June 2015 archive

The Girls of Summer

 

 

 

A couple of months ago, I (Chris) mentioned my hopefulness of what can come out of the success of Furious 7, with its potential impact on the increase of multicultural characters in films. These past few months, a more consistent trend has appeared in the blockbuster engulfed Summer: the dominant appearance of interesting female characters in what is usually considered a testosterone-run season.

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In the first act of the overly optimistic Tommorowland,  we are introduced to a young girl by the name of Athena (her name pretty much explains her character). When asked by a male counterpart who she was, she simply says, “I’m the future”; her answer is working on two levels for us, the audience. We later find out that this young, charismatic, and strong-willed girl is actually artificial intelligence. Along with that, Brad Bird (director of Tomorrowland) sees her as the future because she is female. With a look at the run of summer movies in 2015, you could easily see several female characters repeating this same line of dialogue in a metaphorical sense.

In past Summers, women were given a week or two of movies specifically designed for them (The Devil Wears Prada and Eat Pray Love). Even a few times, they were thrown a bone with a masculine driven action movie with a female sidekick (Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Legacy). Yet occasionally, one if these “chick flicks” makes a major breakthrough, not just with female audiences but with male as well (Bridesmaids). Even the success of Bridesmaids can surprise studio heads, and have them debate whether it’s worth the effort to make more female-driven films that aren’t easily defined as chick flicks in the middle of summer.

This year, we’ve seen an expanse of leading female roles, in the variety of summer films. Most notably in the action/adventure genre, which despite the fact of the summer starting out rough with the problematic depiction of Black Widow in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, we’ve had our share of complex action heroines. Such is the case of the aforementioned Tomorrowland, which relied on two very different female leads. George Clooney is the name that brought people into the theater (very few people actually, the film has only grossed 84 million after being theaters for over a month). Yet the female leads played by Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy are the driving force of the story, while Clooney is there to be a helping hand along the way. Despite not being a fan of the film, Britt Robertson’s performance, as Casey, is something to appreciate from a studio (Disney) that often depicts its female leads as delicate princesses. Casey is a self reliant, tech-geek with no bearings of the clichés of femininity.

While Mad Max: Fury Road takes a darker look into our future than Tomorrowland, it also shares a notable appreciation for a strong female characters.The strong female presence has been well documented when talking about the best movie of the summer, Mad Max: Fury Road. The complaint, by certain groups of men(click here for ridiculous article), and how the movie focuses too much attention on Charlize Theron, who plays Imperator Furiosa, is uninformed. This series has shown, in each installment, how Max is the vessel for the action to continue. He’s the launching pad but the world around him has always been the character that keeps us interested; Furiosa is that world and the story. A timely story, as an allegory for the destruction, that men take such pride in our world today. George Miller displays the many ways we have wronged and used women, not as our equals but our “property” in the most extreme terrifying ways.

Both MM: Fury Road and Tomorrowland put the hopes and power of the future in the hands of its female protagonists; giving them the chance to fix what MEN have ruined. This perspective is not only revolutionary but also perhaps evolutionary. We’ve had our chance to fix the future, maybe it’s time for the women to save us (or destroy us).

This Summer, we’ve seen even greater success for females in the comedy world. Pitch Perfect 2, which features an almost all-female cast and was also directed by a woman (Elizabeth Banks, who also has a small part in PP2), became a must-see not with just ladies but with also guys who find this group of misfits endearing. With success of Spy, Melissa McCarthy has show she is capable to sell tickets in a manner similar to that of her male counterparts, such as Will Ferrell and Seth Rogen.

And the summer still has plenty to offer for leading ladies. This weekend, we will see the release of Pixar’s Inside Out, which takes us inside the head of a pre-teen girl, who is going through a difficult time. Rarely do we see “coming of age” films from the perspective of a young girl. With Pixar, you know you’ll always get something interesting and thought-provoking, even in animated films. Amy Schumer’s acting and writing vehicle, Trainwreck gives Schumer the chance to do what all her male counterparts have been doing. To be the crude, vulgar, and “in a state of arrested development” that they’ve been for a long time now.

Hopefully, this is not merely “one good Summer” for this enrichment of vast female characters, a passing trend until we are overloaded with 20 superheroes next summer. This shouldn’t be considered a trend but the embodiment of our culture that women are more than just helpless bystanders, waiting for to be rescued or romanced.

 

 

 

Chicken Milanese with Spicy Tomato Peach Salad

I find the best inspiration for cooking isn’t found in endless recipe searches on the Internet nor through a quick scroll through Pintrest. Going to the market and seeing what’s in season really gets my wheels turning. It’s like I’m a contestant on Chopped but without the stressful time limit. I have a few basic recipes in my head that I can alter to whatever I’m feeling for that day. I don’t need to get my Iphone greasy by trying to read a recipe as I go. This is cooking from the soul, my friends. (more…)

Chicken Milanese is an Italian classic that leaves you with a blank canvass with what to place next to it. To keep it on the lighter side, a salad seems to be the best option. I love combining sweet with savory so this Chicken Milanese with Spicy Tomato Peach Salad was a no brainer. Make sure your tomato and peach are perfectly ripe and you got yourself a show stopper. Spicy frisee pulls all of the elements together. Did I mention this is incredibly quick? Oh and butter.

Our chicken breasts are traditionally breaded and cooked in some olive oil and butter for good measure.

While our chicken cooks, our salad is combined. Capers are necessary here. Look at that cute peach peeking through. I’m soooooo glad it’s (almost) Summer!

I also pan-fried some prosciutto for one last crunch. So glad I did! A lot of people don’t enjoy prosciutto but when you fry it, its flavor changes. Check it out! I know there are a few more steps I didn’t picture but this recipe is very easy and ideal for a hectic week. Happy dinner or lunch making!

Prosciutto Mozzarella Flatbread

I know I’ve been pretty MIA lately and my posts have been few and far between. I appreciate you stopping by; whether it’s out of anticipation of a new post, or a revisit to an old post for the recipe, or if it’s just the first time for you. Warm weather spurs something within my soul towards cooking I normally don’t feel in the Winter. Then I step outside and the thick Maryland humidity slaps me in my face and demands I wake up. Standing over a hot stove? I’ll pass. And the worst part is, IT’S NOT EVEN JUNE (well, I guess now it is but it wasn’t a couple of days ago!). I’m afraid I’m going to either melt before Summer actually gets here or chop off all of my frizzy, curly hair because a bun isn’t cutting it. Either way, we will get through Summer in one cool piece and we will savor it, because, you know, Winter is always coming. (more…)

In my absolute stubborn attitude of not wanting to stand over anything hot, I offer you flatbread! This flatbread was inspired by a simple and very delicious panini I enjoyed in my recent trip to Las Vegas. I know the words simple and Vegas don’t go together and trust me, this isn’t my last Vegas-inspired food post. But…I loved these ingredients so much together I needed to recreate it and so I did. I use unleavened Lavash as the crust. I get this from my local Trader Joe’s and it’s the perfect cheat to a thin crust pizza! Fresh pesto is best, although if you have landed yourself a good grocery store find, you can use that too. I love fresh mozzarella on pizza, it melts perfectly and feels familiar, like Italian grandmothers have been doing this for years. After a quick trip to the oven, a simply dressed arugula salad and salty, thinly sliced prosciutto ribbons are added last minute. I’m always tempted to add something more, just one more thing. But then I take a bite and can’t believe there is so much flavor in such a simple gathering of good ingredients. This is how I survive summer without withering from all the heat in my kitchen. Plus, who doesn’t want pizza for dinner?

We first “schmear” our lavash with some fresh pesto.

Top with fresh mozzarella.

Give it a quick trip to the broiler. Don’t walk away! It only takes a couple of minutes for the lovely mozzarella to melt.

Toss the arugula with a healthy pinch of salt, good extra virgin olive oil, and delicious prosciutto. This flatbread is light, herbacious, and the easiest dinner ever. Happy flatbread making!