Yesterday I watched probably the shortest feature film I’ve ever seen. It was a roughly 72-minute Italian movie, very understated and charming, called “Mid-August Lunch,” in which a middle-aged man ends up taking care of his mother and three other elderly ladies during a late summer holiday. You leave this movie thinking about the food, lovingly prepared by the patient Gianni, with some help from Aunt Maria — a fact not lost on its distributors, who included recipes in the press kit (and believe me, I’m trying that pasta recipe soon). The movie’s so brief it almost disappears, but it creates a gentle feeling of goodwill that lingers with you. It’ll open in a Seattle theater next week.
(Oddly enough, probably the longest feature film I’ve ever seen is Italian, too. I think I may have mentioned it on this blog before: “The Best of Youth,” a six-hour epic (originally made for Italian television, but released in theaters here in 2005). It is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful and moving movies I’ve ever seen: a multigenerational family saga, splendidly acted and seemingly touched by magic. I’ve never had six hours fly by quite so quickly. Try it sometime.)
And, as I scramble to meet a deadline before heading out for the weekend, I seem to have Italian food on the brain thanks to “Mid-August Lunch,” in which a supporting role is played by what the ladies call a “macaroni casserole” and I call a heavenly pasta dish with a crunchy top and melting mozzarella. So, just so you can all be hungry along with me, here’s a scene from one of the great Italian-food (though not, strictly, Italian) movies: “Big Night.” It’s dinner. Brace yourselves.
May your weekend be a feast. See you Monday.