Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Screening at the Tribeca Film Festival



Have you ever been in the situation where you’re walking down the aisle of a grocery store, a certain song plays over the speaker and you find yourself overcome with emotion?  Maybe it triggered the memory of your first boyfriend, or it reminded you of a particular place, or the lyrics were particularly relevant to a recent event.  If you’ve ever stifled sobs in the dairy aisle while deciding between skim and 1%, you’re not alone.

There’s a well-studied link between music and memory, but for many of us that extends to books, television shows and movies as well.  They can evoke powerful emotions. I can distinctly remember how I felt when I finished Wuthering Heights, when Mr. Big’s real name pops up on Carrie’s phone, and definitely when I watched Reservoir Dogs.



Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Fans wait patiently outside the venue in hopes of a celebrity encounter
Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Michael Madsen on the red carpet

As a self-professed movie lover, the Tribeca Film Festival is something I look forward to every year.  It’s always exciting to see the festival picks, but it’s also a fun time in New York City.  The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in an effort to revitalize the flailing New York City economy after 9/11.  Backed by the star power of names like Robert de Niro and Martin Scorsese, the inaugural festival launched in 2002 and has continued to grow exponentially each year.  Now it’s a time of celebrity sightings and fan geekdom throughout the city.

There are hundreds of screenings that take place during the Tribeca Film Festival, from shorts to documentaries to features.  There are also an impressive number of talks and special events.  Cinephiles are like kids in a candy store.  (Or Homer in a pie store.  You get the gist.)

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

This year’s festival featured a special screening of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs on 35mm print in honor of its 25th anniversary.  Reservoir Dogs is a movie that was well ahead of its time at its Sundance Film Festival debut in 1992, and still holds up today.  The banter is still engaging.  The plot is still relevant.  And yes, the acting and directing are still fantastic.



Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Not a bad place to watch a movie, right?

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

(Yes, I totally geeked out in my Reservoir Dogs finest.)

The screening was followed by a talk with Quentin Tarantino himself (Mr. Brown), Harvey Keitel (Mr. White), Steve Buscemi (Mr. Pink), Tim Roth (Mr. Orange) and Michael Madsen (Mr. Blonde).  It was great to hear tidbits about how Harvey Keitel had to pay for Quentin Tarantino to fly to New York City so that local actors could audition (which led to the discovery of Steve Buscemi).  And it was fascinating to learn that Michael Madsen was incredibly nervous about the now-iconic dance scene, so much so that it was never rehearsed — then amazingly, shot in one take.  

It’s a fan experience we were fortunate to have access to, thanks to the Tribeca Film Festival.  Movie buffs, be sure to sign up for advance notice so you can pre-game ahead of the next festival.  If you haven’t yet watched Reservoir Dogs, I suggest you remedy that right away.  If you have, tell me your favorite line.  Here’s mine:

“Yeah, but Mr. Brown, that’s a little too close to Mr. Shit.”




Pair it with:

Something from Mister Dips

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Mister Dips is nowhere near Tribeca, the Beacon Theatre or any other Tribeca Film Festival location.  But we’re also talking about Reservoir Dogs, and in my version, Mr. White, Mr. Brown, Mr. Pink, Mr. Orange, Mr. Blonde and Mr. Blue all go to Mister Dips.  (Poetic license, it’s a thing.)  

Mister Dips is located in an Airstream trailer at the William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn.  It offers a small-but-tight menu of burgers, soft-serve and floats and serves up a fantastic view on the side.  Andrew Carmellini is behind the venture, so I wasn’t surprised that the burger was good.  Or that the waffle fries were fantastic.  What DID surprise me, though, was that the Green Label burger is probably the best veggie burger I’ve ever had.  And after we downed all that? We still found room for a Jacker-Crax cone. Heck, I’d let you cut my ear off for one of those.

Location:
Vale Park at the William Vale Hotel

Hours:
Daily: 12-9pm

– L.

Indonesian Street Festival



When we would return from school holidays while I was growing up in Malaysia, some of my friends would render tales of surfboarding in California or chasing pigeons in Trafalgar Square.  I don’t know if we couldn’t afford it, or if my father simply didn’t find the travel and/or destinations appealing, but we never visited the western hemisphere.  Our family vacations took us to closer locales like Thailand and Indonesia.  There’s a lot of overlap between Indonesian and Malaysian culture — we share similarities in language, food and beliefs — but Indonesia is much larger and more diverse.  The archipelago of over 18,000 islands has hundreds of ethnic groups and distinct dialects, so it manages to feel familiar and exotic at the same time.  Visiting the Indonesian Street Festival this past weekend was a fun return to that very same intoxicating combination.

Indonesian Street Festival - Mad Hatters NYC

Indonesian Street Festival - Mad Hatters NYC

Indonesian Street Festival - Mad Hatters NYC

The event is a recent, but welcome, addition to New York City’s already diverse calendar: this year’s Indonesian Street Festival was only its sophomore effort.  Presented by the Indonesian Consulate General in New York, the stretch of 68th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues that it calls home was transformed into a festive street market that would be a familiar sight in many Asian cities.  Your senses immediately go into overdrive as a multitude of sights, smells and sounds envelop you.  Stalls offering delicious regional delicacies lined the southern side of the street.  A stage erected in front of the consulate’s building became home to traditional dances and music performances, as well as fashion shows from Indonesian fashion designers.

In Malay the phrase “balik kampung” means returning to one’s hometown, which could be a small, rural village as much as a bustling, urban center. It wasn’t necessarily where you were born, it’s where you belonged.  It was common for my late grandmother to consider someone likable or trustworthy simply because he was from our kampung.  “He’s good people,” she would say, knowing nothing else about the fellow.  At the Indonesian Street Festival, stalls were set up by province, and I noticed a similar sense of affiliation.  Indonesian guests, some dressed in their finest batik, would greet the vendors with the kind of familiarity reserved for family, and they would consume the delicacies in the thoroughfare as if hanging out in a friend’s backyard.  And for guests hailing from other places, we got to travel to the different territories by sampling the distinct wares offered.

Indonesian Street Festival - Mad Hatters NYC

Indonesian Street Festival - Mad Hatters NYC

Indonesian Street Festival - Mad Hatters NYC

I would’ve made the trek out to the Indonesian Street Festival simply for the promise of the food.  And I wasn’t alone: I watched New York City foodies line up for satay, mee goreng, curry, and other amazing delicacies in suffocating 85-degree weather (which, I suppose, lends to the authenticity of the event since Indonesia has warm, tropical weather throughout the year).  If you’re fortunate enough to have visited the lovely country, or to have made friends with its affable people, then this fun event would have functioned as a pleasant reminder of its charms.  If you haven’t, it’s time to rectify that.  Unwrap that banana leaf and eat those pepes.



Pair it with:

A visit to Tuson Sate

Indonesian Street Festival - Mad Hatters NYC

Indonesian Street Festival - Mad Hatters NYC

Indonesian Street Festival - Mad Hatters NYC

If you did it right, then you would have sufficiently stuffed your face at the Indonesian Street Festival and gone home happy.  Hence we have no true food pairing to recommend for this activity.  However, we wanted to single out a vendor from the festival that we feel warrants a second glance. Tuson Sate has been selling satay at a mosque in Queens since 1999, and has recently expanded its presence in Manhattan by setting up shop at the Hester Street Fair and Bryant Park.  The satay, pictured above, was tender and flavorful and well worth the long wait.  It’s a finalist for the 2016 Vendy Awards, so we may be its newest fans, but we’re definitely not its earliest. Visit their Instagram page for schedules and locations.

– L.

The Merchant of Venice at the Lincoln Center Festival



As I mentioned once before here, I studied English Lit at university. And I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I read a fair bit of Shakespeare during that time, and by “fair”, I mean a lot. And throughout my studies, I analyzed, discussed, and wrote a lot of papers about the famed playwright and his innumerable works. The Merchant of Venice was one of those works — a challenging one. It was required reading in a few of my later classes, so I’m quite familiar with it. It’s sort of notorious for being an emotionally complicated and intellectually treacherous play to study, and it’s much less read for enjoyment due to its subject matter. And for this reason, it’s anathema for many students. Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, I cannot think of another fostering a more strained and contentious relationship between readers, academics, historians and the material itself.

Merchant of Venice - Mad Hatters NYC

The Merchant of Venice, in simplest terms, thematically explores the conflicting ideas of vengeance, mercy and justice and portrays the events and consequences surrounding the agreed upon terms and later default of a monetary loan between Shylock, a Jewish Venetian moneylender, and Antonio, a Christian Venetian merchant. All other subplots aside, that’s the center of the story.

Though considered a Shakespearean comedy, which, by Elizabethan standards, meant that it was a play with a lighter, more humorous tone and typically had a happy ending, The Merchant of Venice is widely criticized as a mean-spirited, bigoted, anti-Semitic play. After all, the antagonist is Jewish, caricatures and stereotypes abound and were likely played for laughs, and the climactic “happy ending” is Shylock’s absolute defeat and abject humiliation. He is stripped of his dignity, his daughter, his property and his religion.

Merchant of Venice - Mad Hatters NYC

So it begs the question: Why read this play or see it performed? Well, because it is a play that is not without opportunity. Take, for example, the revival production Lynn and I recently took in at The Rose Theater during the Lincoln Center Festival. In the able hands of the renowned Shakespeare’s Globe (who last brought Broadway their incredible productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III in 2014) and with a masterfully nuanced performance by Jonathan Pryce, the audience is afforded a fresh, compelling, and, above all else, timely interpretation of the play. Shylock’s monologue — as famous as any others Shakespeare ever put to paper — become not the words of an equivocating, villainous perpetrator but the words of a victim in abject despair. They become the words of a man who knows there is no justice because the game is rigged and that the righteous majority can become a specious euphemism for an angry, lawless mob.

After the final curtain fell and the audience solemnly dispersed, Lynn and I were pensive. We found ourselves in the unfortunate position of having to admit that the narrative of The Merchant of Venice perfectly captures the tragic marginalization of minorities in this country — right now, in the 21st century.  And we’re confident that’s exactly the impression that was intended.

Visit the Lincoln Center Festival website to see what other thought-provoking programming awaits when next season rolls around.



Pair it with:

A drink at Box Kite Coffee

Box Kite Coffee - Mad Hatters NYC

Box Kite Coffee - Mad Hatters NYC

There are few things I enjoy more than coffee. An incredible discussion with someone I respect and admire is one of those things. Give me both, simultaneously, and I’m in heaven. That was my experience at the once upon a time sibling, now orphaned (their original and much larger East Village location closed) Upper West Side location of Box Kite Coffee. It’s an intimate, modern space, and by intimate, I mean the size of a modest walk-in closet or a diminutive hallway. But don’t let the interior distract you, the coffee here is top notch. Cora Lambert, the proprietor, had a simple vision for Box Kite: to meticulously source and eclectically curate a seasonal selection of the very best beans from the very best producers, utilize only state-of-the-art machines for optimal extraction, and hire top-of-the-line professionals to orchestrate the whole process. And I’m happy to tell you, she succeeded. From tasty seasonal concoctions to espresso tonics to the staple One+One (espresso and macchiato combo, with a glass of tonic and a homemade graham cracker), you can’t really go wrong. Add an order from their à la carte menu of toast and spreads and you’re ready for that long post-theater discussion.

Location:
128 W 72nd St

Hours:
Mon – Fri: 7am – 6pm
Sat & Sun: 8am – 7pm

– J.

Columbia University Film Festival at Lincoln Center



What are the criteria for an outstanding short film? Or, more precisely, what are the criteria for an outstanding student-produced short film? The specificity makes a huge difference, actually. That’s exactly what the Columbia University Film Festival seeks to answer with screenings, voting and discussions. The festival is the result of Columbia University’s MFA students’ years of study in the prestigious school’s film program.  As one would expect, being part of the Columbia University system gives the students access to massive film archives, unparalleled research collections and mentorship from industry leaders.  Alumni have gone on to produce box office hits (Frozen) and Netflix favorites (Making a Murderer), and are regular film award nominees and winners.

Columbia University Film Festival

Columbia University Film Festival

Columbia University Film Festival

In the broader sense, entertainment or enlightenment or both (granted, these aren’t mutually exclusive concepts, but pulling off both is a rare trick indeed!) are the laudable goals of every respectable filmmaker — student and master alike — but a bit deeper dive is called for in the case of the final projects screened during the festival. One might argue that films showcasing specific talent — such as the exquisite cinematography of DOP, Matías Illanis, found in a viewing of And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye or the clever dialogue of Willy Berliner and fantastic acting of Dave Hanson and Jim Santangeli (doppelganger of some deranged Kevin Smith that he is) in I’m in Here — are more than adequate. These films suggest that one needn’t demonstrate a fully-realized idea, but simply a fairly coherent narrative, particularly given the time restriction of 15 minutes. On the other hand, a film like Head Above Water completely obliterates that concept — brilliantly crafting a film in which the sum is greater than its parts, though in truth, the parts are pretty damned good, too — and proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that restrictions are simply the catalyst for true ingenuity.

Often, short films can be a rather mixed bag — one moment brilliance, the next utter folly — but nearly all films screened in our group were of a higher caliber than recent feature length films we’ve seen in theaters. Keep an eye out for the festival schedule when it runs next year, and while you wait, check out all of the fascinating programming offered on a regular basis by the festival’s host, Film Society at Lincoln Center, here.

Location:
Multiple venues 



Pair it with:

Treats from Levain Bakery

Levain Bakery

Levain Bakery

Levain Bakery

We’ve made no secret of our love for chocolate chip cookies. And those offered at the Upper West Side neighborhood institution, Levain Bakery, have been on our radar for quite some time, but we’ve somehow managed to keep bumping it off the list. Maybe it was the storied queues stretching around the block or the fact that this style of cookie — a six-ounce behemoth that is crisp on the outside and softly semi-undercooked at its very deep center — is generally not to our taste. Or maybe it’s our undying loyalty to the Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie (we waxed poetic about it in our food pairing here), which, when devoured warm on a cold, winter day, is the definition of perfection.  And yet, truth be told, after taste-testing the double chocolate chip and the oatmeal raisin cookies, Levain did indeed win us over.  We will be back, waiting patiently in line like all the other fans, sometime soon.

Location:
167 West 74th St

Hours:
Mon-Sat 8am-7pm
Sun 9am-7pm

– J.

Titanosaur at the American Museum of Natural History

Like the children who came before and after me, I, too, went through a dinosaur phase — an obsession with toys, comic books, movies, novels and archaeological journals related to the clade of vertebrates Sir Richard Owen established as “Dinosauria” in 1842. Theirs was an entire alien world that could coexist simultaneously in the past and the present, the imagination and reality. And what better place to be immersed in the irrefutable, fossilized evidence of the Mesozoic Era than the cathedral of “Dinosauria” devotion, the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side of Manhattan?

Titanosaur Museum Natural History

Titanosaur Museum Natural History

Titanosaur Museum Natural History

Though this was far from our first rodeo, and there are countless other spectacular examples in their world-famous fossil halls, Lynn and I specifically ventured to AMNH, perched on the threshold of magnificent Central Park West, for the must-see exhibition of a cast of a Titanosaur skeletal fossil. Titanosaurs were sauropod dinosaurs, a group which included some of the largest and heaviest creatures to walk the earth, in the forest of today’s Patagonia, during the Late Cretaceous Period. At a length of 122 feet and just under 19 feet tall, its grandeur did not disappoint. From head to tail, the replica spans the entirety of Wallach Orientation Center, nearly scraping the ceiling, and a portion of its neck and head spill out into the adjoining elevator banks. Mouths agape, we could only imagine what it would look like in the flesh—all 70 speculated tons of it. Even our attempts at capturing it for the purposes of this post (using Panorama and Photosphere, mind you) proved rather ineffectual. Yes, it’s that big! For additional information, visit their website here.

Location:
Central Park West and 79th St

Hours:
Open daily from 10 am–5:45 pm except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day



Pair it with:

Brunch at Caffé Storico

Caffe Storico NYC

Caffe Storico NYC

Caffe Storico NYC

Strangely, casts of the skeletal fossil remains of dinosaurs, just like emaciated models attending a casting call or an open audition for an ad campaign, have the effect of making me ravenously hungry. But the question is where do you go near Central Park West? Well, Stephen Starr (the Restaurateur of Upland fame) has you covered. Just pop on over to…uh, wait…The New York Historical Society Museum and Library across the street? Yep, that’s right. Inside of the museum, you will find Caffé Storico, a quaint Italian restaurant serving antipasti, pastas, panini and hearty entrees. Lynn settled on a Polenta and Eggs with a mushroom ragù and I went with a Spinach and Ricotta Strozzapreti with dill butter and sesame. Both were excellent, but as usual, I tasted Lynn’s and regretted my choice. Luckily, polenta is filling, so I shamelessly finished hers off.

Location:
170 Central Park West

Hours:
Brunch
Saturday and Sunday: 11am–4pm
Lunch
Tuesday–Friday: 11am–3:30pm
Late Afternoon Menu
Tuesday–Friday: 3:30pm–5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 4pm–5:30pm
Dinner
Tuesday–Friday: 5pm–10pm
Saturday and Sunday: 5:30pm–10pm
Closed Monday

– J.

Manhattan Adirondacks

You weave through the throngs of people, the red, blinking hand taunting you in the distance.  When you finally make it to the street corner, the red hand is stationary and the cabs are leaping out of their lanes towards you. You jump back onto the sidewalk to safety, barely avoiding the murky puddle at your feet, when some unidentifiable cloud of smoke wafts up from the sewer grate and hits you in the face.  Maybe it’s time for a getaway.

To leave the city without actually leaving the city, make your way to the North Woods of Central Park, where it’s so tranquil you’ll believe the subway tunnel was a portal to another world.

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Dubbed the Manhattan Adirondacks, landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed the North Woods to replicate the forests of the Adirondack Mountains.  The 100th Street entrance brings you directly to The Pool, which is a picturesque tree-lined body of water that begs you to make a return visit with a picnic basket in hand.  The northern edge of The Pool leads you naturally to the Glenspan Cascade and Arch, where you can begin a 30-minute self-guided walking tour of the area which wraps around the Loch, with the northernmost point being the Huddlestone Arch.  

It’s a hauntingly beautiful piece of the park, best described below by Christoper Gray in a New York Times article:

“This stretch, from the Cascade on down, is a masterpiece of landscape manipulation. As visitors follow the streamside path, they see the noisy, sunny brightness of the Cascade disappear into the silent, tomb-like darkness inside the massive arch.

On the other side, soft forest light and sounds emerge — birds twitter under the rustling green canopy. Turning back, they get a visual recapitulation of this sensory trail — a sheet of placid water leads back through the dark arch which frames the sunny Cascade. It is typical of the Olmsted and Vaux concept of the park as a series of sophisticated experiences meant to be uplifting for all, but especially for the lower classes.”

Pair it with:

Coffee and baked goods at Plowshares Coffee Bloomingdale

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Located less than a mile away, this outpost for the boutique coffee roaster is the perfect place to stop in for a hot cup of joe before or after your Central Park adventure.  They also carry baked goods from Colson and donuts from Underwest, which are some of our favorite mistakes.

Location:
2730 Broadway (btwn 104th/105th)

Hours (per Google):
Monday 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Tuesday 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Wednesday 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Thursday 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Friday 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturday 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Sunday 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM

– L.

 

Macy’s Giant Balloon Inflation

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Balloon Inflation pictures courtesy of Photoframd

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a huge celebration that kicks off the holiday season here in NYC, but it draws huge crowds and requires a tremendous commitment in terms of time and effort.  For a slightly less challenging option, you can catch some behind-the-scenes action at the Macy’s Giant Balloon Inflation the night before at special areas surrounding the Museum of Natural History.

For more information including a Balloon Inflation Map and some helpful tips, go here.

Location:
79th Street and Columbus Avenue

Hours:
Wednesday, November 25th
3pm – 10pm

Pair it with:

Dinner at Jacob’s Pickles

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Jacob’s Pickles is just a hop, skip and a jump away and it offers mouth-watering comfort food.  The kind of comfort food that sounds especially perfect when 1) it’s cold 2) you’ve burned some calories walking around looking at giant balloons and can therefore justify eating something deep fried and/or smothered in gravy 3) it’s Thanksgiving!

Location:
509 Amsterdam
(between 84th and 85th Streets)

Hours:
Mon-Thur 10am-2am
Fri 10am-4am
Sat 9am-4am
Sun 9am-2am

For more information including menus and contact information, visit their website.

– L.