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Cinema vs Studios



After waiting for over a year and plagued with production problems that could put the very word problem to shame, the DC Extended Universe’s (DCEU) latest offering, the Justice League opened in theatres this Friday, November 17, 2017. For the fans of DC comics, it is the first offering that has brought the greatest superheroes in the DC universe together on the silver screen.

They had very high hopes from the movie after the debacle of the past films, Wonder Woman aside and expected that Justice League would be surefire megahit that would not only earn money but also provide movie-goers with an experience of satisfaction and wholesomeness. And boy, they could never have been any more wrong.

While it is not true that the Justice League is a bad movie. Like all movies, it has its moments of glory and grandeur and there are moments where it is a stupid mess. It would not be wrong to say that some of the scenes in the movie are pure bliss, scenes that capture the very essence of the comics and pander to their fandom. I would not be lying if I said that a few scenes in the movie are some of the very best that could ever be in a super-hero film. The casting, DCEU’s strongest point, is further strengthened by the addition of highly talented actors.  But it would be naïve to ignore the mess the movie is. Scenes are disjointed, there is a serious lack of co-ordination, heavy use of CGI and above all, a plot that feels rushed and under-developed. Justice League could have a sure-fire megahit (there is no doubt it will still make a ton of money) and a critic’s delight if it could just have been properly made but it appears that DCEU is yet to take lessons from last year’s Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. And the worst part of all this is that the sole body responsible for this abysmal failure of the Justice League is none other than the studio behind it, Warner Bros. Dude, ever heard of the saying that don’t chop the very branch you are sitting on?

Ask any kid who grew up in the 90’s who their favorite comic book superheroes are? Most would say Superman or Batman (both DC properties) with an odd few naming Spiderman (Marvel) or Fantastic Four (also, Marvel). Iron Man, who? Thor, what? Black Widow? Never heard of her. But today, it should be a matter of grave concern to the makers of the Justice League if the movies containing the tent poles of comics are making far less money that the movies containing these non-descript heroes. For me, it was nothing less than a shocker when the Batman v Superman grossed a measly USD 875 million, far far less than any good Marvel Movie. Don’t get me wrong but it is not that DC movies are pure shit, the infamous “Martha-moment” or the entire Suicide Squad aside or Marvel Movies are all great. But it is really disheartening to see Superman and Batman being pummeled down by these beings of far lesser significance. Wonder Woman was great and well-loved by all. Why not the others?

The root cause in the DCEU’s repeated false starts is the behavior of the studio executives who know nothing about comics and everything about making money by the most shameless forms. The latest diktat by the CEO of Warner Bros that Justice League should be limited to around 2 hours of running time to maximize screens was stupid & ill-advised, at best or suicidal, at worst. The movie had to establish the Flash, Cyborg and the Aquaman as Justice League Members with credible back stories, pave the way for the resurrection of the Superman after his death near the end of Batman v Superman, initiate the coming of the big-bad Darkseid, explain the McGuffins, establish the role of the Green Lantern corps in the movies, provide enough groundwork for future ventures, be good enough and earn a hell lotta cash to justify the investments in the DCEU. This was compounded by the personal tragedy of Jack Snyder which led to him leaving the movie and the roping in of Joss Whedon to complete the movie. Whedon, unconfirmed reports suggest, re-shot over 30% of the movie and changed the movie’s tone (Take that Marvel-you copied our superheroes, we will copy your cinematic style). It would be an understatement to say that the production was under pressure and the diktat made the matters worse. How could anyone cram a plot so huge into a runtime so little? Did WB not learn even a single lesson from the receptions of the theatrical release of BvS and its extended edition? The butchering of the reels and the garbage that has filtered out is not the movie millions of fans were waiting for. It is smoking mess, nothing else. True, the individual scenes are pure gold and that is a testament to the entire production crew but the movie-goers went to watch a full solid movie not any disjointed mess of movie fragment of a few mins here and there.

This is unfortunate. Movie audiences are being taken for a ride by the big studios and this must stop. Injustice has been done to the Justice League. When will “Justice be served”? Who will truly “assemble the league”. This, only time will tell.  


Building intercultural competences in Costa Rica

MD Staff



© UNESCO Participants using “Story Circles” to develop intercultural competence

In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Youth of Costa Rica, Parque La Libertad, the Costa Rican National Human Rights Institution and the Spanish Cultural Centre in Costa Rica, UNESCO conducted the third pilot of the UNESCO Manual on Intercultural Competences based on Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica, from 7 to 9 March 2018.

Building on the previous pilot sessions in Bangkok, Thailand, and Harare, Zimbabwe, the Costa Rican pilot provided an additional opportunity to test the manual’s adaptability and effectiveness in different contexts, both from the perspective of facilitation, and with regard to its ability to build individual capacities for intercultural dialogue and understanding.

Over the course of three days, UNESCO led a training of trainers session with national authorities, local NGO leaders, educators and other community leaders, as well as two pilot sessions – facilitated by the newly trained local personnel – with over 70 participants from a broad cross-section of Costa Rica’s population. The pilot sessions included a particular focus on indigenous groups, and community-level work for youth-focused violence prevention.

Ms Viviana Boza, Vice-Minister of Youth from Costa Rica, opened the proceedings, highlighting “the importance of this collaboration which allows us to enhance our comprehension of the   cultural differences and challenges facing Costa Rica to advance the resolution of intercultural and intergenerational conflicts”.

Against the backdrop of growing cultural diversity and intercultural interaction within the sub-region, the methodology proposed in this manual provides an accessible activity based on story-telling to bring people together to reflect upon their differences and challenge their preconceptions. It provides a unique opportunity for participants to improve their capacity for empathy, tolerance, listening and understanding, and therefore reflect on sources of conflict and misunderstanding.

Indeed, given the serious global challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, learning how to live together is an imperative for advancing sustainable and inclusive development. To this end, learning to be intercultural competent – in other words, having the skills needed to enhance connections and understanding across difference – is essential.

The lessons learnt from this pilot session will inform final adaptions to the manual to maximize its relevance once publically released, including within the Latin American and Caribbean context. It also contributed to the building of a strong foundation of trained facilitators to help mobilize the manual’s wide dissemination and use following its expected publication before the end of 2018.


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Ballet and Opera Set Sail With Silversea in 2018 and 2019

MD Staff



Ultra-luxury Silversea has announced a new collection of ballet and opera-themed sailings for 2018 and 2019. These Enriched Voyages, designed to blend culture and travel for a more immersive experience, will feature evocative opera shows performed by the world-renowned Accademia Teatro alla Scala and classic ballet performances by soloists from such legendary companies as the State Academic Bolshoi Theater of Russia. Along with lectures and Q&A sessions, guests will have the chance to mingle with the artists at a signature cocktail party.

“We are thrilled and honored to welcome such extraordinary talent from the performing arts,” said Barbara Muckermann, Silversea’s chief marketing officer. “I know our guests on these exclusive voyages will be both enriched and inspired by the exceptional onboard entertainment experience.”

Opera Voyages

Based in Milan, Italy, Accademia Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Theater Academy) is one of the world’s foremost performing arts academies. Its internationally renowned performers and instructors offer the highest level of artistic education for aspiring and gifted singers, dancers, and musicians from every corner of the world. Four soloists from its Academy of Lyric Opera and a piano accompanist will perform a selection of opera’s most beautiful librettos for the enjoyment of Silversea guests aboard:

Silver Muse departs September 28, 2018 on a 10-day voyage from Venice to Athens with calls in Rovinj, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Katakolon, Nafplion, Santorini and Rhodes. Early Booking Bonus fares start at $9,360 per guest.

Silver Spirit departs April 25, 2019 on a 7-day voyage from Barcelona to Rome with calls in Porto Mahon, Alghero, Cagliari, Trapani and Sorrento. Early Booking Bonus fares start at $3,150 per guest.

Silver Shadow departs October 22, 2019 on an 11-day, roundtrip voyage from Athens with calls in Mykonos, Crete, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Limassol, Haifa and Ashdod. Early Booking Bonus fares start at $4,230 per guest.

Silver Muse | photo courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Ballet Voyages

Daria Khokhlova and Artemy Belyakov, acclaimed ballet solo performers of the State Academic Bolshoi Theater of Russia, one of the world’s most renowned ballet companies, are returning to Silversea for an exclusive engagement aboard Silver Muse’s August 19, 2018 sailing from Venice to Monte Carlo. The 10-day voyage will visit Opatija, Dubrovnik, Valletta, Trapani, Olbia, Portofino and Livorno. Early Booking Bonus fares start at $6,480 per guest.

Silver Muse’s March 21, 2019 voyage from Singapore to Hong Kong will feature soloists from a yet-to-be-announced ballet company. The 13-day voyage will feature calls in Koh Samui, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Early Booking Bonus fares start at $6,300 per guest.

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L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the dog Artistic crafts share unique perspectives

MD Staff



The elegance, the refinement and the technical nature of the ultra-thin L.U.C XP Urushi watch have made it a cult model. Each year, Chopard draws inspiration from the repertoire of Chinese astrology to offer a fresh interpretation of its Urushi dial, an ancestral Japanese technique. Staging an encounter between beauty and precision, East and West, Chopard places creativity at the heart of cultural ties and of its commitment to perpetuating traditions.

2018 marks the celebration of the Year of the Dog. Its iconography, its universal symbolism and its mythological strength are showcased in an exceptional L.U.C watch issued in an 88-piece limited series: The L.U.C XP Urushi –Year of the dog. This masterpiece of fine craftsmanship began with an encounter between two perspectives. That of the Urushi master and of the master-watchmaker at Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier, both intently focused on their work. The deft hands decorating the dial of the L.U.C XP Urushi, just like those capable of developing and producing the L.U.C 96.17-L calibre, perpetuate time-honoured skills bearing authentic testimony to their respective cultures. Together, they celebrate the Year of the Dog, the 11th sign of the Chinese zodiac, for a year dedicated to generosity and loyalty.

Generosity meets loyalty

In the Chinese zodiac, each sign is the expression of a distinctive nature. The entire range of qualities associated with the dog is thus reflected in the L.U.C XP Urushi – Year of the Dog watch. Eager for justice, sensitive and faithful by nature, dogs devote all their strength to serving others, without ever impinging on others’ freedom. Their devotion withstands every trial and when they love, it is for life. They also cultivate an attitude to work based on commitment, personal involvement and a serious-minded attitude that implies making the most of individual skills, giving true meaning to their existence, and basically leading a useful, honest and consistent life. Dogs are builders and protectors demonstrating unfailing loyalty. Chopard has decided to embody this canine through a representative of the extremely beautiful Asian ‘Akita’ breed, depicted in a lush natural setting dotted with wild orchids and enhanced by the fluttering presence of a dragonfly, regarded as a lucky charm and a good omen.

Urushi: a time-honoured art

Urushi is an ancestral lacquer technique. Its name stems from the tree whose resin is patiently harvested, once a year, in very small quantities. Three to five years after being collected, the resin is treated in such a way as to become a highly resistant lacquer applied in a number of extremely fine layers. The Urushi Master then imprisons within it a number of tiny iridescent particles that endow it with distinctive depth, luminosity, and exquisitely fine nuances. Only a rare few artists have the skills required to perform this technique. Chopard called upon Master Kiichiro Masumaro to oversee the creation of the L.U.C XP Urushi dials. He is recognised as a master of his art and has been raised to the status of “national human treasure” in Japan. The dials were executed by the Urushi Grand Master Minori Koizumi. For this collaborative endeavour, Chopard secured the services of the Yamada Heiando company, official purveyor to the Japanese imperial family.

An exceptional watch Manufacture

An exceptional movement was needed to give life to this dial. At the heart of the ultra-thin case measuring 39.5 mm in diameter and 6.8 mm thick beats the mechanical self-winding L.U.C 96.17-L movement. Equipped with two barrels ensuring a 65-hour power reserve by means of Twin® technology, this calibre achieves the feat of fitting inside such a slim case thanks to the off-centred 22-carat gold micro-rotor. It is bevelled, engraved and guilloché, while the bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève. This sophisticated movement decoration and finishing is performed by expert hands at Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier, in accordance with the highest aesthetic quality standards of traditional watchmaking. The calibre is visible through the transparent exhibition back of the 18-carat rose gold case. A single glance reveals a tradition and a fascinating range of deft skills ranging from Switzerland to Asia, shaping the frontiers of a universal dialogue revolving around the spirit of excellence.

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