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Movie Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (7/10)

Posted on December 20th, 2005 filed in Movie Reviews
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Summary:

This movie is the adaptation of the enchanting C.S. Lewis novel. During the Second World War, the 4 Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy, are taken away to safety into the huge country house of an old and unconventional professor. While playing hide and seek, young Lucy hides in a massive wardrobe which leads her to the snow covered land of ‘Narnia’. She then takes her siblings and the adventure begins in a world where it is always winter but never Christmas, in a world where the most mystical creatures live, fauns and beavers are your friends and all the animals talk. In this enchanting world, the children must swear alliance with Aslan, the Great King of Narnia, and fight the evil white witch, who has kept Narnia under her glacial spell for over a century and turns to stones everybody who disobeys her. In this defining battle, the children will learn that love and courage can conquer all…

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Travelogue: 7 days in Manhattan

Posted on December 10th, 2005 filed in Travelogues
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I just returned from a 7 day trip to Manhattan and things have changed quite much since my last visit some years ago.

Many previously seedy neighborhoods are now happening places beaming with energy and tourists. Most notable of these is Bryant’s Park, previously a junkies’ paradise, and now a fleet market filled with art, jewelry, and bead stores. There are many restaurants on site as well as a lovely Ice Skating rink bringing Manhattan iceskating destinations to 3 (Central Park and Rockfeller center being the other two).

Overall Manhattan continues its metamorphosis started by Mayor Giuliani many years ago. I can recall when 42nd street was a must avoid unless you are looking for some illegal drugs or sleazy sex shows. Now it is the absolute center of the town and a great part of the city to enjoy.

Another change I noted is the abundance of security personnel everywhere, and that’s just from observing the ones clearly dressed as such. I was told that are many more civilian looking security personnel everywhere as well. I guess it’s good, as it likely leads to more security, but also quite sad and a memento of the days we live in.

Manhattan has also gone insanely expensive these last few years. In 1999, I stayed at the Marriott Marquis for $170 USD per night and was lodged in a great room on a 25+ floor with a fascinating view of Broadway. This time, the cheapest at the Marquis was $525 USD!!! Unbelievable. And this is not a high season by any means.

I stayed at 3 *** hotel for $300 USD per night. Absolutely insane. Never would I have envisaged such change of events.

Manhattan was also for me the shopping Mecca for electronic gadgets and anything related to photography. I found out this time that this no more the case. The stores are still there but the internet is now the best place to buy anything. I actually did not anticipate that at all. But as I browsed through the numerous stores and went through the serious bargaining and haggling one to expect, I came to the conclusion that getting my stuff from the net is much better . I already had my list of things to buy and the corresponding internet prices and these I could not match anywhere. Additional huge advantages include the saving of sales tax (8.75% there) and the convenience of placing your order anytime and with zero headache (no hassle or haggling). And many stores have a shipping free policy if order exceeds a certain amount. So I ended up buying next to nothing from Broadway and instead having all delivered to my hotel. Things worked out quite well this way and I ended up saving $500 on a $3000 bill.
It was also bitterly cold but that was expected. My eskimo hat, scarf, and gloves were of great use.

No trip to Manhattan is complete without the Broadway musicals. I saw 4 shows this trip: Chicago (Amazingly I prefer the movie), Fiddler on the Roof (Great music), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (John Lithgow of 3rd rock on the Sun), and Sweet Charity (starring the lovely Christina Applegate).

For quick bites, Europa cafes are recommended. These are interspersed throughout Manhattan and are a great and healthy choice for a soup, salad, or sandwich. For more fancy dining, my favorite remains the Marriott Marquis revolving restaurant sumptuous dinner buffet.

Broadway remains as always the happening place. It is amazing how many people walk that street everyday. The stores there remain fabulous, from Sports Authority to Toys R Us. I spent two hours that the Sports Authority place trying the new Adidas-with-computer-chip tennis shoe but never succeeding to make it work or actually getting impressed. Bought lots of stuff though from that store.

Found an internet place that was quite affordable on 42nd street between 7th and 8th avenue. I paid 4$ for 4 hours of use and you can stop and come back anytime to use your remaining time. The connection was fast and the place was spacious and clean.
On my way back to my hotel at 1:00 am, I passed by the huge Loews movie theatre that has like 42 screens. Rent was playing and it was starting in 15 minutes so I went in and watched that. I had to take 10 levels of escalators to reach the actual hall where the film was playing! I thouroughly enjoyed the movie and on my way out, I saw a number of policemen on horses. It was 3:00 am and quite a sight!

Security in NY.jpg

Overall, I had a great time in Manhattan but for sure wish it was not as insanely expensive as it currently is. Still, I can’t wait to come back again, few years down the road.


Movie Review: Stay (7.5/10)

Posted on November 5th, 2005 filed in Movie Reviews
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Plot:

Ewan Mcgregor plays Sam is a psychiatrist who lives with his girlfriend artist, Lila (Naomi Watts) one of his ex patients that survived a suicide attempt earlier. One day, Sam is visited by Henry, an art student that lets him know of his intention to commit suicide the next Saturday, which coincides with his 21st birthday. Sam commits himself to help Henry and prevent the suicide from happening.

Review

My initial impression after watching this movie was that Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, and Ryan Gosling gave compelling performances in this beautifully filmed but rather disjointed and frustratingly confusing story. I walked out of the theatre extremely annoyed at how I mostly wasted these last 2 hours.

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In Her Shoes Movie Review (6.5/10)

Posted on October 23rd, 2005 filed in Movie Reviews
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Summary:

In a nutshell, this movie is about the bad sister and the good sister, their relationship and impact on each other’s lives. Maggie, played by Cameron Diaz, is a sexy blond with a knock out body but very reckless and irresponsible lifestyle. She still lives with her father and step mum to save on rent, cannot hold a job and basically goes through life partying, getting totally wasted and sleeping around. Her sister Rose, played by Toni Colette, is a very hard working, lawyer who is overweight and has self image problems. Despite their differences, these two sisters care a lot about each other, share a dark family history and a great love for shoes. Having no place to stay, Maggie moves in with her sister and starts messing up her apartment, clothes and taking her shoes but she really commits the unforgivable act when she sleeps with Rose’s Boyfriend.

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Travel Article: Spain Travel Tips

Posted on September 29th, 2005 filed in Travel Tips
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1) There are two very original and must see (and experience) festivals in Spain:

a) Running from the Bulls :

This takes place from July 6-14 in Pamplona (250 miles hours north of Madrid, in the vicinity of Bilboa, close to the Atlantic Ocean, and near the start of the Pyrenees mountains). Basically, and as its name implies, at 7:00 am of each morning, thousands of locals and tourists gather to basically run from a hord of bulls, released from the stables. The event lasts for 10 minutes and is for the most part safe (There have been a small number of injuries and few fatalities reported in the history of the festival so far). Risk of injury would statistically be more from stampede (In case of tripping) than from the bulls.

b) Tomatina Festival:

This occurs on August 31 in Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain, a short distance south of Barcelona. Tens of thousands of people converge on this small town to take place in the largest tomato fight in the world. Dozens of trucks unload ripe tomatoes and then it’s every one for him(her)self. Few minutes later, it is over. The cleaning crew takes over and shortly afterwards, everything is back to normal with no sign whatsoever of what just happened.

2) The best time to visit Spain is April-June and September-October. July and August are extremely hot (Exception being the Atlantic border and the northern part of the country). In the afternoon during these two months, stores close and everyone goes for siesta.

3) Each part of Spain has its own character, appeal, and charm: Atlantic coast, Madrid, Barcelona, Andalussia, Canary islands, Majorcas,…). You need no less than 3 weeks (Preferably 4) to have a full itinerary and visit most of the country.

4) Ibiza is the current partying capital of the world. You can take a ferry from Barcelona or Valencia or fly from a large number of european cities.

5) Tapas are a must to try when in a spanish restaurant. This is a collection of a variety of ethnic foods served in small plates.

6) Spain currency is the euro.

7) Spain is part of the Shengen agreement regarding visas. Americans and Canadians do not need a visa to visit Spain.


Just Like Heaven Movie Review (7/10)

Posted on September 16th, 2005 filed in Movie Reviews
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Summary:

Elizabeth Masterson (played by Reese Witherspoon) is a workaholic Doctor, at a hospital in San Francisco. She hardly has time to eat and sleep, let alone date. One rainy night, after a double shift day, she gets into a huge car accident.

Fast forward to few months later, David Abbott (played by Mark Ruffalo), a depressed landscape engineer, is subletting a low rent apartment with a gorgeous view of the city. Only, he is getting more than the view; a beautiful blond mysteriously appears and tells him off for messing up her apartment. As he tries to get rid of these recurrent appearances, a special bond develops between David and the ‘spirit’ and they set off to understand what happened to Elizabeth, only to discover that she is still alive in a coma and in an imminent need to be rescued.

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