Robbing in silence in Lips

Published in the Arts section of The Charlatan.
Jan. 16, 2003

As if it wasn’t enough being overworked and treated with contempt by male colleagues: in Read My Lips (Sur mes Lèvres, a French film by Jacques Audiard) Carla Bhem (Emmanuelle Devos) also struggles with the fact that she is hard of hearing and is forced to use a hearing aid in each ear. It can’t help that her attractive friend Annie (Olivia Bonamy) describes passionate extramarital encounters over lunch when Carla can hardly find a date.

When her boss asks her to hire a secretarial assistant, Carla jumps at the chance, taking care to request a 25-year-old male with nice hands. The employment agency sends handsome Paul Angeli (Vincent Cassel), out on parole and with no experience in secretarial work.

However, shy Carla gets quite a bit more than she bargained for when Paul gets her involved in a rather elaborate scheme to rob a gang of thugs (one of whom he owes money to).

The first half of the movie is loaded with symbolism, setting the stage for an odd love story which suddenly explodes into a frenzy of action. Continue reading →

Review: Chris Potter – Travelling Mercies (Emarcy/Verve)

Published in the Arts section of The Charlatan.
Oct. 17, 2002

Jazz is an ensemble effort, more so than many other genres of music. In Travelling Mercies, however, the ensemble fails to blend together in a convincing manner. The drums especially are rather jarring, and ruin the laid-back effect of many of the tracks, while the various sound effects are simply annoying.

Potter’s overly improvisational style sounds discordant in many places, and none of the tracks stand out as classics for future generations. The saving grace of this CD is that the guitar and bass work exquisitely well with the sax, softening the overall tone and setting the mood.

Of note is the funky “Migrations,” which abruptly switches from a livelier beat into a slow, almost ethereal sound at the end. Potter’s wonderfully poignant instrumental cover of Willie Nelson’s “Just the Way I Am” leaves out the distracting drums and opts for a romantic piano-and-sax combo.

Travelling Mercies seems somewhat lost in a mishmash of sounds and effects; it might have done better if Potter had found a direction and stuck to it (and lost the drums on the way).

The perfect combination

Published on page 13 of the Weekender section (now known as Star.Weekend) of The Star in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
August 24, 2002

One is immediately struck by how serene and Zen-like the interior of Cilantro Restaurant and Wine Bar at the MiCasa Hotel Kuala Lumpur is – the neutral tones, the minimalistic chic of the décor, right down to the jade-green bread plate and off-white lighting fixtures.

The recently refurbished restaurant boasts two walk-in wine cellars which carry labels from France, Australia, Spain, South Africa and Italy, as well as a charming cigar lounge. The lounge also doubles as a recreation where patrons may indulge in a game of Jenga or backgammon, or simply relax while enjoying dessert or a pre-dinner drink.

In fact, one cannot help but kick back and unwind here. The ambience is ideal, especially after a long and hectic day. With a glass of 2000 Quincy Domaine Trotereau, a white wine from the Loire Valley region in France, we sat down to do just that.

I began my meal with the Symphony of Cilantro’s Hors D’Oeuvres, a platter of five beautifully presented miniature starters Continue reading →

A Swiss culinary journey

Published on page 24 of the Weekender section (now known as Star.Weekend) of The Star in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
March 30, 2002

You will discover, as I did, that eight days are hardly enough to uncover the many hidden pleasures that Switzerland has to offer.

Switzerland is, of course, famous for its breathtaking view of the Alps, the invigorating mountain air, the exciting winter sports and some of the finest hiking trails in the world.

However, those in search of more sedentary pursuits will certainly not be disappointed: gourmets and gourmands alike will be delighted by the variety of hearty Swiss cuisine which has nurtured the rosy complexions and stout constitutions you find here.

Swiss cuisine draws upon the cuisines of the countries it borders: there is a hint of French, German and Italian in every dish. Undoubtedly because of the quality of the soil, the freshness of the air and water, there is a certain wholesome quality entirely unique to this melting pot. Continue reading →