Archive | May, 2010

DYING FOR HER DEBUT

21 May

FIRST INTERVIEW
DYING FOR HER DEBUT
IT IS only her first film role, but it may also be the toughest one she’ll ever play.
By Juliana June Rasul
May 21, 2010
 
 

IT IS only her first film role, but it may also be the toughest one she’ll ever play.

For local TV actress Suhaillah Salam, it couldn’t have got much lower than, well, being lowered into a grave.

In the new Malaysian horror film 2 Alam (Two Worlds), which has no definite release date yet, she plays not only a transgendered character but also a corpse.

Indeed, she spent over eight days on one scene which involved her being cleansed, wrapped and buried the Muslim way.

If that wasn’t enough, the 32-year-old was groped – or at least looked like she was being groped – in two sexually-charged scenes.

In the film, Suhaillah plays Amy, born as Adam, whose life ends tragically.

When his body is taken back to his village for burial, strange things begin to happen.

The movie also stars Suhaillah’s former Cinta Bollywood co-star, Aaron Aziz.

A lesser actress may have baulked at the role, but after getting over the initial shock, Suhaillah said she buckled down to prepare for it.

Her first task? Reading the script over and over again to make sure she understood the character.

But she discovered she had little difficulty identifying with the character: She has known people like Amy all her life, she said.

Challenge

The challenge of playing a corpse was also something she handled with ease.

‘Of course, initially, there was some worry about actually having to go into a grave,’ she told FiRST at 2 Alam’s press conference recently.

‘But I didn’t fear it at all. Why are people scared? You’ll be there one day. You’ll have to experience it anyway.’

The film’s directors, Ed Zarith and Hairie Othman, ‘did not skip any of the parts’ involved in burying the corpse.

‘We went through the whole thing. It was a bit creepy, but I just had to be patient,’ she said.

The experience of playing dead left her feeling sombre and thoughtful, wondering about her late grandparents.

‘I also started to think about friends of the same age who have passed (on),’ she said.

There were also other controversial scenes Suhaillah had to deal with, like appearing as if she was getting touchy-feely with her male co-stars.

Sex scene

One sex scene in a car made her nervous because of the intimacy required between her and actor Faizal Hussein.

Faizal, though, told her ‘not to worry’, and she said he made sure he didn’t touch her at all.

Although she appears nude in the scene, Suhaillah said she was wearing a full bodysuit and jeans.

‘As much as I like to push the envelope, I also have my limits.

‘But it’s great that you can’t see it. It means we’ve successfully tricked everyone!’ she said with a laugh.

Another scene, where she had to bodysurf through a crowd in a club, was managed ‘very professionally’ by the cast and crew on set: The extras were allowed to touch her only in specific places.

Though she doesn’t purport to be liberal, Suhaillah said she forged ahead with the role despite its tough requirements because she had already committed to it and went into the shoot with eyes wide open.

Filming was done in 22 days in Kedah.

Although she was a well-known local personality almost a decade ago, Suhaillah is named in the 2 Alam’s publicity materials as a newcomer.

This could be because the former MTV VJ left the entertainment scene in 2006 to live in London with her Scandinavian husband and their two children.

She returned to Singapore last year, and eased herself into the public gaze.

Said Suhaillah: ‘I go away, I come back, do a few dramas and then I get to do a movie. My name is there, and next to me is Aaron. It feels so surreal.’

 

The NewPaper

Kalau Nak Kahwin Saya Beritahu… Zamani

20 May

Ditulis oleh Rosli Manah
  
  

Selama Zamani menyepi banyak gosip pasal dirinya. Antaranya kisah kononnya Zamani berkahwn dengan seorang gadis Kelantan. Zamani menafikan gosip tersebut.

Malah kata bekas penyanyi utama kumpulan Slam itu, dia tidak akan menyorok pasal perkahwinannya apabila masanya tiba nanti. Tapi sekarang Zamani belum ada perancangan ke arah itu.

 

“Saya tidak kisah apabila ada gosip macam itu. Saya tak ada jawab kepada semua sebab kalau kita panjangkan pun tak ada guna sebab benda kosong kan.

“Insya-Allah, saya tak berani nak kata bila, kalau sudah jodoh saya sampai saya akan beritahulah, walaupun saya tak buat majlis sekalipun saya akan jemput. Benda ini  akan keluar dari mulut saya sendirilah,” kata Zamani kepada Mangga Online.

Zamani sekarang kembali menemui peminatnya setelah lagu single barunya,. Terima Kasih mula diputarkan di radio dan mendapat sambutan menggakkan. Dia juga mula mengadakan persembahan pentas dan show di TV.

“Saya akan mengeluarkan album baru dalam masa terdekat ini. Sebenarnya saya dah rakam enam buah lagu. Pada awalnya mahu keluarkan album mini sahaja, tapi apabila pihak syarikat nampak sambutan sangat menggalakkan, saya diminta menambah rakaman lagu lagi untuk terbitkan album penuh, sebab itulah album tidak dapad dipasarkan lagi.

“Saya masih menyanyi dan tak hilang, saya tak ada lagu baru dan tak ada cerita yang nak diberitahu, jadi saya senyaplah,” katanya apabila ditanya pasal penyepiannya selama ini.

Zamani juga salah seorang artis yang akan memeriahkan Karnival Suara Malaysia anjuran akhbar Mingguan Malaysia di Plaza Angsana, Johor Bahru, Johor pada 29 dan 30 Mei depan. Mangga Online bertndak selaku portal rasmi.

Mahu bawa album ke Jakarta

Zamani dsan Slam pernah popular di Indonesia malah sehingga sekarang namanya masih diingati oleh peminat di sana. Zamani juga berhasrat untuk memperkenalkan album barunya ke sana kerana nampak peluang untuk kembali menghiburkan peminat seberang.

“Ada peminat di sana yang dah tahu saya akan muncul dengan album baru. Kalau ada peluang saya akan cuba bawa album baru ini ke sana,” ujar Zamani.

 

 

 

 

 

Mangga Online

Treasures That Transcend Time

17 May

Fly on the Wall

SK-II Timeless Miracles Exhibition
Treasures that transcend time
By Sylvia Toh Paik Choo Just Paik Choo
May 17, 2010
 
 

WHAT, after all, is timeless for you?

Definitely not time itself, fleet and swift it is with every passing year.

But if you had to, pick and choose something that transcends time and space for you, what would it be?

Thirty brand ambassadors, loyal users, and passionate advocates, were invited by beauty brand SK-II to share their timeless possessions in an exhibition.

The Timeless Miracles Exhibition is to commemorate SK-II’s 30 years in the skincare business. And can be viewed by the public in VivoCity next month.

We got an advance peek. From porcelain sculpture to abandoned flowers, the ocarina to Rubik’s Cube, stars like Hong Kong actor Simon Yam and his model wife Qi Qi had a rummage in the proverbial attic for a personal timeless item.

In our own backyard, watercolours, a copy of Thomas Hardy’s Tess, art deco handbags, wooden chest, eternity rings, leatherbound notebooks, a dress, all evoke a treasure trove of timeless memories.

Corporate lawyer Tan Min-Li’s teddy bear Rufus is ‘a symbol of a happy childhood growing up in peaceful Singapore.’

Keith Png of Hide & Seek boutique chose organza silk ‘for its history, dating back 3,500 BC.’

Fashion show director/producer Daniel Boey lent a trio of silver cups, sporting trophies from his father’s swim wins collection. ‘Forty years on I am still shaped by what they stand for – be the absolute best in everything you do.’

Sulian Tan-Wijaya of Savills offered her painting of New York city. ‘I painted it in 1979, hard to imagine the skyline of the city that never sleeps has hardly changed since.’

A minute’s silence here for the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

Celebrity make-up artist Andy Lee is a big fan of the timeless actress Audrey Hepburn, ‘She is the epitome of timelessness, not just for her films, but her humanitarian work.’

Fashion designer Wykidd Song picked his favourite pair of jeans riddled with wear and tear. ‘It remains my go-to for just about any occasion.’

If your name’s Wykidd Song you could wear it most anywhere without causing a ripple.

What’s interesting is, not one of the 30 personalities selected to exhibit a sake bottle.

Because it was in a sake brewery that the miracle of SK-II’s pitera ingredient was born (from the yeast fermentation process).

Kanpai, anyway.

 

The NewPaper

FROM TV TO STAGE

17 May

Will the move boost careers of S’pore Idols?
FROM TV TO STAGE
By Juliana June Rasul
May 17, 2010
 
 

THEY have brought crowds to their feet with vocal swagger. But acting?

TAUFIK BATISAH IN FRIED RICE PARADISE

That’s going to be an interesting challenge for Idol winner Taufik Batisah and second season runner-up Jonathan Leong.

On Aug 20, Taufik, 28, will don a helmet wig and flared trousers to play Johan, the guy-next-door with a heart of gold in an update of Dick Lee’s Fried Rice Paradise musical. It will be the first time he is acting since the Idol drama Shooting Stars in 2005.

And on June 17, Leong will tackle both songs and spandex as the lead for the first big theatrical production at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), Voyage de la Vie. It will be a Cirque du Soleil-type show with Leong handling acrobatics, music and acting on stage.

For these Idols, who inspired fan adoration during the show, it is an opportunity to grow their star power, says Hype Records boss and Singapore Idol judge Ken Lim.

Already established in the Malay music industry, Taufik now has a chance to be ‘branded as a local personality’ through his role in Fried Rice, said Lim.

Leong is returning to the public eye after a long post-Idol break, and Lim said the exposure will ‘make him accessible’.

As the person who oversees the careers of both Taufik and Leong, Lim said their involvement in musicals are a natural extension, rather than a distraction.

— PICTURES: SINGAPORE REPERTORY THEATRE, RESORTS WORLD SENTOSA

For Leong, 27, his return to the public eye on such a large scale begs the question: Where has he been all this time?

After Idol, he completed his degree at the National University of Singapore and then for two years took vocal lessons, studied acting and taught himself how to play musical instruments like the guitar. He has also been brushing up on his Mandarin. All of which should serve him well in what would be the role of a lifetime in Voyage.

‘Looking back at Idol, I’m actually not happy with how my voice sounded. It was only later that I realised that if I wanted to take this career seriously and stay in this industry, I need to better myself,’ he said.

He said that after Idol, he was fielding offers to do acting work on TV and in theatre, all of which he rejected. ‘I felt like I wanted to take up projects that I myself would want to see. I was examining options, and seeking out a proper career route.’

Voyage, he said, came at the right time. He was cast in the role last year, and has already been through eight months of acrobatics, acting and vocal training.

To have Leong on the traditional pop star career path of putting out albums would have been ‘ridiculous’, said Lim.

‘That sort of thing is not really viable in Singapore. We don’t have the market for it.’

JONATHAN LEONG IN VOYAGE DE LA VIE

Instead, with Voyage, Leong will be seen every day, for months, by both a local and international audience.

Show director Philip McKinley said there is ‘hope that this made-in-Singapore production will eventually travel far and wide, not just within Asia but to Europe as well’.

Being accessible

Lim said that being accessible is also a key concern in Taufik’s career, despite the numerous trophies and promising album sales under his belt.

‘Taufik’s career, so far, has been focused on the Malay music industry. With the musical, we are trying to build him as someone with local branding,’ he said. ‘Fried Rice is something that everyone can go and see.’

Dick Lee, who is directing the updated version of his own musical, originally staged in 1991, said that he has no qualms about Taufik’s lack of stage experience.

‘This is a chance for people to see how much charisma he has,’ said Lee.

‘Pop singers who migrate to theatre may not be very experienced in acting on stage, but great charisma and talent, of course, go a long way in making them stand out.’

Taufik thinks his new venture is a ‘natural progression’.

‘The challenge will be to not play myself,’ he said.

‘I like to try something new every year, and this will be it. It will definitely prepare me for other parts of the entertainment industry which I’m looking to explore.’

 

The NewPaper

HORROR’s LATEST HOTTIE

15 May

FIRST INTERVIEW
HORROR’S LATEST HOTTIE
A cutie pie in a horror film usually screams a lot, runs around and eventually gets killed.
May 14, 2010
 
 

Not Malaysian actress Liyana Jasmay.

She discards her real-life bubbliness to play the sinister Laila in Ahmad Idham’s new horror film The Curse of Niyang Rapik, which opens here today.

Liyana plays the village beauty who captures the attention of some college students, who are in town to do archaeological work.

When the boys return to the village years later, after one in the group dies from a mysterious ailment, Laila is still there – but this time keeping a dark secret.

Liyana starred in the original TV series that inspired the film, which was also directed by Idham.

Although she admits to being a ‘scaredy cat by nature’, the 22-year-old put aside all her fears to research for the role – which involved hours and hours of quality time with Thai, Korean and Japanese horror movies.

‘I had to figure out how to channel evil without being overt about it,’ she told FiRST over the phone from her home in Kuala Lumpur.

Research

On Idham’s advice, she sought out movies like 2005’s Long Khong (Art Of The Devil), about a teacher who seeks revenge on her students through black magic after they play a prank onher.

But all the homework couldn’t prepare her for dealing with the actual creepiness of the filming location, Tasik Kenyir in Terengganu.

The cast and crew stayed on boats for a week and access to electricity was limited.

Liyana was accompanied by her mother, as happens for most of her acting gigs that require her to travel outside of Kuala Lumpur.

‘As Liyana Jasmay, I would never do that – I’d never go on a boat, go fishing. But it was a great experience and something I can take with me for future roles,’ she said.

Without electricity, there was not much else to do but hang out with her co-stars, Fizz Fairuz, Zed Zaidi, Awal Ashaari, Shaheizy Sam and Kamal Adli.

But even with five guys on set, there was no off-set joking as the cast was warned by Idham ‘not to do anything stupid’.

Niyang Rapik is not Liyana’s first horror film, despite her aversion to ghosts and horror.

She also starred in 2008’s Histeria, helmed by Malaysian indie director James Lee.

‘That was more gruesome horror. This is creepy horror,’ she said. ‘The mood is different. I don’t think I prefer any kind of film over another.’

She’s a fan of Idham’s other horror films, 2007’s Jangan Pandang Belakang (Don’t Look Back) and 2008’s Congkak , and doesn’t rule out working on more.

Great style

‘I think Idham has a great style, and a vision for his movies. He’s not afraid to be challenging,’ she said.

Her previous projects includes smaller projects like Kami The Movie and Afdlin Shauki’s Papadom, for which she won Best Supporting Actress at the Malaysian Film Festival last year.

Despite her rising popularity, Liyana has been doing only one or two films a year because she is determined to complete her studies.

She is a second-year student at Sunway College in KL, studying performance and media.

She took a year’s break from school last year to focus on her film career, but is now focused on graduating.

‘It’s something my whole family has done – all my four siblings have either a degree or a diploma,’ she said.

Not content with an already packed schedule, Liyana is also trying to juggle a singing career.

With classes only on Mondays and Wednesdays, she is usually free to shoot for most of the week or do performances on the weekends.

She’s keen on trying to make both work together and be a Miley Cyrus for Malaysian tweens.

‘I’ve always wanted to be an idol for kids. In Malaysia, we don’t really have young singers like Miley or Avril Lavigne. My goal is to give kids good pop songs, with good messages.’

Liyana says she has never entertained the idea of dropping out of school to be a full-time star.

‘This way, I have a normal life besides acting. I have a normal life by going to college, and hanging out with my friends. I’m happy to have both lives,’ she said.

Juliana June Rasul

 

The NewPaper

Cannes Film Festival Opens

13 May

CANNES, France: Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett sashayed up the red carpet on Wednesday as Cannes kicked off a 12-day frenzy of star-studded premieres, parties and provocative arthouse films from across the globe.

The Mediterranean sun beamed down as celebrities marched into the festival palace for a gala screening of Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood”, featuring Crowe as the legendary English outlaw and Blanchett as love interest Lady Marian.

Sean Penn, the Rolling Stones, Naomi Watts, Woody Allen and Jean-Luc Godard are among the A-list celebs expected in this chic French Riviera resort before Tim Burton’s jury awards the Palme d’Or top prize on May 23.

“Cannes is great glamour, great craziness. There’s nothing like it in the world, not even the Oscars,” said British actress Helen Mirren as she arrived wearing an off-the-shoulder black sheath dress and diamond earrings.

Thousands of star-watchers cheered as celebs like Eva Longoria, Bollywood beauty Aishawrya Rai-Bachchan, and Salma Hayek filed in to watch “Robin Hood,” whose director was unable to make Cannes because of a knee injury.

Crowe hinted at a press conference earlier Wednesday that a Robin Hood sequel might be in the offing, saying that so far there were no definite plans but that if he was asked to reprise the role, “then great, let’s do it.”

The star of Scott’s muddy, bloody blockbuster said he was undaunted by the previous films in which big names like Errol Flynn and Kevin Costner played the archer-turned-outlaw who steals from the rich to give to the poor.

The movie by Scott is a “back story” that presents Robin as a repentant soldier returning from the Crusades in the Middle East to defend a disunited England against the invading French.

“At Robin’s heart is a simple thing: he is distressed by the unnecessary suffering of other human beings,” said Crowe. “I think that is an age-old thought process.”

Blanchett joked that “I always wanted to be Robin Hood rather than Maid Marian but the part was taken.”

Movie fans and industry suits were also massing in the palm-lined resort for the launch of the 63rd edition of the festival, whose heady cocktail of deal-making, glamour and art makes it the top film event of the year.

“Robin Hood” is screening out of competition, like another major Hollywood film, Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”

Stone’s movie sees Michael Douglas reprise his 1987 role as corporate raider Gordon Gekko – who coined the phrase “Greed is good” – getting out of jail and warning Wall Street of impending financial disaster.

Nineteen films are in the race for the Palme d’Or, including works by major arthouse names like Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami and Britain’s Mike Leigh and Ken Loach.

Loach, who scooped the Palme in 2006, made a late entry on Monday with “Route Irish,” a movie about British security contractors in the Iraq war.

The only US film in competition for the Palme this year, “Fair Game” by “The Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman, starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, looks at the former US government’s bid to smear CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Cannes 2010 will also see premieres of films by Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Japan’s Takeshi Kitano. US film-maker Woody Allen, 74, and New Wave icon Jean-Luc Godard, 79, add to the largely veteran line-up.

Asia has a strong showing in the race for the Palme, with two entries from South Korea – “Poetry” by Lee Chang-dong and Im Sang-soo’s “The Housemaid” – and with China and Thailand also represented.

The French government meanwhile called on Iran to immediately release jailed filmmaker Jafar Panahi and allow him to take his seat as a member of the Cannes jury.

Panahi, 49, has been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since March 1, reportedly because he was making a film about the disputed 2009 Iranian presidential election. – AFP/de

Channel News Asia

Quality Porridge

12 May

Makan Sites
Quality porridge
Good food for less at Balestier hotel
By Yeoh Wee Teck
May 12, 2010
 
 

WHILE some major restaurants in town are struggling to draw customers, a smaller one seems to have none of that problem.

SIMPLE FARE: The porridge buffet spread at Quality Hotel isn’t much but it pulls in the crowds.

PICTURE: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

When I turned up at Quality Hotel on Balestier Road on a Thursday night to check out the Taiwan porridge promotion, it was packed. The restaurant – Quality Cafe – was buzzing.

The place lived up to its name, because the food didn’t disappoint.

If you factor in the price, it is really quite a good deal.

The buffet spread isn’t big – about 20 dishes – but you’ll get prawn, duck and a selection of tasty dishes.

There was also a chicken curry on the night I was there.

I thought it was a strange addition (how do you eat curry with porridge?) but it was easily one of the best dishes that night.

The curry is spicy enough but not overwhelmingly so. It has a pleasing richness.

It’s served with an old-school loaf – popularly known in Hokkien as jiam tao lo ti (literally, sharp head bread) – and the experience brought me back to my childhood.

The sides dishes didn’t surprise. Everything you would expect was there – the salted egg, the condiments and other usual suspects like squid, beancurd and more.

I was surprised, however, to find a ‘live’ station with cooks rolling popiahs for you.

The popiah was not amazing but it was a nice touch.

An even bigger surprise was the porridge.

You cannot imagine how many porridge places take pains to provide excellent side dishes but neglect the porridge.

Here, the porridge is thick and almost creamy – exactly how I like it.

And considering the price, the porridge is on par with what is offered at some of the better restaurants in town.

The buffet is $11.80 on weekdays and $13.80 on weekends.

And it gets crowded rather quickly, so either get in early to grab a table or make a reservation before you go.

FYI

WHAT: Taiwan Porridge Buffet at Quality Cafe

WHERE: Quality Hotel, 201 Balestier Road

WHEN: 6pm to 10pm

CALL 6359-6856

Sushi? No, that’s ice cream

HAVE you tried the sushi at Haagen Dazs?

No, the ice cream chain hasn’t gone into Japanese food, but they’ve done something visually interesting.

It looks like sushi but it’s not.

It’s all ice cream.

The Sushi Platter ($22) consists of ice cream nuggets.

It’s a platter of four items, with a mango and passionfruit ‘sushi’, strawberry ‘gunkan’, kiwi ‘gunkan’ and a mango sorbet ‘sushi’.

And the final touch?

‘Wasabi’ in the form of a scoop of green tea ice cream.

It looks gorgeous and tastes really good too. It’s indulgent, so if you feel the need to pamper yourself, this would be ideal.

Call 62881181 to find out your nearest outlet.

Magnum goes Gold

ANOTHER ice cream in the news is the new Magnum Gold.

This luxe ice cream has a new flavour. It is Madagascan vanilla with sea-salt caramel and it is coated with milk chocolate.

At just $3.90 a bar, it is affordable enough for a quick indulgence.

Beef or cheese? You choose

WHEN you are hungry, want everything and can’t decide, go for the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese, or QPC.

The QPC is a classic burger with a large beef patty (the name indicates its weight) and two slices of melted cheese.

It is about 110g of meat served on a toasted sesame seed bun with ketchup, mustard, crispy pickles and onions. It is available from $4.60.

If you’re really hungry, get the Double QPC at $6.10.

Here’s how you can win a QPC T-shirt from McDonalds. Log on to http://www.facebook.com/ mcdquarterpounder to vote for ‘Beef Rules!’ or ‘Cheese Rocks!’.

Closing date is May 23.

Each week, 500 lucky voters can each win a limited edition Beef Rules! or Cheese Rocks! QPC T-Shirt.

 

The NewPaper

‘Cicak Man’

12 May

‘Cicak Man’
Director Yusry takes on a legend in latest movie
By Juliana June Rasul
May 12, 2010
 
 

IT IS a ‘story that’s never been told’, says its director.

PICTURE: KRU STUDIOS

And who else should bring it to you but the guy behind Cicak Man?

Yusry Abdul Halim, one third of legendary Malaysian boy band KRU and now bonafide movie director, is all set to unleash his biggest project, an epic war film a la Troy.

The RM8 million (S$3.45 million) film is called Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa (The Malay Chronicles: Bloodline) and it involves Roman soldiers and the Kedah royal family.

Confused?

The Malay legend goes that a warrior by the name of Merong Mahawangsa, a descendent of Alexander the Great, makes the journey from Rome to China, only to be attacked midway by the Garuda, a large mythical bird.

The contingent of Romans fight a battle on Malayan soil and Merong Mahawangsa eventually establishes a royal family in what is now Kedah and part of Thailand.

The film will be released later this year.

After an eight-minute trailer was shown at the European Film Market in Berlin, the film’s distributor, KRU Studios, sold distribution rights to 25 countries, including the UK, Russia and France.

The film has also been picked up for distribution in the US, thanks to an MOU signed with Universal Studios, according to a report in The Star in March.

Yusry, 36, spoke about the film when he was here in March for a fan meet-and-greet at the Singapore Expo, in conjunction with the release of a new self-titled compilation album.

The Malay Chronicles, in both Malay and English, is his biggest film to date, having taken almost two years to produce, with more than 300 cast and crew, including actors flown in from the UK and stunt experts from Hong Kong. It was shot last year in Terengganu.

But, said Yusry, it is a project of love, a story he wanted to tell.

‘I’d always wanted to explore a story from our Malay legends,’ he said.

But he thought the original legend was a bit ‘far-fetched’ and decided to tweak elements to make the film more believable.

Alexander the Great’s lineage is kept because Yusry felt it was ‘romantic’, but he changed the mythical Garuda bird to a pirate.

There will still be plenty to gawk at when the film comes out.

Yusry commissioned four actual-sized ship replicas to be built – a Chinese junk, a Roman ship, a pirate ship, and a traditional Malay ship called a ‘jentayu’.

An epic movie, though, needs ‘four thousand ships, not four ships’.

And as he has done with his previous films, Cicak Man and Jin Notti, Yusry is at work on the CGI himself, with a small team at the KRU Studios.

The CGI, he promised, would not be a simple ‘cut-and-paste’ job, where the ships and extras are replicated endlessly on screen.

‘There’s some 3-D camera work involved, so that we could capture the ships from different angles,’ he said.

There will be plenty of eye candy too – the film features a mix of new faces and Malaysian veterans.

UK warriors

Yusry and his team travelled to the UK to cast for the warriors ranged against Malaysian veterans like Khir Rahman, Craig Fong, Deborah Henry and Rahim Razali.

Their leading man is Malay-Welsh actor Stephen Rahman-Hughes, who also starred in the musical adaptation of Puteri Gunung Ledang.

Casting took ‘a long time’, because of the various parts that needed to be filled, including that of a romantic lead, a Chinese princess.

Yusry even auditioned some Singaporean actresses but it ‘didn’t turn out well’.

The role eventually went to mainland Chinese actress Jeng Lu.

Yusry spent about a year on pre-production, including multiple re-writes to the script, and the elaborate set and costume designs.

When filming began, there were days when the director would have to deal with more than 300 extras.

‘It’s quite a miracle that we came in under the RM10 million we’d budgeted,’ he said, comparing it to the RM20 million that Malaysia’s first big budget epic, Puteri Gunung Ledang (2004) cost.

He attributes that to a strong team that stuck together despite the hardship of filming in Terengganu for two months with few breaks.

‘Shooting is never smooth, especially with such a large scale movie,’ he said.

‘Emotionally, everyone was away from home for two months, and it was just work, work, work. No leisure time, no family, girlfriend, boyfriend.

The final cut of the movie, which he hopes to finish by mid-year, will be just under two hours.

‘I don’t want it to be a yawner. There are a couple of epic battle scenes, with more than 10 people battling each other, though of course on screen it looks like thousands,’ he said with a laugh.

Although he acknowledges that the subject matter may be heavier compared to his previous movies, action flick Cicak Man and supernatural comedy Jin Notti, he hopes it will still be great popcorn fare in theatres.

‘It’s action, with culture. It’s not that heavy, it’s fun,’ he said.

Still a KRUger

NOW that Yusry Abdul Halim is MrDirector, what’s happened to his singing career?

Yusry, 36, his brother Norman and Edry, made up one of Malaysia’s most popular boy bands, KRU in the ’90s.

They’ve since branched out into music production, artiste management and, of course, film-making, consolidating all their businesses under their company, KRU Studios.

But if fans are worried they’ll never sing or rap again, Yusry has some news – KRU is intending to record a new album soon.

Their last album, 10 Di Skala Richter (10 On The Richter Scale) was released in 2006. Since then, they have been tied up with movies like Cicak Man and Jin Notti.

‘Also, we wanted to take a break because our previous recording deal (with label EMI) had us releasing an album a year,’ he said. ‘That made it tough for us to do anything else.’

Yusry said there is also sometimes a disconnect between his new role as director and that of the pop star, Yusry KRU, as he is still fondly known.

‘I don’t know if fans can really believe me if I’m promoting a song called Dr Pakar Cinta (Dr Love), and at the same time I’m a director,’ he said.

‘But sometimes I have to be Yusry the celebrity,’ he said, grimacing a little.

But he’s not ready to be Yusry the Married Man again any time soon. His high-profile marriage to singer and actress Erra Fazira (below, left) ended after three years in 2006, and Yusry says he’s not impatient to go down the aisle again.

‘At that time, I told myself I had to get married before I was 30. So I got married on my 30th birthday,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to do the same thing to myself.’

Now, he dates, but puts no pressure on his relationships.

‘The last girl I saw, I let it go with the flow. It’s like, if you’re okay with my work, great. But if you’re not, I understand,’ he said.

‘What I really am is just selekeh (messy), T-shirt and jeans and I just want to go into the office and work, work, work,’ he said.

He’s ‘not really’ dating anyone now and is not actively looking.

After his first marriage, Yusry said he has come to realise how important it is to ‘take things as they come’.

‘You can’t force things. If it happens, it happens.’

 

The NewPaper

Playboy To Feature 3D Centrefold

12 May

WASHINGTON : Playboy readers are going to need glasses for a close look at the upcoming issue of the magazine – 3D glasses.

The centrefold picture in the June edition of Playboy will be in 3D, Playboy spokeswoman Theresa Hennessey said Tuesday.

“It’s definitely eye-popping,” Hennessey said of the 3D centrefold featuring 2010 Playmate of the Year Hope Dworacyzk.

“There’s a wine glass that she’s holding and when you stand back with the glasses on that comes right out at you,” the spokeswoman told AFP. “You really feel like you’re, so to speak, in the pictorial with her.”

A pair of 3D glasses like those that helped the film “Avatar” shatter box office records will be included with the issue of the magazine which hits US newsstands on Friday.

Playboy’s first 3D centrefold comes about six months after the magazine ran a photo spread featuring a cartoon character – a scantily clad Marge Simpson from the hit television show “The Simpsons.”

“We’re constantly trying to do new creative, innovative things to engage our readers,” Hennessey said. “But I don’t think we’ll be having 3D centrefolds in every issue.”

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner said he “wanted to create a 3D pictorial for the very first issue of Playboy, but didn’t have enough money to include the 3D glasses.

“I think Playboy fans will enjoy seeing our Playmate of the Year’s true form,” Hefner added in a statement.

– AFP/il

Channel News Asia

One Last Hurrah For A-Ha

6 May

One last hurrah for a-ha
Norwegian group which sang iconic hit Take On Me leaves us with memorable videos
By Seto Nu Wen
May 06, 2010
 
 

WE’RE not sure who will be mourning this.

FINAL NOTES: Morten Harket, of the Norwegian pop group a-ha, performs during their Ending on a High Note tour in Argentina in March. PICTURE: REUTERS

Norwegian trio a-ha has called it quits after three decades of music and 35 million albums sold.

The split was first mentioned last year.

And as the group wraps its final tour, Ending On A High Note, later this year, it’s interesting to look back at all the high notes the band has hit.

Critics often mock how the group – made up of Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar – was a one-hit wonder.

After all, was there anything else beyond its iconic 1985 hit Take On Me? The answer is yes.

Sadly, while the band’s music tends to be relegated to 80s compilations, a-ha remained productive till last year when it released its ninth studio album, Foot Of The Mountain.

Buoyed by Harket’s dreamy good looks and his dulcety five-octave vocal range, the band produced some stand-out pop tunes – The Sun Always Shines On TV, The Living Daylights, Stay On These Roads and ICall Your Name, to name a few.

Don’t forget, back in 1991, it set the Guinness World Record for drawing the most number of people at a ticketed event at a Rio de Janeiro concert, beating crowds for Guns N’ Roses and Prince.

But what put a-ha ahead of its time in the 80s was its hit music video for Take On Me.

Directed by Electric Dreams director Steve Barron, the video, which combined pencil-sketch animation and live-action, scooped six MTV Video Awards.

And in a MySpace survey of 1,000 music fans released on Monday, it was voted the No. 4 most influential video in pop music history, beating Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Fatboy Slim’s Weapon Of Choice.

Since that debut video, a-ha has been pushing the envelope when it comes to its video ventures. Here are our top five:

Cry Wolf (1986)

Based on the Aesop fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the video tells of a little boy who rallies the town folk to fight a wolf threat, only to find that there is nothing.

Directed by Barron, the video was unique in its use of special effects where the band was made to look like it was part of a pop-up storybook.

Little boy, magical storybook, fantasy world – very Neverending Story, which was a big thing in the 80s.

Move to Memphis (1991)

This could easily have been a-ha’s sexiest video. First, Harket got his hair all grown out ala Fabio, baring his chest and looking like he belonged on the cover of a teen romance book.

The video was also shot in black and white, with close-ups of beautiful men and women, including one where a crossdresser ripped off his fake eyelashes.

The highlight, though, was a cameo by pouty-lipped, gap-toothed French actress Beatrice Dalle.

Velvet (2000)

This song off the Minor Earth Major Sky album was made especially haunting by its accompanying video.

It depicted Harket as a dead man in a bathtub after he was killed by his girlfriend. Later, with his body in mock rigor mortis, he continued strumming his guitar.

Directed by One Night At McCool’s director Harald Zwart, it was slammed by critics for the way it dealt with death.

Lifelines (2002)

The video for this understated song was based on a 1991 Norwegian short film A Year Along The Abandoned Road.

The original film depicted a driver through Borfjord, a semi-deserted fisherman’s village in northern Norway, using time lapse photography of footage taken over a 100 days.

The final result – modified to fit the song – was breathtaking, but also emphasised the song’s bleakness.

Celice (2005)

A couple making out, a stripper twirling on a dancefloor and a pregnant woman caressing her belly.

These images were what made this song from the Analogue album so controversial.

The video handled the more provocative images deftly – shooting the scenes through ultraviolet lens.

 

The NewPaper