Friday, April 16, 2010

Eating Our Way through the Wisconsin Film Festival, Day Three: Brocach Irish Pub

Eating Our Way through the WFF, Day Three: Brocach Irish Pub
We were still under the spell of our 5:15 show and wandered off in search of a place where the could savor our memories over some cold beers and music, and then end a long week with some comfort food. Brocach Irish Pub with its house band and Friday Fish Fry seemed to fit the bill. (Besides, Brocach is another restaurant that provides a second entree free when you present the WPR membership card.)

T had a Stella Artois, in honor of one of the festival sponsors, and I had a Capital Brewery Maibock, in honor of spring (in a Smithwick's glass). The beer batter-fried haddock portions were ample (three fillets, more if you ask), tasty and flaky, and came with a nice homemade tartar sauce. Sides included fries, a curry coleslaw, and a couple pieces of marble rye. We were eating in Wisconsin, but our memory of the film drew us back to São Paulo.

Chega de Saudade
The title of this film by Laís Bodanzky, daughter of a famous Brazilian director, is translated in the program as "The Ballroom" -- but that's a description of a setting, not the evocation of a mood, which is what the film is all about. Chega de Saudade is also the title of what's considered the first Bossa nova song, a hit in the late fifties, often translated into English as "No More Blues." In the movie it's also the name of the somewhat seedy ballroom where mostly elderly patrons gather to dance and flirt and remember. The Portuguese word "saudade" carries overtones of nostalgia, yearning for something past or unobtainable, or homesickness. Chega means no more, or enough. All are appropriate for this bittersweet character study of the ensemble of people who are chasing their dreams and regrets in the ballroom. It's bittersweet but joyous at the same time, filled with a love of life.

I haven't seen such a vibrant ensemble of older performers since I saw The Buena Vista Social Club. At the center of this cast of veteran Brazilian actors is a character named Alice, an old woman in love with the elderly and indisposed king of the ballroom who treats her badly. It's an incandescent performance, and I wondered who the actress was. Turns out she was played by the famous Brazilian star of stage, screen and TV, Tônia Carrero -- who studied in Paris under Jean-Louis Barrault after World War II and made her first movie in 1948, and has been working ever since. She was 85 when she played this role. It's one of those performances that will haunt your dreams.

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