i’ve been a coen brothers fan ever since BLOOD SIMPLE. but even i have to wonder what they’re up to in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.
i so loved MILLER’S CROSSING, with that seminal scene of john turturro begging for mercy from gabriel byrne’s character: “Look into your heart!”
but it feels like gabriel byrne’s character’s response, “What heart?”–so full of passion, cruelty, and betrayal in that film–has come to characterize the hollowness of the coen brothers’ recent work in unflattering ways.
GO. SEE. IT. IMMEDIATELY.
vanessa redgrave is incandescent in the movie based on ian mcewan‘s novel.
i’m incredibly damn picky about films adapted from novels, especially novels i adored. (case in point: LOVED ishiguro’s Remains of the Day, HATED the merchant-ivory film based on it.) ATONEMENT is that rare film i can say actually matches or in some cases, surpasses in its way the achievement of the novel it’s based on.
went to see BEOWULF today as it was screening in both a 3D version and a regular version. we were given special 3D glasses made of sturdy plastic and with either plastic or ground glass lenses. in short, these were not the flimsy paper 3D glasses of yesteryear, but spectacles studded with anti-theft devices and carefully distributed–then collected afterward.
so, how was it? “life-like”?
Who tells their child stories of how, after a World War II Japanese bombing raid of Chinese civilians hidden in caves or bomb shelters, you would see bits of arms or legs or other body parts strung up on telephone wires the next day as a result of the bombing? Or that in the streets, Japanese soldiers would spear Chinese babies on their bayonets, and laugh?
A haunted person—my mother—that’s who.
My mother told me those awful ghost stories and more, worse because of their inescapable truth, and I was all of 8, or 10, or 13 when I heard them. She was born 5 years after the Japanese imperial army occupied Manchuria, and her entire childhood was colored not only by the death of her father but by the Sino-Japanese war.
I did what children growing up in the reflected cathode-ray glow of American tv would do: I buried those stories deep underground like the people hidden in caves, trying to shelter my heart and my imagination from unspeakable, unimaginable things. But like those poor bombing victims, stray limbs would appear in the unlikeliest of places. Like my mother’s conversation.
One stray limb, or rather, an entire corpse, that refused to disappear was Iris Chang’s book, The Rape of Nanking. Memories like my mother’s, spread out across an entire generation of Chinese and further flung into the outer reaches of the diaspora, have haunted millions of Chinese whose cultural instincts are to stuff and swallow. There is only so much you can pretend to forget before it comes clawing up into your dreams and spilling out into conversation.
If you were a suburban 13-year old and ever wanted to rebel against your Korean parents, then one of the most shocking things you could do is declare yourself a vegetarian.
Because let’s face it, some of the world’s best bbq is korean bbq. And they grill it all: beef, pork, chicken, squid, shrimp, and even octopus.
the sawtelle district in west LA is where you go if you’re a twentysomething looking to get your ramen on. go there any weeknight, and you’ll see japan-o-pop kids with hair the exact shade and electric-socket, spiky-ended texture as your favorite luridly colored anime character. life is good when you’re on the five-year plan at nearby UCLA!
but a secret little japanese-french-italian bistro is hiding in a mini-mall among the student-y hangouts if only you’d look. and given its sophistication (there’s a wine list!), i think restaurant 2117‘s location is more a hindrance than a help.
Posted in eat, LA
Tagged Food, Reviews
sweet dreams are made of these, fish tacos on the seven seas…
who am i to disagree?
given my recent fondness for The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, i thought i’d go back to the old neighborhood standby, El Siete Mares, for comparison purposes. it’s on sunset past sunset junction, where silver lake shades into echo park. you can’t miss the bright orange building with an asphalt moat surrounding the little outpost of the bigger restaurant. the little outpost is where you can get fish tacos.
El Siete Mares believes in lots of cabbage on their fish tacos. they make them out of a cheaper cut of fish and dip them in a brown batter that has a wee bit of spicy hotness to it. they believe the whole thing should be topped with creamy thousand-islandish dressing and come with a side of vinegary radish-and-jalapeno pickles. oh, and you get your own lime wedge. the corn tortillas seem 15% bigger than others i’ve consumed. in short, it’s a whole different approach than Best Fish–El Siete is okay with fishy-tasting fish (skin on), with a whole lot more spice and tastebud excitement, and a sickly-sweet, cinnamony-iced horchata to wash it all down. to borrow an analogy from SPINAL TAP, the flavors are turned up to 11.
there’s no question El Siete has the more vigorous, brassy approach. which is not to say the hot mango salsa at Best Fish lacks for verve–it doesn’t. but i find myself shying away from the old school approach of El Siete in favor of the higher quality fish in the Best Fish tacos. it comes down to this: i’m not so keen on cabbage and at El Siete, that’s the default.
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Posted in eat, LA
Tagged Food, Reviews
tried a just-opened spot for dinner in downtown LA: takami, which serves sushi and robata (skewers). i’m always curious about the ongoing gentrification of downtown LA; i drive past skid row streets where it’s 1934 all over again, and not six blocks away there are fascinating little alleys dedicated to toymakers, or flowers, or really really inexpensive (close your eyes and wish the sweatshop away) clothes.
and i also forget that all those skyscrapers downtown? are largely populated by accountants, and insurance and medical corporation personnel. so there are plenty of expense accounts to soak up fine dining dollars.
HB and i had:
- filet mignon and foie gras robata
- scallop robata
- spicy tuna on crispy rice
- baked king crab roll
- tuna sashimi with chopped jalapeno peppers
- green salads because we were nowhere near full
Posted in eat
Tagged Food, Reviews