Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5
USA, 1996. Rysher Entertainment, Timpano Production. Screenplay by Joseph Tropiano, Stanley Tucci. Cinematography by Ken Kelsch. Produced by Jonathan Filley. Music by Gary DeMichele. Production Design by Andrew Jackness. Costume Design by Juliet Polcsa. Film Editing by Suzy Elmiger.
Those who love great movies about food like Babette’s Feast, Like Water For Chocolate and A Chef In Love will get a lot out of this brilliant comedy-drama. Two brothers (Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub) run a quiet little Italian restaurant in Brooklyn that serves genuine cuisine from their hometown in Italy. Unfortunately, the restaurant across the street owned by Ian Holm serves spaghetti with meatballs on red-checkered tablecloths and does a hell of a lot more business.
Just when they’re about to go under, the two brothers get a gift thrown in their lap: Holm has invited famed jazz musician Louis Prima to dine at their restaurant as a way to encourage business and spread the word about the boys’ famous Timpano dish, and so the whole film is spent preparing for this grand evening of entertainment and great food. By the time the big dinner finally rolls around you’d think it was the opening ceremonies for the Olympic games.
Beautifully directed by Tucci and Campbell Scott (who also appears in a small role), this is one of the best independent films made in the USA in the 90s and was the highest critically reviewed film of 1996. Minnie Driver is brilliant in a supporting role as Tucci’s girlfriend, and we get one of the first major glimpses of the awe-inspiring Allison Janney as a kindhearted, sexy florist.
Toronto International Film Festival: 1996