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Friday Flicks: Django Unchained

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Movie poster

Warning: Anything you have heard about Django Unchained is true.  It’s bloody, gory, full of the “n” word, and REALLY LONG.  This is a Quentin Tarantino movie from the beginning.  Yes, he’s even in it for about 5 minutes or so.  But, in true Tarantino fashion, he doesn’t have problems taking himself out of the movie as well.

The basic premise is Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a previous  dentist turned bounty hunter, seeks out a slave named Django (Jaime Foxx) to assist him in identifying some bounties.  The hunt goes well, and the doctor decides to take on Django to be his partner for the rest of the winter.  Django agrees to be his partner with the agreement that Schultz help him find his wife come spring.  The two seem to get along very well and have a very prosperous winter, including geting the drop on a very high value gang.

Spring comes and Schultz and Django head to Mississippi to try to find Broomhilde (Kerry Washington).  They find out that she’s been bought by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and brought to his plantation.  As a matter of approach, Schultz and Django decide to play the roles of men looking to buy mandingos, or slaves that are fighters.  Their hope is that by distracting Calvin from seeing their true purpose they would be able to buy Broomhilde from out under Calvin.  Once they get to Candyland, they find that Broomhilde has tried to escape again and was being kept in the hot box.  Schultz is able to get her out under the pretext that he wants her company.  Django and Hilde are reunited, but it is short lived.  The main house slave Stephen (Samuel L Jackson) sees something’s up and alerts Calvin to the apparent plot.

Schultz and Django

This starts a very long cascade of people dying.  Calvin dies.  Shultz dies.  Most of Calvin’s men die.  Stephen dies.  Calvin’s sister dies.  Things do not look good for either Hilde or Django.  But things start going their way at the end.  And of course the movie ends in a literal “bang”!

Calvin

I have left out much of this movie due to its graphic nature.  There is so much blood and gore in this movie that it is beyond gratuitous.  This is VERY much Tarantino’s style.  Think “Inglorious Basterds”.  Actually, that movie put a bit of a damper on my opinion of this movie.  After seeing “Inglorious Basterds”, I was pretty ruined by Christoph Waltz.  He was such a terrible character that I kept thinking of him as the Jew hunter.  But his character in “Django Unchained” was the complete opposite.  This movie he shows so much more depth in character.  He starts the movie as not wanting to be involved or understanding the slave business.  But he learns very quickly all about it and seems to do the right thing by the slaves he meets.

Stephen and Hilde

All in all, you are going to have to WANT to see this movie.  While I LOVE Kerry Washington, especially in her performances during Scandal, but she really did nothing for me during this movie.  On the other hand Jaime Foxx seems to be choosing better roles that are actual real acting roles.  He’s not my favorite actor, but this was a good job by him.  The movie is over 2.5 hours long, so this is not a movie you can just breeze through.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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Friday Flicks: Silver Linings Playbook

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Movie Poster

I hope I’m the only one that hasn’t seen this movie yet.  I know I’m not, as I called my husband and mother IMMEDIATELY after seeing it.  This was one of those movies.  Ones that you’ve heard was good and actually lives up to its expectations.  I only had a basic understanding of the movie.  The main male character was “crazy” and he meets someone else who is also a bit “off”.  I also knew that the EAGLES were involved and that Robert Deniro was in the film…  Again, all good things.

While the basis of this movie is a sort of romantic comedy, the “comedy” can be very uncomfortable as it is so close to being so true.  Pat Solatano played by Bradley Cooper, is bi-polar and has been ordered into psychiatric care due to an incident.  Pat caught his wife Nikky having an affair with the History teacher at the high school Pat also worked at.  Pat spends four months in a hospital before his mom comes to get him out.  In an agreement to get him released Pat must go to therapy daily and take his medicines.  The problem is that Pat refuses to take his meds as they make him foggy and dull his senses.

Pat striking a deal…

Pat is invited to a dinner party at his friend Ronnie’s house (played by John Ortiz).  Along with Ronnie and his wife Veronica (Julia Stiles), Veronica’s sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) was also there.  Tiffany is a young widow who is very blunt with everything she does.  As she still sees Nikky occasionally and all Pat wants to do is reconnect with her, Tiffany negotiates with Pat.  If she gives a letter from Pat to Nikky, then Pat has to learn to dance and become her dance partner for an upcoming dance competition.  He reluctantly agrees, and begins to learn to dance and builds a strong relationship with Tiffany.

Parents

Pat slowly gains a new semblance of life, though it’s not easy.  He does eventually get to see Nikky and compete in the dance competition.  I won’t tell the ending, but it’s good, if slightly predictable.  What is great about the movie are the interactions and nuanced performances the “supporting” roles give.  I do think Jennifer Lawrence deserves an Oscar for her performance.  It’s not a flashy sort of role like her “Hunger Games” role is.  It’s much more subtle, like her work in “Winter’s Bone“.  Bradley Cooper does crazy really well.  It’s not comical crazy.  It’s a very in your face very uncomfortable and very realistic crazy.

Dinner party

But most of all, I loved Robert DeNiro.  His role as Pat’s father was played with such a slight hand and a professional’s job that it was absolutely amazing.  He was BANNED from the Linc!  OMG!  It is hilarious.  But ultimately he just wants to connect with his son.  He gets the other one, but Pat has always seemed to ellude him.  Watching the relationships grow in this movie is well worth the price of rental.

Dance!

Rating: 10 out of 10

My NEW garden

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As I’ve said, I moved this winter, which means I couldn’t continue with my garden set-up from last year.  I debated whether I should do the CSA that is popular around here (I’ve participated in the past) or start over with a new garden.  Since one of the things that drew me to this place was the outdoor space, I decided to garden again.

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I was up against a lot.  The girls that lived here previously planted some stuff, but I have no idea what.  I did see some oregano and mint, but they had started to completely take over the upper part of the back garden.  So, it took me about three weeks and a bunch of blisters, but I was able to clear the back and the side areas.  The big things I put in are a fig tree and a blueberry bush.  I also put in various tomatoes, spicy peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplants, radishes, carrots, beets (yellow and candy cane), onions, garlic, and carrots.  I also then planted some lettuces and I got a planter with various herbs.

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I then decided that I wanted my garden to be more sustainable, so I got a rain barrel and a composter. Hopefully I will have some good updates all season long.

April Foodie Pen Pal

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I would like to thank Azia over at Azia said what? blog.  She’s an amazing writer who participated in Nanowrimo 2013.  You should check out her blog.  But on to the box…  Unfortunately the first one she sent apparently got way-laid somewhere!  So, she was nice enough to send me a replacement box.  That is an AMAZING pen pal!

Foodie deliciousness!

Foodie deliciousness!

As you can see, she really went all out for me.  The big thing in the box is the jar of Newman’s pasta sauce.  It looks so good.  Next up are the soy nuts (yum), Primal Strips (my FAVE!), individual servings of peanut butter and hot cereals, and veggie shells.  Also included but not pictured were like three kinds of tea (I drank the pumpkin chai right away), an energy drink addition, and some gummies (vegan of course!).  Again, thanks to Azia for the great box.

Here’s more info about the program:

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers.
  • Foodie Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans.
The Lean Green Bean

Friday Flicks: Friday Night Lights

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Movie poster

I know I’ve talked before about watching movies specifically due to the actors/actresses in the film.  Well, I also have movies that I watch specifically because of the music as well.  Some of these movies are oldies like “The Wizard of Oz” or “Annie“.  Then there is one that is much newer, called “Friday Night Lights“.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie’s not bad.  I actually really like the performances of Billy Bob Thornton and Connie Britton.  He definitely plays this piercing sort of father/coach figure.  Actually, the most surprising performance of the cast has to be Tim McGraw.  Yes, that Tim McGraw.  The wholesome country singer plays the father of a current football player.  But he’s really damaged.  He spends most of his time drunk and berating his son.  It’s slightly disturbing seeing him be that bad, but he does it so well.

The actual football scenes are shot so well.  When the action scenes are going there is an ambiance to them that you feel drawn into the plays.  The boys do such a great job of telling their stories and their ambitions.  It’s a very compelling story from start to finish.  Unfortunately it’s a sad ending, but it does fit with the theme of the movie.  I’ve never seen the tv show, so I have no idea if it is similar in any fashion. 

On to the music.  In many movies, the music is really just the background, getting you to the places in the story that the director wants you to be.  Most of the time it’s tones or some unnamed melody.  Or it could be like “The Graduate” and be full out composed songs.  Well, I don’t know how, but the people who created “Friday Night Lights” found a quartet from Texas that play amazing music called Explosions in the Sky.  Now this isn’t any old music, but this is an explosion of sound without any words.  The sheer sound and  and magnitude of their sound will literally suck you in.  In a VERY good way.  I saw them live a few years ago (they opened for The Flaming Lips), and I think they were even better than the main band.  We were in an outdoor venue and to hear them with their sound and so many other people, it was a very moving experience.

Band Pic

I highly recommend the band.  They have multiple albums out, and they are all excellent.  But, I also recommend the movie.  It was very moving and the music made it all that much better.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Restaurant Review: Indigma

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Martinis

Martinis

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and LOVED the food, but vowed you would never return again?  This was one of those places.  I bought a Groupon a bit back for this place as I had been a few years before.  I enjoyed the food on that occasion, but the service had been terrible.  I figured they had been open for this long, they had to have gotten better.  I was wrong.

Fried Naan and chutneys

Fried Naan and chutneys

We were a bit early for our reservations, so I asked the hostess if we could get a drink at the bar (it was happy hour still).  She told us we could not, that the bar was backed up….  Ok…  Well, we were shown to our seats and we waited.  We got our water.  We were asked for our drink orders.  Ernie ordered a French martini and I ordered the Hot and Dirty martini (made with pepper vodka and with a pickled spicy pepper garnish).  We waited….  We were asked for our dinner order. I had some questions about the options.  I enjoy Indian food and have eaten a fair amount of it.  But this place had some different options than what I’ve been used to.  They had this Thali option for ordering where you got an appetizer, rice, salad, raita, main, roti, and dessert.  The vegetarian option was malai kofta, so I decided to go with it.  Ernie got a three course prix fixe dinner and some chapati.  We got our drinks and toasted.  Ernie’s drink was mostly juice.  My drink was fine…  But it wasn’t made with pepper vodka.  Again, nothing really wrong with my drink, but it just wasn’t right.  The problem was that the server never really came back until much later for us to even complain, so it was useless at that point…

Coconut shrimp

Coconut shrimp

We got fried naan with three chutneys and preserved lemon.  OMG.  That lemon was the most delicious few bites.  I mean, I made preserved lemon, but this wasn’t really salty.  It was spiced and a bit sweet.  SO GOOD.  I liked the cilantro chutney, but Ernie did not.  We both liked the tamarind one, but only Ernie liked the onion (too oniony for me).  Ernie’s coconut shrimp came next.  and I just sat there.  He eventually ate it, but we thought my appetizer was coming as well…  Nope.  But he said the coconut shrimp was SUPER tasty.  Next, Ernie got the lamb korma.  It was spicy according to him, but very very good.  NOW my food all came at once…  I had no idea.  The waiter never explained how this was supposed to happen.  I specifically asked what the Thali was about, but he didn’t really explain it.  If I knew that I was going to get EVERYTHING at once, I would have been fine with it.  But not so much….  On my “plate” was a samosa, daal, channa masala, saag paneer, rice, malai kofta, rice pudding, and raita.  ZOMG.  That saag paneer was absolutely amazing.  It was just spicy enough so that it just burned at the back of my throat…  so good.  The channa masala was nicely spiced, but not hot.  The daal was not really spiced at all.  I was a bit underwhelmed with it, but again not bad.  I gave the rice pudding to Ernie as he really wanted it (and so I could have his dessert).  I got to eat the chapati and Ernie ate the roti.

Lamb Korma

Lamb Korma

The last sort of dig at the end of the night was that I asked our waiter (who finally showed up) if I could have the recipe for the preserved lemon.  The waiter was unsure, but went to ask.  He came back and said the owner/manager would be out to talk to me.  He never came. We were there for over an hour and a half, much of it just waiting….  Again, the food was VERY good.  It was definitely a step above a “regular” Indian place.  But I would rather pay less and get a slightly “lower” quality of food and better service.  For sure.

samosa, daal, channa masala, saag paneer, rice, malai kofta, rice pudding, raita

samosa, daal, channa masala, saag paneer, rice, malai kofta, rice pudding, raita

Friday Flicks: Once

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Once Poster

I actually haven’t seen a movie in a bit.  Nothing has really piqued my interest lately.  Plus, I’ve been REALLY into the books I’ve been reading lately.  I hope to write up something about them pretty soon.  So, I decided to dig into my “repertoire” for a movie that I’ve enjoyed.  It also just happens that I’m trying to convince my mom and sister that going to see the Broadway version of Once would also be a good idea.

When asked by my sister to describe what the story is about, what I could succinctly remember was that there was this guy and girl who made BEAUTIFUL music together and develop an unfulfilled love for each other.  I think what draws me to this movie and keeps doing it, is the raw emotion that it invokes.  The potential for love that the two share, and yet they both return to relationships that have given them so much pain in the past.

But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself a bit.  The basic story is fairly simple.  Boy meets girl.  In this case, the main character is just named “guy”.  He’s a musician trying to make it on the streets of Dublin, while working for his father in a vacuum repair shop.  Girl sees guy on the street and asks him about his music.  She also is a musician, and the two go to the piano store where she occasionally plays.

Guy and Girl

She plays very well, so the two of them decide to write and make music together.  The guy reveals that much of his music is about his long term love who cheated and left.  The girl in turn reveals that she is in fact still married (he found out when he went back to her place and saw she had a daughter), but he is still in the Czech Republic.  He decides that he wants to officially record the music, so the two of them get studio time and a few back up singers and officially make a demo that he is going to take with him to London.

Beautiful scene

What’s great about the movie is that their music is intertwined with the story line.  It’s not just them singing at the demo sessions, but the songs are sung at a party, on a bus, etc.  I also love the anonymity or generality that the characters are given.  The two aren’t given names, so they really could be anyone.  All in all, this is a great movie due to the chemistry the two have together romantically and musically.

Youtube of Once

Rating: 9.5 out of 10.