Thursday, February 2, 2012

George Clooney And The Best Summer Rolls I've Ever Had

I've now been in Hong Kong for more than 100 days out of my life.

And, since the move, I've now been here on this "trip" for more than a month.

I say those things to preface the idea that, language barrier notwithstanding, things don't feel very foreign anymore.

Don't get me wrong: I am still just an idiot when it comes to the history and ins-and-outs of this place.

Still, I feel more comfortable here.

All that means that I'm not going to post every little daily adventure anymore.

Frankly, I was getting bored posting about my meals here until I hit the modest New Paris Vietnamese Restaurant in Causeway Bay tonight.

Mind you, I'm pretty loyal to Pho Saigon on Hennessy Road -- (the link says it's closed but, trust me, it's open; the owner is storing my suitcases in the back while I'm in this small serviced apartment!) -- but New Paris Vietnamese Restaurant has a bigger menu with a different focus.

For less than $10USD, I got spicy beef over rice, an iced lemon tea, and the best summer rolls that I've ever had.

Well, I think they were summer rolls -- or garden rolls, as they are sometimes labelled for us non-Vietnamese -- but I am not quite sure. I saw a familiar looking picture and pointed to it. The lady pointed to something that described a shrimp and pork roll and I got deliciousness served to me almost immediately.

Crispy, slightly spicy pork and a few big shrimp with fresh uncooked veggies wrapped in rice paper -- deliciousness! I didn't get any of that peanut sauce but, have no fear, as there were a few bits of peanut in those rolls.

I wasn't even hungry tonight but I could have eaten another set of these just based on that taste.

(It's worth noting that I frequently go to dinner a bit early rather than go out again. As I'm waiting for my work visa, I sometimes just don't feel like going out twice in a day. So it's either a big, late lunch and a small dinner or, as was the case today, a small lunch and a bigger, early dinner.)

As for George Clooney:

I saw The Descendants (2011) today and thoroughly enjoyed it.

(Another sidenote: why is it that invariably when I pick a seat at the theater -- seats are assigned when you buy tickets -- that no matter how empty the theater is, someone always ends up sitting right next to me? I swear that my section was empty when I looked at that diagram of the layout and, of course, two dudes sat right behind me and starting talking right away and two -- cute -- gals sat next to me with phones and snack-bags at the ready! I moved and hoped that the ushers didn't notice that I had escaped my "assigned" seat for one of the 200 empty ones in the place!)

Yeah, Clooney is great in this. Really, I think before The Descendants (2011), a fan would have been hard-pressed to describe the guy's appeal beyond a certain wit and his undeniable good looks.

Now, with this role, Clooney has stacked out an on-screen persona every bit as vivid as the ones used by William Holden 60 years ago, or Jack Lemmon 40 years ago.

There's something weary about Clooney's character here and if parts of the film seem a bit too expertly constructed -- some of the peak moments are too obvious and writerly, while some are quite understated -- Clooney is never less than excellent.

He's got a couple of amazing moments here that I probably shouldn't describe in detail until more people have seen the film.

But, really, he's so good in those moments where his character inhabits this sort of middle ground between having something on someone and still looking like a the guy who just got his luggage stolen.

Here, Clooney is the guy who knows that he was once charming -- not for nothing is there a pan across a room full of old trophies while Clooney's lawyer calls a potential rival -- but who now sees the end of his days ahead of him.

The burden of caring for two daughters he barely knows looms large over the drama.

And I can't say that Clooney's final business decision came as much of a surprise but, in all honesty, it was such a pleasure getting to that point in the drama that I didn't even care.

By the time that I walked out of the theater to see that George Clooney Omega sign -- up above -- in front of me, I felt like I had been watching something nearly great.

The Descedants (2011), despite some minor quibbles from me, is a joy to watch. Alexander Payne seems to have softened his world-view a tiny bit and that's okay with me if he does more films like this.

Maybe I'm just feeling older?