Column, The Movie Diary

Size matters

By Dom Cioffi

While I was traveling last week, I decided to pop into a bakery that I’ve frequented over the years. It’s one of those quaint little places that, as soon as you walk into, you know it’s good simply based on the smell.

Filled with breads, pastries, pies, and fresh brewed coffee, I walked around for ten minutes ogling the delicacies before finally filling up a medium-sized cup of hazelnut java and ordering an almond croissant.

I paid for my food and then headed over to a small table in the corner. The atmosphere was cozy with a natural wood decor that gave the interior a warm, barn-like vibe.

Once I sat down, I noticed how small my almond croissant was. I stared at it for a few seconds and then got up and walked back to the display case where they were stored. My eyes darted around looking for the larger-sized croissants that I was convinced I missed, but I couldn’t locate any.

At that point, the young woman behind the counter came over. “Can I get you something else?” she asked.

“I was just wondering if you had any of the larger-sized almond croissants?” I replied.

“We only have the one size,” she stated. I noticed that she looked uncomfortable, like she had been asked that question a thousand times and was thoroughly past answering it.

“Huh?” I responded. “I swear those croissants used to be a lot bigger.” The server stared at me emotionless, not saying a word. That’s when I realized what had transpired.

In an effort to stabilize losses and keep afloat, small businesses like bakeries have had to either raise prices or decrease the size of their products to keep the current prices stable.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two years, most people have noticed how food (among other things) has been affected by the pandemic. In fact, food prices have soared to a 40-year high over the last year, rising 10% on average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the first 10% hike since 1981!

So, what’s the cause? Well, the two largest expenditures for food come from fuel costs to transport and workers’ pay.

For example, job postings for positions at food processing plants (like many industries) are at all-time highs. This forces employers to offer higher wages to lure workers in. These inflated costs then get passed on to you and me.

The same goes for the dramatic increases in fuel costs. There’s not a business on earth that will absorb these costs; they simply pass it onto consumers.

My wife does most of the grocery shopping in our home, so she has firsthand experience with the current state of food. She has been frustrated for over a year with the squeeze at the market, complaining relentlessly about the price increases for simple items like milk, eggs, and fruit.

And while I’m rarely purchasing groceries, you know it’s bad when I start to notice. My wife sent me out for pie crusts the other day and I was flabbergasted that one package was over $6. I mean, it’s just dough!

Ironically, my son works at a grocery store as a check-out person, so he’s at ground zero for complaining customers. He’s told us that he can’t get through a shift without someone asking to see the manager because they’re convinced there’s been a mistake in the ticket price of a food item.

The bottom line is that we’re in for some tough times ahead. All signs are pointing to a tightening of the belt, which means less expendable income for the more enjoyable aspects of life like vacations, expensive dinners, and toys.

In this week’s feature, “Persuasion” (based on the 1817 Jane Austen novel), we meet a young woman named Anne who has recently lost all the enjoyable aspects of life because her wealthy father has overspent their fortune. Anne pines relentlessly for a young man from lesser means but is convinced to turn him away. This sets the stage for yet another epic Austen love story when the two are finally reunited.

No one can deny the appeal of Jane Austen. The famed English writer has provided countless stories to warm the hearts of young readers. However, this adaptation is far from appealing and, in fact, does the original book a great disservice.

Any fan of “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice” will want to love this film, but ultimately, they will feel cheated. “Persuasion” is a hack job. The acting, adaptation, and breaking of the fourth wall (where a character talks directly to the viewer) all combine to turn this film into a dismal failure.

A unimpassioned “D” for “Persuasion,” now streaming on Netflix.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]

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