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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.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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