We know there’s nothing like dinner and a movie night, but sometimes it seems like we’re taking more time to decide what to cook and choose what to watch than we are enjoying our evening. That’s why we’ve enlisted the help of our film critic friend, Nick Allen. Not only is Nick a professional film buff with RogerEbert.com, but he’s also a fan of delicious food. We sat down with him to get a little insight into the world of both film and food.
Dana: How long have you been a film critic?
Nick: I have been writing for some type of publication since I was 12 or 13, writing for a high schooler-aimed page for a regional newspaper and awkwardly seeing “Alfie” with my dad. Since then, with an exception of my freshman year in college, I have been lucky enough to have written for some type of newspaper or website, though that stuff is in the archives for a reason.
Dana: What got you into the business?
Nick: I was very lucky to get onto a small website as run by my friend, Jeff, when I was a sophomore, by literally following a writer for the site (Thomas Pardee) on the train home after a pre-screening of “Eagle Eye” and asking him a bunch of questions about his gig. #networking. That site became a great place for exposure, to get on press screening list, and even break a few eggs on some filmmaker interviews. So I am eternally grateful to Jeff and Thomas for that. But it’s definitely a big case of being visible, and who you know.
Dana: What’s your day-to-day as a film critic like?
Nick: The days vary with the workload, as my work as an assistant editor (no one is just a film critic anymore, it seems) adds on different responsibilities, depending on the day. I’d say an average day includes waking up, making coffee, putting the morning’s latest content out on social media, and then doing some editing on upcoming pieces with my editor, Brian Tallerico. Then there might be a screening thrown in there downtown or an interview with a director or actor. Then I go to my non-related part-time job that takes up the rest of the day. On some random nights, I’m lucky enough to host a Q&A in the city with visiting talent.
Dana: Any films you’ve been excited about this year? Released or upcoming.
Nick: 2017 has proven to be a very strong year, which very well could be peaking or just getting started. I have loved movies like “Get Out,” “A Ghost Story,” a comedy named “One Week and a Day” about observing shiva, Sofia Coppola’s casual masterpiece “The Beguiled,” and Kathryn Bigelow’s ferocious “Detroit.” This summer is also seeing the theatrical release of some favorites I was lucky enough to catch during my annual voyage to Sundance: the wondrous “Brigsby Bear,” Janicza Bravo’s incredible comedy “Lemon,” and the unfathomably powerful documentary about Ferguson, MO, “Whose Streets?”.
Dana: If you were to plan the perfect dinner and a movie, what would you eat and what would you watch?
Nick: I am a huge fan of “Saturday Night Fever,” so the idea that comes to mind immediately is the Mozzarella Marinara in the movie. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun to try to create that famous dish from the movie for someone, watch that classic movie with them, and then cap it off with disco dancing, obviously. Yes, you can tell I’m a film dork and not a food critic.
Dana: What meals from our menu would you love to eat what films would you’d pair them with?
Nick: Tomato Cream Rigatoni with “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” This delicious looking dish does indeed seem easy to put together, and would help me relax after a wild day. That sounds like a perfect pairing for an excellent comedy that never fails to help me unwind just like a great pasta dish.
Nick: Sirloin Steak with Garlic Chive Butter with “Mac & Me.” Not only would you probably be the first person to eat a beautiful steak while viewing this pop culture gem, but the notes of greatness in the dish would stand out even more when compared to this endlessly fascinating but junky fast food chain-sponsored “E.T.” knockoff from 1988. And also, I just like a good steak. But a wonderfully bad movie can be a full meal itself.
Dana: If you could only pick 3 movies to watch for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why?
Nick: “Some Like it Hot” for the constant laughs, “Hoop Dreams” for the constant inspiration, and Swedish masterpiece “Winter Light” to accompany the crippling existential crisis that would follow from only getting to watch three movies for the rest of my life. If I could pick four, though, it would be “Fast & Furious 6.”
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