Posts from the ‘Feature Film’ category

The LA Times reviews “Today’s Special”

“Capsule Movie Reviews: Today’s Special”
Published: Nov. 19, 2010

Directed with verve by David Kaplan from Aasif Mandvi and Jonathan Bines’ exceptional screenplay, “Today’s Special” stars Mandvi as a sous-chef at a Manhattan restaurant whose plans to head to Paris for further culinary study are derailed after his father suffers a heart attack and he must take over the family restaurant in Queens.

Imaginative, warm and witty, the film, inspired by Mandvi’s prize-winning play “Sakina’s Restaurant,” is an irresistible delight, its theatrical roots vanishing amid a gracefully cinematic evocation of life in Jackson Heights, a venerable Queens neighborhood with an inviting human scale and grand rooftop vistas of the New York skyline. It is alive with a screen full of captivating characters, all written with affection and exquisitely played by a raft of fine actors.

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Hollywood Reporter review: “Today’s Special”

“Today’s Special – Film Review”
By KIRK HONEYCUTT, The Hollywood Reporter
Published: Nov. 17, 2010

A winning comedy set in a New York Indian restaurant sends out engaging characters and great looking food from its kitchen.

A dozen years ago, Aasif Mandvi, the Indian-born actor who is now a correspondent on “The Daily Show With John Stewart,” wrote and performed a superb one-man show called “Sakina’s Restaurant.” He played a young Gujerati sponsored by a New York Indian family to come to American and work in their restaurant. Switching accents and costumes with abandon, Aasif played every character — the father, daughters, son and, of course, the fresh-of-the-boat youth encountering the American Dream.

Using this stage show as its inspiration, Mandvi and a group of filmmakers have cooked up a thematically similar movie, Today’s Special, a feel-good fable about a talented cook and second-generation Indian, who discovers his destiny and own version of the American Dream when he takes over his father’s run-down Tandoori Palace restaurant. While it tracks familiar themes of generational clashes in immigrant families, upward mobility and Old World vs. New World values, Today’s Special does so with vigor and a pleasing sense of comedy. Not hurting matters for foreign and Indian film devotees, the film features two icons of Indian cinema, Madhur Jaffrey and Naseeruddin Shah.

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The Boston Globe reviews “Today’s Special”

“Movie Review: Today’s Special”
By WESLEY MORRIS, The Boston Globe
Published: Nov. 19, 2010

Samir (Aasif Mandvi) is a sous-chef at a good Manhattan restaurant. When he’s passed over for a shot at running a new restaurant, the executive chef who overlooked him explains that Samir doesn’t cook with the soul required for the job. Dejected, he quits and plans to cook in Paris. Then life intervenes. His father (Harish Patel) has a heart attack and puts Samir in charge of his restaurant, a little place in Jackson Heights, Queens, crammed between a beauty supply store and a kebab house.

The dining room is shabby. The kitchen is a sty. The few customers find the greasy food disgusting. Eventually, Samir reluctantly hires Akbar (Naseeruddin Shah), a free-spirit cabdriver who claims he once cooked for Indira Gandhi. Akbar is a godsend for Samir: His food amazes, his unruly technique educates. Shah is a bonus for the movie. This smooth, self-confident, inarguably sexy veteran actor doesn’t steal the film so much as wrap it around his finger.

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Time Out reviews “Today’s Special”

“Today’s Special”
Published: Nov. 19, 2010

Mumbai-born, British-raised Mandvi won an Obie for his 1998 one-man show Sakina’s Restaurant and has graced numerous movies (The Mystic Masseur, Spider-Man 2, It’s Kind of a Funny Story), but he’s best-known here as a correspondent for The Daily Show. Refreshingly, Mandvi and ex–Daily Show scribe Jonathan Bines relegate snark to the back burner in their screenplay for Today’s Special, an intimately scaled domestic comedy that, like a well-spiced meal, gradually radiates warmth without overwhelming its main ingredients.

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Huffington Post reviews “Today’s Special”

“HuffPost Review: Today’s Special”
By MARSHALL FINE, The Huffington Post
Published: Nov. 17, 2010

There’s not a lot new about David Kaplan’s Today’s Special — yet this comedy, from a script by Aasif Mandvi and Jonathan Bines, finds ways to take an old formula and give it new life. Think of it as a familiar recipe whipped up with different spices.
And that’s all the food metaphors or puns for this review of a movie about a chef who learns a little something about how to cook.

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Movie Review: “Today’s Special”

“Today’s Special” ★★★★
By KEN HANKE, Mountain Xpress Asheville & W. North Carolina
Published: Mar. 22, 2011

From its inception in 2003 to its demise in 2009, I saw every narrative feature entered in the Asheville Film Festival. That’s well over 100 movies. Only three of them was I ever compelled to keep a copy of for myself, and at that top of that list was David Kaplan’s Year of the Fish (2007)—a film that won Best Feature and the Audience Award. I remember co-judge (along with Don Mancini) Robby Benson remarking, “I wish I’d made it,” and I know what he meant. It truly was—and is—a magical film. Well, Kaplan’s next film, Today’s Special, comes to town on Friday. It may not be as magical, but it’s a worthy and utterly charming follow-up.

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New York Post reviews “Year of the Fish”

By V.A. MUSETTO, The New York Post
Published: August 29, 2008

Rating: ★★★☆

THE age-old fairy tale of Cinderella is updated to New York’s modern-day Chinatown in “Year of the Fish.”

It was shot on inexpensive live-action video, which was digitally painted in post-production. The result is an unusual, and pleasing, painterly look. (Richard Linklater used a similar process in “Waking Life” and “A Scanner Darkly.”)

Teenage Ye Xian (An Nguyen) travels to Chinatown to work in a beauty salon to make money to send back home to her ailing father. Ye Xian quickly discovers that the salon is actually a massage parlor, where “a happy ending” is guaranteed to each male customer.

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NY Times Metro Section: “Year of the Fish”

“Live, From New York, It’s (an Animated) Chinatown!”
By Jennifer 8. Lee, The New York Times
Published: August 27, 2008


A realistic portrayal of New York City’s Chinatown can be seen in a new animated movie, “The Year of The Fish.”

The independent film, which opens on Friday at the Angelika Film Center, is an adaptation of a Cinderella-like Chinese fable by David Kaplan. The film was shot in live-action, then adapted with rotoscope animation. That process creates realistic scenes of Chinatown — from the lion dance in the Chinese New Year’s parade to senior citizens performing tai chi in Columbus Park to the neighborhood’s open air markets. The shots of the corners, nooks and crannies throughout Chinatown are instantly recognizable to New Yorkers.

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