Tag Archives: Christopher

TWO MOVIES OBSESSED WITH FOOD

This month, I stumbled across a movie in our collection that, upon reading the title, I had no choice but to immediately watch it.  Who’s Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?  One part murder mystery, one part romantic comedy, one part preparation of the most absurd foods that you can imagine and all parts soft focus.  I like to think that in 1978, everything was surrounded by a fine mist of dispersed color, that edges bled everywhere you looked and that cars only came in the colors yellow and orange.
 
In this movie, you will see cakes that are set on fire, duck corpses pressed for blood, delicate pigeon pastries baked for the Queen of England and some kind of insane lobster dish prepared by a stereotypical Italian man.  This isn’t a great movie, but it’s definitely fun.  Even though you’ll think that you have the answer to the mystery, a good twist at the end will leave you satisfied that you didn’t.  The most interesting part by far is its discussion of fine dining vs. fast food and the latter’s spread into Europe by using the deadbeat dad from “Look Who’s Talking” as their example.  If they thought it was bad 33 years ago, I wonder how they would feel about getting a Subway sandwich in Madrid (I’ve made this mistake and don’t suggest anyone else repeating it)? 
 
The second movie is one that I watched a while back.  I had to read the wiki to get myself reacquainted and up to speed.  Tampopo, billed as the world’s first ramen western.  The movie is truly obsessed with food on every level, from preparation to consumption.  Multiple stories are woven together to create a movie that really isn’t even about anything other than people who love food.  Although it is hard to pick one, I think my favorite scene portrays an old man discussing how to properly enjoy a bowl of ramen with a young Ken Watanabe with the most minute of details.  “First caress the surface with the chopstick tips to express affection.”  This man could really teach everyone something about how the little things in life are what make it worth living. I’m also pretty fond of the scene involving a group of young Japanese girls being taught how to eat spaghetti like they do in the West, a.k.a. not slurping their noodles.  This movie is legitimately funny, surreal and will give the viewer a bit of understanding of how the Japanese view ramen and food in general.
 
-Christopher

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On Judging a Book by Its Cover

As an employee of the Carnegie Library, I can’t even begin to surmise the amount of information that has swirled around me as our collection circulates.  CDs, books and movies passing from the shelves, through my hands, into homes and back again.  Thousands of people’s likes and dislikes giving me ample opportunity to come across items of which I had no previous knowledge.  One such item is the movie “Withnail & I.” I had to pull it from the shelf to fill a patron request.  Upon seeing the cover, I put it on hold for myself.
 
 
First clue – This movie has made its way into the Criterion Collection, a DVD series that concerns itself with publishing only the “best” the movie world has to offer.  Obviously, this doesn’t mean that every movie they release is going to be enjoyable, but it’s a good first indicator that someone out there with some clout thinks it really is good.  
 
Second clue – The immediately recognizable scribbles of  Ralph Steadman.  I will go on record as saying that any movie that Steadman illustrates a cover for is going to be a movie that I like.  His trademark scrawl of “Bruce Robinson’s Withnail and I,” complete with ink spatters and coffee stains.  The illustration of two men; one sprawled hopelessly across a couch, head in hand, mouth agape.  The other worriedly standing in the background, peering out to the viewer with hands clasped.  Their surroundings cluttered with the signs of a haphazard lifestyle, all broken and stacked in Steadman’s own frenetic style.  
 
This simple image conveys the tone of the movie and gives the viewer just enough clues as to what can be expected from the characters and the film.
 
-Christopher

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