Friday, June 10, 2011

Midnight in Paris

If you are a Francophile, just love Paris, love Woody Allen movies, love the 20's and all the fascinating and talented creatives of that era,  are a fan of Cole Porter,  love the idea of walking in the rain in cities you love or are a romantic like me, who believes the magic of certain people and places truly feed your soul, or even that there is magic in the witching hour of midnight.....then this movie is for you.

With a great cast of characters and a performance by Owen Wilson that does a better Woody Allen than Woody Allen and aided by the, always enchanting, onscreen presence of  Marion Cotillard, this movie just had that little spark that filled me up and sent me home feeling I'd spent time with someone lovely and entertaining.

Besides, any movie that has Kathy Bates in it already has at least one saving grace and, as Gertrude Stein, she was delightful, as were the host of other actors that portrayed all the luminaries of the past. Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Carla Bruni, Mimi Kennedy and company as characters in the present also did a nice job, but it was the world and character actors that came alive at the stroke of midnight that  I loved the most.

The cinematography and the costumes for this movie are wonderful and of course, with Paris as the terrain on which the people and the clothing are displayed and photographed, well it's a hard combination to beat.

This is one I'll probably add to my collection of small, "feel good" movies such as Moonstruck,  Houseboat (Cary Grant and Sofia Loren),  Bell, Book and Candle (Jimmy Stewart/Kim Novak),  Barefoot in the Park, Sunday in New York, Gigi, Victor/ Victoria, Breakfast at Tiffany, Roman Holiday, Pal Joey,  Pink Panther, Vertigo,  Same Time Next Year, The Philadelphia Story,  etc.... that are evocative of places, music and themes that just make me feel good.

Woody Allen has done another very watchable and enjoyable follow up to Vicky Christina Barcelona and the witty Whatever Works and I recommend it!

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

God of Carnage

Finally, finally got to see the Tony award winning God of Carnage a couple of weeks ago.    I'd missed seeing this in New York and have patiently waited for it to come to L.A.    Luckily for me, it was part of the subscription this year, and featured the original Broadway cast of Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis,  James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden...and it was wonderful.

The casting couldn't have been better for this story about two sets of parents who get together at the Brooklyn apartment of one of them, to discuss a school yard fight between their respective 11 year old boys and, what starts out as a civilized conversation, ends up a free for all, as liquor is consumed and food and other things go flying and the thin veneer of civility that so often coats situations like this, ends up revealing a dark, sad, but hilarious underbelly to the individuals involved.

The one and a half hour, no intermission production, goes by so quickly,  you find yourself switching empathy from one character to another, and finally end up just marveling that these consummate professionals could do this night after night and even another show that same day.

It was hard to pick one performance that was better than the others,  they were all wonderful.  But I have to say that I now know why Marcia Gay Harden won the Tony award for her role as the aggrieved mother of the boy on the receiving end of a beating.  The woman never gives a bad performance.

This is one of those times when everything works and the audience spontaneously jumps up immediately to show their gratitude to those who entertain us and make us keep wanting to come back to the theater for more.

Ben Brantley of the New York Times pretty much said it all in this paragraph:

“Never underestimate the pleasure of watching really good actors behaving terribly . . . highly skilled stage performers take on roles that allow them to rip the stuffing out of one another, tear up the scenery, stomp on their own vanity and have the time of their lives."

And the nice thing about it is that they allow us to go along for the ride.

We all walked out of the theater looking forward to a fun discussion of the premise and the characters that populated this very witty, well acted piece of entertainment.

The play ended up being the highest grossing, non musical in the CTG history.

Fig and Olive

We wrapped up the  day with drinks at The Four Season's Hotel and dinner at  Fig and Olive on Melrose Place.   It was my turn to pick the restaurant and everyone was very happy with my choices to finish off a perfect day.

Another great day in La La Land.

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New York Thundershowers and Spring Shoes

Written on April 27th

When NYC experiences the first signs of spring and the trees start blooming, the first warm, sunny day turns a girl's thoughts to spring fashion.  Well it's been a long time since I was a girl, but inside, in many ways, I still am one and so I work at keeping the "outside" in good enough shape to match how I feel.

With this in mind, the first order of things was to visit a "new" wizard (shall we call him Dr. Avatar?) for a little friendly "bo" between the brows to minimize the vertical lines brought on by eyestrain and squinting.  It works like a charm and I have been using it in this area for several years now.  It doesn't freeze your expression (as the misinformed like to say) if done correctly and applied conservatively.  I can still frown, but it helps to remind me not to.   I didn't want the overdone Hollywood, one look fits all thing one so often sees, so went to the good, conservative doctor who assured me they did things differently in the Big Apple.  In New York, a city that is not subtle by any means, on this matter, subtlety is key.

Secondly, my "invisalign" (which I only wear overnight and resorted to when my teeth started shifting), having done its job of coaxing my upper and lower front teeth back into their rightful place, are in the final two weeks of wear stage, after which I will visit Dr. Zoom for a refresher whitening and the changing out a side filling that has yellowed a little,  and I am ready to  sew some new oats, which are still considerable, despite my age.  After all, age is only a number  and if it doesn't weigh heavily on you, why let it deprive you of your youth?   I mean, as long as you keep it classic, chic, and a little dignified (with the occasional foray into the silly), why the hell not?  No stiff upper lip for me (pun intended).

Anyway, after these efforts and getting back to my exercise routine when I returned to L.A. where the weather is looking good, I am ready to rock two of my recent New York "spring day" purchases and hopefully, literally, stay on my feet.

But getting back to New York and my recent visit, it is unfortunate for me (and profitable for them) that next door to Cafe Gitane houses a Belle store, a brand of less espensive Sigerson Morrison shoes.   After enjoying a snack and some fun people watching at the tiny, but always packed Nolita eatery, I always peek in their window and sometimes go in and look.  This visit was no exception.  Last spring my little visit had me coming away with some sandals and this year it was these two spring beauties.

I'm a little embarrassed about buying a platform, since I mentioned in an earlier article that I would not do a big platform, but "big" is the key word here, as this is a small one and mitigates the 4 inch heel and the feel of the shoe.

What do you think?
Stylish or Not?
With a pencil skirt or dress?

The thing is they are actually pretty comfortable because of the way the heels are structured.  I wore the ones on the right to my nephew's graduation from the fire academy last Friday and to dinner afterwards with soft black legging jeans (rolled up a little to show the ankle detail of the shoes), a sleek silk tunic in the same tones as the shoe, and a black, belted cashmere sweater and I must say they looked pretty good, although a little stiff from first wear.  I was invited to join the younger generation at the after the dinner party, so that says something.  The key to these shoes is not to tie the ankle straps too tightly so you can let your foot move around and drive the normally stiffer fit a platform shoe automatically give you that a normal shoe doesn't.

I haven't worn the black ones yet, but plan to this Thursday, when I go to dinner with some friends, if the So. Cal. weather remains warm enough for a sandal.  I'll wear it with a dress or a pencil skirt to show off the cute ankle detail.

Another great thing about spring in New York, was that D and I planted bulbs and seeds in her back patio and I am only sad I am not there to see everything take off and bloom.  She wants to invite friends over for a "movie" night (when the weather turns warmer) by hanging a sheet on one of the patio walls.  It will also be an excuse to invite the cute guy that moved into the basement apartment just recently and had to bring his bed in through her apartment (she lives on the first floor), which is great, although she misses the gay couple which lived there before.   We also bought a couple of green potted trees and some great candles and lanterns (from West Elm) to add a little more illumination along with the twinkling overhead lights we got from Restoration Hardware last spring.

The two trees in front of her building were blooming profusely when I left, and all week long they had been filming a few doors down, even until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. in the morning.  It was very atmospheric and fun to walk by with all the lights, etc.

The following day, we decided to hit the art galleries in Chelsea.  We ran into Robin Williams at one of the galleries.  He had been filming on one of the streets there and dropped in to browse. We tried to stick round for the Picasso exhibit, but it didn't start until 6.  We did however, get to see a cool exhibit of photographs of the civil rights marches in the south by a photographer who chronicled it, the famous Charles Moore.  The exhibit was absolutely wonderful and showed a very painful and shameful period of American history.  That was my favorite.

After that we ate a bite at a nearby restaurant, intending to come back for the opening night of the Picasso exhibit, but got scared away by the long lines.   Instead we headed up the steps to the High Line where we loitered around a bit before getting off near the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking district to meet a friend for drinks.  She works in fashion and was with a designer, a tall, pretty, laid back, black girl.  After two drinks and some great conversation, our friend left to go home, but the designer decided to hang out with us and the three of us,  still hungry,  headed for Pastis, where she knows the Maitre d', for a very late dinner, and got the very best table in the very crowded, Friday night house.

Comfortably settled with a great view of the room, we pigged out on oysters, lobster, steak, "done to perfection" skinny french fries,  bread and wine and brought up the rear (or maybe down the rear) by a dessert of profiteroles, all served by a very cute, charming and manic (either that or he was on speed for sure) red headed,  ponytailed waiter who thanked me profusely for the generous tip, and topped off by a two cheek kiss and wide smile from the lovely, gentle giant who had given us the great table in the first place.  A wonderful day, all in all.

One night there were thundershowers and D and I walked home from a fun dinner at the bar at Rubirosa on Mulberry, after sharing some great old fashioned, homemade lasagna, Vodka pizza, kale salad and dessert.  It was 12:30 a.m. and hard to find a taxi, as it had been raining quite a bit all evening,  so we opened our umbrellas and after it started pouring sideways,  we ducked under the outcrop of a building on the corner to wait it out a little and joined a nice looking guy who turned out to be a new resident of NYC.   He was from Amsterdam and had been working late at his new job.  He was about 40ish and told us he had ordered in Sushi and had a guest coming for a late dinner and didn't want to get wet.  He was living two blocks away from the restaurant and didn't want to take a taxi the short distance.  D. suggested he dash to the little bodega across the street and buy a $5.00 throw away umbrella, which he finally did after a 15 minute conversation with us about the excitement of New York vs. Amsterdam.

Parting company,  we decided to brave the storm and headed out to Houston to see if we could get a cab there, only to be drenched by the water that had built up and the speeding taxis.  D was annoyed but I was reveling in the feeling of being a kid again and getting wet and splashed in the puddles and being a little scared of the thunder and watching others do the same.  I had on high heeled boots and my trusty Cole Haan dressy nylon coat, with the hidden zip in hood in the collar and even though the wind occasionally turned the umbrellas inside out, the hood kept my head fairly dry.   It was just the occasion to try out and enjoy the benefits of this recent addition to my wardrobe that took me through my whole visit.  Needless to say, I left my wool coat there (instead of lugging it home) for my next visit

It was just another early spring day in New York and walking all the way home in thundershowers was part of the adventure.

Between all the good food, lots and lots of walking,  spring planting,  new acquaintances (to include a talented wizard), spending time with old ones, and the "spring" new spring shoes put in your walk,   I can again say with easy fervor "I love New York!"

Life is good (until my credit card bills start dribbling in, that is)!

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Some Recommended Restaurants from this trip:

Raoul's (Soho) (Pepper steak, lobster risotto, steak frites are the best)*
Il Buco (Soho)  (Everything is good here)**
Rubirosa (Nolita)  (great old fashioned homemade lasagna)***
Momoya (Chelsea)   (good sushi/sashimi)
Emporio (Soho) (great in a pinch when you don't have reservation at Il Buco)
Pastis (Meat-packing district) (late night and lunch)
Mercer Kitchen (good for late night snacks)
Sant Ambroeus (both on Madison and in West Village)
Bar Pitti (brunch-see Giovanni who remembers faces)
Hung Ry America ( Asian)  (Big bowls of homemade Noodle Soup next to Il Buco)
Dean and Deluca - (Soho)  Fun take out for dining in.

*Lobster fresh on weeknights/Sat.  (true of any place for seafood-sushi )
**Need reservations in advance (unless you go after 10:30 p.m.)
***Like a lot of places, fun to eat at the bar.