1) The new movie about Fred Rogers has surprised some early viewers who thought it would trace his life and career. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based, loosely, on a single true story. It dramatizes how this creator of a children’s TV show could move people—including adults—to live better, happier lives. True story: In 1998, Esquire magazine asked journalist Tom Junod to write an in-depth profile of the famous Mister Rogers, who at age 70 was still making episodes of his show. The reporter found himself warmly welcomed and personally uplifted. Junod’s account of the days he spent with Fred, titled “Can You Say … Hero?,” became a profoundly moving classic in its own right. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood fictionalizes the interplay between the two men. While many true elements are kept—such as carefully re-created scenes of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” being produced in WQED’s Studio A—interpersonal dynamics are cranked up for dramatic effect.
The magazine reporter (renamed Lloyd Vogel, and played by Matthew Rhys) is portrayed as a cynical young man with a screwed-up family life, upset at first about having to write a piece on a sweet-talking kiddie icon. But Fred (Tom Hanks) doesn’t just talk goodness and love; he embodies it, projects it, and a tortured soul is transformed. A Beautiful Day comes to Pittsburgh theaters trailing strong reviews. (MV)
2) Chef Keson brings decades of culinary experience from her native Thailand and Pittsburgh Thai restaurants to Red Orchid. She, her husband, and her sister use fresh local produce to create one-of-a-kind dishes. Among those dishes are curries made from a family recipe. The curry fried rice is also a winner. The Pad Thai ($12.50) is great, but if one is looking for something a little different but also exceptional, try the Pad Ka Prao ($12.50). It is made “from the wok” with stir-fried garlic, bell peppers, green beans, and fried egg. Either ground pork or chicken for a protein. Try the Spicy Basil Pad Ka Prao for a spin. Both are served with jasmine rice. For a traditional beverage, there’s Thai Iced Tea and Thai Iced Coffee. It’s also BYOB. The menu includes multiple appetizers, soups, sides, and specials. The restaurant expanded some years ago and offers 24 seats in a spacious dining room. 5439 Babcock Blvd., Ross Township. (CM)