Sundinner: No Rest for the Wicked

I am making a meat ragu today for Sunday dinner. In a rather unfortunate coincidence, my downstairs neighbor (the one who accuses my tiny kitten of making as much noise as an elephant) is also making a meat ragu. Chances are good that my meal will suffer by comparison–this woman grew up in Naples, after all–but I’m not ceding the battle until it’s over. Don’t get fooled by the assless chaps and smartphone zombies: turf wars are serious business here in East Williamsburg.

In Praise of the Weepie (‘St. Vincent’)

These days, earmarking a film as a weepie is like signing its death warrant. Not only will its be scorned but its ability to make us cry will be the only criteria by which it’s judged. And there’s no winning either way: If the film does induce tears, it’s lambasted for being manipulative. If it doesn’t, it’s not adequately doing its job.

Certainly “St. Vincent,” a heart-rending indie about the friendship between Vietnam vet Vincent (Bill Murray) and young Brooklyn boy Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), may not be receiving the high marks it deserves. Admittedly, its premise could go either way. As Vincent, the vet in question, Murray is a broke misanthrope who spends his time gambling, drinking, and shtupping a pregnant Russian prostitute (Naomi Watts) until his newly single neighbor Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) recruits him to watch her twelve-year-old son.… Read More

Love and Memory: ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’

I’d always suspected I would swoon over “Hiroshima Mon Amour” (1959). It is directed by Alain Resnais, who was then riding high on the crest of the French New Wave. It is written by Marguerite Duras, the French symbolic novelist widely acclaimed as a landmark feminist (even if she never identified as one). It features the screen debut of Emmanuelle Riva, who was nominated for a 2012 Oscar for her harrowing performance in “Amour.” But viewing this classic on a small screen would be like eating caviar on a hamburger bun, I thought, and so stayed away. Now, fifty-five years after its initial release, Rialto Pictures has acquired the U.S.… Read More