Tag Archives: LOVE

Love & Other Drugs

22 Feb

Love & Other Drug‘s poster is deceptive – it let me think that I was going to watch a light-hearted, typical RomCom. And that is what I got for the first 45 minutes before the comedy quietly slipped away to reveal the drama that I  knew had been lurking since Anne Hathaway made her entrance and Jake Gyllenhaal got to stare at her boobs.

Gyllenhaal is Jamie Randall, a through and through womaniser ne’er-do-well who has tremendous charm. Hence he gets to sleep with so many women. After losing his last job, he enters the world of pharmaceutical repping and begins at Pfizer when Zoloft is still their biggest selling (pre-1996).  While trying wangle his way into the hearts of the local doctors (most of whom won’t give him the time of day), Jamie meets Maggie Murdock and the pursuit begins. Maggie is no usual quarry, however, calling Jamie on all his BS and seemingly as much as a player as he is. The raunchy sex scenes are something that I, as typical RomCom fan, wasn’t really prepared for, but they themselves also provide some laughter (even if it was shocked!).

Anne Hathaway in the outstanding role of Maggie Murdock

And, as my boyfriend knows because I have trained him well in the art of the Romantic Comedy, the roller coaster begins. There are ups and downs in all RomComs, but this one has particular lows as Maggie suffers from early on-set Parkinson’s. This is a story that has been told before, but unlike Winona Ryder in  Autumn in New York and  Charlize Theron in Sweet November, Anne Hathaway’s character plays very little on her self-pity. Her performance in fact is superb. She uses her bright eyes and quick smile to her advantage not only when being a vixen while reeling Jake Gyllenhaal in, but also in her more vulnerable moments.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jamie is the ultimate smooth talking salesman and he provides (along with his character’s brother) most of the humour in the film. His break though is hilarious and anyone will chuckle about the drug he ends up making his name on (here’s a clue – it’s blue!). So while Love & Other Drugs is pretty funny, it also contains a lot of sadness in , particularly if you know or have known someone who suffered with Parkinson’s. The film does try to deal with living with the illness, but at the end of the day it is a Romantic Drama with excellent casting and it is the romance between two unlikely characters that lies at the heart of it.

The History of Love

4 Jan

“How audacious!” These were my first thoughts when seeing the title The History of Love  on my sister’s bookshelf. How could one book claim to be the history of love? I picked up Nicole Krauss’s book more out of spite than real interest. I was going to prove that this was, to say the least, an ambitious title.  After a page , my spite disappeared and I was immersed in a truly beautiful novel, one that will stay with me for a long time.

The History of Love  follows two stories which eventually become one. Leo Gursky is an old man, a Polish refugee  of World War 2 living in New York. He is tired and scared of dying on a day when no one sees him. This causes him to create scenes, drop pennies in stores and bump into strangers. Once Leo was stong , young and a writer, now he is living out his promise to love only one woman, long after she could not let him.

Alma is a fourteen-year-old girl in another part of the city. She lives with her younger brother who becomes more obsessively religious by the day, and her mother, a translator. Alma only knows a few things about her father, but she cherishes them deeply, cultivating a myth around the man. About her own name, she knows only that she is named after a girl in a novel, The History of Love, which her father once gave her mother. She has never read it.

Alma and Leo’s stories are heartbreaking and breathtaking. I find it is generally the stories of the young and the very old that are. The naivety of the young Alma and the regrets of the old Leo add different dimensions to this tale. Krauss has woven these two, seemingly contradictory characters together so sensitively and cleverly that the story is one to be rememebered and held dear. Once I had finished the novel, I sat still for a long time; it is one of those books that slightly alters how you see the people and relationships around you.

Nicole Krauss

The style of The History of Love  does take some patience. It is unconventionally written, not only in narrative structure, but also in langauge. Leo and Alma’s voices are each characterised with turns of phrase and incomplete sentences that could be jarring to a reader who prefers the ordinary. The style reminded me

somehow of The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, as different as they may seem. Strangely enough, after making this observation I discovered that Nicole Krauss is in fact married to Jonathan Safran Foer. Bizarre.

The History of Love  is an intense book of regret, love and discovery. Read it now, while I move on to Krauss’s next book, Great House.

For more information on Nicole Krauss, head to her website.

Away We Go

18 Sep

Away We Go is an off-beat offering from Sam Mendes which had me in stitches and quietly contemplating the directions we take in life.

Burt and Verona are expecting a baby, (the way they discover this is a strange opening scene!). They lead average lives in an average town and haven’t really got all the details figured out yet. But they know that their love will get through anything. In anticipation of a baby, one would expect parental support, but no, Burt’s eccentric parents decide to up and leave to Amsterdam a month before the baby is due.

Verona realises that they too don’t need to stay in their average little town and so begins their quest for where to settle down. Their travels take them to Phoenix, Montreal, Miami and, hopefully, home.

John Krasinki & Maya Rudolph

John Krasinksi (The Office US) is fabulous. He has the dorky charm of an old teddy bear and the way he portrays husbandly love is sigh-worthy (take tips, gentlemen!) He is bold when he needs to be, but his performance never loses its softness. Opposite him, Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live, Idiocracy) is perfect. She has the nerves of a new mother down, but her natural humour makes her accessible even to people who have no idea about babies (i.e. me). She also carries a sense of sadness in her performance, creating a balance which is stunning.

Allison Janney and Maggie Gyllenhaal have hilarious bit parts as various friends the couple visit on their travels. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a mother who doesn’t believe in the three Ss – separation, sugar and strollers. This you need to see!

It’s not surprising that this insightful comedy on relationships and parenting is written by husband-and-wife-and-parents team, Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida. It must take personal experience to write so naturally and also to mock all the kinds of parents there are out there!

Sam Mendes has veered away from his typical serious films with Away We Go, and it might open him up to a whole new audience. Heaven knows this light, quirky film is a far cry from American Beauty and Jarhead, but it has its commentary too, though far more subtle.

Rent Away We Go for a comfortable night on the couch, some good laughs and hopefully you’ll be with someone to give a big kiss to afterwards! (boys, this does not make it a chick flick!)

Having said all this, one of my favourite parts about Away We Go is the soundtrack. I will find it and buy it! It’s mostly made up of Alexi Murdoch, who I didn’t know before this, but the sprinklings of George Harrison, The Stranglers and Bob Dylan makes for a really great music experience.

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Away We Go is an off-beat offering from Sam Mendes which had me in stitches and quietly contemplating the directions we take in life.

Burt and Verona are expecting a baby. They lead average lives in an average town and haven’t really got all the details figured out yet. But they know that their love will get through anything. In anticipation of a baby, one would expect parental support, but no, Burt’s parents decide to up and leave to Amsterdam a month before the baby is due.

Verona realises that they too don’t need to stay in their average little town and so begins their quest for where to settle down. Their travels take them to Phoenix, Montreal, Miami and, hopefully, home.

John Krasinksi (The Office US) is fabulous. He has the dorky charm of an old teddy bear and the way he portrays husbandly love is sigh-worthy (take tips, gentlemen!) He is bold when he needs to be, but his performance never loses its softness. Opposite him, Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live, Idiocracy) is perfect. She has the nerves of a new mother down, but her natural humour makes her accessible even to people who have no idea about babies (i.e. me). She also carries a sense of sadness in her performance, creating a balance which is stunning.

Allison Janney and Maggie Gyllenhaal have hilarious bit parts as various friends the couple visit on their travels. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a mother who doesn’t believe in the three Ss – separation, sugar and strollers. This you need to see!

Sam Mendes has veered away from his typical serious films with Away We Go, and it might open him up to a whole new audience. Heaven knows this light, quirky film is a far cry from American Beauty and Jarhead, but it has its commentary too, though far more subtle.

Rent Away We Go for a comfortable night on the couch, so good laughs and hopefully you’ll be with someone to give a big kiss to afterwards! (boys, this does not make it a chick flick!)

Having said all this, one of my favourite parts about Away We Go is the soundtrack. I will find it and buy it! It’s mostly made up of Alexi Murdoch, who I didn’t know before this, but the sprinklings of George Harrison, The Stranglers and Bob Dylan makes for a really great music experience.

Cupcake Magic update

28 Aug

There has been so much interest in this stunning little book. It is available through Kalahari.net for only R121,51 or Exclusives Books for R135.The ISBN number is 9781862058101. Get yourself a copy – even if you seldom use it, it makes a lovely addition to the kitchen shelf. I have discovered that Kate Shirazi has also published Chocolate Magic and Baking Magic. I think I will need to visit the book shop very soon!

Cupcake Magic: little cakes with attitude

26 Aug

Have I mentioned I’m obsessed with cupcakes? Those delicious little bite sizes of heaven which have glorious potential for flavour and decoration and all round yumminess? I haven’t? Well, this is where it went from mild interest to full blown obsession – Cupcake Magic.

Kate Shirazi has created a stunning book dedicated to mixing, baking and decorating my favourite delicacy. The best part about this book is how the chapters are divided – “Low Faff”, “Mid Faff” and “High Faff”! From this I could immediately tell that this was going to be my kind of book. If you have ever baked cupcakes (which I highly recommend trying, even if you think you can’t bake) then you will know that the decoration depends completely on time at hand and the mood you are in. Cupcake Magic caters perfectly to finding the perfect cupcake for both these criteria.

When I have time my personal favourite is the “Black Forest Gateau Cupcake” (pictured below), but for quickies, I opt for the “Basic No-Mucking Around Cupcake” which is true to its name and can just be sprinkled with icing sugar – mmmmm… good. (Mine are pictured with purple royal icing).

Kate Shirazi has devised easy, light and fluffy recipes which all bake in 20 minutes. Her icing recipes are so useful and she also includes how to make decorations for the more adventurous (I have only got as far as roses!). Her style is informal and she will guide you every step of the way to perfect cupcakes, including tips on ingredients, baking supplies and decorations (I love edible glitter!).

Something interesting about the recipes is that they all call for margarine. Most bakers frown on this, but Shirazi bravely takes a stand and admits that for cupcakes, and only cupcakes, she prefers margarine because it makes for fluffier batter. She has quickly won me over with edible proof. Plus, who couldn’t trust someone who saves battery chickens and only uses free range eggs? (She did actually save battery chickens and now has her own egg supply at home).

I highly recommend this book for any aspiring baker or someone who simply loves cake. Plus the photographs and layout are so gorgeous that this book would give anyone’s kitchen shelves a lift.

Thank you to Sarah Duff for photographing my creations (yes, I actually made these ones!). Please check out her stunning blog at www.veggiedelish.com (it really is delish).

Just to give you a little taste – here’s the recipe for “Black Forest Gateau Cupcakes”

 Makes 12 delicious cupcakes

85g self-raising flour

4 Tbsp cocoa powder

110g castor sugar

110g margarine

1 tsp baking powder

2 large free-range eggs

1 jar cherry jam ( I used Pick’n’Pay Morello jam)

200ml whipping cream

60g dark chocolate

1 tin black cherries, drained

Pre-heat oven to 170˚C. Line muffin pan with cupcake cases (this will make washing up and getting the cupcakes out easier).

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and sugar into a large bowl, or food processor. Add marg, baking powder and eggs. Beat well until batter is light and fluffy. Spoon mixture into the cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch. Remove and allow to cool.

Once cool, smother the top of each cupcake with a generous amount of jam, then pile whipped cream on top. Finish with some grated chocolate. I then finish them off with black cherries, but Kate Shirazi suggests glace cherries on a stick.

WOW!

Between You & Me

19 Aug

Director: Tara Louise Notcutt

Relationships make good entertainment and art because they are a never-ending cause for reflection, disgust, comedy, interest and, of course, drama. Directed by Tara Louise Notcutt, Between You & Me takes the old formula of dissecting a stale relationship and modernises it, at times it seems for the M-TV generation, (well, those members with brains).

Tarn de Villiers and Jaco Notnagel are the couple and the play opens with them across from each other at a massive dining room table. The tension in the air is palpable as Henry (Notnagel) asks, “How was your day?” of a clearly distressed Cara (de Villiers). Literally, I could hear myself swallow. This tension is sustained throughout the play, something which I imagine is not easy to accomplish.

Rather than serving up the entire relationship, Notcutt gives movie montage-like scenes which create a short hand for the couple’s first meeting and other various parts of the relationship, interspersed with the deterioration of their conversation and thus their intimacy. These montages are largely movement pieces set to a range of contemporary alternative songs and this is where the play becomes part MTV. The use of movement between the actors is integral in showing their relationship, but each movement piece (which shows Tarn de Villiers to be a very flexy and talented dancer) was too long, too repetitive (though the repetition was not lost on me) and too much like a music video. The exception to this is the last one, which is perfect in showing the final climax of the couple’s relationship.

The dialogue was one of my favourite parts of the play. There is a tension between De Villier’s English and Notnagel’s Afrikaans, but what they say is down-to-earth and very, very real. Almost too real in fact, as I, scarily, realised I had had many similar conversations before. Part of the reason for this good dialogue is that the script was work shopped by the company, which produced a rounded script with clearly real experience. Jon Keevy provided two monologues for the script and these too have an ear for real conversation.

The set is also interesting and a different experience to watching a play in a traditional theatre. Between You & Me is in a church hall and places the audience in two rows on either side of the dining room table, facing each other. The actors share their attention equally with both side of the audience and the movement pieces were as beautiful no matter which side of the actors I could see. At times I was worried about the dining room table (a lot of action takes place on top of it) but I was assured afterwards of its sturdiness,

All in all, Between You & Me is a play well worth seeing, at only R20 and running at 1 hour, it is a good investment and will definitely provide you with reflection, disgust, comedy, interest and, of course, drama.

Directed by Louise Notcutt, Starring Jaco Notnagel and Tarn de Villiers,Methodist Church Hall, Cnr Milton and Wesley Rd, ObservatoryShowing 17th -21st  August, 8 pm.

Vida e Caffé, Camps Bay

12 Aug

 No, loyal followers, I have not run out of reviewing ideas already! I simply feel I have to let everyone know about the greatness that is the Vida in Camps Bay.

It may be that I work in Camps Bay and that any establishment providing me with caffeine would do. Not so! There is in fact another Vida on my way to work and many other coffee spots along the way. No, Camps Bay is special.

I first knew this when arrived with a cohort of fellow female teachers. Once the baristas were aware we were teachers, the nicknames began. “Mistress” stuck until all of our names had learnt.

 It brightens my day whenever I walk into Vida and am greeted with shouts of, “Sarah! Sarah!” and my double skinny wet cappuccino is already being whipped up. I almost don’t need the caffeine anymore (yeah, right!)

So really this post is not a review, it is just a big thank you to the amazing guys at Vida e Caffe, Camps Bay: Bothwell, Joe, Aubrey (I miss you, come back!), Peter, Peguy and any of the others whose names I haven’t learnt yet. Thanks for making my mornings special.