Author: Howard L. Morgan

Blue Jasmine

I’m sure there’ll soon be several reviews of this, and if the VDP readers are like the foursome I saw this movie with, there’ll be lots of opinions. First, the acting. Cate Blanchett gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the Ruth …Read More

I Sodi

I Sodi is a very good neighborhood Italian on Christopher Street. We really enjoyed their pastas and the artichokes — both in an artichoke salad and in their fried artichokes. The cornish hen under a brick was fine, but their …Read More

On the Town

The Berkshire Stages just had a four-week revival of “On The Town,” directed by John Rando, who revived it for Encores a few years ago. This was a very lusty version that got justifiably great reviews in the New York …Read More

Blantyre in the Berkshires

We had a really delicious lunch at the lovely Blantyre in Lenox, Mass., this past weekend.  It was a chef’s tasting menu that started with a cold tomato fennel gazpacho with tuna tartare, and finished with the most delicious ricotta …Read More

Post Ranch Inn

We just finished a three-day stay in paradise — the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California. It is an understatement to say this is the most romantic resort possible.  Our cabin opened to a view of the Pacific Ocean …Read More

Costata

Michael White’s latest restaurant is Costata, in the old Fiammia space on Spring Street just east of 6th Ave (yes — the Avenue of the Americas).  We ate there last night and were decidedly underwhelmed.  The appetizers were quite good …Read More

The Golem and the Jinni

Helene Wecker’s brilliant first novel is one of the most original works of fiction I’ve read in years.  I was totally absorbed by the turn-of-the-century (1900) pictures of New York’s immigrant communities, and the wonderful fantasy of a Jewish female …Read More

The Great Gatsby

I thought I’d hate this fifth movie version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great novel, but I loved it.  Baz Luhrmann has created such a visually and aurally stunning movie that all the things that weren’t really there in 1922 (1929 Duesenberg …Read More

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Stunning. Should be seen (if it’s your thing) in IMAX 3D (if it’s your thing).  J.J. Abrams is an IMAX fan and shot all of the scenes, except those inside the Enterprise, with a 3D IMAX camera — providing color and …Read More

Mud

“Mud” is the best movie I’ve seen so far this year. It’s a novel about the perils of love, played out across a young boy, his parents, and the fugitive murderer the boy and his friend find on an island near …Read More

Carbone

One of the more hyped restaurants of today, but it actually lived up to the billing.  We had been to Torisi, and hoped the food would be as good. It was even better! There were no bad dishes.  The freebies …Read More

The Nance

“The Nance” is a brilliantly performed, painful reminder of the homophobia that existed in the 1930s. Nathan Lane delivers a convincing performance as a burlesque performer who plays the nance (gay character) in a number of still funny vaudeville skits with …Read More

I’ll Eat You Later: A Chat with Sue Mengers

Tour de Force definition:  An impressive performance or achievement that has been accomplished or managed with great skill: “His novel is a tour de force.” How would you like to spend an evening alone with Bette Midler as superagent Sue Mengers in her …Read More

Carousel

DVR Alert for Friday, April 26, at 9:00pm — WNET public television channel 13 (713 on Time Warner cable) will be showing Carousel on Live From Lincoln Center. A link http://video.pbs.org/video/2364995660 to the brief tune-in spot called “The Carousel Waltz,” which puts the spotlight on …Read More

Barbone

At 186 Ave. B (12th st) in NY.  Wonderful gem of an Italian restaurant.  There’s a $39 five-course pasta tasting — and their pastas are worth it.  The spinach gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce, served on a parmesan crisp, is one …Read More

Motown the Musical

It’s impossible for someone of my (our) generation to not like the Motown music presented in this egotistical autobiographical Berry Gordy, Jr., musical. The singing, moves, choreography, and sets are terrific.  Dreamgirls told the real story ( or a key part of it) …Read More

Barbone

At 186 Ave. B (12th St.) in NY.  Wonderful gem of an Italian restaurant.  There’s a $39 five-course pasta tasting — and their pastas are worth it.  The spinach gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce, served on a parmesan crisp, is one …Read More

DB Bistro Moderne

Even if the show you’re going to disappoints, it’ll be easier to take after dinner here.  While we were not excited by “Lucky Guy,” which I’m sure would have benefited quite a bit from another year of Nora Ephron’s polishing, …Read More

Carousel

Our magnificent evening with “Carousel,” as staged by the New York Philharmonic, reminded us of who the real star of Carousel is: It’s the music. Carousel was named the best musical of the 20th century by Time magazine, and we would have to …Read More

Stacy Sullivan: A Tribute to Miss Peggy Lee

Stacy Sullivan’s new show at Café Carlyle (next shows are May 2nd to 4th) was a terrific cabaret performance. Not only did she do a wonderul job of singing the songs — many of which Peggy wrote — she also …Read More

House of Cards (U.S.)

“House of Cards” is reason enough to get Netflix if you don’t already have it.  In the same way “The Sopranos” brought millions of subscribers to HBO, this is bringing them to Netflix (streaming). All 13 episodes are put up …Read More

Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh’s new movie, which he says will be his last (as if).  I hope not. It’s a wonderful film with superb performances by Jude Law and Rooney Mara. She has certainly evolved quite a bit from her Social Network …Read More

Three Los Angeles Restaurants

Ado Venice serves authentic Italian cuisine in an old house, a little hard to find even though it’s on Main Street in Venice. The homemade pastas are superb — a spaghetti with fried eggplant wss awesome, and ravioli with rabbit equally …Read More

Parker

Just a fun escape movie. Jason Statham is a good bad guy, who of course has to rip off the bad bad guys who’ve ripped him off — for the principle of the thing.  Some nice chases, great scenes of …Read More

La Mangeoire

After reading Ben and Donna’s rave review, we finally got to La Mangeoire this week.  I can see why they love the chicken — is truly first rate. But I’d also say the onion soup is  the best in NY.  …Read More

Acme Restaurant

A must go.  We had a terrific meal there last night (down on Great Jones St. in NYC).  Don’t be fooled — especially my LA friends — by the sign outside that says Cajun cooking.  Our waiter explained they inherited …Read More

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

We went to the opening last night.  I had been hearing mixed buzz, and so was pleasantly surprised to see a wonderful and different production of this great classic.  Scarlett Johannson’s first act tour de force was truly a memorable …Read More

Sweet Tooth

To finish off the year, I read Ian McEwan’s  “Sweet Tooth.”  It’s quite interesting at the start, as young, beautiful Serena Frome has an affair with a Cambridge don, who gets her into MI5 and the start of some undercover …Read More

Caneel Bay Resort

We’re back for our 20th year at Christmastime.  Rosewood took over from Laurence Rockefeller’s original vision, but it’s still a wonderful place to wind down at the end of the year. No TVs, no phones in the room (everyone has …Read More

My Mother Was Nuts

Penny Marshall’s autobiography is a quick guilty-pleasure read.  She grew up in the Bronx as I did, went to a Kosher camp (though she was born and is a Congregationalist Christian atheist) and had, and continues to have, an amazing …Read More

Zero Dark Thirty

Jessica Chastain seems like she’s channeling Claire Danes, except that this is mostly real.  I think they could have cut 20 minutes off the movie, with a little too much time spent racing around Pakistani streets, but it is gripping …Read More

Jack Reacher

As Lee Child said in a recent interview, Reacher’s height (he’s 6’4″ in the books) is a characteristic, not his character. Given that, Tom Cruise is quite believable as Reacher. But the dialog in the movie is way too comic-book simple …Read More

Bistro La Promenade des Anglais

Had a really awful time at this supposedly hot restaurant on far west 23rd street.  The soup de poissons was watery, with one piece of french bread with cheese, but no rouille served.  The skate was acceptable, the chicken was …Read More

Dead Accounts

Norbert Leo Butz is a wonderful comedic actor and Katie Holmes was terrific, but the material was very weak.  The first act was woefully long in getting to its point. The second act moved a bit faster and had the …Read More

The Lawgiver

Herman Wouk is 97, but his latest book is a hoot.  It’s epistolary — i.e., all in the form of letters, emails, etc. —  about his involvement in a movie about Moses.  I really enjoyed it .  If you loved …Read More