September 29th, 2009

my sentimental friend

Weekend Report

Friday night I took danbearnyc, who’s cuckoo for Coco, to the opening night of the French movie release Coco Before Chanel as a belated birthday present. The movie stars Audrey Tautou of Amélie fame. The movie’s good, a glossy Merchant-Ivory-type affair, with lots of money sunk into period costumes and fancy settings. But really, not a lot happens. She becomes the mistress of a rich French guy, she gets her heart broken not once but at least twice, she makes her own clothes ’cause she hates the fancy, corseted dresses in fashion at the time, and she smokes a lot of cigarettes. I gave it 2½ stars out of 4. The best scene comes at the very end, where she’s giving her first big show of her clothes, sitting in a mirrored spiral staircase as all the models in early Chanel dresses cascade down the staircase.

The best part was seeing it at the Paris theater, NYC’s last remaining “jewel box” theater, meaning a small theater with a single screen, which hasn’t yet been halved or otherwise ’plexed into multiple, even smaller screens. It’s across the street from Central Park and The Plaza Hotel, and they usually book genteel French or other foreign films there, much like Coco. They even open a curtain that covers the screen before each film! They have a small balcony where if you’re early and in the know (and we were), the front row offers the best seats in the house, no craning around the World’s Tallest Lesbian (famous for almost always taking the seat directly in front of me just as a movie begins) in order to read the subtitles from a seat on the main floor.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, on Saturday morning I accompanied Jeff/hammerride to the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center’s expensively-rebuilt and restored Alice Tully Hall to see a 70th anniversary screening of the most recently digitally restored version of The Wizard of Oz. I asked Jeff why he chose this movie over all the others in the Festival to see, and he said it was because he grew up in Kansas, so the movie had special resonance for him for that reason.

But first, since this anniversary screening was such a big deal, they flew in and introduced five of the six remaining living Munchkins of the 124 who were in the movie (if you’re counting, one of the ones up on stage is the wife of one of them). I’m surprised this photo came out as good as it did, since I took it quickly, on the sly, and without a flash. The Lincoln Center ushers were doing what they normally do, aggressively walking deep into the aisles to try and stop all the people who were taking photos. Thankfully, someone higher up realized what a historic occasion this was – all of the actors up on stage had to be at least 85 or older – and they weren’t in the middle of a performance or anything, so they called off the winged monkey-ushers.

I was late ordering tickets and by the time I did premium house seats must have been returned to the box office ticket pool, ’cause I got us ninth row dead-center seats, the best seats in the house. And because this classic film had the old ratio of 1.33:1, they were able to use the entire height of the hall’s huge screen, meaning the projection was nearly as large as an IMAX screen. The latest restoration was done with four times the resolution most other movies are mastered at, and I have never seen it looking so sharp, so colorful and vibrant – it was like seeing the movie for the first time all over again. I noticed details I had never seen before – including, I think, where Glinda accidentally hits her tall crown with her wand. If you’ve got an HD screen and enjoy the movie, I’d recommend buying or renting this latest restoration.

And Sunday I headed over to naylandblake’s in Brooklyn for poker & cigars with Scott/sirpupnyc, Nayland, Glenn, Scott/schlingel, Olli/ejo_muc, and Kerry/rogueboi. We usually break for a delivered dinner or go out to a restaurant afterwards, but this time we combined it with a potluck, so we enjoyed an international fare of Japanese California rolls, German frikadellen, Brazilian feijoada, and good ol’ American macaroni and cheese, roasted Brussels sprouts, and banana pecan bread.

And for the first time in a long time I won big, thus the documentation above. I won $50, which is near the record considering the buy-in is only $10 and the highest bet or raise is 60¢ (which also means it’s nearly impossible to bluff and buy yourself a pot). We haven’t raised the buy-in in the 20+ years this floating poker & cigar party has been in existence, and usually the money goes around the table, most people usually end up up or down $5-15 for the afternoon. Like the punchline of that joke with the bear fucking the hunter, we’re not really there for the money, but rather for the fraternity and camaraderie, a fun afternoon with good cigars and great friends.