Monthly Archives: November 2014

Cafe Edison-A Bastion Of Food Independence In A Sea Of Corporate Menus

Times Square is full of bright lights and colorful characters.

The food landscape is dominated by the big chain restaurants- TGI Friday, Ruby Tuesdays, Olive Garden, etc.

And then there is Cafe Edison.

Cafe Edison is small,  nondescript diner on 47th Street. Connected to Hotel Edison, it sells basic diner food. Burgers, sandwiches, soup, etc. The menu does not vary from most diners across the country.

This tiny, nondescript diner is an institution. Playwrights Neil Simon and August Wilson are rumored to have worked on their plays at the diner. The clientele varies. On any given day, you will find an out of town tourist taking a break from their sight seeing, a local eating lunch before a Broadway matinee or even a Broadway performer stepping in for a cup of coffee before they have to be at the theater.

Sadly, this beloved restaurant is closing. The corporatization of New York City strikes again.

I have been in this diner any number of times and I am quite sad to see it go. While another restaurant may take it’s place, there is and will always only be one Cafe Edison.

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The Theory Of Everything Movie Review

Stephen Hawking lived through extraordinary circumstances. In the early 1960’s, he was a young Phd candidate studying at Oxford University with a bright future. Diagnosed with ALS in his early 20’s, he was given 2 years to live. Instead he wrote several books on physics and became famous for his research.

The Theory Of Everything follows Stephen Hawking’s (Eddie Redmayne) life from his years at Oxford before the diagnosis. The film follows Stephen and his then wife Jane (Felicity Jones) through his years of struggling with the disease and then ends with his success as respected and world renowned physicist.

This movie is fantastic. If I were a betting woman, would bet that this movie is a surefire nominee come awards season. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones have fantastic chemistry. Redmayne is completely believable as Hawking.  His mannerisms, the way he contorts his body is breathtaking. Jones as Stephen’s loving, but overworked wife is subtle, nuanced and powerful on screen.

I absolutely recommend this movie, especially to those of us who are down on our luck. Stephen Hawking proves that any obstacle can be overcome with heart, humor and most of all, hope.

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Flashback Friday- The American President (1995)

A person in power is always attractive, especially in politics. But what happens when the person in power is attracted to someone across the political spectrum?

In The American President (1995) Andrew Shepard (Michael Douglas) is the President Of The United States. He is also a widower with a growing daughter. The voting public likes his work, the next election seems like a piece of cake. Then Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), a paid political activist for an environmental lobby enters his life. Politics and personal life will soon clash as Sydney’s past comes to the light and Andrew must decide which (and who) is more important.

I like this movie. Douglas and Bening work well together on screen. The what if element of a single president a lobbyist from across the political spectrum makes for an interesting story.

I recommend it.

 

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Flashback Friday- From The Bright Lights Of Broadway To The Silver Screen-Chicago (2002) & Hairspray (2007)

Hollywood has a long tradition of making movies from Broadway musicals.  While movie musicals flourished during the golden age of movie making, the fervor for movie musicals has slowly dissipated over the past thirty years.  Hollywood has tried to resurrect the genre, but only a few of these movies have been successful.

In 2002, a movie was made based on the hit Broadway musical Chicago.

Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) are on death row, accused of murdering their significant others. Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) is the hot shot lawyer whose job it is to keep his clients famous and away from the  gallows.

I saw the musical on Broadway years ago. The movie is very true to the stage show. It is subversive, entertaining and a commentary on how fame and the justice system makes for strange bedfellows.

In 1988, indie filmmaker John Waters introduced the world to the movie Hairspray and a new leading lady: Tracy Turnblad.  Tracy is zaftig teenager in 1960’s Baltimore who just wants to dance on the local teenage dance show. But there are obstacles to her dream. In the early 2000’s, Hairspray was transferred to the Broadway stage and in 2007, it returned to silver screen, but as the musical.

Taking over from Ricki Lake in the original movie and Marissa Jaret Winokur on Broadway was Nikki Blonsky as Tracy. In the traditional John Waters style, John Travolta and Christopher Walken play Tracy’s parents, Edna and Wilbur.

While I did enjoy this movie, it is a very colorful, sort of family friendly version of the original movie. It looses some of the biting satire and subversive quality with the 2007 movie.  But, over all, it’s not bad.

I recommend Chicago, but maybe not Hairspray.

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Flashback Friday-The Object Of My Affection (1998)

Life is a very strange thing. Sometimes, when we think the chips are down, they are actually up.

In The Object Of My Affection (1998), Nina (Jennifer Aniston) and George (Paul Rudd) think that their fate has changed for the worse.  Nina is pregnant by her overbearing boyfriend and their relationship is heading south, fast. George has been dumped by his boyfriend and needs a place to stay.   Nina has an extra room and George needs the emotional attachment that he had with his ex-boyfriend.

They do everything together, until their relationship and Nina’s pregnancy begin to get complicated.

What I like about this movie is not only are the emotions of the characters realistic, but for the time, the plot is quite progressive. Nina and George are the cinematic Will and Grace in a world that was not quite ready for that kind of relationship.

I recommend this film and I would love to live in Nina’s apartment.

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Throwback Thursday-Grumpy Old Men (1993) and Grumpier Old Men (1995)

There is something about a long time friendship. After decades of being around each other, there is a short hand that exists between the two friends. Nothing can tear them apart….until someone new and attractive moves into the neighborhood.

In Grumpy Old Men (1993), John Gustafson (Jack Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) have been frienemies since boyhood. Their relationship alters when a new female neighbor, Ariel Truax (Ann-Margaret) moves to town.

This movie is incredibly funny. The decades long relationship and chemistry that Lemmon and Matthau have is tangible on screen. Revisiting her screen idol goddess past, Ann-Margaret is funny, charming and age appropriate for her two leading men.

Two years later in 1995, Grumpier Old Men revisited John and Max. John and Ariel are married. The town bait shop has been closed. A new owner, Maria Ragetti (Sophia Loren) buys the bait shop and plans to turn into an Italian restaurant.  But John and Max will do anything to keep the bait shop as is. While John is happy to play along with Max’s plan, Max finds that he is attracted to Maria.

The addition of Sophia Loren to this cast is the icing on the cake.  The antagonistic love/hate relationship between Loren and Matthau is incredibly funny.

I recommend both movies.

 

 

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Throwback Thursday- Finally, A Good Rom Com- The Holiday (2006) & Something’s Got To Give (2003)

The romantic comedy genre (shortened to rom com) is a pretty basic genre. Two people meet and something sparks between them. But there are boundaries, acted out in a light and funny way, to what may be their happy ending. While there are many rom coms that are formulaic and predictable from the get go, thankfully there are a few movies within the genre that are not.

In The Holiday (2006), Amanda (Cameron Diaz), who lives in Los Angeles and Iris (Kate Winslet), who lives near London, are having relationship issues. Needing a break from their lives, they meet on a house swapping website and agree to live in each others homes during the holiday.  In England, Amanda meets Iris’s brother, Graham (Jude Law). In Los Angeles, Iris meets Amanda’s 90 year old neighbor, Arthur (the late Eli Wallach) who helps her to regain her confidence while she starts to fall for Miles (Jack Black), one of Amanda’s colleagues.

While I normally don’t care for Jude Law or Jack Black, both are charming in this movie. Jude Law, playing a Cary Grant-esque Graham and Jack Black, without resorting to his usual man boy clownish acting are genuine in their parts.

What I like about this movie is that it is simple and sweet without being too predictable. We can all agree that every genre has it’s standard plot markers. But this movie reaches those plot markers without the audience feeling like they saw it comes a mile away.

In Somethings Got To Give (2003), Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) is a successful playwright. Her thirty something daughter Marin (Amanda Peet) brings her much older boyfriend Harry Sandhorn (Jack Nicholson) to her mother’s Long Island home for the romantic weekend. Marin does not know that her mother and aunt Zoe (Frances McDormand) are there. After suffering a heart attack, Harry is rushed to the hospital where he is treated by Dr. Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves) who develops a crush on Erica.

At the time of the movie’s release, there was a bit of a kerfuffle in regards to the brief frontal nudity of Diane Keaton. But it was so brief that the audience had to blink or they would miss it. That aside, what I like about this movie is that Keaton and Nicholson, for once, are age appropriate for on screen romantic couple. Adding Reeves and Peet to this very odd love square was a wise touch by the screenwriter.

I recommend both.

 

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Throwback Thursday-Vintage Baz Luhrmann- Romeo + Juliet (1996) & Moulin Rouge (2001)

Every successful filmmaker, over the course of their career, develops his or her unique style of film making.

Baz Lurhmann is known for his colorful and sometimes eccentric films.

Bursting into Hollywood with his 1992 film, Strictly Ballroom, Lurhmann often tells stories of characters trying to succeed against seemingly impossible challenges.

His 1996 adaptation of Romeo + Juliet, starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Clarie Danes as the young lovers. Standing in the way of their happily ever after was John Leguizamo as Tybalt, Paul Rudd as Paris and Paul Sorvino as Fulgencio Capulet. The genius of this film was that while the Shakespearean text was unaltered, Lurhmann wisely chose to set the film in modern day Verona.

Five years later, he tried his hand at the musical genre with Moulin Rouge. In 1899, Christian (Ewan McGregor) is an idealistic young poet who has come to Paris to follow the Bohemian Revolution. His companions take him to the Moulin Rouge, where the star  is Satine (Nicole Kidman). Christian and Satine fall in love, but the Moulin Rouge’s patron, the Duke (Richard Roxburgh) also has eye on Satine.  Utilizing modern pop music, the story is about love against all odds.

I recommend both.

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A Year In The Life Of Downton Abbey Book Review

Most successful television shows have some sort of cultural impact. Some may initiate a haircut of the moment such as the Rachel  during mid 1990’s or a well known catchphrase  such as “Did I do that?” from Family Matters.

Few shows have had the cultural impact that Downton Abbey have had. Even fewer have a line of merchandise.  There is the tea (several of which I personally recommend), the Christmas ornaments, the t-shirts, etc. Ahead of the season 5 premiere in January, author Jessica Fellows (niece of the show creator, Julian Fellows), has published her third Downton Abbey related book.

A Year In The Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations Traditions and Recipes is different format than Ms. Fellows two previous books.

While the previous books, like this book, contained interviews with the cast and crew, this book is is in calender form. Starting in January and ending in December, the book details the lives of the characters during each month of the year. Added to this book is recipes, a feature which is a nice addition.

I recommend this book.

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Michael Brown

On August 9th, 2014, 18 year Michael Brown, an African-American teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer.

On Monday, the grand jury did not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting. The result was the looting and burning of business district in Ferguson, Missouri.

This is a tragedy, no matter how the story is told. There is no getting around that an 18 year old boy is dead.

Just after the verdict was released to the public, the victim’s family called for peaceful protest.  Their request fell on deaf ears.

I am not in the shoes of the Mr. Brown’s family and Office Wilson. This is strictly my opinion.

While the reaction from the protestors is a natural one,  I personally do not see how looting and burning helps this community and nation to move forward.

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. proved that change can happen without resorting to violence.  We can use laws and education to improve this country for the better.

My heart goes out to Mr. Brown’s family and the business owners (and by extension, their employees) whose livelihoods were destroyed. Instead one tragedy, we have two.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

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