Monday, August 15, 2005

Culinery Cinema or Foody Film

I love food as much as I love perfume. I follow food in each film as much as I like to follow perfumes in them. There are several films that are unique in their portrayal of food and I would like to share three that i enjoyed very much over the past several years. Some like Babette's Feast and Eat drink Man Woman are poignant and so beautifully made. The other that is certainly worth seeing is What's Cooking by Gurinder Chadha of Bride and Prejudice and Bend it like Bechkam fame. The other which you have all seen is Chocolat directed by Lasse Hallström in 2000.

There are a few others worth mentioning here.
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover by Peter Greenaway in 1989
The other is a Japanese film Tampopo written and directed by Juzo Itami in 1985.
Many thanks to J (bela) for reminding me about that wonderful Mexican film Like Water for Chocolate - original title is Como agua para chocolate directed by Alfonso Arau
in 1992. I need to see this again very soon!

Let us go to the first four mentioned above.

Yin shi nan nu (1994) aka Eat drink Man Woman directed by the brilliant Ang Lee, is about a chef and the lives of his three daughters. Ang Lee manages to involve you so deeply in their lives that you will come away touched by this film. At least you may! I loved it and have seen it several times.

Babettes gæstebud or Babette's Feast is another gem, directed by Gabriel Axel in 1987. The film is rather flawless, the acting is superb and well worth viewing a few times.

Babette's Feast is from the book written by Isak Dinesen. The story is about a French woman who flees in 1871 and seeks refuge in an austere village in Denmark. She earns her keep by cooking for the local nuns. The daily fare consists of bland and usual foods. After the French woman wins a lottery, she decides to spice up the lives of the locals by cooking them a culinary feast.

What's Cooking directed by Gurinder Chadha is all about a few families celebrating Thanksgiving in LA. It is a delight to see what goes on in each of the families while they prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving! Trials of family get togethers - we all know about!

Finally, there is Chocolat which created a stir and was worth the watch - Judi Dench and Binoche were fab! I watched it only to see that super dishy Depp!

There are others but I want to share these as I saw Babette's feast again last week and loved it - again!

Please make sure you eat well before you see any of these films.

What are your favourite Foody Films?

Apart from Babette's Feast my favourite culinary film is the Mexican film Like Water for Chocolate. It's magic realism (which I find difficult to take in novels, but love in films). Have you seen it?
I did see that a long time ago J - thanks for reminding. It was fascinating. I need to see it again soon!

Many thanks again J! How could I have forgotten that gem. I have included that in my post.

What a great post, dear N! I love foody films. I have not seen What's Cooking, but now it is another one for my Netflix queue. My favourite foody film is Eat Drink Man Woman, but I also liked Mostly Martha, a German film about a neurotic chef, whose sister suddenly dies and she has to take care of her small daughter. In the process, she learns a lot about herself and about what cooking is all about--sharing the joy! It is a great film.
I've never really considered it before-the foody aspects of films. Thanks for widening my view!!
p.s. I loved "Chocolat". I don't know if you'd call that a foody film but it had many of my favorite actors.
Dear V! Thanks for the rec - will get hold of Mostly Martha. Some German films are brilliant.

Dear Laura! I consider Chocolat a Dessert Film as it revolves around the sins of the beauty of chocolate ;D

Woman, you're making me hungry!

But since you bring it up, I think that my favorite foody films are Eat Drink Man Woman and Like Water for Chocolate.

Have a delicious week, my love!!

Hugs and kisses (of the Hershey kind, of course, tee, hee!)
Great topic! Babette's Feast is a lovely movie, and one of few that really stands up to repeat watchings. Chocolat, as you said, was mainly worth watching for Depp -- the story was otherwise slight. I 2nd V's suggestion of Eat Drink Man Woman, which is a wonderful film.

Will look for the others!
Great choice dear R from LA!
I love them too. Eat Drink Man Woman is my top choice with Babette's feast.
Hope you are well.
Dear R! Great to hear that you love my top two choices too. Yes Babette's pace and beauty is pretty damned amazing!

The gustatory moments I recall best from films are all bizarre and not at all appealing. I remember the orgies of piggish eating in Spirited Away: the first in which the greedy parents are turned into pigs while snarfing down platters of fat morsels, and the second in which the monster No-Face is pouring avalanches of banquet food into his maw (along with a couple of servers). And then there is the scene from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, which anyone who has seen it will recall, when John Cleese tempts his restaurant's best/worst customer with a "wafer thin mint." Oh, and later in the Meaning of Life, of course, when the black robe of death emerges from the middle of a dinner table and the shocked guests learn, to the hostess's embarrassment, that it was the salmon mousse that did it. And then there are the bourgeois characters in "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie," who never really get to have their dinner and not even a cup of tea.

Gastric interruptus?

One film of which I recall almost nothing but dinner was a Japanese psychological thriller called "Angel Dust." It was all beautifully shot and tense and disturbing, but one of the most disturbing images was merely of the ornate, frighteningly perfect Japanese meals that the main character's husband crafts for her. Little dishes, each a work of art, appear like jewel boxes, in a tranquil silence that contrasts with the chaos of the serial killer plotline.

And then there was another Japanese movie in which a serial killer, rather than huffing drugs, huffs steaming jasmine rice. He's always shouting at restaurant owners and his wife to make some rice, and then he stands over the pot and inhales. I really identify with him. Not the killing, I mean--just the rice!
LOL! T - thanks for the laugh (the last film you describe!)

Yes I do remember The Meaning of Life. Have them and must re-visit. They are some of my hubby's favs. I adore John Cleese for everything he is!

About the others - must check them out. Angel Dust sounds amazing.
I was going to mention Like Water For Chocolate, too. Once upon a time my Spanish was decent enough that I could actually point out the inconsistencies in the English subtitles. Alas, that day is gone. But oh how that film makes me hungry. Especially the bit at the end with the wedding feast, and those stuffed peppers with the sauce... and .... oh I'm hungry now that I've even mentioned it. Shoot.

Another foody moment I like is not a movie one, but a TV one. Twin Peaks and the pie and coffee. And the doughnuts in the station house, too. It's the only murder mystery I can think of off the top of my head that has ever made me deeply crave baked goods.

I only watched Chocolat to see Mr. Depp, too. Your're so right - he was the tastiest dish in the whole thing, wasn't he? Sigh. Pretty man.

I didn't realize that The Cook, etc. was a Peter Greenway movie! GAH! Well, I clearly need to add this to my list of books and movies I ought to get around to. Thanks N!
Hello K! Oh yes now I have to think of the fantastic Twin Peaks! Thanks for reminding me.

Now I am salivating, for the love of cinema and food.

Loved The Cook, The Thief,....

It was a visual feast.

You might try some Fellini for some visual, although not culinary, stimulation.

Hope you are well, N!
Hi Barbara! I agree that Fellini's works are fascinating and I have seen many his films.
There are so many fascinating directors to explore and understand.
Hope you are well too.

I love Eat Drink Man Woman! I've seen it so many times and continue to fall in love with it. An American version called Tortilla Soup was made several years ago but too much was lost in that version. Still a cute movie to see and compare.

I love Como agua para chocolate. There is a renewel in Mexican cinema going on. I think it really captured the sentiment of cooking in Mexican society. There are a lot of Mexican dishes that everyone knows but because everyone's family cooks them differently, no two dishes are ever the same.

I hate enchiladas for example and EVERYONE says "Oh but you haven't tried mine." In my lifetime I've eaten hundreds of different enchiladas and continue to hate the dish!
Don't forget Tampopo! It's so much fun! Everyone talks about, or exemplifies, what food means to them. The plot: a Japanese Western (parody) where a truck driver rescues a sweet chef who can't make decent noodle soup.
LOL dear S - about enchiladas! I have to go to Mexico one of these days.

I love Eat drink Man Woman too and have seen it many times and never get bored!


Dear Lucia! Welcome to this blog. Yes Tampopo was fun!

Oddly enough, Goodfellas always makes me ravenously hungry. There are a lot of food-centered scenes and they go into great detail about preparation, like Paul Sorvino slicing the garlic with a razor blade.

Great, now I want pasta ...
I've long been fascinated by food movies. Here's my personal list:

Big Night
Babette's Feast
Eat Drink Man Woman
Like Water for Chocolate
Mostly Martha

There's also a "food" movie: Super Size Me, which I enjoyed but really doesn't belong in this category.

Tortilla Soup is good, but it's a remake of Eat Drink Man Woman.

Fast Food Fast Women is an interesting film, and stars the luscious looking Anna Thomson (aka Anna Levine), who now lives in France, but it's not really about food.

I think the same is true about Fried Green Tomatoes: great dish, and food plays a--shall I say, interesting?--role in the film, but it's not about food per se.

The Godfather movies luxuriated in food in various places, as did Tom Jones, but they don't qualify as true food movies.

Enjoyed the posting. Come by to check out my blog sometime.

BTW: another great category: talk movies. To get you started: My Dinner with Andre (a talk movie and definitely not a food movie--they never mention the food!), The Wife (also with Wallace Shawn, but a Tom Noonan film), What Happened Was... (another Tom Noonan film), Melvin Goes to Dinner, The Designated Mourner, ... your turn. :)
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