I’ve been slowly making my way through the Pedro Almodóvar library, and one thing I’ve found that even in his most straightforward of films is that he always manages to include at least one good WTF moment that changes the whole path of the narrative. There’s always this element of the unbelievable, but to spin an oft-quoted English saying, one must keep calm and trust Almodóvar because he always manages to work himself and his characters out of any overly odd plot twist. The twist in Talk to Her (Hable con ella) is one I won’t give away as it’s pretty disturbing, but just when you think a character suddenly becomes completely unlikeable, redemption comes about in a strange way.
Hable con ella is one of those films in which the titular women are not present; they are in the past, and they are potentially in the future, but they primarily exist as coma patients during most of the film. Instead, the story is told from the perspective of the men who love them and care for them: the clownish Benigno and the standoffish Marco. It’s a story of men trying to understand women they love: Benigno thinks he understands Alicia because he talks to her, and has been doing so in the four years she’s spent in a coma; Marco is seen as someone who was open and could not stop talking to Lydia during the idyllic period prior to her accident.
They talk because they think that is what a good lover does; the problem, of course, is that they were pretty horrible at listening to the women they loved.
This film won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and for that alone it’s worth slogging through the subtitles if you don’t know Spanish that well. It’s a fairly remarkable story in that the two male protagonists are not only allowed to show emotion, real emotion over things (and not just how Ben Affleck cries in seemingly every movie he’s in), but they are also shown in a role primarily ascribed to women: that of caretaker. It’s an interesting gender role reversal that’s subtle and just a touch comedic because both men seem out of their element.
I don’t want to give anything else away because it’s fabulous and you should see it if you haven’t seen it already. And if you have seen it, rent it again!
Early August practically begs for tapas, and taking some inspiration from the fact that it’s set in Madrid, we went with some tapas classics. Maybe it’s withdrawl from both Dinosaur BBQ and not having ready access to Archie Moore’s wings (oh, the humanity) but we’ve been making them with various sauces over the summer, but these are by far the most delicious. The sauce needs just lemon, garlic, parsley, olive oil and a little Spanish white wine to cut the tartness of the lemon and smooth out the sauce–it’s like delicious roasted chicken without all of the work, which is an automatic win in my book.
It would not be traditional tapas without a tortilla, and browsing through my copy of Culinaria Spain and its gallery of tortillas prompted a combination of white beans, chorizo and leeks–and while it wasn’t our most beautiful tortilla (it got a little messed up in the flipping), Michael declared it our most delicious to date–once we get the proportions right a recipe will be forthcoming.
And finally, we made some La Mancha-style mushrooms with garlic and sherry because we wanted one dish that was not quite so heavy. Between the wings and the tortilla, though, I’ll admit that I didn’t dive into these with quite the same enthusiasm, but even as leftovers they can be enjoyed as a last-minute add into a risotto or a simple pasta dish during the week, so they don’t have to go to waste.
It was all delightful, but what I may have loved best was working on the wedge of night cheese in lieu of dessert:
Yes, the night cheese was a good decision.
(Oh, and hi there–sorry for the absence. But we’re back!)