No, I’ve not been neglecting my movies ….
Aaron Eckhardt is Thomas Mackelway, an FBI agent with a past, who is sent to Albuquerque to investigate the murder of a traveling salesman found with a zero etched on his body. When other bodies start appearing – all serial killers – Mackelway is led to a retired FBIer named Benjamin O’Ryan (an ever superb Ben Kingsley), who has the ridiculous/silly (take your pick) skill of being able to ‘see’ what serial killers see. Rolls eyes. Directed by E. Elias Merhige, this is a thriller built in the Seven-style and has Carrie Anne Moss stumbling around – looking pretty granted – as Mackelway’s sidekick. The hokeyness aside, Suspect Zero is engaging for the most part by fails ultimately as it can’t decide who’s story to tell – O’Ryan or Mackelway’s. My rating 6 out of 10.
Nancy Meyers directs the always brilliant Meryl Streep in this comedy romance about letting go and moving on. Streep plays Jane, a divorced baker with three older kids and who is working to renovate her home. At her son’s graduation, Jane runs into her exhusband Jake (Alec Baldwin) who despite being remarried with a young son, still feels something for Jane. Predictably they land in bed together and when the kids discover the misadventure all sort of woe-is-me moments ensure. This story has been done many times previously and in an attempt to mix it up a little Steve Martin arrives as Adam, the architect Jane has hired to renovate the house, whom she also starts misadventuring with. The film is fun and silly and has some genuinely hilarious bits. While Streep and Baldwin are great and do carry the film, It’s Complicated is anything but. My rating 7 out of 10.
Directed by the one and only Stanley Kubrick, this is a magnificent example of how novels (in this case Stephen King’s The Shining) ought to be brought to screen. The Shining tells the classic tale of the Torrances and the winter of discontent and mayhem they spend housesitting a haunted resort – The Overlook Hotel. Starring Jack Nicholson (as writer-slowly-going-mad Jack Torrance); Olive Oyl, er, Shelley Duvall (as Wendy his wonky wife); Danny Lloyd (as their son-with-Shining-power, Danny) and Scatman Crothers (as Dick Hallorann, the hotel’s cook and savant). The Shining works in every single respect and is classic horror with each and every frame a testament to Kubrick grasp of the novel and his auteur. The film is pregnant with famous moments: Jack announcing, “Wendy, I’m home” with axe in hand; son Danny (as Tony) with his talking finger saying, “Danny’s not here Mrs. Torrance”; the blood pouring from the elevators; “Redrum, redrum”; “Heeere’s Johnny” to mention but a few. The Shining shines like few horror flicks can and is, in a word, exquisite. My rating 10 out of 10.
Stone of Destiny
This is a film for Scots, and, as an Englishman, I have to announce that upfront. Directed by Charles Martin Smith, it recounts the true story of the robbery of the the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey in 1950 by Scottish nationalist Ian Hamilton (Charlie Cox). Known as the Stone of Destiny or Coronation Stone, it historically was used during the crowning of Scottish Kings and resided at the now ruined Scone Abbey. In 1296 the stone was captured by King Edward I and subsequently incorporated into the Coronation Chair used by English kings/queens since. The film is a too-long-drawn-out retelling of its emancipation from the English and its return to Scotland. Seems Director Smith wanted to give us every blessed moment of the journey which, let me tell you, makes for a lot of boredom. The film’s utter monotony is only made bearable thanks to Robbie Carlyle’s presence as John MacCormick, who helps to finance the theft. Stone of Destiny will appeal to any Scot in the house and reinforces to us English the fact we shouldn’t have bothered conquering their sorry arses in the first place. My rating, with a yawn, 5 out of 10.
Just Like Heaven
Reese Witherspoon stars in this ah-gee-shucks romantic comedy that takes Ghost to a different place. When Elizabeth (Witherspoon), a surgeon with no time for love, ends up crashing her car on route to a date, she awakens to find David (Mark Ruffalo) living in her house. Course only David can see her and it seems – and here’s the twist to the Ghost genre – Elizabeth is not so-much dead and ghostly but – wait for it – in a coma. Seems comas are just like heaven. Anyway, there’s plenty of comedy that works here as David and Elizabeth try to figure out how to get her spirit back in her body, all the while falling inevitably in love. Both Witherspoon and Ruffalo are great and while I wasn’t expecting to like this film, once it ended, I was both satisfied and happy. My rating 7 out of 10.
Also, many weeks back, G whipped up two great weekend lunches for us. One weekend was homemade mac ‘n cheese (with four different kinds of cheese: gruyere, mozzarella; cheddar and a touch of blue). That’s panko crusting on top to add some texture. OMG, it was so good.
Following weekend it was on to chicken and eggplant parmesan sandwiches with homemade tomato chutney. OMG, divine!
4) deep fry the chicken; 5) the tomato chutney
6) leave on paper towel to get rid of some of that nasty oil; 7) the eggplant come out of the warming drawer
8) and into the oven with some cheese to melt; 9) stack it high
10) cut and enjoy!