Century Fox, 2017) – Director: James Mangold. Writers: Scott Frank,
Michael Green, James Mangold (s/p). James Mangold (story). Stars:
Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen
Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle &
Elise Neal. Color, Rated R, 137 minutes.
What was all the
hoopla about this movie? It’s two hours and 17 minutes of plodding
through the culmination of Hugh Jackman’s 17 years portraying
Logan, The Wolverine. Action scenes are miserly sprinkled between
tiresome dead spaces where the audience speaks the lines before Logan
manages to open his mouth. And when he does, the f-bomb appears
frequently among other expletives. Even Patrick Stewart as a decrepit
Professor Xavier has a shocking couple of bouts of profanity. This
film will go down in movie infamy with Batman v Superman:
Dawn of Justice in the category of Why Was It Made? And
to add insult to injury, it starts with a clever plug for the
next Deadpool movie,
which is much more entertaining than the entire film, with the
exception of the final forest battle scene.
The year is 2029,
Logan is a not-so-mild-mannered chauffeur who drives a 2024 Chrysler
limousine in Texas for hire. He’s obviously aging, drinks
profusely, staggers when he doesn’t limp and his power to self-heal
is diminished by the poisonous effect of his adamantium skeleton. At
a rainy funeral interment he’s confronted by Gabriela (Rodriguez),
who recognizes him as Wolverine and begs him to go on a mission. He
wants no part of it.
He drives back
across the border into Mexico to an abandoned smelting plant in the
middle of nowhere desert country, where Caliban (Merchant), the
albino mutant tracker, and Charles/Professor Xavier are just getting
by. The X-Men as a team are disbanded and as far as they know they’re
the last of them. Charles is holed up in a toppled water tower and
suffers from seizures (think telepathy gone wild) that paralyze
normal people and cause severe pain to mutants unless he gets his
medication. Logan uses the money he makes to score the drugs to
control these seizures.
shortened, Gabriela has smuggled several mutant children out of a
laboratory belonging to Alkali-Transigen Corporation who were a part
of a breeding program to control mutant behavior. The idea was to
make them into weapons, but children will be children. There’s no
controlling them. She brings Logan to meet Laura (Keen) who has a DNA
similar to Logan’s and we learn soon on can sprout blades from her
knuckles as he does. One difference, though, she can also generate
these weapons from her toes.
Gabriela and Laura
are pursued by Daniel Pierce (Holbrook) Transigen’s security chief
and his robotically enhanced army of “reavers.” When they
brutally murder Gabriela, Logan takes her seriously and brings Laura
back to the hideout. Charles recognizes Laura for what she is
immediately, but Logan refuses to believe that he could have a
attack by the reavers and Pierce forces Logan, Charles and Laura onto
a journey to join her with the other mutant children in North Dakota.
From there they hope to cross the border into Canada to a safe place
called “Eden” extracted from a Marvel comic book. On the way,
they make the acquaintance of the Munson family, Will (La Salle), his
wife Kathryn (Neal) and their son Nate (Quincy Fouse) when a highway
accident causes their horses to escape the Munsons’ trailer.
Charles uses his telepathy to corral the horses and the Munsons
invite the three mutants to dinner. Charles tries to use this
opportunity as an example of how endearing family life can be to
Logan but he doesn’t get it. The movie is not the only thing that’s
Pierce has captured
Caliban and tortures him with sunlight until he agrees to use his
mutant tracking power to find Laura, Logan and Charles and soon,
they’re at the Munsons home and the poor Munsons get the worst part
of that deal.
one point toward the end of the movie, Logan confesses to Laura: “Bad
things happen to people I care about.” And he’s right. Bad
things happen to nearly everyone in this picture. It’s more like
Marvel Comics meets Stephen King. The fight scenes are wildly violent
and bloody, more than one head is lopped off or run through. If you
like gore, this movie has it in spades. In fact the violence is so
gratuitous it didn't impact me and eventually I didn’t care who won
the battle, who was the hero and who was the villain. I found it
tiresome. It could very well have been done in under an hour and 45
minutes, possibly without the vulgarity. But I do know there will be
another episode centering around the children. Maybe it will be
better. They’re cuter.
More like a bistro
than a formal restaurant, Pondicheri has high ceilings, an open
kitchen, plastic stools at the bar, aluminum chairs at the tables and
cushion-less bare wood banquettes. The menu is a single laminated
card with food on one side, drinks on the other.
My server, Rafael,
asked if I wanted a cocktail. He assured me the Crocus Sativus was
made with gin and could be made with any gin they had. Beefeaters it
is! The menu touted it simply as a saffron spin on a wet martini. A
very attractive topaz yellow, it was a little spicy, a little lemony
and a delicious martini.
Rafael helped me
navigate the menu, loaded with strange categories like To Share…Or
Not, Thalis (a kind of dinner sampling on a tray), For the Table, and
Sides. He explained each category, pointing out the full-sized
skillet on the next table as the Aviyal, a For the Table selection
(impressively large). I knew what to do and ordered my meal and wine.
For the wine I chose
the 2014 Bedrock Zinfandel from California. A beautiful dark red,
full bodied with a definite blackberry flavor and soft tannins, it
had peppery finish that would accent any spice on any dish.
arrived. The khandvi was a dish I’ve never seen in any Indian
restaurant and I was glad I ordered it: soft dough made from savory
chickpeas rolled into pinwheels stuffed with coconut, cashews,
sesame, herbs and spices, sliced and served in a yoghurt pomegranate
sauce. The coconut was just a flavor and the cashews, finely minced,
added a nutty flavor, but the sauce was the amazing part. The creamy
smooth yoghurt had a spicy tang to it, moderated by the tart flavor
of the pomegranate. A delightful finger-food complimented perfectly
by the zinfandel.
After a little while
my soup was delivered. Called red beet soup, it was roasted red beet
soup with coconut, ginger and mustard seeds and a paneer (Indian
home-made cheese) cutlet poking its head above the soup. It was blood
red, a little viscous, and had a hearty, sweet flavor. When combined
with a piece of the cheese and other ingredients, it was a marvel of
cuisine and an almost erotic experience.
Since I know someone
from Kerala (pronounced care-uh-luh) I chose the Kerala shrimp –
shrimp and winter squash sautéed with coconut, sesame, kari (curry)
leaf and a ginger masala. It was delicious, but I could not detect a
hint of masala (spice). The shrimp were tender and fresh and the
shells on the tails came off easily. The squash was still crunchy and
flavorful but the overall taste was more sweet than spicy. The rice
was not basmati rice, and though colored by turmeric, it was not
flavored by it and was a little over-cooked. Otherwise, it was good.
The bread, however,
was amazing. The pistachio and apricot naan was totally new to me. (I
had Peshawari naan before and it’s the closest match to this nutty,
sweet bread.) The mint chutney accompanying it gave the bread a
minty, spicy accent.
Though I finished my
main course and the bread, I had the remainder of the rice boxed up
to go home as I needed to save room for dessert. And what a dessert!
The signature dish for Pondicheri Café is chai pie, made with a
Parle-G crust (an Indian biscuit dough), and a combination of caramel
and chai (spiced tea) pastry cream whipped into a dense, custard-like
filling (almost as dense as firm ice cream) and topped with fresh
whipped cream and candied cashews. It was dreamy. I got so involved
in the flavors of caramel and spice and tea that I didn’t need my
usual hot tea.
Rafael told me that
Pondicheri has been doing business for eight months now and I could
see by the clientele that they are successful. I thanked Rafael for
his wonderful service, picked up my takeout and was about to leave
the restaurant when the hostess offered me a unique pastry. She
placed it in a white bag and I popped it into my takeout bag. The
nearest thing I can compare it to is a blueberry biscuit, though it
looked like a fruitcake/stollen hybrid. It was crunchy and sweet and
had a crunchy sugar topping. Very nice. The next time I dine at
Pondicheri I will bring a friend. I want to try their version of my
favorite Indian dish Lamb Roghan Josh, one of those large For the