Ian Muttoo , 2009. "You've led us astray again, you spit-headed fool!"
The Dinner: Hanger steak, medium rare, with red wine sauce and pureed potatoes>"/>
Ian Muttoo, 2009. "You've led us astray again, you spit-headed fool!"
The Dinner: Hanger steak, medium rare, with red wine sauce and pureed potatoes at 611 Supreme (611 E Pine St.).
The Screenplate: As the Francophiles amongst you probably already know, Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin is based on the classic comic book series by Belgian comic artist Hergé, following an ageless boy reporter and his resourceful dog Snowy as they hunt for hot leads and buried treasure around the globe. Frequently joining Tintin and Snowy is Captain Haddock, a grizzled seafarer with a love of strong drink and adventure that consistently takes the already intrepid duo deeper into perilous environments and the webs of intrigue that lie at their core.
Meanwhile, from the yellow bee outside that stands as one of the few really iconic remaining storefront signs in Broadway's neck of the Pike/Pine corridor to the reticent trip hop humming on the inside, 611 Supreme does a great job setting the atmosphere to your dining experience almost immediately.
Whether you catch the continental restaurant/lounge for a few lunchtime crepes illuminated (or, around this time of year, more like dimly emphasized) by their huge windows and wide open layout, having a romantic candlelit dinner or just ducking in for a quick cocktail, 611 Supreme's worth a peek. It delivers French cuisine at its most accessible, while still offering a posh sanctuary from screaming children and cheap drunks.
While 611 Supreme's modern approachability is pretty universally welcomed, Tintin's update seemed to start with a practical riptide of red flags when the famously abstract features of Tintin first popped onto the internet in all of their 3D-rendered, pupil-having entirety. Would this just be another installment of Robert Zemeckis' dead-eyed computer avatars trying to lumber into your nightmares as expediently as possible?
I suppose it's somewhat naive not to expect a higher level of realism in animation in a post-Avatar world, but Tintin just seemed so doomed to let down any fans of the original comics as soon as we heard that Thompson and Thomson were actually going to have detailed complexion.
Seeing as how I still haven't gotten over the horror of The Polar Express' delirious fever dreams that were somehow presented as musical numbers and that Spielberg had spat out a couple of recent misfires as of late when it came to refurbishing classics, the entire film seemed to leap over all sorts of potential problem areas that most assumed it would hardly stumble over. In fact, I'd say that the slow dawning of realization that Hollywood might've gotten this one right is almost as dramatic and exciting as the actual plot to the film.
First of all, Tintin and his memorable fellow cast members thankfully bare little resemblance to the soulless automatons on Tom Hanks' frozen train to hell. The expressiveness of the animation really did seem several steps ahead of most any other feature length film with mostly CGI actors, which kept my suspension of disbelief at record strength for this type of movie. It's owed in part to great motion capture from actors like 2011's motion capture champion Andy Serkis, but also to the playful and lifelike animation done "from scratch" for Tintin's vitally beguiling pal Snowy.
Secondly, the Tintin franchise's inescapable globetrotting element could've been abused really easily, with plenty of action films this year essentially being an empty-headed jumble of tenuously connected setpieces (Sucker Punch, anyone?). Tintin really seemed to earn every new whimsical setting it put in front of audiences, making it around the world organically with Tintin and Captain Haddock's infectious confidence and thirst for adventure. The mysteries and investigations unfortunately never get very far past "and then Tintin finds that thing and has to run away," but this allows the plot to keep its momentum through some chase sequences that easily approach Indiana Jones-level in their ingeniousness and fluidity.
Finally, and most appropriately petty, I really didn't think that Spielberg would go quite so far with the leaden Captain Haddock's trademark boozehoundery. It might've been easy to keep courting the PG-13 demographic by keeping Haddock's drunkenness to a suggestive minimum, but sure enough, Haddock takes to liquor like Popeye to spinach for more than one critical scene in the film.
It's not specifically that I think the perpetually bewildered alcoholic demographic is short on positive role models these days, but it does show that this particular adaptation was more than just a quick cash-in by greedy studios, and there's no shortage of admiration for the source material. There's just a lot of warm gestures that are seamlessly embedded into the film, which really help the computer generated medium shed some of its reputation as clinical and lifeless.
Both this week's dinner and movie managed to impress with their artful grasp on the culture whose goods they'd plundered for entertainment and profit. While not sucking the life out of the novel spirit that embodies Belgium's Tintin and French cuisine, they also didn't allow foreign influence to totally drown out the striking homegrown flavor that's worthy of continuing its legacy past its influences.