The Anniversary dinner this year was at a local haunt, Across the Road. This restaurant is sunny and bright (lots of yellow and pretty Vincent Van Gogh-like paintings) but has a real rec-room basement sort of feel with Grand & Toy-inspired chairs and wood paneling only a father from the 1970s would like. My courses were excellent, however G’s were just okay.
- P.E.I Mussels; and,
- Potato, Brie, and Red Onion Quesadillas with Chipotle honey
- Lamb shank with braised red cabbage and caramelized apple cous cous; and,
- Mushroom pie, filled with wild mushrooms and baked in a sour cream crust
- Key Lime Cheesecake; and,
- Tangerine Granita with vanilla bean cream
Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War
This film from 2004, directed by Je-gyu Kang, received lots of good press and I suspect had great resonance in South Korea. It tells the story of two brothers ‘drafted’ into the South Korean army at the start of the Korean Conflict, Jin-Tse and younger brother, Jin-Seok. There is no end to the melodrama in this film (some of it so bad I actually laughed out loud). This, however, was my own doing as I turned on the english voiceover. With the english voiceover off and the english subtitles restored, the film does improve. Jin-Tse spends the next 2 hours trying to get his brother out of the army by volunteering for many risky missions (with their requisite blood and guts). We see war in this film for what it is: men brutally and cruelly murdering each other. Despite what the Canadian/US military wants us to believe with their advertising, war is hell. But I digress. In the end, Jin-Tse jumps sides and ends up fighting for the North Koreans which, of course, leads to a big moment on the battlefield when the two brothers eventually meet face-to-face. Jin-Tse does not survive this battle, leaving Jin-Seok with a promise his dead brother cannot fulfill. My rating 5 out of 10.
Letters from Iwo Jima
Oh, that our leaders could be as good at making ‘peace’ as Eastwood is at making war movies! Oh, that we could perhaps just once, maybe, hopefully, learn one lesson from such movies! This film is Eastwood’s part two of the Iwo Jima story (the first was Flags of our Fathers) and told from the Japanese point of view. It stars Ken Watanabe as General Kuribayashi, who is sent to Iwo Jima to defend it from American occupation. Course, we all know how this story ends. Yet in telling the story, in fact the other side of the story, we gain a new understanding of something elemental to our existence: we are all the same. We are all the same. And it is in that understanding that mercy dwells. Letters is an excellent film, a quiet film on many levels; a sad film. Kazunani Ninomiya (the Japanese pop star from the group Arashi), who plays Saigo, is outstanding and should have garnered an Oscar nod. While it could do with some further editing, this is the best movie of the five nominated for Best Picture this year. My rating 8 out of 10.
Oh, that it were a dream, is about all I can say about this film directed by Bill Condon. Better titled “Drearygirls” it focuses on the lives of three women all trying to make it big in Motown. Based on the theatre play, it stars every black movie star in America save Oprah. But even Oprah couldn’t work her magic on this very long, very dull, very runny (when you hear the music you’ll understand this comment) film. I can understand a number of the Oscar nominations it received: kudos to Eddie Murphy stretching himself [singing even], the art direction, the costumes, and Beyonce Knowles belting out a super original song in “Listen”. Jennifer Hudson plays herself and somehow gets a best supporting actress nod to boot?! What’s with that? Sadly no amount of singing can save a movie with a story we don’t care about. This is a film trying hard to be bigger than it is; a film trying to be deep but which is ultimately very shallow. My rating 5 out 10.