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♡ TGIF

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I ♥ these 100 films

When I’m sick, which is rare but happens, I stay in bed and watch movies (or TV serials) on DVD. I happened to get sick, so I’ve been watching movies brought over for me. Yay! Which led me to think about movies I’ve enjoyed. I don’t know much about films, I just know what I like and what films have touched me or have been memorable to me or made me laugh so hard my gut hurt or even been so silly and stupid that it had me — whether they be blockbusters, independent, arty, docs, or even stupid. I can’t think of all of them, but I thought I’d try since I’ve got time on my hands.

Not in any particular order:

1. Bourne series — Never liked Matt Damon but he’s hot as Jason Bourne, who can beat people up using his eskrima skills, and, hello? He’s so bloody smart. Now that’s hot.

4. Bring It On — What can I say? It has the cutest scene when Kristen Dunst and Jesse Bradford brush their teeth together.

12. Godfather I & II — I watched them straight through together once, and was riveted the whole time.

6. Infernal Affairs (original Hong Kong film) — The pace and end threw me for a loop.

5. Monsoon Wedding — Brilliant from beginning to the end. The scene where the father rejects the patriarch for Ria kills me.

10. The Road HomeCrouching Tiger gal is so cute in this film. When she wears the pink coat, and her face when he gives her a hairpin, the meal she made for him, the words at the end of the film about their love for each other from their son. * wipe tear *

1. A Room With A View — It’s so very beautiful and inspired me to visit Tuscany. It’s about following your heart and what you want, rather than what you’re supposed to want and what others’ want for you.

8. Sense & Sensibility (Emma Thompson version) — I feel for Eleanor and the words are so poignant….about being constrained by societal rules. Besides it has Kate Winslet, who I have a girl crush on.

7. Throne of Blood — It’s a samurai version of Macbeth. I don’t know why everyone raves about Rashomon over this one. I love Akira Kurosawa films. Not in a pretentious way, though.

3. Together — I cried so hard…the ending. Father-son story. Chen Kaige’s films often pretentious, but this one’s heartwarming.

9. The Way Home — The kid in the film is a spoiled brat and I wanted to drag him down and kick him…but the grandma is so genuinely sweet and pure. It’s dedicated to all grandmas out there…and seriously, it will make you appreciate elderly people everywhere in a different light. I want that grandma!

13. Water — A film about an ashram for widows in India sounds boring, but it was so beautiful and touching.

14. Red Violin — It’s kinda pretentious but I liked how the red violin traveled through various time periods.

15. Oldboy — The fight sequences sideways in the hallway? Wow. Twisted, but that’s why it works.

16. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer — What a creepy story!

17. The Hidden Fortress – It’s the basis for C3PO and R2D2 in Star Wars…and Mifune I guess must be Han Solo. George Lucas was influenced by this film. I can still hear the music for the film, and the princess is spunky!

18. Hotaru no Haka (Grave for the Fireflies) — Yeah, I like Miyazaki’s films…but this one made by his Studio Ghibli still haunts me. An anti-war film that I see images of whenever people decide to berate me for what my people did during WWII. I know, I’m sorry, I had nothing to do with it, the government and military are dumbasses and should pay, but it was war…and the Japanese suffered too. 

19. Juno — When did Jason Bateman get hot? I hadn’t even noticed during Arrested Development.

20. The Negotiator — It keeps you on your toes from start to finish.

21. Ever After — I just like watching for the wonders of historical accuracy checks. Not. It’s pretty, it’s sweet, and Drew and the prince have fun little witty verbal spats together — very hot.

22. Love Actually — Okay, hello, Emma Thompson when she finds out? Kills me every time. Then there’s unrequited love. Unexpected love. All kinds of love…actually. Colin Firth’s storyline – major dislike. 

23. The Peacemaker — I randomly saw this and I quite enjoyed myself, thankyouverymuch. Nicole plays a brilliant physicist who is smart and sexy. And lots of things explode.

24. Etre et Avoir — This doc about a teacher in rural France is sweet, especially the little girl who pouts because someone uses her eraser without asking.

25. Love and Basketball — One of the best romantic films ever…it doesn’t get the cred it deserves. 

26. Indochine — Vietnam is luminous in this film, as is Catherine Deneuve. A reminder that once upon a time, Euro countries decided to colonize Southeast Asia…and not that long ago. Nonetheless, nice little love story between a French soldier and a Vietnamese girl.

27. Moulin Rouge — Nicole is fabulous in this! I want to dress up in her filligrie for that sequence when she thinks Ewen is the rich guy…and she’s on the swing and singing about diamonds and being a girl.

28. She’s All That — Sucker for teen flicks. I admit it. This one is cute. You can make fun of me….but I’ll bet if you hunker down and watch one, you’d likey.

29. 10 Things I Hate About You — A teen version of “Taming of the Shrew“. I like Julia Stiles character. The dialogue is clever. And, my favorite, “I’m not hostile, I’m annoyed.

30. Tennen Kokoroko (Gentle Breeze Over the Mountains) — What I love about Japanese people and the countryside rolled up into one film. The sweetness, the kindness, the gentleness…when it happens, it’s magic.

31. Indiana Jones Chronicles — So fun! I’d like to say it’s all the archeology in the chronicles that I like. Yeah, that’ll do.

32. Save the Last Dance — Inspiring dance audition sequence alert. Always makes me wanna jump around in my underwear and just dance.

33. Raise the Red Lantern — Gong Li is so beautiful…and the unravelling of her character before your eyes…amazing.

34. Brown Sugar — The scene where Andre and Reese break up is so real, so smart. This is after, of course, his line when he describes why he’s marrying her: “We all looking for wifey material. A woman that’s fine, smart, classy but not a snob; hella hella sexy but not a ho. That’s brown sugar. That’s my Reese.”

35. Love Jones — The way relationships work sometimes. You meet someone while you’re already attached, or you swear off women or men after a break-up but then meet someone, and that scares the crap out of you so you push them away. What to do?

36. Shall We Dance? (original Japanese version) — It says a lot of Japanese society — uptight, societal norms…and trying to find yourself and be unique when you’re supposed to conform. But it’s done in a funny way, and the character Aoki-san kills me….so funny.

37. Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle — Only because the last shot where John Cho smiles all disshelved did me in. Swoon.

38. Sliding Doors — A story about fate. Which path does your life take, depending on if you made it through the subway doors or not?

39. Bend It Like Beckham — Keira’s not annoying and pursuing her lips every 5 seconds. The family of Jess cracks me up. I want them to adopt me.

40. Clueless — If you read between the lines, the dialogue is brilliant and smart!

41. Cinema Paradiso — The little boy is adorable but the end is what I loved. It makes me cry…

42. The Lover — It’s disturbing but luminious at the same time. It’s sensual and passionate….a doomed love affair between a young French girl and a Chinese aristocrat. When he bathes her by pouring water over her by using a tea cup? Damn.

43. Friday — Stupid, but funny trumps the stupid.

44. Pride & Prejudice (Keira Knightley version) — The story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy … so smoldering hot. How love should be….passionate and full of witty verbal repartee! Elizabeth is headstrong, brilliant, holds her own, and knows herself. A great heroine.

45. Not One Less — Rural China…a young girl (a teen) takes over as the village teacher. She has only one responsibility: to make sure there is “not one less” — then she loses one to the city and tries to bring him back. Poignant.

46. Immortal Beloved — The imagined story of Beethoven’s “immortal beloved” who has yet to be revealed. Now, if I ever received a letter like that…I’d quite like it.

47. True Lies — It’s fun! Jamie Lee Curtis is a plain jane that turns into a yummy mommy. I bow to her!

48. Thomas Crown Affair — Because I want to be Rene Russo’s character, who’s smart sexy…and cool. And her wardrobe. I want.

49. The Notebook — Shut up! I have a girl crush on Rachel McAdams.

50. Blue Crush — Kate’s tough and sporty…and can surf.

51. The Bridges of Madison County — I never read the book as it looks sappy…but this movie killed me, killed me! it was so sad. When you love someone but can’t be with them, except for during a small window of time. Damn. The part with the rosary on his rear-view window while she watches? Oh gawd, I bawled.

52. Casino Royale — Daniel Craig made me want to sink my teeth into his forearms and whimper. He’s a man’s man. And, hello, Eva Green is sultry hot.

53. Brokeback Mountain — I weep.

54. The Wedding Banquet — Ang Lee kick. This was the first one I saw….then after, Eat Man, Drink Woman. Both are equally good. The father figures in both kill me, they are so touching.

55. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang — This movie is so much fun! The dialogue cracks me up to no end!

56. Ocean’s 12 —  I’d like to be Isabel Lahiri, who was sexy, smart, and clever. And I quite like Vincent Cassel’s elegant capoeira moves to get through the laser wires.

57. Boomerang — I can’t say enough how much I like this movie. It’s so silly but when the player gets played, and then loses his true love due to his womanizing ways and gets burned….well, it’s good. And, the good girl wins! In this case, Halle Berry.

58. Batman Begins/Dark Knight & All Spidermans — I liked them all. Christian Bale is yum, Tobey Maguire is not. They were all so fun to watch….and the underlying current of our human darkness — sigh.

59. Kinky Boots — It really is about a boot factory struggling to keep afloat in England. Such a cute story!

60. Possession — Gwyneth and Aaron, meh, whatever. But the love story between the married writer and the bohemian (supposed) lesbian poetess? Hot.

61. Planet B-Boy — The touching stories about the Japan and Korean crews– lovely. That kid from the Korean countryside whose mom took off and he was raised by his dad? I tear up just remembering it. Oh yeah, the dancing kicks some ass too.

62. Sex and the City: The Movie — What can I say? I’m a girl. All elements we girls love are included. Love. Clothes. Friendship.

63. Shut up and Sing — This doc makes me want to hug Natalie Maines — she is spunky, if not a little crazy too.

64. Kissing Jessica Stein — Quirky and cute. The first time I ever heard the word “marinate” used other than in cooking. Love Jessica’s mom.

65. Waitress – Be fierce and brave enough to live the life you deserve. Do something unexpected. Sweet, charming, and hopeful. Keri Russell is brilliant. And darn if it doesn’t make you smile…and crave pie!

66. Morning Glory – Love Rachel McAdams’ energy in this spunky little film!

67. Inception – Confusing as all hell, but stylish. 

68. (500) Days of Summer – Cute story. A story about a breakup where the guy didn’t realize that the girl didn’t think it was serious anyways but he did and then he feels all devastate and can’t cope because he thought it would eventually turn serious? Find yourself through.

69. The Hangover – I didn’t want to like it…but damn that was hilarious.

70. Adventures in Babysitting – I don’t know why I like this but it’s plain fun and sweet…and Chicago looks real good.

71. Definitely, Maybe – I love April’s spunk…Summer’s intelligence…and Will’s preppy, intelligent, smartness. I like that type. Hot.

72. Coach Carter – Samuel L. Jackson’s coach-ness. Nice.

73. Up – Love it. The bird. The boy. The grandpa. Love.

74. Speed – Sandra Bullock is so cute. Keanu is so handsome.

75. The Blind Side – I love a gentle giant.

76. Conversations with Other Women – Witty dialogue. Fantastic premise.

77. Enemy of the State – Will Smith as a smart political guy. Like I said. Smart, intelligent, clever, preppy, athletic. Hot mix.

78. Bridesmaids – I love the touching moments between girlfriends juxtaposed with the hilarity. Love Melissa’s character.

79. Overheard – This Hong Kong police thriller is riveting. My eyes were wide-eyed throughout. Greed, revenge, bad guys winning, good guys losing. Fantastic.

80. Working Girl

81. Big Lebowski

82. Trading Places

83. Crazy Stupid Love

84. Wedding Crashers


✈ Travel | Beijing, China

(credit) Traveler’s Digest

Beijing is absolutely fantabulous! First time for me. I didn’t stay long, but had a great time even though I don’t speak a lick of Mandarin, save for “xie xie”. Highlights:

1) GREAT WALL AT BaDaLing

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I know this is not exactly in Beijing-proper, as it’s over 7oKM north of the city. It’s well worth the trip. Actually, it was the main purpose of my trip because I’ve always wanted to stand on the Great Wall of China. When I lived in Tokyo for many years, I didn’t ever visit The Great Wall. Gyah. My one regret. So when I had this chance, I jumped on it.

The Great Wall is broken into sections now, but the best place to visit is BaDaLing as it’s the most well-preserved section of the Great Wall. Don’t settle on closer sites. BaDaLing Great Wall was promoted as a key national cultural relic, and enlisted in the World Cultural Heritage Directory by UNESCO. On July 7, 2007, it was listed among the New Seven Wonders of the World!

Beware! So my friend told me that his cousins were duped into visiting a fake “Great Wall”. Seriously.

2) DASHANZI / 798 ART DISTRICT

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This is the most dynamic, exciting place in north-east Beijing. A contemporary art space, it’s a neighbourhood brimming with art galleries, photography spaces, boutiques, clean-styled European cafes, large-scale public-art installations, and eats. They are housed in once Communist-era factories and warehouses. As my friend stated, “It’s super dope.” For reals.

This space made me so happy — to see contemporary Beijing in all its glory. Creative young people. Inspirational art pieces. Really good Illy coffee at T Cafe. The huge Transformer near the T Cafe. Colourful, artful graffiti. A must see. My favorite exhibit was for painter Sun Ying at Line Gallery.

Website: Official 798 Art District (in Mandarin) | English and here | Take subway to Sanyuanqiao (Line 10), then 15-minute cab drive to “Dashanzi”. Entry to many galleries is free.

(credit here) Sun Ying painting

3) DIN TAI FUNG, NORTH CHAOYANG DISTRICT

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The first time I ever consumed the delicious xiao long bao dumplings (soup-inside) at Din Tai Fung was in Taipei, Taiwan. I almost died. So. Very. Good. The plump, juicy dumplings come nestled inside a huge basketball-sized bamboo-steamer. You take your soup spoon, delicately place a dumpling, poke a small hole with a chopstick. Let some of the soup escape into the spoon. Sprinkle a bit of vinegar-soysauce-slivered-ginger on it, and stuff the whole thing in your mouth, slurping up the escaped soup in the spoon. Nummers.

So while I know Din Tai Fun’s seafood xiao long bao are not Beijing-style northern dumplings, I had to have them again. And they were so amazingly as tasty as ever that I almost cried. Along with a place of sauteed pea-shoots in garlic and consomme; ramen noodles with baby bok choy; smooth red bean paste inside little pillows of thin dumpling skins; shaved ice with slathered in condensed milk and sliced strawberries; and a refreshing cucumber-honey drink.

PS: Din Tai Fung was voted as one of the Ten Best Restaurants in the World by The New York Times. Amen to that.

Website in English: Din Tai Fung Global Beijing

4) TEMPLE OF HEAVEN, CHONGWEN, BEIJING

(credit) Traveler’s Digest

The prettiest temple with its majestic bold colours (the indigo-blue is most impressive) and feng shui elements (the temple is round while its base is square). Stunning. I adored the Temple of Heaven. Actually, I loved the whole park, especially the places where you could find elderly Chinese folks playing chess, practicing dance, choirs, chatting with friends, wandering the gardens. It’s worth it to spend the hours there, so buy the ticket that allows you to enter different parts of the park, instead of just admission to the temple.

Across the street from the East Gate is the Pearl Market, where you can go a little crazy.

Where: Subway Line 5 to TiantanDongmen Station, Leave from Exit A and you’ll find the East Gate of the Park of Temple of Heaven.

I ♥ foreign films

I HEART FOREIGN FILMS

Do you? I have to admit they can be infuriating because often they end open-ended, unlike Hollywood movies. They can be slow and monotonous almost. I get it, I get it. Sometimes they can be a bore. But sometimes they can be surprisingly good. You can even hone your foreign language skills, and get your wanderlust on because they cinematography makes you want to go to whatever country you’re watching.

Here are some of the ones I have really liked (not in any order):

POLISSE

SCENT OF THE GREEN PAPAYA

AMELIE

I AM LOVE

THE GREAT BEAUTY

LADY VENGEANCE

OLDBOY

A ROYAL AFFAIR

HAUTE CUISINE

GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

RUST AND BONE

LIKE FATHER LIKE SON

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON

INFERNAL AFFAIRS

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE

BATTLE ROYALE

IMPOSSIBLES

 

 

✈ Travel | Kaua’i

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KAUA’I PARADISE

This summer included a girls’ reunion week on the majestic island of Kaua’i. A reunion, of sorts, because the gal pals I met up with live in three different countries, and we haven’t seen each other for almost 8 years!?! I know, seriously. We used to live in the same city, once upon a time — and then we went to all points across the Pacific Ocean (south, north, east, west).

So, I had no idea what to expect from Kaua’i — I came there with clear mind and open heart to just discovery its beauty and warmth. It showed up in spades.

HURRICANES x2

I had a layover in Seattle, where CNN informed me that two hurricanes were hurling towards the islands of Hawaii. TWO. You know what they look like on TV? Whirling dervishes, my friend.

Not to worry, by the time the first hurricane made its way to Kauai, it was downgraded to a tropical storm, what with Big Island and Maui getting the brunt of it. We had one day of morning rain. That’s it. The second hurricane decided to change course and it deviated north, away from the islands, and that was that.

*MY RECOMMENDATIONS*

So here is what’s most important to you. We beached. We snorkelled. We hiked. We chilled. We shopped. We explored. We ate. We ate. And we ate. You basically drive around the outskirts of the island in one big loop. We stayed on the east-side of the island in Kapaa, which is basically between the North Shore and the South Shore, and a tad north of Lihue, the capital. Kaua’i is not as bustling as Oahu or Maui, it’s more of a nature enclave, and thank goodness for that. These are the sights and eats and in betweens we enjoyed the most:

WAIMEA CANYON

Oh holy wonder. It’s apparently called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific with a chasm over 3,000 feet deep. You’ll drive up and stop along the way for lookouts that crop up every here and there. There’s a variety of hiking trails you can take too, but the easiest one is Cliff Trail, which is 3.2 km (2 miles) long.

♡ NORTH SHORE

Lush green mountains. White sandy beaches. Clear blue ocean. Surfers. Bikinis. Fish. Pure love. The best beaches on the island are situated here — but get there before 10:00 or else you’ll be driving around looking for parking.

NA PALI CLIFFS

WALUA FALLS

PO’IPU BEACH PARK

MAKUA (TUNNELS) BEACH

HAMURA’S SAIMIN STAND

Somewhat hidden from the main road, so you better have GPS to figure out where to find it. Saimin = ramen, if you’re wondering. The lineup is ridiculous and the place is this slapshot diner, with the cutest Nikkei women running the kitchen.

I love their noodles — chewy, long, just right. Their broth tastes subtle like a really good ramen shop in the backalleys of Shinjuku have to offer. This is a good thing. Sometimes noodle broth in North America is too salty to appease North American tastebuds. There’s tons of bowl sizes, toppings to choose from, but I went for the prawn.

We sat with locals, including “living treasure” Beverly Muraoka (hula queen). Her family was there to celebrate her honour at the Kauai Museum (but the hurricane threat postponed the event until October). So friendly and lovely!

After you finish your saimin, enjoy a piece of lilikoi chiffon pie. Oh.my.word. Best thing ever. Lilikoi = passionfruit. A spo

ORIGINAL JO JO’S ANUEANUE SHAVE ICE

OMOIDE BAKERY & WONG’S CHINESE DELI

TAHITI NUI

OASIS ON THE BEACH

PACO’S TACOS

JAVA KAI

MERMAID’S

KAUAI COFFEE PLANTATION

CHICKENS

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COUCH POTATO 101

Can I say my excuse is that it is always rainy, dark and dreary in my part of the world — which just begs one to curl up on the sofa and get caught up with TV shows? Much more so with the signing up to Netflix *shake fist* — brain drain.

I am just catching up on all those shows everyone raves about. I’m liking: Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Damages, The Bridge, Firefly, Call the Midwife, Suits, The Good Wife, Homeland, The Bletchley Circle, Luther, Sherlock, The Fall, House of Lies, Veronica Mars, Dexter, Covert Affairs…but am not feeling Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, Community, Portlandia.

Oh no? Have I lost credibility? Have I lost the perception of being hip and cool? Yeah, yeah, I can’t pretend to like something just to seem hip and cool, sorry. I’m not saying those shows aren’t any good, of course not, but I just can’t get into them. I have heard the ones I’m not feeling are a slow burn at first, but if I wait it out, it will get better.

FALL 2014

Now, on regular ‘ol TV (we only have basic cable), I’m waiting for the return of Scandal and The Blacklist and The Mindy Project. But hello-on-wheels, I’m intrigued by the following new TV shows arriving this new fall. Dammit. I cannot let TV overrule my life!

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