Category: Film

Lonely Hearts

Monday, April 9th, 2007 | All Things, Film

After a screening of Lonely Hearts, the little seen film based on the real-life notorious duo of Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez, 1940s serial killers who came to be known in the press as “The Lonely Hearts Killers.”

Director-screenwriter Todd Robinson, who was interviewed by Scott Siegel after our screening, is the grandson of Long Island detective Elmer C. Robinson, credited with apprehending Beck and Fernandez — both of whom were eventually executed for their crimes. Elmer is portrayed in the film by John Travolta. In another bit of Hollywood glamorizing, Beck – whose weight the press estimated to be anywhere from 200 to over 300 pounds – was played by Salma Hayek.

Todd Robinson

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Kick up your heels

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007 | All Things, Events, Film

The launch party for the 12th Annual Gen Art Film Festival was being held tonight at té casan — inexplicably, a couple of weeks in advance of the actual festival, which runs April 11 through 17, 2007.

Broome Street

The SoHo shoe emporium opened its flagship store on West Broadway to some fanfare in November 2006. On paper it seemed an odd choice for a party venue, but once we arrived, it was clear that all was not just about the shoes.

M met me on the sidewalk outside, where the Gen Art gatekeepers had set up a table amid the red carpet and floodlights. The sleek, tri-level space was designed by Ron Pompei — and emitted a vibe more gallery than store. Against the mirrors and blank white canvas of walls, and beneath the elaborate chandeliers, the wares stood out like pieces of art: careful stagings of ballet flats, metallic chainlink stilettos, patchwork leather and suede boots, fancy kicks, crystal-studded sandals…

Which in its way is apropos. The idea behind té casan — Gaelic for “a woman’s path” — is to introduce limited-edition footwear collections, of artisan quality: handcrafted materials and signature detailing at “attainable” luxury price points. The company’s creative director, Asil Attar, interviewed 55 emerging designers before settling on the final team of seven, most recruited from the respected fashion houses of Alexander McQueen, Versace, Vivienne Westwood and the like. According to the company literature, the single-run editions are limited by state, with the pieces numbered individually on the soles, adding to the couture cachet. As the té casan brand evolves, new designers will be introduced, and none of the collections will remain in the store longer than three years. With most pairs in the $200-$300 range, the price tags are higher than Nine West, but much lower than say, Manolo Blahniks or red-soled Christian Louboutins, which run in the $500-$700 (and up) range. As we wandered among the increasingly crowded floors, we noticed several pairs marked half-price, which almost make the shoes a fashion-forward bargain.

The store’s central curving glass staircase is edged with mirrored disks; the lower level features a built-in bar station (which functions as a tea salon during regular shopping hours) and throughout the space are domed dressing areas outfitted with bench seating for trying on the wares (or mingling with other party guests) in semi-privacy.

Gen Art Film Fest party

Gen Art Film Fest party

Actress Nicole Forester with Gen Art president, Adam Walden:

Gen Art Film Fest party

Afterwards, we continued our evening over dinner next door at Cipriani, where the food was pricy, but almost besides the point. We entertained ourselves by attempting to decipher the relationships of our dining companions — father and daughter? grandfather and granddaughter? hmm… – all while trying not to gawk at the most orange woman either of us had ever seen in our entire lives.

Cipriani

Gen Art Stamp

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To air is human

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Film, Music

My dinner plans got canceled, so SYB invited me along to attend a preview screening of Air Guitar Nation  at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater in the East Village.

Bowery

Air Guitar Nation

Alexandra Lipsitz, who was a producer for Bravo’s “Project Runway,” directed this documentary chronicling the birth of the United States Air Guitar Championships and the road to the 2003 World Championships in Oulu, Finland. Drawing inspiration from a 2001 Wall Street Journal article about the Sixth Annual Air Guitar World Championships, the producers filmed competitions in New York City and Los Angeles, eventually accompanying the American finalists to Finland. The footage was originally intended to form the basis of a new reality television show for VH1, but when plans for the series got shelved, this documentary was the result.

The story is framed around a pair of colorful characters: musician/freelance writer Dan Crane, aka Björn Türoque — love the heavy metal umlauts — and his chief rival for air supremacy, David “C-Diddy” Jung, a charismatic actor/comedian who performs in a flowing red kimono and Hello Kitty breastplate. (For real.)

The international competition was begun by Finnish students in 1996 to promote world peace, a fact worth noting as the Americans entered the contest for the first time in 2003, shortly after the outbreak of the Iraq war. Crane, the underdog of the two, declares himself an “ambassador of air,” at one point taking the stage bare-chested with the words “Make Air Not War!” scrawled across his torso in black marker. Still, one can sense the wariness towards the Americans from the European contingent. During the obligatory trash-talking, one Austrian acidly quipped that Björn Türoque should change his monikor and represent the French as Björn Toulouse. (thought that was funny, but I probably have a higher tolerance for puns than most.)

Eventually, we see the international contestants bonding over a shared love of power shredding, slashing riffs and windmilling… and one suspects, a mutual admiration for arena rock and Bill & Ted. In fact, SYB recognized the winning performance music — which I think I’ve identified as Play With Me” by Extreme — from the chaotic mall scene in Excellent Adventure.

It’s all pretty charming, and I found the proceedings far more entertaining than I thought I would. One of the film’s most touching moments shows Jung’s Korean immigrant parents, who had wanted their son to become a doctor, cheering him on in the Finland final and throwing up the “metal horns.”

Crane, whom SYB knew back when he was an educational software producer, attended tonight’s screening along with producers Dan Cutforth and Anna Barber, promoting his new book, aptly titled: To Air is Human.

Afterwards, having hit my rock and roll quota for the night, I skipped out on the Rolling Stone party to add yet another notch on the ramen belt. At 5th and B, Minca is the farthest off the beaten path of the city’s top ramen joints, but clearly well on the radar of the Japanese expats that filled the dozen or so tables and bar stools.

Minca kitchen

I ordered the Minca ramen, which centers around an earthy broth made with pork, chicken and dried seafood. According to the Times  (in which Minca got the “$25 and Under” treatment), the chef-owner boils a combination of 80% pork bones/20% chicken bones for hours to prepare the thick and porky brew; the dried noodles are delivered directly from Japan. That kind of care for ingredients is carried over into the dish preparations; from where we sat at the front window, I could watch the chefs carefully assembling each bowl, pouring the steaming broth over the noodles, thin-slicing the fatty, pork belly chunks, layering on the mahogany-colored soy sauce egg, tangle of scallions, bamboo and mushrooms, until finally, finishing things off with a leaf of dried seaweed.

Minca ramen

This may be the best one yet.

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