I don’t think I have been to the AMC Westwood Movie Theater in years. It got horribly dumpy but they got their shit together somewhat and threw in a bar, and comfy reclining seats in the theater. The lobby and concessions still need help but the theater and seating were cool enough. The movie this week was Unbroken a 2014 American war drama film, produced and directed by Angelina Jolie, and based on the 2010 non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The film revolves around the life of USA Olympian and athlete Louis “Louie” Zamperini, portrayed by Jack O’Connell. Zamperini, who survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber was downed in WWII, and was sent to a series of prisoner of war camps. The book is a masterpiece. The movie was okay to me but missed on a couple levels.
The good of the film? Great cinematography, excellent imagery. The pace of the film was awesome. It clocked in a little over 2 hours. This was a super long book, there was no way Jolie was going to get everything in here and she didn’t. The pieces and parts she did get in focused on the 47 days at sea and the prison camps. There was a little bit about Zamperini the runner, but more or less blew by in 10 to 15 minutes tops. Running was the dudes life in his youth. It was a huge part of the book not only in the beginning but throughout the entire story. The second piece that was left out was after the war. Zamperini turned into a violent drunk that turned his life over to Christ. This to me was the message of the novel. Redemption. There was no redemption in the movie. The war ends, he comes home in a plane and his family hugs him. A blurb at the end says he met and married had kids, blah blah blah and he suffered from PTSD. There were visions of God and angels through the novel but only a couple in the film that were so obscure that if you blinked you missed them. So the spiritual piece that I loved about the book just weren’t there. Jesus isn’t very Hollywood friendly I guess.
The worst part of the film was the portrayal of Mutsuhiro “Bird” Watanabe played by Takamasa Ishihara. Watanabe in the book is the antithesis of evil. He is the devil. He may even be worse than the devil yet Jolie decides to give the role to complete newcomer Ishihara who borders on a cross between a Japanese pretty boy and possibly a Japanese lady boy. He was waaaaay too feminine to play this role. At times his facial expressions looked like a pouting 16 year old girl. There was one scene where he is sadistically punching and kicking Zamperini and when he is done he falls to his knees and makes a facial expression that can only be described as sexually climaxing. This puppy dog couldn’t pull off a villain role. He might be able to do a remake of the Crying Game, but he was unrealistic as the sadistic bastard that Watanabe actually was. So those are the reasons I think it didn’t get the Oscar nod. Jolie just couldn’t pull off the right screenplay here. I enjoyed the movie but it missed on many levels.
For dinner we headed over to Brown Sugar, a cute little Thai joint in Rocky River. It’s on Center Ridge just west of Wooster Road. Blink and you probably will miss it. It is next to a place called Nada Bar, a nonalcoholic bar concept. It looked like a pretty cool place, but it was unfortunately dead. Brown Sugar is a small modern little place with a pretty decent menu. They have everything from the standards to curry dishes. The service here is nothing short of amazing. Super friendly people. Seriously awesome customer service. We tried the Fried Shumai and Summer Rolls for the appetizers. The Shumai were tasty with a nice Soy Ginger sauce, and the Summer Rolls were very refreshing. Very cool presentation as well with some flowered veggies garnishing the plates. For dinner my wife did the Teriyaki Chicken, huge portion nice flavors and I did the Pad Thai Country Style with Shrimp also nice large portion with about 8 medium sized shrimp. I went with the Country Style as it was said to be spicy. It really wasn’t spicy at all. The flavor was great, but not a hint of spice to be found. It lacked the heat. You might want to ask them to jack up the heat if you want it hot.
If you are a Thai fan there is nothing new under the sun here that you haven’t had before but it is a nice little place that is clean and has a super friendly staff. The food tastes very fresh, and presentation is awesome. Price point is a little on the higher side, but I think it is worth it, A lot of times with some of the Asian places I feel questionable about the quality of the ingredients and overall cleanliness of the place. I didn’t have any fears in either category here. It’s not white tablecloth but it certainly isn’t a dump. There are a handful of tables so seating might be an issue when they are busy. They offer carryout as well so you can always pick some up to go. Go check them out and let me know what you think.