When Martin Scorsese puts away his strutting cocks—his raging bulls, goodfellas and Wall Street wolves—the results can be astounding. This quieter, lesser-seen director is the one who gave us The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), the exquisite period piece The Age of Innocence (1993) and now Silence, a furiously alive and concentrated parable about faith under fire set in 17th-century Japan that ranks among the greatest achievements of spiritually minded cinema. That’s the level Scorsese has reached; don’t even think he’s not capable of it. Like much of Scorsese’s work, Silence is consumed with doubt, ego and sacrifice—this time, of black-robed Portuguese missionaries in a foreign land, one that ends up breaking them. But the refinement here is something else. Based on a 1966 novel by Shûsaku Endô, Silence is a project Scorsese obsessed over for close to 30 years, and you notice that: It looks and feels lean, with no wasted gestures, only inward agony. It’s his most mature movie, almost completely free of comic relief yet vibrating with passion and, provocatively, an apocalyptic sense of conviction burning to the ground. Two bearded Jesuits, idealistic Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield, wet-eyed and soulful) and his sturdy counterpart, Garupe (Adam Driver), make up an “army of two,” heading to a Japan shrouded in smoke and mystery. It’s partly the terrain of Scorsese’s beloved Akira Kurosawa—epics like Ran and Throne of Blood—and partly a natural paradise. (Cinematographer Rodrigo
The young writer-director Damien Chazelle has followed his Oscar-winning drama Whiplash with another entirely novel film steeped in the world of music. His soaring, romantic, extremely stylish and endlessly inventive La La Land is that rare beast: a grown-up movie musical that's not kitschy, a joke or a Bollywood film. Instead, it's a swooning, beautifully crafted ode to the likes of Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Stanley Donen's Singin' in the Rain that plays out in the semi-dream world of Los Angeles and manages to condense the ups and downs of romantic love into a very Tinseltown toe-tapping fable. La La Land boasts stars to fall in love with: Ryan Gosling is Seb, a brooding pianist and jazz purist who dreams of running his own nightclub, while Emma Stone plays Mia, a more sunny studio-lot barista and aspiring actor who dreams of putting on her own plays. The film follows them from winter to fall and back to winter as they meet, argue, flirt, fall in love and face a growing conflict between their personal passions and romantic hopes. There are tender and imaginative moments to die for: Stone mouthing along to a cover version of “I Ran” at a pool party; the pair watching their legs discover the power of tap while sitting on a bench; the two of them flying into the stars and waltzing while visiting Griffith Observatory—a moment inspired by a trip to see Rebel Without a Cause. There are songs, there are dances (and Gosling and Stone prove easy naturals at bot
The first movie had Keanu Reeves’s stoic man of action taking on the Russian mobsters who killed his dog—a vengeance with a vicious edge. No, they haven’t come for his cat this time, but the taciturn ex-assassin is still prone to murderous rages. It turns out John’s unsanctioned rampage broke the laws that all hired killers follow, so he faces some hefty consequences. The ensuing disciplinary action shuttles our antihero from New York to Rome and back again, always one step ahead of his former colleagues who (unwisely) won’t let it go. John Wick: Chapter 2 opens with a movie projected on a wall, as John races past an outdoor screening of a silent slapstick comedy. It’s an unsubtle but appropriate image: None of this is meant to be taken too seriously. Just sit back and enjoy the stunts, the speed and the style. Reeves has more than a touch of Buster Keaton about him, staying stone-faced as he blasts, karate-kicks and throat-punches his way through literally hundreds of faceless underworld goons. And what a stupendously entertaining ride it is. Former stuntman Chad Stahelski is back in the director’s chair, and he knows his craft inside out: Every body blow lands hard, every gunshot roars like thunder. Neon-lit and gloomy, the film is lovely to look at (think Drive’s Nicolas Winding Refn without the pretension). The humor is charmingly self-deprecating—a series of adversarial grunt-offs between Reeves and fellow assassin Cassian (Common) is a highlight—and the testosterone-h
You couldn’t be blamed for low expectations if you wandered into Salvation Taco, the new stylized taqueria located in the budget Pod 39 Hotel. During prime loosen-your-tie-and-slip-off-your-pumps evening hours, the Murray Hill crowd can be as obnoxious as a roving band of SantaCon reindeer. And the place is in-your-face garish, like a party joint imported from Cancun spring break, with bright Christmas lights and a wall covered in fake fruit. But that first impression tells only half the story. With April Bloomfield running the kitchen and Ken Friedman in charge of everything else, this is far from your typical after-work sloshfest. The powerhouse team behind the Spotted Pig and the Breslin is playing against type—like Danny Meyer reinventing the burger shack or Tom Colicchio launching a sandwich chain—bringing their highbrow skills into a new mass-market arena. The venue—as colorful as a Mexican blanket, decked out in a rainbow of thrift-store junk—skews younger than any this team has opened previously, designed to fit the Pod’s youth-hostel vibe. The sprawling space, a happy-hour rec room, features two long votive-lit bars, plush couches for lounging and Ping-Pong tables in glass-enclosed nooks. It is first and foremost a place to imbibe, its Mexicanish finger food mostly designed for easy consumption while clutching an icy cerveza. Bloomfield could have phoned it in for this out-of-her-wheelhouse venture. But instead she’s raising the bar on dirt-cheap Mexican snacks: S
The clue is in the title: The second Fifty Shades film, Fifty Shades Darker, is aiming for the shadows. It wants to be a thriller, where the erotic risk of Christian Grey’s sex dungeon is upstaged by actual danger (of the non S&M variety) for lovers Anastasia and Christian. Instead, it’s dull, predictable and almost entirely devoid of tension. There should be a lot to talk about here: a stalker, a helicopter crash, a gun fired, a cocktail hurled in anger. But each new plotline is halfheartedly picked up, partially resolved and then forgotten about within minutes. A few graphic-lite sex scenes (spanking, sex toys and Ana whispering her demands like a seven-year-old asking for ice cream) are thrown in, presumably in the hope that we’ll be too busy drooling to notice the insubstantial plot. As Darker begins, the couple have separated; after one whip too many, she walked out on their contracted arrangement. But chiseled, complicated Christian wants her back and Ana puts up little resistance. After a couple of weeks apart it’s clear that she has forgotten everything she learned in the first movie. The pair rekindle their relationship, supposedly on new terms: no rules, no punishments and no dietary requirements. But little about their new situation is convincing. Ana refuses to be "owned" but Christian still groans "You're mine" during sex and buys the publishing company where she’s working as an assistant. The film goes some way to explaining his controlling behavior, but in t
Just when you thought it was safe to schedule a relaxing water-therapy cleanse, A Cure for Wellness comes along and ruins spas forever. Dank with greenish tiled interiors and an unshakable sense of dread, this lovably icky horror film mounts a sumptuous, immersive universe, the kind that big-budgeted Hollywood rarely seems imaginative enough to try. We’re in an alpine Swiss retreat, hidden behind an elaborate gate of metallic snakes and staffed by scowling attendants in white. It doesn’t seem like a place where health gets restored. For this marvelous feat of production design alone—one that would turn Italian horror maestro Dario Argento several shades of envy—the movie deserves a peek. Before we get there, though, there’s a deceptive launching-off point in Manhattan’s cutthroat business world, where rising young exec Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), a Patrick Bateman-style asshole in the making, squirms his way out of the blame for some corporate malfeasance. To get the target off his back, he’ll have to head to Europe to fetch the company’s twitchy CEO, lost to the spa’s waters, whose correspondence indicates a cracked mind. A quick visit in and out, right? Nope: After Lockhart suffers an immobilizing accident that binds him in a leg cast, the ominous Volmer Institute becomes his caretaker (an “enforced vacation,” Jason Isaacs’s chief doctor puts it, not winning any points for bedside manner). Leisurely and hypnotically, A Cure for Wellness spins out its series of unsettling sce
Francis Picabia was born in Paris to a French mother and an aristocratic Cuban father whose fortune afforded the artist a life of fast cars, fabulous parties and frequent amorous conquests. According to the catalog for MoMA’s fantastic retrospective, Picabia (1879–1953) was “singularly wealthy” among his avant-garde cohort, but more pertinent, perhaps, was the sense of entitlement that allowed him to upend convention—apparently, for the hell of it. A self-styled “funny guy,” Picabia was the great-granddaddy of bad-boy art, a restive genius and check-writing machine for later artists who cashed in on his accomplishments—though his work, like that of frequent co-conspirator Marcel Duchamp, wasn’t fully appreciated until the 1960s. Unlike Duchamp, Picabia remained a painter and, as such, was both gadfly and butterfly, confounding critics by mixing high and low culture while flitting between abstraction and representation. He embraced Impressionism, Cubism, Dadaism and photo-based realism and also oscillated between revolutionary and reactionary impulses in ways that complicate our understanding of his political inclinations. Though disgusted by the carnage of World War I, for example, he remained in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, living in Vichy France. MoMA wrangles Picabia’s fractious career with a chronological approach that brings order out of stylistic chaos. The show begins in the early 1900s with Picabia the late-blooming Impressionist, who, rather antithetic
"Sarge's Deli is the destination for old world food like pastrami, corned beef and matzo ball soup."
Sarge’s is generally believed to be the city’s only 24-hour Jewish delicatessen. NYPD Sergeant Abe “Sarge” Katz opened the restaurant in 1964, and the building still has the burgundy vinyl booths, Tiffany’s lamps and a wall of celebrity photos to prove it. Sarge’s offers all the classic deli sandwiches—corned beef ($15.95), pastrami ($16.95), reuben ($19.95)—plus The Monster. Billed as the city’s largest sandwich, it is indeed a towering stack of corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, turkey, salami, tomato, lettuce, cole slaw and Russian dressing on rye ($41.95). The menu is just as gargantuan as that sandwich, offering everything from shrimp salad ($17.95) to matzo ball soup ($6.95) to sliced London broil with mushroom gravy ($30.95). If you still have room, order a slice of the homemade cheesecake ($6.95) and an egg cream to wash it down ($2.95).
"We offer over 40 different craft beers on draught, over 40 bottles and beer infused dishes!"
This Murray Hill watering hole isn’t just another sports bar. Unlike most neighborhood joints, Taproom No. 307 offers more than the usual suspects on draught. Suds lovers can choose from a glimmering lineup of 40 craft-beer taps and a few casks behind the long oak bar, plus a selection of another 40 to 60 bottled beers that changes seasonally. On a recent visit, bartenders were pouring Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ ($9), Black Hog Delicata Squash Saison ($8) and Downeast Winter Blend Cider ($8). Rare beer enthusiasts will want to check out the Logsdon Peche ‘n Brett ($48 for a 32-ounce bottle) and Stone Old Guardian Barleywine OakSmoked 2013 ($25). All that drinking is bound to work up an appetite, so order up some of Taproom No. 307’s grub. Maybe some poutine ($14) or bay shrimp hush puppies ($11) and a kale-basil pesto flatbread ($14) will hit the spot.
Seeing the sushi master practice in this bamboo-embellished space is the culinary equivalent of observing Buddhist monks at prayer. Counter seating, where you can witness—and chat up—the chefs, is the only way to go. Prime your palate with a miso soup and segue into the raw stuff: petals of buttery fluke; rich eel; dessert-sweet egg custard; nearly translucent discs of sliced scallop over neat cubes of milky sushi rice. Still craving a California roll? Move along.