Movies Till Dawn: SF & F

Black Widow” (2021, Marvel Studios) Setting aside the legal hullaballoo between Disney and star Scarlett Johansson, this long-gestating solo adventure for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s perennial bridesmaid has a wealth of aesthetic high points but ultimately underserves the character. As Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Johanssen has been a refreshing wild card in the MCU’s hero parade, bound to do right by her own conscience than by nation-building or call of duty. This flashback adventure, poised somewhere between “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” gives her a chance to set right the secret society machinations that made her a world-class killer, but gives the showy material to Florence Pugh as flippant little sister Yelena and David Harbour as ersatz dad Red Guardian. Handing over the best lines and set pieces to the new players leaves Johansson in time-to-make-the-donuts mode, leaping and swinging to each shoot-out and blow-up with dutiful vigor, which is the opposite of her barnstorming presence in the previous MCU titles. She does have some amusing bits of sibling banter with Pugh, who as the de rigueur post-credits scene shows, is already slated to assume a dominant role in future Marvel media; Harbour and Rachel Weisz, as Romanoff’s steely mother figure, also deserve second showcases. Marvel’s region-free Blu-ray offers deleted scenes, a gag reel and featurettes on the film’s cast and impressive action sequences.

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Remembering Charlie Watts

For all the obits I’ve written over the years, this one eludes me, because it transcends the others by light years. My beat is erratic; my rhythm is off. My palpitating heart is broken. The kindly gentleman with the ferocious spirit, behind the tiny drum kit, in front of millions, was the metronome that put us all in sync. This is no small thing. And he never seemed to know just how beloved he is.

When I met him, he was charming, quiet, interested, connected. He asked us questions, he introduced his handler, he sent back pics, he signed “Thank you, Charlie Watts.” He was grateful and wanted us to know that. Though humble, he was indeed a god figure from the pantheon of legends, and therefore, was immortal. Or so we thought.

This year had already taken enough, hadn’t it? Murder hornets, be damned, 2021 had one more trick up its sleeve. It would kill the greatest band to ever perform live. Because make no mistake, whether they continue or not, the Stones proper died with Charlie. For me, anyway. This is a game-changer. The existential fallout is dystopian and depressing. They were kind of “it.” For large shows that took you out of your skin and sent you to the highest reaches and made you feel targeted and special just for being there. One small man with the shy smile carried us all on his shoulders.

The news came shortly after the news of my dear uncle’s passing. They shared some of the same qualities: a quiet strength of character, understated humor, a caring you could count on. I truly feel like I’ve lost two family members. The warm uncles you took for granted would always be there, the backbone of the family you were born into and the family you chose.

You will be forever missed and loved. And that is the world’s greatest understatement.

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Iron Chef Morimoto’s New Pan-Asian Restaurant is Now Open!

Sa’moto’s Doheny Combination. Photos by Karin E. Baker for The LA Beat.

Chef Masaharu Morimoto (“Iron Chef” and “Iron Chef America”) has opened a new restaurant in LA. Located within the Doheny Room on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, Sa’moto serves pan-Asian cuisine in a glamorous setting.

Chef Morimoto is internationally known for the “Iron Chef” TV shows and his restaurants located around the globe. His many eateries include locations in Mexico City, Tokyo, Hawaii, Mumbai, and Las Vegas. Morimoto has earned a Michelin Star and a James Beard Foundation Award, and authored two award-winning cookbooks.

Though Chef Morimoto’s menu here leans toward Japanese, it’s accented with global influences. You’ll want to watch Sa’moto’s chefs artfully assemble sushi and smoke ceviche in front of the huge, mural-like photo of Raquel Welch on the beach.

Don’t miss the addictive Popcorn Shrimp Tempura. Presented three ways, the flavorful shrimp is coated in sweet gochujang, wasabi cream, or spiced aioli.

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watt’s picture of the week – tuesday, september 14, 2021

my buddy dirk vandenberg at his shoppe getting ready to get together some raps for our latest sock-tight proj, “puppanomics” which I think is gonna be kickin like kato…

photo by mike watt

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Theater Review: Special Hollywood Fringe Festival 2021 Report

I had a great time watching five feisty and fabulous Hollywood Fringe solo shows online this year. I would have preferred to see them in person at the Broadwater Theatre – Black Box on Santa Monica Boulevard, but with the current Covid climate, I thought watching them online would be best. There was so much talent and creativity on the stage.

This year I had the pleasure of watching Naturally Tan. written and starring Tanya Thomas, which won both Pick of Fringe and Best of Broadwater, I Heart Maroc written and starring Azo Safo, which also won Best of Bridgewater, REDEEMher written and starring Tatum Langton , The Whistleblower written and starring  Johnny Avila and I Have Too Many Feelings, written and starring Bethany Vee. All these terrific solo shows were developed and directed by the talented  Jessica Lynn Johnson.

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Movies Till Dawn: Horror Business (Slaying in the Seventies)

Grizzly” (1976, Severin Films) “Jaws” in a nature park, essentially, with ranger Christopher George, helicopter pilot Andrew Prine, and scientist Richard Jaeckel battling “18 feet of gut-crunching, man-eating terror” (to the quote the one-sheet, featuring art by Neal Adams). William Girdler‘s indie thriller is an unabashed carbon, but also an enthusiastic one, with a trio of entertaining leads (especially Prine as a blissed-out, ersatz Quint), and the right mix of pulp dialogue and outrageous set pieces (bear vs. ranger tower, and bear vs. bazooka). A massive hit for regional filmmaker Girdler, who also directed George in the outrageous “Day of the Animals“; Severin’s Blu-ray has two commentary tracks (writers Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth on one, and producer David Sheldon and co-star Joan McCall on the other), a detailed look at Girdler’s career, interviews with Sheldon, McCall, and co-star Tom Arcuragi, and vintage making-of featurettes and trailers.

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Koreatown’s Lock & Key is Back & Better Than Ever

Deep-fried PB&J Sandwich at Lock & Key. Photos by Karin E. Baker for The LA Beat.

Like so many bars and restaurants in Los Angeles and around the country, Lock & Key had a rough go of it recently.

Soon after the pandemic began, the Koreatown craft cocktail den pivoted to serving customers from its to-go window near Vermont and 3rd Street. Unfortunately, Covid’s onset was only the beginning of the challenges.

The day after reopening for take-out only, a fire next door flooded Lock & Key’s kitchen. Two weeks later, a second fire caused additional damage. While closed, Lock & Key was then robbed. Lock & Key took a year-long hiatus, but the K-Town spot is back and as lively as ever.

Beginning in 2009, Lock & Key owner Cyrus Batchan spent many evenings in K-Town enjoying the nightlife and restaurants with friends. While a big fan of the neighborhood’s hospitality and vitality, Cyrus realized that there was also room for something different than the soju-based cocktails that dominated menus. “When we opened, this was the only non-Korean bar in the neighborhood. I couldn’t get the cocktail experience I wanted.”

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watt’s picture of the week – monday, september 6, 2021

first time I’ve played w/original missingmen raul morales (l) and tom watson (r) in twentyseven months!

photo by mike watt

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Movies Till Dawn: Horror Business (Cold War Creeps and Creatures)

The Giant Claw” (1957, Arrow Video) Jeff Morrow and a host of fellow ’50s sci-fi stalwarts (Mara Corday, Morris Ankrum) battle an enormous extraterrestrial bird that lays waste to the U.S.-Canadian border (played by Griffith Park) and later, the New York City skyline. Columbia Pictures release from prolific low-budget producer Sam Katzman has earned its place in the halls of movie infamy for its creature, a poorly constructed marionette with an accordion neck and google-eyed visage that strains even the furthest boundaries of “bad” monster FX. The movie itself doesn’t deserve the same degree of brickbats: as directed by former actor Fred F. Sears, who worked himself into an early grave with a constant stream of poverty row movies like these, “The Giant Claw” is no worse than any other independent sci-fi/horror title from this time period. You won’t mistake it for “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” but it’s also not on par with Ed Wood. Arrow’s Blu-ray is part of its enjoyable “Cold War Creatures” set, which bundles “Giant Claw” with three other Sam Katzman sci-fi films: “Creature with the Atom Brain” (the source for Roky Erickson’s song), “Zombies of Mora Tau,” and the Fred Sears-directed “Werewolf.” The “Claw” disc features commentary by critics Emma Westwood and Cerise Howard, a video essay on Cold War paranoia in Katzman’s monster movies, an introduction by the great Kim Newman, and a condensed presentation of “Claw” in 8mm, which essentially served as your grandparents’ version of Netflix and chill six decades ago.

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‘GO by Citizens’ is the New Fee-Free Food Delivery App We’ve Hungered For

Sushi Bento Box from Krispy Rice via the GO by Citizens app. Photos by Karin E. Baker for The LA Beat.

A new food delivery app, GO by Citizens, makes it easy to order food for delivery or pickup from multiple restaurants in one order — with zero fees.

GO by Citizens is a welcome alternative to third-party food delivery platforms that charge both menu item markups and high fees to consumers.

You can easily satisfy multiple cravings at once. Get nori tacos filled with tuna, yellowtail, salmon, truffle avocado, or shrimp, from Kumi. Savory truffle burgers (a trifecta of truffle-y deliciousness thanks to truffle aioli, truffle fondue, and truffle glaze) from Umami Burger. Bento boxes full of sushi rolls, hand rolls, edamame, and more from Krispy Rice. A variety of chicken sandwiches from Sam’s Crispy Chicken, The Other Side, and Radical Rooster’s.

Other options include Katsuya (wagyu gyoza, sashimi, king crab tempura, and much more), The Ice Cream Shop (with frozen treats from Ben & Jerry’s, Magnum, Breyers, and Talenti), burgers from In a Bun, and margaritas, mulitas, and elotes from Sin City Tacos.

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