CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Guests of Don Brown's first Midweek Mixer got comfortable in bean bag chairs at the Cupola Theatre, located in the new Honolulu Design Center.
Food & film
Nosh ’n’ watch a movie at Honolulu Design Center
Don Brown has always championed bringing together good food and good cinema ever since he tried it at Restaurant Row some years ago before the theaters converted into bargain second-run houses. He attempted the art-house movie and food/wine combination last year at Kapiolani Community College, but the cramped venue contributed to the idea's temporary demise.
Honolulu Design Center Events
Located at 1250 Kapiolani Blvd.
» "Cuisine and Screen": Usually held on the third Sunday of the month; this weekend it's a French meal from Stage restaurant with the Oscar-winning "Babette's Feast." Cost is $40, and reservations are required by Thursday nights. On May 20, the featured film is "Big Night," and on June 17, it's "Like Water for Chocolate."
» "Midweek Music Mixers:" May 8, featuring the Cuban documentary "Buena Vista Social Club," and on June 13, the Spanish documentary "Calle 54." $15 admission includes wine tasting and pupu. Reservations are recommended but not required.
» Doors open: 5:30 p.m. for both events. For reservations, call 237-5462 or visit www.honoluludesigncenter.com.
With help from the new Honolulu Design Center, Brown revived the concept in what is proving to be an ideal setting, and declared last week's inaugural "Midweek Music Mixer" an "unqualified success."
"This has been something I've always wanted to do," said Brown, who is pleased to engage a community eager for innovative food and high-quality films. "I'm glad to see that people are responding to it."
"Midweek Music Mixers" highlight dramas and documentaries with a musical theme. Guests also enjoy pupu and selections from the wine bar throughout the evening. Last Wednesday, Brown chose Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz" -- the legendary director's therapy after critics declared his drama/musical "New York, New York" a dismal failure. Scorsese's documentary about The Band's final concert drew about 90 people, who flopped on bean bag chairs in the mezzanine area or danced in the back of the theater to onscreen performances from Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Van Morrison and Muddy Waters. Attendees included a mix of older people (one of whom actually attended the farewell concert in San Francisco), and a younger set mostly likely "born when the film was made" in the late 1970s, laughed Brown.
A note at the beginning of the credits urged theaters to turn up the volume. "We complied," he said. A few locally made shorts preceded the feature, giving Hawaii's young filmmakers a chance to showcase their work to a receptive audience.
Still working through some logistical snags, Brown said they turned away a few people at the door. Registration numbers had indicated seating would be limited. But it turned out that several people who reserved space did not attend. So Brown's new philosophy is to keep the "Midweek Music Mixers" casual, and try to accommodate everyone who shows up to partake.
Brown's other project, "Cuisine and Screen," debuts this Sunday. Guests with reservations can listen to live entertainment, taste wine and sample Chef Jon Matsubara's pupu, salad, soup and cheese before the coq au vin main course. The featured film, "Babette's Feast," begins at 7 p.m.