Entertainment

Bird Box, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: Now Playing

Don’t look unless it sparks joy

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Over the holidays, the GadgetMatch team got some time to rest and relax before CES 2019. Here’s what we enjoyed during our break.

Movies to see

Bird Box
Marvin: If you’ve already watched Bird Box, congrats. If not, you aren’t missing out. Despite the massive hype, this Netflix movie isn’t a must-watch. Honestly, the fan theories and multiple interpretations you’d read online are more fun than the feature itself. Even its legacy, the Bird Box challenge — wherein you have to do mundane tasks blindfolded — may leave a longer-lasting impression.

Taylor Swift reputation Stadium Tour
MJ: There’s something magical about concert films, especially if it involves your favorite pop star. Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour celebrates a night of music featuring a visually pleasing stage and fabulous dancing. This happened at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, the last run of her US leg during her world tour.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Kevin: If you share the same sentiments with Marvin about Bird Box, you’re better off checking out Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch. Being an interactive movie, it’s probably something you haven’t experienced before. The way you select between choices throughout the scenes dictate different results and next thing you know, the fate of a teenager’s video game is in your hands. Oh, and when you’ve seen it, check out our Bandersnatch: A Discussion article and read our take on the entire thing.

TV shows to binge watch

Tidying up with Marie Kondo
Kevin: Since most of us are still struggling to be proper adults, it really helps to be shown once in a while how to do things properly — most importantly, in tidying up our own place. Marie Kondo is an organizing consultant famous for her KonMari method and only keeping things that “spark joy” in you. Beyond the wise decluttering tips, the show also touches on the human side of everyday things that sometimes result in one’s disorganization.

Instant Hotel
Dan: Instant Hotel is one of those shows I never knew would be a good. The premise of the show revolves around the concept of an instant hotel (think Airbnb) wherein owners have to prove that they have the best one. They stay in each property and give it a score based on certain criteria. Instant Hotel is delightful to watch, while at the same time interesting because of the contestants. The show is originally from Australia but it’s available internationally on Netflix.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 3
Dan: The third and last season of the A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix wraps up the tale of the Baudelaire children. It’s adapted from the four final books of the novel series. Since this is the final season, it has to be good. Like the first and second season, the third one is well-made and has a unique personality. The overall narrative matches the novel’s tone. It’s wonderfully weird, to be honest. I just wish that the ending was split into two parts to cover more of the final novel.

Titans
Dan: Those who have watched Teen Titans cartoons before should check out DC Comic’s live-action series Titans. If Teen Titans is a fun, quirky superhero show, Titans is dark and mature. Its post-Nolan, post-Dark Knight atmosphere presents itself well, but I do have some minor concerns. Marvel’s Daredevil series is better overall, though Titans has the potential to be great. The first season is now on Netflix.

YOU
MJ: YOU is about Joe Goldberg, a bookstore manager who’s obsessed with an aspiring writer named Guinevere Beck. The show shows how today’s technology makes it easier for stalkers to find their way into our lives. Aside from the creepy and extreme measures the bookstore manager does to insert himself in Beck’s life, YOU gives a lesson on what not to do when dealing with strangers to prevent stalkers.

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj
Rodneil: I’m a lowkey fan of political satire and Hasan Minhaj’s delivery, which I can only describe as a PowerPoint presentation on steroids, feels like such a fresh take. The little over 20-minute episodes that range from immigration to social media, and even hypebeasts, are all well-written and thoroughly researched. The show is both informative and undeniably entertaining.

Naruto
Rodneil: Also known to its fans as “Boruto’s Dad,” this is quite literally the origin story of a legend. Naruto was part of the Big Three shonen anime for longer than a decade and its availability on Netflix is great for both the younger generation and everyone feeling nostalgic about the anime. This series also has arguably one of the best fights in anime: Rock Lee vs Gaara. That’s Season 2, episodes 22 to 24. You’re welcome.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Sunrise by GFRIEND
Vincenz: This is different from your typical K-pop girl group songs with catchy and repetitive lyrics. The song portrays a more meaningful and heartfelt message with its lyrics. Combined with the sound of classical instruments and synths, you will also be mesmerized by their powerful yet soothing vocals (two high notes in one song, anyone?), giving you the feeling of a fantasy-like, whimsical love song — not to mention it also sounds like a Korean anime track.

Like Like You by Ace Banzuelo
Vincenz: I was already hooked the first time I listened to this song. Ace’s vocals clearly catch the ears (and even hearts) of its listeners. It gives me the LANY x LAUV vibe because of its mesmerizing synth-pop tune that works together with its catchy yet meaningful lyrics. This is definitely a perfect go-to song for your daily music streaming, casual road trips, and even chill bar sessions with your friends and special someone.

Apps to download

San Bidet
Dan: You might have heard about it already, but apps like this need to be more popular. San Bidet must have a lot of users and supporters for it to serve its purpose. What is this app, you ask? It’s a location-based directory of toilets with a bidet. It can point you to the nearest one with a single tap, because it knows what an emergency is. The app is available for Android and iOS devices.

VLive
Rodneil: The K-pop girl group Twice has been my one source of happiness of late. I needed heavy doses of happiness and that meant downloading the VLive app. It’s a South Korean live streaming service meant for K-celebs to connect with their fans worldwide. The English subtitles are as real-time as they come and you can stream previous broadcasts so you can get deeper into your fandom.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

Entertainment

Netflix’s new animé Sol Levante is a visual spectacle

A hand-drawn 4K HDR short

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Netflix has been ultra aggressive in expanding its animé library especially in the last two years. The latest installment — Sol Levante — is a visual spectacle that the company says is a “culmination of art, technology, and curiosity.”

The primary purpose of the project is to explore how Japanese animé projects can be translated into 4K HDR. The tech, after all, isn’t all that new. Plenty of Netflix originals like Marvel’s Daredevil, Bird Box, and even To All The Boys P.S. I Still Love You are available in this format.

The challenge is how to get hand-drawn animation up to speed. Ultraman, another Netflix animé project, is available in 4K HDR. However, it uses CG animation versus hand drawings. That’s what Haruka Miyagawa (Creative Technology Engineer) and Akira Saitoh (Director, involved in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, et. al) — the leads of the Sol Levante project, pursued.

Sol Levante – a visual spectacle

Netflix gave us an early look at the final output. Sol Levante is a four-minute showcase of years worth of work by a lean six-person team and it’s a sight to behold.

Its synopsis reads: A young warrior and her familiar search for the sacred place said to fulfill wishes. It’s best not to anger the ancient guardians and spirits.

If you’re an animé fan — especially of the more popular battle-type ones — your mind will race right away thinking how this level of visuals can translate to an iconic sequence or battle scene. And for the most part, that’s what this short is — an iconic sequence. As a hand drawn 4K HDR animé, it’s one of the firsts of its kind.

Without spoiling anything, the narrative of the short mirrors the theme of the project. It’s not an easy journey, but if you push through, you’ll come out of it feeling renewed.

Netflix pushing to innovate

There are two main driving forces in the development of this project:

  1. To support creatives in bringing more of their ideas to life
  2. Offer an outstanding and more immersive user experience for Netflix subscribers

The Sol Levante project was a test of how feasible it is to produce hand-drawn animé in 4K HDR resolution. In the duration of the project, they have identified a process but it might take a while before anyone else gets onboard.

During a media briefing, Miyagawa highlighted how the biggest hurdle is 4K. It requires a major overhaul of the artists workstation and workflow.

One of their first learnings is that the resolution meant hand drawings needed to be completed on a much larger piece of paper than standard A4, or scanned at a very high resolution. This wasn’t a viable solution which meant drawings had to be done digitally on a tablet. The challenge is that most animé artists lack training and equipment to go digital.

The HDR part involves less friction. Animation studios need only to invest in professional monitors with high dynamic range. At present though, the options are still quite pricey — even for professional studios.

Encouraging other creators

The team behind Sol Levante, while ambitious, aren’t delusional. They realize the challenges it will take to get more people interested. They know that “change is hard” and the whole workflow overhaul “can be seen as intimidating to studios and artists.” So they are more than willing to cooperate and collaborate.

Netflix will release the raw materials used in Sol Levante for download and experimentation. By doing so, they hope to connect with more animators about new technology, to partner with manufacturers to better support the animé industry, and to work with anime studios to apply findings to future productions.

Being veterans in the industry, they feel Japanese animation studios might not be immediately open to the idea. So they’re hoping animators from other countries step in.

Building hope and excitement 

Director Akira Saitoh hopes those who will watch Sol Levante will feel heightened levels of excitement and immersiveness. While reactions will vary due to personal preference she hopes it inspires thoughts of “Okay, I would like to see other types of content or genre done in this technology.”

Asked why it’s called Sol Levante, Saitoh explained, “Sol Levante means sunrise in Italy. In ancient Egypt when the sun sets in the west, it dies. When it comes up in the east, it’s a symbol of resurrection. It’s been reborn. Reborn was a big theme in this project.”

That sense of hope and feeling renewed is something the project hopes to evoke in both animé viewers and creators.

Sol Levante will be available on Netflix globally on April 2, 2020.

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Entertainment

Now Playing: Women’s Month Edition

Let’s all celebrate women!

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Happy Women’s Month! To celebrate women all over the world, we asked women and allies about movies, shows, music, and podcasts you can watch and listen to, along with books you should read.

This list is also a good pick me up, in case you’re looking for something to empower you as a woman. You may refer to this article — Women’s Month or not! Here’s what’s Now Playing at Her GadgetMatch!

Movies to see

On the Basis of Sex

Carol: A bit late to the party but I can’t believe I didn’t watch this sooner. On the Basis of Sex is the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s struggle to make discrimination based on gender illegal in the United States. Brilliantly poignant with a script teeming with wit, On the Basis of Sex is a movie that should be required for all children to see. A movie that will also give any adult woman a confidence boost when and wherever needed.

Little Women

Leez: If you’ve read the classic Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, this film isn’t the first. It’s the most recent iteration of a film adaptation to the book and before you click away and lose interest, you might want to seriously watch this film. It dabbles in the complexity of family, womanhood, and standing up for one’s self. There’s more to this book and film adaptation than just four sisters. There’s love, sorrow, and growth wrapped up in such a timeless impactful story.

Taylor Swift: Miss Americana

MJ: Miss Americana is a glimpse of Taylor Swift’s personal life. A peek at her vulnerable moments, life-changing opportunities, and chances at redefining herself and the way she sees love and praise. For Swifties (and even most viewers), this documentary allowed people to connect with Swift. It’s so raw, honest, and emotional that it felt like she’s just one of us — fragile, pregnable, and most of all, human.

Shows to binge-watch

Sex Education Season 2

Leez: It’s exhausting to live in a world where sex is shoved aside as too taboo to educate people with. The science? Abstinence is an absolute lip service. Doesn’t work, never have, and never will. Sex Education dives deep into the complexity of sex with a stunning grip of contextual circumstances. It’s a show about getting into the nitty and the gritty of emotions, sexuality, gender, sex of course, and even trauma. How it all pans out is never how we expect it to and this show depicts that perfectly.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Carol: Becoming a comedian in the 1950s was no easy feat, even harder as a woman whose marriage was falling apart. Rachel Brosnahan shines as Midge Maisel, Jewish housewife who realizes that her wit and humor are not out of place in society — she just needed a stage to go with them. Great story and a script written by Gilmore Girls’ Amy Sherman Palladino, you’ll keep re-watching the series while waiting for the next season. Bonus: Mrs. Maisel’s outfits are utterly fabulous, proving that a lady can be smart and funny while being pretty and fashionable.

The Bold Type

MJ: Millennials — who were always mistaken as Gen Z — are now at the forefront of the working force. Live everyone else, millenials have have struggled to find direction. The Bold Type perfectly illustrates this struggle, featuring three young women working in a fictional magazine while navigating modern life and struggle in love, career, and identity. For the most part, the show tackled stories women can relate to, with some themes centralizing on pressing social and cultural issues. This gives The Bold Type that perfect, woke millennial vibe.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Living Out Loud by Sia

MJ: When you feel like the only way is to go up or move forward, this song will be the perfect soundtrack to accompany you. ‘Living out loud’ played when The Bold Type‘s main characters decided to go after what they want in life: Kat Edison realizing there’s more to life than social media and heading out to travel, Sutton Brady enjoying her dream job and taking another chance at love, and Jane Sloan leaving her comfort zone to pursue something that will make her grow. Listen to this song when you want to make the most out of every moment in life.

Listen to The Bold Type‘s playlist.

Butterfly by Loona

Vincenz: LOONA (or known as 이달의 소녀 / idarui sonyeo or Girl of the Month) has been known as an ally of both the LGBT+ community and women for their empowering tracks. Butterfly is meant for all the LOONAs around the world — and the music video storyline proves that you’re beautiful just like a “butterfly” regardless of one’s race and age.

Listen to 12 K-Pop tracks to empower every woman.

Dying for Sex

Chay: Funny, compelling, and heart-warming, Dying for Sex is a podcast about Molly’s life and sexcapades after she was diagnosed terminal with stage IV breast cancer. Her sexual adventures will make you laugh, but her insights on life and relationships are what will resonate more.

Conservative Ako

MJ: ‘Conservative Ako’, translated to ‘I’m Conservative’, is the Philippines’ first-ever podcast about female pleasure and sexuality. Hosted by licensed psychologist and sex & relationships therapist Rica Cruz, ‘Conservative Ako’ breaks barriers by giving voice to questions that Filipinas have been afraid to ask.

Listen to other female-centric podcasts hosted by PumaPodcast.

Women at Work

Chay: Gender bias and discrimination at the workplace is still a problem we face in 2020. Harvard Business Review’s Women at Work talks issues and real life experiences, and poses solutions and advice to help women overcome obstacles  that hinder them from having a successful career.

Books to read

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Chay: Reading this will make women (and men) feel both hopeful and helpless at times. If you need convincing why feminism is still necessary in this day and age, look no further.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Suzie: This book is a testament that hard work, determination, and drive never go out of style. Michelle Obama’s journey from the Southside of Chicago to the White House serves as an inspiration for readers to daringly dream and courageously break the status quo.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Leslie: If you want to remind yourself what young love’s like, this is a good choice.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Ali: Yes, Circe, as in the daughter of Helios. The story is about making a place for yourself in a world that doesn’t understand you. A bold and feminist take on Greek mythology.

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire Series) by Naomi Novik

Geneva: The Napoleonic era fought with dragons! Reading sci-fi fantasy broadens even the most practical of minds, and this strong story by an amazing female writer is a must

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Marian: I cannot stress this enough. It’s one of those few books where I vividly remember how I felt when I finished it. You’ll know that feeling when you read it.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Mik: It’s a simple story of the right person, wrong timing. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful.

Dear Girls by Ali Wong

Bonnie: Dear Girls is a series of candid, hilarious letters from Ali Wong to her two daughters about topics from working women to Asian culture to love. I pulled an all-nighter in a hotel room reading this entire book and cackling to myself

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Leez: This is a strikingly quirky collection of comics that dabbles into silly, borderline psychopathic, memories and tendencies Allie Brosh embodies. This book is relatable, hilarious, and shamelessly Allie Brosh that you have to read it.

Check out: 22 must-read books written by women.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

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Accessories

5 reasons why you should stick to wired earphones

You don’t have to give up comfort and familiarity!

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Photo by Daniel Fontenele

The advent of wireless earbuds has become gospel among my friends — techie and geeks alike. It’s like everyone’s preaching about switching to wireless like it’s some mandatory rite of passage for adults who’ve been in the workforce for god knows how long.

Though I have my own pair of wireless earbuds, I still have my trusty wired earphones — one that has a 3.5mm jack for my laptop, and one that comes in USB-C for my phone that has no headphone jack. Even before, wired earphones were my savior — from strangers and familiar people approaching me, to keep me entertained in between idle moments, and for being a companion in trying times.

Just like most people, I’m still having a hard time letting go of wired earphones. People had been asking me to stop using one, but I still stand to a few reasons why it’s perfectly okay to stick to the familiar.

You’re a plug-and-play person

A lot of times, I find myself having trouble with pairing my smartphones to my wireless earbuds. To ensure seamless pairing, you must be using top-of-the-line and/or premium earbuds. Imagine the time you spent trying to connect so you can listen to music when you can just plug your wired earphones to a headphone jack, play your music, and enjoy.

You love the feeling of being connected

I thrive in connections — whether it’s people, conversations, or earphones. I feel most reassured when I know I’m connected, and the tangibility of my earphones’ connection to my smartphone is comforting — especially when I’m commuting. I’ll know right away where my phone is, and having a wired connection makes my loving smartphone safe.

On certain occasions, my smartphone was saved from falling because of my wired earphones. It’s these prevented tragedies that reassure me a tangible connection is still a good choice.

You’re practical about your choices

Let’s admit it: wireless earbuds are expensive. As someone who follows a strict budget, wired earphones are a tad cheaper and is more accessible to most of us. There are plenty of us can’t live without music, and wired earphones sometimes become a necessity to keep us from falling apart in between trying times.

On the other hand, wireless earbuds are considered a luxury — a want, not a need. Imagine losing a pair, or even misplacing it when a pair of wireless earbuds is priced around US$ 100. I don’t have the money to replace it easily even with access to a credit card.

You find comfort in familiarity

Some people aren’t comfortable with change. Most are hesitant, and even resistant to it — even with the advent of functional and bang-for-the-buck wireless earbuds. If you find comfort in familiarity a.k.a. choosing wired earphones because you’ve been using it for a long time, that’s absolutely fine.

You don’t have to change your preferences in life just because someone asked you to do so. Stay unique and love your individuality!

You haven’t felt the urge to switch

Lastly, there comes a time in every modern individual where they need to switch to a wireless lifestyle. It could be for convenience, for more flexibility, or for safety during a commute. Whatever it is, you’ll always feel the urge to switch and when you do, heed the call.

When you feel like you’re being called to the other side, that’s when you take a leap of faith. If you’re still content with using wired earphones, just enjoy it and stop caring what the world thinks. You have your music with you, just keep playing!

SEE ALSO: 6 reasons why you should switch to wireless earbuds

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