Netflix arrives in Italy

While Netflix has been providing video streaming since 2008, the service has finally arrived in Italy with lots of fanfare.

rinaz.net Netflix arrives in Italy

Netflix is basically a video streaming service where you could watch unlimited videos legally, on various platforms. While there are already other video streaming services in Italy, Netflix’s pricing is competitive, has a wide variety of shows and has subscriptions for multiple users in a single household at the same time.

So far, Cart and I are quite enamoured with it and we have been spending quite a fair bit of time (and social life)  exploring the various shows that it provided. We mainly watch them from our phones and our laptops.

rinaz.net Netflix arrives in Italy

What’s great about Netflix is that even when we are out of Italy, we could still watch the shows in other countries as long as we had an internet connection. My theory is that the shows we watch will be different depending on our location, but I’m not completely sure of that. We’ll find out more when we reach Singapore in mid December.

I used to plug my laptop to the TV via HDMI which can be a hassle. Recently though, I got for us a Chromecast set which we plug to the television.

This device sort of makes our smartphone be an interactive TV Control and allows us to broadcast certain apps from our phones straight to the television. It’s so convenient. Even if you don’t use Netflix, if you haven’t one yet, I think you should get one.  And at 38 euro, it isn’t that expensive.

rinaz.net Using Chromecast with Netflix

We used to have a HDMI dongle that converts our TV into a sort of a tablet. But I find Chromecast superior as it loads much faster and doesn’t bog down the internet connection too much. Plus, it’s much cheaper compared to the dongle which costs about 65 euro.

rinaz.net Using Chromecast with Netflix

Anyway some of the shows which I’ve watched and enjoyed :

Daredevil

A lot more interesting compared to the movie with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Gardner.

Orange is the new black

I didn’t get sucked into the hype but when I started watching it, I just couldn’t stop. I don’t think that I’d be able to watch season two though because of the finale. I don’t see how it can continue to be “Comedy”

Cowspiracy

This documentary was insightful on how intensive animal farming plays a huge part in pollution.

The True Cost

This is a show about fast fashion – and watching this, makes me feel compelled to get more clothes from independent seamstresses or second hand shops.

rinaz.net Netflix arrives in Italy

One of the features I like is that the app keeps track of the shows that you’ve watched.

There are a lot more shows to explore – Narcos which has been recommended a lot, Under the Dome which should be interesting since it was written by Stephen King and Cart has been obsessed with Battlestar Galactica. He finds the series smart and very well written.  I can’t bear to watch it though, after seeing the first episode, I find the entire storyline is so depressing. I prefer watching comedies and light hearted shows.

Suffice to say, I’m loving the Netflix experience so far. I’m not sure how it works though, after a month does the videos rotate? Does new videos come in next month and older videos are taken down from streaming?

rinaz.net Netflix arrives in Italy

Also, you can change the audio and subtitles to and from English to Italian as well as other languages where available. 

It didn’t seem that long ago when I went down to the DVD shop near my parent’s house and browsed through the jewel cases. It was like 10 dollars to rent 5 DVDs for a week. And then walk to the supermarket to get some junk food. Each weekend, we’d get together and watch a video. Things are so high-tech now.

P.s. If you’re using Telegram, there’s a bot which updates you on the videos that are available on Netflix according to your region. Just search for  ‘netflixnewsbot’.

Buon viaggio Pino Daniele

I first heard Pino Daniele’s music time ago while attending a concert at Circo Massimo. He has a distinctive, soft voice which grows on you and eventually I found that I enjoyed listening to his music which ranges from the blues, jazz and pop.

Pino Daniele

When listening to him speak, he sounds like a nice person. He was from Naples, which is why some of his songs has a Napoli dialect but he also infuses some with English too like, “Yes I know my way“.

His music was timeless to me, which was why I was stunned to hear about his recent passing due to a heart attack. He did a concert just a couple of days ago!  And reading his last tweet gives me the sads…

Buon viaggio Pino Daniele, probably one of the most talented Italian Singer-Song writer. You’ll always be remembered.

Pechino express in Singapore!

rinaz.net Pechino Express There is a reality TV game show in Italy called Pechino Express. This show is kind of like The Amazing Race but with the route focusing on Asia and the contestants have to hitch-hike and look for lodgings without paying money all throughout the competition. rinaz.net Pechino Express Being Singaporean, I enjoy watching this show because of the familiar elements and also of the cultural shock that the contestants face with challenges in communication as well as navigating in places which are strange to them. It was interesting for me to see the techniques that the contestants use, some begged, some bartered, some flirted … suffice to say, you’d have to have very thick skin to survive in this competition. rinaz.net Pechino Express Last week, the contestants were in Malaysia – Penang, Cameron Highlands, Kuala Lumpur and Larkin. I had a lot of fun with Cart, with us excitedly trying to spot out the places that we’ve already been to like the Tea Plantation where we stopped for some scones. rinaz.net Pechino Express (Eva is one of the funniest contestant there, openly gawking at how good looking the men were) Something interesting to note while the contestants were on the Kuala Lumpur monorail is the prohibition signs. ‘No eating’, ‘No Smoking’, ‘No Littering’ was the standard but there was also a ‘No Kissing’ sign. Asians are quite reserved naturally, so I was quite surprised to see the sign so outright. rinaz.net Pechino Express I thought the challenge that they did while in Larkin was a little off – according to the host, the contestants has to eat and finish the different ‘Typical Malaysian food’ before heading off to the next stop. rinaz.net Pechino Express Chicken feet was something common I guess, and cow lung, even boiled frogs but as far as I know, Bull Testicle isn’t commonly found in food chains in Malaysia. rinaz.net Pechino Express (And according to the host, is very hard) What I admire about the contestants is their tenacity in pushing on to the next challenge and it was always gratifying to see so many kind hearted people willing to host them in their houses for the night. rinaz.net Pechino Express So when they reached Singapore, I thought for sure that they would have a hard time. Singapore, being a metropolitan city with a fast paced life, I didn’t think that there would be many who were kind. And their first challenge there was to find a place to shower and change into their fancy outfits. rinaz.net Pechino Express To my surprise, while most hesitated for a while, practically everyone was willing to share their homes to the contestants when asked. There wasn’t that much airtime in Singapore though, as they basically went to Raffles Hotels and drink the Singapore Sling as a challenge and then had to rush off to to Indonesia after that. Some might think that Singapore is too small to have many challenges, but I think there are a lot more ideas that we can come out with. rinaz.net Pechino Express Nevertheless, if you’re interested you could watch the show in full from the Rai 2 website. It’s in Italian, but even if you didn’t understand the language, it’s still interesting to see the different sceneries 🙂

The Singapore leg starts at about the 88.00 point. Another 2 more episodes to go till the finale! 🙂

Just watched Godzilla 2014 and here is a sort of a review

I’m not much of a cinema goer. But when I got to know of Festa del Cinema, Cart and I decided to go for it as it happened to be the final day. The festa del cinema was an event where you pay 3 euro to watch any movie in participating cinemas. On normal days it would cost about 10 euro.

Festa del Cinema 2014

There is a small cinema which is just a few minutes walking distance away from where we live and we decided to go there as it was convenient.

There were a lot groups of teenagers and young adults conglomerating around when we reached there. We bought our tickets and entered the theatrette when it was time.

I don’t know if it’s the same for all areas in Italy, but watching a movie in a small cinema in Rome can be an interesting experience. The atmosphere felt as if I was in a stadium – the group of people I was with were boisterous. But it was not in an unkind way. It was more an unconstrained excitement.

After all, we were watching the much anticipated Godzilla.

Godzilla @ Festa del Cinema 2014

Godzilla is giant monster that looks like a dinosaur. Created in the 50’s in Japan, it was initially conceived as a metaphor about nuclear bombs after the second world war. It eventually became a pop culture icon with numerous TV shows, films and other medium.

For some, it might be a little over the top with the monster being able to shoot fire out of it’s mouth. And to be honest, I wasn’t too keen on watching it as I’ve never been a fan. Nevertheless, after watching it, I thought that it was worth watching.

During the screening, I couldn’t help but be extremely amused when the projectionist accidentally put in the 3D version of the movie when we paid for the regular version. Practically everyone in the room were complaining and shouting at the blurry scenes and then cheered when the right film started.  It was as if I was part of a modern version of Cinema Paradiso.

Godzilla @ Festa del Cinema 2014

I don’t want to give too much spoilers away, but I thought that the movie and the filmography was a good homage to the original Godzilla series.

There were a number of support casts ranging from Bryan Cranston from ‘Breaking Bad’ playing the role of a nuclear technician as well as Ken Watanabe who I recognize from ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’, playing the role of a Japanese scientist.

The sceneries in the movie looked beautiful and lush and I especially loved the scene of the boy looking out of the window in his school, his classmates running out in the lush garden with cherry blossoms an irony when overlooking the collapsing nuclear generator.

Godzilla @ Festa del Cinema 2014

Of course the biggest (literally) protagonist would have to be the king of the monsters itself. Looking as close as possible to the original series, almost everyone cheered during the scenes when Godzilla appeared. There were many action and touching moments to grip even a non fan like me. I gasped at many of the scenes.

While the movie was dubbed in Italian, it wasn’t too tough to follow the storyline. It was a good show and thanks to the very excited company I was surrounded with, I was enthralled and had a doubly memorable experience in the end.

The voice of Italy – A different kind of singing competition

By now, I think you’ve already heard of the singing nun :

I find it extremely amusing seeing the faces of the four judges as they turn to see her, looking completely gobsmacked. By the way, this video has been viewed 31 million times in a span of just 7 days!

This clip was taken from the program, The Voice of Italy. And while I think that Italian TV is quite saturated with singing competitions, there is a little twist that makes the voice of Italy an interesting show.

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

The big difference between this show and regular singing competitions is that the four judges have their seats turned away from their stage. The seats are big, so they are not able to see the contestants and can only judge by what they hear.

The contestant will sing and while they are singing, the judges decide if they like what they hear. If one judge turns the contestant will automatically be mentored by that judge.

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

But if two or more turn around, the contestant has the power to choose the judge they want to be mentored by.

To me this format is quite refreshing as the focus would be completely on the voice of the singer – it wouldn’t matter how they look or dress as long as they sound good.

The voice of Italy is presided by four coaches, each of them an icon in their own right :

J-ax

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

J-ax is a rapper and rock singer from Milan. He started as a a rap group in 1990 and went solo 2005 on wards. One of his famous song is Piccoli per sempre.

Noemi

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

Noemi is probably most recognized as a former contestant of X Factor Italia. The interesting thing is that she didn’t emerge as the winner, not even the runner up,  nevertheless she turned out to be the most successful among all of the contestants of that season.

At this point of writing, I hear her song, Bagnati del Sole a lot on the radio.

Rafaella Carra

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

Wow, she was probably one of Lady Gaga’s inspiration. Rafaella Carra’ was known as a TV host about a show that reunites families around the world live.

I think she’s more well known as a singer and a dancer. Always dressed flamboyantly in shiny outfits when performing, in the 1970s she came out with the songs Tuca Tuca,  a far l’amore comincia tu, as well as Tanti Auguri.

The hair swish thing that she does while dancing is her trademark and you’ll see her doing that often in her performance.

Piero Pelu`

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

Piero Pelu` started as a rock singer from  the band Litfiba in early 1980. He produced a solo album in 2000. I’m not familliar with his songs, but I really love the one where he made a duet with Anggun.

The song is gorgeous and the two powerful voices blend so well together.

So far in the program, the auditions are over and the judges will now start to be coach the singers. Would be interesting to see how this develops so I guess I’ll try to remember to tune in the telly next Wednesday.

Massimo Ranieri – an Italian heart throb

I was at my inlaws place where we happened to watch a show called Sogno e son desto.

Massimo Ranieri @rinaz.net

Normally, I don’t enjoy watching talent shows on Italian public station, Rai as they tend to talk too much and sing too little. But watching the show, I was transfixed at the singer – for an older man, he has a lot of stamina to host and sing non stop for the entire show. I didn’t even see him pause for a drink! I would have been very thirsty and to me, that was impressive.

I was told that his name is Massimo Ranieri. Born in Naples, he started performing at a very young age, but he only became extremely popular in the late 60s when he became a teen idol.

Curious, I looked online to see what he looked like when he was younger.

Massimo Ranieri @rinaz.net

Ooh! What a cute boy! He reminds me a of a young Michael J Fox during his Back to the Future days. and I can understand why girls would go gaga over him back then.

Massimo Ranieri @rinaz.net

In the video below, he is performing a song called Rose Rosse (Roses Red) and you’ll probably hear girls screaming in the background.

I also like the songs Vent’Anni, Lacrime Napulitane and Adagio Veneziano among others.

Listening to his songs,  you can’t deny that he is very talented. He’s not just a pretty face, but he is a very good singer with a powerful voice, A powerful combination.

Massimo Ranieri @rinaz.net

If I were an Italian teenage girl back then, I’m not sure if I would go crazy over him. I didn’t get caught in the hype of 90s boybands. But one thing I’m quite sure of, is that at least one my girlfriends would probably be gushing about him non stop!

The cartoons of ballaro

At around 9 pm every Tuesday,  Cart would usually be in front of the telly watching Ballarò. This is a popular tv programme which showcases politics and current events.

Ballaro Lorenzo Terranera

As a non Italian, it can get tough to follow, especially during the open talk session where the invited speakers debates with other guests, usually in a fast and furious manner. Like how it is in this video clip.

Ballaro Lorenzo Terranera

Nevertheless from this show, I’ve learnt a number of interesting occurrences, like how how increasingly Italian pensioners retire in Belgium because of the lower cost of living and how medical tourism is booming in Poland.

Ballaro Lorenzo Terranera

But the thing that I love most about it though, is the illustrations. Ballarò has an opening theme with an adorable round mascot.

I was transfixed since the first sight. I love the choice of colours, the shapes and the clean lines, especially when it’s accompanied with such cheerful music. It’s a little ironic, considering the serious topics which makes the bulk of the show.

Ballaro Lorenzo Terranera

The name of the artist for these illustrations is Lorenzo Terranera and looking through his artwork, I find him amazingly talented and witty, the way he is able to capture real life topics, make it cute and still retain the irony of the situation.

Ballaro Lorenzo Terranera

Since watching the show, I kept telling Cart how much I would really love to meet the illustrator and let them know at the amount of delight their work has brought me.

Ballaro Lorenzo Terranera

The last time that Lorenzo Terranera held a gallery exhibition was two years ago though. I wonder if he’ll do another one in the near future.

My handsome friend on the telley

So I was channel surfing on the telley late last night and stumbled on this channel where it happened to be that they were doing a rather seedy advertisement. But it’s nothing out of the ordinary by the way, as nudity is common on Italian tv during late nights.

(And no, I’m not posting any of those sort of pictures in my blog)

I was just about to change the channel when I saw this face :

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He looks very familiar …

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It’s when he gave this big smile was when I realised who he was!

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Why it’s our dear friend from Mondo Convenienza! Awww! He’s so famous now! I wonder where we’ll spot him in next? 🙂

Hypnotised by peppa pig

Peppa Pig is a cartoon series that runs for about 5 minutes each episode, starring a pig called Peppa, her little brother George and their mum and dad. In Italy you could watch it on Sky Disney Channel Junior or Rai Yoyo. Although it originated from UK, it’s very popular in Italy – where ever you go, you can’t escape them – you could find them in supermarkets, toy shops, bookshops – EVERYWHERE!

I didn’t get the hype until I finally caught a couple of episodes … and now I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’m quite hypnotised by Peppa Pig. Let me explain to to you why :

1. The catchy opening music

The “Doot! Doot doot doot doot!” is extremely catchy and repeated so much that I could memorize by heart “Io sono Peppa Pig (oink) e questo e’ mio fratellino George (oink) Lei e’ Mamma Pig  (oink) e lui e’ Papa’ Pig (OINK!)

Peppa Pig

(Kind of reminds of me when I was younger and my siblings would drag me to watch The Teletubbies and I can recognize all the freaking characters)

I have to say though, that the repetitive music is quite hypnotic. It’s understandable how easily people could get brainwashed by something.

2. Charming artwork

Although to some, the drawings look simplistic, I love how clean the artwork looks like and especially the choice of colours used in the animation. They are so cheery and bright. I love looking at them.

Peppa Pig

Although I have to mention about how the characters are drawn. You notice that all their faces are drawn sideways but their eyes are always two.

Perhaps I might be a little perverse, but the lead characters, especially Daddy Pig’s head look like uh … man bits. I have a theory about that making them more memorable and leaving a psychological imprint.

3. It’s relaxing

I like hearing the voice of the narrator, and of the characters talking and when they giggle. I even find it amusing when George cries (and he cries often). I find it really tranquil and relaxing and I forget to be angry :p

Peppa Pig

4. Hearing Italian grammar and vocabulary

Impressively for a kid’s show, there are a number of words that I’ve never heard before like – scorciatoia (shortcut) and pozzanghera (puddle) and I am amazed at the level of grammar that they include like congiuntivo which can be challenging to learn even for Native Italians.

Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig does have her own controversies, such as it reportedly making it children behave worse or it being a bad influence. Personally, I think that all kids are naturally kids and how they behave is largely due to their environment.

Nevertheless, watching Peppa Pig, makes me wish sometimes that I could have the same level of popularity with my own toons. I enjoy drawing and I’d like to start with merchandising at least but the trouble is, I just have no idea where to start!

Peppa Pig