Sunday, October 23, 2005

Enjoying the Nightlife

This last week was filled with a series of meetings in Brussels ending with a flight back to my home in Minnesota at the end of the week. However, I was able to relax a little via some films and dining so here are my respective reviews for the week:


Crash - while in Brussels I left the office to see Broken Flowers starring Bill Murray but did not arrive in time so opted to see Crash instead with a star-studded cast including Sandra Bullock, Tony Danza (cameo role), Brandon Fraser among others. This film is set in Los Angeles, California with its central theme focused on racism and stereotypes. Overall, I was most impressed with how the writers were able to create a story showing how peoples' lives are completely linked to each other -- go with an open mind and think about the Golden Rule -- it will serve you well.

North Country -- upon my return to Apple Valley, Minnesota I was able to see the opening of this film which is set in the "Range", the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota. This film is based "on a true story" regarding the entry of women into the work force at an iron ore (taconite) mine in Northern Minnesota. North Country has it all!! Poverty, wife beating, rape, sexual harassment, trade union tribalism/macho behavior, job discrimination, and of course some hockey given its geographic setting. This is a pretty compelling film especially since I viewed it in a Minnesota audience which applauded at the end of the film so clearly it was well-received at least in the Twin Cities but I have no idea how the Virginia, Minnesota crowds will respond to its portrayol of the Iron Range history and culture.


Poivre et Sel -- this Brussels restaurant (Pepper and Salt from the French) serving French cuisine/Belgian local favorites is located just off Place Luxembourg near the European Parliament. I have dined here several times and the food has always been excellent but the service has been lacking due to a lack of staff but this week I had dinner with a European think tank leader and everything was very good -- food, ambience, customer service, etc. It was a very enjoyable evening complete with a starter of a mixed salad with balsamic dressing and sole fish for my main course. If you want to find them in Brussels go to Rue du Parnasse #2 or at - -- my "courtesy French" of about 7 words/phrases worked there so you should be able to eat well with limited French. I am awarding them a "5" for this particular evening but usually they are a "3.5" ranking.

El Azteca -- as you might guess this is a Mexican restaurant located near the junction of Foliage Avenue/County Road 42 in Apple Valley, Minnesota. Overall this is a nice dining venue with very attentive wait staff, nice ambience complete with many families, and very respectable meals such as the chicken enchiladas with poblano sauce which I enjoyed. They rank at a "3.5" primarily due to the nice overall dining experience.

Get out and live a little this week,


1 comment:

Todd said...

My buddy Mike talked to a friend of his from the Iron Range who offered his insights on "North Country" from his native "Ranger" perspective:

1.) The film's producers showed the Range only during the winter when the area lacks the color and vitality that exists the rest of the year.


2.) The film shows the women living in very poor looking homes but the reality is that the women at the mine were paid $15 to $25 per hour which were very good wages in the 1970's thus allowing many workers to live in comfortable homes not "white trash slums" (my wording here).

See you at the movies, Todd