RochelLeah's RealLife

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Strange and Norrell

I just finished reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell yesterday afternoon. It is the longest book I have read in a long, long time, and it was well worth the many, many hours I dedicated to reading it. It's world is so absorbing that I (almost) forgot that the Napoleonic Wars were not won by confounding the French soldiers with mud on the Iberian Peninsula and moving Brussels to North America.

I checked out the website for the book ( and discovered that the author, Susanna Clarke, has a new book coming out in October ( - Bookshop - The Ladies of Grace Adieu). The Ladies of Grace Adieu is an anthology of short stories set in the world of Strange and Norrell. Some of the stories have been previously published, but I still can't wait to read it.

Also, I found out that New Line has purchased the film rights to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and has selected Christopher Hampton to write the screenplay. Hampton wrote the screenplay and stage adaptations for Dangerous Liaisons (one of my favorite films ever) and also adapted The Quiet American (which I also adored). I think he's a perfect fit and can't wait for more news.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Challah Amnesia

Now that I am out of school for the summer, I thought I might indulge in a simple pleasure I used to favor in the past... baking challah. This was further encouraged by a desire to fulfill J.'s desire for raisin challah three months before they are readily available in stores.

I eagerly looked forward to warm, tasty bread with which I would present J. for Shabbat. Such hopes were a bit naive... I was experiencing Challah Amnesia, a state of being characterized by the following symptoms: forgetting the length of time necessary for challah completion; trying a new recipe, untested by any personal acquaintance; underestimating the extent of the mess challah-making (specifically, the kneading of the dough) creates in the kitchen; and/or believing that the recipe is correct regarding rising times (once just isn't enough).

Moreover, I failed to account for two other factors: the fact that my oven runs hot (since I rarely use it for anything precise) and my own level of exhaustion (since I didn't even start until almost 11 pm).

The results were not inedible. However, J. correctly noted that the consistency and density of my challot were more like bagels than real bread.


Next time, I will use the recipe pre-tested by my wise roommate. I will allocate an appropriate amount of time and start before 6 pm. I will set my oven to a temperature that is about 50-75 degrees F. lower than what the recipe calls for. And I will prepare the kneading location in order to minimize the mess I will inevitably create.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Are you movie literate?

Jim Emerson of the Chicago Sun-Times has created a list of 102 movies to see before you can consider yourself "movie-literate." Please note that these aren't the "best" movies, but rather the most important for what they're calling movie literacy. I've marked the ones I've seen by putting them in color--my total is 72. I've only counted the ones I've seen in their entirety, since film school, if it does anything, succeeds in having you view parts of a lot of movies (like The 400 Blows, Intolerance, The Graduate, The Seven Samurai, and 8 1/2). Also, there are other movies that really should be on the list, but aren't. For example, I would add Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and Capra's It Happened One Night (1934), due to their importance in defining romantic comedies as a genre. Oh, well. Nothing's perfect, but this is pretty good.

"2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) Stanley Kubrick
"The 400 Blows" (1959) Francois Truffaut
"8 1/2" (1963) Federico Fellini
"Aguirre, the Wrath of God" (1972) Werner Herzog
"Alien" (1979) Ridley Scott
"All About Eve" (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
"Annie Hall" (1977) Woody Allen
"Apocalypse Now" (1979) Francis Ford Coppola*
"Bambi" (1942) Disney
"The Battleship Potemkin" (1925) Sergei Eisenstein
"The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) William Wyler
"The Big Red One" (1980) Samuel Fuller
"The Bicycle Thief" (1949) Vittorio De Sica
"The Big Sleep" (1946) Howard Hawks
"Blade Runner" (1982) Ridley Scott
"Blowup" (1966) Michelangelo Antonioni
"Blue Velvet" (1986) David Lynch
"Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) Arthur Penn
"Breathless" (1959 Jean-Luc Godard
"Bringing Up Baby" (1938) Howard Hawks
"Carrie" (1975) Brian DePalma
"Casablanca" (1942) Michael Curtiz
"Un Chien Andalou" (1928) Luis Bunuel & Salvador Dali
"Children of Paradise" / "Les Enfants du Paradis" (1945) Marcel Carne
"Chinatown" (1974) Roman Polanski
"Citizen Kane" (1941) Orson Welles
"A Clockwork Orange" (1971) Stanley Kubrick
"The Crying Game" (1992) Neil Jordan
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) Robert Wise
"Days of Heaven" (1978) Terence Malick
"Dirty Harry" (1971) Don Siegel
"The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (1972) Luis Bunuel
"Do the Right Thing" (1989 Spike Lee
"La Dolce Vita" (1960) Federico Fellini
"Double Indemnity" (1944) Billy Wilder
"Dr. Strangelove" (1964) Stanley Kubrick
"Duck Soup" (1933) Leo McCarey
"E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) Steven Spielberg
"Easy Rider" (1969) Dennis Hopper
"The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) Irvin Kershner
"The Exorcist" (1973) William Friedkin
"Fargo" (1995) Joel & Ethan Coen
"Fight Club" (1999) David Fincher
"Frankenstein" (1931) James Whale
"The General" (1927) Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman
"The Godfather," "The Godfather, Part II" (1972, 1974) Francis Ford Coppola
"Gone With the Wind" (1939) Victor Fleming
"GoodFellas" (1990) Martin Scorsese
"The Graduate" (1967) Mike Nichols
"Halloween" (1978) John Carpenter
"A Hard Day's Night" (1964) Richard Lester
"Intolerance" (1916) D.W. Griffith
"It's a Gift" (1934) Norman Z. McLeod
"It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) Frank Capra
"Jaws" (1975) Steven Spielberg
"The Lady Eve" (1941) Preston Sturges
"Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) David Lean
"M" (1931) Fritz Lang
"Mad Max 2" / "The Road Warrior" (1981) George Miller
"The Maltese Falcon" (1941) John Huston
"The Manchurian Candidate" (1962) John Frankenheimer
"Metropolis" (1926) Fritz Lang
"Modern Times" (1936) Charles Chaplin
"Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975) Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam
"Nashville" (1975) Robert Altman
"The Night of the Hunter" (1955) Charles Laughton
"Night of the Living Dead" (1968) George Romero
"North by Northwest" (1959) Alfred Hitchcock
"Nosferatu" (1922) F.W. Murnau
"On the Waterfront" (1954) Elia Kazan
"Once Upon a Time in the West" (1968) Sergio Leone
"Out of the Past" (1947) Jacques Tournier
"Persona" (1966) Ingmar Bergman
"Pink Flamingos" (1972) John Waters
"Psycho" (1960) Alfred Hitchcock
"Pulp Fiction" (1994) Quentin Tarantino
"Rashomon" (1950) Akira Kurosawa
"Rear Window" (1954) Alfred Hitchcock
"Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) Nicholas Ray
"Red River" (1948) Howard Hawks
"Repulsion" (1965) Roman Polanski
"The Rules of the Game" (1939) Jean Renoir
"Scarface" (1932) Howard Hawks
"The Scarlet Empress" (1934) Josef von Sternberg
"Schindler's List" (1993) Steven Spielberg
"The Searchers" (1956) John Ford
"The Seven Samurai" (1954) Akira Kurosawa
"Singin' in the Rain" (1952) Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
"Some Like It Hot" (1959) Billy Wilder
"A Star Is Born" (1954) George Cukor
"A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951) Elia Kazan
"Sunset Boulevard" (1950) Billy Wilder
"Taxi Driver" (1976) Martin Scorsese
"The Third Man" (1949) Carol Reed
"Tokyo Story" (1953) Yasujiro Ozu
"Touch of Evil" (1958) Orson Welles
"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948) John Huston
"Trouble in Paradise" (1932) Ernst Lubitsch
"Vertigo" (1958) Alfred Hitchcock
"West Side Story" (1961) Jerome Robbins/Robert Wise
"The Wild Bunch" (1969) Sam Peckinpah
"The Wizard of Oz" (1939) Victor Fleming