Last year’s Global Advent was so much fun I decided to do it again. Movies from around the world this year paired with cinema’s best friend — popcorn inspired by world flavors.
I was introduced to French actor, and Dustin Hoffman look-alike, François Cluzet on this blog a few years ago with the film Tell No One. He left such a fantastic impression that his presence merits and instant watch.
From the moment I heard about this film I knew I was going to love it. A quadriplegic aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caretaker — what’s not to love. But with all movies of late, I was worried there would be some dark twist. Some refusal of a healthy dose of formula that would lead down the modern maudlin road so many films seem to travel now. Because life, they tell us, cannot be good. It can only be gray. They seem to say “good things only happen in the movies”, an irony too complex to be intentional.
But maybe this would be different.
The opening was beautiful. The thought registered it might be more of a drama then I had been lead to believe, but that was okay. I was enjoying the textures and light, reflecting the actor’s filmable faces, hints at a story not quite ready to unfold — but it would soon. It had to. The momentum was building and then it was, unexpectedly, quite funny.
And as it flashed back and moved forward it kept being funny, wonderfully walking the line of drama and comedy — really laugh out loud comedy.
It was great. So great. All the way to the end. The story opened up and each reveal was as interesting as it was entertaining. It meanders a little, but the ride is enjoyable so who cares. More importantly, it never pushed too far in one direction, something few movies get right. But it was so right.
Afterward, I realized it wasn’t wholly unpredictable — but that was what I loved about it. It didn’t reject or mock the feel-good moments, remain distant from emotional impact the two lonely men had on each other. Rather it embraced it. It didn’t need to reinvent the genre because it felt like a very different sort of film for French cinema. With it’s dramatic and comedic balance, issues of class and race, love and loneliness — it somehow felt American. In a way most American films don’t any more.
Reality isn’t that maudlin road of grey areas, big swooping moments of highs and lows. The Intouchables is reality. Good things can happen. Big things can be an accumulation of little things. The scale of the story doesn’t have to be nearly insurmountable to be worthwhile. In fact — we don’t get to save the world every day.
But we can grow.
The Food: Creme Brulee Popcorn
I still make the last French inspired popcorn recipe I posted here a few years back. A savory mix of garlic, herbs, and butter.
This time I wanted to go sweet.
I fought between French vanilla and creme brulee before I realized I could have both. Sweet and crunchy.
- 2 Cups popped popcorn
- 1 tablespoon white cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon French vanilla ice cream
- Extra white sugar and salt for dusting
Set the oven to 300°
Put the sugars and butter in a saucepan on medium-high. As it melts, spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Put your popcorn, making sure to remove any stray kernels, on the sheet.
Let the butter and sugar melt, caramelizing. The the texture beings to look a little foamy, turn off the heat and stir in the ice cream. Drizzle it over your popcorn and stir. Add extra sugar and salt and coat.
Stick it in the oven for 10 minutes. Stir it around making sure to get any excess caramel mixture from the bottom of the pan onto the popcorn.
Take it out and turn the broiler onto low. Stick the popcorn under the broiler, but not too close. Watch it very carefully. It should begin to bubble and the sugar should lightly brown.
Remove and let cool before serving. Or don’t — I won’t tell.