Wednesday, 28 October 2009

By request...

I tweeted about this risotto as I was eating it the other night, because it was the most surprisingly yummy thing EVER. Delicious, I tell you.

A couple of people asked for the recipe, so here it is. It's from the Australian Women's Weekly (in the 1000 Best-Ever Recipes book)

Beetroot Risotto with rocket

2 medium beetroot (350g) peeled, grated coarsely
3 cups (750ml) vegetable stock
3 cups (750ml) water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large brown onion (200g), chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups (300g) arborio rice
1/4 cup (20g) coarsely grated parmesan cheese
50g baby rocket leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Bring beetroot, stock and the water in large saucepan to the boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan; cook onion and garlic, stirring, until onion softens. Add rice; stir rice to coat in onion mixture. Stir in 1 cup simmering beetroot mixture; cook, stirring, over low heat until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding beetroot mixture, in 1-cup batches, stirring, until liquid is absorbed after each addition. Total cooking time should be about 35 minutes or until rice is just tender; gently stir in cheese.
3. Serve risotto topped with combined rocket and parsley.

YUMMY. That is all. :)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

I rented this strange film on the weekend, having wanted to see it for a while now. I say strange because, well, it doesn't seem like a story that should work as a film. It's not much of a story at all actually, just "a single premise" as a friend of mine described it.

It does work, though, I think. The characters, led by 8-year-olds Bruno and Shmuel are compelling enough that one really wants to find out more.

We see the events from Bruno's point of view, and so only get small glimpses of what is actually going on, which is that the family moves to the country for his father's new role as Commandant of a camp in World War II. Bruno goes exploring, finds the camp fence and makes friends with Shmuel. They become friends, make plans... and I won't tell you the ending.

I thought all of the acting was wonderful. I can't think of a single performance that wasn't up to scratch. But Asa Butterfiled and Jack Scanlon, as the two boys, were outstanding. They're so young, and it's such a difficult concept. It would have been easy to expect such young boys to play it melodramatically, but they were both natural, compelling actors. I also loved David Hayman as Pavel, the Jewish kitchen-hand/servant.

Definitely one worth watching. Just be prepared for quite an emotional ride.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

I feel quite shaken

... by this whole Roman Polanski episode.

I didn't even know about his rape conviction until the recent arrest. I'm sure many people didn't. In case you still don't - the film director Roman Polanski was charged in 1977 with statutory rape, after drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. A deal was struck and he pleaded guilty to a different charge - something like "unlawful sexual conduct"... but in between then and the sentencing he fled the US and set up camp in France. Since then he has made lots of films, married, had children, won an Oscar and carefully not entered the US or the UK.

He was recently arrested when entering Switzerland for a film festival being held in his honour. Switzerland has an extradition treaty with the US so the idea is that he will be sent back to the US to be sentenced and serve his time. He did, after all, admit to raping a child and then fled the country.

Now comes the shocking part. Hundreds of film industry names (these names) have been signing a petition to free Polanski (to allow him to remain freely in Europe), which states that the arrest takes away the freedom of an artist of international renown.

Maybe I shouldn't be shocked at this. Maybe I should have realised that rich and famous people usually think they're better than everyone else. That very talented people sometimes start to think that their own talent is more important than truth, or justice, or integrity.

But I am shocked. I honestly believed that most of the people in the film industry, even the great big famous ones, still knew that they are people just like everyone else. I thought that the self-centred, up-on-a-pedestal ones were really very rare. According to that list of names, I was pretty wrong. People I admire are on that list - Harrison Ford, Tilda Swinton, Terry Gilliam, Guillermo del Toro....

I have to admit I searched frantically through the names and was very relieved not to see Johnny Depp, or Geoffery Rush, or Kate Winslet (though, disappointingly, her husband, Sam Mendes, is there). I love my favourite actors for their own character as much as for their abilities so at least I still have that measure of sanity to cling to.

Disappointing, "Hollywood", so disappointing.

I'm going to bed, hoping that someone with as much integrity as money & fame stands up and speaks the truth - simply that a convicted criminal should face his past and serve his time.