Currently Coveting: Clare V. Clutches

In a perfect world, I would carry Mary Poppins’ carpetbag.  On the outside it would look like a chic small clutch, but, on the inside, it would magically have enough room for my computer, makeup, shakes, a wallet, and heels. In reality, I don’t like carrying oversized bags that fit all of that.  I would much rather spend the day holding onto a fabulous clutch.  I don’t own a lot of totes, but I do have a plethora of clutches.  Recently, I stumbled upon a boutique in NOLITA with the most beautiful clutches. I didn’t trust myself to enter.  That store is Clare V. and her clutches are in a word, stunning.  I’m not quite sure what it is about them that sets them so far apart from every other brand.  I believe that it is their easy-going size, soft leather finish, creative prints, and fun colors, and I am obsessed with them.  My absolute favorite Clare V. style is the tan fold over clutch with red, white, and blue stripes.  It’s my new favorite day bag because it goes with so many of my outfits.  Other designs that I am obsessed with are any of their dotted bags.  I can’t call them polka dots, because they are not, they are more like circles you make with a paintbrush and they aren’t perfectly round.  Even though the bags don’t come cheap, they can be styled for a casual weekend look or an evening out.  The options are endless and I dare you not to fall in love with just one!   Upon further investigation, I found that Clare V. bags are sold on several online retail sites including their own. In the shopping world of big name stores, it is wonderful to shop in a true boutique again.  To shop this collection visit www.clarev.com

 

Currently Coveting: Clare V. Clutches Currently Coveting: Clare V. ClutchesQuestions? Comments! Feel free to connect with Eat.Shop.Live.NYC on:

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Movies & Films: The Best Films of 2014

By Johnny Pomatto

After sitting through the most tepid fall awards season in recent memory, I feared I would have trouble shaping a Top Ten List, but my fears were unfounded.  After close inspection, this was a great year for movies, even if much of the studio Oscar bait fell flat.  Below are my favorite films of this past year.

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10. THE ONE I LOVE- This year was full of some great mind-bending, glossy, effects- laden sci-fi films, such as “Edge of Tomorrow” or “Guardians of the Galaxy,” two films that could have easily found places on this list. What impressed me so much about Charlie McDowell’s THE ONE I LOVE was how much it was able to do with so little.  The primary special effect here is the performances given by Elizabeth Moss and Mark Duplass, and while I’m still reluctant to divulge the details of the plot, out of fear of ruining a few surprises, I love that the film is able to take a fantastical yet incredibly simple device and open up the whole film into one of the best portraits of marriage and relationships this year, and as you’ll see below, this is only one of several great films on that subject this year. (Netflix)

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9. FORCE MAJEURE- A very different film about a marriage that is possibly more fragile than it appears, FORCE MAJEURE follows a Swedish family on a pleasant ski vacation in the French Alps.  While having lunch on a deck at the foot of a mountain, a controlled avalanche suddenly seems to pick up speed and heads straight for the family.  The husband acts quickly… as he picks up his cell phone and runs away from his wife and children.  Of course the avalanche stops well short of their lunch table and the husband walks sheepishly back to the table, with his wife suddenly seeing him in a whole new light.  What follows is an examination of gender roles, honor, duty, and love.  Sometimes it’s very funny, sometimes it’s frighteningly familiar.  This may not be a great date movie unless you’re in a really great place in your relationship, though the characters in the film also believe they’re starting in a safe place.  However you react, this haunting film is definitely going to stay with you. (On Deamnd)

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8. ENEMY- Having not made a feature film in over a decade, David Lynch has left a void for lovers of nightmarish, head-trip movies.  Lucky for us, Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) is picking up the slack.  Jake Gyllenhaal (in one of several excellent performances this year) plays a shy, lonely history professor.  One night he watches a movie and sees an actor in it that appears to be his exact double.  Gyllenhaal soon becomes obsessed with this man who shares his face, but leads a very different life.  His journey takes him to strange places, but none stranger than his own memory and subconscious.  I’ve had a few debates with others who saw this film and interpreted the story completely differently than I did.  While I stand by that this is not a movie about puppet-master, alien spiders controlling our lives, (as one friend suggested), I can’t argue with what another person sees in this strange story.  This is the kind of film that can only completed when you fill in the gaps with your own thoughts.  This is a spectacular puzzle box of a movie that may leave you scratching your head, but undoubtedly with a new love for Gyllenhaal and a new fear of spiders.  (Amazon Prime)

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Style Guide: Winter Layers

Baby it’s cold outside!  During these winter months, it can be difficult to put a stylish outfit together.  All we want is to be warm, and one way you can achieve that is with layers.  Wear a blouse underneath your chunky or cropped sweater to keep you warm without adding too much bulk.  Another tip is to play with color.  As much as I love all-black outfits, color will help brighten you mood when the gray days start to get to you.  Today’s style guide offers all of these things and more.  Try this these teal wool pants and plaid sweater and have fun playing around with colors and patterns.  Instead of wearing the same old black coat, try this heather grey hue for a lighter look.  Turn winter into your favorite fashion season by playing around with layers, colors, and prints.  You can start with this style guide!

Style Guide: Winter Layers

 

1. H&M – Dress Shirt | 2. Club Monaco – Darci Hat | 3. BaubleBar – Mariposa Ear Jackets | 4. Mango – Check Sweater | 5. J.Crew – Minnie Pant | 6. Dorothy Perkins – Grey Belted Coat | 7. Gigi New York – All in One Bag | 8. DV by Dolce Vita – Katin Boot

The 2015 Golden Globes Best Dressed List

If you love fashion and award shows, then you watched last night’s Golden Globes.  Unfortunately, Globes has turned into my least favorite of the award shows.  Each year the Hollywood Foreign Press Association likes to nominate and honor the stars of new popular shows.  Comedic shows that I adore like New Girl, Mindy Project, and Veep are forgotten, while a new show like Transparent wins best comedy.  I have seen this show, and as much as I enjoyed it, it is not a comedy.  No matter how backwards the awards can be, it is always fun to watch Hollywood’s television and film stars drink and mingle.  The most important part of the evening for me happens before any envelopes are opened.  I am, of course, referring to the red carpet arrivals.  The Golden Globes officially kick off award season, and even though we will be missing our fashion favorites like Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway, I am excited for the new batch of stylish celebs.   An added bonus is that Lupita Nyong’o will be attending this year’s shows as a presenter, and we all can’t wait to see what she wears next!  I know a lot of people thought that last night’s gowns were a bore, but I enjoyed the good and ignored the bad.  Here is my list for best dressed.  I would love to hear from you who you thought had the best looks of the night!

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10. Kate Hudson in Versace

I am not a fan of Versace, but Kate showed the right amount of skin and her body was to-die-for. This dress wouldn’t have been acceptable for the Oscars, but celebrities are allowed to be sexier for the Golden Globes and no one does it better than Kate Hudson.

 

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9. Reese Witherspoon in Calvin Klein

This slinky Calvin Klein look was one of my favorite metallic gowns of the evening. It is a style that we are all very used to seeing Reese wear, but she does it so well!

 

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8. Lorde in Narcisco Rodriguez

Lorde arrived in a Narcisco Rodriguez suit and it’s the best thing I’ve seen her wear yet. Who would wear a cropped top pantsuit to an awards show? Lorde!

 

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7. Emily Blunt in Michael Kors

At first I thought that this was too safe and simple for the Golden Globes, and I’ve always been a fan of Blunt’s daring choices in the past. But as I went back to it again and again, I started to love it for its simplicity and elegance.

 

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6. Sienna Miller in Miu Miu

I missed Sienna on the red carpet but when she presented during the show, I was obsessed with this gorgeous look. Everything about this Miu Miu dress was perfection.

 

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5. Jessica Chastain in Atelier Versace

Even though I can’t get onboard with this color, no one does Hollywood glamour like Jessica Chastain. It’s her style and she owns it on the red carpet. She also knew that tonight was the night she could show skin, and she definitely did.

 

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4. Naomi Watts in Gucci with Bulgari necklace

I don’t usually like Gucci, but I was a fan of this look. I don’t know if it’s because marigold is her color, or if it’s the Bulgari necklace, but Naomi Watts has always been a favorite of mine, and she did not disappoint.

 

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3. Julianne Moore in Givenchy

I am very happy that Julianne chose a designer other than Tom Ford for the evening. This was a refreshing change for her, and I loved this metallic gown from head to feathery toe. I predict that last night will not be her only win this award season, so I am excited to see what she wears next!

 

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2. Lupita Nyong’o in Giambattista Valli

Making her return to the very award show where we all fell in love with her, Lupita proves, yet again that she can do no wrong. I loved this lilac printed gown with a detailed bodice.

 

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1. Emma Stone in Lanvin

When I first saw her I thought it was a dress, and then it was revealed to me as a pantsuit. This effortlessly casual pantsuit with metallic detailed top and bow was my favorite of the night. I have always loved her personal style and I love how she never changes even when attending a big award show. Side note, can I be her best friend?

 

Honorable Mention:

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Amal Clooney in Dior Haute Couture

There was a lot of excitement for Mrs. Clooney’s red carpet debut. She was, of course, stunning.  However, people were either merely polite or in love with this look.  Personally, I loved it.  I get the impression that she doesn’t care about the award shows and she’s just going to wear what she loves. When asked about her choosing to wear elbow-length gloves, Amal said simply: “The gloves are just my own”.  I do have to add that my girlfriend Haley thought they looked like her dishwashing gloves, and I don’t disagree with this statement. Along with the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ pin on her clutch, she proved to us that she is simply fabulous.

 

What do you think, did I get it right?  Share in the comments below who you thought were the best and worst dressed of the night! 

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Movies & Films Review: Into the Woods

Movies & Films: Into the Woods Review

LOST IN THE WOODS

By Johnny Pomatto

When I was a child, Stephen Sondheim’s INTO THE WOODS was my favorite musical.  I believe it remains a favorite for many of my generation.  Children are especially attracted to INTO THE WOODS because the world of fairy tales is familiar to them, but the second act, filled with sex and death, makes them feel like they’re watching something mature and a little grown up.  But as years wore on, I fell a bit out of love with show.  While I still hold certain songs and moments in high regard, it’s toward the bottom of my Sondheim ranking list, and this film adaptation did little to win me back.  When word came out that Disney would be making the film, people were worried that they would remove some of the show’s edge, and their fears were not unfounded.  I, personally, was worried because Disney tapped Rob Marshall to direct, a man who had initial success with the dance musical “Chicago,” (Marshall’s strong suit), but whose every directorial effort that followed proved to be more disastrous than the last.  Marshall’s adaptation of the surreal and underrated musical “Nine” was so dreadful that he should have never been allowed to make another musical film again.  But he was, and so here we are.

One of my initial concerns with adapting INTO THE WOODS as a film was how can one translate to film a play that is so incredibly theatrical.  Much of the show is presented directly to the audience, much like a simple bedtime story being read to them.  I was pleasantly surprised by the opening number of the film, which seamlessly cut between the many characters and their introductions without disrupting the rhythm and flow of the song.  For a second, I thought the film might actually work.  Moments later, my hopes were squashed when Johnny Depp showed up as the Big Bad Wolf.  Now there has been a lot of shade thrown towards Depp’s performance, not just in this film, but the general trajectory of the last decade or so of his career.  I’d like to clarify that I thought that as a performer, Depp was perfectly fine as the Wolf in his roughly five minutes of screen time.  My problem is more with how the Wolf is dressed.  Depp’s costume is not at all a literal depiction of a wolf.  He’s wearing a hat, which is probably not far off from what Depp wears on an average Tuesday, as well a jacket and gloves that simulate claws.  His most prominent wolf-like feature is a black, stringy mustache, meant to look like whiskers.  Is Johnny Depp’s costume bad?  Actually no.  What’s wrong with this is that he is the only one in the film that looks this way in this fantasy world.  I found it more than a little jarring to see such a theatrical depiction of a wolf, only in the next scene to see a boy lead a real live cow by a rope.  Why doesn’t the cow get a dance number?  A theatrical production of INTO THE WOODS usually comes complete with painted, storybook sets.  It’s like watching illustrations come to life.  But this film looks far too much like any old little village in 17th century England.  The titular woods looks, for the most part, like a basic, run of the mill forest, when I was hoping for twisty trees and glades, the likes of which one would never see outside of the Brothers Grimm.  In fact, that abstract, fantastical elements of the story, (beanstalks, talking wolves, giants), pop up so infrequently, that they actually felt out of place when they did appear.  I wish the production design and tone of the film truly felt like it was transporting me to another world, but at best it felt like I was being transported back to other half-baked fairy tale films like “Maleficent” and “Jack the Giant Slayer.”  A more realistic approach might have been an interesting take on the story, but Marshall needed to stick with that choice consistently.

Not only is some of the magic removed from the story, but much of the actual story is absent as well.  At only a 2 hour running time some cuts would be inevitable, considering the last live performance I saw of INTO THE WOODS had the first act running at nearly 2 hours on its own.  Some of the cuts Marshall made were welcomed.  The time-wasting interstitial songs like “One Midnight Gone” probably should have been cut during previews of the original Broadway production in 1987.  Other cuts are more suspicious, and some betray the deeper meanings of the plot entirely.  There are rumors that Disney demanded that some of the darker elements be removed from the second act of the show.  While these are unconfirmed, they would make a lot of sense.  Obviously Disney doesn’t want kids wondering why giants are murdering some of their favorite Disney princesses.  While some of these changes can be shrugged off, certain revisions involving the character of Rapunzel, for instance, not only changes her trajectory but also removes motivation and meaning for some of Meryl Streep’s Witch’s actions later in the play.  Songs like “Children Will Listen” remain in the film without the story keeping the context of their purpose in tact.  Disney’s values also seem to be behind the cutting one of the most memorable songs in the show, the two princes’ reprise of  “Agony.”  While the first half of the song remains in the film in a very amusing sequence featuring Chris Pine and Billy Magnusson, to cut the reprise is to cut the punchline of the joke, and this keeps the princes more firmly planted in the role of “charming,” rather than revealing their true nature, one that they can’t entirely escape from.

This brings me to what might be the most egregious omission from the film.  If I were to describe what the plot of the stage play was, I would say that it’s about fairy tale characters that break out of their roles and start making decisions to change their own story and destiny.  In the play, (I don’t consider this a spoiler since it has been entirely removed from the film), this is depicted perfectly with the device of an onstage narrator speaking directly to the audience and telling the stories.  In the second act, the characters get so fed up with the narrator shaping their lives that they physically murder him, continuing to the end of the play not knowing their own fates, but discovering it on their own.  While a voice only narrator is represented in the film early on, the characters are never aware of him, nor do they rebel against his string pulling.  In fact, the characters seem unaware of the trappings of their fates entirely.  When Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife sings late in the film “I’m in the wrong story,” it’s the first indication that these characters even have a sense that they are characters in a story and not entirely in control of their happy endings.  Suddenly it feels less like we’re actually watching a continuation of these classic fairy tales at all, because the film doesn’t do a very credible job of telling the first parts of the stories at all.  The characters too often feel like ordinary people who just happen to have strange names and desires to undo a witch’s spell or go to the prince’s ball.

I’m truly surprised by how my opinions of this film have been so steeped in the minority.  Virtually everyone I’ve talked to who has seen this film has really enjoyed it, including my girlfriend, who left the theater singing after sitting next my scowls for two hours.  These are also many of the same people who for months have been dreading any changes being made to their beloved musical, and now have suddenly become more forgiving.  And perhaps they’re right in doing so.  I’ll freely admit that I’m picking apart every detail and overanalyzing how the missing pieces have left the story without much foundation, at least from my perspective.  Despite my ramblings, there were things I did enjoy about the film, most notably James Corden’s performance as The Baker, who never gets trapped by the autopilot track of the story and is able to create moments for his character that I’ve never seen before.  Emily Blunt is also quite good as The Baker’s Wife and has some wonderful scenes with Corden, although I feel the film never gives the two of them, (or most of the other characters), a chance to slow down and relax into the quieter moments of the show.  The short running time of the film isn’t entirely due to the cuts that Rob Marshall made.  Almost all the songs are sped up by half a beat or so, and the scenes that do remain in tact are rushed through in order to move the story along as fast as possible.  It made the film, (especially the events of the second act which is over and done with in a mere 35 minutes), feel as if it were being shown in fast forward, and whole characters got lost in the process.  Cinderella has always been considered to be one of the plum roles in the play, but Anna Kendrick’s performance is reduced to only the character’s most essential plot points, and she’s constantly speeding through them to get to the next one.  Lost are some of the subtle nuances of Cinderella’s naïve nerd of a character, but all the bits of step-tending and shoe fittings are in tact, as if there aren’t already enough musicals based on the story of “Cinderella.”  Just as one closed on Broadway this past Sunday, another is currently in development, and Disney themselves has another Cinderella film opening in just two months.  Kendrick has a beautiful soprano voice but it almost gets lost in the shuffle and I found her character to be one of the most forgettable in the film, through no real fault of her own.  This is also true for Meryl Streep, (still a great actress on her worst day), whom I feel phones in her performance and relies on costumes and make-up to shape her character.  It wasn’t until her final showstopper of a song, “Last Midnight,” that I found any real joy or energy in her performance at all.  But the good news is that this is not our only source for INTO THE WOODS.  The film of the original Broadway production starring Bernadette Peters and Joanna Gleason is still readily available.  For New Yorkers, one of the best theater companies in the city, (Fiasco Theater), is currently performing a stripped down, bare bones production unlike any version of the show you’ve ever seen.  I’m glad that I saw Rob Marshall’s film once, but I can’t imagine ever revisiting it.  There are too many better options available. It’s fun to see some of your favorite A-list actors in these roles, but now we’ve had our fun and we can go back to watching the professionals handle things.  Not every film needs to be remade.  Not every play needs a film adaptation.  Rob Marshall’s INTO THE WOODS is what it is: an amusing but forgettable novelty.

Hear more of Johnny Pomatto’s reviews on his podcast MOVIES AND FILMS WITH JOHNNY AND FRIENDS available on iTunes

The Month Ahead: January

The Month Ahead: January

Happy New Year everyone!  Hope all of you had a wonderful holiday and are just as ready as I am to get 2015 started!  I took some time off from the blogging and tweeting for the holidays so that I could enjoy some much needed R&R time with the family.   I am happy to report that I have returned from my stay-cation and am ready to start this New Year with you all!  January is not just another month; it’s about new beginnings.  We all start off with New Year’s resolutions, and because of that, January is always a productive time for me.

This month, I want to strive to be more organized, stay focused, and lead a healthy lifestyle.  Now, more than ever, I want to be less negative and not to take the wonderful life that I have for granted.  Only good things can come from a fresh start, so remember that there are 365 days in a new year, so don’t take it all so seriously!      Take some time in the comments below to share with me what you’d like to see me talk about on the blog. I love connecting with my readers, so don’t be a stranger.  I have a lot of plans for the blog in the next coming months, bear with me as I make 2015 the best year yet!

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Movies & Films: Holiday Theater Guide

By Johnny Pomatto

With so many people heading out of town to visit family, this time of year is a perfect time to get into some hot New York theater that might ordinarily be sold out or overpriced.  These days, producers unleash their award hopefuls in the spring, to appeal to Tony voters with short term memories, but there have been a few notable gems this fall that are well worth checking out and will likely appeal to every one of your own visiting family members.  If you’re losing your mind trying to find ways to entertain your relatives, here’s some shows to take them to which will occupy at least a few hours of their time.

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THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG AND THE NIGHTTIME

I can’t begin to describe all the thought and imagination that went into Simon Stephens’ theatrical adaptation of Mark Haddon’s popular novel THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG AND THE NIGHTTIME.  I’ve seen the show.  I’ve observed with my own eyes the incredible visual storytelling used to turn a completely bare stage into the busy and chaotic mind of its central character, a young boy named Christopher (the astonishing Alex Sharp), and yet the play works such a magic on your senses that it’s hard to pick apart the individual devices used to form the experience.  CURIOUS INCIDENT… is the story of a young boy struggling with what we suspect to be some form of autism, though it’s never specified.  When the lights come up on Christopher at the top of the play, he’s standing over a dead dog, pierced by a garden fork, which he’s later accused of killing.  Christopher is adamant that he did not kill the dog and assures his father and neighbors that he will make it his duty to solve the mystery of who did.  However, Christopher’s mind doesn’t quite process information like everyone else, and often the audience feels like we are guiding Christopher through his own thoughts, but always letting him do his best to figure things out himself.  The mystery of the dog ends up leading to a much greater discovery that changes Christopher’s life forever, even though change is not something he deals with well.  Director Marianne Elliott makes us feel every one of Christopher’s thoughts and discoveries with visual cues.  The set, a giant blank box can be filled with objects and projections of patterns and pictures in an instant, as if we are witnessing Christopher’s brain light up every time he learns something new.  When he’s overwhelmed, the stage will transform into a tight, claustrophobic nightmare, and as Christopher calms down, things suddenly return to normal.  This transcendent play is one of the best I’ve seen all year and will be an unforgettable experience if you choose to go on this amazing journey.

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HANSEL AND GRETEL

Between things like “The Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular” or “The Nutcracker” at City Ballet, there’s no shortage of Holiday events for us all to create our own individual traditions.  My personal favorite is The Metropolitan Opera’s annual holiday production of Engelbert Humperdink’s HANSEL AND GRETEL.  Richard Jones has directed a version of the classic fairy tale that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.  With the help of John Macfarlane’s gorgeous sets and costumes, HANSEL AND GRETEL is a trip into a surreal, hallucinatory dream world, one that has the power to simultaneously terrify adults and delight children.  You know the basics of the story, but Jones’ production takes you to places of pure imagination and wonder, as you witness ballets of giant-headed chefs and fish-faced servants.  The final confrontation with the witch is set in what looks like an immense kitchen, more like the kind you’d find in a 5 star Manhattan restaurant than your average house made out of gingerbread.  It’s not unusual for The Metropolitan Opera to reinvent a familiar opera and turn it into something fresh and new, but there aren’t many Met productions each year that will excite children and adults alike.  This may be one of the Met’s most accessible productions, but it’s also one of its most enchanting.

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HONEYMOON IN VEGAS 

I generally have a lot of disdain for the trend of adapting all too familiar movies into Broadway musicals.  Most are totally forgettable and the ones that aren’t easily forgotten often do damage to the film’s legacy.  Hopefully years from now nobody will remember that films like ROCKY, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, and ELF were ever tainted by monotonous scores and lazy direction.  There are notable exceptions to this rule, but never did I expect the new musical adaptation of the early 90’s Nic Cage comedy HONEYMOON IN VEGAS to be one of them.  I’ve always had a soft spot for that silly Andrew Bergman comedy, and part of the success of this musical can be credited to Bergman’s adaptation of his own script.  The story of an unlucky loser, (the very funny Rob McClure, of last season’s “Chaplin), who loses his fiancé in a rigged poker game is the stuff of fluff, but this is a perfectly fluffy musical.  Jason Robert Brown’s score is light and brassy, and I dare say it’s his best since “The Last Five Years,” with the two shows often sharing similar tones and familiar tunes.  Central to the show’s success is Tony Danza, (in the James Caan role), who may not be a name synonymous with musical theater, but this is the kind of suave and smarmy role that he excels in.  His voice is just good enough pleasantly surprise you, and some of his dancing skills will seriously impress.  I don’t want to oversell this show.  It’s light fare that you might feel a bit guilty for enjoying.  I went into the theater prepared to hate it, and was surprised to find it completely and utterly charming.

sideshowcastSIDE SHOW 

When the true life story of the conjoined Hilton Twins was adapted into a musical in 1998, I thought it was strange and somewhat morbid subject matter for the great white way, though I suppose no less morbid than the story of a murderous, deformed phantom killing opera singers.  The show found a devoted cult following, though I hadn’t seen or heard a moment from it since its original Tony Awards performance with Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner.  I found myself almost immediately swept up in the story of two conjoined twins rescued from a nightmarish traveling freak show, only to find more exploitation on the vaudeville circuit, the price of their newfound fame.  Erin Davie and Emily Padgett play Violet and Daisy Hilton (respectively) and, though joined at the hip, each makes their twin unique and fully formed.  Their beautiful voices compliment each other perfectly.  The first act, with the twins surrounded by their family of freaks, (some played by real life sideshow performers) is engrossing and harrowing.  A flashback depicting the twins’ upbringing and life path to the freak show is heartbreaking and instantly made me want to learn more about the pair.  As the second act becomes a bit more conventional, taking some odd turns, particularly in a number in which the girls’ impresario has a hallucinatory breakdown about why their love can never flourish.  Henry Krieger’s score is haunting and powerful, only occasionally falling into tonal trappings of 90’s musicals, which feel dated at worst, but mostly nostalgic.  SIDE SHOW ends on an incredible high point, when Daisy and Violet sing to each other the show’s most famous song, “I Will Never Leave You.”  Though the irony of these words is lost on no one, the sincerity and love the girls show for one another is gut wrenching, as you witness them prepare for a difficult and vulnerable life alone, but not alone.  It’s a shame that SIDE SHOW didn’t acquire many new devotees with this new Broadway revival directed by film director Bill Condon.  After a very successful run at the Kennedy Center last summer, the show has struggled with its Broadway run and is actually set to close on January 4th, but I urge you to see it with what little time there is left to do so.  Odd, offbeat musicals like SIDE SHOW are usually relegated to five night concert engagements at City Center Encores, not full Broadway revivals.  There’s no telling when any of us will get another chance to see this strange but enchanting show again.

Hear more of Johnny Pomatto’s reviews on his podcast MOVIES AND FILMS WITH JOHNNY AND FRIENDS available on iTunes

Holiday Outfits That Sparkle!

Tis the season for…sparkle!  I know that wearing sequins during the holidays is not groundbreaking, but it is a classic for a reason.  Whether you are going to a holiday party, Christmas dinner with the family, or a NYE celebration, they are the perfect choice for standing out in the crowd.  Sequins are festive, dressy, and just fun to wear.  Believe it or not, sparkles are more versatile than you think.  My favorite way to wear them isn’t what you’d expect.  I love to pair a sequined skirt with a fisherman’s sweater for a chic and casual day look.  Trust me, sequins are not only for evening-wear!

Now, if you really want to show off your holiday spirit, pair your sparkles with other festive-wear, like lace and velvet. You will be sure to turn heads and remember, if you look and feel fabulous, it will only make the holiday season more fun!  I could have put outfits together all day for you, but I chose to stop at these three fabulous picks.  I would love to hear what you will be wearing for the holidays, so be sure to leave a comment below.  P.S. don’t leave the red lipstick at home!

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1. Endless Love – Sequin Top | 2. Asos – Oil Slick Foldover | 3. Mango – Faux Leather Leggings | 4. Kate Spade – Square Studs | 5. Loren Hope – Sarra Crystal Cuff | 6. Asos Southy Pointy Heel

 

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1. KT Collection – Silver and Hematite Fringe Earrings | 2. Gigi New York – Python Leather Clutch  | 3. Reiss – Colorado Dress | 4. H&M – Sequin Jacket | 5. Vince Camuto – Marlene Sandal

 

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1, J.Crew – Fisherman Cable Knit Sweater | 2. Sam Edelman – Petty Ankle Boot | 3. TopShop – Sequin Pleated Midi Skirt | 4. BaubleBar – Pearl Earrings | 5. BaubleBar – Crystal Mason Ring | 6. Zara – Croc Mini City Bag

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Holiday Gift Guide Part 2: Anthropologie Favorites

Anthropologie has always been one of my favorite destinations for holiday shopping.  No matter whom you are shopping for, you are bound to find the perfect gift.  From quirky home goods, cozy knitwear, to stunning jewelry, they seem to have something for everyone.  This one-stop shop will not only bring a smile to your loved ones faces, but it will also make the holidays less stressful for you.  Over the weekend, I visited the store and was very happy to have gotten most of my shopping done for the ladies in my life.  The following are my favorite Anthropologie pieces.  Trust me, it took me a long time to narrow them down for you.   I am in love with the layered necklace and the pineapple decorative candle.  Of course I had to include the limited edition gold monogramed mug that every fashionista should own.  Hope one of these items inspires you and that the holidays aren’t too stressful for you.

(CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO TAKE YOU DIRECTLY TO THE LINK)

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10 Unforgettable Christmas Movies, Too Often Forgotten

By Johnny Pomatto

Perhaps the reason the Christmas season seems to start earlier and earlier each year is to provide us with enough time to watch our favorite classic Christmas movies.  There are so many of them, and some staples demand to be watched every year, such as IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE or A CHRISTMAS STORY.  People often demand at least one telling of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, whether it be the classic Alastair Sim version or one of a more Muppet variety.  One must make room for the modern classics, including new favorites like NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION or ELF.  There’s also the ones to watch after the kids go to bed, including the very R rated DIE HARD or BAD SANTA.  Then of course everyone has a few guilty pleasures that they enjoy more than anyone else in the house, like HOME ALONE or THE SANTA CLAUSE 2: THE MRS. CLAUSE (it’s a lot better than you’d expect).  With all of these to choose from, many others are bound to get lost in the shuffle.  So I thought I’d highlight some of my personal favorites that usually aren’t at the top of everyone’s stockpile of DVD’s.  Some of them you may know, others you may not.  But if you’re tired of seeing that kid get his tongue stuck to the pole every year, these are some worthy backups that might find their way into your annual holiday rotation.

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REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940)- For those of you who are fans of seeing Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck sexily double-crossing one another in “Double Indemnity,” you might enjoy seeing them fall in love in much lighter fare.  Stanwyck plays a shoplifter who is caught and put on trial right before Christmas.  When the trial is postponed until after the holiday, her prosecuting attorney, (MacMurray) takes pity on her, bails her out of jail, and takes her home to spend Christmas with him and his family.  Naturally the holiday spirit gets to them and the two fall in love, though her impending, post-holiday trial is always looming over the couple.  The masterful Preston Sturges, (marking this his last screenplay he would ever not direct), doesn’t let the characters off the hook or give them an easy way out at the end, giving this film an unexpected but nonetheless wonderful ending.

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THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940)- The story of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER is already known to new generations who grew up watching “You’ve Got Mail,” but that is a poor imitation.  Set in pre-war Budapest, Ernst Lubitsch’s tells the tale of the employees of the trinket shop owned by Mr. Matuschek, who viewers will instantly recognize as Frank Morgan, the wonderful Wizard of Oz himself.  Two of Matuschek’s employees, (James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan) don’t really get along in the shop, and neither realize that each other are actually the secret pen pals that they have been writing anonymous love notes to.  The love story is handled perfectly, but the movie’s best scene comes late in the film, as the ordinarily grouchy and miserly Mr. Matuschek finally softens up and affectionately reaches out to Stewart in an act of contrition.  You’ll wish you could do all your Christmas shopping at the titular shop.  This film truly has the Lubitsch touch.

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HOLIDAY INN (1942)- Not only am I not a fan of the inexplicably beloved Bing Crosby film “White Christmas,” but neither was Bing.  He thought that it was a subpar film that people only embraced because of its title song.  But that very same Irving Berlin song was first featured in Crosby’s earlier and far superior film HOLIDAY INN.  While “White Christmas” matched both Bing and Danny Kaye with love interests, HOLIDAY INN had Crosby and Fred Astaire competing for the same woman, with each using their signature talents to woo Marjorie Reynolds.  Fred’s dancing is predictably outstanding, but the reason that every one of us knows the words to “White Christmas” is due entirely to the charming scene when Crosby instructs Reynolds how to sing it, line by line.

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MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944)- Though this has one of the most iconic Christmas scenes in movie history, this isn’t precisely what I would call a Christmas movie.  The story of a close knit family in 1904 St. Louis spans an entire year, and has just as memorable sequences surrounding Independence Day and Halloween.  After a perfect Christmas Eve, Judy Garland is struck with the revelation that her family’s impending move to New York means this will be her last Christmas in St. Louis.  In a vain effort to comfort her younger sister (the iconic, adorable, little crier Margaret O’Brien), Judy sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  This is not the uplifting Bing Crosby version of the song about “hanging shining stars upon highest boughs.”  This is about having a merry Christmas now and trying not to think about how unhappy they’ll all be this time next year.  Of course, Vincent Minnelli wouldn’t end his film on such a dour note, and the tears you’re shedding will soon be converted into tears of joy.

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THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1947)- Divine intervention comes in the form of Cary Grant in this charming Christmas fable about a bishop, (the always marvelous David Niven) who is struggling with his faith and his marriage to Loretta Young.  Grant plays Dudley, an angel sent from Heaven to help Niven and anyone else he happens to come across.  Grant is equal parts playful and sincere, and he doesn’t give in to temptation when Young becomes a little too charmed by him.  Dudley may not be the most famous Christmas movie angel, (that title undoubtedly goes to Clarence from “It’s A Wonderful Life”), but this is one of those forgotten gems that perfectly balances Christmas merriment and religion, with beautiful results.

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3 GODFATHERS (1948)- Christmas stories can pop up in any genre, even in a John Ford western.  John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz, and Harry Carey Jr. play outlaws on the run in the desert when they stumble upon a stagecoach that has been attacked by Indians, leaving only an infant child alive.  Despite the general loose morals of the bandits, they become determined to bring the baby to safety, even if it means facing the lawmen that are pursuing them.  It’s certainly a sweet side of John Wayne you’re not used to seeing.  The film is a very loose retelling of the story of the three wise men which may not be enough to fully classify it as a “Christmas film,” but I still enjoy it as a welcomed alternative to the usual snow and sleigh bells of the season.

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A CHRISTMAS MEMORY (1966)- One of my favorite pieces of writing of all time is Truman Capote’s autobiographical tale of growing up in Alabama with his beloved elderly cousin.  A CHRISTMAS MEMORY has only ever been adapted for television, but the original 1966 special, starring Geraldine Page as Ms. Sook, is a magnificent and faithful telling of the story.  Capote himself narrates the tale, but even his prose that aren’t included verbatim are lovingly captured by the details of its lived-in setting.  The story is incredibly simple, as Truman (referred to as Buddy), and Sook scrounge together what little money they have to make fruitcakes for their friends and relatives.  The end of the story always reduces me to a sobbing mess, but I still revisit it as much as I can, and I’m happy to report that you can do, as it’s available to view on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBipwZoJSyU

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GREMLINS (1985)- Not every movie that happens to take place during Christmas can be called “a Christmas movie.”  I wrestled with putting dark treasures like “Brazil” or “The City of Lost Children” on this list, even if there happens to be a Christmas tree in the background of a scene or two.  But although GREMLINS is a movie about nasty little monsters wreaking havoc on a small town, it is undeniably a film for both lovers and haters of the holiday alike.  Zach Galligan thinks he’s gotten the coolest gift ever when he unwraps an adorable little Mogwai, but feeding it after midnight (isn’t it ALWAYS after midnight?) causes it to turn into a nasty creature with murder and mischief on its mind.  The Gremlins gleefully destroy whatever they encounter, especially Christmas decorations.  They even get into the spirit and go caroling.  GREMLINS is a giddy, nasty delight from beginning to end, and you will never be able to forget the scene in which Phoebe Cates reveals the reason why she hates Christmas.  The story she tells will just make you love the holiday more.

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MILLIONS (2004)- Director Danny Boyle won an oscar for his film “Slumdog Millionaire,” but that’s only his second best film with the titular number.  MILLIONS tells the story of young boy Damian, (the adorable Alex Etel) who is playing in a field when a suitcase full of money falls from the sky.  Thinking it’s a gift from God, Damian wants to give it to the poor, while his brother wants to spend it, or invest in real estate.  The Christmas connections to this movie aren’t fully revealed until close to the end but this is an often forgotten, wonderful film for the entire family.  The climax of the film, when Damian is treated to a Christmas miracle as reward for his goodhearted efforts is sure to bring tears to your eyes.

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A CHRISTMAS TALE (2008)- Every year families come together at Christmas, including families who don’t like each other very much.  Arnaud Desplechin’s French family drama A CHRISTMAS TALE centers around dysfunction and strife, but shows that the holiday spirit can bring out the best in anyone.  When the black sheep of the Vuillard family (the incomparable Mathieu Amalric) returns home for Christmas after being disowned a few years prior, he threatens to ruin what will be his sister’s last Christmas unless she gets a bone marrow transplant.  Heavy stuff, but the film still manages to provide joy, warmth, and even some humor.  Plus, Catherine Deneuve looks radiant in the glowing candlelight and red and green color palate of the sweet and sad film.

 Hear more of Johnny Pomatto’s reviews on his podcast MOVIES AND FILMS WITH JOHNNY AND FRIENDS available on iTunes

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