The Film: Nikita [La Femme Nikita]
First and foremost I must state, I apologetically love this film. I could solely praise the artistic merits and the dead-on feminist qualities of the film but I love it as much for those points as for the trashy action film feeling it has. Much like Die Hard, Nikita knows what genre it is and is all the better for it.
That’s not to say there isn’t depth. Nikita’s goals of self preservation and survival slowly morph into a larger, impressive character arc while keeping the foot down on the action. It is incredibly rare for films with female leads to hit the right balance between those elements . In comparison, Salt had similar qualities but could not figure out what kind of film it wanted to be. Even with Jolie’s impressive record of action films the writers still felt the need to pump up the relationship part of the story instead of play it as it had been written, with Tom Cruise in mind. What followed was a very conflicted film with a conflicted character who seemed to be wearing either a bad-ass hat or girl-in-love hat. Neither seemed to have any repercussion on her arc, therefore her arc didn’t exist. Nikita doesn’t deal with those elements as separate parts outside of her arc, they are her arc, and its’ a better film for it.
The men in this film shine just as bright. Tchéky Karyo and Jean-Hugues Anglade as Bob and Marco aren’t just reverse gender arm candy, they’re real characters who have genuine impact on Nikita and the audience. Just another way to tell when a movie hits the right mark and has nothing to prove when it comes to gender. Nikita’s interactions with both the agent forced on her and the man she tries to keep in her life are truly the highlight of the film but if I had to chose what makes it worthy of a recommendation I would pick the scenes with actress Jeanne Moreau. They are the exception in the film, not the action, but subtly give a strong backbone to the story. It just wouldn’t be the same without them.
The Food: Lemon Clove Cookies [from McCormick]
I found this cookie recipe online last night while I was searching for something mid-macaroon making. I was planning on making sugar cookies anyway but these seemed somehow much more Provençal. I probably made that up but it’s my story and I’m going with it.
I only modified the recipe a little. I wasn’t able to bring myself to put in two whole cups of white flour so I put a fourth of white whole wheat. And I swapped the cup of white sugar for half a cup of faux brown sugar. The package says it measures as half so the sweetness was still the same level.
The recipe says to roll the dough into 2 uniform logs and refrigerate until firm, then cut. Well, I wanted to see what would happen if I rolled them out like sugar cookie dough. I left the dough wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge and then dusted my work surface and used an old square cookie cutter. No problems. But I also had no intention of making a glaze as I did quite a bit of ganache last night. So I put some lemon extract and a few drops of yellow food coloring in sugar and sprinkled it over the top.
Okay, I did modify the recipe quite a bit. But I don’t think it changed the flavor. They ended up like clove shortbread in the end. I was a little disaapointed the lemon taste wasn’t stronger. I should have added more to the batter and even though I added a bit of sugar on top I will probably glaze them or something to get more of that lemon flavor in there. I didn’t think the clove flavor was as strong as it could have been either. But these could all be in the products as I wasn’t using McCormick. Sssh! Don’t tell. Also, next time, I make them I should make them thicker too. Though I’m sure it will be a nice treat in with all the heavier flavors I have in mind for French Christmas.
Here is my version of the cookie with their version of the glaze.
Mix and set aside
1 3/4 cups white flour
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon Cloves, Ground
Beat until light and fluffy
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup faux brown sugar
Add and beat until well belended
1/2 teaspoon Pure Lemon Extract
Add the flour mixture gradually until well mixed
Divide dough in half. Form each half into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 9 inches long. Wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut dough into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
Mix until well blended
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon Pure Lemon Extract
Drizzle over cooled cookies and let stand until set.