Sunday, October 31, 2010

Review Of David Foster & Friends concert

Posted today, available at Just Watch Lah.

Enjoy. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010


Okay, I'm going to abandon the Bliss theme because frankly, I've lost count.

Will also take a short break from the holiday posts, because I really want to write about some other good stuff. :)

Here goes.


An assortment of rented DVDs, online versions, and Krisworld fare.

Caught Knight And Day en route from Paris to Singapore. Surprisingly enjoyable! Not a particularly big fan of Cruise or Diaz, but this little caper turned out to be extremely fun, with great chemistry between the leads, a bonus in the form of Peter Sarsgaard ( I LOVE that guy :)), and another bonus - John Powell helming the excellent score ( he also composed for The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Shrek and other blockbuster animated films ).

Robin Hood was a major letdown. Lots of big players in the form of the Ridley Scott-Russell Crowe partnership, and co-stars Cate Blanchett and Mark Strong, but the script was so anti-climactic. Horrible ending! Supposed to set things up for a sequel, but frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

Prince Of Persia gave me a headache. Was hoping I'd drool over Jake Gyllenhaal the same way a certain female reviewer did, but my heart rate didn't budge one bit. All that supposedly witty / flirtatious verbal sparring between Jake and Gemma Arterton just falls flat. Yawn...

Shrek 4 is another big yawn. But hey, it was the last of a marathon session on the plane, so I guess I should give it a second chance when it hits cable.

Rented DVDs:

It's Complicated - hilarious! I started to appreciate Meryl Streep's acting skills very late in her career, specifically after her perfectly poised turn in The Devil Wears Prada. This rom-com provided an additional draw for me: Steve Martin, whom I absolutely adore.

Written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who's responsible for The Holiday and Something's Gotta Give, I knew from the get-go that I would love this film, because I've watched the other two multiple times and never tire of them.

The script is smart and realistic, the cast spot-on in terms of characterization and comic timing. I don't fancy the fat-and-hairy Alec Baldwin as a romantic lead, but hey, I thought Jack Nicholson was super-cool in Something's Gotta Give, so I can't explain my preferences.

Everybody's Fine - had me in tears half the time. Yes, I realize that as I grow older, I cry over movies a lot more. And 2010 has been a whopper. Actually, it's the cartoons that really get to me, but for some reason, this Robert de Niro drama was very affecting.

His portrayal of a lonely widower trying to connect with his grown-up offspring is poignant yet understated. All those shots of him travelling solo across the country were just soooo sad. Maybe it's because my own parents are hitting their 70s, and I would be devastated if they ended up like de Niro's character.

Special mention goes to Sam Rockwell, whose sensitive performance as an underachieving son is quite heart-breaking.

Thank goodness there's a happy ending to the whole saga. :)

Jennifer's Body - I know it didn't get the best reviews, but I kinda dig this movie! ( p.s. It helps that the DVD isn't censored. There's some girl-on-girl action which will definitely get snipped in the cable version. )

What saves this horror flick from B-grade hell is Amanda Seyfried, an actress I've never cared for much, but couldn't take my eyes off here. She does the terrified expression very well indeed!

Johnny Simmons steals some of the lead actresses' thunder with his boyish good looks and sweet demeanour. But it's Adam Brody's cameo as a Satan-worshipping rocker that provides the biggest jolt. Guy-liner, anyone? :)

Shutter Island is now my 2nd favourite Leonardo DiCaprio film, after Inception.

Equally trippy in terms of grand concepts, but much easier to understand. Thanks to Martin Scorsese, the overall result is effectively dark and ominous. Have you seen Cape Fear, also directed by Scorsese? Very Alfred Hitchcock-esque. Love it!

Up In The Air - made me think a lot more than I thought I would. Much has been said about lead stars George Clooney and Vera Farmiga, but I feel that supporting actress Anna Kendrick deserves the greatest credit here, for her memorable portrayal of an ambitious young graduate with unexpected weaknesses and complicated character flaws.

Ryan Bingham's comment about the irrelevance of marriage is a hoot - "I just don't see the value in it." ( Clooney is, after all, marriage-phobic in real life ) - yet also full of truth. I should know - I'm relationship-phobic too. And proudly so. :)

On to the animated films, both viewed online. Thank you, Megavideo!

Toy Story 3 - yes, definitely the best of the trilogy, and a fitting conclusion to a delightful franchise ( though deep down, I'm crossing my fingers that Pixar's execs will change their minds and continue this magical journey ). I laughed till my sides hurt and cried my eyes out. The new characters are beautifully fleshed out ( Timothy Dalton's Mr. Pricklepants and Michael Keaton's Ken doll are priceless! ) but never outshine the anchors ( Woody, Buzz, the Potato Heads, Jessie, Rex, Hamm etc ). It's a fine balancing act on the director's and writers' parts. The massive box office earnings are proof that they did everything right.

How To Train Your Dragon is the crowning glory of this list. I didn't have time to see it in the cinema, but watching it on a computer screen proved to be an amazing experience nonetheless.

Sure, I take issue with the accent discrepancies. I mean, the story's about Vikings, and you have an assortment of Scottish and American twangs, which make zero sense.

Still, I found myself completely engrossed in spite of the huge boo-boo, mostly because the cast members do such incredible jobs with their vocal performances.

Gerard Butler is perfect as the brooding, towering Stoick, while America Ferrera ( from Ugly Betty ) is a revelation as the ferocious tomboy, Astrid.

But it is Jay Baruchel as Hiccup, who steals the entire show. He resembles the cartoon character to some extent, and the artists capitalize on that by adding mannerisms which greatly enhance the whole awkward / comic element.

Once again, John Powell's soaring music drives many of the action sequences, especially the ones involving Hiccup zipping through the air with Toothless.

Ultimately, however, I love this film because of its big big heart. Even more than Toy Story 3, believe it or not! There're multiple emotional subplots that somehow manage to avoid stifling each other, and you find yourself rooting for everyone ( dragons included, 'cos they're the good guys too! ).

And being an ardent animal lover, the scenes where Hiccup bonds with the different dragons really got to me, man. There's a little one that curls up under his arm and starts purring. I'm not joking! Made me think of my pet cat, Nemo. Awww.... :)

Last but not least, some juicy TV.

Dexter season 5 is off to a rousing start, as Mr. Morgan indulges his Dark Passenger in an effort to cope after his wife's violent demise. He offs a vicious serial killer early on, but now has to contend with an unexpected witness who's proving to be a tad unhinged. Add to all this baggage the constant attention required by his infant son, Harrison, who's already begun to sink his teeth into fellow playmates. Plus a chain of bloody beheadings committed by a cult-like sect.

Michael C. Hall continues to enthrall, and was cheated of a well-deserved Emmy for season 4, argh! Let's hope he strikes gold with S5.

Julia Stiles provides the Hollywood cred this time round ( following in the footsteps of John Lithgow and Jimmy Smits ), and turns in the best performance of her career as Lumen, the mysterious survivor who may or may not result in Dexter's eventual undoing.

I also recently caught the premiere episode of The Good Wife season 2. Am extremely grateful to the writers for expanding Josh Charles' role in the series. Lots of similarities with his Knox Overstreet character from Dead Poets Society, as Will Gardner declares his love for Alicia Florrick, but is cruelly thwarted by image consultant Eli Gold ( deliciously played by Alan Cumming ). The injustice!!!

Anyway, much as I like Chris Noth, who plays Alicia's straying husband, Peter, I want Will to win this battle.

Yes, I watch waaay too many movies and TV shows for my own good. But they make me very very happy. :D

Friday, October 22, 2010

Holiday Musings - Part 4

aka Foodie Adventures. :D

If I'm not mistaken, this was taken in Sarlat, which
is famous for its foie gras, and listed on our
itinerary. ( Thank you, Google search engine! )

No-one on our tour wanted to try the dish, out of
respect for the poor geese. Our French guide
tried to make the whole process sound like the
most natural thing in the world, but we weren't buying it!

As you can see, there's a lot of canned duck over there.
They also sell canned escargots. Wonder what that tastes like.

A quaint restaurant ( right ) in the same town, where mum and I cooked our own seafood on hot stones for lunch.

Yes, I should've snapped a picture of the meal rather than the
eatery, but somehow, I didn't think the French would like it.

Over at Carcassone, everyone was practically sucked into this beautiful store located near a medieval castle.

And yes, I asked for permission before clicking away. :)

Bought an armload of goodies, mostly cookies and candies. Flavours for the former range from orange and various types of berries, to chocolate and nuts.

The interesting bit is how the cookies didn't go bad
even though it took us more than a week to finish
the stash, and had only a paper bag in which to store them.

Do they taste as good as they look? You bet. They literally melt in your mouth. Yum. :)

Of course, what would a trip to France be without
a little wine-tasting?

Sadly, I'm not a big fan of wine, and couldn't buy
any to present as gifts to friends and relatives ( airline restrictions and all ), but I do enjoy sampling the local fare. For free. ;)

I was very surprised at the affordability of the
products. One bottle of very decent rose wine, for
only 4 Euros!?
The best price I've ever come across anywhere in
countries I've visited. And I've been to vineyards in
Italy, Australia and New Zealand.

In case you're wondering, the booze is from Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

I've included the tree-lined main street in Aix-en-
Provence because I had one of the best slices of
fresh pizza here.
Hot from the oven, the size of my face, dripping
with cheese and tomato sauce. 3 Euros. GAH!

Here's Nice. Took this while waiting for our dinner
at a cafe which served a super-delicious meat-and
noodles dish, totally not what we expected.

And if you read the earlier entry, you may recall my
appreciation for the eye candy, i.e. the many gorgeous waiters. :)

Monaco's Grimaldi Palace is tiny, but the streets
are crammed with people, and finding food when
you're on a tight schedule can be a real nightmare.

Luckily, the restaurants operate like well-oiled
machinery, and we got our main courses within 5

Better still, they were perfectly cooked, I constantly dream about the cream sauce on my escalope.
( Was also served by yet another super-handsome waiter. :))

The lakeside town of Annecy is picturesque and full of friendly locals who're generous with their smiles and greetings.

Believe it or not, we had Vietnames takeout for lunch. Good,
not awesome, but for some reason, sitting on a bench along
the canal and getting sunburnt despite the chilly temperature
made that afternoon very memorable for me.

The lake and mountains are in the other direction. Breath-taking!

Our next stop was the ski resort town of Chamonix,
where we froze our fingers off, in summer no less.
This is the photo I took from my hotel window. The real thing is HUGE. And I mean MASSIVE.
I ironed my clothes facing this! Cool? You bet. :)
Food-wise, we had a wonderful, leisurely afternoon
tea in the centre of town ( seated next to us were 2
hot American men who couldn't figure out what we
were saying - we spoke Mandarin and Hakka to
throw them off ). Followed by a dinner consisting of
heavenly Indian cuisine.
But the absolute best meal I had in France was at
this lovely little hotel in Beaune.
There was a group dinner on arrival, which was
delicious. But the next evening, we splurged on a
MUCH better meal for just the 2 of us.
The chef's Japanese, with jaw-dropping skills.
He made meat-flavoured mousse, which sat on
top of the most amazing aspic. We only ordered the main course, but received 3 additional goodies
before and after, plus macaroons ( with to-die-for
fruit-flavoured dip ) for the finale.
The wagyu beef made me clutch my chest with sheer pleasure,
and I can't even remember what my mom ate, just that she couldn't stop gushing about it either.
I'm sure there's something similar in Singapore taste-wise, but
it would probably cost tonnes more, and tweaked to cater to
Singaporeans' preferences. Nope, not for me.
Flower shot's from Dijon ( right ), where a street market stall sold the most delectable honey-roasted peanuts.
The peanut seller couldn't speak much English, but got really
excited upon finding out where we're from.
The Singaporean landmark he immediately identified with?
None other than Marina Bay Sands. All that gesturing actually
made perfect sense. They should incorporate it into the
official sign language vocabulary!
Once again, the water mill restaurant in Fourges,
with its unbelievable apple pie.
This is another part of the Tuileries Gardens. Put
it up because our hotel's behind that building to the right, and it's surrounded by excellent eateries.
I previously mentioned Angelina's, famous for its
rich hot chocolate brew and millefeuille ( a multi-
layered pastry with cream and custard ), where we
chatted for hours with my penpal, E.
There's also a lovely Irish pub close by, that serves
( I kid you not ) chicken with whiskey sauce, and
steak seasoned with Guinness stout.
I couldn't really taste the liquor ( I love steak! ), but
the beef couldn't possibly be any juicier.
The bartender, who brought us the menus, looked
like a 16-year-old version of Josh Groban, and had
the most adorable Irish accent.
He's obviously at least 18, since he pours booze
for a living. Extremely friendly chap. Wish I could've
chatted with him more, but mom was tired out so we returned to the hotel after filling our stomachs. Darn.
Last but not least, the Notre Dame cathedral.
A restaurant just across the street serves beautiful
escargots, cooked in a sauce with a name that I can't pronounce.
Again, top-notch service from the waiters, especially a bespectacled fellow who presented each platter with dramatic flair - i.e. he would swoop over to the table and move his arm in a wide arc, before setting the plate or bowl down and proclaiming, "Voila!"
It's common practice in France, but he definitely took first prize in terms of showmanship. I regret not tipping on this trip, but interestingly enough, the French don't expect it.
Also recommended: French tea. The leaves are imported from Asia, but blended in France. I LOVE it!
Underwhelming: French ice-cream. It's nothing special. You want the truly fabulous stuff? It's in New Zealand - brand name Tip Top, flavour apricot. Droooool. :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Holiday Musings - Part 3 dedicated to Giverny.

I took loads - and I mean LOADS - of photos in the 2 hours we were there, but here're a few of my favourites.

Not going to write too much in this entry. Best
to just let you enjoy the brilliant colours of the
exquisite flora.

A pity that Monet's water lily pond didn't have
any blooms when we visited. Too early? Too late?

The compound isn't large, and it's easy to feel
bored if you aren't into nature. No problem for
my mom and I though. We spent the entire 2
hours ooh-ing and aah-ing over the flowers.
I do, however, wish it could've been sunnier.
Photos never turn out perfect when it's cloudy.
Quite possibly my favourite shot from the entire
Taken just outside a water mill / restaurant in
Fourges, where we had a delicious lunch before
heading to Versailles.
Couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted these
cows in the nearby river. They were surprisingly
quiet as they dipped and drank.
A few other tourists came over when they saw
me snapping with my camera.
They all had smiles as broad as the one on my
own face. :)
Last but not least, the beautiful water mill itself.
The whole region - Giverny and Fourges - is breath-taking to say the least. That coach ride through the countryside will always remain one of my most vivid memories of France.
It certainly marked the exact moment I knew I didn't want to return to Singapore.
Till next time...

Friday, October 08, 2010

Holiday Musings - Part 2

After finally downloading my holiday photos into the computer, it's been a little difficult deciding what to write about first.

In the end, the magnificent Louvre won the toss.

This entry isn't meant to provide exhaustive information. As you can see, I've left out the paintings ( yes, I have a shot of the Mona Lisa ), and won't be naming every single sculpture featured here.

Rather, I'm sharing my impressions, and hope these pictures will whet your appetite should you be fortunate enough to visit this museum in the future ( or if you've already been to the Louvre but bypassed the sculpture galleries, perhaps these will prompt you to hunt them down next time ).

I could not include all the photos I took, of course, so these are the highlights.

As mentioned in an earlier entry, the Met in NYC was breath-taking, but the Louvre's setup is literally jaw-dropping.

The fact that the building used to be a royal palace certainly makes a huge difference. But the layout of the many pieces is key to one's enjoyment.

Witness the vast spaces and natural lighting. Lots of staircases to navigate, with lots of benches where one can sit and stare for as long as necessary.

Interesting to note that staff numbers are almost negligible in these areas. You can probably touch the statues to your heart's content - I didn't though - whereas attempting to do so at the Met will get you a harsh reprimand ( yes, I brushed a finger over a marble lion and a guy came out of nowhere to tell me to stop. Hmph! )

It never fails to amaze me, how an artist can fashion such beautiful forms from hard rock. Surely sculpting is much tougher than flicking a paintbrush over a canvas?

Having walked through the Met's gallery at length, I also notice a different theme at the Louvre, primarily the predominance of the human form, with animals providing a more secondary presence.

I just love the melodramatic flair, from cherubs weeping in a kneeling position...

... to young women stabbing themselves in the chest.

There're also quite a few male figures posing erotically. Here's one good example ( miniature-sized ). I've got a photo of another that's much larger and bordering on obscene, but chose not to post it here.
However, if you're my Facebook friend, it's in the photo album. :)

I've read about visitors molesting sculptures in museums. Picked up on the security cameras. Now I understand why!

Another characteristic I enjoy about sculptures: they're 3-dimensional.

While most people prefer to view them from the front, I make it a point to walk a complete round, looking at the piece from every possible angle.
Impossible to do so with every single one, but a definite must for the more beautiful statues.

Even our guide brought the entire group behind the Venus de Milo, just so we could admire her curvaceous back.
Another famous sculpture you absoutely MUST see from a 360-degree perspective: Michelangelo's David in Florence. It's awesome!

It was a lovely day indeed. The place was crowded but not stifling.

Made a short pit-stop on the way back to our hotel. Spent time sitting at this fountain in the Tuileries Gardens, facing the Place de la Concorde's obelisk, with the gorgeous Arc de Triomphe in the distance.

Lots of tourists and a few locals doing the same, as pigeons scurried beneath our chairs and seagulls flew in from the Seine to take a break.
One of the best days ever. :)
Am of course very saddened by recent news that France is high on the terrorists' hit list. While my mom and I are extremely lucky to have escaped potential danger, we hope nothing tragic will befall Paris and its locals.

In other news...
Am currently glued to a biography of Jeffrey Dahmer, by Brian Masters.
The book's been sitting on my shelf for a while. I tend to buy novels and ignore them in favour of borrowing others from the public library.
Had to start reading this to clear some space, and can't believe how terrific it is.
Will post a few choice quotes next time round.
I've known about Dahmer since my college days, when his crimes made global headlines. I had some inkling about his twisted rituals, and learned more about them through various documentaries on cable TV.
But Masters provides the reader with a truly in-depth analysis of Dahmer's actions, which are not fuelled by cruelty or sadism ( no matter how perverse and horrific they may be ). In fact, once you understand what motivates his bloody deeds, you actually start to pity him.
Don't think anyone's made a movie about Dahmer yet. Maybe someone should.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Adam Lambert Photos & Videos from the Singapore Grand Prix, 26th September 2010

Taking a short break from blogging about France, so Adam's S'porean fans can have a look at these.

Please feel free to download! Just right click on your mouse. :)

Here's a shot of the crowd at the Village Stage
in Zone 1.
I arrived with a couple of colleagues who didn't really feel up to jostling with the die-hard Glamberts in front, so I stayed near the back for the first 20 minutes or so.

Once my companions left for the F1 drivers' parade, I was free to roam as I wished, and managed to "excuse me, pardon me" my way through to a much better position, close to the stage. Woohoo!

Unfortunately, I can't tell you exactly which song matches each picture. Offhand, the ones with the backup dancers probably include Fever, Strut and If I Had You ( these came later in the set, after I moved ).

Ah, Adam looks gorgeous, as always. :D

If anybody remembers what he was singing in this shot, please leave a comment. I was too excited and busy with the camera to take note. :)

Adam did not disappoint with his performance - flawless and powerful vocals, sexy stage presence, lots of attitude that complemented the fast numbers fabulously.

Special mention goes to his live rendition of Soaked, which I tried to record but my camera decided to die on me so I missed out on the glory notes. Argh!

Adam's at his best when in the high registers. I got goosebumps despite the sweltering weather, and my male colleague - who's married with kids - even leaned over to comment that Adam's got one impressive set of pipes!

The Sunday show was only 40 minutes long. Supposed to start at 5:40pm but was delayed till 6pm, so I felt a bit cheated ( 20 minutes is significant! ). Not sure what happened, and there was no encore, most likely because the organizers wanted the crowd to go watch the drivers' parade ( but honestly, no-one there could care less, we were all screaming for Adam! ).

Still, it was great to see him at last. I've been a fan since his days on American Idol, and it was a lucky coincidence that he happened to be at a stage near my location, on the one day I was at the race.

The icing on the cake: I didn't have to pay for anything. :)

Best wishes for a long and successful career, Adam! I hope to see you at a full concert - with seats this time - in the very near future.

YouTube video links are also up!

If I Had You, and Strut.