Quick and Easy Brussel Sprouts/Cabbage/Currants with Sesame Oil

Ingredients:

1-2 packages Brussel sprouts

small cabbage (I got the small squatty kind from an Asian market, it has looser leaves than a regular green cabbage but you could use any cabbage)

Sesame oil

currants or raisins, dried cherries, blueberries

Wash and destem the B sprouts, then halve. Wash cabbage and cut roughly the same amount of cabbage as you have sprouts. I used about 1/3 of the small cabbage to one pack of sprouts for one meal for two people. If you are cooking for more people or like leftovers, you may want 2 packages of sprouts and use 2/3 or even all of a squatty cabbage. This is super yummy, so you might want to make a big batch!

Stir fry on a medium heat with a liberal amount of sesame oil. You may want to even add some water to partially steam it. When all the greens seem to be browning up, turn the temp down to low and add in your dried fruit– sorry folks, I don’t measure, I go by eye-ball– a nice visual scattering — I tend to be a bit heavy handed, it’s up to you — if you like fruit, add more. Stir until the fruit has had a chance to mingle with the oil and is well mixed into the greens.

And Soon the Darkness (1970)

Directed by Robert Fuest Stars Pamela Franklin, Michele Dotrice and Sandor Eles

I’ll say right up front that I loved this film though I have some issues with it. First: what I love about it. Simple enough premise, two English nurses go on holiday to bicycle through France. Cathy soon tires of bicycling all day and becomes increasingly recalcitrant. She wants to mingle with people. She’s done with the countryside. She’s going to rest. With reluctance, Jane leaves her behind, assuming that she’ll catch up in her own time. Jane arrives at a desolate little cafe and stops to wait for Cathy, who does not come. And does not come.

This horror film was a daring departure from its predecessors– we don’t have creepy castles and cobwebs, we have open air and sunshine. For modern horror lovers, this may be a slow-paced and predictable offering. I’ve seen some reviews that include “boring”. Yes, the tension mounts slowly as Jane tries to get help and discovers that none of the townspeople feel trustworthy, in fact, the men are all downright creepy. The French are not painted favorably in this picture, particularly the men. The increasing feeling of being trapped in a wide open space is remarkably well done. I felt incredible empathy for Jane’s plight. What happened to Cathy? There doesn’t even seem to be a place to stay within miles. The locals are almost hostile as well as creepy. For film buffs, this is a must-see for its cinematography–long shots of farmland and endless road that should be lovely but feel sinister.

And now for some spoilers. First up, a wee technical problem. Okay, it’s summer, and the two women have next to no luggage. Cathy hangs out her lingerie to dry, so we can assume they have packed extra light and are washing their clothes often. However, both women are wearing skin tight shorts and short sleeve tops. Jane leaves her bicycle multiple times during the movie–with ALL her stuff which has to include her wallet, traveler checks (remember them? 1970 here folks, no swipey cards) and ID as well. Sorry, this doesn’t work for me. You would have all that with you at all times, and yet Jane does not carry a purse or any kind of pouch or anything, and she surely does not have ANYTHING in her pockets! Minor thing, but it bugged me.

Here’s my big problem: PAUL. We meet Paul and he seems sketchy from the start. We feel a modicum of relief when he indicates that he is a detective on holiday, who came back to this dreary little town in hopes of solving the murder of a young girl (who looked very much like the now missing Cathy). But his behavior is still weird and we come to suspect that he might be the killer.

Moody and atmospheric, making great use of closed and open spaces (woods, the road, the abandoned trailer park, the gendarme’s house) I found myself on the edge of the couch cushion in anticipation of the big reveal. Who did it?

Spoiler alert: stop here if you haven’t seen the film yet!

We find out that Paul is not the killer. He rescues Jane at the end. The credits roll. So, if he wasn’t the killer, then why did he expose the film? Why was he leading her to the bicycle he found? It was obviously a sketchy place and the murderer was nearby. Why not call for backup? Why didn’t he say what he found? Why was he chasing her like a stalker? His behavior just doesn’t make sense unless it’s just another jab at the French that his machismo has gotten the better of him. At one point he even pounds his chest, screaming “you can’t get away from ME!” I just don’t get it. Thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think of this film.

Monkey Heart is OUT!

What do you get

when you combine

an albino Buddhist and a meditation retreat with:

  • wiccans

  • preppers

  • a weight loss group

  • cryptozoologists

  • drag queens

in Catfish Springs on Halloween???

 You get MONKEY HEART!

Humor. 

Mystery.

A Touch of Romance. 

Come visit Catfish. 

Relax. 

Kick back. 

Goes well with a pumpkin spice latte.. 

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) Dana Andrews, Joan Fontaine

A reporter turned author is having trouble finishing his book. Discussing the ills of capital punishment with his future father-in-law, they concoct a scheme to frame him for an unsolved murder. Once he is convicted, they will prove his innocence and reveal the flaws in the system. The father-in-law carefully documents all their activities as they plant evidence.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this, but as a fan of Fritz Lang, I gave it a go. Enjoyed it though I will admit it is nothing compared to “Metropolis”, “Secret Beyond the Door” “Scarlet Street” or “M”.

Bleak subject? No chemistry between Dana Andrews and Joan Fontaine?  Not enough tension? It did not do well at the box office and is not listed in Lang’s top films. But it IS still a Fritz Lang picture. Noirish  lighting. Funky camera angles.

Interesting concept though, and there’s a surprise at the end. Well worth a watch if you enjoy classic films and mystery.

There was a remake in 2009 with Jesse Metcalfe. Haven’t seen it. Usually, I’m not a big fan of remakes, but might have to give this a go for comparison.

 

 

 

Le Samourai (1967) (French) Alain Delon, François Périer , Nathalie Delon, Caty Rosier

I first saw Alain Delon in Zorro when I was around 11 and was swept away. Recently perusing a list of Top 100 best foreign films, Le Samourai popped up. Great!

I’ll say off the bat that this is a film buff’s movie. If you need fast action and lots of special effects you will be bored silly and hate it. In fact, the most animated character in the film is an agitated, caged bullfinch. A man of action heart throb in Zorro; he’s stony cold with dead eyes here.

And yet, here are some review snippets:

“I was completely blown away. This movie can be summed up with one word: minimalism.”

“stark originality”

“a blend of stylistic and thematic excellence”

All while being darned close to a silent film the dialogue is so sparse.

Still reading? Here’s the tricky part– the movie won’t really much sense until the end. You have to keep watching.
The plot is simple: a hit man’s job is not clean, there are witnesses including a piano player who looked him right in the eye. So his employer isn’t pleased, the cops are darned sure they’ve got their man but they don’t absolute proof. The employer wants him dead, cops are following him and harassing his girlfriend (Delon’s wife at the time, Nathalie, considered one of the most beautiful women in the world at the time)  to admit her alibi for him is a lie. 

The film begins with a quotation from the Bushido, the samurai code “There is no solitude greater than a samurai’s, unless perhaps it is that of a tiger in the jungle.”  Delon’s character, Jef Costello, moves with purpose, seemingly devoid of emotion. I’d hazard that the Terminator was modeled after this performance. Unrelenting and calculating.

The film itself– considered perfection by film-makers for it’s use of color, timing, atmosphere, camerawork and locations. At a time when films were shot on sets, this was a notable departure, being shot on locations in Paris, but not a Paris that you’d recognize from iconic photos– it’s mostly subways, stairwells, narrow streets.

My favorite scene is the first one. A dim room so still you wonder if it is a photograph. A hint of movement, there is a haze of smoke. Where is it coming from? Oh! There is a man on the bed blowing smoke rings. This moment capture the feel of the whole film– action and non-action, a gorgeous minimalist canvas (honestly, the colors of the walls and texture are mesmerizing) that speaks without words.

For more info at Internet Movie Database: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062229/?ref_=ttmi_tt
Perfect 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/le_samourai

 

MIDNIGHT LACE (1960) Doris Day, Rex Harrison, Myrna Loy, Roddy McDowell

I’m going to kill you, Mrs. Preston,”   promises an unnatural high-pitched voice that ought to set the goosebumps scampering over your skin.

   An American woman (Doris Day), wed three scant months to an Englishman (Rex Harrison), lives in London and is terrorized by a stalker threatening to kill her. The threats always seem to come when she is alone and has no one to corroborate her experiences which occur with increasing frequency.

   This film may seem tepid amidst today’s offerings of graphic violence and terror, but for Doris Day fans, old movie fans and folks who just don’t want graphic frights, this movie holds up. The story takes off in the first moments; suspects abound, the tension never slacks.

   Doris Day refused to act in any other such film and opted for comedies for the rest of her career. No small wonder as her character, Mrs. Preston is under stress from the first moments of the film. In one climatic scene, her method acting turned to real hysteria and she collapsed.

   Costume designer Irene Lentz was nominated for an Oscar for her outfits in Midnight Lace. She and Doris Day were friends, and Day trusted her for her costumes as well as her own wardrobe. If you enjoy Hollywood fashion, this film is a goodie just for that.

   As a huge Myrna Loy fan, it is a treat that she is Mrs. Preston’s kind aunt. Roddy McDowell has only a few scenes but they are noteworthy and memorable. I’m not much of a Rex Harrison fan and this role did not make appear to push his acting abilities, but no grumbles about his work here.

LINKS:

Related article about Irene Lentz:

 https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/irene-lentz-costume-designers-chic-430898

 Midnight Lace Trailer:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozEIitjahuU

 

 

 

 

Sweet Bean (2015) (Japanese)

The plot :   The manager and cook at a doriyaki shop (doriyaki = two pancakes with a filling between them) seems stuck in a rut, trapped by debt. A kindly old woman shows up with a homemade bean recipe that will surely boost sales. A young student whose closest friend is a canary finds refuge at the shop with the strange woman as a surrogate mother.  The woman will offer them both a new way to look at life. 

This film is like a cherry blossom, small, simple, delicate, gorgeous, uplifting. 

Link to preview on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4298958/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 

 

 

The Detour

So, there’s this little culvert just down the road. Doesn’t seem like much of anything. Most of the time it’s dry, unless we get a gully washer, then it becomes a true creek. I never dreamed it would be such an undertaking to repair it. Trucks and loads of dirt, rocks and concrete chunks just keep coming. For weeks. We haven’t seen any actual work yet though sometimes we see dudes sitting in the shade with sandwiches. 

The guy just laughs when I ask how long it’ll be before the road opens again. 

Figures. There’s always something, isn’t there? A detour in the road, a kink in the hose? 

Don’t let it stop you from visiting Blue’s Lotus Lodge. We’re open!

Find your way to Catfish Springs via Amazon–Monkey Mind is available in paperback and as an ebook:   https://tinyurl.com/yagcfmd5