Archive for sixes and sevens

Leap Year

DVD (2010)  Written by Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont/Directed by Anand Tucker STARRING: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott

The story  If a man receives a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day, he must accept it — that’s what tradition says. So with February 29th around the corner, and no proposals on the horizon from her long-time boyfriend Jeremy, Anna Brady (played by Amy Adams) decides to take matters into her own hands. She will hunt down Jeremy (Adam Scott) on his Dublin business trip and pop the question! If it worked for her grandma Jane, it’s gotta work for her too, right? We quickly discover the answer to that as a storm redirects Anna’s flight and she ends up washed ashore in a tiny Irish town a day’s journey from Dublin. It’s there where she meets Declan O’Callaghan (Matthew Goode) — a tall, dark and brooding Irishman who runs the town’s only hotel as well as taxi service. In the shadow of Declan’s rugged manliness and Mr. Rochester-like aloofness, the trendy metrosexual weasel-face that is Anna’s fiance-to-be melts away like a bad dream come morning. But Anna is determined to get to Dublin and propose to Jeremy. Declan agrees to drive her to Dublin and the journey begins.

It’s a 6.5  Leap Year is a quiet movie, with a script that borders on pathetic at times. But heaven help me, I really like it. Despite the flaws of the film (dreadfully dull and contrived Boston scenes book-end the film), the movie springs to life once in Ireland, and is full of romantic little vignettes. Leap Year  is formulaic, but the chemistry between Adams and Goode totally wins you over. I can count three girlfriends of mine who speak of Leap Year with a happy sigh, and Roger Ebert, my go-to critic, gave this movie three stars out of four.

Sweet extras  As film critic Roger Ebert once wrote: “When was the last time you saw a boring Irishman in a movie?” With phrases like “jabs” (boobs) and “brown trout” (poop), the world is never dull. Here are some of the Irish phrases or objects referenced in Leap Year. You’ll find these useful for understanding some of the movie dialogue, as a few of them are never explained. What is a tripe and why should you be repulsed by it? You’ll find out below.

chancer: a scheming opportunist

eejit: an idiot

diddly-eye: foolish or foolishness

bob: money, cash

hang sandwich: a ham sandwich

tripe: edible sections from the stomachs of farm animals, in particular oxen, sheep, or goats. (Note: if you ever want to eat again, don’t google images).

Sláinte! (pronounced slán-jah):  an Irish toast, meaning “to your health.”

a claddagh ring: A  traditional Irish ring that features two hands clasping a heart topped by a crown. It is most often given as a token of love, though it can also mean friendship. When worn on the right ring finger with the heart pointing to the fingertip, the wearer indicates they are single. Worn on the same finger but with the heart pointing toward the palm suggests the wearer is in a relationship. When the ring is on the left hand wedding ring finger, it means the person is married or engaged.

Good for who? Leap Year is great for a quiet night at home alone. And this one is for rom-com lovers only. We are a special breed and no one but the forgiving rom-com aficionado will find the worthwhile moments beyond the movie’s flaws. Sexual references are minimal, with some hells, a couple of as*es, and one very loud and distinct  JC  which will grate on the baptist minister’s wife like fingernails on a chalkboard. That’s too bad, because I think she would have liked this one.

Loved this movie? Live this movie! Coq au vin and the toast you’ve been looking for

The toast  Anna and Declan stumble upon an Irish wedding, and are invited to stay. The bride gives this toast to her husband, which several readers of this blog have asked me about over the past two years. This would be a lovely one to recite at your own wedding or that of a friend.

“May you never steal, lie or cheat.

But if you must steal, then steal away my sorrows.

And if you must lie, lie with me all the nights of my life.

And if you must cheat, then please cheat death,

because I couldn’t live a day without you.”

The recipe  On their travels, Declan and Anna stay in a small farmhouse and cook dinner for their hosts. They make the french dish coq au vin with fresh ingredients found in the garden. Rumour has it this dish — a sort of chicken and veg stew braised with red wine — takes several hours to prepare authentically, but quick and dirty recipes for it abound online. Here’s a delicious quicky coq au vin recipe from http://www.eatingwell.com that I tested on the weekend. It took about an hour, and I swapped out the dry red Zinfandel for red cooking wine which was cheaper and still delish!

Eatingwell.com said it makes four servings, but I found it only made three. Note: I served my dish with yellow baby potatoes — halved, sprinkled with olive oil, and baked in the oven on a cookie sheet while I prepared the recipe.  Also note: Unlike Declan O’Callaghan, I did not kill my own chicken to make this.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts (about 12 ounces each), skin removed, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, preferably Zinfandel
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

HOW TO MAKE IT

  1. Place flour in a shallow dish. Cut each chicken breast in half on the diagonal to get 4 portions about equal in weight. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and roll through the flour.
  2. Whisk water with 2 tablespoons of the leftover flour in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add the chicken. Cook, turning once or twice, until lightly browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. (To make sure the chicken would be cooked completely through, I gave the thicker pieces a head start in the microwave. Just a few minutes for each piece).
  4. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan; reduce heat to medium-low. Add mushrooms, carrots, onion and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and browned in spots, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add broth, wine, tomato paste and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir until the tomato paste is dissolved. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Return the chicken to the pan. Cover, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring once or twice, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165°F, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate. (Note: I did not have a thermometer to test the chicken — another reason I pre-cooked the chicken a bit in the microwave first).
  7. Increase the heat under the sauce to medium-high. Stir the water-flour mixture, add it to the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, about 1 minute. Serve the chicken with the sauce, sprinkled with parsley. Optional baby potatoes placed along side.

Enjoy!

Paula Jane

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Made of Honor

(Columbia Pictures)

DVD (2008) Written by A.Sztykiel, D.Kaplan, H.Elfont/Directed by Paul Weiland   STARRING: Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan

The story: Hannah and Tom meet at Cornell University when he mistakes her for her roommate in the middle of the night. Hannah maces Tom in the eyes with Eternity by Calvin Klein and they are BFFL ever since. It’s now 10 years later, they’re living in New York, and they’re just as tight as ever. Tom (played by Patrick Dempsey) is a wealthy, heartless womanizer and Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) is a loveless art conservator geek. She says “I love you” too much and he has a bizarre need to only say those words to strange dogs. He’s been with so many women but Hannah has never been one of them. She’s his best friend and that’s good enough for him. Hannah, meanwhile, seems to have hidden feelings for this man-child but Tom is oblivious.

Hannah is suddenly called away to Scotland on a paintings acquisition trip for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is gone for six weeks, and this is when Tom realizes just how much he misses her. It’s a total Ross and Rachel moment (almost eerily so) when Hannah finally returns and Tom meets her at the airport with a bouquet of flowers and the intention to confess how he feels. But she’s met a new man and he’s come back to New York with her to announce their engagement. “Tom,” Hannah asks, “will you be my maid of honor?”

It’s a 6 Made of Honor is nothing near genius, but there’s something about this little story that pleases me. Perhaps it’s the Scottish scenery that woos me, or the lead characters, or the humour in watching Patrick Dempsey hanging with the girls as he carries out his MOH duties? The movie should have spent more time up front developing Hannah and Tom’s friendship, and I wish Tom’s moments with the dogs didn’t feel so obviously plopped in just to build the theme. But still, I refuse to abandon it. I think it’s cute, even though critics have not been kind (it received a 13% on Rotten Tomatoes and phrases like “bonehead plot” have been thrown around like wedding confetti.)  Several of my girl friends, however, have watched Made of Honor and enjoyed it. It’s not a movie you should buy to own, but it does make a good cheapy weekend rental.

The envelope, please Made of Honor should win a prize for Most humiliating attempt to win back a girl.  Patrick Dempsey in a mini kilt with white briefs underneath. I needn’t say more.

Sweet extras The scenery is worth the watch. Fiancée Colin lives in a Scottish castle and the last third of the movie takes place here. It’s actually the beautiful and haunting 13th-century Eilean Donan castle, which rests in the Scottish highlands just outside Dornie. The Eilean Donan castle was also featured in several other films including Highlander (1985), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), and the James Bond film The World is not Enough (1999). Interior castle shots are a mishmash of other locations, including Dunvegan castle on the Isle of Skye.

Good for who? Watch this movie if you like Patrick Dempsey, wedding-related rom-coms, or the sublimity of castles by moonlight. But watch out: there’s coarse language and sexual references scattered steadily throughout. Don’t even bother inviting the Baptist minister’s wife over for this one because just when you think you’ve heard the word “balls” enough, you’ll hear it again. I suppose if one doesn’t like the movie, one could make a drinking game of it?

The movie is rated PG-13 for language and sexual references. Here’s a full breakdown of the content on Screenit.com’s review of the movie.

Paula Jane


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