CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
Arts & Entertainment
One Popcorn, Poor • Two Popcorns, Fair • Three Popcorns, Good • Four Popcorns, Excellent
By Michael S. Goldberger
“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a preciousplant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboardor just think it’s going to geton by itself. You’ve got tokeep watering it. You’ve gotto really look after it andnurture it,”
John Lennon, Musician
Home Cooking, Slightly WarmedOver 2 & 1/ 2 popcorns
Restaurant is the type of movie you want to like, but just can’t quite completely. Featuring an ensemble cast of spunky young actors portraying the wait staff, bartenders, chief cook and dishwashers at a trendy oakandbrass steak house in Hoboken, the earnest little effort directed by Eric Bross has that youthful artistic arrogance from which creative genius sometimes emerges.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen at this seating. For while the faces may be fresh, what they serve up is not — at least not consistently. But there is potential.
Writer Tom Cudworth creates an ambitious menu of items for the viewer to chew over as Restaurant’s
heterogeneous gumbo of hip 20somethings search for their future. They love, they hate, they overstate, they trivialize. Some glibly, some cynically, some agonizingly, and some tragically. And there seems to be a real sincerity insofar as the film’s main plot are concerned.
But the foray into bigotry as well as contemplations on job discrimination and a heaping portion of interracial love (unabashedly sealed with a groundbreaking kiss) taste watereddown when rolled into one big, unaccountable giambotta of moral outrage.
Then again, the characters have that quality of angst that could catapult them to nighttime soap fame if the film were successful and the public could handle such frankness on a regular basis. Sort of like “Friends,” but with a caustic flavoring.
The story’s undisputed leader is portrayed by Adrien Brody (Liberty
Heights). He’s bartender Chris Calloway, the aspiring playwright with a penchant for AfricanAmerican women. When first we make his acquaintance in Restaurant’s
vignettes, black girlfriend No. 1 (Lauren Hill as the legendary Leslie) has recently given the Newark native the gate and potential black girlfriend No. 2 (Elise Neal as Jeanine) has just decided to become swanky J. T. McClure’s newest waitress, at least until her singing career takes off.
Others living the culinary life while otherwise making plans include: an impressive David Moscow as a chef, pot smoker extraordinaire, Chris’s best friend, and practically the only restaurant employee without showbiz dreams; a very effective Simon Baker as Kenny, opportunistic actor on the make and the group’s resident snakeinthegrass; MalcolmJamal Warner as a waiter who hopes to break the steak house’s bartender color line; Michael Stoyanov as the resident gay, also a bartender wannabe; and Sybil Temchen as Lenore, the soontobewed waitress.
Although the drama’s recipe is as familiar as the character types, director Bross mixes his relationship
with creative authority if not actual inventiveness. The predictable pace is occasionally spiced by an inspired splice. And by paralleling the actual story with strategically situated segues to scenes from Chris’s latest play, currently in rehearsal despite the author’s protests regarding a rather ironic bit of casting (read, subplot), the pizzazz angle outweighs the sophomoric quotient.
However, while filmmaker Bross tries to imbue his franchise eatery and its location with the sort of naturalistic ingredients that made Scorsese’s first spin on Little Italy so provocative in Mean Streets, this sociological souffle is a smidgen flat.
Chris’s occasional references to his boyhood in Newark are supposed to prove the movie’s demographic savvy. But the playwrightbartender’s introspective obsession with prejudice would plague his psyche if he hailed from any number of other innercity neighborhoods across America.
And then there’s the restaurant itself. While Restaurant pays a modicum of lip service to the profession, the insight doesn’t rise above the level of formulaic profundity that Arthur Hailey regularly displayed in his industrybased dramas (“ Hotel,” “Airport”). The setting is not an active member of the screenplay, and thus not crucial to the story that it enfolds. And that’s a pity.
These criticisms aside, Restaurant
does have a distinctive ambiance, born mostly of its independent roots. There is a raw excitement that comes with watching the future establishment flexing their thespic muscles. We forgive them their inexperience and allow their innocent pretentiousness. Because maybe there’ll be a surprise, like when a convivial bistro owner with a good sense of PR brings a complimentary treat to your table.
But with no such theatric delicacy forthcoming, Restaurant leaves us hungering for heartier fare. So skip the full moviegoing experience and wait until it’s on video. At takeout prices, it’ll digest a lot easier.
* * * * *
Restaurant, rated R, is a Palisades Pictures release directed by Eric Bross and stars Adrien Brody, Elise Neal and David Moscow. Running time: 108 minutes.
Fall Dance Concert Features Resident, Lauren Rabideau
SCOTCH PLAINS – Lauren Rabideau of Scotch Plains recently took to the stage in dance performances, “Beneath Her Pool of Sky” and “Elegy on Wind” during a fall dance production at Bucknell University.
A senior majoring in management, Lauren is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gerard Rabideau. She is a graduate of Scotch PlainsFanwood High School.
On The Beat
The Clash, Crosby & Nash Serve Up Winner Re-Mastered Releases
By ANDY GOLDENBERG
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
Hot off the heels of their recently released live compilation, Epic Records has remastered The Clash’s back catalog with stunning clarity. I have the original vinyl records and I have to say the sound quality on these new remasters blows away the murky sounding vinyl!
This is the first time The Clash has personally overseen the remastering of their catalog and it shows. These stellar remasters include their selftitled first album, “Give ‘Em Enough Rope, London Calling,” “Sandinista and Combat Rock,” which features the hit songs, “Rock The Casbah” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”
For the first time I can differentiate between Mick Jones’ lead guitar fills and Joe Strummer’s chunky rhythm riffs. Don’t miss these!
Another set of reissues that I have been waiting five years for are the missing Crosby & Nash albums, “Whistling Down the Wire,” “Wind on the Water,” and “Live.” Live features two bonus tracks, “King of The Mountain” and “Bittersweet.” Both tunes are excellent and add to an already classic album.
“Wind On The Water” features the hit title track as well as the environmentally conscious “To The Last Whale,” a very moving piece about the dangers of overfishing.
Elektra records brings us a fantastic audio event with Metallica’s “S& M,” a twodisc set featuring the band recorded live in Berkeley, Calif. with the San Francisco Orchestra. I first scoffed a the idea of a heavy metal band coupled with classical musicians because Deep Purple tried this with the London Symphony Orchestra in the early ‘70’s with questionable results.
However, the mixing engineers did a fantastic job of separating the instruments insuring that nothing is drowned out during the crescendos. This may be my favorite Metallica album to date!
Buddha Records continues its great reissues with four classics from Dolly Parton, “Heartbreaker,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “9 to 5” and “Jolene,” which features the original version of the Whitney Houston smash, “I Will Always Love You.”
Also new from Buddha are more great Rory Gallagher titles, “Photo Finish” and “Against The Grain” for you guitar fanatics, as well as Willie Nelson Country WillieHis Own Songs featuring the hit song, “Hello Walls.”
Lastly from Buddha, comes some inspiring hard rock/ spoken word/ blistering metal Rollins Band albums, “Live in Australia,” “Hot Animal Machine,” as well as the aptlytitled “Hard Volume & Life Time.”
Most feature bonus tracks snag these releases up. Good work Buddha, keep those eclectic mixes of great music coming our way!
On the DVD front, Image Entertainment continues to lead the pack when it comes to live concert DVD’s. Sheryl Crow’s “Rockin’ The Globe Live” is no exception as it features all of her hits as well as my favorite tune of hers, “The Difficult Kind.”
Recorded in Dolby Digital, 5.1 Surround sound, the sound and color resolution on this DVD are a sight to behold.
Apocalypse Now, has just been released by American Zoetrope/ Paramount. The DVD restoration captures the sound and color with vivid realism, almost too vivid at times.
Finally, from the Artisan Home Entertainment Group comes some great DVD releases including the amusing Blair Witch Project,
George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” featuring the voices of Kelsey Grammer, Julia LouisDreyfus and Patrick Stewart.
Be sure to check out the following movies. Buena Vista Social Club is a music documentary by Ry Cooder based on his GrammyAward winning album of the same name. The musical documentary focuses on the lives of obscure but priceless Cuban musicians.
Do not miss Neil Jordan’s soon to be classic, The Crying Game, featuring the superb Stephen Rea and Forest Whitaker. Lastly, a small but excellent film that probably passed people by is Darren Aronofsky’s
Pie (faith in chaos). The black and white visual only add to the suspense.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS… The Westfield Glee Club has announced that three new members have joined the organization. Pictured, left to right, are: new members Bill Thornton and Len Trautner and Peter Van Cort of Westfield; Director Tom Booth, and Glee Club President Sid Triebitz. For more information on the club and its upcoming spring concerts, please call Dale Juntilla at (908) 2320673.
Westfield Symphony Will Set Mood With Concert This Saturday Night
WESTFIELD – The Westfield Symphony Orchestra will continue its current concert series, Season of Enchantment 2000, with a Valentine’s Day Concert this Saturday, February 12, at 8 p. m. at Union County Arts Center in Rahway.
Bob Berky, the Obie winning, classicallytrained musical and “Musical Clown” will illustrate “The ManyWays to Say ‘I Love You’” through mime interaction with orchestra and conductor. “It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day,”
Maestro Wroe said. In addition to accompanying Mr. Berky as the Musical Clown, the Westfield
Symphony Orchestra will play music from El Amor Brujo, the romantic balletpantomime by Spanish
composer, Manuel de Falla. The concert culminates with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.
For ticket information, please call the Symphony office at (908) 2329400.
Calvary Chorale Concert, ‘Four Hands’ Scheduled
SUMMIT – The monthly concert series at Calvary Chorale will continue its 26th season on Sunday, February 13, at 4 p. m. at Calvary Church, 31 Woodland Avenue, Summit.
The annual Dual Keyboards recital will feature Calvary Chorale Director James S. Little and Kay HealyWedsworth.
The program of keyboard music for two pianos and organ will include Saint Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals.”
“It’s fun to play and listen to,” said Mr. Little. “The various movements are quite descriptive of animals as well as quite funny.”
For a season brochure describing future seasonal performances, please call (908) 2771547.
Funding for Calvary Chorale has been made possible in part by the New Jersey Council on the Arts, Department of State, through a grant administered by the Union County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.
Jersey Home Design, Landscaping Returns to National Guard Armory
WESTFIELD — The National Guard Armory in Westfield will be transformed into a lush garden of greenery in order to present the Jersey Home Design & Landscaping Show from Friday, February 18, through Sunday, February 20.
Landscapers such as Fragomeni & Magaletta Landscape Associates in Boonton, as well as several other landscape architects, helped to create the Armory’s atmosphere.
The show will offer displays of a variety of landscape designs. Paving stones, putting greens, lighting, storage and sheds from area leading designers and contractors will be on display in a “touch and feel” environment.
Landscape architects will explain how to frame a home with foundation plantings and other shrubbery and flowers.
The show will also offer aisles of fixup ideas, products and displays and qualified vendors offering free suggestions on home improvement. Over 100 exhibitors and a variety of displays will be at the threeday event.
Some of the categories of exhibitors will include appliances, sunrooms awnings, additions, windows, doors, fireplaces, flooring, carpeting, spas and pools.
The show will be held from 3 to 9: 30 p. m. on February 18; 10 a. m. to 9: 30 p. m. on Saturday, February 19; and 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. on February 20.
Admission to the show is $7 for adults, $3 for kids under 12 while
toddlers are admitted for free. For more information, please call (973) 3261333.
Bravo Center for Dramatic Arts Opens Doors on South Avenue
WESTFIELD – Sue Christiano, the director of Bravo Center for Dramatic Arts, recently announced that the center opened its doors for business on January 10. The center is located at 1100 South Avenue in Westfield.
Ms. Christiano was actively involved in theater through college and more recently in community theater having appeared in productions for Tempo Productions in Howell and the Jackson Arts Council.
Now, she has developed the Bravo Center, which encompasses all aspects of theater to suit the needs of children and adults. The facility offers valuable opportunities for aspiring actors interested in pursuing a serious career in the industry or individuals looking to explore drama and all of its components.
According to Ms. Cristiano, the goal at Bravo is for students to come away with a strong sense of selfesteem, selfconfidence and focus.
The courses are tailormade to accommodate students ranging from 7 to adult. The facility is equipped with its own stage and components.
The students, through the Drama program learn the workings of a stage, set design, costumes and
makeup, and have the opportunity to exhibit these skills on stage. The program also teaches students the history of theater, types of theater, monologue, audition techniques and musical theater, including some choreography.
The vocal program offers students training using CD Graphics. They will be instructed in technique, timing and proper breathing.
Matt Brand has been hired as the artistic director/ instructor at the center. Mr. Brand holds 19 years of theatrical and technical experience. He received his dramatic training at HB Studios in New York City under esteemed actors. He has danced with the Princeton Ballet, toured with the National Tour of Beatlemania and has appeared in over 120 repertory performances.
Mr. Brand has performed as a stand up comic and Elvis impersonator in Atlantic City and has worked for several of the Atlantic Casinos in the technical stage management department. Most recently he wrote, directed, set designed and choreographed his first full production for the Jackson Arts Council.
For more information, please call the Bravo Center at (908) 2332331.
Library Film Festival To Continue in February
FANWOOD – Two new offerings will be included in the film series sponsored by Fanwood Memorial Library. All films begin at 7: 30 p. m. in the Fanwood Room of the library. · Midnight in the Garden of
Good and Evil (1997) will be held on Friday, February 11. · The Thomas Crown Affair
(1999) will be presented on Friday, February 18. The series, which is cosponsored by the Friends of the Fanwood Memorial Library, will continue in March with five Friday offerings. Admission is free. For more information, please call the library at (908) 3226400.
A SPECIAL ELEMENT… The Elements String Quartet will perform at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Westfield on Sunday, February 13, at 8 p. m. The program will include works of Haydn, Glazounov, Korsakov and Mendelssohn. Founded in 1999, the ensemble has won acclaim for its performances and programs. The quartet’s repertoire ranges from popular masterpieces to forgotten treasures, and from Baroque classics to newlycommissioned works by today’s most celebrated composers — an eclectic and expansive view of the quartet literature that is unified by the group’s expert musicianship and fresh insights into how chamber music can connect with today’s listeners. The ensemble is dedicated to communicating the excitement of chamber music to contemporary audiences of all ages. Admission is free. For more information, please (908) 2328506, Extension No. 17.
Funds Available For Arts Projects
ELIZABETH – Community arts organizations, schools and other nonprofit groups that wish to present cultural programming have been invited to apply for funding from the Union County Arts Grant Program, sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
“The purpose of the grant program is to enrich the quality of life in Union County by stimulating and supporting the production, presentation and creation of the arts,” noted Freeholder Chairman Daniel Sullivan.
“Arts activities taking place between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2001 are eligible for consideration. The deadline for proposals is Monday, March 6,” revealed Freeholder Sullivan.
For an application and guidelines, please contact the Union County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, 633 Pearl Street, Elizabeth, 07202 or call (908) 5582550. Relay users may dial (800) 8527899.
Continued from Page 24
Many Ways to Say ‘I Love You” at 7: 30 p. m. Couples will have the chance to get dressed up in their finest attire to savor the romantic sounds orchestrated by Maestro David Wroe. For more information, please call the Symphony office at (908) 2329400.
“To the Moon, Alice!”
· Few activities are as romantic as peering up at a sky filled of glimmering stars – not to mention the mysterious and marvelous moon. The planetarium at Trailside in Mountainside and the William Miller Sperry Observatory at Union County College offer wonderful programs around Valentine’s Day. For more information, please call the planetarium at (908) 7893670 or the Observatory at (908) 2762730.
Blankets of stars may also be found in your own backyard. Don’t miss them! Grab a blanket and stay bundled up while visiting some of the parks and fields in the immediate area.
A Lesson in Love
· Have you ever wondered about Valentine’s Day traditions? Historic Valentines will be showcased at the MillerCory House Museum in Westfield on Sunday, February 13, from 2 to 4 p. m., with demonstrations on making authentic valentines. Visitors will also learn about the history behind the holiday. For more information, please call (908) 2321776.
A Delicious Romance
· Relishing a delicious dinner over candlelight is just the right way to create that Valentine’s Day mood. Why not visit Brianna’s in Scotch Plains, E. J. ’s Grille & Bar in Kenilworth, Maria’s in Scotch Plains, Ferraro’s or Theresa’s in Westfield? To make reservations, please call Brianna’s at (908) 3229050, E. J. ’s at (908) 6873311, Maria’s at (908) 3222322, Ferraro’s at (908) 2321105 or Theresa’s at (908) 2339133.
Love on the Big Screen
· Lose yourselves in another world by seeing a romantic movie at the Rialto Theatre in Westfield or the Sony Mountainside Theatre in Mountainside. For movie times, please call the Rialto at (908) 2321288 or Sony at (908) 2328338. Share a bucket of buttery popcorn.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
· Of course, there’s always something to do at home – rent a movie (see
the listing on Page 24), or do some collaborative grocery shopping to create a candlelight dinner of your own.
No matter what you do this Valentine’s Day, do it with love.
Josh Sigal Cast In Production At Muhlenberg
WESTFIELD – Westfield’s own Josh Sigal has been cast as “Quack” in the upcoming production of The Country Wife at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.
The play will be performed in the Dorothy Hess Baker Theatre in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance from Friday, February 18, to Sunday, February 27.
For ticket information, please call the box office, Monday to Friday, from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. at (484) 6643333.
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)