Thursday, October 15, 2009

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Again, and not a moment too soon.

It's only been a month since my return from Sydney. Felt good for about a week, then things started to spiral downhill quickly, thanks to a fortnight of some of the worst shifts I've had in quite a while, compounded by MOs going on mass MC, most likely due to fatigue, which is completely understandable.

I've been tempted to take MC myself, but my conscience won't let me. Damn. :)

Anyway, I won't be posting anything for the next 2 weeks, and am greatly looking forward to a sponsored workshop catered to my subspecialty interest, plus a few days of touring, meeting a couple of good friends, and yes, another visit to the casino. :D

A few updates before I sign off:

1) Edward Norton's on Twitter - just a gentle reminder in case you missed my last blog entry. He's playing lucky draw host and seems to be getting a terrific response, so good for him! It's for a worthy cause, so please chip in if you're able.
You can also check out his recent TV interviews on YouTube. I caught his Conan O'Brien chat on cable, which had me in stitches. Something about "playing with yourself" that didn't come out right, and a hilarious Robert De Niro impression showcasing Norton's affinity for comedy.
He doesn't do funny roles as much as he should. Remember Keeping The Faith? And how many of you have seen Death To Smoochy? I love both films.

2) Royal Pains is a new series currently airing on Starworld every Tuesday, and stars Mark Feuerstein as an ER physician who gets suspended when a rich patron of the hospital where he works dies on his watch, then unexpectedly finds his niche as a concierge doctor in the Hamptons.
Not considered a big hit in the U.S., but I could care less, since I'm a Feuerstein fan, converted after his lovely performance in the Cameron Diaz / Toni Collete dramedy, In Her Shoes.
He also played a neurologist on the short-lived 3 Pounds ( co-starring Stanley Tucci ), but Royal Pains is far superior to Pounds in terms of plot and acting. Still a bit quirky - i.e. all those eccentric wealthy people trying to avoid the press - but on the whole, very watchable.
Campbell Scott, who plays the enigmatic Boris, ages beautifully. Those of you who enjoy sexy, older men, make sure to tune in. :)

3) Another promising new show: Warehouse 13, which just premiered last Friday on Starworld. Obviously inspired by The X-Files, but with a lot more humour thrown in. The special effects are a little cheesy, but the cast is likeable, and there's a scene in the pilot episode involving a wishing kettle that spits out a live ferret when one of the agents makes "an impossible wish".
I actually laughed out loud when that happened. Very rare, but a sure sign that I will continue watching. :)

4) And speaking of The X-Files, I finally caught the movie ( I Want To Believe, aka sequel to the first big-screen version released eons ago ). Disappointing to say the least, especially after such an impressive buildup with the shady Catholic priest acting as psychic, and all those body parts found buried under the snow. The ending is extremely, frustratingly stupid.
But it isn't anywhere as atrocious as The Happening.

5) New album releases: Michael Buble's Crazy In Love, which I haven't had time to purchase yet ( hope I can get the much cheaper MP3 version ), and Sting's If On A Winter's Night.... He's doing traditional songs again, which put me to sleep on Songs From The Labyrinth. Why isn't he doing rock and pop these days?

It's the tail end of a busy night shift - only had time for supper and a hurried blog post - then I'll be busy running errands and clearing chores before I start packing tomorrow and fly on Saturday morning.

Will post pictures when I return. Am hoping to snap spectacular ones, considering the tours I've booked!

Till next time...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Photo Break

The spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour from my 21st floor hotel room window.

My favourite shot in the collection, taken during an afternoon cruise around the harbour.
Something about the colour combo that really hits me.
The vessel's one of the many public ferries plying the busy waterway.

More to follow another time.
Heading overseas again in 2 weeks. Anticipating some great photo ops, weather and luck permitting. :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Film Recommendations Part 2

Just rented 2 outstanding DVDs!

Clive Owen has made my list of Favourite Actors with his poignant turn in The International, a stylish and adrenaline-pumping spy thriller reminiscent of the equally excellent The Bourne Identity, only a lot more mobile where the globe-trotting element is concerned.

The exotic locales are showcased perfectly by the breath-taking cinematography, whether it's a modern architectural wonder in Germany, or the rooftops of Istanbul.

Kudos to director Tom Tykwer, whose only other film I've seen is Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer, which was insanely unnerving. Am now very tempted to get my hands on Paris, je t'aime.

Tykwer also helped compose the score for The International. If you're as obsessed with movie soundtracks as I am, you'll love the moody melodies. I sat through the entire closing credits sequence with the volume set to blasting mode. Think John Powell ( Bourne series composer ), only better.

Owen is, as always, dependably suave and tortured in his role as a determined Interpol agent tracking down terrorists who murdered his partner.

Pay attention to a nail-biting and destructive shooutout in what's supposed to be Manhattan's Guggenheim Museum ( not the real thing, of course ), which lasts what feels like an eternity and is full of creative twists. Pure genius!

This next film may cater to more specific personal tastes, but for me at least, it sits right up there in my Top 5 Favourite Movies list, together with Dead Poets Society, Swimming With Sharks,The English Patient and Into The Wild.

The Painted Veil is based on a Somerset Maugham novel ( an author whose works I've never sampled ), so while I can't be sure if the book is anywhere as good as the big-screen adaptation, I can tell you that Edward Norton is sensational in it.

Tragically overlooked in all the major international award categories, I consider this a masterpiece rivalling Anthony Minghella's thought-provoking and immensely romantic The English Patient.

Norton and fragile beauty Naomi Watts sizzle as an English couple who marry for the wrong reasons and find their marriage torn apart by adultery and mutual hatred. Chained together by an ultimatum which cannot be fulfilled, they travel to a remote village in China that is ravaged by a cholera epidemic, where their relationship is eventually repaired through extraordinary circumstances.

Watts, who last stole my heart with her beautiful performance in Peter Jackson's King Kong, is flawless in her role as the unfaithful and rebellious wife. It is worthy of a Best Actress Oscar, but alas, she wasn't even nominated.

Liev Schreiber, who most recently appeared as Wolverine's "brother" in X-Men Origins, has little screen time but makes the most of it as the third party. Watts and Schreiber met on the set and subsequently became a couple. They now have a son and another baby on the way. Awww. :)

Norton, however, scales new heights with his portrayal of Walter Fane, a doctor who initially comes across as bland and lovelorn, but later reveals a complex combination of cruelty and generosity as the story progresses. A tense scene where he first confronts his wife about her affair has him staring her down with so much contempt that Watts' reaction may very well have been real.

Norton fans will no doubt remember his star-making performance in Primal Fear, in which he also displayed dual personalities. This man can chill you to the bone.

As for the romantic bit, there's a scene where the couple finally reconcile. Nothing racy at all, but it's to the actors' and director's credit that I found the sequence so affecting. I actually shed a few tears. :)

Sountrack-wise, the piano score, played exquisitely by Lang Lang, fits the film wonderfully. The cinematogaphy is also quite beyond description. I have never seen rural China shot so prettily before.

And by the way, I just read on that Norton's on Twitter, yow!

Can't write much today 'cos I'm recovering from a hellish 4-day stretch of resus room shifts. Honestly, if the ER continues to be flooded like this every single day, I am going to die young - but hopefully after my parents have passed, then it won't really matter.

Dear HOD - or better still, dear hospital CEO - please look into better welfare for your overworked ER physicians.