BIG NIGHT (1996) on TCM Friday Night!

From: Bill J.
Sent on: Friday, March 28, 2014 1:31 PM

Ciao Amici,

Since the Cleveland International Film Festival is underway and ending this weekend, my mind is on film.  I'm taking a break from CIFF tonight and look what TMC has scheduled!

Several years ago the Italian Film Festival featured BIG NIGHT (1996) along with a special dinner at Dante.  If you missed the film or loved it as much as I did you might like to catch it tonight on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) on cable.  It runs at 10 p.m. and should be available on most area cable systems.

Bill Johnson

Link to TCM event post (click here)

Brief Synopsis

A bittersweet story of two brothers in search of the American dream. Primo and Secondo Pilaggi are Italian immigrants who settle on the New Jersey shore and open a restaurant, the Paradise, hoping to strike it rich. Primo, the elder brother, is a master chef from the Old World who is concerned only with quality and authenticity in the kitchen. Secondo, the younger brother and business manager, is all too eager to compromise if it means more customers and more cash. Teetering on the brink of failure, the brothers learn that the famed Italian-American musician Louis Prima is performing in the area and they contrive to host a dinner in his honor. Hoping that a "big night" built around a celebrity like Prima will get them publicity, the brothers pool all their talent, energy and every cent they have to plan a sumptuous banquet of unsurpassed ambition. What follows is a culinary adventure that will teach them a lot about themselves, each other, and their different definitions of life, love and success.

Set vaguely in the early '60s, this tale of immigrant brothers Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci), and the fancy dinner for Louis Prima they hope will save their failing restaurant, is just the kind of "little movie" reviewers overpraise. Why? Because they're sick to death of bloated star vehicles and spine-rattling action pictures. Codirected by Tucci and Campbell Scott, it's an actor's picture in the best and worst senses of the term: Performance is everything (these performances are uniformly good) and individual scenes are sharply observed and subtly staged. But the script is shapeless and it all goes on far too long. How many ways do we need to be shown that Primo, whose risotto is a symphony of subtle flavors, is an artist, while rival restaurateur Pascal (Ian Holm) is a (hugely successful) sellout who slops sticky spaghetti on an oversized plate because that's what the American barbarians want? Isabella Rossellini is a vision in a series of satin cocktail dresses, and the creations that pour forth from Primo's kitchen should boost business at local Italian eateries wherever the movie is shown.

Trailer (click here)

Breakfast Scene (click here)

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