Cary Fukunaga's adaptation of the novel Beasts Of No Nation (2015) is harrowing tale of war and exploitation of children for fighting. The ensemble cast is excellent-especially the main child Agu (Abraham Ada) and the charismatic leader, Commandant (Idris Elba). The cinematography is also excellent. Fukunaga doesn't seem to have made a false move in his career so far: Sin Nombre, Jane Eyre, True Detective Season 1, and now this. I look forward to whatever his next project turns out to be.
I had some friends from out of town visiting and they requested yakitori, so I thought it would be good to try a new place and I found a new place called I in Roppongi near Midtown that was awarded a Michelin Gourmet Bib Award (reasonable price for superior food). It's a 18 seat place that had some unusual dishes. We got the omakase set course for ¥3800. The picture above is the otoshi (seating charge dish) which was vegetables with a side of miso.
This dish was served with cold chicken and szechwuan style sauce and cilantro.
Daikon (Japanese radish) with soy sauce.
Tsukune (minced chicken) with a wine sauce and dijoun mustard.
Zucchini with meringue egg yolk and plum sauce.
Negima (chicken thigh with spring onions) with a soy sauce based sauce.
King Hu's A Touch Of Zen (1971) has rightfully been called one of the greatest Chinese films of all-time. It is an epic wuxia (martial arts) film that transforms at times into a first rate art film as well. Hu calls to mind, perhaps Japan's greatest samurai director Akira Kurosawa and his epic saga Seven Samurai in several ways. Both directors were consummate artists that had a very singular vision and detailed knowledge of the historical periods of their actions adventure films. As a result both directors were known for their detailed story boards that brought their vision to life for the cast and crew. Furthermore, both directors were demanding of their casts and took a very hands on approach to set design, lighting, acting, and every faucet of the production in order to achieve their singular visions. Hu was known for his great innovation in using Beijing opera features to the films with the leaping combatants as well as the epic battle in the bamboo grove that was paid homage to by Ang Lee in his modern wuxia epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The set design of the haunted temple is majestic as are all of the location scenes of stunning widescreen landscapes that were filmed in Taiwan and flow like ancient tapestries. It was originally released in two parts,b ut th edirector preffered the epic three hour 20 minute version that has been given the Criterion treatment. The features include: a 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, a documentary from 2012 about director King Hu, new interviews with actors Hsu Feng and Shih Chun, a new interview with filmmaker Ang Lee, a new interview with film scholar Tony Rayns, trailer, a new English subtitle translation, and an essay by film scholar David Bordwell and notes by Hu from a 1975 Cannes Film Festival press kit.
A friend suggested that I watch the HBO comedy Silicon Valley after expressing our admiration for Veep. And while I have enjoyed the first season and will keep on watching, it is no Veep. I didn't realize that Mike Judge (Office Space and Beavis and Butthead) was one of the creative forces behind the series. Furthermore, it is less than 30 minutes per episode, so it's not a huge investment of time as well. It does do a good job of skewering the computer and IT business, it doesn't have the nonstop joke every 30 seconds that Veep has. I'm interested to see if they find their footing in upcoming seasons.
I think I put off seeing Steven Spielberg's Bridge Of Spies (2015) mostly due to the ubiquitous star Tom Hanks. That being said I liked him in Hologram for a King, so I decided to give this a chance since it also got lots of great reviews. It is a conventional melodramatic historical film based on a true story about trading spies during the cold war, but it has great production values and cinematography, acting, and, writing as well. And the fact that it was written by the Coen Brothers somehow escaped me-I would have seen it for that reason alone.
Otsu is a Micheline one star Italian restaurant near Yoyogi park that serves great Northern Italian food. I wanted to try a new place and they have a very reasonable lunch set for ¥3800. The first dish on the menu was katsuo (skipjack tuna).
Next up was pasta with red sauce and eggplant.
Spanish pork with mustard seed sauce, thyme, and mild baby green peppers from Hokkaido.
Dessert was gelato with honey, dates, and crumbled cookie.
Several people recommended the Netfllix TV series Stranger Things (2106) and I decided to give it a try despite my misgivings about the premise (I'm not a huge Sf or fantasy viewer). And the main reasons I gave in were the fact that it takes place in the 80s when I grew up (nostalgia factor) and the fact that it starred Winona Ryder, a favorite from that era. I wasn't really drawn into the show until the third or fourth episode. And even then the believablity gaps were annoying for me. There were some good 80s music moments and along the way, but I don't think I liked it as much as the people who recommended it to me. One of the selling points for me was that it was only eight episodes, so I can Image that I could the find time to watch season two.
Edward Snowden's whistle blowing story of the illegal surveillance by the US government is captured simultaneously, as he is interviewed by media, in Laura Poitras' film Citizenfour (2014). A story that I haven't followed probably as closely as I should have (hence the reason I decided to watch this documentary), but this enlightened me to the controversy and the significance of what the government was doing. But call me cynical-it didn't really surprise me and I just don't see how it affects most people. But I do know that's not the point. A historical and significant document about the rights of people all over the world.