Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Stumbled upon this lovely video of James McAvoy at the Apollo Theatre stage door - have been wondering what he's up to, turns out he's in a stage play in London. This is one of those times when I really hate being stuck in Singapore.
He's a friendly chap, isn't he? Much more obliging than Kevin Spacey ( yes, there're stage door videos of him from Broadway - seems a bit grouchy ).
It's 3am and I can't sleep.
Watching Wolverine later today. Hope I don't doze off.
Monday, April 27, 2009
I thought I could write a long review, but the night shift's been bad and I'm bogged down by various administrative tasks, so this might turn out to be much shorter than I'd prefer.
Whenever I prepare to watch something, be it a film / TV show / play / concert, I always have expectations of some sort. My mood and general degree of wakefulness also contribute to the overall enjoyment, and the whole mix can result in me either loving the entire experience, or hating it to the core of my being.
Maybe I should post these criteria in all my future reviews:
Expectations - low / medium / high
Mood - delirious vs pissed off
Energy level - near comatose or bouncing off the walls
For Into The Wild, the background info I had was a little patchy. I knew Emile Hirsch was in it, that it was directed by Sean Penn, and that it had garnered rave reviews ( though not in terms of an Oscar sweep ).
I caught the 10pm telecast on cable Saturday night, following what I can only describe as a SUPER-CRAPPY FUBAR morning shift in the ER which gave me a tension headache, nausea and bad myalgia in both lower limbs. As such:
Expectations - medium
Mood - extremely grouchy
Energy level - half-dead but unable to sleep at that early hour so let's watch some TV first
Within the first 15 minutes, I was hooked.
Perhaps my lack of in-depth knowledge about the plot helped me stick through the whole 2.5 hours. I thought it would be a straightforward prolonged trek through the wilderness, man vs nature type of epic - like Cast Away, only set in Alaska.
You can read the storyline to your heart's content on the Net, but this exquisite piece of film-making is almost flawless in its execution, from the breath-taking cinematography to the excellent cast. Of course, it helps to have a good book as a guide ( it's based on a novel by Jon Krakauer ), and although I haven't read it, I'm certain many of the most lyrical lines were lifted word for word by Penn ( who wrote the screenplay ). The narratives by the lead character's younger sister are the most poignant, and while I can't quote them offhand at this time, I can tell you that they reduced me to tears time and time again.
Emile Hirsch is now #3 on my list of Rising Young Actors, after James McAvoy and Shia LaBeouf, which says a lot about the impression he made. I was riveted from the word go, and held spellbound by his adventures, whether mundane or exhilarating. He spars admirably with veterans William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden, demonstrates wonderful chemistry with co-stars both male and female ( Twilight's Kristen Stewart turns in a lovely, understated performance ), but excels the most in solo scenes - in particular, those set in the Alaskan mountains, where his character spent the last 3 months of his life in complete isolation.
Since I highly recommend all my readers to watch this movie, I won't post too many spoilers here. As long as you're patient and open yourself to everything it has to offer, it will be nothing less than unforgettable and life-changing.
My mom dozed through the film - not her cup of tea - and scoffed when I related the plot to her the next day. But she sees it from a mother's perspective, the same way protagonist Chris McCandless' parents couldn't come to terms with his actions even after 2 long years.
I, on the other hand, see it from McCandless' point of view, and thus comprehend his unbridled wanderlust, since I harbour my own from time to time ( usually when I get my migraines ). Not that I have the choice of packing up and leaving home without suffering any consequences! I've learned not to test my mom beyond her limits. :)
I guess the best thing about Into The Wild is what I've taken away from the experience - a greater appreciation for the human condition, a better understanding of family dynamics, and being blown away by the beauty of the written and spoken word ( doesn't happen often! ).
Dead Poets Society still has the #1 Favourite Movie Of All Time spot, but Into The Wild has sidled into #2.
Make sure you see it.
Oscar Winner Ethan Coen's On Twitter
And we're having a nice chat. :)
Check out his Twitter page. He's been incredibly accomodating in answering readers' questions, and has already said the Coen brothers will work with Nicolas Cage again sometime in the future ( he acted in Raising Arizona eons ago - one of his best roles ever ), that he admires Denzel Washington and Daniel Day-Lewis, as well as Leo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx.
Any of you Coen brothers fans out there? They're the guys who won the Oscar for No Country For Old Men last year, though I personally think Fargo was their crowning achievement.
He's got only about 200 followers so far ( unlike Kevin Spacey's crazy 130,000 ), so chances are high if you tweet him. Chance of a lifetime!
American Idol's Top 5
I'm very happy about the remaining contestants - saving Matt Giraud turned out to be a good move on the judges' part, and I'm glad he's made it this far despite the odds.
Still rooting hard for Adam Lambert though. He's way ahead of the pack, and if I can see him on-stage when I'm back in the U.S. next year, I will do whatever I can to catch his show.
Go Adam! :)
Will start a week of annual leave today. About time, since I can literally feel all the cells in my body dying one by one these days. ( You think it's a joke? It isn't! )
Tried to extend a stay overseas so I can hop over to London to see Spring Awakening, but something about my plane ticket didn't work out so I can't switch flights. ARGH, this Krisflyer redemption booking system wrecked my plan!
Another time then, I suppose. I'm just not meant to see this musical...
Next Pandemic Around The Corner?
Last but not least, a prayer for those affected by the swine flu outbreak.
Protective measures have already been implemented in our department. Had forgotten just how much I detest the N95 masks until I had to wear one tonight. Add the impermeable gowns and you have a bunch of people drenched in sweat working the ER. Yes, even with the air-conditioning blasting. I'm quite okay with the temperature - endured an open-air C class ward for 2 months back in 2003, so this is nothing - but the mask is still pretty awful.
Hope it blows over by the time I return to work next week.
Till next time, take care, and stay healthy.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Once again, thanks to L, who's always keeping me up to date. :)
A trailer for GLEE, the new TV series from Ryan Murphy, who also created the dark and often disturbing ( my guilty pleasure :)) Nip/Tuck.
I only hope local cable or Mediacorp will bring it to our shores.
And, clips of Patrick Wilson - yes, the dude from Hard Candy, Little Children and Watchmen - singing Broadway numbers.
Here's one from The Full Monty, performed at the 2001 Tony Awards. A little blurry, but you can definitely pick him out.
And, from the 2004 film adaptation of The Phantom Of The Opera - truth be told, I hated this movie because I just couldn't accept anyone other than Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman playing the leads. But watching this segment 5 years later is more tolerable. Wilson makes a suitably vulnerable Raoul, and he sings beautifully. How could I have missed this? Was probably too horrified by Emmy Rossum's weak vocals.
And, my favourite so far, Wilson singing On The Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady, at a Julie Andrews tribute. This is a piece I can never get enough of, and he does a magnificent job. Listen to that amazing vibrato, and see how Andrews beams!
( Here's the original movie sequence. )
His talent is wasted in movies. Hope he returns to Broadway, or sings in one of his subsequent films.
Before I sign off for the weekend, a new clip from John Lloyd Young: They Can't Take That Away From Me.
Broadway rant over. :)
Dare to dream -- and dream big.
Thanks to the great Ethan Coen via Twitter, I'd like to recommend this cool website, which features the world's first wireless phone projector. The company's co-founded by a 20-year-old college student, and he's already impressed Mr. Coen with a "powerful" script.
Makes me feel kinda pathetic, turning 34 in about a month's time and still hoping to write a novel / screenplay. Yes yes, it's all about time management. But I do need inspiration, and so while I'm toying with a couple of ideas, it's the organization that requires lots of work.
But there's no doubt that today's events have renewed my enthusiasm - which has been fizzling over the past 6 months due to the usual mixture of work fatigue and recreational distractions.
I'm fully aware that government officials read my blog, so maybe they can contact Mr. Maric and invite him to Singapore for a chat / expo? Maybe get him to lecture at one of our universities or polytechnics, collaborate on a project?
Am off today, but the weekend's packed with activities. Can't wait to go on leave next week.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Watched True Blood episodes 5 & 6 last night - it's getting better and better! Stephen Moyer greatly impresses - they should put him in every scene.
Have already added a link to the fansite on the right. Really love this series.
Funny thing is, at least 3 of the lead actors aren't even American. Stephen Moyer is British, Anna Paquin is a New Zealander, and the guy who plays Sookie's brother ( Ryan Kwanten ) is Australian.
Well, doesn't matter as long as they pick the right people to play the right parts. Twilight's Robert Pattinson's British too - definitely better-looking than Moyer but nowhere as intense or sexy. But then, I prefer older men, so I'm biased. :)
Another favourite, Damages, has returned ( finally! ). Season 2 is proving to be quite a mind-bender, and get a load of the star power: William Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden, and Timothy Olyphant ( the villain in Die Hard 4.0, and the romantic lead in Catch & Release ). I just love brainy legal dramas.
Rented Eagle Eye recently ( from the Tanglin Club library, so it costs next to nothing ): agree that it's essentially quite a dumb movie, but I thought Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan were very watchable in a nice, non-irritating way.
Shia's the only reason I even bothered to sit through the whole thing. You can't deny his talent.
Jumper, on the other hand, is PAINFUL, man. I've never liked Hayden Christensen, and Star Wars Episodes I-III had some major casting boo-boo's ( Samuel L. Jackson does not make a good Jedi, hello! ), among them the wooden Christensen.
So here he is, wooden as ever, aided by his partner-in-crime, the ditzy Rachel Bilson from The O.C., doing her California-chick-rolls-eyes-and-bats-eyelashes routine. It isn't so bad in a 1-hour TV series with a variety of ditzes ( Mischa Barton, for example ), but enduring her for 90 minutes is like having my fingernails avulsed. Her attempts at emoting are compounded by Christensen's own failure at any form of decent acting. Now that they're engaged in real life, I couldn't be happier 'cos they're truly perfect for each other. :)
One flick I can recommend is Grace Is Gone, starring the always reliable John Cusack.
Finally got my hands on it, and he's almost unrecognizable as the bespectacled, mousy husband of a soldier ( i.e. Grace ) who dies in Iraq.
He slouches and has a shuffling gait. He speaks barely above a whisper, and looks absolutely miserable in every scene. But his rapport with the 2 young female co-stars who play his oblivious daughters is wonderful to behold.
Don't like this as much as I do Martian Child, but it's a must for any Cusack fan.
In other news, my blog is apparently ruffling a few feathers - again. I'm always open to direct feedback, so send me an email or call. It's better than hearing about it in a roundabout way.
Anyway, am joining friends for a nice buffet dinner at a posh hotel this evening. Reward for planning the recent local emergency medicine conference. Can't wait to get my hands on the seafood and desserts! :)
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I used to think it was hormonal, but it's becoming clearer that it isn't.
The thought of going to work actually depresses me.
And it manifests physically in the form of severe lethargy and, more recently, generalized myalgia.
Maybe it's just time for another break -- taking 5 days off end of the month.
The annual long vacation can't get here fast enough!
Free Jason Mraz MP3s!
Seem to comprise mostly older songs from his earlier years ( with a nice collection of never-before-released pieces ) but the majority is in acoustic form and has never appeared on a commercial album, so these performances are precious.
From The Cutting Room Floor has a couple of excellent tracks, in particular the very cheeky Older Lover Undercover. Think of it as a coffee-house version of Me And Mrs. Jones. :)
As for Before Rockets And Roosters, these are essentially taken from an acoustic gig, complete with scratchy sound and minimal backup. A perfect illustration of Jason's ability to sound fantastic without the need for any band accompaniment. The "oompa" version of You And I Both is hilarious, and the audience obviously had a great time as well!
I also found a better site through Google -- one where the download speed is 10 times faster, with no-frills direct transfer to iTunes. Be sure to sample Summer Breeze, Shy That Way ( his beautiful duet with ex-girlfriend Tristan Prettyman ), I Melt With You ( from the 50 First Dates soundtrack ) and Rainbow Connection.
For a free MP3 of The Beauty In Ugly ( such a great song! ), go to this site. The Spanish version is even better.
True Blood - First Impressions
Watched 4 episodes back-to-back on Thursday, and the verdict? I like it. A lot.
I haven't checked up on the chronological order of events yet -- which came first, Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire novels, or the Twilight saga? -- but the overlaps can't be ignored.
Much older male vampire falls in love with a virginal young mortal girl.
One of them is telepathic - in Twilight, it's Edward; in True Blood, it's Sookie.
Bill hails from the Civil War era and was attacked on the way home to his family -- in Twilight, same thing happened to Jasper.
Both vampires have to fight the constant temptation to kill their female objects of affection.
There's a scene in the car where the couple share details about their lives.
Still, True Blood offers a much more realistic depiction of vampires, and of life in general. There's a gay character, lots of family dysfunction, murder, blood-borne diseases, illegal drug dealing... you get the idea.
Wishing you a Happy Easter.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Bear with me, people. I've been a devoted Kevin Spacey fan for the longest time, and can't believe he replied to me today, multiple times in fact. :)
I figured out the trick: tweet him when he's online ( not texting from his phone ), and ask him questions that he's likely to answer ( though he does reply to a few strange / cheeky ones here and there ). Considering the 12-hour time difference ( I assume he's still in NYC ), it's pretty tough for those of us in the East. ( I am - you guessed it - on night shift, yet again. )
My questions are on my Twitter page, his responses on his.
He's getting about 1000 new followers A DAY. To get an idea of the message load he receives, use Twitter Search and type @KevinSpacey in the box.
Breaking news: he's open to touring with The Bridge Project! Although he did mention he's very busy at the moment, he hasn't said an outright no to the touring bit. Good news for those who can't travel to the US or London to see him on-stage.
Ahh, I'm on cloud nine right now. Haven't been there since meeting Jason Mraz. Both these guys have made my entire year. :)
Pay Hugh Jackman a visit on Twitter ( 1st entry made April 6th ). Hope he stays on even after the Wolverine press tour concludes.
And Speaking Of Jason Mraz
David Archuleta mentioned him in his Life! interview yesterday. Didn't even know David was in town. And why in the world did they put him in a Bugis shopping mall for his showcase? Thought he deserved better.
True Blood Premieres Tonight
On digital cable Channel 59. Looks extremely gory. Me likey. :)
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Music I'm hearing for the very first time. Leaves me speechless - in a good way, of course. :)
God Moves Through You
You Make Me High
Prettiest Friend - really like this one.
Rainbow Connection ( aka the Kermit The Frog theme ) - exquisite!
Blitzkrieg Bop - covering The Ramones. Jason can do no wrong. :)
And... a video of The Beauty In Ugly ( song featured on Ugly Betty ) and one of my absolute favourites, On Love, In Sadness ( he's 25 years old in this one, amazing how he can write such a complex piece ).
Ahh, I love it when I don't have to work. :)
Sunday, April 05, 2009
But I'm hoping it'll lose its sense of novelty after a few days.
I put myself in this position for only ONE reason - and it's a good one - to get the chance to twitter Kevin Spacey, who got an account as recently as last week. He's probably being bombarded with hundreds of tweets a day, and I have no idea what it takes to get a response from him. Ideas, anyone?
This isn't the first time I've joined an online community because of a celebrity. Same thing happened with MySpace - originally propelled by John Lloyd Young, but now it's mostly to gain access to Jason Mraz. Good luck finding my profile page. :)
Regular readers will no doubt notice the new layout design. Unfortunately, old comments have disappeared somewhere, but I'll find a way to retrieve them at a later date.
Time to review a patient then head on home. :)