Must See – American Sniper

In my effort to see as many of the Oscar nominated movies before the ceremony on February 22 I saw American Sniper recently.

Directed by Clint Eastwood it is the biographical story of Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper), the deadliest sniper in US military history.

What a great film! It is an emotional roller coaster (so don’t see this in a despondent mood. . . ).  Chris went on four tours of duty and the film contrasts live in the Iraqui war zone with his short (and maladjusted) stints at home between tours.

The film has received some criticism for what some view as a positive portrayal of the “gun culture” and an uncritical view of the military.  All of which – based on my view of the film – completely misses the point.  The contrast between Chris’s tours and his stints at home highlights the toll that military duty takes on soldiers and their families.  And the debt the country owes soldiers who serve in wars and conflicts that others have engaged the country.

American Sniper

Palm Springs Modernism Week: Feb 12 – 22

The annual Palm Springs Modernism Week started last weekend and runs through Sunday, February 22.  For those of you lucky enough to be in Palm Springs this week there are still a number of events with tickets available (I barely escaped the latest round of frigid weather to hit New York and am writing this on my patio overlooking the mountains and the pool in Palm Springs. . .)

Highlights:

The Christopher Kennedy Compound – situated on the golf course in the Indian Canyons neighborhood of Palm Springs this 1964 home has been “reimagined for today’s style of Southern California living by an unparalleled roster of celebrity designers.” Daily Tours. http://www.thechristopherkennedycompound.com

A sketch of the Christopher Kennedy Compound reimagined for Palm Springs Modernism Week
A sketch of the Christopher Kennedy Compound reimagined for Palm Springs Modernism Week

The Williams Residence Tour – Built in 1983, but designed by an architect with a strong mid-Century pedigree, E. Stewart Williams, for his son and daughter-in-law. The home is rarely open to the public and located on the hillside of the Las Palmas neighborhood, taking full advantage of the views the location offers. Williams was responsible for several significant properties in Palm Springs including the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Palm Springs Desert Museum and the Frank Sinatra House.  February 18. http://www.modernismweek.com/event/details/248643/

The Williams Residence designed by E. Stewart Williams.
The Williams Residence designed by E. Stewart Williams.

Tour of the Dr. Franz Alexander House Designed by Walter S. WhiteWhile White is not widely known in the Coachella Valley, this will start to change with the first-ever exhibition of White’s work at UC Santa Barbara’s Art, Design & Architecture Museum this fall.  Located in the secluded enclave of Little Tuscany, this is an unusual opportunity to tour this home.  February 19.  http://www.modernismweek.com/event/details/248453/

The 1955 Dr. Franz Alexander House Designed by Walter S. White
The 1955 Dr. Franz Alexander House Designed by Walter S. White

Jaffe House Tour Designed by William F. Cody, 1963 – the house was built during the phase of Cody’s career when his buildings were built of steel with ultra thin roofs and acres of glass.  Located in Rancho Mirage on the Tamarisk Country Club golf course, The Jaffe House encompasses large expanses of glass with deep overhangs to blend indoor and outdoor space while offer some protection from the desert sun.  This is the first time the house has been open to the public.  February 20. http://www.modernismweek.com/event/details/248644/

The pool area of the Jaffe house designed by of William F. Cody in 1963.
The pool area of the Jaffe house designed by of William F. Cody in 1963.

Sackley Home Tours  – While the 70s are not by definition mid-Century, Stan Sackley homes feature mid-Century touches and are a personal favorite (it helps that they are a bit more spacious than a traditional mid-Century). Tour five of his designs along Caliente Drive (one of which was his personal residence. February 21. http://www.modernismweek.com/event/details/248407/

One of the five Stan Sackley homes on the Palm Springs Modernism Week tour.
One of the five Stan Sackley homes on the Palm Springs Modernism Week tour.

For more information on other events during the week visit http://www.modernismweek.com as there are many more walking tours, lectures and films available.

And a few of my favorite restaurants while you are in town:

Tinto at the Saguaro – the Tinto is at the Saguaro hotel (under the same ownership and management at the painfully hip Ace Hotel chain). Probably the only Basque restaurant in Palm Springs (in fact the only Basque restaurant I have ever visited) it is run by Iron Chef Jose Garces.  http://palmsprings.tintorestaurant.com

Spencer’s – Great food, ambience and wine list (unusual for Palm Springs restaurants which tend to favor cocktails with a generous pour). Weather permitting the patio is a lovely spot for dinner or a weekend brunch.  http://www.spencersrestaurant.com/index.php

Workshop – located on north Palm Canyon in the design district, Workshop brings a healthy urban architectural feel to Palm Springs and a menu focused on local seasonal ingredients. http://workshoppalmsprings.com

Trio – located on north Palm Canyon in the design district, Trio is a popular spot which offers solid California contemporary cuisine.  http://www.triopalmsprings.com

Le Vallauris – by far the most romantic of all the restaurants on the list, Le Vallauris is (perhaps obviously) French.  Located off the main downtown strip in a restored historical landmark the location, food and service are all excellent. http://www.levallauris.com

LG’s Steakhouse – frequently seen on top steakhouses in the country LG’s (with a couple different locations in the desert) dry-ages its own beef on location.  Steaks are terrific and the wine list is also good.  http://www.lgsprimesteakhouse.com/index.html

The Week Ahead – February 9

Movies

Kingsman: The Secret Service opens February 13th.  The movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men: First Class) stars Colin Firth (with Michael Caine and Samuel L. Jackson also in the cast) as the head of a super-secret spy organization that recruits a street kid into its training program.  The movie looks promising – I have been watching the coming a’s for months, the move received an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has also spawned a collaboration with Mr Porter (also a personal favorite of mine) – what more do you need?

Kingsman

Fifty Shades of Grey also opens this weekend and really needs no introduction. I don’t have a lot of interest but confess to reading the series to see why these books sold 100MM copies. . .

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fashion

I am a sneaker fan and they are often part of my daily uniform.  My favorites – until now – have been Adidas Originals (Stan Smiths, Sambas, Superstars – a patent pair found on sale at Barney’s Beverly Hills is a special favorite, Jack Purcells and Lanvin (not comfortable but love the look – and form really is more important than function when it comes to fashion). Recently I discovered a line called Greats (two of my favorite models picture below). The line was launched Fall 2013 out of Brooklyn with a direct-to-consumer model.  Prices start at $49 and go up to $199.   Check them out.  http://www.greats.com/

Greats - WilsonGreats Mowbray

Museums

Last Chance – the Cubism exhibit at the Met ends on February 16th.  The exhibit features 81 works of art from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection (a promised gift to the Met) featuring George Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Leger and Pablo Picasso.

Met - Cubism

Music

Dianne Reeves will be making her annual appearance at Lincoln Center Jazz on February 13th and 14th.  Her concert last year was great.

LCJazz - Dianne Reeves

Restaurants

Dirt Candy, Amanda Cohen’s vegatarian restaurant is now open in its new, larger digs.  http://www.dirtcandynyc.com/

Pete Wells awarded Cosme three stars. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/dining/restaurant-review-cosme-in-the-flatiron-district.html?ref=dining&_r=0

The much-anticipated Hell’s Kitchen outpost of Brooklyn Fare is allegedly “two chandeliers” away from opening. Jared Sippel (Frasca) is out and Cesar Ramirez will run both locations.  http://ny.eater.com/2014/8/27/6164979/brooklyn-fare-manhattan-is-almost-here-sippel-is-out

Maybe see – Jupiter Ascending

Or perhaps descending based on the empty theater in which I just saw the movie?  Action-packed with stunning visuals and special effects if a little light on story.  The movie received a cringe-worthy 22% score on Rotten Tomatoes from critics.  And Eddie Redmayne – really, what were you thinking?  I thought so highly of your career choices up until now.

Jupiter Ascending

Pig & Khao Pig Roast

Blackboard Eats (which for those of you who don’t know is a free e-mail subscription service that delivers exclusive deals at restaurants in LA, NY, SF and CHI:  https://www.blackboardeats.com/?s=home&a=&psa=&id=&cid=&eid=&pg=1) recently offered a special deal for a group pig roast at Pig & Khao.

The Suckling Pig “Lechon” Dinner serves six to ten people at $45 per person. The dinner include a whole pig, which is brined for two days, slow cooked and then finished at a high temp to ensure a crispy skin, as well as two vegetable sides and unlimited rice.

P&K 2P&K 1

What a great unique experience!  The Blackboard Eats deal is expired but I believe the restaurant will continue to offer (perhaps at a small price premium) the dinner. Well worth it (and the trip down to the LES. . . )

 

The Week Ahead – February 1

Movies

Jupiter Ascending – a sci fi movie starring Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne and Channing Tatum.  Mila Kunis is Jupiter Jones, a young woman of modest origins who discovers she is destined to play an important role as savior of the universe.  The screenplay was written by Andy and Lara Wachowski who also produced and directed. Over the past couple of years (after seeing him in Red on Broadway, My Week with Marilyn and The Theory of Everything) I have become a big fan of Eddie Redmayne – and would see the movie just because he is in the cast.  Given that the team behind the move was also responsible for The Matrix Trilogy the special effects will most likely be spectacular.

Jupiter Ascending

Matt Shephard is a Friend of Mine – the story of Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who was killed in a hate crime in 1998Matt Shephard

Plays

Rasheeda Speaking – from The New Group and playing at Signature Theatre on West 42nd Street. Rasheeda Speaking is directed by Cynthia Nixon and stars Tonya Pinkins and Dianne Wiest who play co-workers driven apart by their boss and into a power struggle that spins out of control.

Museums

Last chance for Matisse – the Matisse exhibit at the MOMA closes on February 10th.  I saw it a couple weeks ago.  Great exhibit.   Popular and crowded though so I recommend going during Members Hours or non-peak times (if there is such a thing).Matisse CutOuts

 Restaurants

Chez Jef – the permanent version of the pop-up French bistro Mathieu Palombino opened in the Bowery Diner last year is now open.  The pop-up got strong reviews so the permanent restaurant promises to be a good place for French bistro classics.  It looks like the $35 prix-fixe is also still on the menu.