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Spectacular Performances and Incredible Sandwiches


Its been 5 days since hurricane Sandy and The NYC is coming back slowly with limited train service restored. Let's all do our part to get The NYC back on it's feet. Here are a few movie, food and theatre recommendations to inspire you to get out and do just that this weekend. I hope you enjoy this week's post!

Movie Review-

Since 2001 Lee Daniels has been producing and directing movies that have been challenging and pushing the boundaries of filmmaking. Starting with the 2001 Oscar Winning Monster's Ball to the 2009 Oscar Winning  Precious, movie goers and critics have stood up and taken notice of his brilliant filmmaking. In Daniels' latest film The Paperboy he knocks it out of the park again. In my opinion what makes Daniels so incredible is that he's courageous, daring and dangerous in his storytelling. Most of his movies usually always expose the ugliest side of being a human being i.e. child abuse and disrespectful acts committed amongst human beings. But I find that he doesn't apologize for these characteristics  he just shows them as they are. I also find his casting choices to be non-traditional. In the case of Precious, casting (non-actor at the time) Gabourey  Sidibe, (now Oscar Nominee) and Mo'Nique (comedian turned Oscar Winner) as a physically and verbally abusive mother.  In The Paperboy he's rounded up an All-Star cast. You will see them like you've never seen them before. Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray And Zac Efron all give the performances of their careers. Personally, I haven't seen Kidman give a performance like this since Malice. Efron is not in high school anymore, Cusack will make your skin crawl, and this is a McConaughey you've never seen before, Oyelowo continues to deliver beautiful performances and Macy Gray is eerily touching. The Paperboy is about a small time news writer (McConaughey)  who goes back home to his Father's newspaper to try and release a prisoner( Cusack) accused of murder and the parade of characters he encounters. If there is a term I can use to describe Daniels' movies it is that they are "Tragically Beautiful" or " Beautifully Tragic". When you see the movie you'll understand what I mean.

Theater Review-

 On a slightly different tone from The Paperboy I saw Closer Than Ever last Sunday afternoon.  Closer Than Ever is a musical revue written by one of the last great writing teams "Maltby and Shire". What makes Richard  Maltby and David  Shire's music so incredible is that they take the story of the average Joe or Jane and give them a voice. Normally,  hearing the story of Joe or Jane can be mundane or come off as preaching, but it isn't with their music. In most art we hear of the extremely flawed person rising from the ashes. Their songs beautifully balance lyric and music delivering a pleasant feeling to the soul. Some examples of the stories their songs tell in this piece are: 1. A man contemplating cheating or be disloyal to his wife in "One of the Good Guys" and 2. The love triangle story... guy likes girl, girl likes the other guy, other guy likes the first guy in "She Loves me Not". These songs echo real, everyday experiences. I think what also contributes to these songs is that they aren't overly witty, they simply capture the true human spirit and everyone can identify with that.  I also feel that their music is "radio ready" . Many of the songs could be taken out of  the show and still work as a radio song. All of the songs in the show are perfectly arranged using only a piano and a bass which make for the perfect sound. To top it off, the performers have to draw from their personal experiences to give these songs that extra dose of humanity. The  cast consists of four extraordinary and talented performers George Dvorsky, Anika Larsen, Sal Viviano and Marya Grandy who each bring even more life to these beautiful songs. Closer Than Ever is simply designed and well directed  mastering the sometimes ever so difficult task of presenting a musical revue. The songs have just the right dose of satire to leave you with hope that everything is going to be alright! Hurry and catch Closer Than Ever there are a few more performances now thru Sunday November 4.

On The Web-

I recently watched winner of the Shadow and Act filmmaker challenge, Soft Focus. It is a wonderful short film which was *only available online for a short time. Soft Focus follows a man struggling with finding acceptance within himself and being torn with how he was raised in relation to his sexuality and the church. This is a story of survival and trying to find love and enjoy life. As you might imagine this can be a difficult task trying to live 2 lives in one world. This film is beautifully acted By Damion Omar Lee, Angela Lewis, Madeleine Dauzart, and introducing Aaron Clifton Moten with perfect direction and a wonderful script by Rod Gailes OBC.  The middle of the film delivers a cinematic feast for the eyes. Showing how one can shine in the dark, but still be hidden! I really enjoyed this film and it is highly recommended!

*Be sure to check in with thatgirl006 frequently for insider tips. We announced the online release here a few weeks ago.

 Cool Food Spots-

Num Pang

Two of my favorite food spots in the city are Num Pang and Taïm. If asked to choose which one is my favorite I couldn't do it.  

Num Pang is a Cambodian Sandwich shop that infuses the spices and flavors of Cambodia into  smaller than normal hero size rolls. You can choose over an array of Sandwiches from pulled pork to peppercorn catfish or a good old fashioned meatball Sandwich. One of my favorites is the "Grilled Local Bluefish with Leeks" sadly this a  seasonal Sandwich which means it's around for a limited time only.
There is usually always a line coming from each of the restaurants, but the lines move pretty fast and it's worth the wait. Besides it's a privilege to be one of the chosen few to grab one of the sometimes sold out Sandwiches.

Taïm, which means tasty in Hebrew, is just that! I discovered this little hole in the wall about 6 years ago and I've been hooked ever since. I was walking in the West Village
you know how those streets are choppy with street names and not numbers) and I made a turn on Waverly and boom, there it was. I thought, "this place looks kinda hip." In addition it was all vegetarian so that was right up my alley. I asked the young lady which was the most popular item on the menu and she said the "Sabich" Sandwich. OMG! This Sandwich was off the chain. It was pleasing to my senses. The Sandwich has hummus, sliced eggplant, hard boiled egg, Israeli salad, pickled cabbage, tahini sauce and amba. Amazing! There are many other items on the menu including gluten-free falafel.

Each of these restaurants have two locations, but for Num Pang I go to the Union Square location and for Taïm I go to the Waverly location.

Opening this weekend is Denzel Washington in Flight so go check him out!

I hope you've all enjoyed this post.  If you can, please do something to help a friend recovering from the storm!

Until Next Time Beautiful People "Live And Love New York, New York,"

Jason E. Bernard - is a native New Yorker from The Bronx. Jason began seeing theatre at the age of 4 and at the age of 17 made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award Winning musical " Bring In Da' Noise, Bring In Da' Funk". Jason toured the world for 10 years with the international dance show "Riverdance". He has performed with Cois Ceim Dance Theatre  in Ireland and was a  member of the original companies of "Cotton Club Parade" City Center Encores! and Kris Johnson's " Jim Crow's Tears". To date, Jason has attended over 1,000 shows on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Concerts and counting. He has all the Playbills to prove it! :)
Follow Jay on twitter @broadwayjayb