Sunday, January 17, 2016

Movies this week

The Martian
This was more fun than I expected. It was nearly a week ago but J and I are still wandering around the house singing Starman. Most excellent use of a song. The movie was completely predictable of course, but it didn't hit too many false notes for me. I enjoyed the smart aleck responses, I enjoyed the declaration that Mars was going to fear this man's botany powers, and I was happy to finally see something with Jessica Chastain in it. It isn't a life changing movie, but it wasn't filled with fools, in fact there wasn't even the one, and I was quite happy to spend $2.25 on it.

J and I have been waiting to watch Spectre for months. Except for the joy of uninterrupted Daniel Craig for 2h 38 min there is little to recommend the movie. It turns up fantastically foolish dialogue- for example at one point Moneypenny tells Bond "You have a secret, something you can't tell anyone because you don't trust them". No shit. Any other really basic words that you'd like to explain to us in the middle of what's supposed to be a spy thriller? So boring. Once you've seen Daniel Craig in a swimsuit every movie without that is a wasted opportunity. There might have been one joke that worked, but in general the dialogue fell flat. Also there were too many flashbacks and throwbacks to previous movies, we heard about Vesper Lynd and Le Chiffre more than there was exposition about the villain of the piece. It seemed kind of a waste of Monica Belluci, to give her so little to do in the movie. Could no one come up with an independent story-line for this movie. Also this train hurtling into Morocco was most suspicious, seeming to carry only spies, and wealthy Europeans on vacation, the two being inter-changeable I suppose. So nice of them to take the movie to North Africa and throw in a black driver at least.

Tragic realisations

I might have to come to terms with the fact that I do not like Japanese food.

I have a very dear Japanese-Swiss friend. We used to go to a restaurant called Sushi-train, in Geneva, about once a month. There I ate rice, with fried bits of fish on top, and rice wrapped in seaweed with cucumber, and let myself think that sushi was something I could do. And Claudia, twice as polite as everyone else, on account of being both Japanese and Swiss, left me my illusions.

Now I am in the U.S, and living with another sushi enthusiast (C and I were joined at the hip for 4 years), but this one will call me out. We've tried a whole host of Japanese restaurants in the area. J has a dear friend whose father was born in Japan to an army-dad. J himself enjoys fishy foods of all descriptions. So we find ourselves eating sushi a lot. And it always leaves me with a very odd feeling.

Branching out to other kinds of restaurant-Japanese fare has not been successful either. I do not like cold soba noodles, which appear frequently on menus. I like warm soba noodles, when made spicy and with peanuts- so basically Thai style.  I do not like miso soup- it is so odd. I do not like tofu- though I know I must learn to love this, as a mostly vegetarian person trying to get by in the U.S without dying of boredom. I do not like soups with raw, or semi-cooked eggs in them. I thought I loved ramen but I do not like broths where I can smell the fish above all other things, and soy to me is not a flavour. I have not tried chawanmushi- an egg custard with bits of fish and scallions, but I hope to next time. I want to love edamame, but eating more than 2 (one edamame, two edamame?) leaves my head throbbing. Teriyaki chicken leaves me cold, as does hibachi- neither is interesting enough for me to use up calories over them.

I do like gyoza- but you have to be a monster to deny a pan-seared dumpling. Shumai, again a dumpling. All dumplings are amazing, and I don't know if loving these is enough.

I don't like Japanese food. And I am sorry to have to admit it.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Movies one weekend in November

One of my New Year's resolutions is to write more. So am cleaning up old blog posts and letting them loose into the world. Also I may not watch or read anything without leaving at least a line or two about it. So prepare for many opinions in 2016.

November 2015

I have a paper due in a week. Procrastination in full swing. I have baked two batches of muffins, and watched several movies. The first batch of muffins was excellent- Banana Double Chocolate Chip Muffins, no butter or oil but applesauce instead. I was suspicious of applesauce- seemed like a bizarre American ingredient to me to begin with, but now I am a convert. I boiled up a bunch of apples that were going bad, because J is always buying too much fruit in the hope that I will help him eat it. He is not in luck. I eat fruits when they are cut and served to me by adoring grandparents after dinner, but not otherwise.

The second batch of muffins was supposed to serve as breakfast- so they had oats, bananas, cinnamon, cashews and applesauce. These did not turn out so well. They were far too runny, and deflated a bit while cooking. They were also weirdly grey. The almond extract I threw in at the last moment made the whole thing smell ever so slightly artificial- not because the essence was off, but because not even almonds smell that strongly of almonds. I gave up on these, but J has already eaten more than half, so despite their shrunken grey form I assume they are acceptable. Also he does not know where I have hidden the chocolate ones.

This weekend we started Lamhe (1991). J gave up rather soon, when Sridevi launched into her second dance, so about ten minutes into the movie. This film is nearly four hours long, and most of it is songs. Endless painful songs that do nothing to advance the plot. The creepiness of this man who falls in love with a woman, and then her daughter 18 years later was too much for us to handle. Anupam Kher is spectacularly annoying in his buffoonery, and Sridevi's high-pitched chirping was intolerable. As were Anil Kapur's sweaters, even if it was the early 90's. I did not finish this, I wanted to, but some time after watching Waheeda Rehman get on a roller-coaster with these mad hatters I gave up. Painful.

Humpty Sharma ki Dulhaniya (2014) was a more successful foray. Despite being ill-disposed to Varun Dhawan I found him quite tolerable. J lost patience with the Alia Bhatt character, but returned to watch every song, and practice his dance moves. I enjoyed some parts of the movie very much and was troubled by others. What did this girl study and what was her plan for after she got married? Big blank considering how smart she seems to be. Ashutosh Rana as the dad was most attractive. The sub-plot involving the plan to trick the fiancé into confessing his homosexuality was very nicely done. I was not expecting anything good to come from that set up, having been burnt by countless homophobic jokes in Hindi movies before, but this was a delightful change. For this alone I exempt the movie of criticism for the ridiculous plot and exasperating conclusion. And then there was Humpty's English poetry. In that moment I was in love too.

Nosferatu (1922)- we watched this on Halloween at a little local theatre, where they decided to allow the movie to be accompanied by an orchestra, performing music of their own composition. The music destroyed the movie, was completely off time, and included random bit of sentences, like "Beware the furry one" and "Aaaaieeeeee". I'm sure if there had been silence in the hall the movie would have been a lot spookier, as it happened, it was just tiresome. We did eat dinner in a great Chinese restaurant afterwards though. The waiter was high, and kept hiding J's beer bottle from him at the table (v bad at hiding).

Save the Date (2012) stars Lizzy Caplan. She is wonderful in everything, and even though the movie is a bit of fluff it is fun, and doesn't have the single cringe-inducing moment. Alison Brie is great too, and I look forward to seeing her in more things.

Heartlands (2002) was my find of the week on Netflix. I love Michael Sheen, almost as much as I love Lizzy Caplan. I loved them both before Masters of Sex, and so much more since that show. He was also a most excellent guest on Craig Ferguson's show, where they talked about medieval theme parks, and the importance of living without irony. Michael Sheen plays a man who learns his wife has taken up with the captain of their darts team, hops on the road to Blackpool, and has adventures on the way. The darts team captain was a familiar face as well- Jim Carter/Mr Carson from Downton Abbey. I would watch this again, when looking for a pick-me-up.