Top a double-dose of French New Wave Cinema with the effortless brilliance of The Office Burger

By Angela Matano

Like France, Father’s Office pretends not to care much
what you think or even what
you like, but with barely a back-ward glance, the joint serves up the best burger in L.A.

There’s a certain je ne sais quoi — a nonchalance if you will — that comes with Frenchness, or at least American perception of Frenchness. Truth be told, that air of Frankly-my-dear-I-don’t-give-a-damn-ness is a quality everyone else in the world yearns for. It’s not indifference exactly, but a deep abiding confidence … or at least that’s how it comes across.

Two movies epitomizing Parisian chic, “Breathless” and “Band of Outsiders,” screen this Saturday at that indomitable Santa Monica institution, The Aero Theatre. The double feature can be taken together or individually, providing an adequate dosage of swank — much like the flu shot, a yearly French film viewing does the trick. Both shrug their way toward being crime films, but in the most modest way possible. The important take away is their ineluctable style.

Directed by the legendary Jean-Luc Godard, both pictures sneak up on you, kind of tapping you on the shoulder from behind. Anti-establishment, anti-almost everything, the director’s early-sixties point of view captures a restless youthful ennui that persists to this day. A frustration with what came before that finds some respite in music, cinema and a cigarette. Check out actress Jean Seberg in her marinière (stripy shirt) and cropped hair — just as au courant today as ever. Ce flick est en fleek.

If you haven’t made an effort to check out The Aero Theatre, do. The programming at The American Cinematheque (there is also the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood) bursts with cinematic gems that are honest-to-God worth the trek to see on the big screen. Classics and newer choices await, often with special guests, and family-friendly picks, like the recently screened “E.T.,” only underscore the emotional gulf that exists between watching things at home versus the irresistible communal experience.

And speaking of anti-establishmentarianism, what could be slouchier than a quick burger in a bar? A bar filled with smoke perhaps, but that ain’t gonna happen. The low-key style of the original Father’s Office on Montana Avenue provides a perfect pairing with French New Wave cinema. Like France, Father’s Office pretends not to care much what you think or even what you like, but with barely a backward glance, the joint serves up the best burger in L.A.

The Office Burger comes one way and one way only. Don’t try to substitute or add anything, because that won’t fly here. That goes double for you, ketchup — condiment non grata. But, if you give yourself over to the louche-y charms of this particular sandwich, the angels may just sing for you. Chef Sang Yoon thought long and hard about every aspect of his dish, from the carmelized onion and applewood bacon to the gruyere and maytag blue cheeses and the fluffy toupee of arugula.

The balance of flavors Yoon achieves — sweet and juicy, salty and bitter, augmented by perfect fries and a side of aioli — make for a thoroughly enjoyable meal, preferably chewed while discussing philosophy or sociology, or some such. Choose a beer or two to augment your meal. There are so many choices at Father’s Office, you might just go dizzy with pleasure. Try a malty Golden Road Get Up Offa That Brown, or a yeasty and spicy Victorian Golden Monkey. Even when you attempt cool, it’s even more important to have fun, something Jean-Paul Belmondo seemed to know instinctively.

“Breathless” and “Band of Outsiders” screen at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 21) at The Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave, Santa Monica. $12. (310) 260-1528;

Father’s Office is at 1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica. (310) 736-2224;