Saturday, March 27, 2010

Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

I didn't want to wait until Alice in Wonderland (3D) was in theatres for a long time before I saw it (like Avatar).  But seeing it left me feeling disappointed with what could have been an amazing movie.  Story-wise, I felt like they could have taken the movie in so many differet directions, and it seemed to be lacking the over-the-top quirkiness that Tim Burton's films normally have.  Visually, however, it was up there with the most stunning movie I've seen.

Images from Disney's Alice in Wonderland movie site at
Helena Bonham Carter killed it as the Red Queen.  She was easily the best character in the film.  Bonham Carter's Red Queen was delightfully insane (a pig as an ottoman?!) and definitely not the kind of person you would want to report to (as did Crispin Glover's the Knave of Hearts).

Mia Masikowska played her role as the naive and adventrous Alice very well.  She was whimsical and a pleasure to watch.  I predict big things will come for Ms. Masikowska.

Johnny Depp was the thing I was most looking forward to, and the most disappointing.  He was not as maniacal as I would expect the Mad Hatter to be.  Depp's Willy Wonka was more mad!  He would randomly speak with a Scottish accent, so so often when he spoke, I would turn to Dan and say "What did he just say?".

The supporting characters were fun to watch.  Anne Hathaway as the White Queen played was very delicate, and moved gracefully  as you would expect the good queen should move.  I didn't like her makeup, which was too dark for the White Queen.  The crazy rabbit at the tea party was hilarious.  I loved the Cheshire Cat as well.

The visual appeal of this movie is huge.  There is lots going on and they use the 3D effects well.  The use of colour was great, and I culd watch it over and over just for the way the movie looked.

But you need more than good characters and stunning backdrop for a good mvie.  It moved very slowly, and I culd feel myself dozing off a bit in the middle.  I would have liked to see more from the supporting characters, and certainly more from the Red Queen.  Despite this, however, i would highly recommend that you do go see it in theatres for the full 3D experience.  Just make sure you drink a big cup of coffee before!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Review: Mini Cœur de Lion Brie

Price: $5.99 for 5
Where to buy: Grande Cheese Factory Outlet, Highland Farms

I cannot find any official information on this cheese online. Anywhere. And I looked, trust me. So, you are stuck with pictures I took of the cheese/packaging (and not a full pack because it’s too good to not eat).

I love cheese, and there is nary a cheese I won’t eat. So, when my father-in-law offered me my first bag of these, I jumped at the chance.

5 mini bries (25g each) come in a mesh bag (similar to how you get Babybel). Each one is 70 calories, with 5g of fat. They are small in size (1 inch diameter, ½ inch in height), but they go far.
One brie is about the size of a saltine.
The cheese is soft, and creamy, and easy to spread. Like it’s bigger sisters (cheese is female, right?), each brie has a rind, which make it easy to cut and separate into quarters (or sixths, if you’re like me and want it to last). It's creamier than regular brie.

The cost is about the only downside, at more than $1 a piece. But it’s totally worth it to me, and way better than buying a bag of chips when I’m feeling peckish.

I cut it into 6 pieces and eat with saltines. It makes a great mid-afternoon snack. All I’m missing is a glass of wine…but I don’t think my boss would appreciate that one!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Review: Maple Sugar Bush, Bruce's Mill Conservation Area

Address: 3291 Stouffville Road, Stouffville, ON L4A 7X5

Today, Dan and I went to Bruce's Mill Conservation Area, one of two locations of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority's (TRCA) Maple Syrup Festival. We both love maple products, so we were excited to go.

When we got there, we had to pay $8 each for admission. I wasn't surprised by this as it was on their website, and the other location (Kortright Centre) also cost $8, but you also had to pay $4 for parking).

Once we parked, we walked down to where the action was. First thing we did was go to the pancake house for breakfast. I expected food to be free/cheap, but it wasn’t. Pancakes and sausage for 2 cost us around $14. The food was good and the pancakes were massive, but that was a bit silly.

Next we went to visit the petting zoo (my favourite thing ever). There were some goats, sheep, a fat pig, a llama, a pony and a donkey. They also had some chickens and a couple of bunnies. I bought a cone of feed and fed some animals and I was happy!

After that we went on a wagon ride. It was really lame. We went around a little loop, and the whole thing lasted less than 5 minutes. We had some time to kill, so we went to the sugar shack and did a little shopping (maple syrup, maple candies, maple butter). It was more costly than I thought, but still cheaper than in store.

The last thing we did was do a tour of the sugar bush, seeing how maple syrup is made.

Showing us how the First Nations made maple syrup.  This is only mildly offensive, right??
However, much to our disappointment, the maple sugar bush is for demonstration purposes only…they don’t make their own maple syrup. This made me wonder what exactly my $8 didn’t really give me much…I got a tiny sample of syrup (produced elsewhere) for my $8.

Overall, it was a pretty disappointing experience (despite having a very fun time with Dan and spending time together). If we go again next year, we’ll try to find a different maple sugar bush to visit.

Movie Review: Remember Me (SPOILER ALERT!!!)

I went to see "Remember Me" tonight.  Spoiler alert ahead, so stop reading if you haven't seen it yet (or keep reading if you don't care).
I was so excited to see this movie.  Robert Pattinson makes me crush as if I'm a 12 year's kind of insane.

Our first glimpse of RPatz was in the "Twilight: Eclipse" preview.  A great way to get us psyched up for the feature.  But, for all the anticipation and excited, this movie left me feeling disappointed and sad.

The movie opens up with a scene from Ally's (the female protagonist) childhood in 1991.  Her mother soon gets shot by a couple of muggers while Ally watched.  Ally's father Neil (played by Chris Cooper) soon comes to the scene and we see he's a cop.  It was a pretty depressing opening.  The movie takes place 10 years later in 2001.

We then get to know Tyler Hawkins (played by Rob Pattinson).  He's somewhat depressed, with family issues. His brother killed himself, his father is a big wig executive who doesn't care about his kids (Tyler and his little sister Caroline, played by the lovely and adorable Ruby Jerins, who also plays younger daughter Grace on "Nurse Jackie"), and his best friend Aidan (played by Tate Ellington) is a real goofball.  Tyler is a chain-smoking (he really makes it look sexy), tortured soul who writes to his dead brother in his diary. Yeah.

Tyler and Aidan go out to a bar one night and are walking through an alley at the end of the night when they see a fight break out.  Ever the selfless individual, Tyler goes to try to break it up and it gets worse. Cops are called (one of whom was Ally's dad, natch), handcuff everyone and someone comes to Tyler's rescue saying he was trying to break it up.  Him and Aidan are let go, and Tyler tries to convince Neil of the innocence of a couple of the people, but Neil is having none of it.  Not content with going his own way, Tyler fights with Neil and then he's thrown in jail.

After their night in jail, Aidan wants to get back at the cops and discovers Neil has a daughter at their college. Eventually when they're at school (where Tyler just audits classes), they spot Ally and Aidan goads Tyler into asking her out.

From there we get into a melodramatic love story rife with angst that is normally left for teens.  There were certainly some steamy scenes, and amusing drunken antics with Aidan.  Ally's dad is over protective so they fought and Ally runs away to live with Tyler.   Neil finds out who Tyler is, goes to his house and then Ally finds out the reason Tyler dated her in the first place. 

There is more melodrama in the movie when Tyler confronts his father for not caring about his sister.  Aidan convinces Ally to go back to Tyler so she does.  Tyler's sister gets picked on by the girls at school, so Tyler goes to the school, confronts the girls (the are 11), gets violent, throws a fire extinguisher through the classroom window and goes to jail.  Dad bails him out, and they start to get closer and Tyler gets less angry.  They make an appointment for Tyler to meet his dad at his office the next morning. 

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT. If you didn't stop reading already and don't want to know how it ends, STOP READING :p

Tyler goes to the office, he's all contented and gets a call from his dad saying he's running late because he was taking Caroline to school (awwwwww). We see a shot of Tyler staring out a window on the 80-something'th floor, and then it dawns on us that this is September 11. We see a montage of shots of his family members, Aidan and lastly Ally on that day, watching the planes hit and coming to the realization the Tyler was in one of the twin towers.  The movie ends with shots after some time has passed, and then the movie ends.  Depressing. 

What started out as a decent movie was ruined by a really awful ending.  It was completely pointless to include September 11.  The only saving grace was Robert Pattinson and Ruby Jeris.  They had great chemistry as big bro and little sis, and Ruby delivered her character really well.  And as long as Robert Pattinson is in a movie, Ill go see it, and when the movie is crap, I'll just think about how smokin hot he is.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Anoush Middle Eastern Cuisine

Address: 250 Dundas St W, Toronto

After having played Eric Cartman's version of Poker Face on Rock Band (it's the most amazing Rock Band song download ever), and staying up to watch the first period of the Team Canada sledge hockey game vs Norway (previous post), I could not get out of bed this morning in enough time to make lunch.  Normally I'm good about grabbing leftovers or making something, I swear. 

So, come lunch, I decided I'd go to Anoush, since it is on the main floor of my office building.  They opened a couple of months ago, and I had been there once before.  My first experience was great.  I had the falafel plate dinner, which consisted of four large falafel balls, choice of rice or potato and choice of salad. Except I didn't need to choose, they gave me some of everything!  It was fresh, hot food for less than $10, but wayyyy too much for me to have at lunch.

This time, I decided to have the falafel sandwich.  They also have a promo on right now where you get a free cup of lentil soup or can of pop.  I grabbed the can of pop because I was too warm for soup.  My total was $5.07.  Lunch, in Toronto for $5?  Pretty good, right?

my half-eaten, delicious grilled falafel wrap

The falafel was huge (from the picture above, you should be able to see that 2/3 the falafel is the length of a pop can. plus it's 2 inches thick!).  There were 4 falafel balls inside a whole wheat pita smeared with hummus.  I topped it with lettuce, tomato, onion (no meetings today!), tabouleh, pickled cabbage, pickles, and tahina.  Then they grilled the sandwich on a panini press which was a lovely touch.

The staff (including whom I think is the owner, too) working behind the counter are really nice.  They actually smile at you, despite it being go-go-go during the lunch hour.  I was there at 12:45 and it was busy.  If you want, you can eat in (there are a few tables, and a counter with chairs), but it's a small space.

The next time I don't have time to make lunch, I will definitely go back.  It's inexpensive (cheaper than the fast food options in the area), fast and fresh food, which is not always easy to come by in this city.

Men's sledge hockey is amazing!

For two and a half weeks in February, we were inundated with Olympics coverage on all channels.  And I loved it!  Then it all suddenly stopped and I was in major Olympic withdrawl.  No longer did I see people wearing their red mittens from HBC, no longer could I watch people hurdle down an ice slide head-first.   I was quite sad.  

Then the Paralympic games started with little fanfare.  The Opening Ceremonies were broadcast in real time only in BC, and the channels had been broadcasting Olympics 24/7 were back to regularly scheduled programming.  This was quite disappointing to me. 

I've caught video replays of some of the events...our Paralympic Athletes are amazing!!  I can't ski for the life of me, and Brian McKeever can do it while being visually impaired.  And he does it great (enough to have qualified for the Olympic team, only to not be allowed to make history, but whatever). 

The highlight, however, for me so far has been Sledge Hockey.  Yesterday, Dan told me TSN would be broadcasting the Team Canada vs Norway game.  The caveat, of course, was the crappy 11:30pm EST broadcast time (despite having scheduled the team Canada ice hockey at games prime times).  But, I toughed it out (for the first period at least) and IT.WAS. AMAZING.

These guys (and gals, potentially, as they are allowed to play on sledge hockey teams) are amazing to watch.  It is a fast-paced game, where the players exhibit a high level of athletic skill.  There are hits like in ice hockey, and boy, some of this hits are hard.  The shots are great and I can't believe how fast these players make it from one end of the ice to the other using their uper body.

But what makes it even more exciting is seeing on of Thornhill's own on the ice - goalie Paul Rosen.  He's definitely making Thornhill proud.  And the rest of our Paralympic athletes are making Canada proud.

Edit: Sadly, we won't be winning gold, after a heartbreaking loss to Japan (!!!).  But I'm confident we'll still take home bronze. 


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: Wild Wing (Eagle's Landing)

Review: Wild Wing (Eagle's Landing location)
Address: 1480 Major Mackenzie Dr, Vaughan

Tonight, I went to Wild Wing for, well...wings.  Having been to other locations before, I was excited to try this new one out, despite previously bad experiences at another new location (the Disera Drive location).  Our normal go-to Wild Wing is on Bayview, north of Green Lane, but for convenience's sake, we decided on this new location.  We certainly were not disappointed, and agree with our friends that this is the best location we've been to.

To start, we got an order of Naked fries, with their Mystery spice (roasted garlic and red pepper).  Their fries are fresh cut, and thick.  

Next, we had wings, obvs. 

Wild Wings is known for their selection of flavours.  They have dry wings, saucy wings, naked wings and even chocolate wings (I promise to try them one day).  My favourite wings are the saucy "Some Beach".   This is one restaurant where I will not be adventurous.  I always get the same thing.  And I'm ok with that.  If you try "Some Beach", you will feel the same way.  They are covered in GarPar (Garlic Parmesan dressing), creamy dill and medium wing sauce.  For an  extra kick, I get them made with hot sauce instead of medium. See picture below (I forgot to take a pic when the wings first came, so halfway through, I wet-napped my hands, and grabbed my BlackBerry).

saucy goodness

How good do those look?  Anyway, they were delicious as usual.  And as a bonus, Tuesdays are Typical Tuesdays, where you get 1 and 1/2 pounds for the price of a pound. Not as good a deal as say, $0.49/lb, but the wings are way better and massive!

The service was great.  The restaurant was pretty empty, and there was only one server.  But, once it got a bit busier, she was still pretty attentive.  The kitchen cooked the food very fast, everything came out nice and hot, and our orders were correct!  And, as usual, my favourite thing about Wild Wing is the wings stay crispy to the very end!

The not so good was that we had to pay $0.75 for dipping sauce. Considering that dipping sauce costs the restaurant close to nothing, it should be gratis any night of the week (at least for the first one).  So, I just didn't get any.  And as you can see from the picture...I really didn't need any!

I will definitely head back to this location, and maybe one day, I'll try the chocolate wings!

Monday, March 15, 2010

I did it...

I did it...I’ve decided to start a blog.

Anyone who knows me knows I like my opinion heard. I like to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. When I buy new things, or go to new places, I tend to review them on review sites (e.g., ChickAdvisor, TripAdvisor). A blog will be a great opportunity for my to make my opinions heard (in addition, of course, to still posting on those sites). Also, a couple of my friends blog (Choosy Beggars’ Tina and Mike, and Rock That Look’s Anjali), and they seem to have a lot of fun doing it, so I thought I’d try it out.

As the title, Reviews and Musings on Places and Things, suggests, I will be reviewing and musing on, well…places and things. I buy a lot of stuff, try a lot of things and go to a lot of places. I read books, I watch TV, go to movies, go to restaurants, try new recipes, visit different websites, buy clothes and shoes, makeup…and the list goes on.

I hope you enjoy my blog, and welcome your comments and suggestions!