“Southpaw”—Left-handed Compliment

SouthpawThe boxing movie genre—Raging Bull, Rocky, Million Dollar Baby, The Fighter (see July 11, 2011 review)—is commonly tackled in movies because of its inherent drama and overt conflict between the protagonist, a down-and-out boxer and a champion. “Southpaw” neatly fits into this mold, but the story has some interesting surprises, not just a re-tread of previous boxing blockbusters.

Of course, it is a story about how life knocks you down—literally—only to force the protagonist back onto his or her feet. Through Antoine Fuqua’s sensitive direction, excellent dialogue and performances, “Southpaw” transcends the stereotypes and clichés. The roles of the wife (a stellar supporting role by Rachel McAdams) and his young daughter, Leila (newcomer Oona Laurence) add heft and connection to the protagonist’s humanity that is pivotal and essential for the plot’s emotional stakes.

Billy Hope (a physically transformed and bulked up Jake Gyllenhaal), the reigning junior middleweight boxing champion, has an impressive career, a loving wife and daughter, and a lavish lifestyle. However, when tragedy strikes, Billy hits rock bottom, losing his family, his house and his manager. He soon finds an unlikely savior in Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker), a former fighter who trains the city’s toughest amateur boxers, who alone can teach Billy how to temper the almost blinding rage that both drives and traps him. Tick’s backstory is never revealed, but hints at similar rage in his heyday.

The grippingly raw and honest acting of Jake Gyllenhaal definitely sets this film apart, making his performance Academy-Award worthy.The actors in supporting roles also share in the quality of “Southpaw”. Rachel McAdams’s role as the strong wife, Maureen, clearly impacts the trajectory her husband must take for the remaining portion of the film. Bespectacled little Oona Laurence shares some intensely emotional scenes with Gyllenhaal and holds her own.

Beyond the great acting, there are a few loose ends:

  • Who was responsible for what happened to the wife?
  • What is the former manager’s malfeasance?
  • What is the backstory of the trainer?
  • Is there more to Billy’s absence as a father, and his past relationship with his little girl?
  • How does the title “Southpaw” add to the narrative?

Nonetheless , Jake Gyllenhaal owns this film and made it an extraordinary boxing film to watch.

Note: As in most of Fuqua’s films, the fight scenes are extremely brutal and bloody, adding to the tension.

 

“Woman in Gold”—A Glimmer of Retribution

 

woman_in_gold_movie

The movie “Woman In Gold” is based on the remarkable story of the octogenarian Austrian-American woman, Maria Altmann (played by the always sensational Helen Mirren). Maria fights to reclaim the Gustav Klimt masterpiece of her aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer, a wealthy art collector of Klimt paintings. “Portrait of the Jewess Adele”. More popularly known as “The Woman in Gold”, this masterpiece was the Austrian equivalent of the “Mona Lisa”.    475494-a2c85abe-0044-11e5-8cc7-4c6583bd2816

Art repatriation–the return of art looted or stolen from its country of origin or former owners (or their heirs)—is just becoming a political maelstrom. In “Woman of Gold” (and other films such as “Monument Men”), we see the cultural and national pride shown by mostly US and European museums, which currently house stolen art from their wartime and colonial past. During World War II, the Nazis plundered an estimated 750,000 artworks including priceless paintings by Van Gogh, Degas, Vermeer, and Michelangelo. Though many paintings and other significant cultural artifacts were recovered by the “Monuments Men,” many were destroyed or auctioned off at extremely low prices. In “Woman of Gold” we are privy to the confrontation between and among the Austrian government, Austrian Gallery and Museum (formerly the Belvedere Palace), the U.S. Supreme Court and Maria Altman.

 

Woman in GoldSeeking justice for the Nazis’ seizure of her wealthy family’s art collection, almost six decades later (1998) Maria engages the legal counsel of a young inexperienced American lawyer (the surprising Ryan Reynolds). They  petition the Austrian government for the return of five paintings by Gustav Klimt, including the most famous, “Portrait of Adele”. Mirren is a formidable power to be reckoned with. Supported by Ryan Reynolds (as her attorney, Randall Schoenberg), Daniel Brühl, a sympathetic Austrian journalist) and Tatiana Maslany (superb as the twenty-year-old Maria), we see a finely-honed film about the little guy against the establishment.

The courtroom drama is only one of the plots in “Woman of Gold”, an equally interesting subplot being the personal backstory of Maria Altmann. In a series of flashbacks we see Maria with her privileged banker family, forced to suffer unspeakable hardship and humiliation in Nazi Vienna. These paintings are a fight for her birthright and her family’s dignity, which eclipses the $20 million value of the “Woman in Gold”. Also essential in understanding his determination to pursue the case to the Supreme Court is the young attorney’s backstory.

“Woman in Gold” is appealing on several levels: as history, narrative, and as emotional gratification that retribution does happen sometimes. Maria’s story is also a poignant one, of memory, family ties, and growing old. Highly recommended for a broad audience!

Note: In June 2006 “Woman in Gold” was purchased for the Neue Galerie in Manhattan for the record sum of 135 million dollars and is now part of the permanent collection on view there.

 

 

“Straight Outta Compton”—A Rap on Censorship and Racism

Straight Outta ComptonThe critically acclaimed film, “Straight Outta Compton” is an unlikely blockbuster for its “R” rating and timely depiction of the mean streets of Compton, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. Although taking place in the mid-eighties, the clashes with the police resonate today. Chronicling the rise of N.W.A. (”niggaz wit attitude”), this biopic of music pioneers belongs in the company of “Ray”, “Walk the Line”, “8 Mile” and more recently , “Love and Mercy” (see July 12 review) and “Muscle Shoals”(July 19 review).

The seminal South L.A. hip-hop group N.W.A is the story of the creation of rap and hip-hop culture. Composing controversial lyrics, through word wizardry and brilliant poetic rhyming, N.W.A. music rages about the daily lives of young black men and the fears and violence they confront. Truthful, and not pretty, the music of N.W.A. was often censored, and considered dangerous and criminal.

For those of us in a certain demographic, this film requires patience in the first half hour of its 2 ½ hour running time. After the ferocious hook in the opening scene, “Straight Outta Compton” lingers mostly on the songs of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube. While this soundtrack will enthrall the younger viewer, for the rest of us this movie only really takes off with the dramatic scenes of the censorship of rap, unspeakable police brutality, and racism. The assault on Rodney King (with iconic news footage) also is underscored as a context for the explosive rise in popularity of rap and its profound impact on the young musicians of N.W.A.   “Straight Outta Compton” is a wild ride, and an historical one. But also a disconsolate reminder of where we are today.

O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Ice Cube’s son, plays his father without sentimentality. Corey Hawkins, as Dr. Dre, conveys with a glance how much he must adjust to the ugly side of fame. And Paul Giamatti dazzles as N.W.A’s manager (just as he did playing another music manager in “Love and Mercy”). Similar to other movies where the protagonists come from very hardscrabble backgrounds, “Straight Outta Compton” is a powerful set of portraits of young artists who, as a group, are both supportive and envious of each other’s talents and success. Yet these young striving musicians also want so much to be loyal to each other. “Straight Outta Compton” succeeds in disavowing the easy, uncomplicated stereotypes projected on the talented and the young who become successful and rich too quickly.

 

 

“Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography” at the Getty Center [until September 6]

Light, Paper, Process
Light, Paper, Process

For anyone who loves photography, “Light, Paper, Process” is mind-blowing. Do you want to know what can be done with a photograph processed the old fashioned way? Before Photoshop? This exhibition features experimental photography from seven artists—Matthew Brandt, Marco Breuer, John Chiara, Chris McCaw, Lisa Oppenheim, Alison Rossiter, and James Welling—who focus on light sensitivity and chemical processing including smearing emulsion so that the representational is coaxed into the abstract, often dunking the amorphous semi-developed image into different liquids. One photographer even develops his own gigantic camera and climbs into it for part of the photographing. Other photographers digitize the resulting image and use Photoshop for even more dramatic effects.

Marco Breuer
Marco Breuer

The first images in the exhibition feature a brief retrospective from the Getty Museum’s twentieth century photograph collection, especially photographs by Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy. “Light, Paper, Process does indeed provide a glimpse into the ongoing reinvention of photography today.

Alison Rossiter
Alison Rossiter

Getty Center’s brilliant show breaks the mental boundary and categorization of photography’s mission as attempting to capture the essence of the object being photographed. Instead, “Light, Process, Paper” turns that mission on its head. The artists are more concerned with exploring the fundamental nature of the medium itself, the unfolding accident-driven discovery of what can be done with the process from the inside out.

Note: If you are at the Getty Center, also   try to see “Power and Pathos—Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World” (ends November 1), a dazzling collection that displays rare bronzes influenced by both Greek and Roman styles of the human form, including eyes molded by metal and marble, with distinctive copper eyelashes. Some are newly excavated and being open to the public for the first time.

 

AL’s Place—A Favorite New Spot in SF

Squash salad

AL stands for Aaron London, the young energetic chef of Ubuntu fame (renowned for vegetarian food in Napa Valley). This newly opened San Francisco restaurant on the corner of 26th and Valencia is a standout. Beautifully presented, but in a very noisy, but pristine white environs, AL’s Place seats only forty-six diners. All the dishes we ordered—including meat and fish—were standouts.

London’s confidence and virtuosity with vegetables is no surprise and is reflected in the unusual combinations of fruit and veggies he dreams up. Seafood is peppered in many main dishes, while other meat and fish options are listed as sides. In addition to snackles (small bites) and sides, the menu is divided into cold/cool and warm/hot sections and limited availability items.

We started off with a stunning cold dish of “lightly cured” trout with crispy potato, smashed cucumber, in a bagna cauda sauce (very light garlic and anchovy dip). The Coho salmon trout looked more like sushi than a smoked fish, or perhaps Gravlax: pure, ineffable freshness in a beautiful presentation on top of crispy tomatoes and cucumbers.

In the cold/cool section of the menu we had an unbelievable salad—thinly sliced yellow squash with crushed raspberry/fig oil, burrata and toasted almonds. The presentation is worthy of an artist. Another veggie dish we loved was a generous portion of royal trumpet mushrooms with fava bean mayo, and topped with green peach/pluot relish. What a mix of flavors! On the warm/hot section the stone fruit/albacore curry with black lime marinade, green beans, and a sprinkling of blueberries was a mind-game of ingredients that you would think to be mutually exclusive instead of astoundingly compatible. Going to AL’s Place for this dish alone would be worth the trip.

For sides (don’t let the name fool you), we had the smoked brisket with sieved egg, pickled mire poix, and a faint touch of maple mustard. Brisket is quite trendy now but this one was remarkable. Brisket is not easy to smoke—gristly, fatty, and dry—but this dish had none of those attributes.

In the limited availability menu we had the fish catamaran with a double dip, one of which was a lemony vinaigrette while the other was an incredible miso béarnaise. When the chef stopped by to greet us, we asked how the miso sauce was made and I was exhausted just listening to all the steps involved.

Fish Catamaran--before
Fish Catamaran–Before
Fish Catamaran--
Fish Catamaran–After

We had a sparkling rosé pinot noir (Onward) that was not to our taste so we recommended another one from Carmel to the sommelier. He was inviting and asked for the information, proving he was open to other wine selections. We did like the idea that AL’s Place was experimental in trying lesser-known appellations from all over the world for their wine list, which was very modestly priced.

For nonalcoholic drinks the freshly made watermelon and shiso sparkling soda was perfect—not at all sweet, but refreshing on that warm evening.

I don’t think you can go wrong with AL’s Place—your vegetarian friends will be in Nirvana and we carnivores and pescatarians will have just as good a time. If you are in San Francisco, check out AL’s Place—you won’t be disappointed!

“Patrik 1.5”—“The Kid’s All Right”

Patrik 1.5

This Swedish sleeper of a film is entertaining and very moving. Sweden is often thought of as the bright light of liberalism, a model for social justice. And less than a month after the passage of the same-sex marriage decision by the Supreme Court, we may think we are catching up. But “Patrik 1.5” shows us even socially liberal countries have bigotry to overcome. I was fascinated to see the cultural dynamic of a gay couple having to deal with homophobic neighbors as well as a homophobic teenager in a country this viewer associates with more liberal views and open-mindedness.

The main character, Goran, is a gentle and hard-working physician whose partner, Sven, is the love of his life. In a rare cinematic production, “Patrik 1.5” addresses a marriage which just happens to be a same-sex one. The humanity is portrayed without cliché or stereotype. The heartaches, conflicts, and struggles are those of any couple wanting to have a child and be a parent.

Goran and Sven are in store for the surprise of their life when, instead of the 1 ½ year old boy they think they are adopting, the adoption agency hands over a rebellious, delinquent and homophobic 15-year-old named Patrik. That misplaced decimal point is a bigger error than a typographical one. The drama takes off from there.

This film from the female director Ella Lemhagen dabbles in the foster family territory of the Academy-nominated movie, “The Kids Are All Right”. But the teenage actor nails the teenage angst in a far finer and more nuanced performance here in “Patrik 1.5”.

Enjoy the ride!

 

 

Shakespeare’s Henry IV – Conflict between Father and Son

 

Guest blogger: Patricia Robertson

Henry 1Shakespeare has a keen understanding of the human psyche, including family dynamics. This is apparent in the 2015 Michigan Shakespeare Festival (July 11-August 16) production of Henry IV, parts 1 and 2, masterfully combined and abridged into one bringing out the best and highlighting the conflict between King Henry and his son, Hal, Prince of Wales. henry2

This familiar family saga ends with Prince Hal requesting that his father’s advisors’ treat any sons he has as they treated him, a touching tribute to his father. Thus the wound between father and son is healed and doesn’t continue to the next generation unhealed and without recovery, as so often happens.

Family struggles are the stuff of life. The love and acceptance of fathers is essential to the well-being of their children. In telling the story of a conflict between father and son, Shakespeare’s play resonates today as a universal human theme.  If you are in Michigan at this time, please take advantage of the opportunity to see this festival!

Note: Patricia Robertson has released her novel, Still Dancing, the sequel to her novel, Dancing on a High Wire, and is looking forward to writing the next book in the series during NaNoWriMo this year. She blogs about life and writing at http://patriciamrobertson.com .

“Trainwreck”—A Comic Collision

 

images“Trainwreck” is the best and funniest rom-com since “Bridesmaids”, another hilarious feminist film by Judd Apatow, known also for bro-coms like “40-Year Old Virgin”.  And like previous Apatow productions “Bridesmaids” (see my June 20, 2011 review) and “Girls” , “Trainwreck” is both funny and a little sad. The scenes that are the most memorable and vivid, however, are comic fireworks. Written and starring Amy Schumer, “Trainwreck’s” humor is raunchy, pushes the boundaries of conventional one-liners, and is as sexually explicit as Schumer’s Comedy Central TV series.

Amy Townsend (Schumer) is the daughter of a cantankerous, alcoholic dad (Colin Quinn) with infidelity and commitment issues. Amy follows in his footsteps. Disagreements with her younger sister about Dad’s assisted living expenses become a key indicator of Amy’s attitude toward the deeply unsympathetic man and the way he helped shape the mess she became. But it’s all too clear that Amy’s commitment-phobia, compulsive drinking, and pot-smoking are masking deeper wounds. As a staff writer for a low-brow men’s magazine, Amy gets assigned to interview Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), a sports doctor to the elite like LeBron James (who surprises with impeccable comic timing). The reason for the assignment: she hates sports.

Schumer and Hader have unbelievable chemistry together. Hader’s goofy Mr. Nice Guy channels Tom Hanks in his early career. And he plays perfectly to Schumer’s fear of intimacy and seeming invulnerability. That’s the basic theme here: about rejecting those we really desire before they have a chance to reject us. The why-try-if-we-know-how-it-will-end-up syndrome.

And what a comic team Schumer and Hader make! Funny or serious, they approach every scene without skipping a beat in timing. Open, fearless, undefended, masterful. And the supporting cast (Tilda Swinton, Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer, Brie Larson) give hilarious and moving performances. What every great comedy requires!

In one scene poor Aaron is imposed upon by Amy, who is afraid she has a deep need and desire for him, so she picks a fight: “You go down on me too much!” she yells, desperate to criticize him, before the joke turns around again: “And don’t try to spin this into a reason for not going down on me.”

Some jokes may not be for all tastes, but Schumer is a juggernaut for women in comedy as much as her predecessors: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, and Lena Dunham, most of whom have been supported by Apatow. And, beat for beat, “Trainwreck” is one of Apatow’s most consistently funny and charming films ever. I want to see more Amy Schumer!!

“Muscle Shoals”–Music Muscle from the Deep South

Muscle Shoals A [This movie review can be also seen at Josephsreviews.com where I was a guest blogger on July 17,2015)

A 2013 documentary about an Alabama musical legacy, “Muscle Shoals“,  brings to light a group of musicians who never had their day in the sun.

Two iconic recording studios in the tiny town of Muscle Shoals Alabama—FAME (est. 1959) and its spinoff Muscle Shoals Sound (1960) —became the “must have” sound for, among others, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Etta James, and many other Rock-and-Roll legendary artists. The magic of a group of background musicians, who called themselves the “Swampers”, some of whom were classically trained, were the touchstone of FAME. The Swampers were all white. Keep in mind this is the early 60’s.  FAME

 

 

 

 

“Muscle Shoals” is the love story of American music roots in the Deep South. For this viewer, some of the most spellbinding scenes focus on Rick Hall, the pioneer and open-minded founder of FAME studio. , Rick Hall’s own poverty and family upheaval perhaps allowed him to empathize with the racial hostility young music artists of color faced in most of the US, not just the south. Before the Civil Rights Movement really became a force shaping US history, FAME gave some of our most creative musicians their break in the music business. The movie gives the impression that the principals of FAME were unaware of the significance of their race-neutral music production.

Hall brought black and white music together. He produced signature music: “I’ll Take You There” and “When a Man Loves a Woman” by black musicians unknown at the time.

“Muscle Shoals” bears witness to how Hall’s color-blind passion for music infused a magnetism, mystery, and magic into the music that became known as the Muscle Shoals Sound. The filmmaker allows the key players to speak for themselves, with many cameo interviews of the legendary including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, and Etta James. On its own, the cinematography of Muscle Shoals, the backwater town along the Tennessee River is an eye opener. And “Muscle Shoals” is not to be missed for its music history, racial progressiveness, and its imagery. A visceral and magical vision indeed!

Postscript:

) The original Muscle Shoals Sound Studios building is listed on The National Register of Historic Places and maintained, by the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation. Their goal is to turn the historic building into a music museum.

2) FAME is still owned and operated by Rick Hall and his son Rodney Hall. Beats Electronics, after seeing this movie, is underwriting the renovation of FAME to support young musicians.

3) Actor Johnny Depp is developing this movie into a TV series, according to Variety (July 8, 2015).

“Love and Mercy”– Mostly “Good Vibrations”

 

Love_&_Mercy_(poster)

If you remember the 1960’s classic album “Pet Sounds” by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, there is a good chance you will enjoy the movie “Love and Mercy”.

In an unusual music biopic of Brian Wilson, “Love and Mercy” structures his life through two highly acclaimed actors, Paul Dano and John Cusack, playing Brian the younger and middle-aged Brian respectively. In a highly innovative flashback structure in which Paul Dano plays twenty-something Brian Wilson and John Cusack plays his fifty-something 1980’s version, we see the backstory of a creative musical genius whose abusive childhood and adult life results in the destructive behavior of his middle-age. Based on Brian Wilson’s biography, “Love and Mercy’ tells the horrific tale of a pioneering musician and the wounds which seemed never to heal.

But tragic childhood can have moments of redemption and hope. “Love and Mercy” has both, with the introduction of Melinda Ledbetter (played beautifully by Elizabeth Banks). Love and Mercy

Brian (Dano): “I would listen to those harmonies. I would teach them to my brothers and we’d all sing. …How about you, Melinda? Why don’t you have a boyfriend?”

Melinda Ledbetter (Banks): “He broke my heart.”

Brian: “He shouldn’t have done that.”

Melinda: “I shouldn’t have let him.”

And that dialog foreshadows one of the major motifs in “Love and Mercy”. Those closest to Brian let Landy, a tyrannical therapist use and abuse him, just as Brian’s father had. Paul Giamatti delivers a gripping performance as Landy reminding this viewer of JK Simmons in “Whiplash”.

And, the music! Absolutely essential to evoking the time period as well as the genius that is Brian Wilson. For those who do not know music theory well, “Love and Mercy” also provides just enough of a hint of why Wilson is considered one of the music greats. He develops bold new orchestrations and arrangements, new sound textures in an analog era that, to those listening today, are taken for granted as marking the standard for the sixties and seventies. His choral harmony, falsetto voice, and instrumentations were the most innovative of his time. Even the Beatles borrowed from him. Understanding his revolutionary compositions and inventiveness in his music recordings (for example, by separating vocal tracks from instrumentals)  is to appreciate when Brian’s mind was most stable, when he was most himself. His unbounded enthusiasm, however,  was also indistinguishable, at times, from desperation.

“Love and Mercy” has some glaring flaws too, especially if the viewer has some awareness of the trials and tribulations of Brian’s life. In portraying the two lives of Brian Wilson (pre-fame and post-fame), “Love and Mercy” sometimes loses momentum, with incomplete scenes suggesting a much bigger story that is left without important detail. This viewer was left with questions: Why didn’t Brian Wilson’s family, who were sometimes jealous and manipulative themselves, intervene when Landy was blatantly abusing him? What happened to the courageous maid Gloria who risked deportation to help? Who finally brought the legal challenge to Landy’s charlatan therapy and guardianship of Brian? His father delivers several abusive encounters but we are left wanting more background. What about his mother?

Still, “Love and Mercy” deserves to be a classic not only for music lovers but for movie and biography aficionados. Just as “Good Vibrations” was Brian Wilson’s biggest hit,  “Love and Mercy” is a paean to the former glory of the once incomparable Brian Wilson.

Orange is the New Black (OITNB) –Keeps on Going Strong

 

 

oitnb--desktop

Feminism, sexual perversion, peccadilloes, assault, and experimentation run strong in Season Three (2015). [See my reviews, “Orange is the New Black—Life Behind Bars”, August 7, 2013 and “The Backstory Behind Orange is the New Black”, August 15, 2013.] Nothing like this has been portrayed on television, without a suggestive body shot, excruciating violence, or even the victim’s voice.

OITNB scenes of how women can become more compassionate through sex with each other are so powerful, indeed so extraordinary and original, that the sexual scene is secondary to the emotional intimacy. And there is a humor as Piper borrows an idea from Japan by giving men what they will pay top dollar for: three-day old women prisoner’s panties, but made to Piper’s specifications.

This season of “Orange is the New Black” breaks even more boundaries with brutal honesty, on a tightrope between comedy and tragedy. At its best, season 3 stuns with new character development in a prison drama every bit as revolutionary as the now-classic “Oz”. There are some wasted opportunities with subplots that go nowhere and characters (especially Bennett) who we miss. But there is always Season 4—a must for 2016!

Son of a Gun—On Target

 

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of going to Son of a Gun, a newish West Hollywood restaurant. Small, intimate—when we first drove by, we had to circle the block twice to find it—the food is original and delicious.

We started off with the hamachi with vinaigrette apple and radish sprouts.

Hamachi with Apples, Sprouts and Vinaigrette
Hamachi with Apples, Sprouts and Vinaigrette

Sashimi-grade yellow-fin tuna with tart apples and a light splash of rice-vinegar dressing and a sprinkling of green spouts. This precious appetizer deserves a shout-out. Next, we had the steelhead roe which was good, but not memorable, the uni with burrata and yuzu didn’t knock our socks off, and the huge mound of yellowfin tuna with avocado was just bizarre. So, stick with the hamachi!

For the entrees and small plates, we had the lobster roll—very tiny but melt-in-your-mouth delicious so we ordered two. The shrimp toast that is highly praised on Yelp as one of Son of a Gun’s best appetizers is just too deep-fried for our taste, so we would pass on it next time. The linguine with clams with an uni olio was delicious as was the cucumber salad with two kinds of cucumbers (fresh and pickled) on a delicious bed of mizuna and tiny cherry tomatoes laced with a citrusy yuzu dressing. We could have eaten another one of those.

Cucumber Tomato Salad
Cucumber Tomato Salad

The special of the night was sea bass in a Vietnamese pho-style broth but no rice or noodles, just delicious bok choy and greens with lots of cilantro. A real winner.

The towering fried chicken sandwich (one of their signature dishes) also was just too much fried batter but the pickled cole slaw balanced the oil nicely. The hamachi collar on beans and mustard greens was original and tasty.

Fried Chicken sandwich with cole slaw
Fried Chicken sandwich with cole slaw

On first reading, you might think this is a mixed review and that Son of a Gun is not a keeper. But their startlingly good dishes that we loved, we really loved and will go back for those again! For those of you who do love deep fried foods my critique of those dishes may not apply to your palate.

Go visit Son of a Gun and enjoy the ambience—the maritime, old-fashioned theme reminiscent of a small seafood restaurant you might find in Cape Cod or Boston neighborhoods. We’re going back!