The Film: Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain [Amélie]
Of all the French films I’ve watched, Amélie is the most universal. Without ever losing a sense of reality in his created world, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s direction of color, music, and character bring life to the fairytale story.
Breaking the third wall, flashbacks, animation — there are a lot of tricks here, unique to visual storytelling but they never seem to dominate the story, only enhance. There is an R-rating on this film which it doesn’t genuinely deserve. A character in the film works in a sex shop, but it’s inclusion isn’t at all related to the overall story. Another quick montage toward the beginning changes this film from a PG-13 and it’s rather sad that it might keep some from watching. There is so much here to love.
The film begins with a montage of the simple pleasures of childhood, a flood of heightened sensory amusements which continues through the layers of story. The little games Amelie plays, the world she imagines, the characters she meets. And Jeunet, along with his co-writer Guillaume Laurant , are masters of character. Never nuanced, but rather concentrated characters which somehow manages to make you like them more. In the vein of Wes Anderson. But French.
Is this a bad thing? I think not! They are entirely unforgettable. No one more than the title character herself. Every scene with the brilliant Audrey Tautou makes this film worth the reccomendation but in particular the scenes with Mathieu Kassovitz, as Nino. Their romantic chemistry glows in every interaction and balances the quirky world of the film with genuine sincerity.
The Food: Apple Sauce & Pancakes [from More With Less]
Speaking of simple pleasures. There is nothing so simple as this recipe. It’s as good for breakfast as it is for dinner. It doesn’t need any accompaniment as far as I’m concerned. And with the apple sauce, the usual suspects for pancake toppings stay in the cupboards and so do their sugary calories.
Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Combine in a bowl and mix with a fork:
1 cup butter milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Add and mix only until moist:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup white or brown rice flour
1/4 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fry in hot, lightly greased skillet
Add to sauce pan
6 variety of apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons brown sugar (depending on the sweetness of the apples)
Cinnamon, to taste
Cook on low, covered, until apples are soft. Mash with fork or potato masher.