Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Man Sick = Chick Flicks


My husband’s been sick this week. With the man-flu. You know what that is – the same flu a woman gets, but much, much worse. It’s meant he’s needed to lie in his bed for a few days, groan, be brought tea, groan some more and then whimper. He’s needed his forehead stroked occasionally and sympathetic noises made. It’s also meant that at night, when all children are in bed and sleeping, I’ve had full voting rights over the remote control, and, thanks to Lilalia, I’ve been watching some chick flicks.

The first movie I saw was a German film called Bella Martha, marketed in English as Mostly Martha. This is the delicately told story of a gourmet chef who works in a French restaurant in Hamburg. She’s obsessed with food, and devotes her life to cooking. Chilly and introverted, she’s not great at human relationships. When her sister dies in a car accident, Martha is forced to come out of her food-focused world and start to care for her eight-year-old niece, Lina. She promises Lina she will track down her father, Guiseppe, in Italy and in the meanwhile provides loving but irregular care for the child: Lina hangs out in the restaurant on school nights, eats at strange hours, is frequently late for school. Martha, although she too mourns her sister, is not capable of helping Lina cope with her own feelings of loss. Their lives become tasteless and grey, but Mario, a new chef at the restaurant, brings the flavour back. He helps Martha relax and savour life again, and he provides warmth and fun for the love-starved Lina.

This is a delightful film. Foodies will love it, especially the almost balletic kitchen scenes whose fine choreography are offset by Martha’s violent intolerance of restaurant guests who complain about her food. In places it is quietly amusing, especially in the scenes where Martha visits her analyst. She details foods and flavours and how they work together, provides him with meals to eat, and critiques his attempts to cook for her. In showing Martha’s own Teutonic precision, Hamburg is presented as cold, grey and sterile, whereas Mario is sunny, emotional and friendly, just like his native land. Bella Martha is completely satisfying. It is romantic and sweet and touching, and since it’s devoid of swearing or sex, you could watch it with your grandmother.

Equally charming and granny-friendly, but a slighter meal, is Ladies in Lavender, a story set in Cornwall in the Thirties. Propped up as it is by those two British national treasures Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, and directed by film stalwart Charles Dance, it can’t really go wrong. It tells the tale of two sisters living in genteel poverty on the Cornish coast. One day, the near-lifeless body of young man is washed up on the beach below their house. They nurse him back to health, and as he gradually recovers they discover that he is Polish and a talented violinist. The youth Andreas, ably played by the German actor Daniel Bruehl, awakens new feelings in both sisters – for Janet (Smith), whose husband was killed in the First World War, he becomes the child she never had, and for Ursula (Dench), who has never married, he represents the love she never experienced.

So when the beautiful Olga (Natascha McElhone) turns up and wants to take Andreas away to introduce him to her brother who is a famous Russian violinist, they both become jealously overprotective. Eventually, Andreas starts to function without the sisters, and of course he has to make his way without them. Janet must part with her replacement child, and Ursula must part with her imaginary lover. The film is thread through with melancholy, embellished by beautiful landscapes and lifted by a great score. It is a sweet tale, well told, with lovely performances from the always reliable Dench and Smith.

But I think tonight, after all this sweet romance and genteel longing, it might be time to fire up my knitting needles and watch some Sex In The City. What else is a chick to do when her man’s got the flu?

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

17 thoughts on “Man Sick = Chick Flicks

  1. Hope your husband does get better soon.

    Glad to know you liked Mostly Martha. It is one of those movies that I saw and liked. Then I saw again and loved. Can’t say why. It has something to do with the rythmn of the dialog and pictures.

    You do know, once you have read the Stephanie Plum books, you are going to have to send a batch of your muffins or cookies…. fair is fair.

  2. That’s a good deal, Lilalia. I’ll have to think about what posts well! Today, Daisy – who’s also sick – chose rose-flavoured muffins for her treat. Very pretty and very delicious.

  3. Just pray that the man flu virus stem does not mutate and become contagious to women soon, or you might just be moaning in your bed while hubby watches german-dubbed 1960s Hong-Kong Kung-Fu.

    PS: another cool thing with blogger friends: the worst virus they can pass on to you is a computer virus.

  4. How on Earth do you make rose-flavored muffins?

    No. Wait. Don’t tell me. I’d never be able to find the ingredients here anyway.

    As for mailing food (you call it posting), all I can say is don’t go for smoked salmon. A Canadian friend who smokes his own tried to send us some–twice–and I can attest that it just plain doesn’t work. And we were still in the United States at the time!

    Mandarine, you made me shudder with the German-dubbed 60’s HK Kung-Fu. Still and all, I think I’d rather have a flu virus than a computer one. At least I can get over a microbe, but the code variety could wipe out hundreds of photos!

    (Note to self: must back up files. Soon.)

  5. Since when did chicks have a lock on Sex in the City???
    And since when was there a doubt about how much horrifically worse man flu is? 🙂

  6. I apologize for ringing Thomas out to such a degree in the States… I have to confess that I had a bout of the flu at the sametime… though not three days worth.

    I enjoy the chick flick as well. Your review made me think fondly of “Babette’s Feast”. I believe this was one of my desert island picks. I will be in WDF the week of Feb. 5. I hope I get to meet you and the children.

  7. My husband is a good sufferer of chick flicks. He sat through all of the BBC Colin Firth-fest version of Pride and Prejudice, and was glad he saw it. He willingly watches Sex and the City, and recently chose Antonia’s Line to be next on our Netflix list. I am blessed. Hope hubby feels better soon.

  8. I’m also lucky to have a husband who enjoys chick flicks, Mostly Martha sounds like one we’ll both like lots. Another great food one is Big Night, with Stanley Tucci, about Italian brothers in America, trying to cook real Italian food in a city where spaghetti always comes with meatballs, great choreographic kitchen scenes in that too.

    We’ve also just got Tortilla Soup – three grown sisters still live with their Dad Mexican -American chef. THe meals they sit down to are stunning, but some family “announcement” always results in a drama so they hardly ever get to eat any of it! Some great scenes in it.

  9. Mandarine, do you have a crystal ball? About two hours after posting this, I started vomiting and now have the body pains. When The Man returns from grocery shopping and taking a child to buy shoes, I’m going to bed where I am going to lie, groaning, whimpering and begging for tea. Later, he’ll probably watch old James Bond movies.

    I agree with Jennifer – better a flu virus than a computer one!

    Thomas, you are The Man. Love you too.

    (un)Relaxeddad, I’m not actually sure what Thomas’ take on Sex in the City is, but he does love Coupling, which is kind of British SITC but with men who have opinions too. It’s very funny.

    Mike, you are forgiven. Luckily he’s better now and can look after me. And isn’t Babette’s Feast a great film? Mostly Martha is definitely reminscent of it.

    Henitserk, wow, a Colin-Firth tolerating husband is a gem. What is it about CF anyway – do we need to have further discussion on His Hotness?

    Kit, as a foodie, I’m sure you will LOVE Mostly Martha.

  10. I do hope you’ll be all right soon.

  11. Talk about a coincidence!

    I’m a South African who grew up in Germany (Wolfsburg and Berlin). I returned to SA just over three years ago and am studying at Rhodes in Grahamstown.

    How long have you been in Germany for? And where in Germany are you living? I miss life there terribly.

  12. Hi Stephanie. We’re in the Heidelberg area and have been here for a total of seven years. Hope you’re having fun in Grahamstown, it’s a great little city.

  13. Oh I cannot bear man-flu. My husband managed to pass out in the bathroom last night, although we think it was just from stress. He’s having to discipline an employee and he hates it. This is also why it’s mostly mothers who stay home with small children when discipline is a daily drag. We couldn’t have him passing out every night of the week. Hope all your family is recovered soon!

  14. Ooh Colin Firth…what is it? Perhaps it’s that melancholic air that makes me want to cheer him up!

    Tortilla Soup was a great food movie, but I much prefer Eat, Drink, Man, Woman–the Chinese/Taiwanese original. Maybe because I like dim sum more than Mexican food. Also it’s pretty Jane Austen-esque.

  15. Litlove, I’m sorry to hear your hubby is having a rough time. I hope things improve for him soon. Things got worse for us yesterday: little Ollie caught the tummy flu from me and Thomas had to take him to hospital last night, where they spent the night. We hope to have them home today. Sniff. My poor baby.

    Henitsirk, I loved Eat, Drink, Man, Woman – that was a great film. I should seek it out again. And maybe it IS Colin’s air of melancholy that does it. He’s a bit like a big Labrador that needs a pat and a good meal.

  16. Pingback: Setting the Record Straight « Charlotte’s Web

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