Category Archives: movies

The only things that matter

From Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess): “I used to think that that it was a small sin to waste time rereading silly books you’ve already read, or watching shows about robots with hearts, and time travel, and impossible things, but then I grew up and realized that those things were the only things that mattered.”

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Sudo agrees. Especially because reading and watching shows about robots with hearts are things you can do from the couch. And if any dog ever had a favorite place, hers is the couch. One day I hope to enjoy my retirement as much as she enjoys hers.

 

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Virtual Bowl of Soup

On a horrendous (weather-wise) day like today, we should all be enjoying real, homemade soup. But here’s a virtual bowl, for those who haven’t got the real thing.

For those who want to make the real thing, I’ll do my best to recall the recipe  from memory here (I don’t have it written down in front of me). Credit where it’s due: I believe this recipe is from Susie Fishbein’s Kosher By Design.

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
4-6 cups liquid (vegetable broth and water)
1 15-oz. can white (cannelini) beans
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
about 2 cups chopped green beans (frozen is fine)
about 2 cups corn (frozen again)
olive oil
salt
pepper

I usually have two pots going; in the smaller pot, cook the sweet potato (reserve some of this water when draining; you may need it to thin the soup. If you’re using bouillon cubes, as I do, you can also cook the sweet potato in the broth and transfer it all over together). In the larger soup pot, saute the onion in the oil until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and the cannelini, and sweet potato and broth/water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the green beans. About 5 minutes before serving, add the corn. Season to taste.

If I have gotten anything tragically wrong, I’ll correct it in the next few hours, but I think it’s OK as is.

“I think it’s gonna be okay, Joe.”
“WHAT makes you think that?”
“Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear!”
-Empire Records

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Have fun storming the castle!

Thursday night, there was a screening of The Princess Bride at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square. I have seen The Princess Bride perhaps 30 times in my life (that’s a wildly conservative estimate), but never on the big screen. So naturally we went. And I took several furtive pictures (“like a Japanese tourist,” I was described), though it probably violates some kind of copyright or theater rule, but honestly, it isn’t as if everyone doesn’t already have these images burned permanently into their brains, and if they don’t, they should, so this is really just a public service. You’re welcome, Act III Communications.

“But what if something happens to you?”
“Hear this now: I will always come for you.”

“But how can you be sure?”
“This is true love. You think this happens every day?”

“You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.”
“You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.”

“Death cannot stop true love. What it can do is delay it for a while.”
“I will never doubt again.”
“There will never be a need.”

“Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT – mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean. They’re so perky, I love that. But that’s not what he said…”

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

“…And there they were, four white horses! And I thought, there are four of us, if we ever find the lady – hello, lady!”

“…This one left them all behind.”

It’s hard to describe they way I feel about this movie; fortunately, I’m saved from having to, because the vast majority of people I know feel the same way. The brilliant device of the grandfather telling the story to the grandson (Fred Savage! From The Wonder Years! We’re ridiculously sentimental three seconds into the movie – how can we not be?) creates humor as a balance for the over-the-top romance of it (has anyone ever counted the number of times the phrase “true love” is said throughout the movie?). The characters are absolutely fantastic, and they aren’t simply shallow foils for each other, either. If you’ve read the book you know each has an in-depth backstory that is only glossed over by Vizzini on the ship in the beginning: he reminds Inigo of his drunkenness – brought on by his failure to find the six-fingered man – and Fezzik of his state when Vizzini found him, friendless and unemployed in Greenland.

Overall, the movie is clever and quick; the casting is impeccable; the story is romantic but laughs at itself (and, one suspects, laughs itself into hysterics at movies like The Notebook). It is the only movie I have ever seen that I’ll allow is better than – or at the very least equal to – the book (though in all fairness I did see the movie first). It is the only movie that acts as a flytrap for me: if I walk into a room where it is on, I am not leaving that room until it is over. And even in the theater I did not manage to refrain from whispering the lines along with the characters on screen (I wasn’t the only one. And there was much applause, especially when Inigo finally killed Count Rugen).

In a word: perfect.

What I’m reading: A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
What I’m listening to: El Momento Descuidado, The Church; Spanish with Michel Thomas; Jason Nichols

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Lincoln Center at night

Before taking off for California, I stopped in New York, because (a) that’s where the flight was taking off from, and (b) a couple of dear friends/old roommates and I have a tradition of going to see the Nutcracker at the Lincoln Center. It’s almost exactly the same every year, and we sit ridiculously high up in the nosebleed seats, and yet…we keep going. (And vowing that one of these years we’ll be sitting in the good seats. Or at least second or third ring.) What can I say? We find the Candy Canes irresistible.

No pictures of the ballet itself, of course (strictly verboten!), but there aren’t rules (that I know of) against taking pictures of the tree, or the chandelier(s), or the fountain.

And there are definitely no rules against taking pictures of the moon.

A few days later, on Christmas, I went to see the movie Black Swan, which is also about ballet, and a great deal of it takes place at Lincoln Center. The Nutcracker is as shiny-happy, feel-good (minus the bit about the many-headed Mouse King), and Christmasy as Black Swan is dark and unpredictable; it makes a lot of sense that director of Black Swan also directed Requiem for a Dream. Unlike many movies billed as “psychological thrillers,” however, this one was not all full of plot holes, though it did leave some elements (what is real, what is in the character’s head) up to audience interpretation. Beautiful, and incredibly well-acted – but not a sugarplum to be found.

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Harry Potter and the Give Us Ten More of Your Dollars

Credit for the title joke goes entirely to my roommate, who came up with it when a trailer for the movie came on TV. True, they’re milking HP7 for all it’s worth, splitting it into two movies. The seventh book was long, but it wasn’t THAT much longer than five or six. However, we went to see it anyway, and I have to say, it was really good.

I am NOT going to give anything away. I will say I think they did a really good job – I enjoyed Deathly Hallows Part One more than the sixth movie, and I’m looking forward to Part Two next summer. However, one thing they didn’t include in the movie was the desperation over finding food that Harry, Ron, and Hermione experienced in the book. You know (if you’ve read it), they’re wandering around the countryside for months, and though Hermione has packed pretty much every conceivable useful object in her magical beaded purse, they still have to forage in the forest for food, and they aren’t particularly good at it. And even when they do scrounge something up, they’re not very good at cooking it. (Maybe because they’re seventeen and have never had to cook for themselves?) And the laws of the universe hold even for wizards: you can’t create matter from nothing. So the food thing was something they glossed over in the movie – you don’t see them eating anything for a good chunk of time. (Speaking of which, the movie – Part One – is 2 1/2 hours.) (And yes, of course I noticed the lack of food. What can I say, I’m very observant that way.)

The other thing that a LOT of people in the theater noticed – we went to a night showing so there weren’t a lot of young kids – was how utterly useless Harry and Ron are without Hermione. As Ron says, “We wouldn’t last two days without her.” Two days is probably being generous. It seems that the only significant spell Harry has managed to master is “expecto patronum,” which produces the Patronus that can fight off Dementors. Other than that, the only spells he and Ron seem capable of they learned in their first year, as eleven-year-olds: lumos, to make a light on the tip of the wand; expelliarmus, to disarm an enemy; accio, to summon an object; and diffindo, to sever or cut (that’s the only one I had to look up. Maybe I’ve read these too much?). The infamous (there was a lawsuit) Harry Potter Lexicon, by the way, is here.

Also, I bit off two of my fingernails. It gets kind of tense at times.

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Walden Pond

The weekend seems like a long time ago…

As if a day at the pond wasn’t perfect enough already, Saturday also started with this:

Peach cobbler: peaches from Atkins Farms in Amherst, recipe from The New Best Recipe. Highly, highly recommend. The level of deliciousness is not to be believed.

What I’ve been reading: Melusine, Lynne Reid Banks; Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling (audiobook)

What I’ve been listening to: Moon Safari, Air

What I’ve been watching: Finding Nemo, Toy Story 3

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Good With Weird

My only defense – and I’m not sure many other people can truthfully say this – was that I had to read the first book for work. The second, third, and fourth books I read on my own; likewise, I saw the first movie of my own free will, along with accomplices (Marathon Girl and a former roommate of ours). Tonight we went to see the second movie, and if you are still not sure what I am talking about, here’s a hint:

“But the absence of him is everywhere I look. It’s like a huge hole has been punched through my chest. But in a way I’m glad, the pain was the only reminder that he was real.”

“Can you [forgive me]? I hope you can, because, I honestly don’t know how to live without you.”

And if you’re still in the dark…

 

 

Yes, we three contributed to the $230 million+ box office for the second Twilight movie. And you know what? It was fun. They actually did a pretty good job with the material, I think – the second book was not my favorite. Granted, some of us may have laughed at parts that were not intended to be funny (see above dialogue), but the theater was actually fairly empty, so we did not get accosted by angry gangs of thirteen-year-old Robert Pattinson (sorry – Team Edward!) fans afterward. Yet another Monday escaped unscathed!

 

If you’re looking for a movie that is actually billed as a comedy, allow me to recommend Clue (1985), the movie based on the board game. I finally got around to watching it the other night – with Marathon Girl, the Swede, and my mom – and it is really pretty hilarious. Tim Curry as Wadsworth, is fantastic.

 

Wadsworth: Indeed no, sir. I’m merely a humble butler.

Colonel Mustard: What exactly do you do?

Wadsworth: I buttle, sir.

 

Also:

 

Wadsworth: At the start of the evening, Yvette was here, by herself, waiting to offer you all a glass of champagne. I was in the hall. [pause] I know because I was there.

 

Okay, perhaps it is funnier onscreen. So, go watch it! Unless you are in the mood for emotional teen vampire werewolf drama, then go see New Moon.

 

What I’m reading: March, Geraldine Brooks

What I’m listening to: Double Plaidinum and Let’s Talk About Feelings, Lagwagon

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