The Month Ahead: October

IMG_7742

FALL | APPLE PICKING | CARVING PUMPKINS | CIDER | HALLOWEEN COSTUMES | FALLING LEAVES | MAKING SOUP | COZY SWEATERS | FALL FASHION | MOVIES | 6TH YEAR NYC ANNIVERSARY | CHARLIE BROWN AND THE GREAT PUMPKIN | TRICK OR TREATERS | PUMPKIN EVERYTHING

The leaves are changing and I have a sudden urge to carve a pumpkin just in time for October to begin!  This is by far my favorite time of year and it comes and goes way too quickly.  October is a fantastic month for resting up before the holiday season begins.  I think the reason why Halloween isn’t until the 31st is, because once it is over, New Years will be here before we know it!  I’m not trying to scare you, I just want to put October in perspective.  Take this month to enjoy fall activities before the stressful holidays arrive.  Go apple picking, visit a pumpkin patch, make a hearty soup, drink all of pumpkin lattes you can, and prepare the perfect Halloween costume.  After an eventful September full of weddings and travels, I plan to take it easy and enjoy every moment of fall.  Except for a quick trip home to California, I will be staying in New York City enjoying long walks in the park before it gets too cold and, perhaps, finally learning how to make cook soup.  Hopefully our Indian summer will be leaving us soon and we can officially switch out our summer clothes for fall layers.  There is a new leather moto jacket I recently bought that I am dying to wear.  I look forward to sharing fall style stories with you this month including our weekly movie reviews.

On a side note, last month may have been this blog’s anniversary month, but October marks my sixth year living in New York City.  I wasn’t sure at the time why I moved here, I just believed it was where I was supposed to be.  Now, six years later, I am the happiest I have ever been, and I have this beautiful city to thank for it.

What do you have going on this month?  Share in the comments below what you are looking forward to in October.   

Questions? Comments! Feel free to connect with Eat.Shop.Live.NYC on:

Facebook , Twitter , Pinterest & Instagram

 

Movies & Films Review

New York Film Festival: Part 1

By Johnny Pomatto

 

Whiplash

WHIPLASH

I have not had a more thrilling film-going experience this year than I did at Damien Chazelle’s WHIPLASH.  Even as I’m writing this, I’m still trying to catch my breath.  Miles Teller plays Andrew, a student at a prestigious music college where he dreams of becoming the next Buddy Rich, while drumming in a kind of JV jazz class.  One day, after a chance encounter with Terence Fletcher, the school’s star instructor played by J.K. Simmons, he’s called up to Varsity.  Forgive the sports analogy, but this film is likely to rile you up in ways a tense sporting event would.  Andrew is constantly competing in this film, at first against other aspiring drummers looking to take his spot, but ultimately against himself.  How far is he going to push himself to be a great drummer?  Does he quit when his hands start to bleed, or does he reapply an extra layer of Band-Aids?  Andrew’s father, played by a perfectly understated Paul Reiser, starts to look at his son as if he’s become a drug addict, and in many ways he has.  Though Andrew reaches multiple moments that many would consider a breaking point, something keeps pushing him forward, and that something is Fletcher.

J.K. Simmons is a beloved character actor who has stolen numerous scenes out from under stars in films like “Juno,” “Burn After Reading,” and “Spider-Man.”  If he lives another 30 years and acts in a movie a year for the rest of his life, Terence Fletcher will still be the role that he’ll be remembered for.  Tender and smiling one moment and barking like a drill sergeant in the next, Fletcher is a man that you might not have thought was inside Simmons, and no description can truly do him justice.  Loose skin hangs off his chin like he’s a wrinkled Shar Pei, but the skin covering his bald scalp is as tight as a drum, so much so that you can see veins pulsing underneath.  At the end of the first scene, in which Andrew joins the band and is reduced to tears by the mental and physical abuse Fletcher directs towards him, the audience erupted in murmurs of nervous laughter.  Not because they had seen something particularly funny, but because they were desperate to break the unexpected tension that was coming off the screen.  I felt like Fletcher was yelling directly at me while watching this film, and I became conscious of sliding down in my chair in an effort to hide from him.  This is the start of what I assume will be a long awards season for Mr. Simmons.

In praising Simmons, I don’t want to detract from the remarkable performance that Teller gives as well.  Though he’s admitted that he had played the drums recreationally before signing on to the film, the physicality of his hands in the movie will make you believe that he’s been preparing for this all his life.  Already on the rise these last few years after stellar performances in “The Spectacular Now” and “Rabbit Hole,” this is the moment where I decided that any upcoming performance by Teller would instantly become required viewing.  Chazelle himself attended music school from drumming, so one can imagine he must know a little of the truths hidden inside the dramatization.  He also wrote the screenplay for the silly but surprisingly effective Hitchcockian thriller “Grand Piano,” which makes me consider the possibility of a whole new movie genre: the musical thriller.  The photography so gorgeous to look at that you would never have guessed that this film was shot in only 19 days.  Nothing seems rushed about the pacing and tone.  The entire film has a beautiful bronze wash over it, as if every shot was filmed from inside the bell of a trumpet.  A scene depicting Andrew completing a ferocious drum solo is shot with an energy and rhythm not unlike the boxing scenes in “Raging Bull.” By the time the film reached its climax that is ambiguously equal parts rousing and tragic, I felt like I had lasted twelve rounds in a boxing ring.  I was exhausted, yet exhilarated, and eager to experience all of it again.

Continue reading

Movies & Films Review

This Is Where I Leave The Theater

By Johnny Pomatto

this-is-where-i-leave-you-trailer

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU

In one of the early scenes in THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU, Jason Bateman returns home to surprise his wife on her birthday. Not only does he find her in bed with another man, but that other man happens to be his boss. Watching this scene, I got a sudden sense of déjà vu. Hadn’t I just seen this situation in another movie? In an instant I remembered that it was in David Wain’s film “They Came Together,” a movie spoof of romantic comedies, where each scene portrays movie tropes that are so common, that they’ve become clichés. If this scene was enough of a cliché to make fun of in a movie from six months ago, what does that say about seeing it now? Some say that there are only about fifteen actual plots in the movies, and we just find new ways to tell them over and over again. THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU, Jonathan Tropper’s adaptation of his own novel, seems to be trying to tell all of them at once, and employs no new methods in doing so. This is another dysfunctional family drama that you’ve seen hundreds of times before. The only draw here is the exceptional cast that has been assembled, but none of them are strong enough to make this a worthwhile experience.

When the patriarch of the Altman family dies, the children return home to sit Shiva. As Jane Fonda’s matriarch says, “For the next seven days, you’re all grounded,” a line that seems written for the sole purpose of reducing the plot to a single sentence that can be played in the trailer. None of the Altman children are happy. Bateman is not over his wife’s infidelity; Tina Fey is suffering in an unhappy marriage and pining for her local ex boyfriend. Corey Stoll can’t get his wife, (Kathryn Hahn), pregnant, and favorite son Adam Driver returns with a much older fiancé, (Connie Britton), who happens to be his therapist. Chances are I’ve just named at least one actor who you’re particularly fond of, and while many of them give effective and game performances, (Bateman and Driver are particular standouts), none are able to sell the contrived sitcom plots that they’re saddled with. Every Altman sibling has a problem, and all of those problems are easily solved with neatly placed devices and interventions that unfold over the week. The lonely and lovesick siblings have convenient romantic counterparts waiting for them, in the guises of Rose Byrne and Timothy Olyphant. The ones who need to grow up get a little maternal wisdom and marijuana-fueled monologues that make everything right.   Though dozens of similar and better films came into my mind while I watched THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU, I kept coming back to last year’s “August: Osage County,” which was admittedly a much better play than a movie. While this film refuses to let the credits roll with a single loose end or unresolved plotline, “August” at least was daring enough to make each character emerge from their stay in the family house worse off than when they entered it. While neither extreme is ideal for storytelling, at least the latter feels refreshingly sloppy and true to life, not as if there were some overseeing force guiding its characters seamlessly along a perfect arch.  

The film is directed by Shawn Levy, veteran of the “Night at the Museum” franchise, as well as several other broad comedies.  There seems to be a bit of a trend of mainstream comedy directors trying to dip into dramatic territory.  Director of “Fred Claus” and “Wedding Crashers” is set to deliver us a prestige picture with “The Judge” next month.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with directors working outside their comfort zone and attempting something a bit more challenging, but when a film like THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU is already based upon so many familiar and well wrung ideas, the only way to save it is with a director who might find something new in the material, rather than a “point and shoot” filmmaker whose reputation and box office clout is able to attract A list stars.  As for the script itself, I hear Mr. Tropper is an accomplished an admired writer, and it’s more than possible that his story works significantly better in book form.  After all, in a book you get the benefit of descriptive narrative and prose.  With a film you’re just left with the leftover dialogue, with little in between.

I can’t speak to the book’s popularity, but even with that as a factor I simply can’t imagine what could draw such a talented cast to such a boring, familiar drama. And most of them give fine performances, which is somehow even more upsetting. I almost wish I could have caught a few of them phoning it in, just so I’d be comforted in the feeling that they thought the material was as banal as I did. For the past few years I’ve been watching the incredibly charismatic and hilarious Jason Bateman totally commit and lend his talents to forgettable films like “Disconnect,” “Identity Thief,” and now this. He could easily be groomed into one of our best actors and biggest stars if only we could give him a script worthy of him. Watching THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU, I kept thinking of Gene Siskel’s famous bar for what makes a good movie. Siskel would often ask “Is this film more interesting than a documentary of the same actors having lunch?” Boy, I wish I could have been around craft services on the set of this film.

 

art-Tracks-Movie-1-620x349

TRACKS

I first read Robyn Davidson’s memoir TRACKS in 7th grade. Though I couldn’t have had less in common with Davidson and her quest to cross a 2,000 mile Australian desert, I was fascinated by the tale and took much pleasure in imagining the vivid landscapes that she was traversing, where few living things were meant to survive. Thanks to the new film by John Curran, I no longer need to imagine, as every detail Davidson’s journey has been recreated and presented with stunning visual poetry. Mia Wasikowska portrays Davidson with a bravery and confidence that she knows exactly what she’s doing, even when she doesn’t. Early in the film when she’s asked why should want to attempt such a feat, she responds with a simple “why not.” She doesn’t entirely know why she’s compelled to make this journey. Possibly to impress her father, who had done some similar exploring as a young man. Or perhaps she wants to prove to others and herself that she has a deeper bond with the nature and culture of the Australian land than all of the people doubting her. She spends much of the film not just defying those who worry for her safety, but outright shaming them for not understanding her passions, as well as the traditions of the aboriginal people that she so desperately wants to be a part of. Part of Davidson’s journey in the film is the catharsis of realizing that she’s not as close to this world as she realizes and that she’s just as susceptible to its dangers as anyone.

One of the doubters in the film that she has the most contempt for is National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan, (played with deceptive simplicity by Adam Driver), who meets her periodically on her journey to help document her progress, much to her dismay. Though Smolan appears in only a handful of scenes, he becomes her closest human contact when she is at a point where she has never felt more alone, and Driver is exceptional at attempting to reach out to make a connection with Robyn, only to gradually make her appreciate her reliance on others that she’s so reluctant to accept. Wasikowska is a wonder in this film, often conveying so much with nothing but a look. After all, there isn’t anyone to talk to except her three camels and her dog companion.

My only real lament with TRACKS is that too often Marion Nelson’s screenplay tries to shape the story into a neater narrative than is necessary. We see too much of Robyn’s preparation of acquiring and training camels prior to her journey, and the primary purpose of these scenes seems to be to surround her with more characters who can spell out facts and verbally provide perspective of the task she’s undertaking. Once Robyn is in the desert on her own, we’re subjected to a lot more voice-over and narrative than is necessary. I kept thinking that this is a film that would have greatly benefitted from the style and silent tone used in last year’s Redford at sea picture “All Is Lost.” In fact the audience barely needs to be told of the changes in Robyn’s emotions at all, because we get the sense that we know more of what demons and hardships she will encounter on her journey even before she does. Still, this is a stunning tale that is sometimes too bluntly told, but beautifully shown. The photography and landscapes, some of the greatest filmed since Nicolas Roeg’s “Walkabout,” are a visual feast and life changing on their own. The sometimes overly simplistic screenplay doesn’t detract from the story all that much, and Wasikowska makes you feel every step taken on the hot, sandy ground.

 

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

Bon Voyage!

Bon Voyage!

Today I am traveling to London and will be making a pit stop in Paris to celebrate my first wedding anniversary.  I cannot believe that one year has already gone by!  In my opinion, there is no better way to celebrate than sightseeing, eating, and drinking in these fabulous cities.  I am not as familiar with London so there is a lot on my list to experience.  From the Tower of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, to afternoon tea, I have a feeling that I am going to have a hard time leaving.   As for Paris, I lived there ten years ago, and I’m looking forward to revisiting it like an old friend.   There are fewer touristy activities on my to-do-list and more walking around the Marais, sitting at outdoor cafes, and lounging in the Luxembourg Gardens that I am looking forward to.  It may turn out to a very interesting trip as we are landing in London the morning of the Scottish Independent vote, and, our return flight from Paris has a risk of being canceled due to an Air France strike.  There are worse things than being trapped in Paris, right?  Throughout my European adventure, I will be keeping a photo journal on the blog of the trip and hope you will enjoy it!   If you want another way to connect, be sure to follow my Instagram account where I’ll be posting even more photos!

Questions? Comments! Feel free to connect with Eat.Shop.Live.NYC on:

Facebook , Twitter , Pinterest & Instagram

NYFW Recap: 6 Trends for Spring/Summer 2015

New York Fashion Week may be over, but it has left us with a lot to think about and to get excited for the Spring/Summer 2015 season.  I know it’s hard to even think of what you’ll be wearing next spring when we’ve just now started buying and wearing fall styles.  But, in fashion, we are always looking ahead and, if the runway shows were any indication, the future is going to be very bright, colorful, and full of florals and gingham prints.  We do not know what winter has in store for us, but at least we know, when it’s over, we will have these gorgeous styles to wear!  Unless you watch the shows live, it can be overwhelming to keep up with eight days of shows and thousands of looks that walked down the runway.  To help out, I narrowed it down so you know exactly what trends the designers want you to wear for the Spring/Summer 2015 season.

To see the designer’s complete collections from NYFW visit www.style.com

 

1. GINGHAM

If you’re going to pay attention to only one trend from the Spring/Summer shows, make sure its gingham.  It appeared on almost every runway in both classic and artistic ways.  As long as it doesn’t look like I am wearing a picnic blanket, I’m on board.

Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta

Diane von Furstenberg

Diane von Furstenberg

Karen Walker

Karen Walker

Continue reading

Movies & Films: Fall Movie Preview

Slide1

The Great Fall Movie Preview of 2014

By Johnny Pomatto

After a pretty lackluster Summer, now comes the time of the year that I love best.  That time when the studios trot out their award bait and I have difficult choices to make regarding how many films I can realistically see on their opening day.  I usually would make a list of 10 films I’m most excited to see, but there are so many coming out this season that I upped my list to 15.  Now some of these films might not be great.  I don’t know.  Frankly, I’ve tried to stay in the dark and know as few details about them as possible.  These are the films I’m most curious about, sometimes based only on a director or actor I particularly like.  Always fun to see at the end of the season how in tune my guesses were, versus how many disappointed.  Time will tell.  In the meantime, here’s what I’m excited to see.  Feel free to chime in with your picks in the comments below.

15. BIG EYES- Oooof.  Here we go again.  I swore after “Alice in Wonderland” that I wasn’t going to give Tim Burton any more chances.  He hasn’t made a halfway decent film since 2001’s “Planet of the Apes” remake, and even that wasn’t a good film, but rather morbidly fascinating.  The only reason I have a shred of hope for BIG EYES is because it’s the first time Burton has returned to grounded reality since 1994’s “Ed Wood,” and this film shares that film’s screenwriters, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.  Like “Ed Wood,” this is another strange tale of artists, Walter and Margaret Keane, whose kitschy paintings of children with enormous eyes found a cult following.  I may regret getting my hopes up for this, but the fact that the Keane’s are being played by two of my favorite actors, Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams, makes me wonder if this time things will be different.  At the very least, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are nowhere in sight.  12/25

14. BIRDMAN- Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“Babel,” “Amores Peros”) often makes films that I want to like but have trouble connecting with fully.  His new film has an outstandingly tantalizing trailer, but I fear that under the impressive visuals is a mess of a film.  Still, with Michael Keaton in the starring role, there’s no way I’m not seeing this.  Hopefully this is the comeback Keaton needs get him back on the A list again.  I’ve missed him so.  10/1

13. THE INTERVIEW- I have no real way of knowing if THE INTERVIEW is going to be a good or funny movie, but became a fun story to follow once Kim Jong-Un said that the mere release of the film would be considered an act of war.  Well now I guess we HAVE TO release it.  Seth Rogen and James Franco get the opportunity to interview the infamous North Korean dictator and figure they should take advantage of the opportunity and assassinate him, hopefully with hilarious results.  This might end up being dumb, but it’s exciting to see that a comedy can ruffle this many feathers.  Too bad Kim Jong-Un isn’t cool like his dad, who seemed to have no problems with his depiction in Trey Parker’s “Team America: World Police.”  12/25

12. DEAR WHITE PEOPLE- Race is a pretty serious subject (especially if you’ve been watching the news lately), but Justin Simien’s debut feature looks to be treating race and identity with some much-needed satirical levity.  This tale of a small minority of black students in a lily-white Ivy League school looks like something that a young Spike Lee would make.  Back when he still had a sense of humor.  10/17

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,505 other followers

%d bloggers like this: