Sunday, June 3, 2012

Men in Black 3 (3D)

Dinner and a Movie

Men in Black 3 – Pao!

By Steve Herte

Men in Black 3 (2012) in 3D 

This third installation of the popular sci-fi comedy featuring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K focuses on an alien being named Boris “the Animal” (Jemaine Clement) who wants to lead an alien invasion of Earth. But in order to accomplish this he needs to travel back to October of 1969 and kill Agent K so that his arm is not shot off and he doesn’t wind up spending 40 years in a maximum security prison on the moon.

At first he succeeds and Agent J is extremely confused when he returns to central command and nobody knows who Agent K was, but he figures it out.  He convinces the same young man (Michael Chernus as Jeffrey Price) who enabled Boris to travel back in time to give him the capability to travel to an earlier time that same year to prevent Boris from killing K. 

One of the two best scenes in the movie is where J realizes he has to leap off one of the gargoyles on the Chrysler Building to attain the speed needed to make the “leap” in time. A brief trip through time later (including the prehistoric age – don’t ask me why – where he has a close call with a meat-eating dinosaur) he is back on the gargoyle in 1969. He meets Agent K as a young man (Josh Brolin), even though he was warned to stay away from him, and together they re-set events.

The usual polyglot of alien creatures is profoundly evident in this film, including a shark-sized monster carp, a Chinese restaurant owner with several pairs of arms under his sarong, and a bowling lane manager whose head is used as the ball (not with his consent, however). The cinematography is beautifully clear despite the time travel, but the movie as a whole lacks the sparkle of the two previous films. Even the one nostalgic scene that should have brought a tear to the audience’s eyes was lackluster.  

Jones looks and sounds tired of the series and his make-up job must have been put on with a trowel – he could barely open one of his eyes at one point. Smith’s brief explanations after flashing the “neuralizer” at a crowd were cleverly worded but not delivered with the same conviction we are used to. Josh Brolin is brilliant. His portrayal of Jones is nothing short of amazing; in fact he eclipses the other two stars. Emma Thompson as Agent O (and Agent K’s love interest) delivers a believable performance. However, my personal favorite was Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), an inter-dimensional creature who could see all the possible futures at once. Though he came off as slightly effeminate, he was definitely loveable and added the glimmer of genius to the movie.

If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll love it. I just cannot see where it goes from here . . . if anywhere. 

322 Spring Street (at Greenwich Street), New York 

If this tiny corner Portuguese restaurant didn’t have a sidewalk café, it would just be large enough for a cozy bar. The open brickwork walls inside and sliding glass walls outside open to the street and combine with the Portuguese folk music to create a homey, informal atmosphere for just relaxing. The staff is attentive and my waitress was eager to help with any questions I had. Since Obrigado (thank you) is the only Portuguese word I know, we kept it to English. 

The menu is unusual in that the main dishes are on the left side of the two pages and the Appetizers and sides are on the right. So, after a Stolichnaya martini (very good) I started with the Linguiça Asada Com Aquardente (the ‘c’ is pronounced like an ‘s’): a delightful sausage about the thickness of a Kielbasa but less salty and more flavorful, which was “grilled” at my table on a little ceramic grill shaped like a pig, in flaming Portuguese Grappa. When asked how it was, I answered that it was much better than the movie I just saw. It was heavenly.

I had ordered Assobio, a Portuguese red wine from Northern Portugal, by my waitress’ advice and quickly moved it to the other side of the table when the appetizer was flamed. This rich, full-bodied wine accented both my appetizer and the main dish.

The main course was Coelho Com Avelãs (roast rabbit with hazelnuts) served on a mound of mashed potatoes with savory au jus/red wine gravy. It was tender and juicy and easy to cut off the bone, but here everything is casual; using the fingers is acceptable. It turned out to be a meat and potatoes meal because I chose the homemade potato chips as a side dish. They were not as crisp as the ones at Ivy’s Bistro (nor were they as seasoned), but I liked them anyway. 

When my waitress announced they served the best Chocolate Cake in the World, I was hooked. 

What came out was a cylinder of dark chocolate about the size of a modern Ring-Ding which when opened revealed layers of crisp, flaky dough and more rich chocolate mousse. I had to wonder, “Where is the cake?” but I didn’t care. It was excellent. After a double espresso and a glass of fine Portuguese brandy I didn’t care if I got rained upon when I left for the subway. I said my Obrigados and promised to return to Pao!

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