Showing posts from May, 2014

Grace of Monaco

Surprisingly, Grace of Monaco arrived at our shores just a few days after its premiere (finally!) at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and after sitting through the 103 minutes film I can understand why it did not garner the accolades that one would expect out of its pedigree. You know there is a problem when the most emotionally resonant moment in the film is when Maria Callas sings "O mio babbino caro".

Olivier Dahan is a good director with a very distinctive voice and vision, and he can get some of the best acting out of his stars - he did give us the award-winning performance of Marion Cotillard in 2007's La Vie En Rose. However, like that movie, this biopic of Princess Grace Kelly lacked depth, which fortunate for Cotillard there was breadth for her to sink into as she explored the psyche of Edith Piaf.

Dahan was failed by Arash Amel's script. Choosing to focus only on a moment in Kelly's life is not wrong but the execution of it was fatally flawed as i…

X-Men: Days of Future Past

For all his alleged legal woes, Bryan Singer sure does know how to steer this franchise continuing on the excellent ground work that Matthew Vaughn laid for X-Men: First Class and dovetailing into the Singer's own X1 and X2 (X3: The Last Stand is best to be forgotten). This was a comic book superhero movie made by a fan for the fans. But, having said that, it is not without his faults, but thankfully, what it lacked was entirely replaced by the serious amount of gravitas and star wattage that this ensemble has. And this is where this franchise will always rule over the Marvel and Avengers: Vaughn totally struck gold when he cast Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence. Paired up together with the indomitable Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, and throwing Peter Dinklage into the mix. The acting here elevates the movie beyond your standard popcorn summer fare (see Godzilla for a perfect contrast!).

Bryan Singer managed to capture the 70s era rather well with good aut…

Godzilla [IMAX/3D]

2 things that I thought I could not happen (not so soon at least) happened with this movie. One, Transcendenceis now the second worst movie of the year; two, Roland Emmerich's 1998 version suddenly became better when compared to this.

This movie was an unmitigated disaster almost right from the moment we left the opening credits. Seriously, the opening credits and the Alexandre Desplat's overture was possibly the best moment of the whole movie. Desplat's score was way too good and epic for the events that were unfolding on the screen. The other good thing was the character design of Godzilla. Not surprising since it was designed by Weta Digital - Peter Jackson's digital visual effects company that gave usthe creatures in Lord of The Ring and Smaug from The Hobbit.

This is not a monster flick. Having said that, if director Gareth Edwards does not want to shoot a monster movie, than he better have a solid human-angle going on. Unfortunately, he does not. Let's just …

Rosemary's Baby (NBC Miniseries Event)

Part 1: Why this miniseries was commissioned, beyond having Zoe Saldana parading around in her underwear, is even more mysterious than the storyline itself. At its best, it was just slightly better than the ill-fated 666 Park Avenue; at its worse, it's practically unwatchable. This is a very, very far cry from the seminal horror classic that Roman Polanski and Ira Levin gave us back in 1968. That movie terrified the audience with its sheer psychological terror in just over 2 hours. But this mini-series was just scaring me to boredom throughout its 2 hours. So many things wrong with it: from the heavy handed directing by Agnieszka Holland, the contrived and messy screenplay written by Scott Abbott and James Wong, to the mismatched pairing of Saldana and the poorly-cast Patrick J. Adams. But there are one or two things going for it: the setting in Paris makes for a gorgeous backdrop, as are the additions of Jason Isaacs and Carole Bouquet as the evil Castevets (yes, this series does…

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (SSO)

The night started off with my highlight of the show: "Leonore Overture #3". Unfortunately, the orchestra was lacking the passion that belies the operatic background from which this piece is from. Perhaps the musicians have not watched the opera but guest conductor Günther Herbig conducting did it no service.

The second piece of the night introduced the audience to guest pianist Martin Roscoe playing Dohnányi's "Variations on a Nursery Song, for piano and orchestra, Op. 25". Roscoe is technically very good nailing the variations but sometimes too technical results in a decreased passion that flows out through the music. Also, the chemistry between piano and orchestra was tenuous at best. 
Roscoe's encore of Dohnányi's "Rhapsody in C" was much better! 
After the intermission, we get the star of the night (for many I'm sure!). One of Beethoven's most famous symphony. Truth be told, this was the first time I'm hearing it played live b…

Blue Is The Warmest Colour (La Vie d'Adèle)

Disclaimer: I know this version in Singapore is censored. Approximately 8-15 minutes (reports varies) have been cut off. Pity. 

This is easily one of the most tragically Romantic (yes, with a capital "R") movie that I have ever watched in a long, long time. The raw and unequivocal emotional intimacy that Abdellatif Kechiche achieved, particularly through Adèle Exarchopoulos, was heart-tugging and heart-wrenching as the show progressed. Definitely the best film of 2013, beating out Oscar-winner 12 Years A Slave which had the historic scope and heft, but lacked the heart. This is a Romantic love story at its core, that is not defined by gender and or orientation. Just one individual trying to find her way through love and life.

Like the original french title, this movie can be split into 2 parts/chapters. Both are sort of coming-of-age parts just at different stage in life. In Chapter 1, we are introduced to fresh-faced, cherubic Exarchopoulos as she comes to terms with her se…

El Rocho's

Mexican food. Never really had a craving for it, but am not adverse to it. Good Mexican done well is so hard to find in Singapore, so I rarely will go out and try new places after getting bitten one too many times.

Anyways, I ended up at El Rocho's on a good friend's advice for Cinco de Mayo, and boy! was I not disappointed!

Chef/Owner Marcus Loh does some really mean Mexican dishes. All the meat we had - pork, beef, ox tongue and chorizons - were very well grilled and marinated in particular the ox tongue.

The quesadillas were thing crusted and generously filled.

Perhaps only the fries and steaks were a bit of a disappointed. Although the fries were chunky and crispy on the outside, and the steak pieces were tasty, the overall impact of the dish kind of lacked oomph and punch. It was tasty but unspectacular, and possibly not worth the extra for the steak.

The taco was excellent! Soft, mildly chewy taco shells with generous portions of ox tongue and vegetables cubes. This is b…

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man is a character made for 3D and in his sophomore outing, Marc Webb has only gotten better as the director of this new franchise with better action sequences but yet not losing the emotional core thanks to the sizzling chemistry of his 2 leading stars: Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Hopefully, he does not get struck by Raimi's curse in the next outing.

Webb's directing is a lot more sharper here. The plot is tighter and the action sequences are cleaner. It moves along on a good pace and unlike other superhero films, the romantic subplot does not slow it down (more below). However, there are still some scenes that are ridiculous and extraneous. The introduction of Harry Osbourne was too hamfisted as were the management of OsCorp in general. (Who's Felicia??? Should I care about her?) Perhaps this time screenwriters Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Jeff Pinkner are less to blame since offhand there ain't that much illogicality. I mean there are some as usual wi…