brothercyst: writing... 2 movies... food question

Thursday, January 04, 2007

writing... 2 movies... food question

Laboring on fresh work. This always gives rise to frustration, long periods of "flat affect" punctuated by bursts of anger, and nights spent sort of staring at the wall. I have to sit in the dark in my bedroom from the hours of midnight to 3 a.m. and try to do something that feels like sculpting a fog.


Last night I saw two movies. One admirable but flawed, one a masterpiece.

The former was Pan's Labyrinth. It is exceptionally well made, but it is a movie for children, with simple and obvious moral delineations, a cute youthful protagonist, fauns, fairies, and an evil stepfather. We meet characters and we know exactly what's up with them. Ivana Baquero (playing the 11-year-old heroine) and Sergi Lopez give excellent performances, and above all, Guillermo del Toro knows how to direct scenes of horror and the grotesque. At one point, the side of Lopez's mouth has been slashed open into a nightmarish grin, and he stolidly takes a needle and sews it back up. Then there's a child-hungry being called Pale Male, whose brief scene is totally delightful. But there are too many problems. (Spoilers...) A woman stabs Lopez, a fascist military captain, repeatedly after he has tortured her--then leaves him alive. After that, I never really came back to the movie. Plus the obnoxious sound design (in this world, merely touching a knife blade with your finger causes a sharp metallic scchhhhink! sound, and every time a pocket watch appears, there's loud ticking) and the fake baby she toted around throughout the film's final act...

And then there is Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men. Just extraordinary. It takes place in a future which is, like that of A Clockwork Orange, similar to ours but wasted, squandered. There are no flying cars here. Technology has advanced a bit but humans are still human, just as idealistic/cowardly/murderous/loving/disloyal/complicated as ever. Except they can no longer procreate. Cuaron's script literalizes the warning that the excess and indifference of one generation will be its legacy to the next. Everybody involved with this film gives five hundred percent, both in front of and behind the camera. The long takes (the car attack, the incredible refugee camp scene at the end) demand repeat viewings. All the actors, particularly Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Peter Mullan (a hilarious/scary prison administrator), and Claire-Hope Ashitey, are awesome. So is the soundtrack. So are the special effects. And this is a profound, scary, intelligent movie. I'm serious, if it opens near you, go see it.

[random update: interesting. this is the only best-movies-of-the-year list I've seen whose top 3 I agree with. i might switch 2 & 3 though.]


What is your favorite restaurant in New York, if you have one? I need some good, and if possible unusual, recommendations.


Chief said...

Good, unusual restaurants in NYC by category:

French: La Luncheonette, 22nd and 10th Ave (thereabouts). I haven't been in a while, but the food's great and it's a price performer. Reservations a must.

Italian: Al Di La, 5th Avenue and Carroll Street, Brooklyn (Park Slope). Best Italian restaurant in the city, and they don't take reservations. Again, prices very reasonable. You might end up waiting 90 minutes for a table, though.

Thai fusion: Vong, 47th and 3rd Ave. beacoups $$$, but worth it.

Japanese: Decibel, Stuyvesant between 3rd and 2nd (I can't remember exactly where it is, but you know the corner where ST. Mark's Books is; go east from there along Stuyvesant, and look for a basement entrance). This is the japanese food that japanese people eat, not some westernized version of the same. Best Sake menu in town. very reasonably priced.

Pizza: Grimaldi's, under the Brooklyn bridge. Again, no reservations, but the pies in this place will make you believe in God.
You can probably google it to find the exact address.

The Oyster Bar, bottom of Grand Central Station. Everybody laughs at this place as they walk by it, but if you like shellfish, particularly oysters, you should go there.

There's so ideas anyway. I tried to be friendly to your young man's wallet in the construction of this list. Vong is the only one of these restaurants that can provoke an existential crises when the bill arrives, but, still, if you go there expecting that, and have the money, you'll love it.

NickAntosca said...

Perfect, thank you!

By total coincidence, I went to the GCT oyster bar tonight for the first time and had some delicious oysters indeed.

Chief said...

Yeah, the Oyster Bar's the only place I've ever enjoyed fried oysters.

And I actually harbor a perverse fondness for that 70', so yeah, it's a great place.

Katherine said...

I'm mad for Meatpacking District diner Florent on Gansevoort. It's open 24 hours and out-of-the-way -- I always expect the meal will turn into a David Lynch film, though that might be because of the hours I go. The single obnoxious part is the cash-only policy. You can check out the menus online.

Diala said...

anything i would recommend would have too much garlic or spice for you liking.

NickAntosca said...

Florent. Thanks Kati, I will investigate further. And if the meal may turn into a Lynch film, I will probably go.

Diala, this is true.

Tight toy night said...

I absolutely love Veselka, at 2nd Ave and St. Mark's Place. Great Ukrainian food. And Uncle Vanya, on West 54th btw. 8th and 9th Ave, is a really good authentic Russian place. (Authentic Russian = not that bourgeois French crap.)

mademoiselle sand said...

argh, not veselka. the sausage made my best friend cry.