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Culinary films to feed your mind, body and soul

Culinary films to feed your mind, body and soul

Culinary films to feed your mind, body and soul
November 21
12:48 2020

Food can be found at the center of nearly every culture, every social gathering and every meaningful moment with loved ones. And of course, it’s the center of this season, with Thanksgiving around the corner. Cuisine can make for a good film, too, so here are a few of the best food-centric movies to nourish your mind, body and soul.

“Ratatouille” (2007)
“If you are what you eat, then I only want the good stuff.”

Pixar’s 2007 animated film “Ratatouille” might be the best food movie of all time, or maybe the best restaurant movie. Even the best chef movie of all time. From the premise (a rat who wants to be the best chef in Paris) to the look down to the sound of the movie, the film is an absolute delight from start to finish. The stakes are lowered but infinitely personal. Its ending holds fewer car chases and fighting, but instead cinematically proves the sentimental and nostalgic nature of food and art itself. The cinematography is dark, warm and enticing and its soundtrack is both incredibly melodic and motivic. Ratatouille is for the family and also an amazing vegan dish. So stop reading this and go watch it!

“Tampopo” (1985)
“One fine day… I went out with an old man. He’s studied noodles for 40 years. He was showing me the right way to eat them.”

zô Itami’s 1985 film “Tampopo” is a movie about ramen and a summation of all the ways in which food is important to us — socially, nutritionally, exotically and erotically. The rundown of the plot is simple: Two truck drivers help a restaurant owner, the eponymous Tampopo, learn how to cook great noodles. Tampopo, however, is more than just the center of the plot. The movie is an almost perfect ode to our complicated history with food while serving as a satire of westerns and mafia movies. Basically, “Tampopo” is like a samurai western where the hero rides in and saves the hapless woman, with a bunch of other stuff thrown in (almost like a bowl of ramen).

“Chef” (2014)
“I may not do everything great in my life, but I’m good at this. I manage to touch people’s lives with what I do and I want to share this with you.”

Directed by Jon Favreau, “Chef” is the epitome of a feel-good fairytale. Favreau plays Chef Carl Casper who quits his position at a high-end Los Angeles restaurant to start a food truck. It’s a very light and very fluffy food movie where nothing of consequence occurs in the film. Every risk he takes is rewarded and any conflict that arises is quickly and favorably resolved before the start of the second act. It’s like a backward movie in a sense. What’s fascinating is how “Chef” can be interpreted as such a close allegory of its creation. A high-pressure filmmaker feels stagnated artistically and says “enough of this” and takes a risk to satisfy his own artistic cravings. Film is food, food is film, and watching Favreau have a meltdown explaining how to make a molten lava chocolate cake is always a treat.

“Big Night” (1996)
“You have to kill yourself after you eat it because you can’t live! To eat good food is to be close to God.”

Big Night” is an understated and beautifully shot film about two immigrant brothers cooking a heavenly meal for musical legend Louis Prima in a last-ditch effort to save their failing Italian restaurant. Set in the ’50s, the movie is absolutely gorgeous. With earthy tones and nostalgic frames, it’s like a little piece of Italy in your home. This is the perfect movie to watch after stuffing your stomach with turkey and casserole.

“Eat Drink Man Woman” (1994)
“Chicken goes in, chicken goes out. There is no misunderstanding!”

Ang Lee’s Taiwanese film “Eat Drink Man Woman” follows the unique life trajectories of a father’s three daughters and how the quintessential “family meal time” is one of the more important family activities we can engage in. What makes “Eat Drink Man Woman” stand out is the subtle sense of humor and irony. The wonderful, and various shots of cutting and cooking food juxtaposed with the lives of the three daughters embody a contrast of patience versus chaos.

Featured image: Courtesy Pixar

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Chance Townsend

Chance Townsend

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