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  • Issue of
  • Dec 22-28, 2004
  • Vol. 25, No. 10

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Spanglish

    There are a million inspiring, richly meaningful stories about those who follow the exodus out of Mexico and strike out for a life in the United States. Spanglish is not one of them. This overly schmaltzy entry from director James Brooks depicts the saintly Flor, an immigrant housekeeper who teaches a shallow and dysfunctional California family about the true meaning of life. You’ll either glow with Hallmark card serenity or puke your popcorn in the aisle.
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  • The Scene
  • Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events

    This adaptation of the first three Lemony Snicket books is a triumph of production design. Director Brad Silberling has imagined a beautiful and fantastical world where things constantly go wrong for the Baudelaire brood. Jim Carrey stars as Count Olaf, the kids’ fiendish and inheritance-hungry uncle. Depending on your level of tolerance for Carrey’s mugging, you will either relish every buffoonish moment or be thankful that the film relegates his showboating to the sidelines, opting instead to focus on the never-ending plight of the unfortunate orphans. Fast-paced, funny, but not nearly morbid enough, there are worse ways to spend two hours.
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  • The Scene
  • Flight of the Phoenix

    A remarkably buff and toned Dennis Quaid stars in this dopey-but-enjoyable remake of the 1965 stranded-in-the-desert adventure. Despite some annoyingly trendy techniques and an even more annoying sound track, director John Moore generates some admirably old-fashioned suspense. But it’s Giovanni Ribisi’s left-field supporting performance that truly rescues the film from anonymity.
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  • The Scene
  • Cold Mountain

    Cold Mountain is haunted by the earmarks of a TV mini-series, namely, a gooey romance set against the foggy and smoky backdrop of war. Jude Law and Nicole Kidman give strong performances, and of note is the acting debut of Detroit darling Jack White of the White Stripes. White composed a couple of songs he sings in the blockbuster flick. For his five minutes, he fares well. Overall, the film is good for what it is: a melodramatic epic.

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  • The Scene
  • A Very Long Engagement

    Actress Audrey Tautou and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet of *Amelie* fame are reunited for a very different sort of movie. The setting is World War I, and Tautou plays a woman who refuses to believe her fiance was killed in combat. There’s plenty of graphic footage of the horror and absurdity of war, which makes Jeunet’s hyper-clever and pictorially appealing style seem at odds with the material. It’s as if he can’t help but give spilt viscera an aesthetically appealing gloss and make every devastating explosion look really cool.
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  • The Scene
  • Big Fish

    Adapted by John August from a novel by Daniel Wallace, Tim Burton’s latest is the story of a habitual fantasist, a man who has reconstructed his personal history as a series of tall tales and who has told them so often he believes them. Yet the underpinnings of Big Fish are more whimsical than dark. The result is a somewhat toothless Burton outing, lightly entertaining and eventually layered with a gooey spread of schmaltz.
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Food & Drink

  • Table and Bar
  • Happy family

    An unusually homey setting for a Japanese restaurant, the prices are a bargain. The $13.50 combination dinner includes a bowl of miso soup, a salad (American-style), a California roll, chicken teriyaki made with breast meat, two shrimp tempura and an assortment of vegetable tempura, rice and dessert. Offers half a dozen noodle soups, including udon, rice noodles and egg noodles (ramen) dessert is often bread pudding served with a creamy vanilla sauce, swirled with chocolate.
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Music

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