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Best Food Movies

September 6, 2011, 5:09 pm

With the Traverse City Film Festival just around the corner, it seems like a good time to muse about food movies. There is only one movie at the film fest that revolves around food. It’s called “The Trip,” and it sounds like a good one. Here is the description of this film followed by suggestions of other classic food movies.

The Trip
2010 | UK | R | 117 min.
This latest work by acclaimed director Michael Winterbottom is part foodie road movie, part mockumentary and part celebrity impression showcase, with a healthy smattering of buddy rivalry thrown into the mix. Actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon embark on a tour of the most impressive eateries in the north of England, sparring over plates of scallops, and engaging in impromptu competitive impersonations of the likes of Michael Caine, Al Pacino and Woody Allen in this bitingly clever film, which packs the punch of a surprisingly introspective drama to boot.
wed 6 pm lars | thu 6 pm sta

In no particular order, here are some suggestions for not-to-miss movies with food themes.

Chocolat – Starring Juliet Binoche and Johnny Depp about a woman and her daughter who open a chocolate shop in a small French village that shakes up the rigid morality of the community. You will leave this movie and want to go straight to Kilwins or Grocer’s Daughter and buy one of everything. Wonderful story of friendship, redemption, and full of mouth-watering chocolate confections.

Babette’s Feast

This is a fairly old movie from 1987 but definitely worth seeing. It’s about a woman in 19th century Denmark who is taken in by two sisters as a house maid. When they decide to hold a celebration commemorating their father, Babette implores the sisters to let her prepare the meal. They do so with misgivings and what unfolds is unforgettable from a gustatory as well as narrative standpoint.

Waitress – Heartwarming yet heart-wrenching romantic comedy about an unhappily married waitress who makes the most extraordinary pies. She names the pies after situations in her life like “I Hate my Husband Pie.” Along the way she becomes unhappily pregnant, has an affair with her doctor, and finally learns how to take her power back in the end.

Big Night – This is a 1996 Stanley Tucci funny drama, in which a pair of brothers debate integrity versus compromise as they try to succeed in the restaurant business. Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci) have journeyed from Italy to New Jersey in the mid-1950s, determined to make a killing with an authentic Italian restaurant, The Paradise. But their food is a bit too authentic; patrons just want spaghetti and meatballs vs the perfect risotto. To save the restaurant they plan a banquet in honor of Louis Prima and the food preparations for this feast are unforgettable.

Julie and Julia – A hit at TCFF 2009, this flick shows Julia Child’s story of her start in the cooking profession, which is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell’s 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book. I wanted to make the beef stew immediately after I saw this recipe but felt intimidated, as did Powell, at the thought of deboning a duck for Julia Child’s boned stuffed duck recipe.

Ramen Girl – This movie is not on most lists of great food flicks but it deserves a mention. The Ramen Girl is an American-Japanese movie starring Brittany Murphy about a girl who goes to Japan and decides to learn how to cook ramen after her boyfriend breaks up with her just after she’s arrived in Japan to join him. A crusty raman noodle restaurateur becomes her mentor and the language barrier is hilarious and frustrating as she learns everything there is to know about the art of ramen.

Like Water for Chocolate – Like Water For Chocolate is a love story that takes place in Mexico in the era of the Mexican Revolution. The main characters are lovely Tita , and Pedro, her love interest. Pedro and his father come to ask for Tita’s hand in marriage but Tita’s mother, Mama Elena, refuses. The de la Garza family tradition demands the youngest daughter must remain unmarried and take care of her mother until death. However, Mama Elena offers Tita’s sister’s hand instead, and Pedro accepts in order to be closer to Tita. Throughout the film, Tita prepares dishes infused with the emotions she is feeling as she prepares them and the diners feel and express those emotions.

Super Size Me – In the food documentary category, we have Super Size Me, the Morgan Spurlock film that influenced McDonald’s to stop offering super sized portions of food in its stores. While examining the influence of the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences on his health by eating a diet composed solely of McDonald’s food for one month. The film documents this lifestyle’s drastic effects on his’s physical and psychological well-being, and explores the fast food industry’s corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition for its own profit. It took 14 months for Spulock to lose the weight he gained from his month-long junk food diet.

Food, Inc.

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. A sobering look at where our food really comes from.

Posted by Oryana at 5:09 pm
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