Trattoria by Jason Wolos opens the Cinema by the Bay Festival Nov 9 – 11 and puts a face on many of the real chefs at popular San Francisco restaurants by having them make cameo appearances as themselves, documentary style. It’s a television style film as the real chefs speak directly to the camera about the challenges, their spots spliced into the fictional drama behind the kitchen door at mythical Italian family restaurant Cinquecento (55). Dawn Rich shares writing credit and Wolos’ uncle allowed the film to shoot at his restaurant. Nice gypsy jazz wafts throughout alleviating the tension caused by too many chefs.
Trattoria shows opening night with a party at a theater called the New People Cinema, shown at the festival Cinema by the Bay courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society on Nov. 9, 2012.
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It’s a cute concept from an intimate, family point of view as the real chefs try to excuse or give explanations for the family drama but the television acting seems to be lukewarm, annoyingly self-conscious if not clinical. That would be in comparison to indie Italian films coming to the New Italian Cinema festival from Italy, also this November. Trattoria seems more a restaurant film than an Italian film and most of the actors are not Italian or from San Francisco.
The lead actor, a former musician, constantly wipes his nose with his bare hand and touches his scruffy beard even in the food scenes, looking like the shy and awkward college student. The chef’s buxom Italian second wife plays with her hair coyly in a dinner scene that’s with the son—wassup with that. Even the chef touches his face in a reconciliation scene with his son opening a calzone stand at the underground kitchen. That’s after his father loses his temper at Cinquecinco and hits the son.
Exteriorwise, San Francisco is a famously expensive place to shoot a film and most of the shots in this 82 minutes are interiors. The few exteriors include a food cart at what looks to be Dolores Park with no panorama; a tight shot of the son on the sidewalk with his bike locked to a parking meter; and a tight shot of the façade of the Mark Hopkins.
Trattoria is a San Francisco based indie film about an estranged father and son who face off and ultimately reunite in the kitchen of Cinquecento, the father’s new and third restaurant. The anxious restauranteur looks like a control freak and has a panic attack when a food critic appears. The restaurant needs the make-or-break buzz to get it’s foot in the door in the competitive culinary world of San Francisco. The father, to save his relationship, his family and his new restaurant, is forced to deal with long buried feelings, open up to his son and acknowledge the emotional sacrifices he made for the all-encompassing art form. It’s funny when the paramedics arrive in the kitchen while the critic dines obliviously.
Jason Wolos, who has often worked as an assistant cameraman, gets credit as director/writer/camera/editor/actor as TV chef. Wolos also wrote the short comedy Waiter Duty. Waiter Duty is a comedic revenge short from the point of view of every waiter who’s ever been stiffed or suffered snobby, obnoxious customers. They appear in Trattoria in the form of customers Risotto Man and Risotto Woman, who order the dish at a busy time even though it’s not on the menu.
Director Wolos uses a lot of instrumental gypsy jazz that’s easy on the ear, like good background music setting the tone at a nice bistro. It lightens the tension. Malcolm Payne composed, performed and recorded the music along with Jimmy Carrington. One hears many songs by Dave Ricketts including Pazzo, Amnesia, Waiting, Sergei Stomp, Doublebarrel, Angel and Pearl, performed by Gaucho on Porto Franco Records.
The list of chefs in the credits makes for some entertainment.
Douglas Dale, Wolfdale’s. He’s Wolos’ uncle, who furnished the location.
Traci Des Jardins, Jardiniere
Mark Estee, Moody’s
Elizabeth Falkner, Citizen Cake
Billy McCullough, Dragonfly
Donato Scotti, Donato
Annie Stoll, Delfina
Craig Stoll, Delfina
Joseph Villanueva, Le Colonial
Sal: Tony Denison, television actor as the chef and father
Vince: John Patrick Amedori, television actor who in recent years worked in a few films. He’s the son and wanna-be.
Cecelia: Lisa Rotondi, television actress who has appeared in many cop shows and was Jerry Maguire’s former girlfriend (1996). She’s the buxom second wife and champion of family values in the kitchen.
Anna: Kandis Erickson from Redwood City, California has produced five shorts of her own and appeared in others. The sexy waitress and love interest saving to start her own place.
Paramedics and Risotto Man and Woman
Trattoria shows at the Cinema by the Bay film festival on Nov. 9, 2012 at 7:00 and 9:30. 1746 Post Street at Webster and Buchanan.
Tickets for general admission cost $13.00/$12.00 student, senior, disabled
Tickets to the film and party at 7:00 cost $25.00.
CineVoucher 10 Pack $105 SFFS members/$125 non-members
Here is the full schedule of the Cinema by the Bay festival: Schedule.
For more information: www.Trattoriathemovie.com
For more by this writer, check out CBS San Francisco’s website under arts & culture; or quadrust.com’s San Francisco arts & culture. Subscribe by hitting the Subscribe link at the top of this article.
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