The Namesake

An interesting movie about the difficulty of adapting as an immigrant to America. It was moving at times, albeit somewhat predictable. The actors who played the mother and father were really quite good.

I haven't read the book on which this movie is based; from what I hear, the movie is quite different than the book. The movie was more about the family, and in particular, the mother; the book is probably more about the son (the "namesake"). I skimmed parts of the book in a bookstore, and I disliked how the director and screenwriter changed around the story. From the DVD special feature on the making of the movie, it was clear that the director had a very different vision of the story than the novel. She certainly did a good job of imposing her view on the story.

Enjoyable, but I would not recommend it highly.


We ate at a nice Italian restaurant called Ottimo for New Year's Eve. It was reasonably pricey, but pretty good food. I had Penne Arrabiatta, and boy was it spicy! The appetizer we ordered (an antipasto plate) was really good. High-quality food, but not cheap.

The Receptionist

The Receptionist was playing at the Manhattan Theatre Club, which is an organization that is devoted to helping young playwrights. The Receptionist is a very creepy play that is set in a strangely ambiguous, Kafka-esque world. The entire play revolves around one simple line, which I can't quite recall, and which would also give away the whole premise if I put it here; so I won't. The play occurs in two short acts: the total running time is about an hour. See it if you can!

My Architect

Louis Kahn was a fascinatingly weird character who produced some marvelous (as well as some remarkably ugly) architecture. This documentary was made by his illegitimate son, and is interesting, if you're into learning about people who are absolutely devoted to their art.

Sweeney Todd

Ah, what a violent concept. And, boy, can Johnny Depp do anything that he puts his mind to? The movie was disturbingly bloody: throats slashed left and right. It was way over the top, but also extremely well done. If you want to see a musical horror movie, this is the one to see!

Age of Rembrandt

We saw the exhibit of the Met's collection Dutch art. It wasn't that exciting: too much of the commentary had to do with the history of the acquisition, as opposed to the history of the art. Plus, I was coming down with some illness, so it was really hard to concentrate on art. But it's always fun to visit the Met!

The Devil in the White City

We had listened to this book on CD a while back, and I finally got around to actually reading the book (I miss a lot of details on CD). This beautifully written book is the tale of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair: it centers around the architects who got it built (led by Daniel Burnham, who also built the Flatiron Building in NYC), and the first known urban serial killer, who preyed upon women in Chicago during that time.

Did you know that Cracker Jack, Aunt Jemima's, the zipper, the Ferris wheel, and the electric dishwasher were all first introduced at that fair? The fair was also the first major demonstration of widespread use of AC electricity. I recommend this book highly.

China Road

Rob Gifford's wonderful book about China describes a trip he took across China. It's a wonderful read, and its clear that Gifford loves China and its people. The most fascinating thing that I learned was that China is more diverse than the government lets on. Gifford says that China today is analogous to the Roman Empire: a motley collection of peoples held together by force. (He also makes the humorous statement that "going out for Chinese food" is analogous to "going out for European food".) All in all, a definite must-read if you're interested in China!

Carnegie Hall Young Artists' Concerts

I went with some friends to hear a master class given by Emanuel Ax, Richard Stolzmann, and David Zinman on various Brahms sonatas. It was entertaining: the F-minor clarinet sonata performed by José Franch-Ballester (clarinet) and
Andrius Zlabys (piano) was great. The other performers were good, but not as well-prepared.

Gimme Kudos

This Chinese movie has English subtitles, which is one of the reasons we took it out of the library. It was an interesting, dark little movie; I was glad that we watched it (although it had enough scratches that we couldn't watch the very end). The movie deals with the conflict between societal pressures in the "old" Communist China, and the new modern China. It is pretty funny at times (my Chinese is good enough to appreciate that), but it isn't really a comedy. I give it a solid "thumbs-up".


Waitress is a charming film (which gains some resonance because this was the last film made by actor/writer/director Adrienne Shelly). Somewhat predictable, but filled with charming writing, beautiful pies, and a great cast. Keri Russell did a great job as the lead character. Nathan Fillion seems to pop up in a lot of movies these days (he was on Firefly); he's always fun to watch. Jeremy Sisto was great as the psycho, narcissistic husband; and Andy Griffith was charming as the grumpy old man.