Movie Review: Concussion (PG13)

This film deserves to be celebrated.

Not only does it have Will Smith giving one of his most gripping performances to date, its subject matter needs to be made known to everyone.

Smith plays Dr Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian forensic pathologist who in 2002 discovers chronic traumatic encephalopathy (a form of brain damage) in football players stemming from the many concussions they suffer during their professional careers.

Concussion chronicles Dr Omalu's discovery and the battle he faces in bringing the information to the public.

Director-writer Peter Landesman could have done more to give this drama more depth, but fortunately, his leading man compensates by dialling up the emotions and driving the movie forward.

Smith is worthy of his Best Actor Golden Globe nomination and perhaps an Oscar nod as well.

Rating: 3/5




Jonjo the Magpie

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Poster poser

If a pIcture paInts a thousand words, then what do soMe MovIe posters tell us?

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Farewell David Bowie: Taking his final Bow

Our resident Kiss92 DJ/journo bids a fond farewell to David Bowie, rock's grand, glorious alien vampire-elf

LEGACY: David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, was released on his birthday last Friday, two days before his death.

David Bowie's final album Blackstar was released on his birthday last Friday.

He died two days later at the age of 69.

He'd been battling cancer for 18 months and passed away surrounded by his family.

If you've got to go, this seems like the way to do it.

Make one last masterpiece and then drift peacefully into the darkness.

Bowie's parting gift to his fans is a meandering, opaque opus featuring seven lengthy tracks filled with decadence, ennui and a longing for love, if not the light.

There are songs of death (Lazarus) and bad romance (Girl Loves Me).

None of it is what you'd call catchy, but Blackstar is hypnotic and rewarding for those willing to dive deep.

It's the album of a brilliant old man, a dark wizard who's long since given up music for magic.

It's actually hard for me to feel sad for the English entertainer, probably because I never considered him quite human. He'd always seemed better than us.

LEGACY: David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, was released on his birthday last Friday, two days before his death. 

A lot of arty types try to cultivate an air of superiority, but Bowie is one of the very few who could pull it off convincingly.

Remember him as the alien in The Man Who Fell To Earth? As the vampire in The Hunger? As the elf king in Labyrinth?

He seemed most himself when he was playing some immortal creature.

These otherworldly movie roles were a natural fit for him.

Of course his greatest role was the one he played for nearly half a century: rock god.

His music is the place where he really let his fey flag fly.

His fanciful lyrics didn't always make sense, but they evoked intriguing images and powerful emotions.

He was arty without ever being self-indulgent. He never gave up on catchy melodies or pretty harmonies or the basic structure of pop music.

His songs sounded like songs -strange songs but awesome songs.

His best album, for me, is Hunky Dory (1971).

Just for starters, this record included Changes, Life On Mars and Queen Bitch.

Then there are somewhat lesser-known gems such as Kooks, Quicksand, Andy Warhol and The Bewlay Brothers.

As for his greatest singles, there are too many to list: Space Oddity, Heroes, Rebel Rebel, Under Pressure, Wild Is The Wind, Young Americans, Cat People (Putting Out Fire), Let's Dance, Modern Love, China Girl and This Is Not America.

He also did a killer version of The Little Drummer Boy.

The only time I ever saw Bowie in concert was in the mid-80s, during his Glass Spider Tour.

I don't remember much about the show except for a giant arachnid that loomed over the entire stage.

Its legs, each at least 10 metres long, were lit up in red, blue, yellow and green. It was impressive and kind of humbling.

Here was a guy with a gargantuan, multicoloured spider at his beck and call.

No mere mortal, obviously.

I said earlier that I'm not sad for Bowie and I meant it. I just honestly can't believe he's dead.

Start the day with Glamorous Ryder

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These teenage girls dream of golf conquests

First-time participants Erika, Jacqueline and Maisarah show guts and desire for HSBC event

YOUNG GUNS: Maisarah Saadon (above), Erika Layson and Jacqueline Young will be in action at the HSBC Women's Champions qualifiers today.
YOUNG GUNS: Maisarah Saadon, Erika Layson (above) and Jacqueline Young will be in action at the HSBC Women's Champions qualifiers today.
YOUNG GUNS: Maisarah Saadon, Erika Layson and Jacqueline Young (above) will be in action at the HSBC Women's Champions qualifiers today.

As rookies, their chance of winning are as good as a Singaporean finishing higher than world No. 1 Jordan Spieth in this month's SMBC Singapore Open.

And the unfamiliarity of the course makes it even more difficult for the trio at the two-day 2016 HSBC Women's Champions qualifiers teeing off today.

Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong course, just voted by Golf Digest as the world's 58th best course, is a well-maintained but highly challenging one with hidden hazards that tests even the best.

Still, the fact that Erika Layson, Jacqueline Young and Maisarah Saadon had the courage to throw their names into the pot for a shot at the prestigious global event makes them winners.


Erika, 14, the baby of the 12 entrants vying for the one Singapore spot against the world's top 50 golfers at the US$1.4 ($1.98m) in March, is a precocious talent.

The Nanyang Girls High School student, armed with a 1.7 handicap index, already knows what winning is all about, having claimed the HSBC Youth Challenge five times.

"I just want to give it a go," said the charming girl, when asked what prompted her to compete.

She is into her eighth year playing a game which was introduced to her by her retired dad, Edwin, who is a 11 handicap index player.

Standing 1.57 metres, Erika drives the ball a handsome average of 190 metres, but her forte is "my iron play."

Erika, who sees Spieth and Lydia Ko as her idols, practises hard at the National Service Resort and Country Club, although she also frequents the Raffles Country Club with her coach-cum-dad.

She has played at Serapong "a few times", while Jacqueline and Maisarah had the first taste of the superb layout at practice yesterday.

Jacqueline, 16, a Singapore Sports School student, has also won many age-group tournaments.

But the 0.9 handicap index golfer is eyeing more glory, using the HSBC event as a launchpad to bigger events.

The admirer of Annika Sorenstam and Tseng Ya-ni knows that the competition at today's qualifier will be stiff as there are more seasoned players in the field.

But she is raring to "give it a go" with the encouragement of her businessman dad Jonathan, who sometimes plays with her at the Warren Golf and Country Club.


Maisarah, 19, a sport and leisure management student at Republic Polytechnic, sees the opportunity to play in the HSBC qualifiers "as a dream".

"I missed out last year as I was late with my entry but, with the encouragement of my dad and friends, I ensured that I got in this time," said the affable youngster.

Coach Nasaruddin Alias is a pro at Warren who has schooled the talented Maisarah with the finer points of the game for more than a year.

And dad Saadon Senari is her biggest admirer and motivator, the other being Singapore's No. 1 pro Mardan Mamat, who has adopted her at the Raffles Country Club.

Maisarah worships South Korean Choi Na Yeon and admires Adam Scott, and she is looking forward to following the former at the March event.

"Wouldn't it be great if I played alongside her," beamed Maisarah, hinting at the remotest possibility of her sneaking through the qualifiers.


  • Jessica Ang (pro), Elizabeth Ang (-0.1), Callista Chen (1.1), Jen Goh (2.6), Koh Sock Hwee (pro), Erika Layson (1.7), Ashley Loh (2.4), Maisarah Saadon (2), Amanda Tan (0.4), Sarah Tan (0.7), Amelia Yong (pro), Jacqueline Young (0.9).

Movie date: Room (PG13)

Make room in your viewing schedule for this one and be rewarded. A must-watch!

STARRING: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy

DIRECTOR: Lenny Abrahamson

THE SKINNY: Based on Emma Donoghue’s best-selling novel, Room is narrated by Jack (Tremblay), five, who has been confined all his life in a room with his mother Ma (Larson). Ma was abducted by Old Nick (Bridgers) as a teenager and held captive. When the two escape, Jack discovers the outside world for the first time, but
the bond with his beloved Ma remains unbreakable.


Room is a great example of how to take a familiar genre and transcend it.

It's basically a crime thriller, but it's like no crime thriller you've ever seen.

Typically, we watch these sorts of things from the cops' point of view, as they set out to solve whatever case it is.

Here, the focus is on the victims, but the thing is that they are not really victims. The mother and son are fully-realised human beings who elicit our full range of emotions.

There's sadness, of course, but also hope, joy, anger, boredom, frustration, trepidation, guilt, relief and, most of all, love.

Like all the best movies, Room ends up being every sort of movie.

It's a drama, an action flick, a love story and a coming-of-age tale.

There's not much comedy, but the film has an unusually light tone for its subject matter and there are moments of pure delight.

The opening scenes in the eponymous space are magical and mysterious.

The sequence where Jack escapes in the back of a truck is one of the most suspenseful I've ever seen.

The scene where he helps the police rescue Ma is wholeheartedly triumphant.

The bit where he is rejected by his own grandfather is utterly wrenching.

If you must make an art film, this is the way to do it.

It must also be noted that the acting is as good as you'll ever see, and I suspect the awards are going to pile up in short order.

Rating: 5/5


What would it feel like to grow up within the confines of one small room?

It's a question that's eloquently answered in this indie flick, which remains tender without being sentimental and cloying.

It's a happier version of The Lovely Bones, minus the supernatural elements.

Room could easily be a story about drudgery, post-traumatic stress disorder and fear.

It touches on these issues, but its eternal optimism stands out.

To Jack, who is discovering the real world for the first time, everything inspires wonder: fallen leaves, pancakes, the unending wideness of the sky.

As a cynical adult, it's thrilling to see everyday objects turn magical through the eyes of a sheltered child.

Credit must go to Tremblay for remaining so endearing throughout. Precocious child actors can seem like little know-it-alls, but he is down-to-earth while being wise beyond his years.

Larson also deserves the universal praise she's received for Room, demonstrating her range by playing the vacant victim, loving mother and struggling daughter effectively.

The relationship between Jack and Ma is the bedrock of the film, and it unfolds in the most natural and spellbinding way.

Unsettling at times, Room may not be the most pleasant way to spend two hours, but it's a beautiful story that will haunt you long after the credits roll.

Rating: 5/5

THE CONSENSUS: Make room in your viewing schedule for this one and be rewarded

Familiarity breeds...

Forget the Cup and Wembley, 
it's a league battle this time

KEEPING FOCUS: Roberto Martinez (left) and Manuel Pellegrini (right).
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