I have never been to Sqirl. My toes have not graced the state of California in fact since the place opened. But, Jessica Koslow’s cooking has reenergized the idea of a SoCal cuisine to the point where people like me on the other side of the country covet her renditions of rarified toasts, as breakfast further supplants all other meals. The savory and sweet versions, avocado and ricotta & jam, produce a salivation of both the body and brain. Preserves are made of not-yet-beloved berries (mulberry, boysen) and pesto from garden herbs with funny names, the kind that gallop across the tongue, inspiring both an intellectual and appetitive lust. California cooking — categorically breezy with locavore foods, is here sneakily endowed with sugars and fat aplenty. Underneath its casual perfection and projected healthfulness, the seemingly simple dishes at Sqirl hide both a precision of technique and a world of influences.
Aaron Katz, 2017
The movie Gemini too is more than its shiny surfaces, here the candy-colored neon lights of Los Angeles bleeding over its hazy skies. Aaron Katz's film is an update of the LA noir, a who-dun-it circling a movie star (Zoe Kravitz) and her devoted assistant (Lola Kirke). Their easy relationship is ruptured after a dead body turns up in the home of the former, and the latter becomes the prime suspect. Yet the insouciance remains; quintessential LA signifiers like winding hills, seedy bars, and modern homes are all captured with a beauty remarkable in its near unremarkability.
Effectively suspenseful, Gemini addresses its genre elements with what is best described as a knowing, bleary-eyed wink. The big-shot movie producers are affably gruff and a spurned boyfriend emits the lived-in squalor of Chateau Marmont. None of them are grounded in reality, but surrounded by a set of expiring quotation marks, pencilings that Katz willfully and ingeniously smears into a mood of warm detachment. Even the Los Angeles of the film has been blunted of the hard quick sell of tinsel town and muted of its glamour.
What appears as low-key plot with off-the-cuff stylings is actually a deeper meditation on the peculiar fragilities of both fame and female friendship. Its broadly appealing Instagram-filter aesthetic is only part of what makes this movie so attractive, a parallel to the now iconic café, extending breakfast pleasures into the day.