Quickie Review: The Hundred Foot Journey

I had high expectations. After all, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, the closest we have to secular pop culture parents, produced this. It stars Helen Mirren, one of my favorite actors, and as close as Britain comes to Meryl Streep. So why did I find this restaurant-themed immigrant story so flat? It’s a promising premise. An Indian family helmed by the proud widower Papa, (Om Puri), sets up shop in a town in the South of France dominated by the Michelin starred and very staid…

LA Memories

I spent some time in Los Angeles this month. It’s amazing to me how almost each street, every neighborhood touched off some very specific memory. On the 101 this morning I had a flashback to my PA days, driving down the highway with a carload of tapes, singing along to the radio and blasting the AC. Was it more than a decade ago that I first ran from the pier toward Venice, dodging bicyclists and other tourists? Was it really two years ago that I…

Joaquin Phoenix

Quickie Review: The Immigrant

The Immigrant is a strong, sincere film about coming to this country, and all of the problems that can ensue. I worry that it will be lost in the glut of summer films; if you have a chance, skip the blockbusters and see this. Director James Gray tells the story of Ewa (Marion Cotillard) a Polish immigrant who comes with her sister to America in 1921 only to lose her at Ellis Island when officials discover she has tuberculosis. She too is almost deported for…

Vee

Quickie Review: Orange Is The New Black Season 2

Warning: Spoilers Ahead. The new season of Orange Is the New Black is riveting, but not for the reasons you’d think. While yuppie prisoner Piper Chapman continues to be the nominal focus of the show, the series’ most interesting moments come when she’s not in frame. It’s convicted heroin dealer and prison newcomer Vee (Lorraine Toussaint) who steals the show, and whose arc makes this season must see. The writers on Orange are as much interested in their prisoners’ past as they are in their…

It’s Kind of a Sad Story

Last December, one of the brightest young adult novelists of our generation died. Ned Vizzini took his own life at his parents’ home in Brooklyn. He had struggled with depression all of his life and it formed the subject matter of many of his books. In his honor, I recently watched It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a film adaptation of his most well-known book. In the movie, a sixteen year-old New York kid, Craig has a breakdown, almost commits suicide, and checks himself into…

Bob’s Burgers: An Appreciation

The 90s sitcoms I grew up with weren’t that funny. There were exceptions, of course, such as Seinfeld and its fugue-like plots, or Family Matters, at least until Urkel took over. But most had a corny laugh-track quality that made a lot of us kids turn to MTV, the web, and videogames. I much preferred a classic I Love Lucy to a new Friends or a Scooby Doo to another bonehead Two and a Half Men. Thankfully, that era is over. The Simpsons, a show…

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