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Costas Mandylor and Lauren Holly star in this romantic comedy.  Mandylor plays Marco Poloni, an Italian baker at The Poloni Brothers bakery in The Bronx.  All the local businesses in his area are closing down due to lack of money and it looks as though the bakery is going to go the same way.  Marco then learns about a baking competition which, if he wins, would earn him the money to save the business, but he needs a partner  to enter.  He enlists the help of Grace Carpenter, an uptight Chef from Manhattan who dreams of opening her own restaurant, but can’t find the funding to do it.  Despite appearing mismatched in personality, an attraction rapidly develops, but there are obstacles to overcome, including a former friend of Marco’s who is determined to sabotage their chances in the competition.

It’s hard for me to fairly review this film.  It’s a rom-com, and probably not a particularly great one.  Some of the acting is hammy, and the ending is predictable from about 20 minutes into the film.  But despite this, it has a real charm, and I absolutely adored it!  Costas Mandylor is as yummy as some of the gorgeous desserts he creates and Grace is endearing.  The desserts themselves are mouthwatering and made me crave a gooey slice of cake!

It’s an undemanding film, but very enjoyable.  I did root for the characters to get the ending they deserved, although as I said above, it’s fairly obvious what’s going to happen.  So there are no real surprises here, but plenty of moments to make a viewer smile…this is a sweet (in more ways than one) film, and I would definitely watch it again.

Year of release: 2004

Director: Kevin Connor

Writer: Joseph Tropiano

Main cast: Costas Mandylor, Lauren Holly, Andrew Lauer, David Proval

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I loved this movie, which is based on Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’.  There are several nods to Shakespeare in the movie – the two sisters’ are called Katarina and Bianca, as in the play, and their surname is Stratford – which was of course where Shakespeare lived.  Heath Ledger’s character’s surname is Verona, and Shakespeare is studied in the high school where the action takes place.)

Cameron is a new boy at school, who falls for the popular Bianca.  However, Bianca is not allowed to date anyone, unless her prickly sister Kat dates as well…but there are not many men wanting to get too close to Kat, who is bad tempered and unsocial. Cameron concocts a plan whereby he gets the resident ‘bad boy’ (played by Heath Ledger) to take Kat out, thus enabling himself to ask Bianca out.  However, things inevitably go awry!

Although this is a high school movie, it’s actually very sweet, and there are moments of great humour – my favourite scene was Verona serenading Kat with ‘Can’t Take My Eyes off You’.  All of the leads are great, and we are reminded once again what a talent the entertainment world lost when Heath Ledger died just over a year ago.  He is very charismatic and funny, and here shows the potential that was realised in his later movies.

The great soundtrack is the icing on the cake.  This movie isn’t going to change anyone’s life, nor is it going to make it onto any ‘classic movie’ countdown.  But as a funny and entertaining way to pass a Sunday afternoon, this fits the bill perfectly!

Year of release: 1999

Director: Gil Junger

Writer: William Shakespeare (book), Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith

Main cast: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik

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