Dinner and a Movie
By Steve Herte
It (New Line, 2017) – Director: Andy Muschietti. Writers: Gary Dauberman, Cary Fukunaga & Chase Palmer (s/p). Stephen King (novel). Stars: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgård, Nicholas Hamilton, Logan Thompson, Owen Teague, Jackson Robert Scott, Stephen Bogaert, Stuart Hughes, Geoffrey Pounsett, Pip Dwyer, Mollie Jane Atkinson, Steven Williams, Elizabeth Saunders, Megan Charpentier, Joe Bostick, Ari Cohen, Anthony Ulc, Javier Botet, Carter Musselman, Tatum Lee & Edie Inksetter. Color, Rated R, 135 minutes.
“We all float down here, you’ll float too,” said a possessed Georgie Denbrough (Scott) to his heartsick big brother before the malevolent clown rose from the sewer water.
As terrifying as the 1990 television miniseries was, this remake is more so. The special effects technology that hadn’t been developed 27 years ago was used to full effect in this chilling movie. And at two hours and fifteen minutes, it’s only half the story.
For those who are not “of the body” in Derry, Maine, we have the Losers Club (though they never refer to themselves that way). The club consists of Bill Denbrough (Lieberher), Ben Hanscom (Taylor), Beverly Marsh (Lillis), Richie Tozler (Wolfhard), Mike Hanlon (Jacobs), Eddie Kaspbrak (Grazer), and Stanley Uris (Oleff). They’re brought together by being the victims of the town bullies, led by Henry Bowers (Hamilton). But these guys take the term to the next level, as Ben, the new kid in Derry, gets the name “Henry” carved into his belly with a knife at the hands of Bowers.
But Ben is a bookworm who discovers that every 27 years a rash of child abductions breaks out in Derry and a voracious lunatic clown is at the bottom of it. Bill’s younger brother Georgie is the first one to see Pennywise (Skarsgård) when his paper boat floats down an open catch basin drain. When the clown holds it out for him, he makes the mistake of reaching for it and eventually follows it down in the most brutal manner.
They all see manifestations of Pennywise cloaked in their own individual fears (Richie is afraid of clowns, Beverly is afraid of her lecherous father, etc.), and band together under Bill’s firm resolve to find his brother and overcome their fears and stand against the evil monster. They even make a pact to return in 27 years.
I read the book several years ago but this film brought it all back with a few twists I don’t remember but liked. For instance, one kid’s fear was of the Modigliani painting hanging in the family home. Pennywise makes sure that painting comes alive in the worst way. The casting is excellent. All the characters are recognizable and you can’t help but be drawn into the action of this version. The soundtrack alone is terrifying, tense and shocking. And, like the grand master of the macabre, the effects do not shy away from excessive gore and the gross-out factor. I don’t think I’ll look at a red balloon in just the same way ever again. I hope the sequel comes soon.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Martini glasses.
35 East 21st Street
After a dark, violent movie, where do you go for dinner? Obviously, a dark, “Mexican-inspired” restaurant that was once a strip club.
Yes, I learned that Cosme, under the guise of innovative Mexican dishes was previously a “Gentlemen’s entertainment venue.” When I ordered the Striptease cocktail – Vida Mezcal, Dolin Blanc vermouth, guanabana lime, and absinthe salt – my server Xavi clued me in. It wasn’t quite as dark as Wolfgang Puck’s new restaurant, though. I could read the menu without a flashlight. The drink was similar to a margarita, but drier and with that strange wormwood flavor.
The menu featured a whole section of vegetarian dishes that, though interesting, did not appeal to me. I decided on two in the “seafood” category and one of the main courses for my dinner. The wine list was one of the most varied I’ve seen. I ordered the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vena Cava from the Guadalupe Valley, Baja California, Mexico. It was fabulous, medium-bodied and with deep fruits, and held its own with the subtle and not-so-subtle flavors of my meal. And it seemed a logical title after a bloody movie.
First up was a combination I’ve never seen in any Mexican restaurant, the “Uni Tostada” – sea urchin, avocado, bone marrow salsa and cucumber garnished with cilantro and slices of jalapeno on a crispy tostada. It was a delicious and unusual combination, as the sweet of the avocado is mixed with the delicate taste of the sea urchin and the savory salsa to create a fiesta of flavors. Carefully using a knife and fork I managed to get all the layers into each bite. Instead of bread, Cosme serves a single large, homemade blue corn chip and a mildly spiced bean salsa. Very nice.
My next dish was “Fluke Aguachile,” featuring Chicatana ant (yes, a Mexican insect), with sesame seeds. The “chili water” surrounded the sushi-grade filets of fluke and made them come alive with spice. The ants were not obvious, nor was the dish crawling with them. They were there just for the nutty flavor.
The main course was a beautiful strip of “Short Rib” with scallions, Cipollini onions and avocado, served with a basket of fresh warm homemade blue corn tortillas. The avocado part of this dish was a spicy puree that I spooned onto a tortilla around pieces of tender short rib and a slice of onion before wrapping it and taking a bite. A little messy, but fun and delicious.
Mexican desserts are usually predictable and limited, but not at Cosme. The “Blueberries with lavender Semi-freddo” was an eye-opener as well as a delight. Think of a pond frozen over with lavender ice, broken up and almost covering large juicy sweet blueberries and garnished with a purple flower. Heavenly.
To finish this unique dinner I chose a “Carajillo,” a Spanish drink combining coffee with brandy, whisky and anisette. Perfect. Cosme successfully followed an awesome movie with an awesome dinner.
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