Monday, December 30, 2002

Here's my review of "LOTR: The Two Towers".
Warning: spoilers included

First off, it's unbelievably fantastic! In fact, this is an understatement! I sometimes find it difficult to fully describe this absolute masterpiece, because it's just so many things rolled into one excellent 3-hour film.

I loved "LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring", but the second in this trilogy surpasses its predecessor in numerous ways. Sure, I've heard that some people didn't enjoy this movie as much because the scenery isn't as visually stunning -- and yes, this is true. When compared to "Fellowship", which had the benefit of being the first LOTR film, and thus gave us our first glimpses of Middle Earth, with the Shire, Rivendell, Moria, etc, "Towers" can't come close in terms of breath-taking sights.

But "Towers" isn't about inspiring awe in that manner. No, this second installment is much darker, as the protagonists progress further towards Mordor, and come face to face with 10,000 Orc warriors in the final bloody battle at Helms Deep. We witness the gradual transformation of Frodo ( Elijah Wood ), who comes under the ring's power andturns on his friend Sam in one emotional, nail-biting scene. Gollum ( the amazing Andy Serkis ) has a much larger role here, and again demonstrates the ring's all-encompassing evil. The other members of the now-broken fellowship -- Aragorn ( the delicious Viggo Mortensen ), Legolas ( equally yummy Orlando Bloom ) and Gimli ( John Rhys-Davies ) -- also face their own obstacles, but again persevere and triumph, to much cheering from the audience. :)

Peter Jackson has repeated his feat, producing a masterpiece that will make all Tolkien fans proud. He picks up the pace, and with help from his excellent visual effects team, conjures up an eye-popping climactic battle scene -- the most remarkable one I've ever seen, might I add. However, he admirably intersperses all the action with intimate moments -- Frodo's spiritual and emotional turmoil, Sam's unwavering loyalty towards his best friend, Gollum's dual-personality monologues, the knowing looks exchanged between Aragorn and Eowyn ( a luminous Miranda Otto ), and my personal favourite: a scene where Aragorn is near-death, and dreams that he is at Rivendell with Arwen ( aptly cast Liv Tyler ). This last sequence is bittersweet and gentle, with superb acting from the two stars, who manage to convey the deep love the characters have for each other. Truly one of the most enduring romances of our time.

But LOTR wouldn't be complete without at least 1 spectacular scene. "Fellowship" had the encounter with the demon in Moria, and "Towers" its battle at Helms Deep. Jackson does well in creating momentum as the war draws near, so audiences experience the urgency and fear as the characters make preparations to defend their fort. Lace this with beautiful lines, and you've got the perfect mix. For example, when the king of Rohan asks Aragorn, "What can Man do when faced with such reckless hate?", the latter replies, "Ride out and meet it." And in a poignant scene where Frodo almost gives up on his quest, Sam manages to change his mind by saying, "There's still good in this world, and it's worth fighting for."

My eyes were fixed on Viggo Mortensen this time round -- Orlando Bloom caught my attention in "Fellowship", but his boyish good looks are overshadowed by Mortensen's rugged masculinity. :) Here is a man who was made for the role of Aragorn. Possessing the necessary physicality and agility, yet extremely capable in bringing out the character's soft side, he is a sight to behold, and eats up the screen whenever he appears. No wonder Miranda Otto, who plays his new love interest Eowyn, told reporters that she had no problem acting as if she were in love with him.

Already in the running for 2 Golden Globes ( Best Picture and Best Director ), "The Two Towers" also draws parallels with the political chaos in the world today. Sauron and Saruman can represent the Osamas and Saddams, and the Orcs the ever-increasing forces of al-Qaeda and other jihad affiliates. The theme of good versus evil resonates at this time of impending war between America and Iraq, and especially after 9/11. But there's always an optimistic conclusion to the tale, and good will triumph in the end, as long as we hold fast to our principles, and people with courage, loyalty and integrity still exist.

I'm rooting for "Towers" to win the Best Picture Oscar come March 2003. A long shot, perhaps, but it never hurts to hope!
You MUST see this movie!

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Okay, I happened to be on the Internet, and thought I'd post this 'cos it's pretty unbelievable stuff.

I just watched a recording of "Temptation Island: Australia" and my jaw hit the floor. Yes, despite having liberal views regarding Western morals, the shenanigans on this Australian series ( ie. featuring native Aussies, instead of a bunch of Americans ) were positively SHOCKING. Sure, there were the usual drunken parties, overt flirtations and skimpily clad tight bods, but this pilot episode had 2 intoxicated women kissing each other -- yes, it was shown on Singapore TV! Intentional? Perhaps, in which case the Singapore Broadcast Authority is once again practising double standards -- ""Sex And The City"? No way! "Temptation Island: Australia" which depicts women tonguing each other? Proceed!"
I couldn't care less if this show continues to be screened every Saturday night. I think Singaporeans are becoming quite promiscuous and can handle this sort of thing without any problem. But please, if this reality series is considered okay for local consumption on free-to-air TV, then I think someone on the SBA needs to reverse the decision to ban "Sex And The City" ( which is based on FICTIONAL characters, btw ) from cable television. You do see a point in what I'm saying, right?

Saturday, December 21, 2002

This post is dedicated to reality shows.

The final 2 episodes of The Amazing Race 3 weren't as exciting for me, as I was on call the day it was screened, and already read about the winners over the Internet prior to watching the recording. But I can tell you that this series is by far the most engrossing of the 3, because all the contestants are captivating in their own ways, and the race was really really tight all the way to the very end.
Not to mention resident whiner Flo Pesenti, who grated on my nerves throughout the 2 hours with her incessant crying, shouting, threats to quit, etc. Prima donna and immature spoilt brat rolled into one, it's truly a miracle that she and Zach went on to clinch the milllion-dollar prize. I concur with the majority of opinions on the Net -- that Zach should get the whole million, and Flo should get nothing. After all, in the final leg, all she did was sit and pout, or delay the team by refusing to carry out their designated tasks, or putting in half-hearted efforts at best. Zach was the one running around booking airline tickets, figuring out the clues, and most importantly, pacifying Flo and doing his best to persuade her to stay in the race. In Vietnam, the latter really wanted out, but poor Zach put his foot down and told her, "This is my race too, so we should talk about it." Right on, Zach. You tell that selfish woman like it is.
Actually, I already suspected that Flo and Zach won the money, especially after an interview with the twins Drew and Derek in the papers a couple of days ago revealed that Drew is now long-distance dating Flo. Not only did it raise my eyebrows, I practically choked when he said all sorts of forgiving and nice things about her awful tantrums on international TV, citing reasons like how stressful the circumstances were, how fragile she is, and so on. But you know what? I think a lot of that motivation comes from the fact that Flo's now got half a million buckeroos in her bank account. Plus, she's absolutely hung on the guy, so you can bet she'll splurge a lot of her prize money on him. Smart move, Drew.
As for Zach, I'm sure he's won millions of female hearts all over the world with his good temper, optimism, and overall nice-guy demeanour. Not once did he lose his cool, and neither did he resort to any dirty tricks -- but let's give Flo some credit for playing a clean game too. He's wonderfully sweet, and I hope he finds an equally nice girl who'll make him happy. A word of caution to him though: most women he meets from now on will know about his fortune, and being the easygoing person he is, he may end up getting duped. So good luck to you, Zach. Wish you all the best.
Teri and Ian are the oldest couple to make it to the final, so good for them. Too bad Ken and Gerard didn't win. They're definitely the nicest team of the entire lot.

Survivor:Thailand had me on the edge of my seat. Brian is definitely an excellent player, and though he isn't the best person to win, he played his hand like a pro and got what he wanted. Ken was a hot favourite -- handsome, nice, a police officer basking in the post 9/11 adulation -- while Helen worked really hard only to be sabotaged by the guys at the crucial point. If she'd won the last immunity challenge, she would've gotten everyone's vote, no question. I think it was a big waste that people like Brian and Clay ended up being the final two. As one jury member said, he chose Brian because he's "the lesser of the two evils", meaning he didn't want either to win, but had no choice but to vote for one of them.
Well, Survivor has always been the best of all the reality shows, and the next season promises to be even more exciting, as it will take place in none other than the Amazon. Woohoo!

Temptation Island:Australia starts tonight at 11pm on Channel 5. No idea if it's gonna be Americans vacationing down under, or a local Australian population.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Aaaahhh... I've got my new fix :) and it's called "Fear Factor"!
The latest season is currently being screened over Channel 5, but I've already seen a few of the episodes, thanks to cable TV ( AXN Channel 19, to be precise ).
Yet another addition to the reality show genre, FF is exciting because it's constantly testing the boundaries. Last year, I was actually bored by some of the challenges, but the new season promises lots of icky, scary stuff. Just look at the trailers for a quick preview -- I especially enjoy the one that ends with "bon appetit!", featuring all the creepy-crawlies that contestants have to swallow, e.g. LIVE larvae of various species, gigantic cockroaches, worms, or as in last night's installment, pig uteruses.
No big deal, you say? Yesterday, I watched a bunch of really tough-looking participants ( including 3 beefcakes ) gag and choke on the pig organs, which measure 15 cm in length, look raw ( though the host claims they're cooked ), and need to be ingested within a minute each. Unfortunately, everyone had to toss for the number of uteruses they had to eat, and all of them ended up hitting the number 5. Watching them was painful, yet eerily enjoyable. :P

Anyhow, watch for more out-of-this-world antics, such as a challenge to walk completely nude in front of an audience, having tarantulas poured onto your head in an enclosed tank, and yes, more eating of the most disgusting things imaginable. The prize money? $50,000, which equals slightly more than $100,000 in local currency, and isn't that much when compared to "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race". But FF banks on psychological endurance more than anything else, and most obstacles can be overcome with the right attitude -- hence, the constant heckling from fellow contestants, in a bid to rattle whoever is up next. Best of all, it's a competition where it's really anyone's game, where slim women can beat men twice their size, where the small-sized beat the Xenas and Goliaths, where your luck can literally run out ( e.g. if you have a terrible phobia of spiders, and the challenge happens to involve tarantulas ). So keep your Monday nights free, or at least, set the VCR timer!

Side point here. Just want to post something about a nice restaurant I went to a week ago with some friends. It just opened in November, and is called Colours By The Bay, located at the Esplanade ( aka Singapore's newest theatre for the arts, and recently graced by Jose Carreras, Jessye Norman, the New York and London Philharmonic orchestras, and The Swingles Singers ). I like to call this place the reasonably-priced alternative to Mezza9 ( which is housed within the Grand Hyatt Hotel at Scotts Road, and offers mouth-watering dishes, but at great expense ). Colours offers choices from 7 different eateries, all located next to each other, and you can sit in 1 restaurant and order from the other 6 without having to move. The prices vary, but are generally very affordable, and with a group of 5, you can share 5 dishes, and pay less than $20 a head. Plus, there's no service charge, though the waiters and waitresses are quite good at their jobs.
Our menu included:
1. Chilli soft shell crab noodles from The Garlic Restaurant -- spicy/sweet, very fragrant
2. Mussels with garlic in a claypot -- from the same place, again very tasty
3. Vegetarian pizza -- from Al Dente Trattoria, lots of cheese, not bad
4. Tau hoo with Thai sauce -- from the Thai restaurant ( sorry, can't recall the name right now ), quite delicious
5. Sashimi platter -- from the Japanese restaurant, very very good ( but then, I have a weakness for it! )

The winebar cum club, Embassy, is just next to Colours, so you can retire there for post-dinner fun and drinks. But they play techno music there, so we headed down to Embargo next to One Fullerton instead. Not a bad way to spend an evening. Too bad the parking fee at The Esplanade is $4, really steep, and non-redeemable, aargh!

Last but not least, don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for the following shows:
1. This Wednesday, 18th December, Channel i, at 7pm -- a documentary on Matt Damon's career.
2. X'mas Eve, 12mn, need to check which channel -- Nobody Someday, a documentary on Robbie Williams

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Anyone follow the exploits of Temptation Island 2? Wow, this season was really addictive. :) And the final episode aired just last night. Result: 2 couples split, 2 couples stayed together. But there were also additional twists, and 2 couples' fates changed later on -- the one that broke up got together again, and the one that intended to carry on with each other broke up. Okay, some pretty mindless stuff to preoccupy myself with, but it does offer some lessons for anyone who's ever been in a relationship. The one I felt for the most, surprisingly, wasn't Catherine and Edmundo. No, I actually applaud Kelly for finding strength to leave Mark. If you don't follow the show, you'll be asking, "What???" But for those who do, you may share my views.

As for Scrubs, which I intially hated, I've had a complete turnaround and absolutely love the show now. :) The characters grow on you, especially J.D. and his resident, Dr. Cox. The former is lovably good-hearted, someone we can all identify with as we go through various stages of our medical career, and the latter is a grouch with a hidden heart of gold, fighting the administration to provide proper healthcare for poor patients. In this day and age of materialism, even in a so-called "noble profession", Dr. Coxes are vital in preserving what's left of our dignity.

Speaking of dignity, there was an article in the Life! section of The Sunday Times today, about how men and women react differently to jealousy in relationships -- females tend to stay silent and become depressed, and males respond with violence/rage or drinking binges. ( That's the general gist of it. ) There were a few case reports as well, about how one woman tied her husband's wrist to her own while they slept, and another ( well-publicized ) incident where a woman bashed cars when she suspected her spouse of cheating on her.

Here's what I have to say: the first woman's off her rocker, of course. But the second? She merely did what most females would love to do, but fear to. As a victim of a cheating ex, I can confidently say that if we live in a society without any penal codes, most of the male species would be wiped out. We just have more self-restraint. Food for thought the next time you look at a woman. :)

Thursday, December 12, 2002

This is in continuation to the previous post below. Yes, the server is sucking again.
Of course, there're so many other treasures to dig up. His fear that his little brother's Scottish babysitter is a psychopathic paedophilic killer. His unbelievable interview with the casting agent of "The Real World", previously a hit reality TV show on MTV. His many conflicts with above baby brother, who deliberately behaves as if he's a victim of horrific abuse. His naked sprint along the seaside during a magazine photo shoot, describing the flopping of a certain part of his anatomy as "a bird shaking the life out of a worm".
But this book may appeal to other medical professionals like myself, because of his many references to the sick -- his parents, his friends, cancer, suicidal attempts, traumatic intracranial haemorrhages. His experiences are accurately and sensitively depicted, again with a dose of intelligent wit.
Word of caution: don't read this with any expectations beforehand, 'cos it will shatter them all. Just buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

A sidepoint here. I noticed an article in Life! today, about some awards ceremony for the local Chinese channel actors, written by Lionel Seah. This guy was kinda snooty, saying things like how someone's outfit was the cheapest, how someone's makeup was too heavy, etc. The nastiness made my stomach turn. Hey Lionel, Sharon Stone once wore a T-shirt under a jacket to a swanky event, and was congratulated for it. If you've got class, you don't need a $10,000 dress in order to look like a million bucks. And he actually thinks Zoe Tay's gown was fantastic? This is in no way an insult to Zoe, but the outfit looked like a dead spider -- or make that many dead spiders. Some people have the weirdest taste.
Okay, Blogger seems to be working again. The maintenance people really need to do something about the server problem.

First up, Derek and Drew were eliminated! Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhh! It was a terrible twist of fate, and they couldn't find the clue and were beaten by Ken and Gerard. So sad. Really really sad. Ho Chi Minh City is a real mess, by the way.
And guess what? They misspelled our international airport's name -- "Changai"?!?!? Hello??? Someone needs a caning.

And I suppose you expect me to comment on the finale of The Bachelor? Sorry, it was dullsville, so I'm not going to spend anymore time on it. I think The Bachelor 2 will be lots more fun. Too bad I already know who gets chosen in the end.

I'm finishing up a very good book -- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers -- which has been in my possession for maybe a year, but which I only picked up last week because I finally found the time to read something other than patient files and textbooks. A Pulitzer Prize finalist, this autobiography rocks, and anyone who doesn't find anything to laugh about in here must be dead. Eggers writes with a manic-depressive tic, oscillating between euphoria and misery with disturbing ease. He almosts degenerates into mindless rambling at times, but is saved by an incredible writing style. He engages the reader, drawing you into his world, letting you share his intimate secrets, exposing his innermost thoughts.
The novel opens with his account of his mother's battle with terminal stomach cancer, with a detailed description of the various ways of coping with epistaxis secondary to thrombocytopenia. He somehow manages to inject humour into the situation -- something about how ridiculous it would be for his mom to die from a lousy nosebleed. And it's this particular trait -- the ability to find something funny in any situation, no matter how miserable -- that makes AHWOSG a riveting read.
Having some trouble posting at the moment, will continue another time when the stupid Blogger server starts working properly again.
My leave is ending soon, sob! Okay, better start prepping myself for the ward rounds and night calls which will resume next week. Can't believe time passes so quickly. Sigh.
Anyway, I realize that my Changi compatriots follow my blog on and off, so if David or Siau Chuin is reading this, I'm very grateful for your help in covering the MICU while I'm away. Hope the mortality rounds haven't been too stressful, and please let me buy you a meal when I return. :)


The Amazing Race 3 episode last week was excellent! First, let me say, "Aieee, Drew and Derek were in Singapore! " Sorry :P But I still don't understand what all the hullabaloo about PCK being chosen to appear is all about. He's described as "a popular TV star", not "a typical Singaporean". And I think he performed very well on the show, being his bubbly and crazy self.
I also applaud those who thought up the tasks for the competitors. Very imaginative stuff that also proved challenging. First, a race to the Orchid Gardens, then a detour, either to the zoo or Choa Chu Kang, followed by a trip to The Fountain of Wealth, and a run to Mt. Faber ( the pitstop ). Considering how even I sometimes get lost navigating the roads here, the teams did remarkably well on their own, and with right-hand driving some more. They even found block whatever, unit whatever, in Choa Chu Kang avenue or street whatever. Wow, I'm impressed.
Everyone's a strong player this time round, and it's anybody's guess who will emerge the victors. My favourites are the twins, of course, but mostly because they've proven to be forces to be reckoned with, and that pretty-boy looks doesn't always equal brains the size of peas, mind you. They're also nice, and haven't played any dirty tricks on the others, unlike the gay couple in the first Amazing Race ( boy, I detested those guys! ). My next fav are Ken and Gerard, the balding brothers who laugh and smile all the time. Ian and Teri -- the bickering middle-aged couple -- are a hoot to watch, and may make it to the final 3, but win? Nah. If the previous 2 seasons are anything to go by, the very last episode always features some dragged-out sprint to the finish line, something Drew and Derek will have no problems with, while Ken/Gerard and Ian/Teri will probably pass out from.
An interesting little twist is provided by Flo and Zach, who describe themselves as "good friends" but appear to be more. Zach seems to have feelings for Flo, but she's blatantly flirting with Drew ( was wondering why Drew and not Derek, but Derek's the one with a wedding ring. Ohhhhhhh... :)) Anyway, Flo's terrible lah. She's so hung on Drew it's nauseating, and I feel so sorry for Zach sometimes. He's such a nice guy, putting up with her screaming tantrums, never losing his temper or patience, carrying her backpacks whenever she gets exhausted, never complaining about anything. Let Drew have her! Zach deserves so much better.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Ah, being on leave is fantastic. :D Ok, let's get down to it!

Josh Groban's releasing a Christmas DVD/CD package, probably within the next week or so. It's a recording of a PBS concert he gave in October, and includes bonus tracks like his wonderful rendition of "O Holy Night" -- available on his website -- and "Broken Vow" ( which was sent to me by Diane, a lovely Japanese-American lady ). The latter has taken my breath away -- an understatement in itself! Any of you who want to hear this beautiful beautiful song, just email me ( ) and I'll forward it to you. I can't wait to get my hands on the DVD!

Just bought "Escapology" by Robbie Williams. Had a quick listen, and have to say that I still prefer his 2 previous albums -- Sing When You're Winning ( with gems like "Rock DJ", "Supreme", "Better Man" and "Eternity" ) and Swing When You're Winning ( his coup de grace! ). Escapology has some nice ones, of course, such as "Feel", "Something Beautiful" and some irreverently nonsensical yet hilarious songs like "Me And My Monkey", with lyrics that relate how his pet cum travel companion was being hunted by the mob. But most of the CD comprises heavy rock, which I found a tad too noisy for my taste. But hey, being a diehard fan, it hasn't stopped me from playing it in my car this past week!

On to reality TV. Tune in to Channel 5 on Thursday at 7:30pm for "The Amazing Race 3: Destination - Singapore". Yep, the cat's out of the bag, and Drew and Derek, the hubba-hubba twin models, were actually in our country! And Gurmit Singh got to meet them! ( Not that it matters to him, I guess. ) It's a 2-hour special, promising lots of laughs and good footage, so don't miss it.

The last episode of "The Bachelor" is next Monday night, and had a fun time watching "The Women Tell All" version yesterday. After thinking Shannon was a prude initially, I now have great respect for her. But I also don't judge Alex for his choice. Some men are ruled by their dumb-sticks ( a term borrowed from "Ally McBeal" ) rather than their brains, and as long as the women they end up with are willing to pander to that, good for them. Thank goodness Aaron Buerge, the hunk from "The Bachelor 2" isn't so shallow. Yes, I know who he chose, thanks to People magazine, and guess what? The lady refused to sleep with him, and he still proposed. Aaaah, if only there were more guys like him. :)

Speaking of People magazine, I've got the issue featuring Ben Affleck, who's been picked as 2002's Sexiest Man Alive. Not top on my list, but I do like him, and have sufficient background info to know that he is indeed a great fellow. And in case you're interested, my choices would've been either Viggo Mortensen ( Aragorn in LOTR, Gwyneth Paltrow's lover in "A Perfect Murder" ) or Richard Gere. But I really worry that his marriage to J. Lo will end in disaster, and make him turn back to alcoholism. So here's wishing you good luck, Ben.

Also attended a concert by The Swingles Singers last Saturday at the Esplanade Concert Hall. Thoroughly enjoyable! Pure a cappella, and of an admirable standard. I was a little surprised by the young age of the members, plus the fact that 2 of the guys are very good-looking. :) The abundance of Christmas songs was a big bonus, with sprinklings of their trademark vocal renditions of classical pieces -- in this particular set, themes from "Star Wars", "Mission: Impossible", and a killer "1812 Overture" by Tchaikovsky. My personal favourites, though, were the Spanish songs: "The Girl From Ipanema" had me swooning, while "The Soul Bossa Nova" ( aka the catchy tune from Austin Powers and the World Cup 2002 ads ) had us in stitches because of its nifty accompanying choreography. And yes, humour is a big part of their performance, thanks to a curly-haired tenor who even pointed out that the spotlight overhanging the stage reminds him of the spaceship from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" -- and it does, by the way. Thank goodness the audience was appreciative, calling the group back for 3 encores, before they indicated their fatigue by singing a lullaby for their last piece, bidding us goodnight and asking us to "go to sleep". Bravo, Swingles! If you're hungry for more info, here's their website address.

Before I sign off, here're more VCD reviews.

Bend It Like Beckham
Didn't really like it, sad to say. Despite all the rave reviews, I found the humour forced, and the story less than inspiring. But it's an overall good effort anyhow. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is fun to watch, doing terrific things for white shirts. :)

About A Boy
Now this one, I absolutely love! Hugh Grant stars as Will, a guy who literally "does nothing", living off royalties from the single hit X'mas song his late father penned decades ago, leading a swinging bachelor's life and hitting on single moms ( ie. extremely vulnerable women ). He starts off loathsome, but later meets Marcus, a precocious yet insightfully intelligent boy who manages to touch Will's heart and later transform him into a better person. Based on Nick Hornby's bestselling novel ( he also wrote "High Fidelity", which made me laugh out loud, but tanked as a film, despite the presence of my idol, John Cusack ), the humour is wry yet guffaw-inducing, and helped in large part by the excellent casting of Grant, Nicholas Hoult as Marcus, and Toni Collette as Marcus' depressed mum. Hoult, in particular, shines, and almost steals the show, portraying an awkward teen who has to cope with a miserable mother and a new school. At first bearing unnerving resemblance to Damien, the devil incarnate from "The Omen", he later shows his true colours and worms his way into our hearts, making us cry and cheer for him as he faces life's many obstacles and subsequently triumphs. Grant, on the other hand, looks lovely without his trademark wimpy flop of a fringe, and pulls off a great performance -- I may even go as far as to say it's his best work so far. Now if only I have time to read the book!

The Sum Of All Fears
Yet another one of Ben Affleck's forays into the mainstream blockbuster action film genre, but this time flanked by heavyweights Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, and a very charismatic Liev Schrieber ( who played Meg Ryan's ex-fiance in "Kate & Leopold" but portrays a ruthless CIA operative/assassin here ). As a younger version of Jack Ryan, Affleck does an admirable job, and is convincing as he rattles off political jargon about Russian presidents and rebel generals. Interestingly, there isn't much hands-on fighting on his part, most of it being carried out by Schrieber or other bit actors in the movie. This remains predominantly a talkie film, with tense, well-written dialogue as the centrepiece. The only blast comes from the nuclear bomb, a scene that is both awesome and harrowing. The first hour is slow, but don't give up, 'cos the 2nd hour is gripping, rivalling "The Hunt For Red October", "Crimson Tide" and (my personal fav) "Thirteen Days" in terms of edge-of-your-seat suspense.

Murder By Numbers
I highly recommend this exceptional thriller, which details how 2 rich prep school students think they've committed the perfect crime, only to be outsmarted by an intuitive homicide detective ( a very convincing Sandra Bullock ). The taut script and direction keep the pace brisk, and special mention goes to the very capable young actors -- Ryan Gosling ( the rascally Richard Haywood ) and Michael Pitt ( brainiac Justin Pendleton ). Had me biting my nails the whole time.

Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone
I rented this purely to relive the experience. I've seen it only once, and that was a whole year ago, and am not really sure why I didn't watch it again till now. But I sat down and viewed the first hour last night, and couldn't stop grinning after the first 10 minutes -- the start of the film, if you recall, is dreadful, because it depicts Harry's life with his awful aunt, uncle and cousin. But as soon as the owls started arriving with the letters summoning Harry to Hogwarts, I got goosebumps, and a smile began to spread across my face. It's certainly a fantastic show, and it's pretty amusing seeing the young actors in their pre-pubertal states. I can't get over how darn cute they all are. :) If you ever have a bad day, this is the movie to watch!

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Apologies to recent visitors for the cryptic "test post" entry. :) I'm trying to install a comments function on my website but there're some hiccups which I'm attempting to rectify, so we'll have to see if it's successfully added in the near future.

Anyhow, my annual leave is coming up, so looking forward to that. I need a break quite badly, but at the same time I feel guilty about the other MOs suffering as a result. So if any of my fellow colleagues read this -- I'm really sorry! But I sure appreciate your help and understanding. :)

Nothing much to add actually, but the latest episode of The Bachelor finally revealed Shannon's true colours. This is a woman who's extremely pretty and sweet-looking, but turned into a veritable crazed psychopath when she wasn't picked for the final two. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but if you saw the look in her eyes, it's guaranteed to make you lose control of your bladder. Even Alex was visibly shaken, after she stamped out of the mansion and confronted him before huffing off in the limousine. But I'll bet he's relieved too. Can you imagine being married to someone like her? I'd want to kill myself!
So now only Trista and Amanda are left. Who gets chosen in the end? Clue: Alex likes the one who's top-heavy. But she's very sweet and easygoing, so good for him.

New link: Love Stinks 4 Sure, which I chanced upon today while checking out the Blogger site. Written by an American woman and filled with witty putdowns of what seems like every single man she encounters, it's funny and relaxing, and probably addictive too. No photo of the poster though, but who cares?

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Today's post will be a little haphazard. Just finished rounds, and I've got some quiet time to myself, so thought I'd share an introspective moment. :)

Just finished reading this month's issue of Reader's Digest, and there's a brainteaser segment on the last page which really proved how one-tracked my mind is. Here're a few examples:
1) How many animals of each sex did Moses take on his Ark?
Answer: It was Noah, not Moses.
2) Which is correct to say: "The yolk of the egg is white." or "The yolk of the egg are white."?
Answer: Neither, the yolk of the egg is yellow, not white.
I answered both wrongly. Duh! :D

Another worthwhile exercise is making lists of top 10 favourite things for each of your 5 senses, ie. sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste. So just off the top of my head, I'll compose my lists now. Comments are most welcome.

1. My cat purring
2. The voices of Josh Groban, Russell Watson, and most recently, Mario Frangoulis ( thought I'd put this all under 1 entry and leave myself a few extra choices )
3. Side-splitting laughter ( preferably my own :))
4. "La Campanella" by Franz Liszt, being played ( competently, of course ) on the piano
5. Nigel Kennedy and Itzhak Perlman playing anything on their violins
6. The sound of the ocean
7. Children at play
8. Kevin Spacey saying, "" in "The Buddy Factor
9. A completely silent pager ( even better if I happen to be on call at the time! )
10. Prayer ( be it in a church or a Buddhist temple )

1. The Great Ocean Road in Melbourne
2. A gorgeous lake in Hever Castle in the outskirts of London
3. My cat fully stretched out in contented slumber
4. Sleeping babies
5. A scene from "The Legend of Bagger Vance", where Will Smith strolls along a beach at sunset, then does a little jig upon hearing that Matt Damon's character had won the golf championship.
6. A photo I took in Perth, of 2 wild dolphins suspended in mid-air as they leapt out of the ocean.
7. Another photo, this time of Loch Lomond, covered in a thin cloud of mist, on a cold rainy day.
8. Robbie Williams in concert
9. Michael Ball during any of his performances
10. When any of my patients improve, open their eyes, and smile at me. :)

1. Laksa
2. Anything my mom cooks
3. The ocean
4. A rose covered in morning dew
5. "White Linen" from Estee Lauder
6. "Light Blue" from Dolce & Gabbana
7. Books ( both old and new )
8. Freshly washed clothes
9. The Mezza9 kitchen -- sit in the right place and it's pure heaven
10. Rain

Taste ( my favourite! ) :
1. Laksa
2. A juicy ribeye steak
3. Sashimi dipped in wasabe and soya sauce
4. Pinot Noir
5. Champagne
6. Root Beer
7. Pasta from Sketches at Robertson Walk ( bring breath mints! )
8. Roast beef I once ate at Penshurst Castle in the outskirts of London in 1994 ( yes, it's that fantastic! )
9. Warm apple pie on a windy day ( ate this on a patio in the Yarra Valley, Melbourne -- most enjoyable! )
10. The Mushroom Swiss burger from Burger King

As for the last category -- that of touch -- I can't think of more than 3, so I'll leave that alone for now. So try this out for yourself, and see if the entries surprise you. Have fun!

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Just a short entry, as I really really need to say this!

I recently heard this absolutely beautiful song over the classical station the other night, and found the CD that it was taken from.

It's called Sometimes I Dream, by Mario Frangoulis, who's considered a veteran musician, but is in fact less than 35 years of age. Greek in origin, but raised in Africa, and later musically educated in the UK, he's also a violinist and composer, who's sung in productions of West Side Story, Les Miserables and various operas.
His album is mostly new-agey fare, ranging from slow introspective numbers ( including a theme from "Life Is Beautiful" ) to exuberantly happy pieces like "Luna Rossa" (which never fails to bring a big smile to my face, even at 7am in the morning, when I battle traffic jams to get to work ).
Frangoulis has, in my opinion at least, an AMAZING voice, far surpassing those of Russell Watson's and Josh Groban's ( two other young "prodigies" who've made pots of money these past couple of years ). So don't be surprised if Mario soon kicks them both off their pedestals. He obviously has received much training, and shows this off in all the songs featured. However, he's also capable of singing more standard pop fare, as evidenced in his ease when switching suddenly from lung-bursting high notes to more mellow melodies.
My favourite piece in this astounding CD is "Sometimes I Dream", a hauntingly romantic number with Middle Eastern tinges that remind me of the film "The English Patient". It also doesn't hurt that he's good-looking, with smouldering dark eyes. But this is definitely one "newcomer" who's going to make huge waves in the music scene.
His official website offers samplings of songs from the album, so take a listen and see if you end up buying it, 'cos I couldn't resist!

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Sunday morning 11am, and I'm on call -- again. Second Sunday call this month, with the first overlapping over a public holiday weekend. I've also got 6 calls in total, compared to 5 for the rest of the medical officer pool. Not sure if that's an oversight, or due in part to my upcoming 2-week-long leave. In any case, I'm exhausted, and praying very hard for a quiet 24 hours today. All of you in the ER, have mercy! :)

Anyhow, I watched Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets yesterday, so here's a review.

Instead of rambling on about the history of this wonderful series, I'll just say right now that the second movie installment is spectacular. Extremely faithful to the book, filled with eye-popping effects, with the introduction of a few new characters who are played fantastically by the respective actors.

Though the main players remain the same, they've definitely acquired a rapport with each other and the rest of the cast and crew. The comic timing is spot-on, the close friendship and camaraderie obvious, the pain very realistically portrayed. So what if Daniel Radcliffe ( Harry Potter ) and Rupert Grint ( the always hilariously goofy Ron Weasley ) have gone through the early stages of puberty and now croak their lines? The maturity in their acting more than makes up for that. And Emma Watson ( who's made Hermione Granger a role all her very own ) continues to excel, and appears to be blossoming into a very beautiful young lady ( a la Natalie Portman ).

Other characters like Professors Albus Dumbledore ( Richard Harris ), McGonagall ( Maggie Smith ), Snape ( Alan Rickman ) and the ever-jovial Hagrid round up the list. Sadly, Harris passed away after completing this film, and word has it Ian McKellen ( who plays Gandalf in Lord of the Rings ) has been wooed to replace him. Personally, I think Sean Connery would make a good Dumbledore. We'll just have to wait and see, I suppose.

Draco Malfoy is still in top form, and his role has been beefed up this time. I can't remember the boy actor's name offhand, but credit goes to him for making Draco so hateful that you really want to slap him whenever he shows up with his trademark sneer and greasy hair. My favourite addition, however, is Lucius Malfoy ( played to perfection by Jason Isaacs, who was Mel Gibson's arch enemy in "The Patriot" ). Banking on his villainous looks, he sports long flowing platinum blond hair and a long black cloak here, spewing his lines with a voice that rarely rises above a mere whisper. He literally steals the show at times, even when sharing the screen with main attractions Harris and Radcliffe. A stroke of casting genius!
Watch out too for the lad who plays Tom Riddle ( a character whose true identity I shall keep secret so as not to spoil the shocking ending ). I really don't know how they picked these actors, but everyone seems to be tailor-made for their respective roles. Even the girl who portrays Moaning Myrtle is a hoot!
Kudos too to the animators responsible for Dobby the house-elf. This had the potential for degenerating into a Jar Jar Binks debacle, but Dobby is adorable.
The only disppointment is Kenneth Branagh, who plays Gilderoy Lockhart, a narcissistic liar and egomaniac. True, we're not supposed to like him, but I found his performance forced and uninspired. Rumour had it Hugh Grant was the original choice. Maybe he would've done a better job.

There're some lovely scenes worth looking out for -- the flying car sequence, the Whomping Willow, the Quidditch match with a heart-stopping race between Potter and Malfoy ( beat this, George Lucas! ), the magic duel, a terrifying chase through The Dark Forest, and of course, the finale in the Chamber itself. The climactic scene is indeed very frightening, and I wonder how the children who see this movie will handle it. But judging from the peals of delighted laughter ringing throughout the theatre after the show ended, I think kids nowadays are growing up a lot faster than we did.

Chris Columbus, the man responsible for the first 2 Harry Potter films, will be stepping down after this, and the reins will be handed over to Alfonso Cuaron, who directed the revived version of "Great Expectations" ( which starred Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke ) and "A Little Princess". Hopefully, he will remain true to the spirit of the Harry Potter novels, as the next episode ( Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban ) is a hot favourite for many readers ( including myself ), and is the most poignant and touching among all the books Rowling has written so far.

So what're you waiting for? Go see this fabulous movie! :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Unfortunately, I missed the latest episode of Survivor: Thailand, and haven't had the chance to check out the website yet, so those of you reading this who know which contestant got booted off after Shii Ann, please email me at and fill me in. Much appreciated. :)

Last night's episode of The Bachelor reached a new low, but that's exactly what kept me glued to the goggle-box till 11pm, despite being on call today :P
Alex went out with 3 women on individual dates, and made out with one of them on national TV. Funny thing is, Amanda ( the lady in question ) thought nothing of frenching him with the cameraman zooming in, but became extremely embarrassed when the Japanese waitress accidentally walked in in the middle of their little interlude. Talk about double standards!
The other finalists ( 8 were cut to 4 ) are Trista ( a professional cheerleader ), Shannon ( the one I'm rooting for ) and Kim ( a professional nanny ). Rhonda, who was among the 4 who were not picked, had an anxiety attack after the session, necessitating some paramedic attention. Melodrama, indeed. Good thing Alex didn't pick her. If she'd gotten through to the final round and then been ditched, she'll probably commit suicide.
Next week should provide even more interesting fodder. The 4 women will bring Alex home to meet their parents, and the trailer reveals some tension and discomfort, which should be a hoot. I'm wondering about the exact turning point where Alex decides to drop Shannon ( if you recall, I did say in my previous post that she did not reach the final 2 ). Might be her parents, hmmm...

Last piece of gossip before I sign off and prepare for yet another call: Jennifer Lopez is apparently now engaged to Ben Affleck, even before finalizing her divorce from Cris Judd. I don't really understand why Affleck, a self-proclaimed swinging single who's dated the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, would be serious enough about J. Lo to want to settle down with her. Thought he'd have better taste. And besides, I wouldn't marry someone who's got a horrible track record. Anyone want to place bets that Ben will soon become Ex Number Three? :)

Right then. Wish me luck. I'm off to unpack my night bag.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

After being literally thrown in the deep end, I'm happy to report that my first week in the medical intensive care unit has been a fruitful one. The usual consultant covering the ICU with me is on leave, so I've been mentored in the meantime by a young registrar, who's a really really nice guy and supervised me on loads of procedures. As a result, I've gained the confidence to do most line insertions solo. And let's not forget my horrendous but extremely exciting call last Sunday, during which 6 cases came to the ICU, 3 or 4 of whom were sick beyond imagination, requiring me to set lines on more than half of them ( also solo, had an easygoing reg on call with me -- many thanks to him for entrusting these sickies to my care ( popping by only when I paged for help ). So to paraphrase a Starship song: Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now. :D

Patients here in Changi, however, are a far cry from those in the Singapore General Hospital, and even the National University Hospital. Most people there aren't fussy, and they're honest with you. Sure, there're a few unreasonable ones who make stupid complaints about small things, but I currently have an ill patient here in the MICU, whose son INSISTS on speaking to a consultant everyday -- he refuses to talk to anyone more junior. He's also trained in biochemistry ( though I'm unclear about his exact job ), so he'll ask to see his father's blood test results and will then grill you on what treatment is being instituted for the various abnormalities. He once even asked to read the case notes, but I told him outright that it's confidential and only medical personnel are allowed to see them. Don't think he was too happy about that.
My main peeve, though, was during my Sunday call, when this same guy strolled up to me while I was frantically scribbling in the file of a new admission ( unstable, intubated, you get the picture ), and asked to speak to me about "something". He was brandishing a thick file at the time, which I assume contains tonnes of information regarding his dad's medical history. But I'm the sort who can't care less about stroking someone's ego when there's an emergency going on, so I told him ( nicely, might I add ) to wait while I attended to the ill patient, and that I would talk to him later. He gave me a sweet smile and said, and I quote, "Don't worry, I understand. It's okay."

Guess what he did next?
First, he went up to the nurse-in-charge and told her I "wasn't very receptive", then he walked out of the ICU and didn't return. So after I settled the new case, I thought he'd left, and so I popped over to another ward to review other admissions. Later in the afternoon, the nurse told me he was still waiting to talk to me, but by that time, other new cases were arriving in droves, and I again couldn't find any time to chat with him.
Monday morning, he waylays the consultant upstairs, and tells her nobody downstairs wants to speak to him, but she's aware of this guy and his attitude, so she sends him back down. And that's when he starts this habit of talking only to the ICU consultant, and has left me alone ever since. ( And believe me, I am NOT complaining! )

I'm sure I'll meet more of such unreasonable relatives, and patients. But my stand is, if you want doctors and nurses to jump whenever you snap your fingers, go to a private hospital and pay for the service, instead of pushing your weight around in a government institution. Unfortunately, the administration is always sympathetic to the "clients", and fully investigate any complaints that are filed -- a huge waste of time and resources, in my opinion. Hence, one of the main draws of emergency medicine is minimal contact with any nasties, and even if we need to carry balls, it's usually only for a short time ( unlike daily rounds and worse, clinics ).

Saturday, November 02, 2002

The start of yet another new posting, this time in Medicine, Changi General. I'm currently in the MICU, and after a jerky start, things are settling down nicely, and I'm looking forward to many adrenaline rushes from numerous opportunities for resucitations and invasive procedures. ( Sorry, emergency medicine trainees love this sort of thing. :))
I must say general medicine is a far cry from my previous medical rotations -- namely, gastroenterology, haematology and cardiology. Gen med is so... general. And over here, you can get anything when you're on call -- cardio, geriatrics, renal, haemato, gastro, the works! Definitely fertile training ground.
I'm also here with a number of fellow year-mates, and some junior MOs who were once my housemen. The rest also seem very nice, so that's another good thing.

Anyway, what's the deal with the censors completely banning an episode of Six Feet Under? So now taking Ecstasy on TV is deemed inappropriate? Even when it's obviously accidental poisoning? Yeesh! With this little move, don't expect to get "Sex And The City" on the small screen here anytime soon. That series is so blatantly provocative the censors will probably have a heart attack during the preview.

As I predicted, Shii Ann has been booted off Survivor:Thailand. I can't say she didn't have it coming though. She seems to be paranoid about racism, and is too bossy for anyone's liking. Well, at least she got pretty close to hunky Ken ( the good cop, literally ), who was the only person who supported her, but couldn't exert enough influence to ensure her stay.
Competition on The Amazing Race 3 is heating up as well, with teams running neck and neck with each other. Two people I'd like to see eliminated are best friends Aaron and Arianne, who are so full of themselves they make me nauseous.

Out of curiosity, I visited a website featuring The Bachelor, and I know who Alex Michel chooses in the end. I won't tell you who she is, but I'm disappointed that it isn't Shannon. If you're interested, use the Google search engine with the keywords "the bachelor TV show". You will also get a sneak peek at The Bachelor 2 ( this new fellow is even cuter ) and the upcoming The Bachelorette.

More quotes before I sign off:

1. "He fumbles at your head like a freshman yanking at a panty girdle."
-- Hannibal Lecter voicing his despise for his minder, Dr. Chilton, in "Red Dragon"
2. "But you were a very happy child."
"That's because I was too young to realize what freaks we were."
-- a mother-and-daughter conversation from "Six Feet Under".

That's all for now. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 28, 2002

Just a short entry before I log off.

Robbie Williams -- aka my all-time favourite singer, whose concert in Singapore a year ago remains vivid in my mind -- just released a new single called "Feel" last Friday, and it's absolutely terrific. Anyway, his website is featuring full-length samples of this song, together with a daily dose of new singles for visitors to listen to. I just heard "Something Beautiful", another winner. His new album's going to be huge, and I've got my money ready. :)

As for Josh Groban, my second favourite, his star continues to rise, and the latest scoop on his website is that he's slated to sing at the Nobel Prize-giving ceremony and the upcoming World Series, after just performing at the Tribute Concert for America with President Bush and Colin Powell in attendance, and giving a full-length concert for PBS earlier this month. He's also recorded a new song with Barbra Streisand, and in response to numerous requests on the Net, done a cover of "O Holy Night", a lovely carol which will no doubt soar with Josh's breath-taking vocals.

Okay, gushing session over. Goodnight!

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Review of Red Dragon:

This is the prequel to "Silence of the Lambs" and "Hannibal", and like the Star Wars films, and even the Jack Ryan franchise, prequels are quite the rage these days. This can be a good or a bad thing, of course, but from the above examples, my general impression is that of the latter.

"Red Dragon" is the Thomas Harris novel that first introduced the world to Hannibal Lecter, the highly intelligent forensic psychiatrist whose inexplicable propensity for violent cruelty has riveted readers and movie audiences alike. "Silence" was terrifying and swept all the top Oscars the year it was released, while "Hannibal" upped the gore factor but lost out in the awards category. My opinion of the former remains unwavering -- it's an exceptional thriller that still makes my hair stand to this day. But the latter... okay, it's stylishly directed and the cinematography's lovely, but it lacked the essence of its predecessor, and was bogged down by too much action and too little good dialogue.

"Red Dragon" is a cross between the two. Set in the 1980s, there isn't much high-tech gadgetry for crime-solving, but kudos to the set designers for keeping everything very authentic ( look out for the "antique phones", a small but nice detail ).

With all the trailers and publicity campaigns, everyone should know the plot by now. I read the novel eons ago, and wasn't impressed -- Harris' popularity stems more from the shock factor of his storylines rather than his writing skills, and all I recall about the book is its lame ending. The main reason I went to see the movie version is the fine ensemble cast -- Hopkins, Norton, Keitel, Fiennes, Watson -- a film buff's dream come true.

Hopkins nailed his role the first time round in "Silence", so there isn't anything new in this installment, except for the first few scenes where he's pictured as a free man who's later captured by FBI agent Will Graham ( Edward Norton ). But the best thing about Hopkins is that he's never boring, and truly relishes playing Lecter. His sardonic smile is supremely unnerving, and his sarcastic wit almost charming.

Norton is on my list of favourite actors for good reason. I first saw him in "Primal Fear", where he completely overshadowed Richard Gere in his role as an outwardly angelic altar boy who fooled everyone around him into believing he's innocent. After that, he's appeared in a large variety of movies, ranging from "Rounders" ( with Matt Damon ), "American History X" ( as a skinhead ), and most recently, the delightful "Keeping The Faith" ( which Norton also directed ).
As Will Graham, he does an equally good job, but this is definitely not his best performance. Blame it on insufficient screen time and a deficient script. And before I forget, I can't believe the film-makers left him scar-free after being stabbed in the abdomen by Hannibal -- a scene in which Norton takes his shirt off demonstrates a pristine tummy. Major boo-boo there.

Ralph Fiennes is another enigmatic actor whose career I'm familiar with. He played a sadistic Commandant in "Schindler's List", a gorgeous professor in "Quiz Show", a rich adventurer in "The English Patient", and starred in a few other interesting projects like "Strange Days" and "The End of the Affair". I was quite surprised he was chosen to play the killer in "Red Dragon", and after seeing the film, I have to say it wasn't the best decision.
I'm a firm believer in casting obscure actors in such roles. Just think about "Se7en", which introduced then-unknown Kevin Spacey in a breakthrough performance, as well as Norton in "Primal Fear". And how about Hopkins himself, who became a household name only after he burst onto the big screen hissing the words "chianti" and "fava beans" with a twinkle in his eye in "Silence of the Lambs"? Having a famous name play a killer is distracting, unless of course, you're John Malkovich or Steve Buscemi ( those guys have their weird looks going for them ). Not only is Fiennes well-known, he's also good-looking ( despite the hair and artificial facial scar ). Other examples of handsome guys who failed as murderers include Tony Goldwyn and Cary Elwes in "Kiss The Girls" and Keanu Reeves in the disastrous "The Watcher". I rest my case.

Emily Watson, however, deserves special mention. She hasn't aged a day since "Breaking The Waves", and is well-cast as a blind woman who manages to halt Fiennes' killing spree. The director says she was the first and only choice for this role. A stroke of genius there.

"Red Dragon" has received rave reviews and good box office takings, but I think it's merely average at best. Some say giving the reins to Brett Ratner ( Rush Hour, The Family Man ) was unconventional, and that he's done a good job with a treasured franchise, but if you ask me, someone else could've done a much better job. The rave reviews belong solely to the fantastic cast, which probably didn't even require any form of direction in the first place anyway.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

I'm posting in between changes, so let's see how much I can type in 15 minutes. :)

Okay, it's been a while since I wrote something properly, so forgive me for rambling!

The 2nd episode, surprise, surprise, is a lot better than the pilot. I actually started liking the main character -- but I still can't remember his name, darn it. In fact, I feel for him. I really do. The janitor hates him, the girl he lusts after now puts him in the "friend zone", his best pal is busy with the ICU nurse. Poor fellow. The jokes also improved this time round, with less emphasis on physical humour and more on the verbal. Looks like I'll be tuning in for a longer period then.
Good quote: "Take your blah-blah to the blah-blah-ologist!" -- spoken by an irate resident when repeatedly approached by the intern for advice.

And since I'm on the topic of good quotes, here're 2 more:
1) "Sometimes I'm glad I only deal with dead people." -- medical examiner from "C.S.I."
2) "I think our sister was high on crystal meth the night our father died."
"Oh my God, isn't that a horse tranquilizer?"
-- whispered conversation between Nate and David Fisher from "Six Feet Under"

The Oct 21 issue of Time magazine has a fabulous feature on forensic science, with an application to the investigation of the Beltway killings, aka the Washington/Virginia sniper murders. "C.S.I." fans will recognize much of the technology, and this brain fingerprinting thing has also been mentioned on "Alias" ( a fantastic series which I failed to talk about in my blog, but there's no point anymore 'cos the season's ended ). Cool stuff there.

And as for the last 5 minutes I have to spare, I shall devote them to The Bachelor.
Following in the footsteps of "Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire" and "Who Wants To Be A Princess", this one pits 25 hopeful single females against one another as they jostle for the chosen man's affections.
I like reality shows, so this one's right up my alley. The guy's admittedly not too bad -- tall, hunky, quite pleasant-looking, supposedly smart ( if you take Harvard and Stanford degrees seriously ), and willing to settle down. Perfect.
Then you have the char-bohs ( Hokkien for women ), or as I prefer to call them, "desperados". It's painful to watch them compete and bawl their eyes out when they're kicked out of the first round. Sure, they ALL claim they're great people, with lots of love to give, that the man ( named Alex ) is definitely what they want in a guy, etc. But I just feel they're also awfully superficial. Just take note of how many times they gush, "He's so handsome!" versus "He's sweet and intelligent, with a good heart." and you'll understand what I'm talking about.
However, one woman stands out. Her name's Shannon, and she's the only one among the horde who seems genuinely nice. She gave Alex a gift -- but without flashing it around, which earns her bonus points -- and is very pretty in my opinion, with understated class and elegance. I hope he'll choose her, but such things are so unpredictable, so who knows what'll happen?

That's it for the moment. Have to go catheterize someone, so adios.

Monday, October 21, 2002

I am post-call, and let me tell you, it was a terrible one. :( Non-stop from 8am to midnight, but thankfully everything ground to a halt after that, or I wouldn't be able to sit here typing this today.

Anyway, the 2nd episode of Scrubs is on tonight on Channel 5, so here's my review of last week's show.
General opinion -- it's funny, in a slapstick, Ally McBeal sort of way, but I don't have any respect for it. Basically tracing the lives of 3 fresh interns in a US hospital, the writers make fun of the medical profession ad nauseum, and make doctors look really really bad. Sure, I give them some credit for showcasing the usual stereotypes -- the nasty attending/resident, the smart aleck / flirt / backstabber / blur toad. But everything's done in a very cartoonish fashion, and never really goes below the surface like in Chicago Hope or ER.
Some of you may enjoy this comedy of errors, and there were a few good moments last week when one intern DC shocked a patient who was actually sleeping but mistaken for a collapse because the cardiac monitoring leads were faulty. But in the long run, this sort of humour can only hold our attention for so long before we tire of them.
I'll continue to watch Scrubs, but don't be surprised if I decide to stop following the series after a couple of weeks.

Friday, October 18, 2002

It's 7:30am on Saturday morning, and just taking a slow breather before starting rounds.
Just wanted to bring your attention to this wonderful blog I got off the list, titled Life In The Freezer, and posted on regularly by its founder, Gillian Hadley. I haven't read through it in great detail, but was captivated by the beautiful photos he's uploaded, featuring breath-taking shots of Antarctica. From what I can gather from the skimming I've done, this is an expedition of sorts, comprising a group of people from various US states, coming together to observe the wildlife there. However, scroll down for an attention-grabbing pic of 4 of the expedition members -- one of whom, named Darren, is a veritable hunk. :) I was browsing this in the hospital ward, and suffice to say, this photo had all the nurses ooh-ing and aah-ing in admiration, haha! Something to perk up your day.

Don't have that much time to write more, so maybe next week then. Will be on call tomorrow, urgh, but who knows, if it's quiet, I may be able to post my review of Scrubs after all.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Full review of Six Feet Under

My new quick fix. :) It kept me wide awake for 120 minutes yesterday afternoon, despite my being post-call. What a knockout of a TV series! I don't really like that other HBO production -- ie. The Sopranos -- but this one is right up my alley ( I love American Beauty, after all. )
Basically revolving around a super-dysfunctional family after the death of the patriach and the return of the prodigal son, it's an absolute riot also because of its setting -- a funeral home, where death is taken very very seriously, almost revered even. Plus, there are regular snippets of outrageous advertisements plugging everything from the new stylish hearse to embalming fluid, complete with energetic dance choreography and slinky models. Dying never looked more appealing. :)
However, I think the scripts are the main draw. Sarcasm reigns, and reading between the lines is a must. "Racquetball partner" is a euphemism for "gay lover", by the way.
My favourite characters? Easy. Brenda the masseuse, played by Rachel Griffiths. A free spirit who may just end up as Nate's soul-mate, she is, in my opinion, the most watchable cast member. Although I think all the actors who portray the family are reasonably good, I like Brenda the most. My second favourite guy is the mortician -- I can't recall his name at the moment, but he's the cute, short one. :)
Here're a few pearls from the debut episode, to whet your appetite for more. ( The 3rd installment airs tonight on HBO at 10pm, and I'm definitely staying up for it! )

1. "There's been an accident. The car is totalled, your father's dead, and my pot roast is ruined."
-- Ruth Fisher, the deceased's grieving widow
2. "If there's any justice in the universe, she's shovelling s**t in hell."
-- family member's comment while viewing his relative's dead body at the wake

I heard good reviews from friends who saw Scrubs last night. Shall watch my recording today and post something later this week.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Okay, I'm on call but it's quiet and my fingers are getting very fidgety, so I'm just gonna post something. :)
Here's my list of good horror films -- Halloween's coming up, so this is a prime opportunity.

In order of preference:

1) The Turn of the Screw -- This was shown over local TV a couple of years back ( Channel 12 or Central, I believe ), and scared the life out of me. Utterly creepy from beginning to end, this is based on a novel by Henry James ( which I bought, but haven't had the time to read yet ), and revolves around a haunted old house during the Victorian era ( a very popular theme, I notice ). It stars unknowns, and looks pretty low-budget, but the director really knows how to create an atmosphere of terror, and my hair was standing on end throughout the 2 harrowing hours of the movie. The closing scene featured one of the vicious ghosts gliding down a long staircase, and the makeup artist deserves an Oscar for his/her rendering of the spirits' faces. I'm getting goose pimples just writing about it. Maybe I should stop here. :)

2) What Lies Beneath -- I've seen it close to 10 times already, but haven't tired of it at all. I first caught it at Lido during a midnight screening, and almost lost it during the bathroom scene ( those of you who have seen it will know what I mean ). I next saw this film on a plane to Sydney, but it wasn't the same with the bright lights and people walking around. I suggest you rent the DVD/VCD, get rid of anything or anyone that has a potential for making noise, turn down the lights, and make yourself really comfortable, in order to fully experience this terrific movie. Michelle Pfeiffer shines in her role, and Harrison Ford plays against type for once. There aren't any eye-popping visual effects like those in The Haunting or other scream fests, so director Robert Zemeckis banks on our fear of the unknown, setting up scenes beautifully to enhance the scare factor tremendously. The ghost here is both gorgeous and malicious. Definitely worth the time and money.

3) The Sixth Sense -- Yet another film I've watched countless times, and my first introduction to the immensely talented Haley Joel Osment and M. Night Shyamalan. A sleeper hit that also relaunched Bruce Willis' flagging career, it is one of the most intelligent films in recent history, and made extremely touching through Osment's heart-wrenching portrayal of an innocent child tormented by his special gift. But my love for the film hinges on the relationship between Osment's and Willis' characters. The scene where the former breaks down in tears when the latter refuses to help him anymore is surely guaranteed to reduce even the toughest of people to jelly. But my personal favourite sequence is the one where the boy's mother notices his sweaty handprints on the kitchen table after he leaves -- in retrospect, an indication of the constant fear he felt, even in his own home, where the ghosts visited often. Truly a masterpiece.

4) The Others -- Rather similar to The Turn of the Screw in terms of period and plot, but also very frightening, especially if viewed under the right conditions. Nicole Kidman once again proves she's an actress to be reckoned with, and the house almost has a life of its own. Unnerving, to say the least.

5) Stir of Echoes -- Not exactly that terrifying, but it's well-made and very underrated. Kevin Bacon plays a man who suddenly attains the ability to see ghosts after a hypnosis session, and becomes the only link between a restless soul seeking revenge and the killers who prematurely ended her life. The scariest part comes within the first 20 minutes, so get yourself psyched.

6) The Devil's Backbone -- I hardly watch foreign films, so this appealed to me only because of its content. And I have never regretted seeing it. Featuring Spanish dialogue, it tells a tale of an "orphanage" situated in the middle of what looks like a desert, and is set during World War II. The spirit in question is that of a young child, and I shall not reveal too much lest I let the all-important cat out of the bag. :) It's a lovely little movie, so rent it if you can.

Others worth mentioning:
Old movies are quite good as well. Though none of them compares to the first 3 on my list, some which I think are pretty enjoyable include The Exorcist ( a little slow, however ), The Changeling, The Omen, and Amityville.

Last, I just want to mention that I caught 15 minutes of Six Feet Under last night -- couldn't stay up 'cos I'm on call today -- and couldn't stop laughing. It's so unbelievably fantastic, from the opening sequence and catchy Thomas Newman score, to the witty dialogue which drips with dark humour, and the stellar performances from all the actors. I'm gonna forgo my post-call sleep and watch the rest of the 2-hour pilot tomorrow when I get home. And if it's really really good, this may be the first TV series I record and keep on tape. :)

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Note to those who would like to catch episodes from the 2nd season of C.S.I. Cable is showing reruns every Monday at 2pm and 10pm on AXN Channel 19. Sure beats the midnight screening of the pilot season on Channel 5. But what can you expect in a country that values the WWF above, say, an intelligent medical/criminal drama...

Caught The Amazing Race 3 -- didn't have to time to write about it till now though. Busy busy busy :( However, this lot of participants rocks! I think all of them have done their homework, probably from tuning in to previous seasons, so almost everyone runs for the more difficult tasks ( e.g. sky-diving vs donkey carts ). They're also more aggressive, younger, and the obstacles are getting a lot scarier. Get a load of the twin brothers cum models named Drew and Derek. Eye candy, but obviously brainless. Still, it's better than nothing. :)

More on Survivor: Thailand. As I predicted, the lone Chinese is being picked on. Shi Ann has already garnered 3 votes during the last tribal council, and no doubt this will increase with upcoming episodes. She is one person who will NOT win this, at least with her arch nemesis Robb the punk bartender around. And what about Ghandia's little tantrum? Here's a married woman who goes around hugging a married man, and blames it on her missing her own husband. Then when the guy gets a little inappropriate in the night, she gets all huffed up and accuses him of treating her like a slut. Hello? You asked for it, woman. Kick her off. Fast.

There was a review of Six Feet Under in the papers yesterday. Sounds good. But the bit about the gay storyline being heavily censored is annoying. Is the Censorship Board still being prudish? This is the 21st century, for pete's sake.

Scrubs will premiere on Channel 5 14 October. Haven't looked up much on this yet, but it's basically about 3 interns coping with life in the hospital, and promises to be a dramedy, a la Ally McBeal.

The upcoming issue of SMA News is jam-packed with articles, so mine on working hours for junior doctors hasn't been fully approved yet. Anyhow, I'll be collaborating with the founders of the website on starting a discussion thread there once the piece is published. Hopefully we'll get a nice debate going, 'cos the site is an excellent meeting place for docs in Singapore -- if anyone would even bother to post something.

Work beckons. Will post reviews of horror movies as promised later this month, plus a theme on films that feature dancing ( inspired by the screening of Billy Elliot on cable this month -- a very funny movie which I highly recommend, btw ). Stay tuned.

Feel free to email me at, or visit my other website.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Update on the Matt Damon films I mentioned -- got my trusty SCV catalogue beside me right now :)

Okay, The Talented Mr. Ripley is on Star Movies SCV Channel 58 5 Oct at 9pm, and Good Will Hunting is on the same channel a week later on 12 Oct, same time. Try to catch them if you can.
An additional short note about the first film - it's directed by Anthony Minghella, who also directed "The English Patient", and will offer you breath-taking views of Italy. I own the VCD for this, so the scene with Damon ogling Jude Law includes a shot of the latter in the buff ( from behind, that is ). Chances are this will be omitted from the cable version.

And did anyone catch last night's episode of "The Practice" ? What a double whammy of an ending! Hopefully, the subsequent installments will be equally exciting, 'cos this double premiere is certainly one of David E. Kelley's best work.

The 3rd season of "The Amazing Race 3" begins 3 Oct ( tomorrow ) so keep a lookout for it. And "Six Feet Under" pilots on HBO 12 Oct ( Saturday 10:50 pm ) and will be shown weekly thereafter on Tuesdays ( beginning 15 Oct ). Yum :)

Monday, September 30, 2002

Visited The Esplanade: Theatres on the Bay yesterday during its open house. Though intially unimpressed despite all the hype in the media, I ended up liking the place quite a lot after seeing it "in the flesh", so to speak.

First, the design is actually pretty good. The durian-like roofs give it an air of grandeur, and make it distinctly Singaporean -- but whether the architects intended to create such an effect remains unknown. However, I think its location is a stroke of genius. Situated at Marina Bay with a panoramic view of the skyline and the sea, it certainly warrants comparison with that other seafront theatre, namely the Sydney Opera House.

The interior is tastefully decorated, but with the massive crowds squeezing past each other, I couldn't get a proper glimpse of the overall design. I did, however, get a look inside the concert hall, which has a seating capacity of 1,600, and suspiciously closely resembles the Royal Albert Hall -- from the pipe organ above the stage, to the domed ceiling ( but comes nowhere close in terms of class, of course ).
Acoustics-wise, the concert hall definitely has it. The 2 performances I attended were given by the MGSS choir and Budak Pantai. While the former lacked power, the latter blew me away with its hearty a capella renditions of "My Cherie Amour" ( a Stevie Wonders classic ), Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting" and even "Ke Ren Lai" ( a famous children's ditty ). Their rich tenor and bass voices filled the hall and gave me goose pimples. Just imagine what it'll sound like with a full orchestra -- The London and New York Philharmonic orchestras will be gracing the stage come October, but sadly, tickets are all sold out.

Outside, there's a scenic Waterfront area with al fresco dining. The restaurants are mostly small and not very well-known. Prices will probably be around the higher ranges, so it'll be better to eat at One Fullerton ( located just 10-15 minutes' walk away ).

I still prefer the Singapore Indoor Stadium, which never fails to humble me with its size ( 10,000 seating capacity ). But The Esplanade will be a fabulous venue for musicals and classical performances. Hope the ticket prices will be more affordable though -- currently, top prices for the more popular concerts are $200 a head.

Next, did anyone read Life! today? Samuel Lee, one of the resident reporters, gave "Restless" 3 1/2 stars!?!?!?!?!?
There are, of course, a few reasons I can give for this erroneous review.
1) He has really weird taste.
2) He has a thing for Carol Tham and/or Jean Danker. ( What better way to get them interested than to say, "Hi, I'm so-and-so, the reporter who gave your show 3 1/2 stars."? )
3) He's one of the uncredited producers.
4) He was really drunk when he watched the pilot episode.

Last but not least, it's Matt Damon festival on cable in October, so stock up on blank video tapes and whip out your SCV catalogues. I don't have mine with me at the moment, so I can't give exact dates, but here're the movies which will be screened.

1) Good Will Hunting -- I had no idea this would be shown on cable, so I actually rented the DVD last week. No regrets, however. It's a brilliantly written film, with terrific performances by Damon and Robin Williams. I'll leave the story for you to find out, but make sure you're wide awake, as it's a talkie type of movie, and is loaded with gems, which is yet another reason for you to record it on tape for later repeat viewing(s). I certainly didn't appreciate it as much the first time I saw it, but last Friday, after sitting through it again, I have new-found admiration for Damon ( who penned most of the script, and at the tender age of 26 or 27 -- Ben Affleck admitted his main role was as typist ). Their work won them the Best Screenplay Oscars in 1998, and they definitely deserved them.
My favourite moments: Look out for a conversation about Ted Kazynski, aka The Unabomber, as well as a touching account of how Robin Williams' character met his wife ( the line "I gotta go see about a girl." has got to be one of the simplest yet most poignant declarations of love ever ).

2) The Talented Mr. Ripley -- This was shown on Channel i just last month, I believe, yet it will be screened again, this time on one of the SCV movie channels. Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, this is a tale about Tom Ripley, a nobody who unwittingly befriends the filthy rich Dickie Greenleaf ( matinee idol incarnate Jude Law ) and his equally wealthy girlfriend ( a lovely Gwyneth Paltrow ). When his newfound lifestyle is threatened, he proceeds to eliminate all who stand in his way, and assumes the identity of the person he most admires, with dire consequences.
Damon defies all expectations in his role as a homosexual serial killer, and manages to make your hair stand despite his boyish and rather nerdy looks. Watch out for the bathroom scene featuring Damon and Law. It's laced with sexual undertones, but it remains to be seen whether this will show up on local television -- cable or no cable ( they've banned "Sex and the City", after all ).

Adverts in the SCV catalogues have indicated that other Damon films, namely "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and "All The Pretty Horses" will be screened in November/December, so get ready for more of the very delectable Matt. :)

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Here're my views on "Restless", that new TCS offering mentioned in an earlier entry.

It sucks! Just wanted to get that off my chest immediately. My God, does it suck!
The script isn't the problem, mind you, and my sympathy goes out to the poor writers, who try hard and haven't done badly.
The visuals aren't that great, but again I applaud the "cinematographer" ( though I don't think people in "show business" here deserve any sort of title ). The dark colours are quite interesting and atmospheric. Too bad they get marred by the cheesy "shock music" -- sudden surges in the creepy score at key moments, specifically aimed at making you jump in fright. I'm immune to this sort of tactics, so it had zero effect on me, yawn.

No no, what really really sucks is the acting -- Carol Tham's, in particular. Where the heck did the producers/director dig up this bimbo? Okay, she IS quite pretty, and her cutesy fragile features could earn viewers' empathy -- after all, most horror shows make use of children or beautiful females, presumably to make you feel protective towards these characters ( e.g. The Sixth Sense, The Exorcist, What Lies Beneath, The Others ). But in order for this to work, the lead has to be able to ACT. Tham, unfortunately, has abyssmal emoting skills. Her expressions are limited to three at most, her delivery of lines is so lacklustre you start to wonder if she needs to have her thyroid function checked, and her attempts at acting petrified are awfully forced and artificial. Jean Danker ( who plays her friend ) would definitely have done a much better job. Is it too late to change leads?

The actors playing the different ghosts don't fare better either. The little boy who showed up in the pilot episode talks exactly the same way as Tham, and one particular scene, in which the two of them were sitting next to each other having a conversation, was so dumb I started laughing. Not a good sign for a thriller.

The day after this disaster aired, I heard Perfect 10 DJs Glenn Ong and Rod Monteiro talking about it on the radio. Glenn raved about "The Practice" ( which I saw, and WOW! ), but when pressed by Rod to comment on "Restless", kept evading the question. Finally, he admitted how bad it is, and Rod answered, "So you got restless watching "Restless" eh?" What a bunch of clowns. :)

Verdict? Don't wast your precious time on this clunker. Why can't TCS just save their money and bring in more US TV shows instead of wasting it on stupid projects like this one?

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Next, a list of some upcoming TV shows which I think are really worth catching.

Now showing:

1) The Practice ( Tuesdays 10:30pm, Channel 5 ) - It's sometimes hard to imagine that David E. Kelley is capable of writing a show as fantastic as this, when he's also responsible for the ditz-fest known as "Ally McBeal". This new season promises more sensational cases and riveting courtroom drama, as well as a Hannibal Lecter-type killer. Seeing Dylan McDermott on the small screen again is always a good thing too. :)

2) Boston Public ( Tuesdays 11:30pm, Channel 5 ) - Okay, this one's not that high on my list, but it'll be interesting to see how the 2nd season progresses. Set in a high school swarming with troubled teens and stressed out teachers, it tends to over-dramatize situations, yet that's precisely what makes it so addictive. Here's a place where the students ridicule their principal on a public website, commit murder/suicide, get pregnant, or get scholarships.

3) Restless ( Tuesdays 10pm, Channel 5 ) - Touted as the female/Singaporean version of "The Sixth Sense", but will most likely disappoint, as all local English productions usually do. The protagonist looks useless, and so far I've only seen one expression on her face -- that of utter confusion ( it's supposed to pass for terror, I assume ). I'll watch the first couple of episodes for the heck of it, and post my opinions another time.

4) Survivor:Thailand ( Fridays 3pm and 10pm, Channel 5 ) - The review you may have read in the papers is right. This motley crew of Robinson Crusoe wannabes is definitely the most interesting bunch since the Survivor season set in the Australian outback. The pilot episode featured the novel concept of asking the 2 eldest participants to choose their team members, and was made even more unpredictable when the female senior citizen decided to gather all the old fogies into her fold. And within this first hour, I've already identified the heckler ( a long-haired bartender whose name I haven't memorized yet ), a female fire-fighter who pulled a Richard Hatch by stripping naked the first night, a cop who looks like Ricky Martin from certain angles, an Asian called Shi-Ann who calls herself a "she-devil" ( she'd better not shame Chinese all over the world by doing something stupid or disgusting ), a nasty pastor ( who got booted off, darn ), and porn-actor-turned-used-car-salesman Brian. I'm already hopelessly addicted. :)

Coming soon:

1) Scrubs (?October, Channel 5 )- Yet another medical drama, but I haven't done any research on it yet, so I'll post details as and when I find out.

2) Six Feet Under ( premieres October, SCV HBO Channel 60 ) - It's earned rave reviews in the US for its dark humour and portrayal of family dysfunction, so this is one I'm really looking forward to.

3) The Amazing Race 3 ( October, Channel 5 ) - The most gruelling obstacle course in reality TV, where 12 teams race around the world finding clues to their next destination. There's little time for rest, and the stress level's enough to kill you or make you really sick. However, it's yet another Jerry Bruckheimer production, and past countries featured include New Zealand, France, Africa, China and Australia. There's lots of human drama as well, 'cos this competition always brings out the worst in its contestants.

I shall end off with some hilarious lyrics from the song "Daddy Wasn't There", which is featured on the "Austin Powers:Goldmember" soundtrack, and brilliantly performed by Mike Myers.

"When I was first baptized/
When I was criticized/
When I was ostracized/
When I was jazzercised/
Steak and kidney pies/
One hour Martinized/
When I was cir-cum-cised/
Daddy wasn't there."
Here're reviews of some recent DVD releases I watched over the weekend.

1) Monsters, Inc - This is from Pixar, the talented team that brought us "Toy Story". This one again showcases their wonderful computer graphics, especially in the form of an Asian-looking toddler named Boo. However, I felt the storyline wasn't interesting enough, and lost some interest towards the end. Still, it's a good way to relax after a long day, and look out for Steve Buscemi who voices Randall, a really creepy chameleon-like monster.

2) Panic Room - A much awaited project from David Fincher, who helmed the shocking thriller "Se7en", and followed up with the terrific "Fight Club". "Panic Room" falls flat, though, with its simple plot and boring characters. Jodie Foster obviously worked out for the role, but the script sucks, and the villains are downright moronic at times. I had my finger on the fast-forward button for the last half hour, and didn't even miss a thing.

3) Queen of the Damned - Technically a B-grade horror flick, but surprisingly, it's the only one among the 3 that I actually enjoyed. This is the sequel to "Interview With The Vampire", which was based on the first book in the Vampire Chronicles series by Anne Rice, and released almost 10 years ago. It starred heavyweights Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas and then-unknown Kirsten Dunst, and made a pot of money. QOTD doesn't boast any major star power, but let me tell you, it's a lot more realistic as a vampire film than "Interview" ever will be.
This movie continues where the first left off. Lestat awakens from hibernation and rejoins the mortal world as a rock star, becoming an international sex symbol. Along the way, he unwittingly unleashes Akasha, the queen of the vampires, causing death and destruction in the process.
Lestat is played by Stuart Townsend, an actor whose work I've never seen, but who positively dazzles in his role. Possessing unbelievable cheekbones ( rivalled only by Orlando Bloom's, aka Legolas in the "Lord of the Rings" films ) and loads of attitude, he is very convincing as an ancient bloodsucker who's both fascinated with and bored by the humans who worship him. While Cruise sauntered around in wigs and frilly coats, Townsend struts about in tight leather pants with unbuttoned silk shirts in all-black ensembles. Combined with garishly pale facial makeup and bloodshot eyes, he beats Cruise hands down as the quintessential vampire, and even makes the latter look like a wimp.
Aaliyah does a nice job as Akasha, but I don't fancy her acting "technique" -- ie. slinking around and hissing her lines. She was a talented singer/dancer, but probably wouldn't have excelled as a thespian.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

This is the week I have 3 calls within 7 days. The one last Saturday was relatively quiet with a few spurts of activity - defibrillated a patient for the very first time, an experience I will never forget! It's Tuesday evening 8pm right now, and so far I've had 1 admission, woohoo! The night's still young, of course, but once you get through the first few hours with a track record like this, you count your blessings. :)

Just browsed the latest issue of the SMA News on the Internet, and would like to draw your attention to a piece written by my fellow Editorial Board member Terence Lim. He's penned a very candid article on life in the ER, and let me tell you very honestly - I really admire his guts! :) A most enjoyable read.

And now, back to my favourite topic - movies. I watched a terrific John Cusack film on cable last night called "Say Anything" ( Star Movies, Channel 58 ), and thought I'd make up a list of good JC movies you can try out if you're interested. In order of preference:

1) Say Anything - Yes! I like it that much! Cusack plays a high school graduate who takes a leap of faith and asks the top girl in his class out, before she embarks on a scholarship study programme in England. It's an early work by Cameron Crowe ( of "Almost Famous" and "Vanilla Sky" fame ), and sparkles with smart dialogue and on-screen chemistry between its 2 young stars ( the other being Ione Skye ). JC fills his character with emotional angst and a wonderful sweetness which is further enhanced by his angelic looks ( yes, Cusack was adorable as a teen :)). A very good date movie, especially if you're craving an intelligent love story.

2) Grosse Pointe Blank - This one's not well-known, but has Cusack in the role of a hitman who returns to his hometown for a high school reunion, meeting up with an old flame ( Minnie Driver ) in the process. A movie made watchable only by JC's presence, but also boosted by a nice comedic performance from Driver ( who's shown good comic timing in the Disney cartoon "Tarzan", as well as "Return To Me" and "Circle of Friends" ). Promises lots of good laughs.

3) Con Air - Cusack's only mainstream blockbuster, I believe, in which he shares the screen with the likes of Nicolas Cage and John Malkovich, playing a US Marshal out to re-capture a plane that has been hijacked by a group of hard-core criminals. He looks great here, and amazingly, manages to look believable despite his boyish features.

4) Pushing Tin - Here, he's an air traffic controller who's so neurotic you really start to worry about your own safety when you travel on planes ( you think Singaporeans are any different?! ). This is a hilarious take on the nasty goings-on in "the tower", and sees Cusack matching wits with Billy Bob Thornton, and sharing some intimate moments with Cate Blanchett ( excellent as a loud-mouthed, gaudily dressed wife ) and Angelina Jolie ( who never fails to heat up a screen ). It may seem to lose a bit of direction towards the end, but it's a good ride, nonetheless.

5) Being John Malkovich - A masterpiece all on its own, but not one of JC's best performances. The storyline's one of the most original ever -- Cusack discovers a hole in his office that leads directly into the mind of John Malkovich. My main peeve is his grungy look, which really doesn't seem necessary. But this is a guy who ultimately excels in kooky roles ( e.g. "High Fidelity" ), and never appears that comfortable as more conventional leading man characters ( e.g. "America's Sweethearts", "Serendipity").

One of the most deserving of an Oscar. He just needs the right role in the right film. I'm just waiting, 'cos I'm sure it'll happen someday.

Will be writing on more themes periodically. Coming up: Good horror flicks ( in October, in celebration of Halloween ), and perhaps some choice movies from Matt Damon.
If anyone has special requests, feel free to email me at Would be most happy to oblige - and get a few opinions as well. :)

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Just adding a note for anyone visiting this site after reading the SMA News.
The 2nd season for C.S.I. was recently shown over cable, and ended just last week -- unfortunately, my article was on the waiting list for a couple of months. :)
The pilot season is actually being screened at midnight every Wednesday over Channel 5. An unearthly hour, but considering its niche audience here in Singapore, it's understandable. I highly recommend recording it on the VCR for later viewing.

It's a busy day today. Will update again another time.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

Here's my review of The Bourne Identity, which I saw yesterday. I've included 2 versions - one with spoilers, and one without. Take your pick, but some of you may prefer to read about the details, as they help prepare you for certain scenes so you don't miss out on some really spiffy plot developments.

Review 1: Without spoilers

Easily the most famous of Robert Ludlum's spy thrillers, I vaguely recall a TV series based on it many years ago, starring Richard Chamberlain. So when I first heard of the big-screen version, featuring Matt Damon of all people, I wasn't very impressed -- Damon in an action flick? Errr....
But thanks to an aggressive marketing ploy by Universal / United International Pictures, I was practically brainwashed into going to the cinema. I've been endlessly inundated by trailers and making-of specials for the movie this past week, and was quite taken with the shots of Damon kickboxing -- sorry, I'm a sucker for such things. :)

Rest assured, though, 'cos you will not be disappointed! "The Bourne Identity" is an exceptional espionage film, in the tradition of old-fashioned classics like "The French Connection", yet reminiscent of the recent "Enemy of the State".

Damon plays a man who is mysteriously found floating in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea one stormy night, with no form of identification on him, and worse, no memory of who he is. However, he leaves himself various clues, and a trail leading to the name Jason Bourne. Along the way, Bourne discovers he is a wanted man, being hunted by the CIA as well as its enemies. What follows is a slam-bang action movie, made even more exhilarating by an intelligent storyline.

I'll leave details of the scenes in the review with spoilers, and take the opportunity in this one to wax lyrical about the cast and crew. :)

Doug Liman ( director )
A search on his past credits yielded only one film I know -- "Swingers" -- which is basically a buddy-road-trip film that starred Vince Vaughn a few years ago, and earned rave reviews but modest box office takings. A surprising discovery, especially after watching "The Bourne Identity". His expert direction makes it seem he's been doing this all his life, a la Ridley Scott. The director, in my opinion, is always the most important figure in any film, dictating everything from the mood to the pace and of course, the quality of the actors' performances. This guy's definitely made a big impact here. Let's hope he won't mess it up by making bad choices in the future.

John Powell ( composer )
A search on THIS guy coughed up the following: "Face/Off", "Rat Race", "Evolution", "Shrek" and "Antz", among other varied projects. While some movies are complemented by their soundtracks, this one's practically propelled by it, and listening to Powell's pumping tempos is almost as enjoyable as watching the action unfold. If you have time, sit back for a full blast of the excellent score after the credits start rolling. You won't regret it.

Franka Potente ( female protagonist )
Here's another one of those unknown actresses who suddenly lands a big role in a major Hollywood film despite so-so looks -- not unlike Thandie Newton from "Mission: Impossible 2". Luckily, Potente fares a lot better in the acting category, and does much more than parade around rolling her eyes or dressing skimpily ( the weather in "The Bourne Identity" is uniformly wet and cold, so everyone's wrapped up for most of the film ). She possesses a streetwise yet innocent charm that plays off Damon's paranoia extremely well. I thought the love scene was a tad forced, but the chemistry's there. We'll be seeing more of her in the years to come.

Matt Damon ( male protagonist )
I've left the best for last. :) In truth, Damon's always been in the back of my mind, and I first saw him in "The Rainmaker", the movie that made him a star. Since then, he's taken the road less travelled -- as his lifelong friend Ben Affleck went on to become a mainstream action hero, Damon's played everything from a genius ("Good Will Hunting") to a gay psychopathic killer ("The Talented Mr. Ripley") to a cowboy ("All The Pretty Horses") and a thief ("Ocean's Eleven").
Though often overshadowed by his more outgoing compatriot ( ie. Affleck ), Damon displayed his own intelligent wit and sexy charisma in an interview with Oprah Winfrey last year ( which I have on tape, ahem :)). Ben may be the hunk, but Matt's cute, AND a deep thinker.

So yes, I raised my eyebrows when I heard he'd been picked for the role of Jason Bourne, but after watching the movie, I guarantee you will agree he was made for it. Thanks to Hollywood magic and know-how, Damon's transformed into a veritable fighting machine, complete with bulging biceps, moves worthy of Jean Claude Van Damme's admiration, and the agility of a panther. He also adds a nice emotional tinge to his character, who's capable of killing without remorse, yet stops himself when morally confused.

An interview on the website ( search for "The Bourne Identity" ) mentioned the possibility of another installment for Jason Bourne, and Damon did say he wouldn't mind reprising the role. Wishful thinking? It doesn't hurt to hope. :)

Review 2: Spoilers included

Favourite scenes:
1) The car chase: Any doubts about the hardy little Mini should be laid to rest with this heart-stopping sequence through the congested, narrow streets of Paris.
2) The wall crawl: This one takes place during Bourne's daring escape from the American Embassy in Paris, and has him stealthily creeping along the outside wall while
all hell breaks loose within. I particularly liked this part 'cos I noticed that there was no background music ( possibly the only moment in the film where there's complete
silence ). So you have Damon slowly inching his way down, with nothing but the sound of his footsteps and maybe a gentle breeze blowing. Really cool.
3) The fight scenes: More drooling on my part, sorry. :) Damon demonstrates deft grace in his execution of karate/kickboxing moves. The nice sound effects add some
finesse as well. Say what you like, Ben Affleck probably won't look as convincing doing the same thing.
4) The hunt for the sniper: This occurs while Bourne is hiding out at a country house with Marie ( Potente ), and confronts an assassin sent to kill him. The tactics employed
by both killers are calculated and ingenious as each tries to flush the other out.

Nice touches:
1) The bathroom scene: Bourne washing Marie's hair is innocuous yet rife with sexual tension. You'd have to be dead not to feel it.
2) Afterthoughts: This one's a short list of smart things Bourne does throughout the course of the movie, so you can pick up on them.
a) In the American Embassy, as the alarm is sounded, Bourne calmly walks through the corridors, then suddenly yanks a framed picture off the wall. This is actually a floor plan showing the exits, and helps him navigate his way to an escape route.
b) Again in the Embassy, after whacking a guard, he doubles back to grab his headset, so he can tune in to the other guards' conversations and find out where they've positioned themselves.
c) Just before the car chase, Bourne is seen carefully scrutinizing a road map. I completely missed this one, and only realized it when my friend told me about it. Bourne has a photographic memory, so although the Mini seems to be aimlessly weaving through traffic, this guy actually knows exactly where he's going.
d) At the country house, Bourne creates an explosion, using the thick smoke as a cover as he runs up the slope to where the other killer is parked. Once up there, he shoots at a flock of birds in the long grass, so they make a ruckus and distract the sniper while Bourne uses the opportunity to move around without being discovered.
e) A humourous segment: In an attempt to obtain a hotel bill, Bourne devises a complicated plan, only to be caught offguard by Marie's straightforward method -- that of just walking up to the concierge and asking for it.

I'm just waiting for the DVD release, so I can add it to my collection. :)