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Showing posts from July, 2013

The Conjuring

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Disclaimer: A lot of hype and expectations going into this movie. Big horror junkie but have not watched any good ones recently ("The Cabin In The Woods" is strictly not horror per se...)

Wow! James Wan and writers Chad & Carey Hayes have delivered a solid, brilliant, scary, atmospheric, old-school horror/haunted house flick! Bolstered by an ace cast (including the children), a simple plot, effective score and a distinctively anti-Hollywood sensibility. The pace was excellent, with tidbits and reveals coming in at a steady pace until the climatic finale. But, this is old-school, so the pacing may be slow to those who are used to Hollywood-esque slasher-flicks-masquerading-as-horror; but the pacing is actually part of the whole atmospheric, spooky, tension-building triumph of the movie. Although, granted, there are one or two moments that existed purely to shock, but they were not really the scariest nor creepiest scenes. The lead ups, for which I think Wan is really grea…

The Wolverine

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A fairly entertaining movie that can be best described as a comic movie hiding in the closet of a drama. As such, it did not really live up to the potential of either. As a drama, it had many dramatic moments but it lacked the depth of characterisation leaving the main characters rather linearly described. In addition, without the knowledge of Logan's backstory, many non-comic fans (and those who can barely remember the events of the first Wolverine movie and the original X-Men trilogy) would have trouble connecting with the lead. "Who is Jean?" thus ending up being more like a meta-mocking question rather than the insightful, thought-provoking and soul-searching question that writers Mark Bomback and Scott Frank may have intended it to be. Although any chance for Famke Janssen to grace the screen (without the atrocious god-knows where accent she affects in "Hemlock Grove") in her ethereal beauty (and also softly backlit) is always appreciated. As a comic, thi…

Annam

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This Les Amis-operated Vietnamese restaurant has been around for a while, but I have not really gone to try it until today. Off the menu, the lunch set looked worth it but the items did not seemed very traditionally Vietnamese. Anyways, ordered a la carte and ended up with the wagyu beef noodle soup, the assorted appetiser plate and the simmered pork dish. The crackers were rather expensive and not that tasty; tasted rather plain and stale. The wagyu beef phô was not worth the money although the soup was tasty but it did not taste like the traditional ones, and there weren't any basil leaves! The simmered pork dish looked good on the table next to ours, but sadly, it did not taste as good as it looked. It was not tender enough and the sauce tasted too French/British. Lastly, yes, ironically, the appetiser plate came after everything else was done (although granted we did ask that all food to be served at the same time). At least the appetisers were great. The sugarcane prawns and …

The Phantom of the Opera

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Disclaimer: This is my fifth stage performance of the musical; I've watched the movie once in the cinema and at least twice more on TV and the Anniversary Concert@The Royal Albert Hall.  The kitsch-ness of Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic, and undoubtedly most well-known/sung musical, is undeniable but it is precisely this cliché that endears it to the public. The tunes have ear-wormed their way into the general public conscious and many repeat viewers come in to be enthralled by the spectacle and the (overly) dramatic show tunes. Unfortunately, Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford are still, in my mind, the benchmarks for all future Christines and Phantoms, and the poor acoustics of our theatre did nothing to help the cast and showcase their pipes. In addition, the sound engineer may not have done a good job in tuning for the venue, and the first act there were too much sound discrepancies lacking in volume, bass and vibrato, which thankfully was rectified in the second act. Alt…

Tenshin 天信

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Always wanted to try this tempura place, especially since the fabulous inagiku closed down and Chef Edward disappeared. Ordered the omakase set with tencha. The starters were standard: endamame, boiled vegetables and broiled/stewed unago. The prawns were served first. The heads then the body, and all were fried to perfect crispness! The oil tasted fresh but the prawns (definitely not local) retained their freshness and sweetness. Same as the white fish. The asparagus was not outstanding but by itself at least it did not have that bitter taste. The uni was fantastic. Generously stuffed within a seaweed wrap, it was lightly fried and the seaweed had a great crisp too it that was juxtaposed by the sweet, flavourful, smooth uni. Then, next up was the mushrooms. Delicately fried and melt in your mouth with the sauce. The salad was simple with just lettuce, really fresh tomatoes and fried lotus root chips in a mustard dressing. The last white fish was meatier than the first but went well wi…

Pacific Rim [IMAX/3D]

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Guillermo del Toro's epic Monster Aliens vs Giant Robots is a big load of fun and andrenaline pumping action, minus the Second Act which slowed down the whole pace and tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to develop the human characterisations and relationships. Del Toro's mind and fertile imaginations is amazing thing! The only drawback is the design of the creatures were rather repetitive and reminiscence of his monster from "Pan's Labyrinth". Nonetheless, it was an eye-popping, sfx visual extravaganza that deserved to be watched on a huge screen, but the 3D may or may not be necessary as most of the fight scenes were lighted rather darkly so the inherent dimness of 3D may make it murkier. The story by del Toro and Travis Beacham was simple and the sci-fi, unlike their Bad Robot contemporaries, was kept to the minimum. Sadly, the dialogue was mainly clunky, with many pseudo-Japanese English Zen phrases peppered throughout. The characters were stock, without much depth…

Arrested Development Season 4

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Disclaimer: The moment the season was released I got all the episodes in, but due to time and personal commitments I was not able to binge watch it like how I did for "House of Cards" and it took me about 6 weeks to complete the season. And that could have been a good thing, for more details see below...

This was an amazing piece of comedic genius that CANNOT be binged on, but instead, it rewards with slow, and repetitive, viewing. Contrary to most of the early critics who likely binged on all 15 episodes, the unique format that Hurtz Mitchell et al employed for this season really demands that details be remembered and savoured. Binging will easily overwhelm the senses and the relatively simple plot may end up appearing to be too convoluted. However, there in lies the genius. The convolution is actually a smokescreen for a generally linear A-B-C-D story. The only difference is that payoffs may take more than 5 episodes  to come into fruition, and when it does, you will be go…