Weekend Recommender: August 8-11
Taste tomatoes five ways, laugh with Lovitz, chat with Pacino, and shop a Malibu block party.
August 08, 2013
Celebrate Oscar Wilde’s Salomé with a double feature of two Salomé-inspired films directed by Al Pacino, who will afterwards participate in a Q&A session.
Loteria Grill’s Five Tomatoes Prix-Fixe Dinner
Thursday, August 8, 7:30 p.m.
As part of Loteria Grill’s annual tomato season celebration, the Hollywood restaurant is hosting a Five Tomatoes dinner, which showcases five different types of tomatoes, prepared by five renowned chefs, in five courses. Loteria’s chef and owner Jimmy Shaw, plus Evan Kleiman of KCRW’s GoodFood and three guest chefs from Ray’s & Stark Bar, Petrossian, BLD, and Duff’s Cakemix present the ultimate “Tomatomania” meal. For $55/person reservations, visit loteriagrill.com/hollywood or call Loteria Grill at 323-465-2500. 6627 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
Jon Lovitz Performs Stand-up at Irvine Improv
Friday, August 9, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.; Saturday, August 10, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The Emmy-nominated former Saturday Night Live star, ubiquitous film actor, and comedy great is performing for two nights at the Irvine Improv. Hollywood Improv recently honored the comedian in a mural, unveiled for The Improv’s 50th anniversary. For $30 tickets, visit irvine.improv.com. 71 Fortune Dr. #841, Irvine, 949-854-5455
Screening of Salomé & Wilde Salomé with Al Pacino at the Egyptian Theatre
Saturday, August 10, 5:30 p.m.
Get a double dose of Al Pacino with the Egyptian Theatre’s back-to-back screenings of two films he directed, followed by a Q&A session with the star himself. Salomé (2013) is Pacino’s cinematic adaption of Oscar Wilde’s heated play about lust and contempt, which he starred in on the stage in 2006, and Wilde Salomé (2011) is a documentary about that LA production, in which he cast a then-unknown Jessica Chastain as the lead. For tickets, visit fandango.com. 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-466-3456
Malibu Country Mart’s Summer Block Party
Sunday, August 11, 2 p.m.
The premier Malibu shopping center is celebrating summer with a lively complimentary-admission street fair and carnival. Stop in for some shopping and an afternoon of activities including live music, a photo booth, tarot card readings, caricature artists, food vendors, and complimentary cotton candy, popcorn, funnel cakes, and snacks. The event will conclude with a showing of the final film from the Mart’s summer movie series, The Goonies, on the outdoor mega-screen starting right after sundown (8:15 p.m.). 3835 Cross Creek Rd., Malibu, 310-456-7300
The Charleston Extends Jazz Happy Hour
The Gatsby-era gastropub launches all-night festivities on Sunday and Monday.
August 08, 2013
The Charleston, the Westside’s swinging spot for live jazz music in a theatrical, 1920s setting is adding an all-night happy hour on Sundays and Mondays. Guests on these nights can now enjoy two hours of bottomless house wine or beer and gourmet small plates for any two-hour period between 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., set to the tunes of the gastropub’s rotating program of live music. The special will also be in effect for any two-hour period during regular daily happy hours between 5:30 and 8 p.m.
The bottomless beer or wine offer includes either one or two sumptuous starters, or one main entrée, off the restaurant’s menu of refined American fare. Try the popular short rib tacos with Brussels sprouts and Korean salsa, the home-style three-cheese truffle mac, or the fresh lobster cobb salad, with edamame, jicama, corn, roasted pepper, bacon, and avocado.
If you can’t catch the special, The Charleston’s sophisticated signature cocktails also perfectly complement the inventive menu. The demure Black Dahlia is made with Grey Goose cherry noir, lime, wild hibiscus simple syrup, organic dark chocolate with cayenne, and cava; and the White Out in Manhattan is a gentlemanly mix of Jack Daniels unaged rye, M&R bianco, and orange bitters.
Come even earlier on Sundays for The Charleston’s renowned jazz brunch, when Jet Tila’s brunch dishes are accompanied by the Richard Glaser Band’s jazz music from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 2460 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-838-2115
Q&A: Elysium's Josh Blacker
The actor talks Matt Damon, muscle building, and playing a mercenary.
August 07, 2013
|Josh Blacker plays a South African mercenary opposite Matt Damon and Jodie Foster in Elysium, out this Friday, August 9.|
South African-born Josh Blacker played a number of TV parts—including a marine and a few sci-fi characters—before landing his first feature film role in Elysium, out this Friday, August 9. The futuristic thriller starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster imagines the world in 2154 with a grave socioeconomic divide: the wealthy inhabit a luxurious, man-made playground called Elysium, while the rest are resigned to the rundown Earth, with Blacker as the (South African) mercenary charged with keeping out poor infiltrators.
We caught up with Blacker to explore his otherworldly experience acting in Elysium.
Why do you think people are so excited about Elysium?
JOSH BLACKER: Neill Blomkamp is an amazing director who demonstrated a lot of promise with District 9, and people want to see where his filmmaking is going. I think they’re excited about the ideas in the film—this idea of where we’re headed, the haves and have-nots, and immigration and healthcare. It deals with a lot of issues we’re facing today, but it does so in a blockbuster, summer action movie-style.
What does Matt Damon bring to his role?
JB: It’s hard to play somebody with a slightly checkered past while still being likeable, and he brings such humanity to the roles he plays. I think in this role, as somebody who’s an ex-con, he brings an element of likeability, and people want to root for him.
What’s the dynamic between Damon and Foster?
JB: They’re at opposite ends of the spectrum. Matt Damon is stuck in the squalor and grime that is Earth, and Jodie Foster is head of state for Elysium. She wants to keep him off Elysium, and he wants to get there.
Tell us about your role.
JB: I play Crowe who is a South African mercenary—there are three of us. We’re basically hired to protect Elysium from people who want to go there. So we ultimately have to track down and hunt Matt Damon and make sure he doesn’t get there, and if he does, then we have to take care of him.
How did you prepare for that?
JB: I put on 15 pounds of muscle for this. My brother is a personal trainer, so I was in the gym every day, and when I wasn’t in the gym, I was running or cooking, and making sure that I was eating clean.
What about mercenaries surprised you?
JB: You can’t ask questions. You have a mission, and you have to do it, regardless. The conditions under which they operate are brutal, and extremely hard on the body and mind. And that’s what resonated and what I brought to the character—this is a guy who has to do his job. He is a professional killing machine.
You had a career in law prior to pursuing acting. What advice would you have for someone considering leaving a corporate job for acting?
JB: Do what you love, and find a way to make money doing it. We often do what other people want us to do, as opposed to what we’re truly called to do. And I’d encourage anybody to follow his or her calling.
Photography by Natalia Anja Photography
The Rainmaker Revival in Santa Monica
Playwright N. Richard Nash’s Depression-era masterpiece plays at Edgemar Center for the Arts.
August 07, 2013
The Rainmaker cast members David Garver, Stephen Howard, Tanna Frederick, and Benjamin Chamberlain.
The Rainmaker, the 1950s romantic dramedy from renowned 20th-century playwright, novelist, and screenwriter N. Richard Nash (Porgy and Bess, Wildcat) is reviving faith in love and miracles in Santa Monica this summer. Veteran stage stars Tanna Frederick and Robert Standley bring modern-day meaning to this new production by Henry Jaglom and The Rainbow Theater Company at Edgemar Center for the Arts, now extended by popular demand to run through August 31.
Lizzie Curry (Frederick) may live on a Midwestern farm during the drought-plagued Dust Bowl Depression, but she feels burdened by the same fate as threatened female successors Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw: spinsterhood. Her father and brother, who she cares for, call her “plain,” and a trip to a cousin’s to secure a husband only has a failed ending. But just when it seems the dying livestock have more hope than she does, an alluring charlatan by the name of Starbuck (Standley) appears on a scorching summer day, and pledges he can make rain appear for a fee of $100. And most miraculously, everything changes.
Director Jack Heller and producer Alexandra Guarieri have garnered rave reviews for their take on this classic tale, which debuted on Broadway in 1954, and was adapted into a successful film starring Katharine Hepburn as Lizzie and Burt Lancaster as Starbuck in 1956. To catch a performance of this show, playing on weekend evenings (Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays 5 p.m.), visit edgemarcenter.org for $35 tickets. 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, 310-399-3666
Photography by Ron Vignone
Salt Air Serves Seafood in a Storied Space
Abbot Kinney's new neighborhood resto sits in the former Capri space.
August 06, 2013
Salt Air is the new go-to on Abbot Kinney for a fresh take on seafood with a cool Venice vibe. Opened in the end of June and offering brunch beginning this weekend, the new bistro in the storied former Capri space is the brainchild of hospitality expert/partner Dave Reiss (A-Frame, Sunny Spot, littlefork), and interior designer/partner Carol Ann Emquies.
Venice’s artsy neighborhood feel extends into the airy eatery by way of whitewashed brick walls, funky antique light fixtures, and eclectic artwork, such as the paintings in the bathroom by former German owner Martin Kippenberger—a nod to the venue’s rich history. But peek inside the zinc and glass open kitchen to glimpse the real artistry, where French-trained executive chef Greg. A. Daniels brings his talents from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s famed Perry St. in New York to the beach with refined but accessible seafood.
Start with an assortment of Daniels’ playful small plates, like the pea toast with ricotta, pea leaves, and caramelized onions; a Connecticut-style lobster roll; or the staple fish skin chips with harissa and smoked onion dip. Whole fried red snapper with pickled Fresno chiles and lime, or the bouillabaisse seafood stew with rouille sauce stand out among the fresh fish entrees, and a raw bar serves requisite East and West coast oysters. Homey sides include corn sautee with scallion, jalapeno, and cilantro; and corn bread fritters with sweet molasses butter.
An extensive wine list is curated by Bart Miali of Elvino, and wine and beer-based cocktails have an innovative twist. Pair your seafood with the Sour, a mix of byrrh, punt e mes, strawberry, lemon, and demerara; or the more sparkly Spritz, with cocchi Americano, dolin blanc, grapefruit bitters, and Prosecco.
This weekend’s new brunch service is the perfect opportunity to indulge in a lobster omelet, and breakfast and lunch will be added in coming months. For reservations, visit saltairvenice.com or call the restaurant at 310-396-9333. 1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice
Celebration for Tony Bennett and Exploring the Arts
Bennett's 87th birthday bash and fundraising benefit took place at a private estate.
August 05, 2013
Iconic singer—and former Los Angeles Confidential cover star—Tony Bennett rang in his 87th birthday on Saturday, August 3, 2013 with an exclusive celebration and benefit at the Beverly Hills home of NETFLIX chief content officer Ted Sarandos and his wife Nicole Avant, former US Ambassador to the Bahamas. Special guests from the entertainment and political worlds including John Travolta, Sidney Poitier, Queen Latifah, Nancy Pelosi, Michael Eisner, and Brian Grazer came out to share in the grand festivities and fundraising efforts. The intimate evening raised over $150,000 in funds for Exploring the Arts, the nonprofit Bennett and his wife Susan Benedetto cofounded in 1999 to increase arts education in public high schools.
Guests were in celebratory and musical spirits, as befitting a night toasting the famed crooner. Vince Vaughn came with wife Kyla Weber—days away from expecting their second child—and laughed throughout the evening with fellow funnymen Jeff Garlin and Will Arnett. Sarandos confessed to having named his son after Bennett, even prior to meeting the legend, because of his outstanding musical and charitable contributions.
Together, Queen Latifah and Bennett took the stage, and sang a heartfelt duet of “Who Can I Turn To” (the title track of Bennett’s 1964 studio album), before the room full of 100 guests. To further celebrate, country star John Rich pulled out his guitar and performed a surprise serenade. And when asked if he had any wishes to bestow, Travolta, whose date for the evening was his teenage daughter Ella Bleu, burst into an impromptu rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” pledging his utmost respect for the beloved birthday boy.
Le Jolie Medi Spa Beautifies Studio City
The full-service spa offers chocolate and caviar facials, an oxygen bar, and much more.
August 05, 2013
Studio City welcomes Le Jolie Medi Spa, a full-service spa courtesy of cutting-edge esthetician Sharona Rafaeloff, who owned the celebrity-frequented Exclusive spa in Beverly Hills, and her cosmetic surgeon mother, Dr. Parvaneh Rafaeloff. The serene, nine-room facility, which the mother-daughter duo opened in July, is complete with steam room and sauna, and offers a full range of makeup and hair salon services (including keratin and extensions), eyelash treatments, laser hair removal, acupuncture, and massage therapy. But the spa truly excels with Sharona Rafealoff’s customized treatments, which use all-natural ingredients and the latest innovations in skincare technology.
The delicious chocolate oxygen facial experience ($185) is a non-invasive enzyme treatment that combines several top techniques. Microdermabrasion is paired with steam and a chocolate enzyme mask, which opens pores for extraction, before finishing with a custom skin treatment and cocoa face massage. The 90-minute 24-karat gold and caviar facial ($225) harkens back to a time when Cleopatra slept in a gold mask every night to prolong her youth, and is an ideal treatment before an event or big night out. The gold and caviar mask contains rich, replenishing ingredients to provide increased circulation, greater skin elasticity, faster cell renewal, and less inflammation, leaving your skin revitalized and glowing.
Other must-try procedures include a Meyer’s cocktail comprised of energy-boosting vitamins, a pure oxygen bar, the derriere-lifting lymphatic drainage, and other liposuction alternatives like vacuodermie and pressotherapy. 13041 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, 818-501-1114
Nick van Woert's 'Labyrinth' at L&M Arts
A sculpture show compares and contrasts old-world tools with modern ones.
August 05, 2013
The primitive, natural world meets the material-driven, modern one in “Labyrinth,” an exhibition of large-scale sculptures by New York artist Nick van Woert at L&M Arts in Venice. Inspired by the medieval European mappae mundi world maps, which convey not only geographical information but include texts, symbols, and artifacts to document an area’s history, he relays how both raw, stone age-era types of tools, and material, man-made goods serve together as today’s fundamental resources.
To showcase how humans have evolved and substituted raw tools and materials with manufactured items, he examines each in isolation. Six spherical maps (including Tlon, Orbis Tertius, and Uqbar) in the West Gallery pay tribute to the outmoded practices of construction and industrialism, each globe-shaped structure displaying primal tools like arrows and hammers. These old-world items are hung reverentially against a muted backdrop, arranged asymmetrically to show that they have been warped from frequent human use. Woert’s towering Garden of Forking Paths is essentially his own mappae mundi, a conglomeration of key items and artifacts, including books, toys, pipes, and other prized memorabilia, which tell the story of who he is.
In sharp contrast is his colorful, ultra-modern Course of Empire display in the East Gallery, where 200 transparent plexiglass boxes contain material, plastic items, such as garden hoses, dog toys, junk mail, t-shirts, and ketchup. He presents these “artificial” objects as our scenery and raw materials, as much as the “authentic” natural resources derived from the land and sea, and credits human intervention for expanding the idea of what we consider essential. The exhibit will remain on display through August 23. 660 S. Venice Blvd., Venice, 310-821-6400
Photography by by Joshua White/JW Pictures
What We're Reading
David O. Russell's American Hustle, Dodgers rally stars, Madewell's local-made denim....
August 02, 2013
David O. Russell’s American Hustle reunites Silver Linings Playbook stars with new additions Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner.
Forget the clubs—as the Dodgers’ winning streak continues, the Huffington Post proves that the best place to spot stars like Jay-Z, Mel Brooks, and Britney Spears is in the stands. [Huffington Post]
MOCAtv has been bringing original arts programming including interviews, documentaries, and an animated series to over 150,000 Museum of Contemporary Arts fan subscribers via the first fine arts YouTube channel. [LA Times]
With the skyrocketing success of West Hollywood bar/resto Laurel Hardware, Eater reports that partners Phil Howard and Dean McKillen’s next move may be to Lola’s on Fairfax. [Eater LA]
In other culinary news, food court dining goes upscale with options like Fig & Olive, Din Tai Fung, and Umami. [LAist]
Entertainment Weekly has the new trailer for David O. Russell’s ‘70s crime flick American Hustle. Poised to follow in Silver Linings Playbook’s footsteps when it opens this December, it reunites SLP stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro, with new additions Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, and Amy Adams. [Entertainment Weekly]
Speaking of can’t-miss cinema, LA Weekly picks three favorite flicks showing at next week’s Sundance Next Weekend fest. [LA Weekly]
Everyone’s buzzing about Vanity Fair’s 2013 International Best-Dressed poll, which anoints Kerry Washington, Justin Timberlake, and Beyoncé—among others—with this year’s honor. [Vanity Fair]
Aside from a fabulous fit, there’s another reason for Angelenos to love Madewell’s relaunched denim offerings: they were made in LA. [Racked LA]
Photography by Aby Baker/Getty Images
Dinner Plans: Sushi Roku Pop-Up
The sushi staple comes to Downtown Pasadena for One Colorado Courtyard's concert series.
August 02, 2013
On the first and third Saturdays of the month, One Colorado Courtyard will morph into a beer garden and Sushi Roku pop-up starting at 6 p.m., allowing locals and music lovers alike to enjoy the restaurant’s renowned Japanese-inspired fare and seasonal cocktails. The pop-up coincides with The Courtyard’s popular Saturday Nights in August series, which starts at 8 p.m. on August 3 and 17.
Begin with one of Roku’s refreshing summer libations, like the Mandarin honey margarita, made with Los Arongo tequila, Mandarin oranges, honey, and lime juice. Roku fans can get their fix of executive sushi chef Hiroshi Shima’s staples, like the spicy tuna hanabi on crispy rice cakes and fried ji-dori chicken kara age. Or, sample new dishes like sea bream yuzu with diced chilies, and crispy rice asparagus. Robatayaki skewers are another great pick to complement the open-air dining experience, and this Roku outpost will feature exotic choices like bacon-wrapped cherry tomatoes and premium wagyu Japanese beef.
For groups, order the three-course Red Sun Feast ($40), which starts with edamame and a trio of appetizers, such as salmon carpaccio with black truffles. Entrée choices include ume sushi, filet mignon with ginger teriyaki, or grilled salmon with BBQ sauce. A decadent chocolate volcano finishes the feast. For reservations, call 626-683-3000. 24 E. Union St., Pasadena
Photography by Claire Thomas
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.