Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Fun fact: For the scene in which Miles interrogates Uncle Buck in rapid-fire fashion, John Candy pasted the dialogue on top of his head so that Macaulay Culkin could read his lines quickly and not trip over his own words.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Henry: That's so old. Is it any good?
Mary Margaret: It's unbelievable! Who makes tortes out here anyway?
Henry: That's the widow Thayer, she made that.
Mary Margaret: You're saying she made this?
Henry: Right. She's the one who's been doing all the cooking.
Mary Margaret: A woman did not make this.
Henry: What is that supposed to mean?
Mary Margaret: Nothing. I don't mean anything by it. I'm just saying a woman didn't make this.
Henry: Please stay for supper, Pike.
Henry: Look at the size of this trout.
The directorial debut of Thomas Bezucha (who also directed The Family Stone), Big Eden was a breakthrough film that finally depicted gay men of all shapes, sizes, and ages navigating the treacherous waters of love just like regular folks, with no over-the-top drama or circuit boys or any other stereotypically “gay” details thrown in just for laughs. When Henry (Gross) visits his hometown in rural Montana to care for his ailing grandfather, he discovers that Dean (DeKay), his high school “crush,” has also recently returned home. But while Henry pursues Dean (without actually coming out of the closet), Pike (Schweig), the owner of the general store, falls “head over heels” for Henry. Since Pike is too shy to approach Henry directly, he decides to learn to cook and proceeds to prepare dinner for Henry and his grandfather, surreptitiously substituting his dishes for the ones made by the widow Thayer (Martin). Despite promptings from his friends in town, it takes Henry a long time to get over his obsession with his straight friend Dean and to realize his affection for Pike and understand Pike’s for him.
“So, what’s for eats?” Henry asks, and the audience is richly rewarded with a parade of amazing dishes. At the same time, the film’s depiction of Pike’s progress in the kitchen serves as a real culinary education. He begins by reading The Joy of Cooking, and it remains his “bible” throughout the film; but he also refers to Cooking Light, Gourmet, and Food & Wine magazines, creating tasty dishes because he wants “things to be nice” for Henry. The film shows many of Pike’s creations—chicken with apricots, olives, and figs; stuffed green peppers; mushroom and spinach salad; baked salmon garnished with radishes and celery; steamed clams; curly endive and cucumber salad; chicken with carrots, celery, and beans; trout poached in white wine (he sends his friends out to the stream to catch the trout!); mushroom soup—and the viewer even hears tell of a delicious peach sorbet (made in Montana, in the winter!).
No movie about familial relationships would be complete without a Thanksgiving meal, and Big Eden depicts the usual dysfunctional gathering, with all the trimmings: turkey, green beans, biscuits, potato salad, and cherry and pumpkin pies. The masterpiece of this meal, however, is the platter of endive, asparagus, yellow and orange peppers, and bean sprouts.
Other foods are mentioned: cappuccino, cottage cheese and sour cream pancakes, burgers with onions or cheese or chili, ribs, corn on the cob, watermelon. The plot hinges on Henry’s discovery of who actually made the delicious torte he discusses with Mary Margaret (Cox): he thinks it was the widow, just as he believed all along that she was preparing dinner for him and his grandfather, but when she admits that the food was not hers, Henry finally opens his eyes and begins to accept the love that is being showered upon him. The way to a man’s heart truly is through his stomach!
Written and directed by Thomas Bezucha
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Our most recent cooking endeavor was based upon the food in the film Tortilla Soup. This one expanded our boundaries a bit, for the recipes called for everything from octopus to banana leaves, squash blossoms, and cactus paddles! But it was fun to put together, and it was a great end-of-summer grilling opportunity--the last of the season?--well, who knows what the next movie will require?
The chefs who prepared the food served in Tortilla Soup, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, are also known as the “Too Hot Tamales,” which was also the name of their series on the Food Network (1995-1999). The dishes they cooked for filming were based upon the menus at their famous restaurants, Cuidad in Los Angeles and the Border Grill in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Based on the book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, the film Fast Food Nation is a dramatic portrayal of America’s relationship with fast food—burgers, fries, chicken tenders, shakes—and the companies that cook and sell it, the meat-processing plants that make it available, the animals that provide it, and the workers that prepare it. When a marketing executive for Mickey’s Burgers learns of tests that show his company’s Big One burgers are tainted with fecal matter, he travels to Cody, Colorado, to inspect Uni-Globe Meat Packing, the supplier of the hamburger patties. At the same time, several Mexicans who have just illegally crossed over the border are hired to work at Uni-Globe as meat cutters and cleaners. And a young cashier at a Mickey’s Burgers franchise joins with a group of newfound friends to free cows awaiting slaughter from their holding pen. The three plotlines converge, but the filmmakers have chosen realism over drama, and the actions and decisions of the individual characters have little if any lasting effect.
Although animal-slaughtering scenes don’t occur until the end of the film, Fast Food Nation is not a movie that will whet your appetite. Indeed, from the mention of feces-contaminated hamburger in the opening scenes to the depiction of an undocumented worker losing his leg in the meat-processing plant, the film causes viewers to ask if they want to participate in any way in this “machine” that seems to have taken control of America’s eating habits.
Debi Anderson: Well, I guess it is a marketing issue. If the kids die from eating your burgers, it makes them much harder to sell.
Don Anderson: Marketing 101. Don’t kill the customer. Bad for repeat business.
Rudy Martin: By the way, Don, you seem like a nice fella. But the food your company sells is crap—total crap—even when there isn’t manure in it.
Harry Rydell: It is a sad fact of life, Don. But the truth is … we all have to eat a little shit from time to time.
Americans spend more than $140 billion annually at fast food “restaurants”; the U.S. fast-food market is the world’s largest, with China’s second. The average American spends more than $20,000 on fast food in a lifetime; about 25 percent of Americans visit a fast-food restaurant every day. The 3.5 million fast-food workers in the United States represent the largest group of minimum-wage earners.
Released November 17, 2006
Starring Greg Kinnear as Don Anderson, Bruce Willis as Harry Rydell, Ethan Hawke as Pete, Patricia Arquette as Cindy, Kris Kristofferson as Rudy Martin, Bobby Cannavale as Mike, Luis Guzmán as Benny, Ashley Johnson as Amber, Paul Dano as Brian, Catalina Sandino Moreno as Sylvia, Ana Claudia Talancón as Coco, Wilmer Valderrama as Raul, and Avril Lavigne as Alice
Directed by Richard Linklater
Monday, September 8, 2008
The first is Sirloin of Beef, delectable and buttery, prepared with shallots and mushrooms:
Next is Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette, a quite refreshing dish because it is served chilled:
Finally, Chocolate and Vanilla Eclairs. This is a recipe that took us three tries to perfect: the pastry has to be light yet strong, the filling must be smooth yet substantial, and the chocolate sauce must be thick yet spreadable. As chefs, we have to remember that "presentation" is perhaps just as important as taste (but these eclairs are really yummy too!).
Monday, August 18, 2008
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is another film with a meal in the title but no food in the movie. True, the plot centers around a young woman’s decision to bring her fiancé home to dine with her parents, and her further decision to invite his parents to join them all, but the “problem” facing these families (he’s African American, she’s white) keeps them away from the dinner table until very late in the evening. By the time they do sit down to eat, three of the four parents have come to accept that though it may not lead to an easy life, true love is “colorblind.” The viewer is left with hope for the future of the young lovers but only the promise of the fine meal that has been prepared for this momentous evening, a meal that was to feature turtle soup, beef tournedos, and home-baked pie. The only food shown on screen is a light lunch of sandwiches, soup, and coffee and a drive-in snack of fresh Oregon boysenberry sherbet and coffee, so moviegoers would probably have applauded Matt Drayton’s final question, “When the hell are we gonna get some dinner?”
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was Spencer Tracy’s final film, but it was the first for Katharine Houghton, Katharine Hepburn’s niece.
This was the first movie to show an interracial kiss, a daring step in 1967 America.
Isabel Sanford, who played Tillie, appeared as Louise Jefferson in the hit TV shows All in the Family and The Jeffersons. Beah Richards, who played Mrs. Prentice, starred with Sidney Poitier in 1968’s In the Heat of the Night.
Produced and Directed by Stanley Kramer
Written by William Rose
Starring Spencer Tracy as Matt Drayton, Katharine Hepburn as Christina Drayton, Sidney Poitier as John Prentice, Katharine Houghton as Joey Drayton, Beah Richards as Mrs. Prentice, Roy Glenn as Mr. Prentice, Isabel Sanford as Tillie Binks, and Cecil Kellaway as Monsignor Mike Ryan
Awards: 1967 Academy Awards for Best Actress (Hepburn) and Best Original Screenplay; 1969 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards for Best Actor (Tracy) and Best Actress (Hepburn) and UN Award for Kramer
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
This is the Timpano, the baked pasta creation for which the film is famous.
I must say, by the end of the evening, after having cooked for two days, we were just too "destroyed" to clean up! But the food sure was good. In the words of Primo, “To eat good food is to be close to God.”
Big Night was released September 20, 1996.
Starring Tony Shalhoub as Primo, Stanley Tucci as Secondo, Minnie Driver as Phyllis, Isabella Rossellini as Gabriella, Ian Holm as Pascal, Campbell Scott as Bob, Allison Janney as Ann, Marc Anthony as Christiano, and Liev Schreiber as Leo
Directed by Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott
Written by Stanley Tucci and Joseph TropianoAwards: 1996 Boston Society of Film Critics Awards for Best New Filmmaker (Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott) and Best Screenplay (Stanley Tucci and Joseph Tropiano); 1997 Independent Spirits Award for Best Screenplay (Tucci and Tropiano); 1998 London Critics Circle Film Award for British Supporting Actress of the Year (Minnie Driver); 1996 National Board of Review, U.S.A. Special Recognition Award; National Society of Film Critics Awards, U.S.A. for Best Supporting Actor (Tony Shalhoub); 1996 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best New Director (Tucci and Scott); 1996 Sundance Film Festival Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award (Tucci and Tropiano)
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
As the name indicates, The Wedding Banquet features a large wedding reception dinner. In traditional Chinese style, the parents of the groom invite hundreds of guests to celebrate the nuptials of their only son. Little do the parents realize that the marriage is a matter of convenience, arranged so that the bride, Wei Wei, can get a green card to remain in the United States, and that their son the groom, Wai Tung, is not only gay but has been living with his partner, Simon, for many years. When the parents arrive from Taiwan to oversee the long-awaited wedding, the young trio are caught in a web of their own making that is at once agonizing and hilarious.
Wai Tung Gao: …we should have moved you out.
Simon: I’ll survive.
Wai Tung Gao: Not if Wei Wei keeps cooking.
Directed by Ang Lee, now known for his highly acclaimed films Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sense and Sensibility, and The Ice Storm, The Wedding Banquet puts keen emotions, complicated situations, and finely wrought characters on display—not to mention some glorious food! The banquet itself features fresh shrimp and lobster, perfectly steamed, and served on a bed of rice and greens to each guest, plus a four-tier wedding cake. Other scenes show Simon trying to teach Wei Wei how to cook fried eggs, the mother preparing freshly squeezed orange juice, the family eating dinners that include shredded tofu or sushi or breakfasts that combine American and Chinese foods, Simon treating the newlyweds to restaurant meal of General Tao chicken and pan-fried fish at the best Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. Interestingly for non-Chinese viewers, when the bride and groom present themselves to the groom’s parents, his mother feeds the bride a traditional lotus soup (to “help” the couple have a son quickly).
Does anyone enjoy this wedding banquet? We'll leave it to viewers to find out for themselves.
In the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock, director Ang Lee makes a cameo appearance in this film, portraying a guest at the wedding banquet.
Released August 4, 1993 in the U.S.A.
Written by Ang Lee and Neil Peng
Directed by Ang Lee
Original title: Xi yan
Starring Winston Chao as Wai Tung Gao, May Chin as Wei Wei, Mitchell Lichtenstein as Simon, Ah Lei Gua as Mrs. Gao, and Sihung Lung as Mr. Gao
Awards: 1992 Asia-Pacific Film Festival Best Film Award; 1993 Berlin International Film Festival Golden Berlin Bear Award; 1993 Deauville Film Festival Critics Award; 1994 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding (Independent) Film; 1993 Golden Horse Film Festival Awards for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Sihung Lung), and Best Supporting Actress (Ah Lei Gua); 1999 New York International Independent Film & Video Festival Director’s Choice Award; 1993 Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle Award for Best Director and Best Film
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Patrick “Kitten” Braden: And the other thing about the Phantom Lady was, Bert, she realized, in the city that never sleeps….
Bertie: What did she realize, Kitten?
Patrick “Kitten” Braden: That all the songs she’d listened to, all the love songs, that they were only songs.
Bertie: What’s wrong with that?
Patrick “Kitten” Braden: Nothing, if you don’t believe in them. But she did, you see. She believed in enchanted evenings, and she believed that a small cloud passed overhead and cried down on a flower bed, and she even believed there was breakfast to be had…
Patrick “Kitten” Braden: On Pluto. The mysterious, icy wastes of Pluto.
Breakfast on Pluto is a funny, moving film about a young Irish man named Patrick who is abandoned on the doorstep of the parish rectory when just an infant. Placed with a foster family, he discovers his transgender identity at a very young age and runs away from home to escape his family’s and neighbors’ disapprobation. A series of “adventures” leads him to have an affair with the lead singer of a rock band, to run afoul of the Irish Republican Army, to work as a magician’s assistant, to flee to London where he is arrested as a terrorist, to befriend a police officer who finds him a job in a peep show, to be “found” and taken in by the father who never admitted his paternity, and—finally—to find the mother who had fled to London to escape the shame of unwed motherhood in Catholic Ireland. But there are only the briefest glimpses of breakfast food in the movie.
Written by Neil Jordan (writer) and Pat McCabe (novel)
Directed by Neil Jordan
Starring Cillian Murphy as Patrick “Kitten” Braden, Liam Neeson as Father Liam, Ruth Negga as Charlie, Laurence Kinlan as Irwin, Brendan Gleeson as John Joe Kenny, Stephen Rea as Bertie, Gavin Friday as Billy Hatchett, and Eva Birthistle as Eily Bergin
Awards: 2007 Irish Film and Television Awards for Best Actor in a Lead Role in a Feature Film (Cillian Murphy), Best Director (Neil Jordan), Best Hair & Make-Up for Film (Lorraine Glynn and Lynn Johnson), Best Script for Film (Neil Jordan and Pat McCabe); 2006 Ljubljana International Film Festival Audience Award for Neil Jordan; 2005 National Board of Review, U.S.A. Special Recognition Award “For Excellence in Filmmaking”
Monday, June 16, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Jenna: You’re making too much of it. It’s just a pie.
Joe: Just a pie? It’s downright expert. A thing of beauty. How each flavor opens itself, one by one, like a chapter in a book. First the flavor of an exotic spice hits you, just a hint of it. And then you’re flooded with chocolate, dark and bittersweet, like an old love affair. And finally, strawberry, the way strawberry was always supposed to taste, but never knew how.
The toddler who appears as Jenna’s daughter, Lulu, in the final scene is Adrienne Shelly’s daughter, Sophie Ostroy. Writer and director Shelly was as inspired in making this film as Jenna was in creating new pies. Shelly’s talent ranged from adding in the simplest plot details (the five-minute date) to portraying Jenna’s friend Dawn on screen to writing the movie’s theme, a lullaby that begins, “Baby, don’t you cry, gonna make a pie. Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle….” Shelly’s murder in her Manhattan office was a stunning loss, not only for her family but for film-goers worldwide; despite this tragedy, Waitress, her final film released after her death, is an optimistic view of the resilience of the human spirit and a testimonial to Shelly’s fundamentally joyful outlook on the human experience. The success of the film has helped fund the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, a non-profit that provides film school scholarships and grants to female filmmakers.
Starring Keri Russell as Jenna, Nathan Fillion as Dr. Jim Pomatter, Cheryl Hines as Becky, Jeremy Sisto as Earl, Andy Griffith as Old Joe, Adrienne Shelly as Dawn, Eddie Jemison as Ogie, and Lew Temple as Cal
Written and Directed by Adrienne Shelly
Awards: Chlotrudis Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast; Newport Beach Film Festival Audience Award for Feature Film and Feature Film Award for Acting (Nathan Fillion); Sarasota Film Festival Award for Narrative Feature (Adrienne Shelly); Southeastern Film Critics Association Wyatt Award