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  • Issue of
  • Oct 17-23, 2007
  • Vol. 28, No. 1

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

    It’s fascinating to watch Brad Pitt as Jesse James. Onscreen, he’s the prankster alpha male with a hair-trigger temper. Off-screen, he’s a producer and above-the-title marquee name. His Jesse is resolutely middle-aged, remorseful and openly questions the value of his exalted position. As Robert Ford, Casey Affleck makes Ford a swooning fan of the James brothers mystique, chronicled in his collection of dime novels. When he meets a skeptical Frank (Sam Shepard), he tries to impress him with tales of untapped potential, only to have the elder James declare that Bob gives him “the willies.” But writer-director Andrew Dominik doesn’t overplay Bob Ford’s adoration and turn him into a demented stalker. And though there some action, most of the film is about the interplay between these wanted men, and the power dynamics of the last James gang.
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  • The Scene
  • We Own the Night

    Set in 1988, on a seemingly ordinary night, Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) visits his two families. Walking across the street from the jam-packed Brooklyn nightclub he manages, Bobby enters the warm embrace of owner Marat Buzhayev (Moni Moshonov) and his extended Russian clan, where he’s treated as a surrogate son. Later, he takes girlfriend Amada Juarez (Eva Mendes) to Queens for a NYPD party honoring his rising-star brother, Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg), and where their father, Burt Grusinsky (Robert Duvall), a decorated and admired deputy chief, holds court. Without much affection for his hard-partying sibling (so lost to the Grusinsky macho tradition that he’s taken their late mother’s maiden name), Joseph announces he’s launching a major drug sting aimed at Marat’s dealer nephew, Vadim Nezhinski (Alex Veadov), a regular at Bobby’s club, and wants his brother to provide them with information. Bobby thinks he knows where he stands, but Gray quickly puts him through a testosterone-fueled rite of passage that’s downright operatic in its emotional extremes and improbable reversals of fortune. What saves We Own the Night is the absolute conviction of the actors, who treat the material as a no-nonsense morality tale.
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  • The Scene
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age

    Scrumptious but shallow, this glittering second chapter in the Queen Elizabeth franchise is unlikely to inspire the same level of Oscar enthusiasm. It’s 30 years after Elizabeth’s (Blanchett) ascendancy to the throne and every Catholic in England is considered a potential assassin. The Pope has declared a holy war against the Protestant queen and England’s enemy Spain has started building an unstoppable armada. Meanwhile, the queen, single and required to maintain her virginal status until wed, struggles to check a sudden infatuation with dashing Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) while her main lady in waiting, Beth Throckmorton (Abbie Cornish), goes positively ga-ga over the adventurer. But amid these romance novel distractions, nefarious plots are afoot and the ever-faithful Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush) is on hand to outflank those who would do his highness harm. From a purely visual standpoint, the film is extravagant eye candy. Unfortunately, director Karpur is a kitschy stylist more concerned with sensual images than historical or political perspective. If you’re looking for a meaningful examination of a powerful and complex woman in a complex time, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a flick that will send you out of theater humming its costumes, you’ve come to the right place.
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  • The Scene
  • Lust, Caution

    Director Ang Lee, having won his second Oscar with the gay-cowpoke romance Brokeback Mountain, seems determined to devote his energies to crafting lush, majestic, emotionally complex movies for grown-ups, just like the ones Bernardo Bertolucci and Philip Kaufman used to make. Here he focuses on a very Western archetype — the femme fatale — and adds a layer of subtext to what is already a tale of conflicted East-West identity in WWII-era China. This is no ordinary “dragon lady”: As the duplicitous Wong Chia Chi, the stunningly self-possessed newcomer Wei Tang has soft, babyish features and a teenage innocence that evaporates unexpectedly whenever she’s within striking distance of her prey, the married government man Mr. Yee (played by Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung). Now if only Lee’s newfound aesthetic gonads could be balanced with a sense of when to say “when” in the editing room, he might have a true masterpiece on his hands.
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Food & Drink

  • Table and Bar
  • Beer & board

    A highlight of the lunch and dinner menu is a plate of sliders. These little celebrations sport a heap of sweet caramelized onions and a side of au jus for dipping. For something slightly lighter, try the crisp cherry walnut salad - slightly lighter only because it's topped by a mound of bacon bits that's about the size of a softball. Or try a plate of huevos rancheros: two crispy corn tortillas layered with black bean spread, a generous dose of sauteed peppers and onions, eggs sunny-side-up and topped with melted cheddar. On the side are potatoes, baked and then flash-fried crispy on the outside and sprinkled with large chunks of onion and pepper. The other side of the plate is reserved for avocado slices and mandarin orange wedges. New specials include $5 burger Tuesdays, and breakfast is served exclusively Saturdays and Sundays until 2 p.m. Anyway, whatever you get, wash it down with a creation from the well-stocked Bloody Mary bar and it's certain the rest of the day will unfold in your favor.
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