"We are not swans. We are sharks."

I’m always conflicted about the Reuben sandwich. It always seems like a good idea, all the rye bread and corned beef and swiss cheese, and then all of a sudden…sauerkraut. Ugh…whose #@&% idea was that?!? It doesn’t ruin the whole experience. It just dampens the rest of the tasty flavours.

The past few days have been like a Reuben. On Wednesday we saw Up In The Air (imdb | rotten tomatoes) which was excellent, and deserves all the hype. George Clooney, Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga (my girlfriend du jour) were all great in their roles. Highly recommended, if you haven’t seen it yet.

On New Year’s Eve we returned to Nota Bene for dinner, as we were so impressed by our first visit (about a year ag0). Two things went wrong before we even got there: I finally succumbed to this cold I’ve been fighting off for weeks, and we had FAR too big a lunch at Terroni. Still, I was excited to go. Last time we both enjoyed all three of our courses and the service was outstanding. This time…well, I can’t be sure if things have gone downhill, or if it was just down to being New Year’s Eve. My lobster bisque was just okay and my main (pulled suckling pig) should have been better than it was, even after I realized I was eating blood sausage with it. Nellie’s starter was good (it was the same pasta she had last time) but her chicken was…well, a giant slab of chicken. The molten chocolate cake & Grand Marnier ice cream we had for dessert was solid, if unremarkable. Really, though, the thing that shocked me the most was the difference in service. From the start we felt we were being rushed…asked for our orders when we’d barely sat down, drinks showing up when the last ones were less than half drunk, and so on. We asked for a recommendation from the sommelier; whoever we got wasn’t the sommelier, but someone who seemed to know less about wine than we did. Merlot? Yeah, no, we don’t want merlot, thanks. What pissed us off the most was this: since we had a fair amount of wine to go with the chocolate dessert we ordered glasses of dessert wine for after that final course. Instead, they bought the dessert wine while we still had half our dessert and nearly a full glass of pinot each. I get it, it was New Year’s Eve and they were trying to turn over the table, but it’s not the kind of treatment I’d expect from Nota Bene.

On New Year’s Day (happy 2010, by the way!) I dragged my sick ass out of the condo because there was no way I’d miss the chance to see Avatar (imdb | rotten tomatoes) in IMAX/3D.  Wow…it was worth the hour standing in line. It took me a while to adjust to the 3D glasses, but my god. Just incredible. Seeing little plants floating in front of me, feeling vertigo as the camera looked down off a cliff, getting nearly airsick as we flew through a canyon. The movie itself wasn’t anything special or new, but if that movie doesn’t win every single visual effect Oscar, then something is drastically wrong.

We spent the rest of yesterday (and today, so far) sitting on the couch and watching movies (Lions For Lambs and The Watchmen) and playing Mario Kart Wii.

Pretty good couple of days. Too bad about the stupid sauerkraut.

Ready for One Eye

Our TIFF email just arrived. Being 36 boxes back didn’t hurt us too badly at all, as we got four of our 1st picks and one 2nd pick:

  1. The Ape (tiff), so we miss The Trotsky
  2. Triage (tiff), so we miss Up In The Air
  3. Valhalla Rising (tiff), so we miss The Road
  4. Accident (tiff), so we miss Whip It
  5. Leslie, My Name Is Evil (tiff), so we miss The Front Line

Whip It was the only first choice we missed, and normally I would never first a film that’s so obviously going to be in theatres soon, but I think the idea of spending a couple of hours with Drew Barrymore messed with our judgment. We put The Road and Up in the Air second for the same reason: they’ll obviously have a wide release, and soon.

All in all I feel great about our picks, but I’m especially glad that we changed our minds last-minute and went with Valhalla Rising. My only complaint now is that we could only do five, but I’m sure I’ll get over it when I’m sitting in St-Germain having a croissant.