1408 (Film)


Director: Mikael Håfström
Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shalhoub
RunTime: 94 mins
Genre: Horror
Rating: PG

One haunted hotel room. One paranormal story author. Death in under One hour. Four numbers 1408 which add up to 13.

Based on Stephen King’s short story, John Cusack plays author Mike Enslin who has visited more spooky hotels and graveyards than anybody, but firmly does not believe in supernatural beings. That is before he was handed the 1408's key over by Dolphin hotel’s manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L Jackson), who warns him of the ‘evil f***ing room’. The hotel has no level 13, and that room of on the 14th level has claimed 56 lives.

The starting was extremely promising, as most of us who stayed in hotels would have imagined some of the spooks, and wondered who was the last person who used the bed sheets. A slamming window, imaginary shadows, unstoppable taps, a clock radio which plays the Carpenters’s "We’ve only just begun"… Unfortunately, while the fear has just begun, it was starting to end.

When a horror movie lands on Hollywood’s hands, somehow CGI and special effects of blazing fires and falling snow do not work well in hotel rooms. Stranger things happen to Mike who turns hysterical, while the audience starts to feel bewildered.

1408 plays both a horror and psychological game, characteristic of Stephen King’s works. With John Cusack trying his best to act crazy, and Samuel L Jackson in just another disappointing supporting role, this is potential thriller turning into another mediocre horror. Once again, they fail to understand less is more.

1408 – You won’t want to stay in this room for too long.

Hairspray (Film)


Director: Adam Shankman
Cast : John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky, Elijah Kelley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, Brittany Snow, Allison Janney, Taylor Parks
RunTime: 97 mins
Genre: Musical
Rating: PG

Welcome to Baltimore! This is the town where dreams can come true.

First meet Tracy Turnblad (newcomer Nikki Blonski), a big big girl,with a bigger ambition – to be part of the popular Corny Collins Show as a dancer. On this black and white song and dance variety, there is the suave host Corny Collins (X-Men Cyclops James Marsden) with his pearly shines, and his other dancers including bitchy Amber (Brittany Snow) and endearing Link (High School Musical Zac Efron).

There are two women who tries to stop Tracy’s dreams from coming true: Edna her mother (delightfully dragged by John Travolta) wants to protect her plus-sized daughter from being ridiculed in the cruel show business. Velma (Michelle Pfeiffer returning back to film after a 5 year break) the racist and plastic beauty queen, who is just pure cold and cool. I like.

A film which embraces being talented and different, and not just blonde and beautiful, it will resonate a bell with everyone of us who feels small within.

The soul of Hairspray is in its music. Oh, how wonderful it is! Is there a better one to use? It makes every grumpy soul out there smile and add a snap to the beat. Like a breeze of wind on a bright summer afternoon, it will make you go ‘side step, cha cha cha.’

In Baltimore, you can fall in love with the music, the dance, the floral dresses, the sweet Tracy, her fat drag mama, or the ice queen Velma, and the fun spirit it embraces. Throw your worries away and join in the boogie. You can’t stop the beat.

Welcome to the 60’s!

Hairspray – No amount of hairspray can make me this happy!

Evan Almighty (Film)


Director: Tom Shadyac
Cast: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Wanda Sykes, Lauren Graham, Jimmy Bennett, John Goodman, Steve Oedekerk, John Michael Higgins, Molly Shannon, Jonah Hill, Ed Helms
RunTime: 95 mins
Genre: Family Comedy
Rating: PG

Genesis 6:14 “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.”

The story of Noah’s Ark should be familiar to many young children attending bible school, where Noah built an ark to save his family and pairs of every animal to survive the great flood under God’s command.

A sequel to Jim Carrey’s hit Bruce Almighty, the premises of Evan Almighty is based on this biblical story. 40-year-old virgin Steve Carell plays Evan Baxter, a newly elected congress man who prays for a better family life and a mission to change the word. God appears in the shape of Morgan Freeman and told him to build an ark which was the ridicule of many.

With the same old story in a modern day setting, this movie would thrill little children with the animals and visual effects, probably attracting those who like Night at the Museum and Jumanji as well.

Steve Carell is less dumb and dumber than Jim Carey, and with the right kind of comic timing and humour, he was probably the only human in the movie who single-handedly saved it. Definitely your next best comedian to look out for. Wanda Skyes provides the one-liners, but unfortunately they are only just ‘straight in your face’ one-liners.

Do not watch it with an adult’s mindset, and you may just enjoy this like an entertaining trip to the zoo. Unfortunately, unlike Noah’s ark, this most expensive comedy (US$200 million) in history drowned under disapproval of the critics and poor box office takings. This ‘paper-thin alleged comedy’ could only pray that it is not bitten by that blue rat in Singapore’s box office.

Evan Almighty – Thin family entertainment (Watch with a child's mindset!)

Jesus Camp (Film)


Director: Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady
Starring: Becky Fischer, Mike Papantonio, Levi, Rachael, Tory
RunTime: 85 mins
Genre: Documentary
Rating: M18 (Mature Theme With Religious Content)

Campus Superstar (TV)


许政宁- 歌唱原本不被看好,可是舞台的自信,和散发的明星特质是有目共睹。在赛后应该会有最多表演机会的参赛者。在舞台下,看那平时嘻嘻哈哈的她,流下感动之泪,看到了她的成长。
KEELY - 总是以哈哈轻轻带过问题。演唱“人质”时,力不从心,可以听到,她累了。感觉上,还是位贪玩的小女生,所以唱歌会少了感情。
BEN - 当晚,真的被他的37-20-1吓到了。虽然所还有点僵硬,不过他的努力,大家都看的到。唱得最好,却最快被淘汰掉。外表冷静,不擅长说话,内心的失望,完全些在脸上。没关系,你是很多人,包括我心目中的冠军。
SHAWN - 很多人说他唱歌没感情,没节奏,当晚确实他的神情不在,精神恍惚,可是不要忘了,就如水上飘说,他才十三岁。十三岁你在做什么?社会和时间是残酷的。要加油阿!

Fido (Film)


Director: Andrew Currie
Cast: Henry Czerny, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tim Blake Nelson, Billy Connolly, Dylan Baker
RunTime: 1 hr 31 min
Genre: Horror Comedy
Rating: NC-16 (Some gory scenes)

It is somewhat hard to pinpoint exactly what a film like Fido is all about, what it hopes to achieve, or what type of cinema goers it will attract.

A movie on zombie which is not scary, a comedy not exactly very funny, and satire which is not palpable, Fido may just attract those who wants to give this movie a try, or have nothing other to watch during the weekends.

Set in the 1950s Pleasantville-type era and space, zombies have been tamed by the company ZomCon to play the role of servants. Zombie deliver milks, try cars, do household chores, walk the door, and occasionally play companion to the bored human beings. So which becomes scarier at the end: the zombie or homo sapiens?

Carrie-Anne Moss plays Helen a desperate housewife who buys a zombie because it is a ‘must-have’ in the neighborhood. Fido the zombie becomes a family friend, and a potential love thread to the housewife. One can only imagine what happens when he runs amok.

With a brilliant mise en scene reminiscent of old American dishwasher advertisements, the picket fences and floral dresses create a vibrant and colourful mood to the movie.

Fifo provides an occasional laugh, and a satirical tone with dead people and broken limbs. But it can certainly push the buttons much more on its undertones and societal critic on racism and elitism. Pity pity.

Fido – A quite funny, not scary horror-comedy

Dead Silence (Film)


Director: James Wan
Cast: Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, Bob Gunton
RunTime: 90 mins
Genre: Horror
Rating: PG (Some disturbing scenes)

Beware the stare of Mary Shaw
She had no children, only dolls
And if you see her in your dreams
Be sure you never, ever scream

From the makers of Saw comes this horror story about a ventriloquist who wants to make a perfect doll. Set in a creepy little town, murderous dolls and dummies somehow have the ability to make audience scream. Think Chucky.

Ironically, the cinema was as what the movie suggests, in dead silence. About a newly wed whose blissful married life ended when a ventriloquist’s dummy silenced the wife dead, the rest of the story falls into a bottomless pit of loopholes.

The husband brings the eerie dummy his hometown to find out about the mystery about his wife’s brutal death. (Now, how, how silly can this get? I would have burnt it.) Her death is somehow linked to an old childhood poem, a burnt down theatre house, and his deranged father. With more sophisticated audience, the whole premise feels like it’s ‘been-there-done-that’.

Without gory scenes, this movie attempts to return to the basics with old-fashioned scare tactics. It does manage to create the creepy mood and dated look rather well. However, many times audience was expecting something to happen, which did not quite realise.

Sex symbol Ryan Kwanten keeps his shirt, but wife loses her tongue, and police detective Donnie Wahlberg (yes, his brother is Mark) loses credibility, their bland performances seems slightly better than the doll’s. With an interesting twist at the bad, the story unfortunately ends in a dead fashion.

Dead Silence – In Dead Fashion

If There're Seasons (Musical)


The Theatre Practice’s latest offering is an ambitious one – to create a musical based on Liang Wen Fook’s music. For those unfamiliar with his music, he has written more than 200 songs and is considered the pioneer of ‘xinyao’, having won the title of the “Person Who Best Represents the Xinyao Spirit”. ‘Xinyao’ is a distinct brand of ‘Singaporean music’ characterized with simple melodies and poetic lyrics about this homeland and lives.

“If there’re seasons” is the brain child of Liang, and several other big names such as award-winning playwright Raymond, and director Kuo Jian Hong, with cast members George Chan, Joanna Dong, Sebastian Tan and Magdalene See.

The story revolves around Ah Le, Ah Qiang and Rose, who meet up in New York, all searching for their dreams and nursing a wound from their previous lost love. This group of young friends share their love for music, and battle with reclaiming their old loves.

Fans of Liang’s music will enter a nostalgic pathway, reclaiming memories of songs they used to be familiar with. There is a total of 40 songs used, from the theme song “If there’re seasons” (Tian Leng Jiu Hui Lai), to “Anchored Love” (Lian Zhi Qi), “Worry” (Dan Xin) and “Let’s Watch the Sunrise Together” (Pei Wo Kan Ri Chu), popularized by locals artistes Kit Chan and Joi Chua.

The musical arrangement of Bang Wenfu breathes new life to these otherwise familiar tunes. And with the characters singing them in their own styles and stories, they bring a different interpretation which would still move the audience.

The lead actor George Chan (better known to local audience as The Dance Floor’s judge) does an amazing job in delivering the songs in his unique baritone voice and clear enunciation to many audiences’s surprise. Personally, I felt he could balance between retaining the original ‘xinyao’ flavour and adding his own emotions to the music. His duet with Sebastian Sim “If You Should Think Of Me” (Ru Guo Ni Bu Xiao Xin Xiang Qi Wo) was easily the most memorable and touching piece of the night.

While the musical’s strength is in its music, it could very well be its weakest link as well. Perhaps there were too many songs used, there wasn’t a clear identity or theme song unifying the whole musical. If you try to recall, there aren’t that many pieces that could emote fully but seem to be there to fill up space.

Because these songs are originally written as ‘xinyao’ or pop, the fit into the story appeared like a messy patchwork at times. While most of the ensemble pieces are entertaining and fun, there are too many solos which dragged the storyline. Somewhat forced and unnatural, the removal of some songs may actually do better good to the entire musical.

The beauty of Liang’s lyrics lies in its poetic nature, and the English translation may not bring out the full flavour of its original intention. Audience who do not understand Chinese may just see many words like ‘flowers’, ‘sun’, ‘moon’, and ‘sky’ used, and may be lost in deciphering the hidden metaphors.

While this journey is without its flaws, it would still appeal to those who grew up with the songs. “If there’re seasons” is like autumn. At times while it feels cold and draggy, the songs would still strike a chord, and bring you memories and feelings of warmth that you may have left behind.

If There're Seasons - Strikes A Chord
Original review found here:

If There're Seasons (Musical)


BanBan speaks to actress Magdalene, last seen in Theatre Practice's musical Lao Jiu and the television series House Mates. She will next act and sing in
“If There’re Seasons”, the highly anticipated musical penned by Hong Kong playwright Raymond To, and inspired by local songwriter Liang Wern Fook.

The musical revolves around a group of young friends who learn that some things are worth holding on to, no matter what lies ahead.

Tell us about If There're Seasons.
It's a moving story that centers around the themes of love and dreams. I believe that everyone who comes to watch it will identify with at least one character or one moment in the musical because the emotional journey that each character goes through is similar to what all of us experience in the different situations life throws at us.

What is the best season which describes you?
It will definitely the warmest one. Summer! Winter is too cold, Autumn is too depressing and Spring is sweet but too romantic. Summer is warm, bustling with energy and full of joy!

What is the biggest pressure faced in acting in this musical?
Currently, the thing that stresses me out the most is singing. The songs written for my character (Xiao Jing) are pitched quite high. So it's a challenge to act, emote, move and sing while not going off-pitch.

How about being compared to an accomplished singer, say Kit Chan who originally sang the songs used in the musical?
I'll be singing Kit Chan songs like ‘Dan Xin’ (Worry) and ‘Xi Huan Ni’ (Like You). Well the thought of being compared to Kit has definitely crossed my mind more than once!

But I know I'm never going to sound like her so I'm not even going to try to imitate her. A musical is not a concert. The songs in a musical are the means by which a character expresses his/her thoughts and feelings. So this is the way I approach it: I sing it in the way my character would sing it and express her thoughts and emotions through the lyrics and song. And that takes off the stress of "do I sound as good as Kit Chan?"

The songs in the musical have become more than her songs, the songs now belong to the character.

What makes you swing back and forth TV and the stage?
Well, I have lots to learn in both areas and I learn different things in each. However, it's interesting that though the two different disciplines exert different requirements on the actor, I find that doing one helps me improve in the other. Also, the industry in Singapore is really small, so we can't really afford to be choosy. The truth is, doing a theatre production is my input channel where I learn and learn while TV is the output channel that raises my profile.

Do you prefer to be involved in a TV or Stage Production?
It's hard to say. There are things I love and dislike about each. I like the kick of acting in front of a live audience, with no NGs and hence continuity of emotions. But rehearsals are very tiring and demanding. I like the subtlety of TV and the magic of editing but I dislike the waiting and the fact that sometimes actors can get away with "empty" acting.

Full interview available at:

The Invisible City (Film)


The Invisible City
is directed by Tan Pin Pin, one of Singapore’s best known filmmakers. I first met Pin Pin during the screening of her 2003 documentary 80kmh, a continuous single take of the drive from Tuas to Changi along PIE, lasting 38 minutes.
Fresh from having directed the critically and commercially acclaimed Singapore GaGa as well as the multiple award-winning Moving House, she now turns her camera to the subject of memory in her latest film.From an avid amateur film director trying to preserve his decaying trove of Singapore footage to an intrepid Japanese journalist hunting down Singaporean war veterans, Tan Pin Pin draws out doubts, hopes and the ordinary moments of these protagonists who attempt immortality. Through their footage and photos rarely seen until now, we begin to perceive faint silhouettes of a City that could have been.
Alas, she is a woman of few words, and prefers to let her films do the talking. She talks about her love for capturing moments on film and how she did not want to make Invisible City the way it was. After she filmed a huge portion of it, looked at the footage and edited together no less than 10 different versions.
1. Invisible City chronicles the ways people attempt to leave a mark before they and their histories disappear. Who has left the deepest mark in your life that made you who you are?
My parents.
2, What do you see as the biggest change in this city you are living in?
There are more interesting things to see and do here than before. We are more confident of ourselves. We no longer keep looking out.
3. Give us 3 reasons why we should watch the Invisible City.
Reason 1: We get to see footages of Singapore you have never seen before, and of a Singapore that doesn't exist anymore either.
Reason 2: You will meet interesting people who live in your midst that you'd never other wise meet, for example an archaeologist!
Reason 3: How about feeling the collective heartbeat, thump thump thump?
Would Tan Pin Pin go commercial one day?
Of course, I make lots of TV (commercials) and will continue to do so!
Full interview available at FIFO:

Ratatouille (Film)


Director: Brad Bird
Cast (Voices): Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, Peter O'Toole, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Will Arnett, Julius Callahan, James Remar, John Ratzenberger, Teddy Newton, Tony Fucile, Jake Steinfeld, Brad Bird, Laurent Spelvogel (narrator)
RunTime: 112 mins
Genre: Animation
Rating: G

This little blue rat named Remy, though not at all yummy, is probably this year’s most anticipated animation creature, and will join Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Nemo as one of Disney Pixar’s most celebrated popular characters.

Ratatouille is a delicious tale about the friendship between Remy the rat who wants to be a chef in Paris, and Alfredo Linguini (though not Italian) as the garbage boy who cannot cook to save his life. They form an unusual companionship and working relationship as Remy controls Linguini’s movements and cooking abilities by pulling on his hair.

Pixar has reached another peak in its animation, with Remy and his family with hair 'drawn' all so detailed, and eyes so expressive. It has the right mixture of ingredients of fun action, ‘awww factor’, intelligent quotes, and moral for children (and critics!) at the end of the day.

There is also an important lesson of “Anybody can cook”, with the belief of dreams can come true. This delectable tale would appeal to adults and children alike, making it an enjoyable outing for the whole family.

While you may have tasted samples of it through the numerous trailers played, its cuteness factor continues to make it an appetizing processes of humour and little pleasures. Perhaps there was too much action, and less time spent on building on friendships and relationships. Thus, it was an entertaining but not so much of an emotional meal out.

Ratatouille is also the name of a French stewed vegetable dish, usually served as a side dish. This movie is an appealing dish, attractive to the look, sufficient as a tasty and sweet side dish. It will keep you warm in the tummy, but leaves you hungry for more sentiments.

Ratatouille - With all the right ingredients to make it a delectable meal

The Bourne Ultimatum (Film)


Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Paddy Considine
RunTime: 112 mins
Genre: Thriller/Action
Rating: PG (Some Violence)

Hollywood’s most bankable star Matt Damon returns to play Jason Bourne, the trained assassin who loses his memory. The amnesiac Bourne was last since in The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, with the 3rd of the series continuously being based on Robert Ludlum’s novel.

Bourne is hunted down by everybody, from cops, federal officers to Interpol agents, when all he wanted to do is to remember the past he has left behind, and the self he is starting to remember.

After watching this movie, you may be convinced that you are being ‘watched’ all the time, as the CIA keeps all phone calls, movements, and past records closely under surveillance. There is no privacy!

There is never one boring or dull moment in the whole of 112 minutes, as Bourne plays the escaping game and psychological warfare with those who have made him forgotten who he is. There is a good mix of chase scenes, clever lines, and manipulative cat and mouse games. A well crafted masterpiece of intelligence and action, it does not require sex to sell unlike most other thrillers.

Paul Greengrass, who last directed United 93, makes this a never-ending adrenalin pumping piece. Bourne Ultimatum is easily the best of the three, with wide critical acclaim and sounding box office returns. If you wonder if you are able to understand the movie without watching the first two, yes you can.

Matt Damon keeps his shirt on, and has proven to Hollywood that he can be the next action hero with brawns, brain and charisma. More superior than Supremacy, this Bourne is THE Bourne.

The Bourne Ultimatum - This Bourne is THE Bourne

Poltergay (Film)


Director: Eric Lavaine
Cast: Clovis Cornillac, Julie Depardieu, Lionel Abelanski, Gilles Gaston-Dreyfus, Jean-Michel Lahmi, Philippe Duquesne, Georges Gay, Alain Fromager, Anne Caillon
RunTime: 92 mins
Genre: Comedy (French)
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes)

The last you want to get about a gay movie is that gays go dancing around in discos, does housework better than girls, and behaves in that ‘oh, I am so pretty’ way, twitching butts as they sashay down the walkway.

About a newly weds Marc and Emma who move into a haunted house stayed by 5 gay ghosts, Marc’s extra vision makes him wonder if he is turning queer. His photos get taken when he is showering, clothes are pressed, and pictures of huge penises appear throughout the house.

Well, Poltergay is campy and colourful and at the same time lame and lackluster. Yes, it could have been an intelligent spoof of the classic Poltergeist but it wasn’t. Yes, it could have more substance and plot, but it didn’t. No, it did not help that the 5 ghosts are just cardboard stereotypical views of gays.

With an original storyline like this, the movie had the potential to do a lot more than just more gay and heterosexual jokes and disco music. 5 ghosts caught at the basement for 20 years could definitely pack more emotion and laughs with the right balance.

Like a party, you just go and have fun and leave for home forgetting all about it the next day.

Poltergay – Happy movie, and that’s about it

Brave Story (Film)


Director: Koichi Chigira
Cast (Voice): Yo Oizumi, Eilji Wentz
Runtime: 112 mins
Genre: Japanese Animation
Rating: PG

Wataru doesn’t have an easy childhood. At eleven, his father walked out of his family and mother committed suicide. This would probably be the end of his world, until he found a magic gateway where dreams can come true.

Even as adults, we would want something that could change our lives. Like Wataru, if it was possible to make one dream come true by going through a fantasy adventure of collecting 5 gems, we would go for it as well.

He meets demons, flying dragons, wizards, talking animal and a ‘Hello Kitty’ with a mouth who falls in love with him. Going through enchanting castles, sloping mountains, lush forests, and tower of fortune, this is an adventure that would leave audience awed with the amazing animation.

In fact, it’s too much of castles and explosions, that returning to basics may just be the way. The story drags a little too much, and may sound preachy to kids who may just be clueless with the deeper issues involved.

It can be an animation for adults, to indulge in the colourful world of magic and imagination that we have left behind, and for as to learn a simple lesson and morals that we have forgotten in our busy lives.

Brave Story -
Simple story with an important moral

881 (Film)


Director: Royston Tan
Cast: Mindee Ong, Yeo Yann Yann, Qi Yu Wu, Liu Ling Ling, May and Choy
RunTime: 110 mins
Genre: Musical
Rating: PG

Singapore’s 'bad boy' filmmaker Royston Tan just loves number, from 15, 4:30 and now the Getai (Chinese 7th month stage show) inspired 881.

Here are 8 reasons to watch and 1 reason not to watch 881:
1. 1st musical movie from Singapore, filmed on a $1 million dollar budget with $100,000 spent on its elaborate costumes inspired from Japanese geishas to Thai princesses.
2. Two Singaporean (by right, one Malaysian) Papayas Yeo Yann Yann and Mindee Ong, very underrated by local audience, but able to act, dance, sing and cry like a turn of a tap.
3. Third full length feature by talented Royston Tan. We should support local talents, right?
4. Four other cast including Getai veteran Liu Ling Ling, the very silent Qi Yu Wu (the male version of a vase)and VJs May and Choy who brings the most laughs with their ridiculous pronunciation of ang-moh accented Mandarin and Hokkien. Nothing can be funnier than their tribute to Madonna, durian-boobs style.
5. Five star rating from several film critics like First magazine. They can’t be wrong, can they?
6. Sixth family member which is Qi Yu Wu’s cock. Don’t think dirty! Everybody appreciates a little bit of Hokkien cock jokes.
7. Seventh month getai razzle-dazzle of entertainment, song and dance.
8. You will get more than 8 songs from familiar Hokkien tunes, to new compositions by Eric Huang and Xiao Han. The tune of “One Man One Half” has been in my head ever since.

And that 1 reason would be the lack of emotional depth. The film somewhat reminded me of Royston’s Cut, full of dance sequences, crowd, costume changes, and funny music which is more stylish than intense.

881 - 一人一半, 感情不散

Sho-U Clarke Quay (Food)


Having a dining experience at the much talked about Sho-U restaurant is where going there is no longer just about eating anymore. The words ‘aesthetics’, ‘arty’, and ‘pretty’ can be used to describe every aspect of this modern Japanese dining restaurant found in Central Mall, Clarke Quay.

The rose red exterior, along with pink sakura flowers on the wall, could very well be a piece of installation art itself. As you walk further in, the red is divided into black and white compartments which made you feel you were entering a masterpiece of interior design, inspired by a Japanese kabuki theatre. Taking a seat at the white ‘lover’s cove’, the view of Clarke Quay by the night is magical, suitable for that special moment.

Even the uniforms of the serving staff are designed by an award winning designer. The attire, also in full black or white, was probably a combination of Japanese-meets-Chinese, traditional-meets-contemporary get-up. The staff were extremely polite, to the point of being too careful. Empty plates were cleared and cups of green tea were refilled almost immediately. Can I say that most of the waitresses (and even waiters) are very pretty as well?

Without a doubt, every food item served was also aesthetically pleasing.

The food itself is not your typical Japanese fare of dons and ramen, but a fusion of several tastes. To prove my point , some of their specialties include the Chawanmushi Trio ($15) – Steamed egg custard with 3 kinds of ingredients served in shot glasses, Ika Onsen Tempura ($12) – Squid rings stuffed with a delicate half boiled egg and seafood fried with tempura flour, Unagi Tofu Steak ($16) – Combination of river eel and silken tofu in teriyaki sauce with grated yam, and Parmesan Baked Hotate ($12).

I ordered the Kinoko Tsukemen ($12) – Green tea noodles in a hot and thick mushroom broth, and Golden Pillow ($12) – sweet beancurd stuffed with noodles, mushroom and fish cake, and some sushi and fried tofu.

Perhaps it was my liking for food with strong taste, but most of the dishes here can be too light for your preference. Nothing was too sweet, salty or spicy. Therefore, the savour was more like a ‘touch and go’ and did not leave too much of an impression or a kick. However, it would please those who enjoy a healthy (light) and attractive treat.

For a final touch, you can opt for the Chef Plate of Specialty Desserts ($15), a combination of three desserts which differ from time to time. The pudding, tofu cheese cake and ice cream infused with alcohol were a treat for both the eyes and the tongue. The texture was soft which trickle down your throat, and taste delightfully delicate.

From the colours of the wall, flowers that decorate the interior, uniforms of the serving staff, menu design, to the food served, it stays true to the Japanese art of understated perfection and beauty.
Food: 4/5
Ambiance: 5/5
Service: 4/5
Value: 3/5
Overall: 4.25/5

Thai Express Plaza Singapura (Food)


I personally have a love-hate relationship with Thai Express. It is one of the first dining places in Singapore which offers affordable Thai food in a contemporary setting. Therefore, we do not have to hunt down Golden Mile for a taste of Thai. However, due to franchising and the quick expansion, there has been general consensus that there is a drop in food quality.

With its brightly coloured orange walls and adapted menus to suit the less intrepid to Thai food, it is an popular choice for small groups of friends to hang out together in a lively mood, without burning a hole in the pockets. However, let me emphasize that every Thai Express differs from the next, even though they serve more or less the same menu.

Some of the customers’ preferred choices include Tom Yum Talay ($6.90) - Tom Yum Soup with Seafood, Kaeng Khiew Wan Gai ($8.90) - Thai green curry with chicken, Khamon Chine Nam Ya Pla ($9.90) - “King of Thai laska” with golden minced fish gravy, and Poo Phat Pung Kari ($9.90) curried soft shell crab with eggs and onions served with rice.

One of my favourite Bangkok hawker fare is the Phat Thai, a dish of stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce, and a combination of crunchy bean sprouts, tofu, prawns or other meat. The light and tasty noodles have an added bite when sprinked with crushed peanuts all over it. Unfortunately, the Phat Thai Neua ($9.90) that I tried had beef that was over-cooked and tough. The only consolation was that the noodles were not too oily.

The Tom Yum Soup that I ordered was ironically not hot. Yes, it may be spicy to the taste, but it was more cold than warm. What is Tom Yum soup when it is not piping hot? The drinks seldom disappoint, but the pricey Thai Iced Tea and Avocado Milk Shake was diluted and lacked that punch to perk me up.

For plus points however, the Plaza Singapura branch first strikes me as the branch with better service and friendlier staff. The assistance at some of the other branches can be dismal with clueless staff. While the waiters at the Plaza Singapura branch are generally informed, as well as friendly and courteous, they get short-handed at times which prevents them from being prompt.

So back to my love-hate relationship: Thai Express is still one of my first choices over other similar entities if I want to indulge in my Thai food cravings. The food and service is just so inconsistent that you never know what you are going to get. If you want a well-savoured food experience, the probability I would say is only half-half.
Food: 2/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Service: 3/5
Value: 3/5
Overall: 2.75/5

Flashpoint 导火线 (Film)


Director: Wilson Yip
Cast: Donnie Yen, Louis Koo, Collin Chou, Fan Bing Bing, Lui Leung-Wai, Ben Lam, Kent Cheng RunTime: 90 mins
Genre: Action
Rating: NC-16

Hong Kong thriller movies never seem to deter much from the same mould – Police fights triad, undercover in the gang, and the police leader always end up being killed.

This is no Infernal Affairs in terms of brain, but a lot more in terms of brawn. Come to think of it, I do miss movies like this where you just enter the cinema and watch men fight it out.

Definitely a brainless but entertaining and power-packed piece. Pau Pau Punch! Louis Koo is stlll funny as the undercover mould, Fan Bing Bing as the token vase, but it’s Donnie Yen the big chested men that brings the house down. Give the man a beer!

Flashpoint -
Packs a Punch!

Hostel II (Film)


Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Roger Bart
RunTime: 94 mins
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Rating: R21 (Violence And Gore)

BanBan, the bespectacled, polite and quiet person, actually secretly loves to watch slasher flicks from Nightmare on Elm Street to Saw. *Gulps*

Starting from where Hostel ended, Hostel II continues the story with 3 girls. They arrive at the same Slovakia hostel, gets gagged the same way, and tortured in every gory way you can imagine. For those who have watched Hostel 1, it’s a lot the same, but a less gory, horrifying and paled-down version. Perhaps they find it easier to torture guys than girls.

If you fancy watching severed heads, slashed bodies, and er… decapitated privates, then go watch it with your best guy friends, but never your timid girlfriend. She will hate you for the rest of the life, or even break up with you. Not unless she enjoys torture. Err….

Nothing too impressionable about Hostel II. No more surprises, and no more hanging eyeballs.

Hostel II – Bloodier, but not always better

The Simpsons (Film)


Director: David Silverman
Cast (Voices): Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Tom Hanks, Greenday
RunTime: 97 mins
Genre: Animation
Rating: PG (Some coarse humour)

Why watch something in the movies when you can get it free on TV? Because it’s The Simpsons.

It is probably the funniest, most politically incorrect, sexist, racist, anti-religion, ridiculous, violent (opps, Hostel comes first), unsympathetic, rude, offensive, heartfelt, clever, humorous, satirical film around.

Only complain is: I want more Itchy and Scratch. And I probably can watch it free on TV sometime later. But once is never enough!

The Simpsons – D’oh! You mean you still haven’t watched it yet!?

Secret (Film)


Director: Jay Chou
Cast: Jay Chou, Kwai Lun-Mei, Anthony Wong
RunTime: 110 mins
Genre: Drama (Chinese)
Rating: PG

周董。歌手、创作人、才子、演员、导演。 周杰伦要证明些什么? 或者他和爱情生活一样,喜欢尝试新的东西。

小伦和小雨的爱情故事,没有大起大落,简简单单的共谱恋曲。台式的校园爱情有什么不同? 他们爱得简单。。。骑脚车,吃雪糕,听音乐,看夕阳。。。腼腆的笑容,坚定的眼神,和紧握的小手, 让人羡慕更让人回味。

两人的爱情却像跌入迷宫,有许多解决不了的猜疑。 观众不管,只要他们能有情人忠诚眷属。

不可思议的转折让人想起某部韩片。优美钢琴声,和小雨落泪的情节,心随着小伦而紧张。不合逻辑? 没有新意? 无所谓。


很个人的一部影片。我感动了,忍住眼泪。到底发生了些什么事? 不能说的,秘密。

不能说的秘密 - 不能说的感动

Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe Cineleisure (Food)


This Hong Kong Café has named itself quite aptly “Xin Wang”, which means ‘new’ and ‘prosperity’ when you look at the two words separately. Indeed, when you are forced to walk past level 2 of Cineleisure, you would almost notice queues every weekend.
They know who their target crowd is. You often see young executives or students hanging out with their friends for light supper or leisure tea and desserts after a movie upstairs. The environment is very conducive for youths to chit chat till wee hours of the night. They have big red circular booths suitable for small groups from four to six, and cushioned seats which are cozy comfort for their customers.
With over 200 items on the menu, their four main sellers include the Cheese Baked Dishes, French toast, Snow Ice Series and ‘Hong Kong-Style’ Western food. My friends and I ordered a Fried noodles ‘Macau style’ ($6.90), Pork Chop Cheese Baked Spaghetti ($8.90), Fried noodles with Black Pepper beef ($7.90). Ham and Egg (originally $5.90 but came as a $1 promotion), and some appetizers.
Since I am very particular about Hong Kong tea, let’s start with the tea. Some may describe it to be an innovative attempt of selling tea in army-like metal mugs, while others would call it army-style tea-flavoured water. I swear that the three-in-ones taste better.
The Fried Wantons we had were sadly over-fried and shriveled. The interesting thing was the waitress came over and pointed out that their wantons were… 'different' the moment she served it. She was friendly enough to replace them with another plate, less burnt but equally shrunk.
If you are wondering what ‘Macau style’ noodles are, let me enlighten you that it is the same version of what you will get by frying instant noodles with cai xin, mixed peas, carrot and corn, two deep fried luncheon meat and ketchup-like sauce. The point is: I can also fry this at home.
The Pork Chop is extremely Hard with a capital ‘H’ and be ready to make full use of your utensils. The fried beef noodles were the best choice that night, tasty but just a tad too oily.
Although there has been general complains that the service staff who come from China has to be better informed of their menus, brush up their English, and smile a lot more, the waitress who served us was quite prompt and courteous. If anybody do not understand your orders, use numbers or just point!
Despite all I have said, I am still a frequent customer of Xin Wang because of the convenience and environment it provides. Their target market which are the youths hanging out at Cineleisure probably do not mind the quality of the food that much as well. With more branches opening, this new kid in the block can only get more prosperous.
Food: 2/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Service: 2/5
Value for Money: 2/5
Overall: 2.25/5

Causeway Bay Cafe (Food)


The best way for me to test the authenticity and taste of a Hong Kong Café is the tea they serve. It is somehwat of a ‘litmus test’ my friends and I have devised to distinguish the many shops due to the flourishing ‘Cha Can Teng’ emergence in Singapore over the past two years.

Hong Kong-style milk, also known as ‘silk stocking milk tea’ is known for its darker brown colour, and thus a very slight bitter aftertaste. It also has a thickness in the texture which I would find similar to the ‘teh tarik’.

Liang Seah Street opposite Bugis junction is a haven of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops of all kinds, each with its own unique selling point. On this night when my friends and I wanted to settle for supper, we came to Causeway Bay Café due to our craving in Hong Kong food and it was not as crowded as the other shops. I should have known better as to why it was seemingly a lot emptier.

Before we ordered the food, we had our ‘tea test’. The cold Hong Kong tea came in little cute air tight containers that we would keep our tidbits, and the hot version in colourful stripped cups. Before we even started drinking, we spotted this slight layer of oil (I certainly hope it is just oil) on the top. We gave it the benefit of the doubt. Then, we noticed that the sugar and the milk were not even properly stirred. The tea while still having a slight authentic taste, was unfortunately too sweet for my liking. Yes, the café failed our ‘tea test’.

We went on to order some food nevertheless. The waitresses were somehow more distracted with their chatting and the television. They told us to fill up the order form ourselves when we took orders. To me, it would be a pleasant gesture if the waitress had taken the initiative to fill it for us since she has already heard our order. But never mind about that.

We requested for a claypot noodles without seafood and with chicken instead. “Fill it up yourself there!”, the waitress spoke in accented Mandarin and once again pointed to the blue order form. The claypot noodles came without chicken and another waitress said “No chicken!”, rolled her eyes and walked away. It was okay if the serving staff could not speak English or understand our orders (even though we spoke in proper Mandarin), but they should have basic courtesy to their customers, no?

The claypot ‘chicken’ noodles that did come was too salty, and the sauce too watery. The thick sauce which would simmer in the noodles was essentially the essence of claypot noodles. The supposedly braised tofu was just the fried version of round tofu found in the local supermarket. Did I mention that I noticed they do not use serving trays? I would leave it to up to your imagination how they served their drinks and desserts.

It is not hard to see that the eating experience here was unpleasant. But aside from mediocre food and prices that are rather on the high side, the serving staff must know how to spell the word 'S-E-R-V-I-C-E' without having customers do it for them.

Food: 2
Ambiance: 2
Service: 1
Value for Money: 2
Overall: 1.75

La Vie En Rose (Film)


Director: Olivier Dahan
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Gerard Depardieu, Jean Paul Rouve, Emmanuelle Seigner
RunTime: 140 mins
Genre: Music/Drama
Rating: NC-16 (Brief nudity and some drug references)

There are many reasons why you would fall in love with this movie. The music such as Non, je ne regrette rien,
the dramatic life of Édith Piaf, or the unique directing style of Olivier Dahan.

After many American musical biographies from Ray, Johnny Cash to Bobby Darin, the shift to the equally, if not more erratic life of French singer Édith Piaf has its own touch of tenderness and charm.

Most of the songs in the movie are original recordings of Édith Piaf herself. No re-singing, just the authentic emotional depth that were in the songs.

Marion Cotillard’s portrayal of the emotional but lonely singer is nothing short of spectacular. From the sweet twenties to the idiosyncratic prime to the needy aged, she brings out the depth of the character, yet not overplaying it. At times, you feel scared by just looking at her. But there is this particular scene when she lost her loved one and portrayed her fragility like a rose. Bravo.

Many may complain about the non-linear, non-chronological method of story telling. It can be confusing the time shifts back and fourth and requires much concentration. But it shows how one part of her life can affect the other so strongly, and how the movie can be as unpredictable as her life.

A masterpiece with tears, laughter, and music. What more can I ask for?

La Vie En Rose - Très bon. Très bon

About me

Last posts