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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Movie Review - Thick as Thieves


Movie Title
Thick as Thieves (aka The Code)
Year
2009
Genre
Drama, Crime

Story
Veteran art thief, Keith Ripley (Morgan Freeman) resurfaces apparently to do a final job as repayment to the Russian gangsters. When Gabriel Martin (Antonio Banderas) completes a daring job, Ripley enlists him for it. In the midst of all that excitement, Martin mixes it up romantically with the daughter of Ripley’s deceased partner’s daughter Alexandra Korolenko (Radha Mitchell who also appeared in Henry Poole Is Here http://jmerb.blogspot.com/search/label/Movie%20-%20Henry%20Poole%20Is%20Here )

Acting
Wasn’t really impressed with the acting here although it doesn’t really distract viewers if not much thought is given to analyzing the acting. Of course, Morgan Freeman can do no wrong.
Overall
It doesn’t flow very well as the pacing, editing and direction could have been much tighter for a more enjoyable ride for the viewers. It did seem to have all the right ingredients – action, intrigue, honor, loyalty, betrayal, romance, suspense, humor, etc.

The flashback right at the start of the movie creates a question that doesn’t even begin to unravel until more than halfway thru the movie. That felt as though the movie makers have somehow forgotten about it and unfortunately, some viewers might. In the end after we have discovered some of the hidden truths about the characters (read: twists), it still didn’t feel satisfactory. The police was once again made to look like bumbling fools in the movie.

The planning and execution of the job is always interesting. That, for me, was the best part of the show. The ending was a little ambiguous for me, but the sad thing was that, I (and maybe other viewers) didn’t/won’t really care. It’s not all that bad, just that it could’ve been so much more, with stars like Freeman and Banderas at the helm.
Rating: 5/10

Pick the Nose

Leggo of by fabous dose!
(Loosely translated: Kindly free the nose associated with fame that is mine.)

After watching Marley and Me (which stars Owen Wilson, bona fide owner of one unusual looking nose) recently, it prompted me to highlight some of the most outrageous noses we have been exposed to in pop-culture.

Please pick your favorite!


Barbra Streisand
Funny Lady Barbra Streisand has one of the most recognizable noses probably because she is one of the very few women who has such a prominent nose. Besides her incredible singing talent, best known for her roles in movies like A Star Is Born, Yentl & Nuts.


Jackie Chan
Now, who does not know this guy? I won’t even bother listing the movies he is best known for but his most recent being the Shinjuku Incident. He’s got the most unusually prominent nose around – a fortune-blessed nose. Let’s see if his son Jaycee will develop one that’d give Jackie a run for his money.

Karl Malden
Discounting the prehistoric man who discovered the joys of nose-picking, this is probably the oldest person I know who spots such a unique facial appendage. Best known for roles in movies such as How the West Was Won, Patton & Nuts (along side…***Barbra Streisand***, who probably made him look more like a normal joe than other actresses.)

Martin Lawrence
This guy (best known for his roles in movies like Big Momma's House, Nothing to Lose, Bad Boys & Bad Boys) has a nose with nostrils that would be able to smuggle little children past national borders, but hey I still love him.

Samuel L Jackson
In terms of nostril size, OK, he comes in a very close second to dear old Mr. Martin Lawrence. Best known for his roles in Pulp Fiction, Star Wars & recently in The Spirit.

Owen Wilson
Now this guy is a bit of a mystery to me because his brother, Luke’s nose is just like any normal guy’s, while his look like it had been severed and reattached. Best known for his roles in Shanghai Noon/Knights (with Jackie Chan no less! 2 incredible noses in 2 equally incredible movies), You, Me and Dupree & recently Marley & Me

Michael Jackson
Another one who needs no introduction or background info. We have all heard the wicked rumors of his plastic surgery going awry or that his nose was falling off. Well, look at the photo and be your own judge.

Public Service Announcement: Please wash your hands after finishing this article.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Match-ups Made for Fan-Boys: Bullseye vs. Deadshot

Bullseye vs. Deadshot


Deadshot is the world‘s greatest known mercenary (in the DCU). Best known for his stint as a member of the Suicide Squad, Deadshot is DC’s greatest marksman, boasting that he never misses and always gets the job done regardless of who the target may be.

Bullseye
An assassin with perfect aim. He can use just about anything as a weapon. An ever present thorn in Daredevil’s side, he was the one that killed Daredevil’s 1st love Elektra (another assassin of great renown). See http://jmerb.blogspot.com/2009/01/comic-review-electra-saga-1-4.html

Who will kick whose butt?
Bullseye can almost trounce Deadshot blindfolded (almost) because not only does he never miss but he can use just about anything as a weapon. Agree, don't agree? Let me know...

Comic Review - Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes 1-8

Retro Rave with a Modern Take

Title/Storyline
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes 1-8
Year
2005
Creative Team
Joe Casey, Scott Kolins
Publisher
Marvel

Story
This mini series provides deeper insight into the early days of the legendary Avengers from Day 1 up to the point where all the original team members leave and Capt America leads the team of ex-villains - Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver. (Now we know where the inspiration for Thunderbolts came from)

We get to see the relationships between the team and the US Govt. plus how Capt coped with waking up from suspended animation in an era alien to him and the loss of Bucky.

Art
Scott Kolins’ Art can best be described as an acquired taste. This is because at first glance, it appears rather unattractive and simple. Kolins’ clean art style has that illusion that it is simple because he doesn’t use any heavy strokes or shadows. Hence the lines are very clean – much like the artwork of a children’s coloring book. However, after a while, you would be able to begin to appreciate his artistic talents as his style grows on you. His work here is no different.

He’s not one of my personal favorite artists but I still like looking at his work.

Additional Comments
I was really pumped to read this series, as the Avengers had always been one of my favorite team books, but I was left rather disappointed because altho’ it had a meaningful story that complemented the much simpler storylines of the 60’s, it didn’t really do much for me. I wanted to sink my teeth into the battles with Kang and Count Nefaria.

It didn’t really do much for me. Not as good I would have expected because with 8 issues, it could have been so much more. A point of comparison would be the Avengers Forever mini. Altho' it had 4 more issues, but the thrills, suspense and action made it impossible to put down.

Order your copy here at 25% OFF:
http://astore.amazon.com/eareotbi-20/detail/0785114386

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Food Review - Sepetang Pan Mee

Name
Sepetang Pan Mee
Being dry had never been this good!
Food
Pan Mee
LocationTaman Desa Shop Lots

Getting thereIf you are coming into Taman Desa from traffic lights at the Mosque heading towards the Hospital, the shop would be located on your left just before the T-Junction.
ParkingThere are lots of parking spaces along the roads or right in front of the shop lots.

ServiceService is usually quick but there are times when customers may need to wait for about 10-15 minutes as they have many loyal returning customers (like me).

AmbienceTypical coffee shop but clean and bright with good ventilation.

TasteHaving tasted both the dry and soupy versions, my preference is for the dry version. However, the soupy version is usually ordered by customers.
The thing about this stall is that the noodles are slightly firmer than what other stalls serve. Hence, it makes the texture quite different from what one can get from elsewhere.

The dry version tastes really good if the chili is poured over and mixed with the noodles. The cornucopia of the combined flavors from the chili, the thick soy sauce with the mushrooms, minced pork and anchovies (ikan bilis) with the noodles is a mini slice of foodie nirvana.

PresentationNicely done because they use porcelain bowls instead of plastic. The soup, served separately if you order the dry version, is also served in a porcelain bowl.

VarietyBesides the soupy and dry versions, they also serve the Pan Mee with fish paste. However, you need to be there early for this variety as they are really popular and sellout really quickly.

Value for MoneyAt RM4 a bowl, ‘nuff said!

OverallPlease try it. I personally think it’s one of the best Pan Mee stalls around if not the best.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Food Review - Maluri Shanghai Noodles

Name
Maluri Shanghai Noodles
Food
Shanghai Dumpling Noodles
Location
Taman Maluri, Cheras

Getting there
If you are turning into Jusco from Jalan Cheras, head towards the 1st left turn after Jusco. As it is a 1-way street, it is easy to spot the coffee shop located on the left at the corner of Jalan Jejaka 2 & Jalan Jejaka 7.


Parking
Lots of parking bays along the street near the coffee shop.


Service
Very courteous & well-mannered stall owner who tried to really make a good impression & connect with customers. Food was served fast.

Ambience
Coffee shop environment.

Taste
The texture of the noodles is really good – firm but not too springy. They really go well with the Shanghai dumplings. For the slightly more adventurous, the chili flakes soaked in chili oil provides added punch to the food, but it is rather mild when compared with chili padi.

Presentation
The dry noodles are served separately from the Shanghai Dumplings and foo chok (in soup). Presented in the matching Oriental styled black and red plastic ware, they look really nice for stall fare.

Variety
They serve several varieties of the noodles (please refer to the pictures). Rest assured that I will be going back to try them.

Value for Money
For under RM5, this is indeed good value.

Overall
Good tasty food with good variety at good prices. Killer combo.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Movie Review - The Day the Earth Stood Still


Movie Title
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Year
2008
Genre
Action, Sci-Fi

Story
There are aliens who have returned to the earth to execute their judgment after having assessed the development of the human race and deemed that we are too destructive for the planet, hence must be eradicated from the face of the planet. Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) is the messenger of doom and everyone on earth seems bent on killing the messenger. Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) seems to be the only person who genuinely wants to hear his message and try to save the human race somehow.

Acting
Despite what critics have to say about Keanu’s performance, I thought he nailed the role of Klaatu perfectly – aloof, adjusting to his new but weak human body yet brimming with unspeakable power that affords him to have the quiet confidence he exudes in various situations (that perhaps some may perceive as lack of acting skills).

I have not watched the other movies with Jaden Smith (Will and Jada’s son) in them (like Pursuit of Happyness) but he shows a lot of potential as an actor. However, he was really irritating in his role as Jacob Benson, Dr. Helen Benson’s step son.
Overall
Altho’ I have not watched the 1951 original, I thought this one was a pretty good Sci-Fi movie. My only complaint was the ending – which I thought was rather open-ended and left a few un-answered questions.

I thought a lot more could have been done with the giant killer robot.

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Movie Review - The Spirit


Movie Title
The Spirit
Year
2008
Genre
Action

The Spirit is willing but the audiences are not.

Story
The Spirit is Will Eisner’s (a man most revered in the comic industry, held in the same esteem as people like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) most recognized work in the comic industry. Unfortunately, that’s about where the good things I have to say about the movie stop.

The Spirit / Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) is a dead cop who had been brought back to life to protect his city - Central City – from colorful characters (with equally colorful names) such as The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson), Silken Floss (Scarlett Johansson) & the dumb clone henchmen ( Louis Lombardi). He also has a string of interesting female characters (with equally interesting names such as Sand Saref, played by Eva Mendes and Plaster of Paris, played by Paz Vega) as love interests/nemeses.

The movie has the Spirit attempting to thwart The Octopus’ schemes yet again, but this time, the stakes are higher as the Spirit ‘s old flame Sand Saref, is implicated.
Acting
Other than getting top billing actors like Jackson, Johannson, Mendes & Vega put their names (and reputations) on this project, there wasn’t much they could have done to help as both the script and direction were weak.

Overall
This movie is (like Catwoman & Ghost Rider,) a travesty to the concept of comic-book inspired movies because we all know they can be made great (Iron Man, Batman, etc come to mind).

Other than the great looking set (similar to movies like Sin City, 300, Max Payne and Sky Captain), there isn’t much else for the viewers. Don’t bother with this one.

Rating: 3.5/10

Monday, April 6, 2009

Food Review - Telawi Street Bistro


NameTelawi Street Bistro
FoodWestern
LocationBangsar
Getting there
Located at the corner of the famed Telawi streets of Bangsar. You can’t miss it if you see McDonald’s or the MPH Book Store.

ParkingLots of parking for dinner at the Bangsar/Telawi area.

ServiceWithin minutes of being seated, we were presented with sliced soft Italian bread complete with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar & fresh olives.
The wait staff was very helpful but was not very knowledgeable as there were 3 times that we had asked him so describe what some of the menu items were and he was unable to answer.

The desert took too long to be served as we had waited almost 20 minutes for it to be served. And when it was served, the ice cream had begun to melt (which meant that it was sitting there for a while before it was brought to us).
AmbienceThe soft lighting & d├ęcor makes visitors to the place feel very cozy. The place has several distinctly separated areas for visitors – the bar area upstairs, dining areas (both downstairs and upstairs with smoking and non-smoking sections), and tables along the balconies and walkways downstairs for either dining or drinks.
We chose to dine al-fresco upstairs as it had just rained and the air was cool and breezy.

PresentationThe food was presented exceptionally well. I especially liked the way the baby octopi were presented atop a crispy edible bowl.

TasteWe ordered the Mixed Seafood Platter & Braised Lamb Shank.

This was quite a surprise to me (not the pleasant variety, unfortunately). Although the food was immaculately presented, the taste was, unfortunately, quite disappointing. This was especially true for the Mixed Seafood Platter we ordered. There were 4 types of seafood on the platter – grilled baby octopi, squid, Salmon, and a Balmain Bug - whom they refer to as whole “lobster”.
Credit where it is due, the squid was done quite well, marinated & grilled in their own sauces and accompanying salad, it was quite good. The Balmain Bug was done well, fresh and juicy, not overcooked. However, the baby octopi (among my favorites when it comes to seafood) was the big disappointment because I was looking forward to how they were going to prepare it – Grilled! They were overcooked and their texture was too dried up to be eaten. The only was I can describe them is that they tasted like dried rubber soles (not that I had tried them before but I would imagine them tasting like that). They were simply too dried up with little to no moisture whatsoever remaining with them. We left most of them on the platter. The portioning of the 4 types of seafood was rather un-even – with the Baby Octopi and Balmain Bug dominating most of the platter’s real estate, the piece of grilled Salmon was not bad either but the size (1” x 1.5”) of it was rather depressing. They should’ve had a bigger piece of salmon on the platter so that it would have looked much better and more evenly distributed on the platter.

The Braised Lamb Shank in Rosemary Sauce was not bad. Not the best not the worst I have had. The texture was very good with all of the moisture still locked in. However, it would have made the dish much better if they had served it with mashed potatoes instead of baked wedges. The portion was also quite big.

The Chocolate Volcano (a chocolate cake with warm chocolate filling topped with a scoop of Vanilla Ice-Cream) was extremely sinful but based on the name alone, one would think that this desert would have come in a more hedonistic size instead of the 2” girth. This was the best part of the meal. It left us wanting for more!
Variety
There are too many items on their menus (they have 3 menus – Drinks Menu, Food Menu and Desert Menu) to savor in 1 visit.

They have a very creative list of drinks on their drink-list and also a very extensive list of pizza’s in their Food Menu.
Value for MoneyWith the mains going from between RM25-RM85++ a pop, and the desert we ordered was at RM16++, the food here is not cheap. And with that, expectations were higher than other dining experiences.

Overall
Rather expensive meal that was un-impressive and left little to talk-about. Food and experience fell short of expectations. Would have preferred to spend one’s hard-earned RM at a restaurant located in a hotel. Probably would not be making a return any time soon.