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Actor Chris Pine is tired of questions about his penis

If you want to see an exhausted Chris Pine, meet him after he’s spent a day answering questions about his penis.

Following the September premiere of David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King, in which Pine stars as the Scottish hero Robert the Bruce, conversation at the Toronto International Film Festival focused largely on Pine’s instant of full-frontal nudity in the film. That such a brief moment should arouse such curiosity – and not, say, anything else in the two-plus hours of historical-epic savagery in the 1300s-set film – was for Pine a sad but telling commentary.

“The fact that visions of nudity, genitalia, making love are somehow the main attraction,” said an exasperated Pine in an interview alongside Mackenzie. “All of us go ‘Oo oo!’ like fifth graders. Literally, it’s like talking to a bunch of 14-year-olds, whereas beheadings and all that kind of violence we’re so inured to that we don’t even question it.”

The irony is that Pine’s Bruce – like his supporting role in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman – is a negotiation with traditional gender roles, even amid all the blood and guts. Pine plays the 14th century King of Scots, who won Scottish independence from England, not as a one-dimensional warrior but a man riven with internal conflict. Scenes with his wife (played by Florence Pugh) are sensitive and tender.

When it’s pointed out that his performance – and even that flash of nudity – seems intended to deconstruct traditional masculine archetypes, Pine immediately brightens.

“I’ve been dying to talk about this stuff all day and we’ve gotten just myriad, mind-numbing questions about nonsense,” Pine replies. “I do think there needs to be a rebalancing of the world. The underlying bass note that we should be hearing is: That is precisely what we’re all used to and isn’t it kind of interesting that it’s so skewed that way, that any notion of tenderness or lovemaking on screen becomes uncomfortable? I think that’s probably the masculine and the feminine out of whack in this big, wide universe.”

Chris Pine (left) and director David Mackenzie reunite for Outlaw King two years after they first worked together on Hell Or High Water. — AP

Chris Pine (left) and director David Mackenzie reunite for Outlaw King two years after they first worked together on Hell Or High Water. — AP

Outlaw King, which debuted on Netflix last Friday, is the streaming service’s first big swing at that classic big-screen thing: the historical epic. It reunites Pine with Mackenzie two years after Hell Or High Water, a high-water mark for both the Scottish filmmaker and for Pine, who calls the Oscar-nominated neo-Western “one of my most cherished experiences making anything”.

While they were still making the publicity rounds on Hell Or High Water, Mackenzie slipped Pine the screenplay. When the two sat down in London to talk about it, Pine acknowledges he had some issues with the script but that they quickly found common ground in the desire to make a film not overwhelmed by Scottish nationalism but about, as Pine says, “a rich man who decides to throw it all away to do something selfless”.

“I mean, I pretty much wanted to do it the moment he said ‘historical epic’,” Pine adds.

Pine, with his shining blue eyes and a filmography littered with blockbusters, might not be the first actor one would think of for a bloodied, mud-caked Robert the Bruce. But Mackenzie saw something of Bruce in Pine’s desperate bank robber in Hell Or High Water, a performance that seemed to unlock Pine’s full power as a movie star.

“There’s something about both characters: people struggling, people dealing with uncertainty and not sure whether or not to act,” Mackenzie says. “One thing Chris brings brilliantly to the work he does is the capacity to handle that uncertainty and a character who’s working his way through things.”

After Outlaw King premiered to largely poor reviews in Toronto, Mackenzie cut about 20 minutes from the film, which he had rushed to ready for opening night at TIFF. The 52-year-old filmmaker co-wrote and produced the film, which follows a pair of acclaimed releases from the director – the father-son prison drama Starred Up and Hell Or High Water – that likewise analysed masculinity.

Chris Pine stars as the Scottish hero Robert the Bruce in Outlaw King. Photo: Netflix

Chris Pine stars as the Scottish hero Robert the Bruce in Outlaw King. Photo: Netflix

“It needs to be deconstructed, doesn’t it?” Mackenzie says. “At this point in time, it feels like masculinity is coming into question a lot and it seems appropriate, as males, to be dealing with the subject of masculinity, try to find some nuance in there, try not to demonise or hero-ise.”

In the 65-day shoot in Scotland, Mackenzie and Pine hoped to recapture some of the freewheeling spirit of their quicker, lower-budget production in West Texas. That Bruce was a contemporary of William Wallace has led to frequent comparisons to Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, though Pine says they were seeking to make a very different sort of Scottish epic.

“How do you make the anti-Braveheart? How do you make the movie that hits all the tropes of the genre without – and I say this with all due respect – being manipulative?” Pine says. “Braveheart, I love. But how do you make the non-movie movie?”

Pine saw Bruce as “nebulous” and “opaque” – someone who could be politician and warrior, hero and coward. “You cannot pin the guy down,” he says. Before departing to shake off the day’s questions, Pine repeatedly mentioned Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind as a source of inspiration.“To me, the primal aspects of the film are almost like men and women of the mud and of the dirt. It’s almost like you see them in this amoebic form. The earth that we come from,” says Pine. “We as humans are these dualistic creatures. We’re both aggressive and pacifist. We are feminine and masculine.” – AP

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Connie Britton’s TV Past: How the Dirty John Star’s New Role Is Unlike Any Before

Dirty JohnBefore she was entwined in John Meehan’s web of lies as Debra Newell, Connie Britton was playing for laughs.
The star and executive producer of Dirty John’s TV past goes all the…

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The war against drugs continues with ‘Narcos: Mexico’

In the world of Narcos there’s no good guys; there are just bad guys and very bad guys.

“The show paints an appropriately complex picture of an enterprise that’s not as simple as bad drug traffickers and good police,” explained executive producer Eric Newman at an interview that took place during a two-day Netflix event at Singapore last week.

He was there with actors Diego Luna and Michael Pena to talk about Narcos: Mexico, which is a new chapter in the Narcos series.

The first three seasons of Narcos looked at the criminal activities in Colombia, specifically the drug trafficking ring run by Colombian drug kingpins like Pablo Escobar.

For its new season – rebooted as Narcos: Mexico – the story moves to Mexico in the 1980s when the city Guadalajara is about to become the base of operations for most of the major narcotics traffickers in North America.

At the centre of the tale are two men, the ambitious Miguel Felix Gallardo (Luna) – who would become one of the heads of the Guadalajara cartel – as well as an agent with the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Enrique “Kiki” Camarena (Pena) who’s posted to Guadalajara and witnesses the foundation of a drug enterprise taking shape.

As Kiki gathers intelligence on Felix, a tragic chain of events unfolds, one that affects the drug trade and the war against it till today.

Newman stated: “We very fairly depict the relationship of law enforcement and government (within this enterprise) because it’s incredibly implicit – the drug traffickers would not exist if not for corrupt politicians and law enforcement and of course the endless demand for cocaine that comes out of America, and also from all over the world.”

While Narcos is a drama, the key points in all of the chapters are based on real events.

To ensure the authenticity is intact on the show, the production team goes to where it happened.

All previous seasons were filmed in Colombia. Likewise, the cast and crew of Narcos: Mexico went to Mexico to film its 10 episodes, which features dialogues in both English and Spanish.

Pena, last seen in Ant-Man And The Wasp, pointed out: “The location becomes like another character in the show.”

Continued Newman: “It changed our process to actually be where it happened. Unlike Colombia, where we have reached the end of the violent chapter of the drug war, Mexico is still in the throes of it.”

Luna couldn’t agree more. The international star who was born in Mexico City said: “I still live in the country and the violence is ridiculous.

“To fix the problem, the conversation needs to be open; the way we look at the issue has got to be different because the (drug) market keeps growing … The show has a potential to be part of the solution.

“I hope people will get curious to dig a little deeper into this issue … it takes a lot for change to happen.”

mexico

Diego Luna, Eric Newman and Michael Pena pose for a portrait in Singapore.

Narcos was a global hit when it came out in 2015, and was nominated for multiple awards.

It is a kind of a show that would be easy to dismiss as it does humanise people who don’t deserve to be humanised.

“But at the same time Narcos presents a different point of view, and it forces viewers to not just slap the stereotype of a drug dealer to a character and realise there is a lot in play.

Newman expanded: “There is an evolution to the history of drugs, and it starts at one place and spreads, and goes all over the world. There is an invisible empire that connects all of us, every country – as long as there is a demand, there is a supply.”

This is also why, he said, Narcos could change its cast, characters as well as locations, and still continue.

mexico

Michael Pena plays a DEA Agent who witnesses the rise of the Guadalajara cartel in the 1980s that still operates today.

“The show has always been designed not to be of one person or one place, but to be a story of this invisible empire and how they’re connected – the traffickers in Asia are doing business with traffickers in Colombia, many of whom we’ve featured on our show.

“It is an extended universe that coexists throughout time and it connects to governments, banks, and law enforcements, and even some cultural movements. They’re all fuelled by, if not the cocaine itself, then, the money that the cocaine generates.

“The idea of this show from the very beginning was to illustrate that world. So no matter where we go, whether we go into Asia, we go to US, Europe, Africa it looks very similar.

“There is always a Pablo Escobar, Felix Gallardo and there is always a Kiki Camarena.”

Narcos: Mexico is now available on Netflix.

Entertainment – Star2.com

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The war against drugs continues with ‘Narcos: Mexico’

In the world of Narcos there’s no good guys; there are just bad guys and very bad guys.

“The show paints an appropriately complex picture of an enterprise that’s not as simple as bad drug traffickers and good police,” explained executive producer Eric Newman at an interview that took place during a two-day Netflix event at Singapore last week.

He was there with actors Diego Luna and Michael Pena to talk about Narcos: Mexico, which is a new chapter in the Narcos series.

The first three seasons of Narcos looked at the criminal activities in Colombia, specifically the drug trafficking ring run by Colombian drug kingpins like Pablo Escobar.

For its new season – rebooted as Narcos: Mexico – the story moves to Mexico in the 1980s when the city Guadalajara is about to become the base of operations for most of the major narcotics traffickers in North America.

At the centre of the tale are two men, the ambitious Miguel Felix Gallardo (Luna) – who would become one of the heads of the Guadalajara cartel – as well as an agent with the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Enrique “Kiki” Camarena (Pena) who’s posted to Guadalajara and witnesses the foundation of a drug enterprise taking shape.

As Kiki gathers intelligence on Felix, a tragic chain of events unfolds, one that affects the drug trade and the war against it till today.

Newman stated: “We very fairly depict the relationship of law enforcement and government (within this enterprise) because it’s incredibly implicit – the drug traffickers would not exist if not for corrupt politicians and law enforcement and of course the endless demand for cocaine that comes out of America, and also from all over the world.”

While Narcos is a drama, the key points in all of the chapters are based on real events.

To ensure the authenticity is intact on the show, the production team goes to where it happened.

All previous seasons were filmed in Colombia. Likewise, the cast and crew of Narcos: Mexico went to Mexico to film its 10 episodes, which features dialogues in both English and Spanish.

Pena, last seen in Ant-Man And The Wasp, pointed out: “The location becomes like another character in the show.”

Continued Newman: “It changed our process to actually be where it happened. Unlike Colombia, where we have reached the end of the violent chapter of the drug war, Mexico is still in the throes of it.”

Luna couldn’t agree more. The international star who was born in Mexico City said: “I still live in the country and the violence is ridiculous.

“To fix the problem, the conversation needs to be open; the way we look at the issue has got to be different because the (drug) market keeps growing … The show has a potential to be part of the solution.

“I hope people will get curious to dig a little deeper into this issue … it takes a lot for change to happen.”

mexico

Diego Luna, Eric Newman and Michael Pena pose for a portrait in Singapore.

Narcos was a global hit when it came out in 2015, and was nominated for multiple awards.

It is a kind of a show that would be easy to dismiss as it does humanise people who don’t deserve to be humanised.

“But at the same time Narcos presents a different point of view, and it forces viewers to not just slap the stereotype of a drug dealer to a character and realise there is a lot in play.

Newman expanded: “There is an evolution to the history of drugs, and it starts at one place and spreads, and goes all over the world. There is an invisible empire that connects all of us, every country – as long as there is a demand, there is a supply.”

This is also why, he said, Narcos could change its cast, characters as well as locations, and still continue.

mexico

Michael Pena plays a DEA Agent who witnesses the rise of the Guadalajara cartel in the 1980s that still operates today.

“The show has always been designed not to be of one person or one place, but to be a story of this invisible empire and how they’re connected – the traffickers in Asia are doing business with traffickers in Colombia, many of whom we’ve featured on our show.

“It is an extended universe that coexists throughout time and it connects to governments, banks, and law enforcements, and even some cultural movements. They’re all fuelled by, if not the cocaine itself, then, the money that the cocaine generates.

“The idea of this show from the very beginning was to illustrate that world. So no matter where we go, whether we go into Asia, we go to US, Europe, Africa it looks very similar.

“There is always a Pablo Escobar, Felix Gallardo and there is always a Kiki Camarena.”

Narcos: Mexico is now available on Netflix.

Entertainment – Star2.com

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The war against drugs continues with ‘Narcos: Mexico’

In the world of Narcos there’s no good guys; there are just bad guys and very bad guys.

“The show paints an appropriately complex picture of an enterprise that’s not as simple as bad drug traffickers and good police,” explained executive producer Eric Newman at an interview that took place during a two-day Netflix event at Singapore last week.

He was there with actors Diego Luna and Michael Pena to talk about Narcos: Mexico, which is a new chapter in the Narcos series.

The first three seasons of Narcos looked at the criminal activities in Colombia, specifically the drug trafficking ring run by Colombian drug kingpins like Pablo Escobar.

For its new season – rebooted as Narcos: Mexico – the story moves to Mexico in the 1980s when the city Guadalajara is about to become the base of operations for most of the major narcotics traffickers in North America.

At the centre of the tale are two men, the ambitious Miguel Felix Gallardo (Luna) – who would become one of the heads of the Guadalajara cartel – as well as an agent with the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Enrique “Kiki” Camarena (Pena) who’s posted to Guadalajara and witnesses the foundation of a drug enterprise taking shape.

As Kiki gathers intelligence on Felix, a tragic chain of events unfolds, one that affects the drug trade and the war against it till today.

Newman stated: “We very fairly depict the relationship of law enforcement and government (within this enterprise) because it’s incredibly implicit – the drug traffickers would not exist if not for corrupt politicians and law enforcement and of course the endless demand for cocaine that comes out of America, and also from all over the world.”

While Narcos is a drama, the key points in all of the chapters are based on real events.

To ensure the authenticity is intact on the show, the production team goes to where it happened.

All previous seasons were filmed in Colombia. Likewise, the cast and crew of Narcos: Mexico went to Mexico to film its 10 episodes, which features dialogues in both English and Spanish.

Pena, last seen in Ant-Man And The Wasp, pointed out: “The location becomes like another character in the show.”

Continued Newman: “It changed our process to actually be where it happened. Unlike Colombia, where we have reached the end of the violent chapter of the drug war, Mexico is still in the throes of it.”

Luna couldn’t agree more. The international star who was born in Mexico City said: “I still live in the country and the violence is ridiculous.

“To fix the problem, the conversation needs to be open; the way we look at the issue has got to be different because the (drug) market keeps growing … The show has a potential to be part of the solution.

“I hope people will get curious to dig a little deeper into this issue … it takes a lot for change to happen.”

mexico

Diego Luna, Eric Newman and Michael Pena pose for a portrait in Singapore.

Narcos was a global hit when it came out in 2015, and was nominated for multiple awards.

It is a kind of a show that would be easy to dismiss as it does humanise people who don’t deserve to be humanised.

“But at the same time Narcos presents a different point of view, and it forces viewers to not just slap the stereotype of a drug dealer to a character and realise there is a lot in play.

Newman expanded: “There is an evolution to the history of drugs, and it starts at one place and spreads, and goes all over the world. There is an invisible empire that connects all of us, every country – as long as there is a demand, there is a supply.”

This is also why, he said, Narcos could change its cast, characters as well as locations, and still continue.

mexico

Michael Pena plays a DEA Agent who witnesses the rise of the Guadalajara cartel in the 1980s that still operates today.

“The show has always been designed not to be of one person or one place, but to be a story of this invisible empire and how they’re connected – the traffickers in Asia are doing business with traffickers in Colombia, many of whom we’ve featured on our show.

“It is an extended universe that coexists throughout time and it connects to governments, banks, and law enforcements, and even some cultural movements. They’re all fuelled by, if not the cocaine itself, then, the money that the cocaine generates.

“The idea of this show from the very beginning was to illustrate that world. So no matter where we go, whether we go into Asia, we go to US, Europe, Africa it looks very similar.

“There is always a Pablo Escobar, Felix Gallardo and there is always a Kiki Camarena.”

Narcos: Mexico is now available on Netflix.

Entertainment – Star2.com

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Political tension at Taiwanese Oscars

Both the thoroughbreds and dark horses galloped to victory at this year’s Golden Horse Awards.

Unlike last year, when only one movie – The Bold, The Corrupt, And The Beautiful – struck the jackpot in taking half of the six leading prizes, with other rivals winning at most one, this year’s race was an open one.

At the event last Saturday (Nov 17), a different movie triumphed in the categories for Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

While iconic director Zhang Yimou finally came home first in the Best Director dash for his acclaimed wuxia flick Shadow, other contenders managed to come out of his big shadow – Shadow had 12 nominations – to reward their own punters.

The prestigious Best Feature Film prize went to An Elephant Sitting Still, about four people who seek solace from their problems and hunt for a mythical elephant.

Director Hu Bo, who was reportedly in a tug of war with the movie’s producers over creative control, committed suicide at age 29 in Beijing last year.

Last Saturday, his mother accepted the award on his behalf.

The Taipei audience hollered when Taiwanese actress Hsieh Ying Xuan lived up to her favourite tag by bagging Best Actress for her riveting performance in Dear Ex, reported Taiwan News.

“I will keep learning hard,” said Hsieh, who shed tears over her breakthrough in fending off four other contenders, including seasoned campaigners Sun Li (Shadow) and Zhou Xun (Last Letter).

For those taking a bet on which young blood could become a thoroughbred in future, the odds favour Taiwan’s Si Pangoyod, who clinched Best New Performer for his compelling role in Long Time No Sea.

Earlier this year, the 14-year-old had shown his pedigree, being named Best Young Actor at the Minsk International Film Festival in Belarus for the same role.

But amid the celebrations, the event – dubbed the Chinese cinema’s Oscars – was saddled with politics too.

Yue Fu, in accepting Best Documentary for Our Youth In Taiwan, said: “I hope one day our country will be recognised and treated as a truly independent entity. This is my biggest wish as a Taiwanese.”.

The BBC reported that awards presenters last Saturday used the word “China” several times to describe Chinese-language films and one presenter described Taiwan as “China, Taiwan”.

Gong Li, who chaired the jury this year, declined to be on stage with Taiwanese director Lee Ang to present the Best Feature Film award, reportedly because of earlier comments during the night about Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Beijing was also said to have asked all mainland Chinese attendees to boycott an after-ceremony party. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Winners at the Golden Horse Awards

Best Feature Film: An Elephant Sitting Still

Best Director: Zhang Yimou (Shadow)

Best Actor: Xu Zheng (Dying To Survive)

Best Actress: Hsieh Ying Xuan (Dear Ex)

Best Supporting Actor: Ben Yuen (Tracey)

Best Supporting Actress: Ding Ning (Cities Of Last Things)

Entertainment – Star2.com

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Mumford & Sons get ‘fifth member’ for latest album ‘Delta’

Ever been on a blind date with a rock star? How about four of them?

That was Grammy-winning producer Paul Epworth’s experience when he initially met up with Mumford & Sons to see if he and the four rockers could vibe, and possibly create not just music, but magic together.

“It was all a bit like a series of blind dates to see how we hit it off. It took us a couple of sessions before we found out what the best method was. The chemistry felt really good all throughout the process,” Epworth said.

“We went on a couple of dates,” said band leader Marcus Mumford. “We did sessions before Christmas, which led to pretty much the final version of the song called Slip Away, which is on the record. And we just felt like he was exactly the person we needed to help steer this ship for this fourth record. And we’ve never enjoyed recording more.”

The result is the 14-track Delta, released today.

The band started writing new music after the album Wilder Mind was released in 2015, even though one of the Delta songs is six years old. Mumford said they tried to re-work the old track “about 400 times.”

“It’s called Forever – ironically,” he said.

“It wasn’t called Forever before. After the 600th time,” chimed in Winston Marshall, who plays banjo and electric guitar.

Epworth was part of the solution. The band says when it didn’t know what to do, he did.

“They were open to giving me a bit of space to run with stuff (and) try out what I had in mind,” Epworth said. “It definitely made me feel like I was essentially a fifth member of the band.”

The London group said it was familiar with Epworth’s work – the producer is best known for crafting Adele’s monster hit Rolling In The Deep and also winning an Oscar with the British vocalist for the James Bond theme song, Skyfall.

Markus Dravs produced the band’s 2009 debut, Sigh No More, and its follow-up, 2012’s Babel, which won the album of the year Grammy. Both records reached multi-platinum status and launched hits on the pop and rock charts. Wilder Mind, produced by James Ford, still had rock hits but only went gold.

Epworth’s fifth member status proved invaluable for Delta, mainly recorded at Epworth’s The Church Studios in London.

“(Paul) would just come back one day and be like, ‘That is not your upbeat rock song. That is your downbeat piano ballad’. We’d be kind of just blindsided by the moments of sheer visionary,” said multi-instrumentalist Ben Lovett.

“Especially for a band of four collaborators – to have that person to help, decision tie-breakers, those sort of moments (are important),” Lovett added. “If it were to be that we kind of fell out with our producer, it would be fine because we could leave the situation. If we fall out with each other, we’ve got a major problem. Luckily, that’s been something we’ve been able to avoid.”

The songwriting process for each track on Delta varied – each of the band members worked on songs individually and then brought them to the group.

Mumford said over the years he’s learned how to be a better team player and let everyone’s voice be heard.

“In the old days, there was a sliver of immediacy and, I think, a slight immaturity, creatively. If someone else had a different idea, I personally had less patience for it than I do now,” he said. “Now, I trust these guys’ creative instincts so much. If they’ve got a different idea (and) it doesn’t chime with me straight away, I’m intrigued to see where it goes.”

One of the ideas that came from Lovett was If I Say, a beautiful, building rock song, where the string arrangement and orchestra shine brightly. Lovett said he wrote the song “in a dream that I had whilst I was going through a bunch of stuff.”

“I was halfway between grappling with a divorce but also being in a new relationship,” he continued. “The song questions a lot about commitment and about the power of commitment.”

Personal experiences are what drove the overall songwriting behind the album, bassist Ted Dwane said.

“We write autobiographically. A lot has happened to us in our personal lives in the past few years and the overriding theme felt like entering the world,” Dwane explained. “It felt like leaving the security of youth and innocence and manning up, basically.”

They said another way they were inspired to write new songs came from listening to other artists’ music in the studio.

“We’ll constantly be introducing each other to new music like, ‘Listen to this song here’ and we’ll turn it up loud,” Mumford said. “Wins and I once had a very late, quite drunken night in London, demoing for the previous album where we listened to (Don Henley’s) The Boys Of Summer about five times really loud and then tried to record our own. We called it Lads Of Summer. It’s a monstrosity. We should have put it on the record though.”

“Maybe on the next one,” Marshall said. “By the way, I (expletive) love that song.” – AP

Entertainment – Star2.com

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Remember Akademi Fantasia’s Kaer & Amylea? They’re back!

Akademi Fantasia alumni Kaer (Season Two) and Amylea (Season Three) may not have won the local reality singing series all those years back but they were among the contestants that showed the most promise.

However, after the hype of the competition wound down, Kaer and Amylea slowly fell out of the radar.

“I have a few passions in life – singing, interior design, fashion and anything to do with the arts. So, after my first album, 2007’s Menjelma, I left for Jakarta and enrolled in a design school,” shares Kaer, who now owns an interior design firm and a fashion line.

The 33-year-old lived in the Indonesian capital for 11 years and returned to Malaysia for good last year.

“Music has always been on my mind,” assures Kaer, who released two more albums in 2009 and 2012. “I performed a bit, only when I had free time.”

All that is changing beginning this year with the release of Tak Pernah Hilang, a duet with Amylea, which has garnered significant attention and is among the 30 songs competing at the Muzik Muzik semi-finals.

“Now, I’ve pushed everything else aside and I’m concentrating on my music. I’m back in the industry,” Kaer announces.

As for Amylea, she has never stopped pursuing a music career but in a behind-the-scenes capacity.

“I’ve always wanted to be a producer, even when I joined AF. My idol is Alicia Keys. She’s a songwriter and producer. I want to be able to perform and produce songs for other singers. I become a better artiste when I do more than just singing.”

The 32-year-old has been writing and producing music for other artistes since 2006 and even set up a company five years ago.

She specialises in writing music for drama series and has produced 16 official soundtracks to date, amounting to some 50 songs.

She also develops new talents, recently signing girl group Pandoras to her company.

“I need to prove to my new talent that I can do it so that they know that they can too,” she talks about coming back into the spotlight with Tak Pernah Hilang.

The song is slightly different from the power ballads local listeners are used to hearing. Instead of big, dramatic choruses, it sports a breezy, easy-listening vibe.

“In the past few years, it feels like (we keep hearing the) same sort of music and melody. There isn’t as much variety as there was before,” Amylea says.

“We hope Tak Pernah Hilang creates an awareness that music doesn’t have to be just a certain way.”

Entertainment – Star2.com

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Malaysian corporate figure Tan Sri Razman Hashim swings it like Sinatra

Eminent corporate figure and former banker Tan Sri Razman Hashim can really swing it on the stage!

In his 70s and having had no vocal lessons, he is a born singer although he humbly declares that he’s fortunate to have a professional band of musicians willing to back him on stage.

Despite his age, this Frank Sinatra fan has an incredibly “young” voice that belies his age. He delivers his tunes so effortlessly, naturally and impeccably.

If not for this recent interview, I would not have guessed his age just from listening to his CD, Come Swing With Me, which he gifted me. I would not have guessed that he is a Malaysian and not a Westerner.

On June 17, 2011, he was appointed to the Board of Sunway. Presently, Razman is Sunway Group’s executive deputy chairman. He is also on the Board of Trustees for the Selangor Symphony Orchestra.

Razman has more than 38 years’ experience in the banking industry. For 35 years, he was with Standard Chartered Bank, and worked in their offices in London, Hong Kong and Singapore. He retired in June 1999. In same month, he was appointed as chairman of MBF Finance Berhad by Bank Negara Malaysia as its nominee until January 2002 when MBF was sold to the Arab-Malaysian Group.

Razman said that although he has liked music since his early teens, he is very selective about what he listens to or sings.

“I don’t understand the music of today. I don’t know what they’re singing or shouting about,” said Penang-born Razman, who prefers “old jazz”. His favourite singers include Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Louis Armstrong. “When they sing, the listener can feel the passion in their voices.” Razman likes music with good lyrics that tell a story.

He got into singing quite by chance. He said: “I was at a friend’s place and he was practising on his keyboard. He played a tune I knew so I started singing. He then invited me to sing with him – and that’s how I got started.”

Over 10 years ago, Razman sang for the first time in public. It was at an event called Tribute To Sinatra at No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur’s leading jazz bar. Another show he did was Remembering Sinatra. Thereafter, requests came in for him to sing – which he did, and he enjoyed it!

In the past, Razman took part in several charity concerts, including the Alzheimer’s concert a few years ago where he sang with accompaniment by The World Orchestra. He has also performed with the Selangor Philharmonic Orchestra.

A memorable moment was when his jazz CD (containing his rendition of Sinatra’s songs) was launched in the presence of the Sultan of Perak and the Sultan of Selangor. Collections were made in favour of Mercy Malaysia and Yayasan Chow Kit.

Razman, who is also Jeffrey Cheah Foundation Trustee, will be performing at the Foundation’s An Evening Of Jazz With Razman concert on Sunday, at Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, accompanied by The Seasons 4, The Big Jazz Band of Lewis Pragasam, and Prof Don Bowyer. These are internationally acclaimed artistes who have performed in the international arena.

Tan Sri Razman in his element, belting out Sinatra’s songs. Filepic: The Star

It will be Razman’s first concert with the Sunway Group, and some 300 guests are expected to attend. Said Razman: “I am proud and humbled that the sought-after and well-known musicians are playing for me as they would play for top artistes.”

The VIPs of the night will be the Sultan of Selangor and the Sultan of Perak. Funds raised with be donated to Mercy Malaysia for the Palu Relief Fund.

(More than 300,000 people of Palu, Sulawesi, were displaced due to the earthquake and tsunami recently. It was reported that about 400 lives were lost, with hundreds more injured. There are still a lot of families who do not have electricity, proper housing or enough food.)

A big fan of Sinatra’s, Razman counted himself “very fortunate” to have heard his icon sing live, twice.

In 1961, then a student in Australia, Razman bought himself a ticket to Sinatra’s concert. “I booked the most expensive front-seat ticket using my entire month’s allowance. I had to wash plates in a Chinese restaurant for three weeks to make up for it, but it was worth it,” he recalled.

In the late 70s, Razman, a working young man, caught Sinatra’s show in Las Vegas in the United States.

Razman does not practise his singing for hours before going on stage and neither has he gone for any voice training. His has a natural talent for singing.

In the old days, he would go to the karaoke with friends. “But not now,” he said, as he is too busy.

Aside from music, he loves collecting artworks (particularly abstract works). He has about 30 old artworks by several local artists, mostly collected before they became famous. In his collection are works of Datuk Ibrahim Hussein, Datuk Sharifah Fatimah, Yusof Ghani, Khalil Ibrahim and Tan Choon Ghee.

After a hard day’s work, Razman has his dinner, watches the news, and then “plays his music softly”. “When I listen to my music, I give it my full concentration until I fall asleep,” he quipped, adding that music is a way of de-stressing and he finds it very relaxing.


The concert An Evening Of Jazz With Razman will be held on Nov 25, at 3.15pm, at Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. For details, go to jeffreycheah.foundation.

Entertainment – Star2.com

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The war against drugs continues with ‘Narcos: Mexico’

In the world of Narcos there’s no good guys; there are just bad guys and very bad guys.

“The show paints an appropriately complex picture of an enterprise that’s not as simple as bad drug traffickers and good police,” explained executive producer Eric Newman at an interview that took place during a two-day Netflix event at Singapore last week.

He was there with actors Diego Luna and Michael Pena to talk about Narcos: Mexico, which is a new chapter in the Narcos series.

The first three seasons of Narcos looked at the criminal activities in Colombia, specifically the drug trafficking ring run by Colombian drug kingpins like Pablo Escobar.

For its new season – rebooted as Narcos: Mexico – the story moves to Mexico in the 1980s when the city Guadalajara is about to become the base of operations for most of the major narcotics traffickers in North America.

At the centre of the tale are two men, the ambitious Miguel Felix Gallardo (Luna) – who would become one of the heads of the Guadalajara cartel – as well as an agent with the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Enrique “Kiki” Camarena (Pena) who’s posted to Guadalajara and witnesses the foundation of a drug enterprise taking shape.

As Kiki gathers intelligence on Felix, a tragic chain of events unfolds, one that affects the drug trade and the war against it till today.

Newman stated: “We very fairly depict the relationship of law enforcement and government (within this enterprise) because it’s incredibly implicit – the drug traffickers would not exist if not for corrupt politicians and law enforcement and of course the endless demand for cocaine that comes out of America, and also from all over the world.”

While Narcos is a drama, the key points in all of the chapters are based on real events.

To ensure the authenticity is intact on the show, the production team goes to where it happened.

All previous seasons were filmed in Colombia. Likewise, the cast and crew of Narcos: Mexico went to Mexico to film its 10 episodes, which features dialogues in both English and Spanish.

Pena, last seen in Ant-Man And The Wasp, pointed out: “The location becomes like another character in the show.”

Continued Newman: “It changed our process to actually be where it happened. Unlike Colombia, where we have reached the end of the violent chapter of the drug war, Mexico is still in the throes of it.”

Luna couldn’t agree more. The international star who was born in Mexico City said: “I still live in the country and the violence is ridiculous.

“To fix the problem, the conversation needs to be open; the way we look at the issue has got to be different because the (drug) market keeps growing … The show has a potential to be part of the solution.

“I hope people will get curious to dig a little deeper into this issue … it takes a lot for change to happen.”

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Diego Luna, Eric Newman and Michael Pena pose for a portrait in Singapore.

Narcos was a global hit when it came out in 2015, and was nominated for multiple awards.

It is a kind of a show that would be easy to dismiss as it does humanise people who don’t deserve to be humanised.

“But at the same time Narcos presents a different point of view, and it forces viewers to not just slap the stereotype of a drug dealer to a character and realise there is a lot in play.

Newman expanded: “There is an evolution to the history of drugs, and it starts at one place and spreads, and goes all over the world. There is an invisible empire that connects all of us, every country – as long as there is a demand, there is a supply.”

This is also why, he said, Narcos could change its cast, characters as well as locations, and still continue.

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Michael Pena plays a DEA Agent who witnesses the rise of the Guadalajara cartel in the 1980s that still operates today.

“The show has always been designed not to be of one person or one place, but to be a story of this invisible empire and how they’re connected – the traffickers in Asia are doing business with traffickers in Colombia, many of whom we’ve featured on our show.

“It is an extended universe that coexists throughout time and it connects to governments, banks, and law enforcements, and even some cultural movements. They’re all fuelled by, if not the cocaine itself, then, the money that the cocaine generates.

“The idea of this show from the very beginning was to illustrate that world. So no matter where we go, whether we go into Asia, we go to US, Europe, Africa it looks very similar.

“There is always a Pablo Escobar, Felix Gallardo and there is always a Kiki Camarena.”

Narcos: Mexico is now available on Netflix.

Entertainment – Star2.com


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