Archive for the 'review' Category

Chocolat – A movie review.

Any movie with Johnny Depp in it deserves watching over and over, wouldn’t we agree ladies? ;) Combine him with something else we ladies enjoy – chocolate – and this film is a winner even before you unwrap the shrink wrap from the DVD. But this one is special for reasons other than Johnny Depp and many stunning images of chocolate. My advice to you if you’re going to watch this film – make sure you have some chocolate in the fridge, because this one will make you hungry for it. Lindt is my preference, but to each their own. Now there is a book this movie is based on, however if you have read the book you will be a little unhappy because the movie does not quite resemble the book. Even so, the movie makes up for that, I think. So, let us get into what I love about Chocolat. 1. The way all the characters are connected to each other in some way, the sense of community. It’s difficult to describe but to me there is a real sense that the villagers have all known each other for centuries. A difficult thing to achieve when you’re putting together a movie and in other movies it often feels forced, or not real. Not this one. Delightful. 2. The music. Haunting without taking away from the movie itself. It’s not until after you watch it when you try to sleep that you’ll find it playing in your head. I find it usually lasts for a good couple of days after watching this one. Unusual, for a movie soundtrack. 3. The story. Good VS bad, Church VS Chocolaterie, moral VS immoral, there is so much here to see. A very well put together tale. 4. The costumes. Many of the villagers wear dowdy clothes in dull colors and Vianne the immoral chocolate maker is a vision in bright colors. Even when wearing dark blue, they gave her red shoes. Those who have been reading the blog for a while know that I love to look at shoes, especially high heels. I don’t like to wear them but I like to look at them, and there are times in this movie when Vianne’s shoes distract me from the chocolate. 5. The food. Wow, it all looks so good! Plus, The entire cast is fantastic – some of my favourites include –

Dame Judi Dench as Armande Voizin – A wonderful performance. Aurelien Parent Koenig as Luc Clairmont – Armande’s Grandson. What a start to a career to work so closely with Dame Judi Dench. The relationship between them on screen is lovely to watch. A sight for sore eyes in a time of action movies and too many special effects. Alfred Molina as Comte Paul de Reynaud. Every movie needs a bad guy, and he makes a brilliant one. Carrie-Anne Moss as Caroline Clairmont. Does she look familiar? Her role in the movie previous to this was in The Matrix. I’m glad she chose this role right after it because such a strong role as Trinity was you run the risk of being “stereotyped”. Hugh O’Conor as Pere Henri. He is absolutely perfect as the young priest trying to walk a fine line between Church and Chocolaterie. John Wood as Guillaume Blerot and Leslie Caron as Madame Audel. Again just lovely to watch. Lena Olin as Josephine Muscat, who makes quite the transformation during the movie. Victoire Thivisol as Anouk Rocher – a big role for a young girl but she is awesome in it. Juliette Binoche as Vianne Rocher and she is captivating, curvaceous, delightful and something is going on with her hair that will make you wish you had a big set of hair rollers. Men reading this, you will enjoy watching her I’m sure while we ladies enjoy….. Johnny Depp as Roux who also has something going on with his hair, but then when doesn’t he? ;) I can truly say this is one of my favorite films. If you have not seen it, you might want to look out for it on DVD. You won’t regret it.

If you enjoyed this review, you might also enjoy these other reviews.

Pump Up The Volume
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
The Pirate Movie
Chocolat
Shakespeare In Love
Dead Poets Society

A night at The Sydney Harbour Marriott

m4s0n501

I’d like to do a bit of a review of one of the hotels we stayed at – the Sydney Harbour Marriott which is a true 5 star hotel. After staying there, I can really say I had never stayed anywhere which was 5 star before.

We booked through wotif.com.au which we have been using for some years now. The package was this – $309 *Revive Package* Revive yourself by sleeping in the Marriott Bed! Deluxe room with 1 King size bed, includes Bvlgari bath pack and wine take away, Buffet Breakfast for 2, Valet parking, access to health club with indoor heated pool and late checkout of 2pm.

On arrival at the hotel, we were greeted by the Valet. We’d never used valet parking before and yes, I am terribly possessive of my vehicle so this was a bit scary for me. However, the staff member who greeted us instantly made me feel at ease, asking about our luggage and what we wanted to take out of the car and saying he would have it sent up to our room. We entered the hotel lobby and just walking in there put a big smile on my face. It was beautiful. I did not take photos because nobody wants to look like such a tourist in the hotel lobby, but it was *worthy* of a photography session.

We were quickly checked in, given a room on the 27th floor, and whisked away by the elevator – which, I might add, was also stunningly beautiful. I can’t describe it. I wish I could. We did not realise at the time just how lucky we were, because we’d been given a room that was fairly unusual. Once we got inside and I shut the door, I was able to see how unusual it was. As you can see, there are only two rooms on each floor shaped like this. Excellent Feng Shui, in my opinion. I’m sorry the pics aren’t the best, we took them with the camera phone and please note we took them in the morning after sleeping in the bed, it looked much neater than this when we arrived!. Here’s a view looking towards the desk where The Other Half set himself up (with broadband internet I might add) for the stay. And here’s a view towards where I set up my laptop in this amazingly comfortable wing chair. My pictures don’t really do it justice, ya’all. And to not have curtains, to have shutters! What a BRILLIANT idea.

So, after a walk around Sydney we returned to the room pretty tired and thought we’d have room service instead of go out to eat. The menu was not cheap, but there were many excellent choices there. I ordered a chicken salad sandwich and they had mashed potato on the menu as a side dish you could order with any meal, which I really felt like. So odd, but delicious. The other half chose pasta. It arrived fast, and was really delicious with big serves. We thought about dessert, but chose not.

While we were waiting for dinner, I took a shower because even though it was cold and raining Sydney was still quite humid, and then we got on the subway, which is fantastic but makes one feel quite not clean, especially a germophobe like me. The toiletries supplied by the hotel were scented with lemongrass, and absolutely heavenly. I’ll admit I am a shower snob. I like good water pressure, and I like a shower where the designer has actually thought about what happens when you shower. I hate it when water goes all over the bathroom floor. This shower was very well designed, the water stayed in the shower. As it should! The towels were a little on the small side, but there were plenty of them. The other half took some long exposure shots of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the window of the room. Click for a bigger view. I thought dinner was good, but I had no idea of the breakfast delights that awaited me.

Knowing you have a late checkout really takes the pressure off when it comes to morning. We didn’t wake up till 9am, and then I lazed around for a bit while the other half showered. After another scented shower from heaven and a quick hair drying session (the wall dryer was 1500 watts, not 1200 like every other hotel, makes the job a lot faster) we wandered out to catch the lift to breakfast, which was buffet style in the Icons Brasserie. When we got there, quite a queue of people were forming to be seated – looks like we caught the rush, we thought.

I should first mention, I don’t really do breakfast. If at home, I’m lucky to have a bowl of cereal once a week. A hot breakfast is out of the question, except for the occasional Sunday. My parents like hot breakfasts on the weekends but I never got into the habit. I’d rather a cup of coffee. Maybe a croissant.

Buffets can be nightmares. People vying for the best food. People who won’t get out of your way. Some places I have been, you are reminded of pigs at a trough. Not so at the Marriott. There was plenty of room, and the buffet was divided into sort of sections, to make it easier.

On the bar, there were all the fruit juices. I’m a big pineapple juice fan but there were 5 flavors to choose from. I went and got us both a glass of juice, and then a staff member asked us if we wanted coffee, of course the answer was yes. ;) The Other Half said lets eat, so we wandered off to look at the buffet. The choice was incredible. I can’t even remember it all, because I was so stunned by the fact that at the end of the buffet, they had a little section with an egg cook and a pancake cook. I wasn’t really sure what the deal was with that, so I got some scrambled eggs and bacon from the buffet and returned to my seat somewhat amazed. I finished my plate and before you could blink a staff member appeared and asked if they could take it away.

Intent on investigating the egg cook situation, I asked the other half if he wanted pancakes, so I could stand there and watch what was going on. On closer inspection, it appeared you could go there and order what you wanted, they would make it on the spot for you. Fried eggs? Poached Eggs? Boiled Eggs? Omelette? With stuff in it? They had every filling you could imagine there. Pancakes – plain, with blueberries, with fruit in them, crepes..

The urge for an omelette took over, and I forgot all about the other half’s pancakes (a good thing too because he’d gone back to the buffet and filled his plate a second time) and ordered myself an omelette with capsicum, mushroom, shallots, and cheese. That’s what the guy in front of me had, and it sounded so good I ordered it too, and then the person behind me chose the same as well! You just stand there and wait for them to make it, when they’re done you hand them your plate, they put your freshly cooked request onto it and you walk away.

As I’m going back to the table, I realise I had not even noticed a lot of what was on offer because I was so shocked by the egg and pancake situation. I spot what can only be described as an alcove of sweet things. It was like a large bookshelf, filled with continental breakfast bakery delights. Danishes. Doughnuts. Croissants. Friands. Muffins. Next to that was the cereal station. On the other side of the buffet was the toast station, with many toasters and an alcove full of Beerenberg Jams. My favorite!

When I got back to the table I was offered the juice of the day, which was Guava and Pineapple, and that was lovely too. My omelette was delicious beyond my wildest imaginings. Can you tell I really enjoyed my breakfast? :) We both did, actually. We stayed down there for an hour, sampling many treats from the various sections and stuffing ourselves to the gills, I won’t lie to you. ;) I didn’t want to leave, and neither did the other half, but we were so full we couldn’t just sit there watching everyone else eat. Though, I considered the option because the people were fascinating to me. A real cross section of tourists from all over the world. Accents from every corner of the globe were coming to me as a surprise and as we sat there so many people were enjoying themselves as much as we were.

I was also enjoying watching the staff. They seemed to work together very well, and they all seemed very happy, which I found unbelievable. Hotel service jobs must be no fun, in my opinion. People can be really nasty, I know that from retail and I imagine they have customers who are quite troublesome. Yet they all seemed as if they were enjoying doing their jobs and having fun doing it. I had to give up the staff-watch after I found just to look in their direction meant they kept coming over and asking if I needed anything. :)

We wandered back to our rooms and as we got off the elevator we noticed the aroma of lemongrass from everyone’s morning showers had filtered out into the hallway. It was aromatherapy heaven. Then we relaxed for about an hour before making the decision to get packed up and on our way. I collected the remainder of the heavenly toiletries to take home with me, wishing I could buy them ;) We took the quick pics you see above and headed down to check out.

Our car was returned to us exactly as we left it and I thanked the valet who drove it up so heartily I think he was surprised and gave me a beautiful smile. In fact all the staff gave us beautiful smiles, the whole time we were there. It’s not till they’re missing that you notice the absence of smiles.

Now I know why my sister doesn’t do less than 5 star. :) I’d certainly like to do it again, and most hotels won’t meet up to the wonderful standard set by the Sydney Harbour Marriott. The one down side to our stay was, we think the springs in our bed were broken. Hotel beds must get an absolute thrashing and I reckon some kids must have been jumping on this one. I’m not one to complain, it was just a little noisy when turning over, and I liked everything else so much I don’t really care, but I did write a note on the comments form to let them know. I’m sure the hotel will fix it, they probably already have. :)

Just in the interests of disclosure and to prevent confusion, this was NOT a paid review in any way. We paid to stay there ourselves. But if any hotel wants me to come and stay and review them, my email address is on this page, I’m happy to oblige ;) As long as you know I’m going to tell people what I really thought of my stay there.

The Pirate Movie – a review.

Before Pirates Of The Carribean, there was The Pirate Movie. (IMDB page here) I love this movie, and here’s why.

1. The music -

the movie is loosely based on the Pirates of Penzance. I have never seen the actual original in full, so I wasn’t sure how much of it had been taken from there until I read the Wiki, but you can easily recognise the songs which are from Gilbert and Sullivan and which ones have been specifically written for this movie and are 80’s music. This was one of the first ever videos I saw in Stereo, how we actually found it was on a demo tape for stereo VCR’s – there was a clip of the final song, and we liked it, so we hired the tape.

2. The locations - For all you Melbournites, this movie was filmed entirely in Victoria. The movie brings together two beautiful locations in such a way that you believe they are actually together. This is done incredibly well and without any obvious computer assistance. The two locations are Werribee Park Mansion and Loch Ard Gorge. The two should be named in the cast list because they really star in this movie, and they are nowhere near each other in reality – 160kms as the crow flies (thanks Sephy!). That’s movie magic for you. :)
3. The Pirate King knows where to put the sparkly stuff.

Men, if you want women to pay attention to your *ahem* nether regions, here’s a thought. Codpiece. But not just any codpiece. Get out the bedazzler and make yourself one that is sparkly. Believe me, this is quite attractive. We ladies like sparkly things and this is an easy and simple way to brighten up an otherwise dull area. Much better than glitter, which can be a real bitch to get rid of once you put it everywhere. ;)

4. The costumes.

What is it about pirates that makes them so appealing? The puffy shirts? The tight pants? The velvet? The leather? The costumes for this movie have got everything you want to see pirates wearing but the real triumph is Frederic’s costume. It’s perfect for his character. Those cream leather thigh-high boots are just gorgeous.
5. The cast.

While there are many great performances, the overall cast really makes this movie great. It seems like they’re all having an awfully good time.

6. Garry Mcdonald.
A true Aussie genius of comedy. While his role in this movie is small, it is hilarious. By the time he did this movie of course he was known for Norman Gunston, and after the movie he went on to be a part of Mother and Son, a huge Australian hit which is still brilliant to watch today. I would say he is my favourite Australian actor, and coincidentally he lives quite near to where I do and he used to shop where I worked but never on days when I was there. If I ever ran into him I do not know what I would say but there is so much I would want to say, in particular thanks for being so honest about your depression because that’s helped a lot of people, including me, but I also wouldn’t want to annoy him so I’d be a real mess. Seriously. Just the thought of it makes me nervous. He looks like he’s having fun in this movie, which I love.7. Maggie Kirkpatrick.

Otherwise known as “The Freak” from Prisoner, she plays Ruth the Nurse. Another Aussie Icon, and she’s brilliant in the role.

8. Kristy McNichol.

Quite well known for playing the tomboy in sitcoms at the time she was chosen for this role, this was really her first leading lady type of role, and she played it beautifully. She can also really sing. Nice eye candy for the men as well. 9. Christopher Atkins.

Already a legend for his role in Blue Lagoon just two years earlier, this curly haired guy works very hard in this movie. According to this interview he can’t sing “Thank God for machines. They can make a dog sing!” and there was a lot of work involved in the sword fighting. He does a great job in my opinion. Plus, he’s not bad to look at. That’s always nice. But his *hair* is so curly and blonde, you just can’t look away, you want to know what it’s going to do next. 10. Cheese overdose.
Yes, this movie is somewhat lame and full of cheese but I still love it anyway. I really only liked two musicals, this and Grease.

Next time you are dvd shopping, if you spot this movie pick it up and buy it for your collection. This is a cult classic masterpiece. I hope that you love it as much as I do.. ;) And I won’t be surprised to find many people reading this are already fans of it – comment here, let the world know! ;)

The entire movie is also available on youtube.

If you enjoyed this review, you might also enjoy these other reviews.

Pump Up The Volume
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
The Pirate Movie
Chocolat
Shakespeare In Love
Dead Poets Society