23 March 2012

The Hunger Games [Digital]

I really loved the source material. While this movie was good entertainment, it has been distilled down to YA/tween level. Would have been better, in my opinion, if they made it more "The Truman Show" meet "Blair Witch"/"Battle Royale" and, sadly, less "Twilight". The characterisation and complexities of the main characters and supporting cast is lost, as are the satirical and social-commentary angles. Nonetheless, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Bank were good casting particularly the two leads, though Liam Hemsworth was a tad miscast (perhaps, he will shine in the sequel). Lawrence does embodies Everdeen and she and Hutcherson definitely has a more believable chemistry than she with Hemsworth. Too much un-necessary (shaky) hand cam and poor action direction. The tone and palette were right but just too superficial. The tween girls behind me may have marred the experience. Read the series!

16 March 2012

The Woman in Black

Some good scares but in the end laden down by predictability and contrivance. Suffers from the M Night Shyamalan syndrome. Could have been so much better if they carried on with the Ring influence rather than The Village. Harry Potter still can't carry off a show by himself and lacks the ability to emote pain and suffering as required by his character. Very much inferior to the brilliant British play.

11 March 2012

Capri Trattoria and Pizzeria

A new Italian establishment along Bukit Timah Road, well just slightly off it at Binjai Park. New kid on the block that is already packing a full crowd on a Saturday dinner shift. Homely ambience that may be a bit too cramped, with a small (3 tables) outdoor seating. Too much use of halogen light, coupled with the open wood/brick-oven, and it can get at bit warm-ish the nearer you are to the kitchen. 4 wait staffs, with very good, polite service, but still a tad under-staffed (another 1 or 2 will be better). The Italian boss himself stood behind the counter, making the coffee, and settling the bills. only very occasionally does he step out to serve or chat.  Food wise was good. Hearty Italian meals with generous portions. The house Prosecco was light and tasty. The starters of sautéed squid served in its own ink and seafood soup were fresh and promptly served. The former went very well with the table bread but had more of a stir-fried chinese tze-char taste than Mediterranean; the latter's seafood (clams and prawns) were stir-fried/sautéed with garlic before adding the soup and the heat was clearly too high, such that the garlic were burnt, and the soup ended up with a charred-undertone. In addition, the soup volume was just too minimal to fully appreciate the taste. The mixed pork (ribs, sausage, mince, belly "siew bar") pappardelle  was very generous. The tomato base and the porcine taste were not over-bearing, but again, still feels Chinese. Strangely, the soup and pasta was served at the same time. The highlight was the pizza. Now, this is where I was impressed. The pizza was the kind that I liked the most: thin crust yet chewy not crunchy. I had the truffle cream with mixed mushroom (including porcini) which was yummy. The truffle-smell was not overpowering and the cheese/cream combo was just right. Well done! Desserts was the ricotta with pear and lemon tart. Both were good, but not knock-your-socks-off. The ricotta was slightly heavier but balanced off with the pear and crust. The lemon tart was light and fluffy, and served with a side of ? cream. Good to slowly nibble off with a cuppa after dinner. Very filling, reasonably priced for the amount of food. Valet provided.

Updated (9 Sept 2012): The Boston lobster fettucine was excellent. Large generous portion, that was reasonably priced for a restaurant, however, it was a tad too salty. The cherry tomatoes lent a sweetness to it that complement the natural freshness and sweetness of the crustacean, but the number of tomatoes could be cut down bout 10%. The suckling piglet was a winner! They do not have it often, but if they do have it, order it! Crispy skin that was lightly salted, but importantly, the meat was soft and tender, and peeled off the bones beautifully. Not for the health conscious though, the lard just ooze...Excellent!

Verdict: Will definitely go again. Not only for convenience, but also for my kind of pizza.

Capri Trattoria & Pizzeria
No. 3 Binjai Park
Singapore 589819

tel: 6468 4886

Opening Hours:  to be determined

9 March 2012

A Separation

A fascinating, complex and intimate window into Iran. Culturally enriching and deeply moving without the Hollywood cliches. A beautifully told tale interwoven with rich themes of gender roles, religion vs pride and mercy, and piety. I was so afraid that they would cop out the ending, but it was brilliant!!! Extremely engaging and thought provoking. Easily a Best Picture contender rather than a Best Foreign Film winner.

4 March 2012

Blu Kouzina

A homely Greek restaurant along Bukit Timah road that has been drawing a sizeable crowd since its inception. I have seldom not seen it packed when I drive past, so now finally now I have got the time and mood for a little Greek food. White washed walls with the typical white-wood furniture accented with blues, and even the greek evil eye popping around. Fairly large place, with an outdoor dining, open air ground level, and air-conditioned second-floor. You can pick your choice of seating during reservation, and reservation is recommended. However, there are 2 seatings for dinner, so choose wisely! Service was prompt and serving was timely. Menu had a good range of appetisers, some cooked appetisers, a selection of meat and fish platter as main, and the blackboard specials. Good drinks menu, focusing on greek wine, but there's always Mythos and Ouzo too if so inclined. The food servings were all generous; think Caucasian size rather Asian portion. The grilled feta was a generous slab of sheep cheese in a shallow pool of olive oil, and served with olives and herbs; only for people who like feta by itself. I asked for an extra loaf of table-bread to eat with the Feta, and my bill had a $2 charge for "bread", so either case...what money grubbers! The mousaka was excellent, though it reminded me more of shepherd's pie, however, it could be improved if the eggplant had been more flavoured/marinated longer. The meat platter consisted of 2 (large) portions of beef patties (yum! fatty and chewy), meat balls (good, taste like a ball version of the patties, though a tad drier), beef skewers (perfectly seasoned and grilled, medium rare to medium), and surprisingly good lamb chops (tender, succulent and not "lamb-y"). All the meat served with a side of fries and (small) dip. Dessert was a greek yogurt, served with honey and walnut. Great for digestion.

Verdict:  Great and filling Greek food at restaurant price (and blatant about it). Good ambience, though the double seating is a turn off. Will come back again for the fish, but definitely at the second seating.

Blu Kouzina
893 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 589615

tel: 6875-0872; e-mail: blukouzina@singnet.com.sg;
online reservation at their website: http://www.blukouzina.com

Opening Hours
Lunch: Fri - Sat, 12pm - 2.30pm
Dinner: Tues - Sun, 6pm - 10pm (2 seatings: 6-8pm and 8.15 - 10pm)

Stephen King's Doctor Sleep

This was unexpectedly good. It was not Oscar-winning good, but it was a thoroughly entertaining horror-thriller. Kudos to writer/director...