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Showing posts from December, 2012

Trattoria Lafiandra al Museo

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Another place that does not serve water and yet there's 10% service charge. Food-wise, the bruschetta was unspectacular. Toasted baguette slices topped cubed tomatoes tossed in olive oil and some herbs/garlic. Nothing particularly outstanding. The Lagsana was hearty. A tad salty and heavy on the cream cheese. The restaurant was fully booked on Christmas Eve and walk-ins could only choose the al fresco dining, so somehow a number of people must really like this place. I can't see why, but I can understand how come. But at least the service was fast and polite.

Verdict: Won't come back again mainly cause water is not free and the quality of the food does not justify that.



Les Misérables

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Disclaimer: I have watched the musical three times, and the most recent is in Oct 2012. In preparation for this movie, I had also started listening to the 25th Anniversary recording at O2. Yes, so in other words, a big fan here!

Let one get thing straight: this is a musical dramatisation of the Victor Hugo's novel and not a big screen adaption of the musical. So fans of the musical please do be ready to adapt and shift your expectations. As a movie this is a directorial and visual triumph for Tom Hooper. His style is so distinctive and the use of live recording of the singing is both a bane and boon of the movie. Live singing allows for a gorgeous uninterrupted experience and some seriously fantastic long shots and ace acting from the stars; however, the live singing marred the musical experience because some actors tend to waver and for a musical where the drama and emotion is carried more by the singing, the audience is not brought along the emotional roller coaster that Les Mis…

Jack Reacher [Dig]

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A competent thriller that served as a launching pad for Tom Cruise's new franchise. A good whodunit that keeps one guessing but does not really answer the why. If not for the Newtown massacre, the chances are quite high for a sequel. But overseas takings should be high enough to potentially generate interest in a sequel. Cruise is easily charismatic in this show but his presence is lacking a certain amount of authority and danger. Rosamund Pike is not very convincing in her role and her chemistry with Cruise is barely present. Thankfully there's Robert Duvall to save the day. Also, the first scene was very well done, but sadly the rest of the movie was mediocre only. Having not read the books by Lee Child, I believe this story would have been better as a novel than what was translated on the screen which dragged on a bit longer than needed.

The Intouchables

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A genuinely heartwarming and feel good French dramedy movie by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledanz, the writing and directing duo, that was filled with laughters throughout. François Cluzet and Omar Sy are two wonderfully charismatic leads with excellent chemistry together lit up the screen with their irresistible personalities and infectious smiles. They are the reason this inspired-by-true-events movie worked so well despite the obvious dramatisation and inauthenticity of certain scenes, coupled with a stereotypical look at racial segregation. But leaving all that politics aside, we are left with a startlingly heartwarming crowd pleaser. Starting from the first scene we are hooked. The prologue introduces the leads but paint them vaguely to intrigue the audience and tease about their relationship and how they got there. They and the excellent supporting cast (in particular Audrey Fleurot and Anne Le Ny) really brought the audience into the lives, and it's very rare to see a cast …

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [IMAX HFR 3D]

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Amazing world-building! And in this case, world-expanding. This prequel to the LOTR really expanded on the realms of Middle Earth and although spotted throughout with familiar faces, this is a different Middle Earth from the one that we visited a few years back. The story started off slow, with an introductory first act followed by a deliberate second act that served to establish the roles of the main characters and elucidate their Hero-quest. The movie only got into an exciting and adrenaline-rushing roll in its final act. As the first chapter of a planned trilogy, it lacked the cinematic climax and is clearly building up to something bigger. Making a book into a trilogy obviously has its drawbacks: how to fill the time? My guess, from never having read "The Hobbit" is that Peter Jackson has clearly chosen to include almost every scene from the book and hence neglected cinematic pacing and narrative flow. This is good for the purists who want everything translated to the b…

Balzac Brasserie

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A quick visit to Chef Jean-Charles Dubois (previously of the now defunct The French Kitchen) new restaurant at Rendezvous Hotel. Only had time for starters and coffee. He revamped his lobster bisque: now served with a side of fried Mozambique prawns. But still easily his signature dish and one of the best lobster bisque in the market. The half dozen Fine de Claire oysters were fresh and succulent with a hint of sea saltiness, and goes excellently with a splash of mignonette and lemon. Ambience was great: old-school French/Parisian brasserie with polite service. Price wise, it's comparable to The French Kitchen, ie on the high side of affordability.

Updated (14 Dec 2012): Came back for a proper lunch today. Chef Jean-Charles is still as affable as ever. Their wine-per-glass selections is actually quite good and reasonably priced. But the bottled list was not impressive. The escargots were outstanding! Served piping hot in a mixture of salt, olive oil and herbs. The mollusk were che…

Rust and Bone (De Rouille et D'Os)

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A raw, honest, and powerful performance by Marion Cotillard together with the broodingly handsome and charismatic Matthias Schoenaerts makes this an engaging little art house flick by Jacques Audiard. The 2 stars have a palpable chemistry that makes that characters believable and arresting. 2 strangely co-dependent damaged/handicapped souls, one physical and one emotional, coming together, supporting each other and discovering that only by letting go of the tethers of shame and pride can they appreciate what life has so much more to offer and give. Sounds cliche, and it could jolly well have devolved into that, but Audiard's directing, couple with the strong committed performance of the two leads, changed this from a conventional love story to one that is complex in its simplicity. Cotillard gives her strongest performance yet since "Le Mome" and is a strong contender for a Best Actress Oscar nomination. She is at her best in her native French movies rather than the big,…

Keisuke Tonkotsu King

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Situated at a corner of the new Orchid Hotel in Tanjong Pagar, this little hole-in-the-wall that sits only 20 has a perpetually long queue snaking outside its doors. And for good reason. The tonkotsu soup base here is clearly one of the best in Singapore. I had the black spicy everything in special with extra chicken oil and the results was outstanding. The broth was thick and fragrant (especially if the sesame seeds were crushed and added). The pork bone taste lingers and one can barely taste the MSG inside, and with the black spice it gave it a tang of peppery, sze chuan like bite to the soup. I had the hard noodles which was very QQ, but perhaps a bit too much for me. The noodles were the traditional Tokyo-thin kind. The everything-in order came with 3 slices of char siew (generic, non-fatty versions), 1 ramen egg (well made, soft, orangey yolk) and 1 large slice of nori; I skipped the spring onions. The size of the portion was adequate, but for a large eater, remember to keep some…