Florida, Where Film and Food Hug It Out

Florida, Where Film and Food Hug It Out (photo)

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If one possible future for how we’ll watch films involves everyone sitting at home in front of giant televisions, another has to take into account places like the Enzian Theater in Maitland, FL, base of the Florida Film Festival. The Enzian’s a comfy multi-tiered cinema and event space with couches and table seating, a full menu, waitstaff and a bar outside under mossy old oaks, ideal for post-credits chats over cocktails.

It’s a place that, like my beloved Alamo Drafthouse in Austin or the Ragtag Cinema in Columbia, MO (both home to their own annual festivals), is both a film venue and a hangout joint, and sitting down to a screening there is the kind of thing that can have you hoping, by god, maybe there is life in communal moviegoing yet. In tune with the Enzian’s dinner-and-a-flick style, the Florida Film Festival, which wraps up on Sunday, has a distinct foodie vibe, with events featured guest chefs and sustainable farming chats paired with a program of culinary-themed movies.

The best of those was “I Am Love,” which, on second viewing, still went down awfully well, especially over a potato pizza and glass of wine. Luca Guadagnino’s lusciously told tale of how the wife of a wealthy Milanese blue blood falls in love with a younger man plays like a Douglas Sirk film on ecstasy. Tilda Swinton (speaking Italian!) paces a gilt and teak villa like an exotic bird unjustly caged, supervising servants and smoothing over domestic dramas until a friend of her son’s, a chef, captivates her with a dish of perfectly prepared prawns. And while food plays a major role in “I Am Love” — it may be the first film in which a secret is undone by the preparation of a soup — all of its senses are heightened, all kisses are moist, all sunlight golden, all boardrooms gleaming chrome and all family gatherings singing with dark wire-taut tension. It’s so operatically sweeping that it flirts with ridiculousness while repelling all irony — how can you giggle at anything so unabashedly alive?

04162010_midaugustlunch.jpg“I Am Love” was paired with “Mid August Lunch” as part of an Italian-themed evening, with a reception in between during which the crowd sipped Chianti and nibbled on giant hunks of parmesan. Gianni Di Gregorio’s film about a financially strapped middle-aged man (played by the director) who ends up taking in his neighbors’ aging female relatives while they head off for vacation with their wives or mistresses is a more conventional light comedy that nevertheless maintains an interesting, acid undertone.

While the beleaguered Gianni cooks (seemingly effortless mouthwatering meals) and shops for his elderly charges, they refuse to just stay put, fighting over the television, sneaking out for drinks or a bite of a forbidden pasta dish, and gossiping into the break of day. The pleasure these women come to take in each other’s company is balanced by the ridiculous and sometimes tragic figure cut by Gianni who, aproned, forced to sleep in a deck chair and constantly self-medicating with white wine, rattles around a Rome emptied out of everyone else except tourists and fellow unfortunates.

Elsewhere, the food and film pairing was a little more rickety. The good-hearted, rough-around-the-edges documentary “What’s ‘Organic’ About Organic?” doesn’t break any new ground in the growing food activism genre, but does offer beautiful, brightly colored footage of various farms and dairies between its talking head interviews, idyllic enough to sway you towards shelling out more for organic goods at the farmers or supermarket (though if those weren’t already your leanings, you probably wouldn’t be watching the film).

Canadian/Indian comedy “Cooking with Stella” could do with more of the culinary and less of the self-loathing liberalism — it’s a strange celebration of getting ripped off by savvy locals. Directed by Dilip Mehta (brother of Deepa Mehta), the film tracks the hijinks that ensue when a well-meaning couple end up being transferred from Ottawa to the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi.

04162010_cookingwithstella.jpgWife Maya (Lisa Ray) works as the diplomat, while husband Michael (Don McKellar), a chef, stays home with the baby and their new servant Stella (Seema Biswas), who’s made it a tradition, in her three decades of service for various foreign nationals, to rob her unsuspecting employers blind. Michael woos Stella into teaching him about South Indian cooking, and the scenes of the two together are sweet, but quickly lost in an overstuffed plot involving a high-minded new nanny and a staged kidnapping. Though the film tries to play everything that happens for laughs, the fact that what the would-be Robin Hoods do is simply reprehensible makes it impossible to root for them and means the ending is uncomfortable instead of upbeat as intended. And Michael and Maya, who alternately fret about having servants, then fret about having too much or too little to do because of those servants, come off at best as naive and at worst hopelessly privileged and culturally ignorant.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.