Wednesday, August 09, 2006

BIG NIGHT


Movie of the week:
BIG NIGHT

I've realized that there's a whole new movie genre, movies that are centered around the preparation of food. Some examples are: Like Water for Chocolate, Eat Drink Man Woman, The Scent of Green Papaya. In these movies, food is used as an art form, or as an enticement, or both. The movies are actually not about food. They're always about something else, but food, and the preparation of food, is the centerpiece.

Why? People love food. People are fascinated with how food is prepared. You just have to look around at the ubiquitous facination with the Food Network on TV to know that that's true. And there's no better medium than cinema, the big screen, to convey these images. You've only to see steam rising from a saute pan to start to salivate. You see the image of chocolate cake on the screen, and you swear you can almost smell it.

Like the movies mentioned above, BIG NIGHT centers around the preparation of food, but it's not about food. It's about the American dream (all cliches aside). Two brothers from Italy run a restaurant in a New York suburb. They lovingly create their dishes as truly authentic Italian cuisine. Unfortunately, this doesn't fly with Americans because we have a expectation to what Italian food should be. The Italian restaurant down the street serves people the Italian food they expect (steaks, spaghetti and meatballs, etc...), and is doing very well. By the way, if you ever go to Italy and order spaghetti and meatballs, they won't know what the hell you're talking about. If you order a "plain" pizza, you get bread, with nothing on it (you did say "plain"). And, in general, Italy doesn't do meat. Stick with the fish.

Our heroes, Primo and Secundo (guess who's the older), are going bankrupt. They have to wrestle with the notion of holding to their ideals or to compromise for the sake of survival. But they may catch a break. They find out that the great singer, Louis Prima (the story takes place in the 50's), is to eat at their restaurant when he's in the area. The brothers gamble everything for one "big night", in the hopes that a recommendation from the great one will turn their business around.

The film is well written and well acted. It's funny and moving. But it's the food that's to die for. That's where the magic is.

Here's why you should see BIG NIGHT.
  1. Food
  2. When it's funny, it's damn funny.
  3. For many of you, this is going to become one of your favorite movies.
  4. Food ordering tips such as, never order spaghetti AND risotto at the same time!
  5. When the rest of us have seen it and you haven't, we'll laugh at you and you'll feel cold and empty inside. Please see it for the sake of your self esteem.
  6. 301/302 is also a "food" movie. If you don't want to see BIG NIGHT, I'll make you watch 301/302 and you'll have food-related nightmares for the next 2 weeks.
  7. If you want to have food-related nightmares for the next two weeks, see 301/302 and 3 EXTREMES as a double feature.
  8. By the way, #7 doesn't get you off the hook to watch BIG NIGHT.
  9. The movies in #7 are not scary. They just have little twists in them that stick with you long after the movie's over. YEAH, Like the TWIST of a blade! - just kidding.
  10. BIG NIGHT - big schmight!
Enjoy.

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