look: a grown-up film for grown-up people

We went to see “The Artist” last night at the Paris Theatre, the beautiful old single-screen cinema on 58th Street at the southeastern corner of Central Park, opposite the Plaza and the glass-cube Apple store, a corner that smells of horse dung and money. As Joe Queenan put it in this 2008 Times article about its 60th anniversary, ‘The Paris also has an understatedly elegant décor and does not cater to Irony Vixens who think that watching Icelandic films makes them morally superior to truck drivers.’ Indeed. Plus, it has a balcony!

For all these reasons it was the perfect venue to watch the film that’s going to get Oscar nominations, tons of press and a backlash, but for now let’s just enjoy. Since words like “whimsical” and “charming” usually make me run a mile, I’ll try to avoid them – and besides, the film is so inventive and elegant and grown-up it deserves more respect. It’s also proof that it’s possible to make a film that you could take your grandmother or your eight-year-old son to see and be pretty sure that they’d both love it. Here’s the trailer. But see the film:


love: paris

Red bench, grey cobbles

1. The inspiration: the 2006 ensemble movie Paris Je t’Aime. From the silly to the sublime, there are 20 five-minute films, each set in a neighbourhood of Paris. I loved Walter Salles & Daniela Thomas’s ‘Loin du 16ème’ and Alexander Payne’s ’14ème Arrondissement’ which had me bawling.

2. Saveur Magazine’s French picnic menu. Summer in Paris is all about the pique-nique, on the Pont des Arts or the banks of the Seine.

3. Via Chocolate & Zucchini and Paris by Mouth, the announcement of the hotly contested top ten baguettes in Paris. Au Levain d’Antan, 6 Rue d’Abbesses in Montmartre, will supply the president with his daily bread for the rest of the year.

4. Inès de la Fressange’s new book Parisian Chic, bound in red leather and full of cutesy drawings, is the latest how-to-be-French guide for sad lumpen Anglo-Saxons. I snark, but I will admit to being a sucker for this stuff.

5. I absolutely love the Paris Color Project over at Little Brown Pen. I bought a bunch of their miniature calendars for friends last Christmas, and there are beautiful postcards and prints in their Etsy store.

explore: counter space at moma and ‘objectified’

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I have been meaning to go to this exhibition, MoMA’s ‘Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen’ since it opened in September (it’s at the museum until May 2nd) and it proved totally fascinating for anyone like me whose itch lies at the intersection of design, food, architecture and interiors. The centerpiece is a full size reconstruction of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky’s “Frankfurt Kitchen” from the Höhenblick Housing Estate in Frankfurt, Germany, created in 1926-27. The rest of the exhibition, organized into chronological sections from the turn of the twentieth century to the 1960s and beyond, is focused on products, posters, photographs and designs exploring kitchens themselves and enticingly hinting at their larger sociological significance, and their importance for understanding what constitutes modern living. Continue reading

explore: museum of the moving image

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A few pictures from the big (re-)opening weekend at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria (35th Avenue at 37th Street.) We went to explore the museum, which is hands-on and very kid-friendly, with exhibits in the permanent collection that let you do things like re-dub the soundtrack to a film and edit video (making it a bit of a busman’s day out for our friend Sam, a professional video editor.) The temporary exhibition ‘Real Virtuality’ – six art installations incorporating video technology – was fun, especially Bill Viola’s interactive video game. There is a fabulously sci-fi new cinema to which my photo does not do justice, especially its gorgeous multi-coloured trompe l’oeil curtain. We saw a restored, albeit slightly glitchy print of 2001: A Space Odyssey there (verdict: wow!-what?-zzz…-wow!!-zzz…whatwow?!-WHAT????’), and followed it up with burgers at the new Five Napkin Burger across the way (verdict: not as good as any of the other fancy-burger joints in the ‘hood, and a misnomer – only one napkin each! Good beer and cool interior, if you don’t mind meathooks hanging over your head, but better to walk the few blocks to Sweet Afton or Bare Burger.)

Anyway, the museum is definitely worth the trip over the river, and the directors’ decision to show Play Time and 2001 as their opening-day double-bill (and all the other Tati they have lined up) bodes well for our membership.