An Oscar-worthy Menu


Planning an Oscar party? Need some best picture-themed food? Now that there are 10 best picture nominees, instead of 5, trying to devise an entire menu of themed foods is going to be twice as difficult this year. So let me help, and try a few of these ideas on Sunday, March 7. Warning: Lots of meat and alcohol.

Flaming German drinks, some serious Jewish appetizers and a cocktail that won’t alienate any guest:

Start with a German winter drink (meaning it’s served hot) traditionally served at New Year’s called Feuerzangenbowle (Flaming Fire Tongs Punch). [Inglourious Basterds] As a non-alcoholic option, offer glasses of milk.

For food, serve some matzah balls [A Serious Man], of which there are several varieties, and shrimp cocktail [District 9]- you can’t go wrong with shrimp cocktail.

Lighten things up with a high-flying drink and an exotic first course:

To go with the first course, serve this drink to your guests: the Paper Airplane Cocktail. [Up in the Air] For added excitement, use tiny plastic cups, serve it from a trolley, and charge $9 a glass.

Then, depending on what kind of bird meat you can procure, try either the Ostrich Chili-Corn Tamale or Partridges with Orange and Vermouth Sauce. [Up] Mmmm… Pair with any one of many salads from South America, like the Red Quinoa and Cranberry Salad or the Jicama and Orange Salad. [also Up]

Bring on the hurt with more drinks and a precious main course:

Make sure guests go home full and satisfied with this pigs feet recipe and some collard greens. Can’t find any pigs feet? Try this fried chicken recipe instead. [Precious]

To wash the meal down, serve this charming cocktail: the Chili Bomb (Crown Royal and Red Bull). Do not offer an alternative. [The Hurt Locker]

Colourful desserts and British tea:

Offer these two dessert options to end the night on a colourful note as they announce which one of our culinary inspirations will be taking home the grand prize: Blue Tidal Wave Sorbet [Avatar] and/or these harmonious black-and-white cookies [The Blind Side]. Serve with English breakfast tea, or another British variety of tea [An Education].


On Avatar


My thoughts on Avatar boil down to this: A story well told isn’t necessarily a good story.

James Cameron is a good storyteller, I’ll give you that, and I would cite either of the first two Terminator movies or Titanic as proof. But the story that is supposed to ground the lights and awe of Avatar just doesn’t hold up.


First, it’s just such a well-worn tale: The evil invaders versus the quintessential ‘natives,’ and the converted explorer who falls in love with the New World (and a very pretty native who embodies its values). (See: Pocahontas.)

It’s not that it isn’t a relevant tale with a strong moral lesson – it’s just so painfully obvious. What happens to a story when every characters fits an archetype? And because it’s such an obvious political analogy, we know who the bad guys are, and we know what road the main character is going to take because the good vs. bad lines have been so plainly drawn.

Second, the characters are not so much properly developed characters as they are players whose depth are sacrificed for the larger moral tale. I feel as though I should have been hissing at the screen every time the Bad Guy appeared, and there isn’t even an attempt to make the Na’vi anything more than an idealized society that makes human civilization look like total dicks.

The result of this black-and-white characterization is that I didn’t feel any emotions toward the characters. So-and-so died? Oh… I guess that’s sad?

Plus, I just didn’t buy the last-minute redemption of some of the secondary characters. It was only when they were physically destroying the Na’vi’s homes that some of these supposedly regretful characters shed a tear, or refused to cooperate. What am I supposed to believe? That before, when the humans were only going to coerce these ‘savages’ off their land to mine for Unobtainium (stupidest name ever, by the way), they were willing accomplices and then, when it’s time to actually force them out, they suddenly feel bad and they’re supposed to have what? Depth? Evoke sympathy? Fuck you. And it’s not like Cameron tries to expose this sham; I honestly think we’re supposed to hate the Muscley Guy in the Machine and everyone else was just following orders.

And I don’t care much for Sigourney Weaver’s character either. Is she supposed to be the beacon of rationality and morality in this tale? She’s a pawn on a corporate payroll with bloody hands. Fuck your good intentions or love for the Na’vi. She was smart enough to know what she was getting into.

So, scratch that. I guess I did feel emotions for these characters: Anger.

The only time I felt any sadness was towards the injustice of the whole affair – the heartless colonial mission that destroys societies for the Almighty Dollar. But that’s just not enough.

Besides, Cameron is offering up some really big ideas: colonialism, genocide (?), even mixing human DNA with Na’vi DNA, and there isn’t enough movie to show the complexity that necessarily goes along with these concepts – even in almost 3 hours.

I also felt like the ‘he-gets-a-second-chance-to-walk’ storyline was almost too much, like trying to squeeze one more element into already stuffed movie, although I think the idea itself was a good one.

All that being said, I’ll return to my assertion that it’s a story well told. You can’t argue that it wasn’t visually fantastic. Even the little things – the way the sun glinted off surfaces, or the way water fell – were awesome to see. It didn’t look nearly as cheesy as it did when he showed clips at Comic-Con in July. And in terms of pacing, editing, and even dialogue, it had its strong points. All of which made me want to like it more than I did. It’s just sad that for all its 3D wonder, Avatar is just a 2D story painted in fluorescent blue.

Comic-Con: Day 1


Movies!… in 3D!… for the first time!!!

Yes, yesterday is definitely classified as ‘movie day’ for me. I woke promptly at 4am (7am Toronto time) to saunter over to the convention centre armed with reading material and snacks to get in line for the day’s panels. So although when I left my hostel the street were pretty much empty except for the odd shady character or two, by the time I arrived at the centre, I was surrounded by teenage girls, soccer moms and a handful of good-humoured men – it was Twilight day.

So, thankfully, I ended up in the part of the line where there is soft, soft grass, so I camped out and read until the sun rose… then I read some more. It was intense. The first people in line were camped out there since Tuesday night (so I heard). Burger King handed out Team Edward and Team Jacob cardboard crowns… then people wore them!

5 and a half hours later, we were marched into Hall H. It looked as though there were only one or two hundred people in front of me and the hall seats 6,500, so I got pretty good seats – considering some fools who only showed up an hour or two early only ever got to watch a giant screen. Now, it’s movie time! (By the way, all the IMDb pages I’m linking the movie titles to have pictures from Comic-Con. Enjoy!)

A Christmas Carol Patton Oswalt moderated a panel for all the Disney 3D movies. This one was with Robert Zemeckis (again, I’ll post pictures later). And, for the very first time at Comic-Con, the clips were in 3D! We got snazzy glasses and, I must admit, the visuals were spectacular for this particular movie. I’m not particularly excited about Jim Carrey playing nearly all the parts, or the fact that it’s ANOTHER retelling of the same story, but the clip was quite good and kind of funny. I’ll see it if you do!

Alice in Wonderland Oswalt insisted on showing this trailer (which was also in 3D) 3 times since Tim Burton didn’t bring any clips to show. Didn’t matter, though, the trailer was awesome. I think it will be as off-the-wall and visually creative as people expect it to be, so now the plot just has to hold up. Burton was adorably awkward on stage, and was obviously bewildered when they showed the trailer for the 3rd time. He asked if he could go after that final showing. But before he did, Johnny Depp randomly showed up to wave at the crowd (which went MAD) and when given the mic, all he said was “Tim Burton’ while gesturing towards Burton. Awww. Btw, he looked sweeeeet.

Tron 2.0Though it’s the lesser known in mainstream circles than the previous two stories, I was most impressed by this footage. I recently saw the original 1982 movie, and wasn’t all that impressed (of course, I live in 2009). But the conceptual art and the clip they’ve done so far is truly, truly awesome. And the actual narrative in the clip was pretty good, too. Suspense! Intrigue! Murder! It has everything! Go see this. Also because Jeff Bridges is returning in his original role. Oh, and the cast and original director were there to answer questions. Of course, a member of the audience during Q&A said to Bridges, “the dude abides.” Bravo.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs This was after the Disney 3D panel, and was mostly there to utilize the 3D glass, I’d reckon. All they showed was the trailer, and then Anna Faris, Andy Samberg, and that kid from Role Models came on stage to wave, smile and… walk right off stage again. They didn’t even say anything! Andy even said, “hello!… and now we’re going…” (I’m paraphrasing.) What a crock.

The Hole This was a very lacklustre trailer and clip we got to see. Pair of arguing brothers and the spunky girl next door discover a mysterious hole in their basement. They open it, and scariness starts to stalk them. The end. I was expecting more from the guy who made Gremlins.

The Final Destination – I missed this because I was in the bathroom. While I was in line, however, I did hear them announce that it would likely be the last installment. High five?

Astro Boy – They just showed the trailer for this, but it was exciting because Kristen Bell was there! She’s awesome!

Sorority RowThis is basically I Know What You Did Last Summer, but in a sorority. Cast includes Rumer Willis and Audrina Patridge.

The Twilight Sage: New Moon Kristen Stewart looked like she was trying not to look attractive and look as uncomfortable as possible. She also kept complimenting Taylor Lautner (I think she’s recruiting for Team Jacob). Taylor Lautner looked very happy to be there and was more than happy to keep mentioning things related to being topless (I think he likes it when girls scream for him). Another cast member (one of the Cullen clan) was also there to look presentable and be normal. And Robert Pattinson did his darndest to be as awkward as possible and look bewildered at every question while running his hands through his hair. They showed two clips. The first where Taylor takes his shirt off, the second where Robert takes his shirt off. Robert won the screaming war. By the way, isn’t it highly inappropriate for the whole world to be fixated on Taylor’s abs (like when the blonde VJ at the Much Music Video Awards asked him when they’d be able to see him topless again). He’s underage, people! Why is it okay for a boy to be verbally molested like this?

Avatar – I was pretty excited to see footage from the new James Cameron movie, but I must admit I was a little disappointed. It’s kind of like Pocahontas, but on an alien planet and the ‘John Smith’ character is a human inhabiting an alien avatar so he can walk among them. Unfortunately, the 25min of footage we got to see (in 3D!) was just a little cartoony for me. Cameron went really heavy on the CGI and made everything really pretty – but like an RPG game pretty. I wanted to join a guild or something lookin’ at that place. And it’s hard to say if the plot will hold up – as I said, it sounds like Pocahontas. Oh, and that the main character (played by Sam Worthington) doesn’t have legs as a human, so it’s all exciting for him to walk via his avatar. Also, Sigourney Weaver is a botanist who loves the alien planet, called Pandora (of course). I liked seeing her on stage, though. 🙂 Worthington couldn’t make it, but the love interest – Zoe Saldana – was also there, and she’s pretty hot, too.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus From the brilliant mind of Terry Gilliam, who brought you a bunch of awesome movies, comes… the last movie Heath Ledger acted in before he died. That aside, the clips were really good and I like the premise (look it up). Visually nice, too. Go see this one. Also because Johnny Depp (and Jude Law, I guess) make small appearances.

Pandorum – The director himself said this was going to be like Aliens… and it was. Hilariously, the moderator kind of went “Ooooh, really? Like ALIENS?” The director kind of backtracked: “Well, similar… you’ll be the judge!” The trailer they showed was pretty good. Hard to say if there’s anything original in there, though. Ben Foster was on the panel, who I adore. Points for effort.

Kick-Ass – The director, Matthew Vaughn, was quick to say at the beginning of the panel that whether or not this movie gets picked up for distribution depends on whether the audience likes it – which certainly spurred us on to be overly encouraging, I’d bet. In any case, it’s a slightly obscene take on “teenagers who want to be superheros, and who get their asses kicked doing so” but with a little girl who actually does kick ass ’cause she’s been trained in superheroism by her dad (Nick Cage). She wears a purple wig and shots and stabs people – a lot. The action was pretty bloody and ballsy, but I liked it ’cause the clips were funny. Also, Christhoper Mintz-Plasse come on stage recording the audience on his phone; I like it when they do that.

And that was Thursday! *phew* Now I have to get in line for today! Bye!

Comic-Con: Day 1/2 Part 2


Sorry, I think I may have messed up the numbering of these days. Anyway…

It’s 4:20am here, and I’m about to go line up for the big panels of the day. Unfortunately, since they don’t clear out the rooms in between panels, if you want a good seat (or any seat) for a big afternoon panel, you have to park yourself in the hall all day – meaning I’m joining the Twilighterers currently camping outside Hall H at the convention centre so I can go to the Disney 3D panel and the Avatar panel today. Pray for me.

Yesterday at preview night was ridonkulous! The convention centre is massive and filled to the brim with people, booths, people, vendors, people, displays, people, free stuff, people and… more people. I’m just glad that a) I don’t like more stuff or I would have either spent more money or just killed myself trying to soak up everything and b) that I won’t be in the exhibit hall on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, which are supposed to be even crazier ’cause I’ll be in panels all day. Sunday will be my exhibition hall day. That being said, I already splurged. I bought a Serenity grocery bag ($6) and a Serenity Zippo lighter ($30)!

I’ll post pictures on FB when I get back, probably, or on Sunday, by the way. For now, that’s it. Time to get in line.