Disney has recently released its own version of a real-life Mulan film which has come under heavy criticism globally creating a Boycott Mulan movement.
There are various reasons why they are boycotting the movie, which I can’t be bothered to get into here, but as the film makes it’s way around the world the more calls there are for boycotting it. Chinese State Media slammed it and it hasn’t been too successful there. It’s about to be released in South Korea and there are calls to boycott it there.
I saw some discussion about a Mulan movie that was made in 2009 so we decided to check that out.
About The Film
I guess everyone knows the story of Mulan, where Hua Mulan goes into the army to replace her ailing Father as a female disguised as a male, and rising up the ranks to become a commanding officer.
I recognised some of the cast instantly, most notably:
Vicki Zhao (赵薇) who played Mulan. She was previously in the two Red Cliff movies both of which were awesome.
Aloys Chen (陳坤) who played Wen Tai. He was previously in The Rise of Phoenixes, a Chinese drama on Netflix.
Hu Jun (胡军) who played Men Du. We previously watched him in the first season of Ever Night.
So, a really impressive cast list.
Review of the Film
Some western review sites gave it an average rating but Chinese sites gave it around 8+ out of 10. I agree more with the Chinese rating.
The acting was really good, you just can’t go wrong with the cast they had chosen. I believe they made the film what it was.
I thought the film was very well done, it was darker and grittier than I had thought it would be. There was some violence which I didn’t enjoy but closed my eyes during those bits. There are usually many strong female characters in Chinese films but this was done particularly well where Mulan was trying to deal with the emotional impact of the horrors of war and the loss of her love interest (allegedly).
The cinematography was quite well done, especially portraying the vast number of soldiers and the wide-open spaces.
I wasn’t too keen on the ending of this movie. I haven’t seen any other Mulan films and maybe this is what happens but had preferred something else.
So, I would rate this film a 4/5. I can’t compare it against the Disney version but at least this one not being made by Hollywood it would portray Chinese culture in a much fairer way.
Ever Night is a popular Chinese television series made by Tencent. The first season aired towards the end of 2018 and the second season started airing in January 2020. I understand it is a three-part book called Nightfall.
Note this review contains spoilers.
A family is massacred and Ning Que escapes managing to survive on the run and then one day discovers a young girl called Sang Sang who he swears to protect no matter what. Later on, it is discovered that Sang Sang is actually the reincarnation of mysterious Yong Ye who, upon her return, is supposed to wreak havoc on the world ie nightfall.
About The Series
The first series contained a total of 60 episodes, not unusual for a Chinese drama, but series two much less, 43 episodes. Numerous actors did not sign up for series two as they went on to star in other productions, most notably Arthur Chen who played Ning Que. In season two Dylan Wang played the character much to the excitement of his fans, he is a well-known actor, singer and model. Dylan Wang became most famous internationally for his role in Meteor Garden (this can be seen on Netflix). Yang Chaoyue reprised her role as Sang Sang in season two.
For us, Arthur Chen was more suitable for the role of Ning Que than Dylan Wang. Dylan did a fantastic job, it’s really difficult to take over a role that another actor had started. Arthur went onto do Legend of Awakening which we are currently watching. Some of the other replacement actors included the Emporer and his daughter, both characters had changed significantly as a result. The show was still watchable though and we tried not to let it bother us too much.
Season Two was much more fast-paced than the previous one, I wonder if this was because they condensed the show into 43 episodes only. However, the action sequences and special effects were top-notch.
There were many shocks during the series and many of the characters in the Tang Dynasty were killed. This seems to be the case with Chinese television and cinema, the characters you fall in love with the most they are not frightened of knocking off.
If I was in charge of making the series I would want to explore some of the relationships and characters that didn’t have enough attention in the first season, such as those in the Academy.
I’m not sure who did the translation for the series but there were quite a few discrepancies, luckily I can speak some Mandarin to notice what they are. That seems to be the case in many Chinese series, in Mandarin they refer to the character by their title ie Teacher but it’s translated as Sage or their name.
The final 2-3 episodes were a bit odd, in parts I didn’t really understand what was going on until it suddenly twigged then I am doubting myself if I got it right. I’ve seen some other chat online about how confused they were. Maybe we’ll find out in season three.
Just prior to COVID they were at the stage of choosing cast members for season three but I’ve heard nothing since. I’m not sure what they are filming in China right now, lots of companies were affected by the virus and some smaller ones went bankrupt. So, we’ll continue to hope for it’s return soon.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty impossible to avoid US election silly season no matter where you are in the world but there are ways of filtering it out a little.
They say that election campaigning actually being the day of or day after their inauguration, while I’m not sure that this has been true in the past it certainly feels like since 2016. I really have more important things to do than being sucked into US chaos.
So, here is how I am avoiding the US right now.
It’s important to know what’s going on in the news but that doesn’t have to be US focused all the time, there are more things happening than what that supposed “superpower” is doing.
The main way I see news is through RSS feeds. Many news websites still have them even though they don’t advertise them. Often you can paste a URL into an RSS reader and it will self-discover the feeds. I have feeds set up for the BBC, Canadian newspapers and TV news, local news from the UK and so much more. Some RSS readers have options to display just the headline or the first two lines of the articles as well.
So, which RSS reader do I choose? Actually I switch between a couple but here is a list of ones which are pretty good:
Netvibes (RSS Reader and can be used as a general Start Page)
News Blur has a limit until you have to move to a subscription model but it does have apps. I prefer the interface and multiple view options that Netvibes offers.
This is a brilliant video by Chris Were on News Blur:
It’s not so easy to avoid the US watching television news, where ever you are in the world channels seem to have a blind fascination with the country. There are ways to trim that content down though.
First, don’t watch US cable TV news channels like CNN, Fox and MSNBC, much of their content isn’t really news but editorials with a never-ending supply of so-called experts interspersed with adverts to cure Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Secondly, avoid international stations that target the US market. I am thinking of BBC World News and Russia Today, both of which package their content with US news as a priority. I do enjoy BBC World News but I really want to hear more news from home, the UK, or at an international level.
Thirdly, consider watching TV news that broadcasts live online from channels outside the US, such as:
There are also many other news streaming services within and outside of YouTube.
Remember this: No radio station is local anymore. It used to be the case many, including myself, would buy a Shortwave radio to listen to broadcasts from overseas. Many of the stations were run by governments though which for me put fears of being fed propaganda.
These days many radio stations will stream their service online. For me this has opened up a whole new world of news and cultural entertainment especially as Canadian radio has a typical US style of broadcasting intermixed with hundreds of adverts which doesn’t make them at all listenable. It would take me forever to list all of my the stations I enjoy listening to but simply doing performing a internet search can find a great selection to suit anybodies interest.
I highly recommend signing up for a free account at TuneIn who pool many radio station feeds on their site.
As every Twitter user can testify to there is a flood of politically charged content on this platform right now, the majority of it is angry and offensive. So there are ways to filter out some of the vulgarities but there is no way to make it go away for good.
1. Avoid the platform altogether. I believe there are many who are taking this strategy at least until the election is over. This is most likely not an option for some people as they use Twitter for marketing or even an income source.
2. Place those you follow into lists then view them in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. Those in lists may never speak about politics, for example, comic shops or companies.
3. Unfollow users who constantly talk about politics. I know many who do this from the time they get up to the time they go to sleep.
4. Mute accounts until the elections are over. You can still go to their accounts and see their content but it will not cram up your main timeline.
5. Mute words and phrases. You can go to town with this feature and it partly does work although sometimes you will see a placeholder in the timeline where you content doesn’t appear. See video below on how to achieve this.
This TEDx talk is quite good and to quote John Noonan verbatim “people now digest news to validate their own thoughts”. There is so much anger out there it frightens me off contributing to social media platforms but I try to focus on subjects that are either jovial or informative. Unfortunately, everyone wants to say their piece on politics so the less chance there is that people will find my content unless they are specifically interested in that subject.
I’ve not done one of these reports for a long time and it seems the world is still in chaos. I don’t know what to make of it all except just ignore it and dive into my own life shutting off the outside as much as I can.
British Columbia Update
Here are some snippets from what’s been going on here:
Many wildfires, some caused by lightning strikes. Seems they are moving families back to their homes now.
COVID19 cases continue to rise with record breaking numbers on a daily basis. Since 6th July they started to rise and increase on a daily basis, there are minor drops here and there but then it goes up. Total cases to date is 5,242.
Unfortunately there has been 925 COVID19 related deaths as of today.
Reported today a COVID19 outbreak in a local hospital, seems there was only 1 case but still alarming.
Most alarming news is the deaths from illicit drug overdoses, 175 during July and around the same numbers in recent past months. Highly disturbing.
Here are some snippets that I have been keeping an eye on or trying to avoid:
Number of COVID19 cases and deaths still continue to rise in the US. Doesn’t seem like the current administration really cares.
US is in its election silly season, I am trying to ignore it. Most of it is terribly offensive and it seems pretty much all their own problems are set aside just to regain power.
The US vs China fight continues. Both countries slagging each other off constantly. I don’t see any end to it.
The UK seems to be in a mess but maybe not as much as the US. Not sure if I have any confidence in the current government there.
Climate change appears to be tearing the world apart in various pockets of countries. I can’t see much is being done, maybe on the back burner due to COVID19.
Canada has a new opposition leader and Trudeau enters another scandal.
What’s Happening With Me
For work I have a couple of major projects on right now, I guess it keeps me out of mischief.
We are still wary about going out but stores and restaurants are opening more including our favourite local Chinese. Many people aren’t bothering to social distance or wear masks.
Spare time has been spent on training myself. Some online training but the easiest is viewing short tutorials on YouTube. It’s easier for me to learn if I am actually working on a project of my own rather than being taught something that is not relevant. I have to feel as though I am achieving something this year and this is one way of doing it.
I don’t feel I am sleeping that well which makes me agitated during the day.
I have learnt plenty of lessons being on Twitter for quite a few years now and have built up my own social media etiquette.
I think of Twitter as a newspaper, I am the Editor responsible for my own content and ensuring it reflects my brand and thoughts, but at the same time hopefully of interest to other people. There are certain areas I am a subject matter expert in but I tend to share a large breadth of commentary on a large range of content. I am trying not to pick up bad habits of others on the platform and I detail some of these here.
I’m asked quite often to share, or retweet, other people’s content so it “becomes viral” for them. I don’t take any notice of these requests.
If the posting is awesome I will share it without being asked and I’m sure others will do the same. I also believe in reciprocal arrangements on social media, if someone is constantly asking me to share their content, but they don’t share any of mine, then it’s not really collaborative.
Retweeting Your Own Tweets
There is one newspaper that does this constantly, I see the same article at least 5+ times a day. They do the same on Facebook too. I have actually muted people who do this as it becomes tedious to see so many repeats in my timeline.
Having said that when people strategically retweet at a certain time this can generate more clicks and engagement. However, there is always a danger that while more clicks might be gained there is always a possibility that you would lose followers.
Be Strategic, Not Angry
There are certain tweets or users on Twitter that I certainly want to keep at a distance because they are either always angry and often offensive.
There are certain behaviour patterns I don’t care for and I will either mute or unfollow:
Shouting (writing in caps)
Putting down others looks, weight, sexuality, gender, ethnicity etc
Extreme views on politics
I rarely tweet on the fly now, I type it out, schedule it to go out in advance, think about what I said, and edit it if necessary. If I say something that is not quite correct which someone points out to me in a constructive manner I will give them my thanks and send out a correction, just like a newspaper would (should) do.
For me it’s important to cite sources of the content or research that I am referring to in my Tweets, someone has gone to a lot of trouble working on something and I want to be able to give them credit it for it. I will definitely link to their website if they have one, and their Twitter handles. I see this more in the scientific community as there is a code of practice when writing research which I try to reflect on social media.
There are many who call themselves “subject matter experts” on Twitter, but they clearly aren’t, who will steal work and not provide credit to the original author. I don’t like this practice at all especially when many could have the imagination to create their own work.
A profile is Anonymous or Lacking in Detail
I try not to follow or engage with anonymous people. If people are proud of their work they should be upfront in who they are. There are many anonymous profiles on Twitter because they have legitimate reasons to avoid the authorities, but they could be bots, or more likely they want to be vulgar producing a huge array of obscenities.
There is a huge range of guidance online to help beef up your brand on Social Media and elsewhere, it’s worth doing to come across as a more credible resource and someone you would want to know.
I am not an emoticon person and many people have a deluge of them in their tweets. As an older geezer, I have no idea what they all mean so I don’t read the tweet. I will sometimes use emoticons in bullet points on twitter from a visual appeal perspective, but not to form parts of a sentence. I guess it depends on how wide people want their tweet to go since there is a certain part of the population would, maybe, understand all these emoticons.
There are quite a few naughties around hashtags, these are my “prefer people didn’t do” list:
Hashtag every single word
Hashtag incorrectly, not on keywords
Place trending hashtag’s on a tweet just to get it seen by others. So, the trending hashtag could be #banana but their tweet is about apples, but still use #banana.
Flashing GIFs or Videos
Sometimes Twitter users will share high speed flashing gifs on social media but they can trigger epileptic seizures in others. Some do this on purpose but hopefully, the majority of people are unaware of the effects of these gifs. It’s worth just thinking about this when posting graphics online.
Me, Me, Me, Me, Me
Constant self-praising and saying how fabulous they are can be fairly tedious on Twitter. Telling people how awesome they are is less self-indulgent and viewers will think “oh what a kind person he/she is” which encourages them to follow.
On Twitter, I’ve seen someone: a. I wrote this, isn’t it fabulous, it what everyone should want to read, b. retweet the same thing, c. retweet again saying “the article is talk of the town, I’ve received so many positive replies on twitter” (which they didn’t), d. wait an hour and retweet again saying how fabulous it is…and so it goes on.
Follow to Advertise
Many companies are now following others online just to grab their attention to their product or service. Then some will follow them back. In turn, the company will then unfollow them as the deed has been done – generate more followers.
I don’t follow anyone back unless their content aligns with my interest groups, I am not tempted to “follow back” on auto-pilot.
Unnecessary Direct Messages
These fall into several categories:
DM to say thanks for the follow, these are often automated
DM to say “please follow me”
DM to sell something to me
My personal preference is to receive DMs from existing friends only. I don’t like talking to customer service departments via DMs, companies should have their own self-service website that provides me with a tracking ticket number or at least live-chat via a logged-in environment.
Double World is a Chinese movie that was released this year, it very quickly appeared on Netflix.
Note this review contains spoilers.
The film derived from a very popular online game. Set in fictional Central Plains which consists of ten nations. A neighouring country is said to becoming more and more powerful so a warlord organizes a competition to see whose the strongest.
About The Film
It was first released in Hong Kong in 27 December 2019 then was released in the US on 24 July 2020 and that was straight to Netflix. It’s just a tad over 1hr and 50min in duration. It was produced by China Film Group Corporation (CFGC), Filmko Film Co. and Giant Pictures with Netflix Netherlands receiving the distribution rights.
Henry Lau as Dong Yi Long – Henry is a very popular Taiwanese-Hong Kong Canadian singer-songwriter, producer, and actor. His acting portfolio is increasing of late. [Instragram]
Peter Ho as Chu Hun – Peter is a Taiwanese-American singer and actor and was born in Los Angeles. He was raised in Taiwan and Canada.
Chung Him Law – this is the only actor I recognized through his appearance in the film Little Q and TV series Tiger Cubs. He is a Hong Konger with a large film and TV show portfolio behind him. [Instagram]
I’ve seen many mixed reviews about this film, many give it between 8.5 – 10 but some would like to give it minus points. I suspect this was due to the high level of action and special effects than story-line. Some complained that is was a showpiece for Henry Lau but not sure that was the case.
The special effects were good with a few glitches here and there. Other reviewers were more or less thinking in the right direction about the script, didn’t have to use too much brain power with the film. There were a couple of female leads who unceremoniously got killed off at different times of the movie. I’m not sure what the purpose of knocking them off was, they could have quite easily left them in to enhance the script further.
It was good to see Chung Him Law in the film, I am pleased he finds different roles to excel in although he could have played a more pivatol role in the cast.
I have to admit I did enjoy some of the buildings they had created for the movie especially an outdoor elevator, who knew the Chinese invented those (?).
For the past 26 weeks, we’ve been watching the TV series Salvation on Netflix, actually, I quite enjoyed it.
A rich technology genius, Darius Tanz, joined forces with an MIT graduate, Liam Cole, to try and stop an asteroid that is due to hit the Earth in 60 days time. The intense story line is interspersed with relationships between the central characters.
About The Series
The series ran between 2017 to 2018 over 2 seasons and 26 episodes. The first season was made in Toronto and the second season in Vancouver. The series was commissioned by CBS but they cancelled it in November 2018.
The series had a mix of Canadian and British actors in the series with the odd American thrown in. The main cast over the two seasons were:
Santiago Cabrera – known for his role in The Musketeers as Aramis now in Star Trek Picard
The second season was better than the first mainly because it was fast-moving and action-packed from each episode to the next. They had obviously put a lot of effort into the series with regard to sets, some special effects and a challenging storyline thrown in.
I wouldn’t have classed it as 100% science fiction as it had a general drama, espionage, strange cult and soap opera quality to it as well. There were technology and some special effects on the show but it was more in the background.
Some of the soap opera type content seemed a bit much, who is having an affair with who, whose baby is it, broken relationships that get back together then break up again.
I thought Santiago Cabrera was much better in this series than he is in Star Trek Picard, I guess he is the lead actor in Salvation as he should be at this stage in his career. The only other actor I knew was Ian Anthony Dale who played Adam Noshimuri in Hawaii Five-0 – he was also better in Salvation although both his characters had a certain borderline evil trait about them.
All in all they did a grand job with the series and I would definitely recommend it.
I’ve always wanted to create a Dallas TV Show parody of the British TV Soap Opera Crossroads. Being in lockdown due to COVID19 and wanting to learn video editing software created some time for me to do this. This is the final product:
How It Was Made
The most challenging thing to me was creating a parody, keeping to the original feel of the show, and I, of course, felt a sense of responsibility not to upset the many fans out there.
I used two video software programs to make this video, Aimersoft and Adobe Premiere Pro.
In Aimersoft I cut out chunks of clips from episodes that I would use in the parody. I had to transfer them from 4:3 to 16:9 aspect ratio format so it would have a modern feel about them. Many of the episodes didn’t really pass the quality check so I had to abandon them.
In Adobe Premiere Pro I performed most of the editing. I hadn’t really used the software before, apart from very basic stuff, and I had never been on a training course, so it was fairly challenging. Parts of Premiere Pro was easy to learn, some weren’t as there are so many options all over the place.
Deciding what clips from the shows I should use were extremely challenging. There were over 4,800 episodes to choose from. I had to decide what were the most prominent moments in the soap opera’s history:
The Motel fire
Nutty Rosemary trying to kill David Hunter
The Christmas sing-a-long
Farewell to Meg
Then I wanted to include as many true actors that were loved by the fans. Crossroads was prominently linked to Noelle Gordon and Jane Rossington to me, they were the show, so they feature heavily in my parody.
I didn’t just want to include the actual edited Dallas theme in itself, I thought about some extras. So I included the ATV logo to start off, modifying it from 4:3 to 16:9 worked out really well.
In many episodes of American soap operas, prior to the intro theme, there is a “what’s going to happen in this weeks show” teaser, at least there was back in the early days of Dallas, Knots Landing and Falcon Crest. So, I decided to include my own mash of moments from particular episodes, mainly to the events that led up to the Motel fire.
How Long Did It Take?
It took roughly 30 hours to make. Most of that time was taken up by finding and editing clips from the shows and learning Premiere Pro. Luckily, YouTube is a good resource for mini-training videos, I totally couldn’t have completed the end product as quickly as I did.
I am totally not happy with the video. I think I’m a total perfectionist and could have done so much better in various spots. But, I did learn so much and this has given me the inspiration to produce other videos.
Tracking protection in Firefox browser went a bit further than I had predicted. I tried to figure out why certain functions in websites weren’t working and then discovered it was due to tracking.
My first issue was the lack of graphics and videos not showing in my Hootsuite timeline, this is one example where it left a blank placeholder where the picture is supposed to appear:
It took me ages to figure out why this was happening then I discovered someone else discussing this in a Mozilla forum. So, all I did was take off tracking protection and all my graphics returned (note, turn on to off after clicking on the purple shield to the left of the address bar).
Then I realised I had a similar problem in WordPress where Twitter embeds weren’t showing up, they were in other browsers but not in Firefox. I saw a placeholder for the embed but nothing was being fed into it.
Same again, turn off tracking then the feed appeared.
My tracking configuration in Firefox is pretty strict which is most likely the reason why some websites are breaking. I want to keep this custom setting but at least now I know how to fix it for certain websites I visit.
After a very moderate year so far the hot weather has arrived here in BC. Today we are in the 30C’s and the humidity level seems quite high, really stuffy.
The statistics speak for themselves regarding how COVID19 is doing:
81 new cases over this past weekend
Total number of cases now 3,500
2 new deaths
Active cases = 264
Hospitalization = 11
ICU = 3
We heard today that the temporary closure of a Real Canadian Superstore due to a staff member being tested for the virus. This is one of the stores where staff do not wear masks or social distance. This behaviour I do find troubling and puts me off going out as they people can’t behave themselves. [Source: News1130]
The top headlines I have heard are all round COVID19 and the rise in numbers globally especially in the United State. The World Health Organization has reported a rise in global numbers. Governments want to get back to normal to improve the economy with people going back to work and sending children back to school somehow but it seems that comes with a price.
One of the most tiresome news stories come from the recommendation by health care experts to wear masks. There are people who refuse to wear them, and I’m not sure why, in the US something about it breaking their constitutional right not to wear them, in the UK I can’t determine what their reason is or why they came to that conclusion. There is a large anti-vaccine movement so many will not have the COVID vaccine when it finally arrives. The world feels like madness.
The other global news headlines are related to the continued spat between the United States and China. Each country has their fair share of human rights abuses but China clearly much worse. I suspect it’s not just the US but other western countries that are becoming very fed up of China who are becoming extremely aggressive along with their bad behaviour. I can’t see that there is a path to resolve matters between the two countries and I suspect the relationship will deteriorate further.
It’s now less than 100 days to the US election so silly season down there has truly started which of course has an impact on the world. So there is so much going on it’s difficult to deal with things so I think its best to stay in my own bubble.
I have some new work that I have picked up from a client I have done business with now and again, that is good news. More the better.
We have been going out about twice a week, always on a Friday to do the shopping for the week ahead but sometimes during the week when we have forgotten something or the need arises. Since it’s so hot we’ll likely do shopping very early in the morning.
I am pleased we can sit outside in the shade to have our lunch every now and again. Our home is quite cool compared with others in the neighbourhood so we are comfortable.
I have been training myself on various programs in Adobe, ones I haven’t used before and there are many of them. All very good skills to have even though I’m of very advanced age now.
I feel quite comfortable and content with plenty to keep myself occupied.