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Showing posts from November, 2012

Jersey Boys

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Lucky us to be the out of town tryout venue for this South American company. A nostalgic roadtrip for fans of The Four Seasons and 60s era rock n roll. Initially the South African tinged Jersey/Italiano accent was a tad trying on the ears which made the starting a bit slow and boring. It was not until the group officially formed that the musical hit its stride with all the hits coming on one after the other. The American Band Stand scenes stood out for its innovativeness and choreography. But some scenes' blocking definitely needs more work. As do some of the dialogue and delivery which fell flat. The highlights were surely the hits and in particular "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". Singing wise they do sound like The Four Seasons especially Valli but he did occasionally slipped in and out. An enjoyable night out especially for fans!

La Cantine

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Bruno Menard's new restaurant at Asia Square is solely for the office crowd: it doesn't open on weekends. Pity us non-Shenton people. That can be a turn off. The set lunch was a three course meal priced at $39++ which seemed alright. The amuse bouche was prawns based which I'm allergic to; server 1 says can change to salad but server 2 says cannot then went to check with chef which apparently says it is pre-prepared so also cannot change. First disappointment. First acid test failed two ways: 1) it's basic enough to change starters in a set course due to allergy, even a simple salad is good enough (but I can respect a chef's decision, but that doesn't that mean I approve of it); 2) servers shouldn't have conflicting opinions/instructions. After that incident, I was too miffed to search for a main course so settled on the set lunch's main. And watcha know!, they removed my butter knife even before I was done with the bread or the main course was served (…

Life of Pi [IMAX] [3D]

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disclaimer: I just finished the book the day before the movie

Book: Finally re-read this book 10 years after I gave up on it less than midway through. Back than, I remembered reading it and going "huh?", but now, 10 years older, I kind of better appreciate the storytelling, the structure and the underlying message of faith, belief and life. Part One and Three nicely bookmark the themes that was presented in an allegorical Part Two which Martel described with such cinematic quality that it makes me very excited to watch Ang Lee translate it into 3D on IMAX (for good or bad)!

Movie: Visually stunning! 3D is really an absolute must for this Ang Lee spectacle! There's no doubt that he will get another Best Director nomination and the show will get noms for Best Picture, Best Effects, Best Cinematography (side: my bet still on "Skyfall" actually) and Best Adapted screenplay. Whether it will win is another matter, perhaps in Effects. But Ang Lee's direction was ama…

Rise of The Guardians [3D]

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An entertaining, fun cartoon that will surely appeal to the children. Adults who do not mind escaping into their childhood fantasy will also find it to be a rather good way to spend 90mins or so. 3D definitely is an added bonus and should enhance the enjoyment. With Guillermo del Toro as one of the producers, there is some expectations for this animation. It was short and sharp, well-paced with a root-able hero(es) and a despise-able villain. It seemed a trend these days in animations to have cute, lovable, and memorable bit characters, and this one too does not disappoint. The most memorable characters are actually the ones that have no dialogue and main purpose is to incite sniggers, chuckles and a smile. It may appear slightly too messy and schizophrenic at times, and the cacophony of colours may be over-dazzling, but nonetheless, the animation was still excellent. The plot was simple and starts in media res, with little background provided, but that's not necessary since targ…

La Pizzaiola

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Cheap pizza place somewhere in Serangoon area. From the same couple who owns Pietrasantra at Portsdown. Crowded place where reservation is necessary, but unfortunately I think it is over-rated. The best thing was the Chablis wine that I brought over myself (corkage $15) and the low price. However, this place validates the adage you pay for what you get. The garlic bread was in a pizza dough with garlic slices, salt and parsley strewn over. First intro to their pizza dough and it was plainly bland. The rucola and Parma ham pizza was so-so. The dough again was bland and uninteresting. Not thin nor chewy, and the tomato/cheese base was too stingy. The pizzas are baked in an electric oven, hence the lack of wood taste. The Parma ham was overly cured. Service was fast. The house/chef speciality pasta was too bland for my liking. It did not tantalise and felt gimmicky. Just because something is "healthy" does not mean it cannot taste good. The panna cotta was passable, topped with…

Frankenweenie [3D]

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A fun little black & white stop-motion animation twist of the classic Frankenstein tale from the darkly macabre mind of Tim Burton. Updated with some interesting modern and classic horror sight gags and in jokes: Dracula, Gozilla, Mummy, Super 8, Bride of Frankenstein, etc. An interesting first third and a fun, exciting, darkly funny last third, but pity the middle was too slow and draggy. Partly also because it was in B&W, so the slowness in story and pace was not negated by any visual excitement. Even Danny Elfman's score also seemed to take a snooze in the middle portion. 3D was definitely a fun experience in this case without the colour element. The animation is very similar to "Corpse Bride", so perhaps with the same colour palette it may have been even better. Occasionally I was reminded of that classic X-Files episode "Post Modern Prometheus", particularly during the slow moments.

We Need to Talk About Kevin [Blu-Ray]

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A totally dark drama that was a showcase for the finely nuanced and intense acting of the very under-rated Tilda Swinton. It was a story that was excellently told. The non-chronological storyline revealed glimpses of the end-game and although the viewer can guess what will/had happened, they never really know if it was true till the end. There was minimal dialogue in this show, and it all relied on the abilities of Swinton and the reliable John C Reily to tell the audience this story. Although it has many cliches throughout in trying to explain the motives of Kevin, we can see it as Eva trying to rationalise within herself why he had done what he did through what society has always been blaming bad/sociopathic behavior on. Similarly, it also falls upon us, the audience, to reflect whether the sins of the child should be repaid by the parent(s); or even whether the sins of the parent(s) should be repaid by the child. We experience Eva's anguish on trying to re-council whether her …

Carnage [DVD]

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Disclaimer: I have never watched the play.

The first thing that greet the audience is Alexandre Desplat's wonderful score, and if you listen carefully it and watch as what unfolds on screen silently, it does kind of sets the mood for the rest of the show. Firstly, this whole movie is directed brilliantly by Polanski and it looks and feels like I am watching a play, rather  than a movie. The excellent cast is of course the other reason that makes this dialogue driven drama so compelling. Looking at these 4 adults devolve from civilised adults to child-like pettiness is riveting. Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet are both amazing! John C Riley was a late bloomer in this show but so much better to underlie his character. Christophe Waltz's character surprisingly was the one that stayed the truest throughout so Waltz was slightly more underplayed. Because it was directed like a play, a lot of elements that Polanski. used was more subtle. He played with camera angles, the characters p…

Argo

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A definite crowd pleaser. It may get some critical love but I do not see it getting much Oscar love in the end. Although we have got to wait for the rest of the movies this year to decide on that. It may make it to the top ten movies. A great intro that supplied background and bring the audience into the situation, but the one big problem for this movie (especially for a non-American audience) is that we do not care about the hostages. The first act was good (how to rescue the hostages?); the second act was a drag (no empathy for the hostages); in the third act, Affleck and Terrio tuned up the tension with cheap (and meaninglessly dramatic) scenes, quick cuts, and Desplat's score. Ben Affleck sure has improved as a director in his third outing, but he tend to over-indulge in showy shots which do not really serve any purpose. However, his attention to historical details was laudable. Unfortunately, I do not think he is Oscar-nominating calibre yet. Furthermore, he should stop casti…

Pitch Perfect

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Passable Glee meets Step-Up mash-up with some mild laughs. A potentially strong first act that turned weak, a mediocre second and a third act that lacked the underdog triumphant climax. all bundled in a contrived excuse for a plot. A waste of the strong, young comediennes ensembled. It's sad when the funniest people are not the top billed ones, but the always reliable Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins. Anna Camp and Brittany Snow were the best actresses of the bunch, but such a waste! Rebel Wilson had some good lines but her best were sadly after the end credits! As for Anna Kendrick, she's saddled with playing the straight girl. Sure, she's charming and cute and has cleavage, but her character is so boring. What a waste of an Oscar nominee! Her romance with Skylar Astin needs more work. It was strange, inorganic and rather unbelievable. As much as they like to diss "Glee", Ryan Murphy's gang had better songs, choreography and chemistry; Glee also bett…

Kith Cafe@Park Mall

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A new breakfast available in town at the corner of Park Mall where Dome used to be. Nice ambience with a chill out al fresco area. Sadly, the food was much to be desired. The fruit brioche with fresh strawberry and yogurt was pathetic. 2 thin slices of brioche which was not really the melt-in-your-month kind; the yogurt and strawberry was a small serving and should have been served with a spoon. The bratwurst at the side was a saving grace. And thankfully one can't go that wrong with a green apple, beetroot and carrot juice. Service was acceptable, although they forgot about my cappuccino. But most unforgiveably, my friend's bowl of grapes has mould!! and there was a baby cockroach roaming around the magazine stands behind the seats. Unfortunately, for the price, neither quality nor quantity is justified.

Verdict: Won't be coming back again. No pull factors at all.

Trouble with the Curve

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Tries to be this year's "Moneyball", but it lacked that certain spark of cohesion and brilliance. In the end, it's just another feel good movie that occasionally veered towards made-for-tv schmaltzy. Clint Eastwood replays his curmudgeon old man but unfortunately it does not break any new ground. Same for Amy Adams. They both will likely get overlooked by the Oscars this year. Justin Timberlake definitely has charm but this role is not really as outstanding as his role in "Tje Social Network". The whole movie could be trimmed a bit shorter and should decide whether its focus is on baseball or family. Robert Patrick and John Goodman should give their agents a raise. Ultimately, a watchable movie that failed in its Oscars ambition.

Arrow

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Episode 1, "Pilot":One thing you can surely depend on for any CW show is the cast are definitely good lookers. Arrow does not disappoint in this aspect, with the handsome and charismatic, if still a bit stiff, Stephen Amell, and the pretty Katie Cassidy in the lead. They are supported by a cast of good looking young and slightly older adults including Susanna Thompson (from the oldie, but goodie "Once and Again") and Paul Blackthorne (Harry Dresden from "The Dresden Files"). Of course, with creators/EP Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim at the helm, this series has a lot of potential. As expected in a Pilot, the exposition was heavy, but at least it laid the threads for a larger conspiracy, some interesting potential character developments, and an interesting visual style. The Pilot was well executed and definitely hooks you in for more. For comic book fans, this has a potential for continual viewing. Although, the voice-over, though excellent in "Eve…