Though the cast gave performances that would silicify as the definitive cinematic iterations of their comic-book counterparts, the lack of characterization failed to make the audience root for them when they're off saving the world.

After decades of buildup, Justice League has finally arrived and it is horrendously average. Even after its two hour running-time, audiences will leave the theatre unsatisfied. The film has unquestionably squandered the potential of its source material and cast.

Simon says Justice League receives:

Also, see my review for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Wonder Woman.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Film Review: "Murder on the Orient Express" (2017).

"Everybody is a suspect" in Murder on the Orient Express. This mystery drama film directed by Kenneth Branagh, adapted by Michael Green, based on the 1934 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie. A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery. From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers & one man's race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.

Two stories on the legendary train partly inspired Agatha Christie's novel. The story was inspired partly by an incident in 1929 when the Orient Express was trapped in a blizzard in Çerkezköy, Turkey, where it was marooned for six days. Two years later Christie was involved in a similar scenario when she was travelling on the Orient Express and the train got stuck for a period of time due to heavy rainfall and flooding, which washed part of the track away. In real life there was one actual murder on The Orient Express. Maria Farcasanu was robbed and murdered by Karl Strasser, who pushed her out of the moving train, one year after Agatha Christie's book was published. However, the novel was mostly inspired by the Charles A. Lindbergh kidnapping case, in which Lindbergh's 20-month old son was taken and held for a $50,000 ransom. The ransom was paid, but unfortunately Lindbergh's son was found already dead.

In December 2013, 20th Century Fox announced a new film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express. Michael Green was hired to write the screenplay. In June 2015, it was reported Fox was in talks with Kenneth Branagh to direct. It was finally confirmed that Branagh would direct and star as the Belgium detective Hercule Poirot. In the same month, it was reported that Angelina Jolie was in early talks to co-star in the film. However, in August, Variety reported that Stacey Snider, CEO of 20th Century Fox, broke off negotiations with Jolie after several months due to her insistence on significant script changes on what was a relatively small part. Charlize Theron was then courted, but ultimately, Michelle Pfeiffer was cast. By January 2016, the cast was rounded out. In the same month, it was revealed that Michael Peña had dropped out of the film and that Manuel Garcia-Rulfo had replaced him. Principal photography on the film began in November 2016, in the United Kingdom, and wrapped in May 2017. The film is Branagh's second movie to be shot on 65mm film. The first was Hamlet (1996). The film would receive a limited 70mm engagement, making it the fourth film of the decade to be shot on 65mm and projected in 70mm, following The Master (2012), The Hateful Eight (2015) and Dunkirk (2017).

The film features an ensemble cast that includes Branagh Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley. The cast gave unique and varied performances that carried the entire film. Without each and every one of them, the film would have faltered.

Kenneth Branagh's Murder on the Orient Express provides a good time, high style, a loving salute to an earlier period of epic filmmaking despite lacking any surprises and originality.

Simon says Murder on the Orient Express (2017) receives:

Also, see my review for Cinderella.

Monday, 13 November 2017

'Once Upon a Time in Canada' Chapter 26.

Today was another day with the boys. West End Comics was today’s destination because both Porfy and Lucas want to show all the best comic book stores in town. Once we got Silver Snail and The Beguiling out of the way, we then embarked to visit West End. It is another great comic book store, according to them. Maybe they’re right. The store couldn’t have been less interesting.

I was like a kid in the candy store, like with the other stores, and it spoke to the inner geek inside me. The store may have looked shabby on the outside, but, on the contrary, it was anything but inside. I was surprised when I saw what was in store: comic books, both vintage and brand new, as well as action figures of comic book, film, television, manga, and anime, and other collectables such as belt buckles, pins, and trading cards.

I smiled throughout the entire time we were in the store, and then we talked with excitement when we encountered a comic book or graphic novel we liked. The store had a bunch of stuff that caught our eye. But some issues or series were little bit pricier than we thought, not in the best condition, and had some issues, volumes, and books missing. We, however, didn’t mind all that much, and pretty much accepted everything face value.

Then it was time to head off for lunch. We got what we wanted and headed out the door. On this day and point on time, the first thing we did was to head out to the nearest restaurant and have a decent meal that would fill up our hungry stomachs. This place was Tibet Kitchen. It’s a Tibetan restaurant that serves delicious and authentic Tibetan cuisine. Their menu consisted of Sha Phaley, Khapse, Laping, Momo, Thenthuk, and other Sichuan-style Han Chinese dishes. It’s quite exotic and not quite what I was expecting to have, but hey. It’s food, and I was hungry.

During the course of the meal, which consisted of Special Fried Rice, Khampa Phaksha, and Chicken Manchurian, the guys and I talked about taking trips to comic book stores in Hamilton, Mississauga, Vaughn, and Richmond Hill. Once the meal was over, the guys and I headed down to the 501 bus stop to make our way home. That’s today’s story. And I’m sure, and hoping, there will be more nerdy adventures of Porfy, Lucas, and Simon to come.

Also, see Chapters 25 and 27.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Film Review: "Thor: Ragnarok" (2017).

"Let The Games Begin." This is Thor: Ragnarok. This superhero film directed by Taika Waititi, written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, and produced by Marvel Studios. It is the sequel to Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013), and is the seventeenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk. Thor's quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.

In January 2014, Marvel announced that Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost would write the screenplay for a third film. In the same month, Kyle and Yost began working on the screenplay. In October 2014, Feige announced that the film would be titled Thor: Ragnarok, with a July 28, 2017 release date, and confirmed that Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston would be reprising their roles. Feige called the film "a very important movie" in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and stated that it would set up Avengers: Infinity War (2018). He also confirmed that, in the context of the film, the word Ragnarok means "the end of all things". In February 2015, Marvel pushed back the release date to November 3, 2017. Both Thor and The Dark World directors Kenneth Branagh and Alan Taylor confirmed that they would not be return. Ruben Fleischer, Rob Letterman, and Rawson Marshall Thurber were considered to direct the film. Ultimately, Taika Waititi entered negotiations, and was confirmed to direct in October 2015. In January 2016, with the film began pre-production. Waititi stated that he was working on the script "a little bit", mainly adding humor to the screenplay, with Eric Pearson joining the project. Waititi described the film as a "1970s and 80s science fiction fantasy, the most 'out there' of all the Marvel movies." He cited Big Trouble in Little China (1986) as a major influence on the film. Waititi said that he also wanted to showcase Hemsworth's comedic talent in this film. By May, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, and Karl Urban were added to the cast. In addition, Idris Elba, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, and Anthony Hopkins were confirmed to reprise their roles. Principal photography began in July 2016 and concluded in October. Filming took place in Village Roadshow Studios Oxenford, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

The film stars Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Blanchett, Elba, Goldblum, Thompson, Urban, Mark Ruffalo, and Hopkins. The recurring cast gave another round of terrific performances this time round, and were further injected with renewed, even overly comedic, energy thanks to the new cast members.

With the help of its charismatic lead, some impressive action sequences, and even a few surprises, Thor: Ragnarok is a strong, witty, and entertaining adventure. The film is brimming with energy and packed with humor. It also distills 1980s science fiction fantasy movies as affectionately as it subverts them.

Simon says Thor: Ragnarok receives:

Monday, 6 November 2017

'Once Upon a Time in Canada' Chapter 25.

I was really hoping it would not rain for today, but, luckily, it was not pouring with rain. It wasn’t sunny, as some of us had hoped, but it wasn’t like New Zealand during winter. Plus, who care? We were indoors most of the time anyways.

If the dead ever came back to life (and that’s a bid if), I think they would have enjoyed the Day of the Dead festival down at Queen’s Wharf. Which was the subject of the new photography meet up. It’s nothing like what they would actually do in Mexico, which I had hoped to see if I ever visited Mexico, but it came close. The Day of the Dead (or Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. In 2008, UNESCO inscribed the tradition in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Fun fact: Originally, the Day of the Dead was not celebrated in Mexico, where it was unknown until the 20thcentury because its indigenous people had different traditions. The people and the church rejected it as a day related to syncretizingpagen elements with Catholic Christianity. They held the traditional ‘All Saints’ Day’ in the same way as other Christians in the world. There was limited Mesoamerican influence in this region, and relatively few indigenous inhabitants from the regions of Southern Mexico, where the holiday was celebrated. In the early 21stcentury in Northern Mexico, the holiday is observed because the Mexican government made it a national holiday based on educational policies from the 1960s; it has introduced this holiday as a unifying national tradition based on indigenous traditions.

We quickly figured out that this holiday was like no other, especially me when I got there. Over the years of meeting and knowing friends and acquaintances, they’ve told me that it is a holiday that is unique and needs to be experienced, and they were not wrong. It was only a few minutes in, and thus far, amazing. There was so much to capture with my camera, and so many potential images to share. The entire meet up took a little more than three hours, as there was so much for us to capture. So, obviously, we stayed as long as we needed to until we got everything we could get.

Afterwards, we wrapped up and headed for Amsterdam Brewhouse for dinner, and shared our photos to each other. Of course.

Also, see Chapters 24 and 26.