A History of Violence

A History of Violence (2005)
A random incident of violence in a small town exposes the fact that a well-liked local has been living there under a false identity.

This movie didn’t really work for me. The sex scenes were embarrassingly graphic, the confrontations felt staged, the story dragged between the action pieces and a lot of the dialogue was trite.

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The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd (2006)
This movie explores the career of an early CIA officer through the lens of his own reflections as he tries to determine the source of the security leak that caused the Bay of Pigs Invasion to fail.

An interesting, if slow, spy movie. Although it may only be inspired by actual events rather than driven by them, it tells a plausible story about the beginnings of modern tradecraft. I thought the non chronological progression took away from, rather than adding to the story. The film contained a slate of good actors who were entirely convincing. The story made sense and was engaging, but was not “gripping”.

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1314 NW Glisan St, Portland, OR 97209, (503) 228-9535

Romantic, Unique Food & Drinks, Personable Service
There are few places on earth more romantic or charming than a seat at copper top in the corner of the bar at Andina’s. And, as if the trappings were enough by themselves, there is live guitar music 7-10 each night.

A long list of unique cocktails – many of them hot with chilies. One of the largest selections of wines by the glass I have ever seen.

The menu is a unique flavor sensation. The tapas are mostly spicy hot, the entrees mostly not. I have dined here many times and rarely ever made it beyond the list of tapas though. One of my favorites is Picadillo Acebichado.

The wait staff is kept quite busy, but they have always been polite and aimed to please.

The dining room is less interesting, but the window seats sport slightly elevated views of the busy street outside.

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Biutiful (2010)
A man living in Barcelona struggles as a single parent to provide for his two kids. He gets paid to arrange work for illegal immigrants and manage the sale of forged designer goods. Oh, and he also makes a few bucks for the service of passing messages back and forth between loved-ones and their recently deceased.

This is a touching tale of a man who brings a lot of heart to the dog-eat-dog world of illegal immigrants working in Barcelona. Intimate images, gut-wrenching tension, tough choices, messy realities. Javier Bardem so fully inhabits his role in this movie, I can’t imagine anyone else successfully carrying it. Many other fine acts besides. I can’t stop thinking about this movie.

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Buttermilk (Kefir) Salad Dressing Revisited

Over the years I have strayed so far from my original buttermilk dressing recipe, it merits a new recipe. I used to pooh-pooh guests who declined my favorite dressing, but my tastes have shifted too over time. Now I prefer a less pungent dressing that is more salty than sour. (Less is more?) I even switched from buttermilk to kefir, which is less bitter and sour and little heavier body. I cut back on all the condiments.

Most recently, demand for crushed garlic has dwindled to the degree that store clerks give me a blank look when I ask for it. I finally got the hint I ought to start making it myself. Why did I resist so long? Well, it is hard to find the right tool for making small quantities. But, Wow! The strength and complexity of flavor is definitely worth the patience.

The following will make a blender full of dressing:

1.5 C mayonnaise (read the label, tremble, then make your own as directed below)
1.5 C kefir (use Nancy’s if you live in Oregon)
1 TBSP yellow mustard
1-2 TBSP horseradish
1 tsp crushed garlic
2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp wine vinegar
1-2 tsp salt

2 eggs
2 TBSP fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp salt
Mustard to taste (try 1 TBSP)
Safflower oil as needed to thicken (approximately 1.3 C)

Break eggs into blender, add lemon juice and whip 10 seconds. Add salt and mustard. Turn on blender and drizzle in oil until emulsion becomes so thick the surface is no longer moving. (This works with safflower oil, but olive oil will not set up as solid.)

Add remaining ingredients and blend again until well mixed.

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Big Fish

Big Fish (2008)
An estranged son visits his dying father and tries to make amends. But the former traveling salesman’s penchant for tall tales continuously irritates the young journalist – until he figures out how to tease out the truth.

This was a tall tale in the defense of telling tall tales: entertaining, engaging and unpredictable. Nice ending.

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Birth (2004)
Just as the main character is recovering from the loss of her husband and making plans to remarry, a ten year old talks her into believing he is the reincarnation of her old flame.

This was a disturbing story that spun further and further out of control. In the end I felt like I was taken for a ride.

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Pan e Tulipani

Pan e Tulipani

Pan e Tulipani (2000)
Inadvertently left at a wayside stop while on a bus tour with her family, a middle aged woman decides on a whim to take a tour of her own to a place she has always wanted to see – Venice. Little does she expect, this one left turn will end up changing her whole life and everyone connected to her.

Rosalba Barletta really carries the credibility of this story with her powerful performance as the main character. She is sublimely skilled in subtle gestures which make all of her interactions engaging. It is a simple, heart-warming story employing characters I would enjoy having for neighbors.

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SabrinaSabrina (1995)
A Cinderella story – the daughter of a servant eavesdrops on the good life of her father’s employer and dreams of being part of that picture. She matures during a work stint in Paris and returns after a few years so transformed that no one recognizes her. Her father’s employer finally notices her.

This is an upbeat, inspiring, coming-of-age story. The acting is alright.

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