Movie Preview: The Change-Up


Ever wished for someone else's life? 

The movie title and this tag line, basically sums up the movie. Two best friends with extremely different kind of lifestyles, found themselves in each other's body. Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) is a single, quasi-employed man-child who has never met a responsibility he liked. Dave (Jason Bateman) is an overworked lawyer, husband and a father of three. They envy each other's lives, and due to a freak of nature, they get what they wished for when they wake up in each other's body.

The premise of body-swapping is nothing new, and I did not really expect much from the movie. I enjoyed watching Ryan Reynolds in his other movies - The Proposal, Definitely, Maybe, and Wolverine - and I have just seen Jason Bateman in The Horrible Bosses. There is the beautiful Olivia Wilde from the TV series House, as well. I thought that even if the movie is not out to change the art of movie-making, it would be an enjoyable comedy.

Well, there are some funny scenes. Although for each funny scene, there are a few more that made me go "is that really necessary?". There were poo in baby diaper and baby pooing into father's mouth. Baby banging head against his crib. Beautiful naked wife in the toilet having bowel problem. Men peeing in fountain outdoor, and indoor in front of children. Three tattoo artists peering into a woman's vagina. Scary looking females with exposed breasts. Oh, and did I mention the countless foul words that may not be all that necessary?

All that being said, if there is something I learnt from this movie, is that sometimes one have to lose what they have to appreciate what they already have. If I need to sum up the movie in a sentence, it would be: The Change-Up is a not-too-funny comedy with a much needed change of script.

::: Footnotes :::

I caught the movie preview on Tuesday 27 September, before official opening in Singapore courtesy of UIP Singapore and omy.sg. The movie will be officially released in Singapore on 6 October 2011, and is rated M-18.  Watch the movie trailer here.

{ Click here for a list of movies I've watched }

The book that transported me to India


What I love about traveling is experiencing the lives and culture of people in the places that I've been. And once awhile, there are books that are able to do just that. I've just finished reading one that transported me right in the middle of the working class in India who lived in poverty. I finished reading The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga in just a few days! 

It reminded me of a couple of other books that I enjoyed which was also based in India - The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh (also based in Burma and Malaya) and also Q & A by Vikas Swarup (adapted into Slumdog Millionaire). 

Ancient Rome, museum and one small island in Rome

{ Rome, Italy - May 2011 }

Although the first day in Rome was really just half a day, it felt like I had already seen so much in such a short time. So, it was quite overwhelming just to imagine all the other magnificent treasures that the city has to offer on our second day there. Again, it was filled with so many treasures and history with thousands of years in the making, that one may need a lifetime to experience it all. So, a word of advice for those going to Rome - do not expect to see everything in one trip!

Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine

As I mentioned in my previous post (Rome in black and white), words would not be able to express the magnificence of the buildings from ancient Rome. At the colosseum, it was easy to imagine the gladiators and all the spectators sitting around the colosseum. Of course, movies like the Gladiator helped put the image in my head. And in the Roman Forum and Palatine, imagining that all the tourists were wearing togas and sandals transported me right in the middle of the ancient Rome civilisation.


One of the temples and stories that intrigued me was the House of the Vestal Virgins. Vestal Virgins were a group of chosen young girls who were sworn to celibacy for 30 years. Their main tasks were to maintain the fire sacred to Vesta, the virgin goddess of the hearth, home and family, ensuring that the fire would not die out. It has such an ancient mystique to it!


Capitoline Museum

Right above the Cordonata, the graceful staircase designed by Michaelangelo, was Piazza del Campidoglio. A relatively small and squarish piazza surrounded by three palazzi - Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo Senatorio and Palazzo dei Conservatori. The buildings are now home to the Capitoline Museum, so you can imagine the scale of the museum. It is one of the world's oldest national museum, and is full of statues, inscriptions and artifacts. However, my favourite sculpture is definitely the Boy with Thorn. A simple sculpture of a boy removing a thorn from his foot.

  

Isola Tiberina

Feeling hungry after the long day, we decided to have dinner across the Tiber River at Trastevere. We took the opportunity to walk across the world's smallest inhabited island, Isola Tiberina or Tiber Island. It is merely 270m long and 67m wide. It has been associated with fertility and even has a public hospital for maternity facilities. And of course, the island needs a church, the Chiesa di San Bartolomeo.


The day ended with a hearty dinner and the view of the Tiber River as the sun set.

::: Footnotes :::

{ Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine } The €9 ticket includes entrance to Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine, and is valid for two days. However, if you plan to spend some time in Rome visitng the many sites, to get the Roma Pass. As the pass includes free entry to the first 2 sites visited, do use it for the Colosseum. There is also a special line for Roma Pass holders.

{ Capitoline Museum } Situated at Piazza del Campidoglio, the ticket costs €9. The museum is open from 9am to 8pm from Tuesday to Sunday, and closed on Monday.

Wanderlust: Eastern Europe

After contemplating where we want to go next year, we have finally decided on Eastern Europe!

It was a toss between Paris-Belgium-Holland and Germany-Austria-Czech, but there is just something fairy tale like about Eastern Europe that I am pretty sure I would love. Of course, I have always wanted to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany!

Now, what other countries should I add to the trip?


{ Photos of Charles Bridge in Prague and Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany }

Upcoming movie: Real Steel with Hugh Jackman


Real Steel is an upcoming movie starring Hugh Jackman as a washed-up boxer in the near future. He lost his chance to become a boxing champion when human beings were replaced by steel robots for boxing tournament. He started building robots from scrap metals to survive, and when he hits rock bottom, he reluctantly teams up his estranged 10-year old son to build and train a robot for one last shot at a comeback.

Now, if I were to build a robot, I would probably not build one for boxing. It would be one to help me in my daily tasks so that I have more hours in a day to do everything that I want! To work in the office less, to cook more, to plan more travels and of course, to do lots of travelling! Oh, here's an idea - my robot would work and earn money on my behalf while I take a year off to travel around the world! Ah, maybe that's just wishful thinking...

Oh well, I am sure that the robots in the movie would be action-packed, and the movie sounded like one that would be suitable for the whole family - robots for the boys, boxing for the men and Hugh Jackman for me and the ladies out there!

Catch Real Steel in cinemas this 6 October 2011 and like the Official Real Steel Singapore Facebook Page!

::: Footnotes :::

This post is written as part of Nuffnang's contest to win a pair of tickets for the gala premiere of the movie before the official opening of the movie. Hope that I will get it!

{ Click here for a list of movies I've watched and other posts on movies }

Postcard from... St. Paul's Chapel

 

One of the oldest church in Manhattan that stood strong even when the twin towers collapsed right next to it. It became a place of rest and refuge for the recovery workers following the attack.

There were still many memorial items left in the church when I was there in 2008, and it provided a personal experience to the event that I had read so much about.

It may have been 10 years, but I am sure that to the families who lost their loved ones, the day would always be remembered.

remembering 9/11,
- nateniale - 

{ Click here for more postcard from... posts }

Rome in black and white

{ Rome, Italy - May 2011 }

What is the first picture you have in mind when someone mentioned Rome? I bet that it would be a photo of the Colosseum. I won't be surprised if it is one of the most recognised sites in the world! Right next to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum which had been the centre of the Roman lives. There were temples, basilica, buildings, residences and streets. As there were many standing structures, it was easy to imagine how some of the buildings looked like almost 3000 years ago. Yes, 3000 years ago. I could not even comprehend how old some of these buildings are.

I won't be able to express these magnificent sites with words, and so, I will let the photos tell the story. And sometimes, you don't even need colours.

Amphitheatrum Flavium

  

Forum Romanum

  

::: Footnotes :::

{ Amphitheatrum Flavium } This is the Latin name of Colosseum. The €9 ticket for the Colosseum includes the Palatine and the Roman Forum, and is valid for two days. However, if you plan to spend some time in Rome visitng the many sites, to get the Roma Pass. As the pass includes free entry to the first 2 sites visited, do use it for the Colosseum. There is also a special line for Roma Pass holders.

{ Forum Romanum } This is the Latin name of the Roman Forum. Refer to the above for ticketing info! 

WICKED is coming to Singapore!


The musical, Wicked, the untold stories of the witches of Oz, is coming to Singapore!

When I first heard about the musical a couple of years ago, and found out that it was based on the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, I went and bought the book! I mean, I loved The Wizard of Oz, so I expected that I would love the story as well. Somehow, I could not finish reading the book, and it is (unfortunately) still sitting patiently on my book shelf for me to finish it.

Well, now that the musical is coming to Singapore, I have bought the tickets, and hoping that having the story brought to life in the form of a musical would be much better than reading the book.

Will tell you how it is once I have watched the musical!

roomorama

My accommodation of choice these days are usually Bed and Breakfast or apartments rather than those big typical hotels that looked similar regardless of which country or city that you are in. Bed and Breakfast are usually more personal, it has a better feel of the place that you are in and the people are usually friendlier! Some of the best places that we have stayed were not four or five stars hotels!

So, when roomorama contacted me about their website, I was pretty excited and spent some time going through a few of the thousands of properties in hundreds of destinations world wide. It offers lots of short term accommodation that looks so amazing, and homey!


roomorama works as an online marketplace to connect the host with the guests, and offers streamlined and secure transactions. You speak directly to the host, but if you have any issues, roomorama has an in-house customer service team available around the clock. There are also special perks for roomorama members in many cities. So, what are you waiting for, join as a member and start looking for short term rental for your next holiday!

Here's a short cool intro to what roomorama is all about.


::: Footnotes :::

This post is written by me and sponsored by roomorama. And in case you have not noticed, there are not many sponsored posts in my blog as I do not accept all requests for reviews and advertisement. I will only accept those that are relevant. 

Awestruck by the Pantheon

{ Rome, Italy - May 2011 }

While admiring the endearing strong elephant (or Pulcino della Minerva which I mentioned in my post "Walking around the city of Rome"), I caught a glimpse of a round building where I expected the Pantheon to be. I had to check my map to confirm that that should be where the Pantheon should stand, and it took me a few seconds to finally go "That is Pantheon!".

The Pantheon, built in 126 AD, did not look like much from the back. However, once I stepped to the front of the building, I was awestruck by the scale of it - the height, the columns, the pediment. I was actually nervous walking into the building. After hearing so much about it and having such high expectations, I was afraid that I would be disappointed. But boy, it did not.


It stood proudly as it had been for the last 1,885 years, and can you even try to imagine how many people had passed through its majestic doors, walked around the rounded interior and stood under the oculus of the dome. I felt small in it, and although there were many people inside, it was easy to find an empty spot to just take it all in.

  

And when we were done admiring the interior, we walked out towards the fountain on Piazza della Rotonda. Standing by the fountain (Fontana del Pantheon), we admire the famous facade which has been copied by countless of buildings all around the world. If you would like to take a break, you can either sit by the fountain, or have coffee in one of the cafe's around the piazza.

  

If you only have a short time in Rome, and plan to see only a few "old buildings" in Rome, the Pantheon is a must-see! Let this extremely old building transport you back in time, and be awed by it.

::: Footnotes :::

{ Visiting the Pantheon } It is at Piazza della Rotonda, Rome, Italy. The opening hours on Monday to Saturday is 8.30am-7.30pm, and on Sunday 9am-6pm. Best of all, admission is free!

{ Interesting fact } The official name of the Pantheon is actually the Church of St Mary and the Martyrs, but really, do you need another name when you are called the Pantheon, which means, all the gods?

Whole Earth

Healthy eating (and living) seems to be the craze these days. There seems to be so many celebrities who are vegetarians or even vegans. The longest period that I have tried not to eat meat or seafood was a month. Now, I do not think that I will be a full-on vegetarian any time soon, but with healthy living in mind, I had been trying quite a number of vegetarian restaurants lately.


If there is a vegetarian restaurant that I will introduce to my carnivorous friends, it would be Whole Earth. The restaurant serves tasty "Peranakan" and Thai food, and sometimes, you would be wondering "you mean this is vegetarian?".

Happy to report that the dishes that had none those "mock meat" that is so typical of local Singapore vegetarian food. They use good quality mushrooms, tofu, vegetables and natural spices. The dishes were tasty and flavourful. Who says healthy food can't be good?

Had been to the restaurant twice, and I am pretty sure I will be going more often. So, when you feel like having healthy wholesome food, remember to pay a visit to Whole Earth.

::: Footnotes :::

Modern Peranakan Thai Vegetarian Cuisine
76 Peck Seah St
(Tg Pagar MRT Exit A)
Singapore 079331
Tel: 65 6323 3308
Open Daily
Lunch: 11:30am to 3pm (last order at 2:30pm)
Dinner: 5:30 to 10pm (last order at 9:15pm)

Movie Preview: Johnny English Reborn


While I enjoyed watching Mr Bean when I was younger, I had never been able to appreciate that kind of comedy. So, there are very few movies by the likes of Rowan Atkinson, Steve Carell or Jim Carrey that I truly enjoyed. Well, except the occasional ones that surprises me, like The Truman Show (with Jim Carrey).

So, when I was given a chance to receive a pair of free tickets to watch the sneak preview of Johnny English Reborn - the spy movie featuring none other than Rowan Atkinson - I had my reservations. Would I find it funny? Would I enjoy myself? Would I be able to write an unbiased review? Well, I did watch, and I laughed and enjoyed myself. However, I have passed on the task of writing the review...

Review by Q

Disgraced spy on a mission to set things straight, cool gadgets complete with voice-commanded Rolls-Royce, intelligence agency with a no-nonsense chief (portrayed by a British-sounding Gillian Anderson), a pretty and intellectual love interest, and a few action and chase scenes (the one with the wheelchair was giggle-inducing!) - these are all hallmarks of a Bond movie, except that Johnny English Reborn does the spy theme in its own hilarious way.

After a fiasco in Mozambique - which still stirs painful memories within him - Johnny English (portrayed by Rowan Atkinson) finds himself in a temple in the remote mountains of Tibet, learning kung fu and meditation to forget his past. After being summoned back to the MI7 for a mission to foil an assassination plot on the Chinese premier, he is whipped off to Hong Kong to meet a certain Agent Fisher. He finds out that a group called Vortex is behind the plot and just moments prior to his death from a sniper bullet, Fisher shows him one of 3 keys that are required for the success of the plot. The trail subsequently leads English to the KGB, and ultimately to MI7, where one of the agents are involved in this sinister plot.

There is nothing new in the plot, but the star of the show is definitely Atkinson. With a 'rubbery' face that displays nonchalance and sometimes outright cluelessness, English does not try to be a suave and deadly-cool Bond. Neither is he a bungling idiot. He goes about it the English way - with loads of casualness and non-conventional yet highly-effective wisdom in handling matters, like side-stepping barriers and taking the elevator while chasing his parkour-boosted villain. Yes, there are some times that he mucks things up, but hey, that's the source of laughters and guffaws!

All in all, Johnny English Reborn is a spy comedy that doesn't take itself too seriously, with a main character that steals the show. Stay on after the credits roll for a demonstration of English cooking, with actions choreographed to Grieg's In the Hall of Mountain King. 101 minutes of laughter, right till the end of the credits.

::: Footnotes :::

I caught the movie preview more than a week before official opening in Singapore courtesy of United International Pictures (UIP) and omy.sg. The movie will be officially released in Singapore on 15 September 2011. Here are the official movie website and the movie trailer

{ Click here for a list of movies I've watched }

live. laugh. love.

Have a great weekend, full of love and laughter!

Walking around the city of Rome

{ Rome, Italy - May 2011 }

Roma. Roma. Roma.

I think I have a love-hate relationship with the city. On one hand, how can I not love a city with so much history? And yet, the city is huge, which means lots of people and traffic, and everything is far away! After three days in the compact islands of Venice and a day in the university town of Bologna, we spent four days in the city of Rome, and it felt worlds apart.

We took the train from Bologna to Rome and reached the city late morning. By the time we checked into the apartment we have booked and had lunch (the lunch was one of the best we had in Rome - more on that later!), it was already quite late. So, we spent the first day in Rome walking around some of the main (and free) attractions around Rome. Most of the places we went would not need any introductions, as the photos would speak for themselves.

The first place we went to was the one building that will always be linked to Rome - the Colosseum (Coloseo). We saw it from the Roman Forum and was so giddy with excitement that we walked straight towards it! After looking at so many photos, reading and listening about it, we were finally there! We walked around it, soaking in the atmosphere, but planned to visit it the next day.


Right in front of the Colosseum, was Arco di Constantino, which was built in honour of Constantine, the great Roman emperor. We then walked past the Palatine Hill towards the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome - Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo). All it was today was a patch of green field, used by joggers. It was pretty difficult to imagine how it used to look like.


Now, if I have a favourite obelisk among the many obelisks around Rome, it would be this endearingly strong elephant, supporting an Egyptian obelisk. The elephant was designed by Bernini, and the statue and the obelisk is called the Pulcino della Minerva. It is right in front of the Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The basilica houses the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena, and while the body was in Rome, the head was in Siena! Of course, we were curious enough to visit Basilica of San Domenico that housed St. Catherine's head, when we were in Siena, Tuscany.


Just a few steps away, was the Pantheon. Can you believe that it was built in 126 AD? For a 1,885 year old building, it sure is looking good! Now, Pantheon, like the Colosseum, deserves a post all to itself. So, more to come!


Another must-see if you are only in Rome for a day would be Piazza Navona. It has three fountains and two churches. The most famous would be another of Bernini's masterpiece, the Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi). It features statues representing four rivers in four continents - the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and the Rio de la Plata. The fountain stood right in front of Borromini's Chiesa di Sant' Agnese in Agone. A popular myth says that one of the statues on Bernini's fountain faces the church directly and appears to be recoiling in horror as a critique of his rival's work. However, it really is a myth as the building of the church only started a year after the fountain was completed. Flanked at the two ends of the piazza were Fountain of Neptune (photo below, also called Fontana del Nettuno) and the Fontana del Moro. And if it sounded familiar, you probably have read or watched the piazza and the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons.


From Piazza Navona, we walked the streets of Rome. Of course, after feeling tired from walking, all you need is a gelato stop! But not just any gelato shop, the Gelateria Giolitti where Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn stopped by in Roman Holiday, and countless of other famous people. Reaching Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi), we got shocked with the number of people in front of the fountain. Guess it was to be expected considering it is one of the most famous fountain in the world. Of course we threw coins to ensure our return to Rome!


Our long walk around Rome ended right at the Spanish Steps (Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti). Right at the bottom of the steps was the Fountain of the Old Boat (Fontana della Barcaccia) and right at the top was the church Trinità dei Monti. We sat on the steps to rest our feet, joining the countless tourists and locals.


We managed to see so much in a relatively short day, and the number of masterpieces kind of took my breath away. I know Stendhal syndrome was usually associated with Florence, but I think I kind of have that in Rome - there were just so much history, so many important buildings and famous art pieces that overwhelmed me. This was just the first day in Rome. How many more days would it take to see all that the city has to offer?

::: Footnotes :::

{ Where we stayed } We stayed in Relais Rome Sweet Rome, a charming apartment near the Roman Forum. 

{ Where we ate } We had one of the best lunch in Rome in La Taverna dei Fori ImperialiWe went in as it right outside where we stayed, without knowing that it was actually a famous restaurant! If you plan to go, try to make a booking first, especially for dinner. Stop for gelato at Giolitti at Via degli Uffici del Vicario 40. This was where Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn stopped by in Roman Holiday, and countless of other famous people. 

bird cages


I've been seeing quite a lot of bird cages being used as home decorations lately, and I love the idea! It would look great just sitting at a corner of the house, or a great storage idea - say a small stack of books, empty bottles, or even small pots of plants. 

Of course, why stop there when you can also have wallpapers and small miniature bird cages as pendant or keychains! 


People of Venice

{ Venice, Italy - April 2011 }

One of my favourite things to do whenever I travel is to people watch. I love watching the locals, going about their daily lives. I love watching the tourists, wondering which part of the world they came from. And in Italy, how can you not love the Italians? I love watching a group of Italian men talking with so much energy, and although I have no idea what they were discussing, it must be a very exciting topic! In Venice, there were the locals who made their living on the tourists that flocked the islands daily. And, there were lots of tourists, of course.

Here are some snapshots of the people around Venice.

The Artists

  

The Ladies

  

The Kids

  

The Gondoliers


The Families

  
  

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