Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Annette Bening is "brave" to show her wrinkles in The Kids Are All Right?

I kept hearing this over and over again. Imagine my surprise when I finally saw the movie. She looks like a women in her early 50s! What is all this talk about "bravery"?

Annette is a successful doctor in the movie. If she were Botoxed like crazy, it would have taken me out of the movie. It's a 4 million dollar indie flim. Why the heck would she need to look like a middle-aged lady trying to look 25?

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie. Annette and Julianne were outstanding as was Mark Ruffalo. There are some very funny moments.

Can I talk about Mark for a minute? He is sooooo sexy. Ever since I saw him in the film "You Can Count On Me", I've thought he's an excellent actor and the hotness as well. Good looking stars who can't act don't work for me on the big screen. I get bored and annoyed.

There is Oscar buzz for both actresses. Will they cancel each other out in the Best Actress category? I feel Focus Films had no choice but to push for both in that category. I don't think Julianne's role belongs in Best Supporting Actress.

The movie is controversial.


Some lesbians have a real issue with the Paul/Jules relationship. I'm not gay so maybe I missed something. From the beginning of the movie it was clear there were cracks in Jules and Nic's relationship. Paul just happened to be there and was attentive. I didn't think it was a contrived plot point.

I would love to hear your opinion if you saw the movie.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Amazon.com arrives in Italy, curious to see if our books show up

I have ordered from Amazon.fr (France), Amazon.uk and the Book Depository.com.uk and received my books no problem.

When the news first hit about Amazon starting an Italian website, Linda, a Canadian exapt in Milan said, "It's exciting news, isn't it! Your books may not show up but it's the thought that counts." ha.

Poste Italiane has a terrible reputation. The funny thing is, it used to be worse. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that.

We'll see. I use the other sites only for English language books I can't find here. Living in Rome, I have access to great independent bookstores and several chains, like la Feltrinelli.

I love bookstores and will always support them, even if I have to pay a little more. I can't see buying Italian books from Amazon.it but if I lived in a small town, this would be a fantastic resource.

I assume they will start to sell more international books and other products. Amazon in the States sells much more than books.

Will Poste Italiane be up to the challenge of delivering books in a timely fashion? If it goes well, maybe Netflix would be next. Now, that's a service I can be very exicted about as most of the mainstream/commercial film DVD rentals places are automated anyway.

The picture above is from a billboard near the Ponte Sisto bridge. It's massive.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No, Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Italy.

Many Americans ask me if Thanksgiving is celebrated here.

Why would it be? It's an American holiday!

However, several of my American friends, who are married to Italians, will be hosting Thanksgiving lunches this weekend.

Turkeys have been ordered from the butcher, wines have been selected and I can't wait. The food is a mix of favorites from the States (stuffing!!) and Italian dishes.

I hope everyone Stateside has a fantastic Thanksgiving Holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Creative and life inspiration from Diana Strinati Baur

Since returning from L.A. I've thinking a great deal about my future. There are times when I lay in bed and cannot fall asleep because I'm too busy panicking.

While I'm excited and happy about Jumping The Broom, the reality is, it is one project. What happens next year? Will any of my other scripts sell? How will I pay my bills?

I read Diana's recent POST and had a moment (hopefully I can sustain it) of clarity. Diana and her husband, Micha, gave up very successful corporate careers and bought a ruin in Piemonte. How they transformed a "pile of rocks" into a beautiful home and B&B is incredible.

I have some control issues. Yes, living in Italy has forced me to slow down and "let go" a little. However, I still too easily work myself into a frenzy. Usually, I stress out about one thing, then it spirals into OH MY GOD WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME? WHY AM I STILL SINGLE? WHY AM I STILL BROKE? and on and on.

I usually keep these freak outs to myself so I don't scare my friends. Reading Diana's post I realized I'm going about things in the wrong way. I'm an optimistic person except when it comes to myself. I'm not sure why I dwell so much on what is not going on with my career and life. Is it some kind of Puritan guilt thing? My male Hollywood colleagues toot their own horns all the time. Even when they had nothing to do with a success of a particular project. ha

I've been procrastinating like crazy lately. I did have to write two treatments after my L.A. trip but after I finished them I've been very slow getting my new spec off the ground. Some days I feel so overwhelmed by all the things I need to do, I end up watching home renovation shows like Grand Projects/Grandi Progetti instead. Then I get depressed because I don't have a home to renovation. Then I think about why I don't have a home and spiral into a full blown existential crisis. This leads me to eat some San Carlo Rustica chips while I read home design and fashion blogs instead of working.

I need to get it together.

Like Diana said:
Begin Somewhere
Learn From People Who Do Want You Want To Do
Fight For Your Inspiration From The Very Beginning
Obstacles Will Hone Your Skill Set
Enjoy Your Accomplishments

Very wise words.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flashback Friday - Ron Burgundy's definition of diversity

Today's Friday Flashback is from one of my favorite comedies. I saw this movie opening with my friend Susan and for some reason the phone booth scene made us cry with laughter.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Favorite Things: Fresh Pasta!!

Seriously, one of the things I love about living in Italy is easy access to fresh amazing pasta. Once I move to an apartment with more than 2 inches of counter space, I will finally make pasta from scratch.

All of the markets around me have vendors who sell fresh pasta. I have tried several and have my favorite stand in the Trionfale market.

There are even stores that sell nothing but pasta. What a glorious thing.

One question that kept coming up during my trip in carb-phobic Los Angeles was, how on earth did I lose weight while eating pasta?

Does anyone know how the gnocchi on Thursday tradition started?

I make a pot of marinara sauce. Freeze some of it. Buy some tortellini, add a side dish of vegetables or salad and poof, super easy, super fast lunch or dinner.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Over priced Italian restaurants and a list of my fav. restaurants from my L.A. trip.

I met a writer for dinner at AGO. Our dinner for two, with three glasses (not a bottle) of wine and no dessert, came to over $170. Yes, the food was delicious and it was fun to speak Italian with the host. However, that is bananas for some pasta with porcini mushrooms. Really.

I noticed in general the wine lists were very expensive. I get there's a markup and I understand why the Italian, French, South African, etc. wines are pricey but why the heck are California wines so expensive? Are they carrying the wines down the coast on foot from Napa Valley?

Unless an exec is taking me to Ago, I will have to stick to La Buca on Melrose or avoid Italian until I get home. Not sure what it is about L.A. and super expensive Italian restaurants (like Giorgio Baldi). In NYC there's more of a range.

I forgot how insanely huge portions are in most American restaurants after being gone for almost three years.

The only meal I could finish was my lunch at sushi restaurant The Izaka-ya. What's the deal with these massive portions? How do the restaurants turn a profit?

I had lunch with an actress from Canada at a place in Century City Mall. When we picked up our bowls, she said I had to take a photo.

I don't think the picture does it justice. I was starving that day. I could barely make it though 1/3 of this dish...a serving for one person. My friend couldn't finish her's either.

One serving of noodles is half a cup. I'm pretty sure my dish had at least four servings.

Here are the places I enjoyed during my trip.

A small Southern Mexican restaurant my hosts took me to. I would have never found it as it's tucked away in a small strip-mall on the Westside.
11676 Gateway Blvd (near Pico)

A big fan. Used to eat there all the time.
8454 Melrose Avenue (West Hollywood)

This is the more laid back version of Katsu-ya but it's just as delicious. Returning for a lunch with my former co-workers was a blast. If you're into celebrity sightings this place is full of them.
8420 West Third Street (West Hollywood)

700 South Grand Avenue (Downtown)
This restaurant opened after I left. It's Downtown with a great energy. It's loud so not the place for a quiet dinner. I was told the Lakers (not a fan) go there after games at the Staples Center. I had a very good burger and their cocktails are outstanding.

Very popular for brunch
7450 Beverly Blvd. (West Hollywood)

1445 4th Street (Santa Monica)
An oldie but goodie for Mexican food.

202 Wilshire Blvd. (Santa Monica)
Does anyone remember the original restaurant in Georgetown (DC)?
I always get the chicken salad. I say I will try something new but then I don't.

115 South Fairfax (near The Grove)
The restaurant for the funky hotel, The Farmer's Daughter, TART is known for their somewhat pricey but good breakfast.

I also went to Quality on 3rd. Their biscuits still rock but the service was terrible. Especially since it wasn't crowded.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Flashback Friday - In Living Color's Men On Football

The hat Damon's wearing kills me.

I wonder what happened to Tommy Davidson's career? In Living Color kicked off the careers of Jim Carrey, Damon Wayons, Jamie Foxx, etc.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lo Shopping: White Gallery in EUR. Fashionistas in Rome rejoice.

Actually, for me it was "Lo Browsing". My friend Erica has written a fab
POST about this amazing store. I'm still dreaming about the forest green Celine tote.

The store is opening a cafe with outdoor seating in the Spring.

I'm so over being broke it's not funny.

The architecture is very interesting. There's a lot of marble.

I think the books were for sale too.

Fabric for custom made shirts.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Favorite Things: A Pasta e Fagioli recipe from Giada de Laurentiis

I don't think I ever had this dish until I moved to Italy. Each region of the country has their own way of making pasta and beans soup. Every region thinks their way is the best/correct way.

I have heard it pronounced in New York and New Jersey as Pasta Fazoool.

With all this rainy weather I crave this delicious hearty soup.

Here is Giada de Laurentiis' RECIPE.

What is your favorite winter soup?

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Sartorialist comes to Rome!

Yesterday, I met up with Erica, her husband (aka The Professor) and Baby X to attend an open casting The Satorialist had in Rome. He's shooting the OVS campaign again and asked the ad agency if he could open it up to non-professional models.

While occasionally he will shoot fashionistas or celebrities on his blog, the majority of his subjects are interesting people he sees on the street.

Erica and I, much to the amusement of The Professor, were totally geeked to meet Scott Schuman. Scott was extremely nice and I was nervous. Yes, I knew I didn't have a chance in hell but it was fun to attend the casting.

Scott's blog gets over 150,000 hits a day and he has been called one of the most influential voices in fashion.

French blogger Garance Dore was also at the casting. I love her blog as well. And I told her so. She was very gracious. Recently, she and Scott became a couple. You can see how they influence each other's work.

Has anyone bought Scott's photography book? He has been doing book signings all over the world. I haven't seen it in Rome.

Sometimes Garance will post little shorts of Fashion Week or shows that she has attended/shot. They are fantastic. I really love the passion she and Scott have for what they do.

Garance is writing a series about how she went from being a frustrated illustrator to shooting ads for some of the top design houses in the world. It's a great read. Her site used to be only in French but now she does have an version translated into English.

Scott, Baby X and Erica.

Lights, camera, action. There was a pretty big turnout yesterday. Thank God we got there early.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Trailer for Jumping The Broom

I am so excited about this cast! It's a good mix of familiar faces and some break out performances.

This is Salim Akil's feature debut and he did a great job. The film looks gorgeous. Every penny (the few we had) is on the big screen.

The trailer will be in front of "For Colored Girls" this weekend (in the States).

JTB is a small indie movie. It will be on about 700 screens. As we get closer to the release day I will try not to freak out.

I've been told already by several writer friends not to read reviews. It will be hard for me not to do so.

Opens Mother's Day 2011.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Social Network...one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.

I had a chance to see it when I was in L.A. (it opens in Italy next week).

I read the script earlier this year and understood why so many people in my industry loved it.

There is some backlash. Some folks think Aaron Sorkin is overrated and the movie is sexist.

The movie is based on a non-fiction book and court documents. Aaron defended himself against the sexism charges. As for him being overrated, when other writers say that, I chalk it up to pure hateration. Really.

The man broke almost every rule Hollywood is shoving down our throats when it comes to writing a script.

There's voiceover, flashbacks, an unlikable protagonist and the movie open with a long scene full of quick dialogue between two people sitting at a table. This script is fucking brilliant.

In a climate where the majority of movies are geared to teen boys with ADD, I walked out of the theater moved and inspired.

Aaron (a fellow Syracuse University Alum) should win the Oscar for best Adapted Screenplay.

It's a drama but like The SOPRANOS there were many laugh out loud moments. I will see the movie on the big screen again and buy the DVD.

This is not a movie about Facebook. It's so much bigger than that and very timely.

Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara and Armie Hammer (in his first major movie role) were stand outs in a movie filled with excellent acting. Jessie Eisenberg...fantastic. There were several times I wanted to punch his smug face in. Other times I felt bad for him because he was so delusional about basic human interaction. I think people can stop comparing him to Michael Cera now.

Fincher proves again why he's one of the most interesting directors of his generation.

I'm glad Amy Pascal (the Chairman of Sony Pictures) took a risk and greenlit this movie.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Lo Shopping: Los Angeles edition. Club Monaco and J.Crew FTW

It's election day in the States today. I dropped off my absentee ballot while I was in L.A. Tomorrow we will have a new Speaker of the House.

Speaking of Los Angeles (okay, that was a stretch) I didn't have time or the budget to hit any of the fantastic boutiques on 3rd, Beverly, Abbott Kinney, etc. I desperately needed some basics, like one pair of jeans.

Clothes in Europe are a slimmer cut. What is a 6 in America is a 10 here (seriously) and most stores do not go much higher than than.

Having a limited budget forces me to pay attention to every single thing I buy. Even when my financial situation improves I will continue to do so.


What is going on with this store? Patrick Robinson is a very talented designer. I do not understand why the clothes looked so awful and the fit sucked. I used to have excellent luck with their jeans. This time no dice. The fabric felt and looked cheap and none of the styles fit.

I know they are opening one in Milan and Rome soon. We'll see what they'll sell here. Maybe I've aged out of the GAP? Then again, how can you age out of classics? The GAP has been struggling for years. They're getting slammed on the lower-end by H&M/Zara and on the higher-end by J.Crew.

That said, I went to the Gap Body section in their store at The Grove. Hands down one of the best places for yoga pants, cotton panties (much better quality than Victoria's Secrets) and PJs.


I went to the one on Robertson. Friendly, helpful and generous with the samples. I finally tried the Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak after hearing so many people rave about it. Blogger Afrobella also said it was a great product for black women with natural hair. Worth every single penny. It's an excellent conditioner.

I interned at the flagship NYC store during college. I've always loved this store, especially for cosmetics, shoes, housewares and bedding.

I stuck to my list and stayed on the first floor. I wish Bobbi Brown sold her cosmetics in Rome. New color lipstick for me, her Blackberry. It's a pretty plummy color and the closest I could get to a discontinued Trish McEvoy shade. I almost got sidetracked at the Chanel counter but remembered they sell Chanel all over Rome.

The J. Crew of Canada. I can't find any of the dresses I bought online for a photo so believe me when I say I scored. I wore one of the dresses, this Jackson Pollack type print, to a drinks a friend hosted for me at the Avalon pool bar. I received so many compliments on it. Several women said they were going to buy the dress. I have a particular shape, it's hard for me to find things that fit. I always find well-cut, fashionable (without being too trendy) clothes at Club Monacao. Their color palette is not as wide as J.Crew but I think both stores do Modern Classic well. Club Monaco is more Pradaish while J. Crew is preppier.

J. Crew

I have worn J. Crew since it was catalog only, then became a regular at their first retail store in NYC's South Street Seaport. The founder was from Montclair, NJ and the clothes used to have a very East Coast, outdoorsy prep school vibe. I've seen the brand struggle when they tried to be too fashion forward and when it because super popular. First Lady Michelle Obama has definitely increased the brand's profile. When her daughters wore J. Crewcuts (the online store for children) to the Inauguration, so many people went online it caused the site to crash. At J. Crew's 3rd Street Promenade store I finally found a pair of jeans. They fit perfectly. There were so many things I wanted to buy but remembered I have to pay rent.

Stuck out here. I did buy some tights and a sweater but their clothes seemed too business casual to me and kind of boring. I used to find great dresses there but that was over six years ago.

FRED SEGAL on Melrose
Went to look for a turban but all they had were headbands. The clothes in this store are too fabulous for mere mortals as myself. I went into the shoe department. There wasn't a pair under $500. Even when I have money I will never spend hundreds of dollars on a T-Shirt. I go through white v-neck T-Shirts pretty quickly. I'll stick with J.Crew and Club Monaco's.

However, it's a great place to buy gifts, books, candles, stationary etc.