Monday, June 30, 2014
El-Badia Palace is hidden behind its red coloured pisé walls and apparently it can be a bit tricky to find. After entering through the so called Green Pavilion we came in the enormous courtyard with four sunken gardens with orange trees and a swimming pool. Going to the left we reached a staircase - just behind a nice fountain with zellij tile work - to a viewing point with views of the courtyard and the remains of the of the palace (to the other side is a view over the roofs of Marrakech to the Koutoubia Mosque, with some stork nests nearby on the ramparts). Don't miss the dungeon and the restored minbar (in the only renovated part of the palace). But the real point is the scale of the place, which reflects the scale that the sultans lived on.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
There are two Isaacs in the book. One is a brave, impetuous revolutionary at Kampala University. He taunts rich students, plasters the halls with flyers, and eventually stokes a small revolt, which will spiral out of control both for him and others. He yearns for vengeance or justice, or something else that he can't quite define.
The other Isaac, is a cautious, bookish young man to whom the fiery Isaac will eventually give his name and identity as a kind of exit visa from dangerous times. The milder Isaac grew up outside Uganda on a farm, dreaming of university and rereading the dozen or so Victorian novels he had nearby hundreds of times. He cares less for justice than he does for survival. The story goes between a black man making his way in America (with an illicit relationship with a white woman that he cannot bring himself to tell what he has done and what has happened to him) and the worsening civil unrest in Uganda. Powerful, wonderful, awful, and mesmerizing.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
This year is a CSA year (too many Saturdays are occupied), and this is what we did with the rhubarb and some of the garlic scapes.
- 1 (5 1/2-pound) whole chicken, cut into eight pieces
- ~1 tablespoon salt
- ~1 teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch scallions
- 2 stalks garlic scapes (or garlic cloves would work fine)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4-6 fresh rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice (3 cups)
- 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Place in a bowl with the thyme sprigs and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
- 2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove thyme from bowl with chicken, reserving thyme. Add chicken pieces to skillet and sear, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer pieces to a platter.
- 3. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in onion (white and light green parts) and cook until soft. Add garlic and reserved thyme; cook 1 minute more. Stir in wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of pan. Add rhubarb, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.
- 4. Return chicken pieces to pot in a single layer. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes for breasts and 20 to 25 minutes for legs and thighs, transferring chicken pieces to a platter as they finish cooking.
- 5. Whisk butter into rhubarb sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Spoon sauce over chicken and garnish with sliced onion greens.
Friday, June 27, 2014
One of the things that I left for the next trip is a glimpse of the Sahara Desert, which is a popular tourist destination, and the other very appealing thing that I left behind was a Moroccan light. I love the metal lampshades that are ubiquitous--they come in all shapes and sizes and patterns, and the light that falls upon the room walls is magical and artistic and reminds me of long ago tales of North Africa.
The one glitch in my love affair with Moroccan lampshades is that I live in a Vicotrian house that was built in the American Civil War--it is just not the sort of house that you can picture being lit up with Moroccan lights. That is the part that I have to figure out before I go back--exactly where would I put such a beautiful light to fit just right into the space that it is in. In the meantime, I have the memories of what I loved--and one of my friends has some of these magical lights in their house and I can visit them there.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
The movie chronicles the treatment of Christians in the Roman Empire under Nero, starting in 64 and going up to the end of his regime in 68. It quite nicely illustrates the conditions of the empire under Nero, the sort of man that he was, and the people he surrounded himself with. It is a nicely illustrative rendition of Nero's obsessions and why they were so destructive, ultimately leading to the end of the Julio Claudian emperors. The film blames Nero for the Great Fire of Rome in 64--historians blame the long hot summer and the shoddy construction of the houses where the fire started, but agree that Nero did not return to Rome, despite the devestation, until his own house was threatened. His behavior afterwards, where he built a sprawling palace on land that was once occupied by houses that burned, reinforced the opinion that he was not broken hearted about the devestation. Reportedly he rebuilt Rome in a way that was rational and aimed at preventing another fire of that scope--houses needed to have stone fronts and first floors rather than just wooden ones. Nero had more water brought to the city via aqueduct and constructed many fountains so that fire could be fought more easily, and he fed and sheltered everyone after the fire. No matter. He did blame the Christians and did crucify them as responsible for the fire. There are other factual errors in the rendtion of history, but it is well worth watching none-the-less.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
This site is not particularly old by Moroccan standards, but those are high standards indeed. It was begun in the mid-19th century, but the embelleshment of the palace, which is what makes it so spectacular, was done at the end of the 19th century, employing the best artisans in the land for 14 years. No wonder it is so amazing. The one take home message from a trip to Morocco is that htis is a place where artisans still know how to use their hands.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I knew that I needed to get a pair of the pointed toed Aladdin shoes, even if I rarely wore them, because they are so iconic of the place. I bought them at the leather cooperative in Fes, where I first learned that tanning leather is a very smelly business indeed and that I have an unaccoutnable love of goat skin that I will endeavor to deny for the sake of goats everywhere. I bought a pair, and in retrospect I wish that I had bought quite a few pairs to give away. they are inexpensive and marvelous at the same time. Not to mention that they bring a smile to your face when you see them.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Carol is more or less content with that, but when the opportunity to do some voice over work comes up, she grabs it and has some success. Which makes Sam crazy rather than happy--he immediately wants to squash her down, to remain on top himself. There are a couple of sweet threads of romantic comedy and romantic drama that run through the movie, each of which is well handled, and overall the movie is a good one. Not too deep but with something to think about.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Here is his basic recipe. Pay particular note to the egg poaching technique.
1 pack ramen noodles with flavor packet--omit oil packet if it is an option, add hot pepper packet adjusted to
- Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the noodles and cook for 2 minutes. Add the flavor packet, stir, and continue to cook for another 30 seconds.
- Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the egg. Do not stir; pull the noodles over the egg and let sit for one minute to poach.
- Carefully transfer everything to a serving bowl, add the butter, cheese and sesame seeds and mix. Garnish with the scallions if desired
- The other options are to add addition chopped fresh herbs, left over vegetable side dishes that might work with the soup, and thinly sliced meat. Choi's point is that the butter and the cheese make the noodles all the more interestingly flavored, and he is right about that. I buy the ramen that have not been flash fried, which take a bit longer to cook, but have significantly less fat calories.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
The reason that I didn't tumble to that when I was reading the book, which is set in 1911 in New York City admist terrible abuses of immigrant laborers and the beginnings of unions, is because the two main characters immigrated to the United States as children, worked to maintain themselves at an early age, were each abused in their own ways, and are both damaged by childhood trauma. Eddie did a stint as a gangster, and is estranged from his father, while Coralie is put on display by her father, eventually in a sexual way. So not altogether happy stuff, and the backdrop is that the factory owners are willing to kill to keep their businesses just the way they are. Yet despite all, the story ends on a happy note, and it is quite entertaining along the way.
Friday, June 20, 2014
Theodore (played remarkably by Joaquin Phoenix) is an ordinary guy that we can all relate to. He checks his e-mail on the ride home from work. However, his smart phone and its earpiece work in a futuristic way that is different from ours, and soon it becomes clear that "this is something of a science-fiction film, set in the not-too-distant but distinctly fantastic future. A big part of the movie's charm is just how thoroughly Jonze has imagined and constructed this future Los Angeles, from its smoggy skies to its glittering skyscrapers to its efficient mass transit system (well, that part is harder to believe).
This sets the stage for an unusual love story: Theo, still highly damaged and sensitive over the breakup of his marriage, falls in love with the artificially intelligent operating system of his computer. The movie focuses on Theo's interaction with his OS, Samantha. Samantha is reorganizing Theo's files, making him laugh, and developing something like a human consciousness. It is interesting and troubling simultaneously. Samantha is a computer, so she has the ability to process data at a higher speed than humans. Who can compete with that? And while Samantha's programming is designed to make her likable to Theo, and soon we are liking her too. She seems like the perfect girlfriend. Except that she is not real.
In the midst of the heavy implications of falling in love with a machine, the movie finds time for real comedy. At first Theo feels a little odd about his new "girlfriend," and then finds out that his pal Amy (Amy Adams) is getting caught up in a relationship with the OS left behind by her estranged husband. The movie never appears to be an all-out satire, Jonze drops potentially frightening hints about how the existence of artificial intelligence in human society might affect us. It is either very depressing or very thought provoking, or maybe a bit of both, with a satisfying ending.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Pictured here are the two camels my son and I rode, and he atop his camel.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
I have been doing a reasonable job using jarred suace mistures with an array of vegetables from our summer CSA to make a good Chinese dinner once or twice a week. I wanted to get some frequency down before I ent for more nuanced recipes. Not so with my spouse--he dove right into trying to create something from scratch. This was really good.
Marinade cubed chicken (1.5 pounds) in:
light soy sauce (2 TBS),
1 beaten egg,
½ tsp black pepper,
then stir in 1-2 T corn starch.
Next flour chicken pieces well, set aside--use your chop stricks to move the chicken from marinade to flour to a plate. Deep fry chicken until browned--this can be done in a small pot in batches to minimize the oil you use.
Meanwhile make sauce:
2 T dark soy sauce,
2 T oyster sauce,
2 T brown rice vinegar (Chinaking vinegar) ,
1 T rice wine (Shianxing),
3 T sugar,
¾ cup water,
1 T corn starch
In wok, heat up a little (2 T) oil, then add 4-8 chile peppers, 1 T each of chopped garlic and ginger. Then add sauce and 4 T chopped scallions. You can sprinkle the top with sesame seeds, and you can serve with steamed broccoli as well.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Philomena (played masterfully by Judi Dench) is a middle class woman with common tastes. She dresses practically, does not pass up a free meal, and is happy in her life of family and romance novels except for one thing. She unwillingly gave up her three year old son and on his 50th birthday, she tells her daughter her guilty secret. She gets help in her quest from Martin Sixsmith (acerbically played by Steve Coogan with just the right mix of irreverance for the church and sympathy for Philomena), a recently unemployed reporter who remains convinced that he is destined for greater things, just not right at the moment, when he is riding our a political maelstrom that got him fired.
Martin agrees to help Philomena and his cynicism balances her optimism beautifully. They start at the convent where while they claim that all papers related to what happened to adopted children were burned in a 'fire', the papers demonstrating that the girls willingly relinquished their children and all future claim on them remain intact. Sixsmith tries to get access to a nun who was there at the time Philomena was but is blocked--luckily, the bar maid at the local pub gives them a clue to look in America.
The story has a bittersweet ending, and not one that exonertes the church in any way. The discovery of a mass burial of children at an Irish convent in the news recently only reinforces the evils of the past, but while Sixsmith damns them, Philomena forgives them. It is a simple story that arouses complicated feelings in a very kind way. Beautifully done.
Monday, June 16, 2014
One is the colors that repeat in their hand crafts--the tiles pictured above are the artisanal interpretation of the colors that are found in the Atlas Mountains, pictured below. Once I understood that, I started to find the things that are man made in these colors more organic, more in harmony with the environment that they come out of, and the more they remind me of my Moroccan trip.
I was visiting a friend recently who had just come back from India. Like me she had bought a rug (and like me it was more beautiful than she imagined the rugs in India to be, and also more expensive than what she thought she would come home with), but in addition to that she bought a tile table.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
1 cucumber, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 tsp. sugar
dash of toasted sesame oile
1 tsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. brown rice vinegar
dash of salt to taste
pepper flakes to taste if desired
Toss the ingredients in a bowl and mix, taste, and adjust the seasoniing. It should have a prominent but not overpowering garlic flavor (the region of China I had this in is know for it's small flavorful garlic bulbs). The sweet-salty-sour flavors should be balanced, and if you add hot, add that balance into your mix. The salad can be served at the beginning of a meal or as a side dish.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
So why write about it? It is not simply to warn you off. It is to reflect on the time within which the movie is set, which is the beginning of the era of the 24/7 news channels. The movie perfectly captures the essential prolem that these channels perpetuate, which is that when it is not possible to fill all that time with in depth reporting on actual news that they just make stuff up and call it news. These guys go from washed up newsmen to sought after TV personalities based not on talent but on being completely outrageous. Never let the truth get in the way of telling a sensational story. That is what we have stooped to, and that is where we remain. But maybe not for long--I read a poll last week that the average age of people who watch these shows is over 60 years old. I did not read the original data, so it is unclear if that is because to be able to watch at noon you have to be retired, or if that is the entire pool of people who watch, regardless of the hour, but if it is the later, then perhaps their days are numbered.
A few weeks ago I read Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about the Golden Age of Journalism, where crack reporters revealed the inherent corruption in American business and politics, which sawyed public opinion and led to progressive changes in the country. Anchorman 2 convinced me that those kind of changes are not possible in the era of fake news masquerading as real news.
Friday, June 13, 2014
The most outrageous thing he says is that dying from a childhood cancer is not common. Yes, getting cancer is rare for children, but once you have it, dying is not all that rare. As a physician, a 30% mortality is nothing to minimize, and as a parent that number is absolutely heartbreaking. These are children, after all, who have not yet had a chance to experience the things that bring joy into many of our lives, including the experience of falling in love. The question he should have answered is "Does this happen?" and the answer is that it most certainly does--children with cancer are frequently hospitalized and attend cancer related events together, and they have many opportunites to meet each other, to fall in love with each other, and to know children who have died. That is a reality he has apparently failed to appreciate in his years of caring for his patients.
Next on my list of complaints is the use of the word 'cure', because for the vast majority of survivors of child hood cancer, they have significant health and psychiatric effects from their cancer experience. In the June 2013 issue of JAMA the first article to prospectively evaluate the long term effects of cancer treatment noted: At age 45 years, the estimated cumulative prevalence of any chronic health condition was 95.5% and 80.5% for a serious/disabling or life-threatening chronic condition for adult survivors of childhood cancer. That means almost everyone has problems from their treatment.
Finally there is his denial of the emotional trauma of cancer and the effects it has on families. That is not as inexcusable as dismissing the children who die, but it is a close second, and it neglects the literature on the subject. I am not saying that cancer is necessarily a different experience than other life threatening illnesses. It is, however, life threatening, and that trauma ripples out across a family, and remains there over decades. Cancer is no walk in the park, no matter what age you are.
I know this rant is long, but I want to close with how much I loved John Green's book, and his depiction of the emotional roller coaster that happens with serious illness and at the end of life. Don't pay attention to the nay sayers, the joy that can be found for dying teens in his book is a ray of hope to be hung onto. He brought childhood cancer to the attention of many and contributed to dimishing ignorance. Which is more than can be said for Dr. Hemenway's reveiw.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
I am baffled by the conservative opinion of women. We do constitute half of the eligilbe voting population, and while there is plenty of evidence out there that voters do not vote in their own best interest, and that married women are more likely to vote for conservative candidates, there is a limit to the amount of abuse the gender will tolerate. Saying not only are women to blame for being assualted but that they glory in it is one example of putting your foot over the line. The Todd Akin line, for example, where it is impossible to ignore the fact that this man lacks respect or admiration for women. Maybe he even crossed over the line with a woman when he was in college, I do not know. Is it the conservative columist's equivalent of the pedophile's excuse that the children enjoy sex with them, but that society just won't tolerate it? I do not know. No matter where it comes from it is deeply offensive.
White men in general and old white men in particular appear quite fearful of the changing world. Hopefully his ideas will go just as he has predicted the opposition to gay marriage would go--that they are literally dying away. Good ridance.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
The story itself is almost secondary to the atmosphere that Anderson creates, which is an odd combination of slapstick comedy viewed as if it is within a snow globe. The owner of the Grand Budapest Hotel, a decaying skeleton of it's former glorious self, is relaying the story of how he came to own the hotel. It is not a happy story nor is the ending one that is uplifting, but the viewer cannot help but laugh early and often at the antics of each exaggerated character. If you love Anderson's work you will not be disapointed, if you do not know his work, this is a good place to start, and if you don't, well, too bad, because this is what is fun about movies.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
The narrator, Dell Parsons, now a retired English teacher, looks back with a kind of bemused detachment on the unlikely events that unmoored him from his ordinary life and pitched him headlong into an uncertain future. From the start, it is apparent that this is someone trying to make sense of the past. What is important here is not the event, but its long aftermath.
The book is divided into three parts. The first, concerning the crime and its immediate fallout, is set in the mid-to-late 1950s in Great Falls, the Montana town that Ford has used as a backdrop in some previous stories. The second describes Dell's clandestine flight to an even more downbeat town just over the border in Canada and his new life as a kind of odd-job boy for a mysterious American fellow exile, Arthur Reminger. The third and final part of the book, a short postscript set in the recent past, mostly concerns Dell's visit to his estranged sister, Berner, who is living – and dying from a terminal illness – in Minneapolis. There are several moments in the book where Dell seems on the verge of some great epiphany, but arrives instead at a smaller understanding of the strange trajectory of his younger life. He spent the rest of his life wrestling with what happened that was beyond his control, puzzling to stay positive and afloat, but ultimately misunderstanding the world his father chose and having that misunderstanding become his life.The faults of the father are passed on to the son. The older Dell, though, who guides us though the strange jolts in his life calmly, step by step, does not so much misunderstand the world as keep it at a safe distance, so justifiably wary is he of the sudden, cataclysmic turn it may take. This strategy seems to have worked and, by the end of the book, he seems a remarkably accepting, even contented, individual.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Berber history goes back to prehistoric times-- their culture has been around for at least 4000 years or maybe more. Calling themselves Amazigh, the proud raiders, they fought against the Romans, Arab, and French invaders. Even though the Romans and others have tried to colonize the Berber people, they have managed to preserve their own language and culture and in reality were never beaten!
Berber language is primarily oral in nature, although they have had their own writing system for more than 2500 years. Modern Moroccan Arabic is strongly influenced by the native Berber language.
There are many of today’s Berbers who continue to live in the mountains of Morocco while the Arabs and Moors live in the cities, though it is very common these days to see Berbers running, owning and operating small shops and other commerce endeavors.
Stories have characterized Berbers as nomads using camels to cross the Sahara desert. Most today are farmers of the mountains and valleys in Morocco. They were traders in the earlier days. Berber’s long recorded influence affected commerce by establishing trading routes between the West African and the Sub-Saharan region. They transported goods from beyond the Sahara desert to the Northern Moroccan cities. Merchants were considered in a higher class than the farmers, however, through history the roles have mostly been reversed. Think about a mountain visit if you are going to Morocco to learn more about this ancient culture.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
To love this movie it really helps to have been a long term fan of Legos over the past 20+ years. And I think that you are likely to either love the movie or be left wondering why other people loved it so much.
One review I read likened the movie to Mel Brooks doing a spoof on 'Toy Story', and there is some merit to that analogy. The story revolves around the tension between the two approaches to legos--either you get the kit and follow the instructions to the letter or you make stuff up as you go along. In my house, each new box of Legos got made by-the-book one time and one time only. After a suitable period of use, it then ended up in a sizable tub of Legos from other sets acquired over the years and then all of these parts would be routinely assembled into creations that combined Lego pieces from all eras. The Arctic igloo would find itself on a pirate ship. The figures would have mix and match wardrobes. A Viking axe might be part of a construction worker's ensemble. It is that spirit of creativity that is being advocated for in the movie, with an uptight Will Ferrell presenting the opposing point of view (he is a fan of Super Gluing the finished product together so that it would remain in perpetuity in the form that it was designed to be in). So if you love Lego's and what they meant to either you or your children (versus the parent who cursed them because they scatter everywhere and are particualrly painful when stepped on in bare feet), then you are likely to overlook the wooden characters and over the top pop songs and enjoy yourself.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Friday, June 6, 2014
4 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
6 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup lard
2 cups buttermilk
All-purpose flour, if needed
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Sift 4 cups of flour with salt, baking powder and baking soda. Cut in lard until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add buttermilk and stir until dough leaves side of bowl.
3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth. Roll out to ½-inch thickness, and cut into 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or water glass. (If using a glass, turn it upside down, dust rim in flour, then cut biscuits.)
4. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 20-25 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
The movie got mixed reviews but I very much enjoyed it--there is a balance between the horrors of what the Germans did during the war and the men who risked their lives to save Europe's art heritage for future generations to enjoy.
The Allies knew of the salt mine at Altaussee thanks to a toothache--this is portrayed in the movie and is based on a true event. Two months earlier, Posey (one of the monuments men, played by Bill Murray) was in the ancient city of Trier in eastern Germany with Kirstein (another of the band) and needed treatment. The dentist he found introduced him to his son-in-law, who was hoping to earn safe passage for his family to Paris, even though he had helped Herman Goering, Hitler’s second-in-command, steal trainload after trainload of art. The son-in-in-law told them the location of Goering's collection as well as Hitler's stash at Altaussee.
Hitler claimed Altaussee as the perfect hideaway for loot intended for his Linz museum. The complex series of tunnels had been mined by the same families for 3,000 years, as Stout (George Clooney) noted in his journal. When Stout arrived there on May 21, 1945, shortly after hostilities ended, he chronicled the contents based on Nazi records: 6,577 paintings, 2,300 drawings or watercolors, 954 prints, 137 pieces of sculpture, 129 pieces of arms and armor, 79 baskets of objects, 484 cases of objects thought to be archives, 78 pieces of furniture, 122 tapestries, 1,200-1,700 cases apparently books or similar, and 283 cases contents completely unknown. The Nazis had built elaborate storage shelving and a conservation workshop deep within the mine, where the main chambers were more than a mile inside the mountain. The work of these brave souls was largely fogotten, and kudos to Clooney for telling their story.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a woman who has worked as a protitute and is an opium addict has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky. It is simply told but the scope of the deception and the intrigue is slowly rolled out in extenisve detail, leaving the reader with sympathies towards some and recognition of the venal qualities of man in others. The author is a word smith of the highest order, and while the book is long, one is disappointed that there isn't more when it is done.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
This is a modification of her recipe so that the whoel thing can be done roasted rather than on the stove top.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cauliflower, divided into florets
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 can diced tomatoes
2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds--crushed with pestle
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tsp. preserved lemons, minced
1/4 cup olives, pitted and chopped small
Toss everything but the parseley in a roasting pan (olive oil last), roast in 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on how carmelized you want the cauliflower to be and serve.
Monday, June 2, 2014
This is no action movie. In fact, there is remarkably little dialogue to go off. Rain is a consistent theme throughout the movie, and that you can hear loud an clear. People are a little trickier. The movie takes place in a somewhat desolate Argentinian town. The central character, Verónica (María Onetto), a middle-age woman who runs a dental clinic with her brother, is a big fish in a small pond. Her house is small, but it is filled with servants. The people around her afford her a bit of shelter from the real world.
The story revolves around Verónica’s brief meltdown after her involvement in a possible hit-and-run accident. In the movie’s opening shot, four boys with a dog cavort in a roadside canal along a nearly deserted rural highway as an approaching car is heard. After that, Verónica barely speaks. She is in an almost fugue state for quite some time, with people around her answering questions posed to her, seeming not to notice that she hasn't said a word herself and looks persistently bewildered. When she does come around a bit, she finds that there is very little evidence of the accident--no dead bodies, no medical reports from her ER visit, no x-rays--we saw it happen, but did it really?
There are sexual liaisons that seemingly add little to the plot--Verónica has a fling with Juan Manuel (Daniel Genoud), a cousin of her husband, Marcos (César Bordón). A lesbian niece, recovering from hepatitis, is unrequitedly besotted with her. What it comes down to is that while Verónica is not acting like herself at all, her family and servants continue her life around her without her. By movie's end, she is starting to work again, even as she reamins functionally mute. The end.