Monday, April 5, 2010

Book side products

Revisiting the cook book.

I did end up trying out a couple of recipes from this book. Surprisingly, one of the items praised as easy and delicious turned out to be just that: the dish took me all of 10 minutes to prepare, and it was really yummy. I have to admit that I was a bit suspicious with Feta Pasta Casserole including items such as red bell pepper - this sounded so much like random Finnish "exotic" foods. Man, although I loved my uni's cafeteria food (it was awesome!), they did have some crazy crap there that they called something foreign to give excuses to their odd choices of mixing ingredients that just shouldn't go together. I will never forget the time they served "Chinese wok casserole", which was rice with feta cheese and olives. I have yet to encounter any style Chinese cooking, let alone Asian cooking in general, that would use feta and olives. I have no idea what was going on there. And of course, the whole term "wok" to describe any pre-cooked pieces of frozen veggies mixed with noodles is questionable, too (slices of carrot? Seriously?)

But I digress big time. The Feta Pasta was a massive success. Encouraged by this, I tried the Lemon Zest Pasta Sauce, just because I love all things lemon. Fun fact: when you mix lemon zest with lemon juice and add some cream/cream cheese, the lemon begins to taste like lemon grass. I thought I was going nuts, so I asked hubby K. to try it. His taste buds are on a totally different level from mine, but he confirmed - you've made this sauce with lemongrass. So, in the end, the pasta sauce really just reminded me of Thai food. Good tip for the future, I suppose!

So, I'm happy to announce that the book really delivered what it promised, at least so far: really easy but yummy foods. I'll be testing out some of the other recipes as well.

Revisiting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The movie for this novel finally came out in the US, with limited shows, and I was there the first evening in Seattle. With me were 3 others who had read the book, and two who had not. I was worried - what if the movie sucks? Then these people will never want to read the book, which is an awesome, awesome book. Like, actually awe-inspiring in the world of crime novels.

Apparently I fretted for nought: we all enjoyed the movie. Census was that it was nicely un-Hollywood, meaning that the characters looked like real people. Action was not explosions-and-blood-and-gore, but scarily realistic - which I think really drove the point home that this is not supposed to be a story that the viewer can distance him- or herself from. In my mind, it's a story of one or two of the Things Wrong with the World Today, and we should all learn from it. Interestingly enough, a lot of the reviews I saw for the movie said that the violence was too graphic and over the top, and that the viewers would be better off waiting for the American remake (which has already been assigned to a director, who, despite my pleas, will not be Quentin Tarantino - come on, man! He would totally get the whole vendetta-story!)

Things that we readers of the book did not like:
- Lisbeth Salander is less of an enigma in the movie. In the book, we don't even know what's going on in her head and whether she really is a mentally underdeveloped psycho of some kind until well into the story. I loved that about the book, because Larsson knew that had we learned Salander's personality from the get-go, we would condemn some of the people who viewed her strangely. But we are first shown how Salander seems through their eyes, so we get to understand both them and her. Genius.
- Mikael Blomqvist is so blah in the movie. Sure, he is pretty blah in the book, too, but he is damned smart. In the movie version, everything seems to just fall into his lap. He's supposed to be this wonderful, controversial and assertive investigative journalist, but we are not shown his investigative skills beyond him looking at some old pictures. It's Lisbeth who comes up with most of the answers, whereas in the book the pair works very equally.
- Some really important characters and storylines were completely left out or changed. I for one was surprised that the whole Wenneström deal made by Henrik Vanger was left out. If I had only seen the movie without reading the book, I'd wonder why on Earth would Mikael want to spend a year investigating something just because he "doesn't have anything better to do", as Henrik Vanger so says? I for one was fairly miffed at Erika, the head of the Millennium magazine, being written as a background character who barely has any spoken lines. Sure, if they had included her, they might have had to include the whole deal about open marriages, women in male-dominated work places etc, which just wouldn't have worked in the movie. In the book all of it is discussed really smartly, mostly because the characters involved are smart, but if the movie could have dedicated only 5 minutes to these issues it would have come out either as preachy or just too shallow a handling. Same with Dragan Armanski, the Croatia-hailing head of Milton Security, for whom Lisbeth works. Having read the books, though, these two characters must be included in the next movies. There just is no other option.

Although that is a lot of Not Likes, the movie still was very enjoyable. A movie can never be as good or better than the book, just because our imagination adds a lot to it. Although a picture is better than a 1,000 words, we do not view that picture the same way, or pick out the same things from it. The author has more of an influence that way. So, all in all, a very good movie, albeit the book's topic got a very soft treatment with the movie.

Now, back to reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment