The UR campus is a long-time nemesis of mine and since it was my destination tonight, I thought it wisest to stop at Secco beforehand for a glass of wine.
It may seem counterproductive to imbibe before taking on that devil's triangle of a campus, but my thinking was that in case I wasn't able to locate the elusive building (and that's happened before), at least it wouldn't bother me as much.
So, Secco on a Sunday at 6 was completely civilized, with few tables populated and my favorite bar stool open and waiting for me. After a bit of tasting, I opted for the 2009 Chateau de Roquefort Cotes du Provence "Corail" Rose (bright fruit, clean finish), only to have cheese whiz Sara applauded me with, "Rose, drink it while you still can!" Amen to that. Sadly, I can already feel colder weather breathing dwn my neck.
After my massive brunch, all I really needed (besides true love and eternal happiness of course) was a chunk of cheese and the new Rosemary Manchego came highly recommended to complement my rose. The rosemary flavor was subtle and I also noticed they have a couple of other new cheeses, including a major stinky one I need to try.
But like Cinderella, I had a time limit, albeit a self-imposed one to allow myself enough time to make the 7:30 screening of the UR International Film Series (and wondrously, I found the building on my first try by asking a student for help).
Tonight they were showing Vincere, about the tragic life of Mussolini's first wife/lover, Ida Dalser and the son they had before he abandoned her for a publicly suitable wife. The film was only released in this country last spring and had already done well on the film festival circuit, including Cannes.
The film was operatic; there's just no other way to describe it. The sets and locations were magnificent and the evocation of the period completely convincing. Director Bellocchio brilliantly shifted to newsreels to eventually show the aging, balding and thicker man that Mussolini became rather than trying to achieve an artificial age in a marginally believable way.
Like all great foreign films, there were subtitles, plenty of nudity of both the male and female varieties and lingering sex scenes that rang true. You know, the kind you don't really need to watch when you're not dating...or when seated next to a white-haired octogenarian whose sharp intake of breath marked the start of every passion-filled scene.
And in the end, Ida died at a relatively young 57, her son at 26 and Mussolini got killed by the people he betrayed. Hollywood be damned, you have to appreciate a European unhappy ending.
But before he discarded her, their passion was intense and watching it certainly added something besides foreign film appreciation to my Sunday evening. A lot of wishful thinking perhaps, or at the very least, fodder for sweet dreams.