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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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

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