If I were to write a composite film based on the trending topics in this year’s Berlinale, it would be about a virgin queen who wears too little clothing in the snow, gets pregnant, murders a homeless man, and all of the characters would be played by James Franco.
I’m living in movie purgatory. We (being our four-person office and a plus one) average around four films a day, which is moderate compared to some of the true punishers who squash in up to seven, starting with a 9:30 breakfast pic. I’ve seen 22 films so far, from the truly baffling (Dyke Hard) to the surprisingly fantastic (How to Win at Checkers, Virgin Mountain) to the very, very nude (Out of Nature).
It sounds fun, like having a sick day without being sick. But it’s exhausting, running around Berlin from theater to theater, waking up at 5:30 every morning to wait in the ticket line, gobbling a fast McDonald’s Egg McMuffin before pushing through a mass of people at the theater to snag a seat at least a few rows back from the front. Why do we put ourselves through this drama for ten whole days, when let’s be honest, we were just in it to see the world premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey?
Because, as I can attest from having been-there-done-that at the Berlinale last year, it’s incredibly satisfying to have seen the films people will be talking about next year long before they’re famous. It may be emotionally and physically exhausting, but it’s also magical, overloading on all these movies. It gives you the chance to compare totally different stories and storytelling styles and helps you pinpoint just what makes a movie great. It’s a chance to see movies you never would otherwise. True, sometimes you’re stuck with “I’m too smart for my own good” nonsense, but sometimes you discover a true gem from a young director deserving of more exposure.
Poetic film waxing aside, Ellen and I were glad of our afternoon break yesterday. As we rode the bus back to our neighborhood, we talked about our strange Berlinale eating habits – sneaking snacks here and there, sometimes treating ourselves to the fantastic food trucks when there’s time.
I haven’t really had much time to cook since the festival started, so I wanted to use that uncommon stretch of consecutive hours to calm down in the kitchen. But because I’m unable to get movies off my mind, I decided to make a perfect screening snack – homemade crackers with flax seeds to counteract all the McDonald’s and caraway and sea salt just for being great. And because Ellen is a masochist, or insane, she agreed to spend even more time with me. I think she did it for the crackers.
Or maybe because it we also decided to make Moscow Mules, our train of thought being: There are a lot of virgins in these movies. A Shirley Temple is a virgin drink. And Shirley Temple was an actress! Let’s make Moscow Mules.
And if you think there’s a logic gap somewhere in there, you haven’t been watching the same movies we have.
Yes, there’s very little better for movie madness than an ice cold, fizzy Moscow Mule and homemade crackers stacked with cheese and chutney.
Today, the drinks, the crackers, the relaxation is nothing more than a far off memory. I’ve been up since 5:30, I’ve already picked up my last batch of tickets for tomorrow. Six more movies to go. Then real life can resume.
Homemade Caraway-Flax Crackers
I ran out of all-purpose flour and substituted with semolina flour, and I’m not totally sure how much that finer flour changed the amount of flour I ended up needing. I’d recommend starting with 3 cups of all-purpose flour, then adding up to another ½ cup (of either all-purpose or semolina) as necessary until the dough is no longer sticky. These crackers will keep for a few weeks in a Ziploc bag.
3 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. flax seeds
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup water
Pre-heat the oven to 450º F (230º C).
Combine the dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients and blend until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and briefly knead until the dough comes together and is no longer sticky. Divide the dough in half.
Flour a clean surface, and roll one of the halves of dough out to about 1/8-inch thickness or less. Brush the top very lightly with water, then generously sprinkle caraway seeds and coarse sea salt over the top. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Gently cut the dough into cracker-sized squares or rectangles.
Flour a baking sheet and transfer the crackers to the baking sheet. Place in the lower third of the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the crackers have begun to brown. Allow to cool before eating – they’ll crisp up as they cool.
Repeat with other half of the dough.
I got a spherical ice cube tray for Christmas, which I tried out for the first time yesterday. And while I love the shape of the ice and how slowly it melts, I must admit, the tray’s shape leaves a disconcertingly nipple-like nub on each cube. But based on this year’s film selections, it somehow felt thematically appropriate.
2 shots vodka
½ cup ginger beer
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp.)
Cucumber and lime slices to garnish
Fill a glass with ice cubes. Add chilled vodka, ginger beer and fresh lime juice. Stir with a spoon, then add thinly sliced cucumber and lime to garnish.