Thursday, February 28, 2013

Movie Review: Hitchcock

Last night, after a productive day, I decided to order a film I've been wanting to see for quite some time:  Hitchcock, with Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren.  As someone who never had much use for cable TV and the On Demand feature when I lived in California, it has been nice--since moving to Washington-- to have the option of immediate rentals of films that didn't play in our area.

With a star studded cast and an intriguing subject, I had high hopes for this film. But even though the two leads are personal favorites, the film fell flat, and I think it was because of the way Hitchcock ("Hitch") was portrayed and a script that couldn't keep its focus.  Anthony Hopkins, who was virtually unrecognizable behind brown contacts and a fat suit, could not act his way through the layers of makeup.  And Helen Mirren was miscast as his dowdy, silently suffering wife.  (There is nothing dowdy about Helen Mirren.)  You don't know how much it pains me to say that, but they could not save this film.

The supporting characters in the story, which was a fictionalized telling of Hitchcock's making of Psycho, were good, but underused.  Scarlett Johansson was a gorgeous Janet Leigh, although not quite as demure as the original; Jessica Biel was a mature and understated Vera Miles, the actress who was supposed to play the lead until pregnancy had her relegated to a supporting role; and Toni Collette was great as Hitch's assistant.

The one who impressed me most, though, was James D'Arcy (Russell Crowe's first mate in Master and Commander, one of my all time favorite movies) as Anthony Perkins, Psycho's star who was forever typecast after taking this role.  He did what Anthony Hopkins could not do this time, which is inhabit the character.  His resemblance to Perkins is astonishing, and his portrayal was creepy in its subtlety, both as the actor Perkins and as Norman Bates.  

Peripheral references to Hitchcock's marriage problems felt whiny and out of place, as if they should've been the subject of a completely different movie.  Or not.

In all, a disappointment.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

More Crock Pottin' and Secretary-en

This is your basic catch-up post because I don't want much more time to pass before updating...

So, what have I been doing?

A lot of Crock Pot experimenting.  Nothing difficult, but just some basic recipes that I knew I could do and that I thought my hubby and I would both enjoy.  The best ones, in my opinion, have been the Mexican chicken and the salisbury steak...Yum!  I loved the way the Mexican chicken barely clung to the bone at serving time--it reminded me of my grandmother's cooking, although I never saw her use a Crock Pot...ever.  She just had magically perfect timing when it came to cooking.  Everything she made turned out amazing.  The salisbury steak was also a hit.  I was shocked at the size of the recipe when it was done, but it was so good and we were so hungry...I'm ashamed to say we ate up every morsel.  I'm making it for Valentine's Day this Thursday.

Other experiments have been pepper steak, chicken/noodle casserole, chicken fajitas, and pork chops with apples and cinnamon.  Everything has turned out fine except for the pork chops, which were more like pork-meat-apple-cinnamon-mush.  We agreed that we prefer our simple way of cooking pork chops.

And yes, see those bold typed meals up there?  Those are links to take you to the recipes.  The only modification I made was that I used 6 chicken thighs with the Mexican chicken (salsa chicken on the site.)

And because I've been so brave about trying new recipes lately, I also made my grandmother's albondigas (meatballs) the other day--not the soup, but meatballs in sauce.  I cooked them in the pot I inherited from her and the smells in the kitchen were just like her kitchen when she made them.  That is why I call her pot the "magic pot."  I feel like I'm channeling some of her cooking energy and talents every time I use it, which is at least once a week.

To segue...

The other endeavor that has been using my time has been my new calling as Relief Society secretary.  For those who do not know, that is the name of the ladies' organization in the LDS church.  I love Relief Society and I love the ladies in our ward, so it is a pleasure to get to know some of them better and serve them in this way.  I will admit, that it is a demanding calling, but I'm learning new things every week.  I also like that it requires computer skills, some which I have, and some which I am sharpening, but all that are very useful.  But, since those who know me well also know that I have a deep and personal relationship with my computer, I love the challenge of trying new things on it.

And now, time to end this post.  My tired eyes are doing the"blinky blink," a sign that it is time to step away from the computer and call it a day. But before I do, I wish all who read this a good week and very Happy Valentines Day!  I hope you get to spend it with someone you love.