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Episode 206 - Little Italy

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On 2/1/2019 at 8:09 AM, taylorannephoto said:

Okay I just want to point out something that I could not let go of throughout my entire viewing of this movie.

Hayden is ten years older than Emma Roberts. A fully blown decade and they wanted us all to believe that they grew up together. Now that's not where this post ends because I looked up someone else - Miss Perfection Alyssa Milano, and she is 9 years older than Hayden.

This leading man is literally closer in age to the woman playing his love interest's mother.

On the "sexism" tip, I will also point out that the plot of this movie basically posits that if you are a woman who spent years in a prestigious, competitive culinary school in London, you can manage to be almost exactly as good at cooking pizza as a dude who fucked around his Little Italy neighborhood for his whole life.

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My big question here is why the Italian restaurants and bars in Canada all saw fit to have Italian, Canadian AND American flags hung up on the walls. Was this also part of what confused everyone into doing New York accents?

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Let's focus on the real love story: Jogi and Jessie. Despite Jogi's attraction to older women and Jessie's Def Comedy Jam put downs, they have a more sensible plotline than Lay-O and Nikki. It was much more fun watching these two interact then the main characters. I would for sure watch a movie about these two. My question about them is why they wore ethnic styles to the wedding?

Could the movie have been saved an R rating by dropping the blooper reel? It seems that all the heavy cursing ('F's) and deep sexual reference (Luigi's cock holder) were during that part.

Also, why did Luigi need a cock holder in place at all? Couldn't they have just started the scene with the shorts under his butt and go from there?

 

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Is Canada into conspiracy theories? It was shared that this movie was made by Canada.  There were Canadian actors, writers, directors, etc. as well as it being set in Canada and using Canadian reference.  Then you guys went on to do Second Opinions and shared how many of the opinions were 5 star..... I am just curious if Canada also paid Amazon reviewers to post 5 star reviews. 

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On 2/1/2019 at 11:19 AM, taylorannephoto said:

I just described this movie to my coworker and he said he had actually already seen this exact movie on TV and then he sent me the IMDB link and holy shit y'all, this movie has literally already been covered 13 years before Canada decided to do it.

I present to y'all - Pizza My Heart

So glad to see Pizza My Heart get mentioned. But then, I just discovered A Tale Of Two Pizzas, released two years prior to that movie! 

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14 hours ago, filmsagainsthumanity said:

I looped the Little Italy double take that Jason wanted on the episode. What do you guys think?

We thank you for this delightful gift! I swear this is a movie in and of itself now. Great work!

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I've been a listener for a long time, but this week's episode triggered me to make an account here. 

 

I didn't see the film, but was happy to see this film picked. This film was promoted heavily last year in Canada's largest theatre chain (Cineplex), in promotional vignettes before the trailers last summer. It puzzled me as nothing in this film resembled any Italian neighborhood I've witnessed, and definitely had the feel of Canadian Content that you see frequently. I'm always puzzled by these movies because I can never figure out what the financial plan is around them. They're not getting much notice theatrically in Canada, where you prrsume they stand to make the biggest splash. Not sure if they're making enough off ancillary revenues, or if it's the grants and sponsorship. Either way, they seem like 

Looking at the film info, the name that jumped out was writer/producer on the film Vinay Virmani. He's associated with a few other of these films that pop up on similar movies in Canada like Dr. Cabbie and Breakaway. They're movies that target the Indo-Canadian community, but aim for success in the broader Canadian market but also an Indian release (those previous films had major Bollywood stars with producer credits). 

This film appears to be an attempt to duplicate that Indo-Canadian formula with the Italian-Canadian market. 

Anyways, I'm glad that one of these peculiarities of Canadian film has received the HDTGM treatment. If our hosts do want to come to Canada for a show, let me when when I can buy my ticket, and I'd recommend the film Breakaway (https://m.imdb.com/title/tt1736552/) for their discussion. 

I haven't seen it, but looks bad, and from those I know that do and from the trailers, it's essentially a retelling of Bend It Like Beckham, to the point that the disapproving father is played by the same actor. 

 

Anyways, I loved this week's episode and hope to see more like it. 

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On 2/2/2019 at 1:19 PM, Cakebug Tranch said:

I agree. I felt at the beginning that the sight gag of this Luigi, who we assumed would be Italian, despite one of the grandfathers dismissing him as 'not Neapolitano', being Chinese-Canadian, would be the extent of it. It felt a bit cheap, but then the number of cultures who coexist in Toronto might explain that away. Then, the revelation that he came out to his Chinese father who kicked him out for being gay added a layer that might have been interesting. However, Luigi looks about the same age as Lei-o and whatshername. If he's saying he came out to his father, say, as a teenager, and then was disowned and kicked to the streets, then first of all, that's a matter for Child Protective Services. He says he walked the streets for days until he met the original Luigi who took him in.  That can't have been any more than a decade ago. In that ten years, Luigi has dropped his entire culture and identity, and then somehow inherited the bar (was old Luigi on the brink of death?), took over, and has ingratiated himself seamlessly into this culture without so much as a glance from anyone. This man is successfully running a popular business while assuming a new identity in what Gigi reminded us is a notoriously homophobic new culture. For a side character, he might have the most needless backstory ever. And then, the tired trope of a character coming out and then immediately turning into a gay stereotype, including grabbing Anakin's ass only a minute after coming out to him, essentially cheapening a nice bro moment. Luigi is a puzzle.

Right! So, in all the time Luigi has been "Luigi" he never once told Lay-o WHY he was turned out on the streets, or what happened with his family? Did the Italian community welcome him with open arms while he was also closeted? And why did he adopt an Italian persona, again? Are they really welcoming while also humoring him in pretending he's not Asian? Just, what? How did these people meet? How close can they possibly be? 

FWIW, the gag reel clip with the cock sock was hands down the best part of the film. 

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Ok so do you guys think that this bare bones plot is salvageable? I kind of like the idea of a movie about the actual  Little Italy in Toronto and complex family bonds  and feuds. One that makes it clear that they AREN'T ridiculous stereotypes but that they still love their distinct heritage. That would mention what made their Little Italy the best one for them and the only place like it instead of a generic Brooklyn ish place. ( as @Cakebug Tranch mentions those wide pretty boulevards and friendly people, plus the close proximity to a bunch of other fascinating neighborhoods. It sounds like a fucking dream!).  What do you guys think? Can this movie be saved and if so how would you do it? (This is just like... My barebones attempt at fixing this got mess. Obviously EVERYTHING needs to change. EXCEPT MORON SANDWICH. )

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7 minutes ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

Right! So, in all the time Luigi has been "Luigi" he never once told Lay-o WHY he was turned out on the streets, or what happened with his family? Did the Italian community welcome him with open arms while he was also closeted? And why did he adopt an Italian persona, again? Are they really welcoming while also humoring him in pretending he's not Asian? Just, what? How did these people meet? How close can they possibly be? 

FWIW, the gag reel clip with the cock sock was hands down the best part of the film. 

This is my question! Is he so deep in it now he is ONLY Luigi and everything else that came before is gone? Is it a performance for the community? Does he feel he has to be this way or he's not showing proper deference to OG Luigi? Is Dye Job SO dumb that he has been Luigi's roommate for... Who knows how long (long enough for a pizza oven and the Lamp Garden) and either never noticed him bring someone home, noticed he never brought anyone home, or that he has never actually seen anyone he brings home (like they snuck in and out).  

So

Many 

QUESTIONS!!!

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As a Canadian I want to apologize to everyone that you had to watch one of our homegrown movies. We do have some great directors making great original films, but we also have become specialists in making brain-dead romcoms. We make approximately 2000 Hallmark movies a year alone. This one is really just a slightly better than usual cast, but it's a boilerplate Hallmark movie.

If you want to see a really great Canadian-made romcom set in Toronto, please watch The F Word, also known as What If? depending on where you live.

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So did it bother anyone else that Jane Seymour was wearing a cocktail dress with a fancy necklace under her chef's whites? You're in a kitchen woman! Shit happens all the time (at least to my clumsy ass)!!! Your skirt part could get ruined! Someone could turn around in there and spill sauce all down your legs! Think of your poor legs!!!!

I will admit there is a SMALL part of me that kind of lives for the ridiculous glamour of it all though. Like what's that? I'm just standing on my feet FOR HOURS in these killer heels looking sick as fuck. But mostly my practical side is weeping.

 

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I’m no immigration lawyer, but after visiting https://visas-immigration.service.gov.uk I am shockingly finding some problems with the setup to this movie.  

Jane Seymour tells Emma Roberts that she has to go back to Canada to get her visa changed from a student visa to a work visa.  From what I could tell, it seems like this is a process that can actually be done online.  But even if she did need to go back to get some personal documents, the one thing that I did see as a requirement to get a work visa is that you have to have a clear job offer.  But Emma doesn’t have that yet.  All she’s been told is that is in the running with the other guy and Jane Seymour will decide based on the menus they create.  And given the WordPerfect menu that we see Emma creating, I’m guessing she wouldn’t have been chosen, which means this whole effort would be for nothing.

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On 2/1/2019 at 10:13 AM, pscudese said:

Regarding the Marijuana prank, I'd like to understand what the rival shop owner did to get so many customers to show up? Up until that point, both shops were struggling for business and it's not like the owner promoted the prank... "Hey go to this resturant for there's free pot in the pizza."

Some people could argue that a few people showed up and the rest was word of mouth. My counter to that, is that everyone in the restaurant reacts at the same time to the results of the pot. So that means everyone essentially showed up like a flash mob.

So again, if one owner is able to get so many patrons to show up for this prank... why isn't he doing that same leg work for his own business and sell legit pizza? 

Listening to Paul and Jason speculate about how weed would affect you was an unexpected bonus. As a Canadian with access to legal weed that I sometimes cook with, I can say that grinding up weed and then putting it on a pizza is very unlikely to get you high. The THC that makes you feel high has to be activated with long low heat. It would have been much more believable to have a pizza sauce made with cannabis-infused oil. Just eating raw cannabis or cannabis that was under high heat for a short period is unlikely to turn out well.

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25 minutes ago, theworstbuddhist said:

Listening to Paul and Jason speculate about how weed would affect you was an unexpected bonus. As a Canadian with access to legal weed that I sometimes cook with, I can say that grinding up weed and then putting it on a pizza is very unlikely to get you high. The THC that makes you feel high has to be activated with long low heat. It would have been much more believable to have a pizza sauce made with cannabis-infused oil. Just eating raw cannabis or cannabis that was under high heat for a short period is unlikely to turn out well.

Yes! I was all for the dads pranking each other, but the timing of the release of this movie seems particularly unfortunate.  This movie was released on August 24, 2018, but marijuana was legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018, which means that there's a seven week window after this film's release where the presence of marijuana would have required a police presence. This movie immediately dates itself by making marijuana illegal in this world, where it's now legal in Toronto. Granted, distributing that amount in public would likely draw some attention, but the use of a substance that would NOT cause the desired effect and would NOT be illegal not long after the film was released seems short-sighted. At least the prank gave us a glimpse at Geri Hall, the handsy cop, who is a well known member of the Canadian comedy scene, including things like The Royal Canadian Air Farce and other such comedy troupes.

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1 hour ago, theworstbuddhist said:

Listening to Paul and Jason speculate about how weed would affect you was an unexpected bonus. As a Canadian with access to legal weed that I sometimes cook with, I can say that grinding up weed and then putting it on a pizza is very unlikely to get you high. The THC that makes you feel high has to be activated with long low heat. It would have been much more believable to have a pizza sauce made with cannabis-infused oil. Just eating raw cannabis or cannabis that was under high heat for a short period is unlikely to turn out well.

Exactly! It's just become legal here in Michigan as well so there have been articles about making edibles and stuff.

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42 minutes ago, Cakebug Tranch said:

Yes! I was all for the dads pranking each other, but the timing of the release of this movie seems particularly unfortunate.  This movie was released on August 24, 2018, but marijuana was legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018, which means that there's a seven week window after this film's release where the presence of marijuana would have required a police presence. This movie immediately dates itself by making marijuana illegal in this world, where it's now legal in Toronto. Granted, distributing that amount in public would likely draw some attention, but the use of a substance that would NOT cause the desired effect and would NOT be illegal not long after the film was released seems short-sighted. At least the prank gave us a glimpse at Geri Hall, the handsy cop, who is a well known member of the Canadian comedy scene, including things like The Royal Canadian Air Farce and other such comedy troupes.

The only thing they could have been in trouble for was maybe serving minors  or not having the right licenses but I didn't see any kids in the store. My town board is currently deciding if they want to allow marijuana shops to be able to come into town now that it's legal so I guess zoning is also a thing.

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The thing that bugged me most about this film was its lack of trust in its source material.  I feel as though it started out as a love letter to Toronto's Little Italy, with a feud between families over duelling pizza restaurants and love between their kids. Somewhere in development it seems to have become something else: the bloated mess that we wound up with, mostly messed up with the heavy emphasis on Italian culture to bash us over the head with the fact that there is an Italian theme here.

Egregious references:

- The many Rocky references, which for some weird reason associates Lei-O and Nikki with Rocky and Adrian, who had almost no impediment to their relationship aside from Paulie, and sets up Lei-O as some kind of underdog fighting for his honor. But it's doesn't take into account that Rocky was a two-bit thug working for a moneylender who lost his locker at Mickey's gym and then lucked into being a punching bag for Apollo Creed, only to show his guts and fight by going the distance. What does this have to do with Lei-O and Nikki aside from the fact that Lei-O wears that terrible 'Save a Stallion, Ride an Italian' t-shirt? There is no scene in Rocky where Rocky has to run to make a declaration of love to Adrian at the end of the movie, yet that's the reference that Luigi makes when Lei-O runs to the airport. 

- The Godfather references are also incredibly on the nose: as another poster has noted, having "Mr Puzo" appear in several scenes as a close friend of one of the duelling fathers, but also wearing a nametag that says he's called 'Mario' seems like a particularly groanworthy addition. Worse, however, comes later when Alyssa Milano brings a plate of cannoli in to her husband during the backyard barbecue scene. She enters, saying "I almost forgot the nice cannolis" and kisses him. He grimaces at her terrible breath and hands her a pack of gum, saying "here! Take the gum. Leave the cannoli." Of course, this is another Godfather reference:

What makes this so lame is that the original line in The Godfather was improvised, while in this one it's so heavily telegraphed that you can see it coming from a mile away. Worse still, she doesn't respond to his line with a reaction that he's made a joke, it flies right over her head, meaning that this touchstone Italian-American movie is somehow not familiar to them? He's not making a pun intentionally, it's designed to be a funny easter egg for the audience. That, accompanied with the not-commented-on presence of Mario Puzo: does this suggest that in this universe, The Godfather doesn't exist? Why would they do that? And if they're really going for it, why not use lines like "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse" or "just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in"? That would have been great for Nikki to toss off at the airport... But no. It's so haphazard.

It's very clear that the producers of this film saw the success of another Toronto-based ethnic comedy, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and sold it to investors saying that Little Italy would be Greek Wedding but for Little Italy. That means ramping up the puns, ethnic gags, leaning on the accents, making sure that everything is as Italian as it's possible to be. My Big Fat Greek Wedding leaned on all the same ethnic puns (a thousand uses of Opa! and lines like "It's all Greek to me!"), which at the time were kind of charming, but only because they were based around a major event (a Greek wedding).  In this movie, they have two major events they head towards: the wedding of the grandparents (which seems almost completely devoid of cultural Italian elements) and the Taste of Little Italy event where the pizza contest happens.  This film's lack of identity lies in its inability to anchor us in cultural things that we are unfamiliar with or are interested in, and trades of tired stereotypes and old-timey Italian tropes. I will say, however, that the house that the old man lives at, where the kids blow up vegetables that he's grown on his front lawn? That's about as authentic as this movie gets, because there are houses like that all over Little Italy, featuring ancient first-generation immigrants and their vegetable garden front lawns. As maybe the only piece of the movie ACTUALLY filmed in Little Italy, aside from Luigi's bar. 

In fact, the location set up is as head-spinning to any Torontonian as Cellular is to Angelenos - as you can see on the map below, the only thing that occurs inside Little Italy (which is the square) is Luigi's bar. Everything else is well outside, including an EIGHTEEN MINUTE WALK from Luigi's bar to the park where the soccer game happens. Good luck moving the entire bar that far in that rain! Finally, Pearson Toronto International Airport is at least an hour's drive from the Distillery District, where the final cookoff happened. Why couldn't Lei-O just phone Nikki's cell to tell her that he loves her? Why chase her an hour in hellish traffic?

veysfek.png

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Huh. Little Italy. Momma Mia!

You know you're in trouble when the Christmas Prince is a better movie.

Yes, there are SOME shots in this movie of the actual Little Italy here in Toronto like when Hayden and Emma are biking around Clinton street. And the Monarch Tavern is prominently featured, which is weird because that's not Italian, yet they didn't use Bitondos or The Diplimatico which are the most well known Italian restaurants in the area.

Cakebud Tranch got it right...

Some of the establishing shots at the beginning, again, where Leo is riding his bike around, and where the BEST PIZZA CONTEST is held, are from the Distillery District here in Toronto, which is literally on the other side of city. Like SO FAR from Little Italy itself. Toronto's Little Italy is frankly unremarkable -- and I can say that because I lived in that neighbourhood for 6 years. I WISH the Little Italy here was as good as in the movie. It's like shooting a scene in the Upper East Side of New York and calling it Little Italy. For people that live here that's annoying.

And the whole airport security line stopped and watched the entire proclamation of love scene.  Annoying.

Side story: my sister-in-law and 3 year old niece were wandering around Little Italy (where they now live in my old apartment) and came across the set for Vince's pizza shop. They got super excited about there being a new pizza shop in the area. They even sat down at one of the outdoor tables waiting to get served, until they realized after a few minutes that the "staff" was just hanging out looking a little despondent and bored. That's when it dawned on her that it was a movie set. And no one told them to move! She happened to be at my house when I was watching the movie for this podcast and she lost her mind when she saw the external shot of the restaurant. She made me pause the movie to tell me the story!

Also that pizza they eat straight out of the pizza oven on their date would be too hot to casually hold and eat right away. But they just manga right into it!

Thanks for a fun listen P,J and J!
 

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Right now we need to talk pizza. Specifically sauce and the Pizza Margherita. These fuckers are supposed to be from Naples the home of the Pizza Margherita. Legend falsely claims it was invented in honor of a visit to Naples by the King and Queen ( Margherita of Savoy) of unified Italy in 1889. (Which I am very bummed to now know is false) The pizza being red, white, and green looks like the flag, supposedly was a favorite of the queens and boom! Namesake. (Never mind that similar pizzas have been documented as being made as far back as 1796 with a mention even showing up in the book Napoli, contorni e dintornie) 

I'm my experience with this pizza it normally doesn't have a lot of sauce.  Sometimes it doesn't have really any it's more like oil? The beauty of this pizza is it's simplicity and how the few ingredients work together. Like  cacio e prep less is more here! So image my shock when THAT'S what won the competition!

So being a fucking obsessive compulsive nerd with time to burn and being a tad fucked up on benadryl I started looking shit up. I found an Italy magazine article that tells you EXACTLY , how a classic Margherita must be made because apparently 

"Since 2009, Pizza Margherita is one of the three Pizze Napoletane with an STG (Specialità Tradizionali Garantite - Traditional Guaranteed Specialty) EU label"

And guess what?! There's really no  sauce. it's just the tomatoes drizzled with oil and some salt then the cheese and basil.

"Filling:

Take about 60g to 70g of chopped tomatoes and using a wooden spoon place in the center of the disk of dough.  With a spiraling motion, spread the tomato over the surface.  Then add a pinch of salt on the tomatoes, 80 - 100 g of DOP buffalo mozzarella, cut into strips and some basil leaves. Again with a spiraling motion starting from the centre, add 4 to 5 grams of extra virgin olive oil."

 So if these are Neapolitan families why are they fucking up such an iconic dish with a complex sauce? Also why did the one dad lose it when the customer asked for one sans sauce?

https://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/pizza-margherita-history-and-recipe

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4 minutes ago, gigi-tastic said:

Right now we need to talk pizza. Specifically sauce and the Pizza Margherita. These fuckers are supposed to be from Naples the home of the Pizza Margherita. Legend falsely claims it was invented in honor of a visit to Naples by the King and Queen ( Margherita of Savoy) of unified Italy in 1889. (Which I am very bummed to now know is false) The pizza being red, white, and green looks like the flag, supposedly was a favorite of the queens and boom! Namesake. (Never mind that similar pizzas have been documented as being made as far back as 1796 with a mention even showing up in the book Napoli, contorni e dintornie) 

I'm my experience with this pizza it normally doesn't have a lot of sauce.  Sometimes it doesn't have really any it's more like oil? The beauty of this pizza is it's simplicity and how the few ingredients work together. Like  cacio e prep less is more here! So image my shock when THAT'S what won the competition!

So being a fucking obsessive compulsive nerd with time to burn and being a tad fucked up on benadryl I started looking shit up. I found an Italy magazine article that tells you EXACTLY , how a classic Margherita must be made because apparently 

"Since 2009, Pizza Margherita is one of the three Pizze Napoletane with an STG (Specialità Tradizionali Garantite - Traditional Guaranteed Specialty) EU label"

And guess what?! There's really no  sauce. it's just the tomatoes drizzled with oil and some salt then the cheese and basil.

"Filling:

Take about 60g to 70g of chopped tomatoes and using a wooden spoon place in the center of the disk of dough.  With a spiraling motion, spread the tomato over the surface.  Then add a pinch of salt on the tomatoes, 80 - 100 g of DOP buffalo mozzarella, cut into strips and some basil leaves. Again with a spiraling motion starting from the centre, add 4 to 5 grams of extra virgin olive oil."

 So if these are Neapolitan families why are they fucking up such an iconic dish with a complex sauce? Also why did the one dad lose it when the customer asked for one sans sauce?

https://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/pizza-margherita-history-and-recipe

The families choosing to make a Neopolitan style pizza their own way sounds kind of accurate to me. Not accurate to the pizza, but accurate to the way these families seem to exist. I guarantee these families just assume the "traditional" way is whatever their mother or grandmother taught them. Families put personal spins on recipes all the time for any number of reasons but that doesn't make it the proper, legally classified way of doing it. They are just a bunch of too proud to ever admit they are wrong jerks who, even if you showed them the proper Margherita pizza, they'd say, "Ayyyyyy, you calling my nonna a liar?!?!?!?!"

These families are running a by the slice pizza place. They probably aren't using 00 flour. They probably aren't using fresh buffalo mozzarella. Their toppings are probably all North American favorites instead of traditional Italian. There's nothing traditional about anything they do.

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4 hours ago, theworstbuddhist said:

Listening to Paul and Jason speculate about how weed would affect you was an unexpected bonus. As a Canadian with access to legal weed that I sometimes cook with, I can say that grinding up weed and then putting it on a pizza is very unlikely to get you high. The THC that makes you feel high has to be activated with long low heat. It would have been much more believable to have a pizza sauce made with cannabis-infused oil. Just eating raw cannabis or cannabis that was under high heat for a short period is unlikely to turn out well.

Not to mention, assuming the pot was prepared properly, people wouldn't start feeling or acting high for a good 1-2 hours after. How long have they been hanging out at this place? (Although, if it's the retirement community, they might be taking their time.)

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