some old bullshit

Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time

Shot from high. A white building in the corner of the shot. The building is separated from the road that snakes through the shot by a dirt parking area. On the other side of the road wooded hills stretch to the the Mediterranean Sea. Or maybe it’s a lake. In the corner of the white building is a doorway. In the doorway you can just make out a figure dressed in white.

“Grazie!” Says Luigi. Luigi seems the more optimistic of the siblings. He’s singing as he tips a sugar into his coffee. He’s looking out the window. “Another beautiful day!” he says, getting comfortable on the stool. Mario doesn’t reply, he too made himself a coffee. Mario stands to drink his coffee and he too looks out of the window. Mario is biting a fingernail. “Okay?” Asks Luigi, noticing Mario’s demeanour.

“Yeah, fine,” say Mario but he doesn’t look fine.

“It’ll be okay, things will pick up,” Luigi tells him and Mario nods and stops biting his nail and drinks his coffee. Mario puts his empty cup under the bar and heads out the back to smoke but he’s stopped in his tracks by his brother. “What’s this?” Asks Luigi getting up from his stool and heading to the window. Mario follows him and they both look out. Two black mini-vans have pulled into the car-park. Mario and Luigi look at each other. A smile spreads across Luigi’s face but Mario looks unsure. Luigi shakes Mario’s shoulder and then heads out the door to greet the passengers of the vans. Mario stands where he is, watching.

The side doors of the vans slide open. Three people in total step out. Two from the front one and one from the back although there are more still inside. The guy who got out the rear bus is the scruffiest. He’s wearing a body warmer that has lots of pockets on it. As Mario watches the man stretches and Mario turns his attention to the two who were in the front van. A smartly dressed woman and a casually dressed man. Mario watches Luigi approach them. They talk. There’s laughter and nodding and then Luigi is showing them in. Mario regrets not having that cigarette and goes behind the small bar, rolls up his sleeves. Throws a tea towel over his shoulder and washes the cups he and his brother have used. Mario looks down when he hears the voices are about to enter and only looks back up when he hears his brother introduce him.

“Here’s the chef!” Luigi is announcing and Mario looks up and smiles. The three he saw step out of the vans are with Luigi. Looking into the car-park Mario notices more people have climbed out yet they show no intention of coming in.

The woman is Italian. She introduces herself and after Mario has dried his hands on the tea-towel he shakes hers and the casually dressed man’s and the scruffy man’s.

The Italian woman explains to Mario that it’s a film crew. The casually dressed guy is a British television personality. The scruffier man the producer. The lady herself was just a interpretor hired by the film crew. Mario nods as he listens and with an effort he smiles. They’re making a show about food across Europe. They’re stopping at smaller authentic restaurants. They hope to do some filming in the kitchen. Mario looks at Luigi. Luigi’s nodding and so Mario nods at the woman who then talks to the men with her. She speaks in what Mario assumes is English and so he doesn’t understand what they’re saying. He looks at Luigi again. Luigi nods again.

“Okay!” Says the woman with a clap and then there’s activity. Luigi takes them into the kitchen briefly and then they heading out. They pass Mario. Mario get’s Luigi’s attention and pulls a face that asks, ‘what’s going on?’ Luigi replies with a reassuring face and then follows the others out. Mario goes for a cigarette.

When he returns there are more people in the bar area with equipment. Luigi is directing them around and laughing but they don’t really seem to be paying attention to him. Mario stands around for a while trying to keep out of the way but it’s not easy. At one point Luigi grabs Mario’s arm and says, “this will put us on the map!” and then Luigi is gone again leaving Mario trying to keep out of everybody’s way.

Finally Mario is beckoned towards the kitchen. The kitchen is small and they’ve erected some overly powerful lights. It’s now very bright in the kitchen and Mario squints as he steps in. He’s careful not to disturb the expensive looking camera and he wonders what they will do.

Mario is ushered towards the stove. Luigi joins him. The man, the presenter, is talking to the camera in English and the only words Mario understands are his and his brother’s names. The man talks for while and the camera turns to the brothers who smile although Luigi’s is the only one that looks natural. After some time the man operating the camera walks out from behind it and people are moving around. They’ve stopped filming and Mario relaxes his back.

“Okay,” says the woman to Mario, “so we want you to cook your most popular dish.” Luigi repeats what the woman has just said even though she’d said it in Italian.

“That’s a sandwich,” Mario tells him, ignoring the woman.

“A sandwich?” Luigi asks the woman.

“That’s fine, perfect,” she replies. “If you could get that ready?”

Mario nods and squeezes past people. He gets the bread rolls. The ham, cheese and butter from the fridge and a knife. The cameraman is moving the camera and Mario is on edge once more. Luigi, taking instruction from the woman, arranges the items slightly differently and then Mario is told to begin.

He slices the bread roll in half. The presenter is talking all through but Mario doesn’t understand him. “What kind of bread is that?” Asks the woman. Mario looks at her. The presenter has stopped talking. Mario looks at the bread.

“It’s just bread,” he says. The woman relays this information to the presenter who, Mario guesses, relays it to the camera but with excited hand movements.

Mario is asked what kind of ham he’s using. “Just ham,” he tells the woman. The same thing happens when he applies the cheese and then the sandwich is finished. He puts it on a plate with a sprinkle of Italian crisps next to it and stands aside. He’s told by the woman to give it to the presenter and he does so. The presenter talks about the sandwich for a long time and then takes a large bite from it and as he chews he pulls a face like he’s eating the nicest thing he’s ever eaten. When he can he talks more to the camera. Mario looks at Luigi with concern. What could he be saying about a sandwich? Mario’s face asks. Luigi gives him a calm down hand gesture and then turns his smiling face back to the presenter. Luigi is listening like he can understand but he can’t

“How about pasta?” The woman is asking. “A pasta dish?

Mario agrees and collects a packet of pasta, a tin of tomatoes and more cheese. While the pasta is boiling Mario is asked why he’s using dried pasta. Mario only has dried pasta buts says he prefers it. The pasta takes longer to make than the sandwich, but not much longer and so, after Mario sprinkles some of those little green leaves on it, the presenter is eating it while talking to the camera. The presenter is practically making sex noises between mouthfuls and then it’s all finished. They start packing up. The presenter thanks Mario. Mario knows he’s being thanked even though the presenter is talking English. These are the only words the presenter speaks to Mario and soon Mario is standing in the small bar watching as Luigi laughs with the people in the car park. Then the doors slide shut and the mini-vans pull away. Luigi waves after them and then bursts into the bar with both his thumbs up. Mario turns to watch the vans disappear and then has that cigarette while standing in the doorway. That’s what we saw in the opening shot. After that cigarette, during which he jokingly fantasized about killing his brother, he went to clean the kitchen.