Month: November 2005

Kon-Tiki (1950), Thor Heyerdahl, B+

My only complaint is that this movie is way too short at 74 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I need a lot more bearded, half-naked, Norwegian sailing-man action. Actually, an interesting study — in that Heyerdahl’s book goes into so much more fascinating detail (as books normally do) but there is something about seeing actual documentary footage that makes the story more real. When you see the actual Kon-Tiki craft — basically a bunch of logs bobbing up and down in the middle of the Pacific — and think that these men lived on it for 101 days. . .it is all quite striking. Thor Heyerdahl rules and this is the only Norwegian film ever to win an...

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I Never Promised You A Rose Garden (1977), Anthony Page, C

Or: The Batshit Teenager Is Batshit But Decides To Get Better In The Last Reel. I have no doubt this is a good book. You can almost kinda tell from the movie. The movie is an outright disaster of exploitative horror. I rate it as high as I do because of the many over-the-top “Shock Corridor” scenes. The talk therapy scenes between young Kathleen Quinlan and Bibi Andersson are facile and the fantasy sequences are vapid. However, the meat of the film (and, I have a hunch, not so much the book — this is a Roger Corman production) is simply a catalogue of crazy house horrors the likes of which makes “One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest” look like a trip to Club Med. (Call this Club Meds, perhaps.) Anyay, there is screaming screaming screaming and arm-burning and wide-eyed head-bashing and babbling galore! It is awesome! (How young Kathleen always manages to look calm and clean when she’s with the therapist isn’t explained, though. Actually, not much is explained. I kinda had to learn the basic plot of the movie by reading a Wikipedia article on the book.) So, for camp reasons, yes, I strongly recommend this movie. For an actual, gripping story about emotionally challenged stick with David and Lisa or Ordinary People, as this is, I admit, a hunk of...

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Papa’s Empanadas of Steinway

You know that dream you always have about discovering a separate wing of your apartment and you wonder, Why do I never hang out here? That’s how I feel about the stretch of Steinway between 30th Ave and Astoria Blvd. It is opposite the direction of the subway and, as a result, I never go there. Well, I used to never go there. Now I will go there more than a probably should, specifically to hang out at Papa’s Empanadas, the greatest empanada shop on Earth. With 40 or so styles of Empanadas (we *almost* got the Elvis Empanada, banana and peanut butter) there’ll be plenty of excuses to go back. I had a pollo, pernil (chopped, marinated pork) and a Hawaiian Empanada featuring melted cheese, ham and pineapple. Ann had a beef and an Athenian Empanada featuring spinach and feta. They’re like a buck or a buck and a quarter a piece. Empanadas don’t really photograph well, but here are some shots. The owner also gave us free rice...

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Yes, I Guess I Am That Immature

What, I’m not going to giggle at this? From a book of coupons we got last week when we were running around Chinatown. (Incidentally, the small but worthy Museum of Chinese in the Americas is deserving a quick pop-in if you are down...

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Bullets Over Broadway (1994), Woody Allen, A-

When this first came out I thought it was very funny, yes, but I kinda wrote it off as a piece of fluff. There actually is some meat here — and it ends very, very darkly. One could even say this is a tragedy. Much like Woody’s Melinda and Melinda, one could go the serious route on the themes of this picture. Is great art worth more than a human life? Are we attracted to artists solely for their art? Is it wrong for someone who aspires to make art, but lacks the talent, to give up if it makes him happy? The cast here is perfect. Which of the three women are funniest? Dianne Wieist, Jennifer Tilly or Tracy Ullman. Even though Ullman isn’t in it much, she steals every...

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Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.

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