Thursday, October 1, 2009

Revenge of Dinner and a Movie

Last Sunday I coerced Nicole into a date with me—lots of arm twisting involved. There was a movie playing at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque ( I was interested in seeing. I had read a brief capsule review of the film in Cleveland’s Scene, a weekly entertainment freebie, and was intrigued by the title: Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation. Exciting, no?

There was some time to kill between the ends of work days and the beginning of the movie so we opted for some interim fooding. Our destination: Coventry’s Mint Café ( We’d been discussing the acquisition of Thai food for a few weeks and I had recommended it to a few museum patrons earlier that day so it seemed like the time had come. Located on the corner of Coventry and Hampshire in Cleveland Heights, Mint Café is beautifully understated. Simple white walls and easy-clean glass table tops over the linens give Mint a comfortable, casual quality; diners in t-shirts can rub elbows with those in business attire and not feel a bit out of place. But all this hides the fact that Mint is still a classy joint. They boast an excellent selection of wine and an interesting drink menu. As is the case with any Thai food experience a Thai iced tea is highly recommended, and I've had few better than the ones served at Mint. As it was a bit chilly in Cleveland Sunday night we each had big mugs of Jasmine tea, an underrated and oft overlooked hot beverage. As far as food is concerned Mint’s menu is pretty standard Thai fare (for fancier fare check out Mint’s sister restaurant, the Peppermint in Pepper Pike, get it? We each ordered a curry dish. Nicole’s was, I believe, the Panang curry. A spicy mix of curry sauce with peppers, mushrooms, green beans, eggplant, and Kafir lime leaves beefed up with some hearty chunks of tofu and served with a side of Jasmine rice. My choice, as usual, was the green curry. Generally the spiciest curry on Thai menus, Mint’s is no exception. It combines fiery green curry with green peppers, bamboo shoots, eggplant, green beans, peas, and Thai basil leaves, mine came with tofu and brown rice. So, so good. I’ve been to Mint a number of times and I have yet to walk away dissatisfied. Their curries are spicy and flavorful without being overwhelming, and have just the right balance of coconut milk to add sweetness and richness to the dish but not feel like falling face first into a coconut cream pie. A great location, spectacular menu, and pocket friendly prices makes Mint Café an excellent east side dining choice.

Thai cravings sated for the time being we departed Mint for the CIA Cinematheque and Not Quite Hollywood ( Written and directed by Mark Hartley, Hollywood is a documentary about the birth of genre filmmaking in Australia. Chock full of interviews from the people who helped build the Australian film industry and cram-jammed with clips from the early days, Hollywood is a raucous ride through some of the most ridiculous, gratuitous, hilarious looking films ever made. The rampant violence and omnipresent nudity that made these films notorious enough to garner their own documentary pepper this film like swears and pop-culture in-jokes in a Kevin Smith script. (Violence and nudity in a documentary? Yes please!) But arguably the best parts of the film are the segments with Quentin Tarantino, a gushing, unabashed fan of these absurd genre films; and an Australian film critic whose hatred for these delirious, depraved films is matched only by Tarantino’s giddy passion. It would be interesting to hear this critic’s assessment of Tarantino’s oeuvre since Tarantino has obviously cribbed a great deal from his Aussie brethren, a fact he’s not shy about admitting, either. Not Quite Hollywood is definitely one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in a long time, its passionate and loving look at its bizarre subject rivals that of the joyous glimpse at They Might Be Giants in Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns or the harried cross country ride with Lightning Bolt in The Power of Salad (and Milkshakes).


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