Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Variety of Miscellany

Wellums, now that we're smack-dab back in the thick of things, and like everyone else, we're still recovering from the holiday weekend -- especially given that we've had four or five days completely, for the most part, to ourselves -- a recap is, perchaps, in order.

If you didn't manage to follow our status updates on Facebook, we pretty much ran around the entire holiday weekend, doing the following: seeing possible apartments for Kaia; cruising around Soho; some minor shopping; the rental and viewing of a foursome of movies; some lunching and dinnering at places -- in the case of the former -- downtown and some great take-out/delivery in the case of the latter; and we managed to get our clocks synchronized to one another's and to New York's.

To start, we went all over the place seeing apartments: some downtown, some uptown by me, and some scattered between the two. For the most part, we're trying to find a large studio or a one bedroom that is in a clean, safe, well-maintained building without eclipsing the $3,000 rent barrier. It's doable but difficult and, at times, frustrating: it's a bit like trying to run up a down escalator while wearing a large knapsack filled with bricks.

Meanwhile, as far as our regular haunts, we found a few new restaurants -- more specifically, cafes, actually -- floating around downtown that merit attention and mention herein. One of those is the Spring Street Cafe at Lafayette, which is a "natural" restaurant. Typically, when someone advises me I have to try a "natural" restaurant or store, I think hemp, hippies and burlap. In this case, I would have been way, way off. It's a bit laid-back a la hippie, but the truth is the place is chic, comfortable and much too polished to be relegated as simply a "natural" restaurant. Plus, the menu was awesome, the food was great, and we really enjoyed our stopover. Also, they brought us something our waitress called "Sunshine Tomato" bread. It was like poundcake but it had great citrus flavor, and we couldn't determine whether it was sweet or savory, sort of like a combination of lemon, orange and ginger flavors with a hint of either strawberry or sun-dried tomato.

In either case, Kaia had something called "Mayan Eggs" and I went with a chicken burger, both of which were anything but "natural." Really good food and we will definitely be back, and so should you next time you're in the neighborhood.

As far as our movie-viewing, we went through Be Kind, Rewind (Jack Black, Mos Def); We Own The Night (Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Robert Duvall); Juno (Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman); and What Happens in Vegas (Ashton Kutcher, Cameron Diaz). For the first time in our four-year (!) history, we actually a) rented a load of movies; b) liked all of them; and c) can actually recommend everything we rented.

Well, that's not entirely true. We still haven't watched 'What Happens in Vegas.' But we can't recommend not watching it, either, so pfffft.

Onto the details...

We grabbed What Happens in Vegas first because we both figured it would be funny, but it turns out we ended up watching Be Kind, Rewind first; we both really like Jack Black and we knew, while kitschy, it would end up being funny. It was. But neither of us anticipated the fact that this film had a big heart and went out of its way to be sweet -- almost like Doc Hollywood or something similar. So if you're in an angry, unhappy mood, rent a snuff film; this is strictly for laughs and to make sure you feel good.

As for Juno, it's a bit quirky and off-beat but overall very entertaining. Ellen Page is really solid, Michael Cera (Superbad) is equally solid, and the remainder of the cast was great -- especially JK Simmons, Allison Janney, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman. But along with all the Oscar-related hype, we were both curious to see if the writing (Diablo Cody) merited all that attention; in a word, absolutely. Really solid and a definite worth-seeing.

Finally, the last movie in our trio was "We Own The Night." I won't give away too much except to say not only were we both completely surprised by how solid this film was, but I will pay writer-director James Gray the ultimate compliment: this film looks, feels and smells like a Scorcese movie.

If you saw The Departed and liked it, you should get a copy of We Own The Night ASAFP. It was not a twisted, convoluted cops n' robbers story, but rather a moral and ethical study in a variety of characters. We both agreed that Joaquin Phoenix, yet again, demonstrates how solid he is -- every movie in which he acts he impresses us -- but this movie was especially harrowing and his performance really makes the movie. It's not a worth-see, it's a must-see.

As an aside, an observation: in these pages, I've decried -- on many an occasion -- the fact that "they" seem to be remaking movies that are far too young to be re-made, suggesting that Hollywood has simply run out of ideas. However, sometimes they should absolutely re-do an old film if they can't find anything better to make: eg "Lakeview Terrace," a remake -- if at all -- of a 1992 film entitled "Unlawful Entry." I don't know how many of you reading this saw Unlawful Entry, but like many of Ray Liotta's films (Turbulence comes to mind), there have been some shitty ones. Unlawful Entry is high indeed on that list. So why would Samuel Jackson do a crappy remake thereof?

I'll put it another way: I don't need to take a bite of something that smells shitty even before it's come out of the oven.

Like they advise people to be their own advocates when it comes to modern medicine and doctors, don't go see movies -- or rent them, etc. -- if they look like they're going to be awful. That is, unless you like bad remakes, crappy performances and awful writing (considering you're here, you're obviously one-third of the way there ;-)

Enjoy what's left of the week...



Kaia said...

Now that you put it all down on - we did have a VERY busy weekend! You forgot about 'Death Sentence' - with Kevin Bacon. Good - a bit over the top - but good.

More apts to view today - hopefully something will be fabulous. Or at least, not haunted.


Boogie said...

True true...on all accounts. I mostly enjoyed Death Sentence -- well, enjoyed isn't the right term for that kind of intense, gritty film -- but it was a good movie; while it was definitely over the top, I think it goes to great lengths to show someone who lost control and strayed way off the "expected" path. As much as Charles Bronson's Death Wish movies began resembling ultra-violent cartoons, the first two were a lot closer to what I'd expect to see from someone who lost a loved one -- be it a wife, son or daughter -- to some random act of violence.

And I agree -- let's hope for something nice, nicely renovated and not haunted ;-)

PS RIP Charles Bronson