Archive for February, 2007

Tucked in by Oscar

February 27, 2007

I remember Forest Whitaker walking up to the podium but after that it all became a blur. Actually more like a numb blackness until the next thing I felt was C shaking me awake in the living room.

“Hey, It’s 12:30,” she said.

It took me awhile to get my bearings but by then the Oscars were over and Sunday night had turned into Monday morning. Scorsese had come and conquered and I missed it. Lucky for me I got to hear all of the acceptance speeches for best animated short film and short form documentary.

Lucky for me, I got to see Ellen DeGeneres dance through the crowd like it was another episode of her crappy, daytime talk show. Lucky for me, I got not one but two film montages. One foreign because apparently there were a lot of foreigners in the room and one uber patriotic, well, because you couldn’t just have a foreign film montage.

Lucky for me, I got to see a bunch of dancers making figures on a blank screen. And Lucky for me I got to hear Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly sing about how unappreciated comedians are at the Oscars. Actually, that wasn’t bad and there’s a kernel of truth to the comedy routine.

Maybe it’s time that the Oscars started recognizing that dramas and comedies shouldn’t be competing in the same pool. With all due respect to Forest Whitaker and Alan Arkin, but don’t you think when movie lovers look back on 2006 they might remember Sacha Baron Cohen’s turn in Borat more than The Last King of Scotland or Little Miss Sunshine.

I understand the importance of short film both animated and live action but if the Oscars want to compete with shows like the Golden Globes perhaps it’s time to honor some of these films off screen and give some recognition to films we all might have heard off. A best actor in a comedy or musical award makes a bit more sense than best live action short film these days.

 And maybe just maybe it’s time that the Oscars showed a little consideration for the third of the country that lives on Eastern Standard Time and finish the show in, oh I don’t know, three hours.  It was great that home town boy Martin Scorsese got his Oscar but wouldn’t it have been nice if more people from the neighborhood could have stayed up to see it.

Advertisements

Nauna’s Puts the Cream in Cannoli

February 26, 2007

Nauna’s Bella Casa
148 Valley Road, Montclair, NJ
973-744-3232
http://www.naunas.com

Nauna’s is a Montclaur establishment and over the years it has become essential to the debate of best pizza in town.  You can be pro or con in the argument but there is no debate that Nauna’s is part of the discussion.

The line out the door on Friday nights points to the earery’s expertise with pizza but somewhat overlooked is the fact that Nauna’s also serves some fine Italian dishes as well. We dropped by Nauna’s this pastNauna’s dining room Saturday for a quick, casual dinner and we were’nt disappointed.

We sat in the eatery part of the restaurant which can get a bit on the cold side but once a table cleared away from the door we moved and everything was fine. We’ve actually never eaten in the dining room, called the Piazza, not being fussy but it looks just dandy if that’s what you’re into. No we came for the food and Nauna’s came through.

We ordered brushchetta as an appetizer and it was good but not great. Bruschetta is fairly basic so it’s tough to go wrong. C went all healthy on me and had the seafood salad. This can be dangerous in a place like Naunas but the seafood proved to be fresh and the salad was quite good.

One of two highlights of the night was the Farfalle Special, bow tie pasta with crumbled sausage, roasted eggplant and fresh mozzarella in a plum tomatoe sauce. It’s traditional dishes like this where Naunas shines. The pasta was a crisp al dente and the mozzarella melted in my mouth. Yum.

The second highlight and a Jerseycool recommendation was the cannoli, which we splurged on for dessert. Nauna’s fills their own and this was a highlight we had never tried before. So good we licked the bottom of our plates.

Nauna’s can be a fun night out in part  because it’s fairly easy to overhear conversations, in fact it’s darn near impossible not to. We were treated on Saturday to the people in front of us planning to buy every piece of Murano glass on their next trip to Italy. I also heard one woman tell a friend that Nauna’s was the place to be in Montclair.

We won’t go that far but for fast, fun and hearty Italian fare Nauna’s is always a filling choice.

JC

Shaken But Not Stirred

February 23, 2007

NJ.com has a nice piece on Martini bars in the Garden State. Sort of a companion piece to the Lounge bars story they did last month that caught our eye. Can best dive bars be far behind?

JC

Excitables for the Weekend of Feb. 23-25 — Oscar Edition

February 23, 2007

It’s all about the movies this weekend as it’s Oscar time. At their best, the show celebrates everything we love about movies and at it’s worst there’s a bunch of people running around stage doing interpretive dance inspired by Jack Nicholson’s role as mob boss Frank Costello.

This year’s batch of films up for nods leaves a lot to be desired. Come oMartin Scorsesen Academy, Little Miss Sunshine? Still there’s a lot of drama. Will Al Gore get an Oscar to make up for his lost presidential bid? Will Martin Scorsese get his Oscar or will Clint Eastwood walk home with another statue? If the vote splits, do the three people who have seen Babel jump up and down yelling I told you to so? And will anyone care?

For what it’s worth here are our picks in the major categories and the only thing we’re guaranteeing is that the Oscars will run long on Sunday night.

Best Picture — The Departed. Clint’s Iwo Jima fell a bit short we thought. We think it’ll be Marty night on Sunday.

Best Actor — Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland. We didn’t see it but Whitaker may be one of the more underrepresented actors of his generation and it’s a pretty weak field. DiCaprio would be an option here if he were nominated for The Departed but he’s not. I think more people saw Babel than Blood Diamond.

Best Actress- Helen Mirren, The Queen. Love to see Meryl Streep get this one here. But we’ll go with the presumed favorite.

Best Supporting Actor — Mark Wahlberg, The Departed. We’re going on gut here that The Departed is going to go on a little run and we think the Academy is going to reward Wahlberg for holding his own with some serious actors…..But oh how we would love to see Eddie Murphy win here for Dreamgirls.

Best Supporting Actress — Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls. Amazing performances by newcomers usually win here. Insert Marisa Tomei joke here.

Best Director — Martin Scorsese. Like we said before it’ll be Marty’s night unless Clint has something to say about it.

Check out the Carpetbagger’s pics here.

Other Casablancastuff going on:

Movies to Die ForLoew’s Theater, Journal Square, Jersey City. Start your Oscar weekend right. The landmark theater presents two beloved movies on the big screen Saturday. Gone With the Wind at 2 p.m. and Casablanca at 8 p.m. Michael J. Fox fans or those looking to kick back to the 80s can catch a screening of Back to the Future Friday night at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adult and $4 for children and seniors.

TCM Best Picture Marathon — Turner Classic Movies wraps up its annual 31 Days of Oscar with a best picture marathon. If you don’t feel like heading out to the theater curl up at home with the Greatest Show on Earth on Friday or A Man for All Seasons on Saturday.

Madison Avenue

Wanna see more recent fare. Well it will be a good weekend for actress Virginia Madison no matter what. She plays Billy Bob Thornton’s wife in the Astronaut Farmer and Jim Carey’s wife in 23. Both films open up this weekend. Both films are gettiing tepid reviews, which seems to be a recurring theme this time of year. For fans of the actress your better bet might be to track down a copy of Long Gone at the DVD store. The 1987 flick stars William Petterson, as a 1950’s minor league player and manager and Madison as his flame, Dixie Lee Boxx (you gotta love that). It’s a lighter version of Bull Durham if that’s possible. Watching Madison makes you scratch your head as to why it took Hollywood so long to rediscover her in Sideways.

JC

Antonella Lives

February 23, 2007

Yeah, you probably know it already but it’s worth note since we’ve been writing about it. Antonella Barba of Point Pleaseant survived Idol’s first round of elimination by phone. You go girlfriend.

JC

Antonella Misses on Opening Night

February 22, 2007

Jersey’s Antonella Barba better hope her looks and Online persona pull her through to the next round of American Idol because her singing last night certainly won’t.

The Point Pleasant native belted out a wobbly version of Aerosmith’s “Don’t Miss a Thing” that this listener for one really would have liked to miss. It didn’t help matters that most of the women singers last night brought their A game and made poor Antonella look like a karaoke singer at a shore house kegger. A well dressed one, mind you.

NJ.com sums up the performance about right.

Anyway, it was a rocky day for Barba as pictures of her partying with and without clothing and a quite memorable shot of her on a toilet seat hit the Internet in full force (see our post here). Hey, Antonella there’s always Playboy.

Hopefully, the young girl was prepared for these photos.

Let’s face it. In the world of Flickr there’s photos of all us floating around out there that amongst friends seem pretty harmless but once the general public gets a hold of it’s another kettle of fish.

It will be interesting to see if the morality police come down on Barba for underage drinking like they did a certain beauty queen last month.

Gotta love American Idol.

JC

Idol Rumblings

February 21, 2007

Was last night’s American Idol one of the worst episodes they’ve ever done? If not for the hissey-hissey fight between macho men Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest I don’t know if there was anything keeping me awake. There wasn’t even anyone truly awful to complain about though Sundance Head did his beast with a version of “Knights in White Satin” that almost made me want to jump off the balcony at Jerseycool headquarters in Montclair.

Even the one lone good performance of the night by beatboxer boy was merely OK and only stood out because everyone else was so, how should I put it, mediocre. I’m usually pretty thrilled when the audition phase of the show is over but if last night is any indication this could be a loooong season.Antonella Barba

The guls have their chance to turn things around tonight and Jersey folk will be taking a hard look at Pt. Pleasant native Antonella Barba. She was the one who auditioned with her friend who did not survive the Hollywood round, she was also the last girl picked for the show so this could be a short ride for the Jersey girl, who pretty much looks just like you think someone from Pt. Pleasant would look like. Stereotypes, go figure.

JC

Addendum

Let’s give the hattip to John Shabe over at the Jersey Side for digging up better picks of Ms. Barba than we have. Now, there’s nothing pornographic here, pretty much typical Jersey shore shenanigans, but with American Idol you never know.

Soda Pop Shop Runs Dry

February 20, 2007

Sad news coming out of the Montclair Times today. The Soda Pop shop on Bloomfield Ave. in Montclair is no more.

The retro diner and ice cream shop, which has been around since 1999 has closed its doors. Soda Pop shop didn’t serve the best food or even the best ice cream but the combination of atmosphere and friendly service always made it a great choice to take kids or finish off a date at the movies. Bloomfield Ave. will be a little sadder for the loss.

On the positive side, the Times also reports that there is some interest from Greek Delights to take over the space. This one should be consdered real early on the rumor mill but it would be a welcome move for the space-challenged Delights if they could pull it off.

JC

Villa Victoria Has Stuff You Can Dig Into

February 19, 2007

Villa Victoria
11 Park St.
Montclair, NJ
973-746-4426

http://www.villavictoriapizzeria.com 

There’s nothing quite better than take out on a cold, winter night heading into a long weekend so ordering from Villa Victoria last Friday was a no brainer.

There’s no ambiance at the pizza place on Park St. in Montclair. Just down the street from the YMCA and across the street from Mexicali Rose, there’s no place in the place so take out or pick up is the main means to an end.

Here Villa Victoria is a bright spot among many poor, poor experiences. We’ve found even ordering at a busy time that food generally comes within half and hour to 45 minutes and most important it’s usually at the very least warm.

We’ve had several of the restaurant’s pizza and reccomend the fresh tomato and basil as a topping and we’ve think they make a pretty good white pie. Last week though we went with Italian dishes and were not disappointed.

I tried the stuffed rigatoni in vodka sauce with prosciutto and peas. The sauce was thick and the rigatoni melted in my mouth. C went for the gnocci with meat sauce and though it wasn’t Fascino gnocci, it also wasn’t Fascino prices. We both cleaned our plates which says something about the meal.

If you’re looking for quick, good Italian there’s a lot of choices here in northern NJ, but you could do worse than Villa Victoria.

JC

A Little Jersey Pride on President’s Day

February 19, 2007

Great piece on Nj.com today about Bergen County native Jeff Kauflin who started a Web site dedicated to Garden State pride, www.jerseypride.com.

Something worth checking out when you’ve got the time.

JC