Read how Adam Sandler’s latest silver-screen outing, You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, which also features the scriptwriting team from last summer’s sleeper hit, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, fares with us!

Official trailer:

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Three research ships break through Arctic ice near the North Pole [Photo courtesy of The Telegraph]

Reports like these surface: 

It appears that the dire consequences of global warming are bearing down fast on our generation, in spite of the numerous efforts which have been set in place to step up action against practices which are bound to destruct the Earth.

The signs are there. The possibility of the complete melting of the Arctic ice cap as early as this year has compounded with the earlier reported issues of rice shortage / oil shortage / quirky weather patterns (floods in India during a dry season and vice versa; extremely hot summers in the US, just to name a few).

On the individual level, perhaps it is really time for us to listen, to leave our complacency and procrastination aside, and to get out of our comfort zones. And actually ‘go green’. The rising sea levels the melting Arctic ice is bound to result in will certainly cause catastrophic damages to the world, so what next?

At the rate things are going, perhaps it will not be so surprising after all if Nostradamus’ end-of-the-world prophecy in 2012 actually comes true.

Lucky Number 13 of our Movie Review series goes to the silver-screen adapation of Sex And The City, or SATC, as it is more affectionately known. The movie has crystallised the four lead characters from the hit television sitcom as icons in modern pop culture – Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) with their flamboyant outfits and witty dialogue. Read how this big screen effort fares with us!

 

The past year has seen an NSF going AWOL from camp with a SAR-21 rifle and live ammunition, a limping JI terrorist making a toilet break from custody, and an attempted breakout from the Subordinate Courts making headlines around the world.

A new addition to the fray, however, is a security lapse at Changi Airport, though thank goodness this did not arise as a result of a deliberate escapade. Interestingly, Singapore is so well-known for its security that this lapse even made the papers in Azerbaijan.

Here’s a quick recap of the story:Changi Airport - Security Passport Lapse

  • Retiree Ang Heng Soon (61) checked in at the Tiger Airways counter using his son’s passport, which he had grabbed by mistake in his hurry to catch the flight
  • The counter officer issued him a boarding pass in his own name.
  • The Certis Cisco Airport Police officers on duty checked Mr Ang’s boarding pass and the passport he was holding before clearing him for entry into the restricted area
  • Mr Ang failed the fingerprint verification checks at the enhanced Immigration Automated Clearance System and could not pass
  • The Immigration Duty Officer did a ‘face-to-face verification’ and cleared him to go
  • Mr Ang realised the folly only on his flight to Ho Chi Minh City where he owned up to immigration authorities there and he was placed on a return flight to Singapore.

Deputy Prime Minister / Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng is naturally, not a very happy man. It is difficult to foresee him actually being happy with the recent unfolding of events which has tarnished Singapore’s squeaky-clean reputation as a security-tight state.

Obviously, he should be taken to task for this (as well as the many lapses which occurred under his charge), instead of delegating the blame down the command chain and emerging relatively unscathed, which is probably akin to soldiers trying to fight a war with their commander retreating to his bunk and watching primetime television.

Have all calls against complacency and for utmost vigilance gone unheeded in the wake of the recent escapades? It remains to be seen the punishments which will be meted out for the airport officers, though some sackings and demotions will certainly be in the air.

Instead of talking about the “should have”s or “should have been”s, what next for the ICA? What will the “review” of the security systems and processes which DPM directed the Ministry HQ’s Homefront Security Division to front throw up?

These are definitely questions which have to be answered.

Japan’s status as a modern industrialised nation has, pretty much, not affected their crime rate over the past years (though criminologists do readily attribute the conditions of modernisation and industrialisation to growing crime rates).

This is in spite of the high profile murders which have shocked the nation over the past decade or so, such as:

  • Aum Shinrikyo or Aleph, a new Japanese religious movement responsible for the deadly sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subways in 1995, as well as several police shootings and stabbings within the same year.
  • the murder of a 11-year-old boy (strangled and decapitated) and a 10-year-old girl (bludgeoned to death) by a then-14-year-old schoolboy in 1997, who has since been released on parole
  • the hijack of a Japanese bus by a 17-year-old user of online forum 2channel in 2000, with one passenger being stabbed to death.
  • the Sasebo slashing, the murder of a 12-year-old schoolgirl by her 11-year-old classmate in an elementary school in 2004, which involved the slitting of the victim’s throat and arms with a box cutter
  • the murders by Yukio Yamaji, who killed his own mother in 2000. Upon being released on parole, he then raped a 27-year-old woman and her sister prior to murdering them in 2005

However, violence in Japan seems to have taken an unprecedented turn for the worse, going by the numerous reports on the stabbing sprees which have surfaced over the past month alone.

It seems that the Internet has become the go-to channel for potential killers to make their intentions and death threats known on forums, prior to the stabbings themselves. The motive remains unclear, as to whether the persecuters were merely gunning (no pun intended) for their own thirty seconds of fame prior to the killings, or whether they were attempting to channel some character from the media in their murder attempts.

Following the arrest of Mr Kato, who embarked on a knifing rampage on June 8, taking the lives of seven people and wounding 10 others in the process, the nation has been on an alert for copycat crimes.

And rightfully so, it seems, with an unparalleled number of people posting threatening messages online.

Authorities have arrested a 19-year-old male who posted an Internet threat to go on a Disneyland stabbing spree, while they have also apprehended a 38-year-old jobless woman for attacking 3 women with a knife at a train station on Sunday.

It remains to be seen how many followers of Kato are there, as well as the motive behind the murders. Could the killers be followers of a massive cult, a la Aum Shinrikyo? Or could the pressures of living in a highly post-modernised state have gotten to their heads, resulting in depression? Or, could this be attributed to the influences of the mass media, what with the heightened number of violent movies and games in the market today?

With Singapore’s wish to establish and sustain its status as a nation with burgeoning nightlife, it has spent much effort in forging an active clubbing night scene.

However, one area of neglect is to have major shopping malls open later into the evening instead of closing prematurely at the godforsaken early time of 9.00pm or 9.30pm. And by major shopping malls, I refer to the malls along Singapore’s premier shopping district that is Orchard Road, such as Paragon and Takashimaya, not just Mustafa Centre (Singapore’s only 24-hour shopping centre till date, which sells mid-range products at cheap prices and is located away from the city area).

With tidal changes in the lifestyles of Singaporeans, late-night shopping ought to be the norm, instead of the exception that is marketed as a weekly event.

The implementation of the five-day work-week has resulted in students staying back in schools later into the day with their co-curricular activities and extra tutorial commitments. Similarly, professionals are knocking off work later and later into the evening as well. All this translates into a lack of retail time should shops continue to close early.

Great Singapore SaleThis is especially so with the current Great Singapore Sale (GSS), a prime opportunity to milk the wallets, of both incoming tourists and local Singaporeans alike, dry.

How is Singapore going to gain an edge as a retail haven over regional shopping districts which offer a wider range of products at cheaper prices continue to baffle me. Furthermore, shops in these districts such as Hong Kong and Taipei open later into the night catering for the late-night shopping crowd. True that they may open later in the day instead, but who’s complaining?

It is apparent that crowds flock to shops later in the night as opposed to earlier in the day, evident from observing crowd flow along Orchard Road.

With the impending opening of the Integrated Resorts and the annual Formula One race promising to draw a flurry of crowds to our sunny garden city, many tourists could find themselves disappointed with the minimal amount of time there is for shopping, or, for the lack of activities to do after shops close at 9.30pm and before midnight, when crowds start to pack local clubs.

Instead of writing off late-night stragglers, why not offer them the opportunity to shop by opening doors slightly later, till about 11.00pm instead?

The Sunday Times editorial (22/06/2008 ) on “Stars at home or aboard – let’s cheer them both” threw up the quandary of how Singaporeans are generally apathetic in showing support for talented local individuals.

For the purpose of this discussion, we shall overlook local born-and-bred MediaCorp TV artistes, who generally film local drama serials without any real opportunities to break into the overseas market. These artistes naturally appeal to the mainstream masses, as watching television forms one of the most popular pastimes in the country. This is especially so for the local evening drama serials filling both the 7pm and 9pm slots. Of course, there are instances when local drama serials are marketed overseas (for instance, The Return of the Condor Heroes in 1997, which ignited regional fan bases for local stars such as Fann Wong and Christopher Lee), but that is another story. As such, it is hardly surprising that most of them make their mark and are popular among locals alike.

On the contrary, for other Singaporeans pursuing other fields, reception from fellow countrymen, as mentioned within the editorial, is generally lukewarm.

It certainly takes more than sheer luck for Singaporeans to make it big overseas as compared to making it big within the country itself. For once, on the international arena, these artistes will have to compete with the global talent cohort for a chance to make their mark in their respective fields. It is no longer about standing out to a crowd of 4 million people, but about leaving a deep impression on the world.

Naturally, there will be both hits and misses. Let us take a look at the Chinese pop scene first, where the number of local artistes seeking breakthroughs is countless.

Stefanie Sun, Tanya ChuaThe likes of Stefanie Sun, JJ Lin, Tanya Chua, Kit Chan, Mavis Hee and A-Do have all become household names around the region. On the contrary, they all have one thing in common – all of them based themselves in Taiwan first, gaining considerable success there, prior to turning their focus onto the Singaporean market. It remains to be seen how successful would they be if they had based themselves locally first instead. Meanwhile, in 2005 when Tanya Chua clinched the Best Female Vocalist award at the acclaimed Taiwan Golden Melody Awards, she had griped at how she was widely regarded as the shoo-in for the award in Taiwan, but was regarded as a dark horse in local reports.

Singing competition “Project Superstar” produced alums such as Kelvin Tan and Kelly Poon, who are widely popular within the country, having emerged victorious in the competition where audience polls are a decisive factor in the results. However, they have failed to emulate their success on the regional arena as their debut album in Taiwan failed to create ripples.

Kaira GongHowever, lukewarm reception to singers such as Jones Shi Kangjun and Kaira Gong has resulted in similarly lukewarm reception here.

Meanwhile, Singaporeans seem to be a forgetful bunch as with the case of Joi Chua. Her story is a roller-coaster one with her debut effort based in Taiwan in 2000 falling prey to poor sales. Neither did that effort raise her popularity locally, resulting in her being dropped by her record company then. Venturing into the local music scene again in 2004, her breakout release was a success locally with a number of chart topping hits. However, her popularity seemed to have fallen here as she turned her attention to the regional market instead for her subsequent albums. While she is currently widely popular in China, her latest effort translated into critical acclaim but not sales in Taiwan.

It is worth noting that in the forthcoming 19th Taiwan Golden Melody Awards, Singaporeans Stefanie Sun, Tanya Chua and Joi Chua have all been nominated for the Best Female Vocalist, an unprecedented first for the country as locals take up half of the nominations for the category.

Olivia OngIn English music, will local songbird Corrinne May shift albums off the shelves in Singapore had she not been successful in the United States? How about Olivia Ong, a jazz singer based in Japan? What about the lukewarm reception which local bands such as Electrico, Ronin and The Great Spy Experiment receive at their gigs?

While young local designers are setting sights on international runways, these ripples are not being felt by Singaporeans who subscribe to tried and tested fashion labels such as Gap and Topshop. As reported in the International Herald Tribune article in the previous link, a new generation of young Singaporean designers is “trying to break away from the cosy domestic market, where it is relatively easy to be a big fish in a small pond”. Designers such as Jonathan Seow (head honcho of design label Woods & Woods which has been presented in Paris but remains relatively unknown in Singapore), Andrew Gn and Ashley Isham have their own influences in Europe before venturing back into their home countries.

Similarly, it seems, for movie directors. Eric Khoo is the only Singaporean film-maker to have three movies premiere in Cannes, with the latest offering “My Magic” up for the prestigious Palme D’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival, but how many Singaporeans have seen them? It appears that the more “arthouse” or critically-acclaimed the film is, the more turned away the local crowd is towards actually supporting them. The key, it appears, lies in mass appeal. Jack Neo is certainly mainstream in his films which depict the everyday lives of Singaporeans in an everyday manner. On the other hand, his films have yet to make much of a critical impact. Royston Tan had debilitating box office results with his earlier releases such as “24” and “4:30”, but earned a box office hit with the mainstream “881”.

In the meantime, Kelvin Tong and the Pang brothers hit big time with box office hits in their respective horror movies, “The Maid” and “The Eye”, with the latter even going on to their directorial debut in Tinseltown. However, does it seem strange that they were not promoted as local directors in the first place?

This article also highlights the success of local comics artist Foo Swee Chin whose works are being published in a monthly manga magazine in Japan, but alas, she is not a household name in Singapore.

It remains to be seen when, as our auteurs and artistes find their voices and identities and live their mark in their respective fields, the rest of us learn to be willing to discern and advocate their works, instead of following the crowd in supporting tried and tested formulae. Or when, the rest of us will discard our skepticism and bias towards performances which may break the mould, and readily accept local art ventures and local bands as well. All this will definitely go a long way in promoting a unique Singapore.