Magic Mike

“Magic Mike”

By Kyra Kirkwood

Film (with rating): Magic Mike (R)

Studio: Warner Home Entertainment Group

Summary: A popular male stripper takes a young dancer under his wing and schools him in the fine art of partying, picking up women and taking off his clothes for money.

Review: Director Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic”) created a surprisingly sassy, spicy and slightly moralistic tale involving male exotic dancers. Don’t get confused; this is no “Traffic,” and when Soderbergh tries to venture into that arena, “Mike” falters. But luckily, the movie doesn’t toe that line very often. Instead, we’ve got a handful of young, talented dancers who spend their lives partying and living the fantasy life coveted by most young men. But Mike (Channing Tatum, who was a real-life stripper in his teen years) wants more, and it’s going to take a virtuous woman to help him get a more grounded, real life.

But who am I kidding? This film, while it does have a surprisingly rich plot peppered with likeable characters, is pretty much a 110-minute drool fest featuring some of the snappiest dancing, gorgeous glutes and yummy eye candy of any film since….I’m not really sure. “Mike” is like “Showgirls” and “Flashdance,” but for girls, and with some brains. It’s this strange hybrid of bachelorette party and cozy romantic dinner. And it works. Well, I think it works. I’m still a bit flustered by all those gleaming pecs and crazy dance moves (thank you, Channing!). The movie is full of clich├ęs, but somehow, it all works out.

I think it’s the magic of the pecs.

Extra highlight: The extended dance scenes “too hot for theaters.”

What to serve for dinner: A bottle of merlot and your kids’ Halloween candy.

What to talk about over dinner: Would you ever date a stripper? Would you ever be a stripper? Who was your favorite character? Have you ever been to a strip club? Ever had a stripper at one of your parties? What’s up with Matthew McConaughey and his crazy weight loss for a new film?

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen


Film (with rating): Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (PG-13)

 

Studio: Sony
Pictures Home Entertainment

 

Summary: A
visionary sheik (Amr Waked) wants to bring salmon fishing to the desert, so he
instructs his representative (Emily Blunt) to hire Britain’s leading fisheries
expert (Ewan McGregor) to achieve the impossible.

 

Review: While
at first blush, this may sound like an “Out of Africa” type tale, it
is actually a rather charming romantic comedy. With a horrid title.
“Salmon” isn’t as snooze-worthy as it sounds, either. The outstanding
chemistry between Blunt and McGregor really lights up the film and helps smooth
over any rough edges. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, “Salmon” keeps
from being too heavy-handed with the symbolism or moralistic messages and
instead allows the viewers to be charmed by the interactions of the characters.
Based on the satiric novel by Paul Torday, the movie didn’t do very well at the
box office, which is a shame, because it is a sweet flick that really showcases
Blunt’s awesome acting abilities. Even if you don’t care about fishing or the
Middle East, “Salmon” will still hold some charm for you. It’s not a
“You Got Mail” rom-com, since “Salmon” does have some
brains behind it, meshing romance with faith, perseverance and passion. One thing
you have to turn off before you can enjoy this movie: your inner critic. If you
don’t question the logistics and actual realities of moving fish to the desert,
you’ll enjoy the film a lot more.

 

Extra highlight:
Watch the feature about Torday.

 

What to serve for dinner: Well, if this wasn’t a Meatless Monday, I’d serve
up (duh) salmon. But since we’re going vegetarian today, let’s try some
vegetarian fish and chips (www.hubpages.com).

 

I-2 packets of Halloumi cheese (This is a traditional Greek
Cypriot cheese made from a mixture of sheep and goats milk. It has a very high
melting point, firm white texture and a slightly salty taste.).

1 cup plain flour

tsp white pepper

tsp salt

Few drops of vegetable oil for the batter and enough to
cover the ‘fish’ as it fries.

cup warm milk and water, about half and half

1tsp baking powder

5 good-sized potatoes

 

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, make a well in the
middle of the flour and then add the oil and a small amount of the half milk,
half warm water mixture. Stir slowly bringing down more and more of the flour
mixture until it is all combined. Beat well until it is very smooth, you can do
this by hand or use an electric beater. For an extra crisp batter mixture add
an extra spoonful of baking powder to the dry ingredients.

 

Wash the potatoes but do not peel. Cut them into wedges or
chunky chip shapes and spread them out onto a lightly greased baking sheet,
sprinkle them with salt and pepper to taste. Place the baking sheet onto the
middle shelf of an oven heated to 350 degrees. Cook for 40 minutes or so. Once
the wedges are cooked and golden, turn the oven down as low as it will go and
leave the wedges in to keep hot.

 

Cut the Halloumi into either thick finger shapes, wedges cut
to resemble fish filets or simply cut into chunks. Pat the cheese shapes dry
with kitchen towels or a clean tea towel and then dip them into the batter
mixture making sure that they are completely coated.

 

Heat the oil to 300 degrees in a shallow frying pan, but be
very careful not to overfill it.

 

Drop the battered cheese pieces into the hot oil one at a
time, do not overload the pan as it’s better to cook the cheese in batches than
risk it burning or sticking to the pan. Once cooked, drain well onto absorbent
kitchen paper. You can always put the cooked pieces onto a tray and keep them
hot in the oven with the wedges or chips.

 

Serve with minted peas, mushy peas, or a nice tossed green
salad, and garnish with fresh parsley, lemon wedges, malt vinegar and a little
tartar sauce.

 

 

What to talk about over dinner: What is the most insane dream you’ve ever had that
you wanted to make real? What do you love or hate about fishing? What is the
biggest fish you’ve ever caught? Who was your favorite character? If you could
fish anywhere, where would it be? What is the one thing on your bucket list you
would love to accomplish this year? What was your favorite scene?

When Harry Met Sally

Photo #1

Film (with rating): When Harry Met Sally (R)

 

Studio: MGM

 

Summary: Harry
and Sally’s relationship begins with mutual dislike, then throughout the years
morphs into friendly acquaintances and then best friends. Throughout it all,
they have one fear: sex will ruin everything. Or will it? 

 

Review: In
light of screenwriter Nora Ephron’s death last week, I am pulling an
oldie-but-goodie out of the vault for tonight’s Meatless Monday Movie. And what
a classic it is! “When Harry Met Sally” was sort of a rite of passage
for us in college. It was considered some sort of disorder if we had not
watched this film repeatedly by the time second semester rolled around.

 

Not only was “When Harry” a classic, it inspired
countless romantic comedies in its wake (many, many of which were just watery
shadows of this jewel). Ephron, the writing genius that she was, crafted
brilliant and intelligent dialog that notched “When Harry” up the
credibility scale. Oh, the dialog! It is something to behold. Even those not enamored
with the craft of writing will appreciate Ephron’s talent. And those of us who
live and breathe the written word? We’ll be insanely impressed. Her words–in a
romantic comedy, mind you–have stood the test of time for more than 20 years.
That’s some good writing.

 

 Sure, at its
surface, this was a movie about two rather clueless people bumbling around the
big city, trying to find love. But through some fantastic character
development, inspirational directing (thanks, Rob Reiner!), loveable characters
played by the pre-plastic surgery Meg Ryan and the always likeable Billy
Crystal, and the famous fake-orgasm-in-a-deli scene, you’ve got a hit.

 

Extra highlight: A making-of featurette

 

What to serve for dinner: A Vegetable Paprikash (Vegetarian Times, September
1998) and green salad. With dressing on the side, of course.  (Yes, this movie is the reason I was
called “Sally” more than once in my college years and beyond. What’s
wrong with ordering every food accessory on the side? “I just want it the
way I want it.”)

 

1 Tbs. olive oil or vegetable oil

2 cups thinly sliced cabbage

2 medium onions, sliced

2 medium carrots, sliced

2 medium green bell peppers, sliced

1 medium zucchini, sliced

1 cups sliced mushrooms

1 medium tomato, chopped

3 Tbs. unbleached all-purpose flour

1 to 2 Tbs. hot or sweet paprika

cup vegetable broth

cup fat-free sour cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (Remember, not
too much pepper on your Paprikash!)

 

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add cabbage,
onions, carrots and bell peppers and cook, stirring often, until tender, 5 to 8
minutes. Add zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes. Cover and cook until vegetables
are wilted. Stir in flour and paprika and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring
constantly. Stir in broth and bring mixture to a boil. Boil, stirring
constantly, until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Stir in sour cream and season
to taste with salt and pepper.

 

What to talk about over dinner: Can men and women be friends without sex getting in
the way? Is it better to marry for sex or friendship, or both? Which should be
first? Have you ever dated a good friend? Have you ever lost a friend because
you guys dated? What is your favorite line in the movie? Who had the nerve to
act out the deli scene in public? What was the one piece of furniture you and
your partner fought about when it was time to move in together? What was the
funniest part of the film? How much did you love the Harry Connick Jr.
soundtrack? Do you have Sally traits, or Harry traits? What is your favorite Nora
Ephron movie? Favorite Rob Reiner film? Why did Meg Ryan mess with her face? Do
you think Billy Crystal was the best Oscar host ever? If not, who was your
favorite?

The Vow


Film (with rating): The Vow (PG-13)

 

Studio: Sony
Pictures

 

Summary:
After a horrific car accident, a young wife (Rachel McAdams) cannot remember
the past few years of her life, or her husband (Channing Tatum). He now must
figure out how to make her fall in love with him all over again.

 

Review: Happy
Mother’s Day weekend, everyone. In honor of that, I decided to break out a
romance for your enjoyment. (Sure, I’d rather watch a horror movie or some
crazy actioner on Mother’s Day, but I know I’m a bit off.) Fans of “The
Notebook” or predictable yet satisfying romance movies featuring
love-conquers-all as the main theme will enjoy “The Vow.” It’s got
some of today’s biggest romance players with McAdams (of “The
Notebook” fame, by the way) and Tatum. To add more fuel to this romantic
fire and cause fans to swoon even more, the film is based on the true-life tale
of a couple that went through this same experience and wrote a book about it,
also titled “The Vow.”

 

The story begins with a wild and endearing courtship of
Paige and Leo, two independent and quirky Chicagoans. All too soon, their
happiness is shattered–literally–when Paige is thrown through the windshield in
the wake of a terrible car accident and falls into a coma. When she awakes
(without looking like she was just thrown through the windshield, of course),
she can’t remember Leo, doesn’t understand why she dresses like such a free
spirit and is basically a totally different person than the one Leo married.
But in true romance fashion, the dashing young hero won’t give up, and despite
many obstacles, he makes it his life’s mission to woo Paige and rekindle their
love.

 

Now this is a romance, so don’t expect any real deviations
from the genre. Without issuing any spoilers, let me tell you that this film
won’t disappoint fans of love stories. McAdams is, as always, adorably charming
in this role, even if at times she seems a bit flat. Tatum, easy on the eyes as
he is, portrays Leo with a quiet strength. Overall, the quality of these two
leads helps push “The Vow” past likeable and into memorable.
“The Vow” does get greedy in the clich category, but fans of the
romance movie will most likely overlook those flaws.

 

Extra highlight:
deleted scenes

 

What to serve for dinner: Let’s go with a pre-coma-Paige meal: waffles. Try
chocolate waffles served with whipped cream and sliced strawberries followed up
with a chocolate mojito.

 

Chocolate Waffles (foodnetwork.com)

 

7 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 1 1/2 cups

    1
3/4 ounces sugar, approximately 3 tablespoons

   
1.5 ounces cocoa powder, approximately 1/2 cup

    1
teaspoon baking powder

    1
teaspoon salt

   
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    3
whole eggs, beaten

    2
ounces unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

    1
teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    16
ounces buttermilk, room temperature

    4
ounces chocolate chips, approximately 3/4 cup

   
Vegetable spray, for waffle iron

 

 

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder,
salt, and baking soda. In another bowl beat together the eggs and melted butter
and vanilla, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry
and stir in the chocolate chips just until combined. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

 

Ladle the recommended amount of waffle batter onto the
center of the iron. Close the iron top and cook until the waffle is crispy on
both sides and is easily removed from iron. Serve immediately or keep warm in a
200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

 

Chocolate Mojito (http://www.hersheysweetrecipes.com)

 

1 lime wedge

3 fresh mint leaves

1/2 ounce Torani White Chocolate Syrup

1 1/2 ounces Gosling’s Black Seal Rum

Club Soda

 

In a highball glass, put lime wedge, mint leaves and syrup.
Muddle together (crush ingredients using a special muddling tool or the back of
a teaspoon) to incorporate all ingredients. Add ice, rum, and top with club
soda. Stir, pulling the muddled ingredients to the top. Garnish with a fresh
sprig of mint.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

 

What to talk about over dinner: What’s the most romantic thing your spouse has ever
done for you? That you’ve done for him or her? What was your favorite part of
this movie? The most “cheesy” part? What’s your favorite romance
ever? Do you like romantic movies or books more? Do you think this or “The
Notebook” was more romantic? Why? What would you do if you had to make
your spouse fall in love with you all over again? Did you think this movie was
more believable because it was based on a true story? Or was it too
“Hollywoodized?” Do you like romances or romantic comedies more? Who
is your favorite lead in a romance? Would this movie have worked with leads
other than McAdams and Tatum? If so, who?