PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT – WATCH OUT APPLE AND SAMSUNG – HONOR THY SMARTPHONE – HUAWEI’S IMPRESSIVE HONOR 8 AIMED AT THE U.S. MILLENNIALS MARKET

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George Zhao, President of Honor, addresses a crowd at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco supporting and launching the new impressive flagship Honor 8 smartphone in the U.S. aimed at millennials.  Photo by Marcus Siu

Article by Marcus Siu

Just when you thought it was safe to assume Apple and Samsung were the only two serious smartphones worth considering on the market, comes yet another viable challenger, the Honor 8, made by Huawei.  This may be the favored choice for millennials who are looking for something different in a phone rather than just another product line upgrade of their previous phone.

Though Huawei is not quite yet a household name in the United States market just yet, they have dominated China’s millennials, along with much of Western Europe, and are a major player everywhere else in the world.  In fact, they are listed as the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world.   It is only a matter of time before America discovers them, especially after launching their flagship smartphone next month.

Honor has taken smartphone photography at a new and a completely different level with its dual lens with its monochrome and RGB sensors for vivid colors giving its images far sharper detail, amazing dynamic range, and also being able to capture three times more color compared with your typical single lens. Being an avid photographer, it was eye opening to discover a smartphone with a 12 MP dual lens camera that is standard with the Honor 8. With the clarity and brilliance coming from their photographic and video images that were projected at their product launch in San Francisco, along with the test photos that I had taken after the presentation, it’s as though the camera has been reinvented into the shape of a smartphone.  I haven’t been excited about a smartphone camera until now.

One versatile feature that I’ve never seen on any other smartphone or camera is its ability to focus on any subject before taking a picture and after the picture is taken.  Yes, you heard me right…after the picture is taken.  How many times have you had your camera set on automatic focus and later found out that the camera was focused on the wrong person or object?  You can easily fix this by displaying the picture on the camera after your shot and tapping on the desired subject on the screen, which refocuses the image.  It also can change the aperture around the subject and blur everything else around it, if desired.  It has a professional mode where the aperture can be as low as.95.

It even has an 8MP front facing camera for the “selfies” crowd, and takes great pictures, even in low light.

An impressive feat, considering that it’s only $399 for the 32 GB phone.  I would pay that amount of money just for the camera alone, considering the sleek and stylish compact size and of course, the quality of the lens.

Of course, this sleek looking gadget is not just a highly advanced modern camera, but it’s their flagship smartphone with more bells and whistles you can imagine. It has a dual side glass surface surrounded by a diamond cut alloy frame, along with a 15-layer etched design, allowing light to reflect in a unique aurora-like pattern, making it look like light shows are built right onto the surface.  It’s just plain gorgeous and a sight to behold.

It runs on Android 6.0 and Huawei’s Emotion UI 4.1, and is powered by a 16 nanometer Kirin 950 chip reducing power consumption while increasing processing power, with 4 GB of LPDDRA RAM, and has expandable memory support up to 128 GB.

Along with being able to order these online on August 27th, you’ll also be able to hold one of these in your hands at your local Best Buy next month…

HiHonor.com/us/

The following is from their press release.

SAN FRANCISCO, AUGUST 16, 2016 – Honor, a global smartphone manufacturer, has introduced its latest model for the U.S. market. The Honor 8 Android™ smartphone combines industry-leading technology with a breakthrough design that truly stands out from the crowd. It’s the first flagship device that Honor brings to the U.S. market.

Since its founding two years ago, Honor has experienced extraordinary growth by focusing on the online market and giving digital natives the types of devices that fit their lifestyle. Featuring high-quality construction, inspired design and next-generation technology, Honor smartphones are enjoyed by mobile enthusiasts around the globe. With Honor 8, the brand sets a new standard for what U.S. consumers can expect in an unlocked device.

“Honor 8 perfectly represents the evolution of our overall product view,” said George Zhao, president of Honor.  “It goes against established industry norms and market conventions with a higher aesthetic standard. At the same time, it balances looks with the smarts, speed, and connectivity that today’s millennial consumers demand. Honor 8 reflects our understanding of and commitment to their needs and goals.”

Amazing Picture Quality

A powerful 12MP dual-lens camera is like eyes focused on the world around you. With one RGB and one monochrome sensor, the Honor 8 captures more light to deliver amazing picture quality, vivid color, and stunning details in daylight or nighttime.  The benefit of the RGB sensors is vivid, crisper color, while the monochrome sensor reproduces sharper pictures in more detail.

Its hybrid auto-focus captures every moment by taking advantage of laser, contrast, and depth focus to deliver greater speed and accuracy. Exciting new photography modes as well as manual operation capability make the Honor 8 perfect for aspiring photographers.  Plus, selfie fans will enjoy its 8MP wide-angle front-facing camera that works well even in low-light.

Sleek, Elegant Appearance

The Honor 8 features a double-sided glass design that results in a sleek, elegant appearance. Beneath it, a 15-layerprocess is applied with precise craftsmanship to create a unique light-reflecting aurora effect. Compact and artfully curved, the Honor 8 smartphone combines perfect dimensions with a stylish finish for a balanced, comfortable-to-hold mobile device.

Convenient, Smart Fingerprint Access…Instantly

Honor’s dual-purpose fingerprint scanner technology provides instant, secure access to your device.  The 3D fingerprint scanner can unlock some of the phone’s most popular functions such as taking pictures, answering calls, or turning off an alarm.

Press the smart key on the back of the phone to access more customizable features, for example: Click to capture a screenshot, double-click for the flashlight, or long press to launch your favorite applications—you can even personalize them yourself. Building on Honor’s commitment to security, fingerprint data is encrypted and stored only on the device.

Power to Last and Then Some More

Honor 8 is built to keep up with demands for fast, powerful, and always connected devices. Powered by a GHz octa-core CPU with a 3000 mAh battery and Huawei’s proprietary power saving technologies, users can be confident there will always be power to accommodate their busy life. And if the battery gets low, industry-leading fast-charge technology will recharge the batteries by up to 50% in about 30 minutes.

Peace of Mind –Honor’s PROMISE

Honor is focused on the needs of digital natives, and that includes its customer service. Honor is committed to the quality of every product it manufacturers and each device goes through a rigorous internal testing process before reaching consumers.

Purchasers of the new Honor 8 may register the device on HiHonor.com/us/to qualify for a one-time repair of any accidental screen or back-cover glass damage during the three-month coverage period. This coverage is in addition to the existing 12-month limited warranty that comes with all Honor smartphones.

More Good Stuff

With its 16 nanometer FinFET Kirin 950 chip and four gigabytes of LPDDR4 RAM, Honor 8 offers smooth and seamless multitasking and gaming experiences. The i5 intelligent co-processor manages the sensors inside the phone efficiently with the Kirin 950 SoC chipset to provide increased processing speeds, response times, and extended battery life. Running Android 6.0 on EMUI 4.1, Honor 8offers the perfect user experience.

Measuring in at 5.7” x 2.8” x 0.3” and weighing just 5.3ounces (including battery), the Honor 8 smartphone is a slim, powerful package that also features a5.2 inch LTPS multiple-point touch-sensitive screen with 1920 x 1080 HD resolution, for rich, bright colors. For more detailed information, visit HiHonor.com/us/.

Availability:

In the United States, the Honor 8 Android smartphone will be available in Sapphire Blue, Pearl White, and Midnight Black. MSRPs begin at $399.99 for the 32GB mode land $449.99 for the 64GB model.

Pre-ordering will begin August 17 through September 3 at the following retailers: Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo Video, and Newegg as well as on HiHonor.com/us/.

For the first 60 days, Best Buy will offer the Sapphire Blue edition exclusively.

Customers pre-ordering Honor 8 will also receive a $50 gift card from participating retailers.

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INTERSOLAR AND EES NORTH AMERICA 2016 COMMENCE IN SAN FRANCISCO

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CALSEIA Executive Director Bernadette Del Chiaro and Prof. Dr. Eicke R. Weber, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems present the Intersolar Champion of Change AWARD to the President Pro Tempore of the California Senate, Kevin de León. © Solar Promotion International GmbH (July 2016)

SAN FRANCISCO, July 12, 2016 – Intersolar and ees North America, the most-attended solar-plus-storage industry exhibition and conference in North America, officially opened its doors in San Francisco for its ninth year. Ali Zaidi, the White House Office of Management and Budget’s associate director for natural resources, energy and science, addressed a standing-room-only crowd during the Opening Ceremony in the InterContinental Hotel. The keynote speakers remarked on the growth potential of the solar and energy storage markets, policies, technologies and financial models helping drive the industry to its next phase of development.

“It’s important you find yourself a set of leaders that will put in place a set of policies to make sure the next 25 years are good,” said Zaidi, reflecting on Intersolar’s 25th anniversary. “It’s a risky business to not invest in climate change.”

“Clean energy is no longer a niche market or a plaything of the wealthy,” said California State Sen. Kevin de León, president pro tempore of the California Senate, upon being presented with the 2016 Intersolar Champion of Change AWARD. “It is officially a pillar of our economy, and it is here to stay. In California, we are showing one of the world’s leading economies can thrive while also reducing carbon emissions.”

On the heels of another record-breaking year, the U.S. will add an estimated 14.5 GW of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2016. By 2021, cumulative solar installations to pass the 100 GW mark, due in part to declining costs and favorable policies, notably the extension of the investment tax credit (ITC). The extension of the ITC through 2021 marked a major victory for the U.S. solar market, and demonstrated the success of solar-friendly policy programs in spurring market expansion.

“Solar brings resources to our communities in more ways than one,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA). She noted that 66 percent of the California residential market in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, and there is 25 percent growth in solar for renters and in the multifamily housing sector. “Solar energy is truly building a smarter clean energy future.”

“Solar is for everybody,” added Joshua Arce, a founder of the Brightline Defense Project, a policy advocacy non-profit which works to help low-income neighborhoods polluted by power plants to create sustainable and healthy living conditions. “That’s where you can make the case to local workers — it’s energy savings, and it’s jobs.

This year marks Intersolar North America’s ninth annual event in San Francisco — the heart of the U.S. solar industry and the country’s largest solar-plus-storage market. It also is the first year Intersolar is co-located with ees North America, a standalone event devoted showcasing energy storage technologies and services. Throughout the course of the three-day exhibition, approximately 18,000 visitors from across the globe will see the latest breakthroughs from more than 500 exhibitors at Moscone West.

In addition to the innovations on display on the exhibition floor, visitors will also learn about technology advances during presentations on two exhibition stages: the ees Stage and the Innovation & Application Stage. Visitors to the stages can attend sessions from Intersolar and ees North America exhibitors and partners, and from Intersolar and ees AWARD finalists. Here, Intersolar and ees North America will unveil a new white paper on smart renewable energy from partner GTM Research, as well as a new Solar Plus Storage Job Analysis from The Solar Foundation.

This year, Intersolar and ees North America also feature two special pavilions. An expanded CALSEIA California Pavilion, which returns for its second year, will host solar and energy storage companies from the country’s leading market. The Powerhouse Pavilion, making its debut at Intersolar and ees North America, will feature both new and established solar software, financing and energy management companies. The pavilion is hosted by California-based Powerhouse, the world’s first and only incubator and accelerator dedicated to solar.

“Intersolar and ees North America are proud to host the exhibitors, speakers and visitors shaping the industry through impactful discussions and high-caliber networking,” said Florian Wessendorf, managing director of Solar Promotion International GmbH, and Daniel Strowitzki, CEO of Freiburg Management and Marketing International GmbH (FMMI), the organizers of Intersolar and ees North America. “Year after year, industry stakeholders know they can rely on their peers to congregate each July in San Francisco.”

About Intersolar North America
With events spanning four continents, Intersolar is the world’s leading exhibition series for the solar industry and its partners. It unites people and companies from around the world with the aim of increasing the share of solar power in our energy supply.
Since its establishment in 2008, Intersolar North America has become the most attended solar event and the premier networking platform for the North American solar industry. Co-located with SEMICON West, Intersolar North America takes place annually at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, in the heart of the United States’ pioneering solar market. The event will expand to host a co-located energy storage-focused exhibition, ees North America. ees grew out of Intersolar North America’s popular energy storage exhibition segment.
A total of 521 exhibitors and around 17,835 visitors participated in Intersolar North America in 2015. The conference and exhibition program featured 47 sessions with more than 200 speakers and 25 workshops.
Intersolar North America’s exhibition and conference focus on photovoltaics, energy storage systems, smart renewable energy and solar heating & cooling technologies. Since being founded, Intersolar has become the most important industry platform to connect manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, service providers, policy makers, start-up founders, financiers, installers and partners in the global solar industry.
With 25 years of experience, Intersolar has the unique ability to bring together members of the solar industry from across the world’s most influential markets and solar supply chain. Intersolar exhibitions and conferences are held in Munich, San Francisco, Mumbai, and São Paulo, and, starting in 2016, in Dubai. These global events are complemented by the Intersolar Summits, which take place in emerging and growing markets worldwide.
For more information on Intersolar North America, please visit: http://www.intersolar.us

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BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS OF GAMING HARDWARE AT E3 – MICROSOFT PROJECT SCORPIO AND SONY PLAYSTATION VR

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Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer announces “Project Scorpio” and the “Xbox One S” at the E3 press conference at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.  Photo by Marcus Siu.

Article and photos by Marcus Siu

LOS ANGELES, June 13, 2016 – Setting the tone for the three day conference the morning before E3, Microsoft announced their latest console upcoming Project Scorpio at the E3 (The Electronic Entertainment Expo) Conference in Los Angeles.  At a fully packed crowd at the Galen Center, head of Xbox, Phil Spencer announced that the console will be able to handle 4K resolution graphics, along with immersive virtual reality.  In addition, it will also be backwards compatible, so you can play any of your previous editions of Xbox games and accessories on them.  It will be the most powerful game console ever and will be released at the end of 2017.

Microsoft also announced another member of the Xbox family that will get released in August of this year; the Xbox One S, which will be just as powerful compared to the regular Xbox One, but is 40% less in size than its predecessor. In addition, it will have a 2TB hard drive to store the games and will support HDR (High Dynamic Range) output. The actual controller has been revised adding textured grip with Bluetooth connectivity. The retail price for the Xbox S will be $299.

Later that evening, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s had a press conference that was a visual and sonic feast for the eyes and ears.   Lasers and sonic effects added excitement to the grandeur atmosphere of the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, along with it’s live orchestra.

Bear McCreary, the composer (Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica) walked on stage to conduct the 100+ orchestra in the pit and the crowd roared with enthusiasm as soon as they recognized the main characters from “God of War” on the big screen, all in fabulous 4K glory; the characters never ever so realistic and detailed. Then trailer demos from “The Last Guardian” and “Days Gone” followed with the cheers and roars coming from the audience all through the night.

Shawn Layden, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, said of Sony’s VR plans: “2016 is a seminal moment in virtual reality. The time has finally come for everyone to enjoy VR in their own homes. At PlayStation, we have a combination of the necessary processing and graphics power already built inside 40 million PS4s already sold worldwide.”

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Shawn Layden, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment America announces Playstation VR to be released in October at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.  Photo by Marcus Siu.

Sony gamers will be able to buy their headsets, along with choices of over 50 VR games by the end of the year according to Layden.  One standout game will include “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard”, which is a first person survival horror game in which you are going through a creepy abandoned house with scares all around you.  It will be quite a challenge for VR enthusiasts who will be all alone with no one to hold their hand…ah, the horror…

Sony’s Playstation VR lineup also includes space games, such as Farpoint, Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing VR Mission, Batman: Arkham VR, Final Fantasy XV VR Experience, and the first person shooter favorite, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, as well as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered.  The retail price for the Playstation VR will be $399.00.

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Bear McCreary conducts the orchestra at the Sony press conference at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.   Photo by Marcus Siu.

 

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THE COOLEST MOBILE PRODUCTS OF THE HOT SUMMER – AT PEPCOM MOBILEFOCUS – SAN FRANCISCO

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WELCOME ABOARD!!!  MobileFocus, hosted by Pepcom in San Francisco at the Metreon, where journalists set sails and leading technology companies explore the sea of uncharted wireless innovations taking journalists along for the ride.  Photo by Marcus Siu.

Article and photos by Marcus Siu

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – MAY 19, 2016:  With its “nautical discovery” theme going on at the latest MobileFocus, presented by Pepcom at the Metreon in San Francisco in May, dozens of leading technology companies showcased and demonstrated their latest and coolest mobile products just in time for the summer.  As usual, Pepcom produced a grand festive theme party, this time in a inviting breezy atmosphere, with songs like Enya’s “Sail Away” and Lyle Lovett’s “If I Had a Boat” playing in the background, which was perfect for journalists to set sail to discover the most innovative mobile products by the most innovative companies.

Here are the companies and most promising mobile products that caught my eye (and ears).

ROYOLE – For someone who someday wants to own a “wearable” Home Theater made exclusively for that sole purpose, rather than a VR headset that puts you in a “home theater” mode through an app, the world’s first foldable smart mobile theatre by Royole was great news.  Watching Netflix in the Oculus theater can be a bit tiring on the eyes after 20 minutes on the Samsung Galaxy Gear VR, but not with this product.  Not only does the Royole-X have ten times the resolution of any smartphone, (3,300 pixels per inch), but users can watch full length movies without discomfort.  The Royole-X is an audio and video headset that features breakthrough visual display, professional fidelity + noise-blocking audio technology, and an easy-to-use and yet powerful operating system that enables the sourcing of movies and video games from nearly any source (e.g., mobile, phone, set-top box, gaming console, etc.). The beautiful, single form factor headset is foldable, making it a compact, fashionable wearable electronic device for immersive cinematic experiences.  Retails at $699.00.

http://www.royole.com/royolex

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This is not VR, but the first foldable smart mobile theatre by Royole-X.  Photo by Marcus Siu.

 

KINGSTON TECHNOLOGY – For most smartphones, the two typical main issues are its short battery life and its lack of storage space.  Kingston’s MobilLite Wireless Pro, which serves as a wireless storage device and as a 6700 mAh battery bank, tackles both of these concerns.  The user can send his extra photos or videos wirelessly  into the MLWP to or from his smartphone.  In addition, the user can also access all the content from the MLWP to the smartphone.  If there is a family of four, then everyone will be happy, since they all access to the MLWP.  Best of all, if the built-in 64GB storage capacity isn’t enough on the MLWP, you can attach any USB external hard drive, flash drive, and SD cards directly, if more capacity is needed.   Retail $91.00.

http://www.kingston.com/us/wireless/wireless_readers/mlwg3

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Kingston’s latest MobilLite Wireless Pro model, which serves as a wireless storage device and battery bank.  Photo by Marcus Siu.

KODAK – As a photographer/videographer and enthusiast of VR, I’m always looking into for action cameras shooting 360 and in 4K resolution. Just as important, is to be able to share the same experience through social media, such as YouTube or Facebook.  Whether you ride a bike or surf on the waves, Kodak’s latest PIXPRO SP360 4K VR Camera, a predecessor to the SP360 1080p Action Cam, which was one of the first 360° cameras introduced to the world, was designed to take your 360° VR videos, creative visions and passions to new heights with a 235 degree FOV ultra-wide lens, supporting micro SD cards up to 128GB.  Retail starts at $449.00.

http://kodakpixpro.com/Americas/cameras/actioncam/sp3604k/

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The evolution of 360 degree cameras keeps improving with the Kodak Pixpro SP360.  Now in 4K resolution.   Photo by Marcus Siu.

RING – For homeowners who are away from home, monitoring their home through the Ring doorbell, along  with their smartphone app is just like being at home. Combined with the app, the Ring doorbell acts as a home security and as a visitor greeter all wrapped up in one.  If someone is ringing your doorbell and it’s someone you trust, you can let them in through your app.  If they are solicitors, you can just talk through the intercom and just say “no thanks, we don’t want any”, as though you were home.   Even if the doorbell wasn’t rung, it detects motion around the perimeter, like from the local mailman, newspaper delivery person, or perhaps even someone who wants to break into your home, and then immediately sends a notification to your smartphone, if you would like.  For homebodies who don’t like to leave their home much because they don’t feel safe about leaving it unsecured, this would be the perfect device so they can go out and enjoy life.  Ring was also named one of USA Today’s Top 10 Tech Innovations of 2015.  Retail starts at $199.00

http://www.ring.com

 

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Ring “smart” doorbells have revolutionized the industry.  Photo by Marcus Siu

MOSHI –  Based in San Francisco, Moshi is a cross between Coach and B&O when it comes to similar product design.   Their products are refined, simple, yet sophisticated.  I tried on a pair of the Moshi Avanti “on-ear” headphones and was quite impressed with the immersive sound quality coming out of them, even though I was just listening to mp3’s through their demo.   These stylish headphones have high efficiency 40mm drivers with a wide dynamic range, but unlike many headphones of this quality that sets it apart is that there is these are quite cushy and comfortably soft and do not exert much pressure on the listener’s ears like so many typical “on-ear” headphones do, even after many hours of use.   Perhaps more importantly to some is that they are easily adjustable so that the stainless steel bands can be raised higher so that they barely touch the listeners hair, depending on their preference, when being worn. This helps prevent bad hair days.  The headphones also comes with a durable, yet elegant zippered case that houses them with a nice netted pouch inside.  If listening to personal music is accepted in your work environment, these are definitely the headphones to bring to the office.  For the stylish and professional always on the go who mainly to listens to music through their iPod or smartphone, these are wholeheartedly recommended.  Reasonably priced at $199.95.

http://www.moshi.com/audio-headphones-avanti

Moshi has also quite a line of other stylish and refined products for the connected traveler always on the go, such as power banks, designer bags and backpacks, that are lightweight, waterproof but yet extremely durable.

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San Francisco based, Moshi’s impressive product line, including their flagship Avanti headphones.  Photo by Marcus Siu.

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SAN FRANCISCO TO SANTA CLARA – WE ARE ALL CONNECTED – INTERNET OF THINGS WORLD 2016

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Levi’s Stadium, successful host of Super Bowl 50, and home of the San Francisco 49’ers.  Photo by Marcus Siu

Article and photos by Marcus Siu

SANTA CLARA, CA – MAY 10, 2016:  For the 111 million television viewers who enjoyed this years Super Bowl 50 in the safety and comfort in their own home, it was a great entertaining show from beginning to end, with or without commercials.  This years Super Bowl between the AFC champion Denver Broncos and the NFC champion Carolina Panthers, turned out to be the third most watched televised event in American history.

Indeed, the NFL sure knows how to throw a great show; from the introduction to all of the living Super Bowl MVP’s from 1967, to Lady Gaga’s mesmerizing rendition of the National Anthem, the Halftime show featuring Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyonce, and to the final conclusion of the Vince Lombardi Trophy presentation to the victorious Denver Broncos, with Quarterback Peyton Manning getting much of the spotlight.  It was pretty memorable as a spectator.  More memorable if you were a Denver Bronco fan.

In addition to to the big game, San Francisco also hosted nine days of pregame NFL festivities such as “The NFL Experience” at Moscone Center, “Super Bowl City” along the Embarcadero, along with concerts by Alicia Keys and Chris Isaak, which drew over 1.1 million visitors.  Pretty impressive numbers, since the population of San Francisco is only 800,000. In addition, there were many festivities in nearby Santa Clara and San Jose.

With all of these massive crowds, can you imagine the public safety concerns for security for the 70,000 fans, A-list performers, dignitaries and celebrities within the stadium, as the million plus as outside the stadium?  Hosting the monumental NFL “Golden Anniversary” Super Bowl 50 this year would be a true test for any major city when it comes to public safety.

Luckily, San Francisco and Santa Clara are not your typical major cities, but very smart ones, as well.  San Francisco is one of the top five connected cities in the US and Levi’s Stadium is the most technologically innovative.

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A booth at The Internet of Things World promoting Smart Cities and Public Safety.               Photo by Marcus Siu

Since 9/11, stadium security have been beefed up all around the country, so now it is a typical everyday occurrence for fans to go through security scans and metal detectors, just like the ones at the airports. Once they’re in, security is hopefully the last thing on their mind, which is probably a good thing.

For the people working behind the scenes, it’s quite different. With its massive security issues along with its many logistical nightmares, imagine the stress on the whole entire Bay Area during the events leading up to the Super Bowl.

Not only does IoT need to work closely with the NFL, the personnel at Levi’s stadium, and with the cities of San Francisco and Santa Clara, but also with up to 50 or so of the other law enforcement and government agencies.

Luckily, with digitalization, it has made it much efficient for those working behind the scenes at Levi’s Stadium.

Digitalization is driving massive transformation in every aspect of business and society, and is fundamentally changing the way that businesses interact with their customers and governments interact with their constituents. The macro trends of IoT and Big Data are transforming business, industrial and urban landscapes globally through the continued convergence of our virtual and physical worlds.

For Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium, there were approximately 750 surveillance and facial recognition cameras that were used, along with sound and heat sensors with video analytics looking at the queues and lines.  There were all sorts of drones used, detection software, and you even had the detection of drones detecting them, as well as controlling them and tracking the actual controller of that drone within minutes.

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Jack Domme, CEO of Hitachi Americas explains how digitalization is driving massive transformation in every aspect of business and society, and is fundamentally changing the way that business interact with their customers and governments interact with their constituents.     Photo by Marcus Siu

CEO of Hitachi Americas, Jack Domme, spoke about digitalization at the Internet of Things World in Santa Clara at a morning keynote on opening day.

“Behind the scenes, you have the IoT (Internet of Things) going on.  You’ve got layers and layers of public safety solutions coming together with many public safety agencies coming together to try to orchestrate a safe event.  This is real and this is based on IoT, (the Internet of Things), which is based on extreme deep learning, machine learning, a lot of software to correlate the layers and layers of public safety systems, all of those inputs coming in, the video streaming that’s coming in and correlating that’s coming in and correlating so you can imagine one camera one facial recognition actually gets a hit; it’s a bad target; it’s a bad person; where has that bad person been?

Let’s go back on to the data platform, lets bring up the tracking of that person; where have they been?  Who have they been with? Let’s look at their twitter feed. This is real. This is what happens. Now you start to look at the implications of IoT in our real world, and we didn’t even know half of this was happening. So now you have to correlate all these inputs; layers and layers of different systems coming in together, to create an actionable item based on an event.”

This is a great example of how the IoT has gotten to be so vital to cities and agencies to protect the people around the city and stadium who were involved in these events.

“And the outcome: no major events, no major incidents, and a pretty happy Denver fan base, and all the people of Santa Clara that held the event. Thousands of attendees enjoy the event; millions of fans, visitors and city residents kept safe.”

This is how we are all connected.  At least in San Francisco and Santa Clara.

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ROUND TRIP TICKETS TO MT EVEREST & MARS AT 2016 GPU; ASTRONAUT STEVE WOZNIAK – FIRST MAN ON MARS

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At the opening keynote at the 2016 GPU Technology Conference, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang looks at Everest through VR.     Photo by Marcus Siu

Article and Photos by Marcus Siu

SAN JOSE, CA April 5, 2016 – CEO of Nvidia, Jen-Hsun Huang, addressed the capacity crowd with his opening keynote at the 2016 GPU Technology Conference at the San Jose Convention Center, and cites VR technology as rapidly growing, along with its components that are continuously improving to accommodate the platform.

He remarked that the biggest advantage for VR over the years was when LCD displays took over and replaced CRT monitors, making it much lighter and thinner, so users can put on head mounts without falling over due to being too bulky and heavy.  In addition, the resolution of displays continue to get better, and computer graphics performance continue to improve, making the combination of all to help enable the new platform to allow new applications and new experiences for the user.

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A prospective shopper checking out the trunk space in Paris at a Virtual showroom demo at the Audi Booth at the 2016 GPU Technology Conference.    Photo by Marcus Siu

So far, gaming has been the primary point of VR, but that’s about to shift.  Huang says that VR will change the way we will design and experience products, such as shopping for cars; basically it’s like being in a virtual showroom.  It will be as though you are standing right over (or under) your custom made designed car without having to worry about a haggling salesman over your shoulder.  At the conference, Audi had a demonstration booth that was using ZeroLight’s real time 3D technology, which allowed you to walk to your custom-made configured car, open its doors so you can check out the car’s interior.  You can also check out how much space it has in the back trunk. Interestingly, in their demo, you could even check out the car in Paris, or even on the moon.

For more information on ZeroLight: www.zerolight.com

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AUDI VR Experience – Courtesy of Audi/Zerolight

The VR demonstrations were quite impressive.  There were two demos; “Everest VR” and “Mars 2030”.

“VR can take you places that you can only dream of; places that are too dangerous for example”…

For “Everest VR”, Nvidia partnered with Sólfar, a Nordic VR games company, and RVX, a Nordic visual effects studio for motion pictures, helping movies, such as “Gravity”, win Best Visual Effects at the Academy Awards.  They started by taking 108 billion pixels of images, which is equivalent to 14,000 8 Mb pictures, and reconstructed Mount Everest, pixel by pixel…and then rendered it all into 3D.  They used graphics to simulate the swirling snow, all in real time.  They basically created the definite CGI model of Mount Everest, using advance stereophotogrammetry.

For “Mars 2030”, Nvidia worked with the engineers and scientists at NASA, along with Fusion VR, meticulously taking images from dozens of satellite flybys of Mars.  They reconstructed the surface using 8 square kilometers of the Mars surface; rocks were hand sculpted, with millions of them being carefully placed, based on satellite images.

The stunning details are all there.  The look and sound of the simulated rover, the lighting of the environment of the habitat with its global illumination dynamic range, the latitude with lava carving in through the massive sub terrain caves, even the look of the space suit which were all from the original designs at NASA.

Billions and billions of dollars were used for R&D.  Talk about production value.

As soon as Wozniak slipped on his headset mount over his head, he was transported immediately.

“I can maneuver myself, I can control myself…I got to find the rover now…there’s the rover…WHOA!!!  Why do I feel weird like I’m actually moving…now I’m in the rover, I can spin it around a little…WHOA! OMG!!!

“Wow!  Am I on Everest after the global warming?”, Wozniak jokes, with the conference crowd enjoying his child-like enthusiasm.  “This is going to be incredible whoever really gets do this…”

After awhile of spinning around in his rover, Wozniak quips, “I’m getting dizzy…I’m going to fall out of this chair”.

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At the opening keynote at the 2016 GPU Technology Conference, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang invited Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak via video chat, to climb aboard and put on his head mount to be the first person to experience Mars.   Photo by Marcus Siu.

“Well, Woz, that was not a helpful comment”…”I’ll let you know when you can help me again”, Huang replied back, with the crowd laughing behind him, knowing exactly what Wozniak was probably going through.

Yes, VR may be in its infancy stage, and there are still a number of obstacles to work on, but the future looks exhilarating for the world of VR.  Just point me to the line where to get my round trip tickets to places where no man has gone before.

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At the opening keynote at the 2016 GPU Technology Conference, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang shows us what it’s like to be in the rover on the planet Mars.                          Photo by Marcus Siu

 

 

 

 

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TESLA MODEL 3 HITS THE MAINSTREAM

 

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The massive line at the Broadway Shopping Center in Walnut Creek, CA wrapped with hundreds of people at the Tesla showroom in the morning before the store opens.

Article and photo by Marcus Siu

WALNUT CREEK, CA March 31, 2016 -The massive line outside wasn’t for the latest Apple iPhone SE at the Apple Store, but was at the Tesla showroom at the upscale Broadway Shopping Center in the city of Walnut Creek where hundreds of eagerly people, lined up and even camped out, early in the morning just before the store’s opening.

They were all ready to plunk down a $1000 deposit to secure a spot in line for Tesla’s highly anticipated Model 3, an electric vehicle (EV) which hasn’t even been even disclosed to the public yet that will get released late next year. This was a similar scene at all Tesla dealerships all around the country and the world.

The car will be disclosed at an event hosted by CEO, Elon Musk at their Tesla headquarters in Hawthorne, California, tonight.

The Model 3 will be the first affordable electric car that Tesla targeted for the mainstream public that has a range, expected at least to have a range of 200 miles on a single charge.

The $35,000 base price is less than half of that of their other luxury vehicles that start at $70,000; the Models S and X.  In addition, there are federal incentives that could decrease the final price to another $7,500, as well as additional state incentives depending on which state you are from. Of course, those incentives will run out soon with lines like these.

Back in 2006, the “master plan,” as CEO Elon Musk laid out, was simple: Sell high-priced, luxury electric vehicles to garner demand for the production of a mass-market vehicle and the infrastructure required to support it.

From the looks of these lines forming at their dealerships,  it looks like the demand for a mass-market vehicle is starting to look very real and the public may be embracing electric vehicles, after all.

Amidst the competition, Tesla is at the forefront and leader of EV technology, and way ahead of everyone else, which means that they are also well ahead of the game with the future of autonomous driving that is just around the corner.  They are also the best “connected” cars on the market with the most advanced technology backing them up.

Just like Apple fans, it looks like there is similar enthusiasm for Tesla fans, as it looks like the Model 3 is a “must have”, but like the iPhone, you still might have to charge it every night.

…but at least you don’t have to fill up $50 in gas every time you go to the gas station.

 

 

 

 

 

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AND THE OSCAR GOES TO…

  THE REVENANT

DF-02339R – Leonardo DiCaprio stars as legendary explorer Hugh Glass.

Article by Marcus Siu

LOS ANGELES, FEBRUARY 27, 2016:  The balloting has closed last Tuesday, and the votes are now in at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and only a few selected qualified auditors at Price Waterhouse knows who the winners are, but we can still predict with a reasonable outcome who will win the Academy Award on Sunday, even without the famous black briefcase that holds the ballots that eventually hits the red carpet and onto the stage at the Kodak Theatre where the ceremonies are held.

For at least a month after it opened in late November during the  Thanksgiving holiday weekend, “Spotlight” was the forerunner in the race for “Best Picture”.  However, that was well over three months ago.  Since then, “The Big Short” won the Producers Guild of America, and “The Revenant” took the Golden Globe.  Even though, “Spotlight” took the Best Ensemble at SAG, which is the Screen Actors Guild’s equivalent award for Best Picture, the momentum has changed.

Most likely, “The Revenant” will take the big statue at the Oscars tomorrow night, as it excelled in numerous categories that it’s rival nominees lacked, leading the pack with 12 nominations.  In addition, it will take Best Actor, Best Director, and Cinematography, and maybe another one or two technical awards.

For the Best Actor Category, Leonardo DiCaprio, has it locked after being nominated five times in the last twenty years, including his first back in 1994, at the age of 19, for “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, starring Johnny Depp as his older brother.  This year, he has taken all the major awards, including the Golden Globes, SAG, and just recently, the BAFTA (The British Oscars).

Like DiCaprio, Brie Larson, should be a shoo-in for her mesmerizing performance in “Room”, where she plays a captive mother for seven years, living with her five year old son, played superbly by Jacob Tremblay, who deserved to have been nominated himself.  If the Academy had seen her previous film, “Short Term 12”, which hardly anyone seen, she would have received equal acclaim and recognition just three years ago.  Cate Blanchett’s extraordinary portrayal of “Carol”, doesn’t stand a chance against Larson.

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Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson in “Room”. Credit: Photo by George Kraychyk, courtesy of A24.

Best Supporting Actress will most likely go to import Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl”, who has gotten much exposure over the last year.  The Swedish crossover actress last year made a few noteworthy films in the U.K., including “Ex Machina”, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, and the “Testament of Youth”.  Her only other possible rival Kate Winslet, who also had a banner year with her nominated performance in “Steve Jobs”, and an Australian film, “The Dressmaker”, which hits the States next month.

The real fun belongs in the Best Supporting Actor category.  Historically, the winner of the Screen Actors Guild usually goes on to take the award, but this year’s winner, Idris Elba, a great actor of “diversity”, was not even nominated this year, even though he won for Best Supporting Actor at the BAFTA’s for “Beasts of No Nation”.  Out of the five Oscar nominees, all the others (Rylance, Bale, Ruffalo, Hardy) are equally deserving.

However, the iconic Sylvestor Stallone, who won the Golden Globe, looks like he will likely be the victor.  In addition, he may be able to help save the Academy’s “diversity” issue by giving a nice speech acknowledging that “Creed’s” Michael B. Jordan deserves to be in his place, instead of him.  That would be a true “Rocky” ending.  “Yo Rock!”….

Last year’s Best Director winner for “Birdman”, Alejandro G. Innaritu, will be only the third person to win back-to-back victories for a director.  Though, his film, “The Revenant”, like “Birdman”, is not everyone’s cup of tea.  However, no one can complain about his masterful visceral vision bringing us back to the days of fur traders and Native Americans back in the 1800’s. Not sure how he was able to pull it off in the extreme conditions when they were filming on location.  Hopefully, another win for diversity.

Regardless, if Tom McCarthy doesn’t get Best Director for “Spotlight”, he will definitely receive the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, along with his co-writer, Josh Singer, for their seamless screenplay.  Too bad there’s no award for “Best Ensemble Acting”, as it would win hands down against the other seven Best Picture nominees.  Same applies to Andy McKay and Charles Randolph, for their adapted screenplay for “The Big Short”, which should give them a consolation prize for them as well.

Look for Mad Max to win Art Direction, Costume, Makeup, and Sound Mixing.  Possibly Visual Effects, if Star Wars-The Force Awakens doesn’t win it.

Hungary’s “Son of Saul” should take Best Foreign Film.  A first for it’s country.   “Amy” should take Best Documentary.  Pixar’s “Inside Out” will take Best Animated Film.

The Documentary shorts and Live Action categories are tossups, though I have a personal affinity to Kosovo’s short live action film, “Shok” and Don Hertzfeldt’s Animated Short, “The World of Tomorrow”.  If I did a prediction for these categories, I would predict that I would predict wrong.

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CES2016 – VR, DRONES AND “AUTO”MOBILES

 

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DJI drone admirers at CES 2015.                                           Photo by Marcus Siu

Article and photos by Marcus Siu

LAS VEGAS, JANUARY 5, 2016:  The CES show, formerly known as the “Consumer Electronics Show” seems to be running out of space each year.  In the days when CES was all exclusively consumer electronics, the expansive space has been taken away by booths displaying the technology of the companies, such as in cars,  drones and wearable interactive video games that have you running around in all different directions.  These companies need much more space to demo their wares than ever before. It’s no longer just about consumer electronics.

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TRW’s autonomous car booth at CES 2015.                         Photo by Marcus Siu

Autonomous cars, which like it or not, will be here very soon.  The top forefront runners of the electric car revolution include Tesla, Google, and Mobileye, who have been developing them early on its inception, but many of the traditional car makers, such as Mercedes, Toyota, Ford, and Kia are quickly adopting this technology, as well, in order to compete.  Toyota has announced at CES 2016 that they are unveiling a new mapping system using GPS and cameras to be used in their self-driving cars. Ford has just announced a breakthrough involving sensors accelerating road testing.

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Tesla’s cars, such as the Model X, at CES 2015, currently has live updates toward “auto pilot”for hands free driving.  Photo by Marcus Siu

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A demo at Virtuix Omni at CES 2015.                                     Photo by Marcus Siu

This will be the year where VR and Augmented Reality will make it’s major breakthrough with the public. VR booths will increase to 40 at CES 2016.  It is not only used for gaming, like the Oculus Rift, Sony Morpheus, or HTC Vive, that uses the technology, but applications such as business development and training used by Casio and ODG Technology smart glasses that uses augmented reality, that are almost like wearable computers, but without the weight, of course.

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Occulus line at CES 2015.                                                           Photo by Marcus Siu

Even with the F.A.A regulations, as well as the hassle of registration, drones will be even bigger business in 2016.  Drone companies will be competing for air space at CES 2016.  The number of booths at CES will increase to 27 this year, with the number one manufacturer in the world, China’s DJI at the forefront of the industry.

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Qualcomm demonstrates its Snapdragon technology at CES 2015.          Photo by Marcus Siu

Qualcomm also plans to demo its drone with its latest Snapdragon technology which supports autonomous flight controls, using motion planning sensors to avoid obstacles, motion planning, and integrated 4K video recording camera.

Technology is changing at a rapid pace and so is CES 2016.

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MLS ENTERTAINMENT’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2015

It has been an amazing year in film.  Here are MLS Entertainment’s top 10 film features of the year in alphabetical order.

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Shu Qi in a scene from The Assassin. Courtesy of Well Go USA.

THE ASSASSIN – Mainstream movie goers were disappointed expecting “The Assassin” to be another Asian action film, such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.  However, upon immediate viewing comes the breathtaking cinematography, gorgeous costumes, and set designs directed from one of the masters of world cinema, Hou Hsiao-Hsien.  His latest opus is his first wuxia film combining music, dance, literature and martial arts.  It is deliberately meditative, but a rich and complex film that should be seen more than once to really appreciate.   Winner for Best Director at Cannes.

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Tom Hanks stars as James Donovan in the incredible story of an ordinary man placed in extraordinary circumstances in DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 PIctures’ dramatic thriller BRIDGE OF SPIES, directed by Steven Spielberg. from Disney Media Files site

BRIDGE OF SPIES: Steven Spielberg executes a near perfect film with his main leading man, Tom Hanks, who has never been better, playing an American lawyer during the Cold War, whose moral obligations, despite the obvious danger he puts himself into, unknowingly to his family, forces him to defend a man accused of being a Soviet spy, superbly played by Mark Rylance.

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Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn (2015).  Courtesy of Fox Searchlight.

BROOKLYN:  This year’s romantic tearjerker.  It starts off with a familiar theme of a mother who sacrifices her most beloved daughter to immigrate to America in order to make a better life, but both having to  deal with the consequences later after still trying to make up her mind where her “home” actually is.  Beautifully acted by Saoirse Ronan with a wonderfully crafted original screenplay by Nick Hornby.

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Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in “Carol”.  Courtesy of the Weinstein Company.

CAROL:  Todd Haynes directs Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the two female lovers, with amazing grace, sensitivity, and depth.  Along with its screenplay, written by Phyllis Nagy, the film feels true and organic with not a false note in it.  Cate Blanchett, who had a banner year with this film and “Truth” and Rooney Mara takes the script and makes it come to life for a 50’s time period piece.  At Oscar time, look for Blanchett and Mara to get nominations.

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Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina.  Courtesy of Universal.

EX MACHINA – A suspenseful minimalist Sci-Fi mystery thriller about a computer programmer who participates in an A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) experiment.   First time director Alex Garland creates an eerie atmosphere with nuanced performances from the three main leads; Alicia Vikander, Domnhall Gleeson, and Oscar Isaac, all whom are actors to watch in the next decade.

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Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke and RJ Cyler in Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. Courtesy of Fox Searchlight.

ME, EARL AND THE DYING GIRL:  Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, directs the most compassionate and honest movie about what it’s like to be in high school.  For many, that might not might be the reason to want to see this movie, but with its richly well-defined script, along with the chemistry of the lead actors in this film, is well worth it.  It’s also endearing that the two male characters are filmmakers who make parodies of classic films, such as “It’s a Punderful Life” or “Gross Encounters of the Turd Kind”.  Also it helped to have one of my favorite artists, Brian Eno, as the main part of the soundtrack.  Winner of both the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award.

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Géza Röhrig as Saul                 Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

SON OF SAUL: Sure, there has been thousands of films made about the Holocaust over the last 50 years, so who needs yet another one?  This one is quite different. Directed by László Nemes, is shot with only the perspective of a Jewish worker at the Auschwitz concentration camp as he tries to find a rabbi to give a child a proper burial.  The film doesn’t focus on the obvious horrors around the camp that are repeated throughout countless Holocaust films, but follows only the character as he carries his job responsibilities and personal motives.  Winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize.

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Michael Keaton, Brian d’Arcy James, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery and Rachel McAdams in “Spotlight”.  Photo by Kerry Hayes.

SPOTLIGHT: The subject matter about journalists from the Boston Globe uncovering the child molestation scandal and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese doesn’t quite sound like a great dinner conversation topic, but it certainly makes a compelling movie.  Tom McCarthy who also co-wrote the script, directs an amazing ensemble of actors seamlessly, including Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams. If the Oscars could make a new category called “Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture”, this film would win hands down.

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John Boyega and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.        Courtesy of  Lucasfilm.

STAR WARS – THE FORCE AWAKENS: It’s refreshing to have the Star Wars franchise start with anew with director J.J. Abrams at the helm.  The film has quite a different look to it.  It will be interesting to see what happens in December of next year, to see if the sequels will hold up, but this film rocks!  My favorite popcorn movie…even though I don’t eat popcorn.

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Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel star in “Youth”.  Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.

YOUTH: Paolo Sorrentino’s follow up to “The Great Beauty”, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film two years ago, follows his familiar themes of life and reflection, along with hints of Fellini, that made his films so well liked that it swept the European Film Festival Awards this year, along with an award for Sir Michael Caine for Best Actor.  Sumptuously shot by Luca Bigazzi.

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