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Things are cranking up in the catering world starting this weekend, which means some long work days and really not much in the way of days off until about the 23rd.  However, this will be the first holiday season in 16 years that I have not been the head chef, the Cheese, El Jefe, The Conductor in the Kitchen, he-who-must-be-blamed.  This season I pass that prestigious, yet heavy mantel onto my sous who so far seems to be taking it very well. That said, our catering manager who has grown accustomed to working with me for lo this past decade and a half, is slowly becoming a quivering mass of anxiety. Despite the best efforts of his two assistants/catering coordinators and sous chef Josh to smooth his feathers, Tim (or Little Buddy as I like to call him)has degenerated into something akin to a blending of Barney Fife and a Chihuahua. After everyone had left for the day, and it was just me and him in the office, he proceeded to have a mini-melt down manifesting itself as a long, rambling diatribe where Tim enumerated the long list of Things He Was Concerned About and Things Which Could Go Wrong in the coming weeks. Me, being a life-long smart ass and cruel trickster, smelled blood in the water and proceeded to push Little Buddy's Anxiety Button just a few times. Having played this game before, Tim quickly picked up that I was fucking with him and told me to go to hell. After that, he was little more rational and we went over a few things while sending e-mails calling for a staff meeting over lunch tomorrow to get everyone on the same page about the upcoming holiday catering shitstorm.

I'm going to enjoy not being in the driver's seat for the 40 or 50K worth of catering we'll be doing this Christmas.  In fact, the few weeks before and after Thanksgiving I have already enjoyed the upside of my shift from catering chef duties to student and staff dining chef.  I've spent more time in direct contact with the students and faculty in the last few weeks than I have in the last five years previous. I've been able to swan around the dining hall talking to the kids, schmoozing the admins and lending support to the full time staff.  Its refreshing. A hell of a lot less stressful, too. Oh I'll have to help Josh do some of the heavy lifting in catering for a while yet, but soon I'll be shut of the day to day of that department. Best left to the young guns.  Good luck with all that.

Extremely LoudI wasn't expecting much from this movie so it was a pleasant surprise when I found myself being sucked in to the story about 15 minutes in and then transfixed for the next 2 hours. We meet Oskar Schell, a young boy with some undisclosed emotional issues and what appears to be a benign, yet serious case of Asberger's. His dad, Thomas, played by the ubiquitous Tom Hanks is a man surely bound for Canonization as we see him guide, nurture and educate his son in many extraordinarily clever ways. Oskar adores his father who evidently does most of the parenting while mom played by Sandra Bullock stays in the background receiving, from time to time, the incandescent attentions of Oskar's amazing dad. Oskar and his father plan and execute elaborate "expeditions" around Manhattan. Expeditions which play into Oskar's disability but force him to keep in touch with people and the world in general. All is well until what Oskar labels, "The Worst Day". That day being 911. Thomas is killed and Oskar's world goes with him.  If that weren't bad enough, Thomas leaves a series of messages on the answering machine which Oskar listen to in real time while watching the horror on television.  At this point in the story there are a few tiny holes in the plot which must be overlooked along with a suspension of disbelief regarding Oskar's abilities. The script skillfully lures and propels you past these bumps in the narrative which you willingly follow just to see just what Oskar will do next.  Oskar as portrayed by the very polished and quite brilliant young actor Tom Horn becomes brittle, withdrawn and on the verge of going down the drain into darkness until one day when he works up the nerve to go through his father's things.  In the process he finds a key, which he immediately grabs onto as a talisman linking him to his father. Oskar becomes convinced that if he can find what the key opens  he will find answers and be able to make sense of the senseless horror that took his dad.

I don't watch many big Hollywood films, but when I do its usually the big epic sort of pictures or this sort of film which I dub "Hollyindies" which are movies made in Hollywood, but are produced and promoted with an indie feel.  "Extremely Loud..." is this sort of film.  Although I found it to be well done and a film I'd watch again just to see Tom Horn, Viola Davis and the incredible Max Von Sydow perform I believe the movie was so peppered with "A" list Hollywood stars that the script lost a level of intimacy, reality and impact it could have had. I got distracted and taken out of the story a few times by Hank's emotive seizures and Bullock's moping Madonna act. The small, meaty parts are what you need to pay attention to in this film particularly the restrained work of Jeffrey Wright who's scene at the end of the film is a master class in emotionally interior acting. Viola Davis who takes her small crumb of a part and builds a mansion leaves you wishing her and Sandra Bullock had switched roles.  And Max von Sydow, not saying a word but speaking volumes with his halting, aged body and that wonderful, elastic Golden Retriever face...simply a whole lot of fun to watch.

"Extremely Loud..." will take you on a wonderfully unexpected journey that really has little to do with 911, but a lot to do with everything else after. Bring  Kleenex, there will be tears, but good tears.   



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 1st, 2012 01:30 pm (UTC)
new month
sounds like you are going to busy this month-glad some of the load is off you-have not seen these movies-I rarely watch movies-hope you have a good new month-also your daughter-I suppose she will be home for Christ Mass break.
Dec. 1st, 2012 01:46 pm (UTC)
Re: new month
Thanks Jonny, looking forward to spending some time with Zoe and having a little break away from work after the holidays. If I don't touch base with you before, you and C have a blessed holiday season.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )