THE ART OF EATING: THE LIFE OF M.F.K. FISHER Satisfies the Appetite

By C.J. Hirschfield

(Updated December 2, 2022)

Author Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher was smart enough to realize early on that using just her initials when writing in an era of accepted female domesticity would grant her greater opportunity to publish passionately about gastronomy—and life. Her first book of essays was released in 1937, followed by over 30 other books, and hundreds of published articles and essays, until her death in 1992. Her “The Art of Eating” has been in continuous publication for nearly 70 years.

The delicious new documentary, The Art of Eating: The Life of M.F.K. Fisher provides a comprehensive—and very entertaining—look at this strong and opinionated woman, her philosophy, and her legacy.

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A Few Nickels in the Slot Buys You Lunch at the Automat

(Editor’s note: THE AUTOMAT will show twice on Turner Classic Movies, Tuesday, November 22. There will also be for classics with automat scenes.)

By Gaetano Kazuo Maida

(Updated November 21, 2022; originally published April 2022)

A film that starts off with the instantly recognizable dulcet tones of Mel Brooks gushing, “one of the greatest inventions, insane centers of paradise…” is irresistible even if you’ve never heard of the Automat. For those of us of a certain age from New York or Philadelphia (and yes, I’m one: born and raised in New York, with family in Philly), the Horn & Hardart Automat was a unifying experience of childhood delight and teenage necessity. You didn’t need a lot of money to eat, just a handful of nickels… In its heyday (1920s to the 1970s) it was, in just two cities, the largest restaurant chain in the country by any measure, at one point in the 1940s serving fully 10% of the population of Philadelphia. Continue reading

THE AUTOMAT–Recipes, In The Movies & More

Assembled by Gary Meyer

(Updated November 21, 2022)

The theatrical release of a new documentary by Lisa Hurwitz, The Automat, has taken me back in time with its wonderful clips from classic movies and discussions of food favorites of our youth from Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Chicken Pot Pie to Custard Cups and Pumpkin Pie. It is essential viewing for those interested in the history of restaurants in the 20th Century, the combining of technology and home-cooked meals and a trip down memory lane even if you were born too late to actually visit one. But we also cover contemporary attempts at automated food. We have included many photos, film clips, recipes, music, and related links to supplement your enjoyment of The Automat now playing in theaters and at film festivals—only on the big screen. 

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Know Any Cat Daddies?

By Marilyn Freund

(October 28, 2022)

Cat Daddies is a deceptive film, and therein lies its emotional punch. On the surface, director Mye Hoang’s documentary debut presents episodes from the lives of nine men whose lives have been changed by their relationships with cats. But underneath, it takes a look at what behavior our culture has traditionally considered to be “manly,” and how those stereotypes might be redefined today.

Truck driver David Durst visits Sedona, AZ with his cat Tora. Image by Mye Hoang.

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I Didn’t See You There

By C.J. Hirschfield

(Updated October 27, 2022)

A monument to circus showman P.T. Barnum stands in Reid Davenport’s hometown of Bethel, Connecticut. “He got a pedestal,” says the director of I DIDN’T SEE YOU THERE, the new documentary that premiered at the 65th SFFILM Festival, while the disabled filmmaker’s perspective is from the sidewalk. The film, a meditative and personal feature that invites the viewer to see the world through his eyes—and at his level– often refers to the corrosive legacy of Barnum’s freak shows and how society relates to those who are different.

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SIGN THE SHOW: A Benefit, Not a Burden

By C.J. Hirschfield

October 22, 2022

I can’t imagine being denied access to movies, plays, comedy shows, or concerts; you probably can’t either. And yet that’s how it is for 40+ million Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HOH) Americans, whose attempts to get venues and artists to understand their need for consistent, high-quality professional and well-lit sign language interpreters are met with barrier after barrier.

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