Ever since I was at school I’ve often had a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, taking on projects far more ambitious than I can cope with and producing a lacklustre finished piece as a result of rushing or making do. It could be argues my 1001 Movies challenge is one such project, and many weeks I would, but in this instance I’m not talking about movies, I’m talking about baking.
This past weekend was my girlfriend’s birthday and, whilst we had dinner plans Saturday night, I wanted to make her a special dinner on Friday, especially after the cake she arranged for me a month ago for my birthday. So, on Friday night I came home via the supermarket, very precariously on a far too overladen bicycle that was also carrying a couple of bunches of flowers and some regular shopping items too. My plan was to spend the entire evening in the kitchen, briefly emerging with delicious food to enjoy with Aisha, before retreating back into my world of worktops and wonder. First step: make the custard for the hazelnut crème brûlées, and allow to set. Mistake number one: I didn’t make these the night before to give them enough time to set. As it turns out though, that wasn’t a problem, because whilst they were cooking I also made the main course, peppered steak with parmesan crusted chips, and somehow knocked the oven temperature up to maximum, so instead of hazelnut crème brûlées (which is basically a normal crème brûlée with nutella whisked into it and chopped hazelnuts mixed into the sugar topping) we had hazelnut scrambled egg, which wasn’t really what I was trying for. Fortunately I’d picked up some of her favourite ice cream just in case this sort of thing happened (this isn’t my first cooking catastrophe). The steak went well, a little well done for my liking but that’s how she prefers it, but I had high hopes for the cake, which I’d intended to be a hazelnut meringue pyramid, in the design of the Ferrero Rocher adverts. Only problem was, I’ve never really made meringue before, and one could argue I still haven’t, because what I made was under-whisked and under-baked, so not possible to construct a pyramid from. Reviewing my attempts after taking a break to wrap Aisha’s birthday presents (whilst watching a film, naturally) the clock said 2:30am and I called it a night. I didn’t bother making the ganache to hold the meringues together, because it probably would have gone wrong, and it’d be like building a wall by cementing together sea sponges. I didn’t even think about making the raspberry marshmallows I’d also planned. So, a failure all round really. There’s always next year I suppose.
Here’s what I watched this week:
All the President’s Men (1976)
My selection for Washington D.C. on my USA Road Trip. Read my full review here.
Lists: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s 5-Star 500, Empire’s Top 500, USA Road Trip Movies
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
We have a contender for Worst Film of the Year! I’ve always told Aisha that I’ll watch any film she wants to see, because I just love movies, but don’t be surprised if I don’t like it and point out to her where it’s utter crap. Fortunately with Fifty Shades of Grey she agreed with me all the way, so hurrah for that. Amazingly she didn’t know much about the plot, other than the wealthy guy/naive young girl romance, so when his “pleasure chamber” was unveiled she was a little taken aback, and it only got worse from there. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this film – it’s one of those that you generally know whether you’ll like it or not before even popping the disc in, like Salo – but I didn’t expect it to be so bland. I’m not a huge fan of sex or nudity on screen, but this was tame even by my standards, let alone what I was expecting from a film that was seemingly sold as acceptable mainstream erotica. It also felt like the first part in a three part mini-series where each episode is an hour long rather than the first of three feature length movies. This film is over two hours long! It’s the first part in a series, yet it has the gall to end on a cliff-hanger. There’s more balls on show in that move than in the entire film. Rest assured, our curiosity has been abated, and we won’t be making an effort to see however many more of these are churned out, especially if Rita Ora is in them. Surely Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Ehle and Max Martini are all better than this?
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose Life 2/10
Fantastic Voyage (1966)
A man is dying, and a team of scientists in a submarine need to be shrunk down to minuscule size to be inserted into his bloodstream to repair him. Ridiculous? Yes. Fun? Also yes. I’d been looking forward to crossing this one off the TiVo list, and with an upcoming Lambcast all about science fiction films this seemed to be the perfect time. It’s by no means perfect, suffering from that 1960s predilection of making everything look like a lava lamp, and often felt like one long biology lesson with occasional lasers. Also it seems to pride itself on having a strong female character in the form of scientific assistant Cora (Raquel Welch), but then gives her nothing to do but need saving, gives her no lines of dialogue for so long I thought her character was mute, and of course lingering on her when the crew all need to get changed, a la Star Trek Into Darkness. Not that I mind watching a 26-year old Raquel Welch get undressed of course. Having watched the similarly plotted episode of Rick and Morty, and just from the various character angles and dialogue, a lot of the plot points were painfully obvious early on, such as there being a saboteur amongst the ranks, and exactly who said spanner in the works was, but I still had a lot of fun with this one.
Lists: TiVo Movies
Choose Film 7/10
Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
So far I’ve only seen three 2015 movies more than once: Paddington, Birdman and now Pitch Perfect 2 and, just like Birdman, this has suffered from a second watch but, unlike Birdman, I wasn’t overly fond of this one to begin with. I enjoyed it first time around, but it paled in comparison to the original Pitch Perfect, which I also find more problems with every time I watch it (the whole point was they need to overcome the problems an all-female group has, which can only be done when one of them is able to sign like a man, ugh!). This felt less sprawling and more focussed on a second watch, but lacked anything resembling enjoyment from most of the scenes, and whenever I started liking something it suddenly stopped and moved onto something else. I love the riff-off scenes in both films, especially because this time around we get David Cross as the compère, but I just wanted them to keep going with the mash-ups, instead of disqualifying teams for asinine reasons. I know it makes sense for the plot, but when the Country Love category only gets two songs you leave me seriously disappointed.
Lists: None (Already crossed off 2015 Movies)
Choose Life 5/10
The Wages of Fear (1953)
Nominated for me to watch by Chip Lary of Tips From Chip. Awesome film. Full review coming soon.
Lists: Nominated Movies, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s 5-Star 500, Empire’s Top 500
A Little Chaos (2015)
Kate Winslet is in it, so I had to see it. A review will be coming soon, let’s hope I found anything in the film memorable enough to be worthy of comment. At the moment it’s just a blur of corsets, gardening and wigs.
Lists: 2015 Movies, Kate Winslet Movies
Posts you may have missed:
USA Road Trip: Washington D.C.: All the President’s Men
Lambcast #286 Movie of the Month: The World’s End – I was joined by Nicole, Bubbawheat, Justin & Pete to discuss what was my favourite film of 2013. I still loved it, but I also had some problems. Listen to find out!
Aim: Watch all 61 saved TiVo films
To go: 18
Should be on: 43
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Watch 59 movies released in the UK in 2015
To go: 22
Should be on: 33
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Review Kate Winslet’s remaining films
To go: 0
Should be on: 2
On Track: COMPLETED!
Aim: Watch 12 “bad” films from the 1001 List
To go: 4
Should be on: 9
On Track: No!
Aim: Watch 1 nominated film a week from the 1001 List
To go: 18
Should be on: 37
On Track: No!
Aim: Cross off 75 films from the 1001 List
To go: 15
Should be on: 53
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Finish French Toast Sunday Road Trip series
To go: 9
Should be on: 7
On Track: Yes!
So I take it you won’t be entering Bake Off any time soon. Have to say that Pitch Perfect 2 was one of the worst films I’ve seen this year. It wasn’t funny, the plot felt really forced and the musical numbers weren’t as fun. The only times I laughed were when Keegan Michael Key was on screen so there were only 4 laughs in the film. The only film I’ve seen that’s worse is Fifty Shades. As if the complete misunderstanding of BDSM and the way it glamorises abuse isn’t enough, it’s painfully dull, the leads have no chemistry and when the film starts to get interesting it just stops, it doesn’t end, it just stops. At least you had one of the best political thrillers ever made, All The Presidents Men, as a palate cleanser and I’d recommend Kill The Messenger for you as it’s in a similar wheelhouse, although showing how The Washington Post prevents stories from gaining credibility now.
I doubt I’d be much good on the Bake-Off unless every week was brownie week. Keegan Michael Key was one of my favourite parts of PP2 too, but I also love when the two extra members of the Bellas don’t know which one they each are. I approve of extras-based comedy.
I’m dreading the day I will have to watch Fifty Shades of Grey. I take the same attitude as you towards movies my wife wants to watch. I know she wants to see this. She just hasn’t made it a point to bring it home just yet. It’s coming, though. So is Pitch Perfect 2. That one will be sooner because my daughters want to see it, too. I don’t mind that one because even though the first one wasn’t great, I liked it well enough. I need to see All the President’s Men. As for the cooking/baking – pat yourself on the back for at least trying.
I think being distracting by your phone could be the only way to make it through 50 Shades. Good luck to you whenever that day comes.
Aw, your cooking disaster is adorably disastrous. If that was Rob I would definitely appreciate all the effort. He would be cussing up a storm in frustration. Making meringue is hard! I’ve attempted and failed.
A Little Chaos looked so boring! I’d love to have watched Aisha’s face while realizing exactly what she’d gotten into with 50 Shades.
Aisha’s reactions were the most entertaining aspect of 50 Shades. There were no entertaining aspects to A Little Chaos. I need to review that soon before it all falls out of my head.