For Zoe Kazan & Canlis Regulars, Life's an Endlessly Tender Slab of Filet Mignon"/>
The Dinner: Canlis salad, watermelon gazpacho, zucchini soup, rye Manhattans, and filet mignon at Canlis, 2576 Aurora Ave N, 283-3313 QUEEN ANNE.
The Screenplate: Zoe Kazan is 28 years old, but appears to be about half that. She could star on 90210 until she's 40 and no one would look askance. So when she's cast as an adult male character's idea of a dream woman, as she is in Ruby Sparks (which Kazan herself wrote), it can make for a creepy couple of hours for just about any man not named Roman Polanski.
Fortunately, the adult male character, Calvin, lusting after Ruby (Kazan) is Paul Dano, Kazan's gangly real-life boyfriend who probably doesn't donate too much money to Gillette. And it also helps that this puberty-challenged pair does little more than smooch onscreen, and dispassionately at that. The uncomfortable boner threat, therefore, is reduced mightily.
Sparks is reminiscent of (500) Days of Summer, in that it is a quirky hipster dramedy that treats Los Angeles like a real city versus concentrating the action on the Sunset Strip. Dano's Calvin wrote a hit novel when he was 19, but has been suffering from writer's block ever since. His psychiatrist (Elliott Gould) instructs him to write something bad. What Calvin writes, however, ends up being very good. In so doing, he creates his dream girl, Ruby Sparks, who soon emerges as flesh and bone.
The film proceeds to send up romantic comedy archetypes before falling neatly in line with them. Bit roles are populated by name actors (Gould, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Steve Coogan). Such magnetism would be impressive for most novice screenwriters, but Kazan's last name is Kazan--she's the granddaughter of Elia Kazan, one of the most powerful (and controversial) producers in Hollywood history. That Kazan is named Kazan isn't her fault and shouldn't diminish her talent, but it's no stretch to presume it made getting Ruby Sparks greenlit that much easier. Sofia Coppola's an obvious parallel; hopefully Kazan will never make a movie as spectacularly boring and pointless as Somewhere.
If Kazan lived in Seattle, she'd eat at Canlis. Not once in awhile, but weekly -- perhaps nightly -- whenever she's not off on a junket or starring in an off-Broadway play or portraying George Clooney's daughter in an Alexander Payne movie. She'd have her chair pulled out for her by one of the Canlis brothers, and the pianist would play her favorite Bon Iver song after she finishes the restaurant's famous salad. The price of things wouldn't matter; the experience would be sublime.
Life is easy for Zoe Kazan, just as it is for Canlis' regulars. Through birthright or elbow grease, they are obscenely successful and/or rich. Nobody knows what it's like to be them except them, so they surround themselves with one another. It's nice to parachute into this world from time to time, wondering what it'd be like to fly that high in perpetuity, while feeling a little embarrassed that beneath the bridge lurks some downtrodden soul who would brawl for your scraps.