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Showing posts from December, 2016

REVIEW: 'Hidden Figures'

The great Space Race of the 1960s, as history books will explain, was a time filled with hope, innovation, and bravery. Hope amongst the American population, excited at the prospect of sending a man into the stars. Innovation surrounding the technology used to accomplish such a Herculean task. And bravery required of the pilots who were lined up to be the first human to travel where no man has gone before.

But little does history tell of the individuals who were instrumental in making all of that happen. See, HiddenFigures refers to both the unsung heroines who helped NASA scientists execute the perfect launch and the missing factors of a very large mathematical equation only a rare, intelligent mind could solve...

Check out my review of this exciting true story starring Taraji P. Henson over at ScreenPicks.

@TheFirstEcho

An Open Letter from 2016 to the World

Hello people,

It has recently come to my attention that a lot of you have many bones to pick with yours truly, and I'd like to take this opportunity to address and respond to some of your concerns and problems.

First of all, I apologize if you think I've let you down. Like most Januarys before, the first month held lots of promise. It was a fresh start. But then, a lot of shit happened.

Like, a lot...

Check out my latest on The Huffington Post -- HERE.

@TheFirstEcho

'Twas the Night Before Christmas: L.A. Edition

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through L.A. Not an actor was stirring, nor using valet. Tinder was ablaze with Netflix and chills, While the botox flowed freely in Beverly Hills.
The agents were stunned by stars who were deceased, While their heads filled with visions of box office receipts. And I in Marc Jacobs, my plus-one in Cavalli, Were just winding down from Spielberg's big party.
When out on the boulevard there arose such a noise, I put down my iPhone and saw several boys. They were scantily clad, yelling "Ho, ho, HO!" I thought to myself, "Must be from WeHo."
Then over to the left, nursing bottles of craft beer, The next batch of revelers were soon drawing near. The man-buns and flannel, I did not mistake, These hipsters were now arriving from Silverlake.
Not too far behind was a group very catty, Their offspring in strollers, quite loud and quite bratty, A dominant species in this part of Cali, I give you the housewives from OC and the Vall…

On the Loss of So Many Celebrities in 2016...

I've decided that, once I pass, I want to wake up in my own Gary Marshall-directed "San Junipero" where my alarm clock plays the below song every morning (#RIPAlanThicke), where my neighbors are Florence Henderson and Patty Duke, where Alan Rickman -- as Severus Snape -- owns a bakery down the street (next to Willy Wonka's factory), and every Friday night Prince and David Bowie perform duets at my neighborhood bar.

The 2016 Review: A Totally Critical Look Back

I think it's safe to say 2016 will go down in history as one of the stormiest years of the 21st century. Who knew, back in January, that 2016 would turn out to be a year most Americans would like to wipe from their collective memory?

No one wanted to say goodbye to iconic musicians and beloved actors week after week. No one wanted to be inundated with headlines about mass shootings and innocent lives lost to senseless gun violence. No one really wanted Suicide Squad...or Ryan Lochte's superb display of douchebaggery, which outdid his previous displays of douchebaggery. No one wanted to say "on fleek" anymore. And no one wanted to witness one of the most divisive and frustrating presidential elections in American history. (And for most of us, the rise of an egomaniacal, tweet-happy reality-TV misogynist who lied his way into the White House.)

But, despite how difficult it all was, we must look at the proverbial bright side of things.

2016 gave us the Summer of Strang…

The First Echo Turns 10!

Back in 2006, I decided to turn my chaptered "e-mail updates from L.A." (reserved for friends and family) into a blogsite. After all, everyone was doing it back then -- back when you could still catch Perez Hilton typing away on his laptop at the corner table inside The Coffee Bean near Sunset and Fairfax.

Why The First Echo? For those who haven't heard me explain it before, it's simply the English translation of my full first Japanese name: Hikoichi. (Now try saying that five times fast with my last name.)

Little did I know my little, self-indulgent "life updates" would turn into pop culture-flavored rants that would then lead me to opportunities like Hotter in Hollywood (2007-2016), ScreenPicks, Bello, and most recently, The Huffington Post.

And while I've branched out across the interwebs, I've always prided myself on having this site as my own personal hub of word vomit and random thoughts that I would publish to the ten (or hundred) people who…

REVIEW: 'Office Christmas Party'

Decking the halls with boughs of holly is sooo 20th century. And so are warm, fuzzy holiday movies about family, love, and friendship.

Hence why, over the past several years, we’ve been treated to such R-rated yuletide fare like A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, The Night Before, and most recently, Bad Santa 2. There’s an audience out there that appreciates penis gags and F-bombs to go with their cup of cheer, especially if that cheer is spiked or laced with illegal substances.

Office Christmas Party continues that naughty tradition with a venerable who’s who from the film and TV comedy world. It’s like the Love Actually of dude-centric workplace comedies, but depending on who you are, that may not be a comparison to be proud of...

Head on over to ScreenPicks to read my full review of the yuletide work-com.

@TheFirstEcho

INSERT EYE ROLL: The Trailer for 'Transformers: The Last Knight'

If the words "From Director Michael Bay" do not prompt an audible "ugh" from your lips, then you and I clearly have different tastes in movies. I'll just go ahead and accept the fact that you enjoy excessive explosions, slow-motion pan-arounds of actors looking beaten, and young nubile women baring their midriffs against sunset-tinged landscapes with an American flag flapping in the wind.

The trailer for the fifth Transformers movie dropped earlier today -- much to the disinterested dismay of those who can't fathom that the bombastic franchise has lasted this long.

"Optimus Prime has left us," says a British voiceover from...Sir Anthony Hopkins? (This is how far we've come?) I would probably peace out on Earth too after being subjected to an egomaniacal director, four films, and constant cast changes.

Did anyone besides a group of money-hungry studio suits ask for this sequel? Didn't think so.

@TheFirstEcho

HYBURN8: The 2017 Winter Playlist

The weather outside is gonna get frightful, but this playlist is so delightful.

And since you need to brighten your day...let it play, let it play, let it play...


Once again, be sure to check back here for more tunes as I'll be adding more throughout the next two months.@TheFirstEcho

#TBT: My December of 1996

Picture it: December, 1996.

I'm freezing in the back row of a van with my fellow speech-and-debate teammates in a shopping mall parking lot somewhere in Massachusetts. We've just finished (victoriously) competing at the annual Holly Speech Festival at Natick High School. We're still in our suits, blazers, and ties, and we're all exhausted. As I wait for some of my peers to come out of a nearby Starbucks, I proceed to listen to a mixtape on my Aiwa cassette tape player. It consists of "Lovefool" by The Cardigans and "Wannabe," a catchy gem from a new Britpop group called the Spice Girls.

Some of the guys talk about catching a late showing of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet, a daring retelling of Shakespeare's classic starring that girl from My So-Called Life and the pretty boy who was on Growing Pains for one season. I then make a mental note to add to my Christmas wish list a VHS copy of Independence Day. (I saw it twice in theaters earlier…