10.26.09 My Top Ten RIGHT NOW
1. MOVIE Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
This is a visual feast that, while lacking a story of any sort, captivated me for ninety minutes. As the sole human in the land of the beasts, Max Records proves to be an incredible child actor, bringing out authentic emotion and the beautiful hurt of a tyke so isolated from the real world that he needs to escape to this fantasy. The vocal performances from Chris Cooper, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Dano, Lauren Ambrose and especially James Gandolfini infuse the monsters with such emotional life that you instantly believe in these personalities, all their squabbles and insanity. Spike Jonze clearly fought to stay true to his vision, and it was worth every battle.
2. FOOD L’Artusi
If you enjoy homemade pasta, this is the place for you, nestled in the West Village, and providing a warm and familiar atmosphere to enjoy said deliciousness. Start with the thinnest sliced scallops in the fresh and lightest lemon sauce, it will definitely be my favorite dish for next summer, when such light fare is more appropriate. I went with the bucatini for my entrée, a nice spicy tomato sauce with pecorino and pancetta that was savory and delightful, especially with the fresh noodles. A more casserole like pasta special proved rich and sumptuous with heaps of ricotta cheese. This is the kind of restaurant you just want to keep going back to for the sake of trying everything at least once.
3. MOVIE Every Little Step (2008)
As much a documentary on the origins of A Chorus Line as it a glimpse into the arduous auditioning process for the revival of the show a couple years ago, this film is a well made gem for anyone who has been transfixed by this now classic theater piece. It’s amazing to hear the original audio from the twelve-hour meeting that Michael Bennett held with dancers that became the script and basis for the characters of the show. You can feel the inevitability of how major this production was going to be. Flashing forward to the “current” auditions, the parallels are obvious, but the amount of emotion you feel for these actors trying to make it proves that A Chorus Line cannot and will not become passé.
4. FOOD Permanent Brunch
Once this restaurant gets its act together, it could be quite good. True to the name, it’s brunch for all times, but the fun twist here is the mixture of the sweet and savory, making brunch the perfect dinner, especially when accompanied by a mimosa or bloody mary. The ham and cheese infused French toast is a surprisingly delightful combination as is the less shocking pairing, fried chicken and waffles. Drizzle a little syrup on those things and that’s quite the meal. Service is slow, bottoms fall out of glasses, the menu apparently isn’t accurate (there was only one burger left and about seven substitutions) but you can control the music in the restaurant, which brings me to my next point…
5. iPHONE APP Remote
It’s all about control. This little application actually allows me to control my entire iTunes library via my phone from anywhere as long as I’m on the same wireless network as my music. Now, I don’t exactly live in a palace, so we’re really talking about choosing songs from my bed so I don’t have to get up. But this program is so damn cool, allowing you to search your whole library and suggesting songs to match the mood you’re creating. The when integrated into a restaurant, like Permanent Brunch, it’s sheer amazing. The program allowed me and my dining companions to choose whatever music we wanted to play from the iTunes library at the restaurant. It’s basically like those ‘50s style jukeboxes at each soda shop booth, but for the modern age…such a rad gadget.
6. ALBUM Sainthood Tegan & Sara
The twins are at it again, creating angsty pop confections that become addictive in their unique repetitive sound, now infused with a bit more ‘80s swagger than previous outings. Opening harshly with “Arrow,” the album calms down into a bit more palatable arena. “Hell” stands out, with a memorable melody and excellent chord changes that make you want to bang your head along with the beat. “The Ocean” has the awesome lyric patterns of a Barenaked Ladies’ song mixed into a female power ballad. And for that awesome harmony that these guys do so well, take a listen to “Sentimental Tune.” It seems inevitable that these songs, like so many of theirs previously, will become the soundtrack to many of my favorite TV shows.
7. SONG “Home” by Zero 7
This band always has the smoothest sounds, and like Air, creates aural worlds that you can completely lose yourself in. This song has been playing repeatedly on my iPod, filled with pulses, soft percussion and a trumpet solo that actually works. The vocal track is seductively smooth, the melody intoxicatingly pleasurable, the whole thing just comes together into the perfect mix, climaxing in these minor shifts that elevate the whole listen to a new level. This is good music, plain and simple.
8. MOVIE How to Steal a Million (1966)
This is a ridiculous lark from William Wyler, filled with convoluted plots about art forgery and heists. However, it is worth at least one viewing to see how Wyler, as he so effectively used her in Roman Holiday, makes more movie magic with Audrey Hepburn. Her wardrobe, direct from Givenchy of course, makes you eager for each new scene, just to see what she could possibly be wearing. Peter O’Toole deftly plays debonair to the point that you can almost believe the ridiculous circumstances in which love occurs. And then there’s the enjoyable turn from Eli Wallach as an eager American who has too much money for his own good. It’s a ridiculous bit of cinema, but it does demonstrate what true star power can actually do.
9. ALBUM Lungs Florence + The Machine
Yes, this is a repeat from a couple weeks ago, but the album is finally being released stateside, so I have renewed vigor in making sure that every last one of you picks up this awesome set. The album opens with handclaps, harmonious harps playing low underneath and a sultry sweet voice playfully spilling over it, slowly building into an anthem, “Dog Days Are Over.” By the time the song breaks open with drums a blazing, you can tell how much you’re going to love this band’s mix of soul and alt-rock. From here to the end, the album does not let you go, intoxicating with ethereal noises and luscious melodies all mixed with these edgier beat patterns punctuating and driving home the sonically charged beauty. “Howl” and “Drumming Song” are frontrunners for the more accessible moments of the album, but seriously, this is one where you don’t want singles, you want the whole thing… over and over again.
10. MUSIC VIDEO “Charlie Darwin” by The Low Anthem
This mournful song is so gorgeously seductive that it seemed inconceivable to create a music video that could capture the essence of the tune. I’m not sure this entirely gets there, but it is a beautiful piece of animation with the pace seemingly appropriate for the song. And I’m most impressed with the creation of water, always a disaster of the stop-motion-animation world, but they’ve done a nice job artfully creating it.