Tuesday, November 25, 2003

jingling his way across the north pole

WILL Ferrell spends much of the movie dancing and prancing his way through New York City dressed as an elf, with a perpetual idiotic grin on his face.

With his previous antics in Old School (including a drunken midnight run in the nude) and Zoolander, you expect manic chaos to erupt anytime. But not in this movie. Because Elf is all about good, clean, yuletide fun.

Buddy the elf is a little different from the other elves at the North Pole. For one, he's more than 1.8m tall.

The elves haven't been conducting weird genetic experiments on themselves. Buddy's simply a human adopted by the elves after he crawled into Santa's sack 30 years ago.

But Buddy, despite his Gulliver-in-Lilliput stature and his lone baritone voice in the choir, doesn't realise he isn't an elf.

When he finally learns the truth, he decides to head south to the 'magical city' of New York to find his real father.

Buddy's even more of a misfit in Manhattan than at the North Pole. Escalators and elevators confound and fascinate him, he waves at people hailing taxis and gobbles discarded gum, ignoring Santa's warning that it's not 'free candy'.

He finally meets his dad, children's book publisher Walter Hogg (played by a crabby James Caan), who, as Santa warns, is on 'the naughty list'.

After a DNA test, Buddy moves in with his new family, creating havoc in the Hogg household and office. He also becomes smitten with a department store 'elf', Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), after being mistaken for a store employee.

But will he be able to find any Christmas spirit in the jaded Big Apple?

(This being a happy G-rated Christmas tale, we all know the answer to that question, don't we?)

Ferrell toes the line with his wide-eyed, stranger-in-a-strange-land role, but never pushes it too far. Buddy comes across as sweet and somewhat endearing, rather than a big creep.

Jon Favreau, better known as an actor (Serendipity) and a writer (Swingers), takes a crack at directing and makes a Christmas movie that the whole family can enjoy.

Elf is no Bad Santa. The gags are clean, with only one burping scene (one!) and no naughty words. Yet it's not too squeaky Disney-clean that one cringes throughout the two hours.

Favreau also doesn't overload on the Christmas theme, unlike previous candy-coated festive films like The Santa Clause. His sets are kept simple, minimalist even. The production team stayed away from the big-budget CGI and created a classic look with muted backgrounds which bring out Buddy's bright costume.

Favreau also coaxes great performances from his cast. He leaves Ferrell with enough room to explore his 'elfness' and lets Deschanel show off her gorgeous singing voice with a rendition of Baby, It's Cold Outside. Edward Asner, an old hand at Christmas movies, plays Santa in a less-than-conventional manner -- slightly weary and wondering if he's getting too old for the job.

Ferrell describes Elf as 'a battle against cynicism. Things have gotten away from what the true spirit of the holidays are'.

But don't worry too much about the underlying message, just sit back and let the laughs roll forth.

Heck, it's fun just to watch Will Ferrell prance around in yellow tights.

drowning out the voices

i would like to not care about the news for a while. i'm tired of having bbc/cnn/cna at my back all day, all night. i wish the wires would stop churning out news for once and leave everything as it is. why must do much happen in the world everyday?

Sunday, November 23, 2003

heaven or hell? can't tell

went with lena to Max Brenner's Chocolate Bar at the Esplanade yesterday. Man was the Esplanade packed! people were just milling about, doing god know's what really.

The Esplanade seems to be the newest family destination which is a terrible pity cos it would be tons nicer there without all those bratty kids running around.

Especially in the library. I mean, hell there's not even a kids' section in the esplanade library so why the hell are all those kids there??? pisses me off!

i kinda like the chocolate bar. it was nice and empty when we sat down at 3pm. i ordered a venezuelan dark hot chocolate and she had a traditional italian. They both came in 'hug mugs' where the mugs are meant to be held with two hands as there isn't a handle and it's shaped like a teardrop.

I really liked my hot chocolate. It was chocolatey but not too sweet, which léna's was (to the point that she had to add some water to dilute it)

but it all went downhill from 430 onwards when it started getting crowded. The staff of 4 started looking all harrassed and we had to wait ages to get the bill. That's not the worst part. One of the staff leans over to us and said $11.10. So we got out the money and then another staff member finally presented the bill which said $10.45. I know the difference is only a few cents but it just doesn't reflect well on the customer!

What I didn't like was there didn't seem to be a manager or some kind of senior staff around. Max Brenner has some kind of reputation. and altho this is the first outlet in singapore, surely better service shld be provided.

service in singapore just plain sucks. that's all.

Saturday, November 22, 2003


ha after watching Master and Commander did i learn (from The Guardian) that the book the film was based on was a little different. Well the differences are actually quite significant. Here's the excerpt from Justine Elias' article:

Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World
In Patrick O'Brian's novel of British naval heroics, the year is 1812 and the enemy ship is American. For the movie, Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) commands his ship in 1805, and he's after a French vessel - because US audiences a) didn't realise there was an American Navy back then; b) think Mel Gibson won the American Revolution at the end of The Patriot; and c) hate everything French.

Friday, November 21, 2003

psst .... wanna buy me a christmas present?

yes i have decided to advertise my wishlist here. just for fun really.

here's what I am currently coveting:
- apple's iPod or if strapped for cash Creative's nomad zen will do.
- a new phone. considering samsung v200, motorola e380 or the nokia 7250i
- CDs: Damien Rice's O, Temple Of The Dog's, Temple Of the Dog, The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots ah don't need this one anymore! just picked it up meself on dec 8! (was also tempted to buy the Temple Of The Dog one but it was 26.90!!!)
- DVDs: Road To Perdition, LOTR: The TWo Towers, Nightmare Before Christmas, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back
- Books: Seabiscuit (Laura Hillenbrand), Scorsese On Scorsese, a year's subscription to the following: Vanity Fair, Empire

don't think that's all! i am merely collecting my thoughts here....hahaha.

movie marathon

well sort of.

but this has got to be a new record for me - three movie previews in three straight days!

It all started on Tuesday, when i skipped Spanish class (sorry Colin!) to watch MASTER & COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, starring Maximus himself, Russell Crowe.

Now I am no fan of Russell Crowe, don't like the way he seems to carry himself around in real life but this man is a pretty darn good actor.

Although some might say he's doing a reprise of his Gladiator role, he took command of the film from start to finish. It was all him. Although the ship's doctor, played by Paul Bettany, might have stolen some hearts as well, with his compassion and kind soul.

This ship movie is no Pirates Of The Caribbean, you feel as if you're in the same boat as the almost 200 men. You can almost smell the stench of sweaty bodies packed together. It's a little gross but that's how it was then.

I think director Peter Weir did a beautiful job and I definitely enjoyed the fight scenes. Nothing too gory.


Movie number two. This was on Wednesday at the Shaw Preview Theatrette, which I never knew existed until today. Essentially it's in Shaw Centre, on the 13th floor. Seats about 50 people. Leather seats I might add! Mostly used for media previews and perhaps private functions.

Crazy First Love is a Korean romantic comedy, similar to My Sassy Girl. The main actor is the same as My Sassy Girl and the actress previously seen in The Classic.

Since it's a shortie, lemme post my review:

MOST people fondly remember their first love. In Tae Il's case, he's still very much in love with Il Mae. But her father won't let him have her.

The two have been best friends ever since Tae Il's mother breastfed Il Mae after her mother died. Her father bestows her to Tae Il, who first has to achieve certain conditions which include getting into university, and passing the judicial exams.

It's all part of a plan really, to head Tae back into the right path and away from his truant, vagrant ways. But the plan pushes the two of them apart when Il Mae becomes bored with her new, straitlaced beau.

Cha Tae Hyun plays the same role as he did in the hit film, My Sassy Girl -- the lovelorn fool. He's dorky, awkward and hardly the catch of the day, but will do anything for his girl.

But he's good at playing the fool and it's entertaining to watch his antics.

However, Mae (The Classic's Son Ye Jin) is hardly the 'Sassy Girl' that Jeon Ji Hyun was.

While Jeon was spunky and a great foil to Cha's dorky character, Son seems to be apt in the ways of wide-eyed looks and little else.

Crazy First Love is, unfortunately, a very obvious rehashing of the My Sassy Girl formula. But unlike My Sassy Girl, it fails to charm.

And third, ELF

Starring SNL's Will Ferrell, who was previously seen in Old School, Elf is well, a Christmas movie. It's pretty fun to watch, with very clean gags, so all in all a family film.

It turned out to be more entertaining than I expected and not as slapstick as I feared it might be. The charmer in this film was Zooey Deschanel, whom I last saw in Almost Famous (the boy's sister). She has the most amazing singing voice! And her song even appears on the soundtrack (Baby It's Cold Outside).

Ok I admit that the movie borders a little on the sweet side here and there (as in sickly sweet) but it doesnt go as far as the Disney saccharine sweetness that sometimes makes you want to run out and hurl. So I thought it wasn't too bad.

BUt for a Christmassy movie, Love Actually (also pretty sickly sweet at times) would be a better bet.

And that's your neighbourhood movie reviewer signing off for now. but i will be back next week with my official review of ELF and also the review of BROTHER BEAR (DAmn! another Disney cartoon - when will they ever give up???)

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

i am not the one

You are Morpheus-
You are Morpheus, from "The Matrix." You
have strong faith in yourself and those around
you. A true leader, you are relentless in your

What Matrix Persona Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, November 16, 2003

new addition

visited my dad's cousin today. she just gave birth a week ago to a beautiful baby girl. The darling thing was so alert and curious and, as everyone remarked, seemed as if she were a few months old. But nope she's only 8 days old! I wish i had brought along a camera as she's such a pretty baby. I was wondering though, what type of relation do we have? I'm always confused by this second cousin thing. what exactly does that mean? She is my dad's cousin's daughter. So what does that make her?

anyway, the family's renting an apartment at Mandarin Gardens (around the East Coast area). It is a little small (2 bedrooms) but has a gorgeous view of the sea. I know Singapore's sea isn't much to look at but to be able to look out and not see someone else's room, that would be so ideal! And what I liked about that estate is that it's an old-ish estate which means, plenty of space. I mean, have you seen all those new condos? the blocks are SO close to each other!

Here's what else we did: had lunch at eastern and northern chinese cuisine (that's what i think it's called - essentially Dongbei) so we had the usual - xiaolongbao, wuotie, noodles and lots of other dumplings and what they called 'Chinese pizza'.

This restaurant has become pretty famous recently. Not because of the food (which wasn't too bad although i still prefer Lao Beijing!) but because of the owners and their daughter Zhang Manlu who represented Singapore in the recent Elite Model Look competition (which was held here). She didn't win (the top three winners were naturally Caucasians) but she did clinch a modelling contract and apparently the whole family is going to move to New York. While I can''t say that Zhang is pretty she has a certain look and her height is definitely to her advantage (definitely hereditary - her father, who was at the restaurant, is so tall! former basketball player i think)

Anyway, besides doing a lot of eating, also saw the French movie Fanfan La Tulipe.
It was a hilarious farce really - done in the way only the French can! I have to admit I always did like Vincent Perez, ever since I watched him in La Reine Margot with Isabelle Adjani (who is also starring in a new French film Bon Voyage). This time Perez is acting alongside Penelope Cruz, who attempts to speak convincingly in French. My French is tres mauvais (not even sure if tt is right!) but she seemed to do an ok job. Definitely much better than anything Bai Ling massacred in Taxi 3.

It was an entertaining fun, light, movie.

Something I believe Master And Commander (yes, Russell Crowe does it again) Which i will be previewing on Tuesday probably won't be. But I will be looking forward to a good battle on the high seas.

Ahoy there!

Friday, November 14, 2003

loved it actually

shameless post really: here's my review of the movie Love Actually. hey it's my bloody blog....

LOVE Is A Many Splendored Thing. All You Need Is Love. Love Is All Around.

Aren't love songs just beautiful? Magical even? Or they could be just be full of crap really - depending on one's mood.

And that's what the movie, Love Actually, is like - a hodgepodge of stories about love: beautiful shiny love, puppy love, lust, parental love, unrequited love, true love and not-so-true love.

So this film can either be a captivating, fun ride or a bumpy one in which you need to stagger out of and be sick.

The new bachelor Prime Minister, played disarmingly by none other than the king of maladroit Brits, Hugh Grant, falls for a member of his staff (EastEnders' Martine McCutcheon).

His sister Karen (Emma Thompson) is a wound-down wife and mother whose husband Harry (Alan Rickman) is starting to stray.

Her recently widowed friend Daniel (Liam Neeson) tries to connect with a stepson he hardly knows.

The boy, in turn, hopes to win the heart of the most popular girl at school.

A lovelorn American (Laura Linney) finally acts on a long, unspoken office crush but there is a major obstacle in the way.

A writer (Colin Firth) heads to France to nurse his broken heart and finds himself falling for his Portuguese cleaning lady.

A delivery boy/waiter risks everything on a trip to the US, where, he is convinced, all the hot American girls will lap up his British accent. ('I'm Colin, the God of Sex. I'm just on the wrong continent, that's all.')

Ageing rock star Bill Macky (Bill Nighy) makes a last, desperate stab at a Christmas remake of the song, Love Is All Around - titled, imaginatively enough, Christmas Is All Around.

There is one more love story which Singapore audiences will not get to see - a couple of porn star stand-ins who become interested in each other for real. (The movie has been given a PG rating in Singapore, so nothing risque please!)

This is one busy busy movie, with plenty of characters and many stories going back and forth such that, after a while, it feels like you're watching TV and switching channels. And like channel surfing, some stories catch your attention and some don't.

But there are some enticing little nuggets that pull the movie out of mediocrity.

The Prime Minister is cajoled by three little girls into singing Christmas carols outside their house.

Rowan Atkinson (of Mr Bean fame) turns up as a jewellery salesman with a passion for gift wrapping. The Singapore audience, long conditioned to associate him with anything funny, spontaneously bursts into laughter the moment he steps into the movie.

But the real scene-stealer is Nighy, who threatens to take the limelight away from the more established stars with his randy old rocker hijinks and his crappy Christmas song.

The movie is Richard Curtis' directorial debut. He also wrote the screenplay. Incidentally, he was also the hand behind the scripts for Four Weddings and Funeral and Notting Hill - both successful in the box office.

And he seems to have written himself into a corner with the myriad of characters and stories that have to be squeezed into a mere two hours and also make sense. Although he does a decent job for most of the movie, the resolution of some of the relationships leaves the audience wanting more. The story of the straying husband, for example, is left hanging, as if something crucial was edited out due to time constraints.

However, truth be told, it is hard to go wrong with this star-studded cast.

But you might leave the cinema wondering if Hugh Grant (who looks to be Curtis' favourite lead, having starred in both Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill) will ever venture out of the romantic comedy genre. After all, how many more fumbling idiots are there left to play?

Unless Curtis keeps churning these 'Made-for-Hugh' roles out, that is.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

movie update

It's been a while since I've paid to see a movie. The last one was... The Swimming Pool. So ok, maybe not that much of a while.

This time, my $8.50 went to Identity, the John Cusack/Amanda Peet/Ray Liotta movie about 10 travellers stranded at a deserted motel on a rainy day.

I think the movie worked and it made me and my movie-watching pals talk about it after, which to me is usually a mark of a pretty darn good movie. Unless of course the talk is like 'why the hell did I fork out $8.50 for that show???'

Here's the basic premise: With all roads washed out and all forms of communication dead, a group of people become stranded at the motel along with the shifty manager (John Hawkes). Among the stranded are Ed (John Cusack), a former cop turned limo driver; Caroline (Rebecca De Mornay), a self-absorbed actress; Paris (Amanda Peet), a prostitute attempting to escape her profession; Rhodes (Ray Liotta), a cop transporting a prisoner (Jake Busey); Lou (William Lee Scott) and Ginny (Clea DuVall), bickering newlyweds; and George (John McGinley) and Alice (Leila Kenzle), a married couple travelling with their young son.

But a killer is on the loose and the bodies start piling up.

That's all I would like to say about the story as revealing anymore kinda would spoil it all actually. And the show did have an interesting twist. And one that makes you actually have to think a little.

As a thriller goes, it was a fun watch, to guess who'll be next and who the crazed killer is. And of course to get a little nervous and creeped-out knowing the killer is lurking around.

But the most important thing is that it is not only just about creeping the audience out. That very interesting twist about 2/3s into the show does a complete turnaround.

Identity is directed by James Mangold (Girl, Interrupted and Kate And Leopold) and he does a great job at splicing the stories of how the travellers end up in the motel. I thought a little similar to some bits in Guy Ritchie's Snatch but totally different at the same time.

I would have to put this movie as one of the better films I've seen this year. And it's not just because I like John Cusack but because it really did work.

Oh yes, another movie I did see was Rugrats Go Wild. A combination of the Nickleodeon staples The Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys.

This is by the way the third Rugrats movie and the second Wild Thornberrys movie but it's all Rugrats, down to the very corny songs. I did see The Wild Thornberrys Movie last year. Unimaginative title aside, it was a pretty decent show. Rugrats Go Wild was my first encounter with the Rugrats on the big screen and I was often tempted to run out of the theatre and dull my senses with some alcohol.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

been matrixed yet?

i can't help it.

it's just gotta be put up. altho i'm sure many pp have already seen it already.

Matrix Leloa-led

call me

been bluejacked lately?

Saturday, November 01, 2003

tengo sueno

I'm tired. very.

i'm sure you understand. it's a saturday night. 825 pm to be exact. and here i am. at work. well not technically at work as i am making a blog entry right now.

but i am at the office and i am supposed to be working.

is this what my life has become? the world of work and nothing else? these few days it's seriously starting to feel that way.

the pm shift is taking its toll on me.

i feel suffocated and i just want to break a window open and jump out. before you take that too literally, i just mean that i want to be out in the fresh air. i'm sick of all this airconditioned air. it's very stifling.

(big sigh.....)

i want to get out of here.

this is a good time to sing a song:
help me if you can i'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.

sad? really?