Sunday, October 30, 2011

In ‘The Mountaintop,’ a Failed Attempt at a Setdown

Samuel L. Jackson (the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and Camae (Angela Bassett) have a meeting of the minds in "The Mountaintop." Photos by Joan Marcus.


some of us, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a touchstone, a change agent who helped the United States move toward the better.

In Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop,” at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre through 16 Jan., MLK (Samuel L. Jackson) is just a man.

KH has re-imagined Dr. King’s last night at the Lorraine Motel before his assassination on 4 April 1968 as an evening spent chatting, flirting and cadging Pall Malls from a chambermaid named Camae (Angela Bassett)

In KH’s fiction, Camae brings room-service coffee to MLK’s Room 306 in a rainstorm, and stays to discuss tactics of nonviolence, Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, as well as whether the civil rights activist should shave his mustache.

Is there any excuse to deflate the legacy of MLK this way?

Chambermaid Camae (Angela Bassett) pays a call on a very special guest of the Lorraine Motel in "The Mountaintop."

It is no secret that the man had an eye for the ladies, nor that the FBI used wiretaps to try to entrap him. Despite its pacifist credo and inclusiveness, the Civil Rights Movement that MLK led was radical.

Of course, MLK’s contribution to American life is big enough to withstand its trivialization in “The Mountaintop.” However, if as SLJ has said, a generation of children doesn’t know the great man, “The Mountaintop” does not portray with him the dignity he deserves.

While the play seems to minimize MLK’s stature by emphasizing that he is a mere mortal, the production does pay close attention to some details. For instance, set designer David Gallo traveled to the Lorraine to meticulously recreate Room 306.

AB is convincing as a downhome, smart and opinionated young woman, boldly saying whatever pops into her head. As played by AB, Camae is comfortable even in the presence of a man she admires as much as the sassy maid looks up to “Preacher Kang.”

Martin Luther King (Samuel L. Jackson) had an interesting encounter in the Lorraine Motel the night before he was assassinated in "The Mountaintop."

SLJ has the tougher role in convincing audiences that he is genuinely MLK. Like the set designer, the actor has done his homework. In order to replicate the minister's conversational speech patterns as SLJ does so well in “The Mountaintop,” he listened to some of MLK's interviews. SLJ has the stature and chops to play any role convincingly and he acquits himself well in following KH’s lead in showing MLK as an ordinary man.

The truth lies, as it always does, somewhere between myth and history but the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not an ordinary man.

Visit http:// to learn more about “The Mountaintop.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

‘Anonymous.’ Much Ado About Nothing? Or a Tempest?

ONE of the greatest and longest debates in Western literature is whether The Bard was as prolific as history credits.

Supposedly, the best academic minds have mined obscure journals and dubious scribblings hoping to unearth proof that will put the question to rest once and for all. Not surprisingly some writers, including Henry James have wondered aloud about this matter.

In other words, did William Shakespeare really pen all of those plays, sonnets and other literary works? More specifically and speciously, is he/was he a fraud? (See trailer above).

The latest sally into this wearisome territory is the film, “Anonymous,” which revives as the possible source of WS’s works someone whom establishment academia has already rejected. The fellow – a nobleman with an eccentric backstory – will go unnamed here. Those who wish to learn his identity can see the film, which opens in limited release in several countries today. “Anonymous” had its world premiere at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival last month.

The great Derek Jacobi is pressed into service to give an introductory lecture on the latest iteration of this discarded theory. Each viewer, however, must decide whether Roland Emmerich’s film presents a credible case. If nothing else “Anonymous” – set in Elizabethan England – is an elaborate and exquisite period piece peopled by dastardly villains and admirable heroes/heroines.

The mostly British cast includes Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Sebastian Armesto, David Thewlis, Joely Richardson, Sam Reid, Xavier Samuel and Rafe Spall as WS.

“Anonymous” is rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What’s on the End of Your Fork Can Kill You. No Joke!

This trio of raw foods sends the body a message to provide lasting energy and to build healthy cells. Photo courtesy Whole Foods Market.

By JANET COOK, NYC Healthy Chick

high blood pressure? Pop a pill.
Got high cholesterol? Pop a pill.
Got a case of the blues? Pop a pill.
Got Type 2 diabetes? Pop a pill.
Got indigestion? Pop a pill.
Got erectile dysfunction? Pop a pill.
Got some other kind of chronic illness or disease? You know the drill.

For 30 days these five ate raw food, lost weight and kicked their insulin habit; others can do it, too. Photo courtesy of Raw for 30 Days.

See a pattern here? Yeah, it’s not a good one either in my humble professional opinion. The big pharma industry has led everyone to believe that the solution to every disease and illness is a pill. Ah, H-E-L-L-O!!!! No way, man, is this the solution. Think about how much the pharmaceutical industry is making from prescription drugs people take every day for common aliments.

What if we simply look at what’s on the end of our fork as a no-cost solution to cure what ails us? Isn’t this brilliant and easy? Actually, maybe it’s too logical for folks who are used to running to the doctor and getting a prescription for every new disease and illness.

What if we people were educated instead of medicated? How would this impact our health care system and medical costs? Consider what chronic diseases and illnesses cost our nation a year:
– heart disease $273 billion
– diabetes $174 billion
– cancer $158 billion
– obesity $147 billion

A diet heavy on animal protein such as sausage will possibly kill you and definitely won't make you better. Photo courtesy of Dreamstime.

What diabetes costs the nation is just about what has been spent on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terror combined.

Taking control of one's health starts with disease education and prevention. The immune system function of many in the United States has deteriorated by approximately 30 percent in the last 20 years. It continues to deteriorate at a rate of approximately 3 percent a year. Understanding that diseases are merely a dysfunction of body and cellular systems will empower us as we learn to how to rebuild our immune system.

I learned a long time ago that every body is different; responses to food varies. A tonic for one is poison for another. Did you know that what you eat programs your body with messages of health or illness? Watch Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days!!! ( This powerful documentary chronicles how six people with diabetes, a chronic incurable disease, greatly reduced or eliminated their need for insulin in 30 days under the supervision of a medical team.

Whole grains and fresh fruit salad are the makings of a light but filling meal any time of day. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

Chronic degenerative diseases afflict more than 120 million Americans. Fifty-plus million more suffer from one or more auto-immune diseases. Just think, if diabetes can be reversed in 30 days with a raw diet imagine what can be done with other chronic diseases and illnesses in general. A change in diet played a big role in the positive changes.

Ready to rebuild your immune system and stop body and cellular dysfunction? Take the NYC Healthy Chick 30-Day Raw Food Challenge:
· Eat uncooked greens and fruits
· Eat foods cooked under 118 degrees
· Stop microwaving food – it gets chemically altered
· Do a detox program to eliminate cravings for cooked foods
· Reduce or eliminate animal protein and replace it with plant-based protein

The apple and beet combo likes a salad but will go solo, even as a snack. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

Launch your program with a few of my favorite raw food recipes. One of my plant-based protein staples is quinoa. Combine it with the delicious fresh taste of a mango and the result is a super yummy duo that is filling and fun to eat at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Mango and Quinoa Salad (

Change the approach to salad at lunch or dinner with Wheat Berry, Apricot and Arugla Salad ( This hearty and full-flavor trio sends good messages to the body, programming it for hours of energy and good health. Need to dress up veggies just a little? Try Apple Beet Charoset ( This combo is good with accompaniments or on its own.

Pills and other drugs are not the answer to most of what ails us. Photo courtesy of Drugs Best Buy.

If you are tired of playing the big pharma games and paying for unnecessary medication, doubtless it’s time to change what’s at the end of your fork. Think of the money we can save as a nation.

We could apply the savings to the deficit, end poverty, eradicate world hunger. Live healthier, juicier, happier lives. Amazing!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Neshobe River Winery: A Wicked-Good … in Vermont!

Visitors to Vermont can drink in more than fall foliage with a trip to a winery. Photo courtesy of Leaf Peepers.


fall foliage.
Excellent cross country skiing.
Damn-near mystical maple syrup.
And some wicked-good wine?!

Who woulda thunk it? That’s Vermont. Full of quirky little surprises. Imagine my surprise when a wine called Purple Haze proved to be far superior to the lighter-fuel, rot-gut hazy hangover its name seems to foreshadow.

Purple Haze. Created in the same year as the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Did I ever get the reference wrong! But to be fair, the label does say, “Relive the experience Woodstock 1969-2009.” I was thinking one would have to re-live the experience, because just how many who went could actually remember it?

And, who in the world would have the audacity to evoke such an iconic rock legend and slap its name on a wine bottle?

Enter the Foley family, and Bob Foley, Jr. in particular. A short six years ago, BF got it into his head to start the Neshobe River Winery ( One son, Patrick, had already embarked on a winemaking career, learning the trade in California, South America and South Africa. The lessons must have stuck, and one lesson in particular: respect the grape.

Label of Purple Haze. The wine is Neshobe River Winery's new take on an old Jimi Hendrix classic song. Photo courtesy of Neshobe River Winery.

Respect for the Hybridized Grapes of Vermont
The tried-and-true, run-of-the-mill varietals simply will not thrive where the ground is wet and the climate is cold; their wines suffer, if one can call them wines at all. Staying true to Vermonters’ passion for supporting local agriculture, BF and other local vintners turned instead to grapes that thrive in the region.

Ever heard of Frontenac? Neither have I. How about Traminette? Not so much. St. Croix and Marquette? Ditto. Many of these grapes are kissing cousins of varietals from Northern Germany and Northern France – also wet and cold climes.

The Traminette grape is derived from the German Gewürztraminer. Photo courtesy of Cornell University horticulture department.

Romance or Science: The Origins of Some Vermont Varietals
Depending on whether one speaks with Vermonters or academic viniculturists, there are two distinct stories about the origins of these grapes. On the one hand, the romantic Vermont version is that French explorers tried desperately to plant the vines of their homeland in North America. That didn’t work. Then some explored producing wines from the wild grapes grown in the region and others spliced in grafts of French vines, creating hybrids that after hundreds of years have become, well, not exactly indigenous, but pretty darn close. From these wines come innovative Vermont wines.

On the other hand, university horticultural experiments of the past 20 years have developed hybrids specifically to develop or enhance varietal characteristics. SPOILER ALERT: That delightful little Traminette? A derivative of Gewürztraminer developed in 1965 by H.C. Barrett at University of Illinois (New York’s Food and Life Sciences Bulletin, No. 149 [1996] http://

Marquette? Developed in 1989 by Peter Hemstad at the University of Minnesota (Vitis International Variety Catalogue (VIVC) Datasheet, [2007],

Frontenac? Also another UMinn product, released in 1996 (Frontenac Enology, [2008], Who knew that two NCAA Big Ten schools could produce great grapes as well as great football?

Label of Neshobe River Winery's Traminette. Photo courtesy of Neshobe River Winery.

Now before anyone goes and has a kitten about genetic engineering, keep in mind that the millennia-long history of viniculture is all about genetic engineering: hybridization, grafts, etc. These forms of genetic engineering are quite traditional – and quite apart from today’s genetically modified plants wherein DNA material from one species is injected into another. This is not that.

Breathe. Pour a glass of Vermont wine. Relax. The point is simply that laboratory science has facilitated traditional winemakers in developing varietals that thrive in the cool, wet weather of northern New England and Canada. Such varietals have begun to flourish in these regions, and the wines they create are distinctive.

Neshobe River Winery
By respecting the grapes that the climate supports, Vermont vintners are beginning to develop a truly regional wine. For its part, Neshobe River Winery is elevating the cultivation of these grapes to an artform. Out of such quirky little varietals delicious, full bodied and unexpectedly complex wines emerge.

The Frontenac grape was created in a test tube. Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota horticulture department.

I first encountered Neshobe wines at A Taste of Woodstock, a high-quality but surprisingly affordable local artisanal outdoor festival one week before the floods of Hurricane Irene arrived in late August. Organic cheeses, hamburgers made from beef of grass-fed cows, handmade quilts and hand crafted soaps surrounded the wine and cider booths.

Tucked toward the back was the Neshobe River Winery display. BF manned the fort gently while his T-shirt declared otherwise. An understated presence, he chatted just a bit, drawing our focus to the wines and letting us savor them silently. Then ever so slightly with a twinkle in his eye, he gave a slightly wicked little nod that said, “Didn’t expect that, huh?”

Of the five wines that Neshobe produces, let’s focus on two: Traminette and Purple Haze.

Mention that Traminette is Gewürztraminer’s kissing cousin and one might think a rather sweet white wine is on the horizon. Not so. Imagine a Gewürztraminer with a dry Riesling backbone: all the flavor is there with only a hint of sugar. This wine drinks well, unfolding with richness as the taste lingers for a moment on the tongue (smooth finish). Perfect for seafood and hearty cheeses.

Sporting a T-shirt that reads, "Come out ye coward and fight the six of us" Bob Foley, Jr. holds down the Neshobe River Winery winetasting fort in Woodstock, VT. Photo by Tamara Fish.

Purple Haze
Take a walk on the wild side. Pure 100 percent Frontenac, the wine is an imp. Cloaked in a Zinfandel’s rich jammy-berry scent (completely fruity nose, strong), Purple Haze does a switcheroo: not a hint of sweetness at all while still retaining a sense of fruitiness. Take a Zinfandel’s hearty fruit-filled fullness (blackberry) and make it dry, dry, dry (not sweet). What a paradox! Don’t even think of drinking this alone. Purple Haze demands food. Good food, not munchies. Let Woodstock recede into that thick purple haze. This is a mature grownup’s drink.

Curious about Neshobe River Winery’s other wines? Go and visit. Stay at the Foley’s Old Mill Inn Bed and Breakfast ( in lovely Brandon, VT ... To purchase from this small very boutique winery, call BF directly at 802.247.8002 or email

Next up: Indian Summer’s Perfect White Wine: Casas Patronales Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 17 NYFF: Reckoning & Lunacy in 'The Descendants'

THE 49th New York Film Festival closes down shop today with a journey to the lush, beautiful environs of Hawaii in “The Descendants.”

Making its U.S. debut at NYFF with four screenings, “The Descendants” is based on a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings. It stars George Clooney as Matt King, a man suffering an existential crisis spawned by two different family events. (See trailer above).

The first is the boating accident off of Waikiki that left his wife in a coma and him to care for (or vice versa) his two troubled daughters, 10 year-old Scottie (Amara Miller) and 17-year-old Alexandra (Shailene Woodley). The strong supporting cast also includes Beau Bridges and Nick Krause.

Also challenging Matt is the impending sale of his family’s ancestral land. Passed down from Hawaiian royalty and white missionaries, the land is home to some of the last unspoiled acreage of tropical beach on the islands. Workaholic, but responsible Matt is the trustee.

Matt's large extended family of mostly deadbeats must agree to sell the land if it is to further benefit from the property before a law forbidding land ownership through perpetuity takes effect. “The Descendants,” directed by Alexander Payne (“Sideways”), has a wider U.S. release next month and a review will be published to coincide with it.

Other screenings today at NYFF include “Policeman,” “Ten Nights of Dreams,” “The Woman with Red Hair” and “Cold Fish.

Visit to learn more about the 49th New York Film Festival: including schedule, repeat screenings, ticket and venue information.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 16: 'Policeman' Misfires and Fails to Ignite

A scene from "Policeman." Photo courtesy of 49th New York Film Festival.

POLICEMAN tells two parallel stories. One is of a tightknit, semi-corrupt anti-terrorist unit. The other concerns a group of disaffected, young radical wannabes who are fed up with the system.

The film, which makes its North American debut tonight at the 49th New York Film Festival, fails to engage because these stories focusing on current issues in Israeli society unfold symmetrically rather than overlapping.

“Policeman” is Hebrew with English subtitles.

Other screenings and events today at NYFF include “Play,” “I Look Up When I Walk aka Keep Your Chin Up," “The Untold History of the United States, Chapters 1-3,” “25th Anniversary Screening of Salvador, ” “Goodbye First Love,” “Book Signing Event With John Lithgow, “Pina,” “Love Hotel” and “Charisma.”

Visit to learn more about the 49th New York Film Festival: including schedule, repeat screenings, ticket and venue information.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 14 NYFF: ‘This Is Not a Film,' Really. It’s Not.

Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi in "This Is Not a Film." Photos courtesy of 49th New York Film Festival.

THE Iranian government banned director Jafar Panahi from writing and filming. The 20-year-ban, however, did not prohibit him from acting.

Consequently, the director becomes a thespian in the wonderfully subversive “This Is Not a Film,” which was reportedly shot on an iPhone. Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, who is mostly off camera, is his documentarian. It makes its U.S debut today at the 49th New York Film Festival.

Some background, last year JP was sentenced to six years in prison and prohibited from practicing his craft for colluding and propagandizing against the Iranian government. JP is under house arrest while his appeal is being considered. The case of the award-winning director and some of his colleagues has been a cause celebre in film circles, particularly on the international film festival circuit. Just last month, MM was arrested as he was preparing to journey to Toronto to promote “This Is Not a Film.” He and five other filmmakers were charged with colluding against the Iranian government, etc. “This Is Not a Film” arrives in New York, then with quite a back story. Incidentally, it was smuggled into France for its world premiere at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. (See trailer below).

Circumstances dictate that the set and command central of the film are JP’s comfortable Tehran apartment. It opens on the eve of the Iranian New Year. JP is alone because his wife and children are visiting the children’s grandmother. “This Is Not a Film” is a sort of day-in-the-life-of project.

During the morning JP talks to his lawyer or advocate who assures him that his sentence can be reduced but also cautions him that he will do some jail time. “This is a political ruling,” not a legal one, she says.

JP receives the news well enough and continues about his day. He has a few chores to do, including feeding his family’s pet iguana, the source of a fair amount of comic relief. At one point the “actor” recalls a film he made with a child actress who’d become so frustrated that she quit. What he is really expessing is his own feelings of frustration and entrapment. He speaks in a kind of code, especially with MM as they are making an illegal film. A true act of revolt, though, is the scene with the garbage.

Of course, the entire film is an act of rebellion and expression of JP's frustration. It, too, makes its point covertly, so as not to invite further censure from the authorities. But will the film in and of itself bring more trouble on the filmmakers? Events so far suggest that it will, for Big Brother is watching. And listening.

In Noboru Tanaka's "The Hell-Fated Courtesan," the Japanese royal family takes drastic measures to endear itself to a “Death Goddess” (Rie Nakagawa).

“This Is Not a Film is a touching testament to the inventiveness of the human mind and the indomitable nature of the human spirit.

“This Is Not a Film” is in Persian with English subtitles.

Other screenings and events today at NYFF include “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Retaliation,” “Antonio Banderasat the Apple Store,” “This Is Not a Film,” “Wes Anderson at Apple Store,” “From Morning Till Midnight,” “The Hell-Fated Courtesan,” and “10th Anniversary Screening of The Royal Tenenbaums, Presented by New Wave.”

Visit to learn more about the 49th New York Film Festival: including schedule, repeat screenings, ticket and venue information.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Any Nutritarian Worth His Salt Is Eating Up GOMBBS

The tangy bean salad contains fiber and protein, which contribute to energy and stamina. Photo from Whole Foods Market.

By JANET COOK, NYC Healthy Chick

they fruits or vegetables? Do they taste good? Where do I buy them? C’mon NYC Healthy Chick, what are GOMBS?

Actually, “GOMBBS” is an acronym you can use to remember the most nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods on the planet. Joel Fuhrman, a medical doctor and author promotes this catchy acronym in his new book, “Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body's Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free." These foods should make up a significant portion of the diet, and JF recommends eating them every day. GOMBBS are extremely effective at preventing chronic disease as well as promoting health and longevity.

OK, so what exactly are GOMBBS? Simply, they are Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Beans and Seeds/Nuts.

In his popular book, Joel Fuhrman offers several remedies for good health, including high consumption of GOMBBS. Photo courtesy of HarpersCollins Publishers.

GOMBBS make up JF’s “Nutritarian Pyramid.” “A nutritarian,” he asserts, “is a person who strives for more micronutrients per calorie in their diet-style. A nutritarian understands that food has powerful disease-protecting and therapeutic effects and seeks to consume a broad array of micronutrients via their food choices. It is not sufficient to merely avoid fats, consume foods with a low glycemic index, lower the intake of animal products, or eat a diet of mostly raw foods.

“A truly healthy diet must be micronutrient rich and the micronutrient richness must be adjusted to meet individual needs," JF says. "The foods with the highest micronutrient per calorie scores are green vegetables, colorful vegetables, and fresh fruits. For optimal health and to combat disease, it is necessary to consume enough of these foods that deliver the highest concentration of nutrients ...”

A nutritarian also consumes a lot of GOMBBS:

G – Greens. Want to protect blood vessels, reduce the risk of diabetes, plus have an excellent weight-loss tool? Eat unlimited quantities of greens. They contain about 100 calories per pound and are packed with the most nutrient-dense food missing from the U.S. diet. The majority of calories in green vegetables, including leafy greens, come from protein. This plant protein is packaged with beneficial phytochemicals, folate, calcium and contains small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Leafy greens are also rich in antioxidant pigments called carotenoids. The pigments are known to promote healthy vision. Greens have combined additive effects, working synergistically to remove carcinogens, reduce inflammation, neutralize oxidative stress and inhibit angiogenesis (the process by which tumors acquire a blood supply). Further, they have been shown to kill cancer cells, too.

The berry crisp is a guilt-free dessert. Photo from Whole Foods Market.

O – Onions. Great benefits come to those who eat onions, leeks, garlic, shallots and scallions. Experience improved cardiovascular and immune systems while increasing anti-diabetic properties. It also lowered the risk of gastric, prostate and colon cancers. Onions and friends detoxify carcinogens, halt cancer cell growth and block angiogenesis. Plus, they contain high concentrations of health-promoting flavonoid antioxidants. Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention. Who knew flavonoids were so powerful?

M - Mushrooms. White, cremini, portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake and reishi mushrooms have all been associated with decreased risk of breast, stomach and colorectal cancers. Some are anti-inflammatory. They stimulate the immune system and prevent DNA damage. Mushrooms also contain aromatase inhibitors – compounds that can block the production of estrogen. These compounds are thought to be largely responsible for aiding in the prevention of breast cancer.

B – Berries. Low in sugar, not to mention the fact that they are naturally sweet and juicy, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are true super foods. Their vibrant colors indicate that they are chock full of antioxidants, including flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins. Berries are some of the highest antioxidant foods in existence.

Berries contain all-important, disease-fighting antioxidants. Photo from Whole Foods Market.

Berries are also awesome for cardioprotective and anti-cancer effects, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation. And they can prevent DNA damage, inhibit tumor angiogenesis and stimulate the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Consuming berries is also linked to reducing the risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline. Want a better brain? Berries improve both motor coordination and memory.

B – Beans. Beans and legumes are powerhouses of superior nutrition and the most nutrient-dense carbohydrate source. They are great for preventing diabetes and weight-loss because they are digested slowly, having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar while promoting satiety. Beans help to prevent food cravings, too. The soluble fiber found in beans and legumes lowers cholesterol levels. Fiber and resistant starch reduce the total number of calories absorbed from beans. Another benefit is that they are fermented by intestinal bacteria into fatty acids that help prevent colon cancer.

Eat beans, peas or lentils at least twice a week to decrease colon cancer risk by 50 percent. They also provide significant protection against oral, larynx, pharynx, stomach and kidney cancers.

S – Seeds. Don’t fret about the healthy fats in seeds and nuts. They aid in the absorption of nutrients when eaten with vegetables. Seeds and nuts contain healthy fats and are rich in a spectrum of micronutrients, including phytosterols, minerals and antioxidants. Consuming nuts helps with weight maintenance and diabetes prevention.

Bok choy and carrots deliver on color, flavor and nutrients. Photo from Whole Foods Market.

The nutritional profile of seeds is similar to nuts as it regards healthy fats, minerals and antioxidants. Seeds, though, are also abundant in trace minerals and higher in protein than nuts. Flax, chia and hemp seeds are extremely rich sources of omega-3 fats.

Ready – Set – GOMBBS!!!! Try out some of NYC Healthy Chick’s favorite GOMBBS meals. They are full of flavor and variety, plus they are easy to prepare.

This colorful trio of greens, mushrooms and seeds are a light fare to be enjoyed anytime - Bok Choy with Carrots ( ... Spice things up with your beans by skipping the pita (or not)! Instead, serve a tangy beans and onion medley (Tangy Bean Salad) over your choice of healthy raw leafy greens instead. ( ... Want a sweet treat that will boost brainpower and control weight? A no cook, no fuss version of Raw Berry Crisp ( is one great way to have it all in one dish.

Thinking of becoming a nutritarian? Then pile on the GOMBBS!

Visit to purchase "Super Immunity: The Essential
Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body's Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and
Disease Free" for as little as $14.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 11 NYFF: Escaping (Cults) and Embracing (Politics)

Esteban Lamothe as Roque in "The Student."Photo from 49th New York Film Festival.

THE Student (“El Estudiante”) could also be titled “The Political Education of Roque.”

In the film, which has its second and last screening tomorrow at the 49th New York Film Festival, Esteban Lamothe is in fine form as Roque, the student of the title who enrolls in a nondescript public college in Buenos Aires. Roque has three things on his mind and none is his studies.

Roque is content to exist in the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll scene until he attends a rally where the fascinating Paula (Romina Paula) is among the speakers. She is a child of revolutionaries who has been involved in various causes since she was very young. Roque is even more fascinated by Paula after he enrolls in her class. It is through Paula’s class that he gains entrée into her political circle at the university.

In an interview after the press screening of his arch political drama, first-time director Santiago Mitre said for many Argentines the public university is the entry point into politics. At this university, like in many societies, there are many political factions.

The factions are all fighting for the same thing: control. A very few members are true believers. Most, however, talk a good game about throwing off the shackles of Peronism, demanding that students be taught the (whose?) truth and fighting for better student services, etc. In the final analysis, though, they are supremely self-interested. Roque, the son of a Peronist, throws in with a group espousing other theories. It doesn’t matter, for allegiance is pliable and ephemeral.

Much of the action in “The Student” takes place in bars, restaurants and coffeehouses. Doubtless, politics makes one thirsty and hungry. Politics also inspires loquaciousness, though the dialogue is snappy and engaging. To increase the tension and drama around this excessive jawing, SM relies on a soundtrack more appropriate for a thriller or horror film, infusing “The Student” with an undercurrent of whimsy and vaingloriousness.

Roque rises quickly in the ranks, owing to his facility for organizing people and fomenting dissent and protest. Professor Alberto Acevedo and student adviser
(Ricardo Felix) also sees this potential and exploits Roque’s talents.

John Hawkes, Elizabeth Olsen, Louisa Krause and Christopher Abbott in "Martha Marcy May Marlene." Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.

In politics, Argentine-style, someone you idolize, respect and trust can betray you at the worst possible moment in the name of expediency. A comrade-in-arms may even attempt to manipulate you after his betrayal, thinking he can play you for a fool for a second time. Sound familiar? Is this the case only in Argentina? The political machinations have universal relevance, SM discovered, from audiences in various countries around the world – Chile, Greece, Israel, among them. It is in such circumstances that Roque gets the bulk of his education.

Though “The Student” could have easily been 30 minutes shorter, it is engrossing until the end, which comes on a sort of exclamation point.

“The Student” is in Spanish with English subtitles.

Disconnecting and deprogramming are at the center of “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” Sean Durkin’s thriller debuting at NYFF tonight.

The film follows the story of Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) who has escaped from a cult in the Catskill Mountains and is recovering at the home of her sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson). Martha may need more than the love she is receiving in the bosom of her family because she believes members of the cult, led by Patrick (John Hawkes), are still watching her. (See trailer below).

The film, which won the best director award in the drama category for SD at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, is scheduled for a limited release in the United States on 21 Oct.

Other screenings and events today at NYFF include “Pigs and Battleships,” “HBO Films Directors Dialogues: Abel Ferrara,” “To Union or Not to Union: Casting & Working with Actors in Low Budget Indies,” and “Intentions of Murder.”

Visit to learn more about the 49th New York Film Festival: including schedule, repeat screenings, ticket and venue information.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 10 NYFF: Beauty of Monotony in ‘The Turin Horse’

Janos Derzsi and Erika Bok in "The Turin Horse." Photo from Cinema Guild.

FOR nearly 2½ hours, viewers will watch as a man and his daughter, saying next to nothing, repeat the same ritual day after day after day in a very confined space.

Welcome to the world of “The Turin Horse,” Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky’s captivating meditation on the outcome of a chance encounter between Friedrich Nietzsche and the titular horse.

At the beginning of the film, making its U.S. debut today at the 49th New York Film Festival, the narrator gives the viewer to know that FN comforted the horse, which was being whipped by its driver. The philosopher subsequently collapsed and spent the final years of his life in silence in the care of his mother and siblings. But what of the horse? (See trailer below).

It seems the horse, too, was affected by either the beating or the meeting or both. The animal won’t eat, drink or lead the carriage that holds the goods the family trades for its survival.

The carriage driver (Janos Derzsi) is the horse’s owner. He lives on the harsh, barren, windy plains of Eastern Europe with his daughter (Erika Bok). Theirs is a life of ascetic sameness.

Each day the daughter rises, collects water for washing and cooking, boils potatoes, dresses her father, sets the table, plates the potatoes, clears the table. Afterward, father and daughter repair to the barn where the daughter feeds and waters the horse who does not eat or drink before hitching it and it goes nowhere. Father and daughter unhitch the horse, close the barn doors, return to their spare hut where daughter undresses father. They go to bed.The camera records it all in b&w, accompanied by a funereal one-movement soundtrack.

“The Turin Horse," which won the Silver Bear at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, is a beautiful piece of filmmaking and storytelling. BT’s camera doesn’t have much in the way of scenery to work with but makes much of the images at its disposal in the hut, yard and barn. The viewer's eye never tires of the scenery, for the director presents the environs from different and unexpected angles. Where the soundtrack should grate, it ingratiates itself, coaxing the viewer into this sad, strange place.

BT has said eight (films) is enough. “The Turin Horse” is to be his last. One can only hope he will reverse himself.

“The Turin Horse,” is in Hungarian with English subtitles.

Michelle Williams Is an Icon in 'My Week with Marilyn'

“MY Week with Marilyn” is based on two works by Colin Clark. The writer and filmmaker met the famous actress in 1957 when she journeyed to the United Kingdom to star in “The Prince and the Showgirl” opposite Laurence Olivier. The film chronicles a week that CC spent with MM spent when her third husband, Arthur Miller, left the country on personal business.

Eddie Redmayne, Dougray Scott and Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn.” Photo by Laurence Cendrowicz for The Weinstein Company.

“My Week with Marilyn” has its world premiere today at NYFF. It opens wide in the United States on 4 Nov. and on 18 Nov. in the United Kingdom. A review will be published to coincide with the U.S. release. Meanwhile, enjoy the interview above with Michelle Williams at an actor’s roundtable with Annette Benning, Natalie Portman, Colin Firth and others. She plays MM in the film.

'Twenty Cigarettes' & Smokers in Director's Latest Time Travel
JAMES Benning’s “Twenty Cigarettes” has been compared widely with Andy Warhol’s “Screen Tests,” but the film may have more in common with a previous work by JB.

AW shot his subjects in "Screen Tests" – many of them celebrities or those he believed to have star potential; many of them members of his Factory – for several unbroken, silent minutes. The photographer's aim was to create film portraits. In “Twenty Cigarettes,” which makes its U.S. debut tonight in “NYFF Views from the Avant-Garde,” JB films a score of individuals making no sound except what escapes from them while they smoke a cigarette. The film lasts as long (99 minutes ) as it takes this diverse group to finish their smoke. Similarly, in JB’s “RR” (2007), each shot lasts as long as it takes each in a series of trains to cross the frame. (See trailer below in which the director talks about casting the film).

Watching 20 different people – most of them unfamiliar – smoke a cigarette might potentially hold the same amount of interest one might have in watching paint dry. The director’s latest exploration of time also takes place in a single frame. The lone frame holds subject, cigarette and simple background. The eyes don’t have much to work with or do they?

The act of inhaling and exhaling smoke from a cigarette, as well as extinguishing a cigarette butt is quite involved. A smoker may squint or move a shoulder just so; smokers exhibit different degrees of head-tilt when they take a pull. She may replace an errant or imaginary lock of hair. His eyes may dance or look anywhere except at the camera; a smoker may stare frankly or blankly at the camera – unaware of it to varying degrees.

A smoker in "Twenty Cigarettes." Photo from 49th New York Film Festival.

While “Twenty Cigarettes” is not addictive, it slowly breaks down the viewer's resistance, overcoming any objection one draw at a time.

Other screenings and events today at NYFF include “Shame,” “Till We Meet Again,” “The Pettifogger,” “Take Aim at the Police Van,” and a talk with Béla Tarr, (director of “The Turin Horse”),

Visit to learn more about the 49th New York Film Festival: including schedule, repeat screenings, ticket and venue information.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dirty Sexy Rotten Politics in 'The Ides of March'

THE timing of the release of “The Ides of March” could not possibly be a coincidence.

Adapted from the Beau Willimon play, Farragut North, the film opens in the United States today after making its North American debut at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. It had its world premiere at the 68th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Brian Prize.

“The Ides of March” more or less chronicles the political baptism of idealistic, young campaign manager Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling). Stephen works for presidential hopeful Mike Morris (George Clooney), is fired and then rehired with a promotion after he learns and applies the tricks of this dirty trade to his advantage.

Underway amid the staffing snafus during a very competitive Ohio presidential primary is the usual political horseplay: backroom deals, backstabbing, blackmail, blackmail in reverse, betrayal, leaks, lies, damn lies and a death – political or otherwise.

No doubt distributor, Sony Pictures Entertainment, is betting that audiences won’t be too disgusted with the current little horse-and-pony show on the road – the one known as the runup to the Republican presidential nomination – to pony up $10-plus for its little attraction. (How many more skeletons are rattling in Rick Perry’s closet).

Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) finds himself in a political whirlwind in "The Ides of March." Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

GC also gets a producer, director and screenplay credit for "The Ides of March.” Aside from RG he has surrounded himself with strong support, including Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright. GC friend and colleague Leonardi DiCaprio is also one of the producers.

“The Ides of March” is rated R for pervasive language.

Day 8 NYFF: In ‘Shame,’ an Unspeakable Addiction

The double entendres fly when Brandon (Michael Fassbender) and Marianne (Nichole Beharie) order dinner in "Shame." Photo from Fox Searchlight Pictures.

STEVE McQueen and Michael Fassbender are on trend to forming the sort of director-actor collaboration shared by John Ford and John Wayne, Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant and more recently Tim Burton and Johnny Depp as well as Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz.

The duo’s first outing was 2008’s much-acclaimed and decorated “Hunger” about the 1981 Irish hunger strike lead by Irish Republican Army volunteer Bobby Sands. MF gave an electric, stunning performance as Sands. Incredibly, the film was his first major role and SMcQ’s directorial debut of a feature-length film.

Three years later, the two team up for another fine drama with a one-word title, “Shame.” It makes its U.S. debut today at the 49th New York Film Festival and is scheduled for a wider U.S. release on 2 Dec.

The shame of the title is Brandon’s (MF) sex addiction. The guy just can’t get enough. He has sex at least once a day and if he is not having it he is imagining it, masturbating between meetings in his nondescript corporate office or watching the huge supply stored on his home and office computers, as well as myriad mags stored in his kitchen cupboards.

Of course, this all sounds rather sordid and seedy. And it is. Those salivating at the thought of copious coupling in “Shame” will be disappointed, though. SMcQ wisely suggests a lot more than he shows, which is far more powerful. After all it is not a sex film, “Shame” is a film about a man’s whose sickness is addiction to sex, the more varied the better. The sex that is visible is not so graphic as to warrant an X rating. In fact, it is aloof whether shot in dreamlike sequences or with a long lense. It is appropriate considering that Brandon spends a fair amount of time fantasizing about sex and has no emotional connection to his partners or the sex he witnesses.

The lone instance when the camera hovers is during the love scene with a colleague to whom Brandon has an attraction. The night before he got rid of all of his smut, even his personal computer containing myriad bytes of it. He craves a chance at true intimacy. Determined to have normal sex with Marianne (Nicole Beharie), he spirits her from their office to a hotel room at The Standard Hotel and its breathtaking view of southern Manhattan. The camera is like a slow-moving probe, recording every move, sigh, divestiture of clothing. Is this going to be a long scene reminiscent of the one in “Hunger” between the priest and Bobby Sands? It is as uncomfortable for the viewer as it is for Brandon.

Outwardly Brandon is a handsome, well-adjusted, respectful Yuppie type – and he really is but for his shame. As Sissy (Carey Mulligan), Brandon’s equally troubled sister who may or may not be involved in an incestuous relationship with her sibling points out, “We’re not bad people, we just come from a bad place.”

It is not clear whether Sissy means Ireland where they were born or New Jersey where they grew up. Or whether it’s just their highly dysfunctional family. SMcQ doesn’t explain much. He said during a Q&A after a press screening of the film, “I wanted it to be familiar because everyone brings their own baggage to the film."

The director is British and his lead actor is German-Irish, yet “Shame” is set in New York. There is a simple explanation, “No one in London wanted to speak about it [sex addiction],” SMcQ said. In New York, the reaction was rather the opposite, making it a logical venue to shoot "Shame," which is laden with double entendres that add levity to the subject matter.

Through the prism of SMcQ’s lense, New York is a dark, dystopian, soulless place where people “live and work in the sky.” At night, they prowl like vampires in lowlit clubs and back alleys. Brandon is soulless, too, and full of longing and melancholy. He wants better but doesn’t know how to go about it. His quiet desperation is palpable and most obvious when Sissy is having sex with Brandon’s boss (James Badge Dale), only hours after meeting him. The noises coming from Brandon’s bedroom are tortuous. He seems to go through a range of emotions: rage, envy, desire, excitement, revulsion.

A scene from Kon Ichikawa’s "The Burmese Harp," which was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film. It is included in "Velvet Bullets and Steel Kisses: Celebrating the Nikkatsu Centennial." Photo from 49th New York Film Festival.

It is another stellar performance by MF and it won him a best actor award at the 68th Venice Film Festival. (The actor also appears in “A Dangerous Method,” which also played Venice and debuted in New York on Wednesday,

Audiences who appreciated “Hunger” will probably embrace the psychological drama that is “Shame.” In the former film, the protagonist dies. In “Shame,” he also seems to die a sort of death. There is nothing shameful about that in the least.

Other screenings and events today at NYFF include “The Warped Ones,” “Crazed Fruit,” “Suzaki Paradise: Red Light, ” “The Burmese Group,” “Willem Dafoe at the Apple Store” and “The Kid With a Bike.”

Visit to learn more about the 49th New York Film Festival: including schedule, repeat screenings, ticket and venue information.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 7 NYFF: A Scrappy 'The Kid with a Bike'

Egon Di Mateo and Thomas Doret as Cyril in "The Kid with a Bike." Photo by Christine Plenus.

ADULTS who wish to see mature films are not usually drawn to ones that star children, and logically so.

This is not the case for "The Kid with a Bike." In fact, it is very much an adult film, though the stars are a child and his reliable transport.

Thomas Doret gives a command performance as the title character, Cyril, who has to accept love from alternate sources in Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne's modern-day fairytale. The film premieres today at the 49th New York Film Festival.

Cyril lives in an orphanage to which his down-on-his-luck father has abandoned him. Everyone seems to grasp the situation except the child. And who expects him to? Children don’t tend to believe such terrible things about their parents. What plays out is a tale of a boy on the cusp of adolescence who is cast off and doesn’t know how to express his hurt and dismay – at least not in a constructive way. He rejects love from a source that will nurture him while at the same time is attracted by one – for fairly obvious reasons – that will destroy him.

One reason that the directors chose TD for the role of Cyril is because of his fragile looks. This is especially true during one scene in which it appears that he is done for. Quite the opposite is true, however. The young actor delivers a very convincing physical performance. When he’s not riding like the wind, he is running, whether to escape the authorities or to get somewhere quick, fast and in a hurry. (See trailer below).

In this fairytale, co-director LD said in a press conference after the press screening, Amanda (Cécile De France) is the fairy godmother. It is she to whom Cyril literally attaches himself after he makes an escape from the orphanage to return to the apartment his father rented. After that incident she returns to the orphanage with his bike and agrees to let him stay with her on weekends. The forest where Cyril has some bad experiences, including with a young drug dealer type (Egon Di Mateo) reminiscent of Bill Sikes in “Oliver Twist,” represents evil.

Through “The Kid with a Bike,” the viewer is afforded glimpses into the operation of Belgium’s orphanage system. It seems very civilized, allowing for weekend foster parents. Most illuminating is its treatment of problem children. Cyril’s behavior would not be tolerated with such tender understanding, indulgence and patience in the United States.

A scene from the restored version of “You Are Not I.” The eerie film is a product of New York’s post-punk downtown scene that played the festival circuit in the 80s. A salvageable version was thought lost forever until a print was unearthed among Paul Bowles’ belongings in 2009 in North Africa. The film is adapted from the PB 1948 short story of the same name. Photo from 49th New York Film Festival.

“The Kid with a Bike” is an engaging love story that doesn’t try to manipulate the heartstrings, though the subject matter lends itself to such a machination.

"The Kid with a Bike" is in French with English subtitles.

Other screenings and events today at NYFF include "Dreileben, Pt. 3,” “Till We Meet Again,” “A Diary of Chuji's Travels,” "The Burmese Harp, "20 Years of Art Cinema: A Tribute to Sony Pictures Classics" and “You Are Not I.”

Visit to learn more about the 49th New York Film Festival: including schedule, repeat screenings, ticket and venue information.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 6: NYFF: World Ends and so Does a Friendship

Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) following a moment of complete ecstasy in "A Dangerous Method." Photo from HanWay Films.

SABINA Spielrein did not come between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung; the germs of a rift were already present before she entered their sphere.

The general scuttlebutt around “A Dangerous Mind,” which makes its U.S. debut today at the 49th New York Film Festival, is quite the opposite. But as presented in the film, the men’s respective egos were the trigger. Like the works it is taken from – Christopher Hampton’s The Talking Cure play based on John Kerr’s book, “A Most Dangerous Method” – “A Dangerous Method” chronicles the birth of pyschoanalysis through the professional and personal relationship of Freud and Jung. (See trailer below).

Naturally, the film version takes a few more leaps of imagination with the personal lives of the three main characters. It is clear from the first meeting of Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Jung (Michael Fassbender) that theirs will be a high-maintenance association both personally and professionally. At dinner at Freud’s house Jung, while talking glibly about the intersection of sexual proclivity and mental instability that Freud advocates, is helping himself to a rather larger portion of the food on the dinner platter while Freud’s stunned family looks on mutely.

Freud is merely middle class, while Jung unapologetically lives high on the hog, owing to the immense wealth of the wife (Sarah Gadon) whom he does not love but is necessary for the lavish life he enjoys to the full. A brilliant man, Freud has a complex around his Jewishness, no doubt from the larger society that won’t let him forget it. On more than one occasion he makes reference to it while pointing out Jung’s Aryaness. Freud is a little envious of Jung and Jung is a little insensitive to Freud, obliviously so.

The film seems to make the point by simplying showing that no matter how brilliant, rich or celebrated we are, we never rise above our baser impulses to lie, cheat, steal and envy.

Sabina (Keira Knightley) is a patient of Jung’s whom he has been treating with the talking cure advanced by Freud before either doctor or patient meet the great man. After Sabina, now a student of pyschoanalysis, reaches out to Freud further fissures in the men’s relationship develop but not because of anything she has done.

David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method” is an intelligent and beautifully shot film, set in various civilized milieux. It is also an actor’s film with copious amounts of smart, witty, arch dialogue. Indeed, the bulk of the action is in the dialogue, which engages the viewer from the first. The credit for this goes to CH, a natural choice for the screenplay since it is based on his play.

The actors, too, deserve praise for delivering CH’s line with proper credibility. Vincent Cassel almost steals the movie as the brilliant and sadistic Otto Gross, an early disciple of Freud who ultimately seduces Jung into throwing off his chain of repression.

Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Freud (Viggo and Mortensen) have a meeting of the minds before they part ways in "A Dangerous Method." Photos from HanWay Films.

KK is required to be the most physical as the hysterical Sabina, a role she handles well, though at times the bearing of teeth and jutting of the jaw threatens to be – well – hysterical. Her turn as Sabina with a passable Russian-sounding accent, though, will help her define herself beyond “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Also playing at NYFF today in is North American premiere is Abel Ferrera’s scatterbrained take on world’s end, “4:44: Last Day on Earth.” The 4:44 of the title is the exact time the world is supposed to end. The film opens on the evening before in the Lower East Side apartment shared by Cisco (Willem Dafoe) and Skye (AF’s real-life girlfriend Shanyn Leigh).

In AF's meditation on the end, the last day is no different from any other. Life is still going on as before – at least in the United States, at least in New York City. An eerie calm has settled over the town. Cisco and Skye’s apartment is equipped with the latest techological gadgets, including Skype and a flat-screen TV. On the tube the Dalai Lama is discussing various issues, including the importance of some money. Al Gore addresses the global warming that has contributed to the end that is now imminent. New York’s News 1 anchor Pat Kiernan wisely suggests that everyone should be with their loved ones as he plans to.

Cisco (Willem Dafoe) and Skye (Shanyn Leigh) during one of several close encounters in “4:44: Last Day on Earth.” Photo from 49th New York Film Festival.

It is not clear what is the message in “4:44,” or is it? Is it that we are so locked into technology that even an event as momentous as the last day can’t break our cycle? Is it about last meals - Chinese - and performing an act of kindness such as giving the Chinses food delivery guy a huge tip and allowing him to use your Skype to say goodbye to his family? Do you create several graffiti-type paintings? Visit former drug addict pals who are engaged in a pseudo intellectual conversation? What of changing clothes several times, though you don’t leave the apartment? Do you watch a classic NFL football game while plundering with your fingers the buttocks of your girlfriend who is young enough to be your granddaugther? Do you have sex several times with the aforementioned girltoy? Perhaps one's last day can be as mundane and routine as he wishes it to be.

In the end, “4:44: Last Day on Earth” is a muddle spiked with gratuitous sex and an incongruous freak-out moment that do not assist the general comprehension.

Other screenings today at NYFF include ”Dreileben, Pt. 2,” “Invasion,” “Earth” and “Le Havre.”

Visit to learn more about the 49th New York Film Festival: including schedule, repeat screenings, ticket and venue information.
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