Review: Black Book

WWII Just Got a Whole Lot Sexier

Who doesn't love a movie about the Holocaust? I'm sure that's why Paul Verhoeven, the illustrious Dutch director behind Total Recall, Robocop, Starship Troopers and, most importantly, Showgirls, decided to throw his hat into the Third Reich Ring. And I'm glad he did. Black Book while not as powerful and gripping as Roman Polanski's The Pianist or as universally heart-wrenching as Schindler's List, is still not too shabby.

Black Book is the story of Rachel Stein, Jewish woman living in Holland who's attempt to escape German occupation with her family is thwarted by an ambush. She is the only survivor. Left with nothing, she joins the Dutch resistance movement. During an infiltration operation, she falls in (meaning bed, of course) with a German captain. They begin a complicated affair of deceit, espionage and split loyalties. It's also an affair in the traditional sense (i.e. boobies…it's Verhoeven, remember?).

Lest you think me critical of Verhoeven's work, let me clarify. I LOVE this director. His catalog is among my favorites. But you have to admit that while he's known for his biting political and social satires, he usually delivers them with a side of extreme, cartoonish violence and loads of naked, horny ladies. So it's surprising to learn that he's capable of such restraint. Black Book takes its subject seriously and with great reverence for the victims of WWII. It's suspenseful and sad and there are only a handful of scenes that smack of Verhoeven lechery. One could even argue that a Jewish girl trying to hide her identity amongst the German wolves WOULD need to bleach her carpet to match the curtains, much like the protagonist of Europa, Europa must uncircumcise himself in an understandably memorable scene. In fact, all of the casual nudity and sexuality that usually comes off as a little smutty in Verhoeven's American offerings, actually may just be…European.

-Lady Cyanide

Check out Black Book, available for rent right now on The rental period ends soon so do it! Do it now! Nothing like a good Holocaust film to get you through the winter…

X-Posted from the the Reel.

NFT Radar: Cafe Amore

X-Posted from Not For Tourists.

I’m not really sure what they’re going for over at Amore. The name and décor as well as the thesis statement on the menu implies upscale foodie. The prices (low) and the vibe suggests hipster pandering. I appreciate their attempt to create atmosphere by projecting movies without sound onto the back wall, but their cinematic choices are ill-conceived. Buster Keaton? OK. “Constantine” with Keanu Reeves? Suuuure, but it’s more narrative than visual. “Schindler’s List”? (I’m serious.) Now I’ve lost my appetite. But I definitely want a drink! Fortunately, the happy hour menu features double wells for $3 and reasonable, if unimpressive (apart from the fantastic personal pizza) bar bites, should you find yourself facing the Holocaust. The breakfast menu is uninspired (eggs and potatoes) but fair enough quality. Dinner is a little more hoity-toity in selection, with a decline in quality. If your restaurant has an Italian name and you can’t do an antipasti right, please pack your knives and go, Mario. If you’re just after a quick, cheap post-work drudgery drink and aren’t particular about the starches that go along with it, Amore is just dandy.

2301 5th Ave 98121

NFT Radar: Vessel

X-Posted from Not For Tourists.

I was lured to Vessel by the promise of cheap champagne during happy hour. I stayed for the giant glasses they filled with my libation of choice. Vessel appears to be primarily a drinking destination, with upscale food as an afterthought. The Croque Monsieur Petit sandwiches, while delicious, are basically just Ham and Cheese with a dipping sauce. The most interesting thing about Vessel is the layout. It appears that the location used to be a clothing store, and it still feels a bit like one when you are seated at the “counter” in front of the window. Surely diners resemble mannequins as they enjoy their Vessel offerings. My companion and I were waved at by not one, not two, but FOUR passersby during our 30 minute set as window-dressings.

1312 5th Ave 98101

The Puritanical Age

Newsweek reports that the Amsterdam City Government is attempting to close down the Red Light District, citing general shadiness. From the sound of the article, however, they just have some naive, prudish bastard in charge who wants to “clean up the city”. The article is right to compare it with Giuliani's policies.

I call it naive because you can't wipe out prostitution by turning a few brothels into boutiques. It is, after all, the World's Oldest Profession. You can only make it less safe for everyone, especially the women involved. (The same goes for abortion, mind you.) Amsterdam was once an enlightened city, but now it is being overtaken by a conservative, out-of-touch government. These same people also want to ban magic mushrooms and for what? Amsterdam is not a dangerous city, relatively speaking. In fact, I found it kind of magical. And I didn't even eat any mushrooms. I hope they open a T.G.I. Fridays in the soon-to-be former Moulin Rouge. Now that's an attraction that EVERYONE can enjoy.