Sunday, August 26, 2007

Quote of the Day

"If I'd been a ranch, they would have named me The Bar None."

Rita Hayworth as Gilda Mundson Farrell in Gilda (1946)

The Female Jungle EXPOSED!

A hell of a tagline for a classic 50s melodrama The Best of Everything (1959).

*SPOILERS LAY AHEAD!* This movie is set in the world of New York publishing, where a successful woman editor aged 54 is still referred to as "a girl" and pitied for the years she spent hanging on to her affair with the boss, hoping against hope he - or some other man - might save her from the hellish existence of her brilliant career. In fact, she may as well be dead. So might a young actress who is dumped by her caddish director and hurls herself from the fire escape. You'd be better off dead if you were preggers too. Basically, the moral here is, get married and get thee to Connecticut! ... or die trying.

It's full of fantastically toe-curling lines and cool outfits. Even cooler is that it was just referenced in the sixth episode of my new favourite show, Mad Men (which I am enjoying a lot). Don's wife Bets is reading it (the show is set in 1960) and has seen the film. Bets found Joan Crawford's eyebrows as scary as I do. I think that's the only possibly thing I might have in common with Bets. Oh, plus we both lust after Don. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Why I Was So Happy today

Laying on my bed, a book flopped open and forgotten by my side, curtains billowing with a cool breeze, a half-eaten plum in my hand, J. J. Cale playing in the background, completely seducing me. Sigh...

Quote of the Day

"Not much meat on her, but what's there is choice."

Spencer Tracy as Mike Conovan referring to Katherine Hepburn as Pat Pemberton in Pat and Mike (1952)

Blue Plums

As much as the nights are gradually cooling, Ontario summer fruit is still coming in. Here are the blue plums. Mmmmmm! I plan to eat at least half, and maybe make a flan with the other half Yum yum. I took lots of photgraphs with them today, unsure if they looked like mysterious eggs or marbly rocks. They are the most incredible colour, enhanced by their dusty appearance.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Quote of the Day

"If it's in focus, it's pornography, if it's out of focus, it's art."

Linda Hunt as Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

Linda Hunt is the only actor to win an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite sex. Not cross-dressing, not changing sex, but just being. For me this movie stands out for having the most fantastic sexual chemistry in two scenes. The first is when Guy (Mel Gibson in his former, more normal life) takes Jill (Sigourney Weaver) on an interview and they get caught in the rain. The second is when he accosts her at the embassy ball, followed immediately by the car drive through the dark streets, as they flout the curfew in the excitement of their impending night together. That's it! My next top ten list will be Top Ten Love Scenes in Movies! Yay! My mind is churning....

Third (or Fourth) Time Not So Lucky (CONTAINS SPOILERS!)


I went to see The Invasion because of (a) Nicole Kidman, (b) Daniel Craig and (c) because the first two Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies were fantastic.

(a) Nicole Kidman's number one fan is the camera. It loves her in a respectful, adoring way, in a way it hasn't loved anyone since the divas of old Hollywood, possessors of a type of glamour that has mostly disappeared. She's a good actress but more than that, she's iconic, unreal and mysterious. I almost always enjoy her. In this film, she's gone a bit odd. She looks incredible, her body like a long, lithe whip. Her face is a little puffy although I did see a crease above her brow at one point so either the botox is wearing off, or she has eschewed botox in preference to the Isabelle Adjani school of acting, i.e. show no expression whatsoever and offset aging as long as possible. Her lips look enhanced and her makeup is heavy, rather Marilyn Monroe-like. All this is not that important... EXCEPT...


EXCEPT... she's kind of alien-like already. As Barbara said to me, Brooke Adams in the 1978 version had the kind of quirky, expressive, female appeal that made the possibility of losing that personality to an unfeeling alien so terrifying. With Nicole I was thinking... hey, maybe it's not such a stretch. I still think she's fascinating, I just wish someone else had played this part. She also had, as a prop, the dead giveaway in any Hollywood movie that you are about to have a happy ending, and that was the tow-headed, dimpled blond son who just HAD to survive the infectious, saliva-spewing aliens. Oh yes, and they spewed alright. Right into everyone's mouths. Gosh... it's hard to be frightened when all you're thinking is "yuck."

(b) Daniel Craig. rrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... I liked him in this. He was sexy, rumpled, British, brave, strong, silent... mmmmmmm. Wow... he has this moment when he's wearing a turtle neck under a buttoned wool jacket and I was reminded of Steve McQueen in Bullitt (1968). I was too young to remember the impact Steve must have had but I'm sure everyone was thinking "ooh, sports coat and suede shoes... he's so rebellious!"

(c) The first two versions of this story were fantastic. To my surprise tonight, on, I found that a third version was made in 1993. I had no idea. I've never seen it, but I know the first two versions were terrifying. Completely terrifying, with spine-tingling endings and fabulous actors.

Hey, I'm still glad I saw it. That's star appeal for you. Plus I got to catch up with Barbara and that's always a treat.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Quote of the Day... in Honour of Chocolate

"And it [chocolate] melts, God forgive me, it melts ever so slowly on your tongue, and tortures you with pleasure."

Elisabeth Commelin as Yvette Marceau in Chocolat (2000)

Great Balls of Chocolate

I was at Soma again this week, my favourite chocolatier, located in Toronto's historic and overly trendy Distillery District.

For a long time there, my favourite chocolate of all was their bar of Madagascar. I still buy the truffles on occasion, but the beans are all gone and they can't tell me when they will next receive a shipment. So a couple of months back I tried the Conacado, which immediately became my new favourite. This week I found out that that has gone too!

So I bought a bar of Hispaniola, described as a "dark 70% chocolate made with organic Fairtrade certified cacao from the Dominican Republic. Earthy with notes of dried fruit, cranberries and tobacco."

Mmmmm, I"m looking forward to cracking it open. In the meantime I googled "Soma" and it turns out that the word is associated with a ritual drink early Persian cultures, known for its psychidelic attributes. But the origins were distinctly not chocolate-based. In Aldous Huxley's dystopian Brave New World, Soma is a drug used by the government to keep the populace drugged and controlled through instantaneous pleasure-giving qualities. Yep... sounds like chocolate to me! And if you haven't yet tried the "drink of the gods" as served by Soma, you really must. It surprises me every time I have it. Warm, thick, spicy, head-clearing and rush-inducing. I bought a bag of the drink mix to make at home. I'll do that when the cooler weather hits.

And if chocolate Lindt balls appeal to you.... imagine golf-sized ones! Here is a picture of my usual blue-foil wrapped dark Lindt ball... and the golf ball sized one. A golf-sized ball of chocolate... need I say more?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Top Ten Things that Exceeded My Expectations... PG Version

Here are classic experiences/foods/movies that I heard about for years, that I feared would not live up their legend, but in fact - when at last I tried them - exceeded all expectations:

10. Colston Bassett stilton
9. Vermont
8. Pickwick Papers
7. The Maltese Falcon
6. George Eliot
5. tiramisu
4. New Mexico
3. Citizen Kane
2. Casablanca (the movie)
1. New York City

Quote of the Day

Brigid: I haven't lived a good life. I've been bad, worse than you could know.

Spade: You know, that's good, because if you actually were as innocent as you pretend to be, we'd never get anywhere.

Mary Astor as Brigid O'Shaughnessy and Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon (1941).

(There are few things that exceed all expectation after many years of just hearing about them. This movie is one of them for me.)

I Can't Help Myself...

Click anywhere on the picture for a bigger version.

And check out the black freckles on his nose!

I Need More Sand in the Desert!

You might have caught this movie on late night tv years back. It doesn't seem to get much attention and I don't know why.

Made in 1966, it's known as Caccia alla volpe in Italian... or After the Fox. Directed by Vittoria de Sica, written by Neil Simon with music by Henry Mancini... it's a 60s dream team behind the camera, with Peter Sellers, Victor Mature, Britt Ekland and Martin Balsam starring.

Peter Sellers is Aldo Vanucci, a famous Italian crook, called the Fox, who poses as a New Age Italian cinema director called Federico Fabrizi in order to pull off the heist of his lifetime. His sister, played by Britt Ekland is his star-struck sister, Gina, who calls herself Gina Romantica. Victor Mature plays Tony Powell, a kind of spoof of himself, as an aging Hollywood leading man, clinging to his youth and a chance to rebuild a career in Fabrizi's new film (which doesn't really exist of course).

The public meeting of the two stars of Fabrizi's "film" has Vanucci introducing them as follows:

"Eenternationally handsome Tony Powell, meet your beautiful co-starrr, Gina Rrrromantica!"

You'll recognize the origins of the scene in Austin Powers: Goldmember, when Austin talks to Foxy, through the dubbing of Nathan Lane. Vanucci does the same thing, but in reverse, talking to a hot Italian bird to get information from a henchman.

It spoofs American tourists, Italian mamas, New Age cinema, caper movies and the willingness of the public to be fooled by the white heat of celebrity. And the great de Sica plays himself in a brief cameo on-set, declaiming "I need more sand in the desert!"

Monday, August 13, 2007

Big Boy

For those of you who didn't believe that Tibby can reach the kitchen counter... here's photographic evidence of our domestic tiger in all his magnificence.

And check out that crazy tail. It always curls back over his back. I think part of it is that he's very proud of his bottom. Any opportunity to show it off is taken. Some people ask if his tail was injured and it has to stay that way, but no, he can move it back, he just chooses not to. I think he might be 75% domestic short-hair feline, 25% curly-tailed dog. He certainly comes when he is called, never scratches or bites, and is a perfect doggy-cat in every way.
Our 21-pounder...

Quote of the Day


Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Quote of the Day

"All he ever wanted out of life... was love. That's the tragedy of Charles Foster Kane. You see, he just didn't have any to give."

Joseph Cotton as Jedediah Leland in Citizen Kane (1941)

Saturday, August 11, 2007


First off, let's discuss how to pronounce it, before I even explain what it is!

Apparently, "kouign-amann" is pronounced "coon-yah-MAHN". It's a Breton word (now there's a language that sounds intriguing) that means "butter cake." Yummy!

This yeast-risen cake from Brittany has a few, simple ingredients (no doubt the local butter and flour is very special), but it is in the making that it becomes magic.

A colleaugue of mine was vacationing in Brittany recently with her husband. They'd heard about this cake, famously representative of the region, and decided to buy one at a shop that is yet further famous for producing the kouign-amann. They bought a half-cake, knowing that it is best enojoyed slightly warmed with coffee, and figuring that it would provide several days' worth of treats. Well... they tried a piece on the journey back to their digs, and the cake didn't survive. Apparently it's one of the best things they have ever eaten.

I've found a recipe... and I'm going to try it when the cooler weather hits. Watch this space! Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaa. I love trying new stuff!

A New, like, Post

So... we've all got used to the young 'uns and not so young 'uns saying "like" a lot. I have found myself doing it to.

So imagine my surprise to find that those of my generation (i.e. in our prrrrime) are now using "like" in WRITTEN CORRESPONDENCE.

From an e-mail sent to me by an extremely erudite and dear friend:

"It cost, like, $3."

This actually made me laugh out loud. But nothing is more grotesque than when I use it inadvertently, with an English accent no less! UGH! I'm trying to curb this habit.

Quote of the Day

"I'll admit I may have seen better days, but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut."

Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Simpsons Movie

Well, it was too hot to walk, so I just sat in front of a fan and gazed out the window for a while. Then I made a marmite sandwich and some tea and listened to the Sunday omnibus edition of the Archers. Then, in an attempt to cool off, I went with Mark to see The Simpsons Movie. We had a pact we had to see it together, as no conversation we have ever had has not mentioned the Simpsons it seems. It's a bit like Seinfeld, almost any element of life can be related to an episode of either the Simpsons or Seinfeld.

The cinema wasn't too cool, but just cool enough. With a big popcorn and an almost empty brain, I sat down to watch. We laughed ourselves silly... especially the first half. There were some great lines, great scenes and the animation was gorgeous - interesting to see it on a wide screen, and the colours were very rich.

There were just glimpses of many charactes, and Mr. Burns and Smithers had a very small scene indeed, but I suppose there was just a limit to how much they could do. I hope they do another one, and judging by the success of this, I bet there will be.

I love Matt Groening and J.K. Rowling. Wow, the Simpsons movie and HP7 in one day. I tell you, my inner child is very happy indeed.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Harry's Destiny Fulfilled

No spoilers here.

I just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I had a good cry. It was wonderful, even better than I had even anticipated. Just thinking about the pressure on J.K. Rowling to complete the series... I can't imagine. And yet I think it's the best book of the lot.

I'm going to walk a bit, let it sink in. Sigh...

HP7 Countdown Nears its End

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is nearing completion... countdown sequence continues... 98 pages and counting.

And for those of you who have read the book... SOB!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Welcome to my 100th Post!!

I can't believe it's 100 already. Well, I suppose I can. I think this calls for a celebratory glass of Guinness. Thanks for reading!

Audrey Fildes

This picture was taken by Cecil Beaton in 1944 and the subject is actress Audrey Fildes (Kind Hearts and Coronets, 1949). I met Audrey when I was 21 and she was in her 60s. She had had a fascinating path: grand-daughter of Sir Luke Fildes, R.A., she became a successful stage actress, working with Alec Guinness and John Gielgud among many others. By 28 she had retired to marry and have children. She emigrated early to Canada with her family and that is where I met her years later. It was a while before I found out about her theatrical background. Instead she had spent several years studying and working in the restoration of picture frames. I have to admit I'd never thought much about them, but I have never looked at them the same way since and realize to this day the importance of frames, and their restoration for the sake of the picture they offset.

So dribs and drabs of her earlier life were only carefully meted out as she didn't live in the past. I had no idea Cecil Beaton had photographed her and I am working on finding a good-sized version of this picture. She took an interest in broadening my horizons, taking me to see Bertolucci's 1900 (1976), Germain Greer in conversation, extolling the benefits of love affairs and the extreme importance of kegel exercises. I believe Kind Hearts and Coronets was just one of two films she made. She didn't like the process, and said that filming was like one long rehearsal; she never had the idea of something complete as she did in the theatre. She never regretted leaving her acting career behind at 28 and didn't consider going back to it. We lost touch after her 70th birthday, which we celebrated together. She died not long after which, in hindsight, was far too young.

"N" is for Neville, who Died of Ennui

I love the Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey. And in particular I love Neville, illustrated to the right. A workmate of mine had the entire alphabet of disaster on his wall. I need to hang Neville on my wall, a small framed ode to ennui and the dangers that lurk therein.

A friend of my close acquaintance insists that "ennui" should be pronounced "ENN-you-eye" and is threatening to start a momement to bring this about. This idea never fails to make me fall about laughing. Time for a marmite sandwich I think.

HP7... Getting so Exciting I can Hardly Stand it

Countdown sequence to completion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows continues ... countdown sequence: 200 pages and counting.

J.K. Rowling is a goddess! I can't understand where she comes up with all this stuff - the names, the detail, the heart-pounding excitment. When this movie is made, it will be roller-coaster of a ride. I'm not the world's biggest wuss, but really, sometimes I have to wonder. When I read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban I got so frightened by the Dementors that I got quite nervous reading it alone at night. It's amazing how these books pull me in. This afternoon in broad daylight, I retreated to my bedroom to read, shut the door, and curled up on the bed (no feet hanging off the end, goodness knows what's circling underneath) and still felt nervous. It's like being a kid again, and I suppose that's part of her brilliance and why as many adults as kids read these books.

And I take back my quibble about the Death Eaters as I'd clean forgotten that Ron is supposedly still with his family, except for right about now when they know he isn't. I won't say any more, being sensitive to spoilers.

J.K.: I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

HP7 Comment... and the Countdown Continues

So, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Death Eaters are willing to torture Scrimgeour to death but... all our dear friends and allies are just vigorously questioned? How come, if they know how much Harry loves the Weasleys, etc. wouldn't they torture them, knowing it would pull him out of hiding?

Then... you wouldn't have much of a plot I guess. I'm so enjoying it!

Countdown sequence to completion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ... 387 pages and counting.

Ooh, I bought a contact lens case that is the exact colour of my bathroom walls: lavender lipstick.

Friday, August 3, 2007

HP7 Countdown Sequence Continues

Stand by for countdown sequence to completion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows... 480 pages and counting...

[What a great start! Lots of action. Love the humour, the double-entendres, all the characters... loving it much more than expected!]

Food and Film

A long weekend and I'm up early. It was very hot last night, but with no a/c I was lucky enough to sleep like a baby. Before I hurl myself on the unsuspecting day, here are two movies which involve food that I saw this week, in delicious state-of-the-art, surround-air-conditioning.

Ratatouille is an animated film about a little rat who longs to be a chef. It's not so much fall-about laughing humour, more a gentler sort. The scenery is amazing - it's the kind of animation where you are distracted by how rich it is and by questions of how they did it. For that alone I'd go back and see it again. Voice casting has changed so much in animated movies since I was a kid. It's much more star-based now, but either way, it seems more care is taken over the voices and I think the current standard is better. If you like endearing little Disney heroes and/or food and/or Paris, you'll like this movie.

No Reservations is a remake of a German film called Mostly Martha (2001), which I loved, so I was a bit leery about the new film. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays a withdrawn, uptight, NY executive chef whose life is turned upside down when she has to raise her orphaned niece, played by the delightful Abigail Breslin, Olive in Little Miss Sunshine (2006). Aaron Eckhart is the handsome, outlandish, untamed chef brought in to manage Zeta-Jones' kitchen as she takes time off to help her grieving niece adjust. Of course tension flares in the best romantic tradition when Zeta-Jones comes back to find the rigid discipline in her kitchen relaxing in the charming presence of the new hunky male chef. I really like Zeta-Jones, although would have preferred if she'd been a touch more uptight. I think Eckhart was so badly cast. He was big and noisy with no real sense of rebellion. I think they were trying to make him Italian, while remaining American. I much preferred him in Possession (2002) where he was an American in a role originally written for a Brit, and - therefore - much more lowkey. He's a handsome man with big features and big presence, so it's preferable to me that he tone it down a bit. And there was a lot of cliche let loose in this movie, like the hero playing "Nessun dorma" (to illustrate that he loves all things Italian and is likely a passionate sort - d'oh!); the pillow fight that ends in feathers everywhere (really? this is fun?), the hero's designer stubble (surely we're past this... ouch), and the over-use of tiramisu and Puccini in general. Bob Balaban plays Zeta-Jones' therapist and has a great apartment - I think that was my favourite bit. Actually Zeta-Jones has a great apartment too and she looked wonderful. So I guess the look of the movie was my favourite bit. I just wish they'd thrown out the cliche, and surprised me a bit more. I'd have loved it then. I'll probably rent Mostly Martha again - it's refreshing and, for the romantics out there, when the guy finally kisses the girl over the saucepan, I melted. I remember it well, I held my breath and melted. Just like the heroine.

HP7 Countdown Sequence Underway

Begin countdown sequence to completion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows... countdown sequence... 607 pages... and counting.