…of the week 9

Bake of the week: Apple and cinnamon cakes
Movie of the week: Spotlight
Book of the week: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Little apple cakes for lunchboxes (or yumming up on the sly) this week. File_002These are genius, if I say so myself, and are made from ingredients that I usually have in my fruit bowl and baking cupboard on a daily basis. They are also foolproof enough to let little fingers help if they really must. They are at their very best when still warm, so make sure you swipe one while the kids think they are still to hot to eat. I use my usual silicon baking cases and I like to leave the skin on the apple when I grate it in as I think it adds a tiny bit of interest to what are otherwise rather brown boring looking cakes! The mixture will be quite stiff as some of the moisture comes from the grated apple that is added last. Don’t worry, just dollop it in. I’ve written up the recipe and put it here.

Not much else to say about these really, they smell delicious, have a go!

Another Silver Screen movie. I had heard of it, but to be honest films about child abuse don’t generally appeal to me and so I hadn’t read a lot about it.  (My IMDB search has since informed me that Spotlight won Best Picture this year at the Oscars, but I don’t tend to pay a lot of attention to the Oscars) I saw a trailer for it when I went to see Joy and it looked more interesting than I’d previously thought, so I thought I’d try and fit it in. The screenings are on a Tuesday or Thursday and when it seemed I was going to be busy both days I was actually quite disappointed. On the Tuesday I had to wait in for someone to come and replace the handle on the fridge, which in a typical HO hack had been attached with piece of string for 2 weeks while we waited. As I pottered around the house doing the usual domestic tasks the phone rang and he was only half an hour away. It was 9.45, I was going to be able to make the movie as well – let joy be unconfined!

I am so glad I managed to go – this movie is a gem. It is thoroughly absorbing and without that self-important “worthiness” that you so often get with films of this kind. As you may know if you are slightly better informed than me, the movie follows a special investigative team called Spotlight at the Boston Globe newspaper in 2001 during their investigation of alleged child abuse by priests in the Boston area and the extensive cover-up by the Catholic Church. It starts with a new editor coming in and requesting that the team follow up on a story involving a court case against one priest and a maverick lawyer, Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), who seems to be collecting the cases of abuse victims. The team start looking into the story and begin to uncover a web of abuse and institutional mechanisms to hide it, implicating friends of the editor in charge of Spotlight – Robby, played by Michael Keaton. None of the cast are exactly stretched here – Keaton does serious and committed; Mark Ruffalo does intense and passionate; Rachel McAdams does interested and caring; John Slattery does businesslike and dismissive. So far, so familiar. The focus is very much on the story that they are uncovering and the excellent screenplay (which also won and Oscar) never loses sight of that. There is none of the usual melodrama about the journalists private lives, we see just enough about them to stop them being cardboard cut-outs and are left to fill in the blanks ourselves if we feel the need. For example, Ruffalo’s character Mike Rezendes is living in a horrible little dump of a studio apartment and we learn from asides from the other characters that he is having marriage troubles, but beyond “she’s a good girl, you know” and “I know, we’re working on it”, they are barely mentioned. The closest the movie comes to it is the discussion Rezendes has with the Rachel McAdams character, Sacha Pfeiffer, his personal loss of faith as a teenager and how all he has uncovered means he has also lost trust in the Church and can never go back.

There was one small moment that stood out for me. Robby discovers that one of the suspect priests was a teacher at his high school and searches out the victim (Kevin, played by Anthony Paolucci) the team has unearthed. He goes to interview him and they have a little chit chat about how his life has been going. It is then that Robbie says he would like to ask him some questions about the priest. The subtle but complete change to the man’s face and demeanor as he realises what the interview is really about and asks “How did you find out?” is heart-wrenching.

Unless you can sneak into next week’s Silver Screenings, the movie is out to buy and rent 23 May, do watch it.

Another library book. On reading the blurb on the back of the book, I wasn’t terribly sure about this one, since the premise sounded slightly creepy, but I took a chance. This is another period piece, albeit a slightly more recent one, it’s set at the end of 1999 and the main character, Lincoln, is the IT guy at a newspaper office working the night shift.IMG_1623 Part of his job involves screening the email flagged up by software that monitors the employees use of the internet. In the folder he finds an email chain from 2 female day shift employees – Jennifer and Beth – and finding the conversation funny and the emails themselves pretty innocuous, instead of giving them a warning, he simply deletes the file. This keeps happening and Lincoln finds himself falling for the girl he has never seen. The book is made up of the email conversations between the 2 women and the straight novel sections of Lincoln’s story.

My fears of creepiness were allayed quickly, mostly because the email exchanges are really very funny – the women are witty and intelligent and the way they talk to each other makes what can be a dry plot device in some novels into the funniest parts of the book. It takes a bit longer to warm to Lincoln himself. He somes across at the start of the novel as a rather lazy voyeristic no-hoper who is sponging off his mother, but as the plot develops so does Lincoln, as he gradually wakes up and starts changing himself. I have a soft spot for slightly socially inept nerdy guys. I did end up marrying one after all. So I may be a bit biased in favour of this novel to start with, but I really really enjoyed it and devoured it in a couple of days. If you’re after a book to take on a train or plane then seek it out, but be careful, I found it horribly addictive.

My next read is a bit of a doorstop, I’ve been trying to get around to reading it for a while so I’m going to give it a go. It may be a 2 weeker though, so watch this space!



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