The Film: The Angels’ Share (Scotland)
There’s nothing about this film that relates to Christmas but as we reflect on the closing year, our shortcomings and victories, it seems the perfect time to watch a film which understands we might not always get it right but we can do better.
It’s a simple film and in this case that is a mighty compliment. The story it tells is small but wonderful. What it lacks in questionable subject matter it more than makes up for in swearing but there’s something about the language that wouldn’t seem right if it were missing.
The best thing about the whole movie is the intelligent lack of unnecessary scenes and here we come to a larger question. How far do movies have to go to show how bad things are before we show them getting better?
I’ve noticed in film, and especially on television, that the lines are being pushed in the wrong direction. At first the increase in graphic violence and sexual content was met with an equal response from the opposite side. But it seems to me the further the line has gone toward graphic content the weaker the response is getting. At a certain point we’re telling the stories of the criminals and not the heroes.
This dynamic change feeds the conflict that comes when you portray graphic content, which then conditions audiences to expect certain beats in storytelling — that good things can’t happen unless horrible things do, that resolution can only come when a character is at their weakest, and it must happen minutes before the end.
Foreign and independent film is important because it offers a chance for a different beat. A chance to tell a story where characters are good without suffering, where love is desired not avoided, and friendship is true not tested.
The Angels’ Share isn’t the heaviest movie you’ll see, and it isn’t the slickest either. It’s a genuine pleasure to watch with characters to remember and a hope to give at this time of year when we all could use a little.
The Food: Berwick Cockle Popcorn
The ordinary associations of Scottish food did not provide the most pleasant of opportunities for popcorn flavors. Deep-fried Mars bars and meat inside other meat just won’t work. To the internet!
The Berwick cockle is a peppermint candy that has been made since 1801. The red and white stripes were originally associated with the town Berwick-upon-Tweed. The shape lends to the name as they resemble cockleshells.
- 1/4 cup corn kernels
- 5 0unces old fashioned soft peppermint sticks
- 2 regular candy canes
Set the oven to 300°
Make the popcorn according to your favorite method. Remove the unpopped kernels and place on a baking sheet sprayed with oil.
Spray a high-temperature rubber scraper with oil.
Put the peppermint sticks into a pan on low to medium heat. As this is pure sugar, make sure to watch the pan carefully and swirl it around as it begins to melt.
When the peppermint has melted into a pink liquid, drizzle over the popcorn. Toss to mix. Place into the oven for 10 minutes.
As the popcorn warms, place the candy canes into a food processor and pulse until the candy is in small pieces or even a chunky powder.
When the popcorn comes out of the oven, sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top!