The first miracle of Barry Jenkins’s exquisite coming-of-age drama Moonlight—a heartbreaker filled with many such miracles—happens around a kitchen table. We’ve already seen the quiet, sullen Chiron (Alex Hibbert), a 10-year-old with frightened eyes, being chased by bullies; his short life has been a confused and painful one. And while the two adults who lean in aren’t his parents (one of them is actually the drug dealer selling to Chiron’s crack-addicted mom), they somehow know the exact words to say when the boy softly asks them, “Am I a faggot?” Jenkins, an indie director whose first feature, Medicine for Melancholy (2008), alluded to a whole universe of African-American issues rarely explored onscreen, now goes even further into sociocultural terrain that here finds an uncommonly poetic voice. The barely-getting-by Miami of Moonlight—a place of needle-strewn drug dens, cheapo diners and the hot breeze that laps the shore at night—bears little resemblance to the one we usually see in the movies. But the film is more radical for articulating an internal sexual turbulence that doesn’t fit the stereotype. It’s not the one laid down by Brokeback Mountain or other crucial gay stories but something new, seething with anxiety, similar to the vibe you feel in the tense, ticking beats of Frank Ocean. Chiron grows into a pinch-faced, haunted teenager (Ashton Sanders), the second portrayal of a character who ultimately gets three versions, all delicately shaded. (Trevante Rhodes’s
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
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 proud white steeples, choppy waters and forthright, salty demeanour of small-town New England make an exquisite counterpoint to a devastating tale of buried trauma in Manchester by the Sea, an emotional powerhouse with the weave of great literature. Kenneth Lonergan, the film’s writer-director, has already proven his ear for raw domestic showdowns with his compassionate 2000 debut, You Can Count On Me. After that, he added sensitive teenagers to the mix via the sprawling post-9/11 NYC drama Margaret (2011), a movie that escaped its troubled postproduction to emerge as a bruised, one-of-a-kind keeper. To say Lonergan has evolved further with his third feature would be an understatement: He toggles between his new plot’s years with the relaxed mastery of Boyhood’s Richard Linklater. Plus, he finally has a complex central performance that anchors his ambitions to cinema’s all-time great brooders – Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and the Heath Ledger of Brokeback Mountain. It comes from Casey Affleck, who you already knew was better than his brother, Ben (no extra credit there), but whose high, keening voice and fragility never suggested such ferocity. Affleck is Lee, a Boston handyman and janitor. For all of Lee’s quiet capability with a clogged toilet or a leaky pipe, you don’t want to cross this man, or he’ll lash out, with bile hiding just beneath his surly squint. Affleck burns off the screen in these early scenes, building up a depiction of a lonely one-room existence. The a
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
A horror film with the power to put a rascally grin on the face of that great genre subverter John Carpenter (They Live), Get Out has more fun playing with half-buried racial tensions than with scaring us to death. To some, that will come as the slightest letdown: The movie is a touch too in love with its big idea—that meeting your white girlfriend’s parents might be hazardous to your health (even if, as we hear, they “would have voted for Obama a third time”). Chris, a serious young photographer (Daniel Kaluuya), clearly adores Rose (Girls’ Allison Williams). Still, their imminent trip out of the city to her family’s secluded mansion fills him with dread. That randomly darting deer they smash with their car on the way up doesn’t help Chris’s fraying nerves, and the way the animal stares him down during its last gasps feels like a warning. Get Out is sharp and cutting during its buildup—you’ll never want this section to end—and the addition of two awkwardly ingratiating adults (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) makes a comic meal out of white liberal privilege with every “cool” handshake and turn of phrase (“Hug me, my man!” Rose’s dad exclaims, drawing Chris in). Meanwhile, the movie brews a fine tension between the limits of parental largesse and Chris’s own independence, while a disquieting number of black servants look on like wide-eyed zombies. The writer-director of these vignettes is Jordan Peele, of the defunct but essential Comedy Central show Key & Peele. Wh
Venue says: “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.
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
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
The food-hall boom of 2014 keeps on keepin’ on, with trumped-up grub depots hawking plates from both street-circuit icons and chef-helmed havens (City Kitchen, Gansevoort Market). Joining the ranks is this whopping 12,000-square-foot perma-venture from UrbanSpace, the team behind seasonal streetside pop-ups like Mad. Sq. Eats and Broadway Bites. The 200-seat court plays host to market favorites—Bar Suzette crepes and Roberta’s wood-fired pizzas, including a Vanderbilt-exclusive pepperoncini pie—as well as newcomers like Ovenly, Toby’s Estate Coffee and a fried-chicken project from BrisketTown’s Daniel Delaney.