The Beast got hit hard with a cold recently. So on Saturday, I decided he could pick a movie and we’d go see it. It came down to either the new Alan Partridge flick, or an Italian film, The Great Beauty.
He chose the latter. And I’m glad he did.
“The sacred and profane smash into one another everywhere,” wrote the Telegraph, ” as if [the director] Sorrentino is working some kind of metaphysical Large Hadron Collider.” Although the film won Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards, not every critic loved it: “If the antics of the beau monde disgust or exhaust you, stay away from Sorrentino’s film,” Anthony Lane wrote in the New Yorker. “Look no further, on the other hand, if you wish to know whether, where, and in what guise the spirit of Fellini remains at work—and, better still, at play.”
It’s not perfect–I wish it was at least 30 minutes shorter–but the imagery and the music stay with you. When it finished, all the Beast and I wanted to do was secure a Campari, a cigarette and a flight to Rome.
Instead, however, we walked to The Bay to secure a cast iron pan. At work, a MasterChef Canada judge recently demonstrated how to cook a perfect steak–a skill which has, on occasion, alluded me–and I was bent on doing it at home.
Foodie: Everything is always on sale at The Bay! I can’t believe this pan is 25 per cent off! Do you want to go to the second floor to see your friend at the Polo shop?
Beast: No, that’s okay. I saw him earlier in the week.
Foodie: You did? Here?
Beast: No, at Value Village. He told me the shirt I bought looked perfect on me.
Foodie: What shirt?
At home, I got some potatoes in the oven and seasoned our new cast iron pan with some oil. There was a lovely 15-minute window, while the potatoes cooked and the pan got warm, when the Beast and I sat in the sun room with our Campari cocktails. I wanted to finish a personal essay by James Baldwin called Notes of a Native Son. The Beast held a nail file.
Beast: Well, this is a real change.
Foodie: How do you mean?
Beast: You’re reading an essay by a male African American and I’m doing my nails.
Foodie: Yeah, right. Wait. What are you wearing?
Beast: Oh, this? It’s the shirt I bought from the Value Village–the one my friend said looked like it was made for me.
Foodie: You can say that again.
The steaks, with a little help from some salt, garlic, butter, rosemary and thyme, were perfect.
I really do think the cast iron pan made a difference. I’ve never achieved such a good outer crust without overcooking the interior.
We were both thankful for the meal, too, because it’s been a rough couple of weeks, with the Beast being sick and there was the time he was very disappointed in me because everything I knew about Russia was based on the 1985 aptly named Sting song, Russians.
Foodie: Lenin and Stalin were both bad, right?
Beast: [looking horrified] Uh, yes.
Foodie: Well, you don’t remember this because you were not even born but the ’80s were pretty messed up, too, what with Khrushchev and everything.
Beast: Uh, Khrushchev lead the USSR during the ’50s and early ’60s.
Foodie: Uh, no he didn’t. In that Sting song, Sting says, “Mr. Khrushchev said we will bury you; I don’t subscribe to this point of view; It would be such an ignorant thing to do; If the Russians love their children too.” God, I used to love that song. My brother and I would play it and get like really, really emotional. [Pause] The Cold War was hard to live through.
Beast: Uh, yeah, but your little historian friend “Sting” is referencing the earlier party of the Cold War in the ’50s, which were partly lead by KHRUSHCHEV.
Foodie: [Rethinks entire childhood, which was spent growing up during the Cold War.]
I didn’t help matters by having a little meltdown, not related to Russia, the other night. It came out of nowhere. We were watching an episode of Nazi Hunters on Netflix and I got up in a huff and said I had to go to bed because tomorrow was a big day and keep it down already and I don’t feel well and then I started to cry. “What’s wrong? What did I do?” The Beast asked. “Was it because I made you watch Nazi Hunters?”
It wasn’t the Nazi Hunters. And it certainly had nothing to do with the Beast, although he did call me a diva.
But he took care of me.
The Great Beauty’s lead character is the party-loving journalist Jep Gambardella, who’s known for writing a novel in his youth but hasn’t found anything quite as meaningful or beautiful to write about again. Instead, he makes a living interviewing people of some note, including a fantastically absurd post modern artist–the filmmaker takes a great shot at Marina Abramovic–who runs into a brick wall naked in a performance piece. Jep may be cynical but but he still manages to enjoy life. “We’re all on the brink of despair,” he says during a soirée at his flat, which overlooks the Colosseum. “All we can do is look each other in the face, keep each other company, joke a little. Don’t you agree?”
Would you think me a diva if I said yes?