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Manchester By The Sea

Upper East Side Theater - Sun, 12/04/2016 - 18:12
Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, this film may be his finest work yet. It is a devastating drama filled with fully rendered emotional characters. While it examines grief, guilt, longing and pain, it is also filled with moments of heart and humor.  Casey Affleck is heartbreaking and brilliant as Lee Chandler, who we first meet working as a janitor and living in a one room basement apartment. When he receives news that his brother Joe has died, he reluctantly returns to Manchester to make funeral arrangements and take care of his nephew and his brother's affairs. There is a terrible sadness to Lee that is revealed in flashbacks  when he was married to Randee, played by Michele Williams. Ms. Williams is only in a few scenes but their final scene together is remarkable in it's brutal honesty.The film moves back in forth in time to convey the full story. We see Lee and Joe, played by the always dependable Kyle Chandler in happier times with his young son Patrick, played later as a teenager by Lucas Hedges. Lee's relationship with his nephew after Joe's death dominates much of the film as both must come to terms with their own grief.Gretchen Mol also co-stars as Joe's ex-wife and there is a one scene cameo by Matthew Broderick. The entire cast is excellent but it's the writing and direction by Mr. Lonergan that really make them shine. No shot or line of dialog is wasted. The actors bring this story to life in such human fashion, you can't help but leave the theater moved by the experience.
Categories: Blogs


Upper East Side Theater - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 21:12
Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, this new drama is based on a true story that eventually struck a big blow for civil rights in the '60's. This is the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who marry legally in 1958 Washington D.C. but chose to live in their hometown in Virginia, where it is against the law.     Joel Edgerton plays Richard Loving and Ruth Negga play the couple, who under threat of jail leave the state to raise their children in D.C. Mr. Edgerton plays Richard as a man of few words lumbering through the film existing only to love and protect his family. Ms. Negga adds a depth to Mildred that grows steadily as the years pass. Her quiet dignity shines throughout the film and she is excellent. Nick Kroll plays Bernard Cohen, the lawyer who takes their case to the Supreme Court. There is also a brief cameo by Michael Shannon as a Life Magazine photographer.The dialog is sparse and the pace slow and the film drags to it's final resolution. Mr. Nichols 's script deliberately leaves out any backstory of either character. We never really get beneath the skin of Richard or Mildred. We never learn how they met or what drew them to each other in such a time of racial inequality. There is a brief moment when we learn that Richard's father worked for a black man and he grew up around other black people but nothing else about his background is explained.It's also disappointing that when their two lawyers, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Hirschkop finally get before the Supreme court, we only hear a moment of their argument.  You would think this would be a major scene in the film and it is reduced to just a few lines.What drives ( albeit slowly) the story is love. It is clear throughout the film (it's pretty obvious from the title) that love will conquer all regardless of the racism and laws of the time . Despite never getting under the surface, you can appreciate the hardship and battle this couple (aptly named Loving) endured for years while their feelings for each other never wavered. 
Categories: Blogs

This Week's Chef's Table Menu: Week of November 28th!

This Week's Daily Hot Lunch Menu ($10) from our "Chef's Table" at Butterfield Market!
Categories: Blogs


Upper East Side Theater - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 13:55
  Director Robert Zemeckis tones down the special effects he is known for to helm a wartime romance. He strives for an epic World War II romantic saga but overdoes the romance to the point it parodies itself.      The film looks stunning from the set design to the impeccable clothes worn by it's leads, Brad Pitt (Max) and Marion Cotillard (Marianne). Movie stars in the old fashion sense, Mr. Pitt and Ms. Cotillard attempt to light up the screen like some modern day Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. They work so hard to make you believe their love and attraction that it goes over the top to the point of laughable.        Max and Marianne meet in Casablanca during World War II, spend days getting to know one another, carry out a successful mission and then it's off to London and suddenly a year later, Marianne is accused of being a German spy. Is she or isn't she? It's up to Max to find out the truth to protect the woman he loves and their daughter. It all sounds romantic and suspenseful but never really ups the ante and leaves plot points dangling and falling flat.          Mr. Zemeckis has a scene in the desert where Max and Marianne make love in a car during a sandstorm. In the very next scene, they are back at home with not a speck of sand anywhere to be found on their car or themselves. A sandstorm like the one depicted would have buried their car and likely have smothered both of them but it looks great for the story. The screenplay by Steven Knight introduces Max's lesbian sister (played by a wasted Lizzie Caplan) in three short scenes. To what end? Her character is there for no other reason than to kiss her lover on a dare from some drunken soldiers. Really?          Max is a captain in the Royal Canadian Air force but reports to a British officer played by Jared Harris. He spies for the Resistance in Casablanca  but is not really a spy. His role in the film is just one of many confusing and contradicting moments. The stars are beautiful, their clothes are beautiful but the story is a melodramatic bore. I did like the realistic resolution at the end though.
Categories: Blogs

2017 Annual Awards – Call for Entries

Friends of the Upper East Side - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 10:55

The Apple Store, Upper East Side, winner of the 2016 Renaissance Award.

This spring, FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts will celebrate outstanding achievement in preservation, architecture, and advocacy on the Upper East Side during our 34th Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony.

The award categories are flexible and can vary each year. Among other areas of accomplishment, previous winners  have demonstrated excellence in Restoration, Rehabilitation, Design, and Stewardship.  Individuals and advocacy groups who have displayed extraordinary achievement in the field of preservation are also eligible.

FRIENDS seeks nominations for both architecture and advocacy. The awards committee will consider all submissions, large and small, that have furthered the cause of maintaining the special sense of place of the Upper East Side.

Please read our eligibility requirements below and submit nominations by January 6, 2017.


  1. Projects must be located between 59th and 110th Streets, and between 5th Avenue and the East River, including Central Park.
  2. Projects must have been substantially completed between December 1, 2015 and December 1, 2016.
  3. Only the exteriors of architectural projects and/or historically significant interiors will be considered.
  4. Preservation projects should be for restoration, rehabilitation, or adaptive re-use of historic buildings (including Post World War II architecture). The buildings may be located either in or out of the historic districts.
  5. New construction is also eligible.
  6. Individuals or advocacy groups must have contributed to the preservation of the Upper East Side’s built environment.


  1. Data Sheet (click here to download).
  2. Photographs (or color copies of photographs): Any size black and white and/or color images. For historic buildings, include historic photographs and before-and-after images.
  3. Minimum of 4-6 digital images on a CD (may be same images as photographs).
  4. If the project is located within one of the seven historic districts on the Upper East Side or is an individual landmark, include Landmarks Preservation Commission Permit Letter.
  5. Drawings and/or text as necessary to explain project and/or communicate design intention.
  6. Any other information necessary to explain the project.

Contact efagan@friends-ues.org for more information, or click here to download the nomination form. _____________________________________________________

Categories: Blogs, News

Miss Sloane

Upper East Side Theater - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 22:02
Jessica Chastain is a force of nature in this outstanding original political drama. Playing Miss Sloane, a lobbyist in Washington who switches alliances on an upcoming gun control bill, Ms. Chastain commands the screen from the opening seconds until the very last shot. Easily one of the best roles of her career, she will be an automatic for a Best Actress nomination.The film co-stars Sam Waterston, Mark Strong, John Lithgow, Allison Pill, Gugu mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg and Jake Lacy as various allies and enemies. Even though the script is word heavy (it has a Aaron Sorkin feel to it), John Madden's direction and the entire cast work brilliantly to bring this terrific story to life. The less said about the twists and turns of this Washington potboiler, the better.  You can easily believe much of what you see on screen actually happens every day in D.C. and the film is so timely, it's issues will having you discussing it long after you leave the theater.The last and biggest revelation hits like a ton of bricks but does strain credibility, however it makes for great storytelling and entertainment value so I forgive the plot machination from first time screenwriter, Jonathan Perera. This smart film grabs your attention from the start and is riveting until the very end.
Categories: Blogs

The Handmaiden

Upper East Side Theater - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 21:55
The new film from acclaimed director, Park Chan-wook is an Asian adaptation of "Fingersmith, a novel by Sarah Waters originally set in a Victorian era. The setting is now Korea under a Japanese Colonial rule. The film is in both Japanese and Korean with subtitles.  Do not let the subtitles bother you, this film is not to be missed and best seen on a large screen.This is an erotically charged psychological thriller played out in three chapters telling the same tale from different angles, each revealing twists and turns you never see coming.It is stunningly beautiful in it's visuals, from the cinematography to the costume design, to the actors themselves. The plot, on the surface is a simple con game filled with humor, intrigue, sex, and a dash of perversity. With each subsequent chapter, layers are peeled back and the story becomes deeper and richer with explosive revelations.This is a film that will reward the viewer in many ways, directed by a master filmmaker, who holds an audience in his grasp with every frame. Enraptured by it's intricacies,  I may have forgotten to breathe until it was over.
Categories: Blogs

Nocturnal Animals

Upper East Side Theater - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 21:14
Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal excel in this new film by designer/filmmaker, Tom Ford. Only his second feature, Mr. Ford directs with confidence from his own original script.  The film is a very sophisticated thriller about relationships and the fragility of love and cruelty.Ms. Adams plays Susan, an art curator in a troubled second marriage to Hutton, played by Armie Hammer. Her ex-husband Edward, Mr. Gyllenhaal's character, has just sent her a manuscript of his completed novel, entitled "Nocturnal Animals". Over a long weekend alone, Susan begins to read the novel which then comes to life on the screen.In the film within a film, Mr. Gyllenhaal plays Tony, a loving husband who runs into trouble on a dark Texas highway late one night, while traveling with his wife (Isla Fisher) and teenage daughter (Ellie Bamber). Also featured in this part of the story are Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (both excellent). The film cuts back and forth between Susan's world and Tony's story in the novel.There are connections to be made and devastating revelations to be revealed between the two worlds and Mr. Ford frames every detail with exquisite production values and cinematography. The ending will surely garner discussion and images from the film may haunt you for some time.  
Categories: Blogs

Bleed For This

Upper East Side Theater - Sun, 11/20/2016 - 15:58
           Miles Teller delivers another knockout performance as  real life boxer, Vinny Pazienza in this fact based boxing drama. Mr. Pazienza was on top of the boxing world when a car accident left him with a broken neck. This is the story of a miracle comeback.            Mr. Teller is excellent in the role, handling himself well in the boxing sequences but really excelling during his rehabilitation period. You can feel the strength and determination in every grimace and bead of sweat as he fights not only to walk again but to eventually return to the ring.                The film co-stars Aaron Eckhart as real life trainer Kevin Mooney and it is a trans-formative performance playing against type. Also co-starring is Ted Levine as a fight promoter and as Vinny's parents, Katey Sagal and Ciaran Hinds.                 The acting is first rate and it's an amazing comeback story but as boxing films go, it doesn't have the emotional heft of "Rocky" or the depth of "Raging Bull" to go the distance. It does however, land a solid one-two punch with Mr. Teller and Mr. Eckhart.
Categories: Blogs

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Stahl an Appeal

Friends of the Upper East Side - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:10


The federal battle is over for Stahl York Ave. Co., LLC, owner of the City & Suburban Homes Company First Avenue Estate, an individual landmark.

The buildings, constructed by the City and Suburban Homes Company in 1915, were designated as individual landmarks by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for the significance of their design and their pioneering role in social housing reform. Home to longtime tenants of modest income, these buildings continue to be a source of affordable housing on the Upper East Side.

LPC denied Stahl’s hardship application, which claimed that the owner suffered an unconstitutional taking as a result of the City’s decision to designate the First Avenue Estate buildings as an individual landmark. In January, the New York State Supreme Court upheld LPC’s denial of this application.

After years of legal battles, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied Stahl an appeal. In September, FRIENDS wrote to you about Stahl’s attempt to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now we can happily report that the federal case is closed! The New York State case is still pending, but experts are confident that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision will have a direct impact on the outcome of the State case.

Last year, FRIENDS filed an amicus curiae brief, gathering the support of our elected officials and other preservation organizations, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This case is precedent-setting for other landmark properties in our city and has implications far beyond the First Avenue Estate.

Thanks to YOU for helping make this happen!

FRIENDS is grateful to our partners who joined us in filing the amicus brief:

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney State Senator Liz Krueger State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright City Coucil Member Benjamin Kallos Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer National Trust for Historic Preservation Preservation League of New York State New York Landmarks Conservancy* Historic Districts Council Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Landmark West! Friends of the First Avenue Estate

*The Conservancy submitted its own brief.

For more information:

Visit here for updates and a timeline of the case.

“New York City’s Landmarks Commission Wins Important Takings Lawsuit” by Will Cook, National Trust for Historic Preservation, March 29, 2016.

“Responding to Misleading Arguments Against Local Landmark Laws” by David J. Brown, National Trust for Historic Preservation, July 25, 2016.

Categories: Blogs, News

FRIENDS is Happy to Announce a New Educational Program: Building Fun Basics!

Friends of the Upper East Side - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 11:54


Since 1995, the educational programs at FRIENDS have reached over 1,500 first through fifth grade children annually to teach them about New York City’s built environment. Building Fun has been one of FRIENDS’ Key Programs with the aim of introducing students to the idea that buildings can talk and tell us stories about their use, materials, age, and purpose through classroom lessons, a neighborhood walking tour, and hands-on activities.

After the success of Building Fun, FRIENDS has created Building Fun Basics, geared towards younger students in preschool and kindergarten. This hour-long lesson consists of time in the classroom introducing  young learners to shapes, colors, textures, and materials in architecture, followed by a brief excursion in the neighborhood near the school to find examples of themes learned indoors. Our hope is that this program will reach even more children and awaken young students’ interest in architecture at an early age.

Along with Building Fun Basics, our three original programs are also available: Building Fun, Yorkville Immigration, and Landmarks & Preservation. We are happy to announce that any one program is free for a school trying that program for the first time! 

To learn more about this program and schedule a session, please click here or contact Heidi Carey at hcarey@friends-ues.org.

Categories: Blogs, News

Frick Update: New Architect Chosen for Expansion

Friends of the Upper East Side - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 11:29

Photo Courtesy of Emon Hassan, New York Times

In June 2014, The Frick Collection announced plans to expand the institution, which included the replacement of the prized Russell Page garden with a new, out-of-scale tower. FRIENDS, among many other groups like Unite to Save the Frick, opposed these inappropriate plans. After much criticism, the Frick withdrew its proposal the following year.

Yesterday, the Frick announced that after a year of consideration, Selldorf Architects has been chosen to design an upgrade, enhancement, and expansion of the museum’s facilities. The Frick states that the new design will work within the museum’s existing footprint while preserving the domestic scale and aesthetic of the original home and gardens.

FRIENDS, which has been involved with and spoke out against this proposal in the past, looks forward to seeing the revised designs in the winter of 2017.

To learn more about the Frick’s recent decision, read: “Frick Collection Names Selldorf Architects for Its Renovation,” The New York Times, October 20, 2016.

Categories: Blogs, News

Hacksaw Ridge

Upper East Side Theater - Thu, 11/17/2016 - 20:10
                 An amazing true story of courage and faith under fire. This new war drama is the story of Desmond Doss, a man of conviction and strong religious belief who wanted to serve his county in World War II but refused to carry a weapon. Think what you will about Mel Gibson, the man, you have to appreciate him as a director and the entire cast and crew that bring this remarkable story to life.                 Andrew Garfield stars as Doss and he is sensational. It is a very demanding role, especially in the second half of the film and he is truly inspiring. Co-starring are Rachel Griffiths and Hugo Weaving as his parents, Vince Vaughan as Sargent Howell, Sam Worthington as Captain Glover and Teresa Palmer as Dorothy, the love of Desmond's life.                 The first half of the film is backstory explaining Doss's decision to be a pacifist, how he meets Dorothy, and his subsequent enlistment into the army. The second half of the film is all about the battle of Hacksaw Ridge and this is where Mr. Gibson and his team excel. They bring the viewer smack into the middle of war in all it's horror and gore. The battle scenes are incredibly realistic and you feel every bullet and explosion. It is a visceral experience beyond the opening sequence of "Saving Private Ryan". The violence and gore only serve to illustrate the miracle of Medic Doss and what he does during this battle, without a weapon, to save not only himself but seventy five wounded soldiers.                   The film ends with a wonderful coda, a short interview with the real Desmond Doss, filmed shortly before his death at the age of 87.  "Hacksaw Ridge", while difficult to watch at times, is a wonderful testament to a true American hero.
Categories: Blogs

Thanksgiving 2016 Menu

This Friday 11/18, 5pm, is the deadline to order your Butterfield Market Thanksgiving Delivery!You can download a copy of our menu here. We look forward to serving you!
Categories: Blogs

This Week's Chef's Table Menu: Week of November 14th!

This Week's Daily Hot Lunch Menu ($10) from our "Chef's Table" at Butterfield Market!
Categories: Blogs


Upper East Side Theater - Sat, 11/12/2016 - 19:31
If cerebral science fiction films appeal to you, then add this new sci-fi drama to your "must see" list. Don't expect much to happen though as the action, such as it is, is minimal. It's never mentioned in the film but if you have any idea what the "Sapir-Whorf hypothesis" is all about, you will probably appreciate the story much more than the average viewer.When twelve alien vessels appear in various locations on earth, Linguist Dr. Louise Banks and physicist Dr. Ian Donnelly are brought in by the U.S. military to try to communicate with the aliens hovering over Montana. Dr. Banks, the main protagonist, is played by Amy Adams. Jeremy Renner plays Dr. Donnelly and the two of them spend the entire film trying to communicate with the aliens. Deciphering their written language becomes the key and if you are still awake by the third act, there is a revelation that turns the film on it's head. It just takes a long time to get there. The film co-stars Forest Whitaker as Colonel Webber,  who is in charge of the investigation and Michael Stuhlbarg as Agent Halpern, the CIA agent suspicious of the alien intent. The film, however, really belongs to Ms. Adams as she is the key character to the story, bringing an emotional element to what otherwise would be a dry scientific treatise on how to communicate with aliens. She also does a great job "selling" the whole concept. I can appreciate Director Denis Villeneuve wanting to tackle a new genre but a thoughtful, philosophical, and theoretical sci-fi film isn't what you might expect from the trailer. Having said that, you still may find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Categories: Blogs