Thursday, April 18, 2013

Scary Movie V

Dinner and a Movie

In A Scary Garden

By Steve Herte

After consulting NOAA before leaving the office I was gratified to learn that it wouldn't be raining either when I was walking to the movie or when I strolled to the restaurant. It was an interesting evening. The movie entertained and the restaurant became a culinary adventure as well as a recalled memory. All things considered it was a week of accomplishment. Enjoy!

Scary Movie V (Dimension, 2013) Director: Malcolm D. Lee. Cast: Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex, Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Darrell Hammond, Gracie Whitton, Ava Kolker, Katt Williams, Lidia Porto. Color, 85 minutes.

When you’re putting together a movie like any in the Scary Movie series the most difficult part is creating a script that links all the movie plots currently being spoofed. In this installment, there are seven films linked into one. Dan (Rex) works as an Ape Behavioral Researcher and his star pupil is a chimp named Caesar, played by Christopher “Critter” Antonucci (Conquest of the Planet of the Apes). He is married to Jody (Tisdale), a member of a ballet company about to perform Swan Lake (The Black Swan) and the two are just bringing their newborn son Aiden home from the hospital.

Meanwhile, Snoop Dog (playing himself) and a friend are out in a spooky forest looking for illegal marijuana plantations to hopefully steal some of the product and they succeed in wrapping a joint so large that it takes both of them to carry it away. They come upon a creepy Cabin in the Woods where they discover Dan’s brother’s three lost children who have gone feral and who owe their survival to a ghoulish spirit they call Mama. This malevolent apparition comes with them when the two girls, Kathy (Whitton) and her sister (Kolker) and baby brother move in with Dan and Jody. Strange things happen around the house leading Dan to wire the entire place with video cameras (Paranormal Activity) the partial consequences of which require several trips to the hospital. The Spanish maid Maria (Porto) is constantly trying various religious and folk methods to exorcise whatever is in the house until Dan brings in a psychic named Blaine Fulda (Williams) who robs them blind and Jody enlists the services of Dr. Hall (Hammond) who uses dream therapy (Inception) to no avail. The wacky antics on the screen are occasionally interrupted by shots of the audience where Lewis Thompson is dressed as Madea and is making negative comments about what he’s seeing.

Believe it or not this confusing morass works itself out in the end.

Normally what passes these days for comedy leaves me either stone cold or just plain horrified but Scary Movie V had genuine slap-stick that had me cackling a couple of times and clever banter which was actually funny. Sheen and Lohan provided the window dressing on the film appearing at the beginning and at the end (after the credits) to hopefully clue the audience when the movie was finished. Erica Ash was interesting as Kendra Brooks, Jody’s best friend and rival for the role of Swan Queen. Together they find the Book of Evil with the curse spell, “Gort, Klaatu, Barrada, Nikto” (The Day the Earth Stood Still) in the cabin in the woods. Heather Locklear appears as Barbara, Mike Tyson makes a cameo, and Marlon and Shawn Wayans contributed in the writing department.

I enjoyed Scary Movie V even though the box office didn’t. Maybe it’s because I didn’t see numbers two, three or four. One caution though, it’s not a movie for little children, no matter what the guy three rows in front of me thought. 

Rating: 3½ out of 5 Martini glasses.

Giardino D’Oro
5 Gold Street (near Maiden Lane), New York City

After Hurricane Sandy, many downtown Manhattan businesses faced the daunting task of cleaning up and renovation. Giardino D’Oro (Italian for “The Garden of Gold”) made a video of its efforts and put it on its website. I must say that this was a major influence in my choosing to dine there. The end product is gorgeous. 

After a walk south on the narrow, sometimes creepy Gold Street, one arrives at the maroon awning with white script over the entrance to the restaurant. A double door later and you’re in a golden space with gracefully bricked arches framing murals suggesting a formal Italian garden. Simple, but elegant, sconces on the walls and chandeliers above provide the lighting. Downstairs is a wine cellar with a long table set for special private parties of up to 26 people (where once there was at least three feet of water). My table was located at a supporting column mid-way from the door to the rear wall and I experienced a moment of déjà vu. Smitty’s, a seafood restaurant way back in the 1980s, occupied this location and was the place where I first experienced shad roe.

My waiter took my martini order and brought a glass of water with the menu. After reciting the daily specials he quietly left me to decide. Another server brought a dish of sliced hard salami, chunks of cheese, a ramekin of cooked red olives with garlic and a long green chili pepper as a pre-appetizer. I sipped my perfectly-made cocktail and nibbled at the salami and cheese while reading the two-page menu. The usual categories were represented; Appetizers, Salads, Pastas, Pollo e Vitello (chicken and veal), Fish, From the Grill and Vegetables. I was in the mood for some standard Italian staples, so before making my final decision I asked for the wine menu.

The wine list is extensive and most of the prices astronomically ridiculous (the lowest price for a Chianti was $60 – nothing can be that “classico”). Fortunately, the first page of the menu lists the wine specials for the week, which are affordably priced. It was there I found a 2010 Bousquet Malbec (Argentina) that would prove worthy of all my dinner choices.

My appetizer was Carpaccio Con Parmigiano, cold, thinly sliced filet mignon over a mound of arugula with Parmigiano shavings. It was a beautifully presented dish and one server drizzled some olive oil over it for me while a second sprinkled freshly ground black pepper. It was delightful, though I wondered at the uniformity of the slices. Usually this dish is looks more in the style of free form.

The pasta course was a half order of Fettuccine Alfredo. Normally I expect this dish to be weighty with cheese but not this one. The creamy cheese sauce was light and delicious and the pasta perfectly cooked and fresh. I wondered about it because I didn’t feel the least bit guilty indulging in it.

The main course was my all-time favorite Italian dish, Vitello Saltimbocca alla Romana (Veal that “jumps into your mouth” Roman style) – veal stuffed with Prosciutto (ham) and Fontina cheese, baked in white wine and veal stock reduction. This classic mouth-watering course was served on a bed of spinach with baked potato slices and capers. Excellent! But again, I had to wonder. Normally, this dish is a butterflied piece of veal with the cheese and ham inside. This was served rolled into four logs arranged appealingly on the dark green bed. I could only imagine what they would do with dessert.

After having a hearty laugh at the “Chocolate Moose Cake” listed on the dessert menu, I chose the Zecchino (Italian for sequin) – a dessert I’ve never had. It was a delightful, light, golden pudding somewhat like a Zuppa Inglese or a trifle served in a short parfait glass. Along with a double espresso it topped the meal nicely. Although I chose what I thought were going to be standard Italian dishes, Giardino D’Oro surprised and delighted me every step of the way. There will definitely be a return visit.

For the Dinner and a Movie archive, click here.

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