Hitting Vegas’ Mob Museum, shooting for the moon with Air and everything else to watch, read and listen to this month
Even if you’ve never heard of Georges Méliès’ 1902 short film Le Voyage Dans La Lune (“A Trip to the Moon”), you’ve seen its most famous still (above). Méliès’ film, which tracks a group of explorers as they build a rocket, fly it to the moon, explore fantastical lunar jungles and battle aliens — all while wearing top hats and carrying umbrellas, for some reason — is revered as a cinematic landmark. So when a long-lost hand-colored print of the original film was discovered in 1993, it was a major event. Two foundations spent a decade restoring the print, and then enlisted French electronic music pioneers Air (whose first album was titled Moon Safari) to provide an original score. The finished piece is apt: by turns euphoric, mischievous and, naturally, funky. Air enjoyed the gig so much that they built a whole album from it, which they’re releasing along with a DVD of Méliès’ masterpiece on Feb. 7. Far out.
New York and Chicago get much of the blame for the Mafia’s presence in America, but Las Vegas was a playground for organized crime as far back as 1946, when Bugsy Siegel built the city’s first superhotel, the Flamingo. Now, Vegas has established a museum — housed in the former courtroom that hosted the Kefauver hearings on organized crime in 1950 — to explore the history of crime syndicates across the country. Included are exhibits on such notable gangsters as Al Capone and John Gotti; a wiretapping setup where visitors can listen in on coded conversations; and the wall against which seven mobsters were dispatched in Chicago’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Opens Feb. 14
While the Material Girl has logged more than a few hours in front of movie cameras — with roles in Evita, Desperately Seeking Susan and others — this month marks her debut as the director of a major motion picture. W.E. is loosely based on the relationship between King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson, a romance that compelled Edward to abdicate the British crown to his younger brother, Albert (the inspiration for The King’s Speech). Despite the fact that Madonna directed the 2008 French film Filth and Wisdom, some remain skeptical of this latest project. “What makes you think you can direct?” a reporter asked her in December. “I’ve been married to a few directors,” quipped the ex of Guy Ritchie and Sean Penn. “I’ve picked up some tips along the way.” Opens Feb. 3
Anyone who’s seen Top Chef knows Gail Simmons is unapologetically frank. But as the food pro’s engaging new memoir, Talking With My Mouth Full (out Feb. 21), reveals, she’s also unabashedly Canadian. Who better, then, to correct the notion that the Great White North’s sole epicurean offerings are pilsner and poutine?
1 “Canada has phenomenal produce and wild game. Something like 75 percent of us live within 100 miles of the U.S. border, and that leaves a lot of wilderness for growing and hunting things.”
2 “Montreal has the most unstuffy French chefs, like Fred Morin and Dave McMillan, who use classic techniques to invent gutsy, rich, yet homey food.”
3 “Subtly different from the U.S. version, the Canadian Jewish deli is having a moment — even in New York,” where wildly popular Mile End opened in 2010.
4 “Like a bloody mary but with Clamato juice, the briny bloody caesar is so good you forget you’re drinking Clamato juice.”
5 “Canadian maple syrup poured on fresh snow — tire d’érable, or maple taffy — is hands down the world’s best two-ingredient dish.”
The Academy Awards (Feb. 26) are ostensibly about rewarding performers for their artistic achievements in film, but anyone who’s spent a Saturday watching (or avoiding) the red carpet pre-shows on TV knows that what those performers wear is equally important. Get some cultural perspective on the subject with one of this month’s many fashion-related museum exhibits.
IF YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH: Cameron Diaz‘s Emanuel Ungaro kimono-inspired dress in 2002
VISIT: “Dyeing Elegance: Asian Modernism and the Art of Kūboku and Hisako Takaku” at the San Diego Museum of Art
IF YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH: Elsa Pataky‘s beaded flapper-style outfit at the Vanity Fair Oscars afterparty in 2011
VISIT: “The Roaring Twenties: Heels, Hemlines and High Spirits” at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto
IF YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH: Sarah Jessica Parker‘s Dior Haute Couture gown in 2009
VISIT: “Charles James: Genius Deconstructed,” on Dior’s U.S. counterpart, at the Chicago History Museum
IF YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH: Gwyneth Paltrow‘s sleek, sporty Calvin Klein Collection dress in 2011
VISIT: “Sport and Fashion” at the Fashion Museum in Bath, England
In Wanderlust, George and Linda (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) are a classic Manhattan power couple who are forced to leave the Big Apple behind when George loses his job. After a brief but disastrous stint in Georgia, they inadvertently wind up at a commune populated with quirky dropouts of all stripes (one of which, naturally, is played by Alan Alda). Straitlaced-suits-meet-hippies is a stock premise, but it’s redeemed here by the formidable comedic talents of Rudd, Aniston and director David Wain, who previously made the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer (featuring Rudd) and Role Models (also featuring Rudd). By the end, misunderstandings are had, lessons are learned and new perspective is gained. Opens Feb. 24