good food and fairytales

A table of Librans met at the Thai Tulips last night for bookclub. The film (as we alternate between books and films) was Edward Scissorhands, directed by Tim Burton and starring everybody’s favourite Johnny Depp.

Firstly, the ordering took some time. The aforementioned Librans all have difficulty weighing up their decisions. If you’re a Libran like me you have the same thing every time to avoid the lengthy balancing act (beef massaman). Anne H ended up with a favourite too – tofu and vegetables with peanut sauce. Meanwhile Anne M and Jinx deliberated for far longer and changed their minds about four of five times before arriving at the final decision (Anne M – same as me, Jinx – Pork with Basil). I made a hilarious joke. The menu is so extensive perhaps it should have been our book under review.

Yes, I’m sure you’re all laughing lots at that.

We saved the actual film discussion until the food arrived. So prior to that the chit chat was wide and varied including what the first mini-series on television was. (Note to self to look this up but the consensus at the table was that it was most likely Roots. If anyone actually knows please do let me know). Also we discussed the economic downturn and our blissful ignorance of all things high finance. As I commented, the evening before I watched the finance report on the ABC News and while it surely makes sense to some people I only recognised words like “yen” and “dollar” and even then don’t really understand how they relate to each other. And finally, we discussed Deal or No Deal. Jinx was highly amused that Anne M and I had only a passing comprehension of the show works. I was the most ignorant by far having never grasped probability in high school. Anne M has recently had a crash course in Deal or No Deal having spent some time visiting her mother who watches it every evening. Anne H was excused from this conversation as, lucky for her, her awareness of Deal or no Deal is zero.

Finally, the main courses arrived. If this were a restaurant review I would say the service was a little on the slow side, but I shall refrain.

And so we started on the film. Commendably, Jinx had done some wikipedia research. We learned a little about Tim Burton and his long term collaraboration with Depp that started with this film, together with his ongoing collaboration with composer Danny Elfman who wrote the music for this and many others of his films. We also gossiped a little bit about “where the heck is Winona Ryder now?”, how much we hated Reality Bites (well that was just me actually, being the only person at the table who had seen it), and the unorthodox living arrangements between Burton and partner Helena Bonham Carter.

We all agreed the visual design of the film was marvellous. The claustrophobic pastels of surburbia contrasted beautifully with the dark and mysterious world of Edward, the inventor and their castle. The gardens were so brightly coloured and beautiful there. And the ice sculptures were dazzling and inventive. We admired Dianne Wiest’s sympathetic and caring portrayal of the Avon lady who takes Edward under her wing. She is such a star. And the varying portrayals of masculinity – Alan Arkin as the mildly, ineffective patriarch, Edward as the sensitive, misfit creative artist, and Winona’s boyfriend as the brainless jock – all combined to provide an interesting take on the images of males in American culture. As I had watched the film this time I couldn’t help but wonder at resonances between the character of Edward and Burton himself. It was interesting to read then, that this was in fact the case as Burton drew on his own experiences of growing up in America to influence his story.

Of course we all agreed that Johnny Depp is fantastic. Hard to believe that initially Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and Robert Downey Jnr had been considered for the role as the studio wanted a “name”. Out of the three of them only Downey Jny might have had a hope of getting the character right. Tom Cruise – puh-leeze! Apparently Burton chose Depp because of his ability to act only with his eyes, which are so striking. With such sparse dialogue it is vital that Edward communicates visually and physically and Depp does this with skill. And how delightful that Burton was able to use his boyhood hero Vincent Price as the inventor. And we talked a little bit about Frankenstein, as this mythology clearly underpins the story of the ethics and problems involved in the creation and manipulation of humanity. There can be no happy ending here. And although, as Jinx informed us Siskel and Ebert disliked the ending when they first reviewed it, I can’t imagine it ending any other way.

It was an evening of lively conversation, good food, fables and fairy tales.

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