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Showing posts from October, 2013

Thor: The Dark World [IMAX/3D]

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Disclaimer: Going to watch this in 3D because I really want to watch it in IMAX, but there ain't a 2D IMAX version here.

Alan Tyler did a fantastic job in bringing Thor: TDW to the big screen. This was a brilliant, taut comic-movie that was well-paced, exciting, had a great balance of brevity and seriousness, and a good ensemble. Better than the first Thor instalment, and way, way better than the farce that was Iron Man 3. Chris Hemsworth is as much Thor as Robert Downey Jr was (yes, was...back in Iron Man 1) Tony Stark. Although, I guess after Rush, Hemsworth had a bit of trouble getting back to Thor's buffness. (Maria Hill's line in SHIELD kept coming to mind: "You have not been near his arms."). Oh, and SHIELD was mentioned many a times, which I'm sure the series would then refer to the movie too. In case anybody was wondering, there is a rather plausible reason for the absence of the rest of the Avengers this Thor outing. Back to Hemsworth, he had definite…

Lee Daniels' The Butler

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Lee Daniels' latest effort, after the Oscar winning "Precious" and the not-seen in Singapore's "The Paperboy", is a history film disguised under an Oscar-baiting sheen. But like History, in whatever context, perspective is key, and here, we end up with a rather schizophrenic movie: a distinctively White voice in a Black-handed movie. Through all that mess, the one bright, Best Supporting Actress spark is Oprah Winfrey. She brought a strong intensity interlaced with a feminine fragility in the one character that had any consistency amid the two male leads who were painted in broad strokes and had broad, sweeping changes which were barely touched on by the narrative. Yes, Winfrey's character may not have any "character growth" or "development" but at least she was arresting at what and who Gloria Gaines was; Forest Whitaker is a terrific actor and he did his best with what was given to him. The biggest problem laid with Danny Strong&#…

Blue Jasmine

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A tour de force performance by the magnetic, luminous and all round brilliant Cate Blanchett! She is the star and the main attraction of Woody Allen's newest picture, eclipsing even Allen himself who wrote and directed this modern day satire of American consumerism, materialism and self-absorption. Blanchett draws your attention from the moment she appears on screen all decked out in luxe, and as we shifts forwards and backwards in time, her attire, poise, mannerisms, graces all changes in and out of flux; she goes raw, un-made up and connects with a deep, ugly part of every human being and brings it out untainted, naked and fresh. How she managed to tap into those moments to bring such a complex character out and enthralls us is a marvel of unrivaled acting that we seldom see. This is her Oscar to lose (thus far). Allen has scripted a more darkly comic satire this time round compared to his odes to Europe, and shifting from NYC and SF, to bring us a comedy that is steeped in Mor…

Nara

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Ion's newest Thai restaurant is apparently a famous/popular restaurant back in Thailand. Well, it's definitely popular since I still had to wait 20 minutes for a single person seat on a weekday night dinner. However, their wait staff to customers ratio is still wanting with inattentive service but at least prompt when on demand. Main course coming before starters is always a big no no. The curries are clearly catered to a more western tastebud than authenticity. They run on the sweet, peanuty side rather than a spicy fiery palate. The red curry chicken was served with chicken slices on a shallow plate, hence not enough of that sweet curry for eating with their $2.50 Jasmine rice. The pork balls were good, well fried with a crispy outer layer but the inner meat still retained some juice and an interesting spicy/soury taste, however it was too expensive for a starter (likewise for the rest of the starters). The fried curry soft shell crabs was similarly too sweet overpowering t…

Marukyu まるきゅう

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Disclaimer: I'm friends with one of the owners/partners. 

A new Japanese restaurant that opened at Telok Ayer Road giving the business folks there one more place to dine in during lunch and dinner. Went there for lunch on their second day of business, and for a new place it has a rather respectable crowd at lunch time. No doubt because of location, type of cuisine, and the influence of their head chef: Chef Derrick formerly from a Japanese restaurant at Circular Road (Dezato Desserts and Dining), and before that at Nadaman, Shangri-La for 15 years. To be honest, I have never tried either of these 2 establishments before. Anyways, like almost all new Japanese restaurants that is worth their salt, the fish is imported from Japan. The difference here is that the fish comes in on four days, 2 of which are from Tsukiji and another 2 from Kyushu. The set lunches are very business-lunch priced, and the chirashi sushi bowl was a generous portion of fresh fish including uni and ocean ikura…

Gravity [IMAX/3D]

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This is another Alfonso Cuarón cinematic triumph. An exciting, and most exhilarating, adrenaline ride for almost 90 minutes. This is what "Life of Pi" was to Ang Lee; a directorial superclass in long shots and 3D but tied to a script/movie that was good but not as superlatively great. Just the first scene itself is an amazing wonder to watch and marvel as the narrative unfolds and the action kicks in, all within one very long shot. Try not to be too distracted by the science of it all and the plot is straight forward enough. Cuarón's direction is the real star of this show, with impressively long takes, alternating point of views (first to third to first) and even extreme closeups to heighten the sense of claustrophobia and, ironically, the vastness of space. Other than the technical aspects of the show, Sandra Bullock is the other star, and Clooney is nothing more than just a glorified cameo (Ed Harris is the real cameo as the voice of "Houston, Mission Control&qu…

"Before..." Trilogy

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Richard Linklater's "Before..." Trilogy

Finally caught it all in a marathon on a SQ flight. And Bravo! This has become one of my favourite trilogy and love story, or even Story, ever. 
Before Sunrise: The start of this unique romantic love story. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke has an undeniable chemistry that is both believable and palpable as their characters grow to understand each other better. The story really does make one believe in Romance (with a capital R) and The One, however cynics may find the plot and narrative to be too idealistic and unrealistic. But all stories are based on a seed of realism, and this movie triumphs because of the script and the interaction between Delpy and Hawke. The movie is definitely talky and there are moments where it stalled, however luckily those are far in between. The verbal connections between these two are amazing and their sparring are riveting. The script main themes are Romance and Love, but it touches on topics as broad as re…

The Market Grill

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A western grill joint tucked away in Telok Ayer road which serves both chargrilled seafood and meat for lunch and dinner Mon to Sat. Cozy, modern bistro atmosphere with friendly wait staffs, however friendliness does not equate to competence (more on that later). The frog legs specials was fantastic, easily one of the best I have ever eaten. Sautéed and served with a generous olive oil/butter and garlic-herbs dressing (cuisses de grenouilles a la bourguignonne). The down side was no toast was served alongside to sweep up the sumptuous dressing. It was a $3 extra for a side of toasted sour dough. The chargrilled lobster was fresh but a tad over priced for the size and simplicity of presentation. Comes in 2 sizes and the large one (650g) is good for sharing. When the dishes was served the waitress did not even give a brief description of the accompaning sides, etc. Definitely can be easily improved.

Verdict: The frog legs won me over and I might be back to try their burgers. 

Insidious: Chapter 2

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A competent horror movie with good scares but pales to the original in terms of atmosphere and originality. In this installment, horror ingenue Jamees Wan has forsaken mood for fancy camera shots and cheap scares. The fear here is back to the the typical Hollywood-fied scares of jaunty music and sudden, in-your-face kind of scares. Granted, there were at least two or three really good ones, but there isn't much of the slow creeping fear, atmospheric tension that made "Insidious" and "The Conjuring" such stand outs. In addition, the story by Leigh Whannell and Wan, tried too hard to link up the loose threads from the first chapter to the storyline here. And by doing so, they ended up over complicating what could have potentially been a simpler story line. As such, more questions are tossed out here and less sense follows the plotting. Luckily for them, the familiarity of the cast helped to anchor the movie and audience, with Lin Shaye a clear audience favourite…