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 ( ojj75@yahoo.com ) 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!

No comments: