Tuesday, March 22, 2011

England - Keeping Mum

It seems this British film is in keeping with the Hollywood screenplay format of letting the audience know what the whole story is about...by the first 10 minutes.

So you knew a young woman murdered her cheating husband and his galpal - and said young woman was considered insane and locked up for about 40 years. Then she is out and becomes the housekeeper for a dull vicar and his promiscuous wife and daughter, and brutally bullied young son. All this right in the beginning. So why bother?

Well, because Maggie Smith plays the role of the housekeeper and she is quite good in her craft. Plus, and this is a big plus - 'She' does what parents - formerly known as protectors of their children - used to do, she runs interference. If she sees great harm coming to the family she puts an end to it. Rather than this stupidity of sending your child out everyday to deal with a bully by saying 'understand him, he's probably from a bad home' or 'he just needs friends' or the equally stupid "just remember 'sticks and stone will break my bones but words will never harm me' " or just do nothing at all.

By now we should all know that kind of advice can kill a child - AND no adult goes to work everyday and puts up with a co-worker who verbally abuses them. No, they bring in a gun or sue or something. Well, this housekeeper doesn't have a gun but she is just as dangerous. She solves quite a few problems. And there is a fun twist. Yes, there is something that is revealed between the housekeeper and the vicar's promiscuous wife. So a break from the "10 minute turning-point Hollywood pap."

What beverage? Well, they drank a lot of tea so who needs tea. But a beer made with tea will hit the spot. Enjoy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spain - In the City (en la ciudad)

A film about a bunch of thirty-something friends living in Barcelona. It's supposed to be about eight people but in the first half hour so many people make an appearance it can be hard to follow.

Why watch it? Well one of my favorite actresses is in it - Vincenta N'Dongo (in the role of Sara), a Cancer, who makes me think of Denise Nicholas. In the movie, Sara is married to Mario (played by Eduard Fernandez), a Virgo, and together they are a hot couple. Yes, there is lying, cheating, and more lying - but Mario is sooooo cool. And then I got to listen to some pretty great Nina Simone music. This is a 2003 movie so now it is on video - a good thing because the movie may be hard to follow in the beginning and you can rewind - or just follow Sara and Mario and let everyone else fall into place.

What beverage? I think a really good artisanal liquor. Take your pick from three kinds:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

France - Man on the Train (L'Homme du train)

A middle-aged thug/degenerate gets off the train in a small French town for the sole purpose of meeting his thug friends - and doing no good.

Quite by chance he meets an elderly retired teacher who was in the same pharmacy, while he - the thug - was buying aspirin. As they walk away they head in the same direction. The teacher invites the thug home to have a glass of water to take his aspirin. Having done so, the thug leaves but soon returns because there is no room at the inn. The teacher invites him to stay a few days until he can catch up with equally thugish friends and make their dastardly plans.

Turns out - the two men from entirely different worlds soon develop a friendship, simply because they are so very different. The much older teacher wants to have some wild experiences and the thug begins to live vicariously in the comfortable home of the teacher. But things must come to an end and it all does end...sob!

A well done film and it makes me think of what Iyanla VanZant once said about people coming into your life for 'a reason, a season, or a lifetime' and they do serve a purpose.

What to drink? How about a cool, refreshing glass of...water! And some ways to make your water more exciting:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Brazil - Me You Them

This is a favorite! I watched it more than once because I got to share it with a friend - who was just as happily amused and surprised as I was.

It is supposed to be based on a true story - of a woman who lives in a small village in Brazil. Yes, she has children, and yes, she has a new husband somewhere in there, and yes she works hard while her new - and older husband - just swings the day away in a hammock. But she does her own thing - she lives her life knowing that she is in fact an asset to this husband - who knows it too. So he puts up with things that surprised even me - a WOW (woman of the world)!

One day the question arises? How is it that her new baby is much browner than she and the new husband? She mildly gives an explanation that made me laugh. And what on earth is she going to do with that incredibly good-looking, rather muscular man, that works where she works (and looks good in his sweat), doing back-breaking labor in the sugar cane fields? Wait? Is she going to bring him home? Again - she does her thing - but never leaves the home that she still manages to run. And leaves us, the viewers, surprised at the bold twists and turns of this most talented actress playing a wonderful role.

What beverage goes with the film?

How about something completely different? Have you ever heard of mamajuana?

Here it is:

Enjoy! And check back for regular updates! Yay!

Mexico - The Exterminating Angel ( El angel exterminador)

Ready for Crazy! Well here it is in Black and White.

In the first 5 minutes you'll see something is kind of off in this Luis Bunuel film, but then you think maybe you've just been drinking too much and kind of ignore it. What happens is a bunch of upperclass snooty friends are invited back to the mansion (not a McMansion, a real mansion) of a friend after a night at the theater. They enjoy a fine meal and entertainment. And when it's all over- they won't leave. In fact at 4 a.m. - the host starts thinking about how rude they are for not leaving and he starts turning out the lights. They all respond by settling down to go to sleep. Yes, they are still not leaving. They pull their shawls over them, take spots on the couch and floor, cuddle up with each other and spend the night - remaining in that one large room.

Daylight comes and they still don't leave that room. What is going on? They decide that they may as well wait for coffee and a light breakfast. And they stay on. In fact days begin to go by and the guests feel they simply cannont leave the room and no one knows why. Outside, people know they are inside, but even they cannot bring themselves to enter the mansion. Someone is selling balloons. The guests get ugly and begin to devolve - but maybe not. Maybe they were always the insensitive, crass, no thinking slobs they turn into. One woman, after having witnessed a train crash squashing the people in a 3rd class car says she was not sympathetic because poor people are not as sensitive to pain. Eventually sheep come into the house. Sure, why not. Finally, it is a young woman that decides to solve this problem. It's hard to say how many days went by or even weeks. But there was plenty of ugliness and crazy. And it so happens I like crazy. And this film really did it.

Now what to drink.

I think a nice shot of vodka or gin. Quality of course - so try a small batch artisanal liquor:


Sunday, February 13, 2011

S.Korea - The Host

My all time favorite monster movie - with some of the best special effects ever. One of the most amazing things about this movie is that the great big bad monster shows up in less than 15 minutes. So you are not sitting there like an idiot wondering when - and if - the monster is worth your time and the price of a ticket. It is action, good writing and excellent visuals from the beginning to the end. I had the pleasure of seeing this movie a few years ago when I was in Seoul. In addition to the big screen, and super sound and special effects, seats are always reserved. The ticket clerks decided I should have a love seat - wonderful!

The movie begins in English. So what happens when the US military decides to dump a seriously toxic chemical in the Han River - well, bad things happen. Then I watched the rest of the film in the Korean language. Even with my limited language skills there is enough action to keep you right up there in the film. And like so many foreign films - no matter what is happening - there is always a bit of good humor.

If you pick up this film on video in the US as I did, be sure that it has subtitles and is not dubbed as mine was. There is nothing worse that listening to bad English dubbing which does not fit the film at all. In fact it is distracting and annoying. Better to listen to the natural language and just watch the film.

So now what beverage to drink with the monster? Well, when I was living in Seoul, my friend Christine and I put our lips on everything that had green tea, this includes ice cream, excellent lattes and even cups of good green tea. But more often we were sitting in a Hof somewhere enjoying a good draft beer. Here is a link to both in one: a beer made with green tea! Enjoy it with the film! And keep scrolling for more film reviews!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Liberia - Pray the Devil Back to Hell

Looking for a good time and a good foreign film? How about a beverage to go with it all?

Well, here's the film from Liberia - with 7 awards.

"Pray the Devil Back to Hell"

The power of the title captured me. What devil? - and sure dragged back to hell is fitting. When I got the documentary video, and saw it was about women in Liberia - knowing the horrors they were experiencing at the hands of...well, a devil, I thought it would depress me. But wait - these were women in Africa who have often effected stunning change. And this is what happened in this astounding film. The women said they were in essence "Sick and tired of being sick and tired!" (thanks Fannie Lou Hamer for saying this first) and they were going to do something about it. They started a peace movement, and they were not going to wait years for this to happen - it was NOW! Right now!

This bit of world history explains why Liberia has the first woman president on the African continent. Both Christian and Muslim women united and took on the corrupt regime - and ended it. They reminded us that women united is a force to be reckoned with - I wish all women knew this.

Meet the women who put on white t-shirts and started out one day to change the course of their history, the history of their children and the history of their country. Their peace movement effected the change that was a long time coming. Bravo!

What beverage to enjoy?

About half way through the film I thought I should have a stiff shot of gin. Just pause the film and go throw it back and calm down. And at the end of the film, I felt another shot and then wait 10 minutes and have some champagne to celebrate. But I am not a gin drinker and had no champagne. I'm a big tea fan so I settled down and had some super hot steaming, soothing Macha tea - the Japanese green tea.

Here is a link to help you pick a Japanese green tea:

Enjoy the film - enjoy the tea - and don't apologize for your amazing power. Whew!