Sunday, January 27, 2013

Oscar 2013: What I've Watched So Far

The Oscar nominees were announced few weeks back and I was determined to catch some of the movies before the award ceremony on the February 24. I've watched three of the Best Film nominated movies so far, unfortunately these don't include Life of Pi... Sigh... Super busy lar!!!

Les Miserables 
Knowing how well Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway can sing, I went into the cinema (note: after probably half a year or something) without knowing much about the musical. I was expecting it to be like Glee but I was terribly wrong. Les Miserables is a musical that is REALLY  a musical. I mean, they literally sing their conversations, making 99% of the movie were presented in songs! Honestly, like a lot of the audience in the cinema who burst out into laughter whenever these actors started singing when they were supposed to be just talking, I'm not used to that... Oh, poor Deardo who had to sit through the movie with me... LOL!
That aside, I don't like the story because it is simply VERY MISERABLE! But well that's how the original story sounds like so we can't complain much!
I like most of the soundtracks though and I'm still pretty amazed at how well Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway can sing! Anne Hathaway was brilliant in the movie! Plus, I'm so so surprise that Sacha Baron Cohen is singing in the movie too! And check out the little boy who plays Gavroche! He is such a talent and entertaining to watch! I am however, still full of question marks on why is Russell Crowe casted in the movie! Man, that guy can't sing! Give him (and me) a break!!!
Not so much of my favourite movie but if you ask me, I'm very much backing Hugh Jackman for Best Actor and Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress!

Silver Linings Playbook
I am a fan of Jennifer Lawrence and I'm not afraid of telling you I'll be rooting for her at the Oscar. It's pretty tough to choose between her and Jessica Chastain, but I haven't watch Zero Dark Thirty yet so I'll have to choose Jennifer Lawrence for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook at the moment.
To cut it short, the movie is about two individuals who both have some mental problems with sad relationships meeting each other and falling in love with each other. To me, the story is kinda crazy, and by that I mean including the parents of the main guy, who are funnily so lovable!
Brandley Cooper gave a reasonably good performance but Jennifer Lawrence definitely hit it at the right spot and I'm more than amazed that she can make the comedic yet sarcastic character seems so real! Love her love her love her!!! Robert De Niro is also funny and lovable and wait a minute! Chris Tucker is in the movie too!!! :D Plus some other small roles in the movie, I think this movie simply has the strongest cast among other nominated movies.
It's not like the normal romantic comedy you would see Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Aniston play. This one is definitely a bit more sophisticated with seriously hilarious and sarcastic lines and of course, great cast! :)

I love Matt Damon, but ironically I'm not so much of a fan of his good friend Ben Affleck. So when I saw the movie winning the two major awards -- Best Director and Best Motion Picture - Drama at the Golden Globe, I still doubt it that Ben Affleck is so capable in directing a good movie.
And so I watched Argo. Based on a true story, it talks about how the CIA managed to rescue some Americans who were trapped in Tehran back in 1979, by faking themselves as a group of Canadian film crew who were supposed to film a movie named Argo.
Storyline wise, I must say it is average. But then presentation wise was fantastic. I mean I was truly entertained and was so eager to follow the characters in the movie in their journey to freedom. In fact I was secretly praying for them while watching it and as they finally found freedom I had tears of joy! Imagine that! I am also very impressed at how they managed to re-create a lot of the scenes with a 1979 setting! 
Great movie but not much of chances for its actors to show off any of their acting skills actually. But yes, I agree that Ben Affleck was great, both acting and directing the movie.
Three movies so far and I think Argo is to win the Best Film Award! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Curry Egg Mayo with Crispy Bacon Rolls

Made this yummy and (quite) healthy rolls few months back when I was back in Taiping and it was awesome! I've always made my egg mayo with a little bit of paprika ever since my colleague, Mad gave me the idea of adding curry powder into the egg mayo. So I made these rolls for my family as a light dinner one night knowing that they are definitely new to this kinda food. :)

What you need:
Wholegrain wraps (those you use to make kebabs), eggs, mayonnaise, bacon cut into small pieces, Japanese cucumber cut into strips (like the size that you would normally cut to make sushi), salt/soya sauce, pepper and curry powder/paprika to taste.

What to do:
1) boil the eggs until they are cooked then smash or cut them into tiny pieces (I normally cut out some of the yolks to cut down on the fats and cholesterol intake).
2) In a bowl, add in the mayonnaise and mix well.
3) Now add in salt/soya sauce, pepper and good amount of curry powder/paprika to taste. Mix well and set aside or chill it in the fridge. 
4) Heat up a frying pan and fry the bacon bits until they turn dark brown and crispy. Set aside on a peice of kitchen paper. 
5) Then heat up the wraps one by one in a frying pan. Be careful not to overheat them as they will turn hard and it will hard for you to roll it up. Also once they are hot, do not let them sit out for too long as they will also turn hard. 
6) Now on a plate or on a flat surface, lay a sheet of the wrap, spread the egg mayo evenly on it, leaving the sides empty. 
7) Now sprinkle some bacon bits all over.
8) Put one strip of the Japanese cucumber on top of the filling.
9) Fold the bottom part of the wrap up, followed by the two sides and roll the wrap up into a cylinder shape. You are done!  

While I think the curry powder that I put was not enough the other day, the rolls were actually quite okay. Love the combination between egg mayo and the bacon! And the cucumber also gave the rolls a very refreshing taste and texture. While it can be considered quite a light meal, one of these rolls were enough to make us all really full! So I think this is quite a healthy thing to have without being worry about becoming hungry too fast! 
I think kids will love this too! :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Review on Chris Colfer's Works

Hi guys! How's it going?
Well I'm still quite busy but things are getting better before another waves of work come in later in March or so. So I'm savouring every second of freedom that I have now!
I have quite a lot of movie reviews that I haven't share, but I've decided to dedicate this one solely to Chris Colfer, one of the most successful young actors at the moment and of course, my favourite young actor too at the moment. Click here to see what I've wrote about Chris earlier. I've read his first book and watched his first movie and I can't wait any longer to share some of my thoughts.

The book... The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell
Many thanks to Deardo who bought the book online for me as my birthday gift and I was so addicted to the book despite my busy work schedule.
The book talks about a twin brother a sister who fell into a world of fairy tales in the the book -- The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell. The pair, who have grown up listening to fairy tales from their grandmother and father were given a hard time finding their way out of the book while experiencing some super amazing stuff such as meeting their favourite characters in the stories.
I certainly love how Chris gave some twists to the characters in those famous fairy tales you and me know. For instance, he made Red Riding Hood the weird queen who fell in love with Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk but Jack is in love with Goldilocks. I mean, it's super cool! And the way he sort of made the fairy tales characters speak in the modern days language is also super hilarious it made me laughed like crazy! And then the ending made me tear a bit but I do not want to reveal it here cos you need to read it yourself!
It is however obvious that writing wise, he uses the simplest English and I admit that in some parts he was too detailed in explaining a person's expression or thinking, leaving you with no space for imaginations. And yes, towards the end of the book, I noticed some grammar/typo mistakes too.
You know it says this is a children book but I think it is more suitable to perhaps teenagers onward who have all the knowledge about the fairy tales in the book. It all just made a lot of sense when you read the book and figure out what happen to these people after the 'happily ever after' final page of the storybooks you used to read. Personally I'm very thankful that he made my favourite character, Cinderella back to life and made her sounds so much more realistic. I truly enjoyed reading the book which has a lot of adventures and twists in between. If not because of my working hours, I think I can easily finish the 400 plus pages book in two days time!
Trust me, this is a MUST READ!!! :)

The movie... Struck By Lightning 
Struck By Lightning is Chris's first major movie and also his debut in screen-writing.
The movie is about Carson Phillips, a high school student who thinks he is unique and is hated by almost everyone in school. He has a huge dream in becoming a journalist and editor of some major newspapers and magazines so in order to do that he has to produce a school literary magazine. Since everyone hates him and no one wants to write for the magazine, he blackmailed some of the school's students so that they would write for him. I shall stop here for you to find out the ending of the rest of the movie.
Personally, I don't think it is a fantastic movie, but I wouldn't say that it is a failure too. Somehow I feel like there are parts of the movie that can be made better, especially how it all ended with the group of people Carson blackmailed, in detail. I also think it reminds me too much of Glee, like the cheerleaders, the gay couple, all that which are too cliche. And I think the repeat of the same scene where Carson is struck by lightning was a little unnecessary.
While I don't fancy Carson as a character who is so negative, I'm glad that it actually doesn't have any signs of  Kurt in Glee. Carson is much more manly, non-fashionable and very realistically a high school student which I think Chris Colfer did quite well portraying it. Rebel Wilson, one of my latest favourite comedy actress simply added a lot of bonus points to the movie. I just adore her! But I think the best acting should be awarded to Allison Janney who plays Carson's alcoholic and pill-popping single mum. She just makes the role really stand-out from the rest and can be so naturally crazy and sad! 

Like I've said, it is definitely not the best movie I've ever watched. But then it is not the cheesy lousy teenage comedy you would expect it to be too. It has the humour that's right, but it also has a very good message behind it (or at least I got it). I was tearing in the end of the movie as Carson said something like he died (okay, spoiler, he did die) but as he thinks back on his life, he has done whatever he could to reach his dream and has inspired some people, which is enough to erase the negative part of his life... 
Honestly, for a 22 year-old, this first try isn't too bad at all! Let's hope for better stuff from him in the future! :)
If you are say a fan of Juno, I think you will have some fun watching this movie too!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thailicious @ Bangkok Beat Bistro, Empire Shopping Gallery

During one of my occasional meet-ups with Karen, we randomly chose Bangkok Beat Bistro to have our dinner. While I always walk past the restaurant admiring its interior design and used of furniture, I've never really tried their food because I was worry it would be some really commercialised Thai food restaurant. Until then I decided to give it a go.
She camwhores better than me, that's for sure! 
Still loving the entire design and art works they put up in the comfortable restaurant. 
The cool-looking menu! 
We ordered four dishes to share...
Thai Fish Cake at RM10.90.
Mixed vege, price unavailable. 
Red Tom Yum Soup with Seafood at RM12.90.
Green Curry Chicken at RM16.
Well we love the fish cakes a lot that's for sure! It was a little too oily but taste wise, we have nothing to complain! The herbs and whatever they used in the fish cake made it comes with a very nice scent and taste. The Tom Yum soup was yummy too with a good balance of spiciness and sourness in the soup. Not as good as the one I tried in Bangkok obviously, but good enough. :) The green curry chicken was quite a small let down because I feel like the coconut milk tastes a little weird, while the vege was just the usual vege you will have anywhere else.
Having fun enjoying our Thai dinner! :)
While we were quite happy with our dinner which cost us roughly RM80 (sorry man, I lost my receipt), we find the service a little weird. The staffs were not really attentive to us and were sitting on the chairs playing phones most of the time. If that can be improved, I'm pretty sure we would love to visit the restaurant more because I simply love their deco and atmosphere, plus the food are seriously not bad! :)

Bangkok Beat Bistro
LG32, Empire Shopping Gallery
47500 Subang Jaya,
Tel: 03-5637 8488

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Week in Russia - St. Petersburg

*This is a continuous post from my first post on my Russia trip. Click here if you've missed the previous post.  

After about four days in Moscow, we took a night train and arrived in the rainy St. Petersburg very early in the morning. According to our tour guide, the city only has 60 sunny days per year and guess what? Well we were lucky enough to experience one of the 60 days there! Just that one day! Ha!
St. Petersburg train station in the rain.
Our trip in St. Petersburg was relatively short and very rush as compared to what we had in Moscow and this is one fact that I really hate because St. Petersburg simply blew my mind away! Having zero idea on what to expect from the city, I actually arrived in a city that pretty much reminds me of Venice or Amsterdam because there are rivers across the city and compare to Moscow, their architecture aren't so stubbornly Russian. Again, according to our tour guide, Peter the Great, the guy who first founded the city is a fan of foreign cultures so when he started building the city up, he invited architects from Europe to design the city. Hence some people could even feel like they are in Paris when they walk on the streets of St. Petersburg. To me personally some of the streets actually feels like New York city and I guess that is why I love the city so much because hey I love New York! :)
At the river banks you see stuff like Egyptians or even Chinese sculpture as they were presents  from the mentioned countries!
The city feels really romantic!!! 
Seriously, didn't these remind you of New York???
And plus, apart from cathedrals, the city is actually more well known for its gorgeous palaces as a lot of Russian historical and political events happened in the city of St. Petersburg.  Understandably, there are so many palaces, monuments, museums and art galleries to visit and honestly three days was far from enough to explore the whole city!!!
Anyway, I've chosen some must go places where I've been to to share with you guys...

St. Isaac Cathedral
From the outside, the St. Isaac Cathedral doesn't look as pretty as St. Basil but the size of the cathedral was enough to impressed me. It was so huge that it is impossible for you to miss it even when you go past it in the nearby street. The cathedral is the world's fourth tallest domed cathedral in the world! We didn't go into the cathedral but from books I saw the interior of the cathedral is also freaking cool! Arh... How I wish I have time to visit the cathedral!!! 
Obviously they were doing some revitilising work at one of the domes at the super impressive cathedral...

Smolny Convent
I don't know is it true or is it just me, cathedrals in St. Petersburg actually look more attractive than the ones in Moscow. Smolny Convent was absolutely breath-taking! In front of the beautiful blue sky, the pastel blue and white church with white and gold domes looks super beautiful to me! Too bad it is not open to the public as the church  is now partially a concert hall, government offices and a university's faculty office.
Super beautiful and cute-looking Smolny Convent!

Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood
Looking quite similar to St. Basil Cathedral, the church's architecture from the outside looks a bit more more detailed and complex. And to be honest, the view around the church is much better as it is built by the river. I must say our tour guide was very passionate and proud of her country's history as the way she told stories to us made me damn interested with the history of the city. The Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood for instance, was built by the son of Alexander II in memory of his father who died at the same spot where the church is built. 
Traffic jam forced us to arrive at the cathedral in the evening... :(

Peterhof Palace (The Summer Palace)
Some say you cannot consider yourself been to St. Petersburg if you didn't visit the very famous and super huge Peterhof Palace. It took us about one-hour bus ride to reach Peterhof and to visit the palace which is now partially under some revitalisaiton work. One thing I like about the Russians is that they are very proud of their historical places and maintenance works is quite often seen in these tourist spots. The palace also include a huge park and a bloody grand-looking fountain.
The entrance to the palace, with the cathedral as part of the complex. 
Super nice view of the fountain and the river leading to Ireland or something... 
The Summer Palace from the outside.
Unfortunately the very famous fountain was closed because of the cold weather and we are not allowed to snap photos in the beautiful palace which was built by Peter the Great. The palace has had a lot of important incidents happened so when we were in there I can truly feel the aura of how Catherine the Great snatched the throne in that one particular room we visited. 
Due to time constrain, we didn't finish touring the entire palace. :(

The State Hermitage Museum (The Winter Palace)
Hello~ I've made it to the State Hermitage!!! 
The palace-turned- museum State Hermitage Museum complex is crazily huge! We of course only had about three hours and could only chose some particular sections to visit but I have a feeling even one whole day isn't enough to finish the entire museum. 
Baroque, Rococo, Gothic, Eclectic... You name it, one palace with so many different styles of design!!! 
One of the oldest and largest museums in the world, the museum housed not only antiques in the rooms of the palace which are generally design with the Baroque style, Rococo style, Eclectic style (which is also my favourite) and even Asian style, but also over millions of arts in the form of paintings or sculptures. Our tour guide said if you stay in front of one painting for three minutes, it will take you six years to see all the art works in the museum! Phew~! Best of all, most of these antiques and artworks are from decades ago as part of the collection of Catherine the Great! Amazing, isn't it?
A wall of fame for those who were in the war. Notice some that are empty? That's because the person died before the painter could paint his portrait! 
Guess what? This is a freaking CLOCK! It was a gift from an admirer of Catherine the Great! 
One of the two artwork by the famous Leonardo Da Vinci can be found at the State Hermitage. 
One of the paintings that I really like in the museum. 
I can't help screaming WOW~WOW~WOW~ in the palace because man, those materials they used in their architecture looks just damn expensive I feel like I'm a queen walking in the palace that I wish I own! LOL! As a tourist, this is surely a must go place in St. Petersburg, but you better make sure you have whole load of time if you really want to see the whole thing! 

The Monument of Catherine the Great
After days of listening to the history of St. Petersburg, it is impossible to forget the one powerful woman who has not only showed the world what a woman can do, but also a woman who was so capable in managing the country -- Catherine the Great. I truly admire her! While there were some paintings of her portraits in the palaces we've visited, I was more excited to snap a picture with her monument built by the Nevsky Prospect, the main street of the city.
So the grand... 
Catherine the Great looks amazing!

Kupetz Eliseeves Food Hall, Eliseyev Emporium at Nevsky Prospect
The iconic corner shop at Nevsky Prospect.
A very old corner shop at the Nevsky Prospect, the Eliseyev Emporium houses Kupetz Eliseeves Food Hall, a very famous hi-end grocery store in St. Petersbug. Apparently, the shop has only opened few months before we visited the place! Forget about Jaya Grocer or Cold Storage, this place is one-of-a-kind! Super tall ceiling with damn fancy and classy interior, the shop sells meat, candies, cakes and even has a small area for you to enjoy hi-tea! Of course according to the tour guide, stuff here are super expensive too! But if you are a fan of bakery or interesting cafes, you might not want to miss this one! :)
A grocery store... I'm not kidding!

The Food...
Fortunately, unlike in Moscow, we got to try different food in St. Petersburg, which is also probably why I love St. Petersburg more than Moscow. :p
Our first meal, which is an arranged breakfast at a restaurant situated opposite the train station already made me feel so happy because the restaurant looks so cool and the food was so freaking nice! :)
So homey and warm!!! 
Can I have this for breakfast everyday??? Can I???
The baked beans was for some unknown reasons, super yummy!!! 
And then we went to this Uzbekistan restaurant for halal food and we were served LAMB after so many days! No more fish!!! Yee~Haaa~~~!!! The lamb soup was super awesome with a mixture of some herbs and chunk of lamb! And the whatever-you-call-it lamb dumpling was very interesting too! 
FYI, restaurant is spelled as 'pectopah' in Russia. 
Lamb Soup! *turn around in circle~~~*
Lamb dumplings or something. 
One of my students wearing the tea pot warmer on his head! Ha! 

Our very last meal in St. Petersburg was a freestyle one so out of curiosity we went into this fast food chain named Pepemok (note: pronunciation in Russian is surely different) and ordered the Russian traditional pancake with PORK!!! Ahhh... Such a joy to have some pork finally! Ha! :p I don't find the pancake super nice though but it is indeed pretty interesting as you don't get this type of pancake in Malaysia!
Oh hai! I know you, Miss English! 
Clam chowder and pork pancake, my perfect lunch! :)
This chip-alike stuff was so awesome when you have it to go with the soup! 

The Shopping
Well, Russia isn't such a shopping haven if you talk about buying clothes and stuff. But I did spend about RM500 plus only buying books on Moscow and St. Petersburg, souvenirs and some food items such as chocolate and coffee. Russian dark chocolate is a must buy anyway! :p
Army hats for myself and Deardo! Cool, right? And it was only RM20 each! 
LOADS of souvenirs!!! 
Super cute Russian dolls!!!
Bacon and pork sausage flavoured chips, chocolate and coffee! 
Mind you, these are not all the stuff I bought! I got more stuff on the last day before boarding our flight. :p

Travelling in Russia is in general quite expensive, especially when it comes to F&B. One grande size Latte at their Starbucks for instance is RM23! Imagine that! Souvenirs are quite expensive too but there are cheaper ones when you go to those small stalls you find on the street. But I bet there are difference too in terms of quality. I was there during autumn and it was already quite cold, with the lowest temperature going as low as -5. But Russia as you may already know can be much colder than that when it is winter and when it starts snowing. To me, if you don't mind missing the Peterhof fountain, autumn is just the right time to visit them because there aren't so many tourists and at the same time you get to feel the chill the country can offer without freezing to death! LOL! Because the Russians in generally don't speak English (yes and that's including the front office person in the hotels who are not very friendly, by the way) and their signboards are also all in Russian, I am not sure how you can make it on your own over there. Since I'm so crazily in love with St. Petersburg and I really like our tour guide, Irene, I've taken her namecard so if you are visiting St. Petersburg I have already a tour guide for you! :) 
You know what, I now have a dream to go back to St. Petersburg one day to explore what I didn't get to see! Wanna join? 

Click here for more photos of my trip in St. Petersburg!