Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Raven - Movie Review

With a busy summer ahead of us, we’re going to have to start making some hard decisions on what takes social priority. The first of which came last night, when we found in our hands screeners for The Raven and The Five Year Engagement. Both have been movies that peaked our interest for different reasons, but ultimately our love of literature outweighed the love of love and we found ourselves downtown amidst the gothic horror of Edgar Allan Poe.

On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious, in great distress and in need of immediate assistance. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and all medical records, including his death certificate, have been lost. The Raven is a fictionalized account of the last days of Poe’s life, in which the poet and author pursues a serial killer whose murders mirror those in Poe's stories.

Recognized initially as a critic for the local paper, Poe’s greatest critique fell upon his fellow men, those who did not respect and admire him for his work he thought was pure genius. Already established as an erratic drunk, the first scenes of the film show Poe (John Cusack) ranting in a bar offering anyone a drink if they could finish the line “Quoth the Raven...” from his now legendary poem "The Raven". His drunken insults and uproar get him kicked to the curb and set the scene for the irrational, complex and mysterious character that we follow throughout the film.

After being brought in for questioning when a gruesome murder of a mother and daughter resembles one of his stories, Poe teams up with Detective Fields (Luke Evans) to give a unique perspective on the game of cat and mouse this copycat killer has set in motion. Following the clues left on the dead bodies, Poe and Fields chase the killer through re-enactments of various stories to uncover the location of Poe’s kidnapped fiancĂ©e Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve).

Cusack has long since mastered the art of playing characters with an edge to them; the chaos associated with Poe was nothing if not natural. While Jeremy Renner was once rumoured to play the lead, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Cusack in those shoes.

As always, it’s interesting to see fiction fill in the blanks of renowned lives such as Poe’s. How much truth is held in the story? Did the master of such gruesome literature’s life imitate his art? Was his death that poetic or have the years taken a creative license and crafted a more fitting end to the story? So quoth that raven, nevermore.

Images from Google Images

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spicy Tofu and Spinach in a Mapo Inspired Sauce

A while back I had the oddest craving for tofu. But I was tired of the fried tofu and wanted something spicy and saucy (like me!). It just so happened that I got my Good Food Box that day, which came with a lovely fresh bunch of spinach. It all came together in a snap and I knew what I had to do.

For this recipe you will need:

• 1 package of medium firm tofu (400 grams)
• 1 bunch of spinach, washed
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons black bean paste
• 2 tablespoons chili paste
• 1 tablespoon hot chili pepper flakes
• 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
• 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
• 1 tsp sesame seed oil
• 2 tablespoons corn starch
• 3 tablespoons water

In a small bowl, add in the black bean paste, chili paste, pepper flakes, oyster sauce, wine and oil. Stir to combine. I always add in a splash of water since I like it really saucy. Set aside.

Wash and drain the spinach. Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes.

Set your wok on medium high heat, add a splash of oil and the minced garlic. Fry until golden brown, then add in the tofu. Cook until heated through.

Add in the bean paste sauce and stir. Cook until the sauce bubbles.

Add in the spinach. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the corn starch and water. Once the spinach has wilted, stir in the corn starch mixture. Cook until sauce thickens.

Serve over rice and enjoy!

pictures (c) CityGirlScapes