Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Academy Award-winning films

The next Genre Reading Group meeting will be on Tuesday, December 27 at 6:30pm.  Join us for one of our biannual Salon Discussion, where there is no assigned topic.  Bring whatever you’d like to share with the group!  The library will be on holiday hours and will close at 6 but I will be here to let you in and share books with you!

The threat of weather dampened (if you’ll forgive the pun) attendance tonight, but several people emailed their selections to me and my 3 year-old godson made a surprise visit to GRG (who knew he had such a love and knowledge for films that won awards for Best Animated Feature?) so here we go with Academy Award-winning films! (all review blurbs are from www.rottentomatoes.com)

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Ratatouille (Best Animated Feature) (released 2007)
In the hilarious new animated-adventure, Ratatouille, a rat named Remy dreams of becoming a great chef despite his family's wishes and the obvious problem of being a rat in a decidedly rodent-phobic profession. When fate places Remy in the city of Paris, he finds himself ideally situated beneath a restaurant made famous by his culinary hero, Auguste Gusteau. Despite the apparent dangers of being an unwanted visitor in the kitchen at one of Paris' most exclusive restaurants, Remy forms an unlikely partnership with Linguini, the garbage boy, who inadvertently discovers Remy's amazing talents. They strike a deal, ultimately setting into motion a hilarious and exciting chain of extraordinary events that turns the culinary world of Paris upside down. Remy finds himself torn between following his dreams or returning forever to his previous existence as a rat. He learns the truth about friendship, family and having no choice but to be who he really is, a rat who wants to be a chef.

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Braveheart (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Makeup) (released 1995)
Mel Gibson, long-time heartthrob of the silver screen, came into his own as a director with Braveheart, an account of the life and times of medieval Scottish patriot William Wallace and, to a lesser degree, Robert the Bruce's struggle to unify his nation against its English oppressors. The story begins with young Wallace, whose father and brother have been killed fighting the English, being taken into the custody of his uncle, a nationalist and pre-Renaissance renaissance man. He returns twenty years later, a man educated both in the classics and in the art of war. There he finds his childhood sweetheart Murron (Catherine McCormack), and the two quickly fall in love. There are murmurs of revolt against the English throughout the village, but Wallace remains aloof, wishing simply to tend to his crops and live in peace. However, when his love is killed by English soldiers the day after their secret marriage (held secretly so as to prevent the local English lord from exercising the repulsive right of prima noctae, the privilege of sleeping with the bride on the first night of the marriage), he springs into action and single-handedly slays an entire platoon of foot soldiers. The other villagers join him in destroying the English garrison, and thus begins the revolt against the English in what will eventually become full-fledged war. Wallace eventually leads his fellow Scots in a series of bloody battles that prove a serious threat to English domination and, along the way, has a hushed affair with the Princess of Wales (the breathtaking Sophie Marceau) before his imminent demise. For his efforts, Gibson won the honor of Best Director from the Academy; the movie also took home statuettes for Best Picture, Cinematography, Makeup, and Sound Effects. ~ Jeremy Beday, Rovi

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Forrest Gump (Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director, Best Visual Effects, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing) (released 1994)
"Stupid is as stupid does," says Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks in an Oscar-winning performance) as he discusses his relative level of intelligence with a stranger while waiting for a bus. Despite his sub-normal IQ, Gump leads a truly charmed life, with a ringside seat for many of the most memorable events of the second half of the 20th century. Entirely without trying, Forrest teaches Elvis Presley to dance, becomes a football star, meets John F. Kennedy, serves with honor in Vietnam, meets Lyndon Johnson, speaks at an anti-war rally at the Washington Monument, hangs out with the Yippies, defeats the Chinese national team in table tennis, meets Richard Nixon, discovers the break-in at the Watergate, opens a profitable shrimping business, becomes an original investor in Apple Computers, and decides to run back and forth across the country for several years. Meanwhile, as the remarkable parade of his life goes by, Forrest never forgets Jenny (Robin Wright Penn), the girl he loved as a boy, who makes her own journey through the turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s that is far more troubled than the path Forrest happens upon. Featured alongside Tom Hanks are Sally Field as Forrest's mother; Gary Sinise as his commanding officer in Vietnam; Mykelti Williamson as his ill-fated Army buddy who is familiar with every recipe that involves shrimp; and the special effects artists whose digital magic place Forrest amidst a remarkable array of historical events and people. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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The Apartment (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing (Original Screenplay), Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Black & White) (released 1960)
Widely regarded as a comedy in 1960, The Apartment seems more melancholy with each passing year. Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, a go-getting office worker who loans his tiny apartment to his philandering superiors for their romantic trysts. He runs into trouble when he finds himself sharing a girlfriend (Shirley MacLaine) with his callous boss (Fred MacMurray). Director/co-writer Billy Wilder claimed that the idea for The Apartment stemmed from a short scene in the 1945 romantic drama Brief Encounter in which the illicit lovers (Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson) arrange a rendezvous in a third person's apartment. Wilder was intrigued about what sort of person would willingly vacate his residence to allow virtual strangers a playing field for hanky panky. His answer to that question wound up winning 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. The Apartment was adapted by Neil Simon and Burt Bacharach into the 1969 Broadway musical Promises, Promises. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Street Angel (Best Actress) (released 1928)
Fox's follow-up to Seventh Heaven, The Street Angel reunited stars Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor with director Frank Borzage. The action begins in Naples, as poverty-stricken Maria (Gaynor) steals medicine for her ailing mother. Now a fugitive from justice, Maria escapes by joining a travelling carnival, where she meets and falls in love with portrait painter Angelo (Charles Farrell). Impressed by her ethereal beauty, Angelo asks the girl to pose for his portrait of the Madonna. But when she's suddenly arrested, the disillusioned Angelo sinks into depravation. Released from prison, Maria sees her portrait in a church and is inspired to seek out Angelo. Explaining the circumstances of her arrest, Maria saves Angelo from his sordid surroundings, inspiring him to return to painting -- and, not surprisingly, to propose marriage. Heavily influenced by the "Germanic" style then in vogue, Street Angel lacked the simplicity and sincerity of Sunrise but managed to post a profit all the same.

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Klute (Best Actress) (released 1971)
The first part of his "paranoia trilogy," Alan J. Pakula's 1971 thriller details the troubled life of a Manhattan prostitute stalked by one of her tricks. Investigating the disappearance of his friend Tom Gruneman (Robert Milli), rural Pennsylvania private eye John Klute (Donald Sutherland) follows a lead provided by Gruneman's associate Peter Cable (Charles Cioffi) to seek out a call girl who Gruneman knew in New York City. The call girl is Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), an aspiring actress who turns tricks for the cash and to be free of emotional bondage. Klute follows Bree's every move, observing the city's decadence and her isolation, eventually contacting her about Gruneman. Bree claims not to know Gruneman, but she does reveal that she has received threats from a john. As Bree becomes involved in Klute's search and realizes that she is in danger, she reluctantly falls in love with Klute, despite her wish to remain unattached to any man. When she finally comes face to face with the killer, however, she is forced to reconsider her detached urban life.

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Room (Best Actress) (released 2015)
Both highly suspenseful and deeply emotional, ROOM is a unique and touching exploration of the boundless love between a mother and her child. After 5-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his Ma (Brie Larson) escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery: the outside world. As he experiences all the joy, excitement, and fear that this new adventure brings, he holds tight to the one thing that matters most of all--his special bond with his loving and devoted Ma.

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The Wizard of Oz (Best Song, Best Original Score) (released 1939)
L. Frank Baum's classic tale comes to magisterial Technicolor life! The Wizard of Oz stars legendary Judy Garland as Dorothy, an innocent farm girl whisked out of her mundane earthbound existence into a land of pure imagination. Dorothy's journey in Oz will take her through emerald forests, yellow brick roads, and creepy castles, all with the help of some unusual but earnest song-happy friends.

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Gone With the Wind (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematogrphy (Color), Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction) (released 1939)
Gone With the Wind boils down to a story about a spoiled Southern girl's hopeless love for a married man. Producer David O. Selznick managed to expand this concept, and Margaret Mitchell's best-selling novel, into nearly four hours' worth of screen time, on a then-astronomical 3.7-million-dollar budget, creating what would become one of the most beloved movies of all time. Gone With the Wind opens in April of 1861, at the palatial Southern estate of Tara, where Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) hears that her casual beau Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) plans to marry "mealy mouthed" Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland). Despite warnings from her father (Thomas Mitchell) and her faithful servant Mammy (Hattie McDaniel), Scarlett intends to throw herself at Ashley at an upcoming barbecue at Twelve Oaks. Alone with Ashley, she goes into a fit of histrionics, all of which is witnessed by roguish Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), the black sheep of a wealthy Charleston family, who is instantly fascinated by the feisty, thoroughly self-centered Scarlett: "We're bad lots, both of us." The movie's famous action continues from the burning of Atlanta (actually the destruction of a huge wall left over from King Kong) through the now-classic closing line, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Holding its own against stiff competition (many consider 1939 to be the greatest year of the classical Hollywood studios), Gone With the Wind won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), and Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar). The film grossed nearly 192 million dollars, assuring that, just as he predicted, Selznick's epitaph would be "The Man Who Made Gone With the Wind." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Wuthering Heights (Best Cinematography: Black & White) (released 1939)
Growing up together in 19th-century Yorkshire, Heathcliff and Cathy form a deep bond. In young adulthood, Cathy wounds the penniless Heathcliff by marrying into wealth, and his obsession with revenge leads to tragedy. Laurence Olivier is brilliant as the brooding Heathcliff in this poetic adaptation of Emily Bronte's novel.

My 3 year old godson Henry visited the boardroom while I waited for participants and so I engaged him in his first bookclub discussion, on the various merits of the relatively recent Academy Award for Best AnimatedFeature.

He said he did not like Shrek (the first recipient in 2001) because it was scary. 

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Once upon a time, in a far away swamp, there lived an ornery ogre named Shrek whose precious solitude is suddenly shattered by an invasion of annoying fairy tale characters. There are blind mice in his food, a big, bad wolf in his bed, three little homeless pigs and more, all banished from their kingdom by the evil Lord Farquaad. Determined to save their home--not to mention his own--Shrek cuts a deal with Farquaad and sets out to rescue the beautiful Princess Fiona to be Farquaad's bride. Accompanying him on his mission is wisecracking Donkey, who will do anything for Shrek... except shut up. Rescuing the Princess from a fire-breathing dragon may prove the least of their problems when the deep, dark secret she has been keeping is revealed.

He said his mom’s (she was not so enthusiastic when I asked her about it) favorite movie on the list was Happy Feet (2006),

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In the world of the emperor penguin, a simple song can mean the difference between a lifetime of happiness and an eternity of loneliness. When a penguin named Mumble is born without the ability to sing the romantic song that will attract his soul mate, he'll have to resort to some fancy footwork by tap dancing his way into the heart of the one he loves. Directed by Babe mastermind George Miller, Happy Feet tells the tale of one penguin's quest for love, and features an all-star cast of vocal talent that includes Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman, Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman, and Brittany Murphy. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

though he also enjoyed Frozen (2013)

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Featuring the voices of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, "Frozen" is the coolest comedy-adventure ever to hit the big screen. When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna's sister Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell. Encountering mystical trolls, a funny snowman named Olaf, Everest-like extremes and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction. (c) Disney

and The Incredibles (2004). 

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Once one of the world's top masked crime fighters, Bob Parr--known to all as "Mr. Incredible"--fought evil and saved lives on a daily basis. But now fifteen years later, Bob and his wife--a famous superhero in her own right--have adopted civilian identities and retreated to the suburbs to live normal lives with their three kids. Now he's a clock-punching insurance claims adjuster fighting boredom and a bulging waistline. Itching to get back into action, Bob gets his chance when a mysterious communication summons him to a remote island for a top-secret assignment.

He got VERY excited about Toy Story 3 (2010) (I can neither confirm nor deny that there may have been some confusion with the first Toy Story)

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"Toy Story 3" welcomes Woody, Buzz and the whole gang back to the big screen as Andy prepares to depart for college and his loyal toys find themselves in... daycare! These untamed tots with their sticky little fingers do not play nice, so it's all for one and one for all as plans for the great escape get underway. A few new faces-some plastic, some plush-join the adventure, including iconic swinging bachelor and Barbie's counterpart Ken, a thespian hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants and a pink, strawberry-scented teddy bear called Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear.

but he said Brave (2012) was his very favorite.


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Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane). Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it's too late. -- (C) Disney

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

food and friendship

The next Genre Reading Group meeting will be Tuesday, November 29th at 6:30pm and the topic up for discussion will be Academy Award-winning films.  The display on the second floor currently contains Best Picture winners, but it can be a film that has won an Academy Award in ANY category from Best Directory to Best Visual Effects…whatever, you get to pick!  Last week, GRG discussed cookbooks. My thanks go out to Amanda for handling the meeting while I was under the weather!

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American city girl marries Irish dairy farmer; cooking, growing, foraging, fishing, preserving, and baking ensue: 150 delightful classic Irish recipes updated for the modern home cook. 

The Farmette Cookbook documents Imen McDonnell's extraordinary Irish country cooking journey, which began the moment she fell in love with an Irish farmer and moved across the Atlantic to County Limerick. This book's collection of 150 recipes and colorful stories chronicles nearly a decade-long adventure of learning to feed a family (and several hungry farmers) while adjusting to her new home (and nursing a bit of homesickness). Along the way she teaches us foundational kitchen skills and time-honored Irish traditions, sharing wisdom from her mother-in-law and other doyennes of Irish cooking. We learn the ritual of Sunday lunch, pudding, and tea. We go along with her on wild crafting walks--the country version of foraging for wild edibles. We visit her local fishmonger to see what we can create with his daily catch from the sea. Along the way we see how she's deviated from classic Irish recipes to add contemporary or American twists. 

The Farmette Cookbook 
is a compilation of tried-and-true recipes with an emphasis on local, fresh ingredients and traditional Irish kitchen skills, which for Imen have healed homesickness and forged new friendships.

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Veganism has been steadily moving toward the mainstream as more and more people become aware of its many benefits. Even burger-loving omnivores are realizing that adding more plant-based foods to their diet is good for their health and the environment. Big Vegan satisfies both the casual meat eater and the dedicated herbivore with more than 350 delicious, easy-to-prepare vegan recipes covering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Highlighting the plentiful flavors that abound in natural foods, this comprehensive cookbook includes the fundamentals for adopting a meat-free, dairy-free lifestyle, plus a resource guide and glossary that readers can refer to time and again. Eat your veggies and go vegan!

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You'll find some of your all-time favorite restaurant recipes in Birmingham's Best Bites. Both old and new are featured and an easy to use format. Inspired photograph's make this a pleasing book for any kitchen.

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The sassy, country-cookin’ matriarch of the Robertson clan and star of A&E®'s Duck Dynasty® dishes up her fabulous recipes and stories in this irresistible family cookbook.

Writing a cookbook for people who love good food has been a lifelong dream for me—and I’m so happy to be sharing some of our family’s favorite recipes with you! In this book you’ll find everything from Jase’s Favorite Sweet Potato Pie to Phil’s own special recipes, like his scrumptious Crawfish Fettuccine. There’s “girly” food for a gathering of your best girlfriends, like Aunt Judy’s Cranberry Salad, as well as dishes straight from the hunt like Boiled Squirrel and Dumplings. 

In addition to more than one hundred specially chosen recipes, I’ve included old family snapshots of the days before the Duck Dynasty® series on A&E® and stories of our family and how we live. The dinner table has long been one of our favorite places for telling stories, and there’s always competition to see who can dish out the wildest story. We believe that food and cooking bring people together—it’s brought our family together for generations, and it can do the same for yours. Gather your family around the table and serve up delicious home-cooked meals with recipes like . . . 

• Willie’s Famous Chicken Strips 
• Melt-in-Your-Mouth Biscuits 
• Cheesy Corn Casserole 
• Fresh Strawberry Pie 
• Best Brisket Ever 
• Crawfish Balls 
• Creamy Green Grape Salad 
• Papaw Phil’s Homemade Ice Cream 

Join with our family as we create lasting family traditions that will warm the hearts and bellies of those you love. Let’s do it together.

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The Good Housekeeping Cookbook by the editors of Good Housekeeping Magazine

In honor of the magazine's 125th anniversary, here is the revised and expanded edition of Good Housekeeping's trusty cook's companion! Filled with 1,275 delicious recipes, this indispensable kitchen reference also offers dependable information on cooking techniques, tools, ingredients, food handling, and nutrition.

In addition to popular favorites like Southern Fried Chicken and Strawberry Shortcake, there are 168 new recipes attuned to today's lifestyles, all-new chapters devoted to Canning and Freezing, ideas for holiday celebrations, and mouthwatering new photography.
And, as always, every recipe has been triple-tested and perfected for ease, reliability, and great taste in the famed Good Housekeeping Test Kitchens.

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R. W. Apple, Jr., of The New York Times credits third-generation Alabamian Frank Stitt with turning Birmingham into a "sophisticated, easygoing showplace of enticing, southern-accented cooking." His southern peers think his cooking may have a more profound sense of place than any of theirs. His food is rustic and homey, but sophisticated in method.

Now, Alabama's favorite son has written a long-awaited cookbook that features his enticing Proven├žal-influenced southern food. More than 150 recipes range from the traditional--Spicy Green Tomato and Peach Relish, Spoonbread, and Pickled Shrimp--to the inspired--Slow-Roasted Black Grouper with Ham and Pumpkin Pirlau and Pork Loin with Corn Pudding and Grilled Eggplant. Desserts such as Bourbon Panna Cotta and Sweet Potato Tart with Coconut Crust and Pecan Streusel elevate the best of the South for cooks everywhere.

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“Seasonality is the cornerstone to our menu-planning success,” says Chef Chris Hastings. The Hot and Hot Fish Club Restaurant is one of the best in the South because it only uses the finest and freshest ingredients in their recipes. From the fresh-caught Pacific seafood flown in from Osprey Seafood in San Francisco to the blackberries and Vidalia onions from local Garfrerick Farms of Alpine, Alabama, Hot and Hot goes to great lengths to make sure that what goes into every dish is always fresh and in season.

The Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook contains more than 200 creative and delicious recipes that are organized to reflect the seasonal nature of local ingredients. It features profiles of dozens purveyors who supply the restaurant with the freshest ingredients. With more than 50 full-color photographs, lifestyle menus complete with wine and beer pairings, and a sourcing section, The Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook is your guide to preparing exquisite, fresh cuisine from the hottest restaurant in the South.

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Treasured Alabama Recipes by Kathryn Tucker Windham

Windham’s book is divided into regions: Coast, Piney Woods, Wiregrass, Black Belt, Tennessee Valley, Appalachians, and Cities.  Recipes mentioned include pulled mints, pot licker dumplings, eggplant and okra.  Windham is a noted storyteller so tales and stories about food and family abound, including a humdinger about paper vs monogrammed linen napkins!