Food on Film Reviews Explore Delicious Stories
Over the past three years, we’ve really enjoyed producing foodie film reviews for our Spice blog. Art entwined with food can be most delicious. From the delightful Japanese film Tampopo to the sweet Italian film Mid-August Lunch to the recent British comedy The Trip, we’ve screened and reviewed an international menu of foodie film. Still to come? Babette’s Feast, Big Night, and Haute Cuisine, among other tasty morsels.
From noodles to aphrodisiacs, from food fetishes to French food, and back again to noodles, Tampopo (1985) explores our common humanity and our shared sensory and emotional engagement with food. Is it a screwball comedy? A parody/satire? An homage to the history of movie making from Shane to The Godfather to Rocky? Tampopo integrates and simmers together these ingredients for a flavorful mix that explores the emotional and intellectual realm of the edible.
Soon after she arrives, Maria—the most demure of the four ladies in Mid-August Lunch (2008)—begins immediately to produce her famous Pasta Al Forno that plays a transgressive role later in the film. As the pasta bakes, Grazia arrives with a list of foods and drink she must avoid, per the direction of her son the doctor. After too many years of “no tomatoes, no alcohol, no pasta” and other prohibitions, Grazia seizes the moment and raids the fridge late at night to finally get her fill of some outstanding pasta casserole.
Haute cuisine comes in for some gentle mocking in Michael Winterbottom’s film The Trip (2011) about a foodie road trip with adversarial traveling companions, British actors Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan. Accidental and half-hearted foodie Coogan longs for some company on a tour of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales that he must make for a (fictional) Observer piece on foodie destinations in Wordsworth and Coleridge country. Sans his foodie ex-girlfriend who set up the gig, Coogan can’t find anyone to join him on a week of free gourmet food at some of the best restaurants in the north.
The name at the bottom of his preferred companion list reads “Rob Brydon,” his costar in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2006) where both actors also played adversarial versions of themselves in that film-within-a-film. From the first scene above macro-urban London when Coogan ambivalently yet hopefully extends his invitation, the dysfunctional nature of their relationship becomes clear.
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