After a dearth of interesting movies over the fall all of a sudden there are lots on my list to see (the race for an end-of-year release date to get into Oscar contention seems to be more crowded than usual). I was able to check Mr. Turner off my list recently.
The movie, directed by Mike Leigh, was beautifully shot. Timothy Spall turned in an excellent performance (I could have done with a few less grunts but let’s not quibble). If you enjoy period movies with a stately pace you will love it.
Overall I enjoyed the movie – visually beautiful and strong performances – but might have snipped the length a bit – it clocks in at 2.5 hrs and feels it.
Mr Porter recently went from 70% to 80% – at the same time added a few new products. It never lasts long so act fast. . .
Rave reviews going to a few new(ish) restaurants in NYC:
Upland – Chef Justin Smillie (formerly from Il Buco Alimentari) for the recently opened Upland on Park and 26th. http://www.uplandnyc.com/
Semilla – Jose Ramirez-Ruiz and Pam Yung’s “vegetable forward” Semilla in Brooklyn. http://www.semillabk.com/#dinner
Cosme – This is the first US restaurant by one of Mexico’s most well-known chefs, Enrique Olvera on East 21st. http://www.cosmenyc.com/
No big movie openings this week but with the Golden Globe winners and the Oscar nominees announced all of a sudden there are a plethora of movies on my list. Still to see: Selma, A Most Violent Year, Big Eyes, Foxcatcher, American Sniper, Still Alice and Two Days, One Night (largely in that order).
I have been a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch since I discovered the BBC series “Sherlock” a few years ago. He and the movie “The Imitation Game” did not disappoint. Benedict plays Alan Turing, the mathematician responsible for cracking the Nazis Enigma code. His team’s efforts shortened the war by an estimated two years, saving 14 million lives.
While the first scene of the movie is of Alan’s arrest for “indecency” in 1951 (homosexuality being illegal in the UK at the time) it is a biography of Alan, spanning his lifetime, with a focus on the war years and the project to break the Enigma cipher. Morten Tyldum, the Norwegian director, does an excellent job of weaving the different time periods into a seamless film which holds one’s interest to the end (go figure – a compelling movie about a mathematician!).
I didn’t know much about Alan prior to the movie and have since done a bit of research. In addition to his achievements during the war – or perhaps because of them – he is known as the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. The first scene of the movie is a prelude to the conclusion. From heroic efforts during the war to arrest in 1951 for indecency and a tragic end to his life shortly thereafter.
I have long been a fan of the bar at the Langham hotel on Fifth Avenue in NY – great cocktails, dark, quiet, comfortable – the perfect place for a post-work business meeting or catch up with friends.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to re-visit Ai Fiori. Everyone had the four course prix fixe menu (at just under $100 it is a relatively economical – emphasizing “relatively” – way to explore the range of offerings).
The foie gras was (below) was one of our favorite appetizers. The Trofie Nero seafood pasta appertizer was excellent – not surprising as there is no question Michael White knows his way around a pasta dish).
Mains were lobster, steak and veal chop (not pictured). All good.
Desserts ok but definitely not the highlight of the meal. Service was excellent. Lots of servers to ensure that the all needs were met but not an overwhelming presence. The meal was also well-paced. Nothing I hate more than the appetizers coming two minutes after they are ordered and then a looooong wait for the mains. A good choice for a special occasion.
I finally caught the film Nightcrawler this week with Jake Gyllenhaal. I recommend seeing it before it leaves movie theaters (it has been out for weeks so don’t dawdle). Dan Gilroy both wrote and directed – an experienced screenwriter (The Bourne Legacy) it was his first time as director (and also happens to be married to Rene Russo who costars in the movie). The movie has a dark and gritty tone – it is filmed almost exclusively at night in varied LA. Jake Gyllenhaal – in a performance a few critics are calling a career best – plays Louis a small-time petty thief who stumbles into a career selling sensational films of car accidents, fires, robberies, etc to a local morning news show. He and Rene Russo’s character (the news director on the local morning show) form a mutually self-serving relationship – he needs a business and she needs ratings headed into a contract negotiation. Not surprising they find it a short step from filming actual events to manipulating them to stronger effect.
The film is part thriller, part dark comedy and part social commentary. Some compare to “Taxi Driver” (Jake’s character) and some to “Network” (commentary on state of news business). There is an underlying message in the movie about society’s increasing interest in sensation over meaningful content – and some of the themes are exaggerated to an almost comedic extent. Agree with them or not the movie is definitely worth seeing.