jump to navigation

Movie Review: Scream 4 (2011) April 21, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

The original Scream was a relevation for horror fans, and a pretty darn funny one at that.  The two sequels that followed were okay, in my memory a complete blur, most probably because they were basically variations of the first film.

Hard to believe, but Scream 4 comes 11 years after the third film, which to me suggests ‘reboot’ or a ‘homage’ as opposed to genuine sequel.  The core cast from the first three films are still alive and kicking — Neve Campbell returns as Sidney Prescott, and Courteney Cox and David Arquette return as Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley, respectively (now married, though in real life they are separated — must have been awkward).  The fresh blood comes from the up-and-coming Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere, but there are also plenty of cameos, from Anna Paquin to Kristen Bell.

I must admit, given that this film was directed by the great Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson (who penned the screenplays of the first two in the series), I expected a lot more.  The premise could not have been less uninspiring — Sidney Prescott returns to Woodsbro years after her brutal encounters as a part of her book tour.  Of course, the ‘Ghostface’ killer returns and starts killing people all over the place, and there seems to be a pattern that matches the original killings.  Who could it be?  What horror film conventions will be adhered to or broken this time?

On the bright side, Scream 4 does contain some clever moments and witty remarks — the ‘film-in-a-film’ idea is not a novel one but I enjoyed the way it kick started the film, and the whole social networking/instant feed concept was intelligently mixed into the plot to give it a contemporary flavour.  But on the whole, Scream 4 felt like absolutely nothing new.  The people are older but that’s about it.  If you’ve seen any of the first three films you’ll probably get a good dose of deja vu, except this time the jokes are more stale and the frights are less scary.  The sharp edge of the original has dulled over time.

In fact, it would be a stretch to call Scream 4 a true horror film — it’s more comedy than anything else, except it’s not that funny; even as a parody it’s not particularly effective.  It was like an old dog desperately trying to perform old tricks — very good tricks, but unfortunately we’ve seen it all before.

2 stars out of 5

Hangzhou’s Most Famous Restaurant: Lou Wai Lou April 21, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in China, Food, Reviews, Travel.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On more than one occasion, a local Hangzhou resident told us, ‘You haven’t been to Hangzhou unless you’ve been to Lou Wai Lou.’

Lou Wai Lou literally means a ‘building outside a building’, and is Hangzhou’s most famous restaurant, apparently with a history of more than 150 years.  Situated at the foot of Gushan (Solitary Hill), Lou Wai Lou is perfect for tourists wanting a taste traditional Hangzhou cuisine and the beautiful scenery of West Lake.

Naturally, we decided to go there for dinner on our first day there.  We were told that we might have to grab a number and come back because the restaurant tends to have long lines, but it was a weekday and the place was relatively empty, probably around 70% capacity.

From the outside, Lou Wai Lou is indeed very grand.  I think the one we went to is the newly built version, because there is another Lou Wai Lou a few blocks down and looks a lot less fancy.  There’s also another Lou Wai Lou just across the road, a smaller one floating at the edge of the lake, which I don’t think was open that night.  Anyway, we dined on the second floor in the non-smoking area, although it was pretty much pointless because it was adjacent to the smoking area.

Seeing that this was probably a once in a lifetime experience, we went with all the Lou Wai Lou classic dishes, the ones that all the famous people have when they visit the place.

First off, we got a vegetable dish with some traditional Chinese greens.  It was surprisingly bland, glazed with oil and salt.

Second, we got the Longjing Tea Prawns — which was essentially baby prawns with salt, sprinkled with rather flavourless longjing tea leaves.  I expected a lot more from this one.

Third, the most famous dish of all, the West Lake Vinegar Fish.  Even as the waitress brought the plate over, I could smell the overwhelming odour of the black Chinese vinegar.  It was gross.  Obviously a lot of people don’t mind it but it made me want to vomit.  I didn’t end up having any of it.

Fourth, the almost equally famous Dong Po Pork, which is a piece of fatty stewed pork (with the skin in tact) which you put into a fresh bun shaped like a castanet.  I’ve had it before and have enjoyed it when in the right mood.  We ordered one, thinking it would be enough for four people, but when it came we were stunned.  It was a tiny serve, with just one bun, barely enough for one.  Didn’t the waiter think it was strange that we were ordering just one serve for four people?

Ultimately, Lou Wai Lou was a huge disappointment.  Easily the worst meal I had in China.  Bland, unattractive and (relatively) expensive.  At first I thought that maybe I just wasn’t accustomed to Hangzhou cuisine, but the other restaurants we frequented after Lou Wai Lou were all excellent.

2 out of 10


Address: 30 Solitary Hill, West Lake, Hangzhou
Phone: 0086-571-8796968

%d bloggers like this: