Dinner and a movie (2)

•March 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The last few weeks have been a giant blur for me…work and grad school applications have kept my social life (and free time) to a bare minimum. That is why it was even more important for me to take a night to relax with dinner and a movie.

Friday night, my friends and I decided on an impromptu karaoke session, which caused me to scrap my original plans for that night. Come Saturday, however, nothing was going to stand in the way of me and the silver screen. Since I hadn’t been out in a while, my boyfriend and I decided to do something a little more “special” (and by special I mean we decided to drive more than just 10 minutes to the nearest and most convenient theatre). Scottsdale was our destination of choice. Not wanting to break the bank (hey, you know those Scottsdale prices), our choice of restaurant fell on The Cheesecake Factory. The East Camelback location (yes, yes, this location is technically in Phoenix) was only a short drive from the Harkins Camelview 5 at which our movie was playing later on in the night.

If you have ever been to The Cheesecake Factory, perhaps you will agree with me that you can never go wrong in choosing it. Especially if you are dining with a group of people, the large menu has a variety of dishes that have something for everyone. Of course, there are those of us who will become frustrated by having to study and choose from such an immense menu (it can take forever if you are a Cheesecake Factory newbie). My boyfriend and I chose a salad (beware: these things are huge – and way more than enough for 2) and a pizza for dinner. I also rewarded myself with their Well-Mannered Dirty Martini, which was good, even though I usually like to remind my bartender to add some extra (extra) dirty. The best part of dinner, as the name of the restaurant may already suggest to you, is the dessert. The Cheesecake Factory has over thirty cheesecakes, including White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Chocolate Coconut Cream, Tiramisu, and (my personal favorite) Craig’s Crazy Carrot Cake Cheesecake. If cheesecake isn’t your thing (um, hello, then why did you come to The Cheesecake Factory), there are many other desserts to choose from.

After dinner, we embarked on the short drive to Camelview 5 theatre. Camelview 5 is a great destination for movie goers who enjoy limited release, foreign and independent films. Often times, the Camelview 5 is the only location in town that will be showing a particular movie. Due to the types of movies (and age restrictions that go along with them – on the day we went, all but one movie were rated R) the audience at this Harkins is more mature (and by that I mean 20s and 30s +) than the one you would usually encounter at a local theatre.

After grabbing some popcorn (yes, I still had room for popcorn after dinner) and getting $1 refills with our Harkins souvenir cups (which is a great deal if you see a lot of movies), we settled into our seats to see the movie Cedar Rapids. The only drawback to the Camelview 5 is the fact that it is really (really) old. Let’s just say that it is so old that it was opened by the Harkins theatre chain’s founder himself. This means that the theatre is lacking some of the creature comforts we have become so accustomed to in modern and high-tech theaters. As my boyfriend quickly pointed out to me, the theatre does not have stadium style seating with steep stairs. Instead, the rows are placed at a gentle incline.

Despite this (which I have to admit didn’t bother me one bit) the movie was hilarious and my boyfriend and I returned home after a great night of dinner and a movie.

 

Dinner and a movie (1)

•February 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

For my first blog entry, I have decided to take a bit of an unconventional approach to “dinner and a movie.” I do this simply to draw attention to the fact that “dinner and a movie” doesn’t have to be the same old, same old every week. With an open mind and willingness to experience new things, even the most familiar things can take on a new twist.  Here goes…

 

It was early Friday night and my boyfriend and I had dinner and a movie planned.  We didn’t know which restaurant or theater, or even which movie we’d like to see, yet.  So, I took matters into my own hands and decided to surprise my boyfriend with a home cooked dinner and dessert. Since baking is my strong suit, I decided to deal with the edible “highlight” of the night first. Over the last few months, I have become quite creative with my cupcake recipes and designs. Never having known my way around a kitchen very well (since my mother is such an amazing cook and I was always afraid of my culinary abilities paling in comparison to hers) growing up, it was not until my mid-twenties that I discovered my passion for homemaking. And while I’m still lacking/slacking in the cleaning and cooking department, I’ve got baking down.

An hour later, the house was filled with the delicious smell of chocolate pudding cupcakes (my own recipe) with chocolate cream cheese frosting. Of course, by the time I was done baking and cleaning up the kitchen (always my least favorite part of the process) I was so  short on time that I decided to dig out one of our emergency reserve frozen Bertolli meals. Even though I like to consider myself a bit of a food snob (sometimes), especially when it comes to things of a frozen nature, every once in a while a quickie 10-minute Italian dinner with garlic bread from the toaster oven doesn’t sound so bad.

My boyfriend came home from work and was excited to see that I had taken care of dinner already (not only does he like to save money by eating in every once in a while, but, to be fair, he also enjoys taking his shoes off and having a relaxing meal on the couch after a long day at the office). After dinner we discussed where we would like to go see a movie. How far do we want to drive? What’s playing at which theater? (Etc.) I remembered that there was a very special event going on at PVCC that weekend. Desperado, a gay and lesbian film festival, was having its opening night showing. Always willing to explore new things, and being lovers of independent and foreign films, we decided to take the short drive to the college to see what was playing.

The Center for the Performing Arts at which the festival took place was filled with people anxiously awaiting the beginning of the film. The 8:00 pm showing at Desperado featured a film called Undertow, a Spanish language film (with subtitles). Directed by Javier Fuentes-Leon, the critically acclaimed film has received many honors, including the World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Popcorn and Twizzlers in hand, I didn’t know what to expect. Described as a unique ghost story set in a Peruvian beach town, Undertow sounded like nothing I had ever seen or heard of before. I was willing to just relax and wait to see what would happen next. After all, it was only a movie – and how bad could it be if it was showing at this festival?

The lights dimmed and the movie began. And, indeed, it was a beautiful and unique love story that kept tears streaming down my face throughout its 100-minute running time. Undertow is the heart-breaking story of Miguel, a small-town fisherman and expectant father, who is in love with Santiago, a painter, who is looked down upon by the townspeople for being gay. Their love story becomes even more complicated when one of them dies. The film explores the difficulties of being gay in a society that does not accept homosexuals, as well as coming to terms with (and accepting) ones own sexuality (when one has lived in denial for way too long).

After the film ended, my boyfriend and I walked to the parking lot, sat down in the car and contemplated what we had just seen. I had to blow my nose because I was still sniffling after my intense crying session. We agreed that this was one of the best films we had seen in a long time. Not only did it give us an insight into a world we knew little about, but it was also a well-executed film. Who knew that going to a film festival at your local college on a Friday night could be such a rewarding experience?

 

Even though this wasn’t the traditional dinner and a movie experience, I hope that it will inspire others to try new things, such as visiting a local film festival instead of the movie theater at the mall, and eating a (semi) home-cooked meal instead of wasting money at a restaurant (although that can be lots of fun, too).  Sometimes it is fun to do something unexpected and end up with an unexpectedly great result…

 

Welcome!

•January 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hello,

Welcome to my blog letsgo2dinnerandamovie.

I am really looking forward to documenting my experiences visiting local restaurants and movie theaters across the valley. I hope that my own experiences (good or bad) can help you have a wonderful time going to dinner and a movie.

Enjoy,

Melanie

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•January 20, 2011 • 1 Comment

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