Tag Archives: film review

Foodie Flicks: Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction is one of my favorite films of all time.  In fact, I’d even go so far as to say it’s tied for first with Amelie, Beverly Hills Cop, and Casablanca.  I’m being serious.  So if you say that you don’t like this movie, I’m not sure we can be friends.  My point?  It’s great if you have an opinion and all, but if it ain’t in support of this movie…keep it to yourself.

Why am I willing to risk the possibility of our could-be amazing friendship for the sake of a movie?  Because Stranger Than Fiction is an incredibly perfect combination of several things about which I am passionate: sassy Maggie Gyllenhaal, serious Will Ferrell, eccentric writers, delightful motion graphics, and baked goods.

Stranger Than Fiction is more about the line between the real world and the fictional one, and what happens when the two merge together than food, but that’s not to say it doesn’t appreciate the culinary arts.  The film follows Will Ferrell as a morose IRS official who one day realizes that his life is being narrated by a mysterious voice ( Emma Thompson) who seems to know everything about him.  I won’t give any more away because I think part of the joy of this film is unraveling it, but I can promise you that it will be a rewarding experience.  The scene that I’ve included at the top of this post is one of my favorites, and I credit it with being one of the earliest influences of my writing style and my desire to have a bakery.  And to love all Gyllenhaals.

Click on the names of these films if Stranger Than Fiction doesn’t do it for you…

  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi – beautiful, inspiring documentary about a Michelin 3-star rated, 85 year old sushi chef (available for streaming on Netflix!)
  • Kings of Pastry – documentary about competitive pastry chefs, food porn to the max (available for streaming on Netflix!)
  • Ratatouille – a Pixar film featuring a rat who becomes a gourmet chef; this film won the Academy Award for Best Animated feature and has a great soundtrack to boot
  • Big Night – the brainchild of actor and gourmet foodie Stanley Tucci, this film tells the story of two brothers struggling to save their Italian restaurant
  • Waitress – a heartfelt story about a pregnant waitress with a powerful penchant for pies and creative names
  • Pressure Cooker – inner city kids compete in this documentary for culinary scholarships that could change their lives (available for streaming on Netflix!)
  • Romantics Anonymous  – two hopeless romantics unexpectedly fall in love while working in a chocolate factory in this lovely French film (available for streaming on Netflix!)
EmailShare

Foodie Flicks: Indian Food & French Films

As a French version of The Sound of Music‘s “I Have Confidence” begins to coax scenes of brick factories and lovelorn chocolatiers, I scoop a mound of hot basmati rice into a glass bowl and pour my spicy masala sauce on top in a whimsical swirl.  I am watching the 2010 French rom-com Romantics Anonymous whilst eating take-out from local, family-owned Curry & Kebab (106th and Amsterdam).

I’ll begin with the Indian food.  Curry & Kebab was actually my first real taste of Indian food.  I didn’t grow up eating a lot of this cuisine, mostly because there didn’t happen to be a lot of Indian restaurants in the middle of the Mojave desert or in the southern agrarian towns of Germany (#armybratlife).  When I came to New York and my friend Christin took me to Curry & Kebab, I was ecstatic.  How could I have possibly have been missing this all my life?  Sure, I’d eaten Roti Roll and yeah I’ve had Chinese-Indian fusion, but this was a far more thrilling venture into flavor.

Christin and I happened to eat on a sunny afternoon that day, and the small black tables extended out onto the sidewalk.  Curry & Kebab has sari blankets and wraps hanging across the ceiling and down the walls, giving it a homey and pleasant atmosphere.  At night, the mood lighting comes on.  An upbeat mix of traditional music and contemporary Indian songs begin to play loud enough to be heard but not enough to interrupt the private sanctity of your meal.  Additionally, in my opinion, Curry & Kebab offers some of the best table toppings.  I love their cilantro chutney (the smooth, green sauce), the tamarind (viscous, melodically tangy dark sauce), and I honestly haven’t found any chutney comparable to (what I think is red pepper) chutney.  My favorite dish is the chicken masala (which doesn’t always appear on the menu–if you ask for it, they’ll have it).  Chicken masala is a dish of chicken that has been marinated in spices and yogurt, baked in a tandoor oven, and served in the “mixed spices” sauce known as masala.

So you can imagine my state of bliss after a long week as I swaddled myself up in my blankets, eating my favorite Indian food, and watching one of the most delightful films I have seen in ages.  Romantics Anonymous tells the story of a tragically shy chocolatier (Angélique) and her painfully awkward boss (Jean-René).  Both are hopeless romantics, though neither wholly aware of each other’s social difficulties.  On their first date, Jean-Rene holds his menu in front of his face, not realizing this might be complicated while trying to talk to his date.  Angelique, meanwhile, develops chronic hiccups moments before suddenly asking, “What do you think of the situation in the Middle East?”  (She’s reading from topical cue cards.)

The musical cues in Romantics Anonymous are spot in, and they propel this lovely story forward in the world where chocolate and love collide.  I certainly recommend this film over the adapted Chocolat (2000) and while that film has Johnny Depp, this one has judgmental French waiters that are to die for.

And, even better, this film is available for streaming on Netflix!  If you’re looking for something romantic (or not) for Valentine’s Day, this film hits comedy and poignant realizations of self that will be delightful to watch no matter what you’re in the mood for.

 

Foodie Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ (out of five)

 

Click on the names of these films if Romantics Anonymous doesn’t do it for you…

  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi – beautiful, inspiring documentary about a Michelin 3-star rated, 85 year old sushi chef (available for streaming on Netflix!)
  • Kings of Pastry – documentary about competitive pastry chefs, food porn to the max (available for streaming on Netflix!)
  • Ratatouille – a Pixar film featuring a rat who becomes a gourmet chef; this film won the Academy Award for Best Animated feature and has a great soundtrack to boot
  • Big Night – the brainchild of actor and gourmet foodie Stanley Tucci, this film tells the story of two brothers struggling to save their Italian restaurant
  • Waitress – a heartfelt story about a pregnant waitress with a powerful penchant for pies and creative names
  • Pressure Cooker – inner city kids compete in this documentary for culinary scholarships that could change their lives (available for streaming on Netflix!)

Foodie Flicks: Waitress

I think it’s common knowledge that the days before Thanksgiving are somehow just as crazy as the actual holiday itself.  For some reason, we, as a society, build it up.  Professors assign papers due before this rare relief from academia.  Friends try to squeeze in brunch.  Organizations decide to hold elections, have dinners, and throw their big parties right before break.  I think there’s also something to be said for the emotional build up.  How do we even begin to prepare ourselves for the joy that is surely right around the corner?  Regardless of the immense amount of food we’re about to eat or the loved ones we’ve missed, it’s just hard for a student to think to herself I won’t be here tomorrow!  I get to sleep!  Someone’s going to hug me and perhaps even make me pie!

Speaking of pie, my mother makes great Thanksgiving desserts.  It’s not a question of if we will have pie, but how many and what types.  In particular, my mother and my sister made the classic pumpkin as well as a maple pecan pie.  Pie is for dessert, but also breakfast.  Thanksgiving really does give us things to be thankful for.  In addition to celebrating Thanksgiving, pie is also one of the central themes of the film Waitress.  I first saw Waitress a few years ago on the suggestion of my mom, who besides being a great cook, is also a bit of an indie film scout.  I don’t know how she does it.  She’s a bit of a Supermom, if you will.  Waitress is a bit about Supermoms, classical music, regular customers, old places, new places, and finding yourself.  Oh, and it’s filled with shots of beautiful, deliciously tempting pie.  Continue reading Foodie Flicks: Waitress

Foodie Flicks: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

 

Still from Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

I think food is beautiful.  If you follow this blog, I imagine you think so, too.  It can be anything, really.  Scarlet tomatoes on the vine that still smell like earth when you pick them up at a farmers’ market.  A pastry topped with such a perfect array of powdered sugar that snow couldn’t have looked better.  Bowls of fusilli intertwined with grilled vegetables and ribbons of melted mozzarella.  I have been interested in food photography for many years, and as a student filmmaker as well as a self-proclaimed food admirer, I have become particularly in love with movies about food.  I recently stepped into the IFC Center in Soho with a friend to see Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  We knew nothing about the film other than that the title was particularly provoking and seemed to actually be about sushi.

The film turned out to be one of the most visually appealing and emotionally inspiring documentaries I have seen in a long time.  Directed by David Gelb, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a beautiful film that takes a look into the life of Michelin 3-star chef Jiro Ono and his sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro.  The film is stunning.  Fluid, dream-like shots of exquisitely crafted sushi induce instant mouth-watering as well as retrospective judgment on every piece of sushi you’ve eaten previously.  Besides being a beautiful foray into food portrayal, the documentary delves into Jiro’s past, present, and future at Sukiyabashi.

Continue reading Foodie Flicks: Jiro Dreams of Sushi