Ten Deep 9.20.12: Top Ten Foodie Movies
Posted by Mike Gorman on 09.20.2012
From Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and The Godfather to Ratatouille, Julie & Julia, Chocolat and more, 411's Mike Gorman counts down the top 10 movies for food lovers!
"Top Ten Foodie Movies"
A person that spends a keen amount of attention and energy on knowing the ingredients of food, the proper preparation of food, and finds great enjoyment in top-notch ingredients and exemplary preparation.
A foodie is not necessarily a food snob, only enjoying delicacies and/or food items difficult to obtain and/or expensive foods; though, that is a variety of foodie."
Sometimes worlds collide and the food driven passions of a finicky foodie intermingle with the wild world of film. The end results are a cinematic buffet that delights the senses and quite literally, wets the appetite. This week I wanted to see if looking at these films could provide us all with a recipe for movie magic. As a foodie myself (well, slightly reformed foodie who has lost quite a bit of weight since my tenure with 411Mania began!) I can without a doubt say that these ten films will satisfy any palate no matter what you are craving.
10. Julie & Julia
This first film really hits the foodie target in two major ways. First it tells the story of a young foodie whose blog garnered national attention when she took on the classic recipes of Julia Child. Julie Powell set out on a project that soon became the envy of food lovers across the globe. Secondly, the film takes us into the life and development of Julia Child herself granting us a behind the scenes look at where her culinary passion and expertise came from. These two facets together take us on a journey that reminds us that sometimes you do need to bring your own life to a boil to find its real flavor.
The scene that follows is a glimpse into Julia's life and her decision to enter the world of food.
Goodfellas is probably not the first film that popped into your head when this topic appeared but if you think about it for a few minutes and look at the film as a whole, you can see that there is a through line of food, specifically its preparation that permeates the story. Whether you look at the scene below, where the "goodfellas" prepare a feast in prison or the framing scene of the film's climax involving Henry Hill's family dinner preparation, the importance of the attention to detail not just in cooking but all aspects of their lives comes in to focus.
8. 9 1/2 weeks
The film itself as a whole is not exactly the most foodie of experiences but there is one specific scene in 9 ½ Weeks that will forever remain in the hearts and well, stomachs, of food lovers. I refer of course to the infamous refrigerator scene where Mickey Rourke and Kim Bassinger taught us all that sometimes there is nothing more erotic than the produce drawer. Passion for food becomes more than just a metaphor in this over the top blending of food and fore play. You will never look at a simple piece of fruit the same way again.
Many times you will talk with someone who identifies as a foodie and they will relate how it is not just the food itself that evokes emotion, but the experience of discovering new foods and food preparation. I feel that this spirit is alive within the film Chocolat. Not just in the magnificent chocolates that Juliet Binoche's character offers in her shop but in the way she allows people to discover new parts of themselves when they explore new tastes and sensations. In the scene below we begin to see how she uses the different chocolates to gain insights into the people that come to her store.
In Disney's Ratatouille we see that one does not even necessarily need be a human being to be a true foodie. Remy the rat is a gourmand and first rate cook who yearns to be a part of a kitchen but clearly cannot just walk through the door as a human counterpart might. Remy's desires and dreams echo those of many foodies who live life wishing they had chosen a different career path that might have brought them into the world of food.
Below, we see Remy's culinary skills in action.
Stories about food intersect in a variety of ways in this comedy from director Juzi Itami. The main plot explores the search for the perfect noodle recipe in the titular restaurant but there are a variety of subplots explore how food and its mastery can play a role in our lives. The film explores these issues on many levels and often to great success. If you have not seen it yet, I highly encourage you to do so. Here is the trailer:
4. Like Water for Chocolate
Food and emotion take a truly magical journey in this Mexican film. Like Water for Chocolate tells the story of a woman whose unrequited love and repressed emotions eventually find their way into her food. And I mean this quite literally. When her sister is marrying the man she loves and she cries as she bakes the cake, her tears enter the batter. The diners at the wedding reception find themselves overcome with misery at the thought of lost loves. The film quite handily delivers a message of the way in which our emotions can be tied into the foods we experience. In the scene below, the main characters passion and love is delivered to her diners through the rose petal sauce she constructs. The results are quite interesting and I think reflect the effects most foodies wish their cooking could have on their guests.
3. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Foodies are not just about precision and delicate ingredients. They can be about wild over the top food fantasies that one will crave to become reality. Such is the world of Willy Wonka. He does not limit his imagination and creations by the usual boundaries of convention. What results is a truly magical journey through the world of candy and confection. If you can watch this film and then honestly say you did not wish that most of his creations are real, please turn in your foodie card to the main office and go home.
Possibly one of the more surprising entries on the list, Fatso is the story of one man's struggle with his weight and his addiction to food. This dramatic comedy is also the directorial debut of actress Anne Bancroft. Bancroft constructs a world that is all too familiar for those among us that have struggled with weight issues in a way that is both heartwarming and heart breaking. Dom Deluise gives an amazingly nuanced performance in the lead role. He is far from just a fat buffoon to laugh at but a truly tortured spirit looking for peace. The film stood out to me for one scene in particular where Deluise enlist the assistance of members of his diet group to fight the urge to binge. Once together these men begin discussing their love of food. What starts as support soon becomes an ever strengthening cyclone of hunger and desire that literally overtakes these men. When the dust settles, and the spaghetti drops from the ceiling, we can see what happens when passion for food takes a darker turn. Tums, anyone?
1. Big Night
This story of two brothers who dreams of keeping their restaurant afloat come down to one last blaze of glory is definitely the best of the foodie films that have come our way. The story not only explores what happens when the risk of opening a restaurant crashes into the harsh reality of the industry, but it also gives focus to the food itself. The lavish dinner party that is the focal point of the film is one that every foodie would envy. While other films on this list touch on the passion for food that burns within some individuals, Big Night exudes it, course after course. The spirit of the film and its end results are both beautiful and devastating. I leave you this week with one of the film's final scenes, after all the brothers' efforts have been exhausted and all that remains is their own last meal.
Did I give you a taste of what you were looking for this week or are you just hungry for more? If your favorite foodie film missed my menu, let me know in the comments below.
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