Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bliss Part 14

No time to pen a full entry, but in short, a major reshuffle of my Top 10 Favourite Actors list has occurred, after remaining stationary for more than a decade.

Kevin Spacey remains at numero uno, so fellow KS fans, don't fret!

The #2 spot, however, now belongs to Robert Downey, Jr., with John Cusack toppled to #3.

Why? Simply because Sherlock Holmes ( Guy Ritchie's 2009 version ) is so totally awesome!

To hell with the reviews - I love this movie to bits, and intend to download it so I can watch it as many times as possible, at my own leisure.

Just wish I had a day off this weekend to catch Iron Man 2, but I'll most probably have to wait till next week instead. Sigh.

More to follow soon. :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bliss Part 13

Part 12, of course, was Jamie Cullum's concert. :)

Ahh, where should I start?

How about Jakob Karr, runner-up from So You Think You Can Dance season 6?

( I haven't figured out how to embed videos yet, so please bear with the links. )

Been watching the show faithfully for months now, and can't get over JK's brilliance as a dancer.

A jazz routine with Ellenore - one of many great collaborations, showcasing JK's crazy skills. He specializes in mid-air splits, which I've heard judge Nigel Lythgoe call "jetés".
The choreographers have also taken notice, since they love to throw these in whenever Jakob's under their tutelage. There're even jetés in the foxtrot, for pete's sake! :D

Another favourite - the sexy cha-cha with Ashleigh Di Lello. JK mannerisms always come across as a little effeminate, especially when he talks. But when he's on-stage doing what he does best, he's just damn HOT!

This contemporary piece gave me goosebumps the first time I saw it. And what a surprise that it was a huge hit with the audience and judges as well. Choreographer Sonya Tayeh brings her signature quirkiness, aided by JK and eccentric partner, Ellenore.
The result? Pure magic. :)

And get a load of this wonderful contemporary routine with Kathyrn ( the best female dancer of S6 ).

This latest installment of SYTYCD is the best one yet. Other memorable performances include:

A luscious cha-cha ( Kathryn and hunky dude Ryan Di Lello ) - YOW!

A dreamy Broadway routine ( Kathryn and Nathan Trasoras ).

Last but not least, an exquisite contemporary piece choreographed by season 2 alumnus Travis Wall. Danced by real-life ballroom couple Ashleigh and Ryan, this is best appreciated by fans who know their poignant background story.
I, for one, was rendered speechless by its sheer artistry.

A couple of days back, AXN screened a special episode of SYTYCD, featuring 15 of the best performances over the past 5 seasons. It is indeed remarkable how far the show has come. I started watching from S2 onwards ( S1 somehow never made it to our shores, and S5 has yet to hit our screens ), and suddenly remembered another major hottie from the past - i.e. Neil Haskell from S3.

Just look at this fabulous jazz piece!
And I still vividly remember this awesome disco routine!

Okay that's enough for now. :)

Have been enjoying my Megavideo subscription, watching and downloading a chunk of movies both recent and all the way back to the early 1990s.

An Education is extremely good, though I need to watch it again since I was a little distracted the first time round.

The main draw for me is none other than Peter Sarsgaard, whom I loved in Shattered Glass ( ignore Hayden Christensen ), and whose subsequent films ( Orphan, Jarhead ) I also enjoy.

This is his second best role to date ( the best being editor Charles Lane in Glass ).

As David, the smooth-talking charmer who sweeps 16-year-old Jenny off her feet, Sarsgaard is perfectly suave and convincing, but delivers a kicker of a twist in the last 15 minutes, guaranteed to shock you out of your skin, though some of you may have already seen it coming.
I didn't though, which made it pretty traumatic, argh!
Will definitely download for future enjoyment. Carey Mulligan is excellent in the lead role, and shares great chemistry with Sarsgaard, helping to buffer any creepiness the viewer may experience considering the age gap between the main characters.

And I just love his flawless British accent. :)

Another good movie I just watched - The Informant!, starring a long-time fave of mine, Matt Damon.

Not suitable for everybody - my mom dozed off but I was riveted. Very quirky but hilarious. The soundtrack had me in stitches for some strange reason, and Damon's comic timing is spot-on.
He's actually a terrific comedic actor - loved his turn as a Siamese twin in Stuck On You. Try to watch it if you can. I'm sure it's online somewhere.
And pay attention to the funny voice-overs in The Informant! Some of them come shooting out of nowhere and sound completely insane. Gives you insight into the inner workings of the lead character's strange mind heh!

Surprisingly, New Moon turned out to be quite enjoyable. Slow and lengthy, but far superior to Twilight in terms of production and acting. Taylor Lautner shows potential and IMHO outshines Robert Pattinson in their scenes together.
Bella Swan, wake up and smell the coffee already!

The fun part about watching the film is realizing that all that time spent reading the novels wasn't wasted. There're quite a few subtle plot points that get skimmed over in the movie adaptation, so I found myself explaining these to my mom as the show progressed.
I actually watched it online first but got the DVD from another source for my mom's benefit.
The soundtrack's reaaally good.

Next DVDs in line: The Hurt Locker - really looking forward to this one! - and The Boys Are Back starring Clive Owen.

Which reminds me, I'd like to watch Closer again sometime. Fully uncensored version. Online. :)

Current bedtime reading: Charlaine Harris' Living Dead In Dallas, aka book 2 in the Southern Vampire series, on which the TV show True Blood is based.

Impressions so far: Harris is a good writer. Sookie's much less irritating on paper than she is on-screen, there's a lot more sex in the books ( waiting to see when Harris will run out of descriptions ), Eric the Viking vamp is more prominent in the novels ( I like him so this is a good thing ), and once again, like Dexter, the printed and televised versions are very different ( especially from season 2 onwards ).

Thank goodness Lafayette survives on the small screen. One of my fave characters, that one.
Till next time...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Review of Jamie Cullum's Concert
Esplanade Concert Hall
13 April 2010

To repeat my tweet from last night - it was AWESOME!

Everything that could've and should've gone right did exactly that.

The gig was sold out. The audience was enthusiastic but not rowdy. The people seated around me weren't annoying ( a rare occurrence ). I had 2nd row seats and happened to pick a spot that was right in front of the grand piano, so I had an excellent view of Jamie the whole time.
The sound system didn't act up ( except for one instance of microphone feedback which lasted a few seconds ). The acoustics were fantastic!

And Jamie wowed us all with his undeniable talent and effervescent stage presence. Yowzah!

To tell you the truth, I didn't expect to enjoy myself this much. Sure, I have 4 of his 5 albums ( the very first one being out of circulation for eons and thus, unavailable even to diehard fans ), and consider 2005's Catching Tales his best so far.

And to be honest, I was a little underwhelmed by his latest release, The Pursuit. ( Perhaps my perspective was clouded by the deluge of new albums on the market at the time; I was rather distracted by John Mayer and Adam Lambert's offerings as well. )
But now that I've heard Jamie perform 6-7 tracks from The Pursuit in a 'live' setting, I am blown away yet again.
The show started very promptly at 7:35pm, and the first thing that struck me was the absence of Geoff Gascoyne and Sebastiaan de Krom - Jamie's stalwart sidekicks from his previous tours.
Instead, 4 young fellows walked on-stage to play the drums, guitars / bass, trumpet and keyboard.
And although I was initially quite disappointed by the absence of the 2 older men, I have to agree that revamping the band was a move in the right direction. The entire vibe was different - more kick-ass, and of course, testosterone-laden ( they're good-looking chaps, which I greatly appreciate :)).
Jamie appeared in a light blue jacket, blue long-sleeved shirt, black tie and greyish jeans, launching into a cover of Rihanna's Don't Stop The Music, which appears on The Pursuit.
Not my favourite track, but the acoustics did their magic, and I was instantly spellbound.
Jamie's vocals were, as always, pitch perfect. The band sounded amazing - every instrument clear as a bell and meshing very nicely. It would only get better as the night progressed!
Having made a list of his repertoire the minute I got home last night, I count 21-22 songs in an almost 2.5-hour period.
From The Pursuit: the Rihanna piece, plus I'm All Over It, Just One Of Those Things, Wheels, Mixtape and If I Ruled The World.
I keep thinking he also performed You And Me Are Gone, but can't be certain. L, if you read this, maybe you can enlighten me?
From Catching Tales: Photograph, Get Your Way, and Mind Trick.
From Twentysomething: These Are The Days, Twentysomething, I Get A Kick Out Of You, Wind Cries Mary, All At Sea, High And Dry, and Frontin'.
Covers: Hoagy Carmichael's I Get Along Without You Very Well, Ray Charles' I Got A Woman, Justin Timberlake's Cry Me A River ( plus the original Ella Fitzgerald version ), and a short sampling of Rihanna's Umbrella just before High And Dry.
Short ditty: a hilarious impromptu jam about Jamie feeling good but not looking it, during which he made fun of his ridiculous hair and terrible attire way back when.
Aww, it wasn't THAT bad really. You were young, you got away with it. :D
Magical moments? Too many to count. Compared to his last show in Singapore in June 2006 ( review dated June 16, photos posted on June 18 ), this was soooo much better.
The venue definitely contributed to the overall enjoyment. Jamie has never sounded this good ( this is the 3rd time I'm seeing him - first show was in 2004 at a nightclub at Wisma Atria; sound system was terrible! ), and the entire evening was a wonderful revelation.
He's matured beautifully - his recent marriage has done him a lot of good! - but his trademark fun spirit hasn't dampened one bit. Those high leaps from his Yamaha grand still feature prominently, and his energy level rarely waned, though towards the last half hour, he slowed things down significantly and looked a bit piqued after a few songs.
The most memorable segments:
1) A poignant rendition of If I Ruled The World, a track that I never really liked until I heard him sing it 'live'. He remarked that it's his grandmother's favourite song, and for some reason, that statement really hit me, and I paid close attention to the lyrics ( he describes his version of utopia ) as he belted his heart out.
The result was nothing short of astounding.
2) A loong drawn out rendition of Frontin' - one of my favourite covers from Jamie!
I've heard this 'live' a couple of times before, but he took it to the next level!
Started off with a solo beatbox routine. He walked over to the Rhodes keyboard located centrestage and fiddled with some buttons before we realized he was actually doing an audio recording. Then he began to add layer after layer, returned to the piano, launched into the song proper, and continued jamming for maybe 10 full minutes? At the end, he did the same layering effect, this time with vocals. So it sounded like 3 Jamie Cullums singing with the real person. I felt like I'd died and gone to heaven. No kidding. :)
3) Wheels - again, a song I'd never taken notice of until last night.
It's a great pop-rock anthem, but so terribly diluted on the studio recording. So when the concert hall's acoustics gave it a huge boost, this piece soared like a rocket speeding into outer space. I swear I could hear bits of U2 and Coldplay in there. Major goosebumps!
4) Cry Me A River - this is when Jamie, in true form, hopped off-stage and took his band-mates to the back of the hall, to squeals of delight from the audience.
He spent about 10-15 minutes strolling around and climbing onto a wooden partition, singing both the Ella Fitzgerald and Justin Timberlake versions, in an ingenious mash-up medley.
I couldn't see him for most of the segment, but it's a small price to pay for the other 90% of the show, when he was sitting / standing right smack in front of me. :)
5) The one-two punch of Hoagy Carmichael's I Get Along Without You Very Well, followed by Jamie's own composition from The Pursuit, You And Me Are Gone.
Jamie sets this up by saying the next 2 pieces should strike a chord with "anyone who's ever dumped someone, or been dumped by someone, who hates the person they dumped, or hates the person they were dumped by". Hilarious!
Here's a Diana Krall version to give you an idea of what the first song sounds like.
Jamie's performance was exquisite! A stripped-down solo with just his trusty piano, but filled with so much heartfelt longing. I would've blinked back tears but the ecstatic bliss got in the way. :)
The second piece is what Jamie describes as the "nasty" follow-up to its nicer counterpart. He smoothly transitioned from slow ballad to hard jamming, making the floors shake and the walls reverberate. Priceless!
6) His cover of Ray Charles' I Got A Woman - it's become a favourite of mine since Jamie Foxx and John Mayer did their own updates in recent years. This is such a catchy tune but you need lots of attitude to pull it off, and Jamie's got loads of it!
He even added his own impersonation of Ray during the performance, which got the entire concert hall cheering. :D
7) I Get A Kick Out Of You - another one of my top favourites. The last time he was in Singapore, it was a full trio rendition. Yesterday, however, he opted for an acoustic vocals-and-bass version. Bassist Chris Hills stepped forward as the lights dimmed and the rest of the band went backstage, doing a fabulous solo that had us all whooping our approval. Then Jamie reappeared and stood next to Chris, and when he started singing the first verse, I screamed till I went hoarse. Yes indeed, I LOVE this song!
The overall mood from the get-go was just pure exuberance.
Jamie was clearly on a major high, and got only crazier ( in the best possible way ) as the minutes passed.
He swigged from a can of Guinness Stout. He said he could care less about our mobile phones and digital / handphone / video cameras. We were welcome to take as many photos and record whatever we wanted, with his full permission.
Pity I left my camera at home 'cos I had such a terrific view, but then, still pictures wouldn't have done him justice, so it's a good thing his fans have already uploaded videos on YouTube!
Here's the one of his Cry Me A River mash-up. Very fun!
And part of the Frontin' performance, with the beatbox included. Sexy. :)
A few songs into the show, Jamie started feeling hot, so he peeled off his jacket and folded up his sleeves. Not long after, he removed his tie, and apologized to an excited female audience member in the first row who stretched out her arm in an attempt to grab it, telling her, "But it's my favourite one!"
Although I don't think the tie was what she was actually trying to get her hands on, heh!
He shared his thoughts about Singapore - both from 2006 and his current trip. He loves our weather and our food. He thinks the Esplanade concert hall is just "beautiful".
He was so unbelievably upbeat throughout the 2.5 hours, I really lucked out in terms of my seating choice because I basically had "courtside" tickets, to use a basketball game analogy.
While hitting a high note on I'm All Over It, he belted into the mike a little too forcefully, then stopped short before the last word in the line, to everyone's immense amusement. Not sure if it was deliberate, but there were a few other instances later in the show where he made self-deprecating remarks about his vocals, like after one drawn-out falsetto: "Well, that turned out better than I expected ( laughs )"!
After his Cry Me A River mash-up got the audience on their feet and hungry for more, Jamie ended the set with a rousing performance of Mind Trick ( yet another masterpiece from Catching Tales, woohoo! ), inviting those from the back to come to the front and boogie.
As for the encores, he obliged with Wind Cries Mary and All At Sea, before bidding us goodnight in a soft whisper tinged with exhaustion.
When the lights came on and I sat waiting for the crowd to filter out, I almost couldn't believe how sensational Jamie has become. Compared to the 2006 concert, he has improved tremendously - not that he wasn't great to begin with, just that he's gotten THAT much greater.
And even though his stage antics sometimes distract people from the fact that he has a GORGEOUS voice, the fact that he's mellowed somewhat ( plus the wonderful acoustics ) showcased his vocal prowess in all its glory last night.
This guy can REALLY sing. And leaving the covers out of the equation, Jamie is also one helluva talented songwriter.
Last but not least, I so appreciate his decision to perform tracks from his earlier albums and not just The Pursuit alone, which is what many artistes usually do in order to promote sales of their latest releases.
In particular, the best of Twentysomething was thrown into the mix, and it became very obvious that the audience has followed his career for at least a few years, as they applauded and whistled during these classic hits, even singing along word for word when prompted.
It was a wonderful journey down memory lane. Ahhhhh. :)
Little wonder that Jamie's very good friends with my favourite musician, Jason Mraz. My cousin tells me they met at a jazz festival some time back and hit it off immediately. Jamie's listed as Jason's 2nd best friend on MySpace, if I'm not wrong.
Just a small tidbit for you to chew on as I end this lengthy blog entry.
It was a magnificent night that I will never forget, and thank you, Jamie, for blessing us with such a mind-blowing performance! Please come back soon - don't make us wait another 4 years!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bliss Part 11

Yes, the saga continues. :)

I have hit the mother lode, people.

Started subscribing to Megavideo with the main purpose of watching American TV shows online, but turns out there're tonnes of movies available as well!

Just type the title of the film you're looking for and add "megavideo" at the end. The only catch is, you need to be a paid subscriber in order to obtain uninterrupted and unlimited access, otherwise the feed will automatically stop after 72 minutes of viewing.

Have already sampled a few blockbusters, and am very happy with the excellent image and sound quality.

Also found A Walk On The Moon, which stars Viggo Mortensen, Diane Lane and Liev Schreiber.
Almost bought this from Amazon, but guess I can just download it instead heh!
Didn't realize this was directed by Tony Goldwyn, who also helmed my favourite romantic comedy of all time, Someone Like You ( Hugh Jackman, Ashley Judd and Greg Kinnear ). Goldwyn played the evil friend in Ghost, voiced Tarzan in the Disney cartoon, and was one half of a duo of serial killers in Kiss The Girls.
Yes, my head's filled with useless trivia I can't get rid of. It's a sickness, I can't help it. :)

Another fave rom-com: Keeping The Faith, directed by Edward Norton.
I'm not a fan of mushy stuff, so when shows like these make such huge impressions, they've got to be pretty special.

You know me, I'm more of a blood-and-guts type of person.

Something else I'm VERY happy about: finding So You Think You Can Dance Season 5 online! You don't need Megavideo for this link, and I urge anyone who hasn't seen the series before to please do so.

Best of all, everything's on-demand, with no annoying TV ad interruptions.

Thinking of buying that portable hard drive now that I'm contemplating extra storage, hmm.

Recently attempted to read Tom Holland's The Vampyre, a blend of fact and fiction that fills in the blanks about Lord Byron's secret past.
Can't imagine why it garnered all those rave reviews. I was bored out of my mind before the first 100 pages.
The problem? Byron narrating the ENTIRE story in the form of a dialogue. So he's actually having a conversation with someone, and the whole novel is filled with inverted commas.
But who the hell talks like this? Must've taken Byron at least a few days to get through the whole thing. Who's got the patience for that?!
Totally ridiculous.

Anyway, I need to take a break from the public library for a while. Too many assignments to complete, and really need to clear my People and Time magazines at home.

Farewell to The Bridge Project - I hope you enjoyed your time in Singapore!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Review of The Bridge Project's The Tempest
8 April 2010, Esplanade Theatre

First and foremost, I enjoyed it.
The Theatre looked quite full when I stole a quick glance at the end of the show, but sadly, the audience itself was rather sedate.
As the Life! review pointed out, there was a standing ovation on opening night.
Unfortunately, my bunch was not as generous yesterday. At least not the first few rows.
I was seated in the centre of row 4, an excellent vantage point that afforded detailed views of everything from the actors' perspiring foreheads to fountains of spittle during the more emotional scenes.
While The Tempest doesn't boast as many big stars as 2009's The Winter's Tale - no Ethan Hawke or Rebecca Hall - I was nevertheless very excited about seeing Christian Camargo, aka the Ice Truck Killer aka Dexter's long-lost older brother on the Showtime TV series' ground-breaking first season.
And he did not disappoint at all.
As Ariel, the airy spirit who serves Prospero ( Stephen Dillane ), Camargo clearly has the most stage time. Even when he has no dialogue, he is almost always lurking nearby, observing each scene as it unfolds. Some of this is faithful to the play itself, as Ariel is known to manipulate characters as well as physical surroundings ( including the weather ) as he sees fit. However, there is one segment where Ariel should've been absent, but instead, Camargo climbs up to a seat atop a rather unstable-looking metal frame, where he perches serenely until the scene ends.
I just couldn't help thinking to myself: okay, IF he looses his footing, I will most definitely offer my medical services. :)
It's unfortunate that I haven't had many opportunities to see Shakespearean plays done by true experts. For this reason, I'm unable to compare The Bridge Project's version of The Tempest with any other production ( the RSC's, for example ).
But I'm starting to see a definite pattern here - director Sam Mendes has a penchant for dressing his actors in modern garb rather than costumes that are more befitting the actual era the plays are set in. No strong objection there, but I do find it a little odd seeing Prospero, Gonzalo and even Ariel in tailored suits. Perhaps more experienced theatre-goers would consider this quite normal?
Performances-wise, Camargo, in my humble opinion, is clearly the star of the show.
Yes, he does have an advantage in terms of material - Ariel is the most intriguing member of the cast of characters - but I also found his stage presence utterly mesmerizing.
Tall and lean with one of the most intense stares I have ever seen, his concentration never wavered as he paced the stage like a graceful but ravenous panther.
I was rather surprised by the pitch of his voice - higher than what I remember from Dexter - but this takes nothing away from Ariel's two outbursts: one where he lashes out at Prospero for not releasing him from servitude, another where he appears to the shipwrecked noblemen in the form of a frightening harpy. Rest assured that his tone alters accordingly ( and very significantly ), and that he is effectively temperamental and terrifying on both counts.
Another surprise: Camargo's singing ability. He has a few verses scattered throughout the play, with one prominent solo in the final act. A rich, pitch perfect vibrato. I got goosebumps! :)
Dillane's turn as Prospero is - and again, this is just my own opinion - a tad limp. Obviously, he chose to play his role in this manner ( and likely with Mendes' full support ), but the play itself seems to portray Prospero as a more fiery character, or at least that's my interpretation.
But then, I like my protagonists emotionally overwrought. Like Sir Ian McKellan's King Lear, and Simon Russell Beale's King Leontes. So why not Dillane's Prospero?
Another standout performance comes from Ron Cephas Jones, as the creepily sullen Caliban. Love the makeup and stick-on fingernails!
Another one of Prospero's servile creatures, but described as the physical opposite of Ariel, with a violent streak to boot ( he once tried to rape Prospero's young daughter, Miranda ). Jones first appears in the front left corner of the theatre, crouched near one of the box seats in the stalls section, with only his face illuminated by a spotlight. Although I'd already seen his press photos for the play, he looks very different in real life. Throw in the gravelly voice ( I do wonder if he normally sounds like that ), the nails/claws, the evil grin and the manner of speech ( a definite nod to the slavery era ), and the result is something quite remarkable indeed.
I found myself despising Caliban, but also pitying him at the same time. My feelings weren't quite as ambiguous when reading the play, so kudos to Jones for altering my perspective so effectively.
Juliet Rylance is appropriately sweet as Miranda, and I distinctly saw tears on her face when she pleaded with Dillane's Prospero to halt the storm and have mercy on the ship's passengers.
Miranda's age is estimated by Shakespearean experts to be around 15, and it is never easy for an adult to convey the fluctuating emotions and lovestruck fancy of a teenage girl. But Rylance delivers a sincere performance with just enough sprinkle of girlish rapture, without teetering into an annoying whiner.
And since I've seen Jennifer Garner's disastrous turn as Roxane on Broadway's Cyrano de Bergerac, I can safely say that Rylance is a hundred times better.
The comical Trinculo and Stephano ( Anthony O'Donnell and Thomas Sadoski ) have their moments in a couple of raucously funny scenes. I hope the audience picked up on the melody from Beyond The Sea, which Stephano drunkenly sang as he staggered on-stage. Thought that was hilarious. :D
The celebratory masque in Act 4, which features the goddesses Iris, Ceres and Juno, is a lovely vision indeed. There is beautiful music, followed by a joyous folk dance. Definitely more restrained than a party scene in last year's The Winter's Tale, which had a hillbilly flavour and degenerated into vulgar imagery involving strategically positioned balloons.
The more peripheral characters failed to make much of an impression on me. Most glaringly, Ferdinand ( Edward Bennett ) has zero chemistry with Miranda. In addition, Gonzalo ( Alvin Epstein ) is a little too frail for my taste, while Prospero's dastardly brother, Antonio ( Michael Thomas ) came across as really bland.
Some good stuff that's unrelated to acting:
- 2 wonderful musicians who provided an almost constant soundtrack and sounded like an entire orchestra at times;
- that, coupled with the lack of an intermission, gave the production a flowing, film-like quality ( though my mother panicked somewhere in Act 4 when it became quite obvious she wasn't getting a toilet break :));
- Christian Camargo dressed in an evening gown ( want to know what I'm talking about? go see the play, heh! )
So is it better than The Winter's Tale? I would say yes. Despite the lack of Hollywood A-listers, I'm glad that Mendes chose a more well-known Shakespearean work for his second Bridge Project tour, and cast Camargo and Jones in the play's most compelling roles.
2011 will certainly be the year to watch, when Kevin Spacey joins the cast - as one of the leads, I hope!
I am most eager to see a comedy next time round, but considering Spacey's dramatic skills, something tense and powerful would showcase his thespian talents perfectly.
But most importantly, 2011 will also be the year I will see at least two Bridge Project performances at the Esplanade, because I've waited so long to see the great Mr. Spacey on-stage, and one evening with him is just not enough!
For those who're interested, you can also read my reviews of the RSC's King Lear ( 21 July 2007 ) and The Bridge Project's The Winter's Tale ( 26 March 2009 ), listed in the archives on the right.

Friday, April 02, 2010


The recent discovery of a treasure trove of online TV shows has finally propelled me to start subscribing to Megavideo. Unlimited access - no pesky 72-minute time limits - for what I consider a very reasonable fee.
First on the list: Nip/Tuck.

Am starting with season 2, though in all likelihood, I'll go through season 1 again at some point after I'm done with the rest.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this excellent series, its creator, the delightfully twisted Ryan Murphy, is also responsible for the big hit, Glee, which has been sweeping awards these past few months.

But in my opinion, Nip/Tuck is - and always will be - his crowning glory.

I began following the exploits of Drs. Sean McNamara and Christian Troy years ago, but stopped after season 2 or 3 when the time slots kept getting switched and I got distracted by other programmes.

Now, thanks to video-on-demand ( and more importantly, uncensored versions! ), I can tune in whenever I want, woohoo! :)

If you're a newbie, but share my love for dark humour, politically incorrect situations, gore and hot men ( medical jargon optional ), this is a must.

While Christian ( Julian McMahon, seated on the right ) is understandably portrayed as the obvious Lothario ( being single and shamelessly promiscuous, doctor-patient relationship be damned ), I'm much more drawn to Sean ( Dylan Walsh, left ), whose personal life is tonnes more tumultuous, and whose decisions are frequently unpredictable. Despite being viewed by many as a pillar of unwavering morality, he grapples with many hidden demons and occasionally makes Christian look like a saint.

The script is sharp and intelligent, poking fun at our aesthetic insecurities and serving up all sorts of uncomfortable scenarios ( Vanessa Redgrave makes her mark as a ravenous cougar ). The operating scenes are realistic enough to make even me squirm ( plastic surgery is barbaric! ). And yet, you'll also find yourself laughing hard at some of the more outrageous lines, before the realization that they're not really that outrageous after all smacks you sober.
There's also the enduring bro-mance between the 2 guys, transcending everything from professional rivalry to adultery and who knows what else ( I haven't seen every single episode, you know ). The complexity of their relationship is sinfully enjoyable.

Which actor do I prefer? McMahon may look like the clear winner, but nope, I much prefer Walsh. Sure, he may be the boyish one, often with a pained expression on his face and exuding an overwhelming sense of propriety, but I still recall one episode where a close-up suddenly made me sit up and notice his gorgeous blue eyes, and the emotions that lay behind them. It wasn't acting anymore. It was pretty freaking real.

Can't believe they're already at season 7. I can't wait to catch up! :D