Story: It’s the holiday season in small-town Indiana. And, while it’s cold and snowy outside, young Ralphie Parker’s heart is warm with the thought that has motivated him this particular Christmas in the 1940s: To have an official Red Ryder® Carbine-Action, 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.
Jim Fiala’s restaurants have long been high-water marks on the St. Louis dining scene, combining fine fare and superior service. We were reminded of this during our most recent visit to his Clayton eatery, The Crossing.
Before the annual stroll around The Galleria in search of holiday gifts both selective and silly, it’s time to contemplate what occurred on local stages in the past 12 months.
Story: Annie, a contestant on the reality TV series Looking for Love, is ecstatic when she outlasts the competition and receives a wedding proposal from the focal eligible bachelor Matt, taped of course for a later broadcast. Meanwhile, producer Josh informs Annie and Matt that they are legally obligated to keep quiet about the results until the show airs or they will forfeit their winnings.
Story: Dr. Ruth Westheimer is known as a sex therapist who, at age 86, is still dispensing advice to an ever-present audience interested in matters of human bondage. That is the familiar scholar-turned-celebrity Dr. Ruth.
Story: A performing troupe under the direction of a Leading Player presents the tale of a young man named Pippin for its audience. We are told that the story will unfold in a series of segments under such titles as “Home,” “Glory,” “The Flesh,” “Revolution,” “Encouragement” and “Ordinary Life,” followed by an all-stops-out grand finale in which Pippin will perform an act of derring-do.
Situated almost in the shadow of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Frazer's Restaurant & Lounge has been a southside staple for 20-some years. After a lengthy absence, we recently headed back and found that this old favorite continues to impress.
Oscar season is upon us, and the indie theaters are packed with potential nominees. If you're keeping a checklist handy, here's the current indie recap:
Story: War is raging in Europe, but novelist Charles Condomine enjoys the good life at his English country estate. Wishing to include an element of the occult in his next book, he invites Madame Arcati, a local eccentric who claims she is a medium to the spirit world, to his home.
Story: The heart is a lonely hunter, said novelist Carson McCullers. So it is with Nance, a 30s-something divorcee who juggles her responsibilities as a social worker with the trials and tribulations of raising a teenage daughter. Through a dating service she comes in contact with Tom, a divorced salesman who cautiously picks an art museum for their first meeting.
Story: When last we visited the Armadillo Acres trailer park in Starke, Florida, Donna (“Pickles”) was convinced she was pregnant, even though everyone else thought she was experiencing hysterical pregnancy. Guess what? Pickles was right, much to the surprise of her friends Betty and Linoleum (“Lin”).
Story: Singer/musician J.R. “Johnny” Cash was born in Arkansas in 1932 and died in Nashville in 2003. His impoverished childhood was grounded by a hard-working, God-fearing family, values that shaped his own philosophy. He was married twice, divorced once and briefly widowed after the death of his second wife, June Carter Cash, his spouse and oft-times performing partner for 35 years.
Story: Living in an orphanage is no picnic, and the Great Depression makes it even worse. Still, 11-year-old Annie has faith that she’ll find the parents who left her as an infant on the Municipal Girls Orphanage doorstep in New York City back in 1922.
I say this with complete confidence: This movie is exactly what you expect. Really, no matter what you were expecting, this movie is it. At best, you were wishing for a raucous, raunchy comedy with some big laughs; at worst, you were hoping you didn't want to jab a pen into your thigh mid-screening. So in the absolutely most bare minimum, barely adequate way, this movie delivers.
If the Hunger Games sequel isn't floating your boat—or you've already seen it twice—you may want to consider a rental. Here's what's worth watching:
Almost everyone has some sort of Christmas/holiday television tradition. Whether it's football, the Frosty cartoon, or forcing the younger set to watch an old black-and-white movie, we all enjoy a bit of holiday entertainment. Now, I'm the first to admit my mistletoe tastes are less serious than most, shall we say. I love Bing Crosby, but the only way I'm watching White Christmas is at gunpoint. Like most movies, the way I decide if something is a classic is simple: If it came on at 10:30 at night, would I stay up and watch it? So without further ado, these currently are my 10 favorite holiday comedies. I limited the list to comedies, although I'm not sure it would be much different if I opened the contenders up to all holiday films.
Long a standard-bearer of Persian food in St. Louis, Cafe Natasha remains an anchor of the vibrant and eclectic food scene on South Grand Boulevard while continuing to innovate with creative food and drink.
Story: Joe McCandless has lived a tortured life. Forty years ago, as a kid he witnessed the deaths of his two older brothers, Andy and Jack, at the family cabin on the shores of Lake Belle Rive, Mississippi. Jealousy over a woman named Jenna fueled the escalating tension between the brothers, which ended with all three adults dying there.
Story: Walter Lee Younger lives with his wife Ruth, son Travis, sister Beneatha and mother Lena in a rundown, cramped apartment on Chicago’s South Side. It’s 1959, and Walter spends much of his time dreaming about a better life. He had an opportunity to go into business with a friend years earlier, but Ruth talked him out of it. That business subsequently flourished, leaving Walter frustrated with his job as a chauffeur but determined to move forward with plans for a liquor store.
Story: In 1883 Alferd Packer is put on trial for the murder and cannibalism of five other miners he had led in 1873 from Provo, Utah in search of gold in the Colorado Territory. Packer returned alone from that expedition, claiming that one of the men, a minister named Shannon Wilson Bell, had murdered all of the others in a deranged state and then himself was killed by Packer in self-defense.
The first real Oscar contender of the season has emerged: If you recognize Eddie Redmayne, it will most likely be from his endearing performance as Marius in Les Miserables, or his charming turn as the object of Marilyn Monroe's fleeting attention in My Week with Marilyn. This time, Redmayne takes center stage in a striking portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking.
This movie is exactly what you expect. I say that with a kind of psychological surety because this film is sort of a cinematic Rorschach test: You see what you want to see. If your faith is unshakable and your fandom unwavering, this is a brilliant setting-of-the-stage for the big finale: the less-spectacular but still awe-inspiring fireworks before the grand finish. If you're a little less invested, you might find this third Hunger Games installment to be like watching a lit fuse as it slowly burns toward dynamite without ever getting there.
Right about now, you should be contemplating a cold turkey sandwich while the booth reviews the call on the field. Here's a little quiz for halftime entertainment:
Too many people seem to think Asian cuisine stops at sushi. Luckily, there are places like Hiro Asian Kitchen around, where diners can take a tour of some of the best dishes this ancient continent has to offer, with a decidedly creative spin to them.
I'll give you the bad news first. The big movie opening last week was Dumb and Dumber To. A sequel that in 1994 then A-lister Jim Carrey scoffed at as preposterous. Who needs $10 million for a crap movie when people are beating down your door with offers? I guess when it's that or a reality show, the choice is a bit more tempting. The good news: a lot of terrific options were released this week as well. Perhaps studios sensed people steering clear of the cineplex. Who knows.