Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two Italian films, two cafes

The first screenings I caught at this year's Cine Europa are back-to-back Italian films, I Cento Passi (100 Steps) and Fame Chimica (Chemical Hunger or The Munchies).

Fame Chimica is about immigration, unemployment and drugs, and yet these issues get the light treatment. Curious, too, that for a film about rough areas, this one has little about it that's edgy. With the exception of the tough guy with a nose ring who closes and ends the film with a rap, the soundtrack is not hood, not ghetto, not street enough for y'all.

The film shows the complexities of principles and morality, and at the same time says a thing or two about friendship. The generation gap in the conversation of father and son was simply classic. Except for the three leads who don't seem to fit their bland, concrete neighborhood--the Italy you never imagined--the cast seemed plucked straight from the tenements.

I Cento Passi, based on a true story, highlights Mafia and Communist tensions in Sicily. The poster can be misleading, as the film is not so much about the protagonist's childhood as his adult life in the 60s and 70s. Technology is vital to the plot: commercial flight and radio are integral to the biography of the impassioned idealist, Peppino. I found this generally well-acted. The lead looks very similar to the real person he portrays. And it doesn't hurt that he sometimes resembles Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr.


In between screenings, I needed a breather, so I went to Secret Recipe.

At P100 for brownies and P120/P140/P160 for cakes, the desserts, as well as the meals, are considerably more expensive here than in Malaysia. But that's not going to stop anyone, is it? I asked for their bestsellers and ended up with marble cheesecake, which has the right sweetness and a nutty crust that complements the smooth, plain filling. (Alright, Secret Recipe isn't exactly a cafe, but I needed a snappy title.)

Passing by Edsa Shangri-La Hotel, I saw that all the commercial spaces on the ground floor are now occupied by Fully Booked. Their Cafe seems to be a much better alternative to the cramped and crowded Starbucks at Shangri-La Mall. Let's meet soon!

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