"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Soup & a DVD - Garden State

I dressed up canned minestrone to make this shortcut soup that's loaded with colorful vegetables.

Fast Vegetable Soup

1 can (19 oz) ready-to serve minestrone soup
1 package (16 oz) frozen mixed vegetables
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and rained
1 can (14 1/2 oz) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained.

Combine all ingredients. Heat until warmed.

Featured Attraction: Garden State

"Garden State" is yet another one of those so-called "quirky slice-of-life" comedies that is in actuality a depressing piece of misguided melodrama. What makes this type of film work is when the oddball characters ring true in some way (as they did in the far better "Sideways").

The problem with Zach Braff's film is that none of the characters seem real and all their quirks are there for no reason other than their own quirkiness (for instance, the listless druggie who makes millions off inventing silent Velcro or the moron who wears his knight costume to breakfast before going to work at a "Medieval Times" restaurant).

The film isn't totally without its charms. Natalie Portman is delightful and adorable. This is a perfect transition role for her as she matures from precocious child actress to leading lady. She does the most with her overwritten role as an epileptic ex-ice skater with a plethora of pets and an "adopted brother" from one of those Sally Struther's "save the children" campaigns. She comes across as endearing and genuine and is the only one of this motley "Garden State" lot I would want to spend some time with in the real world.

Writer/director Zach Braff, on the other hand, seems to be playing a pill-popping emotionless minor TV star whose mother just died, for no other reason than the fact that he is an emotionless actor who can't pull off any other type of role. His performance is hollow, and only in his scenes with Portman is he acquitted of his obvious self-indulgence.

There's a few mildly entertaining sidebars along the misguided coming-of-age trail (the underground "Grand Canyon" or the dope at the hardware store trying to sell his pals on a pyramid-scheme), and every scene Portman is in is better for it, but when you tack on an annoying folksy soundtrack and a horrible and safe "Hollywood" style ending, I couldn't help but feel cheated.

1 comment:

Dawn Okoro said...

I really enjoyed Garden State.