28 April 2013

Sabio By The Sea

First thing first, this place definitely has a really nice ambience. The whole Quayside Isle exudes a chill relaxed vibe, that coupled with a nice cool night, can allow us to imagine we are not in Singapore. And the face that more than 50% of the people there are Caucasians doesn't hurt that vibe. However, without a car it will be quite difficult to get in, unless of course your yacht is berthed there or you stay at Sentosa Cove/W Hotel/W residences. Anyways, regarding the restaurant the open concept is inviting and very well ventilated (a cool night is important, and I'd imagine the day being too sunny/humid). They have a fair range of tapas (hot/cold), jambons y chorizos, Josper grill items and paella. The red sangria was light but boring, lacked that distinctively fruity-claret taste - somewhere between sweet, bitter, sour - to be memorable. The salted cod tapas was soft and flakes beautifully under the fork, but they weren't kidding about the "salted" bit. The scallops were fresh but the pepper sauce was overpowering the natural sweetness of the bivalve. The lamb cutlet was done well - as in medium - and other than it taste like lamb, not much else to complain about. The bone marrow was a generous serving and served hot with a tiny baguette slice without a spoon, so you had to dig that gooey, yummy insides out with your fork. The marrow was well seasoned on the surface, but however the flavour did not permeate into the interior, so the whole thing just did not taste as good as it could. The smoke of the Josper grill too was very superficial. Then came the small paella negra - squid ink paella with seafood - which was meant for 1-2 persons to share, but one hungry, average person could wipe it off. The rice was well cooked, with a good consistency that is rare to find in paella in Singapore. However, it was seasoned with capers and some herbs that did go as well with the distinctive squid ink taste. The clams and mussels here were nothing to shout about, nor was the squid. But the good thing about the paella was that the squid ink taste was not overpowering. Desserts: the piña asada was a disappointment, too sweet and too wet. perhaps I was expecting something closer to the Brazilian versions where the pineapples were roasted till slightly dry but developed a crispy caramelised outer layer and then sprinkled with cinammon. Here, it was just pineapple chunks soaked in caramelised syrup. The salted salted caramel lava cake was also boring. The cake was tough and rubbery, and the caramel was too viscous to fully appreciate the taste with the cake. Both desserts were served with vanilla ice-cream (likely from Ben & Jerry's). Service was mediocre. The manager/supervisor could not be bothered much with us, service was abrupt with wait staff just suddenly barging in with water/plates, utensils had to be asked for, plates changing had to be requested. No secondary plates for shells, so I just chucked them on the table. The restaurant only has 1 toilet and if you want to wait for it, the whole restaurant can see you waiting. You are better off just walking out of the restaurant to the lift lobby and use the public restaurant. Having said all that, the price is not unreasonable, and definitely a part of it goes to the ambience. Sadly, the 10% service charge is not very deserving.

Update (18 May 2013): Came back for brunch, and wasn't really impressed for the price. The bread basket came with 3 types: chocolate croissant, plain croissant and baguette, which was nothing to shout about. Came with a small jar of strawberry jam and a small serving of yogurt. No butter unless you asked. The 120g ribeye was mediocre. The sauce was tasty but unfortunately the beef itself was too lean and boring. The OJ was really fresh but the cappuccino was straight off Nespresso. Service, similar as before, is barely passable. For $35+++ it was not that worth the money although the ambience, by the sea, was good. 

Verdict: Even if it was not in Sentosa, it wouldn't be a place that I would come back to often unless a tapas/spanish craving calls.























24 April 2013

Iron Man 3

The success and popularity of Iron Man 3 hinges solely on how much one likes/tolerates Robert Downey Jr. The movie served to answer the famed question asked in the much superior "The Avengers" by Captain America: Who/What is Tony Stark without his suit? Honestly, taking RDJ our of the equation, the best things about this movie is: Jarvis, Guy Pearce, Gwnyeth Paltrow's abs, the penultimate air sequence and the post end credits scene (that was THE BEST scene of the whole movie!). Marvel relied too heavily on RDJ and his schtick/too-smart-for-his-own-good-ad-libbing which is distracting tonally, but then again the script by Shane Black and Drew Pearce is nothing spectacular. The characters were all written flat, the plot predictable, loop holes plentifully distracting and the humor's juvenile. It lacked wit (oh, how I miss Whedon!), a real heart and a clear reason for us to care about the character. RDJ tries but he just end up hammy. And of course we have the boring, plodding and messy direction of Shane Black to content with. The action sequences were choreographed badly and shot messily. He never really could bring the audience up to a climax that makes you want to cheer the protagonist on. Save for the penultimate air sequence which was very well-done, but unfortunately wrapped up in a face-palm moment. However, by that time in the show, this oft repeated stunt of punctuating every serious moment with a comic gag has already become tiresome and plainly annoying. The villains were the best characters because Pearce, Ben Kingsley (scene-stealer!) and James Badge Dale gamely embraced their cheesiness and just be evil/silly. Pearce had one scene which was spectacular and really deserved to be further highlighted by Black - a real money shot - but it never happened again. Now, a snark by Stark about that would have been comic gold. Pity. Paltrow had a meatier role here but Pepper's resolution at the end was handled too quickly and abruptly. A wasted arc for an Oscar winner (still contentious!). As for RDJ, nothing much to say about him here other than he has yet to define any character he has acted away from Tony Stark which, he has frequently admitted, is based on himself. He tries for seriousness, especially when relating to the events in "The Avengers", but it just comes off as all wrong, and woefully pathetic. If you liked him, there's more of the usual him here; if not a fan of him the show offers little much else. Marvel fans should not expect much Easter eggs or crossovers here. Brian Tyler's score is rousing at times, but unmemorable.

21 April 2013

Hemlock Grove

Pilot, "Jellyfish in the Sky": Netflix's latest binge series is a horror drama that seemed to have more in common with The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" and MTV's "Teen Wolf"  rather than FX's "American Horror Story". That could possibly be because of the exposition heavy pilot trying to establish the seemingly multiple story lines and with the focus on the teenage characters. The pilot started out strong with a mystery quickly setup and the brooding, sulking Bill Skarsgård doing his best impression of his elder brother's (Alex of "True Blood") handsome skulk. Then came the introduction of the the other leading teen Landon Liboiron's hirsute Peter. The girls, so far, are unmemorable. The adults are kind of disappointing. Famke Janssen gets top billing but her wavering accent is annoying and her character's styling does her absolutely no justice. She is an enigma. Literally and figuratively. Rather a waste for such a big star. I really hope the subsequent episodes does her some justice. Lily Taylor is interesting, and she is definitely the one with the answers. But only billed as a guest star, I worry for her longevity. The males were cardboard. Somehow, following behind the immensely stylish and sleek "House of Cards", this series seemed rather more juvenile. Although, it should have been expected since we are basically comparing Eli Roth to David Fincher. In addition, the (main writers) Brian McGreevy and Lee Shipman seemed to be juggling many plot lines and lacked the lingual sophistication to make the dialogue interesting. Furthermore, typical of Roth's style many scenes and images were just there, and weird, for the sake of being weird. Unfortunately, not one scene/image really stood out. It was not scary enough, sexy enough, bloody enough, or weird enough. Like I said this seemed like a CW show trying to be cable. I still have goodwill left from their freaking cool trailer and Famke Janssen fanboy love, so will keep on binging and hope the rest of the episodes start getting better!

Episode 2 - 3, "The Angel" & "Order of The Dragon": Slightly more improved outing with these two episodes, and that werewolf transformation scene is really the sickest and slickest transformation ever to be put on film! And the best scene of the whole show thus far. The budding friendship between Peter and Roman is slowly getting interesting with both boys getting more complex. Roman, the bad boy that so want to be good, and Peter the good boy that everybody thinks is bad. Although Peter is the more charismatic one of the two. Two other interesting mysteries that can keep me hooked in: Who/What is Olivia (Famke Janssen's accent is still annoying)? Who is Shelly (Nicole Boivin is doing a good job with so little)? The whole angel-conception storyline had better have a good payoff. Dougray Scott is the weakest link of the cast and newbie Kandyse McClure is a walking cliché so far.

Episode 4, "In Poor Taste": At least the mystery is really getting interesting and the threads seem to be be coming together. Dr Pryce is just an enigma and the actor is not really convincing. New sub-mysteries are still being littered around, but at least it captures the audience's attention. Shelly still remains the most interesting character around, and Janssen is finally getting some layers of complexity to play with. And by golly, both Roman and Peter have rather fucked up childhood! Well, that would make for interesting teenage angst although the actors may not be up to it. This show really lacked the cajones to go all out cable which is really a waster.

19 April 2013

Dark Skies

Went in to the show with really low expectations. Was just in the mood to watch a "silly horror movie" and this had Keri Russell going for it. The producers (from "Paranormal activity" and "Insidious") helped too. Came out of it feeling rather entertained and rather enjoyed the show. Kudos to writer and director Scott Stewart on delivering a sci-fi, horror thriller that was sufficiently suspenseful and mysterious, albeit with predictable plot points and generic storyline. It really wasn't very horrific and had very few scares. But there was one or two genuinely good ones! The first act laid the foundation of the mystery and was well executed to make it interesting; second act laid on the mysteries and unexplained activities, but again nothing unique though thankfully it laid off the cliche the-parent-is-psycho-and-is-imagining-everything angle. The last act was quite satisfying though the climax didn't pack enough oomph. One of the success of this show is the acting and chemistry of Russell and Josh Hamilton and their characters are not too moronic (other than the usual horror standards). Also the emotions portrayed were rather authentic which made the penultimate sequence quite touching. The creepy, scratchy score by Joseph Bishara definitely added to the pervading sense of dread/creep.

18 April 2013

Salta

An Argentinian parrilla restaurant in Tanjong Pagar that has been around for quite a bit. A pity there was no Pentagonian lamb on the menu. That's be perfect! Service was prompt and polite, and wait staff could recommend dishes and knew the differences between the cuts of meat. Sadly, they were not aware that the lobsters were out before we placed our order. The complimentary bread was served with a beef pâté which could be a bit overwhelming for some people. Thereafter, the starters took fifteens minutes to arrive. The Saltoast (a house special) was the best dish of the night. A crispy, well grilled and tasty garlic bread with a hint of anchovies to give it that extra bite. The sausages (beef, pork, ?spicy/cheese), on the other hand, was unspectacular. They were juicy and meaty but a tad too oily and bland. The need arrived shortly after they cleared the starters. Unfortunately, it was cold. Left out too long after preparation? Nonetheless, it was rather well cooked. I had the rib eye in medium rare which was prepared medium rare but was a bit too "veiny". Some coarse salt as flavouring, but the blue cheese butter did help to bring out more flavour. The meat itself was ok, but not the best beef. It kind of lacked that extra oomph. The tenderloin was better but a bit too lean. The sides of sweet potato fries and grilled vegetables were standard stuffs. Similarly, just a bit too much oil. Together with 2 glasses of Malbec, the total was not too expensive. Ambience of the place was really casual and bright, so a good place to gather with friends for a chat.

Verdict: Acceptable quality and size of steak for this price range ($35-40/steak), can come back if friends are looking for an affordable steak house.









14 April 2013

Da Vinci's Demons

Pilot, "The Hanging Man": Starz and BBC World new series by David S. Goyer is a beguiling, schizophrenic mix of history, fantasy and conspiracy. The pilot does a good job of outlining their version of Da Vinci which Tom Riley seemed to be portraying as an amalgam of Sherlock (BBC), Sherlock (Hollywood) and The Doctor (Who?). However, the premise of the pilot is quite a mess. It lacked the political depth, character intrigue and sex appeal of Games of Thrones, and tries to insert some sort of overarching "Da Vinci Code"-esque conspiracy that at the moment still feels quite lame. None of the other supporting characters seemed to be very interesting and they all felt rather two-dimensional. Does this show want to be a fun, fantasy re-telling like "Merlin", a serious historical drama like "Spartacus", a sprawling political/philosophical quest like "Games of Thrones" or a dark, conspiracy akin to "The X-Files"? Might watch a couple more episodes to see how it goes.

Episode 2, "The Serpent": A much better second episode, but still feels a bit like a mystery-of-the-week. At least the Florence/Rome politicking is getting very interesting, although it very much is still the B-plot. The A-plot looks like is going to be the conspiracy theory regarding this vague Book of Leaves. Riley's Da Vinci is behaving more and more like a spoilt brat though, petulant and childish. The good thing of this episode is at least we get a face to the villain of the show. Well, at least, the villain of the moment, and Blake Ritson's Count Riario is cheesily hammy and cartoonishly vile.

8 April 2013

Oblivion [IMAX]

A very decent and PG sci-fi thriller with gorgeous cinematography, some really good action sets and decent acting. The biggest problem is that the plot is very predictable, which then leads to a conundrum. The predictability caused the pacing to be rather trying although the movie is barely 2 hours long. Joseph Kosinski did a decent job translating his graphic novel to the big screen and some set pieces were really well done. But instead of a traditional 3-Act structure, this movie is really more a 5-Act experience, so you'd be forgiven if you thought the movie is 3 hours long since each Act was rather slow/predictable. However, the Prologue and the world-building in the first Act was very well done and essential! Do not be late!! It really set the tone and integrate the audience into this Brave New World. Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise and he just oozes charisma. And it really is that undeniable screen charisma, all-American hero persona that really carries us through. The two female (supporting) leads are really there for Cruise to act opposite, but at least there were some chemistry. Andrea Riseborough definitely had the more complex role and I think she did quite well. Olga Karylenko is pretty but is the weaker actress here but her character is central to the plot. God aka Morgan Freeman had a very godlike entrance which was just so tongue-in-cheek, but again he was nothing more than a narrative, exposition device. Jaime Lannis...hmmm...Nikolai Coster-Waldau I mean is also just another token human cast, but the juxtaposition of him towering opposite Tom Cruise was unintentionally funny. This is really a one man show and about one man's journey. Possibly the only other substantial character is Melissa Leo's Sally. The best part of the movie is really Claudio Miranda's (last seen winning an Oscar for "Life of Pi") lensing. Really pretty, gorgeous landscaping and images. The images are really powerful. One standout was the Space Odyssey nod at the end. The score by France's M83 was also appropriately epic and heroic, in particular for the final climax. Between this and "Prometheus", I really want to go to Iceland!

6 April 2013

Hannibal

Pilot, "Apéritif": There's such high expectations for this mid-season NBC series. It is possibly the one series I was most anticipating. A terrific subject matter, created from the wonderful mind of Bryan Fuller ("Death Like Me", "Wonderfalls" and "Pushing Daisies"), an ace, international caliber cast (Mads Mikkelson, Hugh Dancy and Caroline Dhavernas) and an announced roster of exciting guest stars including Gillian Anderson, Gina Torres, and Fullerverse alumni Ellen Muth and Ellen Greene. So it is with a lot of trepidation that I go into this, and sadly, although I liked it, I doubt it will survive on NBC. The subject matter itself is rather dark, and again, that is restrained by it being on network TV, so they cannot really push it too much, and that ultimately may cause it to not reach its full potential. Secondly, it is too intelligent and wordy. The average TV audience is just going to shut off without their visual adrenaline rush and total-sensorium assault. Lastly, other than Laurence Fishburne, there are no other "big names", that your average American network-watching viewer will recognise. Regardless, the directing of the pilot by David Slade is excellent although the scenes of Hannibal alone seemed too stylised and slightly jarring compared to the slightly more gritty feel of the crime scenes. Was that deliberate? Fuller wrote the script and it is slightly exposition heavy but there were some good lines spoken by Hannibal and Graham. I really liked the visuals and scenes of Graham's nightmares and dreamscapes. Those were effectively creepy and spooky. As for acting, Hugh Dancy's effectively portrayed his Will Graham as a jittery, asocial, high functioning empath. He got the vacant stares, and the constant paranoia/fear all pat. Mads Mikkelson, on the other hand, is downright creepy, and his accent definitely helps him in that sense. Makes his Hannibal just that more foreign and jarring. That coupled with the audience's knowledge of his true self, is the main source of dramatic irony that the show should really leverage on. And boy, does he make cannibalism look sexy or what. Yum! Caroline Dhavernas sure has grown up since we last saw her on TV as Jay from "Wonderfalls", and she is now a fine-looking woman. But sadly, her role is still very undefined. As for Fishburne, he is basically the same as he always has been, and in this role, he seemed more to be the audience/Graham facilitator than anything else. I am looking forward to the story that Fuller wants to tell, and I hope he gets to complete it this time. Perhaps, the short engagement (13 episodes) will keep it from being bogged down by fillers and keep the momentum going.

Episode 2, "Amuse Bouche": The show continues with its exceptionally high quality and I am glad this episode ran more like a typical serialised drama, rather than repeat the exposition. The credits were cool and theme song sufficiently creepy. Speaking of creepy, there's not shortage of disturbing scenes in this episode. We still get a murder-of-the-week concept but at least there is a central plot point and linkages to the previous episode. New character Freddie Lounds is introduced, and she is annoying. Which I guess is kudos to the actress Lara Jean Chorostecki. I still don't get Caroline Dhavernas' purpose in this show. I miss her, and she seems kind of wasted thus far. Sharp, witty dialogue by Jim Danger Gray, and delivered exceptionally well, and dead-pannedly, by Mads. His Hannibal is deliciously slick and all that dramatic irony is doing so much for his characterisation. I wonder how he will change when the truth is revealed. The score by Brian Reitzell is really good and darn creepy! And I love the sets, especially Hannibal's office! Wonderfalls Cameo Alert: Gretchen Speck-Horowitz "it's just  Speck, we got divorced. Lost the hyphen and kept the ring" appears!!! Last seen in "Wax Lion" and "Pink Flamingo"

Episode 3, "Potage": The storyline from the pilot continues and there's no murder-of-the-week to solve this outing. I like this. Serialised drama really helps to develop characters more fully than procedurals, and this episode Alana Bloom takes centre stage in the first half and Hannibal is the focus in the second half. Will Graham is relegated to the back today. Finally Caroline Dhavernas is getting getting interesting but so far she still seemed to be more of an accessory (like Jack) than an important figure in the story. She's like the rational side of Science. This show does the dramatic irony and double entendres so well here. Abigail is slowly becoming rather interesting too and the actress Kacey Rohl seemed competent, although sometimes rather forced in her "little actions", to convey the possible duplicity of her character. But Mads is star of this episode as he slowly unpeel off that professional medical veneer and reveals the psychopath within. And, man, is Freddie annoying or what?

Episode 4, "Ceuf" (Pulled due to violence, but will review the full ep once it's available. Below is just a quick word regarding the webisodes online): Actually without the violence and the gore to distract, the amazing characterisations of the cast is brought out so much more clearly. Hannibal and Bloom is definitely a pairing that I would like to see more of, as is the Hannibal/Abigail pairing. Mads is really outstanding as Hannibal.
(Update - 2 May 2013): Finally caught the full episode. The webisodes are now put into context. The case-of-the-week was not that gruesome/violent, although the subject matter was rather disturbing, but at least it brought out more in the characterisation of Will and drew parallel between Will, Hannibal and Abigail. On the other hand, Alana again seemed more secondary which is such a pity and a waste of Caroline Dhavernas. A cameo by Morpheus brought out a chuckle. Lastly, I also do not see the chemistry between, nor the need to suggest an interest from, Hettienne Park (I don't even know her character's name) and Hugh Dancy. Unless she's going to die in the end.

Episode 5, "Coquilles": A fantastically creepy outing that stayed away from the pilot, but the great thing about "Hannibal" is that these standalone episodes are not as procedural as one would expect. More time is actually spent on characterisation, and in this case of Jack's, then solving the actual crime itself. Essentially, the main focus of the series is on Will and Hannibal and not psycho-killer of the week. And it's brilliant to see Mads and Hugh playing off each other. We also get "officially" introduced to Jack's wife, Phyllis, as played by a rather severe, and slightly haggard looking Gina Torres. Her appearance does suit her character but a departure from her usual on screen persona. Nonetheless, her presence allows us to get a better understanding of the man that Jack is, but the way he pushes Will presents us a dilemma with regards to our regard of him. Complex!

Episode 6, "Entree": Woah!! The first amazingly mindblowing episode. So many nods to the movies, and finally Hannibal outs himself. Amazing! Can't wait to see how the next episode will continue on from here. Freddie is much more tolerable in small amounts, and sadly Will is back in the background this time round. A different kind of format in storytelling this time round with flashbacks and a crime that is more on why is he doing it? Rather than who is doing it? But once the show loses its dramatic irony that Hannibal is a sociopath, how else can it sustain itself?

Episode 7, "Sorbet": The very great thing about this series is that Fuller and company have created complex characters and they are not afraid to explore their characterisations each week. The case-of-the-week tend to be in the background and serve as stepping stones to further explore the leads. And the star of this week is Hannibal. Sadly, Alana Bloom is still nothing more than a footnote and an expository mouthpiece. But then, GILLIAN ANDERSON!! Woohoo!! An interesting psychiatrist to Hannibal's culinary expert, and boy, does the food look good or what!

Episode 8, "Fromage": A gross-out crime-of-the-week again beautifully dovetails into the characterisation of the main bromance. But other than that, not a very strong entry in the season. Although I do hope that after these two episodes of teasing, the next one gives us a full blown Gillian Anderson story! She is mysteriously fascinating.

Episode 9, "Trou Normand": Back to Abigail and the conclusion of her mystery. Wonder how else will her character play out now in this new atypical family. I sense bad things happening to Alana and they kind of just dropped that whole Jack's wife has terminal cancer plot line eh? The case of the week is again outstandingly creepy, but solved really quickly and concluded by the end of the Second Act. Perhaps Fuller et al should consider serialising this in another format? The first few episodes were outstanding, but these last two were iffy.

Episode 10, "Buffet Froid": Firstly, thankfully this series got picked up for a second season, so the investment has not been for nothing! Can't wait to see how Fuller wrap up Season 1. Secondly, Georgia from Dead Like Me!!! What a great way to re-address Ellen Muth's character, giving her a mental illness that makes her think that she is dead! Wow! Although the mental illness aspect was not well-handled. And my gosh, the scenes were absolutely freaky, especially the opening sequence and the ending face-less Hannibal. Love the continuous development of characterisation here, but why is Hannibal really allowing Will's encephalitis to go on? I doubt it's really for scientific/publishing purposes. Perhaps, an inflamed brain tastes nicer?

Episode 11 - 13: What a brilliant, brilliant ride of a show this has been!! A great ending, that leaves so much to be explored in Season 2. Thank the TV gods that Fuller and team decided to eschew the typical case-of-the-week for a proper serialised drama/thriller that has fantastic characterisations, but of course all would have been for nought if we did not have such fantastic actors personifying the roles! Caroline Dhavernas absolutely stood out in the finale and Fishburne continues to be a presence in the role. Gillian Anderson is perfect: a gorgeous enigma wrapped in inscrutability and mystery; can't wait for them to tell us more about her! And of course, Hugh Dancy shows us that the Dancy/Danes household is one highly strung bag of wonderful craziness; Mads Mikkelson has erased Hopkins version of Lecter from my mind. These last three episodes brought us slowly to an electrifying climax and the road there was paved with absolute tension and dread and fear and WTF?!

5 April 2013

The Place Beyond The Pines

 A very good, tight, well acted first part that led to a downright boring, empty and really meaningless second act, and thankfully brought to a rather emotionally satisfactory close in the final third. Very similar stylistic to Derek Cianfrance's "Blue Valentine" which I just recently caught. Plot wise, nothing too new or groundbreaking, but the story idea is good. The thematic backbone is strong: Fathers and Sons. The age old adages of "sins of the father, paid by the sons" and "the fruit does not fall far from the tree" is thematically explored here by the two families. Unfortunately, the weakest link is Bradley Cooper. Sure, he's a recently Oscar nominated actor, but he has not convinced me that he can really act. And sadly, the second third was all about him and he was just so blank and unconvincing in his portrayal that it was literally boring. I really wished that I could just fast forward through his story. And of course he was not helped by a ridiculous subplot thrown in that actually served no purpose in the grand emotional arc of things. His storyline can be easily summarised in a ten minutes, fifteen minutes tops, scene. Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, and Dean Dehaan (a rising star, mind my words...this chap is someone to watch out for) in the third act, are the true emotional core of the show. Cianfrance spent the whole first third having the audience invested in Gosling and Mendes, and rooting for the anti-hero, and then suddenly sharp shift in POV, and we are thrusted abruptly into the world of Cooper and the Law. And there we stayed, expecting us to fall in line behind this guy who just appeared literally out of nowhere. By the time the third act rolled up I was ready to be disappointed by the movie, but strong performances by the two young leads, especially Dehaan, and a more credible storyline resolving the younger generation's conflict with their fathers saved the show. The emotional torch was relit as we are re-introduced to Gosling's family and his son, and as an audience we are now drawn back in to see how Gosling's story will end. Gladly, it did not end the usual sappy Hollywood manner. But again, Cooper is so extraneous. Will he have been so heavily promoted if not for his turn in "Silver Linings Playbook"? The scenes with Bruce Greenwood were standouts, and he had the best lines and also delivered a lot of the emotional themes that Cianfrance and writers Ben Coccio and Darius Marder were trying to explore with that story/screenplay. A little shout out to Eva Mendes who was actually quite good in the first act, but sadly had a much reduced role thereafter. After watching "Blue Valentine", I was accustomed to Cianfrance's style of directing, but others may find it distracting.  Lots of long takes and obviously unrehearsed scenes that required the actors' to adlib (and this is where Cooper also miserably failed). Not your standard Hollywood fare, nor even your standard indie fare, but at the end, ignoring the second act, a rather authentic and emotionally despairing exploration of the father-son relationship and their role/purpose in each others' life, helped along by a fitting score by Mike Patton.

3 April 2013

Blue Valentine [SQ Inflight Entertainment]

Finally managed to catch this 2010 drama that also skipped our shores, I guess because of the graphic sex scenes. But beneath all that, this is a really depressing love story. The two leads here, Gosling and Williams, really carry the weight of the movie on their shoulders and their chemistry is the real triumph here. You can actually believe these two are falling in love and falling out of love. And the devastation is just so emotional and raw and authentic. Kudos to Williams who really deserve her Oscar nomination here. Sadly, Gosling's role is really more passive in nature and he was not able to aptly convey that passivity to an engaging screen presence. The characters are so flawed and sometimes so annoying that you wonder why did writer/director Derek Cianfrance put them on screen, but perhaps it is also because of all that, that they feel more authentic than the synthetically made-up rom-coms leads by big budget Hollywood studios. Nonetheless, the plot itself tended to be meandering, plodding, melodramatic and occasionally stagnant. So thankfully, we had Williams and Gosling to capture our attention.

Bernie [SQ inflight entertainment]

This little indie gem had a standout performance by Jack Black. Possibly the role of his lifetime! Excellent supporting performances by Shirley MacLaine (hilarious!!) and Matthew McConaughey (he's on a roll)! A very interesting little story, that's made more amazing that it's based on a true story. Unfortunately, other than the true story angle, there's not much other draw for this show to be a breakout success. All three stars are not really big box office magnets, even McConaughey with his small role. Nonetheless, it was a quirky story that deserved to be told, with Jack Black hitting a career high. True life can be stranger than fiction! Not sure why it did not come to Singapore. Or did it, just briefly, and I missed it?

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...