I invite you to experience the superlative tastes and atmosphere at one of the most delightful restaurants I’ve been to in some time. Heroic Deli and Wine Bar is a relatively new spot in Santa Monica, California. Owners Carlo and Jeffrey warmly welcome you into their world, with impeccably constructed dishes, scrumptious homemade potato chips, and a large, impressive selection of wines and side dishes. Don’t let the deli name fool you. While it may be an elegantly casual spot, don’t let its unique and straightforward menu confuse you. This is chef driven cuisine of the highest order. Their website: heroicdeli.com; more photos here: flicker.com/joybennett.
Great news! COLCOA, the exceptional French Film Festival, is continuing on for an extra day today. You can see the updated schedule here: https://colcoa.org.
Last night I was happy to enjoy Cyrano my Love, by Writer/Director Alexis Michalik, pictured above. This outstanding, fast-paced romp of a film is based on the origins of Cryano de Bergerac, and is just a delightful, heart-felt cinematic treat. Mr. Michalik, a multi-talented actor/director and writer, based his film on the play he also wrote. His play is currently enjoying a long, successful theatrical run in France. Cyrano my Love will be released this Fall in the United States, and has my highest recommendation.
I had a wonderful time at the COLCOA French Film Festival last Monday night. This is an outstanding festival offering top-notch films and events, and delicious food and drinks at the receptions. It’s really one of the finest and most elegant film festivals I’ve ever attended. And I’ve had more than my share!
COLCOA runs through September 28th at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, California. The theatre there itself has recently been renovated with the expert input of several top directors. As a result, to see a film in this theatre is an exceptional experience. First of all, when they darken the lights, it is almost completely pitch black. The sound is excellent, as are the theatre details and very comfortable seats.
The Opening Night began with a wonderful reception with terrific food and drinks. Then we lined up to enter the newly renovated theatre. François Truffart, the Festival Executive Producer and Artistic Director, made a speech opening the festival. Paul Williams, the famous musical composer, also spoke. I met him briefly before his talk, and he could not have been kinder.
Finally they screened the opening night film, Les Misérables. This is an updated version of Victor Hugo’s classic film, set in the slums outside Paris. It’s a dark, disturbing film but vitally important to show how easy it is to let gang warfare take over peace and calm.
The film, directed by Ladj Ly, has been submitted by France to the Oscars for the 2020 Best International Feature Film Award, and is generating a great deal of buzz. It certainly captivated the COLCOA audience here. The US release date for Les Misérables is October 18, 2019, and is being distributed by Amazon Studios.
All in all, a most enjoyable evening spent with some of the most elegant film aficionados on the planet.
The COLCOA French Film Festival continues on through September 28 at the Directors Guild of America. Tickets and information can be found here: colcoa.org. More photos are available on my Flicker page here flickr.com/joybennett.
Two weeks ago, on August 12, 2019, I was thrilled to attend La Boheme at the Santa Fe Opera while visiting family in the area. La Boheme of course is Puccini’s famous opera that had its debut in 1896 in Italy. At first critics were lukewarm to the opera when it first came out. Mahler himself was extremely hostile and virtually banned La Boheme in favor of a rival’s work on the same subject.
However, the public immediately took to the work, and critics eventually came around, with the English critic Frank Granville Barker eventually calling La Boheme “one of the wonders of the world.”
The Santa Fe Opera version I saw recently was blessed with humorous and poignant touches that gave it a special emotional import. And seeing La Boheme in the spectacular setting of the Santa Fe Opera is a rare treat indeed.
It was so special too to enjoy the opera itself with my brother, who lives near Santa Fe. I also enjoyed a Backstage Tour the morning of the performance with my dear sister, also a local resident. The tour gave us unique and wonderful insights into the history and structure of the spectacular opera house itself.
The singers in particular were extraordinary, especially Mimi sung by Vanessa Vasquez, making her impressive Santa Fe Opera Debut.
Overall, the day offered a world-class opera in an architectural gem of an opera house, set in the beautiful high desert outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was a wonderful experience I won’t soon forget.
The story of La Boheme is a familiar one, the struggles of the bohemian artist to become accepted while keeping a roof over his head. If you recognize some aspects of the story, it’s because it's the same story in Rent, the hit Broadway musical that was also turned into a movie and live TV special.
If you are ever in the Santa Fe area, I encourage you to take in an opera or any other performance in this spectacular venue. You won’t be disappointed. Everything is top notch, from the beautiful views and architecture, to the acoustics and music, to the quality of the food and beverages in the cafes and restaurants. The staff is very kind and helpful, and the quality of the superb productions and tours are remarkable. I personally plan to enjoy the opera each summer while visiting relatives.
For more information and tickets, visit santafeopera.org. For more photos of the opera, visit my Flickr page here: flickr.com/joybennett.
Thank you to the kind staff of the Santa Fe Opera for accommodating me and my family for this very special experience.
If you've never been to Alaska, I highly recommend a visit. Princess Cruises does a terrific job pampering you while you are enjoying this amazing state. It's not nearly as cold as you would think, and I suggest a visit before all the glaciers melt completely. More photos on my Flickr page here: flickr.com/joybennett.