Categories
Film & TV

Big Night (1996)

Crave a genuine and hearty banquet?

Marcella’s (Prelude)

Marcella’s was an Italian eatery in Edinburgh (Scotland, UK). Angelo, the charming old Sicilian man who ran the place, didn’t (have to) try too hard. He once muttered that it used to be an Italian bakery during his prime with him specialising in cakes. He later turned the bakery into an eatery (that’s the best word to describe the place).

The eatery had character. Plastic vine leaves and grapes adorned the walls. Sky blue tiles and the ceiling painted in the same colour made me feel as if I was sitting inside a swimming pool. Couple of posters from the 70s and 80s of people eating pasta were interspersed with posters explaining ragu and napoletana sauces. This wasn’t the place for a candlelit meal, but a cozy, humble and delicious one.

The menu was straightforward – half a dozen pastas and pizzas, garlic bread, two soups, two types of salads, soft drinks, few pastries, coffee, and tea. Ah well… Angelo passed away in 2018. I miss his spaghetti carbonara. I tried coaxing him into sharing the recipe, only to be met with a glowing big smile and silence!

Angelo’s food and pastries delighted many. Marcella’s Italian Bakery wasn’t on the tourist guide books, but a hidden gem that only locals knew about. People visited the eatery for Angelo – for his delicious food and the comfort that emanated from the experience.

Paradise

1950s, on the New Jersey shore, ‘Paradise’ is a floundering Italian restaurant owned and run by two Italian immigrant brothers from Calabria (Italy).

Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci, also co-director) are poles apart in their ambitions and beliefs, but they are united by their love for food and the pleasure derived from cooking for others. Primo battles to hold on to his Italian identity while Secondo makes trade offs to embrace the American dream. Trying to educate Americans to appreciate authentic Italian food while keeping their banker and competition at bay becomes a challenge.

Paradise is one of those places like Marcella’s. It is suspended in time. It needs to adapt to the American idea of an Italian restaurant. Or, should it? That’s the ‘Big Question’ that ‘Big Night’ asks.

Relationships

The three women in the movie, played by Minnie Driver, Allison Janney, and Isabella Rossellini, are the foundation to the story. All their scenes are written with finesse. It is through them that the conflicts are raised and then debated.

The antagonist Ian Holm (Bilbo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings) delivers a love / hate ride. He’s a bad guy with a cause, so he thinks!

It’s heartwarming seeing the brothers root for each other despite their differences.

Timpano

The storyline involves the brothers throwing a big party at their restaurant, serving a four course Italian meal. They showcase their expertise and pour their heart into every dish they cook for their guests.

The signature dish is ‘Timpano’, a baked pasta that made my mouth water. It’s a visual delight and I’m confident that it’ll be a treat to the taste buds too! Just watch this clip:

Your Night-in

‘Big Night’ is an old-fashioned comedy drama about food, relationships, and the American dream. Cook up an Italian meal, light a couple of tea lights, pour some wine, and allow Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci take care of the rest.

Let’s Eat

Stanley Tucci’s character Secondo

‘Film Journeys During COVID’. 2020 has been a strange and harsh year to almost everyone. Netflix and Amazon Prime have helped me and kept me entertained through this year. I came across an app called JustWatch at the start of the lockdown. The app has been absolutely brilliant at recommending movies that I’d love to watch based on my subscriptions, tastes, and watching history. I’ve unearthed a large number of movie gems that were hidden in Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’ll be documenting and discussing some of the best movies I’ve seen during the past year.

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