Monday, December 20, 2010

Best Movies I've Seen in 2010

Michael here... ok, enough of the slow roll out, here's the rest of the list. We would love for any of you submit some of your favorites from the year as well.....


6) Bright Star (2009) Not overly well done per se, but a great story of John Keats and his ill-fated relationship with Fanny Brawne. Abbie Cornish was breathtaking as Fanny Brawne.

5) A Serious Man (2009) The trials of Job with some temptations from the life of David thrown in for good measure. The Coen Brothers almost always pay off, and they did again here.

4)The Son (Le Fils) (2002) See earlier post.

3)Get Low (2010) Great story, great acting. Meaningful without being sappy.

2)Blue (1993) The first installment of Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy, which made me a life long devotee of this amazing director's work. This one is more melancholy than Tony's choice of White, but the truth is that all three should be mandatory viewing requirements.

1)Five Minutes of Heaven. (2009) I don't know why I loved this movie so much, but it was incredible. A great story about forgiveness and redemption. Simple and straight forward. Liam Neeson was superb.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Best 10 Movies I Have Seen This Year (Tony's Version)

1.)        Gosford Park (2001)
Robert Altman’s masterpiece of multiple story lines, class distinction and murder in a 1930’s English country estate
2.)        Get Low (2010)
Robert Duvall leads a great cast.
3.)        Let the Right One In (Sweden 2004)
            Just watch it for the climactic swimming pool scene
4.)        Requiem for a Dream (2000)
            The movie that showed that Aronofsky could be a cinematic genius
5.)        In the Bedroom (2001)
The second Sissy Spacek movie on the list (Get Low was the other),Tom Wilkinson is excellent
6.)        Dirty, Pretty Things (2002)
            Gritty movie about lower class immigrants in London and what they do to survive
7.)        4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania 2007)
It’s better not to read a lot about this film, if you want to see it, just watch and see how it unfolds
8.)        In America (2002)
            A hopeful, sentimental film about Irish immigrants in New York City
9.)        In Bruge (Ireland 2008)
Michael showed me this one, very dark comedy or as I like to call it, Hit Men Having Fun
10.)      White (Poland 1994)
White is the second in  Krzysztof KieĊ›lowski’s Three Colors Trilogy and the most fun to watch

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Best 10 Movies I've Seen This Year (Part 2)

#8 Inception (2010): I don't this movie was great, but it was good. The special effects were good, the story line was creative. It wasn't something I'll double back to, but it was worth one viewing. Also, a really good cast.

#7 The Devil's Backbone (2001): I have Tony to thank for this one, I don't tend to head toward the horror genre much, and would have missed this gem completely. I don't even really regard this a horror movie, in the classical context. There's definately a supernatural element in the movie, but the story is really well told. There aren't scary scenes just for the sake of being scary. It all moves the story forward. Viewer beware, this movie is Spanish with English subtitles.

The BBQ Song

Jessica Chestnut sent me the following link to a terrific video. It expresses in song what I tried to say in my BBQ blog. Please check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ubTQfr_tyY

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Best 10 Movies I've Seen This Year (Part 1)

Michael here...

Ok, it's nearing year end, a time to look back and evaluate, and even though I could look back at more meaningful things, I've chosen to look at the movies I've seen. I'm going to put them in order from 10-1 based on the quality of the films combined with how much I liked them personally. These movies are not all movies I've seen in theatres. They include movies I've missed in the past that I doubled back to on dvd. So, I'll also include the year they were released. Please chime in with comments about the movies I list, or with favorites of you own.....

#10 Despicable Me (2010)
I like cartoons, and I'm not ashamed to say it. (ok, a little ashamed). This movie was clever, fun, and thoughtful. I'm a bit of a sucker for family drama at times, so if you throw a story about orphans at me, I'm all in. Also, those little yellow guys were really funny....


#9 Ordet (1955)
Ok, this one is not for the tame of heart. Several sources rate this as one of the most spiritually significant movies of all time. The pace is grindingly slow, and for whatever reason, the emotional affect of most of the actors is incredibly flat. It really makes you think, and in it's own way pulls a great deal of emotion out of you. If you are brave this holiday season, grab a copy from Netflix, (it might be tough to find otherwise), and settle in. I would love your feedback!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Quest for Bar-B-Que

From Tony…

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the UNC-Kentucky basketball game with my friend Daniel Freeman. It was a fantastic basketball game with Carolina pulling out a slim victory. After the game, we walked out of the Dean Dome into a winter wonderland of snow and ice. It was great day, but to make it even better, we decide to go to Allen and Son Pit Cooked Bar-B-Q for dinner. We picked up my daughter Amanda and headed for the tiny, nondescript building on the outskirts of Chapel Hill.  With the snow falling outside, we sat and ate delicious traditional eastern North Carolina Bar-B-Q sandwiches. It was the perfect way to end the day.

This got me thinking about BBQ / Barbecue / Bar-B-Q/ Bar-B-Que.

To our northern cousins, or yankees, as some southerners call them (that is, if they stay up there, they’re called damn yankees if they move down here,) barbecue is an event. It describes the cooking of any food outside on an open flame. As in, “Hey youse guys, let’s have a barbecue.” They also refer to the device for cooking outside as a barbecue. As in, “Hey youse guys, let’s cook on the barbecue.” Sometimes, it’s a verb. As in, “Hey youse guys, let’s barbecue some burgers.”

 For a southerner, barbecue has only one definition, pork, hopefully slow cooked over hot hickory coals, chopped or pulled and served with a vinegar based sauce, coleslaw, Brunswick stew, hushpuppies and a large glass of sweet ice tea.  However, this is where the debate about barbecue really begins. In North Carolina, the Civil War isn’t about north and south, it’s about east and west.

Eastern North Carolina Barbecue is traditionally chopped or pulled pork from the whole hog with a sauce that is predominately vinegar and pepper. Western North Carolina Barbecue (sometimes referred to as Lexington style) is traditionally chopped from the pork shoulder ( a hog’s front legs) and served with a sauce that is a mixture of vinegar, sugar and ketchup. It is the addition of ketchup that is anathema to eastern NC barbecue purists. Ketchup is something you put on your fries, not your barbecue.

It is worth noting a few other barbecue styles. South Carolina has the distinction of offering a chopped pork barbecue with a dull yellow mustard based sauce. Martha and I ate at Maurice’s outside of Columbia, South Carolina and enjoyed a yellow barbecue sandwich accompanied by something called barbecue hash (gravy and onions over rice.)

Martha and Amanda drove through Memphis a couple of years ago and stopped at Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que. They brought me back several pounds of beef brisket and pork and a large bottle of Neely’s sweet, tangy sauce. It was terrific.

Finally, at my nephew’s wedding in Houston, I was treated to Texas style barbecue. It was beef brisket, smoker cooked with oak and served with a light brown sauce. They have a tendency to focus on the flavor of the beef rather than having a strong sauce taste.

Having completed this treatise on barbecue, let me end with a few restaurants I like. The aforementioned Allen and Son in Chapel Hill, Wilber’s in Goldsboro, King’s in Kinston  and Smithfield  Chicken “N’ Bar-B-Q in a number of locations.

(In memorium: Snooks Old Fashion Barbecue in Advance and Murray’s Barbecue and Seafood in Raleigh were great barbecue joints that are no longer with us.)  

Anybody with BBQ joint suggestions, please leave a comment. I am always on a quest for better barbecue.

Films That You've Never Heard Of But Should See!!!!!

Michael here...

As American filmgoers, we watch movies to be entertained. We tend to enjoy lots of flash and special effects. We like for our stories to be neat and cleanly explained. Foreign filmmakers do not seem to care much about any of that. So, the movie that I recommend should include this warning: Do not expect to be hand fed, you will have to think for yourself, and chew on it. But if you do, I believe the experience will be well worth it. The movie is Le Fils (The Son). It was directed by the Dardenne brothers, who are expert storytellers. It's in French with English subtitles, but don't let that hold you back. This movie is deeply spiritual without slapping you in the face. The pace is slow, but builds like a freight train, so hang in there in the early going. Although released in 2002, I only got around to watching it this year, and it is easily one of the 10 best movies I've seen this year. The emotion is gripping, and left me broken and hopeful all at the same time. Happy Viewing!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pumpkin Challenge Finale

Michael here...

Ok, the great pumpkin challenge is over after this post. I had pumpkin ice cream with fudge sauce at Cold Stone Creamery, but didn't post on it, and there is a pint of Ben and Jerry's Pumpkin Cheescake Ice Cream in my freezer. I'm so done with pumpkin (for a least a good week or so), and I've ingested about 40 zillion grams of carbs during the process. But thanks to all who chimed in with pumpkin suggestions! I'll close this post with one final pumpkin review. Connie Faison from my small group made a pumpkin cheescake which was just the right amount of pumpkiny, and a perfect touch of dessert at the end of a long day.

Pumpkinocity: 10 out of 10
My gratitude for amazing friends: To the moon and beyond.