THINGS MADE IN OUR KITCHEN
Vegan Spanish Noodle Paella: Oh, the colors. I'm a sucker for pretty, colorful foods and an excuse to use artichokes.
CONVO WITH AN ANIMAL
Chuck (to Orin, who has his nose millimeters from Chuck's mouth after the latter has eaten sushi): You like what you smell? It's fish. Raw. Fish.
Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season: I'm in. I'm totally in. I, Christa L. Pista, vow to never again say the phrase "I'm not into period pieces" because this is no longer true and maybe it never was. Turns out I'm cool with people wearing tights or armor or whatever. The gist: Kings, war, wolves, lots of naked and severed heads. Everyone always dies. Super cool female characters doing interesting things with swords and fires. I believe the hype!
The Beach: Oh lord. Is there anything worse than the freakishly long and lean femurs of a teenaged Leonardo Dicaprio? The best thing to happen to that kid is the Baldwin thing he's going through right now. Anyway, from a writing perspective, I love what's happening here with this movie. A bunch of off-the-beaten-path tourists landing in this secluded space and it's all fun and games until they have to make some hard decisions. Like: What to do to the guy with gangrene. How to combat the scheming Tilda Swinton and her blackmailing vagina of doom. From an execution perspective, blerg. Try harder next time, everyone.
Freaky Friday: This Lindsay Lohan-Jamie Lee Curtis clusterfuck is a warm wet washcloth on your hangover!
SWEET HOME ALABAMA: [See also: Freaky Friday]
Withnail and I: Two down-and-out dudes living in squalor finagle a stay at a rich uncle's vacation home, but this means one of them might end up diddling the rich uncle.
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress: This documentary about Ferran Adria's restaurant ElBulli is both so interesting and so not. It follows the chef's from the off-season in the test kitchen to the constantly evolving six-month restaurant for the Michelin three-star eatery in Spain. Much of it is hard to follow as the staff vacuum seals ingredients to make broths, photographs foods and then sets it in front of Adria, whose face rarely reveals how he feels about what he is eating -- but sometimes reveals crumbs from what he has just had. It's also a little terrifying, imagining the cutting feeling of having the opportunity to invent dishes for him and then have him simply say something like "It's not good. Don't give me anything that isn't good."
In the year chronicled, the theme becomes water. There are ice chips served in a vinaigrette and a cocktail of water and oil and refreshing dishes topped with ice in a sort of creme brule way. And that makes this seem a little like a satire. Like, crazed perfectionist chef creates supremely clever dish: ICE WATER. (Cut to him testing it and staring intently into space, then nodding).
The Cabin in the Woods: This is such a great sci/fi twist on the classic horror story. Five friends stay at a cabin in the woods and are attacked by murderous dark creatures. But something is a little off and it's the Shaggy character who senses that this isn't just a night of torture.
Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Drieser: When times are tough for the Gerhardt family, Jennie and her mother take a job cleaning a fancy schmancy hotel where the lovely young girl comes in contact with a senator who goes nutso futso for her. Through a complicated system of trades, Jennie ends up sleeping with him, getting pregnant, thus ruining her prospects for any sort of conventional future. Luckily, she meets a rich man who doesn't want a conventional future.
Full review here.
The Vanishers: A Novel by Heidi Julavits: A young woman with paranormal powers is seemingly under psychic attack by the powerful psychic instructor at her former school who resents the woman's gifts. Lots of eczema, stays at hidden spas and Scooby Doo-style detective work.
Full review here.
Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel: Bechdel follows up the best graphic novel in the world by turning the pencil on her mother this time and the result is a real snooze fest.
Full review is here.
Goodnight, Irene: The Collected Stories of Irene Van de Kamp by Carol Lay: Irene is orphaned when her parents are attacked by baboons during a safari. She's raised by a tribe and eagerly goes through its coming-of-age ritual, which includes face reshaping. Unfortunately, the men of the tribe still find her white skin to be unlucky and no one will marry her. She returns to society to find out that she is the richest woman in the world. But can she find love with that face.
This comic book series is so freaking fun and hokey and fantastic. Full review will be here.
Charlotte Au Chocolat: Memories of a Restaurant Girlhood by Charlotte Silver: Charlotte grows up hanging out at the restaurant owned by her mother in Harvard Square, meeting the quirky cast of employees and sleeping beneath the bar. This memoir is heavy on pretty images, light on feeling.
Full review will be here.
Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder (Penguin Essentials) by Evelyn Waugh: Well. It certainly has been a year that has turned my all-time faves list topsy turvey. We'll now be welcoming "Brideshead Revisited" to one of the top spots.
Full review will be here after I write it.