Yummy Films for Foodies

Many films practice “foodus interruptus,” where characters talk about eating, obsess over their weight, even fetishize food…but rarely actually consume anything on camera. And occasionally a film that appears to be all about food is anything but—My Dinner with Andre, for example (You remember the ideas, but what did they eat during that two-hour meal?)

By contrast, food is the main course in each of these delicious (and good for you too!) flicks.

Bon Appetit.

Big Night (1995) This tale of two brothers trying to rescue their failing restaurant is the pièce de résistance of foodie films. Pre-fame performances by Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci as the Italian brothers, and Allison Janney as a shy florist, make the film fly, but the cuisine is the real star here. Banking on one special evening to revive their business’s fortunes, the brothers put on a feast that outdoes even Babette’s feast (see below.) And yet the loveliest scene in the film involves the preparation of a simple omelet. Don’t miss this one.

Babette’s Feast (1987) Based on an Isak Dinesen (Out of Africa) story, the straight-laced Danish townspeople don’t know what to make of it when widowed servant Babette offers to cook them a celebratory dinner. The moral tug-of-war between the townsfolks’ usual austere outlook on life and the sensual pleasure of an all-out banquet provides more tension and humor than you’d imagine. A simple story, beautifully told. [In French and Danish with subtitles]

Chocolat (2000) Although the film carries a message about the joys of food akin to that in Babette’s Feast, the similarities end there. Single mom Juliet Binoche tries to loosen up a French hamlet in the 1950s, outraging the locals by opening a candy shop during Lent and befriending the town’s outcasts (including Johnny Depp and Lena Olin). Alfred Molina steals the show as the moralistic Comte de Reynaud. Warning: you will absolutely crave chocolate during this, so stock up before viewing. [In French, with subtitles]

Ratatouille (2007) Can Remy the rat escape his fate of dumpster-dining and exercise his sophisticated palate in Paris’ finest restaurants? Pixar answers this question with gorgeously animated cityscapes and cute and funny antics inside the kitchen, where Remy teams up with a hapless human would-be cook. Unctuous restaurant critic Anton Ego is memorably voiced by Peter O’Toole.

Life is Sweet (1990) With Mike Leigh at the helm, you know the title’s ironic; expect sharply-written, bittersweet, funny fare. Brit film staples Jim Broadbent, Alison Steadman, and baby-voiced Jane Horrocks headline this portrait of a dysfunctional family, each obsessed with food in his or her own way. The biggest sweet-tooth award goes to Horrocks’ Nicola, a bulimic who sneaks chocolate and finds an, um, creative romantic use for chockies. [In British English; should have subtitles but doesn’t]

No comments: