Friday, August 22, 2008

Melon... yuck!

So I haven't posted in a month or so, and we got a request for a blog about the Garces v. Flay Iron Chef America episode where Philadelphia chef Jose Garces of Amada fame beat out Bobby Flay in Battle Melon Brainfreeze. So here we go.

1. I wonder why Garces didn't choose Iron Chef Morimoto as his competitor and have a Philadelphia battle.

2. I don't like melon, so as exciting as it was to have Garces on Iron Chef, I didn't enjoy it as much as other battles.

3. That said, Steve and I are going to Amada, Garces' award-winning tapas restaurant in September, and I am very excited for that (even though it is Restaurant Week, so the menu will be restricted).

4. Brainfreeze? Wierd. Its already pretty hard to create a 5-course meal out of melon, but adding the requirement that every dish must have a frozen element really increased the difficulty. Not sure how the chefs did it, and although I've often wanted to be a judge on the show, I'm glad I wasn't asked to judge this time. I wonder if Garces thought "last week the secret ingredient was bass (or something like that), how did I get frozen and melon? This sucks."

5. Bobby Flay is pretty good. Especially at grilling. So why did judge Jeffrey Steingarten feel the need to tell him that he shouldn't use the phrase "throw it on the grill," because grilling is an art. I think Flay knows that. By the way, Flay's Mesa Grill cookbook is pretty good - we used in in our cookbook book club last month and made some pretty good truffled quesadillas.

6. Wow! I was on Iron Chef America's website and found this:

How Do You Iron Chef? Food Network is asking Iron Chef America fans: How do you Iron Chef? From videos of you in Japanese costumes to your latest home-hosted cooking competitions – we want to see it all!
Upload your videos and tell us why nobody Iron Chefs like you do! If your video is picked, you could appear on Food Network in all your Iron Chef glory.

Now's the time I wish Jess Sum hadn't moved away!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Just when I thought I was out...

I keep getting pulled back in. Or something like that.

The Ardmorons blog is just so popular with our two regular readers, that it just cannot die.

So, as promised, here's a short review of the Dark Knight, after having seen it for the second time. Look out for spoilers, weinies.

First, the difference between IMAX and regular screen is more subtle than I expected, but you could really detect the increase in screen size and definition during the scenes filmed in IMAX. This is most evident in the opening aerial view of Gotham City, where your entire field of vision is filled.

As you've no doubt heard by now (way to review a movie that's been out for a month - maybe next month I should discuss this year's Olympics) the movie is pretty awesome.

First, the depiction of the Joker was spot on. Dead Heath Ledger really went out with a bang, and no Dark Knight review is complete without the phrase 'posthumous nomination' somewhere within, so there. I liked what the script did with the character, including his two television appearances (One a Nicholas Berg-like video of the Joker terrorizing the copy cat Batman, the other a call-in to Gotham Tonight with a funny/disturbing call to action for the city). Making appearances on the television is classic Joker, and the script found ways to do it in modern and relatively believable manners. Awesome. The Joker's tactics of turning the citizens of Gotham against Batman and each other were also a nod to classic plots, as was the practice of painting a smile on the face of the victims (no goofy smile-gas needed.)

As good as the Joker was, the movie didn't handle Two-Face in nearly as appropriate a manner. His rushed transformation, his relationship with the Joker, and his quick exit, all added up to a real squandered opportunity. Now, on the second viewing, I realized that the film was carefully edited to be very ambiguous as to Two-Face's fate, so in light of what happened in real life since filming, I think there's a good chance that we haven't seen the last of him. His character means a lot more to both Batman and Gordon than this movie displayed, and while the use of the character as a setup for Batman's sacrifice was impactful, there is more in the way of deep plot to be extracted from that relationship - especially considering Batman's status at the end of the film. Oh, he did look pretty cool, though.

Things I could have done without: The Hong Kong scene seemed a little out of place, even if the setup for it was darn cool. The sonar vision at the end...why? But I choose to focus on the positive. I can't wait to see the return of a new Batmobile next time around.

On the point of sequels, I would be very surprised to see director Christopher Nolan return for a third go-round, and if he goes, we'll probably see many of the principle actors go with him (my guess is that Bale, Freeman, and Oldman would go.) Since the movie is still making megabucks, to think that Warner Brothers would quit while they're ahead is crazy-talk, so I'm hoping we don't see another Batman Forever/X-Men 3.

One solution that could be intriguing is to forego a feature film for a serious and reverent live action HBO/Showtime series. If there is a mass exodus of any type, this is the only way that recasts (including a recast of the Joker) could possibly come off as acceptable. On the other hand, Warner should be willing to offer whatever it takes to keep Nolan et al on board for a third, so maybe my idea would happen afterward. Now that would be must-see TV.