Movie Blog Post: THE NEON DEMON

Saturday, June 25, 2016


By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

Not quite sure what to make of filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn's latest picture The Neon Demon. I imagined it would be a bit campy, in a good juicy way, but I didn't expect it to get so dark, nightmarish and sick.  Although, actually, I can take watching necrophilia and cannibalism, what I can't take is slothful, long drawn out scenes created for an effect that for me it didn't achieve.

Jesse (Elle Fanning) is a fresh faced 16 year-old girl new to LA. When asked, she just says her parents are not around, but never elaborates on what that means.  At one point one of the catty models throws her parent's death into her face, but Jesse doesn't really respond. I got the feeling they were probably useless junkies or something like that, but not dead. Regardless, the girl is on her own, naive in some ways, but smart enough to know she's pretty in a way that can make her money in this town.

And she's right, she has no trouble breaking in, the modeling/fashion world embrace her as if she were the latest designer drug. Only her quick rise to stardom attracts rivals who begin to seethe with jealousy.

Everyone Jesse meets wants to be her, f*ck her, kill her, or all three. The players include her benevolent but obsessive make-up artist friend played by Jena Malone [Julia Roberts' step-daughter in 1998 "Stepmom"], a pair of openly jealous b*tchy frenemies (Bella Heathcoate and Abbey Lee), both ridiculously thin and blonde with preposterously large blue eyes), her sweet-hearted meathead boyfriend (Karl Glusman), and the creepy manager of the seedy motel where she lives, played wonderfully by Keanu Reeves, who’s so well-cast against type that his acting work is practically done before he opens his mouth. It’s really fun to watch Reeves act like a weird perv for some reason. READ MORE Vince Mancini

Jesse may be on the fast track to success, but “The Neon Demon” moves like sweet, shimmering molasses; nearly every scene proceeds at a seductive crawl, as if Refn were meticulously draining every last molecule of oxygen from the room. It’s an approach that could have seemed stultifying, but instead it serves to amplify the film’s otherworldly eeriness and ghoulish comedy, even as a creeping undercurrent of dread builds and builds in the background. READ MORE Justin Chang Los Angeles Times

TT: This is an apt description and yet it's too praiseworthy for what I felt exiting the theater.

Giallo directors of the 1970s, especially Mario Bava, whose fashion-themed horror Blood and Black Lace even shares a hypercolor palette with The Neon Demon. READ MORE April Wolfe The Village Voice 

[Giallo (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒallo], plural gialli) is a 20th-century Italian genre of literature and film, usually with mystery elements and often with slasher, supernatural horror or crime fiction elements.- Wikipedia]

My #CinemaSneaknSnack for this movie:
Graftify Gluten Free Pretzel and Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Spread

Bottom Line: I wish I could remember more specifics about Refn's 2011 movie Drive starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan.  I remember liking it a lot, that it was creative, but not in that dream logic Lynch or Mallick way of filmmaking.  I feel The Neon Demon tries too hard to make a shocking and unexpected statement about the superficial, soul sucking world of beauty and modeling; but what you get are too many places where the movie "Jumps the Shark".  I also wanted to see Jesse descend into being a "Neon Demon", but her transition from virgin in peril, to snooty narcissism is too quick.

What does work here are all the locations and decor. Visually perfect for the story it's trying to tell - from the seedy motel where Jesse lives to the dingy nightclub ladies room, to the old movie star mansion where Jena Malone's character is house sitting. Everything has that tinge of melancholy like a Sunday evening around 5pm. A feeling I equate with many movies set in LA.

T & T's LAMB (movie bloggers association) Score: 2 outta 5
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Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog


10 of Philadelphia’s Top Mixologists Stirred Up their Ultimate Manhattan

Monday, June 20, 2016

Philly Spotlight:

Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience 2016

By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

I went to this event held at Power Plant Productions ( 230 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106) back in February!!! It was really fun and the kind of happening I enjoy recapping, but I just got really behind in posts and it just kept getting pushed back and pushed back, until it was no longer on my radar. Recently, I was looking through some older images on my camera and saw these from the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience and decided it still deserves its time in the Philly Spotlight!

The competition comprised of Philly mixologists and local bartenders offering their best Manhattan Cocktail for attendees to taste and judge.  In addition, each competitor created and prepared a signature cocktail made with Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, live in front of a panel of judges.

Loved these hipsters in attendance - Central Casting, right?!

This is the kind of event which makes it difficult to pace oneself - to judge fairly, I had to try a Manhattan from each competitor . And in order to feel confident the judges judged correctly on the signature drinks, I had to try each of those creations, totaling 20 cocktails, plus 2 glasses of champagne.  It's also these types of soirees which made moving closer to Center City two years ago a must! I was able to happily slosh my way to the trolley which deposited me in West Philly without even losing my buzz.

What I no longer have are any notes on what I thought of each drink - sorry.  But I do have the audio of each mixologist describing their signature cocktail:

Voted People's Choice Winner!
Click play button below to hear recipe for George's Signature Cocktail

Click play button below to hear recipe for Aaron's Signature Cocktail

Click play button below to hear recipe for Frank's Signature Cocktail

Food Interlude - Caterer Power Events Chef and owner Ashley Hess Power

Click play button below to hear recipe for Nathan's Signature Cocktail

Click play button below to hear recipe for Jeff's Signature Cocktail

Click play button below to hear recipe for Kristopher's Signature Cocktail

Click play button below to hear recipe for Paul's Signature Cocktail

Click play button below to hear recipe for Scott's Signature Cocktail

Ben Hash of Horse Inn
Click play button below to hear recipe for Ben's Signature Cocktail

Hash’s winning Manhattan recipe, “Emperor and Oak” was inspired by abnormality. His idea was most whiskey drinks are either on the citrus side or vermouth side of the palette. Looking to find a new angle, he used healthier ingredients and a unique technique to craft his winning cocktail.

Emperor and Oak:

2 part(s) Woodford Reserve Double Oaked 
1 part(s) Concentrated Imperial Grade Matcha Green Tea 
.25 part(s) Fresh Pressed Lime Juice 
.25 part(s) Cointreau Orange Liquor 
.5 part(s) Honey Simple Syrup 
.5 part(s) Raw Egg Whites 

Add all ingredients to a shaker tin. Warn customer of potential joy. Dry shake without ice) until all ingredients are incorporated and beginning to froth. Add ice, and shake with vigor and passion. Double strain cocktail into glass with care and respect. Admire. Place stencil of selected leaf over rim of glass, being careful not to disrupt the placid and welcoming froth on top of cocktail. Dust Matcha through stencil. Remove and admire.

Hash advanced to the final round which took place in New York with 6 finalist from around the country; however, the coveted honor of 2016 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience Winner went to Nashville, Tennessee bartender Jonathan Howard on April 18th - so see my post isn't that out-of-date after all.

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Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog


Movie Blog Post: BFFs starring Tara Karsian & Andrea Grano

Friday, June 17, 2016

Indie Film Spotlight: BFFs by Writers, Producers, Co-Stars Tara Karsian and Andrea Grano

Looking for a few days of vacation and amusement, two best friends pretend to be lovers while attending a couple’s weekend workshop.

By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

I received a screener for this film, BFFs,which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.  Kat (Tara Karsian) is having one of those weeks where you break up with your long term boyfriend right before your birthday and your mother's gift to you is a weekend couples retreat. Kat's best friend Samantha (Andrea Grano) with easy familiarity appropriates most of Kat's birthday gifts for herself, including trying to figure out how she can use the pre-paid couples weekend as a get away to sit poolside.  Eventually, she convinces Kat they should register as a lesbian couple in order to take advantage of the vacation deal.  But there are no free lunches. Just like those complimentary hotel stays, in exchange for listening to a time share pitch, which becomes such a hard sell it ruins the fun. Similarly, Kat and Sam quickly discover upon arriving at the retreat, there's no easy way to get out of participation in the workshops, exercises, group sharing and therapy that's the main thrust of the weekend.

BFFs is classified as a comedy, and at times it puts me in mind of a Love Boat episode as we are introduced to the other couples on the retreat and their issues. More humor comes naturally in the stark differences between Kat, who is short, droll and full of sarcasm and Sam who is tall, attractive and a little neurotic.  Yet, the film is not written for laughs, it actually feels as if this were a real experience the two women shared and journaled about to create a very credible script. The group sessions are handled with nuance rather than broad strokes, for each couple, not just Kat & Sam's relationship, whose vacation quickly becomes a moment of truth in their friendship and romance?...

“The idea for BFFs came directly from our relationship as friends,” says writer and costar Tara Karsian (“Kat”). “Andrea and I banter back and forth a lot like a couple and this often ends in Andrea telling me that we need to go to couples therapy. We know couples who have gone to whacky and humiliating therapy weekends only to go right back to the way they were beforehand, so we aren’t convinced they work.”

We went back and forth joking and plotting out how the scenario would unfold if we went pretending to be a couple. Then we thought ‘What if we started believing we were actually in love with each other?’ That’s when it dawned on us. This was a great idea for a script!” - BFFs Production Notes

From that point the process of raising money, finding a director, putting together a crew, and finding locations took them about five months. They chose director Andrew Putschoegl, who had directed Tara in the award winning short “Hello, Caller.” In terms of financing, the BFFs were able to secure four Angel Investors for BFFs and filled in the rest with crowd funding.

I got a chance to ask Tara & Andrea about the LGBT aspect of the film... 

T&T: I think the budding attraction between Kat & Sam is an interesting romantic scenario to explore, however, I'm curious what has been the reaction by Gay/Lesbian communities? After all, many straight people believe someone can choose not to be gay if they want to, yet people who are gay know there is no choice. But in "BFFs", Sam & Kat are choosing to possibly adopt a lifestyle that's not who they've been. Has there been criticism that this speaks to the idea of people having control over their sexual preference?

TK & AG: To answer your question, the reaction from the LGBT communities have been wonderful. While we were premiering at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, a woman approached us and informed us that she was a programmer for the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and she thought our film would be a perfect fit for their upcoming festival. Within a month, the festival programming director had contacted us and said that not only were we in the festival, we were to be the Women’s Spotlight Feature!

We expressed our concerns that the film may not be what a predominantly LGBT audience was wanting to see but they assuaged all our fears and off we went to the festival. We are so happy that we did! It was such an unbelievably receptive and kind audience. They gave us a standing ovation at the end of the film and the Q&A was hands down one of the most insightful and observant that we had experienced. From that point on, the film took on a life of it’s own and we began to play equal amounts mainstream and LGBT festivals. We’ve played at over 20 LGBT festivals world-wide and won many audience awards at them.

Ultimately, this film is about friendship and that is a universal theme. What we began to notice is that there is really very little difference between the LGBT and ”straight"audiences. And how wonderful to become so aware of that. I think it may speak to a bigger picture that perhaps, once people remove any pre-disposed ideas of who and what people are, perhaps we’re all more similar than we think. Gay or straight, all these audiences wanted was to be entertained and hopefully, we gave them that.

And neither of us have ever been people who believed that someone could choose to NOT be gay, we do believe that, especially for women, there is a higher degree of sexual fluidity. We think women, especially as they get older, have a greater capability to fall in love with a person’s attributes as opposed to one's gender. Take the “labels” away and we believe we all just want to be loved.

BFF was released on iTunes, Amazon and on InDemand (including Time-Warner, Comcast/xfinity, Bright House and Cox Cable) on June 3, 2016.
Facebook | Twitter @BFFsthemovie | Instagram @BFFsthemovie  

The Supporting Cast: Pat Carroll, Sigrid Thornton, Patrick O'Connor, Larisa Oleynik, Jeffrey Vincent, Sean Maher, Russell Sams, Jenny O'Hara, Richard Moll, Molly Hagan, Dan Gauthier

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Movie Star Smile – How Can You Get It?

When you watch the red carpet awards one of the first things you notice is almost every movie star has a perfect smile. Achieving this is not a Hollywood secret. Those who wish to have a wonderful smile need to remember some of the important things about tooth care and perhaps consult with a cosmetic dentist. READ MORE

Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog


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Much of the movie centers around the father/son relationship, and how much they learn from each other. But the real star of the film is all the food preparation, every other scene made me groan with want of everything up on that screen! Particularly the perfectly roasted and rubbed brisket, the crispy fat of the pork belly, sizzling bacon and the much ballyhooed Chocolate Lava Cake. READ POST


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...young Hassan, a soulful-eyed boy with lush, thick eye lashes, places his face into the sea urchin basket, and breathes in the exotic briny scent. He sticks his fingers into the aquatic ooze, takes it to his mouth and is transfixed by the taste. The vendor, oblivious to the thrusting arms of frenzied women, notices the boy and realizes he is the only one worthy of this oceanic prize; he is the one who can “truly taste.” ... READ MORE

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Six months into my 38th year of this life, I had my first panic attack. I didn't know that's what it was until months later. Symptom after symptom starting piling up on me until there were days I could no longer move my arms or neck. The doctors told me I was suffering from an auto-immune condition that they felt was most likely Lupus. And so began my much deeper journey and exploration into the world of spirit, alternative medicine, yoga, meditation and Eat, Pray, Love. READ POST

Philadelphia Magazine » Blog » Foobooz


With a film like this, food plays a main character in the story and I was lucky enough to get an interview with the film's Food Stylist, Janine Kalesis.READ POST

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15 Top Food in Film Flicks

15 Top Food in Film Flicks
Cozy Quilt of Food Movies, we'll add more patches as T &T discovers more films where food plays the biggest "roll"

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Videographer Oliver Gallini 5 min short featuring organic-chemist-turned-chef, Townsend Wentz, who got his start at The Four Seasons Philadelphia.


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About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?
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